Friday, February 12, 2016

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect is a playful look at how a family of two fare when a third (Baby Under Development, or "Bud", as husband Don calls their unborn child) enters the mix.  It's also a story about logic versus emotion:  relationships in the book are cast in a Mars and Venus light.  The Women always seem to be at odds with the men and everyone is trying to figure everyone else out.  Logic can't solve everything, and as Rosie explains, "There's more to life than being a parent, in theory."

The moral to this quirky story:  the best things in life can't be planned on a spreadsheet.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.   -MW

Reserve this book.  The first title in this series is also available at the Billings Public Library.  Click here to check out the first book, The Rosie Project.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fall in Love with a Book!

Are you bereft of good reading material?  Have all your recent reads been met with indifference or left you dissatisfied?  Are you looking for literary love in all the wrong places?  

Your search has come to an end!  Our library staff have gleaned the best of the best in fiction, nonfiction, and teen from our endless stacks and are presenting them to you, our readers, in the form of a blind date!

You don’t know what you’ll get, but we guarantee it will be unlike any reading experience you’ve ever tried!  Be brave!  Be daring!  Each date comes wrapped with a single’s ad displayed on its cover to entice you with its literary delights.  These books are looking for their one true reader!  Will it be you?

*After your date’s over make sure you stop by the “Fall in Love With a Book” display to pick up a “Rate Your Date” slip.  Library staff and other readers want to know all the sordid details!  Prizes will be drawn from returned slips.

You can pick up a blind date from the main display in the Popular Materials Room and (for our younger romantics) the teen display in the Teen Area.  May you find your happy ever after!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Hole Is To Dig: a first book of first definitions by Ruth Krauss

Our toddlers want to know everything. They soak up every stimulus around them for good or ill.

Krauss’s simple definitions help babies learn how to construct the world. They go inside-out, defining by function rather than description: “mashed potatoes are to give everybody enough. . . a face is so you can make faces . . . dogs are to kiss people.” Maurice Sendak’s intricate little illustrations convey the hard-won wisdom of childlike delight. The vision is of a deeply humane world that has rules and formalities, but where love is the answer. The book begs readers to converse with their listeners, to propose as-good-as definitions, to laugh over perspectives.

As I get older, I prefer kids’ books. They get to the point, if they have a good one, faster. I think Krauss’s point is that kids naturally need to understand “why” more than “what.” –JSK

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem's new autobiography, My Life on the Road, is the finest piece of writing I've read in a long time.  A recognized name for decades, Steinem is still marvelously articulate, describing remarkable people with whom she has worked, historic events she has witnessed, and places she has visited and studied.

A freelance journalist and social activist, Steinem has spent her adult life writing, organizing, and speaking all over the world.  She credits chance encounters with people from all walks of life with teaching her what she could not have learned any other way.  Fellow travelers, taxi drivers, college students, and sometimes complete strangers revealed much to her about what matters to them, and their stories fueled her passion for the women's movement she is known for helping to lead.  She advocates a communal, collaborative style of idea-sharing--talking circles--in order to connect with people and understand their perspectives.

She dedicated the book to a late British doctor who was willing to perform a then-illegal abortion in 1957 on a young college graduate traveling to India.  In a deeply personal revelation, Steinem says she was that young woman.  Since then, she has been a lifelong crusader for women's reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood.  Experiencing gender bias and double standards at an early age, she later wrote that "the dry tinder of inequality was everywhere, just waiting to be set on fire."

The author's reasoned, eloquent writing is a pleasure to read.  The book is not so much about her personally, but about her work and how much still needs to be done.  Now 81, she continues to ask questions and learn from those she encounters, and encourages all of us to do the same.  -MS

Reserve a copy of this book

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Getting Schooled by Garrett Keizer

A 58-year-old returns to teaching tenth grade English twenty years after he gave up in the same school, in the disadvantaged Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. In the meantime, he was an Episcopal priest and wrote essays for Harper's and the New Yorker, but his new students thought him coolest for an appearance on Comedy Central.

With each chapter named for a school month, Keizer's book is an expanded, meditative journal that condemns the administrative baloney and parental foibles which get in the way of real teaching. He demonstrates putting each kid first, and agonizes over his choices how to deal with students. Keizer attributes a lot of guts to his students, and is equal parts idealist and curmudgeon, thanks to his high expectations. He mistrusts technology: one lesson asks kids to list important text details "not found on [a]sleazy Internet rip-off site" of book notes.

I like listening to articulate old teachers who respect their students' perspectives even though they may know better themselves. Keizer questions his own every assumption, even while he ruefully respects the need of all his acquaintances to make a difference in our world. I like his scintillating observations of people's motivations in a school. –JSK

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

I feel like this review should be offset with a disclaimer:  I am a huge fan of Felicia Day, and have been since a friend recommended The Guild, her pioneering comedic web series about online gamers.  Day has been a part of some of my favorite things over the years, so I was excited to learn about her new memoir.  It's no surprise, I suppose, that I found this book utterly charming.

Day talks about her unusual childhood, during which she and her brother were lackadaisically home-schooled, her training as a classical violinist/mathematician, her gaming life, and her experiences as an actress and producer in Hollywood.  Throughout, her tone is breezy and conversational, and even if she doesn't always go deeply into personal details, she does a great job describing what it is like to BE her, and finding the common intersections that she has with her fans and with women's experiences in general.  She recognizes the positives of virtual life in its potential for community building, giving people a place to belong, and finding new ways of doing business. Of course, the internet has its dark side as well, and Day covers subjects like online anonymity and misogyny with candor and insight.

Amid the bright commentary and anecdotes about being almost-famous lies the book's biggest strength:  Day's assertion that our differences should be celebrated and that openly appreciating the things we love is never a bad thing. As she says in her conclusion, " Everyone has a chance to have his or her voice heard, or to create a community around something they're passionate about...Best of all, [the internet] rewards people and ideas that never would have made it through the system and allows the unique and weird to flourish."  For me, these are inspiring words.    -BR

Reserve this book.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

I have recently developed an obsession for anything by Alice Hoffman and Here on Earth was once again a fantastic read. I hate to admit it but I have always had a weakness for love stories so when I discovered this book I was elated to be able to read a love story by my current favorite author. However, if you are looking for something uplifting to read this is not for you, this love story is much darker than most.
The story follows the lives of March and Hollis and the people around them. March and Hollis were lovers when they were teenagers and lived for each other but when March’s father dies Hollis who was his ward becomes indebted to her older brother. Once his debts are paid he leaves their tiny town to make something of himself. March is distraught by this and waits for him to come back for years but he doesn’t return. She eventually agrees to marry one of her neighbors and they move to California to start a new life.

Many years later March is brought back to her small hometown for the first time when her family’s housekeeper and substitute mother passes away. She brings her teenage daughter along for her short trip back but once she makes contact with Hollis her short trip becomes an indefinite one. You quickly discover that the attraction between these two is not healthy for either one and slowly get to see them both lose control and for March lose herself and the people closest to her. While this toxic love story is progressing there is beauty to be found with March’s daughter who has her own journey. She is able to find her true self with friendship, love and forgiveness. In the end March has to learn her own lessons by rediscovering what it is that makes life worth living as well as what the true meaning of love is. - CB