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Friday, May 30, 2008

First Books

National Public Radio recently recommended some “first books” — the first published work by new and veteran writers — for your summer reading. Here is a list of those owned or on order here at the library:

The Other by Thomas Tryon

The Boat by Nam Le

One More Year by Sana Krasikov

Pretty Is What Changes by Jessica Queller

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett

Got any “first book” favorites? Let us know.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"To Read Is To Withdraw”*

In The Uncommon Reader, as the Queen’s new passion for reading takes up more and more of her time, the Buckingham Palace staff becomes worried. As her chief aide Sir Kevin explains, “To read is to withdraw. To make oneself unavailable. One would feel better about it if the pursuit were less . . . selfish.” Sir Kevin suggests a press release encouraging the improvement of reading standards among the young or literacy in general.

Her Majesty disagrees. “One reads for pleasure. It is not a public duty.”

What are your thoughts? Is reading a pleasure or a duty in a literate society?

*Once a week, library staff will post an entry here on The Uncommon Reader, this year’s All Fairfax Reads selection. The project invites all residents of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to read and discuss the same book. Check our Web site for a book discussion guide and upcoming events as they are scheduled.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Search of Indiana Jones

Now is the season for the blockbuster film hero and the first to hit the screen is Harrison Ford's return as Indiana Jones. Back in the 1980s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg reinvented the action movie using the styles of the 1930s cliffhanger serials that kept filmgoers returning week after week.

If for some reason you can’t get in to see "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which opens this weekend, or you would just like some extra reading on the phenomenon, browse these books:

Indiana Jones and the Interior World by Rob MacGregor (fiction)

Harrison Ford: The Films by Brad Duke

Harrison Ford: Imperfect Hero by Gary Jenkins

Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride

Steven Spielberg: The Unauthorized Biography by John Baxter

Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas by Dale Pollock

There’s also some great juvenile Indiana Jones books that tie-in with the films. Check the library’s catalog.

So – got a favorite blockbuster series? Were the Star Wars flicks better than the Star Trek franchise? How about the Superman or Spiderman series?

Library PSA Contest
Speaking of film, from now until June 23, the he Fairfax County Public Library, in partnership with the FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY Foundation, will conduct a "Why Vote" Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest.

The contest to produce radio or TV PSAs is open to students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, high school students, adults and teams. The FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY Foundation will award multiple cash prizes and multiple gold, silver and bronze certificates at a special awards ceremony.

For details visit the library's Web site or pick up a brochure at your local branch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

“Literature Is a Commonwealth”*

As the Queen in The Uncommon Reader begins to enjoy her new hobby, she becomes introspective and tries to figure out why reading is so appealing to her (p.30). As someone who has always put duty before pleasure, she decides it is because books are indifferent. “Books don’t care who is reading them . . . all readers were equal.” Later she adds, “it [reading] was anonymous; it was shared; it was common.”

We all have our personal reading favorites, but what do you think is the reading common to our culture, as a whole? Is it Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, The Great Gatsby by F.S. Scott Fitzgerald or something else?

Let us know.

*Once a week, library staff will post an entry here on The Uncommon Reader, this year’s All Fairfax Reads selection. The project invites all residents of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to read and discuss the same book. Check our Web site for a book discussion guide and upcoming events as they are scheduled.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Art in the Pages – Public Sculpture at the Library

Have you seen the book statue at your local branch yet? If you remember D.C.’s panda bears, then you will understand the concept behind Fairfax County’s Art in the Pages project. Twenty-seven open book statues now dot the landscape throughout Fairfax County thanks to the Fairfax County Public Library, the Fairfax Library Foundation, Verizon and other generous donors.

These statues, many located at library branches, have been painted by selected artists and express wide-ranging visions of life in Fairfax County, history, children’s books and other creative designs.

Please visit the Foundation’s Web page for more details and locations of all the statues. And don’t forget to thank the generous sponsors who made this project possible.

In addition to those listed above, the following sponsors joined the project at the Publisher Level ($10,000):

Anonymous (in honor of Barbara Fried)
Cox Communications
The Fairfax County Arts Council
Initiative for Public Art – Reston
Interstate Worldwide Relocation
Alan & Sally Merten
Southland Concrete

Don’t Miss – Historical Fairfax Presentation
Learn about archaeology and historic markers in Fairfax County from Park Authority and History Commission presenters on May 17 at 2 p.m. at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library. Tysons-Pimmit is located at 7584 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. Call 703-790-8088 to register.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Literature and Politics*

Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader is a short book - only 120 pages. But the 2008 All Fairfax Reads selection is far from a simple read. By page 2, the author sets up a basic question. Can one judge a political figure — or in this case, royalty — by his or her tastes in reading?

For example, Ronald Reagan is said to have named Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad as one of his favorites. John F. Kennedy seemed to prefer biographies to fiction on his list of favorites, but did include Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love.

In the opening of Bennett’s novella, the Queen actually doesn’t have a clue what her reading tastes are. “It [reading] was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn’t have hobbies.” By book’s end her reading has not only changed her view of herself, but her view of the monarchy.

Are there books that changed your perspective? Are there classics you wish politicians would read?

*Each Tuesday, library staff will post an entry here on The Uncommon Reader, this year’s All Fairfax Reads selection. The project invites all residents of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to read and discuss the same book. Check our Web site for a book discussion guide and upcoming events as they are scheduled.

Friday, May 09, 2008

What’s in a Name?

The Man-Booker Prize is running a contest to determine the best title name for Booker-winning novel. (The prize is awarded each year to the best original, full-length, non-self-published novel written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland). “Paper Cuts,” the New York Times Book blog reports that while the Booker contest has closed, ABEBooks has been conducting its own poll and thinks The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel will be the top choice. Other contenders are Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie, God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

To join the publisher’s contest, vote here.

If we transfer the contest across the pond, what do you think is the best title for a book written by an American author?

Save This Date . . .
May 12, 2008. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
If you, or someone you know, has vision impairment, plan on attending VisionQuest, a technology fair cosponsored by the Access Services branch of the Fairfax County Public Library. The day’s activities will be held at the Hollin Hall Senior Center, 1500 Shenandoah Road, Alexandria, VA 22306. For more information call 703-765-4573, TTY 711.

VisionQuest 2008 will feature assistive equipment demonstrations, free glaucoma testing and light refreshments. Specialty technology exhibits will include two of the newest developments including the VictorReader Stream portable DAISY player, approved for use with the National Library Service, Library of Congress (NLS) digital talking books, and the knfbReader, the first cell phone designed to read to individuals with vision impairments, dyslexia or learning disabilities.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Welcome to All Fairfax Reads!

In 2004, the Fairfax County Public Library launched All Fairfax Reads, one of 100 one community/one book projects in the U.S. at the time. The concept was born in 1998, when a Seattle librarian initiated a national movement that has been adopted around the world.

All Fairfax Reads encourages adults in our community to read the same book and talk about it in book discussion groups and other events. The result: strangers talking to one another, the first step toward community engagement.

Since 2004 we have encouraged all adults in Fairfax County to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie and last year’s His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis.

This year’s selection is The Uncommon Reader, a novella by British playwright Alan Bennett, the author of the Tony-Award-winning play "The History Boys" as well as "The Madness of George III" and other plays and books.

In the book, the Queen of England stumbles upon a bookmobile on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. As her reading horizons broaden, her new-found passion first alarms the palace staff and finally threatens the monarchy. Bennett’s comic romp can be read both as satire and a more serious treatise on the subversive power of reading.

Each Tuesday between now and the end of September we will discuss aspects of the novella on this page and we hope you will chime in with your thoughts and ideas.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of the book and check the library’s Web site for an online reader’s guide. Also check back later for a listing of community-wide events to be scheduled in September. You can also pick up a printed version in your local branch in the near future.

Enjoy the wicked satire of Alan Bennett, who also shares some serious observations on the role of reading in society.

Welcome to the All Fairfax Readers this summer!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Louis L’Amour

This year marks the centennial of author Louis L'Amour's birth (1908-1988). The popular writer of westerns published 89 novels, as well as short stories and a memoir during his lifetime. Born Louis Charles LaMoore, he grew up in Jamestown, N.D. in the final days of the wild West, listening to stories told by his grandfather of the Indian wars. He also spent time in the local library where his sister, Edna, was a librarian, but was bored with traditional education and dropped out in the 10th grade.

To sample this popular storyteller, awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, try these books:

Grub Line Rider

Showdown Trail

The Sixth Shotgun

The Collected Stories of Louis L’Amour, Volumes 1-5

From the Listening Hills
With These Hands

All Fairfax Reads
Look for our weekly entries for All Fairfax Reads beginning Tuesday, May 6. This summer adults are invited to read The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett as part of this one community/one book initiative. Check the library’s Web site for a reading guide and future events as they are posted.