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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Five Great Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Have you been wondering how you’re going to take part in what the Academy of American Poets calls “the largest literary celebration in the world?” National Poetry Month begins April 1, and we’ve got you covered with five great ways to celebrate. Pick one for the month or try a new activity each week. Even if you’ve never written a poem in your life, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for this evocative art form. Already an enthusiastic lover of poetry? Then try one of these 30 suggestions from the Academy – one of them is sure to suit.




1. New to Poetry? Let America tell you what to read!

During his tenure as Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky asked Americans to tell him about the poems that were most meaningful to them with the Favorite Poem Project. In these three anthologies, each poem is accompanied by the passionate and personal testimonials of poetry lovers from all ages and walks of life. Anthology selections include American's Favorite Poems, Poems to Read, and An Invitation to Poetry.










2. Read a winner from the National Book Awards for Poetry. 

Each year five acclaimed poets/judges select one book of poetry by a U.S. citizen to receive the prestigious National Book Award for Poetry. The winners of the last two years include Robin Coste Lewis's The Voyage of the Sable Venus and  Louise Gluck's Faithful and Virtuous Night.





3. Try a story in verse.

The name says it all – this narrative art form tells a novel-length story with poetry instead of prose. While many  titles in this genre are written for teens or children, adults will also enjoy these moving tales. Well-known favorites include Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.






4. Read a novel about a poet.

You’ve tried reading poetry before, and it just isn’t your thing? Consider immersing yourself in a novel about a poet instead. These award-winning fictional takes on the lives of poets will keep you captivated. Doctor Zhivago was nominated for a Nobel Prize, but the author turned it down for political reasons. Possession: A Romance won England’s Booker Prize.





5. Join The Diane Rehm Show’s celebration of National Poetry Month on April 19.

Diane Rehm celebrates National Poetry Month every year. This year she and her guests will use the book How To Read A Poem: And Fall In Love With Poetry as a guide while discussing their favorite poems. Since listeners are invited to share their own favorite poems, you’ll want to do your prep work in advance.



-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Club Pick: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry



Queenie is dying in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Harold is walking five hundred miles from Southern England to keep her alive. The idea came to him over a burger at a garage where the girl attendant shared her story of an aunt with cancer whom she helped by having faith in her healing and vowed that we have to” believe in what we don’t know.” A light dawns in Harold’s darkness.

Now he is walking for Queenie. And for his own salvation.

He is walking in yachting shoes, with no cell phone, no maps, but a world of heart. And hurt.

He and Queenie were work colleagues. One night, in an anguished moment, Harold committed a destructive act and Queenie took the blame. She was fired and disappeared from the scene. Now after many years he receives a letter from her telling him of her approaching demise. He immediately pens a sparse letter of response and sets out to mail it to her. But instead of slipping it into the finality of the postal slot, he decides to deliver it in person.

What follows is an account of his pilgrimage. In the holiness of the birds, trees, flowers, barns, evening “squares of buttered light from windows, he finds internal solace and begins to remove the fragments of his life from his mind. With initial hesitant caution and then increasing openness he examines each momentous turn of events involving his childhood, marriage, child, job and selfhood. He discovers the people he meets surprisingly have their own burdens, but they share joyously in his quest to save Queenie.

Month after month the journey wavers and surges as Harold puts one foot in front of the other through exaltation and deep sorrow. In his painful reverie, he begins to revisit his relationship with his left-behind spouse, Maureen, and their troubled son, David, and how his death poisoned the thinning marriage and shut out the light - the ripples of his suicide flowed out into the darkest corners of their blaming. But there is counterbalancing joy! The kindness of strangers provides him with plasters for his blistered feet and hope for his soul, buffering his sorrow. Like a magnet he attracts bizarre fellow-travelers with their own agendas, the media, the disillusioned in search of truth, and yes, even a dog accompanies him for awhile.

Meanwhile back at home, Maureen with the help of a grieving neighbor slowly is also able to pull back the curtains of her life – literally- and remember a time when she and Harold laughed and loved.

But all pilgrimages must come to an end and the triangle lives of Maureen, Harold and Queenie culminate on the banks of Berwick-on Tweed in a baptism of tears.

As Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.” That is our prayer for Harold and Maureen. And for ourselves.

-Lois Glick, Great Falls Library

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Love Outlander? Let Us Help You Find Your Next Read

Season 2 of Outlander is returning to the screen on April 9th on the Starz network. Surprisingly, not all fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series are eager to catch up with time-traveler Claire Randall and her highland hubbie Jamie Fraser. Some viewers found the explicit nature of certain scenes from the first season a little too disturbing. Even though the televised version stayed fairly close to the novel’s storyline, not everyone had the same reaction to seeing the written word depicted on the screen.

This difference really emphasizes how difficult it can be to make book recommendations. Using time, place and theme are a good starting point. It’s the fine nuances of appeal, however, that can make or break your take on a particular book. How much steam in a romance is too much? Is the pace too slow or the characters a little too introspective? Do you prefer books with a time travel theme or is historical accuracy more important to you?

So if you’re looking for a follow-up read to this or any other book, first take a few minutes to think about WHY you love a particular book. What are the elements that really appeal to you? Then stop by the information desk at your local library for a few minutes of in-depth conversation with a librarian. The more we know about your likes and dislikes, the better job we can do finding the right book.

Three very different reading recommendations for fans of Outlander are listed below and one of them may be just right for you. None of these appeal? No worries. Let us know what’s important to you, and we’ll go on a quest of our own to find your next great read.



If richly-detailed historical fiction, intricate plots and complex characters appeal, you’ll want to give Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles a try. The charismatic 16th century Scottish outlaw Francis Crawford, wanted on both sides of the border for treason, attempts to prove his innocence in The Game of Kings. At times heart-wrenchingly brutal, the series interweaves characters in political events and intrigue throughout Europe and Asia. You may find yourself pondering obscure poetry and consulting a dictionary here and there, but readers willing to invest the time will find the series full of satisfying characters and unexpected plot twists.




Sara Donati’s more slowly-paced Wilderness series places strong female characters in the late 18th century frontier of upstate New York. Donati’s saga begins when independent English spinster Elizabeth Middleton meets handsome backwoodsman Nathaniel Bonner in Into the Wilderness. Their romance kindles in the midst of various conflicts between natives of the Mohawk nation, local slave owners and Elizabeth’s own family. Donati sprinkles her novel with tributes to several well-known authors, so look for some familiar character cameos. The plot revolves primarily around local events, but it’s easy to find yourself immersed in her colorful characters and time period.





The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley focuses on a less well-known piece of Jacobite history, the failed 1708 Jacobite Expedition. When novelist Carrie McClelland begins writing about the attempt to bring the exiled ruler James Stuart to Scotland, her story seems to come to her almost effortlessly. As she continues her research, she discovers uncanny connections between her fictional characters and real people from both past and present. With the sweetly haunting style that marks Kearsley’s writing, the novel delivers a strong sense of period and place. 

-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library




Wednesday, March 09, 2016

What’s New in Juvenile Nonfiction?

Fairfax County Public Library is continuously adding new books, especially on topics that change rapidly such as technology. We’ve noticed that young customers are especially drawn to series; when they find one they love, they often read through the whole set! Many of these series enhance and expand the Fairfax County Public Schools curriculum. Below is a sampling of what’s new in juvenile nonfiction series.

We’ve all heard of Mark Zuckerberg, but how familiar are you with Ruchi Sanghvi or Aprille Ericsson? Stem Trailblazer Bios celebrates innovators in fields such as aerospace engineering, computer engineering, genetics and theoretical physics. By Lerner Publications for grades 3-6, these biographies are attractively designed with colorful graphics and photographs.



True Books from Scholastic has a new sub-series: The New Criminals. This series explores contemporary crime conundrums; titles include Cybercriminals, Poaching, Illegal Animal Traffickers and Modern Pirates. This well-indexed and visually appealing series is best for grades 3-5.

Calling All Innovators: A Career for You, also by Scholastic, is designed for students in grades 5-8 and explores contemporary careers. Titles include Apps: From Concept to Consumer, Genetic Engineering, Robotics, Food Engineering, Software Development, and Deep Sea Exploration.



In the realm of history and social sciences, the popular You Wouldn’t Want to Be series by Scholastic has branched out to You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without… What are some of the things we wouldn’t want to live without? Soap, cell phones, clean water, antibiotics, books, electricity and toilets, just to name a few. Cartoonish illustrations and time lines reveal how some of the resources we take for granted developed and aided civilization. This series is in-demand among children grades 3-6.
 

Another kid-approved series recently expanded upon is the Who Was-- series, affectionately known as “the big head books” by children because of the outsized faces on the covers. The series grew to include What Was-- and now offers Where Is--. Titles include Where is the Brooklyn Bridge, Where are the Great Pyramids, Where is the White House and many more by Grosset & Dunlap for grades 3-7. If these prove as popular as the Who was-- and What was-- series, we can expect a fresh wave of history and geography buffs.

Whether the young people in your life are drawn towards STEM or the humanities, there is sure to be a fascinating new series for them to discover at the library.

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Based on the Book 2016

It’s gearing up to be an amazing year for book adaptations on screen and stage. Who would have guessed a lengthy Alexander Hamilton biography would inspire this year’s must-see Broadway production, Hamilton? It was announced this year that the late Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird will also be heading to Broadway. Meanwhile, J.K. Rowling is bringing the boy wizard out of retirement with a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  The script will be released in both print and digital formats after the play opens in London’s West End this summer. Finally, HBO’s Game of Thrones is setting a new precedent for television adaptations by bringing material to the screen that hasn’t yet been seen in print.  Season 6 of the popular series will contain material from George R. R. Martin’s yet-unpublished Winds of Winter.


We’ve listed just a few more of this year’s upcoming book adaptations below. You may not be ready to hop over to London, head out the movie theater or even subscribe to HBO to catch all these great shows. But all you need is a library card to read the original for free, at any time – that is, as soon as we convince George R. R. Martin to write a little faster.




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Acclaimed spy master-writer John Le Carre’s novel features a former British soldier who attempts to take down an international arms dealer. AMC miniseries, April.
 



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Small-town girl Louisa Clarke finds a new job caring for acerbic quadriplegic. Will Traynor challenges her in very unexpected ways. Expected release June 2016.
 


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Lonely alcoholic Rachel Watson obsessively fantasizes over a couple she watches from her train window. She becomes both suspect and witness after the woman disappears. Expected release October 2016.
 


http://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/57/5?searchdata3=Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk&srchfield3=TI^TITLE^SERIES^Title Processing^Title&searchoper3=AND&thesaurus3=SERIES&search_entries3=TI&search_type3=TITLE&special_proc3=Title Processing&library=ALL&match_on=KEYWORD&shadow=NO&sort_by=-PBYR&user_id=WEBSERVER

19-year old Billy Lynn and the other surviving members of Bravo Company come face-to-face with the American public’s view of the Iraqi war during a surreal Thanksgiving Day stop on their “Victory Tour.” Expected release November 2016.


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Conor’s mother is fighting cancer. The ancient, wild monster that appears outside the 13-year old’s window just past midnight wants him to confront an enemy even more frightening. Expected release October 2016.


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Follow the exploits of magizooligist Newt Scamander 70 years before Harry Potter purchases his textbook as required reading at Hogwarts. Expected release November 2016.  


http://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/57/5?searchdata3=Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children&srchfield3=TI^TITLE^SERIES^Title Processing^Title&searchoper3=AND&thesaurus3=SERIES&search_entries3=TI&search_type3=TITLE&special_proc3=Title Processing&library=ALL&match_on=KEYWORD&shadow=NO&sort_by=-PBYR&user_id=WEBSERVER

A horrific tragedy, a mysterious letter and a strange collection of vintage photographs lead 16-year old Jacob to the dilapidated remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Expected Release December 2016. 


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A 14-year old girl and a retired locksmith are connected through the reappearance of a mysterious book. Expected release 2016.  


http://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/57/5?searchdata3=Lost City of Z&srchfield3=TI^TITLE^SERIES^Title Processing^Title&searchoper3=AND&thesaurus3=SERIES&search_entries3=TI&search_type3=TITLE&special_proc3=Title Processing&library=ALL&match_on=KEYWORD&shadow=NO&sort_by=-PBYR&user_id=WEBSERVER

Adventurers Percy Fawcett and his son take on the perils of the Amazon forest in a 1925 expedition to find the fabled lost city of Z. Expected release 2016 
-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library