Tuesday, August 04, 2015

[Library Events and Programs] Celebration of Book Clubs August 9, 2015

Explore Memphis 2015 is wrapping up with a special event for book clubs. 

We're a few days away from the Explore Memphis Finale, Celebration of Book Clubs

This event takes place Sunday August 9, 2015 at 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library. 

Events include a book club group photo session, a discussion of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird facilitated by Facing History and Ourselves, and the chance to meet other book clubs, all in the spirit of promoting literacy in Memphis. 

Click to view Celebration of Book Clubs event page where you can download a free book club guide. 


Monday, August 03, 2015

[Book Review] Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


Andrea reviews GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee (HarperCollins Publishers, 2015)
Let me clarify what I know about this “new” book by reclusive author, Harper Lee. Although Ms. Lee is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman is actually the “parent” book of TKAM. What this means is Harper Lee initially presented her publishers a manuscript of GSAW and it was rejected. Her editor specifically asked for Ms. Lee to rewrite the story 20 years prior with a young Scout growing up during the Great Depression in Alabama.
This is how To Kill a Mockingbird was conceived, written, and published!
Now here it is over fifty years later, and Go Set a Watchman is flying off the shelves. Harper Lee has written another masterpiece that is again full of controversy. In this story, Scout is now 26 years old and goes by Jean Louise and lives in New York.  Her homecoming to Maycomb, Alabama this year will be full of shock and heartbreak. Her noble father, Atticus, has gotten older, of course, but his staunch beliefs from TKAM have completely changed. Jean Louise, with help from family, friends, and her own heartstrings, must realize Atticus was never meant to be his daughter’s only guidepost in life. It takes a lot for Jean Louise to recognize this life lesson.
There has been a lot of heated discussion about this book and its characters. That is not necessarily a bad thing. You may not agree with every viewpoint from every character. That is okay, also. The idea of a good book is to prompt discussion and strong feelings.
Just remember the quote by Jo Godwin: “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”
Andrea Bledsoe King, Poplar-White Station Library

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Monday, July 27, 2015

[Author Obits] John A. Williams and E.L. Doctorow

Two highly regarded authors passed away recently:

New York Times Photo
John A. Williams, (b.1927) died July 7, 2015 in New Jersey at the age of 89. Williams wrote The Man Who Cried I Am in 1967 and is also known for the controversial book, The King God Didn’t Save: Reflections on the Life and Death of Martin Luther King Jr. (1970).

Read the full New York Times obituary, John A. Williams, 89, Dies; Underrated Novelist Wrote About Black Identity

Other Williams tributes:
African American Literature Book Club (AALBC.com)

Williams Chronology from the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries

According to the NYTimes obituary, Williams “regarded his peers as E. L. Doctorow, John Updike and Norman Mailer.” Which leads to the next loss in the world of literature.

New York Times Photo

Historical novelist E.L. Doctorow (b.1931) died at the age of 84 in Manhattan on July 21, 2015. His numerous works include the 1975 novel, Ragtime and The March, published in 2005.

Click for the full New York Times obituary, E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84; Literary Time Traveler Stirred Past Into Fiction 

Other Doctorow tributes: 
Remembering E.L. Doctorow Through his Writing Advice -Galleycat

EL Doctorow: 'He showed how a great literary imagination can illuminate the present through the prism of the past' - The Guardian Books Blog

Browse the library catalog to discover or revisit the works of John A. Williams and E.L. Doctorow

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

[Book Review] Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery by David Gibson and Michael McKinley


Philip reviews FINDING JESUS: FAITH, FACT, FORGERY: SIX HOLY OBJECTS THAT TELL THE REMARKABLE STORY OF THE GOSPELS by David Gibson and Michael McKinley (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Who is Jesus? This is the question explored in Finding Jesus. It's authors emphasize that the question must be asked in the present tense because there are hundreds of millions of Christians today who believe Jesus is alive and in Heaven, where he reigns over the universe.
Almost all that is known about Jesus comes from the Gospels and other early New Testament writings, none of which can be considered unbiased, impartial historical sources. Aside from a couple of short passages about Jesus in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus (one of which is likely an addition made by a later Christian writer) what else exists that can provide a direct link to Jesus and shed light on his life?

What the authors explore are six Christian artifacts that may indeed provide that direct link to Jesus. There have been countless Christian relics and artifacts that were proven to be fakes since the time of Jesus. But the six artifacts explored in this book are, the authors assert, "themselves of the natural world," which "have the capacity to take us out of ourselves, to transport us to a time and place not our own as we hope to discover something about Jesus that is not filtered through the distorting lens of time and our own desires."

The artifacts explored are: 1) the bones of John the Baptist, 2) the James Ossuary (could James have been the brother of Jesus?), 3) the Gospel of Mary Magdalene (really just some text on a piece of papyrus but the text raises the possibility that Mary Magdalene may have been the wife of Jesus, 4) the Gospel of Judas (this was a gospel from ancient times but one not selected to be one of the canonical books of the New Testament, 5) a piece of the True Cross, and 6) the burial shroud of Jesus known by most people today as the Shroud of Turin. It is fascinating to learn about these artifacts and to know that they may be direct links to Jesus and to consider what they may tell us about Jesus.

This is indeed a most interesting and thought-provoking book. I found it engrossing and I learned much about all of these artifacts, most of which I was not familiar, the Shroud of Turin, along with most people, I am sure, was the one I knew the most about.

To me, though, there seem to be too many questions about these artifacts and their authenticity, which are raised by the authors in their analyses of these artifacts, for them to provide the historical confirmation of the life of Jesus or to shed more light on his life.

But readers may very well find fascinating at what the authors believe these artifacts may tell us about Jesus.

Philip, Cordova Library

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Monday, July 20, 2015

[News and Notes] Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Go Set a Watchman

We hope you have included To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman on your to-read lists this summer. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is the community read selection for the library’s August 9th event, Celebration of Book Clubs (Event details). 

All the featured news stories below are about Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Go Set a Watchman:

The Many Book Covers of To Kill a Mockingbird (Book Riot)

To Recall a Mockingbird: Marja Mills remembers her time as Harper Lee's next-door neighbor (Chapter 16)

"Mockingbird" Reviews from 1960” (NYTimes)  

Actress Who Played Scout 'Excited' About New Book (Galleycat)

Harper Lee May Actually Be Pulling the Strings (Early Word)

Harper Lee's 'Go Set a Watchman' Brings Division and Curiosity to Monroeville, Ala. (NYTimes) 

Go Set a Watchman Has Sold More then 1.1 Million Copies (Galleycat)

Visit the Memphis Public Library's LIBRARY CARD AND CATALOG HELP page to learn how to place holds on these and other titles and to manage your library card account.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

[Book Review] Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Reader’s Advisory Gay and Lesbian Fiction Genre Review

Donna reviews BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA by Dorothy Allison (Dutton, 1992)

While a well-written and enjoyable book, it is much like a reality TV show on what is commonly referred to as poor white trash.  The book is written from the viewpoint of a young girl, Ruth Ann Boatwright, from about eight years old to around 13 years old. Tales are woven of her life and the life of her adult relatives. Tales of tragedy, comedy, indifference, revenge, love, survival, violence and relationships both good and bad in so many different levels abound in this work. These tales of the Boatwright family describe a Carolina family of poor white relatives who drink, fight, go from job to job, and house to house just trying to get by.

Allison has you living in this southern clan’s culture as you read through each misadventure, anticipating the next family train wreck around the bend. She has a particular way of making you feel as if you are sitting on the porch sipping iced tea with the characters, passing down their history to the young, and explaining away or giving insight to the poor decisions and actions of the various relatives that make them the broken people they are.

This is a great book with an ending that makes you want to know the ancestors of these characters and their stories. It also leaves you realizing this story is set up to continue for even more generations of the same.  

Can the brokenness end?

Donna, Whitehaven Library

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Friday, June 26, 2015


All branches of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center will be closed for the Independence Day weekend, Friday July 3rd AND Saturday July 4, 2015.

Customers have the option of reserving or renewing books by going to www.memphislibrary.org or calling 452-2047. 

The Library’s website also offers several resources customers can use anytime—24 hours a day—seven days a week.   E-books and downloadable audio books, magazines, and music can be checked-out for free; online databases contain searchable newspaper and magazine articles, reference books and more; and blogs and newsletters on everything from fiction bestsellers to travel can be read on the web.


Monday, June 22, 2015

[Library Events and Programs] The New Face of Explore Memphis for Book Clubs

The Memphis Public Library has partnered with Facing History and Ourselves to encourage all Memphians, including book club members, to read or reread the Harper Lee classic, To Kill a Mockingbird during June and July. 

On Sunday, August 9, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. there will be a book discussion on To Kill A Mockingbird for Explore Memphis Finale: Celebration of Book ClubsThis discussion will be lead by Facing History facilitators. 

Don't be late because each attending book club will take a group photo that will become an ALA READ poster.

Set the date: 
Explore Memphis Finale
Celebration of Book Clubs
Sunday, August 9, 2015
1:30 p.m.
Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library

Visit Explore Memphis for Book Clubs to download a copy of the discussion guide, or pick up a copy at your local Memphis Library branch. 

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