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Great Reads

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09.09.09

Looking for something good to read?  You can always ask Library staff for suggestions.  We are avid readers, and we have many resources to generate more ideas.  NoveList, an online tool, and Genreflecting, a series of printed guides, are just two of those resources, and they are available to patrons as well as to staff.

We also produce our own lists of recommended reading, More Great Reads, three times a year.  Here are some of our recent favorites.

Jeanne Denton writes:  Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors and speakers. When I first read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, I found myself amazed by this woman’s courage and strength. I wanted to know more about her and how she has come through her life with such dignity and love. I have read all her books, so it is not surprising that I was drawn to this new one, “Letter To My Daughter”.   This book is a quick read but one full of interesting experiences that have brought much understanding to her life. Angelou speaks in short essays of various situations that were particularly meaningful to her. She has performed as a dancer, singer and is also a noted speaker and teacher. She recounts cultural lessons she learned while touring in Morocco as part of the acting troupe of “Porgy and Bess,” to relationships failed, to being almost beaten to death when she was a young naïve woman, to her search for God. Some circumstances are frightening, some funny, and others insightful. In each essay there are lessons that we could all learn from.   Angelou has only one son, but in her life she has connected deeply with many women across the pages of her books, by sharing the truth of her life through poetry, fiction, and biography; thus came the writing of “Letter to My Daughter”. This book is to all of us who have been nurtured and moved by all that she has given us. I recommend this book highly.  


Sarah Bowen enjoyed Steve Lopez’ biography of Nathaniel Ayers, “The Soloist:  a lost dream, an unlikely friendship, and the redemptive power of music”.  She writes:  “Nathaniel is 100 percent off the books. No Social Security card, no driver’s license, no address, no living will, no job, no lawn to mow, no phone call to return, no retirement to plan for and no rules except his own.”   Newspaper columnist Steve Lopez discovers Nathaniel Ayers in a subway tunnel in downtown L.A. playing Beethoven on a violin in the midst of poverty and drug abuse. After writing one column describing Nathaniel’s tattered appearance and homelessness, he receives letters and donations – some in the form of musical instruments.  Steve uncovers Nathaniel’s back-story of family issues, a Julliard scholarship, and forced institutionalization after odd public behavior. Because of the competition and family issues, Nathaniel ended up in Los Angeles. The two men become friends, and Steve helps Nathaniel by placing the donated (some brand-new) instruments in a building designed as a social-work facility with counselors and psychologists. With Steve’s encouragement, Nathaniel agrees to protect his cart, the carrier of all his physical belongings that he takes everywhere, in an apartment. He gradually moves in and on good days is able to keep appointments, attend concerts, and teach music to people he trusts – such as Steve who wants to know more about classical music.  Steve, in getting to know musical genius Nathaniel, learns about mental illness and its history and laws. Nathaniel, because of Steve, finds a home and someone he can trust. A recommended read for all! 

Sandy Mosolgo recommends “If Today Be Sweet” by Indian novelist Thrity Umrigar:  Communicating with a dead husband as a story thread  almost made me not continue this delightful book.  However I soon became engrossed in the life of a Parsi widow, Tehmina, aka Tammy, who left her beloved Bombay to live with her son in Cleveland. Feelings of loss for the dead as well as love for children are cross-cultural and form a strong current throughout this story. There is much subtle humor and a not always flattering view of American family dynamics. While not giving away the plot, Tehmina becomes a hero and unwilling celebrity simply by doing the right thing. Her sense of self grows through this crisis and by the end, this timid widow is stronger and more confident. Aspects of the storyline are not believable but many of the emotions and feelings are genuine and I felt a true bond with Tehmina. “If Today Be Sweet” is a thought-provoking visit with a friend from a different culture.  

For these and more great reads, visit the Library at www.tcplweb.org or call 988-2541.

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TumbleBooks


Online collection of animated, talking picture books to encourage reading in children.

 


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