Tuesday, April 18, 2017

American Gods Comes To Television

Neil Gaiman is one of the most influential writers among librarians and bibliophiles. Due to his love and support of libraries (beginning at an early age), he has become a voice for childhood literacy across the world. His stories are considered ethereal, poetic, mythological, and literary. He has won many awards for his writing in children and adult fiction. And one of them is coming to television, American Gods. The book was originally published in 2001 followed by a 10th Anniversary edition that hit shelves in 2011. During it's time it has won 9 literary awards and is considered a modern classic among bookworms. Fans of the book have been anticipating a television adaptation of the book for the past 5-6 years as rumors were always circulating. Last year it became official! The show will air on STARZ on April 30, 2017. View the trailer here. And if you would like to know more about the book, click here.

Hewitt: Mythology for me has always been kind of a window into various cultures, providing metaphors for how those cultures see their physical and spiritual world. What if people from those cultures left their place of origin? How would their assorted mythologies and by extension, their gods, be affected? This is the central question to American Gods and is the main reason it was of interest to me. I listened to it as an audiobook, which contained an interview of its author, Neil Gaiman. He talks about how at the time of writing, he had been living in the US for a while but still felt sort of like an outsider and he liked it that way. As you listen/read through the novel you can tell this is how he wants you to view the gods of the various cultures referenced within. As a "road novel," Gaiman also wants you to understand how America feels to someone from a much smaller but older country. This is best evidenced by a quote of his (I do believe he is paraphrasing someone else) in the interview, "in England, 100 miles is a long way, in America, 100 years is a long time." The mixture of distance and time has its place in the book as well, and it is used well to add more depth to assorted gods. 

On to the coming Starz network show. I am excited, for several reasons. First of which being that Bryan Fuller is running the show. My first contact with him came from several episodes he wrote for the series Heroes (RIP Season 1). He also ran Hannibal, and while the show was unfortunately canceled it had a solid story. And the visuals from a cinematography standpoint could only be described as sumptuous. To add to that, the casting is absolutely pitch-perfect. As far as my most eagerly awaited new shows of 2017 are concerned, this one is right up there with Marvel's The Defenders.

Brittney: I've read American Gods once, twelve years ago, when I had just recently discovered Neil Gaiman and was in the process of getting my greedy, sixteen-year-old hands on every word he had ever, up to that point, written. I remember that it was the first book that I kept overdue from the library, and I remember a sunny March afternoon I spent reading it, stretched out on a quilt in the front yard of my childhood home. I remember feeling pleased with myself when I could correctly identify the deities as they cropped up in the plot, and I remember the feeling of satisfied recognition when I read the description of Rock City's black-lit, subterranean hellscape. However, that was twelve years ago. Many books have come into and left my life in the meantime, and many, many details have been lost to me. So the imminent release of the miniseries is both a source of excitement and a not-so-gentle prod to reread the book and fast. I'm planning to do so soon, and I'm excited to see both how American Gods the show compares to the source material, and how American Gods the book compares to my first discovery of it.

Jessica: I originally read America Gods about 7 years ago. At that point in time, I was trying to find my place in this world. I was asking questions without fear but hesitant of the judgments surrounding them. Comfort and safety were what I was longing for and I found them in this book. Neil Gaiman was about to change my life. From that point on, he would be one of the most treasured names on my bookshelf. He had written a book that would hold my favorite quote of all time, make me ask questions about life, culture, my beliefs, and help me find peace.

Now, fast forward to present day. At the beginning of 2017, I listened to an audio version of the book (I highly recommend the 10th anniversary edition). This time the mythology was not just intriguing but I understood its importance to the story as well and my own beliefs. It made me examine myself with a painful scrutiny that shook me to the core. And I love the book for that reason. American Gods has left a mark on my soul twice now. So, while I am hesitant (most of the time) about this screen adaptation, I can't help but feel pure excitement for this show. For me it wasn't just a story but a revelation. I have no doubt that this story will, once again, leave me transformed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Patronize Me: Featuring My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

 My next patron is Maya Montgomery. She has been coming to the library a little under a year and has developed quite the addiction to our free services of books (Hooray). Even though she may not be able to get into the library for a book she is grateful she can still get them via Overdrive. Young adult is the genre she mostly gravitates towards (not unlike yours truly) but also enjoys mysteries and occasional chick lit. Due to our similar tastes in books, I struck up a conversation and found a kindred spirit. I got recommendations, fabulous discussions, and the desire to read the Illuminae series (it is a YA story written in a unique way and I will be adding it to our YA blog soon). Needless to say we have a lot in common when it comes to books which made me think she would be perfect for this blog post. Maya is currently reading Alice by Christina Henry. She is awaiting the much anticipated sequel to Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

Maya's pick for me was, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell you She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. (You may recognize the author's name from his other bestseller,  A Man Called Ove, which has been made into a movie.) This is the story of a 7-year-old girl named Elsa who is a precocious outsider. Lonely, bullied, and without friends, she takes refuge in three things she loves most; comic books, Granny, and Harry Potter. Granny is not only Elsa's best friend but also her superhero. She has a wide variety of superpowers but is best at giving Elsa The-Land-Of-Almost-Awake, a place where one can go on adventures. A place that gives one comfort and peace when real life becomes difficult. Because, for Elsa, life is a bit rough right now. When you are almost 8 and understand the world better than most who are 30, it isn't easy trusting adults. So, the escape Granny's stories provide is welcome. She leaves a trail of letters behind for Elsa to deliver. Each one has an intended recipient and an apology. With each letter she delivers another layer of her Granny is revealed and her stories begin to take on different shapes with unexpected meanings.

I loved this book! It was a story of compassion in the most unexpected places, a fresh look at life from every walk of it, an ode to grandparents, and a sensitive take on grief. It was an emotional journey but more of the healing kind. I think the thing I was most taken by was the view of all of life's complexities and tragedies through the eyes of an almost 8 year old. The essence of being a child is captured but the writing doesn't feel like a children's book either. His characters are flawed like many of us who have scars that aren't always visible. He says so much with (what feels like) little effort. It is natural and gives one pause.

“if you hate the one who hates, you could risk becoming like the one you hate.”  

“Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details.”

More than anything though...This book made me miss and appreciate my grandmother. She passed away long ago but her memory floated in and wrapped around like a blanket. Because that is what grandparents do. They comfort you, protect you, love you, spoil you, and ensure that you always have an ally. It is a truly unique relationship. One I will treasure for a lifetime. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Reading Challenge Reviews: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

 The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is one of those books that hovered on my radar for
quite some time before I finally picked it up. I knew that it was about a man who finds a child abandoned in his bookstore and decides to keep it. I imagined the man as quite elderly, and the child as a tiny baby boy. It sounded heartwarming, saccharine, and not at all the thing for my sometimes cynical reading tastes.

Fast forward to my decision to participate in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. One part of the challenge is to read a book about books, and when I began casting around online for something that fit the requirement, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry kept showing up on lists. It had good reviews from friends who claimed that it was a quick, even one-day, read, so I thought why not?

Guys. I was so wrong to ignore this book for as long as I did.

For one thing, I completely misconstrued the synopsis I read. A.J. Fikry is far from the curmudgeonly elderly bachelor I imagined. When we meet him, he is an emotionally shattered thirtysomething widower. He has more or less resigned to either retire early or run his bookstore into the ground, ideally by drinking himself into oblivion. His plans of self-destruction go awry when two things happen: 1. A prize rare book, the sale of which he planned to use to fund his early retirement, is stolen. And 2. He discovers an abandoned toddler in his shop and decides to keep her.

Both of these things, while they seem somewhat catastrophic to A.J. at first, end up completely transforming his life for the better.

And I could not. Stop. Reading. As years passed by in the novel and I watched the characters age, begin new relationships, and experience loss, I felt like I was getting to know them as people. I became so invested in their lives and so riveted by the book. It dragged me along at breakneck pace, buffeted in a wake of emotions, and I was powerless to extricate myself, no matter how many times it made me cry.  (Which was many.)

Although they're pretty different books, I think that The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry would appeal to fans of The Time Traveler's Wife. Both of them are favorites of mine, and both of them let the reader come along for the ride as characters' lives change over time.

If you're a lover of the written word--and I'm guessing you are, because you're reading this blog--you will also appreciate that The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is steeped in books. Not only does it take place in a bookstore, but it also features a character who works for a book publisher, and every chapter opens with a suggestion of a book or short story from A.J.

So if you want a quick but intellectually satisfying read that will make you feel things, check out The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

5 Nonfiction Books to Help You Challenge Your Assumptions and Understand the World

We are currently living in pretty confusing times. Every day we're bombarded with what feels like hundreds of breaking news stories, while the tone of discourse, both in the media and between individuals, becomes increasingly volatile and heated.

If you want to learn more about the world, make some sense of what's going on, and empower yourself to participate more effectively in challenging conversations you might find yourself in, try these great nonfiction books, all available through your local LPLS branch.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Zinn tells the story of American history from the perspective of people who are often relegated to the margins: women, Native Americans, factory workers and the working poor, and people of color.

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Loewen examines the biases, omissions, and untruths taught in American history classes to create a more accurate, and often surprising, potrayal of American history. 

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein
Drawing from the crises that occurred both in Iraq and in post-Katrina Louisiana, Klein examines the ways in which tragedy, shock, and extreme violence are exploited for economic gain.

The  New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorbindness by Michelle Alexander
Alexander challenges the assumption of a post-racial America in this examination of how the prison and legal systems perpetuate racism against black people.

Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt by Sarah Jaffe
What makes regular citizens assume the role of activists and take to the streets with movements such as Occupy or Black Lives Matter? Jaffe answers this question in her examination of social movements and protest.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Patronize me: Featuring Daring Greatly

This selection is from Charlene Kever. I, first, met her and her two daughters, Bella and Abby, when they were seeking out a new series for Bella to read. They were getting ready to go visit family and would need something for the car ride. She was into the fantasy genre. So, I immediately thought of The Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I also gave Charlene a list of books to look for in the future. A few weeks later they were back at the library returning their books. Bella loved Redwall. I will never forget the look of pure glee on her face when I asked, "Did you like it?" It was as close to magic as a librarian can experience.

Around Christmas, I received a gift from them. They had discovered I liked coffee during our celebration of National Coffee Day. It was mentioned that Mr. Kever roasts coffee beans and I got really excited but tried to keep it tame. On the following book return, Charlene brought in a jar of freshly roasted beans for me. They were DELICIOUS! Needless to say it is something I have savored. Bit by bit and cup by cup. My husband and I were very appreciative of the thoughtfulness.

Charlene selected, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. I knew of the book. Several years ago I worked at Barnes &Noble where the book was a bestseller for a while. There was not a day that went by where I wasn't asked to help locate the book for a customer or told I should read it. This book has sat on my goodreads, "To Read," shelf for about 3 years. So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to read it. After simply reading the introduction, I could see why this book came highly recommended by so many. Brene Brown has done several TED talks (follow the link, if you would like to view them). She is well versed in research on shame and vulnerability both of which she has studied for 13 years. She is currently a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She explains how she came about this particular research topic (vulnerability is not a weakness). It all started with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

From this point on I was like a sponge. I soaked up everything this book was offering. It all comes down to the fact that we are individuals who crave the connection with others. The emotions we crave: joy, peace, happiness, and contentment come from these very connections. But one cannot experience them without being vulnerable. It becomes clear that vulnerability is not a weakness but rather a courageous path to engagement and experiencing meaningful connections. Every day we take risks whether it be a new idea, a creative process, a family conversation, a new relationship, speaking in front of a group, a meeting at work, or writing a blog. Each of these requires courage to engage with one another and show emotion. We have to dare greatly.

This is a book I have already applied to my own relationships and daily life. I have learned a lot, know the benefits and want to experience it. I cannot thank Charlene enough for recommending this book. There is no other way to describe it...This was truly life-changing and altering. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Linebaugh Oscars: Lauren's Picks


Favorite movie of 2016
Best Actor or Actress 
Best Music or Soundtrack
La La Land

Starring: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

Movie you have recommended the most
Captain Fantastic
Starring: Viggo Mortensen
In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Most Anticipated Movie of 2017
Blade Runner 2049  Due out October 6, 2017   
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Robin Wright, and Harrison Ford
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner...

Best New TV Series

Stranger Things
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, and Millie Bobby Brown
When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.

All synopsis from IMDB.com 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Linebaugh Oscars: Brittney and Al's Picks


Favorite movie of 2016   
Starring: Auli'l Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson
Young navigator Moana, the daughter of a Polynesian chief, is chosen to find a precious artifact that could save her people. She teams with demigod Maui to locate a legendary island, and together the pair explore fantastical lands and encounter incredible sea creatures in this animated adventure from Disney.

Best Actor or Actress 
Rachel Bloom from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Tom Ellis from Lucifer

Best New TV Series   

Starring: Tom Ellis and Lauren German
Based on the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg, Lucifer is the story of the original fallen angel.

Most Anticipated Movie of 2017
The Lego Batman Movie  Due out February 10, 2017

Starring: Ensemble Cast
Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted. 


Best Music or Soundtrack & Best Animated Film   

TV series you have recommended the most   
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend  
Starring: Rachel Bloom
A young woman abandons a choice job at a law firm in New York in an attempt to find love in the unlikely locale of West Covina, California. 

Least Favorite Movie   
Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Starring Ben Affleck Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg


Favorite movie of 2016   
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  
Starring:Eddie Redmayne
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witched and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Best Actor or Actress
Jennifer Lawrence from Passengers 
Eddie Redmayne from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Best New TV Series
Crazy Ex Girlfriend

Most Anticipated Movie of 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  Due out May 5, 2017
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' continues the team's adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage. 

All synopsis from IMDB.com