Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Reading Theme: Mountain Getaway

In January/February, we’re heading off on a mountain getaway with our Reading Theme.

Mountains and cabins

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

In 1906, sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. Based on a true story. (Publisher’s summary)

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

At the end of the Civil War, a wounded soldier walks home to his prewar sweetheart, and finds her struggling to rebuild her father's farm with the help of a young woman determined to teach the former Charleston belle the practicalities and harsh realities of surviving in the mountains of western North Carolina. (Publisher’s summary)

Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden

High in the Himalayas near Darjeeling, the old mountaintop palace shines like a jewel. When it was the General's 'harem' palace, richly dressed ladies wandered the windswept terraces; at night, music floated out over the villages and gorges. Now, the General's son has bestowed it on an order of nuns, the Sisters of Mary.

Well-intentioned yet misguided, the nuns set about taming the gardens and opening a school and dispensary for the villagers. They are dependent on the local English agent of Empire, Mr Dean; but his charm and insolent candour are disconcerting. And the implacable emptiness of the mountain, the ceaseless winds, exact a toll on the Sisters.When Mr Dean says bluntly, 'This is no place for a nunnery,' it is as if he foresees their destiny... (Publisher’s summary)

The White Rocks: or, The Robbers’ Den: A Tragedy of the Mountains by A.F. Hill

A fictionalized account of an actual murder case in Fayette County in the 1850's.

Lost Horizon by James Hilton

A planeload of foreigners fleeing war-worn China find themselves in an idyllic valley in the Himalayas where time has virtually stopped. (Publisher’s summary)

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

Book displayA twenty-something advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend, and casually appropriates the image for an insurance company's advertisement. What he doesn't realize is that included in the pastoral scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man in black who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes our hero from the urban haunts of Tokyo to the remote and snowy mountains of northern Japan, where he confronts not only the mythological sheep, but the confines of tradition and the demons deep within himself. (Publisher’s summary)

The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision by James Redfield

In this exciting sequel [to The Celestine Prophecy], Charlene, the friend who first brought word that an ancient manuscript had been found in Peru, has suddenly disappeared while exploring an old-growth forest deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Here, in this rich setting of cathedral forests, wooded streams, and majestic waterfalls, your adventure in search of the Tenth Insight begins. (Publisher’s summary)

Obstruction of Justice by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Two people have died in Lake Tahoe in shocking accidents. In a nearly empty parking lot, a hit-and-run driver kills probation officer Anna Meade Hallowell. High up on a jagged mountain, wife abuser Ray de Beers gets what he deserves: he's struck by lightning. Attorney Nina Reilly, hiking on a rare day off from her one-woman law practice, sees him die. So does her date, Tahoe deputy DA Collier Hallowell. Still shaken from his wife's violent death, Hallowell is hit hard by the accident. It's a bad end to a first date... and the start of a case that will test Nina's ethics and her heart. (Publisher’s summary)

The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley, the Pultizer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres, gives us a magnificent novel of fourteenth-century Greenland. Rich with fascinating detail about the day-to-day joys and innumerable hardships of remarkable people, The Greenlanders is also the compelling story of one family--proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson; his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile; and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book. Echoing the simple power of the old Norse sagas, here is a novel that brings a remote civilization to life and shows how it was very like our own. (Newsday review)

The City and the Mountains by Eça de Queriós

Born in Paris, Jacinto is the heir to a vast estate in Portugal which he has never visited. He mixes with the creme de la creme of Paris society, but is monumentally bored. And then he receives a letter from his estate manager saying that they plan to move the bones of his ancestors to the newly renovated chapel—would he like to be there? With great trepidation, Jacinto sets off with his best friend, the narrator, on the mammoth train journey through France and Spain to Portugal. What they discover in the simple country life will upend their own lives deliciously… (Publisher’s summary)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Finals and Christmas Hours


December 9 - 12                 8:00 a.m.  -  9:50 p.m.
December 14 - 15              CLOSED
December 16                      8:00 a.m.  -  4:15 p.m.
December 17-20                 8:00 a.m.  -  4:50 p.m.
December 21 - January 1              CLOSED

Friday, November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving Break Hours


November 26                       8:00 a.m.  -  4:50 p.m.
November 27                       8:00 a.m.  -  3:50 p.m.
November 28 - December 1       CLOSED

Friday Reads: Likeness

It's grey and gloomy today, so it's perfect weather for digging into a murder mystery set in Ireland! Today for Friday Reads, Adam tells us about The Likeness by Tana French.

Adam Pellman with The Likeness by Tana French

The Likeness
is the second novel in what is known as the "Dublin Murder Squad" series. I read the first novel in the series, In the Woods, last year, and enjoyed it very much. The series focuses on homicide detectives in Dublin, Ireland, and The Likeness centers on Detective Cassie Maddox, who has left the homicide unit after the events of In the Woods. Despite her new role, Cassie is called to a murder scene early one morning, only to find that the victim looks exactly like her, and was carrying an ID identifying her as Lexie Madison, an alias Cassie used years earlier when she worked undercover. As part of the murder investigation, Cassie agrees to pose as Lexie, pretending that she survived the attack, with the hope that she can find clues to the murderer's identity and motives.

I'm halfway through the book right now, and I have no idea where the story is going to end up, which is refreshing for a murder mystery. The author also does a great job of weaving in elements of Irish culture and history. Much of the novel takes place in a small town outside of Dublin, where the effects of Britain's colonial presence in Ireland have lingered over the decades and manifested into a local hatred of outsiders like Lexie's housemates. Could the murder have been motivated by this bad blood? Was it one of the housemates? I can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November Reading Theme: The Holocaust

In November, our Reading Theme and the Spotlight DVD display both feature works about the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Code Ezra by Gay Courter
The ``Ezra'' group of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence arm, has been betrayed, and Eli must find the traitor. As he reviews the files on his operatives, their histories and motivations are revealed. Could the defector be Lily, Holocaust survivor grown into an aloof, sophisticated woman; Aviva, tough sabra whose lifelong byword has been sacrifice; or pampered, soft, American Charlotte, who has always been suspected by Mossad leaders? Courter claims to have based her story on events shared by some real Israeli spies… A fictional view of Israeli intelligence from the in side from 1939 to 1979. (Library Journal review)

See Under: Love by David Grossman
Grossman's brilliant and difficult novel addresses the Holocaust in a unique way: as powerful shaper of the mind of an Israeli boy--later a novelist--who lives in the shadow of his survivor-parent's nightmares... Grossman knows that our idea of the past is inseparable from the language that summons it to consciousness, and in the novel's four sections he provides a stylistically diverse but coherent narrative that reveals the imaginative daring of the writer-hero as he struggles to reclaim a usable identity from catastrophe. (CHOICE review)

Disturbance of the Inner Ear by Joyce Hackett
With the death of her cello teacher, Signor Perso, Isabel Masurovsky is overcome with memories of her parents, who perished in a car crash on the night of her Carnegie Hall debut. A child prodigy, Isabel was managed by her father, Yuri, a Holocaust survivor and an acclaimed pianist in his own right. Now living in Italy and teaching cello to a reluctant young student, Isabel meets a surgeon named Giulio, who is also a male prostitute. Though an unlikely couple, they help each other come to terms with their individual problems. Isabel's quest to make peace with her past and to start living in the present culminates in Terezin, formerly in Czechoslovakia, where she finds the remains of the Nazi camp, Theresienstadt. Here, Yuri played piano in the prisoner orchestra which saved his life. (Library Journal review)

A Prayer for Katerina Horovitzova by Arnost Lustig
Twenty rich Jews, waiting to be exchanged for important Nazi POW's, try to save a young girl from the gas chamber. (Publisher’s summary)

Liquidation by Imre Kertész
Ten years after the fall of communism, a writer named B. commits suicide, devastating his circle and deeply puzzling his friend Kingsbitter. For among B.'s effects, Kingsbitter finds a play that eerily predicts events after his death. Why did B.-who was born at Auschwitz and miraculously survived-take his life? As Kingsbitter searches for the answer -and for the novel he is convinced lies hidden among his friend's papers-"Liquidation" becomes an inquest into the deeply compromised inner life of a generation. The result is moving, revelatory and haunting. (Publisher’s summary)

Enemies, a Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer
A Jewish refugee who escaped Hitler's Holocaust and is living in New York with his second wife faces a dilemma when he discovers that his first wife is still alive. (Publisher’s summary)

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The time is 1947. Sophie, a Polish Catholic beauty who survived Auschwitz, has settled in America. Stingo, a 22 year-old aspiring writer from Virginia, is drawn to Sophie and Nathan--a madly romantic couple whose instability and flamboyance utterly capture his imagination. The deeper Stingo sinks into these people's lives, the more he learns that each harbors terrible secrets. (Publisher’s summary)

QB VII by Leon Uris
Queen's Bench Courtroom Number Seven becomes a seething battleground when a famous novelist stands trial. Author Abraham Cady first became aware of Jadwiga Concentration Camp when he learned it was the place where his family was exterminated. This terrible revelation gave impetus to his decision to write a book that would shake the consciousness of the human race--and with the publication of "The Holocaust", his goal was accomplished. (Publisher’s summary)

Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
Harvard, the New Deal, the Holocaust, World War II, Watergate, two prison terms, and a giant conglomerate - Walter Starbuck, who tries to live by the Sermon on the Mount, experiences them all. Shall the meek inherit the earth? Perhaps on a short-term basis. (Publisher’s summary)

Friday, November 1, 2019

November DVD Spotlight: The Holocaust on Film

All through the month of November, we'll be spotlighting films about the Holocaust in our DVD display.  Along with our extensive special collection of Holocaust and genocide studies books, our holdings include dozens of films spanning a variety of Holocaust-related topics.  From documentaries like Paper Clips (2004) and A Film Unfinished (2010), to narrative feature films like Schindler's List (1993) and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), these films tell a range of stories about this tragic chapter in human history.

Other featured titles include:

Denial (2016)
This riveting legal drama tells the true story of historian and author Deborah Lipstadt, who was forced to prove in court that the Holocaust actually happened after being sued for libel by Holocaust denier David Irving.

Europa Europa (1990)
The true story of Saloman Perel, a Jewish boy who avoided the concentration camps by hiding in plain sight and eventually joining the Hitler Youth.

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000)
This Oscar-winning documentary relates the story of 10,000 children saved from the Nazis and placed with foster parents and hostels in Great Britain at the outbreak of World War II.

The Pianist (2002)
A powerful and harrowing story of survival, this Oscar-winning film stars Adrien Brody as Polish Jew Wladyslaw Szpilman, a brilliant pianist who managed to escape the Nazis and hide out in the ruins of Warsaw.

Shoah (1985)
This chilling, 9 1/2-hour long examination of the Holocaust is not only a brilliant, monumental piece of filmmaking, but an important historical work and a revealing oral history as well.

Son of Saul (2015)
Stylistically daring and intimate in scope, this Auschwitz-set drama follows a member of the Sonderkommandos, the group of Jews forced to assist the Nazis by working in the crematoriums, as he tries to secretly bury the body of a young boy he takes to be his son.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Reads:

Adam Pellman, our Cataloging & Acquisitions Librarian, is a big fan of this week's Friday Reads pick, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren:

Adam Pellman with Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I recently finished reading Hope Jahren's superb memoir Lab Girl, and I've already recommended it to half a dozen people since then. Jahren is a geochemist and geobiologist who has spent much of her career studying fossil forests and teaching at universities in the U.S. and abroad, but her book is far more than the dry account of her life and work that one might expect from someone in her field.

Jahren writes beautifully about her her childhood in Minnesota, her college life and early struggles to fund and run laboratories with her longtime colleague Bill, her struggles with manic depression and workplace sexism, and her experiences with love and motherhood. The chapters about her life are interspersed with shorter chapters about tree life and other elements of the natural world, and Jahren's elegant prose truly illuminates the wonder and beauty of nature.

Strong writing skills are one of the essential elements of the liberal arts education that students get here at Seton Hill, and great science writing like Jahren's is a testament to the value of those skills.

P.S. This book really is amazing, and it's not that long, so I can't recommend it highly enough.