Check This Out! – Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

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97808129953431George Saunders is not an author with whom I was familiar prior to reading Lincoln in the Bardo.  What drew me is the title, being both a Lincoln/American Civil War enthusiast (I’ve never really liked the term “Civil War buff” though I certainly meet the criteria) and dabbler in eastern religions and spirituality.  The term “bardo” refers to a state of consciousness between death and rebirth.  The story focuses on the death of President Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son Willie in February, 1862 during the first term of Lincoln’s presidency and America’s escalation into its nearly year-old Civil War.

I have read, in various forums, that readers’ preferred format for this novel is the audio-book.  I can easily understand this as the story features a cacophony of character voices—graveyard residents—whose souls retain a variety of personalities so diverse that it seems a shame to deny one’s ears the pleasure.  Saunders creates a dialog between characters that is, in many ways, more reminiscent of a play than a novel.  Truncated, rapid-fire responses mixed with monologue.  The character dialog is interspersed with citations from the many, many books (of which I have read a number) written about Lincoln himself, his administration, the Todd family (Mary Lincoln’s kin) and the Civil War era.  Generally speaking, my first impression of this book was not positive.  The quirky writing-style was so alien to me that I felt it a bit too bizarre for my taste.  In fact, I reluctantly abandoned it early on but it was my love of all things Lincoln, along with the understanding that beneath the literary quirk was a truly talented writer, that brought me back to its pages for another try and, ultimately, I am pleased that it did.

Saunders’ portrayal of Lincoln’s grief and heart-wrenching loss; his visits to the cemetery—allegedly, to exhume and caress his son’s entombed body—in the days after Willie’s death was, at times, emotionally overwhelming.  It felt almost intrusive to be reading something so personal and emotionally weighted.  In scenes both reviling and beautiful, the author takes you to places you ordinarily believe you would surely decline to go.  Until you go.  And it becomes the tragic sight from which you can’t avert your eyes.  It is by no means a light, fun read.  There is wonderfully creative and talented prose as well as a good dose of humor in some of his many characters but for anyone who has suffered a loss of such magnitude, an emotional ride awaits you in this book.

–Wendy Smith-Stenhouse

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Check This Out! – Tetris: The Games People Play

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If you’ve been alive at any point in the last 30 years, you’ve probably played Tetris at least once.  Maybe you’ve played long enough that you still see the shapes falling after you’ve stopped playing or even in your dreams (this is a documented psychological phenomenon called “the Tetris effect”).  What you may not know is that the story of arguably the most ubiquitous video game ever involves all manner of tech industry wheeling and dealing, political manipulation, questions of ownership, and one Russian computer scientist who wanted to make a simple puzzle game to amuse himself and his co-workers.  Writer/artist Box Brown covers it all in this graphic novel, along with a quick history of the video game industry and a rumination of what it is about gaming that drives us all, whether we know it or not.  It’s a fun, informative read… you’ll probably enjoy it, and you’ll definitely want to play Tetris for an hour or six when you’re done.

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CHECK THIS OUT!–March

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March is a graphic novel series featuring the first person accounts of Congressman John Lewis on the history of the civil rights movement. In Book 1, he describes his childhood in segregated Alabama, how it shaped him to become a civil rights activist, and the experience of taking part in the Nashville sit-ins. The latest installment of this series, March Book 3, made The New York Times Bestseller list, and this year was the first graphic novel ever to win the National Book Award.

Bryant has the first two books in this series. Stop in and check them out so you have something to read over Thanksgiving break!

CHECK THIS OUT!–Fredrick Backman

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One of the most popular authors we have recently added to our Leisure Reading collection is Swedish writer Fredrick Backman.  His first three books were best-sellers all over Europe, and have become quite a sensation here in America.  Looking for a book to warm your heart during the autumn chill? Check out one of his novels –  ‘A Man Called Ove’,  ‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryandBritt-Marie Was Here.  You’ll be glad you did!

–David

CHECK THIS OUT!–Every Little Step

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every-little-step-bookOnce you’ve put the Beach Bag and Summer books aside, it’s time to settle in with a cozy throw and pick up a good book for Fall! Krupp Library has a wonderful collection of notable titles in fiction and non-fiction, and one book recommended is the recent best-selling memoir “Every Little Step” from Grammy Award winner Bobby Brown.  From his musical roots singing in a Boston church choir, to his sudden fame with New Edition – and his success as a solo artist – Brown covers all the highs and lows of his celebrity life. He writes candidly about his turbulent marriage to the late singer Whitney Houston, as well as the heartbreak of losing his daughter Bobbi Kristina last year at the age of twenty-two.

In the beginning of the book, Brown writes: “I hope my fans and other readers of this book will be entertained by this trip into the crazy, exciting, fascinating world of Bobby Brown.”  Entertaining, indeed.

–David

CHECK THIS OUT!–Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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We’ve got it! This book is the latest publication in the Harry Potter universe (until September anyway), but it’s not written by J.K. Rowling. It’s also not strictly a novel. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play on Broadway, and this book contains the scripts. The play focuses not Harry and Malfloy, but on their children, Albus and Scorpius.

The book has gotten mixed reviews–some love it, some hate it. Why not check it out and join the conversation?

 

–Becca

Becca

CHECK THIS OUT!—Graphic novels

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Bryant library has a bunch of graphic novels to check out! Never read a graphic novel and don’t know where to start? Read before but need new recommendations?  Whether you’re looking for something new, a classic, or some historical graphic novels, we’ve got you covered:

New series

Rat Queens vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery The Rat Queens are a “pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire” (Image Comics). Follow Dee, Hannah, Violet, and Betty in this funny, adventure-fantasy comic.

Sex Criminals vol. 1: One Weird Trick Two people who both stop time (literally) when they orgasm meet and craft a plan to use their powers to rob banks so they can raise enough money to save a library. This comic is definitely explicit, but also hilarious and heartfelt.

Saga book 1– We featured Saga a couple weeks ago, but this on-going series follows a couple from opposite sides of a space war trying to save their child.

 

Classics

Sandman vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes The Lord Dream escapes imprisonment and finds his realm in disarray. This comic series follows Dream (and his siblings Destiny, Destruction, Delirium, Desire, Despair, and Death,) as he fixes the dream realm, as well as the problems his disappearance caused in the mortal realm.

Watchmen The comic that inspired the movie! Someone starts killing members of a disbanded superhero team, prompting investigation into why (and who). This is definitely not your ‘typical’ superhero comic.

Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic– The Bone cousins get separated and lost, and this collection details their adventures as they try to get back home.

History

The Complete Maus– A graphic novel about Nazi Germany and World War II, where the author illustrates his father’s experience of being captured and surviving a concentration camp.

Persepolis 2: Story of a Return– An autobiographical comic about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation Into the Kennedy Assassination– This book takes evidence surrounding the Kennedy assassination and presents it in graphic novel format.

 

If you have any questions or want more recommendations, come visit us the library (or text, call, or IM us)!

–Becca

Becca