Monday, April 30, 2018

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Story of Resilience - Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals the Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

Image result for stir by jessicaOne of the things I like best in a book is resilience.  It is in abundance in Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals the Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor.    Fechtor poignantly describes her recovery from a burst brain aneurysm.  She dwells not on the bad days or difficulties, but on taking each day as it comes and forging ahead.  Life is filled with roadblocks and difficulties for all of us.  The quality of our lives depends on how we respond to these occurrences and how do or do not let them define us. 

Fechtor lets the aneurysm and subsequent surgeries (and problems) define her only in terms of how she can recover and how she can make the best of it.  This leads her back to the kitchen where she felt most at home and where she begins to write about her experiences.   Each chapter ends with a recipe relevant to the subject or person contained therein.  After I finished to book, I felt like I was one of her friends and was invited to her place for dinner.  This is one of the best books I've ever read.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner

I first read reviews of this book last spring and I knew immediately that I wanted to read it.  It sounded like a fun, quick read and I thought maybe I'd learn a little Bridge lingo in the process. The book did not disappoint and the further I got into the book, the more the book became a multi-layered personal reveal of mother/daughter dynamics - without being heavy or burdensome.

What begins as a memoir of her mother's weekly bridge group grows into a reflective memoir on mothers and daughters, families, family secrets and friendship.  The big winners here are friendship and the author's acceptance of her mother as she is.  The mother/daughter journey can be difficult to navigate, but Betsy Lerner is like an explorer. She never gives up, whether asking questions about her mom or learning bridge. 

There are some difficult subjects, but Lerner's empathy and honesty will help others who have faced similar losses.  Her sense of humor is quirky and helps keep the tone light.  Readers will admire her tenacity and will love getting to know the Bridge Ladies.  This is a delightful book to read.  Highly recommended.

To learn more about The Bridge Ladies, check out this YouTube clip:

Friday, September 18, 2015

How intergrated are our personal libraries?

Most folks I know have diverse music collections.  Their CD's and playlists include a wonderful mix of music by everyone from Wynton Marsalis and Stevie Wonder to Beethoven and Diana Krall.  But how many of us have personal libraries that share the same unique and diverse blend of American creative artistry?

I wonder if we take the ease of crossing cultural/stylistic musical lines for granted and think "yes; I like a variety of music styles, so I'm a modern, open-minded person ... so I'm not a racist, blah, blah, blah."  Is that true?  Is enjoying Marvin Gaye, Najee and Snoop Dog enough?  Not to belittle music at all, but that's just music.  There's so much more!

How many Caucasians have read Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, or Terry McMillan?  To enjoy, respect, and appreciate African American culture, we need to read and try to understand their experiences and literature offers us an incredible opportunity to immerse ourselves in this wonderful culture.  I've read Terry McMillan and Tina McElroy Ansa.  I've tried to read J. California Cooper, but gave up because it was hard for me to follow and it was painful.  I have not read Toni Morrison ... yet.  Like I said, there's so much more.  Take a look at your bookshelves and grow it into a multicultural collection.  In the meantime, a whole world awaits and it's all available at your local public library.

Review: Look Up: the Life and Art of Sacha Kolin

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Look Up: the Art and Life of Sacha Kolin by Lisa Thaler

I am currently reading a fascinating biography of Sacha Kolin, a mid-century modern artist who emigrated to the US in the 1930's.  Titled Look Up:  the life and art of Sacha Kolin, it is a scholarly work by professional genealogist, researcher and editor Lisa Thaler, but is readable and friendly to those who lack knowledge of the art world.  Short, informative chapters blend Sacha's personal and professional lives seamlessly into one.  I'm currently about half-way through the book and what strikes me most of all is that, no matter how successful and famous you might be, if you are an immigrant, you live your life always trying to be part of the in crowd, always trying to catch up.  Kolin's talent and tenaciousness leave me in awe.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Moments of Grace

Today I had a moment of grace.  Of course, moments of grace occur all the time, especially throughout the workday in a busy public library, but this one was uniquely special.

I was helping out at a new branch library.  I've helped the manager with some special projects over the last few weeks as she prepared to open the branch.  She graciously offered to buy me lunch to thank me.  So, she went out to a barbecue restaurant and returned with lunch for the two of us.  She set two cans of Diet Coke on the table in the staff lounge.  Both cans said "Dad" on them.  The barbecue came with two kinds of sauce:  regular and North Carolina.  I chose NC because my dad was from NC.

This moment of grace was a wink from my dad.  Here's to you, dad.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Libraries Change Lives

Public library staff make an enormous difference in people's lives.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently posted an article about Gratia Countryman, a librarian in the early 20th century who made a difference. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Busy Winter and Spring

I can't believe it's almost the first of May.  After taking a few online classes and finding myself overwhelmed (in a good way), I am trying to catch up on reading and writing.  Here's a link to some read-a-likes for the uber-popular title The Girl on the Train.  Click here to learn more.  Courtesy of OverDrive, distributor of e-books and more.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

13227454What a delightful book!  This is a sleeper - you don't realize how good it is at first and then, bam, you fall in love with it.  There are a lot of layers here and Harold's journey, while seemingly unrealistic at first, is reflective of our desire to do something drastic, to really take a stand and make a difference.  Just how his journey - the pilgrimage of the title - progresses and transforms him and others is deftly told and you'll find yourself cheering him on.  The author weaves all the layers together into a very satisfying ending.  Highly recommended.