Rmlblog's Weblog

November 27, 2017

Movie Discussion Group Starts in January

Filed under: Movies and Books — rmlblog @ 12:48 am

As you know, libraries are more than books. In fact, our dvds circulate on a regular basis despite all the competition from Netflix, Amazon Prime and cable. This just shows us how visual literacy is an important part of our culture.

To support all you movie-lovers out there, we are starting a Movie Discussion group. Like our two book discussion groups, each participant will watch the movie before the group and then at the meeting people will discuss the merits of the film.

We have found a wonderful resource for looking at movies in a new book, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies, by Ann Hornaday. Washington Post film critic Hornaday provides talking points about areas such as the screenplay, acting, production design, cinema-tography, editing, sound/music, and directing.

Obviously, it would be hard to talk about each of those areas in one meeting, so we’ll pick and choose.

The leaders of the group will be staff members Marjorie Johnson and Meredith O’Malley, both movie buffs who watch a wide variety of films.

The first movie will be Blade Runner with the meeting on Monday, January 8, at 7 pm. We will discuss the ways in which Ridley Scott ‘s science fiction hit challenged viewers to question what defines humanity and the possible roles robots will play in our future. The group will help decide the next movie.

If you are interested in joining this discussion group, please sign up by calling the library or emailing mholmes@sailsinc.org so we can order enough copies of the first movie.

Hornaday’s suggested list when thinking about screenplay, for example, includes:

  • Casablanca (1942)
  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  •  Annie Hall (1977)
  •  Groundhog Day (1993)
  •  Manchester by the Sea (2016)

 

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October 25, 2017

November is Literacy Month

Filed under: Children's books,Reading life,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 7:49 pm

This month’s blog is brought to you by Miss Eunice. We are celebrating Literacy Month in November (and, really, every month.) The library will have packets for you to take home with suggestions for sharing books, stories, history and memories as a family. We will also be hosting a discussion of some wonderful historical fiction picture books on Wednesday evening, Nov. 15, at 7 pm. Please check out our titles and share your thoughts during this community event.

Here are just a few suggestions of “sophisticated picture books” to share in families having members five years old and older.  These are great discussion starters, showing ways to:

  1. learn little bits of history that make us realize that “history” is not merely some thank you palaccioremote timeline to be learned, but rather the story of real people just like us
  2. see and hear that art and language can help us explore and expand what we thought we knew
  3. share our own stories with those we know because we each count!

Some of these books are sad, serious and seem far beyond the interests of the “picture book” crowd. This is true. However, all of these titles provide informative, insightful, hopeful, uplifting places from which to begin exploring the world together with your family.

 

September 27, 2017

A Voice from the Past

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 12:38 am

It started out with a phone call.

“Do you have any Richards Family memorabilia?” The woman had a soft Southern accent and a quiet voice.

My immediate thought was that this was a parent looking for help with a child’s local history project. I told her we didn’t really have anything, but we did have the pictures of E. Ira and Lucy Richards.

“I think I’m related to the Richards Family,” the quiet voice explained. Bells went off in my head and I remembered a genealogy book we had on the Richards Family in our local history collection.

“Hold on. We have a genealogical book about the Richards.”

When I came back, the woman started giving me names and I browsed the book. Then she said her father was Michael Richards and there in front of me was a picture of Michael and Anne Richards. And next to that, a picture of their three children.

“You’re in this book!”

The woman, Renee Richards Grace, went on to explain to me about her grandparents E. Ira and Grace Richards. The book, An Informal History of Several Families by R. Draper Richards, had pictures of both, and an obituary for Grace.

Renee was thrilled and said she would stop by to look.

renee and tim graceLittle did I know that Renee and her husband Timothy Grace live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They were on a trip to find out more about her family. Originally this fall her family holds a reunion in South Carolina, but due to her mother’s health and Hurricane Irma, they decided to cancel.

Renee’s father was Michael Richards, 2nd son of Ira and Grace (Meurer) Richards, grandson of Ira and Lydia (Reynard) Richards and great-grandson of Josiah and Harriet (Draper) Richards. This library is a memorial to Edmund Ira and Lucy (Morse) Richards and Josiah was E. Ira’s brother. Their father seems to have been the first Ira Richards.

Wednesday afternoon, after I had left early, Renee and Tim stopped by. Marjorie Johnson showed them what we had in the local history room and found a copy of the original deed for the library, and the Selectman’s thank you letter. She printed out a copy of Elizabeth Mansfield’s A Centennial Celebration 1894-1994.” Marjorie suggested the Blackinton Inn as a B&B, and Meredith O’Malley suggested our two local restaurants, Table at 10 and Portobello, for dinner.

Renee and Tim also visited the old Richards House, now the Council on Aging building on Elm Street. There they found more papers from the family.

On Thursday when they stopped by, we shared the R. Draper Richards book with them as well as some memorabilia left to the library by Lucy “Bonnie” Richards Tweedy, the last of “our” Richards family. We found a copy of the Informal History book as well a copy of a Richards Genealogy book, Genealogical Register of the Descendants of Several Ancient Puritans by Abner Morse for sale on Abebooks.com so that they could have their own copy.

Frank Ward, the director, took Renee and Tim over to the Mount Hope Cemetery to show them the Richards grave.

Renee was full of stories about her family, even though she said her father, Michael, did not like to talk about his family. He was a rebel against the strict upper class upbringing of his father, Ira, who as a stockbroker had rebuilt the family fortunes. Once at dinner Michael mentioned Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his father punched him. Michael had a checkered school career, but ended up as professor of Shakespeare at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Renee related one of his eccentricities: if he didn’t like a paper that a student produced, he’d stick it to a tree and shoot a hole in it. Despite this, or maybe because of it, he was named an Outstanding Professor while he was there.

There seems to be a mystery about the death of Josiah Richards. According to the Informal History and the Attleboro newspaper report of July 10, 1890, Josiah and his grandson Ira were coming back from a shooting expedition designed to amuse the 10 year old Ira. The guns were in the front of the carriage with the muzzle under the armpit of Josiah. Unfortunately the gun was still loaded. Somehow the gun went off and Josiah was shot just below the arm. He eventually bled to death after the first doctor said there was nothing he could do and left to catch the train. A 2nd doctor on the scene arrived to pronounce him dead. Renee explained that the family had passed down a slightly different version in which young Ira’s toes had become caught in the rifle and accidentally fired the gun. This same Ira is the one who “had no use for work and spent his life successfully spending his inheritance.”

This whole episode was a wonderful experience for everyone.

August 21, 2017

Comfort Reads: Mac & Cheese for the Soul

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Jane Austen,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:26 pm

These days I’ve found that I’m having trouble reading books that get my “fight or flight” system going, even though the book may be well-written (Try Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais; I’ll read it when things have calmed down.) I think I am just overloaded with the events in the news. However, I never stop reading; I just turn to my comfort reads.

Comfort reads are very personal. No one can really recommend to you what you would consider comforting. Many times it has to do with something in your childhood. In my case, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is on my list because my father brought it to me when I was sick.

Others include:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Jane Austen
  • Harry Potter
  • PG Wodehouse
  • Louise Penny
  • Many of my fantasy authors (Hobb, Sanderson, Kay)
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Patrick O’Brien

I’ve been collecting many of these authors in audio so when my eyes go I can still listen.

There is an blog from Australia about the site’s staffs’ comfort reads: https://www.readings.com.au/news/our-best-comfort-reads

What are yours?

 

July 27, 2017

Book Related Birthday Trip

Filed under: audiobooks,best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:43 pm

I was listening to a podcast (http://modernmrsdarcy.com/what-should-i-read-next/) that makes book recommendations based on 3 books the guest likes and 1 the guest doesn’t. One guest was planning a trip for her 50th birthday. She lives in San Francisco and was going to go to 10 bookstores in 10 towns as she made her way to San Diego. Her plan was to buy 5 books at each store so that she’d have 50 books by the end.

This got me thinking. 1) I don’t need 50 more books in my house and 2) which of my books do I count as the ones I want to reread as I get older.

I love fantasy and reread several of my authors: Stephen Donaldson, Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay, JK Rowling, Robin McKinley and Tolkien. I don’t think I’ll be rereading Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series mainly because I haven’t finished the last two books in his 4th trilogy. I don’t think I’ll reread Sanderson’s 10 volume set that he’s working on now, but I might reread some of his others. I reread Kay and Rowling regularly either in book or audio. I love Tolkien in audio and will probably relisten.

I also love mysteries and Agatha Christie and Louise Penny are on my reread lists. I’ve been slowly accumulating Christie’s novels.

I relisten to Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey and Maturin series often as well.

What would you collect if you were going to make a 50th Birthday trip? It could really be anything! 50 skeins of yarn and visit yarn shops. 50 bottles of wine and visit vineyards. 50 vinyl records.

June 29, 2017

Parallel Narratives: Which are your Favorites?

Filed under: best books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 2:21 am

Parallel Narratives is a description of those fiction books which tell two (or more) stories that end up intersecting. Usually this involves something that happened in the past that the characters in the present are trying to decipher. Secrets abound! Many current popular novels are using this format. The books are almost always interesting because of the history involved.

Here are some suggestions:

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosnay
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Muralist by Barbara Shapiro
Legacy by Katherine Webb
The Muse by Jessie Burton
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Orphan Train by Christina Baker
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
The Hundred Year House by Rebecca Makkai
The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Sound of Glass by Karen White
Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley
All the light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Lost Constitution by William Martin
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

June 1, 2017

What is Creative Nonfiction?

Filed under: History,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:28 pm

While the term, Creative Nonfiction, is not new, I recently heard about it from a writer in my swimming group and thought it was a wonderful description of some of the best nonfiction I’ve read recently.

Lee Gutkind of the Creative Nonfiction magazine describes it this way: “The word ‘creative’ refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques fiction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonfiction — factually accurate prose about real people and events — in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that your readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy. Scenes are stories are the building blocks of creative nonfiction. Writing in scenes represents the difference between showing and telling. The lazy, uninspired writer will tell the reader about a subject, place or personality, but the creative nonfiction writer will show that subject, place or personality, vividly, memorably — and in action. In scenes.”

Some people include memoirs in this form, but I don’t. I would hope that people writing memoirs would be able to capture the personality and scenes of their lives.

Here are so wonderful examples of this type of writing. Even if you don’t usually like nonfiction, you may find yourself captivated by these stories.

  • Bill Bryson: One Summer
  • Jonathan Harr: A Civil Action
  • Caroline Alexander: The Endurance
  • Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air
  • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken; Seabisquit
  • Robert Kurson: Shadow Divers
  • Candice Millard: Destiny of the Republic
  • Dave Eggers: Zeitoun
  • Michael Pollan: Botany of Desire
  • Rebecca Skloot: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Margot Lee Shetterley: Hidden Figures
  • Erik Larson: Devil in the White City; Dead Wake; In the Garden of the Beasts
  • John Berendt: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Truman Capote: In Cold Blood
  • Michael Lewis: Moneyball

April 24, 2017

Maggie’s Favorite Audiobooks (at least right now)

Filed under: audiobooks — rmlblog @ 11:55 pm

I listen to audiobooks on my drive to work every day and I have lots of favorites. Here is a list of some of them.

  1. Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. Gerard Doyle reads them with a wonderful Irish accent. The series takes place in the 1980s in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. They are exciting, informative, funny, and I keep wanting to get back in my car. The first one is Cold, Cold Ground.
  2. Spencer Quinn’s Bernie and Chet series. Chet is the narrator. He is a dog. Bernie Little, his owner, is a private eye in Arizona with a lot of personal problems. Chet often misses some key moments when he gets distracted. Did you say squirrel? The reader Jim Frangione really does a great job with Chet’s internal voice. Start with Dog Gone It.
  3. Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) series. These books take place in Botswana and the reader, Lisette Lecat, brings it alive. I always want to visit after listening to one of these books.
  4. Louise Penny’s Three Pine series. The reader of the first ten books was Ralph Cosham (he has since died) and that is how I remember Armand Gamache’s voice. The new reader, Robert Bathurst, takes some getting used to. But the stories are still wonderful. Again, a place I want to visit. Start with Still Life.
  5. The Good House by Ann Leary. Hildy Good, a realtor, a townie and an alcoholic is the narrator of this story that follows several secrets in this small North Shore town. The reader, Mary Beth Hurt, really catches Hildy’s voice. You feel like you know her. This is being made into a movie with Meryl Streep as Hildy.
  6. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I particularly enjoyed the Tiffany Aching set (which starts with The Wee Free Men), read by Stephen Briggs.
  7. Ivan Doig’s Montana series make wonderful audiobooks. His descriptions are lyrical. Try Work Song with reader Jonathan Hogan.
  8. One series I collect at home is Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin books. This naval historical set takes place during the Napoleonic period. One of the book covers the great naval battles of the War of 1812 between the US and Britain. The reader, Patrick Tull, brings the characters to life. You understand the humor more in the audio than you do reading them yourself. Start with Master and Commander. There are several readers for this series and your favorite is apt to be the one you start with.
  9. Michael Connelly’s books have several readers. I’ve enjoyed all of them. He writes clearly enough that you can follow the plot as you drive.
  10. And, of course, the Harry Potter series. I like the Jim Dale versions, but others really like Stephen Fry, the British reader, but those aren’t available in our system.

Answers to last month’s quiz:

  1. Morse by Colin Dexter
  2. DCI Alan Banks by Peter Robinson
  3.  Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman
  4. Armand Gamache by Louise Penny
  5. Hamish Macbeth by MC Beaton
  6. Dismas Hardy by John Lescroart
  7. Alex Cooper and Mike Chapman by Linda Fairstein
  8. Walt Longmire by Craig Johnson
  9. Bernie Little by Spencer Quinn

March 29, 2017

What Would Your Idiosyncrasy Be?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 6:16 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries lately and the main characters all seem to have something special about them that is mentioned in every book. Think Columbo and his cigar, raincoat, car and dog. On detective liked dark chocolate Kit Kats — that’s my kind of guy!

What would my idiosyncrasy be if I were the main character in a mystery? It would have to be a cozy mystery — probably involving a library or a bookstore. I read (a lot), knit, sing in a church choir, have cats, collect Clue games, and do Sudoku. I think my character would need to get a little more specific. Maybe I’d only be Miss Scarlet when I played Clue. Or sang tenor. Or had a strange cat (but that’s been done before.)

What would your idiosyncrasy be?

Can you recognize these characters by their idiosyncrasies?

  1. Always doing crosswords and listening to opera
  2. Drinks Laphroaig and listens to opera and folk music
  3. Rows to clear her head
  4. Smells of Roses and Sandalwood
  5. Has a strange dog and a wild cat as pets
  6. Always uses an iron skillet and tells us how to season it.
  7. This pair watches Final Jeopardy every case.
  8. Won’t get a cellphone.
  9.  Always talks about the local water problem.

Answers in the next post.

February 21, 2017

Town-Wide Read: Animals Make Us Human

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 8:52 pm

animals-make-us-humanThe Town-Wide Read is back. This year the book is Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. North Attleboro loves its animals as we can tell from the popular Strut Your Pet events. We also have been inundated with wildlife throughout the years — remember the bear that came through the area?

Some copies of the book will be available at the library starting in February for check-out, but they can also be ordered through the SAILS system.

For a complete list of the programs we’ve planned check out our website, http://www.rmlonline.org/town-wide-read-animals-make-us-human-temple-grandin

We would like reservations for programs so we can put out enough chairs, but you can drop in.

Here are the highlights:

  • Book Discussions for adults and children (who will read The One and Only by Katherine Applegate.)
  • Caleigh Brown talks about her training to be part of a Therapy Dog team with her dog, March 9, at 4 pm. For children and young adults.
  • Movie showing of Temple Grandin movie on March 9, at 6 pm
  • Kristina O’Keefe of the NA Animal Shelter will give a talk “All about Pet Adoptions” on March 11, at 11 am.
  • Rob Adamski of the NE Wildlife Center will talk about NE Wildlife on March 15, at 7 pm
  • Leah Snow will demonstrate Clicker Training on March 18, at 11 am
  • Cathy Symons will discuss Visually Impaired Dogs on March 20, at 7 pm.

Don’t expect to know how animals make us human by the time you finish Temple Grandin’s book. More to the point of her work is that humans are animals with many of the same needs. Our whole world would be better if we helped our animals live better and our fellow humans.

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