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September 2016 Staff Picks

Updated 2016/09/22

Brenda’s Pick: Isabella : the warrior queen by Kirstin Downey

isabellaFor anyone with an interest in history and specifically Spanish history, this book is a fascinating biography of Isabella of Castile, who became Queen of Spain. Her life-span, from the  mid-1400’s to 1504 encompassed some of the most interesting and critical events in that part of the world. The fact that Spain’s borders were continually on guard against the expanding empire of the Ottoman Turks, and that she took a chance on sponsoring the controversial Columbus to sail to unknown parts might be enough to make her name known. However, there was so much more to her as a female ruler and leader. Her influence literally changed the world. The book is non-fiction but is as captivating as any fictional story. Isabella was simply an amazing woman and Queen. Yes, she did establish the infamous Inquisition, but there is so much more…

Brenda’s Pick: Two white rabbits by Jairo Buitrago

two whiteThis is a poignant book about crossing borders, seen through a child’s eyes. A young girl travels trustingly with her Papá and as they go she counts things, but this is not a standard counting book. She carries a small stuffed rabbit with her who watches as the world goes by.

“Where are we going?”, I ask sometimes, but no one answers.

The illustrations are simple, elegant and telling. They fill in the rest of the story. I found this children’s book particularly powerful in light of all the recent discussions of a potential wall to separate countries.

David’s Pick: 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage

1968This is one of the most exciting books I’ve read on the intersection between popular musical culture & broader cultural trends. 1966 takes the eponymous year as a jumping-off point from which to investigate some of the social upheaval taking place as the monochrome early 1960s turned into the age of protest, women’s & gay liberation, pop art, Vietnam, & psychedelic experimentation. The book is neatly structured so that each of the twelve months/chapters, loosely based around a song released in that month, expands outward into a discussion of a social trend, how it was reflected in the music of the year, and how that trend and its social implications extended back and forward in time. Meticulously researched, annotated, and copy-edited, it’s a joy to read. Pairs with: Bob Stanley’s Yeah Yeah Yeah; Simon Reynolds’ Retromania.

 David’s Pick: Paper Moon by Peter Bogdanovich (dir.)

paper-moonA perfectly structured and visually glorious film about a father-daughter team of grifters set in depression America, this is one of the films that established Peter Bogdanovich as one of the finest directors of the new wave of filmmaking that kicked off in the mid 1960s as the Hollywood studio system fizzled out. Every performance is wonderful, especially Madeline Kahn as Miss Trixie Delight and P.J. Johnson as her surly maid Imogene. Shot by László Kovács, who was for a time the go-to cinematographer for the up-and-coming young directors like Bogdanovich, Hal Ashby, & Bob Rafelson. Pairs with: Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.

Deb’s Pick: Lives Like Loaded Guns by Lyndall Gordon

Lives like loaded guns

Who would have thunk it?! Sweet poet-genius Emily Dickinson existed, possibly thrived, inside a nest of  vipers. This is a story of “creative genius, filled with illicit passion and betrayal.”

Tell the truth but tell it slant’ was Dickinson’s advice to herself. This book exposes a family scandal that shocked this reader a full century later.

Dot’s Pick: Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

foxeloweFoxlowe is set in an isolated manor house in England, which is the home to a group of dropouts, artists and three children. The story is narrator by one of the children named Green. Together, this group forms a family dedicated to living a more natural way of life. The commune is run by a powerful woman who is physically abusive, though there is no sexual abuse. This is a story of an idealistic dream gone awry and it relates how early child experiences can affect you for the rest of your life.

Leanne’s Pick: Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
rome and or juliet

This book is fantastic! A choose-your-own-path version of Romeo and Juliet that will have you flipping back and forth through the book as you wander down a path of quadrillions – according to the author –  of different storylines.

You can choose to go traditional and follow the – slightly updated – story as Shakespeare wrote it. Or you can follow a myriad of other unconventional paths and end up single or married; with or without children; happy or unhappy; as a pirate or in a robot suit taking over the city of Verona! It’s all up to the reader to decide.

The great thing about this book is that you can read it over and over and get a different story each time.

Although some may not enjoy a non-linear book, or seeing a classic story messed with, it’s a fun take on this well-known Shakespearean tale.

Mark’s Pick: Thistle and Thyme Tales and Legends from Scotland by Soche Nic Leodhas

thistle and thyme 001This lively collection of stories from the Highlands of Scotland has been enjoyed by Powell River library users for generations. The colourful folk tales are peppered with magic and mystery and they all have a very strong Scottish flavor to them. Many are old sgeulachdans, or Gaelic tales told among friends and neighbours that were never intended to be written down. Lucky for us, Sorche Nic Leodhas recorded them and gave us a window into these old conversations shared by friends long ago in the Highlands of Scotland.

Megan’s Pick: Madame Eiffel: A Love Story of the Eiffel Tower by Alice Brière-Haquet

megans pickThis adorable children’s book is unlikely to be a representation of the real story behind the Eiffel Tower, seeing as history says it was built for the 1889 Worlds Fair, but I prefer this story. In this beautiful story, the Eiffel Tower is constructed by a husband as a gift for his ill wife. While his wife, Cathy is getting sicker and sicker Eiffel is busy building and designing the tower, which he believes will gift him with the miracle of making his wife well again. The story, illustrations and message is simple, but there is something about a beautiful love story that is entirely timeless.