Library Column – October 5, 2006

Looking out the window of the library I see lovely golden trees, leaves scattered on the ground and a steady drip of rain. Autumn in Vermont. It has been sad to say good-bye to so many lovely friends (truly fair weather friends!) who are heading home after a few weeks or months here in Warren. I’ll miss them.

Some of my reading and listening:

1776 by David McCullough (audio CD or book). A lively account of the crucial first year of the war between the Colonies and Great Britain, crediting George Washington with the perseverance that carried the day. McCullough also describes Washington’s errors and hesitancies, plus some extraordinary luck. An excellent work of popular history, with vivid accounts of battles, situations and personalities.

Where the Rivers Flow North by Howard Frank Mosher (audio cassettes or book).  Short stories about the Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont, which Mosher has fictionalized as Kingdom
County. Lyrical, tragic, funny stories, filled with eccentric characters.  I heard him speak at the most recent library conference, where he told the story behind one of the stories in this book.

The Jasons: The Secret History of Science’s Postwar Elite by Ann Finkbeiner. The Jasons are a group of scientists who do intensive “thinking” projects for the government, some classified, some not.  The author raises valuable questions about how pure science gets turned into “practical” applications and the role of scientists in the public world, especially in relation to the military and the government.

Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee. My three year old grandson would love this book (if he could read) because it is about big trucks, big trains, big boats, rivers, roads and fancy machines. McPhee has a great time checking out a tanker truck, a giant tow boat, a huge coal train and the UPS package sorting center, and his readers will have a good time too.

The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance (DVD). An amazingly entertaining history video about the Florentine family that led the revival of ancient learning, patronized the greatest artists of the age, provoked the Reformation (as Popes) and patronized and then abandoned Galileo.

Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters. Archaelogical capers in Egypt in the 1920s, including the exciting discovery of King Tut’s tomb.  Ms. Peter’s books are always entertaining AND historically accurate, an unusual combination. 

Chronicles: Volume I by Bob Dylan (audio cassette). Sometimes we buy a book because someone requests it. That is how we came to acquire the first part of Dylan’s autobiography on cassette. Dylan skips around through his life, describing his musical influences, his friendships, his reading, and his early career in no particular order. As a prose writer he is unoriginal, but easy to follow.

Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun: The Odyssey of an Artist in an Age of Revolution by Gita May. A lively biography of a successful woman artist in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her life spanned the French Revolution (she was a royalist) and included travel as far afield as Russia and England.

See you at the library!

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