Library Column – June 7, 2007

Currently on display: books on global warming. I was shocked that we had accumulated so many titles relating to one topic. Some I’ve bought based on reviews (one has a chapter on Burlington), others were recommended by patrons. They are heading out the door at a rapid clip!

Upcoming: Summer Reading Program for elementary age children, Reading and Discussion sessions for grown-ups, Susan B. Anthony as one-woman performance. Look for posters around the Valley or calendar listings or call the library for more information.

Personal life does intrude on library life sometimes. I just moved from Montpelier to Waitsfield and I’m very happy to be living in the Mad River Valley. Please forgive my distracted state for the last month as I packed and sorted and toted and cleaned! All done now except for…the unpacking!

You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World’s Poor to the Global Economy by Nicholas P. Sullivan. Another good title for this book would be: The Cell Phone as Cow: Bangladesh gets Unwired and Connected. Among other interesting stories, Sullivan describes how 250,000 “phone ladies” in Bangladesh got jobs providing pay cell phone service to 100 million Bangladeshis in 68,000 rural villages. It wasn’t easy to pull off!

The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig.  Philip Noble is 11 years old and he is struggling with some really big questions. His father was killed in an automobile accident. Philip is being haunted by his father’s ghost, who claims he was murdered by his brother, who just happens to be courting Philip’s mom, who owns a pub called the Castle and Falcon. And Philip has a girlfriend named Leah.  One of the strangest spin-offs of Hamlet I’ve ever read, with an interesting touch of The Turn of the Screw. After all, it might not really be a ghost…

How the Bible Was Built by Charles Merrill Smith. Have you ever wondered about where the Bible came from? Who wrote the various books and when? Did King James translate the Bible? This brief, easy to read book has all the answers.  On loan from the Regional Library.

The Birth House by Ami McKay. Novel set in Nova Scotia, during WW I, combines a coming of age novel with the story of the conflict between the rural midwives and the medical doctors over the safest way to have babies. Good story with a memorable main character/narrator.

Saving Energy Growing Jobs: How Environmental Protection Promotes Economic Growth, Profitability, Innovation, and Competition by David B. Goldstein. This book should be required reading for all politicians, business people and environmentalists. Most interesting book I’ve read about energy policy this year.  Highly recommended!

Modern Liberty and the Limits of Government by Charles Fried. A surprisingly entertaining book, written from a traditionally conservative point of view, struggling with questions of human liberty. He takes up three particular problems: the Quebec Charter of the French Language, the prohibition in Quebec against private health insurance and attempts by Vermont to keep Walmart out. I didn’t agree with the author at every point, but the questions he raises are fascinating. What I came away with is the sense that laws are very blunt instruments for controlling human behavior. If you want to encourage positive behavior, persuasion is probably a better choice than passing a law, in many cases.

Vermont Sea Glass by Frances Diem Vardamis. This book is set in Vermont. It takes place in the Mad River Valley. Well, actually, most of it takes place here in Warren. However, all the people are fictional. As far as I could tell, not a single character actually matches up with a real Warren resident. The book is sort of a thriller, with the CIA, Homeland Security and a few terrorists. There is a gruesome murder. There are strange goings on up at Sugarbush. Plus a catastrophe and near catastrophe during mud season. Entertaining, but definitely not a spectacular piece of writing. Most of the pleasure comes from spotting what the author got right…or what she got wrong…about the local geography and customs.

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