Library Column – August 2, 2007

Summer in the Mad River Valley is delightful and I’m so happy I made the move. I’ve been hiking a bit of the Mad River Path and enjoying the Farmers’ Market. The best thing of all is the short drive to and from the library! The move set me back a bit on my reading schedule, but I’m beginning to catch up. This time I’ve got a memoir from Kenya, a mystery from Australia, a sad doctor from 1930s NYC, a very silly mystery from Atlanta, a DVD about slavery, a bio of Isaac Newton, and an audio book (fiction) exploring one man’s obsession with the life and the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai. Some people live amazing lives. Maathai was born in Kenya in 1940, was the first Kenyan woman to earn a PhD, founded the African Green Belt environmental movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize. She has also been jailed several times for troubling the government of Kenya and is now the assistant minister for the environment under the new democratically elected regime. A great read and very enlightening in relation to the challenges facing Africa.

Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. An Australian accountant turned baker runs into threatening graffiti, poison pen letters and dead junkies, but she also encounters a very sweet hunk and gets to solve two mysteries. Warning: includes a truly bizarre and moderately graphic sex scene.

North River by Peter Hamill. NYC in 1934. A hardworking, unhappy doctor. An abandoned toddler, a lonesome Sicilian widow, a clutch of gangsters and a couple of funerals. The Depression.

Body Movers by Stephanie Bond. Come to Atlanta, complete with spoiled Southern Belles (the modern version), pretentious athletes, an oppressed heroine (with a gambling brother) and murder. Fun and not to be taken seriously.

Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery (DVD), Disk One. An excellent TV documentary which begins with the first blacks to be sold in the English colonies of North America continues through the gradual process of laying a legal basis for lifelong enslavement, portrays the tragedy (from the Black point of view) of the Revolutionary War and ends with Founding Fathers’ decision to allow slavery to continue in the new nation. We also own the second disk in the series.

Isaac Newton by James Gleick (Regional Library). Isaac Newton was a pre-Newtonian thinker, which explains his obsessions with alchemy and theology. A brief and very interesting biography of the great scientist, focusing on his scientific and mathematical work.

The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (audio CD). A young man, living in Baltimore in 1849 follows his obsession with the life and death of Edgar Allen Poe…towards prison, despair, disgrace and disaster…dark, creepy and…amusing.

See you at the library!

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