Talking Books Blog
A small boy found a jersey with a lightning bolt on the front hanging in the basement rafters. With this jersey, he was transformed into The Thunderbolt Kid. Like other superheroes, The Thunderbolt Kid could leap tall buildings with a single bound and do other daring deeds that kept the World Safe For Democracy. But The Thunderbolt Kid could also vanquish idiots with a single blazing thought.
Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the century (1951), in the middle of the country (Des Moines, Iowa), in the middle of the Baby Boomers. But before he was The Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson was – a paperboy.
Bryson has also written many seriously funny travel memoirs. A Walk in the Woods is a personal favorite, but all of his works are enjoyable. In a Sunburned Country has Bryson traveling to Australia, a country that “has more things that will kill you than anywhere else,” and I’m a Stranger Here Myself, where Bryson returns to America after living in Europe for 20 years.
Did you keep a diary as a teenager? I did, and I remember it being an absolute roller coaster between exhilaration and despair. And glitter ink. Lots and lots of glitter ink! Luckily, my teenage diary did not survive to the 21st century. Carrie Fisher’s did, though. In 1976, she was just turning 19 and cast as Princess Leia in a low-budget movie called Star Wars. Her notebooks from that time—on and off-set—not only reveal a teenager with a crush on her co-star but an almost anthropological look back at a time long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Her teenage thoughts are even more poignant after her unexpected death last December.
This review was published in Sightlines, CRRL's Assistive Services newsletter.
In 1914, Constance Kopp and her sisters were in a horse-drawn cart that was hit by an automobile driven by the son of a wealthy factory owner. When he refuses to pay damages, Constance decides to … make him pay. His efforts to get Constance to stand down include harassment, intimidation, and very real threats of violence. But nothing he does will make Constance give up her quest for what she is rightfully owed.
1866. The signs say Le Cirque des Reves—The Circus of Dreams. The circus appears with no warning. The tents are black and white, with a little grey and silver. It is quiet. It opens at nightfall and closes at dawn.
It has a midway and death-defying spectacles. There are rival magicians—Celia and Marco. They have been pitted against each other since before they were born. Under the cold and glittering lights, they perform, outdoing each other in feats of magic and wonder. Impossibly, improbably, but oh, oh-so inevitably—they fall in love.
Can their magic encompass their love? Can their love survive The Night Circus?
Our spring book selection is Mrs. Kennedy and Me, by Clint Hill.
From 1960 until 1964, Mr. Hill was the U.S. Secret Service agent assigned to guard Jacqueline Kennedy. Initially he resisted this assignment. He had been loyal to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and was facing an incoming opposition party. Mrs. Kennedy had rejected her first Secret Service agent. If she okayed Hill, he would have to take the assignment or end his career.
Eva is born to a chef and a waitress. Her mother runs off with a sommelier when she’s a baby. Her father is determined to raise her on his own and nourish her the best way he knows—with food. She grows up surrounded by the foods of her native Minnesota and eventually becomes the reclusive but famous chef for a secretive and very, very exclusive pop-up supper club.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest is charming, slightly off-beat, and might even make you want to taste Scandinavian lutefisk.
In 2001, J.K. Rowling (under the pseudonym Newt Scamander) wrote a book called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This November, the movie Fantastic Beasts opens—the first of a planned trilogy.
With summer coming and schools being out, remember that you do not want your child to be without books. Students who do not have books to read over vacation often suffer a downhill slide in skills. Without keeping up with their reading, they may spend that first month back at school trying to catch up on skills they haven't practiced.
Years ago, I became fascinated by the writings of a young naturalist named Dian Fossey. Her writings were so intriguing because they were not just dryly scientific journalism. Dian Fossey’s background was in education instead of zoology, and she used her observational abilities to describe the world around her. She had the ability to immerse the reader in her world of gorillas.
I really enjoy books that disturb me. I know that is strange. That being said, Head Full of Ghosts was one of the most disturbing novels I have read in a long time. I just loved it! The person telling the story is the youngest daughter in the family. As an adult she is meeting with a writer to tell the story of her infamous family for a biography. The older daughter, Marjorie, is having some troubling issues as a teenager that eventually prompts the father into calling the local priest for an exorcism.