I recently finished reading J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Having been addicted to the Harry Potter series as an adult, I was eager to read Rowling's first offering actually targeted to my demographic.
Something that always struck me about the Harry Potter books was J.K. Rowling's unflinching approach to such dark themes as mortality, destruction and evil. I don't consider encounters with Lord Voldemort, murderous Death Eaters and soul-draining Dementors to be for the faint of heart. I admire Rowling for not allowing a need to "shelter" children from these unpleasant themes get in the way of her storytelling.
With The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling is no less willing to confront an adult audience with harsher truths. Only now, she does not need the fantasy setting and the metaphors of dark magic and wizards gone bad to cover very adult themes of drug use, predators, child abuse and other uglinesses. And the reader does not have clear-cut heroes like Harry, Ron and Hermione to root for or villians like Voldemort and Draco Malfoy to deplore. The residents of Rowling's English town of Pagford are often unsympathetic, petty and selfish, but for the most part they are also simply ordinary people just trying to get through life. For me, this greater moral ambiguity made the greatest difference in my experience as a reader of The Casual Vacancy as opposed to the the Harry Potter novels. But I still recognize that unflinching storyteller.
You are cordially invited to visit with Brian Castner, author of The Long Walk: a Story of War and the Life That Follows, at Almaden Branch Library on Saturday, March 2, at 11:00 AM.
In this free author visit, Brian talks about his being in combat and the difficulties he experienced when he returned home. Q&A follows his talk.
"Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them as the commander of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in Iraq. Days and nights he and his team-his brothers-would venture forth in heavily armed convoys from their Forward Operating Base to engage in the nerve-racking yet strangely exhilarating work of either disarming the deadly improvised explosive devices that had been discovered, or picking up the pieces when the alert came too late.
"When Castner returned home to his wife and family, he began a struggle with a no less insidious foe, an unshakable feeling of fear and confusion and survivor's guilt that he terms The Crazy. His thrilling, heartbreaking, stunningly honest book immerses the reader in two harrowing and simultaneous realities: the terror and excitement and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the enemy within — the haunting memories that will not fade, the survival instincts that will not switch off." — siliconvalleyreads.org
As Brian states: "I initially wrote The Long Walk for my children, four sons, now aged 14 to 3. I was not the father I could have been following my return from Iraq, and I needed to explain my experience — my post-war anxiety, my fears, my actions in combat that haunted me daily, my adrenaline-fueled need to run every day — to both myself and them. I needed to get down in writing, as best I could, what it feels like to come home from a war. I didn't expect a catharsis or cure, simply a record." — siliconvalleyreads.org
Listen to an excerpt from The Long Walk:
Last week, HBO released the second season of their massively popular and critically acclaimed series Game of Thrones on DVD and Blu-ray. And if you have HBO, you probably already know that the third season will premiere on the strategically chosen date of 3-31-13.
If you haven’t already seen it, or want to watch it again, you can check out Season 1 from your nearest location. San José Public Library has ordered several copies of Season 2 and they should be appearing on the shelves soon!
The award-winning television show, a surprisingly faithful adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, premiered in 2011 and quickly gathered a mass following that swelled the ranks of already ardent fans of the books.
The first five books of the planned seven-volume series are currently available. The epic fantasy has been praised for its realism, depiction of political intrigue, morally ambiguous characters, and unpredictability among other things. Just a warning: Don’t get too attached to any one character. No character is safe from being killed off, but the series is so good you will just dry your tears and read on. You can pick up or download any of the five books at SJPL.
If you have already read the books, you can check out the graphic novel, the soundtrack, and the official or unofficial cookbook. There’s even a book focusing on philosophical issues in the series called Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper Than Swords.
Whether you choose to watch, read, or listen, enjoy immersing yourself in the world of Westeros!
The popular authors and fiction titles for Chinese readers as of January 2013 are as follows.
1 Yishu 亦舒
10 Gu, Ling 古靈
1 航海王 Hang hai wang : Oda, Eiichiro
2 開國功賊 酒徒著Kai guo gong zei : Jiutu
3 天龍八部 Tian long ba bu : Jin, Yong
4 步步驚心 Bu bu jing xin : Tong, Hua
5 獵命師傳奇 Lie ming shi chuan qi : Jiubadao
6 神鵰俠侶 Shen diao xia lèu : Jin, Yong
7 隋亂 Sui luan : Jiutu
8 康熙大帝 Kangxi da di : Eryuehe
9 倚天屠龍記 Yi tian tu long ji : Jin, Yong
10 藏地密碼 Zang di mi ma : He, Ma
The American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf grant to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. Using the grant’s book s and programming resources, the King Library is offering a series of programs to help public audiences become more familiar with the people and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the U.S.
Each month a different theme will be discussed through films and presentations in the King Library. Books from the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf collection will be featured on the San Jose Public Library’s Muslim Journeys blog.
American Stories, the theme for February draws attention to ways in which people of varying religious, cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds interact to shape both their communities’ identities and our collective past in the United States.
February theme: Let's Talk About it: Muslim Journeys: American Stories
Films and discussion:
February Book Selections:
Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys is a joint program of San Jose Public Library and San Jose State University Library made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association and George Mason University.
Come view a screening of the animated film, Persepolis, on February 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM in King Library Room 255/257, 2nd floor.
Persis Karim, SJSU Professor of English and Comparative Literature, will lead a discussion after the viewing.
Persepolis is a coming of age story and the story of pre and post revolutionary Iran told as a graphic novel through the eyes of 'Marji, a young Iranian woman and her family. After the Shah is defeated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Marji experiences the new Iran as a repressive tyranny. Sent to study abroad Marji finds herself struggling to adjust to a different culture. On returning to Iran, Marji discovers both she and her homeland have changed and she and her loving family must decide where she truly belongs.
Some questions to think about as you read the book and view the film:
Feel free to participate in the discussion by leaving your comments below.
This showing of Persepolis is part of a series of programs, Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys, a joint project of the San Jose Public Library and the San Jose State University Library.
The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, conducted in cooperation with the American Library Association. Support was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
A Prince Among Slaves tells the remarkable story of African prince Abdul-Rahman who was captured in 1788, taken on a ship to Natchez, Mississippi and sold to as a slave. After working for 40 years, Abdul-Raman gained his freedom through the intervention of John Quincy Adams and the Sultan of Morocco, traveled to raise funds to free his family and eventually returned to Africa. The film is based on the book A Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford.
This film will be shown on February 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM in King Library Room 225/229.
After the film showing Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area chapter, will give a presentation on Muslims in America and CAIR Bay Area activities.
This showing of A Prince among Slaves is part of a series of programs, Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys, a joint project of the San Jose Public Library and the San Jose State University Library made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association and George Mason University.
In Acts of Faith, Eboo Patel writes about the struggle of reconciling his personal identities as an American born Ismaili Muslim of Indian Gujarati descent and how he was influenced by people of diverse religious backgrounds. Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Corps, an international organization to bring young people of different religions to dialogue and work together on service projects.
As you read Acts of Faith, here are some questions to think about:
Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is part of a series of programs, Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys, a joint project of the San Jose Public Library and the San Jose State University Library made possible through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association and George Mason University.
On Saturday, February 9, 2013, the Santa Teresa Branch Library hosted a very special storytime featuring Night Catch by Brenda Ehrmantraut, a children's picture book about a game of catch using the North Star when a soldier's work takes him halfway around the world and away from his son. After the reading, the author signed books as well as crafts that were made during the constellation making craft activity that followed the storytime.
The Academy Awards are just around the corner (February 24 to be exact). As the date approaches, have you been trying to remember which film won best picture last year? Are you interested in learning about the history of the Academy Awards? When it all started? Which film won the very first Best Picture award? The library has some great books that can answer these questions and more. Here are just a few of the titles on Oscar history that you can find at the San Jose Public Library: