Five Book Friday!

Book Sandwich
A note: Eating a sandwich while reading a book is great. Eating a book sandwich is not a good idea.

 

A New Year, a new Five Book Friday, in which we introduce you to some of the new books that have found their way on to our shelves this week.  Because the end of December and the first week in January is so flat-out insane, the book publishing industry as a whole takes a wee bit of a break during this time…however, they compensate by bringing out a whole slew of new books in January and February, so we are all looking forward to some of the super-terrific books slated to arrive shortly.  If you’re interested in seeing some, here is a list to get you in the bookish spirit, courtesy of the lovely Lady Pole!

And now, without further ado, we present our first Five Book Friday of 2016 for you to, ahem, devour…

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3698391The Match of the CenturyCathy Maxwell is one of the stars of historical romance, and this new series opener has been garnered rave reviews from fans and critics alike.  Some may think Elin Morris lucky because she doesn’t have to hunt for a husband–she’s been engaged since she was born–but Elin knows differently.  Because she’s in love with her fiance’s brother, Ben.  Even though duty and loyalty state that Ben must forget the woman who stole his heart so many years ago, he can’t seem to drive Elin, or his memories of her, away.  And when Elin finds herself in danger, Ben resolves to do anything to keep her safe–even if it means losing her forever.  RT Book Reviews said of this new release, “Maxwell infuses the first of her new series with great depth of emotion. Readers will experience her characters’ anger, frustration, sadness and joy, and they’ll sigh with satisfaction at this master storyteller’s ability to create a delightful, emotional read.”

37007992016 Pushcart Prize XL : Best of the Small PressesThe Pushcart Prize has become an institution in American literature, celebrating small presses and the authors who keep them running, and this 40th Anniversary Collection, with 65 essays, poems, and stories from around the country, is being hailed as their best collection to date.  Editor Bill Henderson (who created the Pushcart Prize, and still keeps it running today) and over 200 contributing editors are to thank, and, of the contents, Booklist has declared it, ““One of the zestiest and most impressive installments in Pushcart’s proud reign as the most bountiful and exciting of literary harvests.”

3212540My Brilliant FriendElena Ferrente’s Neapolitan Novels have been hailed as the some of the best books of the year–collectively and individually, with each book being hailed as a triumph.  This book begins the tale of two friends, Elena and Lila, focusing on their childhood and adolescence in 1950’s Naples.  With nothing to reuly on but each other, Elena and Lila begin to develop into brilliant, complex women, at once dependent on each other, and wholly independent spirits.  The New York Times Book Review has declared, “Elena Ferrante is one of the great novelists of our time . . . In these bold, gorgeous, relentless novels, Ferrante traces the deep connections between the political and the domestic. This is a new version of the way we live now — one we need, one told brilliantly, by a woman.”  Thankfully, we now have each of the four novels in this much-celebrated series for your enjoyment.

3651513Forty Thieves: Thomas Perry’s latest stand-alone novel features the husband and wife detective team of Sid and Ronnie Abel, both retired from the LAPD, who are teamed up with another husband and wife–of trained assassins, however.  Together, they are ordered to do damage control on the murder of a local research scientist, whose death may be a cover for some shocking and deadly secrets.  This book certainly looks wholly original, and Booklist gave it a star review, saying “Along the way to a knockout finale . . . Perry offers a master class in narrative sleight of hand . . . . Perry’s books, whether series or stand-alone, absolutely resist easy categorization, thoroughly melding character and plot, light and dark, and totally immersing the reader in the irresistible narrative.”

3680617City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp: The makeshift city of Dadaab, in the hostile desert of northern Kenya, is a place where building are made of mud and plastic, the inhabitants live on rations and luck, since nothing will grow there but thorns, and where whole lives are lived entirely in limbo.  Human Rights Watch researcher Ben Rawlence spent four years getting to know the refugees at Dadaab, from former child soldiers to peddlers, to schoolchildren, and tells their life stories in this heart-wrenching, and vitally necessary book.  Writers and readers around the world are hailing this book as a tour de force of journalistic writing, and Booklist praises, “That Rawlence has managed to capture so much of this unlikely city’s chaos and confusion in a narrative that is very nearly impossible to put down is an achievement in reportage that few have matched. Dadaab’s half a million residents could not have asked for a better champion…and while the facts and figures he shares are stunning, it is the nine individuals whose stories he focuses on who give the book its hearT.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

“We must always travel with hope”…A Downton Abbey Edition of If/Then

It’s that time of year again…

 

Downton Abbey season is upon us.

 

And while every season of this marvelous historic drama has been memorial, the knowledge that this is the final season makes every episode, every lingering glance, ever caustic put-down, and every jauntily-angled hat that much more meaningful.  The season has already aired, and ended, in Britain, but we here in the US have only begun to savor our final season of one of the highest-rated shows in the western world.   Since it’s inception, this show has been hailed for its splendid characters, its rich historic setting, and its utterly engaging storylines, and has actually launched a shocking new generation of historical dramas, as production companies desperately try to capitalize on Downton’s success.  Not bad for a drama that deals heavily in the vagaries of British inheritance laws, eh?

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The terrific thing about Downton Abbey, apart from the actual show, is the fact that it has such a vocal fanbase.  I can’t tell you how many delightful chats I’ve had with patrons who are picking up discs of various seasons to watch, or looking for something to tide them over between episodes, or searching for another compelling and transportive show once they’ve returned from a Downton binge.

So, in honor of all those lovely chats, and with the full knowledge that we’ll all soon be casting about for some news shows to savor very soon, here are some suggestions, from both sides of the Circulation Desk, based on the delightful denizens of Downton Abbey…

If you love Downton Abbey, Then be sure to check out:

2629560The Grand:  Like Downton Abbey, it sucks you in with its lovely setting (in this case, a spectacular hotel in downtown Manchester, England, in 1919), and holds you with its complex plots, surprising characters, and shocking twists and turns.  I owe the creator, Russell T. Davis (yup, the same guy who resurrected Dr. Who!), for helping me make friends in college. In the years before Netflix and Youtube (gasp!), this was our binge-watching fodder.  Downton Abbey fans will find the same attention to detail here in spades, and similarly powerful characters, especially as Stephen, the son and heir of The Grand Hotel’s owners, deals with his return from the First World War, and the new world in which he finds himself (in season one, Stephen is played to perfection by future True Blood star Stephen Moyer).  I realize I am rambling right now.  But it’s that terrific a show.  So go watch it, then we can chat.

3679092Peaky Blinders: On the surface, this superb BBC drama (which is now a Netflix production) has much in common with Downton Abbey: a superb cast, spectacular historical detail and costumes, surprisingly and memorable storylines…but on the other, it couldn’t be different.  This series is built around the gangs of Birmingham, England, in the 1920’s–some of the toughest, scariest, and most ruthless criminals in the country.  Their name was based on the fact that they sewed straight razors into the peaks of their caps, so that a single flick of the wrist could actually kill a man.  While not for the feint of heart, this is an addictive show that comes highly recommended.  Best of all, it stars Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who is one of my favorite people, as Tommy, whose voice can chill the blood effortlessly…and Season 2 features a guest appearance by Charlotte Riley, who played Arabella Strange in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell!

3645613The Crimson FieldIf, like me, your favorite season of Downton Abbey was the second, featuring the outbreak and experience of the First World War, then this drama of the nurses of the Western Front is for you.  It is very rare to see a story that focuses so much on women in the First World War, and, by and large, this show tells that story exceptionally well.  The French hospital in which these nurses find themselves is a battelfield in and of itself, for the hearts, bodies, and minds of those who must live, work, and suffer in it, and this show doesn’t shy away from the real and painful details of those experiences.  But it also tells stories of triumph and humor and, most importantly, of power for women at a time when women were not (and still are not) properly recognized for their work.

3645616Poldark: I went on (and on) about this show last summer, when the first season aired, but it’s certainly worth mentioning again.  Not only is this an adaptation wholly worthy of Winston Graham’s beloved literary series, it revels in its historical setting, costumes and accents, and doesn’t shy away from the deep complexities of its characters’ relationships.  Season One introduced us all to Ross Poldark, a British soldier who returns from service in the American Revolution to his home in Cornwall, and begins making a life for himself as a mine owner, a caretaker, and a husband.  Happily, for fans of this super series, season 2 is set to air in Britain sometime this summer, so our turn will be coming soon after!

Happy Birthday, Jacob Grimm!

You never need an excuse for cake, but today, there is an excellent reason for one…the birthday of philologist, mythologist, and librarian, Jacob Grimm.

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Born in 1785 in Hanau, Germany, Jacob was the elder of the two Grimm brothers (Wilhelm was born about  year later).  He went to University to study law, but, like the best kind of academics, he found learning far more fun that actually finding a job.  It was thanks to a mentor, a famous professor of Roman law, who taught our young Jacob the scientific method of research, which involved deep, historic research to plumb not only all the mysteries of a topic, but also the origin of those mysteries.  Jacob ended up turning his love of study to linguistics, and German literature of the Middle Ages, moving to Paris with his mentor to study in all their libraries (tough life, eh?).

Grimm_WHe returned to Germany to be with his family, and, following his mother’s death in 1808, and was he was appointed superintendent of the private library of Jérôme Bonaparte, who had been placed in charge by his brother, Napoleon I.  In this position, Jacob was responsible for traveling to Paris to demand the return of books that had been seized by the French Army, which may indeed have set the record for the farthest distance traveled by a librarian to recover overdue books….

From this point on, Jacob and his brother insisted on joint appointments, whether as Librarians or Professors, so that they could continue their joint projects.  Though Jacob made some deeply significant findings of his own in linguistics, it was this work with his brother that earned both of them lasting fame.  Their Deutsche Mythologie, published in 1835, was a generally encyclopedic study of the mythology and beliefs of Ancient Germanic peoples from the earliest surviving records to their modern iterations and adaptations into fairytales and local folklore.  They noted how stories changed based on region and linguistic traditions, providing a fascinating way of tracing  oral tradition within a single geographical area.  And it is this book that became the basis for the fairytales that we still read today.

4e309018bba48e085c8578ab9bbd1a38The Grimm’s were, essentially, attempting to understand how the world as they knew it, at their present moment, had come to be, and, as a result the stories they wrote down tend to praise things like work, religious devotion, marriage, and money.  Hence, the fearful dangers to be found when wandering in the woods, or the danger of sneaking off into the night to dance at a ball, rather than finding a proper husband.  Hence the fear of witches, who hold power over the mysterious, and the succession of the millers, and the shoemakers, and the scullery maids, who put in an honest day’s work.  But, on the other hand, it is because of the Grimms that our world can hold fairies, or elves, or enchanted songs, or magical spinning wheels.  For all the nightmares their stories may have induced, they also gave us dreams, and it is for all of this that we celebrate Jacob’s birthday with these magical suggestions!

 

2250679The Annotated Brothers Grimm: For those looking to start at the beginning, here is a superb collection of Grimm’s Fairytales, in all their gory, surprising, and lovely detail.  They are divided by theme, making for a very interesting comparison and study, and includes a marvelous introduction by A.S. Byatt that looks at the Grimms’ place in history, as well as the effects their tales have had on us as a culture.

2686190Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre: These adaptations of classic fairy tales was, quite literally, my favorite thing about the ’80’s.  They remain among my favorite things to this day–so much so that I can recite very large portions of each episode.  And will do so upon request (you’ve been warned).  Originally a Showtime series, these stories are dated in some ways (so much hairspray.  so much eyeshadow…), but by and large, they are still terrific, detailed, and thoroughly watchable, even now.  Best yet, they feature some surprising guest stars, like Mick Jagger (in The Nightingale) and some pretty well-known directors, like Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola.

3205751Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English VersionIn a age where fairytales are adapted, updated, revamped and revised, Philip Pullman bucked tradition–to enormous success.  His retellings of the classic tales from the Grimm Brother’s work stick very closely to the originals, bringing out the stark beauty, and sometimes chilling details of the tale they uncovered.  He also includes a brief analysis of the story, and how contemporary mythologists understand and classify the story, which is particularly fascinating if, like Jacob Grimm, you think every bit of incidental knowledge is of vital importance.

23848124A Wild Swan:  The peerless Lady Pole discussed this book in November, and it’s worth pointing out today that her praise for Michael Cunningham’s adaptations of classic fairytales is wholly deserved.  These tales twist and turn in the most outlandish and thought-provoking ways, making the reader conscious of the language and the flow of the story, as much as the plot itself.  I can’t help but think that Jacob and Wilhelm would read these stories with glee.

2270600MythologyThough Edith Hamilton’s study of the stories that humanity tells is over fifty years old, it is still a seminal work in the study of mythology.  Hamilton began with the works of Homer, traveling across the western world in search of tales, and retelling them with clarity and obvious passion.  Like the Grimms, she is clearly interested in how we, as storytellers, got here today, and why our stories have adapted as they have.  Her project is one similar, though far larger in scope, to the Grimms, and one that beautifully complements a study of their work.

At the Movies: Creed

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Ok, ok, I realize this film came out in November, but one of the joys of Hermitage Week (or Hermitage Month…or Hermitage Season!) is getting to catch up on the films you still haven’t had time to enjoy, as well as the books, and this film had been on my “To See” List about a year before its actual release date.

Creed is more than a rooting-for-the-underdog story–it’s a tribute to the Rocky franchise, particularly the first installment (which is my favorite, so I was thrilled).  Adonis Creed is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa’s first true opponent and brother in the ring.  But though he’s grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth, he’s never had the chance to make a name for himself, apart from his deceased father’s legacy.  So he packs up, quits his lucrative job, and moves across the country to Philadelphia, in the hopes of convincing his father’s best friend, Rocky, to train him.

The result is a phenomenal coming-of-age story, as Creed figures out what he truly wants from the world, what he needs to do to get it, how he has to negotiate a life that isn’t easy or simple or safe anymore, and how to be in love with a strong, smart, independent woman.  Its a really interesting social commentary; the film-makers don’t ignore the racial issues that underlie Creed’s life, but they do it so elegantly that it becomes part of the story, rather than a counterpoint to it.  It’s also a touchingly quirky buddy movie; there is an instant camaraderie between Balboa and Creed that grows into something life-changing for both of them, which may be the best, and most unforgettable part of the film.  And yes, the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art make a cameo, in perhaps my favorite scene in the whole film.

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It’s also a movie about boxing, obviously.  But, like Rocky, boxing isn’t just boxing.  Boxing is a parable for life and love and self-worth, and this film capture the art of the sport, and the dedication of its practitioners, beautifully.  And, if you listen really closely, you can hear “Eye of the Tiger” woven subtlety (if that is even possible) into the film’s final montages.

So, if you’re casting about for a film, Creed comes highly recommended from the Free-For-All.  And if you’ve already enjoyed it, here are some other ideas from the Library to supplement the story:

2249304RockyThis one should be obvious.  Not only is it a terrific, honest story that has withstood the test of time pretty darn well, Creed is packed with references and allusions, big and small, to this classic film.  This quintessential Cinderella story features a very young Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, a skilled fighter who is wasting his talent working for a loan shark, until he gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the heavyweight title.  In the process, he also manages to win the girl of his dreams–Adrian Pennino, who is a fantastic heroine, about whom I could say a great deal (perhaps in a later post?).  The other films in this series are good, but this one is by far the best.

3623456The Professor in the Cage : Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch: When a mixed martial arts gym opened across the street from his officer, unhappy adjunct English professor Jonathan Gottschall decided to join, and explore the lure of violence, the thrill of the fight, and the fascination that we, as a species, have always seem to have with combat.  This book is a mish-mash of Gottschall’s personal experiences of training and fighting, a history of fighting, and a consideration on the violence of the human individual that is all highly readable, and helps to explain how and why films and stories about fighters continue to draw us, even though the sight of blood or bruises make us cringe.

3641966Below the Belt: Jeannette Murray’s new romance series featuring the men of the Marine Corp Boxing Team is pretty interesting for a few reasons.  First, her books are really fun, easy, steamy reads, secondly, her heroes aren’t your stereotypical warrior, alpha-male, gun-toting dominants.  Which leads me to my favorite part of these books.  Her characters, and the situations in which they find themselves are remarkably realistic.  In the series’ opener, Brad Costa will do anything at all to make it to the Marine Boxing Team, but he is plagued with doubt that he is too old, and too beat-up to keep up with the new recruits.  He thinks he’s covering things well–until the new trainer, Marianne Cook, sees right through his charade.  This is very much a story about two people with dreams and goals, much like Creed and his Bianca, who strengthen each other, and that kind of dynamic makes for a sensational story, whether you’re a devoted fan of fighter-romances or not.

35393572 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas:  For those of you who though Bianca’s music in Creed was pretty funky, for those of you who enjoyed the sights and sounds of Philadelphia that aren’t on the tourist ads, and for those of you just looking for something charmingly different to read, Marie-Helene Bertino’s book is here to satisfy all your interests.  Madeleine Altimari is a feisty, head-strong nine-year-old jazz singer who is determined to perform at a local jazz club that is slated for closure.  This is a laugh-a-minute, cry-a-minute books with a sensational sense of place, an a heroine that you can’t help but love.  I think Bianca and Madeleine would be terrific pals.

The Romance Garden!

And with the beginning of a new month comes our next installment of The Romance Garden, in which the library’s genre devotees and self-proclaimed romance experts share with you some of our favorite reads.

Both of our recommendations this month come as the result of overcoming our previous expectations or assumptions, and realizing that beyond our prejudices lurked a story that captivated us.  Which is my terribly clumsy way to encourage you to try a new book, or a whole new genre–whether it’s for a Reading Resolution, or just because life is too short not to give something new a try.  Either way, we hope that these books give you a few suggestions where to start!

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Bridget:

3211332Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

We all know that I love Draculaperhaps a bit more than is healthy, but I’ve always had troublesome relationship with romance novels that feature vampires (or some creature that goes by a different name with similar traits).  Similarly, I am something of a steampunk geek, which makes me very picky about my steampunk authors.  So when I came across Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk Series, my hesitations were legion.  The premise sounded so good: an alternative London where steam power rules, and where vampires reign–there had to be a catch, right?

Allow me to state here and now: There is no catch.

McMaster puts a great deal of effort crafting her London, from its grimy, fog-shrouded streets to its decadent finery covering a thin veneer of decay and distrust.  And her characters are stunning–conflicted and troubled, and genuinely at the end of their rope, making each scene increasingly intense.

Everyone knows to stay out of Whitechapel.  Not only is it a notoriously dangerous place, but it is ruled by Blade, the master of a rookeries.  The man who faced down the entire ruling Echelon single-handedly, and proved himself ruthless and cunning enough to win.  But if Honoria Todd is going to save her family, Whitechapel, and Blade himself, might be her only hope.  When Honoria and Blade come face-to-face, they are both in for a surprise.  Honoria is far stronger and far more determined than Blade ever imagined, and Blade himself is losing his battle with the cravings that plague all those like him–but could Honoria hold the key to curing him?

The atmosphere and the tension in this book were superb, but at it’s heart, this book is about the relationships we make that save us.  Honoria and Blade’s story is one about trusting others, and learning to trust ourselves in the process, and the side plots, particularly the one involving Honoria’s younger brother, is simply touching, and adds to the quest that Honoria is undertaking enormously.  Better yet, this book is only the first in a growing series, and each installment is a smash-hit, too!

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Kelley:

3616322 (1)Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch

“To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.” ~Thomas Chandler

The first thing I will say about this novel is don’t judge a book by its cover. The titles of most romance novels make me laugh out loud, and this one was no exception, but the thing that made my eyes roll and avoid taking it home to read was the “Scot rhymes with HOT…” tagline emblazoned on the cover’s upper left corner. Seriously?

So what changed, you may ask? It’s that time of year when all of the book review journals, blogs and websites post their “Best Books of the Year,” and Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid featured repeatedly on the romance lists. Being a sucker for a good Highland romance, all of those terrific reviews were too much for me to resist, so I finally decided to give Suzanne Enoch’s latest entry in the Scandalous Highlanders series a chance, and I’m pleased to say I’m glad that I did.

Rowena MacLawry grew up in the Scottish Highlands, and spent much of her time with her three older brothers, who raised her, and their friend, Lachlan MacTier. From the time she was a child, she adored Lachlan, but even as she came of age to marry, he still saw her as the little girl who drove him crazy with her theatrical bids for his attention. Fed up with the pursuit of an uninterested man, Rowena takes herself to London to shed her wild Highland ways, become a proper lady, and rid herself of her feelings for Lachlan MacTier.

When Rowena returns she is much changed, and in addition to a fancy wardrobe, Lachlan finds she’s abandoned her Highland upbringing, covering her brogue when she speaks, showing more interest in poetry than riding horses, and considering potential husbands from a pool of polished London dandies. It’s time for both Lachlan and Rowena to see each other as they really are, not as the young girl’s perfect image of a knight in shining armor, or an older gentleman’s irritated impressions of a young girl. Enoch develops their romance beautifully, and perhaps the loveliest part of all is that in the process of learning about each other, Lachlan also helps Rowena rediscover herself as she remembers her pride in her Highland heritage.

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Saturdays @ the South: Multi-tasking with your Reading Resolutions

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Yup, more Calvin and Hobbes, because couldn’t fit all the New Year-related strips in last week’s post.

Last week, I introduced several guided reading challenge possibilities for those of you who wanted to make a resolution to read in 2016. Our wonderful primary blog contributor Arabella also introduced the concept of Hermitage Week. Personally, my reading hermitage runs the entire month of January, instead of just one week, thus my blanket fort is perpetually erected and ready for snow days or any other lengthy reading time. This means that I try to have a book list at the ready for my Hermitage Week (Month) needs. It also is a great time to get a solid lead on tackling those reading resolutions.

With that in mind, I’m breaking down the most intense of the challenges, BookRiot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge, with an infographic of three possible selections for each of 23 out of the 24 categories.* Hopefully this list provides not only some fuel for the reading challenge fire, but also a list of “hunker down and just read” possibilities as well. One thing I hope you notice is that many of the books suggested here can apply to several categories. For example, one of the “Read a book over 500 pages long” suggestions will also cover the “Read a horror book” category. A couple of the “Read a book out loud to someone else” books also covers “Read a book under 100 pages.” One of the “Read a food memoir” books also covers the “Read a collection of essays” category, and so on. BookRiot gives kudos to those resourceful multi-taskers who use the same book for multiple categories, so don’t feel compelled to read a different book for each category. This will allow you the space to accomplish your reading goal but still enjoy your reading and leave yourself time to read other books that are unrelated to a challenge. Remember when I recommended resolving to be kind to yourself? This is a great way to put that into practice!

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See, Calvin already knows how to be kind to himself, though it’s not necessarily a path I’d recommend…

To help you further, I’ve put together a “Resolving to Read” Pinterest board that has links to all the books shown in the infographic below. They are all available through the Peabody Library (a majority are available directly through the South Branch) and/or Overdrive, so all you have to do is click on the cover in Pinterest and you’ll be taken to the book in our catalog. If none of the books mentioned here suit your fancy, feel free to stop into the library and discuss additional possibilities. We are always ready to talk book recommendations with our great patrons! And if that’s not enough, the New York Public Library has also compiled a list of suggestions, most of which are different from the ones I’ve suggested, so you’ll have plenty to choose.

Hopefully, even if you don’t take up a reading challenge, you’ll still find something worthwhile to read on this list sometime this year or in the future. Plus, these books will make great company during your reading hermitage, however many you decide to tackle or however long your hermitage is. Above all, dear readers, reading is meant to be savored and enjoyed. There’s still a day left to the “official” Hermitage Week, so feel free to hang out in your book fort (or armchair, bed, couch, floor, bean bag chair, etc.) and linger over some particularly engrossing passages. Till next week, I’ll be in my fort…

*The notable exception here is “Read a book originally published in the decade you were born.” Our patron base is as varied as our reading tastes and I don’t presume to guess the age of anyone reading this blog or tackling a book challenge. Should you require some help tracking down a book from the decade you were born, feel free to stop in and ask! We’re always happy to help! Alternately, you can check out Goodread’s list of best books by decades.

“Be cheerful. Strive to be happy…”

For New Year’s, we present Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”.  Oft-quoted though it may be, this is still one of the most simply stated pieces of inspiration I have come across, and it seemed like a perfect time to share it with you.

220px-MehrmannEhrmann was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and studied philosophy and law at Harvard.  Though he was a deputy state’s attorney in Indiana, he also managed his family’s meatpacking and overalls manufacturing plants in later life.  He wrote many pieces on spirituality, but it was this piece, composed in 1927, that would earn him lasting fame, even though it has been mistakenly attributed to a 17th century writer on numerous occasions.   In any case, we present this piece to you, beloved patrons, with all our best wishes for a happy, safe, and hopeful New Year, and we can’t wait to get up to more hijinks in 2016!

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Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, 1927

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass