Archive for the “Books” Category
LIBRARY ANNOUNCES FOURTH ANNUAL
“SOMERVILLE READS” PROGRAM
The Art Forger to be discussed at events throughout September.
SOMERVILLE – Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Maria Carpenter, Director of the Somerville Public Libraries, announced today that the City of Somerville will launch its fourth “One City, One Book” campaign in September 2013. Somerville Reads is a project that promotes literacy and community engagement by encouraging people all over the City to read and discuss the same book. The book selected for the 2013 project is The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro, a page-turner of a novel that deals with the largest unsolved art heist in history. The robbery took place on March 18, 1990, when thirteen works of art worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Claire Roth, a struggling young artist with her own scandalous past, is about to discover that that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Claire makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she lets herself be lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting-one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the Gardner Museum-in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing Degas painting-the one that had been hanging for one hundred years at the Gardner-is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.
Claire’s search for the truth about the painting’s origins leads her into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life. B. A. Shapiro’s razor-sharp writing and rich plot twists make The Art Forger an absorbing literary thriller that treats us to three centuries of forgers, art thieves, and obsessive collectors. It’s a dazzling novel about seeing – and not seeing – the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.
“The Art Forger is a fascinating read that mixes local history with fine arts, thievery, and science,” Carpenter said. “We are absolutely delighted to feature this New York Times bestseller and present author Barbara Shapiro as our special guest at the Central Library on Wednesday, September 18th at 7:00 p.m. This event is free, refreshments will be served, and all are invited to attend.” You can register for the event online at http://bashapiro.eventbrite.com.
The Central Library will also host a free screening of Stolen, a documentary by Rebecca Dreyfus, on Wednesday, September 25th at 7:00 p.m. Stolen is a full exploration of the Gardner robbery and the fascinating, disparate characters involved: from the 19th century Grand Dame Isabella Gardner to the 17th century Dutch masters to a 21st century terrorist organization with a penchant for stealing Vermeers.
Copies of The Art Forger in a variety of formats are available for check out at all Somerville Public Library locations.
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Last weekend a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time stopped me on the street and asked me what the library was doing to commemorate the 200th birth year of Richard Wagner. The library has too many programs for me to keep track of, so I said, “I’ll get back to you on that.”
There is no question that Wagner is a towering figure in Western culture. He influenced later composers such as Claude Debussy, Hector Berlioz and Gustav Mahler. And his cultural impact extended beyond music: the works of the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and writers ranging from Charles Baudelaire to D.H. Lawrence all owe something to Wagner.
But Wagner’s a controversial figure, to put it mildly. Like many Europeans of his day, Wagner was anti-semitic. And the Nazis loved him, seeing in his musical explorations of pagan myth the expression of a pure Germanic ethos. Some critics even argue that anti-semitic motifs are present in his operas, and Wagner’s own grandson thinks his music should be banned. Nevertheless his operas are among the high points of Western classical music. SPL has many of his operas on DVD, including Tristan und Isolde (one of the great love stories of Arthurian legend) and the incomparable Ring des Nibelungen: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. You can also read about Wagner and his family in the critically acclaimed Wagner Clan: The Saga of Germany’s Most Illustrious and Infamous Family.
But however much Wagner’s operas are performed around the world, however much works such as The Waste Land or Ulysses have been influenced by the maestro, the real proof of the profundity of Wagner’s stamp on our culture is in what animators and critics agree is one of the best cartoons of all time. The team that created Bugs Bunny manages to riff on Tannhäuser, the Ring operas and The Flying Dutchman all in seven short minutes:
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Elmore Leonard, author of such works as Glitz, City Primeval and Killshot, died at his home in Michigan. He was 87.
His works were populated by murderers, conmen and schemers, people living alongside us, but in a separate world with its own rules and risks and expectations. Leonard wrote about this world with an emotional depth and a gritty realism that endeared him even to critics prone to be dismissive of crime novels.
Readers curious about Leonard have two options for sampling his distinctive talent. A number of his books are available in the network. Second–and this is a more indirect way of trying his work–some of his writings were eminently suitable for adaption to film. Two of his short stories are the basis for the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T; another is the basis for the FX TV series Justified.
His novel Get Shorty was adapted into a great movie starring John Travolta, Renee Russo, and Danny Devito. Quentin Tarantino re-worked Rum Punch into Jackie Brown.
The man is gone, but his work remains. Enjoy it.
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We all know Somerville’s a great town that faces a lot of issues, particularly gentrification and the conflicting desires of different communities with different histories. Earlier in the month Tufts professor Susan Ostrander (left) gave a talk based on her research for her book Citizenship and Governance in a Changing City: Somerville, Massachusetts. She talked to Somervillians of various ethnicities, occupations and ages. And she found that whatever people’s differences, most of us want the some thing: to preserve Somerville’s unique character, to keep it from becoming a suburb, to keep it diverse, and to make it a city where people of varying incomes can afford to live. She also discussed the difficulties facing newcomers seeking full participation in every aspect of city life.
Don’t worry if you missed her talk. You can watch it here. Or even better, read her book.
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It’s official: Whitey Bulger has been found guilty – of a whole lot of stuff - and will presumably be spending the rest of his life behind bars. Many of us would like to forget all about the notorious thug but, human nature being what it is, a fair number of us want to know all there is to know about Whitey and his doings. To that end, here’s a list of relevant books available through the Minuteman Library Network.
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“Dark fins appear, innocent/as if in fair warning”–Denise Levertov, “The Sharks.”
“You may rest assured that the British government is entirely opposed to sharks”–Winston Churchill in Parliament, Prime Minister’s Question Time, Feb. 20, 1945.
We’ve barely begun to recover from the heart-stopping excitement of Sharknado, and here we are in the middle of Shark Week, the Discovery Channel’s annual celebration of all things squaline. And while I’m sure that most of the programming of SW 2013 is perfectly fine, it is my professional obligation to echo commentary currently on the Internet: Contrary to what you might have seen and heard last weekend, megaladons (the largest known shark ever) still do not exist.
Whether we love them or hate them, sharks fascinate us. But why? Some people are enamored of their ability to sense bioelectric fields . Some people think they’re beautiful. Others are grateful for their contributions to the ecosystem.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter, shall we? Sharks are terrifying, and the terrifying has a perverse allure. As one person put it on Twitter: “They’re ancient, and one of the last things on earth that puts us lower on the food chain. Gotta respect that.” Admittedly, sharks have more to fear from us than we do from them, but that’s small comfort if you’re swimming in the ocean and find yourself near one. And the fear of sharks is a very old one. Most modern historians and biologists believe the “monsters” Herodotus described devouring shipwrecked Persian sailors were sharks.
If you’re interested in learning more about these fascinating creatures, considering checking out the Nova documentary “Island of the Sharks” or the Secrets of the Deep episode “Great White.” And the network has books galore about sharks, including the acclaimed nonfiction thriller Close to Shore, the compelling and respectful exploration The Shark Chronicles, and master storyteller Peter Benchley’s Shark Trouble: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea.
If you want to go online for your shark needs, check the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Portal, or National Geographic‘s shark website.
Here are some interesting facts about sharks for your edification. Joe Queenan holds forth on the dearth of good shark movies. And the National Academy of American Poets has assembled a brief compilation of poems for Shark Week.
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This August has some spectacular teen titles for you to read: here’s a glance at some of the ones you’ll be able to grab from the Somerville Public Library!
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The first book of Victoria Scott’s YA paranormal romance series, The Collector, was a fast, fun read about devils and angels. Dante Walker, a devastatingly handsome, infuriatingly cocky guy who died as a teen and got stuck tracking people’s sins for the Big Guy down below, is charged with an assignment that is more than even he might be able to handle. He’s got to collect sweet, innocent Charlie Cooper’s soul in ten days…or else. How hard could it be to corrupt just one ordinary teenage girl’s soul?
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It’s Summer Reading Club time at all three SPL locations! This year’s theme is Dig Into Reading. When you join, you’ll receive: a logbook to record your summer reading (books you enjoy on your own, or stories read TO you by a caregiver or…even a librarian!), a bag to carry those summer reading books, and a calendar of our summer events! Thanks to the Friends of the Somerville Public Library, we have many fun and free programs planned this summer! Highlights include:
- 3 Kidstock Theater shows at the Central Library
- Rosalita’s Puppets at the East Branch
- Live Animal presentations at all three libraries
- Groundwork Somerville programs at all three libraries
- Jungle Jim’s Wild About Reading Balloon Magic Show at Central & East
- Ed Morgan the Music Man at East
- plus origami, writing programs, storytimes, sing alongs, and more!
For a full list of programs, check out our online calendar of events.
Dig Into Reading is sponsored by the Somerville Public Library, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Massachusetts Library System, and the Boston Bruins, with federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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The mercury’s breaking 90 today and it’s going to be almost as warm through the weekend. Here are some tips to make the next few days a little more comfortable. Cooking can make an already hot kitchen unbearable, so check out this link to Mark Bittman’s 101 recipes ready in fewer than ten minutes. Longtime readers of this blog probably recall that I’ve posted this link before, but there’s always something on it I haven’t tried, and I’m assuming the same is true of you. You should also browse this list of summer recipes from Epicurious.
All of us love a cool drink on a hot day, so check out the book, Smoothies, Shakes and Frappes: 750 Refreshing, Revitalizing, and Nourishing Drinks. And browse the ice cream and frozen dessert recipes at the website Food52. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook has frozen desserts, and if you’re avoiding dairy, The Vegan Scoop is worth a look.
If you would rather forget about cooking and relax in the water, the state Department of Recreation has the facts on local pools. There’s an additional list of pools at the City of Somerville’s website.
And if you’re thinking about going to the beach, you’ll want to take a look at the NYT’s list of recommended beach reading.
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