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The Fault Tree March 4, 2010

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club, library programs, Mysteries, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I was sorry to miss our most recent Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club here at the Library.  If you like mysteries, please pay us a visit.  We meet on the 4th Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m.  Nice people, interesting discussions.

The book for February was The Fault Tree by Louise Ure.  The “detective,” Cadence Moran, is a blind auto mechanic.  I know – the scenario is unlikely, but the author does a great job of getting inside the head of this character.  Cadence’s automotive sensibilities (recognition of engine sounds, etc.) become an integral part of the plot. 

I did enjoy the story line, but what I liked even more was the insight into Cadence’s unique experience of the world as a blind person.  I’d recommend the book to fans of Laura Lippman and Sue Grafton.

The next meeting of the Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club will be on Saturday, March 27th.  The selection will be Rough Weather:  A Spenser Novel, by the late, great Robert B. Parker.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

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Our Hispanic Literary Heritage September 30, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Talk, Books, Fiction, library programs, Literature, readers, Reading, Reading lists.
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At our most recent Book Talk, I presented a “sampler” of the rich feast of Spanish language literature in translation, as well as some titles from North American writers of Hispanic origin. 

As I began to prepare, I started to become overwhelmed.  This is a major literary language – for example, ten Nobel prizes have been awarded to writers in the Spanish language.  I also became very excited about the wonderful variety of the books – a rich feast, indeed. 

I should mention with pride that I am partly of Spanish descent, and perhaps that increases my appreciation of this body of literature.  But I recommend these books to all of you.  When we talk about culture, we are privileged to be citizens of the world, and it is a good thing to move beyond our cultural center.  I love Southern food, but I don’t eat it every night of my life. 

So – this is your invitation to Hispanic literature.  Click here for my list of books, and also please visit the Color Online blog for another wonderful selection of titles.

Disfrute sus libros!  (Happy Reading, or more literally, Enjoy your books!)

Loving Frank August 25, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Great Reads, library programs, Literature, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Have you read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan?  There’s a good chance that the answer is yes, especially if you’re in a book club.  Our most recent Second Saturday group had one of our liveliest discussions yet about this one, and I would certainly recommend it to you, for single or group readership. 

Here’s a bare bones, non-spoiler summary of the plot:  Mamah Cheney, a well-educated married woman with small children, falls in love with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  They leave their respective families and journey to Europe together.  There are, of course, consequences for all concerned. 

One of the challenges in reading and discussing the book is remembering that is a fictional account, even though the general outline of events did in fact occur.  In any case, it provoked some very strong responses from our members! 

One person found it very romantic, and thought that Frank and Mamah had found a once in a lifetime love.  Another reader was appalled that Mamah would leave her young children under these circumstances, and yet another had some extremely hostile things to say about Frank.

I enjoyed the book tremendously for a number of reasons, but especially for the portrayal of the life of the mind, not just in the persons of Frank and Mamah, but in the intellectual ferment in Europe and the growing importance of feminism. 

Did I mention that the book is beautifully written and very readable?  Loving Frank is not to be missed!  Highly recommended

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

P.S.  Here’s a link to questions for discussion from the publisher.

Wine Glass Painting 2009 June 23, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in library programs, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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This Thursday, June 25th, I will be presenting a workshop on wine glass painting from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Auditorium of the West Palm Beach Public Library at 411 Clematis Street.  It’s easy and fun and you will be amazed at how creative you are.

Wine Glass Painting

Wine Glass Painting

Please bring a wine glass (larger ones work best) – we will supply the paints, brushes, etc. 

I hope to see you there! 

Happy Painting, 

The Book Goddess

P.S.  We did this last year and it was a great success! 

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Book Talk: Don’t Despair, Repair May 20, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Talk, Books, library programs, Reading, The Latest and the Greatest, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Tomorrow (Thursday, May 21) at 12:15 in the Hibiscus Room at the West Palm Beach Library, I’ll be presenting a selection of books on how to “Make the World a Better Place.”  It’s easy to become discouraged about the problems besetting the human race, but you know what they say about the darkness and a single candle.

We’ll also have some excellent new titles for your reading pleasure.  I hope to see you there!

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

P.S.  Yes, this program used to be called “The Latest and Greatest.”  In case you were wondering.

A Celebration of Friendship February 19, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Fiction, library programs, Reading, Reading lists, The Latest and the Greatest, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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We had a good discussion today at The Latest and Greatest – our topic was A Celebration of Friendship.  It’s not surprising that many wonderful books have been written on the theme of friendship.  Of all our important relationships, friendships are the ones we get to choose.  I have been more fortunate than I can say to have made some of my very best friends among my book club participants and my library colleagues.

I’m going to let the reading list speak for itself (here’s the link), but I should mention a few titles that my book-loving friends reminded me about:

Christina recommended Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott.  This is one of my all-time favorites, too.  I read it multiple times in my childhood, and in recent times had the pleasure of visiting the Alcott home.  Christina also recommended Leaving Cecil Street by Diane McKinney-Whetstone.

Other recommendations were The Tender Bar, a memoir by J. R. Moehringer (Lois); A Red Bird Christmas by Fannie Flagg (Marsha); and The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor (Claudia).  All great suggestions, and I would love to hear yours, too!

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn February 2, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, library programs, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I’m slightly apprehensive when I decide to re-read a much loved book from childhood.  Perhaps it won’t live up to my memories, or I’ll look back on my youthful taste in horror. 

As far as I can recall, this has never actually happened.  Maybe the books that live on for us really are classics.  This proved to be the case with my recent re-reading of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  I’m not even sure what made me suggest it for the February selection for the Second Saturday Book Club.  But I’m happy to report that I was simply enchanted, and I hope the other book club members will be, too.  The story of Francie Nolan, child of Brooklyn and of poverty, but also of her dreams and aspirations, and the love of her family, was just as moving and enthralling as I found it several decades ago. 

I urge you to read this book, again or for the first time.  Among other things, it is a remarkable portrayal of life in the tenements of Brooklyn a hundred years ago.  More importantly, it is a universal tale of growing up, of learning to love, and learning to leave.  It will leave you with the greatest admiration for those who overcome this level of adversity.  It may even put our current economic crisis in some sort of perspective. 

Happy reading! 

The Book Goddess

P.S.  We’ll be discussing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at the Second Saturday Book Club at the downtown West Palm Beach Public Library on Saturday, February 14th at 10:30 a.m.  You have plenty of time to read the book, so please join us!

Happy Birthday, West Palm Beach! October 31, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, library programs, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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One of the things I love about my job is the variety.  Earlier this week, for example, I dressed up as a witch and handed out Halloween tattoos to scores of adorable costumed children, some of whom were still young enough to be scared. 

Then today I “curated” a collection of historic photographs for our West Palm
Beach 114th Birthday celebration tomorrow.  (I know – curators all over the country are calling their professional association to complain….)  

Anyway, these are very cool old photographs which I hung up on a screen as aesthetically as I could.  And as I looked at Benjamin Lainhart in front of his thatched home (in 1876!), I was amazed once more at the pioneer spirit of those people who get to a place first and then turn it into a community.  I am proud to be the descendant of north Florida pioneers myself, but I’m not sure I would have had the courage or the stamina that people like my great-great-grandparents, or Mr. Lainhart, did. 

And now we live in this amazingly diverse and culturally rich city that many would think is pretty close to paradise.  Tomorrow we will celebrate its founding here at the Library, and unveil “My City, Our Story”: the multimedia interactive experience that portrays the history of Clematis Street and asks you for your Clematis Street story. 

Aren’t you grateful that those pioneers stayed and created our city?  If you are, please come to the West Palm Beach Library on Saturday, November 1st, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.  There will be a barbershop quartet, old-fashioned games for the kids, refreshments, and of course a display of books about West Palm Beach and the local area.  I hope to see you there! 

Fondly, 

The Book Goddess

A Day (Off) in the Life of the Book Goddess (and more reasons to love your book club) October 30, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Librarians, library programs, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Monday was a day off for me, so after I had done some laundry, I set off for the campaign headquarters of the presidential candidate of my choice.  I had arranged to meet up there with one of my wonderful book club friends, Kathleen.  We were making calls to likely voters, and one lady said she wanted applications for absentee ballots.  Kathleen said we would take them over to her house – so we set off to make our delivery. 

When we got there, the voter and her mother were sitting in the shade of their peaceful front yard.  We had a nice visit while they filled out the forms.  

After we took care of delivering the forms, we decided to call Sylvia, another book club member who lives nearby and see if we could drop in.  She was happy to hear from us, and set out wine, cheese, crackers and fruit on her patio.  What a gracious hostess!  Kathleen started teaching us how to play Hawaiian gin rummy.  Then Sylvia got another call from yet another book club member, Faith, who was also in the neighborhood.  We were delighted that she could join our party. 

Eventually we had to leave for our various commitments, but what a wonderful day it was!  I felt that I did something useful, and I got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world.  I can’t guarantee that you will find friends in your book club as fabulous as mine, but I think there’s a good chance. 

Oh – and after that, I went to my bellydance class.  I had met the teacher at the West Palm Beach Public Library where she gave an introductory lesson.  When I went home, I read Exit Music by Ian Rankin, which is pretty terrific – a library book, of course. 

Those of us in the library profession are fond of saying that libraries change lives.  There is no doubt that they have changed mine. 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

Back to School? September 15, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Books, Fiction, library programs, Literature, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Are you glad to be out of school, or do you sometimes yearn to be registering for classes and buying books and supplies?  I would have to say that I fall in the latter category, though I’m not sorry that I don’t have a term paper due.  I just love the idea of learning something new, of opening those brand new texts with a sense of anticipation, of meeting interesting classmates. 

Even if you are in the “glad to be out” group, I’ll bet that school or college was an important phase in your life.  One piece of evidence for this is that academia is a perennial setting for fiction.  

My top pick for “academic” fiction would be Lucky Jim by Kingley Amis.  Jim Dixon, a hapless history lecturer at a “redbrick” British university, has hilarious misadventures as he tries to advance his so-called career.  Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, known to many through the film with Maggie Smith, portrays a much more gifted teacher and a much darker series of events.  

Mystery writers have found schools to be a rich setting.  Here are some really good ones:  The Chatham School Affair by Thomas Cook; Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James; Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George. 

I’ll have many more wonderful “school stories” at the “Latest and Greatest” book discussion on Thursday, September 18th at 12:15 p.m. in the Meeting Room of the West Palm Beach Public Library.  I hope to see you there! 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess