Thursday, September 25, 2014

I heard this poem on The Writer's Almanac and knew it was just right for this time of year. 
It's by Jonathan Galassi and appears in his book Left-Handed (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). 

The last swim of summer 
ought to be swum
without knowing it,
afternoon lost to
re-finding the rock

you can stand on
way out past the
raft, the flat one
that lines up four-
square with the door
of the boathouse.

Freestyle and back-
stroke and hours on
the dock nattering
on while the low sun
keeps setting fin-
gers and toes getting
number and number ...
how could we know
we were swimming the
last swim of summer?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Round of Super Short Book Reviews!

1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This book deals with the ethical debate surrounding euthanasia while acquainting us with an unforgettable, Bridget Jones-like main character who finds herself caring for quadriplegic man whose misery seems insurmountable. This book will run you through the gamut of emotions.

2. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A beautifully written story with well-crafted characters. Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a small island nearly half a day's journey from Australia's coast. He falls in love with a girl on the mainland, and the two start their life together on the isolated island. They weather several miscarriages before the day a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a baby. What happens next will alter their relationship and change the course of their lives forever. Stedman's characters are three dimensional, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

3. Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

This is your typical Sparks novel- he explores heartbreak, hope, and forgiveness while weaving the story of two middle-aged individuals who fall madly in love during a weekend stay in Rodanthe. Sparks has a bad habit of telling as opposed to showing and of creating characters that are caricatures. The plus side: his novels are a guaranteed warm-fuzzy escape from reality.

4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This novel is set in the South in 1964 and tells the story of Lily Owens, a young white girl who has had her share of tragedy. When Lily's nanny, a proud black woman named Rosaleen, is arrested after insulting a group of racist white men, she decides to take matters into her own hands by springing Rosaleen from jail. After the escape, the unlikely duo are taken in by a tight-knit trio of sisters who own a beekeeping operation. This is a heartwarming story about womanhood and empowerment during the civil rights movement.

5. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Dabney Kimball Beech, a well-known matchmaker on Nantucket Island, is dying of pancreatic cancer, but, before she goes, she's determined to find the perfect matches for the people that she loves the most including her husband, her daughter, and, wait for it, her lover! This is not Hilderbrand's best work. The characters are nearly as ridiculous as their names!

6. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman

This is a memoir and a surprisingly good one. I watched the TV series (which I loved) prior to reading this but had low expectations for the book. Memoirs can be self-indulgent, but Kerman spends less time over-analyzing herself and her situation and more time exploring the relationships that she forms with her fellow inmates. Kerman is engaging, great at highlighting instances of white privilege, but is sometimes too careful, too polite. Overall, this is an interesting read that will give you a glimpse into America's prison problem.

Have you read anything lately? Tell us how you felt about it by emailing We'll post your review on our blog!

Sharlene  Edwards

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In a recent Brainpickings post , Maria Popova celebrated Robert Dawson's recent book, The Public Library: A Photographic Essay
“A library is many things,” E.B. White once wrote in a letter to the children of a little town to inspire them to fall in love with their new library. “But particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books… Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had.”
"As the daughter of a formally trained librarian and an enormous lover of,collaborator with, and supporter of public libraries (you may have noticed I always include a public library link for books I write about; I also re-donate a portion of Brain Pickings donations to the New York Public Library each year) I was instantly enamored with The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by photographer Robert Dawson— at once a love letter and a lament eighteen years in the making, a wistful yet hopeful reminder of just what’s at stake if we let the greatest bastion of public knowledge humanity has ever known slip into the neglected corner of cultural priorities. 
"Alongside Dawson’s beautiful photographs are short reflections on the subject by such celebrated minds as Isaac AsimovAnne Lamott, and E.B. White. From architectural marvels to humble feats of human ingenuity, from the august reading room of the New York Public Library to the trailer-library at Death Valley National Park, braving the glaring sun at one of the hottest places on earth, from the extraordinary vaulted ceilings of LA’s Children’s Library to the small shack turned into a book memorial in the country’s only one-person town, the remarkable range reveals our elemental need for libraries — as sanctuaries of learning, as epicenters of community, as living records of civic identity, and above all as a timelier-than-ever testament that information and human knowledge belong to everybody; not to corporate monopolies or government agencies or ideological despots, but to the people."
It's a beautiful book. You can explore it through Brainpickings  or take it out from your friendly neighborhood library. Either way, it's a chance to celebrate one of our nation's most invaluable and distinctive institutions: the free public library!