Long Drive? Listen Here

Listening to a good recorded book can really make the time fly on a long drive. On a recent drive to Chicago I listened to "The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd. Before I knew it, Michigan and Indiana had flown by like a swarm of bees, and on the way home I listened to the rest of the story. Now I want to read the book.

’Tis the Season

To let David Sedaris put the Holidays in perspective. If you haven’t had the joy of listening to Holidays on Ice yet, you’re in for a treat – a wry, hilarious, subversive treat. His review of the elementary school Christmas pageant cannot be topped. Add this to your seasonal classics list along with Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation.

Religious CD Honors JFK

After President John Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963, his widow Jaqueline Kennedy commissioned Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers in his honor. The composer and conductor was Leonard Bernstein. Based on a Catholic mass, the piece was both controversial and memorable. Some selections may sound familiar, particularly “Almighty Father“ and “A Simple Song.”

Can She or Can’t She?

Ashlee Simpson has just recently released her second album I Am Me. The burning question is – Can she even sing? Critics and fans have been arguing this question ever since she emerged from her sister’s shadow (famed reality star Jessica Simpson). Of course, her lip-synching fiasco on Saturday Night Live didn’t help prove her talents. Either way, her CD has been booming since its release. The first single ‘Boyfriend’ peaked at #19, and is currently positioned at #47, on Billboard’s Charts (a song that she claims is NOT about Lindsay Lohan and Wilmer Valderrama).

To Baghdad and Back

If you missed Anne Garrels at University of Michigan this month, listen to the NPR foreign correspondent’s frank memoir of her sudden immersion into Iraqi culture and the culture of war, Naked in Baghdad. Garrels is the antithesis of the flak-jacketed, steel-jawed journalist-celebrity, acknowledging her real fears for her life, her journalistic misunderstandings and missteps, and the overwhelming complexity of the situation in Iraq.

Pulitizer-prize winning author and journalist Rick Atkinson’s In The Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat provides an equally honest and unadorned look at the war in Iraq. Atkinson followed the 101st Airborne from Kentucky to battles in Najaf, Hilla, and Karbala, narrating the gritty, brutal and ultimately deadly experiences of the soldiers he grew to respect and mourn.

The Play Ground

Hallelujah, Hallelujah redux. If classic Messiah isn't your cup of eggnog, the Motor City is presenting "Too Hot to Handel" at the Detroit Opera House on December 17 & 18th. This jazz gospel Messiah features The Rackham Symphony Choir with red hot performances by pianist Alvin Waddles, bassist Marion Hayden and beebop saxophonist George Benson.This is being billed as a "hand-clapping, soul-stirring holiday rapture." A good way to keep warm.

Short Story Classics on Audio

What is Ernest Hemingway’s greatest short story? The Killers? The Three Day Blow? Big Two-Hearted River? Listen to the three-volume set narrated by Stacy Keach and discover anew the works that made Hemingway the author of the 20th century.

One of the best current short story writers is Alistair MacLeod. Like Hemingway, place and time are main characters in MacLeod’s stories. Two stories from Island: The Collected Stories, The Road to Rankin’s Point and The Closing Down of Summer are especially poignant reminders of the command of nature over our daily lives.

The Play Ground

Hallelujah, Hallelujah! When UMS started presenting Messiah concerts in 1879, it was a rarity. Today, Messiah is the sacred sign of the season for almost every community, with a variety of stylistic choices from small Baroque renditions to all-gospel versions. Messiah was composed in only 21 days when Handel was 56 years old as part of a series of concerts that the composer was giving in Dublin to benefit various charities. Although the premiere was largely considered successful, the oratorio’s popularity blossomed only after Handel’s death. Featuring the UMS Choral Union and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra with Jerry Blackstone, conductoing. At Hill Auditorium Dec 3rd & 4th.

Thank you Earlene!

Snow is here!

Our first snow of the season is here; to me, that means that the holidays are rapidly approaching! In order to prepare and get yourself in the holiday mood, check out the library’s wide selection of holiday music CD’s. Here are a few titles that the library owns:

Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics by Bing Crosby – This crooner sure can sing Christmas songs.

Holiday Times by Ella Jenkins – She sings a collection of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa songs, among others.

The Man in Black is Back

This week actor Joaquin Phoenix walks the line as Johnny Cash in a a new film earning positive reviews across the board. Phoenix is a good choice to play the rough-hewn, emotionally-charged Man in Black, who allmusic.com calls "one of the most imposing and influential figures in post-World War II country music....He created his own subgenre, falling halfway between the blunt emotional honesty of folk, the rebelliousness of rock & roll, and the world weariness of country." Check out The Fabulous Johnny Cash, left, or last year's excellent Cash, a special tribute book from Rolling Stone magazine featuring new and old essays, plus a fascinating overview of Cash's life and detailed critical discography.

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