A New Vision of Democracy

In Democracy's Edge, Frances Moore Lappe, author of the groundbreaking Diet For A Small Planet, sets forth her analysis of our current political and social systems and encourages individuals to take responsibility for creating change. She looks at how, as a nation, we share more commonalities than differences, e.g. the quest for economic security, protection of our planet and principled government. Instead of feeling powerless, Lappe says, look to what you can do. She cites examples of some major changes to how our country is run including having a multi-party system. In seven states, the Working Families Party has instituted procedures so that candidates can be cross-endorsed on more than one ballot, a concept called fusion voting that can make voters' interests visible and influence candidates. Another project organized by a woman in Arizona has significantly affected campaign finance practices by having everyone in the state contribute $5 to a campaign. All are invested and candidates who don't have money now do. According to Lappe, it's the people, whether Republican or Democrat, who can join forces to combat corporate greed and out of control spending.

Muriel Spark, 1918-2006

Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark, wonderfully prolific novelist, essayist, and poet, died April 13, in Italy.

Shaped by her conversion to Catholicism when she was 36, Ms. Spark wrote with an almost reportorial calmness, often spiced with dry wit, about the absurdities and tragedies of everyday life.

One of her most beloved books, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was made into a play starring Vanessa Redgrave (in London) and Zoe Caldwell (Broadway); the latter won a Tony for her performance in 1968. A year later, Maggie Smith won an Oscar for the same role on the silver screen.

San Francisco Earthquake Centennial

April 18 is the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake and fire--a major historical and social event in the life of Californians and a cornerstone in the study of earthquakes and seismic activity in the U.S. Most of the city's 400,000 residents were still in bed when the monstrous (magnitude-7.8) quake hit at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906. AADL owns a variety of materials on this event, including last year's San Francisco is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires and A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.

Owen Parry’s Abel Jones (Civil War Historical Mysteries)

Abel Jones, Welsh immigrant, former sergeant with the British army in India, teetotalling Methodist, and bookkeeper for a coal company in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, has sworn off fighting and killing but finds himself compelled to help drill the hapless youths who have gathered to join the Union army. He ends up as their sergeant, is injured at Bull Run, becomes a clerk in the War Department, is recruited by General McClellan to investigate a soldier’s death, and the adventures begin.

His investigations provide wonderful commentary on the political, social, military, ethnic, and ethical background of the Civil War. Exciting, harrowing, humorous, and compulsively readable.

Series in order:
Faded Coat of Blue
Shadows of Glory
Call Each River Jordan
Honor’s Kingdom
Bold Sons of Erin
Rebels of Babylon

2006 Thumbs Up! Nominee

Sandpiper -- Vote for me!
As Sandpiper becomes fascinated by and befriends a mysterious loner, her existing relationships with her peers undergo irreversible transformations. Dramatic changes at home and uncertainty in her life force Sandpiper to reevaluate who she is.

2006 Thumbs Up! Nominee

Uglies -- Vote for me!
Ever looked into the mirror and wished you looked different? Tally lives in a futuristic society, where all have a procedure to make them “pretty” when they turn 16. . . .But what if you don’t want to look like everyone else?

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #15

“Unexpected, unrehearsed, unconventional” – that’s how Meg Mullins describes the relationships between the main characters in her sparkling debut novel.

At the center of the story is Iranian Ushman Khan, The Rug Merchant. Middle-aged, and feeling abandoned by a wife who refuses to join him in New York, he runs a small rug store on Madison Avenue by day and endures a solitary existence. A chance meeting with a beautiful Barnard student during his nocturnal wanderings at JFK, blossoms into a serious affair.
Then, there is wealthy and demanding socialite Mrs. Roberts - one of his best customers, who seems to be reaching out to Ushman in the most unexpected way.

A quiet and complex novel of “many extraordinary pleasures”, Mullins's auspiciously wonderful debut is not to be missed. My bet is you will be hand-selling it to your friends. Reviews.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (4/9/06)

It's hard to know what to say when the paperback version of a book is released and the hardcover moves back into the #1 position. And Dan Brown also won his British court case. Now everyone is waiting for the movie of the Da Vinci Code.

At #2 is Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag: another judge in jeopardy, this time in Minneapolis.

At #8 is The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra: another mystery starring Da Vinci, this time involving clues from his "Last Supper"

At #9 is A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore: for fans of Buffy and the supernatural, a San Francisco store owner becomes a Death Merchant who protects the souls of the recently dead.

At #15 is Intuition by Allegra Goodman: a literary novel exploring the work and lives of scientists at a cancer research institute that is rocked by allegations of a possible fraud.

Motivational consultant John Baldoni on Communication

You can view local business consultant and author John Baldoni discuss his book Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders on local Community Televsion Cable Channel 17 on Tuesday, April 18 at 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 20 at 1:30 p.m.; Friday, April 21 at 5:00 p.m.; and Saturday, April 22 at 1:30 p.m. He presents an overview of communication styles, techniques and strategies useful for all who need to hone their communication skills. The books also uses illustrative material from notable leaders, both historical and contemporary.

This Is The Dream by Diane Z. Shore & Jessica Alexander

This Is The Dream is written in verse about the struggle for equality through nonviolence. The illustrations enhance the poetic verse leading to the accomplishment of being able to choose a seat on the bus, sit at a lunch counter with anyone from any race and drinking from the same water fountain in a park. This is a wonderful introduction to the discussion of civil rights with young children.

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