"Tales of the New World"

From time to time, the desire or the time to commit to a full length novel just isn't there; this is where short stories come in. The best selling point of short stories is that if you are not particularly interested in one story, you can move on the the next without the guilt that can come with putting an entire book to rest without consideration.

Tales of the New World is a collection of ten short stories by PEN/Faulkner Award winner Sabina Murray. Some of the stories are firsthand accounts and others outside perspectives of exploring new lands around the world. Murray delves into the complex world of writing historical fiction focused on recognized historical figures. A few well-known explorers are represented in this compilation, including Magellan and Balboa, as well as lesser known explorers, such as English-born Mary Kingsley.

While there is a definite tone of bleakness and isolation, Tales of the New World offers a fascinating glimpse into the perspective of world explorers, with fictional tales of adventure tinged with strife.

To Learn, To Know, And To Be Together: An Introduction To Indonesia With Peisy Alamsjah

Tuesday June 26, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Travel with us for an inside look at Indonesia as Ann Arbor resident Peisy Alamsjah shares her love of her native country. Join us as she discusses Indonesian cultures, history, geography, and some unique local customs and habits from the perspective of Western culture.

#10 Amazon Teen Bestseller: The Serpent's Shadow

Coming out May 1 is another Rick Riordan novel sure to appeal to many teen readers: The Serpent's Shadow, today #10 on Amazon's List of Teen Best Sellers. This is Book 3 in the Kane Chronicles, following Book 1 The Red Pyramid and Book 2 The Throne of Fire. In what apparently is the final installment, Apophis, the chaos snake, is back, and Carter and Sade Kane are struggling to keep him down. As the snake threatens eternal darkness over the globe, the Kanes aim to defeat him forever. Making their task most difficult are characters including the magicians of the House of Life, who are approaching civil war, and the gods, who are split. There is hope, though, in an ancient spell that might have power to turn the serpent's shadow into a weapon. Right now there are 74 people waiting for the book at AADL.

Life In Ghana With Dina Nyarko, Programs Director For AFS Intercultural Exchange Programs in Ghana

Tuesday March 13, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Have you ever considered hosting an exchange student from abroad? Join us as Dina Nyarko, Programs Director for AFS (American Field Service) Intercultural Exchange Programs in Ghana discusses what an American host family could expect from a high school aged exchange student from Ghana.

Dina will also share information with the audience about her country including, culture, tourism, and a bit of history and discuss why exchange programs with Ghana are so important.

She is being hosted for one week here in Ann Arbor to learn more about US schools, American families, and AFS local operations.

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond JubileeDiamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee
February 6 marked the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 year reign starting in 1952. To read about the Diamond Jubilee celebrations click here. Recent biographies written about the Queen include: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by noted biographer Sally Bedell Smith. Smith follows the young princess as a student to a love-struck teen (after meeting Philip) through her current reign. This is a well-written and engrossing account of a Queen that successfully balances royal tradition and modernity. Another title, The Real Elizabeth : an intimate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, takes on the subject of the role of the monarchy itself specifically under her auspices over the past 60 years and how it has changed over time. And do not forget, her royal consort, Prince Philip, who has served by her side (and one step behind her). There is a recent biography, Prince Philip : the turbulent early life of the man who married Queen Elizabeth II that focuses on his turbulent childhood as his family is exiled from Greece (where he was born) to his mother’s schizophrenia and his father leaving him at an early age in order to live with his mistress. His charm and good looks eventually win him the hand of the-then Princess Elizabeth for whom he renounces his titles, religion and even family. A storybook romance indeed! To read more about their life together, read Philip and Elizabeth : portrait of a royal marriage. Movies about her include Helen Mirren’s outstanding portrayal in the Queen and the British TV show, Queen : a dramatic portrait of one of the world's most powerful women, as well as several documentaries including Windsors, a royal family.

Roger Cohen to Speak at UofM


New York Times and International Herald Tribune columnist, Roger Cohen, will be speaking at the University of Michigan on Monday, February 6th at 6:00p.m. in the Rogel Ballroom of the Michigan Union. The Union is located at 530 South State Street. Cohen’s discussion will focus on how closely Israel has adhered to its ideals in the 63 years since it was founded as the Jewish state. The talk is part of a symposium entitled, “Up Against a Wall: Israel in a Changing Middle East.”

In addition to his journalistic works, Cohen is also the author of three books: Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo, Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis’ Final Gamble, and In the Eye of the Storm, a biography he co-authored about the life of General Norman Schwarzkopf.

The Spiritual Experience of Viewing Great Films.

Departures

From the website gratefulness.org, there are links to a tremendous source of recommended films from the Esalen Institute. At the Institute, they regularly offer film seminars with the overall theme, Renewing Wholeness: The Spiritual Experience of Viewing Great Films.

Some of the highlights are lists on these themes: forgiveness, the feminine, hope for the future, and wisdom & compassion. And then there is the top 20 list: beautiful films, old and new, American and foreign, they all make a statement about the enduring necessity of living connected to others, with love and grace, as difficult as that is much of the time.

From that list I watched three films that are new to me and I am glad I discovered them.
Departures, a Japanese film about a young man who answers a job ad for a company called “Departures”, thinking it is a travel agency, only to discover it is all about preparing people (both dead and alive) for the final journey. King of Masks, a Chinese film about an itinerant mask artist, who performs street theater in 1930s Szechwan, and the abandoned child he adopts so he can pass on his theatrical legacy. And, The Burmese Harp, the classic anti-war film made in Japan in 1956, about one man’s challenge to live humanely in evil circumstances.

Fall NY Times Fiction Review: Interview for Haruki Murakami's "1Q84"

At a mere 932 pages, the Knopf English publication of 1Q84 is “like a telephone directory.” This is according to the author, Haruki Murakami. In his fall interview with the New York Times Magazine, critic Sam Anderson, asks Murakami: had he intended to write such a big book? This question meant nothing of the scope of his literature or the fact that it's an international bestseller in hundreds of different languages. Just, why so many pages?

We must understand, Murakami is a man driven primarily by his love of writing. On his methodology, he tells Anderson "he begins a piece of fiction with only a title or an opening image" Then, waking up at 2am to write every morning in part of what Murakami calls a "voluntary confinement, happy confinement;” he eats, excercises, and schedules with the sole purpose of creative producation.

"1Q84 took three years to write," Murakami tells Anderson with what he calls simply "improvising until it’s done...A boy meets a girl. They have separated and are looking for each other. It’s a simple story. I just made it long.”

"If he’d known how long it would turn out to be, he might not have started at all." Anderson jokes.

But we're glad he did. The intrigue of well-developed characters and a place you think you know only to have their situations defy expectations is what makes IQ84 a good fall thriller and stand-out literary achievement.

Take Part in Art -- The Art of Words

image by Umair Mohsin, Flickr.comimage by Umair Mohsin, Flickr.com
Did you think you had to write a novel to make art with words? Think again! From calligraphy to graffiti, people all over the world have figured out ways to make art from letters and words. You can come down to the youth art table to have fun making art from words with us, or you can join in at home:

Kids:
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad – A young boy finds shelter from the chaos of war in the act of creating calligraphy.
My First book of Chinese Calligraphy
Calligraphy for Kids
Here are some ideas for word art activities for kids.

Teens:
Stencil Graffiti by Tristan Manco will give you tips to create your own hip stencil graffiti.
The Graffiti Verite DVD series explores the culture, history and techniques of graffiti art.

We have plenty of books for grown-ups, too!

To hone your technique, try:
Chinese Calligraphy Made Easy by Rebecca Yue.
Zen Brushwork by Tanchu Terayama.
All About Techniques in Calligraphy
To learn more about the history of calligraphy in the Islamic world, read:
Islamic Calligraphy by Shiela Blair.

Cricket Not Just a Bug

CRICKET it is not just the bug you hear after telling a bad joke, CRICKET it is not just the bug you hear on a fine summer night, CRICKET it is not just a bug. So what else is CRICKET?

Cricket is a sport, played by the international community, and currently is in the middle of their world cup tournament. Like soccer, another international sport, Cricket does not gain the similar enthusiasm that is received by the sports of baseball, basketball, and American football which are watched and listened to by sports fans on this side of the world. However, the sport of Cricket does have a large following and is played predominantly in the United Kingdom, Africa, and South Asian countries like India and Pakistan.

Although I have family that watch Cricket and hold strong loyalties to their respective teams I am not an avid fan of Cricket. However, this has not deterred me in seeking to learn more about this sport that has largely gone unknown within the United States. With the current world cup tournament in progress I gained more of an interest in the sport and resorted to my family on getting the rundown on Cricket. But if you don't have family who watch and play Cricket like me then the Ann Arbor District Library is here to enlighten you on the sport with a few books that cover the basics as well as some more advanced aspects of Cricket.

For your basic understanding of Cricket check out Cricket for Americans: Playing and Understanding the Game or Cricket for Dummies these two books will get you up to speed on the basics of the sport of Cricket. If you are a player and need to brush up on your techniques take a look at Cricket: Steps to Success or Cricket:Technique,Tactics,Training. With these few books you will surely have a good start on being well on your way to playing Cricket.

Then after taking a look at these books and by some circumstance on a quiet summer day among the sound of crickets you see a sport being played that is oddly similar to baseball you will join in and become among those who played a game that has gone unknown on this side of the world.

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