Your Tudor Tutor

Today would be the 501st anniversary for King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catharine of Aragon. I'm not sure what the correct present is for that specific anniversary, but I don't know that I'd be accepting whatever it would be from Henry.

King Henry VIII has fascinated many people, though, regrettably, mostly because of his six marriages (two of which ended in divorce, and two more in beheading). However, it may interest you that these are not his only...accomplishments.

Some notable books on the Tudor king which do not focus on his matrimonial issues include The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII And The Dissolution Of The Monasteries and Henry VIII: The King And His Court.

However, if you'd like to go the more traditional route, you'll have plenty of choices: The Wives of Henry VIII, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII among them.

Of course, there are also historical fiction books that contain the infamous king. While they are not necessarily as accurate as the non-fiction, they are just as entertaining, if not more so. The oldest of these would be Shakespeare's play, given the regal name Henry VIII. Among the more recent, there is the "autobiography" by Margaret George, as well as the well-known The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Though, my personal favorite is not a book at all, but the Showtime television series The Tudors.

You may even want to take a look at his children. Each one showed off one bit of his overbearing personality. And I can guarantee one of them is probably just as interesting as he was.

Louise Bourgeois, Influential Sculptor, Dies at 98

This week, the art world remembers Louise Bourgeois (see the articles in The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times ).

"Petite in size, gruff of voice and manner", Louise Bourgeois, a French-born American artist who gained fame only late in a long career, is known for her psychologically charged abstract sculptures, drawings and prints that had a galvanizing effect on the work of younger artists, particularly women.

"Ms. Bourgeois’s sculptures in wood, steel, stone and cast rubber, often organic in form and sexually explicit, emotionally aggressive yet witty, covered many stylistic bases. But from first to last they shared a set of repeated themes centered on the human body and its need for nurture and protection in a frightening world."

Perhaps the most provocative was “Fillette” (1968), a large, detached latex phallus. Ms. Bourgeois can be seen carrying this object, nonchalantly tucked under one arm, in a portrait by the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe taken for the catalog of her 1982 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (In the catalog, the Mapplethorpe picture is cropped to show only the artist’s smiling face.)

In 1993 she represented the United States in the Venice Biennale. In an art world where women had been treated as second-class citizens and were discouraged from dealing with overtly sexual subject matter, she quickly assumed an emblematic presence.

Her 1994 exhibition entitled “Louise Bourgeois: Locus of Memory, Works 1982-1993,” in which the central image was a spider, is based on a creature she associated with her mother, a woman of ever-changing moods. (More books and videos on Louise Bourgeois in our collection).

Ms. Bourgeois was named Officer of The Order of Arts and Letter by the French minister of culture in 1983. The National Medal of Arts was presented to her by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life

Check out Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life, Suzanne Beecher’s first novel!

For those of you who don’t know, Suzanne Beecher is the creator of the website, which sends you daily (Monday-Friday) selections of a book from the genre of your choice. In her book Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life, released June 1st, Suzanne shares her love of baking (with recipes) and stories about her life from leaving home at a young age and overcoming substance abuse problems to being a hard-working single parent to her now comfortable life encouraging and inspiring others.

A past blog about can be found here.

Role Models

You know him, you love him. Or maybe you hate him. Either way, he can't be ignored. John Waters, the Pope of cinematic trash, has written a new book of memoirs. It’s called Role Models, and that’s exactly what it’s about. Each section in the book profiles a different personality – a personality that has affected and inspired Waters. From singer Johnny Mathis, to playwright Tennessee Williams, and even a bartender in his native home of Baltimore – Waters pays homage to them all. I think it is sure to be a fascinating look inside the mind of a filmmaker who has always followed a path so uniquely his own. The autobiographical book also contains bits of trivia that Waters fans will enjoy, such as how he keeps his pencil thin mustache so perfectly groomed. The library has John Waters’ Role Models on order, and is available to place holds.

Happy Birthday Miles Davis!

As I begin this blog, I am faced with the reality that a proper tribute to Miles Davis is quite a daunting task. To say he was a famous jazz musician is a bit of an understatement. "Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the music during that period, and he often led the way in those changes, both with his own performances and recordings and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn't there to push it forward. -"
Do yourself a favor and check out some of his incredible music from the AADL or watch one of our DVDs to see him in action. Try Kind of Blue if you need a place to start. We also have many many books about Miles Davis for you to get better acquainted with this icon of music history. miles davismiles davis

Droonkher Tashi Delek, Siddhartha Gautama!

It's birthday time for The Buddha this weekend, and Ann Arbor's Zen Buddhist Temple on Packard is one place to participate in the celebration. The two day event begins on Saturday, May 22 from 2:30pm - 8:30pm with an open poetry reading, vegetarian buffet (for a fee), and storytelling program with music. On Sunday, May 23, from 9:30am - 8:30pm, the Buddha festivities roll out with the story of Buddha's life followed by the Peace and Happiness Street Parade, which youngsters are invited to join in on foot or on bike. The evening keeps going with a meditation, a lighting of the lotus lanterns, and readings from area Buddhist groups.

For AADL materials and information on Buddha and Buddhism, try a subject search for Buddha or for Buddhism, or check out the online database, Biography Resource Center, and their articles on The Buddha.

International Nurses Day

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May 12th is International Nurses Day. The day was chosen in honor of the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

In celebration of all the wonderful care nurses give, you could watch a DVD, maybe something likeM*A*S*H, which focuses on a medical unit during the conflict in Korea, or you could watch the 1957 film version of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

Or you could read a factual book. There are biographies on women like Florence Nightingale, Mildred MacGregor, and Clara Barton. There are also more general works, such as one on WWII nurses and even one or two on how to become a nurse.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #204

This spring, a pair of debut novelists from the Midwest offer fictional biographies of two beloved 19th century literary figures, and breathe romance into their lonely lives.

In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O'Connor McNees draws on biographical information to imagine a young Louisa at Walpole N.H. in the summer of 1855, where she finds that her growing affection (which she tried to deny) for charming (and wealthy) Joseph Singer is eagerly returned. Their romance is cut short by the announcement of Joseph’s engagement to an heiress. Family tragedies, disappointment and a desire for independence take Louisa back to Boston where eventually her literary career blossoms.

Kelly O’Connor McNees is born and raised in Michigan. She now calls Chicago home. A most apropos quote from her website beautifully evokes her heroine's lament:

“Don't laugh at the spinsters, dear girls, for often very tender, tragical romances are hidden away in the hearts that beat so quietly under the sober gowns.”
~ Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)

Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael captures the emotional life of Charlotte Bronte during the last decade of her life, and shortly after the publication of Jane Eyre. Remaining lonely in spite of her literary celebrity, Charlotte Bronte endures unrequited love, first for her French professor and later for her publisher, while caring for her aging father. When his brash curate, Arthur Bell Nichols, reveals his long-time secret love for her, Charlotte must decide between a marriage lacking the passion displayed in her novels or a single life.

“Gael makes a valiant attempt to blend fact with fiction as she transports readers to 19th-century England”, capturing the passions, hopes, dreams, and sorrows of literature’s most famous sisters. The author was raised in the Midwest. She has lived abroad for more than fifteen years, primarily in Paris, where she worked as a screenwriter. She now makes her home in Florence, Italy.

For further reading, may we suggest:

Louisa May Alcott : the woman behind Little Women by journalist Harriet Reisen - an account of the life of LMA in context of her works, all of which are to some extent autobiographical. (Reisen also wrote the script for the PBS documentary on Alcott).

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler, - a beautifully imagined tale of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre.

Happy Birthday Sarah Vaughan!

"Possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century, Sarah Vaughan ranked with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the very top echelon of female jazz singers." Born March 27, 1924, in New Jersey, Sarah Vaughan had an incredibly prolific career in American jazz from the 1940s up until her death in 1990. Celebrate her birthday by checking out some of her cds from the AADL. Try The Roulette Years. Vols. 1 & 2, Sarah Vaughan Favorites, After Hours, or Ultimate Sarah Vaughan. For more information about the woman behind the amazing voice, check out the biography Sassy : The Life of Sarah Vaughan or the PBS dvd Jazz. Episode nine, The adventure.

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The Middle Place

The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan, is both a coming of age and a cancer-survival memoir. The title refers to the balance between being a daughter and being a wife and mother, a transition which Kelly explores through poignant episodes and a father-daughter battle against cancer. Cancer may have been the impetus for the memoir, but this book is really about familial love. I couldn't help but adore Kelly's quirky, full-of-life father and quickly understand just why he is so special to her. This book is recommended for all daughters who think their dads are the greatest. Come to think of it, those fathers would probably enjoy it as well.

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