Happy Birthday Mr. President!

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48 years ago today President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. (News outlets claim he is spending the day at the White House, lunching with the entire Senate Democratic Caucus.) On his birthday, August 4, 1961, John F. Kennedy held the office of the presidency in a very different United States of America. To explore the journey of Obama from Hawaii to Washington D.C., visit the AADL for a wealth of material, including books, dvds, books on CD and videos about this history-making man.

August's Books to Film

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JULIE & JULIA is based on two true stories. It intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends...until they discovered that with "the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible".

Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbooks and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in her bestselling memoir, My Life in France, she didn't know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France.

Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever. Julia's unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a cook/teacher/writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities.

Nearly 30 and trapped in a dead-end job, Julie Powell, in her delightul memoir*, resolved to reclaim her life by cooking, in the span of a single year, all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking thus risking her marriage, her job, and her sanity.

In theaters August 7th, Julie & Julia is written and directed by essayist, novelist, screenwriter (and foodie) Nora Ephron. Did you see the NYTimes Magazine article about her famous meatloaf, and the nice write-up in USA Today?

* = Starred review

Alison Bechdel's Bittersweet Biography

Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel, is one of the most poignant and touching memoirs I have ever read. Her autobiographical graphic novel centers on her relationship to her father, the discovery of his homosexuality (and her own), and his death. The name of the book refers to the family home, a funeral home run by Bechdel’s father, Bruce. Bechdel spent seven years writing and illustrating Fun Home and it's packed with detail, allusions, and pop culture references. The novel pulls off the difficult feat of being simultaneously a quick and easy read and a complexly layered piece of literature. Fun Home was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, in the Autobiography/Memoir category, and won the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

Alison Bechdel is also the author of the popular comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

Happy Birthday Earl S. Tupper!

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American manufacturer Earl S. Tupper, inventor of Tupperware, was born July 28, 1907 in New Hampshire. In the 1930's, Tupper invented a flexible, lightweight material that was used to make plastic gas masks during World War II. He then turned his attention to consumer products and created Tupperware - a line of plastic, airtight food storage containers. Sales languished in stores until it was discovered that home demonstrations better proved the value of the product, and thus, the Tupperware Party was born. It has since become a global institution in more than 100 countries. Find out the history behind the Tupperware empire by checking out Tupperware : The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America by Alison J. Clarke or by watching the PBS home video Tupperware!, which offers an interesting look at the quirky, and often bizarre, history of this household name.

Le Photographe (The Photographer)

The French graphic novel Le Photographe (The Photographer) by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, and Frederic Lemercier has finally been published in the U.S. by First Second with translation by Alexis Siegel. It is the late photographer, Didier Lefevre's, story of his travels with Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) to Afghanistan in 1986. Guibert incorporates Lefevre's photos (he went through some 4000 taken in the 2 months he was there) as well as his own artwork to tell the harrowing story of which Lefevre barely survived. More importantly the novel is about the daily life of the people of Afghanistan who face disease, famine, brutal weather and of course the brutality of war. The courage of the MSF when going into war ravaged areas to perform major surgery or having to ask the Russian doctors for assistance for instance is a big part of this story. All in all an incredibly gripping story with the photos and artwork only adding to the intensity of each scene. Guibert is a well-known French artist. His Alan's War (also just recently published in the U.S.) is an Eisner nominee for best new graphic novel and yet another excellent biography.

Happy Birthday Yul Brynner!

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I will always have a crush on the exotic actor Yul Brynner. Help celebrate his birthday, July 11, 1920, by checking out some of his classic movies from the AADL. Watch the musical The King and I (1956) to see his portrayal of King Mongkut of Siam, for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor. Watch the epic Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments (1956) to see Brynner as a sexy Pharaoh Ramses II. Check out Anastasia (1956) for Brynner starring with Ingrid Bergman. See Yul Brynner as a gunslinger in the western The Magnificent Seven (1960), or check out one of our other Yul Brynner selections including Taras Bulba (1962), Morituri (1965), Cast A Giant Shadow (1966), Villa Rides! (1968), or Westworld (1973). For more information on this legendary actor and his family, grab a copy of his son Rock's book Empire & Odyssey : The Brynners in Far East Russia and Beyond.

Hidden Gems: Books Unjustly Dusty #1

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Four books with a nautical theme in the AADL Catalog are calling out for attention.

Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper by Peter Hill is a well-written account of his time in the 1970s as a lightkeeper on the west coast of Scotland. Spending time alone to contemplate life and in close quarters with an older generation of lightkeepers that can only be described as "salty" makes for some memorable stories. Strange, but everyone was obsessed with the Watergate Hearings and migrating birds.

Cherish the Sea: A History of Sail by Jean de la Varende, a history of sailing beginning with the Egyptians up to the clipper ships, is beautifully illustrated by the author. Translated from the French by Mervyn Savill, it is obviously a work of love that took many years to complete.

She Captains: Heroines & Hellions of the Sea by Joan Druett is a fun read about Grace O'Malley, the Irish pirate queen of the 16th century, Caribbean buccaneers Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and Cheng I Sao, a woman who organized a confederacy of pirates that controlled the China Sea in the 19th century.

Before the Wind: The Memoir of an American Sea Captain 1808-1833 by Charles Tyng is a journal discovered by one of his descendants that chronicles pirates, storms, shipwrecks, mutinies, and other near-death adventures at sea.

We Remember

American CemeteryAmerican Cemetery

The 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy known as Operation Overlord is June 6th, 2009.

The sheer size of the invasion and the planning involved will astound you. If you want to learn more about D-Day and the beginning of the end for the Nazis, here are some great books and movies. All are available at the Ann Arbor District Library.

BOOKS
Decision in Normandy by Carlo D’Este (one of the best), The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan (made into a great movie, too), D-Day : 6 June 1944, The Normandy Landings by Richard Collier, Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life also written by D’Este, The Americans at Normandy by John McManus, Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose and finally, Beyond Band of Brothers written by Colonel Dick Winters who led Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division.

FILMS

One of History's Mysteries Solved?

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Who has been buried in Berlin’s Freidrichsfelde Cemetery all this time? Rosa Luxemburg? Not so, according to Michael Tsokos, a pathologist at Berlin’s Charite Hospital. He told Der Spiegel that an unidentified corpse found in the basement of a Berlin hospital is most likely her.

Rosa Luxemburg, a revolutionary hero to many, helped to found the Communist Party in both Poland and Germany. Highly educated with a doctorate in both law and politics, she became a Marxist who advocated for violent revolution to achieve socialism in Germany. She fought against more moderate factions that thought their aims could be achieved through trade union activities and political action.

Spring Books to Movies

The Soloist is based on The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music - an emotionally soaring drama in which Journalist Steve Lopez discovers Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former classical music prodigy, playing his violin on the streets of L.A. As Lopez endeavors to help the homeless man find his way back, a unique friendship is formed, one that transforms both their lives.

Published in 1995, Bret Easton Ellis' The Informers is "a collection of loosely connected short stories that captures a week in L.A. in 1983, featuring movie executives, rock stars, a vampire and other morally challenged characters in adventures laced with sex, drugs and violence", now adapted as a major motion picture. Read more about Ellis and his interview about the movie.

Directed by Ron Howard, the much anticipation Angels & Demons will be in theaters on May 15th. Based on Dan Brown’s (2000) novel, Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard religious expert Robert Langdon (in The Da Vinci Code) who finds that the Illuminati -- the most powerful underground organization with ancient roots is willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance its goals.

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