Book Discussion : "The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin"

Please join us for a discussion of The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin on Wednesday June 8, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Leading historian of the American Revolution Gordon S. Wood's illuminating portrait of BF is more of a study than a biography. It follows the twists and turns of Franklin's life - from the commoner to the gentlemen, from Royalist to Patriot - with great insight. We come to see Franklin as complex and often contradictory, and much more interesting than the "mythology that has blinded generations of American to the man he really was".

Author Birthdays: Chesterton, White, Ehrlich

May 29th marks the birthday of authors G. K. Chesterton, T. H. White, and Paul R. Ehrlich.

G. K. Chesterton was an English author. He wrote mysteries, essays, biographies, and general fiction. His works on Father Brown, a Catholic priest and detective, were even adapted for television in the 70s.

Chesterton also wrote a biography of his friend and "rival" George Bernard Shaw, and the novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which involves seven anarchists in London who give themselves the names of the days of the week.

T. H. White was an English author best known for his Arthurian works The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone. The musical Camelot and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone were based on his works.

White also wrote the children's story Mistress Masham's Repose, about an English orphan and her interactions with Lilliputians, a race of people described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.

Paul R. Ehrlich is an American writer and biologist, as well as a professor at Stanford University. His works focus on the environment and population growth. His latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution And The Environment, published in 2008, examines the relationship between the two.

Ehrlich's first big work was The Population Bomb, which discussed overpopulation and its effects on society. His later book, The Population Explosion, considers the topic further, more than 20 years afterward.

Author Birthdays: Leroux, Jarrell, White

May 6th marks the birthday of authors Gaston Leroux, Randall Jarrell, and Theodore White.

Gaston Leroux was a French author most known for his novel The Phantom of the Opera, which has been made into both a musical and a few films.

Leroux also wrote detective novels, two of which have been translated into English: The Mystery of the Yellow Room and The Perfume of the Lady in Black, which are both part of the series on the character Joseph Rouletabille.

Randall Jarrell was an American writer of poetry, children's books, and essays. We have his Complete Poems here at AADL; his collection The Woman at the Washington Zoo won the National Book Award for poetry is within it.

Among Jarrell's works for children, we have The Animal Family, a Newbery Honor Book, and The Bat-Poet, which was illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are).

Theodore H. White was an American historian. His book The Making of the President, 1960 won the Pulitzer for General Nonfiction in 1962. It details the election of JFK, and is the first in a "series" of books about elections.

White's other works include Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon, about the Watergate scandal, and his autobiography, In Search of History: A Personal Adventure.

April's Books to Film

Directed by Julian Schnabel, starring Hiam Abbass , Freida Pinto, Makram J. Khoury , Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave, Miral is based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, translated from the Italian by John Cullen.

Spanning the years 1948-1994, Miral revolves around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and real-life Palestinian woman Hind Husseini, who started the Dar Al-Tifl orphanage in Jerusalem in the wake of the 1948 partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

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Soul Surfer is based on the book Soul Surfer : a true story of faith, family, and fighting to get back on the board, about Bethany Hamilton. It is the inspiring story of a talented teen surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through sheer determination and unwavering faith.

Author Birthdays: James, ten Boom, Archer

April 15th marks the birthday of authors Henry James, Corrie ten Boom, and Jeffrey Archer.

Henry James was an American writer, probably best known for his novella The Turn of the Screw, often spoken of in terms of its ambiguity; (it is uncertain whether the main character is experiencing ghosts, or psychological repression.)

James has many other stories worth mentioning. The Portrait Of A Lady and The Bostonians are both well-known. Lesser known, James also published travel writings, like Italian Hours.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch author and Holocaust survivor; her autobiography, The Hiding Place tells the story of how she aided and hid Jews from the Nazis. It was also made into a movie in 1975.

Ten Boom's family was arrested in 1944, and Corrie spent time in a Dutch prison and two concentration camps. The second concentration camp killed its women prisoners only one week after she was released. Her last book, I Stand at the Door and Knock, is full of Christian devotionals.

Jeffrey Archer is an English author and life peer. He has a novel coming out this year, Only Time Will Tell, set in the 1920s-40s, which will be the first book in series. Last year he published a book of short stories, And Thereby Hangs A Tale.

Archer's first novel was the mystery Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, of which Library Journal said "anyone with any interest in money will find entertaining."

Author Birthdays: Hersh, Kingsolver, Okorafor-Mbachu

April 8th marks the birthday of authors Seymour Hersh, Barbara Kingsolver, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu.

Seymour Hersh is an American award-winning journalist and author. Many of his articles were written for The New Yorker. He won a Pulitzer in journalism for his writing on the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War.

Hersh's books include a biography of JFK, called The Dark Side of Camelot, which portrays the late president as reckless, and was very controversial after its publication. He also wrote Chain Of Command: The Road From 9/11 To Abu Ghraib, which discusses topics like the torture and mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Barbara Kingsolver is a multi-award-winning American author, whose latest novel was the popular The Lacuna, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.

Kingsolver's best known work might be The Poisonwood Bible, which is about a missionary family who moves to the Belgian Congo in the mid-20th century. Her most interesting book, in my opinion, might be her non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year Of Food Life, which outlines Kingsolver and her family as they attempt to eat solely locally-grown food for one year.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a Nigerian-American fantasy writer. Her newest book, Who Fears Death, was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2010.

Okorafor-Mbachu has written some young adult novels, which may be of interest to many teens in world literature classes who are looking for something a bit more modern than the classics. Her novel The Shadow Speaker is set in a futuristic West Africa and relays the tale of a girl with magical powers who is seeking vengeance.

Author Lev Raphael Discusses His Memoir "My Germany"

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Monday March 28, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Haunted by his parents' suffering and traumatic losses under Nazi rule, Lev Raphael was certain that Germany was one place in the world he would never visit. So, what happened when he was invited to speak there about his books?

In his memoir, "My Germany", Raphael unravels the past of his parents and their families during wartime. By traveling through the emotional and physical landscapes of Germany and his family's past, Raphael experiences forgiveness, self-growth, and a better understanding of his Jewish heritage.

Lev Raphael is a pioneer in writing fiction about America's Second Generation, publishing his first short story about children of survivors in 1978. Join us to listen to his story - and you may find yourself inspired to trace your own family history.

Author Tom Nanzig Discusses How To Use Archival & Historical Material To Write And Publish A Book

NanzigNanzigSunday March 20, 2011: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Ever wanted to publish a book based on historical documentation that you are passionate about sharing? Author Tom Nanzig gives an inside look at finding and researching publishable material in an archival setting. He'll give advice about how to edit the material, find a publisher and produce the final polished product. Tom is the author of "The Civil War Memoirs Of A Virginia Cavalryman." Learn how he used wartime letters and archives that guided him in the writing of this book.

This event is co-sponsored by the Washtenaw County Historical Society.

Author Birthdays: Sackville-West, Spillane, Tharoor

March 9th marks the birthday of authors Vita Sackville-West, Mickey Spillane, and Shashi Tharoor.

Vita Sackville-West was an English writer and aristocrat who won the British Hawthornden Prize twice. Born to a Baron, she had lived in the famous Sissinghurst Castle during her lifetime. Among her most well-known books are The Edwardians, which is about two aristocratic siblings in the early 20th century, and All Passion Spent, about an octogenarian woman who spurns the Victorian ideals.

Sackville-West, a bisexual, was lovers with fellow authors Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf; some of her letters to Woolf have been compiled into a book, and a book on Trefusis also contains correspondence between lovers.

Mickey Spillane was an American crime novelist, best known for his detective character Mike Hammer. Spillane was also into film; his novel Kiss Me Deadly was made into a movie, and the author himself actually played a detective in Ring of Fear.

Spillane's work in the hardboiled fiction genre is a bit different than many others. A writer for the Washington Post said in 2001 that "Spillane never really wrote sex scenes; he wrote about sexuality in a way that was unapologetically sensual and often seemed more provocative than the act itself". A good example is his first novel, I, the Jury.

Shashi Tharoor is an Indian writer and advocate, as well as a member of Indian Parliament and former Under-Secretary General of the UN. He has written both fiction and non-fiction, and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in 1991. His novels include the award-winning The Great Indian Novel, and Show Business, called by Booklist "an animated and deliciously satirical critique of the Bombay film industry".

Among Tharoor's non-fiction works are The Elephant, The Tiger, And The Cell Phone: Reflections On India, The Emerging 21st-century Power, which discusses India's highs and lows, and Bookless In Baghdad: Reflections On Writing And Writers, a collection of essays which Library Journal described as resonating "with readers of any nationality, helping them understand the global purpose of literature, feel the inherent responsibility, and hear a call to action".

Author Birthdays: Aleichem, Seuss, Goodis

March 2nd marks the birthday of authors Sholem Aleichem, Dr. Seuss, and David Goodis.

Sholem Aleichem was a Yiddish writer from the Ukraine, and while you may not immediately recognize his work Tevye the Dairyman, you probably recognize its musical counterpart The Fiddler on the Roof.

Aleichem also wrote the novel Wandering Stars, a tale of the Yiddish theater, and his autobiography From the Fair, which CHOICE said "told in the third person, reveals a very rich picture of Jewish shtetl existence".

I feel no need to introduce such a person as Dr. Seuss. His real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, and his Oh, The Places You'll Go! has probably been quoted at 2/3 of graduations since its publication. Though, my personal favorite has always been Hop on Pop.

Seuss's works have been translated into many languages; here at AADL we have his books in five aside from English--Spanish, Chinese, French, Russian, and Hebrew.

David Goodis was an American writer of noir, a sub-genre of hardboiled crime fiction. Many of his novels were made into noir movies as well, like Dark Passage and Shoot The Piano Player.

Goodis was not necessarily well liked. In one book, Geoffrey O'Brien called him "a poet of the losers. ... If Jack Kerouac had written crime novels, they might have sounded a bit like this".

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