Ages 18+.

Jay-Z knocks us to Kingdom Come

Jay-ZJay-Z

So... Jay-Z is retired... right... just like Jordan was...

Anyway, check out Jay-Z in his seventh solo album, Kingdom Come. It was just released around Thanksgiving and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.

Let's see if it even comes close to The Black Album...

December New and Noteworthy

The Book of Lost Things* by John Connolly.
An enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality and learns lessons of bravery and loyalty. Never truly frightening and consistently entertaining.

Billionaires Prefer Blondes* by Suzanne Enoch
Witty romance with sizzling chemistry between an art thief and her billionaire beau.

A Safe Place for Dying* by Jack Fredrickson. (FFF)
Smartly plotted, briskly paced and laced with humor mark this impressive debut of “Dek” Elstrom, an embattled intrepid Chicago PI who became the prime suspect in a series of explosions.

Mad Dogs* by James Grady.
5 CIA operatives, hidden away in a lunatic asylum in Maine, embark on a week-long run for freedom and revenge. “Whipsaw bouts of action, dark humor and poignant glimpses into the characters' broken lives” makes for a page-turner.

Dead and Buried* by Quintin Jardine.
Marvelous British procedural - Edinburgh detective Skinner is tapped by the head of MI5 to investigate security breaches while juggling several other crimes and crises close to home.

The Blonde* by Duane Swierczynski.
Adrenaline-charged thrill ride through the streets of Philadelphia for Jack Eisley and the blonde in question who just infected him with deadly and fast-replicating nanomachines. Fast and funny.

* = Starred Reviews

Age in America

The concept of seniority has changed a lot in recent decades, one result of far fewer Americans belonging to labor unions. In Aged by Culture, Margaret Gullette recounts that in the six years her son worked for a temporary employment agency, after graduating from Harvard, he received 1099 forms from more than one hundred companies, none of which paid Social Security, health or pension benefits. She states that thirty percent of Americans are now doing similar kinds of nonstandard work. Other implications of aging in a global economy, are addressed in several books at the Ann Arbor District Library, such as Gray Dawn, Aging and Old Age, Age Power, and My Life in the Middle Ages.

Pride of Baghdad

Writer Brain K. Vaughan’s latest graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad, follows the story of four lions that escape from the Baghdad Zoo during a U.S. bombing raid in 2003. The story was inspired by actual events. (You can read the BBC story here.) Vaughan explores the idea of freedom and what it means to the individual. His characters come from different backgrounds and generations, each representing a different point of view on their situation. Vaughan’s method of telling this story, through the use of anthropomorphism, works well to get his feelings on war across without sounding too preachy. The illustrations and color by Niko Henrichon add to the story by giving the reader a good feel for the locations.

There are some very graphic depictions of violence, so this book is not for children.

Incubus Has Number One

Incubus has its first number one album on the Billboard 200 Chart this week with Light Grenades. In 2004, A Crow Left of the Murder debuted at number two on the Chart.

Local Historian Grace Shackman to Speak

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Grace Shackman, well-known Ann Arbor historian and author, will discuss her latest book Ann Arbor Observed at the library's 'Sunday Edition' program on Sunday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield Branch. Ms. Shackman's book consists of a selection of articles she has contributed over the years to the 'Ann Arbor Observer's' 'Then and Now' feature. She will read from the book, speak about her research methods and local history sources and resources. The book, which makes a fine holiday gift, will be for sale at the event and a book signing will follow. It's a great opportunity to meet a delightful local author and learn about some intriguing chapters in Ann Arbor's history.

Rilke remembered

Today is the birthday of poet, Rainer Maria Rilke who was born on December 4, 1875 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Known as one of the greatest lyrical poets, Rilke spent most of his life traveling and supported himself by getting rich noblewomen to fall in love with him. In one of his most famous works,Letters to a Young Poet,he says:" Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write." Rilke followed his own advice, producing many works, both poetry and prose, including more than 400 poems in French. Rilke was admired by many modern poets including W.H. Auden and James Merrill.

NYTBR's Top 10 Best Books of the Year: the Five Non-fiction Titles

Annotations are from the New York Times.

FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH:A Memoir by Danielle Trussoni
“This intense, at times searing memoir revisits the author's rough-and-tumble Wisconsin girlhood, spent on the wrong side of the tracks in the company of her father, a Vietnam vet who began his tour as "a cocksure country boy" but returned "wild and haunted," unfit for family life and driven to extremes of philandering, alcoholism and violence. Trussoni mixes these memories with spellbinding versions of the war stories her father reluctantly dredged up and with reflections on her own journey to Vietnam, undertaken in an attempt to recapture, and come to terms with, her father's experiences as a "tunnel rat" who volunteered for the harrowing duty of scouring underground labyrinths in search of an elusive and deadly enemy.”

Before J.K. Rowling . . .

Meet Ursula LeGuin, Terry Pratchett, Madleleine L’Engle, Garth Nix, and many other fantasy writers in The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy. Read about their childhoods, who influenced them, how they found their niche in the world of fantasy, and what advise they have for people who want to write.

One interesting aspect of the interviews is to learn the influence of certain life experiences on these people’s writing. When asked if growing up in England during World War II affected her as a writer, Diana Wynne Jones responds: “ . . . the entirety of the world as far as I was concerned was stark-staring crazy in a most menacing way . . . Later, I came to think that if only people then had read a little more fantasy, they would have know Hitler for a dark lord.”

World AIDS Day 2006

Yesterday, Dec. 1 was Worlds Aids Day, a time to be reminded of the still widespread scourge of this devastating disease. Many remembrances and ceremonies were held to remember those who died and to raise awareness of treatment and prevention.

Two new books in our collection highlight the urgent need for care. Dr. Arthur M. Fournier's book, Zombie Curse: A Doctor's 25-Year Journey Into the Heart of the AIDS Epidemic in Haiti describes the role of poverty in the spread of AIDS in this country and his founding of Project Medishare.

Melissa Fay Greene, the author of Praying for Sheetrock has written a new book, There is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children. Greene tells the story of Haregewoin Teferra, an Ethiopian woman who took in many AIDS orphans. In the process, she uncovers the urgency of the AIDS pandemic in Ethiopia which has the highest concentration of AIDS orphans in the world.

Both of these books can be compared to Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, the story of Dr. Paul Farmer's work in Haiti and the book chosen for this year's Ann Arbor Reads.

Yesterday is a film originally released in 2004 which tells the story of a South African woman, Yesterday, who learns she is HIV positive, and is shunned by the women in her village. Her one dream is to live long enough to see her child start school. Not a true story but it easily could be.

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