Ages 18+.

Wonderful Holiday Reading in Two Hours

Letter to a Godchild: Concerning Faith, the spiritual autobiography of author Reynolds Price, is wonderful holiday reading, a wise little book that can be read in maybe two hours. Perhaps most memorable is the author’s recollection of being shown a Very Big Picture when he was still a very small child: "In a single moment, I was allowed to see how intricately the vast contraption of nature... was bound into a single vast ongoing wheel by one immense power that had willed us into being." Price also writes eloquently about his second mystical experience, right before surgery for spinal cancer that made him a paraplegic in his fifties. The author started to write this book in 2000 following the baptism of Harper Peck Voll, the son of long-time friends. Harper is a lucky child, and we readers are also lucky to share Price’s stories and advice.

Eddie Murphy sings more songs than Beyonce!

Looking for something to do after opening all those gifts? Check out Dreamgirls, the story of a female singing trio modeled after the Motown girl groups of the 1960s. In Dreamgirls, The Dreamettes try to sing their way to stardom at the famous Apollo Theater.

The movie opens Monday, December 25th at the Michigan Theater. With stellar performances by Eddie Murphy, Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson, the movie already has Oscar and Golden Globe written all over it. I for one just wanna hear Eddie sing again. (‘80s Flashback: "My girl wants to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time!”) The Michigan Theater guarantees seating and will also sponsor a special appearance by Motown legend, Martha Reeves. Reeves was lead singer of the girl group Martha and the Vandellas and also enjoyed success as a solo artist.

Wired & Inspired

Have you seen jewelry made from old computer parts? A combination of art and tech, it's sleek, one-of-a-kind wearable art--especially when you make it yourself! Learn how at the hands-on workshop for teens and adults, Wired & Inspired, at the downtown Library on Wed., Jan. 3 from 7 - 8:30 pm. We'll have the parts, you bring some needle nose pliers, if you have them!

Soldiers at War on Christmas

God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers: a True Civil War Christmas Story by James McIvor
On the eve of the Battle of Stone River near Murfreeboro, TN in 1862, the Union band played the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the Confederate band answered with Dixie. The Union band then played “Home Sweet Home” and both sides started singing the verses.

Silent Night: the Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub
Across the trenches in 1914, the soldiers spontaneously came together, singing carols, exchanging letters and gifts, eating, drinking, playing soccer, until the commanders ordered them to start shooting. The soldiers returned to the trenches and, for at least one night, intentionally aimed high over the enemy.

11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944 by Stanley Weintraub
From the German loudspeaker: “How would you like to die for Christmas?” From General Patton’s diary: “a clear cold Christmas, lovely weather for killing Germans, which seems a bit queer, seeing whose birthday it is.”

Spare a prayer for soldiers this Christmas and for “on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14 (King James Version)).

Stories and Poems from the Soldiers

Operation Homecoming is a compilation of writings from soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan. The soldiers were asked to put their experiences into words and the best submissions were compiled into this book. On NPR you can read a sample poem and listen to NPR's report on the book.

Books to Films (Holiday Releases)

Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, and Michael Caine starred in this adaptation of P. D. James’ The Children of Men, set in near-future London when all human males have become sterile. Historian Theo Faron is asked to join a band of revolutionaries--a move that may hold the key to humanity's survival. (December 25th)

Perfume: The Story of A Murderer is about one man’s pursuit of the perfect perfume, but the indulgence in his rare gift and greatest passion - his sense of smell - leads to murder. Based on the 1986 acclaimed bestseller and international sensation by Patrick Suskind. The novel is a brilliant, powerful, and gripping page-turner. (December 27th)

Zoë Heller’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel What Was She Thinking?:Notes on a Scandal is beautifully captured in this film adaptation.
When Sheba Hart's love affair with an underage male student comes to light, school teacher Barbara Covett decides to write an account of the affair in her friend's defense, in the process revealing not only Sheba's secrets, but also her own. The film boasts a stellar cast with Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. (Limited release December 27. Watch the papers for local release date.)

The Painted Veil is a remake of the 1934 Greta Garbo film, inspired by W. Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece.
Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane (Naomi Watts), who is forced to accompany her husband (played by Edward Norton) to the heart of a cholera epidemic, where she reassesses her life and learns how to love. (December 29th)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #45

If you just cannot get enough of the religious suspense genre, here is another one for you.
Oh yes, the Knights Templars are again in the thick of things.

In Julia Navarro’s Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud, when the unidentified body of a tongue-less man turns up in the ashes of a suspicious fire in the Turin Cathedral, home of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marco Valoni, Director of the Italian Art Crimes Department, investigates.

Soon he is sure several shadowy, anonymous groups of powerful and wealthy men with ties to Legend of the Knights Templars are somehow involved, while his only suspect is already in the Turin prison. More importantly, a far more shocking crime is about to happen. It is up to Valoni and his crack team of investigators to stop it.

Julia Navarro is a well-known Madrid-based journalist who is currently a political analyst for Agencia OTR/Europa Press and a correspondent for other prominent Spanish radio and television networks. Her second novel is due out in 2008. Brotherhood is already a bestseller in Europe.

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

Everybody knows that the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown could solve every mystery they faced as kids, but what happened when they grew up? In The Boy Detective Fails, Joe Meno tells the story of grown up child sleuth Billy Argo who, at the age of 30, finds himself living in a halfway house, unable to deal with his sister's suicide and his crippling fear of failure. Billy's world is rainy and dreamlike, and you start to feel as though many of his adventures are only side-effects of his medication, but over the course of the book he accidentally solves the mystery surrounding his sister's death and comes to terms with the fact that not always knowing the answers is part of being an adult.

This book also gives the reader a chance to play detective, with a decoder ring tucked into the back cover to help decipher some secret messages that Billy receives, and a cryptogram that runs across the bottom of many of the pages.

A Memorable Book of 2006

I'm making my own personal favorite 2006 book list, checking it twice - and deciding that my list definitely includes Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. When she was in her early 30s, Gilbert moved to a big house with her husband with the plan of getting pregnant. The plan collapsed when Gilbert realized that not only did she not want a child, she didn't want to be married anymore. Her soul-searching travels through Italy (for pleasure), India (for prayer) and Indonesia (for balance) make extraordinarily good and amusing reading. One of her book's funniest lines is when she first tries to talk with God: "It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, 'I've always been a big fan of your work.'" In this book, Gilbert struck me as sort of a non-denominational Anne Lamott, with a keen eye, sharp wit, and a strong sense of the spiritual.

A romance in two voices

Calliope is tired of being dragged by her mother cross-country from one Renaissance Faire to another. Eliot longs for the day when his father used to sell swimming pools -- before he "found God," and subsequently founded the fat camp for Christian kids ("What would Jesus eat?"). When Cal and Eliot meet, there's instant chemistry -- literally and figuratively. Do they have a future? Or will Eliot's father and Cal's mother (and her jouster boyfriend) tear them apart? posted by Greg Leitich Smith

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is a romantic comedy with an almost classic feel. Check out Cynsations to learn how co-authors Barkley and Hepler got together on this book.

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