Ages 18+.

Happy 46th birthday, Peace Corps

On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the Michigan Union and by executive order announced the beginning of the Peace Corps. This experiment in activism was a huge success with many young people out of college as well as older retirees venturing to far off countries to teach, help with farming and start health clinics. The Peace Corps is alive and well today, still offering those who want to serve exciting and challenging opportunities.

Heard the one about the goatman in the lemon grove?

Gilbert Hernandez took a break from his work on Love & Rockets (done collaboratively with his brother Jamie) to create another book on his own, Sloth.

Hernandez uses his rough and expressive style of illustration to work magic on the story of Miguel, a youth full of suburban ennui who wills himself into a coma as a means of escape. When Miguel wakes up a year later, his physical movements have slowed to a sloth’s pace and he finds himself mixed up in a local urban legend. The story takes some unexpected twists and and comes out looking like a Möbius strip.

Arthur Schlesinger, author and political confidante, is dead at 89

Arthur Schlesinger, author and political confidante, is dead at 89Arthur Schlesinger, author and political confidante, is dead at 89

Arthur Schlesinger, unapologetic liberal, author, and a long-standing member of the innermost of inner circles in Washington, D.C. for decades, died February 28, 2007, after suffering a heart attack. He was 89.

Recipient of multiple literary awards, including the Pulitzer for The Age of Jackson (1946) and A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1966) and the National Book Award for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1966) and Robert Kennedy and His Times (1979), Schlesinger was invited by JFK to be a special counsel in the White House in 1961.

Schlesinger’s last book was War and the American Presidency, published in 2004.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (2/25/07)

If you are in the mood for romance, Natural Born Charmer delivers the love and laughter with a happily ever after ending. This is the latest in Phillips' contemporary series featuring members of the fictional Chicago Stars professional football team.

At #1 is Step on a Crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge: "A detective raising 10 children alone must rescue 34 high-level hostages."

At #3 is Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: "Opposites attract as a football player and a portrait painter embark on a road trip."

At #4 is High Profile by Robert B. Parker: "Jesse Stone, the police chief of Paradise, Mass., investigates the death of a controversial talk-show host and a young woman."

At #12 is Family Tree by Barbara Delinksy: "A white woman searches for the father she never knew after she unexpectedly gives birth to a black child."

Life in the Nebraska Sandhills

Stunning prose and a moving story of a Nebraska family caught in its own history mark The Floor of the Sky by Pamela Carter Joern. Toby Jenkins, 72, tries to hold on to the Sears Roebuck farmhouse she's lived in since the 1920's but an opportunistic banker has profits on his mind and a ready buyer. In the midst of this crisis comes Lila, Toby's 16 year old pregnant granddaughter sent by her mother to spend her incubation time with her grandmother. Metal-studded Lila, at first angry and uncommunicative, finds solace in Toby's love and then begins to uncover secrets about Toby's youth. These characters grew on me and I began to care what happened to them.

Joern's novel is part of the Flyover Fiction series edited by Ron Hansen from the University of Nebraska Press. The Press publishes special editions and critiques of the work of Willa Cather as well as an impressive number of books on the West and Native Americans, especially the Sioux.

Debut Author Visits the Library

Don't miss a fabulous opportunity to meet Dinaw Mengestu as our Sunday Edition featured speaker on March 11, 2-3:30 p.m. at the Downtown Library.

A nuanced slice of immigrant life, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears* is a beautifully observed debut from Ethiopian émigré Dinaw Mengestu . (Fabulous Fiction Firsts #54).

Sepha Stephanos, fled the Ethiopian Revolution as a teenager, now he owns a neighborhood grocery store in a section of Washington, D.C going through gentrification. Evenings are spent with other African immigrants until he befriends his new neighbors - Judith, a white academic and her 11 year-old biracial daughter, Naomi.

Racial politics, changing demographics in this formerly poor African American neighborhood threatens his barely profitable shop, as well as his tentative romantic aspirations with Judith. This poignant story makes for a “heart-rending and indelible” first novel.

* = Starred Reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

The media is definitely interested in this fiction rising star - just check out Jennifer Reese's article in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly and Bob Thompson's piece in the March 1st edition of the Washington Post

Reading in a Magazine about Google's Book Project

Jeffrey Toobin is one of my favorite writers, so I was immediately drawn to his article “Google’s Moon Shot: The Quest for the Universal Library” in the Feb. 5 issue of The New Yorker magazine. You, too, can read about what Google is doing with its book digitization project in Ann Arbor and elsewhere, just by picking up this issue of The New Yorker from one of our libraries -- or read the article at The New Yorker web site.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (2/18/07)

This week there are new contenders vying for the publishing world's equivalent of the golden ring. Can they be the next Da Vinci Code?

At #3 is The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry: "A former Justice Department operative turned bookseller hides a link to the secrets of the vanished library of Alexandria from wealthy international thugs."

At #7 is Deep Storm by Lincoln Child: "A doctor investigates diseases at an ocean-floor research facility that may have discovered the ruins of Atlantis."

At #9 is Hide by Lisa Gardner: "Bobby Dodge, a former sniper with the Massachusetts State Police, now a detective, unravels a mystery that begins with the discovery of six corpses beneath a state mental hospital."

At #10 is Allegiance by Timothy Zahn: "Events that occurred between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” : a “Star Wars” novel."

"It Happened One Night" over and over

On February 22, 1934, Frank Capra's film, "It Happened One Night" was released. This screwball comedy starring Claudette Colbert as a spoiled heiress and Clark Gable as a cocky reporter was the first film to sweep the the Academy Awards which, by the way, are presented this Sunday, February 25 at 8 p.m. on ABC. The movie became a standard for other romantic comedies of the period like "Bringing Up Baby" with Katherine Hepburn and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Carole Lombard. And Capra became known as a master of the comedy genre.

New Yorker born

Today, February 21 is the anniversary of the first publication of the New Yorker magazine in 1925. Every year, the first cover of a dandy peering at a butterfly through a monocle is reproduced. Known for its incisive reporting by writers like Seymour Hersh and Elizabeth Kolbert, fiction and poetry by John Updike, Alice Munro and Stanley Kunitz, and book, play and movie reviews, the The New Yorker has maintained the highest editorial and literary standards. Of course, when I receive mine, the first thing I look at are the cartoons which if nothing else will, makes me laugh that day, like the one showing a naked king walking away from his throne and one guard saying to another, "There are enormous challenges facing this country." You can access some short articles and excerpts by going to their online edition.

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