Book Banning

Censorship is an ugly word, especially to libraries. But the subject of book-banning has once again reared its head into the news in recent headlines. As controversial as selectively censoring materials can be, the topic at least stands as a reminder to us all to appreciate free speech and our right to read all available published works without requiring approval from other citizens. The library has many holdings on the topic of censorship, including 50 Ways to Fight Censorship, Censorship: How Does It Conflict With Freedom?, and The Writer and Human Rights.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #124

A Map of Home* by Ann Arbor author Randa Jarrar hits the bookstores today.

Critics are calling this fiction debut “sparkling”, “intimate, perceptive and very, very funny”. It’s the story of Nidali, an audacious Muslim girl (with a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father) who grows up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas.
As citizens of the world, this family weathered some harrowing experiences that were even funny and wacky at times, but it is Jarrar’s handling of adolescent angst - "stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love; and her exhilarating voice and flawless timing that make this a standout”.

You can find Randa Jarrar's profile in myspace. She will be at Shaman Drum on September 15th, at 7:30 p.m., one of only two Michigan stops on her fall book tour.

* = Starred reviews

Julie Salamon's Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids

Julie Salamon’s Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids came across my radar just as a relative’s experience with the American medical establishment personalized some of the issues in the book. The author humanizes the major players—the patients, doctors, and administrators—of a hospital in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. And at the same time, Salamon highlights the “business” of being a hospital that generates a profit—hospital business is the same as any other business, we learn. Egos, income, demand, and marketing, it’s the same everywhere. Salamon manages to make her major players likeable characters, approachable, and human, all while exploring the contradictions involved in “hospital” business.

45 Years Ago Today Martin Luther King, Jr. Had a Dream

This week and next week you will hear many speeches (including tonight, Barack Obama's acceptance speech as the Democratic nominee), but 45 years ago today, in a 15-minute speech captured here on YouTube, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the greatest orations of the 20th century, a hopeful vision during one of the most fractious periods of American social history that has since served as a rallying point for our country's better nature.

Shopping for School Supplies…?

EPHYEPHY

…While you’re at it, how about picking up a few extra items for the kids served by the Education Project for Homeless Youth? EPHY serves 10 school districts and 9 public academies in Washtenaw County. Learn more about this agency and others like it by visiting this site.
You can also help by donating your Boxtops for Education, found on General Mills products & Kleenex tissue. Children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the U.S. Let’s give ALL of our community’s children the right start when school begins this fall.

August 11th - Happy Birthday Alex Haley!

Alex Haley, AuthorAlex Haley, Author

Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. As a young boy, Alex Haley learned of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, by listening to the family stories of his maternal grandparents while spending his summers in Henning, Tennessee. According to family history, Kunta Kinte landed with other Gambian Africans in "Naplis" (Annapolis, Maryland) where he was sold into slavery. Alex Haley's quest to learn more about his family history resulted in his writing the Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots. The book has been published in 37 languages, and was made into the first week-long television mini-series, viewed by an estimated 130 million people. Roots also generated widespread interest in genealogy and eventually helped spawn the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation.
Other Haley publications include many well received Playboy interviews (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), his first major book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, A Different Kind of Christmas, a 1990 book about the underground railroad, and Queen, the story of Haley's paternal ancestors. Perhaps one of Alex Haley's greatest gifts was in speaking. He was a fascinating teller of tales. In great demand as a lecturer, both nationally and internationally, he was on a lecture tour in Seattle, Washington when he suffered a heart attack and died in February 1992.

Prolific poverty expert chosen by U-M

A leading expert on poverty and women's issues will become dean of the U-M School of Social Work, if U-M regents approve. Laura Lein, of the University of Texas, was chosen as the new dean, according to a U-M press release. Read more in The Ann Arbor News.

Finally! It IS easy to be green!

If you are like me, you are interested in being more socially responsible, like going beyond simple recycling and doing your part to help save our planet for future generations, but you don't have lots of money and time to devote to "going green". Sound familiar? If so, then you need to get yourself a copy of Renee Loux's Easy green living : the ultimate guide to simple, eco-friendly choices for you and your home. This lifestyle guide is PACKED with information about the simple, affordable choices we can make to avoid toxins, conserve natural resources and generally be more eco-smart. Whether you choose to take tiny baby steps or completely overhaul your wasteful self, you will find the answers you need. One of my favorite easy eco-tips is the following: "About 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water are used annually to produce the 5.8 million tons of catalogs and unsolicited wads of preapproved credit card offers and other junk that arrive at our homes - 44 percent of which are thrown away unopened....Stop credit card offers. Go to www.optoutprescreen.com, where the consumer credit report industry lets you opt out of receiving preapproved and prescreened credit card offers." Now imagine if we all did that!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #119

In Finding Nouf*, young, privileged Nouf disappears just before her wedding. Her wealthy Saudi family first hires desert tracker Nayir al-Sharqi to find her and then to investigate her death discreetly.

Nayir, a conservative Palestinian Muslim finds it difficult to traverse the world of women, especially with Katya Hijazi - an intelligent, insightful female medical examiner, and his unexpected ally in the investigations.

Debut novelist Zoë Ferraris, who has lived in Saudi Arabia, "gets deep inside Nadir’s and Katya’s very different perspectives, giving a fascinating glimpse into the workings and assumptions of Saudi society." As a mystery, it's fairly well-turned, "but it's the characters and setting that sparkle". An utterly gripping read.

* = Starred Reviews

Brothers, Sisters, Life and Death

Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found by Marie Brenner is an artfully constructed memoir that calls attention to an astounding number of life issues, including sibling issues. What drew me to the book was that my older brother gave it to me, but what kept me reading was the author’s sharp reporting and frankness. A chorus of favorable reviews is here.

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