Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His presidency, though short, was one of the most influential of the past century. This coupled with his glamorous lifestyle and the tragic and mysterious circumstances of his death make his life and legacy a topic of endless interest. As one might expect, there is a glut of new titles being published this month, each one professing to reveal new insights into the life of our thirty-fifth President or definitively answer, once and for all, who was behind his murder. Here is a look at a select few that stand out.
“Five Days in November” by Clint Hill
The former Secret Service agent and author of last year’s “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” returns with an intimate look at the days leading up to and immediately following the President’s death.
Do you wonder if it is safe to consume foods that have been genetically modified? Did you know that 50 million Americans are “food insecure” and don’t know where their next meal is coming from? Do you know what a “food desert” is and how it contributes to the obesity pandemic in this country? A clean and ample supply of food is vital to our well-being and it ought to be available to each of us.
The League of Women Voters is co-sponsoring a discussion of agricultural policies and issues, including genetically modified foods, corporate farming and food policy, and these sorts of questions will be addressed. Please join us for this event from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 21 in the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library if you’d like to inform yourself more about these issues.
Thanking Day is upon us! That wondrous day when we don buckled hats and celebrate our freedom from, and subsequent dominion over, the turkey. We kill them by the millions and eat some of those, letting what isn’t consumed at the Thanking Day dinner rot over the course of days/weeks between sessions of picking at them like smug vultures whose smugness is leavened by the government-mandated shopping excursion just endured and all the getting-rammed-in-the-back-by-a-cart-full-of-big-screen-televisions-pushed-by-a-grandma-in-her-pajamas that that entails. After those beloved traditions, if there’s still time and one’s not too sleepy, people sometimes say thank you to concepts they enjoy. Your typical thanks are given for the obvious: family, suspenders, Kurt Vonnegut, food and our long ago victory on the horrific feather-drenched fields of the great turkey war. I, though, am most thankful for something altogether more tangible, besides suspenders: I’m thankful I’m not being hunted by a time-travelling serial killer. I’ve always said people don’t take enough time to reflect on and appreciate this facet of their existence.
As Lauren Beukes‘ unputdownable new novel makes abundantly clear, it would be terrible to be hunted by a time-travelling serial killer. Before I go further, I rescind my recommendation if you’re squeamish (guts get spilled, and the book is perpetually tense and intermittently gruesome). So for those that don’t care to be horrified in the process of reading a rip-roaring tale, I give you this for this month’s recommendation.
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2013 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year. Thanks to all who participated!
“Wait Till Next Year” is a memoir by Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin that tells about the years when she was growing up in the suburbs of New York in the 1950s. She describes the love of her family and the neighborhood in which she grew up, as well as the countless escapades involving the neighbors, local merchants and the church her family attended. But, this book is probably most of all about how she came to love the Brooklyn Dodgers after her father taught her the game of baseball. Her childhood was a major part of her early involvement in baseball. She was heartbroken when the Dodgers moved to California. I enjoyed this book because I am a huge fan of this author’s writings and because I found it to be a delightful telling of her growing up years in New York.
Three words that describe this book: humorous, entertaining, and uplifting.
You might want to pick up this book if: you are a fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin and her books or you might like reading the true story about a child’s love of baseball and life in a quiet neighborhood in New York in the 1950s.
A house of cards, noted for its instability, is an appropriate symbol for political intrigue. And as the Netflix series “House of Cards” showed us, a fictional representation of politics can trigger almost as much attention as real events. Not as much as shutting down the U.S. government, mind you, but enough to win three Emmy Awards.
Now, as we await the release of the second season of this series starring and co-produced by Kevin Spacey, let me tell you what the library has to offer to ease your wait. The first thing I would recommend to every “House of Cards” fan is the excellent Masterpiece Theater production called “The House of Cards.” Yes, you read that correctly. Wonder if these “houses” are related? Sure they are. In fact, the American “House of Cards” is based on the British TV mini-series, which, in its turn, is based on the book by British writer Michael Dobbs. (Kevin Spacey living in London may have something to do with this connection.) Of course, the events that take place in London are somewhat different from those happening in Washington D.C., but the motivations and the tactics of the characters are the same. And, if you watch the British version, you’ll have a glimpse into what will happen to Kevin Spacey’s character in the second season .
Want to stay closer to home? Watch “Recount: The Story of the 2000 Presidential Election,” dedicated to one of the most controversial events in recent U.S. election history. Not only will it make you rethink the American election model, it will also give you another chance to enjoy an excellent performance by Kevin Spacey.
What is a classic? Is it a book you had to read for school, with a confusing number of Greek deities, and there was a test later? Or is it set in a 19th century English drawing room furnished with fainting couches? Italo Calvino gave fourteen possible definitions of a classic.
Here’s my personal take: a classic is a book that sticks. It holds interest for readers decades later. Also, it can include time travel and alien abduction. Witness Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five.”
“Slaughterhouse Five,” published in 1969, grew out of Vonnegut’s own experiences as a POW in Germany during World War II. Like Vonnegut, the book’s main character, Billy Pilgrim, survives the fire-bombing of Dresden in the basement of a slaughterhouse. Unlike Vonnegut (I assume), Billy is “unstuck in time.”