Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Walk in the Woods - by Bill Bryson

After selecting a string of rather didactic books (interesting though some of them were) our town's One Book One Community Committee decided to look for something fun for next year's read. To that end, we (the Committee) are considering Bryson's work about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I checked it out from the very library where I work, and took it home over the President's day weekend. I finished reading it in two days, and laughed out loud on so many occasions I lost count. Bryson and his friend Katz both out of shape, decide to hike the Appalachian Trail. Everything about his trip is funny, from going to the camping store to get outfitted for the trip, to finding his traveling companion, and the descriptions of other hikers, and helpers, he meets along the way. The book also has great geology, geography, and history lessons (but without being too didactic of course). And, to put icing on the cake, Bryson sings the praises of Laurie Potteiger an "Information Specialist...a mine of information" who works at the Appalachian Trail Conference headquarters in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Plus, he mentions libraries two times! In one case he explains that the walk to the public library in his own town of Hanover, New Hampshire is part of why it is a nearly perfect little town. In the other, he describes going to the Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania Library and asking about the nearby town of Centralia, a town that was almost completely swallowed by an underground coal fire (a fire which apparently still burns today). At the Mt. Carmel Library he is provided with "three fat files bulging with newspaper and magazine clippings". Ahh, the good old days of vertical files. Do any libraries still maintain these?

It is very likely that the entire town of Bridgewater will be enjoying this book next spring.

Peace Like a River - by Leif Enger

I had the same problem with this book as I did with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, specifically that I misplaced my copy of the book, which was chock full o' markers where libraries were mentioned, before I finished reading it. I suspect the book is still floating around Havana, Cuba where I left it in a hotel. Fortunately, I did not borrow said copy from a library, so I am not on the hook to pay for it. I was, however, able to get a library copy when I returned home so I could finish it, but only have my memories of how important books, libraries, and writing were to the characters of Ruben and Swede, a brother and sister whose older brother Davy goes on the lam after escaping from jail for killing two teenagers who broke into his house. Ruben, Swede, and their father Jeremiah travel the Midwest in their Airstream looking for their missing family member, with the feds in hot pursuit as well.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beautiful Creatures - the movie

I had not heard about this film until I happened upon this review on Valentine's Day, which mentioned four of my favorite things: banned books, libraries, supernatural beings, and Emma Thompson. My husband and I know better than to go out on V-day, opting instead for a romantic evening at home, so we made plans to see it on Friday. I was pleased when libraries were mentioned in the opening scene, but started to worry when I didn't actually see any until about mid way through, and when one of the main characters Macon (Jeremy Irons) kept saying things like "you can look it up on Google" - the mantra of those who think libraries don't matter - I really grew concerned. The anticipation was worth it though! What a library scene we were finally treated to - a majestic place hidden beneath the unassuming Gaitlin (South Carolina) Public Library and guarded by super-supernatural librarian, Amma (Viola Davis). There is  a special irony in the fact that the Public Library, which has a dearth of books thanks to the fundamentalist town censors, sits atop such a wealth of magic knowledge. And, it turns out, our Macon was among the heaviest users of the magical library. You can't just Google deep magic. That only comes from books!

A fabulous library movie. I guess I will have to read the book now.