I'm a librarian with a confession to make. I have not read The Grapes of Wrath nor The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I find Dickens depressing. The Catcher in the Rye? I put it down after the first two chapers. After you finish gasping, I will explain. I have read hundreds (likely thousands) of books in my life, many classics and many hugely popular. I have read verse, poetry, graphic novels, biographies, comics, fantasies, dystopians, long books, short ones, and those in between. But there is still a long list of classic and popular books that, up until recently, I have been ashamed to admit I have yet to read .
American counterculture hit the mainstream in the 1960s, but it had already been stewing for over a decade with the Beat generation. This group of novelists, poets, and playwrights pushed against the norms of Eisenhower's post-war optimism to reveal a different side to the nation.
I started listing adjectives to describe My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante: visceral; violent; passionate. This is the first in a series of four Neapolitan Novels by an elusive Italian author who writes under a pseudonym. Elena and Lila’s friendship is full of envy and love as they claw their way out childhood into adolescence in a poverty-stricken quarter of Naples in the 1950s.
There’s the car, the landscape, the people in the car, and the baggage, both real and psychological. Americans love a road trip, but this time of year, even if gas is cheap, the weather may hinder a real road trip, so grab one of these books and travel from your couch.
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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Jay Gatsby had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan, then lost her to a rich boy. Now, mysteriously wealthy, he is ready to risk everything to woo her back.
If you like The Great Gatsby, you may also like these titles:
Gary Olsen gives monthly film lectures at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library on the best film directors of all time. His previous lecture series on the Academy Awards' best pictures drew upon his extensive knowledge of film and cinema history.
When you first approach reading Shakespeare, it can be a daunting experience. Even though I grew up reading books with similar language, I still found Shakespeare difficult unless I had a teacher holding my hand every step of the way. I could just about understand the basic plot line and even some of the language, but many of the jokes, the history, and the language went over my head.
Over the years, I have found several things helpful in reading Shakespeare’s plays. With these aids, I am able to enjoy Shakespeare so much more than before as well as understand the plays at a deeper level.
In Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, Jun Do works for the government of “the most glorious nation on earth” as a professional kidnapper. This isn’t a science fiction dystopia, but rather it is a raw, searing novel concerning one man’s life under a regime that crushes its citizens, body and soul.
Jun Do doesn’t know his real name. Like his fellow orphans, his was chosen from a list of North Korean war heroes. There is decency to Jun Do, even as he surmounts a horrific childhood only to realize that he (and everyone else) exists primarily for their usefulness to the state. But Jun Do has ambitions.
It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.