Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chocolate: Why Stop At The First Page?

Admit it; you were just thinking about chocolate, weren't you?  Now you might be able to enjoy it even more!  Publications such as The Longevity Factor: How Resveratrol and Red Wine Activate Your Longevity Genes and The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook  advocate for the gustatory pleasure and health benefits that dark chocolate potentially offers.  Now learn about it for yourself at Bernardsville Library's "Chocolate Seminar" to be held Thursday, August 2nd, at 7 p.m. in the library.  Daryl L. Minch from Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County will present a program on the history of chocolate and its role in our well-being.  Recipes and tastings will top off the evening.  Please register online for this program and then stop by the circulation desk for some reading suggestions on this very yummy topic.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Life From A To Z

The next meeting of Bernardsville Public Library’s book discussion group, Memoirs and Coffee, will be held on Tuesday, July 24th at 10:30 a.m. in the library’s Community Room.  Pat Kennedy-Grant,  Readers’ Services Manager for the library, will lead the discussion of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (2005) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
In Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Ms. Rosenthal has ingeniously adapted a centuries-old format for conveying knowledge into a poignant, wise, often funny, fully realized memoir.  Using mostly short entries organized from A to Z, many of which are cross-referenced, Rosenthal captures in wonderful and episodic detail the moments, observations, and emotions that comprise a contemporary life. Start anywhere and see how one young woman’s alphabetized existence can open up and define the world in new and unexpected ways.
 According to her website, ”Ms. Rosenthal is a person who likes to make things – children’s books, adult books, short films, salads, connections with the universe, something out of nothing, wishes.”  In The New York Times, her award-winning children’s books were described as “radiating fun the way tulips radiate spring: they are elegant and spirit-lifting.”  As for her adult work, Amazon named Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life one of the top ten memoirs of the decade.  A contributor to the TED conference and NPR, she is currently the host and creator of Mission Amy KR.com produced by WBEZ.  She lives with her family in Chicago.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Elegies for the Brokenhearted

Christie Hodgen, author of Elegies for the Brokenhearted,  is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an award-winning writer. Her father (shown above with her daughter) is John Hodgen, a poet and college teacher.  A 2006 interview by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette with Christie and her father can be read here.  As John Hodgen notes, Christie has always been quite observant, and that quality stands out as a strength in her writing.
Certainly the characters in Elegies for the Brokenhearted are beautifully observed portraits of flawed or wounded individuals leading marginal lives, lives most of us might overlook or ignore.  Her narrator, Mary Murphy, does not overlook them, but rather speaks to the ways, large and small, each of five dead people have shaped her own life. These five people may have known her for only a brief time (a college roommate) or all her life (her mother), but each one has impacted Mary’s own course through a difficult upbringing.
While never having experienced a scatter shot life of poverty and marginalization herself, Hodgen creates such memorable, well-formed characters existing on the fringes of society that the reader might think otherwise. The voices given her characters are embued with as much depth as her descriptions of them, each character perfectly identifiable by dialogue and cadence of speech.  Perhaps it was the influence of poetry in her upbringing that gave Hodgen the ability to lift heavy topics to a lyrical, captivating sphere, a place where the reader will not want to look away, but rather savor each story, each elegy.  Elegies for the Brokenhearted was recently discussed by the library book group, Saturday Samplers .  
~Evelyn Fischel~