Monday, October 27, 2014

Object Lessons

Here are a variety of histories told through museum objects and other items such as maps, stamps, recipes, and songs.  So if you're a visual learner, a museum-goer, or you just like to approach your learning and reading in manageable lists or bits, you might enjoy these histories, listed here from broader to narrower subjects:

A History of the World in 100 Objects   by Neil MacGregor (Viking, 2011).  As Director of the British Museum, MacGregor wrote this book based on a BBC radio program that described 100 of the museum's objects chosen by these rules: 1) They represent the beginning of human history to the present. 2) They represent the whole world as much as possible. 3) They represent varied aspects of human experience. 4) They represent whole societies, not just the rich or powerful.  
The objects and their brief stories are laid out chronologically, but could easily be read and appreciated in random order.  [Other titles of a similar world-wide scope are:  Earth in 100 Groundbreaking Discoveries  by Douglas Palmer (Firefly, 2011) and A History of the World in Twelve Maps  by Jerry Brotton (Viking, 2012).]

These two recent books by West (America, 2014 and Britain, 2013) give interesting 3-5 page glimpses into British and American events, people, styles, and attitudes based on individual stamps laid out chronologically.  You need not be a stamp collector to enjoy these books.  In fact, West prefaces the British history with these words: "Stamps tell stories.  They speak to us across generations - if only we'd stop squeezing them into albums and worrying about their catalogue value, and just listen to their voices instead."

A History of New York in 101 Objects   by Sam Roberts (Simon & Schuster, 2014).  Roberts, The New York Times urban affairs correspondentwrote this history following the example of MacGregor from the British Museum (see above). He looked for enduring objects that played a transformative role in the city's history, and consulted museum curators, archivists, librarians, other journalists, and other New Yorkers to assemble this collection of "distinctive objects that span the history of New York, nearly all reproduced in brilliant color." [from flyleaf].

And here are three histories on narrower subjects:  The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs  by Greil Marcus (Yale Univ. Press, 2014) - the significance of ten songs recorded and re-recorded between 1956 and 2008; Season of Saturdays : a History of College Football in 14 Games  by Michael Weinreb (Scribner, 2014) - 14 of the greatest games of all time and their greater significance; A History of Food in 100 Recipes  by William Sitwell (Little, Brown, 2013) - the British food writer's selection of the best chapters in the history of food, with culinary characters, villains, and recipes, which have not been updated for modern cooks.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Opera Resources at the Library

Link to Giovanni Program Book
Lyric Opera of Chicago's season is well underway with Don Giovanni, Mozart's "comic drama" based on the Don Juan story, running through October 29th; and Capriccio, Richard Strauss's "conversation piece for music" that weighs the importance of words against music, running through October 28th.  

Recordings, DVDs, scores. and librettos for opera-goers and others wanting to further their appreciation of any of this season's operas can be found at this link:  Lyric Opera of Chicago Resources 2014-15 Season.  Free streaming commentary for each opera is available through the
Lyric Opera's website at this link:  
Lyric Opera Commentaries 

More information about Don Giovanni can also be found in the Lyric Opera's complete program book (link to PDF is above) and in the following title and others like it from the library's collection:

Getting the most out of Mozart : the Vocal Works  by David Hurwitz (Amadeus Press, 2005).  This book begins with an overview of Mozart's operatic style and continues with chapters on several of Mozart's great operas, including Don Giovanni; placing each opera in the context of Mozart's other works, summarizing the plot, discussing orchestration, and the opera's characters and their music.  The accompanying CD includes a few arias from Don Giovanni as well as selections from other Mozart works.

Find out more about Capriccio in The Cambridge Companion to Richard Strauss  edited by Charles Youmans (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).  Discussions of it can be found in the chapters on Strauss's last works, his musical quotations and allusions, and his musical commentary on the nature of music itself.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October is Lake Forest Reads:Ragdale Month

Join your friends and neighbors in reading the novel, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea during Lake Forest Reads:Ragdale, October’s celebration of literature and the arts in Lake Forest. Then choose from a schedule of related activities ranging from a festive Mariachi Band performance, to book discussions, to a lecture on Mexican-American border issues. The month-long calendar culminates in a visit by the author, Luis Alberto Urrea on October 28th. (Click here for the full schedule,)

Into the Beautiful North is the story of nineteen-year-old Nayeli who works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who left for the U.S. when she was young. He hasn’t been home since then and his letters have stopped. While watching the film, The Magnificent Seven, she decides to go north herself and recruit seven men -- her own "Siete Magníficos"-- to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the banditos who plan on taking it over. This funny, poignant story deals with topical issues surrounding the United States’ relationship with Mexico and our policies along the Mexican-American border. 

Lake Forest Reads:Ragdale is a one book/one community program sponsored by Lake Forest Library and The Radgale Foundation.  The program encourages the Lake Forest community to read one book by a writer affiliated with Ragdale, the artists’ residency that has supported emerging and best-selling authors and their creative process for over 35 years. Community Partners include Dickinson Hall, Friends of Lake Forest Library, Jolly Good Fellows, and Lake Forest College. Programs are being held throughout the community and all are open to the public. Most are free unless otherwise noted.  Copies of the book are available to borrow at Lake Forest Library and to purchase at Lake Forest Book S

Luis Alberto Urrea, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. Born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 13 books, Urrea has won numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. Urrea's recent novel, Into the Beautiful North, a national best-seller, earned a citation of excellence from the American Library Association Rainbow's Project and was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for their Big Read program.  Urrea lives with his family in Naperville, Illinois. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall in Chocolate

     This years Lake Forest Reads Ragdale book selection is Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.  Read his novel and then stop in at the Adult Services Desk  to fill out a coupon to try Jolly Good Fellows Feisty Brownie  free with any $5.00 purchases  October 1 through November 1. 

Cover image for Seriously bitter sweet : the ultimate dessert maker's guide to chocolateSeriously Bitter Sweet : the Ultimate Dessert Maker's Guide to Chocolate 
(Alice Medrich)    These days, people are accustomed to seeing chocolate labeled 54%, 61%, or 72% on grocery store shelves, but some bakers are still confused by what the labeling means and how to use it. In Seriously Bitter Sweet, Alice Medrich presents 150 meticulously tested, seriously delicious recipes—both savory and sweet—for a wide range of percentage chocolates.

Cover image for The paleo chocolate lovers' cookbook : 80 gluten-free treats for breakfast & dessertThe Paleo Chocolate Lovers' Cookbook : 80 Gluten-Free Treats for Breakfast & Dessert
(Kelly V. Brozyna) The Paleo Chocolate Lovers Cookbook features 80 gluten-, grain-, and dairy-free recipes for the health-conscious chocolate lover. Kelly Brozyna, host of the delightful cooking blog, The Spunky Coconut, has created delicious chocolate treats made with coconut and ground nut flours for both breakfast and dessert. 

It's true that Anna Trent is a supervisor in a chocolate factory...but that doesn't necessarily mean she knows how to make chocolate. And when a fateful accident gives her the opportunity to work at Paris's elite chocolatier Le Chapeau Chocolat, Anna expects to be outed as a fraud. After all, there is a world of difference between chalky, mass-produced English chocolate and the gourmet confections Anna's new boss creates. But with a bit of luck and a lot of patience, Anna might learn that the sweetest things in life are always worth working for.

Cover image for The chocolate heartThe Chocolate Heart
(Laura Florand)

When Summer Corey takes over ownership of the Parisian restaurant where chef Luc Leroi works, their workplace clashes turn into private passions.
Cover image for Chocolates for breakfast : [a novel]

Chocolates for breakfast : [a novel] 
(Pamela Moore)
Courtney Farrell is a disaffected, sexually precocious fifteen-year-old. She splits her time between Manhattan, where her father works in publishing, and Los Angeles, where her mother is a still-beautiful Hollywood actress. After a boarding-school crush on a female teacher ends badly, Courtney sets out to learn everything fast. Her first drink is a very dry martini, and her first kiss the beginning of a full-blown love affair with an older man.
A riveting coming-of-age story, Chocolates for Breakfast became an international sensation upon its initial publication in 1956, and it still stands out as a shocking and moving account of the way teenagers collide, often disastrously, against love and sex for the first time.