Monday, April 17, 2017

Read-Alike Monday: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

A lot of people have been talking about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks again, since the movie starring Oprah is set to come out soon. Since we loved this book and we know many of you did, we're offering some suggestions on what to read next if you liked this book.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.


READ-ALIKES:

The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Cost of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman  The epic and controversial story of a major breakthrough in cell biology that led to the conquest of rubella and other devastating diseases. 

Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of American children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant; there was no vaccine and little understanding of how the disease devastated fetuses. In June 1962, a young biologist in Philadelphia, using tissue extracted from an aborted fetus from Sweden, produced safe, clean cells that allowed the creation of vaccines against rubella and other common childhood diseases. Two years later, in the midst of a devastating German measles epidemic, his colleague developed the vaccine that would one day wipe out homegrown rubella. The rubella vaccine and others made with those fetal cells have protected more than 150 million people in the United States, the vast majority of them preschoolers. The new cells and the method of making them also led to vaccines that have protected billions of people around the world from polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles, hepatitis A, shingles and adenovirus. 

Meredith Wadman's masterful account recovers not only the science of this urgent race, but also the political roadblocks that nearly stopped the scientists. She describes the terrible dilemmas of pregnant women exposed to German measles and recounts testing on infants, prisoners, orphans, and the intellectually disabled, which was common in the era. These events take place at the dawn of the battle over using human fetal tissue in research, during the arrival of big commerce in campus labs, and as huge changes take place in the laws and practices governing who "owns" research cells and the profits made from biological inventions. It is also the story of yet one more unrecognized woman whose cells have been used to save countless lives. 

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington  The first comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between Africans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the way both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without a hint of informed consent--a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and a view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. New details about the government's Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, and private institutions. This book reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit.

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande  In gripping accounts of true cases, surgeon Atul Gawande explores the power and the limits of medicine, offering an unflinching view from the scalpel's edge. Complications lays bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is--uncertain, perplexing, and profoundly human. Complications is a 2002 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.












The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee  Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years. 

The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” 

The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist. From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease. 

Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

New and Noteworthy Middle Grade Fiction


 by Pseudonymous Bosch



We’re being showered this April with great debut novels, the latest in popular series, along with the newest from favorite authors.

 Bad News . Book 3 in the Bad Books series (Bad Magic, Bad Luck) Thirteen-year-old Clay, a boy who no longer believes in magic, tags graffiti on his classroom wall and, as punishment, is sent to a camp for wayward kids located on a volcanic island, where eccentric campmates abound, a ghost walks among the abandoned ruins of a mansion, and a dangerous force threatens to erupt with bad magic.   In the latest entry, Clay and the Secret Series Allies confront the white-gloved members of the mysterious Midnight Sun cabal.




 
   Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly.  In conjunction with the new Disney live action Beauty & the Beast, an original story taking place during Belle’s time at the Beast’s castle.  Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast's castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. But what about her friends in the Beast's castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever.

 by Sarah Beth Durst 
 Journey Across the Hidden Islands   Award-winning fantasy writer Durst has created an action packed story with an Eastern flavor.  When twin princesses Seika and Ji- Lin travel to pay respects to their kingdom's dragon guardian, unexpected monsters appear, and tremors shake the earth. The Hidden Islands face unprecedented threats, and the old rituals are failing. With only their strength, ingenuity, and flying lion to rely on, can the sisters find a new way to keep their people safe?




 by Jessica Day George
 

Saturdays at Sea   Finishes up the series starring the ever changing Castle Glower and Princess Celie that began with Tuesdays at the Castle.  After traveling to the seaside kingdom of Lilah's betrothed prince, Lulath, Celie and her companions are busy training griffins, enjoying wedding festivities, and finishing construction of a grand ship built from parts of the Castle. But on their maiden voyage, the Ship steers them far off course into uncharted waters.



 by Tim Green and Derek Jeter
 
Baseball Genius  and Fair Ball by Derek Jeter & Paul Mantell.  Derek Jeter may not be out on the diamond but he is putting his experience to work in several novels about baseball, co-authoring with veteran children’s sports novelists.  In Baseball Genius, an average kid with an above average talent for predicting baseball pitches tries to help his favorite player out of a slump.  In Fair Ball, Jeter continues with a series containing a fictionalized version of himself as a youngster living and loving baseball.




 by Andy Griffiths


  65-Story Treehouse
   How’s your division?  This hilarious, goofy series uses multiples of 13 for each title, beginning with The 13-Story Treehouse.  So we’re at number…5!  A treehouse like no other provides the setting for outrageous antics.






 by Scott Westerfeld
   

Horizon   Debut middle grade series with a companion online game by popular teen writer Westerfeld (Uglies).  When Aero Horizon 16 crashes in the Arctic, eight children emerge from the wreckage to find themselves alone and surrounded, not by ice, but by a mysterious and deadly jungle full of carnivorous plants and predatory birds--the other five hundred people from the plane are gone, not necessarily dead, but taken by something that lives in the jungle.



 by Carol Weston
 
Speed of Life  This debut novel by real life advice columnist Weston garnered 4 starred reviews.  Sofia lost her mother eight months ago, and her friends were 100% there for her. Now it’s a new year, and they’re ready for Sofia to move on.  Problem is, Sofia can’t bounce back, can’t recharge like a cell phone. She decides to write Dear Kate, an advice columnist for Fifteen Magazine, and is surprised to receive a fast reply. Soon, the two are exchanging emails, and Sofia opens up and spills all, including a few worries that are totally embarrassing. Turns out even advice columnists don’t have all the answers, and one day, Sofia learns a secret that flips her world upside down.
 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Read-Alike Monday: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy has been one of the most popular books at Lake Forest Library since it was released last summer. If you are interested in learning more about poverty in America, try one of these next.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream.

Vance’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love.” They got married and moved north from Kentucky to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. Their grandchild (the author) graduated from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving upward mobility for their family. But Vance cautions that is only the short version. The slightly longer version is that his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and mother struggled to varying degrees with the demands of their new middle class life and they, and Vance himself, still carry around the demons of their chaotic family history.

Delving into his own personal story and drawing on a wide array of sociological studies, Vance takes us deep into working class life in the Appalachian region. This demographic of our country has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, and Vance provides a searching and clear-eyed attempt to understand when and how “hillbillies” lost faith in any hope of upward mobility, and in opportunities to come. At times funny, disturbing, and deeply moving, this is a family history that is also a troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large portion of this country.
 


READ-ALIKES:
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.
 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

Nickel and Dimed: Or (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson. She soon discovered that even the "lowliest" occupations require exhausting mental and physical efforts. And one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate strategies for survival.

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country--a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets--among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident--people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children. 

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream--and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in "red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Celebrate Irish Culture with the Library this St. Patrick's Day!

Looking to celebrate Irish culture beyond wearing green and drinking a shamrock shake? Although we fully support both of those things, we've made a list of ways to celebrate and learn more about Irish culture through music, movies, and books as well!

IRISH FICTION BOOKS:
Try the historical fiction Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor. Set in Ballybucklebo, a fictional village in rural Northern Ireland, the series follows novice doctor Barry Laverty as he begins his assistantship at the practice of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. Patrick Taylor was born and raised in Bangor, County Down, in Northern Ireland. An Irish Country Doctor is the first book in the series. 

Check out these books at the Library (FICTION TAYLOR) or download the audio versions using the Hoopla app.



 




IRISH MYSTERY BOOKS:
The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French makes for great atmospheric, chilling reading. The first in the series is In the Woods, follows detective Rob Ryan as he tries to solve a case that he was involved in from his childhood and a similar case taking place today. There are different lead detectives in every story, but they all work in Dublin's Muder Squad division. Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990.

Check out these books at the Library (FICTION FRENCH) or download the eBook/eAudiobook versions through the Overdrive app.




 



NONFICTION BOOKS:
Sometimes it's easier to understand different times, places, and cultures through photographs, which is why we recommend, The Irish: A Photohistory by Sean Sexton & Christine Kinealy. These photos document life from 1840-1940. 

Check out this book at the Library (941.5 SEX)








The Story of Ireland: A History of the Irish People by Neil Hegarty is a comprehensive and engaging account of a nation that has long been shaped by forces beyond its coasts. This book re-examines Irish history, challenging the accepted stories and long-held myths associated with Ireland starting from A.D. 433. 

Check out this book at the Library (941.5 HEG)







The classic memoir, Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, takes readers through the authors childhood in both depression-era Brookyln and the slums of Limerick, Ireland. An excerpt from the book says it all- “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

Check out this book at the Library (BIOG MCCOURT MCC) or through our apps- Overdrive and Hoopla.


 


IRISH MOVIES:
Once is a beautiful contemporary love story. An unnamed Guy is a Dublin guitarist/singer-songwriter who makes a living by fixing vacuum cleaners in his Dad's Hoover repair shop by day, and singing and playing for money on the Dublin streets by night. An unnamed Girl is a Czech who plays piano when she gets a chance, and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her mom and her daughter by night. 

Guy meets Girl, and they get to know each other as the Girl helps the Guy to put together a demo disc. During the same several day period, the Guy and the Girl work through their past loves, and reveal their budding love for one another, through their songs.

Check this movie out at the Library (DVD ONC)





If you are looking for a classic, try The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Sean Thornton has returned from America to reclaim his homestead in Ireland and escape his past. Sean's eye is caught by Mary Kate Danaher, a beautiful but poor maiden, and younger sister of ill-tempered "Red" Will Danaher. A riotous relationship forms between Sean and Mary Kate, as Will attempts to keep them apart.

Check this movie out at the Library (DVD QUI)









IRISH MUSIC:
The Clancy Brothers were an influential Irish folk group who came about in the 1960s as part of the American folk music revival. They popularized Irish traditional music in the United States and revitalized it in Ireland.

Stream or download their albums on the Hoopla app.





If you like your music a little more loud and in your face, try the Celtic punk band, Dropkick Murphys. The Massachusetts based band has released nine albums.

Stream or download all of their albums on the Hoopla app.