Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Book Club Update

The Book Club’s holiday party will be a brunch this year, coming up this Sunday (Dec. 14th) at noon. Call the library, 482-8806, for more information.

The next book, which we will discuss sometime in January, is Old School by Tobias Wolff. Copies are in at the library. I am listening to it now, and can recommend it.

From One Fundraiser to the Next

Photos from the 2008 Bakerville Holiday Festival are up at the library’s website. If you were able to attend, thank you! If you were not able to, we missed you, but don’t worry—we still had a good time. And we raised almost $2900 for the library.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Easy Way Out

Since I have not gathered all the Marketplace photos yet, I’m taking the lazy woman’s route and posting the second of Julia’s book reviews (see the first review in the post below). Thanks, Julia!

Same Kind of Different as Me

The amazing true story Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore tells of their unusual friendship as a result of Deborah Hall’s grace and vision. This memoir is told alternately from Ron’s perspective and from Denver’s vantage point.

Ron, a wealthy international art dealer, first meets Denver while serving dinner to the homeless. Encouraged by his wife Deborah, Ron makes a concerted outreach to connect and forge a relationship with the standoffish recluse. This nonfiction account of both men’s lives and how they become irrevocably intertwined delves into the harsh realities of twentieth century slavery or indentured work of the Louisiana sharecropping system, the injustices of prejudiced Southern legal practices, the pain of cancer and terminal illness, the misery of poverty, the power of faith, and the grace within each individual.

Faith motivates the Halls to act, and the divine visions Denver experiences are a significant part of the memoir as well. The clear promotion of born again religion might turn less zealous readers off (or, conversely, it could inspire them). Central topics such as homelessness, poverty, servitude, injustice, etc. make this a significant read in terms of human and twentieth century issues.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Basking in Book Reviews

While I go through more photos of the Bakerville Marketplace and Used Book Sale, and collect lists of people to thank, let’s enjoy the first of many book reviews sent in by book club member Julia Cowans-Wilhelm. She has graciously shared her thoughts on, count ’em, seven of her recent reads. Good job, Julia! (Both the reading and the writing.) I’ve chosen the following to begin with because we just discussed it at the last book club meeting. You may remember the discussion, or you may remember swimming in the pool beforehand, or sampling Torch Lighters, or watching the muted Olympic opening ceremony in the background.

[And a pause to plug the next book club meeting: We’ll be discussing Alice in Wonderland on Friday, September 19th.]

The Memory of Running

John McLarty’s novel is a particularly disturbing exploration of mental illness and the misfortune that befalls his benevolent, but overwhelmed, protagonist Smithy Ide. While the plot focuses on the loss of his parents and the transcontinental bike trek he undertakes, the book seems to be more an unraveling of the twisted family history—especially the mental illness of his beautiful exhibitionist sister Bethany Ide.

McLarty evokes the reader’s pity for the now overweight brother Smithson who has spent much of his life in the shadows of his needy, but beloved sister. To me, the series of problems he fails to confront are problematic; I question what his actual emotional and intellectual intelligence/ability is and whether the entire family had needs that went unrecognized or diagnosed, causing them all to be somewhat debilitated or limited. Smithy’s “love” for his childhood friend, who is handicapped and lives “independently” with her parents next door, seems more of a crutch than a real bond. Having been raised in a relatively normal (if such a thing really exists) family, this story seemed both improbable and unconvincing to me.

The symbolic quest/trek Smithy takes to retrieve Bethany and put to rest the pain she has caused him enables him to better see her for who she is, but most importantly, it allows him to begin to find himself after the recent death of his parents. Smithy in his “simple” way sees the good in humanity and exposes the prejudice, the violence, and the inhumanity of the species as well.

Key topics for discussion relating to mental illness are death and depression, multiple personalities and exhibitionism, suicide, alcoholism, obesity, or familial effects/roles when mental illness exists.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We’ve Dried Off

Thanks to everyone who participated, the Bakerville Marketplace and Used Book Sale raised upwards of $3500.

Here are some preliminary pictures (more to come, as well as a long list of people we are thankful to have on our side).

On Friday evening, we put up the auction tent (thanks to the Grange for lending it out to us again). While the guys worked,

the girls plotted.

Jumping ahead to the Marketplace itself, some trends in facepainting:

And the kids had fun outside at the used book sale (grown-ups stayed cool and dry inside):

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bakerville Marketplace and Used Book Sale—This Saturday

Bring your used books to the Bakerville Library this week!

Bring your auction donations this week!

Bring your baked goods this Friday or very early Saturday!

Bring yourself to the library at 8:30 am this Saturday for the early bird opening of the Used Book Sale ($7).

Or wait until 9:00
for everything else—Used Book Sale (free admission), Teacup Auction, Bake Sale (all those benefit the library), and booth after booth of crafts, food, flowers, plants, and facepainting.

Click here for more information.

Friday, June 27, 2008

OMG! Our Second Guest Post Ever!

From book club member extraordinaire,
Mary Lee Dunn:

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, 2006 ATRIA Books

The trick to enjoying a good read is in finding the right book. How lucky we are to have Julie LaSata as our shepherd to guide us to a book that will make you put everything else on hold until the book is finished. Once you become a Bakerville Library regular, and you let her know what you’re looking for, she’s so good at keeping her eye out for you and keeping you in literary heaven.

Once again, she’s done it for me with The House at Riverton. (Just happens the author is working on her PHD at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia where my daughter just spent the past semester.) It combines a fictional tale with an historical setting that is so ably described, you are transported back in time. Told through flashback, it is the story of a young serving girl, now a 98-year-old woman, and her relationship with the aristocratic family she served. It is set in England in the years around the time of World War I. As she recalls and retells her story you grow attached to her as an old woman and intrigued by the life and times when she lived. Throw in a mystery, deep secrets that never come together until the end, characters that you genuinely grow to care about, and you won’t be getting any chores done until you finish reflecting on the final outcome. If you liked Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, or Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell, this is a MUST read for you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tasha Tudor, Children’s Book Illustrator, Dies at 92

This is one of those obituaries that’s interesting not only because I didn’t realize she was still alive until now, but also because she had a very unusual life. To say the least. A link to the New York Times article:

Tasha Tudor, Children’s Book Illustrator, Dies at 92

And a link to the Concord Monitor, in New Hampshire:

Illustrator Tudor dies at age 92

Friday, June 20, 2008

Next Book Club Meeting

Friday, August 8th.

NOTE: We will be meeting early, starting at 6:30 pm, to enjoy the summer evening. Call the library at 482-8806 for more information.

We will be discussing The Memory of Running, by Ron McLarty.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

End of an era

Another good friend of the Bakerville Library has passed away. Bud Sedgwick (right), who with Bill Stafford made it an annual event to tell second graders what it was like when the library building was a schoolhouse, died on Thursday, May 22nd. He will be missed at the library and around Bakerville. Following is his obituary from the Register Citizen.

Posted on Fri, May 23, 2008
Malcolm Sedgwick, 82, on May 22, 2008. Montano-Shea Funeral Home.

BAKERSVILLE — Malcolm “Bud” Sedgwick, 82, passed away on Thursday, May 22, 2008, after a nine-month battle with cancer.

He was the loving husband of Dorothy Sedgwick, who passed away in Sept. 2005. Born Nov. 12, 1925, in New Hartford, the son of the late Ralph Sedgwick and Ethel (Jones) Bartholomew, he was a life long Bakersville resident. He was a World War II veteran, having served in Hawaii as a tank and artillery mechanic. He later worked on the early NASA space suits used during the first moon landing at Hamilton Standard. He spent over 20 years at the Torrington Company in the Broad Street and Standard plants as a machinist. His hobbies included gardening, fishing, and antique cars. He was a member of the Litchfield Hills Antique Auto Club for over 30 years. He was also a volunteer fireman with the South End Volunteer Fire Department for most of his adult life. An avid walker, he would walk for miles every morning before breakfast.

In addition to his brother, Allyn, he is survived by two sons, Wayne R. Sedgwick and his wife Wendy of New Hartford and Terry L. Sedgwick and his wife Andrea of Barkhamsted; a daughter, Renae J. Ferguson and her husband Ray of New Hartford; and four grandchildren, Corey, Kate, Sara and Josh. He was predeceased by his brother, Upton.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, May 29, 2008, at Bakersville United Methodist Church, Bakersville at 11 a.m. Burial will be held at Bakersville Cemetery, Bakersville. Friends may call on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at Montano-Shea Funeral Home, 5 Steele Road, New Hartford, from 6 to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to South End Vol. Fire Department New Hartford, Conn. 06057 or the Litchfield Hills Antique Auto Club c/o Royal’s Garage in Torrington, Conn. Visit an online guestbook at www.montano-shea.com.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club

June’s book club meeting will be about The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens. I was one who voted for it, and some people are blaming me. Okay, I stand by my vote. It’s a very funny book.

Also, I have to present Dickens’s bio. (As part of my punishment.) So come back and visit this post in the next few days—I’ll try out some ideas here.

First, the basic facts.

Born: 1812.

Died: 1870.


Well. Book club has come and gone. I ended up printing out some Wikipedia pages and reading from them. Not very serious, but entertaining. I discovered that Dickens actually lived through a lot of the things he wrote about, including working in a factory at a very young age because his family were confined to a debtors’ prison.

I listened (am still listening, in fact), to the book on tape (21 tapes), with Patrick Hull as the narrator. He does a really good, funny job with all the voices. Some other people listened to Walter Zimmerman, and they raved about him, too.

I think Dickens would have appreciated our meeting. It was warm enough to meet outside, so we did, accompanied by (1) gin and tonics, (2) drinks with vodka, cucumbers, lime, and mint, (3) assorted wines, and (4) plenty of lovely hors d’oeuvres. Don’t you wish you had been there?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Castaway Playaway

A while ago, I was in the library looking to feed my audio addiction. My eyes lit on this attractive cover of Robinson Crusoe, and I grabbed it, since I’d never read it.

It felt strangely light; judging from the shape, it should have contained a bunch of tapes.

I opened it up, after some struggle, and saw that it contained a little calculator-shaped gadget, and a battery in a separate foam slot.

I was annoyed. I felt old and cranky. I thought, “What in the world am I supposed to do with this? It probably goes with some machine I don’t have. Now I have to look around for something else acceptable to listen to?”

Then I made myself calm down and look at it. It was called a Playaway, and it was, of course, a digital version of the recording. It had a place to plug in your own headphones or earbuds (how hygienic), and instructions on how to turn it on and navigate through it. So I decided to check it out.

You may already know about this, but if you don’t, I recommend the format. You don’t have to change tapes or CDs. The navigation is pretty simple. And when I paused it to get out of the car, when I got back and turned it back on, it started right up where I had stopped it.

The only trouble I had was when the battery ran out in the middle, and I didn’t recognize the signs until it had flaked out a few times.

The only major design flaw (and I can deal with it) is with the volume—you can’t decrease it directly. You have to keep pressing the button that increases it until it gets to the loudest (pretty loud) and then jumps down to the softest and starts the climb again.

As for the book itself, I’m happy to have read it, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as The Swiss Family Robinson.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Did You Hear Them?

I don’t know how long this link will last, but here is a video clip from the Waterbury Republican-American, today’s edition (April 21st) of CDN singing at the library’s benefit concert this past Sunday, April 20th.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

April’s Book Club

So this Friday evening, April 25th, we will be discussing The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

February’s Book Club

On Friday, February 29th, we will be discussing Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera (see post below). And we did decide what we’d be discussing in March, but do you think I remember?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Son of a Witch

I’m listening to an audiobook of Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch, sort of a sequel to Wicked (which I haven’t read yet), on which the musical is based. He himself narrates it. I can’t recommend him as a narrator, but I’ll excuse him because I love his writing.

This starts where Wicked ends, apparently—when the witch dies. (In case you haven’t read or seen Wicked, it’s a riff on The Wizard of Oz.) Full of unexpected twists in language, character, and plot, this adult novel blends satisfyingly complex vocabulary and cultural references with the commonest of street talk. It also blends Maguire’s wild inventions with not-very-veiled references to current events.

I also loved the other book of his that I’ve read—Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. He reimagines the story of Cinderella, placing the characters in 17th-century Holland, and turning everything upside down.

Book Club, January 2008

I keep forgetting to post the book club meetings here. Well, the next one is tomorrow night (Friday, January 11). We’ll be discussing The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a book that makes me feel as if I were in school again—in a good way.

In case you’ve forgotten how it works (if you’re like me), we alternate every month between classics* and current books. We decide two months ahead of time which book we’ll read, to make it easier for the librarian to get copies for us. We decide at each meeting what the date will be for the next meeting (always on a Friday night, except for the Christmas party, which is on a Saturday night in December) and where we’ll meet. In December, the meeting and book discussion are replaced by the Christmas party, and in the summer we slow down, meeting only once in July/August.

For information on book club and where it is this time, please call the library at 482-8806.

The book we’ll discuss next time (which we decided last time—confusing, isn’t it?) is Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez (1985).

*We’ve expanded the category of “classics” to include biography and nonfiction, when we feel like it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I've Come Late to the Philippa Gregory Show

I thought I’d made a new discovery in The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction about Henry VIII’s fourth and fifth wives. Unlike some other efforts I can think of, this is not just a costumed veneer to disguise steamy sex (or a jockstrap ripper, as my mother said once), but what seems like an honest attempt to make history come alive (okay, with some incidental steamy sex).

Of course now that I look at the cover (I listened to it, so I didn’t get the full physical impact of the book), it does look more like a romance than anything else; I can see why I've skipped over this author before, completely unaware.

It turns out that Ms. Gregory is practically an industry already (philippagregory.com), and The Boleyn Inheritance is just the latest in a long line of novels about English history. A reliable source in the book club says that it’s not even her best. I’ll let you know when I read another one. And apparently a movie based on an earlier novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, is coming out in February.

It used to be that all I knew about Henry’s wives was “divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.” Whether this book is on target or not (and it seems as though she intends it to be), I’ve got more of an interest in Anne of Cleves and Kathryn Howard, and an urge to read more.