Author Archives: Tony

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

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In 1854, an outbreak of cholera struck the Soho district of London, killing over 600 people. Steven Johnson ’s The Ghost Map paints a vivid and engaging portrait of a community struck by a disease it does not understand and cannot control, and the struggle to develop the knowledge and means to stem the tide of mortality. Even if non-fiction is usually not to your taste, this account of Dr. John Snow’s investigation of the outbreak and the struggles of families and individuals gripped by the disease is engagingly written and well worth a read.

Dr. Snow’s investigation of the cholera epidemic of 1854 became the seed for modern epidemiology. While the story of his plotting cholera cases on a map of the district and targeting a public water pump as the source of the outbreak – ultimately resulting in the removal of the handle of the pump – is well known, it’s not the complete story, and Johnson does an admirable job bringing the sights – and smells of mid-19th Century London to life.

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Dramatized narratives of Soho residents’ lives during the outbreak serve for more than background nuance and flavor. Small details – a splash of gin added to water unwittingly killing the bacteria – hint at the much larger developments that the 1854 outbreak led to. Dr. Snow’s struggle to find the focus of the epidemic and then convey his ideas about the pump as the common source to authorities convinced that disease was spread by foul smells, not by water, foreshadows the use of maps and charts to illustrate data and convince the public and policy setters. The use of the map was at the cutting edge of the time: Florence Nightingale used charts and maps to push for the need for sanitation. The field of data visualization, then in its infancy, is an important part of scientific research and public service.

Given the impact of the 1854 Soho cholera epidemic on today’s world, and how the concerns of infectious disease and public health are still with us, the central dramas of The Ghost Map are well worth thinking about. In the final chapters, the author attempts to integrate the lessons of the epidemic with more modern concerns, and although some of his points are worthwhile, others seem like over-reaching attempts at relevancy, when the story of the outbreak, and the impact epidemiology has on our lives is a gripping story in itself. Some of this poorly-integrated theorizing feels like it belongs to another book, and isn’t given enough time for a good, mature argument.

All in all, however, despite the problems of the last chapters, The Ghost Map is a must-read for history buffs, or even fans of historical fiction, to get a feel for the urban atmosphere of the time. At his best describing the Soho outbreak, Johnson strikes a fine balance between exploring the scientific and historical significance of the events and the very human drama of families and individuals in the grip of a deadly disease.


 

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Johnson’s new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World celebrates the history and power of great ideas.  He will be coming to speak about his new work on Thursday, October 16, 7 p.m. at the Main Library

Tickets will be available by phone beginning September 15 at 9 a.m.   Please call our ticket line at (502) 574-1644.

 

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Katherine, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch

What do these six authors have in common?

LFPL’s fall Authors at the Library series includes six bestsellers

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What do these six authors have in common?

They all have new books coming out this fall, they have all spent time on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and they’re all appearing as part of the Louisville Free Public Library’s Authors at the Library series.  From memoir to the Middle Ages, from Gutenberg’s printing press to the birth of the ‘pill,’ this series is sure to be entertaining and thought-provoking. All Authors at the Library programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Main Library, 301 York Street.  The events are free, but tickets are required; visit LFPL.org or call 574-1644.


 Chris Tomlinson

Wednesday, September 10, 7PM

tomlinson Author, journalist, and filmmaker Chris Tomlinson is a fifth-generation Texan whose ancestors were slave holders. His latest book, Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black, examines what the family’s legacy means, both for the author and the African American Tomlinsons—particularly the most famous descendant, former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Join Chris Tomlinson for a discussion of his new book at the Main Library, Wednesday, September 10 at 7 PM.

The event is FREE, but tickets are required; click here to order or call (502) 574-1644.


 Gail Sheehy

Tuesday, October 14, 7PM

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World-renowned journalist Gail Sheehy will discuss her latest memoir Daring: My Passages. The book chronicles her trials and triumphs as a groundbreaking “girl” journalist in the 1960s to one of the premier political profilers of today.

Tickets available beginning September 15 at 9 AM


 Steven Johnson

Thursday, October 16, 7PM

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Steven Johnson is best known for writing about innovations, ideas, and culture. His new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World celebrates the history and power of great ideas. A six-part series of the same name will air on PBS during his visit at LFPL.

 Tickets available beginning September 15 at 9 AM


Dan Jones

Monday, October 27, 7PM

danjones 

Are you obsessed with Game of Thrones, fascinated by British royal history, or really into medieval warfare? Then join historian, journalist, and New York Times-bestselling author Dan Jones for a discussion of his latest book The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors.

 Tickets available beginning September 15 at 9 AM


Azar Nafisi

Tuesday, November 4, 7PM

 nafisi

Azar Nafisi is the bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Join her for a discussion of her latest book The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books at the Main Library.

Tickets available beginning October 1 at 9 AM


 Jonathan Eig

Tuesday, November 11, 7PM

 johnathaneig

The birth-control pill has been called one of the most influential—if not controversial—inventions of the twentieth century. Bestselling author and journalist Jonathan Eig explores the pill’s unlikely genesis in his latest book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.

 Tickets available beginning October 1 at 9 AM

 

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey

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Gears, wheels and clockworks.  Oh, my!

Plus mechanical beasties, horses and ships, murder and mayhem, romance and adventure.

Once you start, you are dropped down in the middle of a Steampunk tale that will introduce you to a time that is both dark and tantalizing.  This high adventure is peopled with villains, heroes and the in-betweens that pull you into an alternate world where knowledge of science and steam can indeed make magic happen.  But it’s Kristen Bailey’s heart as a storyteller that will keep you turning the pages until you reach the final line on the first leg of a long journey for Meg, Will, Lucinda and Oliver.

This harrowing tale is filled with the imagination, creativity and ingenuity.  Bailey brings to life mechanical beings, weapons and amusements, almost leaping off the pages of the book.  This first installment in The Secret Order trilogy opens a world misplaced in time that will intrigue and delight teens of fantasy, sci-fi, mystery and romance.

Meg’s life as the daughter of a clockmaker was comfortable, but after the fire that took the life of her parents all she has left to remember them by is a cindered pocket watch.  As housemaid to an eccentric Baron, life is anything but comfortable with long hours of drudgery, dusting and cleaning until the winding of a clock opens a secret door.  Within the hidden workshop there are fantastic machines and a spyglass like nothing Meg has ever set eyes on before.  Some allow her to see into all areas of the estate by means of disguised cameras.  Among the detailed drawings are the inner workings of a bizarre egg shaped contraption, Meg finds a letter that sends her on a search for the grandfather she had thought was dead.

The trail she follows leads to a secret society of men that can create almost anything you might imagine with gears, wheels and clockworks.  Along with Will, a former stable hand, she makes her way to London, to meet with Lucinda, the widow of an Amusementist to begin their search for clues which can lead them to a machine that may well tear apart the very fabric of time.  With a murderer on their trail, a weapon of deadly destruction, that only she has the key to stop, clues to search out and inventions that could be the death of them, this harrowing adventure has just begun.

If this sounds exciting and you want to know more, check out the book trailer or the author’s website.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

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Nell is completely enamored with her older sister, Layla.  So much in fact that, when they were little girls, she called herself “Nellayla” because she felt that their bond was so close, they were like one soul.  During Nell’s freshman year of high school, she discovers that Layla is having an inappropriate relationship with a teacher.  This puts Nell in a serious bind. She wants to keep her sister’s secret, but she also feels like the situation Layla has gotten herself into is wrong.  Thrown unwittingly into her sister’s secret, what should she do?

When I read the synopsis of the book, I was hoping that it delivered a punch that would have me cursing in the air because I was so mad.  I didn’t find myself spewing vulgarity to the heavens but was entranced as I read, my eyes transfixed on my Kindle.  The story is told from Nell’s point of view.  Nell is a very inquisitive and responsible (to a point) teenager, who looks up to her older sister in a way that is borderline loving, hero worship with a touch of creepiness.

Her best friend Felix is her confidant.  He doesn’t sugar coat anything for her, mince words, or treat her like she is special.  Nell loves that about him.  I really liked how the author describes this friendship and was very surprised that this wasn’t one where the two of them eventually fall in love with each other.

Nell has so many things on her plate.  She is just beginning high school, she has a crush on a boy, she makes the soccer team and she is worried about the strange way her older sister is beginning to behave.  She is going through typical teenage emotions and the author mixes words so that you feel each one.

When Nell learns of Layla’s secret, it is purely by accident.  As rumors start to spread about her sister and a teacher who has a reputation of being with a different female student each year, Nell chalks it up as just being gossip.  But when she catches Layla in the act of video chatting with this teacher, Nell knows that nothing good can come of it and just how bad the situation can become.

The moral compass is stretched to the limit with this story and I really wish that the author wouldn’t have ended the book the way that she did.  Layla was involved in something that teenagers shouldn’t be aware of.  She was completely taken advantage of but she felt that it was love.  There could have been so much more that would have made this a five star book.

All in all, I really liked the book and would very much encourage people to read it, especially if you are the parent of a teenager.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

 

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, edited by Steven Jay Schneider

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Want to broaden your cinematic horizons? Or perhaps you just need a recommendation for something to watch tonight? 

One excellent resource is 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, edited by Steven Jay Schneider.  Its new tenth anniversary edition, updated by Ian Haydn Smith, covers movies from the first silents like 1902’s A Trip to the Moon, directed by Georges Méliès, all the way to 2012’s Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee (which is featured on the book’s cover). I’ve been using this book to encourage myself to learn more about movie history and watch movies I otherwise never would have considered.

I’m up to 558 movies on the list.  Two of my new favorites are 1927’s Sunrise, directed by F.W. Murnau, and 1957’s Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Alexander Mackendrick.

How many have you seen?

Formats Available: Book (Regular Print)

 Reviewed by Alex, Middletown

The Mayor’s Book Club Is Reading “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett

The Mayor’s Book Club 

This book discussion group meets at the Main Library on the third Wednesday of the month, from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Brown-bag lunches are welcome.

The book club’s next reading will be:

AUGUST 20, 2014 - State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder
2012-05 – Paperback
Harper Perennial
9780062049810
Check Our Catalog 
State of Wonder
By Patchett, Ann
Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Ann Patchett, the best-selling author of the acclaimed Bel Canto and four other novels, returns with a darkly fascinating story about the nature of scientific inquiry. In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh is tasked with finding out what happened to her co-worker, Anders Eckman, who died in the Amazon jungle after joining a research team. Contending with snakes, heat and mosquitoes, Marina connects with the field team, which is led by Annick Swenson, an ambitious gynecologist researching a tribe whose females have remarkable childbearing abilities. Annick was once Marina’s mentor, and encountering her brings back a past Marina is trying hard to escape. Giving readers access to the recondite world of drug research while exploring the impulses that motivate us all, Patchett has crafted an intriguing novel, filled with complex issues that will generate lively book club discussion. © 2011, All rights reserved, BookPage
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Publisher Comments
In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest’s jeweled canopy.
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For the complete list of upcoming titles, click here.

 

AnimeCon 11

AnimeCon 11 features cultural dance performances, anime-inspired games and activities for teens

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Main Library, August 1, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Get ready for an infusion of Asian culture and Japanese-style animation: AnimeCon returns to the Main Library on August 1!

Teens ages 12-19 are invited to register for this free, day-long celebration.

This year’s event will feature a mix of old favorites and new additions, including:

  • A performance by the Cardinal K-Pop Dance Team
  • Crescent Moon Dancers performing traditional dances from Uzbekistan
  • Annual Ramen Noodle Eating contest
  • Yu-Gi-Oh Tournament
  • Zen Garden
  • Cosplay contest

AnimeCon is part of the Louisville Free Public Library’s annual Teen Summer Reading Program, encouraging teens to read for fun during the summer.

Summer Reading and AnimeCon are made possible through funding from The Library Foundation.

AnimeCon is Friday, August 1, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Main Library (301 York Street).

To register, visit LFPL.org/teen or call (502) 574-1724 for more information.

NOTE:  Photo opportunities include kids and teens dressed in costume as their favorite anime characters and engaged in various conference activities.

 

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

landline

 

Georgie McCool has a lot going for her. She has a job writing for a hit sitcom in Los Angeles, two young daughters, and a stay at home husband who handles the domestic details while Georgie focuses on her career. Landline begins as Georgie is getting the opportunity she’s waited for after years of writing comedy, the chance at having her own television show. So what’s the catch? To get a shot she’ll have to work through Christmas and sacrifice celebrating with her family. Her husband begrudgingly agrees she should go for it, but in Georgie’s mind there’s no debating it. And that’s where the cracks begin to show.

Have you ever accidently left your cell phone at home then it just makes your entire day feel off? Georgie’s cell is broken and being unable to get in touch with her husband causes her wonder not only if her marriage is failing, but maybe her perception of reality is going as well. The latter isn’t helped by the fact that she encounters a telephone that allows callers to time travel. With the help of an old-fashioned landline Georgie begins to explore the state of her marriage taking readers back to when it first began.

Thirty-somethings are the projected audience for Landline, but Rowell’s works Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, both published in 2013, target teens while striking the hearts of a broader swath. Rainbow Rowell romances the underdog in us all by giving her quirky, unpopular characters exactly what they need, each another. Bestseller Eleanor and Park perfectly romanticizes the nature of young love and the rights have been recently been acquired by Dreamworks for a film adaption. Fangirl is a coming-of-age story that starts with two twins going off to college one ready to cannonball into the pool and the other left standing on the diving board.

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To hear about other projects by the author visit her website:  http://rainbowrowell.com/

Formats Available: Book (Regular Print)

 Reviewed by Natalie, Main Children’s