Both/And: A Life In Many Worlds by Huma Abedin

Huma Abedin is one of those people you’ve seen in the public eye for years, but know next to nothing about. She is best known for two things, being Hillary Clinton’s long-term personal assistant, and for being married to the scandal plagued Anthony Weiner. Her autobiography goes in depth about both of these, but also about her childhood and faith.

Abedin is a Muslim, and her faith has deep meaning for her. Abedin tells how the women of her family sought education beyond what was expected of girls — starting with her grandmother. Abedin also paints a vivid picture of her warm and charming father, who died far too young, and how the family struggled silently with the emotional pain of that loss.

We see how Abedin began to work for Hillary Clinton in what staffers called “Hillaryland,” a supportive workplace where staffers were encouraged to become leaders themselves.

Abedin also writes of how she met Anthony Weiner, and how his charm and humor swept her off her feet. She then relates how her marriage went wrong, and her pain at his deeply personal betrayals and the public humiliation from that.

I highly recommend this book.

– Review by Keri, Main Library

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild-Built: Monk & Robot, #1
Becky Chambers
Tor.com (July 2021)
160 pages // 4 hours, 8 minutes on audio

Link to A Psalm for the Wild-Built in LFPL’s collection

Link to titles by Becky Chambers in LFPL’s collection

A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a wholesome book about the friendship between a robot named Moss and a non-binary monk travelling the world, serving people tea, and listening to their problems in their journey to discover what it is that people need on the most basic level. Of course, there is some really interesting world-building that sets up the protagonists’ current situation, a history that includes robots becoming aware of their slave-like conditions, revolting, and disappearing into the wilderness, and lore surrounding the society that they created. My favorite of which is the tidbit that the robot’s name is Moss because moss was the first thing the robot saw when it woke up!

This is a perfect short read for those looking for an escape from a world where everything seems to be going wrong into a world where things went wrong, in the past, but in the current moment characters are allowed to explore themselves and their world peacefully. Although the subgenre of  “cozy mysteries” is well-established, I can’t say there is an equivalent in the science fiction genre – that is, aside from any book written by Becky Chambers. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is simply Chambers’ most recent. I *still* think it would be my favorite even if it wasn’t the most recent book of hers, though! I even bought a hard copy of it for my personal collection when I finished it! I’m hopeful that Chambers’ books are the beginning of a larger pattern within the genre of comforting books that are somehow still exciting, that explore our world and philosophy in ways that enable escapism without increasing the reader’s heart rate too much. 

And there are more adventures of Moss and Sibling Dex (the monk!) coming out in July of 2022, according to the rumors on the internet (by which I mean this incomplete Goodreads page).

– Review by Valerie, Newburg Branch

Breathe by Sara Fujimura

Breathe is a YA novel but after the first chapter or two reads more like an adult historical novel. It takes place during WWI but it is mostly focused on the United States and the 1918 flu pandemic. Virginia is the daughter of a doctor and aspires to be a doctor herself. She is from a wealthy family in Philadelphia.

Her mother would prefer she do the traditional thing and marry someone of her social class. Virginia falls for Marco, the family’s driver. Marco is also her father’s medical assistant, who aspires to go to college and become a surgeon. Marco is the son of Italian immigrants.

Medical issues of patients are explained in vivid detail. This aspect may be too intense for squeamish readers. Class and ethnic prejudices of the period plays a part in the novel. Fujimura shows this without making it heavy handed.

Breathe also touches on the Suffrage movement. Virginia’s rebellious older sister, Kit, is involved with that movement. Gender role limitations of the time are explored, including a well-done plot twist with Kit and Virginia’s mother. I was drawn to the novel, because I find that period fascinating. As my high school history teacher said, “the modern world was created by WWI”.

At the end of the novel, I found myself wishing for a sequel, wanting to know how their lives turned out twenty or thirty years from then. Strongly recommended.

– Review by Keri, Main Library


Editor’s note: While we do not have this particular title in the Library’s catalog at this time, we do have other titles by Fuijimara that are available.

Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston

I didn’t much enjoy Their Eyes Were Watching God, to be honest.  It has been so long since I read it, though, that I can’t remember why. In any case, I didn’t ever expect to read another work by Zora Neale Hurston. But when I ran across Moses, Man of the Mountain, the summary was so intriguing to me that I decided to give it a go.

A reimagining of the Book of Exodus, told from an African-American perspective.

Hurston, having travelled the American South and the Caribbean as an anthropologist, uses the knowledge gained by those experiences to recast the Book of Exodus from a black American perspective. Moses, long a hero of black folklore and song is now the black hero of the Exodus story, the emancipator of slaves. The plagues, the signs, the mighty works are fruits of his righteousness but also his knowledge of hoodoo.  And freeing the slaves was just the first of his tasks, for he then has to form them into a new nation, give them a new identity, and free them from a slave mindset.

Beyond providing a deeper understanding of Exodus, Hurston challenges the reader to examine their own role in society. For if the Hebrews are to be associated with the black American slaves, then white Americans, largely Christian and so used to identifying with the Hebrews themselves, must realize they have more in common with the Egyptians.  Moreover, the book was published in 1939 amidst Jewish persecution in Europe, drawing an obvious parallel between Pharoah and Hitler.

The book is not heavy though – it is entertaining, even humorous. A real delight. And when I finished, I went back for more. I immediately checked out Hurston’s Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica.

– Review by Scott, Main Library

Meshuggah Comes to Hoopla!

Hoopla is consistently adding new music to their database and they make it very easy to find their newest additions through their Just Added collection. Miraculously, they update their catalog so frequently that I can hardly keep up with the content. The variety is also impressive, sharing some of contemporary music’s most beloved artists like Diana Ross or Rod Stewart and some more obscure titles that even Spotify doesn’t offer, like this neat Latin Pop outfit I discovered here called SuSu.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hoopla had recently added almost everything from Meshuggah’s 30 + year career. Which is not only incredible because the music is some of the most well regarded for its style of Metal, but also because this music can be hard to find, despite its significant impact in the Metal scene. As an avid record collector, I’ve only come across Meshuggah material a couple of times out in the wild, and its usually expensive. Thus, LFPL’s CD collection does not offer any Meshuggah material for circulation, so Hoopla is the only place that our patrons can access Meshuggah music through our catalog!

Meshuggah tends to exist in their own little bubble amidst the Metal scene. They are one of the few Metal bands that can both be categorized as “Extreme Metal” or “Technical Metal” and still appeal to the pickiest of Metal snobs as well as general Rock music fans. They are known for pioneering and perfecting their style of groovy and complex Metal and continuously producing some of the best additions to this subgenre. There is a lot of debate about what exactly to label Meshuggah as, but the Rock and Metal worlds have landed on using the term “Djent” to describe their sound. “Djent”, resembling the guitar tones that are present in many of these songs, is used to express complex rhythmic structures accompanied by very angular, aggressive, compressed, and groovy guitar riffs. Some people bicker about the legitimacy of using the word “Djent” to describe this music, but if we are to assume this to be a part of the Metal subgenre lexicon, Meshuggah are the disciples of Djent, for better or for worse. So much so, that many other bands with similar intentions get written off as “Meshuggah rip-offs”, even with so many bands influenced by this approach. Bands like Car Bomb or Frontierer come to mind, but I like these bands as well.

Hoopla’s selection starts with their 1995 album, Destroy Erase Improve, and moves all the way through to their 2016 album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, for a total of 9 full length albums, a live album, and a compilation of Rare Trax. I’d try out one of their older releases like Chaosphere to grasp the 90’s energy in the more brittle production and also to recognize their development for a later release. Their early stuff is raw and sounds more like a device for shredding junk cars than their later material. I’d might try Koloss for something from the last decade with much more even production value and a hypnotic aura. Imagine a meditation soundtrack for the Metal Gods themselves. I think my favorite is still Catch Thirtythree, as this one weaves the entire album into a single track and has a slow burn that erupts by the end. Though, there isn’t a bad choice in the catalog and I’d recommend them all in no particular order

If you had to check out ONE thing from the band, watch the music video for New Millennium Cyanide Christ. If this doesn’t sell you on the band, I’m not sure what will. A classically hilarious portrayal of the band playing this song on their tour bus, but entirely with air instruments. A band with such a heavy and complicated sound that also knows how to not take themselves too seriously is so refreshing in the Metal scene.

Here is a link to everything that Hoopla offers in the Meshuggah collection, and here is a link to Hoopla’s collection of Hard Rock/Metal. Enjoy!

— Reviewed by Noah, Bon Air

Katherine’s Bookshelf – The Holiday Candy Book

Off white, green and red. Festive.
The holiday candy book. It’s about candy. For holidays. Good luck.

Welcome back to Katherine’s Bookshelf. This one’s fairly straightforward. It’s a cookbook of candy recipes for various holidays. Now, you might think that this half-century old candy book is just as obsolete as math tables for slide rules, but no. Just as trigonometry is still a thing, people still like candy. What makes it special is that this book doesn’t require or even assume the use of specialized equipment. No candy thermometers required. In fact, lots of the recipes don’t even mention a temperature. You’re making fudge from scratch, and you’re on your own.

Nothing but your own prior knowledge, experience, and reading comprehension skill stands between you and a ruined sauce pan. It’s a fine line between delicious candy and carbonized cement, and this book expects you to already know where the line lies.

It’s extremely intimidating. This is not a beginner book. The recipes for candy are like written instructions for performing a triple axel – it assumes you know how to skate. If, however, you already know a thing or two about the chemical and material properties of molten sugar, and you somehow don’t have a candy thermometer, or you want to see how people made candy without them, this is the book for you.

If you find this daunting, there are plenty of fine candy cookbooks at the library, and even some candy histories. Virginia Pasley’s Holiday Candy Cookbook isn’t in our collection, nor would it be. Although the candy is still good sixty years after its publication, the recipes are scary. Maybe someday I’ll get up the courage to brave stirring a pot of sugary napalm for the sake of some fudge. But not anytime soon, probably.

— Article by Katherine, Shawnee

COLLIDER artist-in-residence program

COLLIDER, the South Central Regional Library’s paid artist-in-residence program, connects the public with art and the people who create it.

Generous funding from Councilwoman Madonna Flood makes the COLLIDER Artist-In-Residence program possible.

November 2021
Claire Krueger
Artist & Educator

CLAIRE KRÜEGER is inspired by analog experiments, love of camp, and melancholic humor.

Her work takes the form of videos, photographs, illustration, and zines and she is passionate about community arts, printed matter, and accessible media.

She received an MFA in Photography & Film from VCU in 2013. Claire is based in Louisville, KY.

Hear her talk anxiety, love of camp, and personal practices with Joyce Barbour on their podcast Blind DateBlind Date Podcast


Zines! A Crash Course in Experimental Self-Publishing
Thursday, November 18, 2021 – 6PM – 7:30PM

Join COLLIDER artist-in-residence, Claire Krüeger, for this virtual zoom workshop. Zines are self-published booklets aimed at inclusivity, unregulated self-expression, and connection over shared ideas. They are easy to make, easy to trade, and are also a great place to experiment with ideas—they are low-pressure enough that it does not hurt to try and fail or follow a tangent somewhere new.

Anyone can make a zine about anything; art, writing, photography, how-to and more. Learn about the history of self-published media and how to make your own. We will talk about various techniques and topics will include content, formatting, and design.

Registration is required. Please email Liz.Magee@lfpl.org.

Participants will receive the class link and recommended supply list when they sign up.

Ages 9+

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— Streaming Movies, TV, and Popular Music
 
hoopla logohoopla provides free access to streaming movies, popular music, bestselling audiobooks, and more – with no wait! You will find new content from a many of the big names in publishing and entertainment, such as PBS, The Great Courses, DC, Marvel, Acorn, A&E, and more.
  
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The Guncle by Steven Rowley

The Guncle by Steven Rowley was a book I picked up because of the title and back cover blurb. Titular character Patrick or Gup (“Gay Uncle Patrick” for short) finds himself the temporary guardian of his niece and nephew after they lose their mother. What follows is an adventure as the three of them tackle their new normal and Patrick tries to figure out parenthood. This book will have you laughing and crying along with Maisie, Grant, and Patrick.

I listened to the audiobook which is read by the author and only adds to the book as you are hearing the words the way the author wanted them to be heard. We get to hear Maisie’s developing attitude and Grant’s lisp, as well as Patrick’s changing tone and nuances. I kept finding reasons to listen to the audiobook because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I especially wanted to know how Maisie and Grant – at eight and six – were handling losing their mom because at twenty-eight and nineteen my sister and I were a mess when it happened to us. Like Maisie and Grant, we also had a Guncle, who despite his own doubts and grief stepped in to help, making the book personal. I think The Guncle wrapped up nicely but still leaves room for a sequel or even a companion novel.

I highly recommend the audio version but if you don’t like audiobooks I do recommend reading the book. There’s something for everyone in The Guncle and now I’m going to dive into Rowley’s backlist.

– Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

Literary Hour at the Main

With hectic days and full To-Do lists, we all need a break. When was the last time you heard a good story? 

Come to the Main Library and join us for Literary Hourwhere  you can sit back and enjoy the short fiction of new writers and old masters.

Our newest program starts this coming Monday, November 8th at 2:00 PM,  where Three Days by Samantha Hunt will be read.