Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What We're Reading Now: A Critic Goes to the Movies

Everyone has their favorite films, but Kenneth Turan, the film critic for the L A Times and NPR’s Morning Edition, has the expertise to back his choices.  He covers the twentieth century by decades and includes the twenty-first century as well. He believes these particular films are timeless; he goes behind the scenes to show them as products of their times as well, highlighting directors, actors and actresses and screenwriters for their contributions to the finished product.  He explains why each film appeals to him and includes suggestions for other films to enjoy.
The Library, Netflix and TCM give many opportunities to decide for yourself -and create your own list of favorites.   

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What We’re Reading Now: Why Can’t We Talk About Dying?

Atul Gawande describes himself as both a surgeon and a writer.  Doctors train to fix their patients and the patients expect that; but inevitably the situation is unfixable.  When death is the likely outcome, doctors need to engage in a dialogue about the end with their patients.  The doctor needs to ask the hard questions: What are your fears? What is the most important thing for you in the time you have left? This means the doctor has to listen to their answers rather than just talk to the patient- it’s never easy for either party-and no single conversation can do the job.
People with serious illness have priorities beyond simply prolonging their lives…avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others and achieving a sense that their life is complete.
Gawande saw in his own practice how hard it was to have these conversations, but he wanted to do better for his patients going forward.  He interviewed palliative care specialists and oncologists for suggestions on what to say and how to listen; he related cases of his own and his experiences as a son and doctor when his father faced a terminal cancer diagnosis.  He asked his father those tough questions; his father’s responses were not what he was expecting, but they worked together to achieve most of his father’s goals in his remaining time.  
We all want a good death, but as a society we don’t talk about dying or prepare for it; the primary focus has been on living longer, even when living longer may impair the quality of that remaining life. Gawande would like us to talk about it, make it a topic of discussion with our children, our caregivers, our doctors-don’t wait until the quality of life is already gone.  Death is inevitable, but we have choices about our approach to it. Doctors and patients need to work together for a better end to life, even if that life is cut short.
The Frontline documentary “Being mortal” based on his book can be viewed on pbs.org. It’s well worth a viewing. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What We’re Reading Now: A Fancy for Fiction

“Novel cure” by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (809.3935 Berthoud)

Are you looking for that perfect book that fits your mood right now and then another book that will suit your mood tomorrow should you have a change of heart? Consider this alphabetical listing of fictional subjects that run the gamut of life’s experiences.  Bibliotherapists Berthoud and Elderkin have compiled a compendium of 751 titles, including Top Ten lists for the reader who wants more than one book to settle that craving. Book clubs looking for a topic would find it useful as well.  

Celebrate National Library Week by reading a book, one of the titles recommended in Novel cure, or any other title (nonfiction, poetry) that piques your interest.  

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What We’re Reading Now: Disney World, Florida travel

It’s time for spring break and we’re ready to fly away. Three generations, a twenty-something cousin and family friends are set for Disney World and its environs, armed with Walt Disney World: 2015: expert advice from the inside source, as well as Fodor’s Walt Disney World and Frommer’s Walt Disney World & Orlando. Frommer’s travel guide is especially useful, since it isn’t just focused on Disney attractions.         
Reading the travel guide on the way to your destination keeps the sights fresh in your mind once you’re on the ground.   

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What We're Reading Now: How About Them Tomatoes?

In the spring, does your gardening fancy turn not to love but to the thought of the summer tomato harvest? Check out “Epic tomatoes” to learn the tomato’s history and the many varieties to grow and eat, as well as the pros and cons of growing from seed, growing in containers or buying plants purchased at your local nursery.  Gorgeous color photographs, mouth-watering recipes and troubleshooting suggestions for growing them yourself round out the engaging look at this luscious fruit.  Summer can’t come too soon!
I count Early Girls, Sweet 100s, Cherokee Chocolates and Lemon Boys among my personal favorites.  Right now, the Mountain View Farmer’s Market has tomato plants to sell-get growin!   If you don’t have a garden to grow them yourself, the Farmer’s Market will have a wonderful tomato harvest later in the year.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What we’re reading now: Good mother, bad mother?

In Laura Lippman’s latest mystery, mother issues and threatening notes predominate. Melisandre Dawes had left Baltimore and her children ten years before, after a sensational trial in which she was cleared in the murder of her youngest daughter by reason of insanity.  She returns to Baltimore to re-establish contact with her remaining teenage daughters and to film the reunion with a documentary. Her personal trainer is poisoned and she receives anonymous notes alluding to her past; she turns to her old friend Tyner Gray for help.   Tyner recruits P.I.  Tess Monaghan to investigate on Melisandre’s behalf.  Tess is struggling to juggle work and family (partner Crow and toddler daughter Carla Scout) but she reluctantly agrees to take on the case.  Tess, too, receives anonymous notes which escalate in intensity. Are the notes connected? Tess must unravel all the lies and misinformation before she unmasks the true culprit in the case. 

I have read many of Laura Lippman’s stand-alone mysteries but none of the Tess Monaghan series.  I’m definitely going to read more of Tess-this was the best mystery I’ve read so far this year.     

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What We're Reading Now: Women of Ireland

“Maeve’s Times” by Maeve Binchy  (824.914 Binchy)

Before she became known for her fiction, Maeve Binchy was a teacher who wrote her family long letters about her travels during her school vacations. Her father sent a few of her letters in to the Irish Times; this led to a job on the paper. She wrote features not just on travel but on what she observed in life and the people around her.  Her gentle humor and discerning profiles of her fellow countrymen, the English and others around the globe come through to delight the reader in this collection extending from 1964 to 2011.  

What We're Reading Now: Women of Ireland

“Everybody matters: my life giving voice” by Mary Robinson (941.7082 ROBINSON) 

Mary Robinson tells us her life so far: the daughter of two doctors and sister to four brothers, she grew up in the west of Ireland in the 1940’s to become an activist lawyer, an Irish senator and the first female president of Ireland in 1990.  She fought hard for women’s right to contraception and divorce in Ireland, and supported gays and other minorities in their struggle for equal representation in her country.  She then changed focus to work internationally as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with a special interest in Africa.   Currently, she heads the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, working from Ireland to alleviate the negative effects of climate change on the poor worldwide.