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Weyenberg Library Blog


Nov 11

Hamilton

Posted on November 11, 2016 at 3:17 PM by Craig Jacobson

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Hamilton An American Musical.jpgIn September 2015, the cast album of Hamilton: An American Musical was released to widespread acclaim.  Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father and writer extraordinaire, and the women and men who charted the course of his life, from big names like George Washington to small ones like Peggy Schuyler.  Now, in honor of the cast album’s one-year anniversary, and the recent opening of the Chicago production, let’s talk about some books that complement the show.

Alexander Hamilton.jpgThe musical was inspired by and is largely based on Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton.  Chernow tells Hamilton’s story in a clean, easy-to-read style, with plenty of interesting anecdotes and first-hand accounts to keep you moving through the years.  It’s long—800 pages, and dense pages at that—but worth a read if you’re interested in the Revolution, American history, Alexander Hamilton, and/or any of the Founders.

Founding Brothers.jpgFor a more general overview of the people who helped shape the nation’s early years, try Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation.  Ellis follows seven of the Founders (John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington) through six major political events of the 1790s.  Ellis discusses how these Founders’ experiences and philosophies affected their visions for our young country, and how their clashes and compromises influenced our government.  Ellis’ writing, like Chernow’s, is light and conversational, and Founding Brothers is a much shorter read at 288 pages.

Fallen Founder.jpgIf you like the sound of a biography like Chernow’s, there’s plenty to choose from.  Washington buffs can’t go wrong with Chernow’s Washington: A Life, the follow-up to Alexander Hamilton highlighting the General himself.  Anti-Federalists and Federalists alike can learn more about the dynamic duo, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, through Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and Kevin Raeder Gutzman’s James Madison and the Making of America, respectively.  Sarah Vowell provides a colorful sketch of “everyone’s favorite fighting Frenchman,” the Marquis de Lafayette, in her Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.  Finally, for a redemptive biography of Hamilton’s arch-rival, Aaron Burr, consider Nancy Isenberg’s Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr.

Founding Mothers.jpgLast, but never least, both the musical Hamilton and the book on which it’s based spotlight the women in Alexander Hamilton’s life.  We would be remiss if we didn’t do the same for the women who played key parts before, during, and after the Revolution.  Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation is a great place to meet the ladies who helped build the United States from the ground up.

Nov 11

Facing The Unknown

Posted on November 11, 2016 at 3:11 PM by Craig Jacobson

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The unknown can be very frightening. Whether it’s moving to a new city, major changes to your daily life, or choosing to enter the unknown head-on, each of the young characters in the following suggestions face unpredictable circumstances with courage and an open mind.

asbraveasyou.jpgAs Brave as You by Jason Reynolds is the story of two brothers, Genie and Ernie, from Brooklyn, New York who visit their grandparents in rural Virginia. Having never met their grandparents or left the city, Genie and Ernie are in for a summer of new experiences. The two brothers look out for each other as they get used to new routines—specifically, country chores—and new friends. Readers will particularly enjoy Reynolds depiction of the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

The graphic novel Ghostsby Raina Telgemeier focuses on the close relationship of two sisters, Catrina and Maya. Their family recently moved to California for Maya’s health; she has cystic fibrosis. In addition to moving to a place where she knows no one, Catrina is expected to help look out for her sister and works through how to deal with the unknown future of her younger sister’s illness. As the sisters adjust to their new circumstances, Catrina and Maya also learn more about their heritage as their community gets ready for a Dia de los Muertos celebration. Visually compelling, the graphic novel Ghosts is a wonderful new story from a popular author this fall.?

walkonearth.jpgTwo separate young adult series,Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson and The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, feature young women who have supernatural abilities to which they must adapt. Walk on Earth a Stranger features Lee Westfall, a sixteen-year-old from Georgia who has the ability to sense when gold is near. Though most would consider this sense a gift, during the gold rush era it leads to trouble and Lee must flee home to make the treacherous and unknown journey to California. Be sure to catch the second in a planned trilogy Like a River Glorious which continues Lee’s story.?

For Rory Deveaux, a Louisiana native studying abroad, an embarrassing choking incident leads to her suddenly being able to see ghosts. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson is the first in a four-book series focusing on a secret police force whose job it is to keep the ghost population under control in one of the oldest cities in the world—London, England. Their first case is investigating a killer who is reenacting one of the greatest unsolved crimes in history—Jack the Ripper. A non-stop thriller filled with ghosts and action, you will fall in love with these characters!

Looking for additional recommendations? We are always happy to help you find whatever you may be looking for - just stop by the reference desk!

Sep 12

Patron Recommendations

Posted on September 12, 2016 at 9:48 AM by Craig Jacobson

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Quite often people will ask library staff for recommendations of books to read.  From time to time, you share the titles of books you really enjoyed with us.  Here are just a few. 

oncewewerebrothers.jpgIn Once We Were Brothers, you become immersed in a story about WWll between a German and Jewish family - before and during the war.  The story continues when two of the family members meet again many years after the war and the story is finally brought to completion.  The patron told me he couldn’t put the book down and he was right.

fallofmarigolds.jpgThe next recommendation, A Fall of Marigolds, is also historical fiction that ties two time periods together- the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 and September 11, 2001.  Events that took place one hundred years apart and yet are connected by a common thread, a scarf that found its way from one period of time to the next.  A scarf that helped its owners to overcome the tragedies that had over whelmed them.

cityguide.jpgCity Baker’s Guide to Country Living is so quaint and cozy you just want to pack up your things and move there.  Olivia Rawlings is a fantastic pastry chef in Boston until she almost burns down the dining club as she is setting her flambe dessert aglow.  She leaves town with no place to go.  She ends up on her friend’s doorstop in the middle of the night in Guthrie, Vermont.  She needs to work, so she agrees to work at the Sugar Maple Inn for a year.  Little did she know, not only had she found a job she loved, but she had finally found a place she could call home.  If you’re a food junkie, this book is for you.

arthurpepper.jpgThe next three recommendations are about older men whose wives have died.  The first book is The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. Ever since Arthur Pepper’s wife died, his life has become more routine than it had ever been in the past.  He gets up at 7:30 every day and wears the same grey pants and mustard colored sweater vest.  It’s now been a year since her death and he decides to break with his routine and finally go through her things and decide what to do with them.  It’s then that he discovers a charm bracelet that he doesn’t remember her wearing.  This piece of jewelry is much more elaborate than the life she lived and he’s very confused as to why she had it.  As he discovers what each charm represents, he comes to learn of the life his wife led before they were married.  His heart begins its slow process of healing charm by charm.

mancalledove.jpgIn A Man Called Ove, most people would say that he was born grumpy.  It wasn’t so much that he was grumpy, as it was that Ove just had expectations of how one should live their life and his opinion just wasn’t the same as most other people’s opinions.  However, the more you get to know Ove, the more endearing he becomes - no matter how hard he is around the edges.  I loved his story.

majorpettigrew.jpgIn Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, we travel to England to the rustic little village of Edgecombe St. Mary.  It’s a place where everything is done properly, including how the tea is made and served.  The Major is a 68-year-old widower who is retired from service and is a respected fixture in the community.  His orderly life comes undone when his younger brother dies suddenly.  In his moment of grief, he is unexpectedly comforted by Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.  A friendship grows between them as they share the things they have in common, but is it “proper” for this relationship between a local English gent and a permanent foreigner to become more?

Thanks for the recommendations and happy reading!

Book covers courtesy of Easicat.