Archive for May, 2017

Read, Watch, Listen: Memorial Day

Need something to do this weekend that doesn’t involve driving for hours? Here’s our inaugural list of “Read, Watch, Listen” – our suggestions of books, audiobooks, music, movies, and TV to turn to for a little down time. Here’s what we recommend for Memorial Day weekend:




The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin

  • This nonfiction book takes a look at the lives (including interviews) with some of the last veterans of WWI, talking about their experiences both during and after the war.

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

  • An in-the-trenches fictional account of a squad of young men behind the lines in Vietnam.

Redeployment by Phil Klay

  • Klay, a Marine veteran, won the National Book Award for Fiction for his collection of short stories about U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Band of Brothers

  • This HBO mini-series introduces viewers to the men of Easy Company and their travails before and after D-Day.


  • The classic film featuring the stories of the men of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first African-American units to serve during the Civil War.

Hallowed Grounds: America’s Overseas Military Cemeteries

  • Featuring images and stories, this PBS documentary gives viewers a glimpse into the national cemeteries honoring our soldiers in places as diverse as Belgium, Tunisia, and the Phlippines.



Letters from the Greatest Generation: Writing Home in WWII

  • Excerpts from letters of soldiers who fought in virtually all arenas of WWII.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

  • The classical fictional account of the young soldiers of Vietnam and their emotional journeys.

War by Sebastian Junger

  • Explores the neurological, psychological and social elements of combat, as well as the incredible bonds that form between these small groups of men.

B is for Botswana

Now’s a good time to head for Botswana – although May is considered an early winter month, it’s also a dry month with sunny days. Perfect for viewing the big game people from all over the world come to see (even if we’re only armchair travelers).

Botswana is known for its conservation efforts, serving as an example for other countries looking to preserve its wildlife while offering tourists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In the past forty years, Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the fastest growing economies. Readers may also be familiar with the country through Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramwotse series (which is at #17 as of this post). However you come to understand Botswana, you’re sure to learn even more with the resources here.



Carrion Death – Michael Stanley

  • In the aftermath of the murder of an anonymous victim, assistant superintendent David Bengu begins his career in Botswana, where his convivial passions and determined methods earn him a local nickname that likens him to a hippopotamus.

Frommer’s South Africa

  • A guide to travel in the countries Botswana and South Africa.

Mortals – Norman Rush

  • In the heart of Botswana, the lives of three Americans–an undercover CIA agent, his disaffected wife, and an iconoclastic black holistic physician–entangle with that of a local populist leader as a violent insurrection erupts in the area.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

  • Boldly going where no woman has gone before, Precious Ramotswe is the very first female private detective in all of Botswana. Tactful, effective, and insightful detecting comes naturally to this very independent woman in this highly entertaining humorous cozy mystery series.

The Old Way: A Story of the First People – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

  • The author revisits her experiences studying the Kalahari San in Africa and documents their behavior as hunter-gatherers.

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood – Robyn Scott

  • Documents the author’s adventures growing up in Botswana with her eccentric family, an upbringing marked by her doctor father’s yearnings to be a vet, her holistic and home-schooling mother, and the apartheid mind-set embraced by their white neighbors.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide – Peter Allison

  • Presents tales from a safari guide about his encounters with big cats, elephants, hippos, and other unpredictable animals.

White Dog Fell From the Sky – Eleanor Lincoln Morse

  • An intimate portrait of 1970s Botswana is told through the intertwined stories of three people including a medical student who is forced to flee apartheid South Africa after witnessing a murder and an American Ph.D. student who abandons her studies to follow her husband to Africa.



Botswana: In the Footsteps of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective with Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency



Botswana (Official Website)

“Botswana: A Haven for Africa’s Endangered Species” (National Geographic)

History of Botswana (Wikipedia)

Okavango Delta (UNESCO Heritage List)

Reader’s Dozen Challenge

If you’ve been following our Reader’s Dozen Challenge – a year-long event challenging you to read a different type of book each month – you’ll know that this month’s activity is to read a book published the year you were born. So, instead of getting in the Way-Back-Machine and looking at the best sellers of a specific year, we thought we’d share a few resources to help you with your RDC.

First, here’s a list we created at TFPL for books published during the years 1937 through 1999. We tried to include some perennial favorites, as well as popular juvenile and adult books to entice readers of any genre.

Need more? You can use Google, like we did here. Just above the covers in the right hand of the screen, you’ll find you can arrow through the years. Or, search Goodreads Listopia and do a search for books published in whatever year you like. There’s also Wikipedia – try a search for the year you want and then add “in literature” – they also offer links to other years in the right hand corner. A website that offers information on notable books for the 20th Century is The Books of the Century, which tells you which books were significant for a certain year. Keep in mind not all the books were published that year – for example, some award winners or best sellers were published in previous years. Another website that is a valuable resource for best sellers (again, watch the dates) is the Hawes New York Times Best Sellers list, which will give you week-by-week breakdowns of popular titles.

Whatever resource you use, have fun finding a book that gives you a glimpse into the world at the time of your birth!

Take Ten: Everything’s Coming Up Roses

April (and March and February and January) brought showers this year, so we’re guaranteed plenty of pretty May flowers – even if a few weeds come along too. So, you can spend your month out in the garden, tending to the roses, or you can pick up a book like the following – with “rose” in the title – and try to ignore the aphids, weeds, thorns, and irritability that comes with that tending. After all, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and probably make you sneeze anyway.


Roses – Leila Meacham

  • Having not married in spite of their true feelings, cotton tycoon Mary Toliver DuMont and timber magnate Percy Warwick struggle with deceit, secrets, and tragedies that challenge their children and grandchildren in their small east Texas community.

Rose – Martin Cruz Smith

  • In 1872, Jonathan Blair wants only to return to Africa, but his employer demands that he go to Lancashire to find out about a missing minister, which leads to information on a recent mining disaster.

Briar Rose – Jane Yolen

  • From one of America’s most celebrated writers comes an exquisite and heartwrenching novel that no listener will forget. Jane Yolen takes the fairy tale of Briar Rose, the Sleeping Beauty, and tells it anew-set this time against the terrifying backdrop of the Holocaust.


Rose Cottage – Mary Stewart

  • In 1940s England, a young woman searches for information on her mother. Kate Herrick was born out of wedlock and abandoned at the age of six. Now a widow, she returns to the shuttered cottage of her childhood and finds someone was there before her.

Rose Madder – Stephen King

  • Rosie Daniels flees her nightmare marriage to find refuge in a strange city, far from her brutal husband, whose relentless savagery and mad obsessions follow her to her sanctuary.

The Tea Rose – Jennifer Donnelly

  • Her family and dreams shattered by her father’s untimely death at the hands of a ruthless tea baron, Fiona Finnegan flees East London and eventually establishes herself at the head of the tea trade in New York.


Rose – V.C. Andrews

  • After Rose Wallace’s father dies, leaving her and her mother penniless, she and her mother become live-in companions to a wealthy woman and her reclusive nephew, but as she is drawn into a world of luxury and privilege, Rose stumbles upon a hidden evil that could destroy them all.

Rose’s Garden – Carrie Brown

  • When Conrad’s wife Rose dies after fifty years of marriage, an angel in his late wife’s garden teaches him at last to reach out to other people for comfort.

Tending Roses – Lisa Wingate

  • A young woman living on a remote Missouri farm and struggling to care for her husband, baby, and ailing grandmother, Katie Benson seeks inspiration in dealing with the vicissitudes of life in the pages of her grandmother’s journal.


And, last but not least…

Roses Are Red – James Patterson

  • A brilliant criminal known only as the Mastermind orchestrates a series of bank robberies that are notable for their very precise demands–and their explosive violence when the demands are not met. Alex Cross takes on the case and as he gets close to identifying a suspect, the Mastermind pulls off the most outrageous kidnapping scheme in U.S. history–and walks away with the largest ransom ever.


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