Baseball’s Back (sort of)! Books and Movies about America’s Pastime

It may have been delayed by a pandemic, but you can’t keep baseball down forever. The season officially kicked off at the end of July this year, with a few crucial changes. Most significantly, there will be no fans in the stands, and the season will be shortened to a mere 60 games. But in a time when any sense of normalcy is something to cling to, baseball is back!

While attending a game in person is not an option this season, you can recreate the feeling a bit with a number of books and movies that take you out to the ball game.  Glove, ball, and giant foam finger –  optional.

FICTION

NON-FICTION

MOVIES

7 Full-Cast Audiobooks that are like theater for your ears

Did you know that June is Audiobook Month? There’s no denying the increasing popularity of audiobooks. And within the format, there are many different styles of narration to be had. To use a food analogy,  while the author creates the original recipe, the narrator is responsible for presenting the finished meal in the most appetizing way possible. Most often, a single narrator takes on the task of bringing a story to life, but occasionally a story lends itself to a more theatrical telling, and that’s when a full cast narration can be so much fun.

Full cast recordings can often take on the feel of an old-fashioned radio show, and the best ones are like listening to a Broadway play. If you’re missing the experience of attending the theater,  try one of these full-cast audiobooks that are almost as good as a trip to the theater.  They’re available for Cheshire Library cardholders from RBdigital.

1. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, starting with The Golden Compass. The author, himself an excellent narrator, anchors these stories, with a full cast assuming all the speaking roles. It’s outstanding, and the full cast makes it easy to distinguish between the many characters that populate this series.

2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The original American full dramatization as broadcast on National Public Radio, this really is the recording of a radio show. Bilbo Baggins, a gentle hobbit who loves the comforts of home, reluctantly joins a company of dwarves on a journey to recover plundered gold from a fierce dragon.

3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  The author acts as narrator, with an all-star supporting cast. Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, David Sedaris, Susan Sarandon, Bill Hader, and 160 more cast members breath life into the  story of President Lincoln spending a night of mourning at the crypt of his eleven-year-old son.

4. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Gallant. This sci-fi/thriller/fantasy/historical/mystery about a  shadowy government agency–the Department of Diachronic Operations – and the discovery that magic was once real and could be again, comes alive with a “magical’ cast of narrators.

5. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. Fans of the true-crime genre will devour this fictional tale that explores the events and characters surrounding by the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley. The cast of characters are vividly portrayed by a terrific group of narrators.

6. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This audiobook chronicles the rise and fall of a fictional rock band in the 1970s, and boasts an impressive cast of narrators, including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, and Judy Greer, among others.

7. Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce. Narrated by the author and fleshed out by a talented cast of character actors, the first book in Pierce’s wonderful Circle of Magic series introduces the listener to four young misfits with a talent for magic, and is a treat for all ages.

 

Anti-Racism : A Reading List

Right now, many are wondering how to come to a better understanding of racism (particularly against Black Americans) in our culture and what they can do to support anti-racist initiatives. With something so deeply ingrained in our society that some don’t even recognize it, education is a good starting point. There are hundreds of books on the subject, many available at your local library. We’ve put together a “primer” of titles available at Cheshire Library that many consider essential reading on the subject:

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.  Examines the sensitive, hyper-charged racial landscape in current America, discussing the issues of privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. Combines ethics, history, law, and science with a personal narrative to describe how to move beyond the awareness of racism and contribute to making society just and equitable.

The Fire Next Time  by James Baldwin. The powerful evocation of a childhood in Harlem that helped to galvanize the early days of the civil rights movement examines the deep consequences of racial injustice to both the individual and the body politic

Just Mercy  by Bryan Stevenson. The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama explains why justice and mercy must go hand-in-hand through the story of Walter McMillian, a man condemned to death row for a murder he didn’t commit. 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.

The Condemnation of Blackness : Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Chronicles the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, and reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education, and public benefits create a permanent under caste based largely on race.

White Fragility : Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Anti-racist educator DiAngelo illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility, how these actions protect racial inequality, and presents strategies for engaging more constructively in these conversations.

I’m Still Here : Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. An eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.

Me and White Supremacy : Combat racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by  Layla F. Saad. The host of the “Good Ancestor” podcast presents an updated and expanded edition of the Instagram challenge that launched a cultural movement about taking responsibility for first-person racism to stop unconsciously inflicting pain on others.

 

Think eBooks are just for adults? Think again!

As we venture through weeks of social isolation, more people are turning to ebooks to get new reading material. With libraries and bookstores closed, physical books are a bit harder to come by these days.  Kids are feeling the pinch, too, but many parents are now realizing that their libraries offer more digital items for kids than they originally thought.

Here at Cheshire Library, we’ve been redirecting some of our physical book budget to buy more ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, for all age groups. This isn’t as simple as it sounds, since downloadable books cost up 4x the price of physical books, and come with many other restrictions (read more about that here), but we are proud of the wide selection of digital titles we can offer our cardholders.  Are you a Cheshire resident without a library card? You can register for a temporary card online to start using our digital platforms.

Our OverDrive/Libby platform has over 2000 juvenile titles, from simple picture books to more challenging chapter books. The OverDrive Kids Page is a good place to start exploring this collection.

 

There are hundreds more children’s ebook titles on RBdigital:

 

Not to mention audiobooks:

 

Tumblebooks has also provided free access to their streaming collection of children’s books through August 31. You’ll find tons of picture books, easy readers, and chapter books for all ages and interests:

  • Tumblebooks: Username: tumble735  Password: books (expires 8/31/20)
  • Tumblemath: Username: tumble2020  Password: A3b5c6 (expires 8/31/20)
  • Teen Book Cloud: Username: tumble2020  Password: A3b5c6 (expires 8/31/20)

If your kids are running out of new things to read, please take a look at our digital collections for kids to tide you over until the library is up and running again!

 

 

 

 

The Good and The Bad – Memorable Moms in Literature

(We originally published this list in 2014, updated here to include links to the digital versions of each title where available.)

moms collage

Mothers play a lot of roles in literature, as in life. They can be protectors and nurturers,  oppressors and manipulators, or anything in between. One thing literary moms have in common, they are definitely memorable characters. For better or worse, here are some of literatures most memorable moms:

Sophie ZawistowskiSophie’s Choice. Sophie, a Polish survivor of the German Nazi concentration camps, may be one of the most tragic characters in 20th century fiction.  The plot ultimately centers around a tragic decision involving her children which Sophie was forced to make upon entering the concentration camp.

Mrs. BennetPride and Prejudice. Poor, misguided Mrs. Bennet. With 5 daughters to marry off, she’s got a lot of worries. Her priorities may not always be in the right place,  but she tries!

Charlotte HazeLolita. Falls squarely in the “bad” category.  She invites a pedophile to live in her home, doesn’t seem to think his avid interest in her young daughter is a little weird, then gets hit by a car and leaves said daughter with the world’s most inappropriate guardian. Lolita didn’t stand a chance.

Joan CrawfordMommie Dearest. One of the yardsticks we measure bad mothers against, Ms. Crawford is probably known more for her poor parenting than for her lengthy film career. No Wire Hangers Ever!

Molly WeasleyHarry Potter series. Mother of Ron, Mrs. Weasley is a desperately needed mother figure for our hero Harry. She is the center of a large and raucous family, by turns gentle nurturer and fierce defender. A mom with a magic wand is formidable indeed!

MaRoom. In this shocking and surprisingly tender story, woman and  her child are living in unspeakable circumstances. Jack’s mom, Ma, manages to make one small room feel like a whole world for her little boy, and is ultimately driven by her mother-love to try and break away from a very dangerous man.

Sarah WheatonSarah, Plain and Tall. Sarah answers an ad for a mail-order bride, and travels from Maine to Kansas to meet her future husband and become and instant mother to his two children. A multiple award winner, including the 1986 Newbery Medal.

 

CharlotteCharlotte’s Web.Charlotte the spider is very much a wise and loving mother figure to Wilbur the pig in this classic children’s book. She becomes his staunch defender, eventually saving his life. The end, with Charlotte’s life ending as her babies are coming into the world, is a total tearjerker.

Daenerys TargaryenA Song of Ice and Fire series. A rather non-traditional mom, Daenerys is the Mother of Dragons in George R. R. Martin’s wildly popular fantasy series. She’s had her hands full raising these fiery children. Whether she’s a good or bad mother has been debated, but there’s no doubt she’s her hands full raising these little monsters.

Eleanor IselinThe Manchurian Candidate. Bad mom, no debate here. Creepy and evil, this mom is the mastermind of a sinister plot that involves controlling her brainwashed son to unwittingly act as an assassin on orders from the KGB.