Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with books for all ages

Each year, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans  whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a month long period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Check out these books from Cheshire Library that celebrate Hispanic culture and authors!

For  Adults:

For Teens:

For Kids:

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.

 

The big, BIG list of literary adaptions coming to screens in 2020

There are so many outlets for watching movies and series out there nowadays, the amount of content is a bit overwhelming! With the current glut of original content hitting our big and small screens, it can be a bit of a shot in the dark to find something to watch that’s actually good. Which is why literary adaptations are experiencing a bit of a heyday, movies and TV based on popular books have a built-in fan base from people who’ve read and enjoyed the books, and also introduce the source material to new readers.

Several book-based series are continuing with new seasons this year:  season 5 of the Starz series Outlander, (based on The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon), season 3 of BBC series C.B. Strike, (based on Lethal White by Robert Galbraith),  and season 2 of the HBO series His Dark Materials, (based on The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman) are all coming to the small screen in 2020.

Beyond that, the list of new movies and television set to be released in the coming year is  HUGE. Check out all this book-based programming :

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

DECEMBER

There are still more book adaptations expected to premiere in 2020, with release dates yet to be finalized:

This is not a completely comprehensive list, and is subject to change as the year goes on. What literary adaptations are you most excited to see this year?

 

CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2019

As you might imagine, our library staff reads a lot of books! I recently asked CPL staffers what their favorite reads of the last year were, and the list was varied and long, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, older titles and new releases. If you’re looking for some “librarian-approved” reading, we’ve got quite a few suggestions for you!

Print Fiction:

Audiobook:

Graphic Novel:

Print Nonfiction:

Susan’s Best Reads of 2019

I don’t read as much as I wish I could; I just don’t have time at the moment. It doesn’t help that I wind up with sometimes 600 page books in my hands, and those take longer.  I never know what I’ll read next, and I read a bunch of good ones last year. Here are some of my favorites:

One of the two best books I read this year, I’ve already blogged about: Creativity, Inc, by Ed Catmull, was amazing. Not just a history of Pixar films, it’s also the best darned, most entertaining book on business and employee management you will read. Pixar is a 5-star company for a reason.

The second of my Best Reads this year is The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James.  From approximately 1898 to 1912, a serial killer traversed the US by train – coming through New Haven’s Union Station on the way – with an MO of bludgeoning his victims with the back of an axe. Because of communications at the time, few people were able to connect the murders. James painstakingly, with the utmost detail, traces the dozens of murders and examines them, deciding if they were likely by the same killer or not, and why. He traces the paths through the states and the seasons, chasing the trail to a man who was most likely the killer. By the time he’s done, you are convinced and amazed. I could not stop reading this book. I read it while waiting for the school bus. I read it while cooking. I would have read it in the shower if I could have. If you love a mystery, if you love history, if you love crime stories, this book is a must.

I’m only 30 years late in reading Neuromancer, the Hugo-winning cyberpunk novel by William Gibson. I can see why it is held as one of the greatest novels of our time. Gibson predicts and writes about today’s modern computers and internet and gaming – long before they existed. The scenarios he describes are both familiar and futuristic at the same time. While not only visionary, it’s written in  a flawless style and with realistic, interesting characters. If you loved Ready Player One or The Matrix (which has to have been influenced by this book), you will love Neuromancer.

If you’re aware of social and racial issues, I strongly recommend Survival Math, by Mitchell S. Jackson. A professor of writing, in achingly beautiful prose worthy of Martin Luther King Jr., with the voice of a preacher without being preachy, Johnson breaks down the issues faced in his own family, examining how he came to where he is, how racism played into it without even being visible, and how despite all the odds, it’s possible to thrive. He covers harsh topics without flinching. The book is brilliant, spellbinding, and a superb read from a voice that soars with truth.

Far more than I expected, I loved Total Recall, an older door-stop of a biography on Arnold Schwarzenegger. From his birth in a tiny town in Austria (which still has only 2500 people) to his divorce from Maria Shriver, Arnold is witty and candid and down to Earth. No matter what you think of his politics or his movies or his personal life, this book may be older, but it was highly entertaining. His best friend just died in September of this year.

Not my favorite, but worth mentioning because of its local importance, is Frog Hollow  by Susan Campbell. Campbell, a former reporter with the Hartford Courant, digs into the history of the notorious Frog Hollow section of Hartford, and through tireless research shows the former glory of the neighborhood as not only an important area in Colonial times, but once a major manufacturing center (in 1898, Pope automotive made half the cars in the US). I was hoping for a deep sociologic dissection of the issues, but instead Campbell gives us an upbeat view from street level about the good aspects of Hartford and the people who live there, not just the doom and gloom of ad-selling news clips.

Last but not least, I’ll throw in a kid’s series you probably missed; with 18 years between my last two kids, I certainly did, but my youngest is so hooked on the British easy reader series Urgency Emergency! by Dosh Archer, I wound up buying most of them. The series is so witty and enjoyable you don’t mind reading them over and over again. Doctor Glenda, Nurse Percy, and the Pengamedics, in predictable melodrama, assist the maladies of Humpty Dumpty, The Big Bad Wolf, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and many more. They are a delight. The library has several of the stories; be sure to read them all!