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Weekly Shhhout-Out

Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gentle Guy Books...and a Film

I don’t know what gentle guys read, but I personally like to read about gentle guys.  I love quirky, lost souls in good books.  So here’s a few that comes to my mind. 

The Unlikely Pelgrimage of Harold FryThe unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry : a novel by Rachel Joyce

"One day Harold receives a letter from an old acquaintance, ... When Harold reads the letter, he responds with a tearful “I um. Gosh.” Then he writes her a postcard and walks down his road to mail it. Then he keeps on going...Harold will walk the entire length of England in hope of keeping Queenie alive." from New York Times, July 30, 2012 


Three men in a BoatThree men in a boat : to say nothing of the dog! by Jerome K. Jerome
An ageless novel about an incident-ridden boat trip of three men and a dog published in 1889



The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon

 When the autistic 15-year-old narrator of the novel is accused of killing the neighbor's poodle, he "decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes and track down the killer... and then into an odyssey to find his place in the world, he must fall back on deductive logic to navigate the emotional complexities of a social world that remains a closed book to him." from Publishers Weekly


 Hmm…Why are they all British ?  How about,

Nobody's FoolNobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
"Sixty-year-old Sully is "nobody's fool," except maybe his own." from Publishers Weekly,  





Alan's WarAnd a graphic novel, Alan’s War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert

In 1941, at age 18, "Cope was drafted into the U.S. Army and shipped off to Europe...Guibert allows Cope to speak directly from the pages, where the images he is describing unfold in small, neat panels in which grays, black line." from  School Library Journal


Talking about my favorite gentle guys, here is another, an Italian film Mid-August Lunch which was a big hit in my small town film society.  I challenge you not to smile all through this film.  Unfortunately MCPL does not own a copy of this film, but here is a review from Rotten Tomatoes, one of the movie review sites in MCPL's Library Guide on movies.  "A man unexpectedly finds himself taking care of four women, three of whom he barely knows, in this sunny comedy from Italy. Gianni is a man in his mid-sixties who still lives with his mother; given that Valeria is well into her nineties, these days he looks after her rather than the other way around, though she remains quite spry given her age."

 Megumi L.


POSTED: 5:00:00 AM |

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Inside the Persian Character

 Persian Mirrors

 Lisa Navidi, Davis Library

As the wife of an Iranian-American, I have been keenly aware of how Iranians have been perceived by the media. All one has to do is watch the news, read newspapers and scan the internet to assume that they are a mob of American-hating crazies. But if you read some of the memoirs and watch the many films that have come out of the Iranian community and even those that have been released from Iran, it is clear that most Iranians are far from that perceived notion.

To get a grasp of the Iranian culture, the best book I’ve seen that lays it all out for the reader is Persian Mirrors: the Elusive Face of Iran by Elaine Sciolino, Paris Bureau Chief for the New York Times. Written in 2000 and updated in 2005, this award winning biography of a culture exposes the often hidden characteristics of Iranians, both in Iran and overseas.

• Their houses and gardens are faced inward for total privacy.
• Taarouf is an exaggerated form of politeness and in order to understand Iranians you have to know their rules.
• Love of Persian poetry is endemic throughout Iran.
• Women may look soft and quiet, but they are far from it.
• Iranians love Americans (maybe not the government).
• Underneath the coats and scarves, women are very, very sophisticated.
• Iranians are not Arabs.
• Iran is the Bermuda Triangle of foreign policy.

Of course she delves deeper into all these characteristics, as well as politics and history of Persia.

The Color of Love (Rangeh Eshgh) is a wonderful documentary where three couples, young and old, married and single, are interviewed about the meaning of love in modern day Iran.

And speaking of marriage, Separation (Jodái-e Náder az Simin) is an incredible Oscar-winning film about a couple who separates following a decision by the wife to take her daughter out of Iran, while the husband feels he must stay and take care of his Alzheimer afflicted father. Who is right and who is wrong?

Prison life is depicted in the heart wrenching Let Us Water the Flowers, a memoir by former political prisoner Jafar Yaghoobi, who spent 6 years in the prison system in Iran during the first years of the Iranian revolution, while his wife struggled to raise her infant daughter. He is now writing the same book in Farsi.

Anita Amirrezvani has written two books, both set in historical Iran and both with strong women as  heroines. Equal of the Sun is loosely based on Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, who in 1576, after her father, the shah, dies without naming an heir, attempts, with the help of a palace eunoch, to keep order in the kingdom. The Blood of Flowers takes place in 17th Century Isfahan as we follow the life of a young woman rug designer.

 In Rooftops of Tehran, Mahbod Seraji combines innocence and young love with the horror of the secret police in this coming of age novel set in pre-revolutionary Iran.

There are many other books about Iran in our catalog. Be sure to check them out!

POSTED: 2:41:00 PM |

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Joy of Hiking

waterfall shenandoah

Surely last week’s surprise snowstorm was the last roar of March and we can rely on April to behave like a lamb.  Yes, spring is finally here so it’s time to get out our boots – hiking boots that is.  My favorite outdoor activity in spring is hiking, and we are lucky to live in an area with many lovely walks, as well as challenging trails, close by.  If you are new to this area or just want to discover a new destination, a good place to start is the library.  Hike on over to the aisle with Dewey Decimal number 917.52 (a librarian would be happy to direct you) where you will find guidebooks specifically for hikers, like 50 Hikes in Maryland: walks, hikes, and backpacks from the Allegheny Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean.  There are also guides to the Appalachian Trail, the C & O Canal, dog-friendly trails and more.  Maryland and Virginia both offer a wealth of State Parks with a variety of scenery and activities for all ages.  Cunningham Falls, an easy day trip, and Calvert Cliffs, where you can collect fossils on the beach, are two of my family’s favorites. 

Cunningham ParkI have a particular fondness for hiking to waterfalls.  This dates back to my first hiking trip when I was a teenager.  My friends and I backpacked through the English Lake District staying at Youth Hostels, including the most remote in England, Black Sail, a stone cottage high on the fells.  Bathroom facilities consisted of the stream steps from the door, which we shared with the sheep. I will never forget my first sight of Scale Force, the highest waterfall in the Lakes.  Years later I tried to reproduce this experience with my children, but they were at an awkward age when they could see no point in climbing sheep dung covered hillsides in the pouring rain.  “Only English people would call this fun,” protested my daughter.  We had to turn back before seeing Scale Force and I’ve regretted it ever since.  But early experiences do stick even if you don’t enjoy them at the time.  My daughter is now an enthusiastic hiker.  She and her family, including a baby and two little boys, just enjoyed a weekend escape at Deep Creek Lake.  Despite the cold they hiked to Muddy Creek Falls, the highest free-falling waterfall in Maryland.  A few years ago I visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and hiked to seven waterfalls over three days.  Waterfall enthusiasts can find plenty of places to visit in Waterfalls of the Mid-Atlantic States: 200 Falls in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  For the hardiest adventurers, check out Waterfall Wonderland.

For those seeking gentler walks closer to home consult 24 Great Walks in Washington D.C. and the Montgomery County Parks website.  Gardens are always a relaxing place to visit for a stress-free walk.  Personal favorites include Brookside Gardens and the National Arboretum.  A useful guide is Gardenwalks in the Mid-Atlantic States: Beautiful Gardens from New York to Washington D.C.

My interest in hiking wanes with the rising temperature as the Washington summer’s humid heat descends like a soggy blanket.  Then it’s time to do some vicarious hiking from the comfort of an air-conditioned retreat.  Even if you’ve already read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, it is a classic well worth rereading for its good-natured wit.  Also full of humor is Christopher Buckley’s irreverent walking guide to Washington D.C. Washington Schlepped Here.  Of course vicarious hikes need not be confined to the local area.  Venture further afield with Unforgettable Walks to Take Before You Die and Walking the World’s Most Exceptional Trails, which cover adventurous walks across the globe. 

I can always visit my beloved Lake District with Martin Edwards’ mystery series beginning with The Cipher Garden.  The series features DCI Hannah Scarlett and Oxford historian Daniel Kind who buys a cottage in the Lake District hoping for a quiet life.  Of course that is not what he gets.  Aside from the pleasure of the well-contrived mystery plots, the appeal of the series is in how Edwards’ so powerfully evokes the landscape and history of the Lake District.  A particularly nostalgic reading experience that I love to return to is Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series.  These children’s books written in the 1930’s about a group of friends who holiday in the Lake District are what inspired me to go on my teenage hiking trip.  Do you have memories of a favorite place?  Check the fiction database NoveList Plus or ask a librarian to help you find reading that will take you there on a virtual journey.

Happy hiking and happy reading!

Rita T.

CATEGORIES: Rita T. , Sports
POSTED: 7:33:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/6/2007