Our Mother’s War by Emily Yellen

Our Mother’s War by Emily Yellen (2004)

An excellent history of WWII and women’s roles in the United States – all phases of society. Visit the author's website for more about the book, a discussion guide, and further resources. Read a New York Times review or listen to an interview with the author.

Our Mother's War is suggested as related reading to this year's Big Read -- Dream When You're Feeling Blue. Do you have tickets yet to see Elizabeth Berg? She's speaking at Ashton Place on Thursday, May 8. Go to the Readers Services desk to get your tickets before we run out!

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (2005)
A “must read” for every teacher and for anyone wanting a rich, well written story of classroom life in the trenches in the New York school system. My favorite Frank McCourt book.

Check out the author's appearance on CBS' The Early Show, or listen to an interview or read an excerpt on NPR.

The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell

The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell (2008)
In late Victorian London, young maid Jane Wilbred comes from the country to take a position with the Bentley family. Soon Jane becomes the pawn of both upstairs and downstairs. Jane’s mistress Mina Bentley has a secret past she is desperate to outrun and a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be the widow of Mr. Bentley’s older brother. Is the young man wooing Jane in love with her, or only using her for his own master’s devious plans? Wonderfully gothic and atmospheric.

At the publisher's website, you can browse inside the book, find more about the story and the author, and view a reading group guide.

The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift (2006) PG
Based on the bestselling novel by Jim Stovall, the movie tells the story of Jason, who was expecting to inherit millions from his grandfather Red (James Garner) when the old man dies. But as fate would have it, Jason must complete 12 assignments within a year to receive his share of his grandfather’s will. What can be best described as a “crash course in life” leads Jason to a better understanding of what it is to be a man.
--Gail

A spoiled grandson inherits a large sum of money from a cold, billionaire grandfather that he hated. Before he can get the money there’s a catch. The grandson must accomplish 12 tasks that will eventually teach him life lessons and the relationship between wealth and happiness. This movie stars Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine.
--Sandy
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Make Believe by Ethan Mordden

Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s by Ethan Mordden (1997)
This is the first in a series of eight books Mordden wrote on the history of the American musical. This is a book for the true lover of the musical who wants to hear every story and relishes the development of the musical from reviews and operettas to what we recognize today. Silly plots, the great stars, the "new dance sensation" wedged into every musical and the wonderful music (and some not so wonderful) written by the likes of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and the Gershwins.

For more on this topic, there's a PBS documentary series called, "Broadway: The American Musical" (hosted by Julie Andrews), available for checkout at the library. The companion site has a wealth of information, including biographies of influential performers and composers, milestones by era, and memorable musicals.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (1994)
A courtroom drama provides the framework for this tale of the legacy of racism following WWII in the northwestern United States.

The reading group guide for the winner of the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award contains historical background for the  novel, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading. You can also compare the novel to the 1999 movie starring Ethan Hawke.

5ive Days to Midnight

5ive Days to Midnight (2004)

A sharp mystery! A physicist receives a file about his murder in the future. He has five days to solve his own murder before it becomes reality. Fast paced and very suspenseful, fans of The X-Files will enjoy this miniseries.

The Geisha's Granddaughter by Chayym Zeldis

The Geisha's Granddaughter by Chayym Zeldis (2003)
This novel provides readers with a taste of how Japanese Americans felt while adjusting to a new world, when WWII shatters that world with the accompanying internment.

Lubitsch Musicals

Lubitsch Musicals (2008)

For anyone with an interest in classic movies, this collection of four very early Ernst Lubitsch musicals is for you. The movies – Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), and One Hour With You (1932) – star Maurice Chavlalier, Jeanette MacDonald, a very young Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, and Charles Ruggles. These “pre-code” movies will surprise you with their wink wink nod nod innuendo and slinky negligees. Although not to everyone’s tastes, there are many delightful moments in these charming treasures.

Get information about each of the movies, as well as links to reviews in national newspapers and magazines, at the Criterion Collection site. You can also listen to an NPR review of the collection.

The Eye of the Abyss by Marshall Browne

The Eye of the Abyss by Marshall Browne (2003)

In late 1938, Franz Schmidt, an unassuming, slight man and bank auditor, takes up the anti-Nazi cause as his bank is taken over by the Party.

The New York Times has an overview of this novel and other crime stories from 2003.

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series (1999-2000)

If you missed this TV series when it aired, never fear! The entire 18 episodes are in one DVD set. Go back to 1980-81 and visit with the Weir family, the geeks, the freaks and the teachers of McKinley High School. Relive high school, remember everything you wanted to forget, but enjoy the terrific acting, great music and fun storylines.

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka (2002)
A spare, yet poignant, first novel about the ordeal of a Japanese family sent to an internment camp during World War II. Never melodrama— the novel's honesty and matter-of-fact tone in the face of inconceivable injustice are the source of its power.

Martha Washington by Patricia Brady

Martha Washington by Patricia Brady (2005)
It was a good read – well written. It’s about a beautiful, elegant young woman who marries George Washington. It’s a good combination of social history and biography.

Visit the publisher's website for a discussion guide that has a description of the book, an author biography, an interview with Brady, and discussion questions.

Them by Nathan McCall

Them by Nathan McCall (2007)
Interesting human introspection story about a changing neighborhood. It makes suburbanites think about other places. As western suburbs of Chicago tear down houses and neighborhoods change, it is everywhere and good to hear about other places and circumstances. It makes the reader think.

Read a review from the Los Angeles Times or check out the official website for fun extras like reading guide questions, an excerpt, a Q&A with the author, or a video.

The Human Stain

The Human Stain (2003) R

This well done production based on the novel by Philip Roth has a great cast. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Wentworth Miller, Jacinda Barrett, Harry Lennix, and Clark Gregg.

Coleman Silk is a respected professor at a New England college who throughout his life has been a master of deception and self-reinvention. Suddenly he finds his life unraveling after he innocuously calls some of his absent students "spooks" and it is misinterpreted as a racial slur. He finds a confidant in the form of a writer, Nathan Zuckerman, who is researching a biography of Silk. Eventually, matters are made worse when Coleman's affair with a young married janitor named Faunia Farley is exposed. But amid the controversy, Silk must struggle to keep his greatest secret, a secret he's held for the majority of his life, from becoming made public.

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