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Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close

In a world where romantic and familial relationships are at the center of conversations about meaningful connections between people, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman posit that friendships can be just as vital and enriching, if not moreso. Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close reveals the highs and lows of the "big friendship" shared by the two writers and offers strategies for how other friends can cultivate fulfilling long-term friendships. This book is conversational and reflective, and is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever participated in a big friendship of their own.

Also available as an eAudiobook and eBook on eMediaLibrary (Libby).



Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy (2018, Rated R) tells the real-life story of Nic Sheff, a teen who has a strained relationship with his father David due to his severe drug addiction. Despite Nic's time in rehab, he continues to use drugs including crystal meth. David tries to help his son, but the more he intervenes the worse things get. Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet give stellar performances as the father/son duo, playing their parts with genuine vulnerability. It's a heartbreaking film that sheds light on the harsh realities of addiction and how it can tear a family apart.

You can watch Beautiful Boy on Amazon Prime with one of our Rokus


Mark Twain

Another fine Ken Burns documentary provides a fascinating look at Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens I thought it was amusing how he got his name from the men aboard those Mississippi river boats who would stick rods into the water marking the depth and yelling "mark twain" so the boat would not get stuck in the shallow. Unfortunately, his life had so many more turns for the worse. I never knew.

His Adventures of Huck Finn will stand forever as one of the true great stories in American literature. Like all of Ken Burns' documentaries, it's loaded with wonderful pictures and stories from historians and literary people, and I recommend Mark Twain (2001).

Watch Mark Twain on Hoopla today.



Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America

Laila Lalami, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, interweaves her personal experiences as a Muslim immigrant from Morocco with the realities that all migrants to this country must face. She argues that people who do not look the right way or do not practice the right religion have their citizenship called into doubt.

The library will have a book discussion on this nonfiction title on February 3, 2022.

Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America is also available as an ebook on eMediaLibrary.

Killing the Mob

If you enjoy learning about gangsters, outlaws and the Mafia, I recommend reading "Killing the Mob: the Fight Against Organized Crime in America" by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard. This book covers the history of corruption in the U.S. from the 1930's when bank robbers, such as Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillinger were robbing banks during prohibition. This book gives insight to the rise of the Mafia with the Hollywood elite, politicians and gambling in Las Vegas. Many conspiracies theories are looked at in regards to President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy deaths as well as the Teamsters Union boss Jimmie Hoffa. I couldn't put this book down and enjoyed learning more about the legendary mobsters and gangsters. This book is about the history of organized crime in America and the families that ruled them. 

Check out the eBook and eAudiobook on your browser through eMediaLibrary.




The Roosevelts

I thought the PBS documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014, rated TV-14), was a fascinating look at this family and the personal struggles each had and how they triumphed despite great adversity.

I never knew how influential Theodore Roosevelt was regarding the national parks or how popular he was. It made me wonder how different world events and outcomes might have been had he had a third or fourth term like FDR? Would World War I have gone any differently and if so, how would the Treaty of Versailles have gone, or the subsequent rise of Hitler and the Nazi party? Look what happened after that.

Check out this miniseries from Ken Burns on Hoopla today.



Betty Ford by Lisa McCubbin (2018)

bettyFormer First Lady Betty Ford thought her husband Gerald Ford was going to retire after his time in the U. S. House of Representatives, but instead he moved to a higher office, taking over the Vice Presidency when Spiro Agnew was forced to resign. He became president when Richard Nixon resigned, setting her husband up as one of the most powerful men in the world without even running for office. His demanding job made him a largely absent husband, forcing Betty to raise her four children almost as a single mother.

While her husband was in the White House, Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, it was like receiving a death sentence. She also suffered from an addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol. In 1978, her family staged an intervention. Ford was open with the American public about her health issues and would go on to co-found the Betty Ford Center. Her outspokenness about her personal experiences put the focus on women’s health issues, alcoholism, and addiction, prompting many to seek treatment themselves.

You don’t need to be a fan of President Ford or Betty Ford’s politics to enjoy Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer by Lisa McCubbin. This is an inspirational and sympathetic portrait of a woman dealing with many issues while living in the political arena.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel (2013)

astronautAnyone who grew up during the race to the moon era can identify with the mystery and mystique of the astronauts. This nonfiction account from the perspective of their wives may disenchant some, but readers will have a whole new respect and admiration for these great American women. In The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel does a good job of presenting the facts and opinions through extensive research and interviews in a story-like format. The epilogue ties everything up in a neat package explaining what happened after the space race was won and life returned to normal.

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon (2014)

index.aspx1930 was the year of New York Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance (his body was never found). This novel tells the story as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best: his wife Stella, his mistress Ritzi, and the maid Maria. Their story, expertly woven around these events, comes from the author’s imagination and she builds a fascinating tale of what may have happened.

Author Ariel Lawhon saves the why of Judge Crater disappearance until a twist in the very last pages. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress will transport readers to a bygone era of chorus girls, speakeasies, bootleggers, Tammany Hall corruption, gangsters, and irritating rich people.

Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (2013)

Upon turning 65, Billy Crystal, a comedian, actor, and director, wrote this entertaining, humorous, and sometimes poignant book. It alternates between quips about aging and reflections on his family life and career. In the audio version of Still Foolin’ ‘Em, the chapters on aging seem right out of his stand-up act complete with laugh track. I especially enjoyed the sections on the making of the movies When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers and learning about his friendship with Muhammad Ali. Reading about his early marriage years with Janice through being a grandpa gave me a different perspective on this funny man.

Seriously, I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (2011)

The audio version of Seriously, I’m kidding is hilarious due to the fact that it is narrated by Ellen DeGeneres.  Her comedic timing coupled with her funny stories make this audiobook of her reflections on life “laugh out loud.”

Paris in Love by Eloisa James (2012)

Eloisa James wrote this memoir based on her blog and Twitter posts during a sabbatical in Paris. The entries are filled with wit, wisdom, and insights into motherhood and life in general. Tidbits on daily life in Paris abound. The patient reader is rewarded with a sense of character development in each of her family members over the year. The author even throws in a few recipes, reminiscent of Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard, but it is a very different type of memoir.

After the last tear has been shed, the last laugh chuckled, and the family is safe and sound stateside, James adds "My Very Idiosyncratic Guide to a Few Places in Paris" for all of us who dream of visiting Paris someday. She recommends museums, galleries, boutiques, salons, eateries, chocolate shops, and the like that she frequented during her stay in the acclaimed city. Many include websites, just in case we can't wait for our next trip abroad.

Paris in Love is my first taste of the author's work and seems to be atypical. I may have to read one of Eloisa James's (also known as Mary Bly) essays on Shakespeare or romance novels to complete the picture.

Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton (2012)

Kati Marton is an award-winning author, a successful news correspondent, and a woman with a past worth writing about.  In her memoir Paris: A Love Story, Paris symbolizes an environment of love, adventure, and finally of healing.

Married twice to men, prominent on the world stage, Kati writes candidly of her glamorous life, magically without offending anyone.  Now a widow, she looks over shoulder to a life, filled with passion, service, and possibly integrity.

The Queen of Versailles (2012) PG

At the beginning of The Queen of Versailles, a fascinating documentary, we meet the impossibly wealthy Seigel family: patriarch David is the founder of Westgate Resorts, a timeshare company; and the family is in the midst of the construction of their own version of Versailles, billed as the largest private home in the U.S. Before too long though, the economic crisis of 2008 leaves the company floundering, construction halted on Versailles, and the family making extreme cuts to their extravagant lifestyle.

David’s wife Jackie is the “Queen of Versailles” and she is the quirky, stoic, and often over-the-top heart of the movie. Jackie married into money and has enjoyed it to the fullest, but in the face of an uncertain future she is resiliently planning how to cope if her life takes yet another dramatic turn.

Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick by Paul Dickson (2012)

Bill Veeck was at different times the owner of the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago White Sox (twice). Many people remember Bill Veeck as the baseball owner who brought Eddie Gaedel, a 3’7” tall man in as a pinch hitter in a baseball game between the St. Louis Browns and the Detroit Tigers in 1951, or as the White Sox owner responsible for Disco Demolition Night. Still others may remember him for the funny and outrageous but harmless promotions he conducted as owner of the Indians, Browns, and White Sox.

But he was much more than that.  He was a great humanitarian, an advocate of civil rights, a baseball fan's owner who cared about the fans, a player's owner who cared about his players, an employer who cared about his employees, an innovator who introduced many changes in the game, a patriot, a thinker, a listener, an avaricious reader and man who despite a severe physical handicap would never quit.

This is easily the best biography I have read in the last twenty years and maybe the best ever.  This book is especially for White Sox, Indians, and Browns fans. It's for Cub fans too, as Veeck and his father had a profound influence on the Cubs as well (the ivy on the walls, Harry Caray and the singing of  "Take out to the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch and others.)  But it is also for any baseball fan and for anyone who appreciates the story of man who lived a truly remarkable life. Read Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick by Paul Dickson.