I am a reference librarian and local history librarian at the Long Branch Free Public Library on the Jersey Shore.  I have eclectic tastes in books and music. 




 
Book Shelves


Sort By


 
 
Keep track of all your book ratings and reviews. They will show up here for your quick reference. Remember, your ratings and reviews greatly help your fellow clubies in making their book pick decisions. We appreciate your book opinions.

A Season on the Reservation: My Soujourn With the White Mountain Apaches
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

A Season on the Reservation is a memoir of the year Kareem Abdul Jabbar spent working as an assistant coach for the Alchesay High School basketball team. The reader gains a good sense of the individual behind the headlines. Abdul Jabbar comes across as a very bright, serious individual with diverse interests who is possessed of both curiosity and patience. Both he and his students grew during their year together. A Season on the Reservation has something for almost everyone, as it appeals to sports fans, readers who enjoy memoirs, readers interested in education or cross-cultural experiences, and those who enjoy armchair travel. It would be a particularly good choice for teens. My book club unanimously voted it 4 stars.
Very Unleashable

A Year in Provence
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

Peter Mayle and his wife bought a house in Provence, a region in the south of France. A Year in Provence is a month-by-month account of Mayle's experiences during the first year they lived there. Mayle's description of his interactions with his colorful neighbors and the daily routine of life in rural France gives the armchair traveler a good feel for Provencal customs and culture. (The descriptions of meals eaten in local restaurants or prepared from local ingredients will leave the reader drooling.) The workmen Mayle and his wife hired to fix up the house, who were as colorful and opinionated as his neighbors, had, as workmen around the world often do, their own schedules for the work, but the Mayleses came up with a brilliant idea that got the work finished by Christmas. During the summer, they put up with freeloading vacationers, some of whom were acquaintances of acquaintances, who expected accommodations for their summer vacations. The book club members voted this a solid 4* selection for book club use. The only thing we found odd is that Peter Mayle's wife is virtually absent from the book. She is never identified by name and her reactions, when different from his, are never acknowledged. We are waiting for her book on the couple's first year in Provence.
Unleash it

As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

As They See 'Em takes the reader into the world of the professional umpire. Far from being the lazy incompetents the baseball fan believes them to be, umpires are members of a proud fraternity who aspire to bring integrity to the game they love. Every profession has its own culture. In order to enter the culture of professional umpires and take the reader with him, Weber began by attending umpire school to learn what it takes to become a major league umpire and then spent two years umpiring amateur games and interviewing umpires in both the major and minor leagues. (He eventually was given the opportunity to umpire a pre-season major league game.) The reader comes away from this book not only feeling sorry for umpires because of the way that Major League Baseball treats them but also admiring umpires for the skill and work ethic they bring to their profession. The reader also gains an appreciation for the dangers (which can and does include death threats) of their job. Very few professional umpires ever make it out of the minor leagues, as there are seven times as many openings in the major leagues for players than there are for umpires, so when we look at those who are serving in the major leagues, we are seeing men who are both skilled and driven. Weber discusses the reasons why what the fan sees is different from what the umpire sees, the effect of technology on the profession, the difficulty women and minorities experience in becoming major league umpires, and the effect of the 1999 mass resignation of umpires on the profession, on individual umpires, and on the game. Although all of the book club members said that they would not have read this book on their own, they rated it a 4* title for book discussions.
Very Unleashable

Einstein: His Life and Universe
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

As the book club moderator, I decided to allot two months for the club to read Einstein: His Life and Universe, since it is an especially long book. (Not counting the bibliography, footnotes, and index, it totals 551 pages). Even so, none of the book club members attending the meeting finished it, including me. Since I had not finished the last 100 pages, I took a few minutes to skim them before the meeting. We have an interesting mix of people in our book club. Some of our members would prefer not to read anything that's too long, while one or two of the members are intellectually-minded individuals who will tackle anything. We read only nonfiction, with the exception of a session devoted to poetry once a year. We have read an eclectic mix of books, most of which have been titles members stated that they would not have read if they had not been in the club -- but which they enjoyed nonetheless. However, to my knowledge, none of us is strong in physics or higher mathematics. One of the book club members attended the discussion but refused to read the book because she objected to Einstein's treatment of his first wife. When I asked the members present if they would recommend this title to other book clubs, one of the members said that she would, with the caveat that I tell them to feel free to skip or skim the physics parts. She felt that one can understand the information about Einstein's life even if one doesn't understand the physics. The other members who had read the book concurred. I would not recommend this book to the average book club. It is not a good choice for club members who want a "quick read." I WOULD recommend this book for the special book club whose members enjoy reading biographies and who are willing to step outside their comfort zone. However, unless all of the members are retirees with LOTS of time on their hands, I strongly recommend that you allow members two or even three months to read it. Rating: 4 stars for individual reading; 3 stars for book clubs.
Unleash it

Native North American Art (Oxford History of Art)
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

When I got my copy, I realized that choosing Native North American Art for my book club was a mistake. Although it is well written and copiously illustrated with black and white and color reproductions of the art of a wide variety of Native American tribes, the text is dense and in a rather small font. In my opinion, Native North American Art would make a good choice for individual reading for an art major or for someone who is interested in Native Peoples but should not be considered as a book club selection unless the club membership consists solely of art majors. When I found that I could not remember very many specific facts presented by the authors without re-reading the entire book at least once more, I decided to make the questions very simple: What did you learn from each chapter that you didn't know before? and Which pieces of art in each chapter did you like and why? In this manner, we managed to have an enjoyable discussion. However, the club members agreed with me that the book would rate 3 stars as an individual read but only 2 stars as a book club selection. For a general book club that wants to read something about art, Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a better choice.
Mildly Unleashable

Reading Lolita In Tehran - A Memoir In Books
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

Reading Lolita in Tehran is partly memoir, partly literary criticism, and partly a history of Iran during and after the revolution that overthrew the Shah. Nafisi begins with the events that led up to her decision to begin private instruction in American and British literature to female college students in her home. From that point, she looks back on her life. Nafisi discusses her own college years in the United States, where she was part of an Iranian community protesting the United States' support of the Shah, and then goes on to describe her experiences as an English professor at two universities in Iran shortly before, during, and in the years immediately after the Iranian Revolution. She reveals how she had met the students she invited to join her class and the persecutions she and they had already endured separately by the time she begins her private classes. Interwoven into the stories of the author's life and the lives of her students are the teacher's and students' reactions to the novels they read together. It is impossible to write about Iran since the Revolution without writing about the repression of Iranian women. Nafisi writes movingly of life under a totalitarian regime. Through the medium of literature, she discusses a number of compelling issues with her students, including the meaning of the burka to those who wear it by choice versus those who are compelled to wear it and the complicity of the citizens of a country in their oppression by their government. We had a very lively discussion of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Our group includes both men and women. One of the members is an elderly man of Arab descent who was raised in France and he had a great deal to say about the culture of the Middle East. I personally liked the book very much. One of the women did not want to read it because she is upset by the oppression of women in the Middle East. Generally, the members seemed to like it but not as much as I did. Reading Lolita in Tehran is very well written and I found it both moving and thought provoking. It is not recommended for those looking for a quick read or for those who prefer not to read about the darker side of life. It is strongly recommended for book clubs interested in women's issues or the culture and history of other nations.
Mildly Unleashable

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

Langston Hughes is a good choice for a poetry selection for a book discussion group because his work is so accessible. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes provides a good cross-section of his work. There is something for almost everyone; short, lyrical poems are interspersed with longer story poems. Not only is Hughes one of my favorite poets, but everyone who attended the meeting enjoyed it as well.
DEFINITELY Unleash it

Victorian Summers at the Grand Hotels of Long Branch, New Jersey
Date Posted: 12/11/2010 | Go To Book Page

Victorian Summers at the Grand Hotels of Long Branch, New Jersey discusses the summer social season at the boarding houses and grand hotels on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch from the 1830s to the 1890s, with emphasis on the period from 1860 to 1890. It was written by the late George Moss, who served as Monmouth County Historian until his death, and local historian Karen Schnitzspahn. The text is supplemented by reproductions of stereographic views (duplicate photographs intended to be seen through a special viewer) taken by well-known 19th century photographers and by reproductions of illustrations from "Harper's Weekly" and other 19th century New York newspapers. The use of additional commas would have made the book a little clearer, but, otherwise, it is well written. Two out of three of the people attending the book club meeting liked this title. One of them said that it was a refreshing change from our last two books (Einstein: His Life and Universe, which everybody found intellectually challenging, and Reading Lolita in Tehran, whose theme of life under a repressive theocratic government does not exactly make for light reading). On the other hand, we had lower attendance than usual at the book club meeting. I have not yet talked with members who did not attend the meeting and, as the moderator, I am not sure whether the poor attendance was solely due to people being especially busy during the holidays or whether it was partly a reflection of members' reactions to the book. Since the book deals with the history of a particular town, it will not interest the average book club. Obviously, it is of greatest interest to those of us who live either in Long Branch, New Jersey, or in the surrounding area. That being said, I would recommend it to a book club whose members are fascinated by the social life of high society in the northern states after the Civil War. Although this title is out of print, book club members may be able to borrow it on interlibrary loan through their hometown library. If not, copies can be purchased from individual sellers through www.amazon.com or www.alibris.com.
Unleash it
 
 

Keep all your notes, thoughts, ideas and ramblings here. Also you can create links to other fun things you want to track.
(If you chose your page to be Public, your notebook tab will show)

 
 

Organize, capture and share your photos. You can upload any photo or you can link to your photo albums outside of BB. Currently, you can upload 25 photos or photo albums.
(If you chose your page to be Public, your photo tab will show)

 
Books. Book Clubs. Literacy. Authors.