Posts by Robert

Banned Book Week Highlights Harper Lee’s Contribution to Life and Literature

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in In The News | 2 comments

By Robert Rando Published in the Bucks County Herald (Opinion and Editorial Page) September 24, 2015 Banned Book Week is just around the corner – Sept. 27 to Oct 3 – and the added awareness brings to mind an array of titles that have been deemed inappropriate for a variety of reasons, some more obvious than others. The banning of books is usually seen through the eyes of elected school boards and defined by the local and stoic regional governments where political correctness is the rage. Eventually though, victory is written by the winners. The problem for those of us living in the moment is the drifting winds of the politically correct fashion police. When To Kill a Mockingbird emerged from the mind of Harper Lee in 1960 it moved in two streams. In one it garnered rave reviews from the likes of The New Yorker and Time magazines, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. In the other stream it entered the classroom (1963) and immediately became the focus of controversy. Racial slurs, profanity, and blunt dialogue about rape led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms so often that, today, the American Library Association reports that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most challenged classics of all time. What is poison to some is the elixir of change to others. To Kill a Mockingbird is literature using fiction to bring the community discussion around to community needs. It painted real-life pictures of a complex time in American history. Why is this so important as written, racial slurs and all? Look and see. We are almost 100 years post Atticus defending the alleged rapist and we are still mired in financial uncertainty for large segments of our population; rapes still occur on a daily basis (anyone want to go to college); and racial strife continues to permeate many if not all aspects of social interaction. Harper Lee showed us how the moral compasses of those living in Maycomb/Monroeville were being challenged both from within the focal community and from the higher authorities which wished to rule from afar. And, while this small enclave in Alabama was front and center, it was by no means irregular. Our Nation as a whole suffered these same multilayered and multileveled problems. Now 55 years later we have another installment from Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman. Unfortunately, the investigation of this book’s storyline became, for a while, sidelined by the side story; did she really want this book printed. According to some, the heavily hyped appearance of this book reflected an ambitious publishing venture. What eventually became Go Set a Watchman everyone knows was Harper Lee’s first attempt and, as one can attest from the masterwork which followed, not her best but, it is now out in public domain and needs to be read. It is interesting to note that Go Set a Watchman was her first work and as so, her first description of Maycomb yet when Jean Louise gets off the train and drives to Atticus’s house with Henry we, like Scout, are back home. There are some problems with the book itself, drafts usually do have problems. Certain sections might be hard to read through if one was not familiar with her second work. For example, if you don’t know Atticus as a hero how could you understand his morality shaping itself to both the law and his upbringing which dictates a slower pace of change? Atticus is a credible hero but, you might have to read both books to know that....

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Book Review on a great Summer Read

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Book-It List & Reviews, In The News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

We at the Book Garden always like to know what our friends think about the books they read. This ‘report’ was given to us by Becca (age 14). I just finished Yvonne Prinz’s book “If you’re Lucky.” As soon as I started to read it, it became really hard to put down. The book has a great story line full of twists and turns and it had me on the edge of my seat! It’s a perfect story for someone who likes mystery and suspense. my guess is: she like it! tell us of your book experiences too

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Haruki Murakami ‘A Wild Sheep Chase.’

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Book-It List & Reviews, In The News | 0 comments

Like sports teams, artists, vacation getaways and books … everyone seems to have a personal favorite. For our friend just across the street from the Book Garden (Megan Metz at Modern Love) her writer of choice is Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer whose work has been translated into more than 50 languages. Thankfully for us, English is one of them. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, both in Japan and internationally including the Franz Kafka Prize in 2006 and the Jerusalem Prize in 2009. Recently Megan picked up a copy of ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ (Haruki Murakami http://www.randomhouse.com/features/murakami/site.php) here is what she has to say about it: If ever i need a moment to escape my everyday, I pick up a Murakami novel. Recently, I read ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ and it was just the dose of escape I needed. Morality and mortality mixed with the best descriptions of place (I devour his attention to detail!), Murakami delivered yet another perfectly complex exploration of the meaning of life versus the meaning of living. I am always so excited to pick up his novels because I know it will be such an imaginative journey! Thanks! Meg Modern Love Let us know what you’re reading this summer and … why. If you like it enough we can pass the word around and who knows, soon you may be starting a movement. The Book...

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Emma Rando will be Peddling Across the USA this Summer

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in In The News | 0 comments

We have to take a moment and congratulate Emma Rando for reaching her goal and raising over $4500 for The 4K for Cancer program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Even though her website says she is a little short of her goal we know she just raised another $250 from a fundraiser which will be added to her total. Emma, our hats are off to you and now, best do a little training ‘cuase 4000 miles is a long way to ride a bike. WHAA-HOOO-WHAA Follow Emma on her website: http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/emma-rando/

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Want Not by Jonathan Miles

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Book-It List & Reviews, In The News | 0 comments

Community Reads March 12, 2014 Want Not by Jonathan Miles First, I have to say this; I am very opinionated and when I get in a room with others I like to lay down the law (as it holds court with my point of view). This usually works when discussing books but alas, during the last ‘Community Reads’ book club meeting the author showed up. So for the discussion centered on Jonathan Miles’s book (Want Not) I couldn’t bring my point of view front and center. In fact, my entire ego sank down to the level of my shoes as I heard first hand exactly what he meant when he wrote ‘What John Rye had done wrong, Micah would do right.’ Seriously; it was with extreme pleasure the ‘Community Reads’ book club was able to discuss Want Not with the author. And, I have to say, I really enjoyed the read (and the discussion). Want Not is different in its delivery from most books and that alone, the uniqueness, gave it value. It reminded me very much of an art-house movie where the theme is interconnected more than the characters themselves and, Jonathan Miles can write. “Want Not” has a message — the balance between ‘waste not / want not’ no longer seems to register with people. The entire concept of civilization in the throes of waste, decay and pollution, discarding items as soon as the label ‘possession’ is upon them is evident. And, by painting civilization as a whole begs the question, is there salvation? This brings us to the characters: An abandoned professor of dead languages (Dr. Elwin Cross), AND his neighbor’s wayward son, AND a young couple (Micah and Talmadge) living off the grid and off the detritus of super-consumers like Sara and Dave, AND Sara’s daughter Alexis. AND Elwin’s dying father (Dr. Cross, Senior), AND Matty, Talmadge’s old buddy, who crashes in on him and Micah (when he gets out of prison). It seems too much, too many, and as I mentioned above, there is very little interconnection. Jonathan alternates his delivery between the various characters, their current situations and, of course, their back stories until he is (what seems to me) to be almost three quarters through the book. I have to say, I worried a little, but the writing itself kept me glued. I actually appreciate the honest descriptions of people and how they interact and more importantly, why they interact so … I read on. What kept me going, the back stories, the paining of the lives which brings the people off the page and into the three dimensional space in which we live. For example, we follow Micah back through her strange and idyllic upbringing in Appalachia to her revelatory trip in India. Micah and all the others grow into, well into people and you can love ‘em or hate ‘em but either way you have to appreciate what the artist has constructed. After this, the character connections begin to emerge though, they are quick, very quick and very sharp. The young Alexis (high school student preparing for college) grapples with a personal struggle which she keeps to herself and all we can do is hope for the best because what people want is not always what they get especially if there is waste involved. Luckily, sometimes salvation is not understood and emerges from the least likely of places. The message to refrain from waste is brought home by Dr. Cross (junior) too. He is struggling through his divorce when an academic task comes floating his way. He is to help...

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