With our busy lifestyles, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to just sit and read.  If you’ve got a stack of unread books and feel like getting out more, you can take care of both situations with Dublin’s Silent Book Club!

On the third Tuesday of the month, from 3:00 – 4:00 pm, the library hosts an adult quiet reading hour. We’ll be setting up a room with a few comfortable chairs, closing the door, and giving you space to escape into a good book. Even though we call it a book club, we’re not discussing or reading the same book. It’s just a way to schedule some reading time and be around others who appreciate and share a passion for reading.

If you’re feeling social, you can come early and join us for our Readers’ Round Table. From 2:00 – 3:00 pm on the third Tuesday of the month, we spend time talking about the books we’re reading and enjoying. Share your latest find, or find a new author to try! While these two programs happen on the same day, you do not need to attend one to come to the other. Pick what feels right for you.

At last month’s Readers’ Round Table one participant recommended the book The Widow of the South, by Robert Hicks. She admitted it was slow to start, but full of detail about life in the South during the Civil War. The characters come to life as you get into it. You learn some history and get some romance. It’s also about how the main character’s home gets taken over by the Confederacy and turned into a hospital.

This prompted another participant to recommend the PBS television series Mercy Street, a somewhat gritty but captivating show about a family-owned hotel turned into an army hospital in Union-occupied Virginia. There’s a mix of interesting characters and perspectives including the Boston widow newly arrived as a nurse, a free black man with untapped medical skills, and a Southern belle whose entitled world has been utterly shaken. Find the DVDs for both seasons at the library.

What new book or show might you discover next? Join us on October 17 to find out!

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This week for Teen Book Talk our reviewer talks about a classic war story, Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, set in Europe during World War I.

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Natlie L., Teen Reviewer, Grade 11

all quietBook Title: All Quiet on the Western Front

Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Format: Book

Year of Publication: 1929

Will appeal to fans of: history (WWI), nonfiction, tragedy

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The story follows the life of a young German soldier by the name of Paul Baumer. The patriotic spiels of his school teacher, the urges of his schoolmates, and his wish to bring some excitement into his mundane life convinced him to enlist in the German army at the start of World War I, but he soon realizes that everything he thought he knew about war was a lie. There was no excitement in war; all it does to a man is cause him to cast away his humanity for the sake of survival. What’s the point of surviving if all he can do afterwards is wait for the next battle to rip away what’s left of him? The tragic story of Paul and his comrades as they are toyed with by this inescapable cycle of horror is detailed in the moving novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

Unlike most contemporary works of literature, this novel does not romanticize war. It does the exact opposite. It punches the reader with an endless barrage of tragedies that real soldiers have experienced. Nothing is held back—from the descriptions of horrendous deaths of comrades out in the fields to the unbelievable thoughts of disillusioned soldiers. The brutal honesty that Remarque packs into the book touches people from all walks of life and forever eliminates even the slightest trace of a belief that war is “cool.”

This honesty is the reason why I treasure All Quiet on the Western Front. Never before have I read a book with so many memorable lines that stir up such strong feelings of sympathy and sadness within me. One of the many quotes is, “We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing from ourselves, from our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.” With this particular quote, Remarque simultaneously gives arguably the best description of the mental state of Paul and his comrades throughout the whole book and captures the pained hearts of the readers. The combination of his honesty and artful way with words creates an unforgettable work of literature that provides a truthful insight into the minds of those from the Lost Generation.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to read such a stirring novel, but it saddens me to realize that most teens, myself included, would not have read this book had it not been a part of the current high school English curriculum. That being said, I highly recommend All Quiet on the Western Front to every person in this world who can down some vivid descriptions of battlefields and is prepared to take a peek into the minds of those that war destroyed.

This week for Teen Book Talk, we’re stepping back to a classic tale, Gulliver’s Travels. Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own.

**Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Yidan Y., teen reviewer

gulliversBook Title: Gulliver’s Travels

Author: Jonathan Swift

Book Format: book

Year of Publication: 1726

Who will book appeal to: All people

Rating: 4 stars

This book is appeal to all the people because it has two levels of meaning. In the book, there are many fantastic and unpredictable imaginations, almost like fairy tales. Kids and teens can read the book as entertainment or for learning English. In fact, this book is a satire on human nature. Swift reveals the evil of human world by writing this traveling story. For those who study human, this book can tell them the human society where Swift lived.  Also, it is a great literature work.

  • Would you recommend this title to someone else?

Yes. I would like to recommend this title to my friends.

  • Is there any content in the book that might make someone uncomfortable or unwilling to read the book?

There is no content in the book that might make someone uncomfortable or unwilling to read the book.

  • Preview: Lemuel Gulliver is a professional sailor, but he always meets with shipwreck or pirates or some other misfortunes in his voyages. He has to deal with all different kinds of extraordinary adventures on some remote and spooky islands.
  • Similar titles that people might enjoy: Robinson CrusoeBoth books are about sailing and shipwreck, and both the narrators are on remote islands and have to figure out a way to get home.

People’s imaginations are unlimited. The book, Gulliver’s Travels thoroughly shows the creativity of the author, Jonathan Swift. By imagining many fantastic and magic places, he conveys his message. He criticizes the society by sarcasm which makes the book unique from other criticisms. Jonathan Swift relished the simplicity of humanity and the defense of human nature. Some of the places that he “travels” are the utopia that he was looking forward. The characters in the book are unique and stand for different statues or levels of people. Jonathan Swift discerns the adversaries and friends in those places. Every experience is revealing what he thought a society should be.

When I read this book, I was amazed by the detail descriptions of those places and characters. For a long time, I had thought the story was true. I am totally impressed by Jonathan Swift’s imaginations. I read this book, when I was young, so I did not understand the deeper meaning of this book, the sarcasm. I was reading it merely as a kid book. It turned out that I liked this book so much, and I even imagined that I would travel those places one day until I learned the sarcasm and the criticism in the story. After I knew the purpose of this book, I dipped into the book. Every travel can be referred to the reality. Those huge or tiny creatures in the book and the floating island are no longer just a place; they are the subjects for Jonathan Swift to express his criticism about the society. Also, they helped me to understand the situation people are facing and the shortcoming of human nature.

To my opinion, this book is perfect for both kids and teenagers. Not only it has the pure imaginations, it also conveys deeper information. It can be very fun if you can read it as entertaining. When you read the book, you can easily form the images in your brain. They can help kids to understand the society critically. I highly recommend this book to kids and teenagers and I hope they will like it.

We’re back with a new review for Teen Book Talk. This time we have a review of a classic mystery, And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. Teens choose the books and movies that they review, and all opinions are those of the reviewer.

**Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Chaturya G., 12th grade, teen reviewer

andthentherewerenonejacketBook Title: And Then There Were None

Author: Agatha Christie

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2011

Book will appeal to: Teens-Adults

Rating: 5/5

This is one of the most amazing mystery novels I’ve ever read. It is a literary classic novel by Agatha Christie and the first book of hers I’ve read. In this book, there are ten different people lured to an isolated mansion on an island. The night of their arrival a mysterious recording plays, accusing each of the ten characters of murder. These ten people start dying off, one by one, strangely in accordance to a poem titled “Ten Little Soldier Boys” which is hung up as a portrait in the mansion. It isn’t long before these characters realize that the murderer is actually one of them.

Christie’s style of writing and pacing is very fascinating. The way she writes about each of the characters will make you think you know who the murderer is, but you will keep second guessing yourself until the very end when everything is fully explained. These characters are not really characters that I can relate to in general, but Christie makes their actions throughout the book understandable. This novel is an amazing classic that had my attention until the very end. Not only teens, but adults who like reading mysteries would love this book.

The edition of the novel I read was a very recent one so there were no racist remarks or anything of that sort in this novel. The older versions did have racist titles which could make anyone uncomfortable.  In general, this novel could be considered disturbing, first of all because it has many murders in it. It is pretty obvious that the murderer has psychological problems, as the victims are killed off according to the poem almost exactly. However, this is what makes it so exciting. There are subtle hints given throughout the book as to who the murderer is, but I didn’t realize it until the end. Overall, this is definitely one of my favorite books and I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading murder mystery novels.

For this week’s edition of Teen Book Talk, we’re sharing a teen book, The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson. Nelson is also the author of I’ll Give You the Sun, the 2015 Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. The Sky is Everywhere was Nelson’s first published novel.

**Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

 

Esha C., Grade 10, Teen Reviewer

skyiseverywhereBook Title: The Sky Is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson

Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2010

This Book Would Appeal To: This book would appeal to teens who enjoy reading books by authors like John Green and Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“The Sky Is Everywhere” is a book about the shifting character of Lennie Walker- a seventeen year old band geek who’s older sister had passed away. One thing I really like about this book is how even though the story is about Lennie being torn between her two love interests, the book is also about the main character growing into a better person and standing up for herself. Throughout the story I found it interesting to see how Lennie was able to step out of the shadow of her vibrant older sister and become her own person, dealing with things and circumstances that she never had to acknowledge before. One thing that I disliked about the book was how the recurring story about Lennie’s mother (who had left her two daughters to live with their grandmother) never really went anywhere or resolved itself. I would really recommend this book because I feel it had a great balance of subtle humor and romance with a fairly interesting plot.

There is no material in this book (which is for teens) that would make anyone uncomfortable or force them to stop reading.

Welcome back to another edition of Teen Book Talk. Today we are discussing a classic novel, Dubliners.

**Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Yuvraj (UV) M., Grade 11, Teen Reviewer

dublinersTitle: Dubliners

Author: James Joyce

Medium/Format: Book

Year of Publication: 1914

Target Audience: Young adult to adult

Rating:  1 star for initial glance, 4 stars if read thoughtfully multiple times

Considering how this is on the Dublin Library’s Facebook [and blog], I could not resist myself to including Dubliners by James Joyce. However, for people looking for a quick read, Dubliners is a terrible choice. But for those readers that are thoughtful and enjoy a challenge, Dubliners is a fantastic collection of stories that portray a message of the meaning of life. The book is comprised of fifteen stories which symbolize a child walking through life in Dublin, Ireland. The first three symbolize childhood while the next four symbolize adolescence. Adult life is described by the next four stories while the last four illustrate social life leading to death. Not each paragraph, not each sentence, but each word in every story is selected carefully to develop the thoughts behind the various plots. The titles themselves reveal the superstitions present in Dublin to allow readers to grasp the paramount theme surrounding the stories. For example, The Sisters is the first story in Dubliners, obviously alluding to the three fates. Joyce presents the idea that our destinies are planned out from birth, which is why we have the theme of fate beginning the novel. Joyce uses various techniques including foreshadowing, puns, and allusions to depict a seemingly tangible image in front of the audience by using a plethora of details. Despite the abundance of sensory information the audience is able to detect, Joyce also includes a translucent veil by means of the limited narration to keep the audience from ever being omniscient of the situation. This book receives one star for initial glance, because Joyce creates a story that is seemingly meaningless, symbolizing how life in itself is meaningless from a superficial perspective. However, if you look back on life, or in this case, read the book more carefully, you will find that there is more to it. Joyce opens a window of interpretation such that the reader is not only entertained, but that he/she receives a better conceptualization and understanding of what life exactly is, which is why Dubliners receives four stars. It does not receive the fifth star because it is not a book that I personally would enjoy reading again. The book in a sense hurts your brain a little because it presents so many themes in each sentence that your brain struggles to connect the dots. But for readers who love challenges and have a relatively strong literary mindset, you will find that this book deserves more than five stars.

Citation: Joyce, James. Dubliners. London: Grant Richards, 1914. Print.

Chinese Yankee

Hong Kong born Thomas Sylvanus (Ah Yee Way), was an orphan brought to America for schooling in the mid-1850s, but enslaved in Baltimore. Only sixteen at the outbreak of war, Thomas ran north, joined the Freedom Army, and was blinded in the first major campaign. He failed to fully recover his sight and, deemed incapable of performing the duties of a soldier, was discharged. Yet he reenlisted twice, saved his regiment’s colors during the bloodbath of Spotsylvania, was lamed at Cold Harbor, and survived 9 months imprisonment in the dreaded Andersonville stockade. His health broken, but his spirit intact, he battled for survival and justice for his family and himself until his death in 1891. He was, as the New York Times noted, “singular.”

Local author Ruthanne Lum McCunn, author of the award-winning “Thousand Pieces of Gold: A Biographical Novel,” will talk about Thomas Sylvanus and how she came to write this historical novel on Saturday, February 7, 2015, from 2:00 – 3:30 PM in the Dublin Library Program Room, 200 Civic Plaza, Dublin, CA. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

For more information, call 510-608-1117 or email emarangoni@aclibrary.org.