Journeys, literal and literary can start at the library

  • Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, October 12, 2012 4:33 p.m.

SALISBURY - Many novels tell the story of a journey of self-discovery. Often, this search for self is an inner journey, but as these new novels at Rowan Public Library illustrate, the journey may be a literal one as well. And as our protagonists learn, no matter how old you are, it's never too late to start over.
In "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce, we are introduced to the retired (as well as retiring) Harold Fry, who is settled into his quiet routine in his quiet English village. One day blends into another, until the day Harold receives a letter from an old friend he has not seen in many years, informing him that she is dying of cancer. Harold pens a reply and takes it out to the postbox, but finds he just can't let the letter go. "Harold thought of the words he had written to Queenie, and their inadequacy shamed him."
Thus begins Harold's odyssey. As he continues to walk to the next postbox, then the next, not quite ready to let the letter go, Harold has a chance encounter with a young woman who convinces him that as long as he keeps walking, Queenie will live. Never mind that she is in hospice 600 miles away, and he has left without proper walking attire, a map or his cell phone, Harold decides to walk the entire distance and deliver the letter in person.
This solitary journey gives Harold time to ruminate on his life and failed relationships, and the reason for his need for atonement is gradually revealed. Along the way, Harold sends pithy postcards to Queenie, urging her to wait for him. As his journey continues, Harold meets a variety of characters, becomes a bit of a celebrity, and learns that "you could be ordinary and attempt something extraordinary."
Another novel that reminds us that it's never too late to start over is "The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared." Jonas Jonasson's European bestseller has reached the U.S. three years after its Swedish publication. This entertaining yarn tells the story of Allan Karlsson, who flees from the Old Folks' Home to avoid his 100th birthday party.
After stealing a cash-filled suitcase, our vodka-loving hero embarks on a wild adventure, and ends up on the lam from both a criminal syndicate and the police. Along the way, we learn that the former demolitions expert, much like Forrest Gump, has not only witnessed some of the most important events of the 20th century, he has actually played a key role in them.
Other novels that you may enjoy include Hilma Wolitzer's "An Available Man," a story about becoming single later in life, and the chaos and joys of finding love the second time around; "Harry Lipkin, Private Eye," by Barry Fantoni, a mystery featuring Miami's only 87-year-old private investigator; and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," by Deborah Moggach, recently adapted into a film starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. You can find all of these titles at Rowan Public Library.
Computer classes: Genealogy Online - South, Monday, 7 p.m.; East, Tuesday, 1 p.m. (registration required for East Branch only, call 704-216-7731; Thursday, 9:30 a.m., headquarters.
Participants will learn how to sign up for a free e-mail account and how to begin using e-mail to send and receive messages. Classes are free. Sessions are approximately 90 minutes long. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.
Children's Storytime: Weekly Storytime is through Nov. 29. For more information, call 704-216-8234.
Headquarters - Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds; Wednesdays, 11 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23-month-olds); Thursdays, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds); 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-year-olds).
South - Mondays, 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-year-olds); Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Baby Time (6-23 months); 1:30 p.m., Preschool Time (3-5 years); Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18-35 months).
East - Mondays, 9:30 a.m., Baby Time (6-23 months); Mondays, 11 a.m., Toddler Time (18-35 months); Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3-5 years).
Book Chats for Children: South only. Oct. 25, 4:15 p.m., "The World According to Humphrey" by Betty G. Birney (grades 3-4). Children in grades 2-5 are invited to participate in Book Chats at South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove. Registration is required and space is limited. Please call 704-216-7728 for more information.
Histories and Mysteries at China Grove Roller Mill: Today, 2 p.m., 308 N. Main St., China Grove. A free and entertaining afternoon of histories and mysteries that the whole family can enjoy. RPL's own John Tucker will be on hand to provide stories for children of all ages. Tours of the building will be offered throughout the afternoon. Sponsored by the China Grove Historical Society and RPL.
Musical Petting Zoo: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. Kids of all ages are invited to a puppet show and performance of Three Billy Goats Gruff by members of the Salisbury Symphony. Following the show, children are invited to try out the stringed instruments with the Young Musicians from the Symphony's After-School Strings program. For more information call 704-216-8234.
Jackie Torrence Storytelling Festival: Headquarters, Oct. 20, 10 a.m. on the lawn. RPL is teaming up with the Rowan Blues and Jazz Society to present the festival. It will feature tellers from the North Carolina Black Storytellers Association, local talent and renowned storyteller and guitarist Fruteland Jackson.
Fall Photowalk: South branch, Oct. 22, 6 p.m. Join us for another photography workshop and photowalk. Aspiring photographers of all ages and skill levels are invited. Please call 704-216-8229 or e-mail for details.
Teen Murder Mystery Night: All 5:30-7 p.m. South, Oct. 23; East, Oct. 29; headquarters, Oct. 30. Is it Miss Dara in the kitchen with the rope or Miss Erika in the library with the lead pipe? Help us solve the mystery. For more information call 704-216-8234.
PAC ClubOct. 27, 11 a.m. The Children's Department has a new program for kids this fall. Popular Activities and Crafts Club, focusing on a different popular children's book series each month. Call 704-216-8234 for more information.
Book Bites Club: South only. Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m., "Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah. Book discussion groups for both adults and children will meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information call 704-216-8229.
Displays for October: Headquarters, Family Crisis/Domestic Violence Awareness; South, student art by Carson High School; East, art by Coleen Walton.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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