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Library: New acquisitions for the New Year

By Jenny Hubbard

Rowan Public Library

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do make a list of books I’d like to read and books I’ve read that I like. Allow me to introduce you to a handful of interesting, worthwhile reads that the Rowan Public Library has acquired since July.

Orphan Island, by Laurel Snyder, is targeted for 10-12-year-olds, but I’m 52, and I loved it. Imagine yourself on a peaceful island cared for by other children; as you age, you become the one in charge. The only awareness of a world beyond this paradise is a small green boat that comes rocking across the ocean once a year to drop off a new orphan and carry away an old one. For a young reader, the novel is a page-turning adventure; for an adult, it’s a lovely but haunting commentary on the fleeting nature of childhood.

Some childhoods are not nearly as happy as the ones spent on Orphan Island. About The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, by Alexandra Marzano-Lesnevich, I say proceed with caution.   The author spent 10 years on this work, and, after reading this genre-bending work, I can understand why. The writing is stellar—vivid and crystalline. As she tracks the story of a murder, Marzano-Lesnevich also investigates her family’s darkest secrets, and she does so with the accuracy of a scalpel. If you prefer a dark truth to a lighter one, this memoir’s authentic voice is hard to beat.

If you welcome authentic voices in fiction, too, consider Stephen Florida, by Gabe Habash. It’s a novel that I wish existed when I was teaching high-school boys; it’s gritty and raw and wonderfully strange. Stephen Florida, a competitive college wrestler, is a loner out for blood and love and everything in between. If you’ve been wondering what goes through the mind of a male on the edge of adulthood, here’s your chance.

Or if you’ve wondered what it’s like to be in prison, try staying for a night or two at The Graybar Hotel, by Curtis Dawkins. These fictional stories, which walk that fine line between comedy and tragedy, illuminate the mindsets and heartaches of the incarcerated. You would be hard-pressed to find a writer on this subject who is more credible than Dawkins, who, although he holds an MFA in fiction-writing, is serving a life sentence for a murder he committed during a drug-related robbery gone wrong.

How about a family vacation gone wrong? Maile Meloy’s Do Not Become Alarmed compelled me to stay up until 3:00 in the morning to find out what happens after a cruise-ship excursion takes a terrible turn. This novel has both the pace of a thriller and the artistry of a prize-winner, a rare combination. Meloy is a writer to keep on your radar screen.

So many books, so little time! My list grows longer by the day, new titles on top of older ones. Maybe 2018 is the year I finally tackle Middlemarch. Rowan Public Library has a copy if you’d like to join me.

Here’s what’s coming up this week at Rowan Public Library:

Children’s programs

Holiday Pajama Express (South): 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12. Hop on board for an evening of holiday fun, refreshments and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Don’t forget to wear your favorite holiday pajamas. Call 704-216-7728 for more information.

Treemendous (Headquarters): 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 14. Come for holiday stories and fun, with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Call 704-216-8234 for more information.

Stories with Elves (East): 10:30 a.m.-noon. A fun-filled day of Christmas stories with elves from East Branch. Light refreshments, crafts, activities, Christmas karaoke and a visit from you-know-who.

Teen programs

Chapter Chats: Weekly book club for teens ages 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, though all are welcome. Mondays, 5 p.m. at East Branch, Rockwell. Contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842. This program goes on hiatus after Dec. 18.

Let’s Make a Playlist: Headquarters, Dec. 16, 2 p.m. RPL’s makerspace, known as the Cooperative Lab or “The Coop,” will host this teen program. Participants will curate and prepare the playlist of period-specific music that will be featured at the Welcome Home celebration on Dec. 30.

Adult programs

“The Vietnam War” Film Screening at Headquarters: Dec. 13, 2 p.m.; and Dec. 16, 10 a.m.

Rowan Public Library will host free weekly screenings of The Vietnam War, a 10-part documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that began airing on PBS stations in September. Episode 9: “A Disrespectful Loyalty (May 1970-March 1973)” will be shown this week.  Adults (17 and up) only.

Classic Cinema Series, 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, East Branch: Join us for a showing of the 1946 Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  This PG-rated film has a two-hour and 15 minute runtime. While the Classic Cinema Series is part of Adult Outreach Services and is designed for retired individuals, this free event is open to the public, and all ages are welcome. For more details, call 704-216-7842.

Teen & adult programs

Through a Soldier’s Eyes: An oral history project at headquarters, East and South. Through Dec. 30, brochures explaining the oral history project, outlining prompts for questions, and offering the contact information for two librarians who can record stories will be distributed at all branches and throughout the community.  These brochures are intended for teens and adults.Nonveterans, particularly teens with friends or family members who served in Vietnam or remember the time period well, are encouraged to use these brochures as guides to engage in conversations that can then be recorded, either on their own or with a librarian’s assistance.

Veterans are invited to consider what aspects of their story they want to tell and to contact a listed librarian for an appointment.

All recordings of veterans’ stories will be archived by RPL and added to its existing collection of veterans’ oral histories. In the future, RPL hopes to edit the newly added stories and make portions available on the library’s website.

Visual stories may be displayed at the Welcome Home event scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 30.

Displays: December — Headquarters, Kwanzaa by Eleanor Qadirah. Grids, “Through a Soldier’s Eyes: Remembering Vietnam” (photographs) by Edith M. Clark History Room. Gallery, Vietnam Remembered featuring veteran’s artifacts. East, Santa, by Chris Wilson; South, Christmas Village by Tammie Foster.

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.

Programs for all ages

Cards for a Cause: Headquarters, East and South, through Dec. 18. Create holiday cards that will be delivered to active service members in the U.S. Armed Forces and to veterans at the Hefner VAMC in Salisbury. Questions? Call Laurie at 704-216-7732.

Downtown Beats — Rowan’s Impromptu Chorus: Headquarters, Dec. 11. Everyone is welcome. This community sing requires no experience and no commitment. No charge or prior registration is required. Arrive at 6 p.m. for a short practice of two pre-selected songs. The sing will culminate with a final, videoed performance. Questions? Contact Abigail at Abigail.Hardison@rowancountync.gov or at 704-216-8248.

Double Movie Feature: Dec. 11, 4 p.m., South. Join us for back-to-back showings of “Beauty and the Beast.” At 4 p.m., enjoy the 1991 Disney animated version (G). Then, at 6 p.m., enjoy the 2017 musical romantic fantasy film starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens (PG). This event is free and open to the public. Popcorn and lemonade will be served.

Give Back Saturday: Dec. 16, from 11 a.m. to noon. Help the library give back to the community through crafts and projects that will be donated to local charities. Children are welcome. Teens can count participation to meet monthly community service requirements for school or other organizations.

December displays

Headquarters: Display cases, Kwanzaa by Eleanor Qadirah; grids, “Through a Soldier’s Eyes: Remembering Vietnam” (photographs) by Edith Clark History Room; Gallery, “Vietnam Remembered,” featuring artifacts from local Vietnam veterans.

East: Santa display, presented by Chris Wilson.

South: Christmas Villages, presented by Tammie Foster.

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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