Monday, February 6, 2017

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: SPOTLIGHT ON TONI MORRISON



Since 1976 Black History Month has been nationally celebrated every February as a time to recognize the accomplishments and heritage of African Americans. Originally called Negro History Week in 1926, it was begun by historian Carter G. Woodson who wanted Black history to be studied in American schools. The month of February was chosen because it included the birthday of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, born in February 1818. 





The Monrovia Public Library has a large collection of works by and about African Americans. Fiction and non-fiction, history, biography, literature, music and cultural and social history can be found. Whether looking for something specific and using the computer catalog, seeking reference help from the librarians or browsing the shelves, there are wonderful books that inform Black History Month.

A child of parents who came north during the Great Migration when African Americans escaped the toxic environment of the south, author Toni Morrison embraced careers as a college teacher and book editor before she was recognized for her majestic writing.  Black characters are at the center of her many novels which have earned the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for literature. Morrison’s works are noted for their complex narratives, feminist orientation and focus on the African American experience.

Her first novel The Bluest Eye about a young girl who thinks her troubled life would be better if she had blue eyes did not gain much recognition, but her next two Sula and Song of Solomon, a drama about ordinary people, gained attention.  Considered one of her best novels, Beloved is a magical and supernatural story of a slave who tries to kill her children rather than see them live in bondage. Her most recent title is God Help a Child, about a dark-skinned woman rejected by her light mother.
Find Toni Morrison’s books in print, on CD and in e-book formats at the Monrovia Public Library.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

RAINY DAY READING



The heavens opened up and we were deluged with rain. Monrovia’s foothills are green and we are wondering when the rain will return. In preparation it might be a good time to choose some books for a future cozy afternoon in a comfy spot. Here are some random titles, from the Monrovia Public Library, that just might warm up readers.




“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” So says the unnamed narrator of the English classic Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. This story of a na├»ve young woman who marries the rich and widowed Maxim de Winter and goes home to his Cornwall estate to discover that the memory of Rebecca, the late Mrs. de Winter, still occupies every space. Keeping that memory alive is the housekeeper, the sinister Mrs. Danvers. The book is filled with passion, mystery, and suspense. Never out-of-print since it was published in 1939, Rebecca will keep rainy day readers tuning the pages long after the clock has struck bedtime. 

Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. One Ladies Detective Agency series is a most marvelous set of books that we can call gentle reads. Precious Ramotswe is a Botswanan sleuth, whose tiny investigative company solves local mysteries, has been called the Miss Marple of Africa. Readers will be charmed by the traditionally built main character with the untraditional job. Start with the first title, that names the series, or dip into the 16 other titles as all will beguile.

And, while we are talking about Miss Marple, why not open an Agatha Christie book?  Equal appeal to all, Christie’s novels and short stories of mysterious murders, multiple suspects and many twists and turns will keep readers guessing.  These perfect escape (if escape means finding a warm and dry corner away from the rain and the real world) books include old favorites like Murder on the Orient Express or lesser known like Elephants Can Remember.