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The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk – A Review

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

harvey milk

 

Title/Author: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In 1977, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the United States. This book chronicles his short life, telling in detail how an outsider won over a city and changed lives for the better, all before he was assassinated eleven months after his election.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: LGBTQ Non-Fiction

Diversity: LGBTQ and minorities from a variety of other countries.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: YES. If you’re at all interested in LGBTQ history, or outsiders who defy the odds, you’ll enjoy this book.

Personal thoughts: What I liked best about Harvey Milk was that he was an average, everyday person who decided he could make the world a better place by running for city supervisor, an elected political position, in San Francisco. He put in hours of hard work to meet the people, going out to bus stops and cafes every day, bars at night, wherever he could meet people and find out what they wanted fixed in their city. He had a great sense of humor, and loved telling jokes wherever he was. This book helps to show his personality, the hardships he went through to get where he was at the end of his life, as well as the gay political climate of the era around the country, which wasn’t very good at the time. I found the writing style to be easy to read, though sometimes it was hard to remember who a specific person was because multiple people had the same, or similar, names. (But that’s real life for you, right?) I almost cried at the end, knowing what a great guy he was and knowing he wasn’t going to survive. That did make it a hard read. I’m still amazed that the birthday party held in his honor just a few months after his death brought 20,000 people to his neighborhood to celebrate his life! If a guy can do that, he must have been great.

My Summer Reading List for 2015!

Posted on May 29th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff, Teen Services

Every summer I like to challenge myself to read eight books I wouldn’t normally read within the months of June, July, and August. Some of the books have been chosen by Boston schools as either previous, or current, summer reading books and others are books I’ve been interested in for awhile but haven’t gotten around to reading yet. There is always a mix of fiction and non-fiction. As I finish each book, I  will post a review here on this blog so that everyone can see what’s going on and determine whether or not something on my list will be of interest. So, without further ado, here is my personal summer reading list for 2015:

 

FICTION:

 

the illustrated man

 

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

 

The tattooed man moves, and in the arcane designs scrawled upon his skin swirled tales beyond imagining: tales of love and laughter darkness and death, of mankind’s glowing, golden past and its dim, haunted future. Here are eighteen incomparable stories that blend magic and truth in a kaleidoscope tapestry of wonder–woven by the matchless imagination of Ray Bradbury.

 

 

 

 

one flew over the cuckoo's nest

 

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

 

In this classic of the 1960s, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, back by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.

 

 

caine mutiny

 

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

 

The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status of a modern classic.

 

 

Monkey

 

Monkey: A Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en

 

Probably the most popular book in the history of the Far East, this classic combination of picaresque novel and folk epic mixes satire, allegory, and history into a rollicking tale. It is the story of the roguish Monkey and his encounters with major and minor spirits, gods, demigods, demons, ogres, monsters, and fairies.

 

 

 

 

 

bel canto

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

 

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

 

 

 

 

NON-FICTION:

 

harvey milk

 

The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts

 

Known as “The Mayor of Castro Street” even before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk’s personal life, public career, and final assassination reflect the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in America. It is a story full of personal tragedies and political intrigues, assassinations at City Hall, massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice, and the consolidation of gay power and gay hope.

 

 

 

when I was a soldier

 When I Was a Soldier by Valérie Zenatti

 

What is it like to be a young woman in a war?
At a time when Israel is in the news every day and politics in the Middle East are as complex as ever before, this story of one girl’s experience in the Israeli national army is both topical and fascinating. Valerie begins her story as she finishes her exams, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves for service with the Israeli army. Nothing has prepared her for the strict routines, grueling marches, poor food, lack of sleep and privacy, or crushing of initiative that she now faces. But this harsh life has excitement, too, such as working in a spy center near Jerusalem and listening in on Jordanian pilots. Offering a glimpse into the life of a typical Israeli teen, even as it lays bare the relentless nature of war, Valerie’s story is one young readers will have a hard time forgetting.

 

 

beowulf

 

Beowulf by Unknown; Translated by Seamus Heaney

 

The national bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.

 

 

 

 

My Summer Reading List for 2014!

Posted on May 31st, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

anna[1] avatar

Hi! For those who don’t know me, my name is Anna, and I’m one of the two Teen Librarians at the Central Library here at the BPL. Every summer I select eight books I’d like to read between the months of June and August to be my personal Summer Reading List. Most high school students in the Boston area have a summer reading list, so I thought, why shouldn’t I have one too? Usually the books I choose are titles I’ve been meaning to read for awhile but haven’t managed to get to yet, so this is a good way to catch up on my reading. Sometimes these books do come from a school summer reading list, either from a past list or a current one, but all of them are teen books or have teen appeal. Look out for my book reviews here throughout the summer!

And here is my 2014 list:

FICTION

The Wind In The Willows

The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Meet little Mole, willful Ratty, Badger the perennial bachelor, and petulant Toad. In the almost one hundred years since their first appearance in 1908, they’ve become emblematic archetypes of eccentricity, folly, and friendship. And their misadventures-in gypsy caravans, stolen sports cars, and their Wild Wood-continue to capture readers’ imaginations and warm their hearts long after they grow up. Begun as a series of letters from Kenneth Grahame to his son, The Wind in the Willows is a timeless tale of animal cunning and human camaraderie.

 

 

 

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

 

The Crystal Cave

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity, Myridden Emrys — or as he would later be known, Merlin — leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents and visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man’s-son, taking him from prophesying before the High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon … and the conception of Arthur — king for once and always.

 

 

 

 

The Face Of Fear

The Face Of Fear by Dean Koontz

DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because you’re trapped. With a beautiful, terrified woman. On the 40th floor of a deserted office building. By the psyshopath they call “The Butcher.”
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because you’re an ex-mountain climber. Because a fall from Everest left you with a bad leg… and a paralyzing fear of heights.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because he has slaughtered the guards and short-circuited the elevators. Because the stairways are blocked, and for you and the woman with you, there’s only one escape route.
DON’T LOOK DOWN
Because 600 feet of empty space are looking back at you.

 

 

NON-FICTION

Man O War

Man O’ War: A Legend Like Lightening by Dorothy Ours

Born in 1917, Man o’ War grew from a rebellious youngster into perhaps the greatest racehorse of all time. His trainer said that managing him was like holding a tiger by the tail. His owner compared him to “chain lightning.” His jockeys found their lives transformed by him, in triumphant and distressing ways. All of them became caught in a battle for honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer, Translated by Robert Fagles

The Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here, renowned translator Robert Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.

NOTE: I have also acquired an audio cassette edition of this translation read by the famed actor, Ian McKellen. It is my hope, to listen to him read aloud as I follow along with the book in print.

 

 

 

Wilfred Owen biogrpahy

Wilfred Owen: A New Biography by: Dominic Hibberd

Mr. Hibberd’s new biography of the Great War’s greatest poet, based on more than thirty years of wide-ranging research, brings new information and reinterpretation to virtually every phase of Owen’s life carefully guarded by family and friends after his death.

Secretariat – A Review

Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Secretariat

Secretariat by William Nack

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

This is the true story of a race horse named Secretariat who won the Triple Crown (a series of three races at three different tracks run consecutively) in 1973. This is the story of how he came to be, charting his history back to the late 1800’s, as well as the history of his owners and their farms. How he won each race he ran, is explained, the excitement of the track, of those who owned him and his millions of fans is spelled out as if you, the reader, were right there, standing next to the colt as he nuzzles your neck. Yup, now you’ve got horse snot on you. This book feels that real. William Nack writes it as if you were there, as if you were Ron Turcotte, his jockey, racing him down the backstretch at some of the world’s most well known and well loved race tracks, having mud slung in your face as your heart beats insanely, wondering how the race will play out. Secretariat was a special horse. He ran races like nobody else, coming up from behind to steal first place and beat the other horses by several lengths. He amazed the world.

Yes, this is a non-fiction book, but if you love horses and horse racing, you’ll love the way this book is written. It reads as you would read a fiction book. And it’s definitely not a book you can put down. When I got to the end I had some time to think about it and wonder what I would do now that the book was over. I felt as if I was leaving good, life-long friends behind, including the Big Red horse. I highly recommend this book. I can’t say that enough. And even though it’s a somewhat thick non-fiction book, Nack takes the time to explain what some of the racing lingo means, so those new to it won’t feel completely at a loss or like they’re requiring a dictionary while they read. He does it in the best way possible, so you never feel like he’s talking down to you either. What an exhilarating ride!

My Summer Reading List for 2012

Posted on May 29th, 2012 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

I know most of you reading this will have to read at least one or two books over the summer for school, right? I might not be going back to school next fall, and teachers might not be handing me a list of books I have to read this summer, but a lot of the books on your list are great books. And so, I’ve decided to join you in reading books/authors from the Boston Public Schools list for 2012. Some of the books on this year’s list are books I’ve already read, by authors I love, so instead of rereading the same books, I’ve chosen related books that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile but haven’t gotten around to.

As soon as I’ve finished reading a book, I’ll post a review of it here in the blog so you can check out my progress and see what I thought of each book.

 What am I reading this summer? Here’s my Summer Reading List:

 FICTION

 The following are on, or are related to, books on the BPS Summer Reading List for Grades 9-12.

 -Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark (Sci-Fi/Fantasy list)

The Overlords came to Earth and brought peace and prosperity with them… but then they began to take the children away from their heritage in the first step to eliminate the human race!

 This is a classic science-fiction novel that I’ve been told all sci-fi writers need to read. Thus, it makes sense that even those who don’t write sci-fi, but love to read it, should read this book too. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but occasionally I like to dabble in writing sci-fi stories, so I’d like to check it out, and hopefully improve my writing by enjoying a good book.

 

 -Doomwyte by Brian Jacques (Sci-Fi/Fantasy list)

A young mouse, Bisky, and his friends seek a fabled Redwall treasure: the jeweled eyes of the Great Doomwyte Idol, which leads them to the realm of the fearsome Korvus Skurr, the black-feathered raven…

 This is book 20 in the classic fantasy series Redwall. Brian Jacques is my favorite children’s/YA author, and the prequel to this series,  Mossflower, is the book on the official Summer Reading list. It is also my favorite, and most read, book in the entire Redwall series. As I have yet to read Doomwyte, I’ve chosen it for my summer list. When reading this series, there are a total of 22 books, and it does not matter in what order you read them!

 

 

 -Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (Sci-Fi/Fantasy list)

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense. But a conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar against the Queen by unknown forces. Talia must protect her and the heir, before danger can strike!

 The official reading list includes Magic’s Pawn, the first book in The Last Herald Mage trilogy by the same author, which I read and loved immensely.  Arrows of the Queen is the first book in her trilogy The Heralds of Valdemar, and while only a few of the characters are the same, it is set in the same kingdom of Valemar as The Last Herald Mage trilogy. I’ve been curious to see if it’s as good as the other, which is why I’ve chosen this book.  

 

 

 -Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (Mystery/Suspense list)

Odd Thomas is a young man with a faithful companion in his dog named Boo. Though they are anything but ordinary. Odd can see the spirits of dead people who are reluctant to move on from this world. And Boo is one such spirit. In the past he has been haunted by nightmares that have come true. In the small California town where he’s currently living, he’s been having the same repeat nightmare. Will it lead to someone’s death? Or will Odd be able to save another’s life?

 The Mystery/Suspense list includes Odd Thomas, the first book in the Odd series about a 19-year-old boy who can see dead people. Odd Hours is the fourth book which I have yet to read, thus, it is one of my reading choices this summer.

 

 NON-FICTION

 Three of the non-fiction titles I’ve chosen were on a Summer Reading List in 2011 when they caught my eye. Since then, I’ve been looking for an excuse to dive into them, even though they are no longer required reading for school. Those books are:

 

-A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

A memoir of the Vietnam War.

 

-Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden

A minute-by-minute account of the first sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War in 1993.

 -Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

This is a true tale of survival, adventure, and the most incredible rescue mission of World War II.

 

A Little Big Life by Dean Koontz

This was a last-minute addition to the list in place of The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding, which is not in print in the states yet. This book is a “Memoir of a Joyful Dog” and is written by the author of one of the fiction books I’m also reading, so I thought it would be fitting to read this joyful little tome.

 

So, in total, I have chosen to read 8 titles this summer between June 1st and August 31st. I’m not sure how far I’ll get, or in what order I’ll be reading them, but check back here for any reviews I post to see where I am in this list and what I have left to go.