Friday, October 2, 2015

Women in Love
When I was in high school, I cannot remember what year exactly, one of my Christmas gifts that year was an omnibus edition of D.H. Lawrence novels. I may have heard of Lawrence before that voluminous book came my way, but once I read the novels contained in that edition, I wanted to read more of him, and about him.

When we read Lawrence now, some of us may marvel at the skill of his writing, at how much psychology is at work in all of his novels, or how he writes of the human condition. Back when he was writing, however, Lawrence could not get published for the things he wrote about. His works were controversial for the candid way in which he treated sex. He often had to do revisions and some publishers refused to publish his work. Today when we read his work, we may wonder what all the hoopla was about, but mores were different in the England post-World War I. As recently as the 1980s, Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned in China for fear of “corrupting the minds of young people”, and “going against the Chinese tradition.” In the 1960’s, a group called Mothers United for Decency, got a trailer, turned it into a “smutmobile” and displayed books considered objectionable, including Sons and Lovers. This novel closely examines working-class conditions in a mining town, as well as relationships. It also has significance vis-à-vis psychology in that it depicts the Freudian oedipal complex. What was once considered smut, is now considered one of the finest books of the 20th century.

My favorite novel by D.H. Lawrence remains Women in Love. It is a sequel to The Rainbow, but it can be read apart from that. It is the story of two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, and their relationships with Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich, respectively. This novel was published two years after the end of World War I. Reading it, we see a world in

 crisis, or humans in crisis, through the conversations of certain characters, such as Ursula and Birkin. We see Lawrence digging deeper in search of a more vital life, a life fully lived in every way. Not as he felt many people were living in his day. In the passage below, Birkin expresses his feeling for humanity at present:

            Birkin looked at the land, at the evening, and was thinking: “Well if mankind is
            destroyed, if our race is destroyed like Sodom, and there is this beautiful evening
            with the luminous land and trees, I am satisfied. That which informs it all is there,
            and can never be lost. After all, what is mankind but just one expression of the
            incomprehensible. And if mankind passes away, it will only mean that this particular
            expression is completed and done. That which is expressed, and that which is to be
            expressed, cannot be diminished. There it is, in the shining evening. Let mankind
            pass away—time it did. The creative utterances will not cease, they will only be
            there. Humanity doesn’t embody the utterance of the incomprehensible any more.
            Humanity is a dead letter. There will be a new embodiment, in a new way. Let
            humanity disappear as quick as possible. (Lawrence 50-51)

What Birkin is hoping for is a new humanity, with a new expression. Not the old, tired ways of doing things. What precedes this thought process is Birkin’s dissatisfaction with the way people live life now, calling it “dreary.” He suggests breaking up society altogether to form something new, to change. How he intends to do that is never quite certain. Whatever it may be, will be different from the social order that exists.

It is this digging in search of a deeper meaning or fulfilment of life that gives Women in Love its flavor. There is much more to Women in Love than women being in love. It is an exploration of the possibilities of different kinds of love. It is a conversation on how to be fully alive.  If you like philosophical discussions as well as psychological explorations, I recommend this book that remains on the list of Banned and Challenged Classics.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Banned Books Week 2015

Banned Books Week, is a national celebration that has been held annually during the last week of September for the past 30+ years.  This week celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Those who celebrate this week do so to increase awareness that your favorite book may very well be in danger, that your freedom to choose what you read or learn is not guaranteed in the world today, that though you may have the ability to choose, not everyone does and those who do not need to be supported, defended.  
You may think banning books is something in the past, a part of history, but sadly it isn't. Every year there are challenges to books (including books by Dr. Seuss) in schools and libraries across the United States — even right here in Oregon.  
 In essence, BBW in the Library is about our celebrating and enforcing your right to read, learn, think, and find out about whatever you want.

The TVCC Library participates in the Banned Books Week celebration every year honoring the freedom to read by acknowledging the books that have been banned or challenged and the authors who had the brilliance to write them. Banned Book week "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met." (taken from the ALA)

How do we celebrate?  Well, we are giving away some awesome gift sets and prizes.  You will see many of your campus staff and faculty proudly wearing their Banned Books buttons.  You’ll find our Facebook page linked with some fabulous videos and streaming YouTube channels of authors and people like yourselves reading their favorite books. 

On Friday, to finish up our celebration and because we all will have survived the first week of school, there will be treats in the Library all day.  Stop by and see us at any point in the week and definitely on Friday!
Oh wait…what about the prizes, you ask?  To enter the drawing simply comment here, on our Facebook page, Tweet us @LibraryTVCC with the name of your favorite Banned Book (#BannedBooksWeek) and you will be entered.

Some titles that made the Banned list this year, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Fault in Our Stars,  Paper Towns, Hop on Pop (Seuss), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Kite Runner, Brave New World, Nineteen Minutes, The Bluest Eye, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, Of Mice and Men, The Glass Castle, and many more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A little twist..

To stray a bit from our usual summer reading selections and because of the timeliness of the new movie release, this week's featured summer read is none other than the dark, twisty, story teller, Gillian Flynn.  Many of you read her debut thriller, Gone Girl.  Stunning readers, critics, and soon Hollywood with her twists, turns, and dramatically intricate delving into the depths of the psychotic mind. 
What many of you may have missed is the quick succession to which Gillian Flynn has continued to publish equally movingly thrilling novels in Dark Places and Sharp Objects.  Each of these books contain the same Flynn quality, keeping readers in the grip of the story from page one.  And while Gone Girl has already seen its big screen debut last fall, Ms. Flynn is not done awing audiences.  This week launched her second film, the screen adaptation of Dark Places
Unlike its predecessor, Dark Places doesn't have an immediate or obvious killer.  Rather, it is the story of the victim.  Similar to the Lizzy Borden tales, this story begins with thirty-two year old Libby Day, played by Charlize Theron, who still struggles to adapt to normal life.  At the age of seven, she became the sole survivor after her brother, Ben, brutally murdered her mother and two sisters in their country farmhouse.  It was Libby's testimony that sent Ben to a life in prison.  Now, as an adult, unable to get or hold a job, Libby reluctantly decides to revisit her past and share her story for money.  Her venture down memory lane begins to show some gaps in her story and cause her to question what really happened. 
Perfect for a film adaptation and ripe with a wonderful cast, Dark Places is set to be a new summer hit.  Want to read the book first?  Come on in.
In fact, your Library has all Gillian Flynn's novels and a wide variety of thrillers if you enjoy these books.  Now, I know, this doesn't really fit into the light and easy part of our summer reading rules, but they are quick reads and guaranteed to  keep you completely enthralled

Monday, August 10, 2015

The grand finale

We are very excited about the final film in our summer series.  This film, released a couple of months ago in theaters, is a story that is powerful and heartwarming at the same time.  It is about doing what's right, unlikely friendships, and truth.  This true story of Maria Altman, an Austrian survivor of WWII.  Now, we  have all heard war stories and  holocaust stories.  We have even heard about all the art that the Nazis stole.  So what makes this story unique? 
Well, the subject of this story is a singular piece of art, Gustav Klimt's "Adele Bloch-Bauer I".  This stunning piece of work that was confiscated by the Nazi party after its owners were imprisoned and eventually killed is a portrait of Ms. Altman's beloved aunt.  Well after the war, and after having immigrated to the U.S., Altman (Helen Mirren) decides to get her painting back.  Finding an unlikely ally in her attorney, played by Ryan Reynolds, Altman takes on the Austrian government.
Unlike many history texts and films, this one shows the country of Austria in a new light.  The country that wanted to be know as staying neutral and on the side of the Jews actually sold out many of their inhabitants in order to maintain status under the forthcoming Nazi rule.  Confiscating millions of dollars in gold, art, and the like to turn over to the Nazis as good will measures or just plain bribes, Austria did considerable damage to its people.  After the war, the government kept assets seized and made no efforts to reconcile with its citizens. 
Altman's law suit broke through the tenacity with which the Austrian government fought to keep hold of the stolen treasures of Jews and Austrians alike.
The pure magic of this film is in the strength of the story and its characters.  One writer for the NY Times alikes Mirren and Reynolds against Austria as a David and Goliath story.  This could not be more accurate.  The pair are funny, witty, and truly the underdog all audiences will find themselves rooting for from the start of the film to the last moment. 
This is a wonderful movie and a great way to end what has been a great summer of films.
We truly hope you will join us tonight for our last night, and bring a friend too.  You won't want to miss this.

7 p.m. in the Science Building.  See you there.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sci-Fi Thriller? Oh yes, please.

The next film in our summer film series will keep all our sci-fi fans in absolute delight.  Not a sci-fi groupie, fear not.  This is still an incredible film that you will want to watch and be so glad you came to.  What is it?  Well, none other than Duncan Jones' Moon.
Wait, you've never heard of this movie before?  Well, you are not alone.  Many missed this films debut a couple of years ago and yet it is still a standout film in the sci-fi genre.  Moon stars the incredible Sam Rockwell as an astronaut whose sole job is to sit on the moon and harvest energy to be sent back to Earth.  Humanity has depleted its energy supplies.  With the help of a new technology, Rockwell's character is able to harness and transfer energy from the moon.  The problem is that this is a solo job.  He is there alone for a three year period.  His only companion is the computer AI named Gerty (voice by Kevin Spacey) who provides excellent dry and witty remarks that pepper the film with humor.  Unlike Kubrick's Hal in 2001: a Space Odyssey, Gerty emits a sense of concern and compassion towards Rockwell.  That is, until it begins to doubt Rockwell's sanity and begins to inform those back home about what it believes is happening to him.
The film starts at the end of Rockwell's time on the moon.  He has become a little stir-crazy...and perhaps a little crazy period.  And then things get really interesting...  

This film has been called a tour de fource, a rare gem, epic, superb.  And, we agree.  You will too. 

Join us this Monday, the 3rd of August at 7 p.m. for Moon.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dark City

This week's film fest feature is the film noir classic, Dark City.  It is your classic tale of deception, suspense, and romance.  Oh, yes, this movie has it all.  Beginning with your standard con job, Danny, our main character, spies a fellow at the bar next to him with a check for $5,000.  Thinking quickly, he soon has the man headed to a private poker game where all the players are Danny's buddies.  Before long, the audience will see the swindle unfolding until the poor unsuspecting fellow has lost everything.  Here's where it gets tricky. The next day, Danny learns that the man he cheated has committed suicide.  Racked with guilt, he and his pals are worried and waiting for the police to come knocking.  The drama comes in when they find out that the check they stole belonged to the man's brother who is now seeking vengeance.  When members of the poker game start dying, the action really picks up.
What makes this film interesting, is the role Lizabeth Scott.  She is the gorgeous lounge singer in love with Danny.  Scott's character is really why we chose this film.  Not only does she truly steal the screen in every scene with her expressions and dynamic appearance, but she brings something different to the typical noir film.  Audiences are used to seeing the woman, hopelessly in love with the bad boy who will never settle down.  They are used to seeing her become bitter, leaving the man, or settling for a half life as his side-arm.  Worse, films often show the female character becoming like the bad boy just to keep him.  Scott's character is different.  She shows us another side of love and the strength of what a woman can do.  I'd say more, but then I'd be giving it away in the end.  
Besides being beautifully shot, this is a great story and a good way to spend your Monday evening.  I hope that you will join us for this week's film.  A few more bits of fun trivia about Dark City...(just because)                                                                  This film was Charlton Heston's (playing the role of Danny) movie debut.  At the young age of 27 when he shot this, Heston was noted solely for his presence and beauty.  Critics at the time remarked that he may well become as famous as Alan Ladd, whose career he soon surpassed, after this performance.  
In Dark City, the world first sees the detective duo of Harry Morgan and Jack Webb before they were paired up as partners in TV's famous Dragnet series as Joe Friday and Bill Gannon.

Join us for Monday, July 27th, at 7 p.m. in the Science Building.  See you all there.

Thursday, July 23, 2015's summer already?

Okay, so somehow it is the end of July practically and we haven't even gotten some summer reading recommendations out to you all.  We are sure that you are all wondering what is going on. Well...fear not, we wouldn't dream of letting the summer go by without telling you all about the excellent new books we've got in and send you some spectacular titles to start reading.  And, for more than you'll find here, stop by and see us in the Library.  We have some great books picked out just for your reading pleasure on our summer book displays.  Really, there is a little bit of everything for anyone.
Adhering to our rules for summer book pics, we have compiled some simply fabulous and frivolously fun books.  Come check one out today.

But, this summer, we are doing something a little bit different.  We want to know what you are reading.  We want to know what you like, what's fun and thrilling on  your list.  So, to inspire your sharing, we are having a summer reading give-a-way.  Oh yes, there are prizes.  In fact, we have put together one awesome summer bag complete with beach bag, umbrella, picnic blanket, movies, books, and much more.  To win, tell us what you are reading and why you like it.  That's it.  You can comment here.  You can comment on our Facebook page.  You can Tweet us @LibraryTVCC #summerreads.  Or drop your book recommendations in at the Library.
Anyway you want to do it, let us know what you're reading today.  Oh, and you can enter as many times as you'd like.  We are here all summer.

And for our first reading recommendation of the summer, rather than pick a specific book, we are picking an all around great author that is well worth reading...and, fitting with our rules, is fun, easy to read, and highly entertaining.  That is the wonderful Mr. Bill Bryson, author of many books such as A Short History of Nearly Everything, A Walk in the Woods,
The Lost Continent: travels through small town America, and several others.  Bryson doesn't write fiction.  So, if you were hoping for the latest thriller, this is not your book.  However, don't dismiss Bryson yet.  Rather than made up tales, he writes very witty and often ridiculously humorous anecdotes about all kinds of things. The perfect kind of book for getting a kick start on your summer reading. 
All kinds of thing, you may ask...yes, all. 
For example, there is A Short History of Nearly Everything.  This is one of Bryson's best new titles.  In the last couple hundred years, the sheer volume of scientific discoveries and advances is astonishing.  And yet, as Bryson puts it, science and discovery is thrilling and exciting but the modern reader doesn't see that.  It's not the message but the messenger.  Most scientific texts are dry, full of terms the average person doesn't know, and become quickly uninteresting.  This book is not that at all. It stays true to Bryson's style and spirit.  To use John Waller's lines in an article written for The Guardian, this book is "The sheer improbability of life, the incomprehensible vastness of the cosmos, the ineffable smallness of elementary particles, and the imponderable counter-intuitiveness of quantum mechanics. He tells us, for example, that every living cell contains as many working parts as a Boeing 777, and that prehistoric dragonflies, as big as ravens, flew among giant trees whose roots and trunks were covered with mosses 40 metres in height."  Yep, not your typical science book.
And for the adventurer, A Walk in the Woods will leave you laughing out loud.  This is the account of Bryson's exploration of the most hiked trail in the United States, the Appalachian Trail.  There is an incident with a bear that is so fun, it's hard to read and keep the book in your hands.  There is the wisdom imparted to all nature fans, survivalists, etc. given while Bryson is shivering in his tent that will have tears on your cheeks you are laughing so much.  You will want to read this one and share it with a friend.

 Which one do we recommend?  Well....all of them.  Any of them.  These are fun, light, and guaranteed to make you smile.  And, they can be read all at once or in little bits at a time leaving you with a smile and a bit of adventure at every turn.  You may even find yourself reading them aloud to someone because you have to share what you are reading.  It is that good.