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Friday, July 1, 2016

Adult Summer Reading Book Review: Titus Andronicus

Book Title: Titus Andronicus

Author: Shakespeare

Reviewed By: Laura K.

Rafe Esquith, an acclaimed inner-city teacher mentioned that he had his students perform this play. He noted that it was a challenging book. The fact that inner city jr. high kids had read this book encouraged me that it was readable. Because there was no side-by-side version on the shelf, after reading some of the book, I consulted online Sparknotes. This gave clarity on the thrust of the book.

Why I Picked it Up: Rafe Esquith's recommendation in 'Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire' or one of his other books. I've read several of his books.

Why I Finished It: Partly for the reading program, partly for cultural literacy, expanding my knowledge of Shakespeare's works.

I’d Give this Book To: Definitely not for the squeamish. As Sparknotes mentions, there's some violence such as a murder, rape, removal of some body part, or other vengeful violence on nearly every page. Read this if you like violent thrillers. No major surprises, but a quirky, short Shakespeare book.

Find Titus Andronicus in our catalog.

Summer Reading program participants! There's still time to submit a review of one of the books you read this summer. Your review will get you an entry into a special prize drawing in addition to the drawings that all program finishers are entered in. More prizes! Yay! 
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Adult Summer Reading Book Review: Mother Courage

Book Title: Mother Courage and Her Children

Author: Bertolt Brecht

Reviewed By: Laura K.

If you don't like the idea of war, you'll like this book. It describes war in such a preposterous way, it would make a great Monty Python's circus episode. Characters are, shall we say, extreme. The logical conclusions of war are outlined in this short and witty book.

Why I Picked it Up: Confession: I noticed this was a short book by a famous author. So, to breeze through the reading program, yet increase my cultural literacy, I selected the book. It was worth the short time it took to read it, quirky as the book was.

Why I Finished It: Partly for the reading program, partly for cultural literacy.

I’d Give this Book To: Folks who don't like war or would like some increased perspective on war or become familiar with this famous author.

Find Mother Courage in our catalog.

Summer Reading program participants! There's still time to submit a review of one of the books you read this summer. Your review will get you an entry into a special prize drawing in addition to the drawings that all program finishers are entered in. More prizes! Yay! 
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Adult Summer Reading Book Review: The DiMaggios

Book Title: The DiMaggios : Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream

Author: Thomas Clavin

Reviewed By: Thomas P.

The DiMaggios of San Francisco were a very special Italian-American family, producing three outstanding outfielders who played simultaneously for various major league teams. Most know of Joe DiMaggio, famous for his graceful fielding and outstanding batting (only major leaguer to hit more than 300 home runs and have less career strikeouts than home runs). Some know of his brother Dominic who played for the Red Sox and was widely acclaimed as being a better defensive player than his brother Joe. Few know anything at all about Vince who played in the National League but likely had the best arm of the three brothers and may have been the best defensive player of them all. Vince was held back by virtue of his high strikeout marks, setting the major league record for batting futility that stood for over 40 years before being broken in the mid-'70s. That said, no one ever tried more than once to take an extra base on Vince's arm. Also, he was blessed with tremendous power on those times he did connect.

This book is the story of these three brothers, their other family members, their wives and their own families, and how they lived in America once their baseball careers were over. Granted the huge popularity of Joe DiMaggio, you would expect the book to focus overwhelmingly on him. Instead, there is a very balanced approach, with the majority of the book devoted to Dominic, who comes across as a sort of Renaissance man. He single-handedly keeps the greater DiMaggio family together when conflicts arise; he plays baseball well enough to be invited to several All Star games and makes it to the World Series in 1946; he takes base hits away from his brother Joe during the latter's 56 game hitting streak in 1941; he gets along with Ted Williams (a very difficult task) during and after the baseball season; when his baseball career ends, he becomes a very successful businessman. Through it all, Dominic DiMaggio remains a humble, personable figure.

Brothers Joe and Vince develop differently through the book, with Vince withdrawing into himself, especially after missing out on a major league pension by an eyelash. Despite this, Vince maintains a good relationship with his daughter.

Most surprising of all is the depiction of Joe DiMaggio, always a loner, but now revealed as a man obsessed with himself, complaining during World War II about the amount of money he was missing out on because he was in the Army at $50 per month instead of earning his major league salary. Jolting Joe comes across as penurious, self-centered, and incredibly obtuse towards his own family when they suffer reverses or tragedies (the ultimate sin that can be committed by anyone of Italian ethnicity). His later life devolves into a business relationship wherein a non-family member dictates to him how to generate ever more money while his own son lives life estranged from the father who considers his son a bum.

Why I Picked it Up: On my mother's side, I have an almost pure Italian heritage. Growing up, the DiMaggios were almost revered by my mother's family as members of her ethnicity who had grown into heroes of American life. While Joe was always the hero, her family always pointed out that not only did Joe play baseball better than almost everyone else, so did his brothers Dominic and Vince. This book was my opportunity to learn more about the entire DiMaggio family.

Why I Finished It: I would have expected the book to rely heavily on baseball and baseball anecdotes. Of course, there are a lot of these, but a very substantial portion of the book concerns the off-field actions of the family and their relationships with one another. Raised in an environment where family was only slightly lower than one's relationship with God and believing that all Italian families exhibited these same characteristics, I was stunned to see how differently Dominic and Joe lived their lives within the greater context of their families. Dominic's life was similar to what I saw, with an overwhelming emphasis on intra-familial relationships and especially on the necessity of keeping those relationships alive and vibrant. Joe's life was almost completely the opposite, rarely having contact with his family before, during, and after his baseball career and his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Vince fell somewhere in the middle, tending more towards Joe's style, at least as far as extra-familial relationships went. Within his own family, Vince seemed to be very open to his children, mirroring the life that Dominic showed but completely unlike Joe.

I’d Give this Book To: I would recommend this to anyone looking to learning more about the DiMaggio family or having more than a casual interest in baseball as played in America in the 1930s and 1940s. About half of the book concerns life outside of baseball and how elements of our everyday life affect all members of society, even at the major league baseball level. It reveals that even at that high level of life, we all share certain characteristics.

Find The DiMaggios in our catalog.

Summer Reading program participants! There's still time to submit a review of one of the books you read this summer. Your review will get you an entry into a special prize drawing in addition to the drawings that all program finishers are entered in. More prizes! Yay!
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Adult Summer Reading Book Review: Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown

Book Title: The Boys in the Boat

Author: Daniel Brown

Reviewed By: Pam D.

Those who row reach for something greater than themselves, they are a symphony of motion. Harsh demands of rowing humbled these 9 men. Absolute surrender of self,no egos, cooperative endeavor,crew members row blind,only the coxswain knows what is going on,they trust that they are on the right course.

Why I Picked it Up: I had to read a sports book for summer read and I had noticed this book in reviews. I do not care for non-fiction or sports books,but this is a narrative non-fiction book and the author keeps your interest by the many back stories going on. You know the outcome but you don't know how the story is going to play out.

Why I Finished It: I wanted to know how they went about training to achieve their goal and how the Olympics played out in Hitler's Nazi Germany. The effects of the Great Depression on these young men and their stories, specially Joe Rantz. He has a very interesting story beginning with his boyhood thru to becoming an adult.

I’d Give this Book To: Everyone would enjoy this book. I have told everyone who will listen about this book, even my piano students. The Young Readers edition is called, "The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation):The True Story of a American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics" by Daniel James Brown.

Find The Boys in the Boat in our catalog.

Summer Reading program participants! There's still time to submit a review of one of the books you read this summer. Your review will get you an entry into a special prize drawing in addition to the drawings that all program finishers are entered in. More prizes! Yay! 
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Mike's Picks #6

Hi there, I'm back.  It's been a little while, but I'm back to babble on about what music you should be listening to.  This review is a little different from the others.  What's old is new again, at least here at the Roselle Public Library.  This week, we added a whole slew of classic albums, based on suggestions from patrons and selections from Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  I whittled it down to my top ten of the bunch, because what's a blog without the occasional top ten list.  These are in no particular order, but for conversation sake, I put the Rolling Stone ranking next to the album titles.  So, while I wait for the music industry to release an album I can actually suggest (come on, music industry, step up your game!) here are my picks and why I picked them.

Patti Smith - Horses (44)
I've always seen Patti Smith as a spiritual successor to Jim Morrison; rock poets from opposite coasts.  While Morrison represented the macho, lizard king, sex god side of rock stardom, Smith took a more gender neutral approach to her art (case in point, the cover of the album).  It's a muscular album, mixing the best bits of 60s garage rock with the chaos of punk and the bombast of Springsteen.  Horses was produced by John Cale, who was also a member of...

The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground & Nico (13)
It's amazing to me that this album came out in early 1967.  Pre-summer of love, pre-Sgt. Pepper's, most of the country was far too deep in a peace and love kick to notice this dark slice of New York night life.  It's been said many times, but it's one of those albums where not many people bought it when it came out, but those who did all started bands.

Nirvana - Nevermind (17)
Most people believe that this album killed hair metal.  I tend to think that over-exposure and changing tastes killed hair metal, Nirvana were just innocent bystanders, making catchy, Pixies inspired punk songs, never expecting to become the biggest band of the era.  Either way, Nevermind is a milestone, a true pop rock album, where the pop hooks equal the rough edges.

*Personally, I've never found the grunge genre to make much sense, besides fashion wise (they all wore plaid.)  None of the bands sound alike enough to constitute a whole genre.  Soundgarden were prog-rock with Sabbath riffs, Alice In Chains were groove metal, Nirvana made pop punk, and then there's the Neil Young esq. classic rock stylings of...

Pearl Jam - Ten (209)
If you're one of those people who think Nevermind killed hair metal, you probably think Ten aided and abetted.  The other big album of the grunge era, and the last grunge band standing (they just headlined Bonnaroo) Pearl Jam exploded out of the gates with their debut.  With big, soaring vocals, outstanding production, and pop hooks everywhere it's hard to imagine this album was seen as "alternative rock" when it came out, but it goes to show where rock music was at the time.

James Brown - Live at the Apollo (25)
Easily my favorite live album of all time, LatA is the sound of a freakish, otherworldly, super duper tight set of musicians coming together, lead by a madman.  From the word go it sounds like James Brown got shot out of a cannon.  It's amazing, you can hear The Godfather of Soul take the notoriously tough to impress Apollo crowd and turn them into jelly.  (Screaming Girls may as well be listed in the credits).

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (19)
I cant think of another album that sounds like Astral Weeks; not other Van Morrison records and not other records by bands trying to sound like Van Morrison.  The 70s was filled with albums that tried to capture what Morrison did here, but nothing beats this strange mix of celtic folk, jazz and pop.  It's way ahead of it's time, or this time for that matter.
Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (48)
The first truly great, truly important group in hip-hop (N.W.A. wasn't too far behind) Public Enemy were at their peak with this record.  Chuck D, along with KRS-One and Rakim, were really the forefathers of politically driven rap music in the late 80s, and It Takes a Nation... is one of the most venomous and raucous records of it's time.  And, for better or worse, it introduced the world to Flava Flav.
Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis (89)
If this is how all pop music sounded, I would be a happy man.  Less sexy and more sensual, Dusty In Memphis is maybe the best blue-eyed soul album of all time.  It's one of those records where the sound of the room it was recorded in is every bit a highlight as the vocals or instrumentation.  Fun fact; it was during the sessions for this album that Dusty recommended to Atlantic Records that they sign her friends band to a contract, which they did.  That friend was John Paul Jones, and the band was Led Zeppelin.

Elvis Costello - This Year's Model (98)
I love those middle eras where a new music style pops up and is still so fresh that the artists are still figuring out what to do with it, and haven't beaten it to death.  This Year's Model is a perfect example of that.  Was it punk?  Pop?  New wave?  It was all of those things, while trying only to be itself.  The other Elvis was at his peak on TYM.  Punchy, wry and very catchy, it's the perfect album for the uninitiated.

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (47)
What can be said about A Love Supreme?  If you've never heard of it, A LOT can be said about it.  A spiritual journey in four parts, it's Coltrane at his best, and that's saying something for someone with records like Giant Steps and Blue Train in his catalog.  If you consider yourself a fan of jazz, and you don't have this record, you need to reconsider your position as a fan of jazz.  "Acknowledgement" still contains the best first two minutes of any album I can think of.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jumping through June!

June is a month of jumps: jumping from mild weather to warm, short days to long, and few activities to many. It's a month of jumps at the Roselle Public Library District, too—especially when it comes to activities, including summer reading!

This year's summer reading theme is Read for the Win!, a literary celebration of sports and athletic achievement. Children, adults, and families who complete the requirements of the program get their chance to win our grand prize giveaways, including a Kindle Fire HD 6" tablet, tour and tasting certificate from Lynfred Winery, three-month fitness pass to the Roselle Park District's fitness center, and more!

Everyone needs more donuts in their life, and everyone needs to plan something special for Father's Day. You can accomplish both at Donuts with Dad!, Sunday, June 19, 1:30-2:30P. Share your favorite doughy treats with Dad and participate in stories, crafts, and games! This is a drop-in event; no registration required.

Now that school's out, many kids might be spending their summer days at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Everyone can spend their summer afternoons at Grandparents Got Game!, held each Wednesday through August 10 in the Meeting Rooms, 1:30-3P.

Each session of Grandparents Got Game! focuses on a different theme. Next Wednesday, June 22, dial up your do-it-yourself spirit with DIY FUN! Participate in a milk jug toss, decorate kickballs with fabric paint, and race through a course of straws with zig-zag racing.

Then on Wednesday, June 29, honor Independence Day a little early with Patriotic Paper Day! Make an Uncle Sam mask and patriotic windsock, pilot paper airplanes, practice your plumbing with a pipe cleaner bracelet, and more.

Backing up a bit, we find Robo Demo on Thursday, June 23, 1-2P. Learn about building robots and watch an exciting demo by Triton College! Registration is required by visiting our online calendar, by phone (630.529.1641), or by visiting the Circulation Desk.

Maybe your garden needs some help in the heat of the summer. If so, the DuPage County Master Gardeners will be on-hand at the Master Gardeners Help Desk, Monday, June 27, 6-8P to green up your thumb (and your garden) again!

Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by University of Illinois Extension educators to provide a network of gardening and horticulture programs for educating the public. All information provided is based on research from the University of Illinois.

And on Tuesday, June 28, 7-8P, travel the waters and wonders of the Northeast with Coast of Maine Travelog, presented by world traveler Ralph Danielsen.

The rugged coast of Maine threads 400 years of history among its quaint fishing villages and picture-perfect lighthouses. We'll boat around the islands, check out some down-east art, walk in the footsteps of great American poets, see presidential vacation homes, and explore many picturesque harbors, all washed by high tides and Atlantic fog.

Registration is required by visiting our online calendar, by phone (630.529.1641), or by visiting the Circulation Desk.

Jump through June with the Roselle Public Library District!

Monday, May 16, 2016

#RPLDiscover: "Humans of New York: Stories" by Brandon Stanton

Review by Brett Peto
Public Services Assistant
Reference & Adult Services Department

Sometimes I read 400-page books, but not often, and they tend to take a month.

Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton, though, took two days.

Filled with candid color photos and even more candid and colorful stories, it's a compilation of Stanton's five years of walking the streets of New York and engaging strangers in conversations ranging from easy topics like fashion and humor to rich, personal subjects: ambitions, aspirations, mistakes, regrets, problems and solutions.

You may have seen the Facebook page Humans of New York (or HONY, as it's usually abbreviated) on the news or in the news. In the past two weeks, Stanton and his followers have raised over $1 million for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

If that doesn't demonstrate the power of well-done social media to move people to action with a few photos and words, I'm not sure what does.

But it's because those photos and words provide such clear glimpses and insights and behind-the-scenes access into other human lives that Stanton and this book are so successful.

Take this hardworking woman's story:

After I finish my shift at the bakery, I start my shift at Starbucks. I work ninety-five hours per week at three different jobs. One of my sons graduated from Yale, and I have two more children in college. And when they finish, I want to go to college, too. I want to be a Big Boss. I'm a boss at the bakery right now, but just a little boss. I want to be a Big Boss.

It's the diversity of human perspective that makes this book and the continuing social media feeds remarkable. Stanton seems fearless, approaching people who may not look casually approachable but open their hearts and minds after a few minutes.

For example:

There are two books in America: one for the poor and one for the rich. The poor person does a crime and gets forty years. A rich person gets a slap on the wrist for the same crime. They say that the poor person doesn't want to work and the poor person just wants a handout. Well, I picked cotton until I was thirteen, left Alabama, and got my education on the streets of New York. I drove a long-distance truck all my life and never once drew welfare, never once took food stamps, either. I sent four kids to college. But they say all poor people do is sit around with a quart of beer. Look in this bag next to me. I've got three things in this bag next to me: a Red Bull, a Pepsi, and Drano, because my drain is clogged. But you see, even if I do everything right, I still have to play by the poor book.

I admire how Stanton presents these experiences without a whiff of judgment. There's no editorializing, no moralizing, no chastising his subjects for what they tell him. Which helps explain why they say what they do. It's refreshing in an age of instant opinions, first impressions, and too much outrage to find a book that lets people be who they are in full view.

I have very dreams. Much dreams. First, learn English.

This book encourages you to consider perspectives you might not have otherwise considered. It introduces you to people who may be like yourself, but probably aren't. It invites you to embrace the variety of life, encompassing all colors, ethnicities, faiths, cultures, genders, socioeconomic statuses, ages, sexual orientations, and more.

I'm glad I discovered this book, this page, this phenomenon. So many things are called eye-opening or life-changing, but Humans of New York: Stories is life-opening.

You can find our copy on the New Nonfiction shelf, 974.71 STA.

I'm going to be an inventor. I already have some good ideas. I had an idea for an electronic cigarette with a whatchamacallit in it that makes mist so you feel like you're smoking but you really aren't. And also a toothbrush where you put the toothpaste in the bottom and it comes out the top when you're brushing.

STANTON: Those are some good ideas. Anything else?

A fart gun.

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