Seattle Rep’s HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN: Beyond the Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents HERSHEY FELDER AS IRVING BERLIN from February 23 to March 18, 2018. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, CDs, DVDs and musical scores to enhance your experience of the show.

“Alexander’s Ragtime Band” “Blue Skies” “Always” “Cheek to Cheek” “Puttin’ on the Ritz” “Easter Parade” “What’ll I Do” “How Deep Is the Ocean” “The Song Is Ended” “God Bless America” “White Christmas”…the list goes on and on…and on!  Irving Berlin was a tireless worker who wrote over 1500 songs – a staggering amount – and what’s even more remarkable than the sheer number of songs is the high quality of so much of his work.  Regardless of whether he was writing for the stage, for film, or stand-alone popular songs, he was a master songwriter (without ever having learned to read music).  From his birth in Russia in 1888 to his death at age 101, The Seattle Rep’s “Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin” explores the man behind all of this extraordinary music.

From the Rep’s synopsis:

From Imperial Russia to the streets of the Lower East Side, ACTOR AND PIANIST Hershey Felder takes us on a journey through “AMERICA’S COMPOSER” Irving Berlin’s incredible and fascinating life. Featuring Berlin’s most enduring tunes including “God Bless America” and “White Christmas,” this musical portrait is an uplifting IMMIGRANT TALE that breathes new life into THE AMERICAN DREAM.

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A Day of Remembrance with Khizr Khan

Gold Star father Khizr Khan made headlines when he offered to lend his copy of the Constitution to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, asking him to read the document and “look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.'” Khan will be speaking at Seattle Center on Sunday, February 19th at Densho’s 2018 Day of Remembrance–Our History, Our Responsibility–an event to honor Japanese Americans of World War II and stand in solidarity with American Muslims today.

Khan writes about his great love for our Constitution, and our responsibility to uphold it, in his books An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice and This Is our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father. During World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the 1942 Executive Order 9066 authorizing the removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, a number of individuals rose up to challenge the injustice and defend their civil rights as promised by the Constitution.

Perhaps the most famous is Fred Korematsu, who defied evacuation orders and challenged the constitutionality of EO 9066 in the landmark case Korematsu v. United States, and whose story is told in the book Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice and in the documentary film Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story. While the EO was initially upheld, Korematsu eventually won the case several decades later in 1983. He went on to champion for civil rights for others and was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. After 9/11, Korematsu filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court against the imprisonment of Muslim inmates at Guantanamo Bay and pointing to similarities with the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans in WWII.

Washingtonian Gordon Hirayabashi was another resister. He was a student attending the University of Washington when EO 9066 went into effect. He first refused curfew, then the order to report for relocation by turning himself in to the FBI as a dissenter in the hopes of becoming a test case, challenging that the order violated the Constitution and his rights as a citizen. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Obama in 2012. His story is told through diaries, letters, and other archival documents in A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States.

A companion case to Hirabayashi v. United States was that of Minoru Yasui (Yasui v. United States), a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who also defied curfew and turned himself into local police as a test case. He too was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2015. The story of Yasui and his family is told in Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family.

For even more reading about the incarceration of Japanese Americans, see our booklist.

And please join us on February 19 for Our History, Our Responsibility. This event is co-sponsored by The Seattle Public Library, and will also feature a documentary film project, Omoiyami, by musician Kishi Bashi. Reserve your free tickets here.

– Posted by Heather M.

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City Council Reads – Sally Bagshaw, District 7

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, District 7, reflects on a book that is much beloved by many, and soon to be discovered by many more.

Photo of a group march, with people carrying a sign that says "Grandmothers Against Gun Violence." Text on photo says: Sally Bagshaw, District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia

What book was most influential in your life or career and why?

You’ve given me an especially tough challenge to identify ONE book  that had a profound impact on me and my career.  I can tell you about one book LIST called something like “100 of the best books you should have read before you went to college but didn’t”.  After law school I read every book on that list and the list’s creator was right  — I learned so much from those writers who wrote honestly and shared their wisdom through their hearts and experiences.

Last year I gave you another list that led me into and through issues of slavery and abolitionists, so this year I will give you just one book from my childhood:  Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

I read this book after sixth grade, riding the bus from Portland to Boise.  I had been visiting my grandfather and was returning home.  It was the first meaty book I ever read cover to cover; I was on the bus alone, read without interruption, and I remember being slightly disappointed when the bus arrived in Boise.

I know now that this book has been criticized from many sides since it was first published — from Christian evangelists, to politicians who see it as corrupting young people’s minds over social issues such as conformity, and many more.  Bosh.

As a 12 year old, I was enthralled and buoyed by Meg’s independence, her strong love for her little brother and family, her determination to save her father, and her belief in the theory of the tesseract.

After my sons were born decades later, I delighted reading them not just The Wrinkle in Time, but the other four in the series.  Yes, the universe can warp and yes, love prevails.

Editor’s Note: if you’ve never read the series, this is the perfect time to draw your own mental pictures before seeing the motion picture adaptation arriving in theaters next month – or even the trailer. The series, in order, is A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.

~ posted by David W.

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Galentine’s Day

For Galentine’s Day I reached out to the amazing ladies in my life for some female friendship literature! Here were their suggestions:


Jen (the childhood friend): Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Continue reading

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Nightstand Reads: Seattle author Kim Fu shares recent favorites

Our guest blogger today is Kim Fu, author of the forthcoming novel The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, in which a group of young girls descend on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets, and camp songs by the fire. Filled with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore traces these five girls—Nita, Andee, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan—through and beyond this fateful trip. Fu will be appearing at Elliott Bay Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

I’ve kept a list of every book I’ve read since 2010. It’s been interesting to see patterns that align with events in my personal life: interests that crop up and fade, what and how much I read in a year of mourning versus a year of celebration. Like many people, I also discovered that what I thought of as my own capricious, wide-ranging taste was instead reflective of what books get published and hyped in a particular year, and that I needed to make a conscious effort to read more diversely. I was especially inspired by this list by R.O. Kwon, Continue reading

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New African American Fiction

February is Black History Month, so the Reader Services department created a list of recently published African American fiction that we are loving — and we think you will, too. Here is a sampling of some of the books on the list which includes general fiction, mystery, fantasy and romance. Definitely something for every reader!

Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union is a romance set in the Civil War that centers on a young black woman and freewoman, Elle Burns, who goes undercover as a pro-Union Loyalty League spy. Things get complicated for Elle when she falls for another spy of a different race. Library Journal said: “Courageous, passionate protagonists fight for justice, freedom, and the right to love in an exceptional story that both educates and entertains and beautifully launches a unique series.”

Naima Coster’s debut Halsey Street looks at how gentrification impacts one family in Brooklyn, Continue reading

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City Council Reads – Mike O’Brien, District 6

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” This week, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, representing District 6, Northwest Seattle.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”

I read Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner in my early 20’s when I was beginning to work as a river guide and an outdoor instructor.  It’s about land development and water policy in the Western United States, including places where I spent a lot of time (the Columbia River basin) and places I wanted to spend time (the Colorado River).  It opened my eyes to the ways in which government policy shapes our landscape and environment, and has spurred me on to pursue environmental policy work as both a volunteer with organizations like the Sierra Club and as a Seattle City Councilmember.

Continue reading

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