Hamilton and Hip-Hop

~posted by Karen D.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowI did not do well in my high school history class.  As a matter of fact I received a failing mark.

Since then, however, I’ve had a lot of fun reading my own selection of books about history.  Some of these books have grabbed and kept my interest throughout the reading by giving me a sense of what life was like when certain events were going on, a view into the thoughts of those in the middle of the “historical events”.

Lately my interest has been piqued by Lin-Manuel Miranda.  He came across a book about Alexander Hamilton and became so inspired by what he read that he created an entire Broadway musical from it – featuring hip-hop! Continue reading “Hamilton and Hip-Hop”

Nightstand Reads: Christopher Barzak, author of “Before and Afterlives,” shares what he’s reading

Christopher Barzak will be reading from his recent collection of short stories, Before and Afterlives, on Wednesday, June 25th at the Central Library on Level 4, Room 2 at 7:00 p.m. His novel One for Sorrow was recently made into the film Jamie Marks is Dead, starring Liv Tyler and Judy Greer. Christopher was kind enough to share what he’s been reading in advance of his visit.

Image of Christopher BarzakMost recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult fiction, both because I love the teen perspective in fiction in general (it’s so up close and personal, very intensely emotional, and in the best cases, hard edged) and because I am a jury member for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy for a third year in a row. But despite reading a lot of YA in recent years, I’ve also been reading a lot of classic genre fiction, like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Invisible Man, as part of an ongoing writing project of mine (writing short form retellings of classic genre fiction). So the three books I’m going to recommend are all connected to those two spheres I’ve been reading within recently. Continue reading “Nightstand Reads: Christopher Barzak, author of “Before and Afterlives,” shares what he’s reading”

Books that are One with the Bike

I’ve been reading some interesting books about bikes and bike riding, racing and commuting. Here are a few books that have an interesting angle or two. Sometimes the angle is from the ground looking up.

This is Parkin’s follow up to his very popular A Dog in a Hat. This time he returns to the states and learns to ride a wide tired bike over snowmobile tracks. When he finally gets his chance to race in America he finds this snow training has been all wrong for the quick and tumble races that lay before him in the American South.

“I’ve been riding a bicycle as my principal means of transportation in New York since the early 1980’s.” So says the author and musician in this book where he recounts his bicycling travels in Berlin, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Manila, Sydney, London and U.S. cities big and small from New York to Sweetwater Texas. Continue reading “Books that are One with the Bike”

Winsor McCay: Ahead of his time

a panel from Litte Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay

Have you ever looked at the art of someone like Hieronymus Bosch and wondered “What century did this guy come from?” He lived in the 15th and 16th centuries, but his art is so modern and fanciful that it almost seems out of place. Did Bosch hitch a ride in a flying saucer and visit 1940? If he did, he probably shared the ride with a man named Winsor McCay, who was visiting from 1909.

Winsor McCay is a comic artist’s comic artist. He’s the guy that all the greats look up to, one that had many revolutionary ideas. He was thinking about animation before it really existed, and his sense of perspective and Surrealism were far ahead of his time. Continue reading “Winsor McCay: Ahead of his time”

Explore your Inner Captain: Great Reads about Nautical Pioneers

Ah, sailing: the full sail puffed up with pride, the wind whipping through my hair, the salty scent of brackish water. At least, for the next 89 minutes. Then I have to return the rental boat. 

The beautiful waterways in and around Seattle inspire us with dreams of great voyages, whether you’ve got  Old Salty moored in Lake Union or you don’t know a tiller from a topmast. If, like me, you just can’t get enough time on the water this summer, these stories of nautical pioneers are sure to slake your thirst for seafaring adventures. 

Pirate of Exquisite MindA Pirate of Exquisite Mind:  The Life of William Dampier, Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer by Diana and Michael Preston
This real-life Jack Sparrow resembles our favorite fictional pirates: even as he sets sail for daring and exotic adventures, he maintains a rich ethical and intellectual life.  Better still, he has left the lasting legacy of a real man.  If you’ve ever used a barbecue, seen a zebra, or read Gulliver’s Travels, you have touched the journey of this fantastic figure. 

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time by Dava Sobel
Eccentric geniuses, fierce competition, large sums of money and dysfunctional relationships.  This compelling history of the struggle to discover an accurate way of measuring longitude while at sea would have made the best reality TV of the 1700s. 

Sailing alone around the worldSailing Alone around the World by Joshua Slocum
The first man to circumnavigate the globe by himself shares the joys and terrors of his historic voyage.  His detailed nautical descriptions will appeal to the most seasoned sailor, but his knack for encapsulating a natural wonder or a tense situation in a few poignant words can’t miss with the landlubber. 

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
A fantastic introduction to seafaring for adults and children.  The life story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematical prodigy who profoundly affected nautical almanacs, also conveys a wealth of information about ships and sailing.  Bowditch’s extraordinary ability to pursue his dreams despite overwhelming obstacles is a powerful example which transcends the maritime context. 

        ~ Audrey, Central Library