Senior’s Week & A Well-Read Alice

SW13_NSW_Gov_Banner_320x240_JamesThis week is NSW Senior’s Week, the largest celebration for people over 60 in the southern hemisphere.  Seniors Week is an annual NSW Government campaign presented by Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC) which provides seniors with opportunities to be active and healthy, independent and recognised for their community involvement. The theme for NSW Seniors Week is Live Life! and reflects the celebration of life, achievements and community engagement. With over 900 free or specially discounted events held for seniors across the state, there is something for everyone to enjoy. (from www.seniorsweek.com).

Here at Shoalhaven Libraries Nowra we have joined the Senior’s Week celebrations by hosting free computer classes for seniors. The classes, which focus on basic internet use and searching,  have been a great success, with each class fully booked. The seniors who attended have also shown an interest in learning more about using social media tools – such as Twitter and Facebook- and tablets and other devices. It’s always exciting to see older generations jumping on board the technology train and learning new skills; I’m sure anyone who works in a library will agree with me when I say that watching people of any age master new ways of finding information – and the happiness and pride that comes with it-  is one of the best parts of the job.

Notes from a Well-Read Alice

We are also celebrating Senior’s Week by introducing a new blogger to the Readers’s Haven team, Alice. Alice is a Shoalhaven Libraries Home Library Service user who, as well as being a voracious reader, writes lovely reviews and reflections on the books she’s been reading. We like her reviews so much we thought we’d share them here on the Readers’ Haven. Thankyou Alice for allowing us to do so, and welcome to the Readers’ Haven!

Notes from a well-read Alice logo

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith

Alice says: “The precise, almost antiquated dialogue of gentle Botswana people is charming. The description of the background is so good one alsmost feels the location is familiar. Mma Ramotswe is proud of the propoertions of her traditional figure, which would send many Australinas rushing to Jenny Craig. The tricky cases are solved by the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency with unpredictable and amusing results. As usual, A.M. Smith excels, but I do prefer his Scotland Street series.”

Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

Alice says: “When I saw ‘Patricia Cornwell’ I immediately thought of the British author who writes delightful historical fiction, usually set on the south-east coast of England. Was I wrong! This American forensic scientist writes competently about her profession in detail. A body had eyes gouged out, sockets filled with sand and lids superglued back together again. Flesh has been hacked off with a serrated knife. Afterwards, detectives sit calmly together over a coffee discussin the finer points. As I’, an insomniac who reads into the ‘wee small hours’ I was too squeamish to carry on!”

At Home with the Templetons by Monica McInerney

Alice says: “An enjoyable read, set in both Australia and England. Relationships between two families covering tragedy and love with believable emotion. Events were unpredictable with good background descriptions. Nearly 600 pages- a heavy volume, light in content.”

Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin by Nancy Atherton

Alice says: ‘When I saw the title I thought this book would be a tea-cosy, slippers, granny-type narractive (even though I am a great-grandmother, I tend to forget it). However, it was full of charming people- no violence, witty and funny. It had lots of charming tea-cosy components: small twin boys, horses, matchmaking, a mystery set in England. I loved it.”

Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

Alice says: “Marred by too many characters, who were bland. As a ‘successful writer of 27 suspense novels,’ there must be something here I missed. A pity, for the mystery was well-plotted. Throughtout the whole volume there wasn’t one smidgen of humour. Miserable.”

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith

Alice says: “Saved the best till last. AMS is now a top favourite author along with Henning Mankel. The third book of his I’ve enjoyed, and each were completely different. Anthony Burgess has a similar ability to diversify with skill. AMS writtes of the London Blitz with exactitude; I was there. La and her orchestra are the pivotal point. So moving, I mentally cheered them on. Alexander McCall Smith also writes believably from the point of view of a woman. I found myself laughing out loud at times, which is a big bonus.”

Watch out for more of Alice’s notes next month. And don’t forget, we love to hear about what you’ve been reading, so if you’d like to share your reviews with us, please do!

Happy reading!

International Women’s Day 2013 – books by and about inspirational women

EQUALScoverToday is International Women’s Day, when events are held all over the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. International Women’s Day began in the early 1900’s and since then the tone of the day has changed from a reminder of inequality to a celebration of the positives that have occurred in the last 100 years.

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate IWD here at Nowra Library than by sharing books by and about amazing and inspiring women. Making one complete list of these books would be impossible, so we’ve included a few.

Here they are.

Jezebel.com’s list of 75 Books Every Woman Should Read
The ‘Inspiring Women’ bookshelf on Goodreads
Amazon.com’s Best Books About Women By Women
Huffington Post’s Best Books for Women
The Guardian’s Are these the 50 most influential books by women? booklist

And some you’ll find here at Shoalhaven Libraries:

Girls with Grit: Memories of the Australian Women’s Land Army by Ethel Turner
Grand Obsession: Madame Curie and her Life by Rosalynd Pflaum
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
Daughters of the Dreaming by Diane Bell
The Letters of Rachel Henning by Rachel Henning
The Diary of  a Young Girl by Anne Frank
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Outback Women by Melissa McCord
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Suffragetee View by Antonia Raeburn
Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by  Adeline Yen Mah
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey by Linda Greenlaw

What are your most inspiring female reads? We’d love to hear.

Read, Watch, Play 2013 – March is Ecoreads & Dystopian Fiction

6116062998_2d4e533d1bThe Read Watch Play theme for this month is Ecoreads. This is the time to read and discuss books and ideas about ecology, environment, water use and conservation.  2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation, and it’s a great time to read up on the environmental and sustainability issues we face, and the ways we might improve them.

We’ve embraced Ecoreads this month at Nowra Library, but we’ve also found another way of exploring it- the dark side of conservation and sustainability, if you will. What would happen if none of our plans, ideas, environmental awareness and hard work paid off? What if the world we know …. ended?

photo of display

What if we found ourselves in….dystopia?

The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy's novel.

The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel.

Dystopian fiction is is a branch of Speculative Fiction, and is often closely related to Science Fiction. It is often set in a futuristic,post-apocalyptic or post-cataclysmic society characterised by environmental disaster, totalitarian governments and dehumanisation.  Social issues, as well as those of environment, technology, politics, are often explored. As the name suggests, ‘Dystopia’ is the opposite of ‘Utopia’,  the term first coined by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 work Utopia, which describes an ideal society, perfect and just. The word is similar to the Greek word “outopos ” – “no place”- and “eutopos” – “good place.”  No wonder then that Dystopian fiction is often fraught with sadness, desperation, desolation and struggle.

Katniss in The Hunger Games film.

Katniss in The Hunger Games film.

Famous works of dystopian fiction include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty- Four. Recent popular additions to the genre include The Hunger Games  series by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Lois Lowry’s The Giver.  (You can also view or reserve these items on the Shoalhaven Libraries Catalogue).

This month at Nowra Library our 3rd Wednesday Book Club members will be reading and discussing Ecoreads, but the discussion doesn’t end there. You can join the live Twitter discussion on 26 March starting at 8.00pm EDT, and join readers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore (and who knows where else!) as they discuss their favourite Ecoreads.

Use the tags #ecoread and #rwpchat as you discuss, so others can join in the conversation too. For more information on how to take part in Twitter book discussions, check out the Read Watch Play blog.  

Happy reading (and tweeting!)