What I generally look for in a book is a compelling story whose characters are sufficiently believable and sympathetic that I grow to care what happens to them. If the book also widens my view of the world, so much the better.
If that’s the kind of book you look for, you may want to check out Katherine Boo’s new book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. It is available at JCPL as a hardcover book, a book on CD, and on an e-reader (JCPL NOOK Simple Touch #7).
Behind the Beautiful Forevers tells a true story: four years in the lives of residents of Annawadi, a Mumbai slum, as they strive for their share of India’s growing prosperity. The review journal Booklist called it “Sympathetic yet objective and eloquently rendered.” Publishers’ Weekly said, “Boo’s rigorous inquiry and transcendent prose leave an indelible impression of human beings behind the shibboleths of the New India,..” and Library Journal called it a “ tour de force.”
I found the book fascinating, moving, and compelling. But be warned: it is also fairly depressing. There are no easy answers here, and the hardworking slum-dwellers’ endeavors all too often come to nothing. Most disheartening was the realization that humanitarian organizations’ efforts are repeatedly thwarted by the immensity of the problems and by the corruption that appears to be endemic in Indian life.
After reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers, you may find yourself asking, “What can we in the west possibly do to help people like the Annawadians?” As the book shows, the answers are not easy. But a recent Christianity Today article by Bruce Wydick on the 10 best strategies for helping the poor, republished in slightly different form on the World Bank website, offers some insight. Here is a link the article on the World Bank site: http://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/evaluating-the-best-ways-to-give-to-the-poor-guest-post-by-bruce-wydick
Books about effective humanitarian aid available at JCPL include:
The Business of Changing the World : Twenty Great Leaders on Strategic Corporate Philanthropy
by Benioff, Marc 361.765 BENI
“20 exceptional leaders share the untold stories of how their companies are making a real difference through corporate philanthropy…”
The Life You Can Save : Acting Now to End World Poverty
by Singer, Peter 362.5 SING
“Argues that for the first time in history the possibility of eradicating world poverty is within reach and offers a plan that combines personal philanthropy with activism and political awareness to increase the commitment to helping the world’s poorest people.”
The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded, and for the first time since 1977, there is no winner in the Fiction category. The prize board failed to come to a majority vote on any of the three finalists: Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!, and the late David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. What do you think? Check out a copy of one of the finalists, or try one of the nonfiction winners: George F. Kennan: An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis (Biography); Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by the late Manning Marable (History); and The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt (General Nonfiction). For a complete list of winners, past and present, go to the Pulitzer website.
In 1974 President Nixon instituted the first National Volunteer Week for the United States of America. Since that time we have celebrated the month of April as Volunteer Recognition month. Volunteerism is truly part of the fabric of our country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 64 million people volunteered at least once between September 2010 and September 2011. Our older Americans from the Baby Boom generation are leading the way in making volunteerism an important part of their lives. According to statistics from the Points of Light Institute, the Baby Boom generation is 40 percent more likely to volunteer than the same age group was in 1989. In fact, the total number of people who volunteer has increased by 60 percent since 1989. To see more interesting facts about volunteering, click here.
This week is a week to say thank you to the volunteers in our community. Many of you volunteer without awareness that you are doing so – for example, helping out at your church, assisting in your child’s school or sports team, or delivering meals to friends and neighbors in need. Sometimes we can make a more conscious effort at volunteerism by serving food at the local soup kitchen, cleaning up the local park, or joining the volunteer program at your local public library (hint, hint). These acts all deserve to be applauded. Thank you to all the volunteers in our community.
Be sure to show appreciation this week to the volunteers around you, and if you are looking for ways to serve, check out http://www.serve.gov/ to find opportunities in your area.
Maybe you weren’t able to join us for the Nature Scavenger Hunt this past Saturday, but you can easily design your own scavenger hunt using a few of the books in our collection and some online resources.
Try using Birds of Kentucky: Field Guide by Stan Tekiela (598.2) the Birds of Kentucky online checklist, and the Birdzilla internet birding site to compile a list of birds to find. For finding Kentucky wildflowers, I recommend Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky by Thomas G. Barnes & Wilson Francis (582.1309769) and the web site Kentucky Wildflowers. Both of these resources even divide the plants by season and color. Mammals of Kentucky by Roger Barbour and Wayne Davis (599.09769) will introduce you to our state’s most common mammals. The Kentucky AWAKE (All Wild About Kentucky Environment) web site and the Kentucky Crosswords web site have general lists that include a large variety of Kentucky plants and animals.
Compose a list, print some pictures and head out to one of the many beautiful parks. If you’re having trouble picking a place to hike, visit the Kentucky State Parks web site for a nice tour of some of the best spots.
Having trouble making a list or printing the pictures? Email Our Adult Programming Librarian, Les Lehman at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she’ll give you a copy of the list that we used for the JCPL Nature Scavenger Hunt.
The National Archives made the 1940 census available online today at 9:00 a.m. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the census does not yet have a name index. To find your relatives in the census, you’ll need to know their 1940 address. See the cool graphic below the break to find out more about this process.
Several organizations are partnering to index the census now that it’s available to the public. You can find out more about that–and even become a volunteer indexer yourself!–at this link: https://the1940census.com.
April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. This April, the Jessamine County Public Library has compiled a list of books, movies, and more about the disaster.
JCPL has many books about the Titanic, from easy readers to adult fiction and nonfiction. Click on the following covers to check the library’s catalog for each title. For more books on the ship, the aftermath, and fiction related to the disaster, search our catalog here.
Perhaps the most famous film about the event, Titanic, directed by James Cameron, is being re-released to theaters in 3D to commemorate the 100th Anniversary. Watch all your favorite moments with Kate and Leonardo at the AmStar Theater in Brannon Crossing, and the Cinemark Theater at the Fayette Mall. Both theaters will begin showings on Wednesday, April 4th.
Julian Fellowes, the director of the popular Downton Abbey series on PBS, has created a new 4-part mini-series this April about the Titanic that has been rumored to challenge some of the views taken in Cameron’s film. Showing on ABC beginning Saturday, April 14th. For more information about the show visit ABC’s page here.
If you want to delve even more into the world of the Titanic, there is a permanent museum in nearby Pigeon Forge, TN, with living history actors and recreated rooms to give you a true-to-life experience. For more information about visiting the museum, click here.