Tag Archives: American

Summer Reading

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Wine Country Books in the House! We have been back East.

Much like the cobbler’s children have no shoes, the Wine Country Books family rarely gets to read for pleasure much less purchase an actual book new in the shop.  However, in the airport on our way to catch our flight, these tireless advocates for public libraries and reduced clutter were suckered into two delicious looking paperbacks to read on the plane. Sigh.

I made it about 100 pages into Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and then moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern.

I loved Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. Then there’s that Pulitzer seal on the front. This one has to be good, right? But anyone who has read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, watched The Expanse on Amazon / SYFY, or knows about Soylent Green (thinks they) can see where this is going. I am just not up for another round. I know I will have to skim or skip to the end, or read some reviews, to try and figure out whether to finish it up or just pass it on.

So I moved on to Summer Hours at the Robbers Library. This book requires slight suspension of disbelief- what are the chances this configuration of this type of outsider and loser will not just share space but actually get to know and come to care about each other? The first few pages were a slight slog, but keep going til you get to the library. The book is so far very satisfying in its plot and characters, with perfect levels of emotion and rate of reveal about each character’s past and problems.

Just my two cents. Either way, $30+ this reader will never get back. At least I have paperbacks to share with any reading friend who would like a copy.

Email me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail and I will send you the Ishiguro free.

Click Below to get your copy of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library on Amazon.

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Filed under American, books and movies, British, contemporary fiction, England, free, reviews, Summer Reading, the public library, travel, United Kingdom, what I'm reading, Women writers

Music Alone Shall Live: Collections of American Song

 

Collectors, fans, and musicians may find these two works of interest.

I am watching a BBC documentary about earliest human history. The presenter suggests that what allowed European Homo Sapiens to outlive their more robust, better adapted cousins the European Neanderthals was – can you guess? – art and music. Art and music created cultural identity across broader geographic regions and for larger tribes and served to preserve the weaker, smaller brained Homo Sapiens.  With this perspective, the importance and influence of the arts for any culture has greater urgency than ever.

Song in America our Musical Heritage by Burl Ives (1962) collects 311 folk songs, arranged by Albert Hague. Even in our modern era the words of folk songs can vary widely from region to region, artist to artist, and decade to decade. It is good to have another reference, especially one so complete.

A Treasury of Stephen Foster (1946) includes historical notes that lend context to Foster’s work, including his use of themes from African slavery and minstrelsy. Cultural theft? A good faith attempt to strike universally recognizable sentimental notes of loss, longing, and fun in spite of it all?

“Foster composed about two hundred songs and a few instrumental pieces… a half dozen rank with the world’s greatest ballads; at least twenty-five of them have become American folksongs and more than fifty are well worthy of preservation.” Collected songs are arranged for piano by Ray Lev and Dorothy Berliner Commins.

If you are interested, please contact us at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail. Best wishes, and happy reading – or in this case, playing and singing.

nbpmome

 

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Filed under American, illustrated, Music

Military History January; Headcount February?

Happy New Year!

In January, 89% of Wine Country Books sales were military history books. H’m, wonder what social currents are at play at this time? Train! Prepare! Be ready!

Our first sale of February is a book of essays analyzing the way African Americans have historically been portrayed in photography.

‘Tis the season when we remember that the history and current reality of our nation, our communities, our personal lives, rests on rather poor representation for Americans who did not win the demographic lottery.

One of the low risk – high yield things we can do to ease the divisions and harm done in American society is actively seek out narratives from people we don’t hear from or see much in mainstream media.

It goes hand in hand with doing the headcount, another easy step those of us distressed about injustice can take to start getting acquainted with the who what why.

Caveat! Diversity does NOT mean equality. I am just talking about gathering information over time.

I know the in-person headcount is kind of tough when many of us live in bubbles of people pretty much exclusively just like us.  That is our bellwether that something is wrong.

Perhaps we have “that one friend” or coworker who is in a wheelchair, or aged, or of African or other nonwhite descent, or dealing with loss, chronic illness, mental health issues, gay, name it. Here’s why this is not as helpful as we might think. That one unique person cannot, does not, and probably is sick to death of people asking / expecting them to, embody or speak for the experience of the larger group.

Perhaps we were raised to see people as people. Perhaps we ourselves have struggled with poverty, with abuse by institutions or persons of power in our lives, or even attack or abuse by people from one of those groups. But humanity is humanity, and we have forgotten that, somehow, and regressed into biologically programmed behaviors without examining those behaviors’ impact on ourselves and those in other walks of life.

So you can do the headcount in a low risk, high yield way, too.

Begin to notice – how much of the news and entertainment we consume features authors, characters, or narratives about and created by people who are different from us?

If a particular group- people over 50. Women (in leadership roles or college or pro athletics, this is big). People of native, indigenous, African or Latin descent. People with chronic illness, a difference in processing or physical difference, differently oriented people- is x% of the population of a city or state or nation,  shouldn’t they be getting, at minimum, x% of representation, jobs, publication, money in the media we consume, the people we hire, the people we elect to represent us, the businesses we buy from?

It takes time to absorb. And it is easy to misstep. This is because cognitive dissonance  – constantly moving goalposts regarding okay / not okay, constant difference between the dominant narrative and what individuals experience – is the rule, the very foundation of American society for so long. Divided, a few of us stand and thrive, and the rest of us fall. And some of us have been falling generation after generation after generation.

Watch. Read. Notice. Question- do your research. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just by typing your question into Google. I got the best stuff, for example, when I typed in “Why aren’t these jokes funny?”

Synthesize or assimilate information for yourself. Take your time. Best wishes and happy reading.

 

 

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Filed under 1940s, African, American, Antiquarian, military, social currents