Terre Haute Living December 2016 - Page 56

BOOKS HAUTE REVIEW BRITTANY MICHAELS Books — for your wish list, or gift list We’ve got you covered — our favorites from 2016 FICTION “Barkskins” by Annie Proulx In 1693, two poor and illiterate Frenchmen arrive in the vast untamed forests of New France. René Sel and Charles Duquet are indentured servants and are contracted to work for three years for a Monsieur Trépagny. Proulx great novel begins with the story of Sel and Duquet and follows their descendants through several generations, demonstrating contrasts in how Sel, Duquet, and their descendants engage the land or take advantage of the natural resources for their benefit. Proulx sets this novel against a backdrop that includes historical people, events and discussions including colonial debates regarding pine tree statutes and the start o f the American Revolution. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead The haunting narrative follows Cora, a young slave on a Georgia plantation. Cora’s short life has been marked beatings, violence, and manipulations by the plantation masters and her fellow slaves. Cora gains the courage to escape with fellow slave, Ceasar, and together, they discover an underground network that they hope will carry them to freedom. Whitehead’s novel is imaginative in its creation of the Underground Railroad as a real locomotive yet horrifyingly realistic in its portrayal of atrocities. 56 Terre Haute Living • December 2016 NONFICTION “Exiled in America: Life on the Margins in a Residential Motel” by Christopher Dum Dum’s work is a study in the socioeconomic life of those living on the fringes of society. Similar to investigative study conducted by Barbara Ehrenreich for her book, Nickel and Dimed, Dum lives the life he is eager to learn more about while making observations about the unique skills and difficult challenges faced by a significant and often ignored segment of the population. Dum explores how the circumstances of those living at motels are demonstrative of larger social issues affecting large portions of the population, including generational poverty, incarceration, and housing insecurities. Far from a textbook approach, Dum reports in a compassionate and humanistic manner which encourages those who find themselves in more advantaged situations to not look away from those less fortunate. The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman For those who love books about books or the creative process of writing or a walk down memory lane with a friend, Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats will certainly offer an insightful and enjoyable read. “The View from the Cheap Seats” is a collection of nonfiction essays and includes erudite speeches on the importance of libraries and the power of reading, cleverly written reflections about trips to bookstores and searching for the next great read, and tributes to other authors who have influence Gaiman, including Bradbury, Ellison, Delany and Pratchett. “In My Own Words” by Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ginsburg’s collection of essays, articles, and speeches spans several decades and offers a glimpse inside the exclusive life of a Supreme Court Justice. Justice Ginsburg covers a variety of topics including rationale regarding a few of her more noteworthy dissents to a “day in the life” of a Supreme Court Justice to her unlikely friendship with Justice Scalia and mutual love of opera. A consistent theme throughout the book includes the Supreme Court Justices’ dedication to maintaining a level of professional conduct and mutual respect for one another. Those interested in learning more about the development of women’s rights or those who would like to learn more about the life of a Justice or specifically, the “Notorious RBG” will appreciate Ginsburg’s detailed reflections and accounts. YOUNG ADULT “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play” by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany Perhaps one of the most anticipated reads of 2016, the play begins where Rowling’s last book left off in the wizarding world and follows an adult Harry Potter as he navigates and balances his professional and personal life. Specifically, Harry’s life becomes even more complicated when his son, Albus, makes a plan to travel back in time to reverse one of the most devastating Brittany Michaels is the Community Connections Coordinator at the Vigo County Public Library. She enjoys collaborating with community organizations, and she can usually be found around downtown drinking copious amounts of coffee. Brittany can be reached at bmichaels@vigo.lib. in.us. tribstar.com/terrehauteliving