What your neighbors are reading this month: Award-winning titles

What do most people think of when they hear the word "library"? Reading, of course! 2014 is the year to "Reconnect with Reading 365" at the Cuyahoga County Public Library. To celebrate this initiative, the Bay Village Branch will display monthly calendars that include daily trivia questions or quote from books both classic and modern following a theme for each month. Library staff and customers are looking forward to sharing our suggestions from various genres here with you in the Observer in the feature, "What Your Neighbors are Reading"!

March is the month for award winners, not only the Academy Award winners, but award-winning books too! This month I asked a member of the monthly Thursday Evening Book Discussion held at the Bay Village Branch to tell me about his favorite award-winning book. An avid reader, Mike Teichman credits his participation in the book discussion for "broadening his horizons" and getting him to "read outside the comfort zone."

Among the many award-winning books that this group has read over the years, Mike most enjoyed the 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Fiction: "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.

The title of the book is taken in part from "Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting" written in 1706 by Jonathan Swift and could allude to the book’s cast of characters and their humorous adventures in New Orleans:

"When a true genius appears in the world,
You may know him by this sign, that the dunces
Are all in confederacy against him."

Ignatius J. Reilly, the main character, caught Mike’s attention from the start as described in the book: "A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once."  Ignatius, a misfit and a scholar who works at Levy Pants, is in revolt against the modern world and eventually leads a workers' uprising. 

The author’s "honest way of writing" and his strong development of the characters that inhabit Canal Street are what appealed most to Mike. Originally published by Grove Press following the suicide of the author and after several other publishers turned it down, the book has been deemed by some as a comic classic. Or, as Mike perhaps more aptly described it, "an experience to read."

Another award-winning book is my favorite work of non-fiction included on many lists for Best Book of the Year 2010, the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2011 winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction. "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson tells the stories of millions of black citizens who fled the South from 1915 to 1970 in search of a better life. Written from oral histories and extensive research, the lives of three individuals who left the South in different decades unfold in vivid memories of the discrimination they fled and the reality of life in the North. 

Ida Mae Gladney, who in her old age proudly saw the election of Barack Obama; George Starling, who fought for civil rights in Harlem; and Robert Foster, who became the personal physician to Ray Charles, are unforgettable in their struggle to make a better life. America was forever changed by this "unrecognized immigration" through music, literature and culture and I highly recommend this book. It could change your outlook on life too.

Hungry for more? Our newest interactive forum for reading recommendations from library staff and friends is a live Facebook chat, aptly named Booked for Lunch! Booked for Lunch is a monthly casual break-time book chat and will begin March 5 from 12-12:30 p.m.  Be sure to "like" Cuyahoga County Public Library on Facebook and join in the fun!

Remember to check the Observer next month to see What Your Neighbors are Reading on the April themes of Poetry and Adventures – and visit the Bay Village Branch, 502 Cahoon Road, where the staff would be very happy to give you personal reading recommendations too. We hope to see you soon!

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---------CALL-OUT BOX----------------

WHAT YOUR NEIGHBORS ARE READING

at the Bay Village Branch Library

March Theme:

All ages: "And the winner is…"

Award-winning books for all

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Barbara Isaacs

Adult Services Librarian

Read More on Libraries
Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 9:54 AM, 03.04.2014