Book Trailer of the Week

After a brief hiatus, the Book Trailer of the Week is back with this captivating clip for Laura Hillenbrand’s new biography Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  Winner of the 2010 L.A. Times Book Prize for Biography, Unbroken tells the enthralling tale of Louie Zamperini, a 1936 Munich Olympics track star and a WWII Army Air Corps bombardier who endured 47 days in a life raft and two years in Japan’s most brutal POW camps after his B-24 crashed in the Pacific.  Broken and haunted upon his repatriation, Zamperini eventually experienced a spiritual rebirth, and now at 93, he works with the Japanese to promote forgiveness and healing.  Inspiring, heart-wrenching, and simply unforgettable, Unbroken is Seabiscuit-author Hillenbrand at her best.  Don’t miss it.

Mystery, Sci-Fi, and Cooking Awards Dished Out

Mystery, science fiction, and cooking fans have plenty to pore over this month as the Edgars (named after Edgar Allen Poe), the Nebulas, and the James Beard Foundation prizes were distributed to many hardworking authors.  These are all significant awards in their respective categories. Steve Hamilton won Best Novel for The Lock Artist and Chicagoan Sara Paretsky received a Grand Master award for overall achievement.  Connie Willis took the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s top prize for Blackout/All Clear, about time-travel lab workers who get stranded in WWII. And lastly, for the food/cooking area, one of my favorites, Andrew Colman won Best Cookbook of the Year for The Country Cooking of Ireland and in the Writing and Literature category Richard Sax took home the goods for “Save the Deli.” (He’s written an excellent cookbook on baking, Classic Home Desserts, that EPL owns.)

Shira S.

‘Bee’ ready! The final competition starts May 31st.

It’s that time of the year again, comparable to March Madness, say, or Super Bowl Sunday, when many school children (8  to 15 years old), their parents, families, teachers and schoolmates become totally consumed with correct spelling. Yes, the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee starts on May 31st and runs through June 2nd. Once again, ESPN will televise the competition starting June 1st, and currently is promoting the upcoming events with participant interviews, videos of past contests, “sports” commentaries and more.

So how hard are the words? How would you have done on these final challenges from years past: gladiolus (1925),  Chihuahua (1967), staphylococci (1987) and the winning word from 2010, stromuhr? Here’s the full list of winning words and winners.

Whether you’re an ace speller or one of those unfortunate, orthographically-challenged types (and given the oddities of English spelling, you are not alone), the study of words, their meanings and how to spell them is a fascinating diversion and a popular topic for many  authors, based on the collection of books on spelling we have here at the library. I’ve always enjoyed books about words, and here is my list of picks for spelling bee prep.

If you’d like to really get into the spirit of the competition, I suggest watching the wonderful film “Spellbound.” It’s in a category I’ve dubbed “Films You Can Watch with Your Kids.”  The movie follows eight young contestants in the 2001 competition as they move up the ranks of finalists, and shows how hard they work to stay in the game. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, rooting for them all, groaning and gasping as each word is spelled out.

Barbara L.

Don’t discount the Kobo: New touch version has better resolution, faster processor than Kindle

Some of you might remember my first ereader love as a first-gen Kobo (slow and simple, but great compatibility with the library).  I then cheated on my Kobo and purchased a Kindle.  I found the Kindle to be faster and have better contrast, and its connectivity to the Amazon store made buying books easy.

This new Kobo looks interesting. Check out the Engaget Review.

-Juliette S.

Erik Larson in Chicago 5-23-11, Other Authors Arriving

Author Erik Larson will be appearing at three locations in the Chicago area tomorrow and Tuesday. His latest work is “In the Garden of Beasts,” about an American family taking a year abroad during the Nazi era (see review of book).  I recommend checking the first link for other upcoming author visits. Keep an eye out for Steve Berry and Justin Cronin.

Shira S.

Library of Congress Opens “National Jukebox” of Historical Recordings

The Library of Congress together with Sony has assembled the largest collection of historical recordings of speeches, music, poetry, and  spoken word materials in the world. It covers the first 25 years of the 20th century and includes several thousand items (for listening only). As heard on NPR.

Shira S.

Amazon Debuts Cloud for Music

The drive to access media more conveniently has culminated recently in the appearance of the free Amazon Cloud system, among others, designed for a one-stop music experience. This article on ZDNET discusses the various legal issues arising between the music industry and technology companies, as well as linking to other discussions about clouds. Google launched its Music Beta which allows users to upload material they own. One cannot upload or purchase music yet on Music Beta. Stay tuned to see how this shakes out!

Shira S.

U. of C.’s New Library Speaks Volumes – And They’re All Underground

University of Chicago’ s new $81 million dollar library opened Monday May 17. Designed by Helmut Jahn it has 180 seats for students and faculty and “room for 3.5 million volumes in the underground area, which is not accessible to anyone but select library staff. Fifty feet below ground on the Hyde Park campus, a system of five automated cranes retrieves and stores volumes that are sorted according to book size, not content.” Read more in this Chicago Sun-Times article.

Laura