Blogs

With Grammys Approaching, it’s Time to Check Out Underdog Nominees

With popular music considered, 2016 might be remembered most for the loss of musicians such as Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Leon Russel, Sharon Jones, and more. Plenty of great music was released in 2016, some of which might have been overshadowed by those huge losses, but music fans will have another chance to hear this year’s best through the impending Grammy Awards. Though fans of pop music shouldn’t be surprised that mainstays like Adele, Beyoncé, and Drake earned multiple nods from the Grammys, there are plenty of underdog nominations worth a listen. Though JDL has albums from the nominees in all the major categories, here are a few under-the-radar artists worth checking out.

 

The 59th annual Grammy Awards are set to take place on Feb. 12.sia

 

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson  (Album of the Year nominee)

Malibu  – Anderson .Paak  (Best Urban Contemporary Album nominee)

This is Acting – Sia (Best Pop Vocal Album nominee)

Magma  – Gojira (Best Rock Album nominee)

Blank Face – Schoolboy Q (Best Rap Performance nominee)

Sweetgirl, a 2017 Free Press Notable Book, Explores Hope and Family Through a Michigan Blizzard

Few things pair better than cold weather and indoor reading, and one book that might drastically improve your winter is Sweetgirl. The novel is the first from writer Travis Mulhauser, who grew up in Petoskey and sets his stories in a fictional Michigan locale called Cutler County. Mulhauser’s work has earned comparisons to gritty Appalachian writers like Ron Rash (Serena) and Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone), but Mulhauser sets his work apart with his truly funny voice.

 

SweetGirl

Sweetgirl, which the Detroit Free Press recognized as one of Michigan’s most notable books of 2017, shows a blizzard through the eyes of 16-year-old Percy James. Percy’s mother, a drug addict, has just gone missing, and the blunt, courageous teen has to navigate her isolated small town in hopes of bringing her mother home safely. With Sweetgirl, Mulhauser builds a convincing portrait of Midwestern, small-town living that’s as hopeful as it is grim. Thanks to its lean size, Sweetgirl can be devoured in an afternoon—or through the course of another inevitable snow storm.

Thought You Outgrew Comic Books?

Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga and Paper Girls Might Change Your Mind

Since the 1980s, comic book writers have been shifting their reputations as dealers of pulp to serious artists. Though some comics still offer the action-packed plotlines that are tailored to young readers, comic writers like Alan Moore (Swamp Thing, Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Animal Man, Multiversity, Batman), and Frank Miller (300, Sin City) have ushered in a new era of sophisticated comic fare.

No modern writer is leading this charge better than Brian K. Vaughan, a former scribe for the TV show Lost. Vaughan has recently enjoyed great success in a few comic titles such as Saga and Paper Girls, both of which have just arrived at the Jackson District Library. Saga is a sprawling space opera that follows Alana, Marko, and Hazel, a war-torn family that’s on the run from assassins from their respective homelands. It’s not a story that’s easy to distill into a paragraph, but think of it as a charming mix of Star Wars and Romeo and Juliet. This narrative is so addicting (and beautifully drawn by artist Fiona Staples), you’ll be grateful that we have the first seven volumes in stock. As noted by the comic’s rating, it does contain some graphic scenes.

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Teen readers might be better suited for a title called Paper Girls, an ‘80s-set time-travel adventure that follows a group of pre-teen paper girls on an unbelievable journey. Much like the recent Netflix sensation Stranger Things, this title takes a nostalgic look back on an era where acid-wash jeans were considered fashionable. But Vaughan’s compelling sci-fi tale, which features Cliff Chiang’s supernatural and alien illustrations, makes Paper Girls more valuable than a simple stroll down memory lane. With volume two on the way, there’s no better time to start reading Paper Girls.

You can check out our Saga and Paper Girls volumes below:

Paper Girls: Volume One & Two
Saga: Volume One
Saga: Volume Two
Saga: Volume Three

Support Jackson District Library While You Shop

While the library provides access to books, music, and more sometimes these items may not be available immediately at the library, or perhaps they are items you would rather own. Our library catalog now offers the option to “Buy It Now” — each time you purchase an item from Amazon, a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to the library.

It is an amazingly simple way to support your local library! The best part about this new feature is that you can purchase ANY item on Amazon and if you use the special Buy It Now link to Amazon, a percentage of your purchase will go back to the library! Just click this button and shop as you normally would.

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You can also bookmark the link in your browser and use it to shop on Amazon anytime, automatically donating a portion of your proceeds to Jackson District Library.

Holiday Cookbooks Have Arrived

If there’s one good thing about Michigan’s frigid winter, it’s a getting a much-needed excuse to stay indoors and cook. With winter’s looming arrival, we’ve ordered cookbooks for every kind of eater—whether you’re looking to cook a rich, southern-inspired holiday buffet; a brand new dessert; or a variety of gluten-free or vegan recipes. You can place a hold on our newest holiday cookbooks below.

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Christmas Cookie Swap! by Nicole Fisher
Best Holiday Sweets and Treats by Daniella Malfitano
Superfun Times Holiday Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Christmas with Southern Living by Southern Living Staff.
Against All Grain Celebrations by Danielle Walker

Cursed No More: Look Back on the Cubs’ Tumultuous History with These Books

Though the Halloween season just ended, it was baseball that had people talking about curses this year. With the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series in 108 years, much of the public conversation about the team has involved a six-decades old curse. The Cubs’ “Billy Goat” curse started in the mid-’40s after Billy Sianis, a dedicated Cubs fan, was asked to leave Wrigley Field for bringing his pet goat. Sianis promised a losing record to the Cubs, who would later lose that 1945 series to the Detroit Tigers. After the Cubs went decades with no World Series wins, it instilled a deep superstition within fans worldwide.
While the curse is one major aspect of the team’s history, these “lovable losers” have built a rich story that goes beyond superstition. Take a look at some of our material on the Cubs, as well as a few resources that will enhance the baseball experience for fans of all ages.
A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at 100 by George Will
The Golden Era Cubs, 1876-1940 by Eddie Gold
Baseball History for Kids: America at Bat from 1900 to Today with 19 Activities by Richard Panchyk
My First Book of Baseball by Beth Bugler

Bryan Cranston Details the Evolution of TV’s Greatest Anti-Hero with New Memoir

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In the early 2000s, it would’ve been hard to picture Bryan Cranston as one of television’s greatest actors. Cranston had received his fair share of notoriety, sure, but his mainstream roles—from the oafish dad Hal on Malcolm in the Middle to dentist Tim Whatley on Seinfeld— were rooted in network TV comedy. But beneath Cranston’s slapstick performances lurked a more sinister character in Breaking Bad’s Walter White, the high-school-chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin who evolved into one of TV’s greatest anti-heroes. The show ran for five seasons between 2008 and 2013 on AMC, earning 16 Emmy awards in the process. To put Cranston’s impact in perspective, Breaking Bad has the Guinness World Record for being the most acclaimed television show of all time.

This success wasn’t a fluke, as the actor’s performances since Breaking Bad prove. In 2014 he won a Tony award for his role as President Lyndon Johnson in the stage play All the Way. This week Cranston released a memoir titled A Life in Parts. While the book details his decades-long path to success, Cranston has also written a bold testament to long-term artistic dedication. As Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan writes in the introduction, “If I’d known Bryan could tell stories this well, I would’ve had him writing episodes of Breaking Bad.”

Aside from Cranston’s new memoir, JDL also has many of his iconic performances. Check them out below.

A Life in Parts

Breaking Bad, Season One

Malcolm in the Middle, Season One

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Provides an Opportunity to Reexamine Recent Laureates

In 2016, it’s not shocking to hear the electric twang of a Fender Stratocaster at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island. The multi-day event, which began in 1959, was created to celebrate traditional folk, country, blues, and bluegrass—none of which featured electric instruments in Newport’s early years. It was Bob Dylan who shook the folk community in 1965 by brandishing a Fender Stratocaster on stage at the festival. He might have been booed by the audience, but Newport Folk—and popular music—eventually caught up with his electric vision.
The 75-year-old songwriter was in the middle of an artistic controversy again this week, but it had little to do with music. Dylan received the Nobel Prize in literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Many Dylan fanatics already saw his lyrics as poetry and thought the prize was a justified nod to decades of critically acclaimed work. In the literary community, however, many saw the unusual selection as a slap to the face of lesser-known poets and writers.
Regardless of your position on Dylan’s prize, JDL has material worth your exploration. We’ve listed a few of our best resources on Dylan. If his “poetic expressions” aren’t your taste, though, we’ve included some books from alternative Nobel Laureates in literature.

Books


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Chronicles (Vol. 1) by Bob Dylan


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Dylan Goes Electric! by Elijah Wald

Films


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Don’t Look Back (Criterion Collection)

CDs

Modern Times
Blood on the Tracks

Nobel Prize Winners in Literature

2014: Modiano, Patrick: So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood
2013: Munro, Alice: Dear Life: Stories
2012: Mo, Yan: Frog: A Novel

Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is a Must-Read for Aspiring Musicians

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Legacy musicians like Bruce Springsteen don’t enjoy successful, four-decade careers by accident. Part of Springsteen’s longevity can be credited to the quality of his music, with rock albums like Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River still sounding relevant and vibrant as ever today. But Springsteen also appealed to the masses as an American everyman—one who penned songs about small-town romances, grueling shifts at the factory, and the American Dream itself. Songs like “Badlands,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” and “The River” might’ve given listeners a small taste of the songwriter’s working class rootsbut fans have waited decades for the New Jersey rocker to tell his own story. If book sales are any indication, those fans are still interested: Born to Run debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times’ non-fiction bestseller list last week.

 

In Born to Run, Springsteen gives readers all the details. He explores his childhood in New Jersey, the formation of his legendary E-Street band, the multi-platinum records and arena tours, and a crippling depression that began in his early sixties. Unsurprisingly, Springsteen wrote his memoir much like his music: the language is direct, unpretentious, and lighthearted enough to inject his own brand of humor. The book is an addicting read, both for musical historians and casual fans alike.

 

Aside from Springsteen’s new memoir, we also have many of his CDs in the JDL system. You can place holds on the following titles today:

 

Born to Run (Book)

Born to Run (CD)

Greatest Hits (CD)

Live in New York (CD)

The Rising (CD)
Nebraska (CD)

Highly Recommended by Tessa: The Midnight Watch: A novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer

It took me three tries to finally get into this book, but it was so worth it. The Midnight Watch is a fine work, carefully crafted and rich with images and emotion. Dyer sticks closely to the known and the facts, and these inform the book with poignancy and immediacy.

Over here is the Californian caught up in the frigid darkness and a treacherous ice field, stopped, telegraphing to alert other ships to the danger. Over there is the new and renowned cruise liner telling them to shut up, shut up, shut up, they have passenger messages to send out. Everyone on the Californian goes to bed, leaving their Midnight Watchers to the cold and dark. Everyone on the Titanic wakes up to peril and bitter death.

I originally gave it five stars, but after thinking about it for a week, I lowered it to four. Maybe 4.5. The main character just never became vivid nor central enough for me. Other characters felt out of focus and changing, as if subject to unknown currents. But the sea and the sky are so real and vivid. They feel seductive and dangerous and hard and intense and so much else. “The stillness pressed in…the ice seemed to suck everything from the world.” Daylight brings “a torrent of white light,” a “burning, unforgiving light.” Sunshine becomes a masterful literary device, torturing the vulnerable guilty parties.

MidnightWatch

This will be an excellent choice for book groups, who will be able to discuss the literary devices expertly wielded in the book, as well as the many issues that arise. The carelessness exposed by this account is breathtaking, even when one knows that radio communication was in its infancy. The lack of oversight and attention to the life boats and evacuation are a glaring contrast to our own overly reactive, overly protective culture. The interplay between the captain’s cold character and the weakness of the third officer are great for discussing how we affect those around us, for good or bad.

Even though it has no love story, no war, only sunshine, tragedy, and cold darkness, this story is one for the ages. “The midnight watch: a time of loneliness, demons and trances.” ~ Tessa 4.5 out of 5 Stars August 2016

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