IL Reads Program Series Coming Soon!

Looking for things to read and/or do in September and October? Look no further!

IL Reads Poster

Page to Screen – September Edition

Cyrano de Bergerac by Ermond Rostand

15638Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.pngMovie: Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
When it comes out: September 7
What the book is about: This is Edmond Rostand’s immortal play in which chivalry and wit, bravery and love are forever captured in the timeless spirit of romance. Set in Louis XIII’s reign, it is the moving and exciting drama of one of the finest swordsmen in France, gallant soldier, brilliant wit, tragic poet-lover with the face of a clown. Rostand’s extraordinary lyric powers gave birth to a universal hero–Cyrano de Bergerac–and ensured his own reputation as author of one of the best-loved plays in the literature of the stage.

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

29938376A Simple Favor.pngMovie: A Simple Favor
When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. But then Emily doesn’t come back.

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

8664353Unbroken path to redemption.jpgMovie: Unbroken: Path to Redemption
When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

 

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson

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When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: Anders Hill, entering his early sixties and seemingly ensconced in the “land of steady habits” — a nickname for the affluent, morally strict hamlets of Connecticut that dot his commuter rail line — abandons his career and family for a new condo and a new life. Stripped of the comforts of his previous identity, Anders turns up at a holiday party full of his ex-wife’s friends and is surprised to find that the very world he rejected may be the one he needs.

 

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

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When it comes out: 
September 14
What the book is about: 
Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child’s welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts. But Fiona’s professional success belies domestic strife. Throwing herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah’s Witnesses, her attempts to resolve the issues of her personal and professional life may strain her to the breaking point.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

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When it comes out: September 14
What the book is about: In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

 

The House with a Clock in the Walls by John Bellairs

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When it comes out: September 21
What the book is about: Orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan and quickly learns that both his uncle and his next-door neighbor are witches on a quest to discover the terrifying clock ticking within the walls of Jonathan’s house. Can the three of them save the world from certain destruction?

 

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

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When it comes out: September 21
What the book is about: Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living – and whom he does it for.

 

Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas

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When it comes out: September 21
What the book is about: Venus Johnston has a great job, a beautiful home, and a loving live-in boyfriend named Clint, who happens to be a drop-dead gorgeous doctor. She also has a weekly beauty-parlor date with Tina, who keeps Venus’s long, processed hair slick and straight. But when Clint–who’s been reluctant to commit over the past four years–brings home a puppy instead of an engagement ring, Venus decides to give it all up. She trades in her long hair for a dramatically short, natural cut and sends Clint packing.

 

Colette by … Okay, it’s not actually a book but a biographical drama about a French novelist

SidonieGabrielleColette.jpgColette (2018 movie poster).pngMovie: Colette
When it comes out: September 21
What the book it is about: Colette was a French novelist whose writing career spanned from the end of WWI through the mid-1950s. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Her best known work, the novella Gigi (1944), was the basis for the film and Lerner and Loewe stage production of the same name. She was also a mime, an actress, and a journalist.

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

1934Little Women 2018 poster.jpgMovie: Little Women
When it comes out: September 28
What the book is about: Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

Art brings people together at the library.

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Don’t miss the art show/reception at the end of the program series on Oct. 22!

Genre Friday – Gothic Fiction

Is it Gothic Fiction?

Is it dark (in tone or in luminous intensity)?

Usually.

Is it creepy in an undeniable, but sometimes indefinite, way?

Most of the time.

Is death featured heavily, either as an event or preoccupation?

Absolutely.

Does it leave you with a deep distrust of old, palatial manners, moldering estates, dilapidated plantation homes and crumbly castles?

It would have if I weren’t already freaked out by those places.  

Is it focused on an individual (or small group or family) and their thoughts and feelings as they try to deal with everything listed above without going completely insane?

Yup.

That’s Gothic Fiction alright. This genre looked at the rugged individualism, intense emotions, introspection and focus on nature and the past (in particular the medieval period) of Romanticism and said, ‘Yeah, but where is all the deep, existential and psychological terror and death?’ It’s not necessarily terrifying in the way traditional Horror is but it will almost certainly get your skin crawling at some point. Or at least make you look over your shoulder as you walk down dark and deserted hallways, should you have occasion to do so.

Now that we have that established the real question is, where is it set? For Gothic Fiction, setting is what determines subgenre – American (or, more specifically, Southern), English or Space (you read that right, space).

American Gothic

As you would assume, we’re dealing with American settings here — the frontier or wild west, the deep south, sometimes even suburbia. The stories often explore the darker parts of American culture and history; slavery, war, genocide and the exploitation of the nation’s natural resources and wilderness come up fairly regularly. Horror is there in some form or another, but it isn’t always supernatural (as people are more than capable of being horrifying on there own), and when it is, it might be implied rather than clearly identified. This brings in the unreliable narrator and mental illness, which is another common theme in American Gothic stories. Set it in the sweltering southern heat, and liberally sprinkle in racial tension, degradation, and poverty left over from the Reconstruction era and you have Southern Gothic.

Examples:

The cover of the book We Have Always Lived in the CastleThe Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

Sanctuary by William Faulkner

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

English Gothic

Grappling with mental illness or spiritual angst, while dodging ghosts on the windswept moors or in a crumbling tower? In England? You’re in an English Gothic story. Watch out for untimely death, doomed romance, and villainous depravity – if it hasn’t happened already, it’s only a matter time. And, this probably goes without saying but, try to stay out of neglected graveyards, cobwebbed dungeons and, of course, haunted castles.

Examples:

The cover of the book The Castle of OtrantoThe Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Racliffe

Gothic Space Opera

You know those sci-fi stories where civilization and technology extended so far and so fast that when it eventually and inevitably collapsed the average person was suddenly left stranded in a pseudo-medieval, superstitious and decaying society despite the fact that they live on an alien planet or massive star ship? Well, they’re out there, and they are frequently the starting point for these Gothic Space stories.

In these cases, the rickety star ship serves as haunted mansion/castle analog and the inky, vast blackness of space the misty, eerie moors that surround typically surround them. Authoritarian regimes, oppressive cults and demonic alien forces are common issues, as well as the usual wear and tear of long space travel — time dilation, the assumption of death-like states of suspended animation, and the dementia-inducing isolation of space travel, to name a few examples — on human relationships and sanity are frequent topics.

Examples:

The cover of the book The Burning DarkBlindsight by Peter Watts

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

The Explorer by James Smythe

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Nightflyers by George R. R. Martin

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

 

DITTO: Back-to-School Edition – “Small Great Things”

Small Great Things Shelf End Ditto

I know the book doesn’t have anything to do with school, but it is still timely in a broader sense.