Divided America

The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart – America is changing, but according to Bill Bishop where you’ve decided to live is probably becoming more culturally and politically homogeneous. We are increasingly sorting ourselves into cultural bubbles and are unable to understand those who live in other areas of the country. We now move to the place that agrees with us the most. The implications for our country are huge. If we don’t know each other, how can we expect to collaborate for the common good? 

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion – We often have different ideas about how to do things, how to govern, etc. But why are we so divided? Why can’t we reach at least some common ground? Jonathan Haidt explores the different moral intuitions we have as humans, and as cultures, and explains how our differing world views can create such divisions. He then goes further to explain that the other root of our division is our instinct to group, to be a part of a tribe. He implores us to listen to each other, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. 

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America – American Nations is a history of the different cultural foundings of the United States. Colin Woodard explores the positives and negatives that each cultural area brought to the United States and explains why this caused many of the divisions that persist to this day. Our divisions may have started long ago. 

Further reading:

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment

CURL UP WITH A CLASSIC

Death on the Nile – Hercule Poirot has his work cut out for him when an heiress becomes the target of her fellow cruise passengers.  Linnet Ridgeway has money, looks and intelligence, but she also has enemies, most of whom seem to have joined her and her new husband on their honeymoon cruise up the Nile River.   The Times Literary Supplement’s short review in November 1937 concluded that, “Hercule Poirot, as usual, digs out a truth so unforeseen that it would be unfair for a reviewer to hint at it”.

A Morbid Taste For Bones – In this first book of the Brother Caedfel series, set in 12th century Britain, the monk is charged with collecting the holy remains of Saint Winifred and returning them to Shrewsbury Abbey, but when one of the villagers opposed to the removal of the saint’s remains is found dead in the woods with an arrow in his chest, Brother Caedfel must find the culprit.  The Wall Street Journal called A Morbid Taste For Bones one of their five best historical novels.

The Nine Tailors – Following a car wreck in the countryside, Lord Peter Wimsey and his trusty manservant, Bunter, find shelter in a church in an isolated town.  The town may be isolated, but it’s far from peaceful.  The church bells are ringing, long missing jewels are involved, and when gravediggers open a family grave, a mutilated corpse is found.  This is Dorothy Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey at their best.

The Daughter of Time Confined to a hospital bed with a broken leg, Inspector Alan Grant is feeling bored and out of sorts.  A friend who knows that Grant is intrigued by faces, brings him several portraits to examine.  When he looks at the portrait of Richard III, Shakespeare’s hunched back monster and purported killer of the young princes in the Tower, Grant is surprised to see a face full of integrity.  As Grant pursues Richard’s history, he becomes convinced that the “monster” was framed.  This masterful historical mystery jump-started a wave of research that has since concluded that Inspector Grant (And Josephine Tey) were right.

The Human-Animal Connection

An Elephant in My Kitchen: What the Herd Taught Me About Love, Courage and Survival, by Francoise Malby-Anthony

In 2009, Lawrence Anthony, a South African conservationist, published the New York Times bestseller The Elephant Whisperer, in which he recounted his experiences with a herd of rogue elephants that otherwise would have been shot.  In 2012 Anthony died, and Francoise Malby-Anthony, a “chic Parisienne” who had fallen in love with him and joined him in caring for the herd, took over responsibility for it.  An Elephant in My Kitchen is her account of the years since Anthony’s death, and is officially book two in the Elephant Whisperer series.  In it she talks about the challenges of running the preserve as a woman, incursions by poachers, conflict with authorities, and stories of caring for lost and orphaned baby elephants, rhinos, and other animals.  It is described as a “captivating and gripping read,” and a strong addition to the annals of life lessons learned by humans from animals.

Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay, by Julie Zickefoose

For an account of a human-animal relationship a bit closer to home, this book tells the story of the author’s adoption of a tiny, tailless fluffball of a baby blue jay that’s sick and starving.  Zickefoose saves Jemima, and after a summer of entertaining bird antics, dedicates herself to preparing the growing bird for release into the wild.  But after release Jemima turns up with a deadly disease, and Zickefoose turns her energies to healing the bird again–this time on camera for the PBS show Nature.  Zickefoose herself is enduring heartbreaking changes in her life, and this is the story of her relationship with a feisty blue jay who helps teach her to endure.  The book is illustrated with photographs, and also with the author’s beautiful drawn and painted illustrations.

Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives–And Save Theirs, by Richard Louv

Richard Louv’s last book was Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Kids with Nature-Deficit Disorder.  Here he delves more deeply into specifically human-animal relationships of the kind that Francoise Malby-Anthony and Julie Zickfoose describe in their books.  Through both scientific studies and anecdote, Louv explores the nature of our connection with animals, our co-evolution, and the lessons we can learn from them.  Chapter headings include “Species Loneliness,” “The Mind-Altering Power of Deep Animal Connection,” “Becoming the Grasshopper,” “Do They Love us Back?” and “Welcome to Symbiocene City.”  Kirkus and Booklist give Our Wild Calling starred reviews, and Psychology Today calls it “a game-changer.”

-Jared J.

Pages of History

by Residents of Kendal at Hanover

World War II Remembered by Residents of Kendal at Hanover

As time marches on, we move farther and farther from the events that comprised the Second World War. In this compelling book there are over fifty narratives describing the war abroad and the scenes of the home front. In 2012, this book was featured in a televised piece by “NBC Nightly News” in which a few of the contributors were interviewed. The decorated combat veteran, Robert Christie, penned a verse titled The Hunter which is an especially profound treasure in the work. This book is a “must read” for World War II history buffs.

by Eduardo Galeano

Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano

This book quickly shot to the best seller lists after a copy was gifted to President Obama at the 5th Summit of the Americas in 2009. It was written by one of the most celebrated Latin American journalists of the twentieth century, the late Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan author also widely known for his illustrious Memory of Fire trilogy. In it, Galeano analyzes the effects and causes of capitalist underdevelopment in Latin America and presents a passionate account of the five hundred years that spanned from the arrival of the exploitative conquistadors to the time of the work’s original Spanish language publication in 1973.

-Peter A.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Howe Library will be closed on Thursday the 28th and Friday the 29th. We will reopen on Saturday at 10:00 a.m.

While the library is closed check out some of our resources to access from home with your library card:

Kanopy – Stream feature films, documentaries, and children’s content.

New York Times – Enjoy daily free digital access.

N.H. Downloadable Books Consortium – Download e-books & e-audiobooks anytime, anywhere. Get the Libby app to download to your digital devices.

Thanksgiving History (Uncensored)

by David J. Silverman

This Land Is Their Land – This book puts to rest many of the long-standing myths about the first Thanksgiving. Silverman writes that the Pilgrims and Wampanoags forged their alliance out of necessity, giving greater historical context to the events we center our modern holiday around. He further explains that in grand history of the Pilgrims and Wampangoags, the first Thanksgiving was but a minor event.

by Nathaniel Philbrick

Mayflower – Philbrick’s Mayflower is a comprehensive look at the Pilgrims’ settling of Plymouth and of greater New England. He holds nothing back in portraying the complex history of the Native Americans’ relationship to the colonizing Pilgrims. Philbrick writes in an exciting, fast-paced manner, detailing the tragedy and struggle of this time period.

by Jill Lepore

The Name of War – Jill Lepore brings a whole other level of complexity to this region and to the two groups attempting to coexist in 17th century New England. Although taking place after the Pilgrim’s early settlement and the first Thanksgiving, The Name of War helps you to understand the fragile alliances that were formed and broken during this time. More importantly, Lepore argues that it was the colonists’ written words and memory of King Philip’s War that hardened their ideas about the Native Americans and furthered the enmity between them.

-Mike M.

Novels of Ruta Sepetys

Internationally acclaimed author “Ruta Sepetys is considered a ‘crossover’ novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it.” – rutasepetys.com 

Between Shades of Gray –  Lithuania, 1941.  Exposing the agonies endured by victims of Josef Stalin’s regime, Between Shades of Gray grips readers from the first page with its against-the-odds survival story.

Salt to the Sea – East Prussia, 1945.  World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Fountains of Silence –  Madrid, 1957.  Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, the repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.

-Denise R.