Library Moments: International Literacy Day

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is library moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

September 8th was International Literacy Day as declared by UNESCO.

It is stated on their website that: “Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development.  Educational opportunities depend on literacy.  Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future.”

Obviously literacy is an essential in every country.  In honour of the international consideration of Literacy Day, Amanda Wilk and I will discuss books with an international feel, be they written by international authors or set somewhere other than Canada…

Song of AchillesAmanda Wilk, Public Services Librarian: The Song of Achilles is written by American author Madeline Miller, but set in Greece during the age of heroes. I love reading stories of or from Ancient Greece, and am fascinated by the level to which classic Greek writings are influenced by the Trojan War. In The Song of Achilles, Ms. Miller brings to life Achilles, one of the Trojan War’s greatest heroes, but does so through the eyes of a lesser known figure, Patroclus, an intelligent but awkward young prince, who forms a romantic bond with Achilles, which one could argue saves and destroys them both. Much has been written about the main figures in the Trojan War, and Madeline Miller does a good job of illuminating a lesser known angle of the story.

Bessie:  The Painted Girls by Canadian writer Cathy Marie Buchanan takes place in 1878 Paris. Following The Painted Girlstheir father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra on the stage.  The younger sister catches the eye of Degas and supplements her earnings modeling for the artist.  This is a book of ingenuity and survival.  Cathy Marie Buchanan is this year’s Friend’s Gala Author.  The Gala will be held on November 3rd and features The Painted Girls.

Name of the StarAmanda: One of my favourite geographic settings for movies, television shows, and books is London, England. It is a gorgeous city, surrounded with history, drama, and intrigue. In highlighting books that feature London as a key setting, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention perhaps the most famous literary character to walk the streets of London, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, the famed detective of 221B Baker Street. At the library we have Conan Doyle’s complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as non-fiction on the creation and legacy of Sherlock Holmes, and more recent additions to the Sherlock cannon by modern authors like The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz.

But if you’re looking for more modern mysteries set in the heart of London, you might enjoy young adult author Maureen Johnson’s The Shades of London series, which begins with The Name of the Star. In it, readers are introduced to Rory, a native of Louisiana who is spending her senior year of high school at London’s Wexford Boarding School. Dark things are afoot both at Wexford and in all of London, for on the day of Rory’s arrival, a young woman is murdered in the same manner that Jack the Ripper killed his first victim 114 years ago. And the murders don’t stop there, as the body count grows, and the police establish no leads, Rory and others come to realize that the killings could not be the work of any mortal man.

Bessie:  Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman is by American writers but mostly set in Vienna. Minna Bernays is an Freud's Mistressovereducated woman who has been fired yet again for speaking her mind, she finds herself out on the street and destitute. In 1895 Vienna, even though the city is aswirl with avant-garde artists and writers there are still very few options for women besides marriage. Out of desperation, Minna turns to her older sister, Martha, for help. But Martha has her own problems; six young children, a host of physical ailments, and an absent, overworked, disinterested husband who happens to be Sigmund Freud.  As is clear by the title this book is about the relationship that develops between Minna and Freud.  It reads a lot like Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, so if you enjoyed either of those titles you will be sure to find Freud’s Mistress intriguing.

All books mentioned are available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library in various formats.  This has been Library Moments, thank you for tuning in here on 100.9 Canoe FM

* Originally aired on 100.9 Canoe FM from September 2nd-September 9th 2013

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