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.
Anyone can participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of four books selected each month. You don’t even have to read from a particular month’s selection you can simply go online and make comments about books and reading in general.
This month’s choice are all books about football. For those of us who enjoy American football January marks the march towards the Super Bowl. If you don’t enjoy football, fortunately the four selections this month are about much more than just the game. They are: The One and Only by Emily Giffin, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakuer, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, and Pop by Gordon Korman.
Today on Library Moments, Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning, and I will tell you about the book we read for the online book club this month.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: In May 2002, Pat Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a deserted hillside in Afghanistan.
Though obvious to most of the two dozen soldiers on the scene that a ranger in Tillman’s own platoon had fired the fatal shots, the Army aggressively maneuvered to keep this information from Tillman’s wife, other family members, and the American public for five weeks following his death. During this time, President Bush repeatedly invoked Tillman’s name to promote his administration’s foreign policy. Long after Tillman’s nationally televised memorial service, the Army grudgingly notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire.
In Where Men Win Glory: The Odysssey of Pat Tillman, author Jon Krakauer draws on Tillman’s journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to extract a detailed report of this driven, complex, and uncommonly compelling figure.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In Pop by Canadian author, Gordon Korman, Marcus was the star of his football team at his old school, but arriving at a new school with a football darling of their own and a quest to a 2nd undefeated season is making social acceptance an uphill battle. Short on friends, Marcus finds Charlie, a guy who acts like a rebellious teenager than a man whose hair is going grey. Soon, Marcus discovers that Charlie is none other than ex-NFL’er Charlie “King of Pop” Popovich, and father of Troy Popovich, his school football team’s quarterback and Marcus’ personal rival. As the bond strengthens between Marcus and Charlie, Marcus discovers that Charlie is one of the many retired football players suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, something which Troy and his family have been meeting with a combination of denial, shame and grief.
Gordon Korman got the idea for Pop initially from his own experience with Alzheimer’s in his grandmother, who would often mix up generations – thinking grandsons were sons, and sons were brothers – much like Charlie acts like a teenager and befriends the impressionable Marcus. When he started reading news reports about the link between repeated concussions and dementia among retired football players, he blended the two ideas in Pop to create a brisk, heartfelt story about the potential consequences that contact sport can have on the brain, and how Alzheimer’s impacts not only the one suffering it, but their friends and family as well.
Bessie: The One and Only by Emily Giffin features thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby who has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas–a small college town that lives and dies by football. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade. But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most–and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets. For me one of the more interesting aspects of this book is the debate about why cash and incentives are illegal for unpaid university athletes who in turn generate billions of dollars in revenue for the school they attend and sponsors.
To join the online book club, look for the Social Media links on our homepage at www.haliburtonlibrary.ca. Click on the “g” for Goodreads and it’ll take you right to the Online Book Club page. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments, thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.
*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM January 25th – 31st, 2015.