Library Moments: April Online Book Club

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.

April’s book club theme is books about environmental change in recognition of Earth Day on April 22.  The four books this month are:  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, Solar by Ian McEwan, Pump Six and Other stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, and This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein.

This week on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning, and I will each tell you about the book we selected from this month’s online book club choices.

flight behaviorSherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: Barbara Kingsolver is a rarity—a trained scientist who became a graceful novelist. In her novel Flight Behaviour the author has done something even more unusual, making the subject of climate change the heart of the story. Flight Behavior takes place in present day Feathertown, Tennessee. Petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old Dellarobia has spent more than a decade tending to small children on a failing farm, oppressed by poverty, isolation and her husband’s hostile family. Seeking momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man, Dellarobia is headed for a secluded mountain cabin to meet this man and initiate what she expects will be a self-destructive affair. But the rendezvous never happens. Instead, she walks into something on the mountainside she cannot explain or understand: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws farmers into unexpected contact with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. After years lived entirely in the confines of one small house, Dellarobia finds her path suddenly opening out, chapter by chapter, into blunt and confrontational engagement with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.

solarErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In Solar by Ian MacEwan, Michael Beard is a washed up Nobel-prize physicist. His best work is behind him; riding on his own coat tails he speaks for enormous fees and lends his name to the letterhead of government organizations to give them some scientific credibility. He’s on his fifth crumbling marriage, his umpteenth infidelity, and now realizes he still desperately loves his wife even though she’s turned the tables and been the one unfaithful to him. When Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in strange ways while he is half-heartedly backing a government initiative to curb climate change, an opportunity presents itself to reinvigorate his career and possibly save the world from environmental disaster. But can a man who’s made such a mess of his life clean up the mess the world is in?

Solar is a comic story about an anti-hero tripping over his own two feet to make a difference in the world, even if he only believes he’s rearranging deck chairs as the titanic goes down. In a cynical moment in the book, Michael’s business partner despairs that perhaps the deniers are correct and that the climate isn’t changing after all. “It’s a catastrophe,” Michael assures him. “Relax!”

pump sixBessie: Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi  is a collection of short stories that tells of a future in equal parts cautionary tale and social and political commentary. The Calorie Man explores a post–fossil fuel future where genetically modified crops both feed and power the world, and greedy megacorporations hold the fates of millions in their hands. The People of Sand and Slag envisions a future Earth as a contaminated wasteland inhabited by virtually indestructible post-humans who consume stone and swim in petroleum oceans. The Tamarisk Hunter deals with the effects of global warming on water rights in the Southwest, while the title story, follows a New York sewage treatment worker who struggles to repair his antiquated equipment as the city’s inhabitants succumb to the brain-damaging effects of industrial pollutants. Deeply thought provoking, after reading the collection one can’t help but feel deeply concerned about what will happen to humans if we aren’t collectively more careful with our planet.

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 April 26th – May 2nd, 2015.

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