“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

fahrenheit451coverBooks on Tap read Fahrenheit 451  by Justin Torres at Champion Brewery on June 7.  The group votes on the titles we read each period and this was our “classic” selection. Many of us had read it in high school or had watched the 1966 film adaptation (none of us has seen the newest HBO version) and recalled the basic outline: in the near future fireman Guy Montag burns books because they are dangerous, meets a young woman, rethinks society and his role in it and joins a band of outcasts determined to memorize and preserve literature as the government fakes his assassination. Throughout he is surrounded by citizens who use entertainment and drugs to numb themselves, making it easy for a political/military elite to wage a war that seems to destroy the cities in the end.

The group doesn’t read many sci-fi titles and this one was within our comfort zone. The wall-to-wall screens and omnipresent earbuds presaged today’s obsession with Facebook, Twitter, Virtual Reality and fandoms. The mechanical dog functions like today’s drones, complete with the paranoia of being singled out for constant monitoring and crime-fighting-through-DNA. Similarly, Montag’s wife Mildred is repeatedly overdosing and being brought back with little fanfare and with seemingly no harm. Not only was this a way for her to numb herself against the monotony of her life and to distract her and the rest of the population from the war, it also reminded 2018 readers of the current opioid epidemic.

We were most interested in Montag’s boss, Chief Beatty. He seems conflicted – he’s read and hidden books but daily burns them and those who hide them. It was unclear if he was currently reading books or had memorized some and was now just hoarding them as a display of power. Some of us posited that Beatty committed suicide by provoking Montag. We then considered Montag’s young friend, Clarisse. She is the one who exposes Montag to an alternative way of living, where people discuss ideas and sit on porches to meet with neighbors. Not only is she one of the few people to talk to Montag for any length of time, she is one of the few woman with a backstory.

Bradbury’s coda disappointed us. He claims that writers are splintering into ethnic, social and racial divisions but until recently sci-fi was notoriously non-diverse. It was hard to square this novel, a call to arms to preserve intellectual freedom, with his restrictive view of how writing should be presented.

What struck us most about the novel in 2018 was need for deep, sustained reading for pleasure as opposed to purpose. It is an antidote to our plugged in society, getting us out of our bubbles and exercising our attention spans. That led us to list the books that hooked us on reading as children and young adults:

Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Roald Dahl‘s works
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Cherry Ames series
Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope

More Information:
About the author and book
Other works

Adaptations:
Play
Short stories as origin
1966 Movie
2018 Movie

Read Alikes:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Stand by Stephen King
A Gift Upon the Shore by M.K. Wren
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Mr. Burns, a Post-electric Play by Anne Washburn
This is America a music video by recording artist Childish Gambino

Books on Tap Information:

Have a suggestion for future titles? Add them to this list.

Previous titles

June is Pride Month

June is LGBT Pride Month – this is when cities across the country show support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, culture, and communities. It’s currently celebrated each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

In June of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City, resisted the police harassment and staged an uprising. Why did people have to resist the police? Basically, through history (and in many other countries) gay bars were illegal in America and LGBTQ Americans didn’t have the same rights as other Americans.

The Stonewall uprising marks the beginning of the movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ Americans.

The events that took place at the Stonewall Inn led to the first gay pride parades in the United States and in many other countries. Now, cities host events to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and bring awareness to the issues that LGBT+ Americans still face.

In 1998, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13087 expanding equal opportunity employment in the Federal government by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. On June 11, 1999 President Clinton issued Proclamation No. 7203 for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month:

Thirty years ago this month, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a courageous group of citizens resisted harassment and mistreatment, setting in motion a chain of events that would become known as the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement. Gays and lesbians, their families and friends, celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall every June in America as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.

On June 1, 2009, President Obama issued Proclamation No. 8387 for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. In this proclamation the President pointed to the contributions made by LGBT Americans both in promoting equal rights to all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and in broader initiatives such as the response to the global HIV pandemic. The President ended the proclamation by calling upon the people of the United States to “turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.” (From the Library of Congress).

The Central Library has new book club for the summer that will discuss books by and about people across the LGBT spectrum. It meets the last Tuesday of the month at 6pm at the Central Library. The June 26 meeting will discuss Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu.

Here are a few books to try out:

tellthewolvesTell the Wolves I’m Home (fiction) by Carol Kifka Brunt – “It is 1987, and only one person has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus — her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down.”

 

godsoftangoThe Gods of Tango (fiction) by Carolina De Robertis – “February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, clutching a suitcase and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her small Italian village for a new home (and husband) halfway across the world in Argentina. Upon her arrival in Buenos Aires, Leda is shocked to find that her bridegroom has been killed. Unable to fathom the idea of returning home, she remains in this unfamiliar city, living in a commune on the brink of destitution. She finally acts on a passion she has kept secret for years: mastering the violin. Leda knows that she can never play in public as a woman, so she cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and, as a young man, joins a troupe of musicians bent on bringing tango into the salons of high society.”

redefining

Redefining Realness (nonfiction) by Janet Mock – “An extraordinary young woman recounts her coming-of-age as a transgender teen–a deeply personal and empowering portrait of self-revelation, adversity, and heroism. In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she publicly stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Since then, Mock has gone from covering the red carpet for People.com to advocating for all those who live within the shadows of society. Redefining Realness offers a bold new perspective on being young, multiracial, economically challenged, and transgender in America.”

forcingthespring

Forcing the Spring (nonfiction) by Jo Becker – “Forcing the Spring begins on Election Night 2008, when a controversial California ballot initiative called Proposition 8–which removed the right of gay men and women to marry–passed alongside Barack Obama’s stunning victory. Forcing the Spring details how a small but determined group of political and media insiders took the fight for marriage equality all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Beach Reads

Summer is (almost) here! That means it’s time to check out some beach reads! So, what’s a beach read? Usually it’s described as contemporary fiction that’s on the lighter side. But, it can also also be a tear-jerker or a thriller. Basically a beach read allows you to escape for a few hours, so if you have a book and read it on vacation then it counts as a beach read (at least to us)!

Take a look below at some of the hottest beach reads this year:

The Windfall by Diksha Basu – For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners and gossipy neighbors. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status.

The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen – This is the story of a high-profile, TED-talking, power-posing Silicon Valley CEO and mother of two who has it all under control, until a woman claiming to be a younger version of herself appears, causing a major glitch in her over-scheduled, over-staffed, over-worked life. But when Shelley meets a young woman named Shelley Stone who has the exact same scar on her shoulder, Shelley has to wonder: Is some sort of corporate espionage afoot? Has she discovered a hole in the space-time continuum? Or is she finally buckling under all the pressure?

Halsey Street by Naima Coster – Penelope has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She’s accepted that her future won’t be what she’d dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. When Penelope moves into the attic apartment of the affluent Harpers, she thinks she’s found a semblance of family–and maybe even love. But her world is upended again when she receives a postcard from Mirella asking for reconciliation.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu – A group of young girls are camping and find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. This one night changes everything and will shape their lives for decades to come.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll – When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan – The last person Alice expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer – College student Greer, finds her perspectives transformed by a mentor activist at the center of the women’s movement. She challenges Greer to discover herself in ways that take her far from the traditional life she envisioned.

You can find even more beach reads on our wiki, JMRL Reads.