Blog Posts by bweiner

Posted by bweiner on 07/29/15
cover image
In 2014, science fiction fans were delighted to experience the debut of a new film, Interstellar, helmed by Christopher Nolan. This brilliant and inventive film dared to challenge our astronomical awareness and broaden our scientific knowledge to include the known and the predicted.
 
The story of Interstellar is familiar to fans of space movies. The Earth is no longer able to sustain human life, so scientists are constructing a plan to use a wormhole that will transport them to a planet habitable by humans. What makes this story different is the remarkable scientific integrity of the information presented.
 
This is where The Science of Interstellar comes in. This extraordinary book, written with flair and determination by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, attempts to elucidate the complexities of the universe and make the science of this movie accessible to all.
 
Kip Thorne was the scientific collaborator who Christopher Nolan relied on to take the story to the brink of what we know and then move one step beyond. Thorne introduces us to the foundations of physics while guiding us through a universe of black holes and gravitational anomalies. There is also a section devoted to extreme physics; the conjecture of what may be yet to come.
 
In addition to all this, we are privy to some humorous anecdotes about Thorne’s brush with the rich and famous of Hollywood. Take a voyage into The Science of Interstellar, it will be a journey you will not regret.
 
Posted by bweiner on 06/14/15
cover image
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is the appealing story of two Nigerians immigrants who try to survive the bumpy road to success in America.
 
However, there is one small problem. Job Ogbonnaya has lied to everyone, including his wife Ifi, who has come from Nigeria as part of an arranged marriage to live with her doctor husband. The money his father has sent from home to finance medical school sits in a savings account, while Job works at a nursing home as a nurse’s aide.
 
The difficulties of surviving in America are great enough without the added burden of the massive lie Job has told. His life is complicated further by the reappearance of his first wife Cheryl, the woman he married to obtain citizenship. Then there are Emeka and Gladys, also Nigerian, who seem to navigate their new country with apparent grace and ease.
 
Julie Iromuanya has created a frustrating, funny, sensitive story about race, relationships and survival and how our past shapes and follows us into our future. Check out this captivating story by Iromuanya, a first time author.
 
Immigrants
Posted by bweiner on 05/17/15
cover image
Transgender identity is currently a conspicuous subject in the media. There is a wave of individuals, famous or not, who are choosing to reveal their struggles and live their lives free from the veil of deception.
 
Laurence Anyways, the 2012 Canadian film directed by Xavier Dolan, tackles this complex subject with grace, dignity and humor. The story is set in Montreal in the late 1990’s.We observe Laurence as he discloses his lifelong desire to be a woman to his girlfriend, family, friends and colleagues, and the ensuing chaos this creates.  As if that was not enough, he endures the bigotry and ignorance of the community as he navigates his path to femininity in a very public way.
 
The misunderstandings he bears are tempered by the wonderful moments of compassion and enlightenment that sometimes come from the most unlikely sources in this film. Humankind’s adaptability to change is impressive.
 
Remarkable performances by the two lead actors, Melvil Poupaud as Laurence Alia and Suzanne Clement as Frédérique "Fred" Belair bring these characters into focus as people we know or want to know. Check out this superb film about a very timely subject. (In French with English subtitles)
 
Posted by bweiner on 04/15/15
cover image
With reality shows dominating the television landscape, Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha is a well-timed novel that examines our obsession with fame and our desire to find the extraordinary in ordinary circumstances.
 
We first meet Eddie Hartley, the drama teacher at a boy’s prep school in New York City. Eddie once dreamed of making it big as an actor, but his minimal success determined his fate as an educator. He and his wife Susan are in need of money to support their attempt at in vitro fertilization after having no success with pregnancy, so Eddie resorts to selling a sex tape of him and his ex-girlfriend Martha, who is now a successful television star.  The tape goes viral, the wife and ex-girlfriend bond as exploited women, and a new reality show is born.
 
Eddie finally gets the fame he has been chasing, but at what cost?  Are reality shows responsible for creating frenzy, or do we generate their success with our overwhelming passion and response to them? Christopher Beha has written a spectacular novel that will thrill us with its hilarity while challenging our conceptions concerning the genesis of reality television. If you watch these shows or not, this is not one to miss!
 
satire
Posted by bweiner on 03/22/15
cover image
Travel to the distant future in Time To Expire, a world where technology and scientific discovery have eliminated disease and lengthened the duration of human life. The decrease in mortality has also minimized other damaging aspects of society, weakening their destructive effects in this new world.
 
Who becomes the savior of civilization?  The answer is LifeSpan, a technology company responsible for the dramatic turn of events. In addition to the eradication of disease, the company is able to pinpoint the exact time of death for all people and facilitate their exit from the world. Families are able to anticipate the death of their loved ones and be present as they spend their last moments on Earth.
 
We follow Cole, who has taken a job with a bright future at LifeSpan. His security is threatened by an underground movement that challenges the ethics of  LifeSpan’s authority.  Should they exercise such power over human existence? Does knowing make it easier to let someone go?
 
In his debut novel, Chris Ramos treats these questions with the respect and attentiveness they deserve. His characters are authentic; his action is crisp and complete. I am eager to see where this outstanding new author will take us next.
 
Posted by bweiner on 02/12/15
cover image
There are support groups for almost everything these days. Join Dr. Jan Sayer as she facilitates therapy for people who have survived unspeakable trauma and continued psychologically painful experiences in Daryl Gregory’s new thriller, We Are All Completely Fine.
 
This is quite a cast of memorable characters: from Stan, who survived captivity with cannibals, although he sports a few less appendages, to Barbara, who carries secret messages etched on her bones courtesy of a scrimshander. Dr. Sayer is aware of their continued anxiety, and encourages the group to bond and work through their problems. Unfortunately, something dark and malicious is released through their sessions, and the danger escalates for the entire group…
 
Part horror, part psychological thriller, Daryl Gregory keeps us in uncomfortable suspense while managing to wrest a few chuckles along the way. If you like your horror fun, fast and frenzied, this is the book for you!
 
Posted by bweiner on 01/07/15
cover image
People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo--And the Evil That Swallowed Her Up is the vivid, detailed, affecting story of Lucie Blackman's disappearance from the streets of Tokyo, and the subsequent discovery of her dismembered body in a seaside cave in Japan. This sensational, true story of a young English girl and her gruesome murder by a man described as "unprecedented and extremely evil" will captivate you so completely that you will not want to put it down.

Yet, it is not only the tragic loss of a young life that makes this a compelling read. Award-winning, foreign correspondant Richard Lloyd Parry navigates us through Japanese society with an adroit hand, and we examine the culture through the eyes of the Eastern and the Western world.

Even more fascinating is the picture Parry paints of every person involved in Lucie's life and death. Lucie's family: her mother, father, sister and brother are all present and plugged into this story. Lucie's friends and acquaintances provide insight into her character and actions. Parry contributes painstaking detail about Japan's legal system and the people who represent it. Probably the most unsettling element of this tale is the intimate portrait of Joji Obara, the accused killer of Lucie Blackman. Parry guides us from his birth in Japan to his lengthy trial for the rape and murder of multiple young women. The key to this riveting book is the incredible detail Parry provides, and the depth of emotional intensity he packs into this sad story. Spellbinding indeed.

 
Posted by bweiner on 11/05/14
cover image
He may be physically gone from this world, but Kurt Vonnegut left us with a legacy of wit and wisdom that will tickle the funny bones of generations to come.

If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young, is classic Vonnegut. This collection of graduation speeches is witty, intelligent, absurd,expressive, concise, and supremely charming.

These are not the same old tired speeches about "going forth into the world and making your mark". Vonnegut does remind us to be blissful and celebratory about the small moments and the people who support us.

This modest book is also bursting with sage advice like:

 
"There's bad news and good news tonight, my friends. The bad news is the Martians have landed in New York City and are staying at the Waldorf-Astoria.
The good news is they only eat homeless people and they pee gasoline."

See? Where else can you get advice like that?

Posted by bweiner on 08/14/14
cover image
Short Term 12 features something extraordinary in modern filmmaking; exceptionally believable characters who mirror our own frailties and limitations. There was never a moment in the film that was insincere or unconvincing.
 
This is the story of Grace and Mason, two caretakers at a short term foster care facility for at-risk teenagers. Brie Larson, as Grace, is tough and tender and runs the facility with a firm but loving hand. John Gallagher Jr., as Mason, is her sounding board and safe place. These two have barely passed their teenage years, and the weight of their difficult journeys raises their empathy while building their defenses. We come to recognize Grace as a survivor, and we are aware how acutely she feels the teenager’s pain.
 
This terrific movie alternates between light-hearted joy and painful darkness. The characters vacillate between strength and despair. Above all, there is courage and dignity in these truly authentic young people who fight for survival and a chance to reverse their predestined fate.
 
Posted by bweiner on 06/14/14
cover image
Frequently, when I choose my next book to read, I intentionally avoid anything polished, conspicuous or readily available in multiple copies. I prefer to find the quiet gems, small works written in earnest by relatively unknown authors. Usually, my efforts are rewarded by a rich and satisfying read, but this time, the return was even greater.
 
Black Moon, by Kenneth Calhoun, is a diamond in a sea of rhinestones. This smart novel follows a handful of characters as they navigate a world plagued by an epidemic of insomnia. They struggle with moral issues as they try to make decisions about their loved ones who are afflicted with the condition.  They must also carefully monitor their own health and realistically assess their chances of survival. In the midst of the chaos, they cope with the normal problems that trouble friends, lovers, and companions.
 
Consider this passage, as one of the characters, Biggs, describes the frightening state of sleeplessness.
 
The sleepless, in their total exhaustion, quickly lost their ability to distinguish fact from fiction. The unguarded gate in their heads was now propped wide open to suggestion and persuasion. It was a great time for storytellers he thought, for magicians and, of course, advertisers- his abandoned trade. It was the ideal era for placebos: well-intended, white lies that produce truth in spite of themselves. 
 
Carefully chosen, succinct language is the trademark of this excellent debut novel.  Scientific and humanistic concerns are carefully balanced in a skillfully told tale that is poignant and perceptive. Please make sure to check out this superb debut novel.
 
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
 
If your status is Confirmed Registration, your spot for the event is confirmed.

If registration for this event is full, you will be placed on a waiting list. Wait listed registrants are moved to the confirmed registration list (in the order of registration) when cancelations are received. You will receive an email notification if you are moved from the wait list to the confirmed registration list.

6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
 
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
 
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
 
  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
 
  • content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
 
  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
 
  • content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
 
  • content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
 
  • content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
 
  • content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy