Bleak Books with Olivia: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

I think it’s about time for a return to the classics, don’t you? The Picture of Dorian Gray has been on my want-to-read list for months. When discussing dastardly books, this one in particular always seems to come up in conversation at some point. Maybe it’s the cast full of unlikable characters, or maybe it’s the descent into all-out hedonism that drags our title character down into the depths of pure evil. Or maybe, it’s just a good, old-fashioned hate-read (I cast my vote for the latter). Either way, this book is the one to reach for when you just want a downright sickening read.

I must preface this review by saying that I actually enjoyed this book, and found it an easy read. All the parts were there to keep me flipping the pages well into the wee hours of the morning: drama, intrigue, a couple deaths, and, of course, art (I’m an art historian, so I was sold on that front!) but there was just something that really rubbed me the wrong way… in the best way.

Dorian Gray is a remarkably beautiful young man approaching adulthood when he is taken by a painter, Basil Hallward, to be his muse. At the studio, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a brilliant, conniving older man with a taste for the hedonistic, despite Victorian society conventions. Lord Henry convinces Dorian that aging will ruin his beauty and render him useless and irrelevant in the near future and Dorian begins to panic, making a foolish wish to transfer all of his blemishes, wrinkles, and marks of indulgence to a portrait Basil recently made of him. The wish works, and once Dorian discovers he will not age any longer, his lust for life grows to disastrous proportions that comes with a body count.

This book, as I mentioned before, became not just a hate-read, but an full-on loathe-read. Almost every character in the book is male, and often they gather around and discuss modern life, which always seems to involve several quips about how women are useless for anything other than being a beautiful wife. Dorian himself also becomes a reason to hate this book with all his pompous self-adoration and his complete foolishness throughout the entire novel. Wilde tried to make me sympathize with Dorian, who was led astray at an innocent young age by an arguably predatory older man, but it’s incredibly difficult to feel bad for a boy who knows of his wrongdoings, continues to do them, and even leaves a body count in his wake. Maybe Dorian Gray’s portrait preserves his atrocious attitude from boyhood well into his older years along with his good looks.

Although this description may have thrown you off, I encourage you to read it anyway! This book gives an honest depiction of how obsession with youth and beauty will do nothing but eat you alive. As I said before, it truly is a “loathe-read”, but you will at least finish the book with the satisfaction of knowing you certainly aren’t the only one that hates Dorian Gray.

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Please take a look in the Adult Fiction section at the Aurora and Dillsboro Public Libraries for my favorite Bleak Books (including this one!) If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.

Become a Citizen Scientist for Earth Day!

Have you heard the term “Citizen Scientist”? A citizen scientist is an ordinary person, just like you, who observes, or measures, or identifies and who sends the information to actual scientists doing research around the world. Become a citizen scientist and help support your community for Earth Day by taking part in our tree-planting program! It’s simple and easy to do!

Children ages 3-8 can pick up a coloring sheet from the Citizen Science displays at the Dillsboro or Aurora Public Libraries and color a beautiful Earth Day scene. Once finished, write your name in the space provided and email a picture of your finished coloring sheet to hello@BlueDotKidsPress.com AND stephanie@eapld.org by April 26th and One Tree Planted will plant a tree for you! Children ages 9 and up can take a photo of a tree in your neighborhood an upload the picture to the free Tree Snap App. Email your photo to hello@BlueDotKidsPress.com AND stephanie@eapld.org by April 26th and One Tree Planted will plant a tree for you!

Pick up a book on our Citizen Science displays to read about trees and Earth Day to gain some Citizen Scientist skills! You can also scan the QR codes on the display to learn about more citizen science opportunities.

 

Bleak Books with Olivia: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Why would anyone read something that makes you feel so unsettled after you finish it? Where is the happy ending? Who would want to read that?” I get it. Books can be an escape from everyday life. They can act as a retreat. But isn’t there something that’s just so inviting about reading a book where all the characters are horrible people who keep doing the wrong thing over and over again and the book always ends in a jarring way that sets you off-kilter for weeks? No? Well, let me play devil’s advocate.

So let’s begin with the classic that started it all and the book that got me REALLY into dark reads: Wuthering Heights. This review will be spoiler-free!

So, you’re wandering through the stacks on the second floor of the Aurora Public Library and pick up this book, thinking “I need a nice romance. It’s set in late 18th century England in the stunning moors of Yorkshire, and I love period dramas! Why not?” Not quite. Wuthering Heights is a narrative, not about love, but about obsession and revenge at the hands of a ruthless, heartless man. Heathcliff, an orphan boy living on the streets in Yorkshire, is taken by a family out on the moors and turns out to be their worst nightmare.

Cathy, the only daughter of this family, spends almost all her waking moments with Heathcliff. All this time spent together can only lead to one thing: a childhood crush. But, as it always is with Olivia’s Bleak Books, wrong place, wrong time. No matter how many times Cathy and Heathcliff link up throughout their lives, there is always something in the way. Husbands, wives, children, money, vengeful drunken brothers, ghosts, property ownership, the rich kid across the moors… you name it, Heathcliff and Cathy probably dealt with it. Heathcliff goes absolutely bonkers over the edge with his obsession over Cathy and his revenge on the family who took him in. One would argue (me, I would definitely argue) that spite is the only thing that keeps Heathcliff going. The book ends in a devastatingly haunting fashion, complete with misty graveyards and ghosts and no real happy ending whatsoever… well, maybe a little bit, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Overall, my favorite thing that will keep bringing me back to this novel for years to come is how it feels very much my own. It is cold, dark, and mysterious. All the characters have fatal flaws, and I would despise to meet them all, but oh, how I wish I could visit the moors and peek into a day in the life of Heathcliff. So, five stars to the 18th-century version of Days of Our Lives. It’s got all the drama, intrigue, violence, and shock of a modern-day soap opera, and I just ate it up.

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Pleaser take a look in the Adult Fiction section on the second floor of the Aurora Public Library for a display of my favorite Bleak Books (including this one!) Discussions over many of them will be soon to follow. If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.

Racial Equity Resources

Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester On the Playground: Our First Talk About Prejudice by Dr. Jillian Roberts I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoet

The Aurora Public Library District was recently awarded a $1,000.00 Advancing Racial Equity Collection Development Grant by Indiana Humanities with funds from Lilly Endowment Inc. This grant has allowed the Aurora Public Library District to add a variety of materials to the Library District’s collection in regards to diversity, systemic racism, inequitable policing, and protest. The materials purchased through this grant were selected from a list of over 100 titles that had been curated by librarians, with input from humanities scholars. 

Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer (DVD) You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

It is the hope of the Aurora Public Library District that these materials will help our communities learn about racial equity. In selecting titles to purchase, it was the goal of the Library District to offer materials that are appropriate for all ages and in a variety of formats. There are picture books to share with young children, books to encourage frank family discussions, and items to challenge us all to better understand the events that have taken place in our country over the past months and years. Reading a book or watching a DVD on racial justice can serve as an entry point, but we also hope that these resources will lead to deeper reflection and to conversations throughout our community. Lists of the purchased items have been provided to local educators for use in their classrooms, and we also welcome their use by other community organizations.

The purchased materials will be on display at the Aurora Public Library and the Dillsboro Public Library throughout the month of November. A full list of the new items is available on request.

This is My America by Kim Johnson Guilty Until Proven Guilty (DVD)  Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Banaji and Greenwald

The History of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a national, month-long observance of the often overlooked contributions of women in history and contemporary society. In the United States it is celebrated in March to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th.  The first National Women’s History Month was celebrated in 1987, but it was celebrated by smaller communities long before then. The process took years of hard work and lobbying by women to gain the recognition they deserved.

In 1979, a fifteen-day conference co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence, the Women’s Action Alliance, and the Smithsonian Institution was held at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. The conference was organized by one of the professors at the college, Gerda Lerner. Her goal was to introduce female leaders with diverse backgrounds to the possibilities of women’s history. Lerner, along with historians Alice Kessler-Harris and Amy Swerdlow, challenged the participants to create one large group project. Their chosen project was to make the celebration of Women’s History Week, an event already celebrated by some schools, communities, and women’s organizations, a national event.

At the end of the conference, the women returned to their homes all across the country and began the campaign for a National Women’s History Week. They planned and scheduled publicly sponsored women’s history programs at both the local and national level. The women successfully lobbied for national recognition, and in February of 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week.

Subsequent presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March for the next several years. The popularity grew, and schools across the United States started their own local celebrations of Women’s History Week, and even expanding into the entire month of March. By 1986, fourteen states declared March as Women’s History Month, and finally, in 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month nationally.

The National Women’s History Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving women’s history, and a large contributor to the fight for a nationally recognized month, selects the yearly theme and honorees for Women’s History Month. The 2020 theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The theme honors women “from the original suffrage movement as well as 20th and 21st century women who have continued the struggle (fighting against poll taxes, literacy tests, voter roll purges, and other more contemporary forms of voter suppression) to ensure voting rights for all.” The 2020 honorees include Maria Teresa Kumar, Edith Mayo, Lucy Burns, Carrie Chapman Catt, and many other incredible women who have fought and continue to fight for voting rights for everyone. Click HERE for more information on this year’s theme and honorees.

You can learn more about women’s history, and celebrate Women’s History Month, by checking out our collection of books about women’s contributions to history and society! Click on any title to learn more!

Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to VoteSuffrage: Women's Long Battle for the VoteThe Encyclopedia of Women's History in America

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists   Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War One    D-Day Girls: The Untold Stories of the Female Spies Who Helped Win World War II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Hours of Service

In order to better serve the community, some of our operating hours will change, beginning on January 2, 2020. The changes are shown in red.

The Aurora Public Library

Monday 10 am – 6 pm

Tuesday 10 am – 8 pm

Wednesday 10 am – 6 pm

Thursday 10 am – 8 pm

Friday 10 am – 6 pm

Saturday 10 am – 3 pm

The Dillsboro Public Library

Monday 10 am – 6 pm

Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm

Wednesday 10 am – 6 pm

Thursday 10 am – 6 pm

Friday 10 am – 6 pm

Saturday 10 am – 3 pm

 

The Local History Library
@ the Depot

Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm

Wednesday 10 am – 6 pm

Thursday 10 am – 6 pm

1st & 3rd Saturday 10 am – 3 pm

(closed each day 12:30-1 pm)

 

 

Celebrate with a Cookie!

Why not start off your holiday season with a stop by one of our library branches on Saturday, December 7th? Both the Aurora Public Library and the Dillsboro Public Library will have Christmas cookies to ice and sprinkle, and Peggy will be sharing some of our newest Christmas picture books. (One book is from a favorite tri-state children’s author.) The stories will be at 10:30 am at the Aurora Branch and at 11:30 am at the Dillsboro Branch. Cookies will be waiting for you between 10:30 am and 1 pm. The towns of Aurora and Dillsboro will have lots of “holiday happenings” that day, so you’ll be able to put cookies and books on your list of fun things to do!

Dasher by Matt Tavares

Happy holidays from the staff at the Library!

Notice Any Changes?

In the last few weeks,  changes have been made to the Aurora Branch’s collection. For quite some time, we’ve had issues with crowded shelves. This creates issues  when you search for your next great read. No one wants  to grab one book from the shelf, only for two or three to come out with it. Now, you don’t have to worry about the crowded shelves! We’ve rearranged many areas in the library to make it more user-friendly for everyone. Most of the changes have taken effect on the upper level.

Instead of now beginning our upstairs nonfiction collection at 590, we now begin our upstairs nonfiction at 600, located in the main room where our biography collection was housed near the top of the stairs. The nonfiction on the upper level wraps around the shelves until reaching the “New Book” area and then continues into the West Wing until it ends. This change was to simplify the nonfiction collection.

Teens have been moved to a whole new area. They are no longer in the East Wing near the elevator. They’ve been moved to the West Wing behind the magazine section. This is to give teens a more  private area. We have more changes in store for the teen area that will hopefully be taking effect in the coming months.

The adult fiction collection has grown. There will be more space on the shelves for new books and the shelves will be less crowded. (James Patterson, we’re looking at you!)

Basically, all these changes create more space on the shelves for more books, reduce overcrowded areas, and make the collection more user-friendly. While it will take some time getting used to the new locations of your favorite authors, eventually, it’ll be as if they’ve been there this whole time!

If you are having trouble locating an item, please seek assistance at the desk!

 

Stuck Between the Pages Final Meeting

The YA Book Discussion Group: Stuck Between the Pages will have it’s final meeting on November 12, 2019 at 6pm. We will be discussing the book: Pay it Forward by: Catherine Ryan Hyde and its movie adaptation that we will be watching on November 5, 2019 at 5:30pm. While we have been happy to see young adults enjoying the book club, we do not have enough interest to continue the book discussion group for next year.

About the Book:

The story of how a boy who believed in the goodness of human nature set out to change the world.

Pay It Forward is a wondrous and moving novel about Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy in a small California town who accepts the challenge that his teacher gives his class, a chance to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world for the better — and to put that plan into action.

The idea that Trevor comes up with is so simple and so naïve that when others learn of it they are dismissive. Even Trevor himself begins to doubt when his “pay it forward” plan seems to founder on a combination of bad luck and the worst of human nature.

In the end, Pay It Forward is the story of seemingly ordinary people made extraordinary by the simple faith of a child. In the tradition of the successful and inspirational television show Touched by an Angel, and the phenomenally successful novel and film Forrest GumpPay It Forward is a work of charm, wit, and remarkable inspiration, a story of hope for today and for many tomorrows to come.