Do you enjoy reading about the lives of celebrities or learning how ordinary people have struggled to overcome the obstacles in their lives? The Library District has several new biographies and memoirs that you might enjoy!
Recently, we had a display up at the Aurora branch inviting our patrons to write a six-word memoir. We left this display up for roughly two months and received many post-it memoirs from our patrons. The prompt was: Tell us your story in six words or less!
Basically, we wanted patrons to write down a simplified version of their life’s memoir. They could either sign it with their name, or leave it unsigned, it was their choice! Here are some we received:
“My life began at 30.”
“I miss you, Bob, my brother.”
“I feel like I’m nothing inside.”
“Getting depression changed my life…”
“I can see.”
“Found..myself, my love, my family.”
“Through the valleys, love sustains me.”
“I died, but I am back.”
“Found my love, my family, my friends.”
“I used to be deaf.”
“I live life to the fullest.”
“A struggle to maintain my sanity.”
“Read. Work. Work. Eat. Sleep. Read.”
“I have cancer…” “My life changed.”
“I strive to be kind and happy every day.”
“Always live your life moving forward.”
This was a creative way for our patrons to interact with a display and give it a personal touch. To read more six-word memoirs, check out the book that goes with this display:
- A collection of six-word memoirs, contributed by both famous and obscure writers, records the human experience in works that are by turn whimsical, poignant, and bizarre, by such authors as Joyce Carol Oates and Joan Rivers.
Thank you to all those who participated!
Roald Dahl was a spy, a pilot, a chocolate historian and an inventor!
He was also a beloved author of many original and entertaining children’s books.
Roald Dahl was born in Wales on September 13, 1916 to Harald Dahl and Sofie Hesselberg. His parents named him after the first man to reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen.
His mother sent him to several boarding schools in which many bizarre events happened and later were written in his autobiography, Boy. At one of his boarding schools, the pupils were invited to test chocolate bars which helped inspire Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
His lust to travel took him from Canada to East Africa until the start of World War II where he enlisted into the Royal Air Force at 23 years old. After receiving severe injuries in the Western Desert, and after recovering from those injuries in Alexandria, he returned to the fight by taking part in the Battle of Athens. Afterwards, he became a spy for MI6.
In 1961, he wrote James and the Giant Peach, which was quickly followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He also wrote several screenplays and adult novels. In 1970, a year before the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was released, he published Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Many of his works have been adapted as films and will forever entertain children and adults for generations to come!
To help us celebrate Roald Dahl, stop by the library on Roald Dahl Day (September 13) and check out some his works and adaptations!
A couple weeks ago, I sat down and read the summary for The Kiss Quotient. written by Helen Hoang. I was curious and interested, because I’d never read a romance novel where one of the main characters was diagnosed with a disorder. So I thought, let’s take a chance; I bought the book, and started reading it.
I was not let down!
I loved the book! I loved the main character Stella, and I loved her love interest Michael! I enjoyed reading about a character who was on the spectrum and how, even with being on the spectrum, she gets her guy! I completely understood all the hype about this book.
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan.
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic.
I really loved the characters and everything about Stella. I loved how Helen didn’t shove Stella’s ‘disorder’ in our face, but let us learn slowly that she had Asperger’s. I enjoyed reading about Stella’s life and understanding more about Asperger’s Syndrome and how it affects Stella’s everyday life. It was amazing to read a different type of romance instead of our normal everyday “run of the mill” romance. I was especially happy to read more about Asian culture! She incorporated the perfect amount of education and entertainment to even out the playing field.
Helen Hoang’s journey with this book is just as beautiful as the story. She wanted to write a gender-swapped Pretty Woman, but couldn’t figure out why a successful, beautiful woman would hire an escort. So when her daughter’s preschool teacher informed her that she thought her daughter was on the spectrum, Helen started doing research. So she thought, “That’s an interesting reason to hire an escort.”
From there, she started researching autism solely for her book and ran into the difference between men and women on the spectrum; women have learned to mask their autism and to copy peers. While she was reading, she started to think about the things she does. “I tap my teeth, but I tap them because no one can see. Because if you move your fingers or you move your body or you rock in your chair, then people will see, and that’s no good, it has to be secret … and that put me on this journey where I started to explore, could I be on the spectrum?.”
While Helen learned more about her new character Stella, she learned more about herself, and then the diagnosis came, and her first novel was born.
Helen has released book two in The Kiss Quotient Series, The Bride Test, and was inspired by a website that stated autistic people were heartless and that they couldn’t experience injustice. So her new character Khai was born. She wanted to display that just because autistic people don’t operate on the same wavelength as everyone else and don’t show their emotions as much as others, doesn’t mean they don’t have those emotions. She was also inspired by her own mother’s story of being a Vietnamese refugee. Helen decided to base her heroine, Esme Tran, on her mother’s story and the inner strength she needed to create a new life for herself.
Book three in the series is expected to be published next year!
This is definitely a book that will stay with you for awhile and make you come back and think about it months after finishing! She’s officially been tagged as one of my new favorite authors!
I want to believe that I can be a main character, I can be a leading character in my life, that I can have a happily ever after, that I can find true love, and I can get married, and conquer, and be happy.
-Helen Hoang on why she has characters on the spectrum
Who is Tessa Dare?
Well, she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty historical romances. She is “a librarian by training and a book lover at heart”. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and many kitties.
What does she write?
Tessa Dare writes amazing historical romances that are just to die for. She mixes emotion, love, sensuality, romance, and drama together and creates amazing stories and characters that will stay on your mind for years to come! Her stories are generally set in the regency time period (1811-1820), so no outrageously poofy dresses or white wigs.
Why is she different than other historical romance authors?
She creates unique heroines who engages in ‘unladylike’ pursuits from paleontology to beer-making. She also dreams up strong-willed heroic men who find their hearts captured by these heroines.
What’s Girl Meets Duke?
Girl Meets Duke is a new series Tessa Dare is writing that can also be read as stand-alone. Each book features a new couple and a new story line. Each male character is a Duke while the ladies each venture into a new world of sin….romance…and love. So far there are three published works with another title in the works!
Can I check them out?
Luckily for you, the Aurora Public Library has purchased them in both hardback and eBook! The Duchess Deal and The Governess Game can be found in our adult fiction in the D’s. The Wallflower Wager can be found on our New Releases shelf.
Who is Eloisa James?
Eloisa James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a mother and a wife. When Eloisa isn’t writing novels, she is a Shakespeare professor.
What does Eloisa James write?
Eloisa James writes historical romances. Occasionally, you can find some Shakespearean themes within her stories.
Why is she different than other historical romance authors?
Eloisa James uses her own experiences as a mother in her stories. From a miscarriage to her own daughter’s problems as an infant, she connects each of her stories to herself in some unique way.
What’s The Wildes of Lindow Castle?
The Wildes of Lindow Castle is a series Eloisa James has began in 2017. The series follows the large family of the Duke of Lindow and is set in a castle. Think of Modern Family with a little of Downton Abbey mixed in. The stories are all set in the Georgian time period; yes, that means big wigs and poofy skirts! This also marks the beginning of the celebrity culture due to the printing press.
Where can I read them?
Print books by Eloisa James can be found in the Large Print collection or the Adult Fiction area under “J” for James. There are even more choices in our digital library.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day I wanted to republish this post, first posted Feb 13, 2017.
Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is a celebration of accomplishments by African Americans. It’s also a time to recognize how African Americans helped shape this nation. The US is not the only country who dedicates a month to celebrating black history, Canada and the United Kingdom do, as well.
Black History Month actually started out as a single week called ‘Negro History Week’, by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. They chose the second week of February because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
In decades that followed, cities across the country issued yearly proclamations recognizing the week. In the late ’60s, around the same time as the civil rights movement and the growing awareness of black identity, the week evolved into the month. President Gerald R. Ford was the first president to officially recognize the month in 1976
To help celebrate Black History Month, below are some books showing African American History.
Children are naturally curious about the world around them! As parents, we always want to find ways to nurture that curiosity. We can provide them with a wide variety of learning activities, including lots of books that lead to more and more questions for us to explore with them. Here are some great picture books about famous scientists, paired with a related storybook.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamda relates the story of a young boy from Malawi who brought electricity to his village by building a windmill out of scraps. It would be a perfect book to share after a day of playing with Legos or blocks with your child. Dreaming Up pairs block play with famous buildings around the world in a celebration of creativity.
Big Al by Andrew Clements is a story of friendship and will also introduce kids to fish that live around a coral reef. Follow the story up with Manfish by Jennifer Berne, a book about legendary marine scientist Jacques Cousteau.
If you and your family enjoy watching birds at a feeder, these next two books are perfect for you! Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward explores all ways that birds build their homes. For the Birds shares the story of Roger Tory Peterson, the creator of many bird guidebooks.
Creativity is the name of the game in Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. When you’re through playing with boxes, read about a scientist who thought outside the box in On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein, another biography by Jennifer Berne.
Trees are always interesting to kids, for playing under and around. Share A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, then read about The Tree Lady who changed San Diego from a desert town to a garden-filled oasis.
These are all book pairs that work well with younger kids. The following picture book biographies are better suited for upper elementary students or older. There is a new research study that shows that teens who read about the struggles of famous scientists do better in their science classes, so keep the books coming and keep talking about the way that scientists persevere through many mistakes!
The name Mary Bly might not be one you are familiar with, but you might have heard of her alter-ego Eloisa James. Eloisa James writes romance fiction set in England’s Regency and Georgian periods, while Mary Bly is a tenured professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University in New York City. Mary Bly is also the Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department as well as the head of the Creative Writing Program at Fordham University. So how in the world does she find the time to write novels between her staggering academic workload?
Mary Bly is the oldest of four children born to the poet Robert Bly and the short story writer Carol Bly. The family did not own a television; instead they had over 5000 books. At a young age, Mary Bly became hooked on romance novels and convinced her father to let her read one romance novel for every classic novel she completed. Mary Bly graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, went on to receive a Master’s of Philosophy from Oxford, and then her doctorate in Renaissance Studies from Yale.
Bly only began writing romance novels when her husband wanted to postpone having a second child until they had paid off their student loans. She wrote Potent Pleasures and had two publishers fighting over it, which allowed her to receive a sum of money that paid off her student loans in full. Bly decided to write under the the pseudonym Eloisa James because she was worried that her colleagues wouldn’t take her seriously as an academic if they found out she wrote romance novels.
Bly disguised herself by wearing contacts instead of glasses when she was Eloisa James. When one of her novels made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, Bly decided to “out” herself at a faculty meeting on February 16, 2005. Once she had revealed herself, she wrote a piece for The New York Times defending the romance genre.
Currently, Bly still works as a professor as well as writing her novels, which allude heavily to Shakespearean themes. She still continues to write under her pen name. Currently, we have several available print and digital books available by James. Start with Much Ado About You.
Suzanne Collins is most likely a household name at this point. Of course, everyone recognizes her to be the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, but did you know she used to write for children’s television programs? She never would have gone into writing books for children and young adults if it weren’t for children’s author James Proimos.
Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford, Connecticut as the youngest of four. Her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, so the family moved around a lot while Collins was growing up. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham as a Theater Arts Major. She also received her Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and her Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
In 1991, Collins began her career as a writer for children’s television shows, including Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Little Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Clifford’s Puppy Days. It wasn’t until she met children’s author James Proimos that she decided to write children’s books herself. She started with a picture book about a boy who is addicted to video games.
Her first novel, Gregor the Overlander, was released in 2003. For the next four years, Collins released one novel per year in The Underland Chronicles. In 2008, the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy was released and remained on The New York Times Bestsellers List for 60 consecutive weeks. The following two books in the series were released in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2011, The Hunger Games began the process of being adapted into a movie, which was co-written by Collins and released in 2012. Also in 2012, Collins was named the best-selling Kindle author of all time.