One Book, One Community 2015

by Amanda Johnson,
LBPH Reader AdvisorOne Book One Community logo

Five Days at Memorial was selected as this year’s One Book, One Community pick by the Allegheny County Library Association. One Book, One Community is an annual reading program that has the simple goal of getting people together to discuss great books. Discussions are happening across Pittsburgh and Allegheny County​ and will continue throughout the year.

The book Five Days at Memorial is an extension of author and Pulitzer Prize winner Sherri Fink’s 2009 New York Times Magazine article, “The Deadly Choices at Memorial”. Faced with dwindling supplies and no electricity, medical staff and volunteers at the Memorial Hospital Building in New Orleans, work around the clock to evacuate patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After days of trying to attract helicopters and coordinate rescues with limited communication abilities and a mandatory evacuation order placed on the city, medical staff conclude that not everyone is going to be able to make it out alive.

Medical staff adopt a loosely discussed triage model for evacuation with the intention of “trying to do the most good for the greatest amount of people.” The questions raised in this book are, “Who should be saved and why?” and “How do we define the most good?” Also, “Should staff members be held liable for the deaths of patients in Five Days at Memorial by Finkdisaster scenarios?”

Members of the Health Committee for People with Disabilities and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped are organizing a book discussion on May 6, 2015 from 2-4PM at the Downtown Carnegie Library. The Downtown Carnegie Library is located at 612 Smithfield St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. To participate in the book club with members of HCPD contact Amanda at or call 1-800-242-0586.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm Ravaged Hospital
by Sheri Fink
DB 77656

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reports on the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. Reconstructs the five days it took to rescue the hospital’s staff and patients and examines the life-and-death decisions made and the lawsuits that followed. 2013.​

What We’re Reading: April 2015

by Tony Mareino,
LBPH Reader Advisor

Here at LBPH we read. A lot. And while we keep up on many a genre and variety of authors, sometimes we like to share what we’re pushing through ‘off the clock’ Here’s a couple books we thought you fellow readers may have an interest in this month.

Dept of Speculation by OffillKerry had this so say about her selection by Jenny Offill: “Breathtaking and heartbreaking series of vignettes that form a short novel following the marriage of a young woman and her husband. Read it twice in one sitting.”

Dept. Of Speculation
by Jenny Offill
DB 80602
A woman examines her life, particularly her relationship with her husband while they encounter the challenges of daily life, as well as more serious issues, such as infidelity. The protagonist analyzes her observations, drawing on a store of philosophical, historical, and literary insights. Some strong language. 2014

Amanda is working on a separate blog post (to be up soon) about her choice:
Five Days at Memorial: Live and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
by Sheri Fink
DB 77656
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reports on the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans. Reconstructs the five days it took to rescue the hospital’s staff and patients and examines the life-and-death decisions made and the lawsuits that followed. 2013.

Devon is “enjoying the varied cast of characters and how the author is presenting the story as a narrative and like pieces of a puzzle. Also, I noticed in the introduction that T.S. Eliot thought Wilkie Collins wrote mysteries that rivaled Sherlock Holmes mysteries.”
The Moonstone
by Wilkie Collins
DB 21677 / CL 423 / BR 2842
First published in 1868, this suspense novel concerns the disasters encountered by the owners of the Moonstone–an enormous diamond that was originally stolen from a Buddhist temple.

Eric chose:
The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
DB 75507 / CL 14926
In his early forties, councilman Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly of an aneurysm. The casual vacancy he leaves on the parish council has a huge effect on the remaining people in the town of Pagford. Strong language, some violence, and some explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2012.My Struggle by Knausgard

As for me (Tony), I finally knocked one off the shelves that’s been intimidating me for a while, as it’s part one of six. The book is often described as “Proust-ian”, which is like a synonym for “difficult”, yet could also be read as “brilliant”. Knausgard goes off on tangents, certainly, but the beauty and scope of this project were never lost on me – I was hooked and am eagerly awaiting a chance to find out where this story goes.
My Struggle: Book One
by Karl Ove Knausgard
DB 79335
First of a six-volume autobiographical novel by a prize-winning author. Ten years after his father drank himself to death, thirty-nine-year-old Karl Ove–living with his family in Sweden–examines his Norwegian childhood and how the death affected him. Originally published in Norwegian in 2009. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2012.

Talking Books @ LBPH

The next Talking Books @ LBPH discussion will be on Thursday, April 16th at 1pm. The book reviewed will be My Real Children by Jo Walton (DB 79512).Book cover of My Real Children by Jo Walton

About the book: Patricia Cowan wakes and sees a note at the end of her bed that says “confused today.” Two different lives inhabit her memories after the Second World War. She can no longer distinguish if she is Pat or Trish. Some descriptions of sex. 2014.

Don’t miss out! If you enjoy discussing the books you read, you can join this group, by either sending an e-mail to the library using the address below:

or by calling LBPH:
412-687-2440 / 800-242-0586 (toll free)

Man in the Mirror

by Eric Meisberger,
LBPH Reader Advisor

[This post from August 2013 is being reposted today, as we learned that Eduardo Galeano died yesterday (1940-2015) at the age of 74. – Ed.]

When a work of art can successfully blend style and genre it is very noteworthy. When done correctly, that piece of art could be said to live in between worlds. Artists and writers who create these kinds of works are truly masterful. Eduardo Galeano is one such figure. Hailing from Uruguay, Galeano is an award-winning writer who blends styles magnificently. His work reimagines the kind of stories that not only reflect who we are, but create our reality as well.
From myth to journalism to social and political analysis, Galeano creates a kind of writing that isn’t quite a novel, yet beautifully, sometimes magically, tells a story. He does this in a profoundly human way, illustrating all of the beauty, frailty, ugliness, messiness, tragedy and joy that accompany the human condition.

Eduardo Galeano reading the paper at a desk

One of Galeano’s most striking works, and one that certainly blends genre to create its magic, is Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. Taking the idea that we all share commonalities, Galeano deals more with the heart, soul and emotion of the shared experience, forsaking a weary “collective unconscious” for perhaps a collective awareness, a collective mindfulness, that allows us to connect to ourselves in others. Galeano has many works, and I strongly recommend them all, but Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone is a fantastic place to begin.

Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone
DB 69497
by Eduardo Galeano

Uruguayan writer portrays the history of the world in short fables, essays, and portraits. Retells creation myths and reflects on religion, war, and heroes. Originally published in Spanish. Bestseller. 2009.

Witchy Women

by Devon Evans,
LBPH Librarian

Screep capture of the cartoon witch in the credits of Bewitched
Okay, I admit it. I have a soft spot for plots with magic. I grew up watching shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. I saw movies like The Witches of Eastwick and Labyrinth over and over again, and I soon discovered that many movies in this genre were originally books. If you’re interested in books that were made into movies, have strong female characters, and are sprinkled with magic, check out the titles below.

by Joanne Harris
DB 49086 / LP 17590
On the first Sunday in Lent, newcomers Vianne Rocher and her young daughter Anouk open a chocolate shop, La Celeste Praline, near the church in a small French village. Priest Monsieur Reynaud and Mademoiselle Rocher compete for the townspeople’s attention. 1999.

Practical Magic
by Alice Hoffman
DB 40461
Sally and Gillian Owens are raised by their unusual aunts and cruelly teased by the other children. The older Owens sisters cast spells at twilight for women having problems with love. Gillian leaves home as soon as possible, breaking hearts along the way. Sensible Sally stays, marries, and has two daughters, until tragedy sends her packing, too. Now an event has gathered the Owens women together again. Strong language and descriptions of sex. 1995.

The Witches of Eastwick
by John Updike
DB 68785 / BR 5835 / CL 4055 / LP 7467
A witty, audacious novel about three modern-day witches living in Eastwick, Rhode Island, in the 1960s. Divorced and in their thirties, they would eventually like to conjure up new husbands for themselves. But their powers remain largely unfocused until a rich, vulgar, sexy stranger moves to town. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 1984.

Reading Comics

by Eric Meisberger,
LBPH Reader Advisor

Comic books and graphic novels are often not the first thing many people think of when they think of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, however, there are some graphic novels that have been recorded in audio book form, and there are also novelizations of comic books. In addition, comic books and graphic novels aren’t just for younger readers! Folks of all ages can enjoy the universe of Marvel or DC. Below you’ll find information on three novelizations of the “Marvel Universe,” and “The Untold Story” of Marvel Comics.

Recently, films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, the Iron Man trilogy, the X-Men films, and Thor have proven to be very popular with audiences. Likewise, television shows such as Agent Carter, The Flash and Arrow, have whole new audiences that never thought of themselves as “comic books fans” warming up to the stories and characters that Marvel and DC offer. If you’re a fan of comics, you’re sure to enjoy some of these titles, and if it’s all new to you, take the plunge! Excelsior!

Iron Man Extremis: A Novel of the Marvel Universe
by Marie Javins
DB 77245
When the terrorist Mallen gets his hands on a body-enhancing process called Extremis, Tony Stark must use Iron Man to try to stop him. But Iron Man’s armor isn’t good enough for what Mallen has become. Violence and strong language. 2013.

Civil War: A Novel of the Marvel Universe
by Stuart Moore
DB 77007
When a lesser-known superhero battle goes awry in Stamford, Connecticut, killing hundreds of people, the government decides that superheroes should unmask and register their powers. Some members of the Avengers, the greatest super-team, agree – but others resist the orders. Some violence and some strong language. 2013.

Astonishing X-Men: A Novel of the Marvel Universe
by Peter David
DB 77045
The world has discovered that mutants exist, and the general public’s fear of the unknown prompts demand that mutants be cured. But the X-Men have plans to defend themselves and others who share their extraordinary differences. Some violence and some strong language. 2013.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
by Sean Howe
DB 75699
Former “Entertainment Weekly” editor details the history of Marvel Comics–home to Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and other superheroes–from the early 1960s to the twenty-first century. Describes the personalities behind the brand’s success, including writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. Young adult appeal. Some strong language. 2012.