From The Payson Library: New American Classics For A Summer Day

Shelf Life by Terry Morris

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"Plant a Seed -- Read" is the theme for this year's summer reading program. Sign-up begins May 25. Singing, puppets, games and much more.

Encouraging your child to read is one of the most important skills you can give him or her. It opens the door to lifelong learning.

News and Views from the New Book Shelf

"A Thread Across the Ocean" by John Steele Gordon chronicles the laying of a telegraph cable that spanned the Atlantic in 1866. It is one of the greatest engineering feats of that century -- and perhaps of all time. The cable was the brain child of American businessman Cyrus Field, who was only 33 when he first conceived the cable project and set out to raise the necessary capital. It was an epic struggle, requiring a decade of effort. In the end, it literally changed the world.

"American Exorcism" by Michael Cuneo: There is no other religious ritual more disturbing than exorcism. This is particularly true in America today, where the ancient rite has a surprisingly strong hold on our imagination. The book is an inside look at this phenomenon. The author attended more than 50 exorcisms and interviewed the participants. He brings vividly to life the ceremonies themselves. This is a witty, even hilarious, and sometimes frightening study.

"The Beethoven Factor" by Paul Pearsall is about the ability to thrive in the face of diversity. Pearsall tells stories about the extraordinary ways that ordinary people have responded to some of life's worst crises so that they became better people because of the hardships they faced. Like Beethoven, who wrote an "Ode to Joy" after he became deaf, we can all develop new strengths and an enhanced appreciation for life.

"American Skin" by Leon Wynter: Race has always been America's first standard and central paradox. From the start, America based its politics on the principle of white supremacy, but it has always lived and dreamed of itself in color. The truth beneath the contradiction has finally emerged and led us to the threshold of a transformation of American identity as profound as slavery was defining. This book is about the revaluation that higher heat on American identity is bringing about; the end of white America. We have always been, and will ever be, of one race -- human -- and of one culture -- American.

"In Churchill's Shadow" by David Cannadine centers on Churchill, a titanic figure whose influence spanned the century. Though he was the savior of modern Britain, Churchill was a creature of the Victorian age. Though he proclaimed he had not become Prime Minister to "preside over the liquidation of the British Empire", in effect he was doomed to do just that. This superb volume offers a sympathetic, yet penetrating look at how national identity has evolved in the era of the waning of an empire.

"Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy" by Baxter Black is on the complete illustrated collection of his commentaries that have aired on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." Black has been making people laugh since his veterinarian days of doctoring livestock. He is now heard and read regularly around the country, via his radio and television appearances and hailed by readers for his many poetry books. It is the latest dose of the best medicine from this former animal doctor, with the wit and soul of a salty Shakespeare.

Video, DVDs

For all of you video and DVD fans, here are some new additions in that area.

1. 20th Century Flashbacks -- The Home Front, 1942-1945 -- DVD

2. Lost in Translation -- DVD

3. Mixed Nuts -- DVD

4. Alex and Emma -- VHS

5. Tap -- Gregory Hines -- VHS

6. The Scent of a Woman -- VHS

7. Dragonheart -- VHS

8. James Bond 007 - Dr. No -- VHS

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