Liked the film? You’ll love these titles

Off the Shelf

On Saturday, Nov. 22, 1997, sitting in a darkened theater in Chicago with my cousins, a whole new world opened up to me. The film: Anastasia, an animated feature by 20th Century Fox. It’s a wonderful picture, with a voice cast that includes Meg Ryan and John Cusack, and boasts humor and vibrancy that, much like many classic Disney films, keeps it feeling fresh today. As a ten-year-old I absolutely adored the movie, and was crushed when it was over. I remember visiting my local library and finding every book on Anastasia and the Romanovs I could get my hands on, inhabiting the world of the Romanovs for weeks. Through that I discovered the fun of separating fact from fiction in film. If you, like my ten-year-old self, want to inhabit the worlds of great films long after the credits roll, here at the library we have the solution. If you enjoyed these recent hits, here’s what you should be reading:

Film: La La Land, Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

Book: Jazz: A History of America’s Music by Geoffrey Ward

Seb, the male half of La La Land’s romantic stars, has a fascinating obsession with jazz. Want to deepen your understanding of this culturally rich genre of music? In Jazz: A History, Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns vividly bring to life the story of jazz, the quintessential American music. Born in the black community of turn-of-the-century New Orleans but played from the beginning by musicians of every color, jazz celebrates all Americans at their best. Here are the stories of the extraordinary men and women who made the music. Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Dizzy Gillespie, Artie Shaw, and Ella Fitzgerald are all here, along with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and a host of others. If reading about jazz just isn’t your thing, experience the history of jazz in audio/visual format by checking out Ken Burns’ DVD series Jazz: A Documentary. We have all 10 volumes available at the library.

Film: Hacksaw Ridge, Starring Andrew Garfield

Book: The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa 1945 – The Last Epic Struggle of World War II by Bill Sloan

Desmond Doss’s story is a microcosmic look at a huge moment in World War II, a pivotal battle that impacted the tide of the war. In The Ultimate Battle Bill Sloan presents a gripping and uniquely personal saga of heroism and sacrifice in which at least 115,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen from both sides were killed, as were nearly 150,000 civilians caught in the crossfire or encouraged to commit suicide by Japanese troops. Sloan also investigates how the slaughter at Okinawa helped convince President Truman to use the atomic bomb against Japanese cities in the hope of shortening the war and averting a far more horrific loss of life. Full of personal stories of men who endured this epic battle, this painstakingly researched book is a treasure for those craving a better understanding of this epic moment in history.

Film: Hidden Figures, Starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer

Book: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Margot Lee Shetterly’s non-fiction work inspired the award-winning film, and is an important read for old and young alike who want to know more about these astounding women and their important contribution that still impacts our world today.

If your favorite recent hit film is not on this list, give us a call or stop by, and let us recommend your next read.