Friday, September 29, 2017

Recommended Listening: Joan Osborne "Songs of Bob Dylan"

Singer and songwriter Joan Osborne selects some gems from the Bob Dylan oeuvre, applies her interpretative magic, and delivers a terrific album with Songs of Bob Dylan. Osborne's beautiful voice is warm and the arrangements are fresh and engaging. It is a great pleasure to listen to this music.

Osborne honed the smooth and polished sound of these tracks during two, two-week residencies at New York City's Café Carlyle. Café Carlyle is an intimate space which features jazz and cabaret performers and the sound created by Osborne and her fellow artists reflects that space. If you want rock amphitheater versions of Dylan, then this is not the disc to buy. This is bluesy and soulful singing born in a club. Osborne's singing is supported beautifully through restraint from the other excellent musicians playing on the album.

Finally, Dylan's amazing lyrics, delivered clearly and cleanly by Osborne, shine. To listen again to a song we've heard often over many years, such as Highway 61 Revisited, and be amazed by it anew is quite a feat.

Great music. Check out Songs of Bob Dylan by Joan Osborne.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Adrian McKinty on Why You Should Read Widely and Freely

Check out Irish author Adrian McKinty's lively and interesting essay, "Class, Race and the Case for Genre Fiction in the Canon." McKinty addresses the topic of books that people are supposed to read, such as winners of the Booker Prize, as opposed to "books that people actually want to read" such as genre fiction - science fiction, romance, and so on. McKinty also offers an explanation as to why "high falutin' American literary fiction" is often dull, reminds us of the joy in reading books we connect with, and emphasizes why we must read widely. It's a very good piece, which is no surprise as McKinty is an exciting author.

In fact, if you enjoy good writing and good fiction, try McKinty's series featuring Detective Inspector Sean Duffy, which is set in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. It's a terrific series.

The first book in the DI Sean Duffy series.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Can't get to a protest? Then read a banned book!

Banned Books Week Frame

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. "2 Live Crew, Decoded," 1990

It's Banned Books Week once again, just when First Amendment issues are in the news more than ever. Recent news stories are focusing on the many people who are courageously speaking out to oppose racism. Here at Something Good to Read, we support those speakers and join them in opposing racism and the violence and injustice that are driven by racism. In the area of censorship and challenges to books, more than half of all banned books are by authors of color, according to the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom. (Robert P. Doyle, 2015 - 2016 Books Challenged or Banned).

If you are looking to read a book that has been the subject of a challenge, here is a list of the top 10 books challenged in 2016. Or you can check out this document from the American Library Association listing frequently challenged books; there are many excellent reads listed within it.

For Banned Books week, I'm going to read The Disappearing Spoon: And Other Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, which was challenged at a Florida middle school. This book was nominated by the Royal Society in the United Kingdom as one of the top science books of 2010 and named an Amazon “Top 5” science book of the year, making it the perfect two-for-one read because, in addition to censorship battles, science is also under attack.

Let's continue to speak out against censorship in literature, and also in movies, plays, exhibits and other areas of expression. Support diverse voices, support our libraries, and keep reading!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Welcome Autumn

It's a beautiful morning for the first day of fall, 2017. Outside it's 72 degrees and sunny, the beautiful sunshine of fall that looks more golden than yellow. The dog has had her walk. A pile of leaves, acorns and walnuts has been raked out of the driveway. Now it's time to sit down.

My Danny O'Keefe station on Pandora is playing a mix that includes Marshall Tucker, Dave Mason, and Leon Russell. An espresso is ready, the papers arrived, and soon I'll resume reading The Bastards of Pizzofalcone by Maurizio De Giovanni.

Hope you have a great day, a fun fall season, and a good book to read

Espresso, the daily papers, and a book: a perfect start to the first day of fall.