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Check It Out

Courier Article by Pam Locker
Sunday, May 22, 2005

Make Space in Your Schedule to Embark on an Odyssey

With Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith dominating the nation's movie screens, the theme of this year's Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library summer reading programs – Space – seems cosmically destined. Programs for adults, teens, and youth start on Tuesday, May 24th.

All Evansville Public Library cardholders aged 18+ are invited to enroll in the adult program, "2005: a Summer Reading Odyssey," either online at (click on "Summer Reading Clubs") or in person at any of eight library locations. Read or listen to 5 library books, then record your titles by July 16th.

This year's prizes, made possible by the Public Library Friends, include Creative Zen Micro MP3 players, Sony DVD players, digital vehicle dashboard compasses, and Kodak Easy Share cameras.

Teens in grades 6-12 can win an MP3 player or IMAX tickets through their own online program, "Read: It's Not Rocket Science," also accessible through the library website.

Adult program featured titles, available in quantity at all library locations, include mysteries, thrillers, and non-fiction – as well as inspirational and literary fiction. Here are a few titles especially suited to our space theme.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Broadway Books, 2003).

After writing successful travelogues about such places as Australia, Africa, and the Appalachian Trail, Bryson decided to take on the universe. Three years of study resulted in this 500-page primer on cosmology, geology, physics, and evolution. Peopling its entertaining pages are the scientists who, full of genius as well of eccentricities, made the major discoveries of the past few hundred years.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (MacAdam/Cage, 2003) became a breakaway hit for its small independent publisher when it became a Today Show book club selection. Since then this clever and enchanting romance about a man who cannot control his travels through time and the woman with whom he falls in love has become a favorite of book clubs. It's hard to describe -- you'll just have to read it.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Doubleday, 2003) is another popular discussion group choice. It puts us in the shoes of Christopher John Francis Boone, a fifteen-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome (a form of autism), who finds a crime and proceeds to solve it. In the process he resolves some even more important puzzles in his life. Christopher's unique perspective, as well as his advanced mathematical and reasoning skills, makes his an interesting mind to occupy.

War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (Signet Classics, 1996).

With Steven Spielberg's movie War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise scheduled for release on June 29, now might be the time to review the seminal science fiction story first published in 1898. The official movie website calls the film a "contemporary retelling."

Likewise, sit down and reread (or read for the first time) Douglas Adam's 1979 classic comic sci-fi novel, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Del Ray, 1995). Don't panic, but let's face it – there's no way that the recent movie could even begin to be as good as the book. It's just not possible.

Three of this year's titles take us into different cultural spaces. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead Books, 2003) is a novel about two childhood friends set in war-torn Afghanistan. Brick Lane by Monica Ali (Scribner, 2003) explores the rich and complex Bangladeshi community in London. And Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi (Random House, 2003) contains valuable insights into the political and religious climate in Iran.

In addition, if you already have an MP3 player, take advantage of our new Downloadable Audiobooks, available through the library website, to download unabridged books. Several of this year's featured titles, including Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Deception Point by Dan Brown, The Kills by Linda Fairstein, and The Kite Runner are available in electronic format.

Pam Locker is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.