May 2011

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Champlain's Dream: The European Founding of North America

Champlain’s Dream: The European Founding of North America
David Hackett Fischer

We may know the name Champlain from a visit to the lake located between upstate New York and Vermont or have a vague recollection of it from a high school history class, but not many of us know much about the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who was instrumental in the founding of North America during the early 17th Century.  Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Hackett Fisher (Washington’s Crossing) of Brandeis University brings him to life in his well-written and researched historical biography Champlain’s Dream.   Follow Champlain from the intrigue of the French Court across the Atlantic to his adventures in the wilderness with the native peoples of America and the settlement of New France (Quebec).   There is even some insight into the influence of the Society of Jesus during this time of exploration.

Champlain’s Dream
can be located on the 3rd floor book shelves or in the 1st floor audiobooks section   of the Library.  Tony Award winning actor, Edward Herrmann delivers a smooth and engaging narration of the audio work.

April 2011

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.


Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
Lainey Salisbury and Aly Sujoe

Provenance is defined as the “history of the ownership of a work of art or an antique.” (Oxford English Dictionary) An artwork’s provenance also helps determine its authenticity. An incorrect or inconsistent provenance is a warning sign to dealers that it may be a forgery. Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo’s book Provenance, tells the true story of how two men not only successfully sold forged paintings but also fabricated their provenance to keep dealers and curators in the dark. Provenance focuses on two men: John Myatt, struggling artist and single father and John Drewe, supposed physicist and art collector. Both Johns meet, with Drewe finding out that Myatt has an uncanny ability to reproduce any modern masterpiece, from Giocometti to Picasso. Myatt quickly finds himself painting dozens of works for Drewe, who is selling these “masterpieces” to prestigious dealers and museums in England and beyond. Soon the dealers start to ask questions and Drewe begins to fabricate documents to prove their provenance.
Provenance provides a look into the world of art, but also explores how a man (John Drewe) conned his way into some of the greatest galleries and museums in the western world. Did I mention this charade lasted for nine years?

can be found in the Popular Fiction on the 1st floor of the Library.

March 2011

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

American Vampire

Twilight this is not. Created by short story writer and Columbia University professor Scott Snyder, the comic book series American Vampire is gritty, bloody, and very, very entertaining. The first five installments have been recently collected as a stand-alone graphic novel and feature two seemingly unrelated storylines that eventually converge: those of struggling actress Pearl Jones in 1920s Hollywood and the amoral Skinner Sweet, an outlaw of the 1880s American Old West. This convergence smartly establishes much larger issues that future issues promise to explore. With co-writing credits from Stephen King and gorgeous artwork from Rafael Albuquerque, American Vampire truly is a new creature.

American Vampire can be found in Popular Fiction on the 1st floor of the Library.

February 2011

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Wolf Hall

Are you a fan of the television show “The Tudors” on Showtime? Are you looking for an excellent historical novel to sink your teeth into? Consider picking up Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Though somewhat challenging, this captivating novel is absolutely worth sticking with. Set in Tudor England during the time between King Henry VIII divorce from Katherine of Aragon and the martyrdom of Thomas More (circa the 1530s), this novel tells a sweeping historical tale of the life and political dealings of Thomas Cromwell, who worked his way from poverty up to a position as Henry VIII’s secretary and right-hand-man. Mantel’s unique writing style has a way of making you feel as though you are experiencing these historical events and the society surrounding them firsthand.  As I read, I felt as though I were a fly on the wall in the court of Henry VIII. So, in the cold and snowy days ahead, snuggle up with Wolf Hall and be transported into another world.

You can locate this book on the 2nd floor of the library.

January 2011

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales

For this audiobook collection, Nelson Mandella personally selected each of these 32 timeless tales for inclusion, and in the foreward for the folktales wrote, “It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller may never die in Africa, that all the children of the world may experience the wonder of books.”

The stories are varied in tone and topic and represent every region of Africa. Some tales are reminiscent of familiar American fokltales, others totally fresh and interesting. But one of the most entertaining aspects of ‘listening’ to this book is the fact that the tales are presented by a wide array of celebrity readers including Benjamin Bratt, Whoopi Goldberg, Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Forest Whitaker, to name but a few.  It was great fun trying to recognize each reader as they presented their tale.

This audiobook is held in the Library’s audiobook collection on the 1st floor.

November 2010

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

“There had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.”
Recently on the cover of Time magazine and selected for Oprah’s Book Club, it is easy to see Franzen more as the celebrity author than celebrated writer. In his fourth novel, Freedom, he once again explores the relationships, actions and consequences of an American family in Saint Paul, Minnesota. What begins as a description of a normal middle class family evolves into a story of their different decisions, conflicts and disappointments. The novel tells the story of the Berglund family from several points of view. The first section of the novel is seen through the eyes of their neighbors, who seem to delight in the family’s ups and downs, impatiently waiting for everything to fall apart. The rest of the novel deals closely with family and friends, with first-hand accounts from wife Patty Berglund, family friend and musician Richard Katz, husband Walter Berglund, and finally to Berglund’s son Joey, as he enters his first year of college. This isn’t just another book about a suburban family. Franzen’s attention to detail and sharp wit make Freedom worthy of the hype.

This book is held in the Library’s Popular Fiction collection.

October 2010

A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

The Imperfectionists. A first novel by a very young London-born journalist, Tom Rachman, the Imperfectionists is, in a word, perfect.  Set in Rome, each chapter gets inside the head of a character associated with an international English language newspaper trying to stay afloat in the internet age.  We glimpse the personal lives of editor, publisher, grammarian and style cop, obit writer, an aging freelancer, puzzle editor and Cairo stringer. They are funny, gut-wrenching, and end with a bang. I can’t get this book out of my head.

This book is held in the Library’s Popular Fiction collection.

September 2010

The inaugural monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

Amandine by Marlena de Blasi – As an infant, the illegitimate child of a Polish aristocrat is consigned to be raised as an orphan in a remote French convent. Although tenderly cared for by Solange, her young governess, Amandine longs to find her real mother. As Europe descends into the madness of WWII, Amandine and Solange transverse the war-torn continent in search of the child’s true identity. Combining an historical context with a compelling personal quest, Amandine is a captivating read.

This book is held in the Library’s Popular Fiction collection.

Watch for a new review each month.

The Library’s Season’s Readings list presented each year at the holiday season, has been so popular that we are starting an ongoing set of book reviews provided by our staff. All reviewed books are part of our collection at the Francis A. Drexel Library.

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If you have read this book–we welcome your comments here on the blog.