One of my favorite things about reading is feeling that connection with an author that inspires us to read all the books they’ve ever written. We wait, not-so-patiently, for the next title they publish. We feel excited when it finally is available at our library or bookstore. And then time passes and they’re gone. And maybe we mourn or feel like we’ve lost a friend.
We have lost a few of our favorite authors this year either to age or illness. Wonderful, prolific authors who carried us away to new places, new worlds, and new adventures have left behind and treasure trove of materials. From westerns to science fiction and fantasy to romance to classic children’s books, women’s rights and journalism, the list below will hopefully remind you of some favorites you’ve enjoyed in the past.
Just a quick post to say Happy Holidays and Best Wishes from the Santa Fe Public Library. Just a couple of recipes, a couple of traditions, to share with our readers. While this season is usually a time of family and celebration, this year it’s a little different. But we hope you are able to find a moment of peace during these hectic times.
Jessica G. shares her family’s fun traditions of pajamas and movies.
Every year my Mom gifts all of the kids pajamas and homemade socks. It is the first and only gift we all open on Christmas eve and everyone changes into their new pajamas for the eve and to be worn on Christmas morning. As huge horror movie buffs, leading up to Christmas, it is tradition to do movie marathons of all the Christmas horror films my husband and I can find. Some favorite Xmas Horror are Black Christmas (1974 and 2006 versions), Krampus, Gremlins, and Rare Exports.
Adam shared a delicious sounding side dish.
Grampa Charlie’s Scalloped Corn
1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper (green chile when in NM)
1/4 cup chopped onion
5 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 cans (8-1/2 ounces each) cream-style corn
1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
In a large skillet, saute pepper and onion in 4 tablespoons butter until tender. Stir in the soft bread crumbs, corn and eggs. Transfer to a greased 8-in. square baking dish.
Melt the remaining butter; toss with dry bread crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes
Ann’s only-make-once-a-year treats
Date Nut Rice Krispy Treats (Disclaimer: This is NOT, in any way, shape, or form, a healthy recipe. I only make this once a year at Christmas.)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups Rice Krispies
½ pound chopped dates
½ cup chopped pecans
Mix butter, sugar, and dates in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes until dates are softened and sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then add pecans and Rice Krispies. Mix well. Form into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball. Roll in powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy! There are a few variations on this recipe so it’s kind of customizable. You can use almost any other nut instead of pecans. Almonds are popular as are walnuts. Some people also either don’t use the powdered sugar or use shredded coconut instead.
Ann’s Family Tradition
A Christmas Eve tradition for my family is, after attending a Christmas Eve service, to load up with hot chocolate and blankets then drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. We roll the windows down and find whatever radio station is playing holiday music. When we get home, it’s time to open one present, usually pajamas, sometimes something extra special.
The library continues to receive new DVD titles; either completely new or new to Santa Fe Public Library. Unfortunately, since patrons are not able to come in at this time and browse our new titles, we thought we would feature some of the new adult DVDs on our blog. Since going to a movie theater isn’t an option right now, here’s a few new-to-us titles to explore.
First we start off with Rudolph Valentino in the silent classic, Blood & Sand – Blood and Sand premiered at the Rialto Theater in Los Angeles on August 22, 1922. The film was a box office hit and was one of the top-grossing films of 1922. The film, along with The Sheik and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (both 1921), helped to establish Valentino as a star and was one of the most successful films of his career.
Then leaping forward to 2018 is Reinvention a DVD Biography of Camila Cabello. This film covers the rise of Camila Cabello, mostly through a series of interviews.
Next is A place called Chiapas-(1998): “On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista National Liberation Army — made up of impoverished Mayan Indians from the state of Chiapas — took over five towns and 500 ranches in southern Mexico. The government deployed its troops, and at least 145 people died in the ensuing battle. Fighting for indigenous Mexicans to regain control over their lives and the land, the Zapatistas and their charismatic leader, guerilla poet Subcomandante Marcos, began sending their message to the world via the Internet. The result was what The New York Times called “the world’s first postmodern revolution”. Years into the uprising, filmmaker Nettie Wild traveled to the jungle canyons of southern Mexico to film the elusive and fragile life of the rebellion over an eight month period. Her camera effectively and movingly captures the personal stories behind a very public clash of traditional culture and globalization.”
Then a title recommended for addition by my colleague affectionately known as “T”, is 2016’s The Love Witch– Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her Gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However her spells work too well, and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder. With a visual style that pays tribute to Technicolor thrillers of the 60s, The Love Witch explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism.
Next from Mexico, directed by Gerardo Naranjo is Miss Bala – (2011) – “An aspiring beauty queen finds herself in the wrong place at the worst possible time in this explosive crime thriller set amid Mexico’s increasingly violent drug war. After witnessing a shooting in a nightclub, the young woman is kidnapped and forced to work for ruthless gangsters in order to keep her dreams, and her family, alive.”
Moving over to Berlin is Night out (2017) –“ Saturday night in Berlin. A colorful mix of hetero and gay singles, couples and polyamorous, craving fun explore the city and their relationships for different reasons. Their journey will lead them into a frenetic night where anything goes, portraying an array of contemporary nightlife possibilities. Loaded, passionate, and sweaty, the stories of our protagonists ultimately intertwine in the KitKatClub. At the break of dawn, and after a series of mishaps, they each leave changed people.”
The music DVD section at Southside Branch Library has always been strong, and now we just added Nirvana: live at the Paramount from 1991 – a Halloween concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theater in its entirety; – part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind. It is the only known Nirvana concert shot to film.
Returning to World Cinema we also have from France: Return of the Hero-(2018) – France, 1809: “The charming Captain Neuville is set to marry the naive Pauline when the war breaks out, forcing Neuville to depart for the battlefield. After not hearing from the captain for months, Pauline grows sick with worry, and her sister Elizabeth decides to write letters on Neuville’s behalf to cheer her up. Unexpectedly, Neuville returns home in glory and is welcomed as a hero, but unbeknownst to everyone, he is a coward and a war deserter.” Those who were introduced to Melanie Laurent, in Inglourious Bastards, will enjoy seeing her in a different role.
It took a while for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma,(2018) to be released on DVD, with a Criterion version coming out in 2020. It is now in our collection: –“With his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón recreated the early-1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in a revelatory screen debut), the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals. Written, directed, shot, and co-edited by Cuarón, Roma is a labor of love with few parallels in the history of cinema, deploying monumental black-and-white cinematography, an immersive soundtrack, and a mixture of professional and nonprofessional performances to shape its author’s memories into a world of enveloping texture, and to pay tribute to the woman who nurtured him. “
Also, for another World Cinema treat, we have from India Trishna– (2011) – the title character of Michael Winterbottom’s subcontinental rethink of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.– “Trishna lives with her family in a village in Rajasthan and works in a resort to help pay the family bills. Jay is the wealthy son of a property developer. When Jay takes up managing resorts, he meets Trishna and wins her affection. They move to Mumbai, but problems arise when his deep family bond threatens their bliss. –”Do you think you’ll have to pay a high price for your mistakes?”
Returning to US films; a recent addition not in the collection before, is The Wild Angels (1966) – The Wild Angels is a 1966 American outlaw biker film produced and directed by Roger Corman. Made on location in Southern California, The Wild Angels was the first film to associate actor Peter Fonda with Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 1960s counterculture. –also featuring Bruce Dern and Nancy Sinatra.
And finally from 1967, Dame Edith Evans stars in The Whisperers – “Elderly Mrs. Ross (Edith Evans) loses her grip on reality when she begins to hear “voices” that seem to be conspiring against her. Separated from her dishonest husband, Archie (Eric Portman), and living alone, Mrs. Ross is patiently waiting for a windfall from her late father’s nonexistent estate. When her thieving son, Charlie (Ronald Fraser), stashes a large sum of stolen cash in her apartment, Mrs. Ross finds it, assuming the money is her long-awaited inheritance.”
We hope you find a new movie to check out or a an old classic to share. Make sure you check out or DVD collection at santafepubliclibrary.org.
It can be hard to be thankful during hard or troubling times. And we have all had plenty of those this year. As we approach the holidays this year, and especially Thanksgiving, it may be hard to find that place of thankfulness and gratitude.
We at Santa Fe Public Library hope that in some way offering our services through phone or email or curbside pick up has helped you in some way during this time. We are grateful to provide the services we can in the form of books, craft kits, or even a timely and important print request! We are also grateful for our patrons who encourage us and let us know how grateful they are for the libraries.
Below you will find a few quotes to inspire, books to encourage, and some familiar, and not familiar, things to be grateful for from the staff at Santa Fe Public Library. We are so very grateful for you!
“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” Henry Ward Beecher
Marie V. I’m thankful for the love of my hubby and cat I’m thankful for the health of my family I’m thankful to be working for SFPL I’m thankful to have the ability to enjoy a walk in nature I’m thankful for books, they keep one sane during tough times.
Christina S. I am so very Thankful for my Staff. They have given more than 100% to provide excellent service to our patrons, all while adapting to changes, weather, and all while wearing PPE! I am constantly amazed by their dedication and determination.
Jessica G. Five things I’m thankful for… Health Family To live in Santa Fe To work at SFPL
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Elizabeth M. Every day, I am thankful for my family (including the furry ones) and friends, my job, red wine, dark chocolate, guacamole, my sense of humor and the beady things I love to play with. I am currently thankful that the political ads have disappeared, too.
Michele R. As the elder stateswoman in our system (or at least I am pretty sure I’m the oldest) with 54 years of working under my belt I can honestly say that under the leadership of Maria Sanchez-Tucker I have never been more thankful for the folks with whom I work. She knows how to play to our strengths, trusts that we are professionals who want nothing more than to do our job well, brings out the best in us. Under her tutelage I have seen (much) younger colleagues spread their wings and fly higher than they thought possible. Even in this time of separation she has brought us together like never before or at least in my time (6.5 years) with SFPL. So I guess I am thankful for each and every one who has the privilege and honor to work at SFPL. My colleagues have gone over and above the call of duty to support my efforts to do that which I do best which is particularly poignant for me as SFPL will be the last institution I will work in full time. Yes, I have tears in my eyes. Thanks for asking us to reflect on our thankfulness.
Have you ever thought of being a writer? Dreamed of someday putting your stories on a page? Do you have a story to tell? Either science fiction or historical fiction? Maybe a creepy horror novel or a western centered in the Southwest? Maybe a memoir? If you’ve ever wanted to write a story or just take a stab at getting down your ideas, November is the perfect month for you.
It’s NaNoWriMo time! National Novel Writing Month (https://nanowrimo.org/). Started over 20 years ago, the goal of NaNoWriMo participants is to write 50,000 words in one month. It breaks down to 1666 words per day. If you reach the goal, you win! The NaNoWriMo community is very encouraging and helpful if you desire to put some ink on the page . . . or print on the paper . . . or text on the screen.
If you need a kick in the pants to get started, NaNoWriMo can help. If you’re the kind of person who needs or wants a specific goal in a specific time frame, you’ll find compatriots there as well. The library is a good place to help with your research or your inspiration. A good place to break that writer’s block or simply find a starting point.
The following titles are just a small sample of the resources available through the library to inspire you or get you through that rough writing patch.
My co-workers are wonderfully creative people, and every October they conjure a box of decorations from below a desk and a few days later our workroom looks like….this.
Decorating isn’t my forte. I’ll let them create the physical ambience, and I’ll provide you with the fall ambience. Here is a list of my favorite October reads:
Dracula by Bram Stoker – Ok ok, before you roll your eyes and move past the most obvious book on any October reading list, have you read it? I know you know the story, but have you really sat down with Bram at night with a candle flickering and perhaps a wind howling outside? Don’t count him out. It’s a really spooky read.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This one is not a spooky read, but it’s perfect for October. I read this one every two years because it creates the perfect fall atmosphere. The plot is fine, the characters barely pass muster, but I’ll read this one again and again solely for the perfect autumn world. Plus who doesn’t love reading about a magical circus?
Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories by Bram Stoker- I love short stories. This collection is perfect for the darker nights, and the title story is believed to be an actual chapter of Dracula that was purged before it made it to print. Harker’s first meeting with Dracula may have taken place before he even made it to the castle. Spooky.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – If you were intrigued by the above description of The Night Circus but you want your October reads to be full of the macabre and the creepy, don’t fret. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a major influence on Morgenstern and this one will give you all the chills.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James – What I love about Simone St. James is how she blends the supernatural with real horrors. Join our heroine as she moves to an out of the way city in New York to discover why her aunt went missing decades ago. The obvious place to start is the creepy motel where she was last seen.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – If I ever have an opportunity to sneak this one on a list, I absolutely will. A decrepit mansion, a houseful of suspicious guests, and a death that takes place every night make this the perfect modern Agatha Christie novel. Live the same day over and over amidst unseen enemies until you can solve the murder and hopefully escape.
Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories by Shirley Jackson – Yes, I could have put The Haunting of Hill House on this list. It’s deliberate that I didn’t. With the Netflix show and the other ways the book has been featured in pop culture, I’m afraid it won’t live up to the hype. Don’t get me wrong, it’s creepy, but it’s a much more subtle type of creep. I strongly recommend Jackson’s collected works so you can really appreciate her special brand of the unsettling.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – This was probably the first scary story I ever heard and it might be yours too. Have you actually read it though? Does Ichabod Crane throw a pumpkin or does the horseman kill him with his own head? Take a stroll through haunted New England and visit a story you might not know as well as you think you do.
His Hideous Heart by multiple authors – Can I confess something? I haven’t’ *actually* read this one yet. I have it checked out and it’s waiting on me right now. A few years ago I started a collected works of Edgar Allen Poe and I couldn’t get past the first story. Maybe not all of Poe is for me, but I know at least some of it is. Because I don’t have the patience to wade through everything he’s written, I’m indulging in 13 of his short stories followed by a modern retelling of that same story. I’m super excited for this one!
‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – As my manager so kindly reminded me; you can’t have an October book list without something by King. Although I’ve read a good deal by King, the only one that really sits right for the month is ‘Salem’s Lot, which I’m only about halfway through. It’s deliciously creepy though and a perfect bookend for a month of reading that begins with Dracula.
Just one tiny thing to mention: if for any reason you can’t read these books in October, you are completely allowed to read them in November, February, or even on the beach in July. You are responsible for your own spooky ambiance.
Hi, I’m Kandra. Many of you may know me from behind the circulation desk at the La Farge Library here in Santa Fe. I was recently lucky enough to have a book published, and I wanted to share a little bit about my book and how it came to be . . .
I stood there on the snowy playground crying. I was six years old, and my first grade teacher, moved by a short story I had written for her, had just told me in a very matter-of-fact tone, “Kandi, one day you will be a writer!” Puzzled at the sudden outburst of tears, my sweet teacher, Miss Pate, took my hand and asked me why on earth I was crying. “I don’t want to be a writer,” I sobbed, “I want to be a professional basketball player!” She hurriedly explained that I did not have to be one or the other, I could write about being a professional basketball player. This must have placated me, because off I ran to play on the merry-go-round and did not give it much more thought. This exchange has always stuck with me though. In the back of my mind, Miss Pate’s proclamation and conviction that I would one day be a writer was the first vote of confidence to spur me in that direction and was perhaps one of the most important. When my book proposal for Haunted Creede was approved by Arcadia Publishing, I thought to myself, “Well, Miss Pate, you were right, and thank you for inspiring me so many years ago!
My research for what would one day become the collection of stories contained in my book Haunted Creede started in that very same tiny elementary school in its little library at the top of the stairs. I checked out all the books dealing with anything paranormal and devoured them. At the same time, I began collecting ghost stories about my hometown. My Aunt Jennie Kay probably told me my first, and to this day, my favorite ghost story. It is in the book, so I will not spoil it for you here, but it did encourage me to continue collecting and asking to hear more about those Creede ghosts. My collection and fascination with history grew as I did, always immensely proud to be from this charming and unique little mountain town with its boomtown beginnings and claims of being one of the wildest places in the Wild West.
Creede is an old silver mining town high in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado. The town had its boom in the early 1890s and was considered, in its heyday, a haven for many of the most famous characters of Wild West lore. Poker Alice, Bat Masterson, Soapy Smith, and Bob Ford, slayer of the bandit Jesse James, had all called Creede home. There was certainly no shortage of stories to be passed down about Creede at its boomtown best. The only question was whether those stories were suitable for the ears of a child. I have to say, I had a hard time believing some of the reports I was told. The sleepy little mining town I grew up in bore no resemblance to the one in the crazy tales of mayhem I was hearing—dancehalls, prostitutes, gunfights, claim jumping, brutal murders. I had a hard timing stretching my imagination far enough to believe these could have happened in my Creede or that there had once been 10,000 residents in a town that now had a population of about 300. Where on earth did all those people LIVE? What did they DO? I had many questions and there seemed to be few concrete answers. As an adult I would set out to answer those questions and solve the mysteries that had intrigued me so as a child.
The book took an unexpected step toward realization, several years ago when I took a trip with my husband Scott to Victoria, BC. While strolling through the streets we saw a sign advertising a ghost tour. I begged him to go along with me, and he, being a paranormal skeptic, protested loud and long, but finally gave in to my enthusiastic cajoling. At the end of our tour, he turned to me and thanked me for persuading him to go! Pleasantly surprised to have learned so much local history on this one hour walk and having seen some pretty spectacular places that we would otherwise have missed, he had loved the tour. The spooky tales expertly told by our guide had added an immediateness to the history, had brought Victoria’s past to life. Later that night Scott told me: “This kind of tour would work well in Creede, and you already know all the ghost stories!” The idea germinated, and I became convinced that he was right. It became one of my dreams to share Creede’s rich history by creating its very own ghost tour. In 2017, as Creede prepared for its 125th anniversary, the time was right to put the tour into action. The Creede Ghost Tour became part of that anniversary weekend celebration and enjoyed much success. Ever since that first summer, the ghost tour has shared Creede’s history with hundreds of people. This book grew from the requests of several tour guests to see these stories in writing.
Putting my collection in writing has been a labor of love. I liken it to piecing together a jig-saw puzzle of historic facts and eerie stories, tracing personages through newspaper archives, learning who these women and men were, what they did, how they came to live in Creede, what their contributions were to the boomtown they found themselves in, and why they might still remain here in spectral form. At times I felt the ghosts reaching out to me, guiding my research, and I hope that in some small way, I can return the favor. There is a saying that every person dies two deaths, one being corporeal death, and the second and final being the last time the person’s name is spoken aloud. It is my hope that by sharing these stories and speaking these names, I am doing my part in keeping both their memory and history itself alive.
Haunted Creede is a love letter to my hometown, Creede, Colorado. We should soon be adding the book to our library catalog, so be sure to put it on your hold list and register to join in on my author talk on September 30th. This is a book that I hope others will find interesting, and maybe even entertaining. For those who are familiar with the town of Creede, I hope that you might find in the book a little something you did not know about our colorful past. And for those who have never heard of or been to Creede, perhaps these stories will inspire you to come on up and spend some time with us at 8,852 feet.
In the spirit of our Booked Solid in Santa Fe Blog, here is a list of books that have inspired me both as a reader and a writer:
September 15-October 15h, we honor the impact and contributions of the Hispanic culture and community. According to the US Census Bureau, “Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to American society and culture. The observance was born in 1968 when Congress authorized the president to issue an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Just two decades later, lawmakers expanded it to a month long celebration, stretching from September 15 to October 15” (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2020/hispanic-heritage-month.html , accessed 09/16/2020). Below, you will find some of our favorite people, books, and resources related to the rich history of Hispanics in America.
My Hispanic Hero/Heroine: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress, taking office at age 29. The issues she ran on—a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, abolishing ICE—are animating a new generation of voters at a time when confidence in capitalism is declining, especially among progressive millennials. (Jess G.)
Here are a few more sites to explore during Hispanic Heritage Month
Today marks the 19th anniversary of 9/11. The event continues to haunt America. At this point though, one could be 19 years old, and would have no knowledge of it except, through videos, conversations, and of course books. Much has been written about it, and it seems likely much will continue to be written about this event. The Santa Fe Public Library contains quite a number of books and videos about 9/11.
Insofar as books, one title that is on most “best of” lists is The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. “A sweeping narrative history of the events leading to 9/11, a groundbreaking look at the people and ideas, the terrorist plans and the Western intelligence failures that culminated in the assault on America. Lawrence Wright’s remarkable book is based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews that he conducted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, England, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States.”
Going into the background of how it came to occur there is Holy war, Inc: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Ladenby Peter Bergen. “On September 11, 2001, the world in which we live was changed forever. The twin towers of the World Trade Center came crashing down, one side of the Pentagon burst into flame, and more than six thousand men, women, and children lost their lives in the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil. As shocking as it was, it had been long in the making: The assault was the most sophisticated and horrifying in a series of operations masterminded by Osama bin Laden and his Jihad group — an organization that CNN’s terrorism analyst Peter Bergen calls Holy War, Inc.”
Afterwards, the 9/11 Commission released their own report, which I have found worth reading just for background on the 19 accomplices if nothing else. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. “In November 2002 the United States Congress and President George W. Bush established by law the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission. This independent, bipartisan panel was directed to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks, identify lessons learned, and provide recommendations to safeguard against future acts of terrorism.”
For a more recent history that benefits from being 10 years after, with consequently more documentation, and classified material being available is The Eleventh Day: the Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden by Anthony Summers. “For most living Americans, September 11, 2001, is the darkest date in the nation’s history. What exactly happened? Could it have been prevented? How and why did so much acrimony and bad information arise from the ashes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a quiet field in Pennsylvania? And what remains unresolved? What is certain: Discord and dissent continue to this day. Beginning with the first brutal actions of the hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11, The Eleventh Day tracks the precise sequence of events and introduces the players: pilots, terrorists, the airliners’ passengers, and the innocents who died on the ground. Drawing on previously classified records and raw transcripts, Summers and Swan investigate the response of President Bush and the U.S. military that day, and the failure to intercept the hijacked airliners. They document the untruths told afterward by U.S. officials and, as a counterpoint, thoroughly consider the contentions of the “9/11 truth” movement. With meticulous research, they examine the personalities of the men behind the onslaught, analyze the motives that drove them, and expose the U.S. intelligence blunders that preceded the attacks. They note how afterward–without good evidence–the Bush administration persisted in trying to link 9/11 to Iraq. And they confront, finally, the question the 9/11 Commission’s report blurred: Were the terrorists backed by powerful figures in another foreign nation–one the U.S. had long viewed as a friend? Riveting, revelatory, and unforgettable, thoroughly sourced and complete with extensive endnotes, The Eleventh Day is the essential one-volume work on a pivotal event in our history. “
For more background going back to the War in Afghanistan, Bin Laden, and the CIA’s involvement in that time, there is Ghost Wars: the Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll. “Comprehensively and for the first time, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks. Based on scrupulous research and firsthand accounts by key government, intelligence, and military personnel both foreign and American, Ghost Wars details the secret history of the CIA’s role in Afghanistan (including its covert operations against Soviet troops from 1979 to 1989), the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the failed efforts by U.S. forces to find and assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.”
There are many photography books about 9/11 and the aftermath of the attack. One of the more poignant ones is Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts at Hangar 17 by Francesc Torres. “Torres creates photographs that turn twisted steel or smashed ambulances into objects of contemplation and wonder. Accompanying his chilling photography are several pieces of writing that address the question of what place the memory of 9/11 will take in the history of the United States and the world. Newsweek senior editor Jerry Adler writes the primary text of the book, explaining how the remains of Ground Zero came to be carried to Hangar 17 and what happened to them there. Torres himself, at home in lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001, writes a memory piece on that day and his feelings in the presence of the twisted remains months later. Yale historian David Blight offers a piece on how 9/11 will reshape American history. The book also includes a statement by the curator of the forthcoming 9/11 Museum at the World Trade Center, where some of these pieces will be displayed.
Concerning the World Trade Center itself, highly recommended is City in the Sky: the Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center by James Glanz. “-The definitive biography of the iconic skyscrapers and the ambitions that shaped them-from their dizzying rise to their unforgettable fall. More than a year after the nation began mourning the lives lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center, it became clear that something else was being mourned: the towers themselves. They were the biggest and brashest icons that New York, and possibly America, has ever produced-magnificent giants that became intimately familiar around the globe. Their builders were possessed of a singular determination to create wonders of capitalism as well as engineering, refusing to admit defeat before natural forces, economics, or politics.No one knows the history of the towers better than New York Times reporters James Glanz and Eric Lipton. In a vivid, brilliantly researched narrative, the authors re-create David Rockefeller’s ambition to rebuild lower Manhattan, the spirited opposition of local store owners and powerful politicians, the bold structural innovations that later determined who lived and died, master builder Guy Tozzoli’s last desperate view of the towers on September 11, and the charged and chaotic recovery that could have unraveled the secrets of the buildings’ collapse but instead has left some enduring mysteries.”
Another photo essay book worth discovering is Watching the World Change: the Stories Behind the Images of 9/11 by David Friend. “A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year. The attack on the World Trade Center was the most watched event in human history. And the footage seen of that day came not only from TV cameras, but also from workers, tourists, and passersby, each of whose lives would change dramatically when confronted with the sight of the attacks. David Friend has uncovered the stories behind those images – from the street-level shots of the north tower crumbling to firefighters raising the American flag over the rubble. In Watching the World Change, he traces the images back to their sources and charts their impact over the next seven days. That week was the beginning of a digital age, a moment when all the advances in television, photography, and the Web converged on a single event. A brilliant chronicle of how we process disaster.”
For a photo book that contains many of the major images associated with 9/11 there is September 11: a testimony. “September 11: A Testimony is an extraordinary photographic testament to those who lost their lives on 9/11/01, those who fought to save them, and those working to rebuild. Focused on documenting scenes of endurance and resolve, it brings together the most powerful images of 9/11, as captured by Reuters photojournalists worldwide.”
One other history that keeps turning up on” best of” lists on 9/11 is Fall and Rise: the Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff. “This is a 9/11 book like no other. Masterfully weaving together multiple strands of the events in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Fall and Rise is a mesmerizing, minute-by-minute account of that terrible day. In the days and months after 9/11, Mitchell Zuckoff, then a reporter for the Boston Globe, wrote about the attacks, the victims, and their families. After further years of meticulous reporting, Zuckoff has filled Fall and Rise with voices of the lost and the saved. The result is an utterly gripping book, filled with intimate stories of people most affected by the events of that sunny Tuesday in September: an out-of-work actor stuck in an elevator in the North Tower of the World Trade Center; the heroes aboard Flight 93 deciding to take action; a veteran trapped in the inferno in the Pentagon; the fire chief among the first on the scene in sleepy Shanksville; a team of firefighters racing to save an injured woman and themselves; and the men, women, and children flying across country to see loved ones or for work who suddenly faced terrorists bent on murder. Fall and Rise will open new avenues of understanding for everyone who thinks they know the story of 9/11, bringing to life–and in some cases, bringing back to life–the extraordinary ordinary people who experienced the worst day in modern American history.
There are quite a number of films, documentaries that have been created dealing with all aspects of 9/11. Here are just three that are among the best:
9/11: Inside the Pentagon – PBS, . On September 11, 2001, 184 people lost their lives when American Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. Today, people are surprised to hear that the Pentagon was ever a target. Few know about those who escaped, many terrifyingly close to the impact zone. This is the most complete telling of what happened at the Pentagon on a day that forever changed the world.
United 93 : Universal Studios Home Entertainment, c2006. “Knowing the US’ tendency towards eternal optimism, it’s no surprise American filmmakers have grasped upon the act of collective heroism that transpired on Flight 93 to indicate human resilience in the face of terrorism. British director Paul Greengrass notably opted for unknown actors – and even some of the traffic controllers who were actually involved on 9/11 – in this powerful, real-time drama that walks the aesthetic tightrope between documentary and fiction.”
Zero Dark Thirty: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, . One of few 9/11-related movies that managed to garner box office success and critical acclaim at the same time, Zero Dark Thirtybrings the hunt for Osama Bin Laden to an end in toned-down yet spectacular fashion. Nearly three hours long, methodical and researched to the bone, Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to Oscar winnerThe Hurt Locker opens on a black screen. A 90-second audio montage of emergency calls made from inside The World Trade Center impresses upon us the pressure and importance of finding the al-Qaeda leader.
However you choose to mark this day, remember those who lost their lives. Those in the towers, the passengers, those in the Pentagon, the first responders. Never forget.
September 8th is International Literacy Day and libraries and literacy go hand in hand. It’s a perfect time to celebrate the books about books that make you love reading books! So enjoy a short list with titles that explore libraries, books, and the joy that is reading. Here are a few favorites:
The Library Book by Susan Orlean – This treasure is part memoir, part crime, and part library history beautifully interwoven to create not just an informative read, but an engaging one.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford – I read this well over a decade ago, but I will never forget the absolute joy and wonder of discovering you can create a world where people interact with literary characters.