Cover art of Paths of Heart by Richard Haverlack

Paths of Heart--Writing Stories Told at Life's End

Mon., Jul. 15
“Death and dying are radioactive topics.” So says Richard Haverlack, author of Paths of Heart—Writing Stories Told at Life’s End (DBC 16051). Haverlack, who personally recorded his book for the LBPH narration program, began his own journey into this realm following the death of his father and later his beloved Uncle Frank who struggled in a hospital setting in his last days, before being moved…
Newspaper image showing dinosaur peering into skyscraper window

Bone Wars

Mon., Jun. 3
In April of this year an unusual item appeared for sale on Ebay:  the 15-foot, 68-million-year-old remains of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, discovered in Wyoming, for the “buy it now” price of $2.95 million.  In the United States, unlike many other countries, fossil hunters who unearth skeletal remains on private land are entitled by law to keep (and sell) them.  Dinosaur trophies are much sought…
Cover art of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying

Wed., Apr. 17
Recently, while sorting papers, I came across a list, made over ten years ago, of books I was interested in reading. On it was A Lesson Before Dying (DB36694), Ernest J Gaines’ 1993 novel which won the National Book Circle Award for Fiction. The book addresses issues of race and identity, and also law as an institution in the larger political, racial and social context.…
Cover art of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: a Life by Jane Sherron De Hart

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Two Biographies for Adult and Younger Readers

Wed., Mar. 27
“The Notorious R.B.G.”  Now a cultural and legal icon, the 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s initials are emblazoned on T-shirts worn by a much younger generation of fans.  She recently described herself as “a flaming feminist,” but in truth her views on the equality of the sexes are both a reflection of the careful logic of her mind as well as a gradual evolution in her…
Cover art of Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

What is leadership?

Wed., Feb. 20
In her book Leadership in Turbulent Times (DB93029, CL19000), Doris Kearns Goodwin poses these questions, pertinent in any age:  “Are leaders born or made? Where does ambition come from? How does adversity affect the growth of leadership? Do the times make the leader or does the leader shape the times?” and perhaps, most importantly, in today’s political climate, “What is the difference between power, title,…
Squirrel Hill Library

A History of Squirrel Hill

Wed., Jan. 23
Squirrel Hill is one of Pittsburgh’s most vibrant neighborhoods.  Having lived there many years and because I still enjoy visiting it, I was intrigued to read Squirrel Hill A Neighborhood History (DBC 14834) by the Squirrel Hill Historical Society and Helen Wilson, Editor.  The book begins with the ancient geological formations that created the hill that, until the late 19th century, kept it somewhat isolated…
Cover art of Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict

Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict

Tue., Jan. 8
I read Carnegie’s Maid (DB 89953) an historical romance by Heather Terrell (writing as Marie Benedict) out of interest in that period in Pittsburgh’s history when Andrew Carnegie was ascending in wealth and power, and in the contrasts in society between the well-off classes and the immigrant working class.  On this score, the novel does not disappoint.  Ms. Terrell provides a thoughtful, detailed examination of…

Two Art Shows for Visitors with Visual Disabilities

Fri., Nov. 23
Somatosensory 2018 has opened at Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  Organized in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors, this tactile art show features 14 works by local artists in various media and visitors are encouraged to explore each piece through touch.  In addition, each artist has recorded a statement about their work, some descriptive of the creative process, others about the…
Cover art of Fear by Bob Woodward

Fear Is Riveting

Tue., Oct. 23
So much has been written and discussed about Bob Woodward’s latest book Fear: Trump in the White House (DB 91876).  The title appears to have been drawn from the book’s opening 2016 quote from then Presidential candidate Donald Trump in an interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa:  “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.”  That sets the tone for the following…
Sea turtle swimming in ocean

Narrating Turtle Diary

Tue., Sep. 18
The recording program of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) has produced more than 200 audiobooks in the past ten years.  One of the most unusual of these was Russell Hoban’s 1975 novel Turtle Diary (DBC 08138).  The book’s structure — each chapter is a diary entry alternating between the two main characters, William G. and Neaera H., representing their thoughts rather…