By LAUREL M. HALL
Certain jobs or careers require you to live in certain locales. Someone looking for work in the film industry needs to live near Los Angeles as much as someone trying to rise in federal government has to reside in or near Washington, D.C. When I think of the life of a professional writer, I often imagine them in a cozy nook in a New York City brownstone, or perhaps in a classic white colonial somewhere in the Hamptons, once their books have been on the best seller lists. The happy reality is that in this age of instant digital communications, writers can live anywhere they like, which means we as readers get to experience stories from the other side of the world, or from our next door neighbor. The following authors have chosen to call our great state their home. We often never know what great talent is with us in line at the grocery store or out fishing on the lake.
The authors featured in this summer’s Brown Bag Lunch series bring stories to us that are true in fact or true in spirit, and sometimes a bit of both. The series is funded by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library. All events are held on Mondays at noon in the large meeting room at the Brainerd Public Library, and are free and open to the public. Bring your own lunch to enjoy, or just come and listen.
Shawn Lawrence Otto will be here on June 25 to discuss his Minnesota Book Award-winning “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America.” Otto convincingly argues that the culture and politics of the United States has grown increasingly hostile to science and scientific inquiry. He covers the history of science in the public realm in this country, how we got to where we are at this critical moment, and what we need to do as informed citizens to change how policy makers will handle matters related to science in the future.
The cover image of Margi Preus’s chapter book for children, “Heart of a Samurai,” is dominated by an enormous sea-green wave, on the crest of which sits a meek-looking wooden rowboat. Upon my first viewing of the cover, I immediately felt my stomach clench, as though I were in the bow of that boat myself, preparing for a terrifying ride down. The actual rider pictured in the bow is Manjiro, a 14-year-old Japanese boy and fisherman’s son who dreams of becoming a samurai. However, when the boat is nearly destroyed by a storm and the fishermen set adrift in the open ocean, his life takes another route when they are picked up by an American whaling ship. This book grabbed me from the first moment I began to read, and has won more awards and starred reviews than I can list here. And did I mention it’s based on a true story from the 1800s? Read it, share it with a young relative or neighbor, and then bring them to see Margi Preus in person on July 9.
Many area families have recently welcomed their soldiers home from difficult tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign lands. Britta Reque-Dragicevic has written an insightful and practical guide, “Close to Home: A Soldier’s Guide to Returning from War.” It is aimed at soldiers, their families and friends. Reque-Dragicevic was an Associated Press reporter in post-war Bosnia, and still lives part-time in Sarajevo. Listen to her insights at the library on July 16.
Chances are good if you grew up in Minnesota you have some Scandinavian ancestry, or at least grew up surrounded by Swedes, Norwegians, Finns and Danes, with their smelly fish and Jello “salads.” And what about all those old blue plates and silver spoons that have been passed down several generations? I have especially fond memories of Swedish pancakes for dinner and krumkake during the holidays. Eric Dregni, author of “Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America” will be at the library to discuss all these phenomena and more on July 23.
As always, all of these books are available for request from the library, call us at 829-5574 for more information on these events and more. If you can’t make it to the library, call and ask for Laurel to find out more about the library’s At Home Service.
LAUREL M. HALL is the senior outreach coordinator for Kitchigami Regional Library System.