Monday, May 22, 2017

Author Event: When We First Ventured Into Deep Space


Apollo 8:  The Thrilling Story of the
First Mission to the Moon,
by Jeffrey Kluger

On Wednesday, May 24, at 7:00 p.m. at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library, Jeffrey Kluger will be in conversation with space historian Amy Teitel about his new book Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon. Jeffrey Kluger is the co-author with astronaut Jim Lovell of the bestseller Lost Moon, which was made into the movie Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks (“Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”).

Many people today do not remember, or are unfamiliar with, the mission of Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders. This was the mission that prepared for the landing of men on the moon with Apollo 11. But as the years have gone by, Apollo 8 has come to be recognized by historians as a defining moment. It was the first time humans left the orbit of earth and ventured into deep space. It was the first time men left the gravitational pull of the earth and the first time men experienced the gravitational draw of another celestial body. It was the first time humans saw with their own eyes the other side of the moon, and the first time they saw the earth from such a distance. The Apollo 8 mission produced what became one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century: the famous “earthrise” photo that showed the moon in the foreground and the lonely and fragile earth floating in the dark vastness of space. The astronauts successfully put the spacecraft into orbit around the moon, and studied and photographed possible sites for a future landing.

The launch of Apollo 8 aboard the huge
Saturn V rocket, December 21, 1968.
What many of us did not realize at the time was that Apollo 8 was an improvised mission, one that was moved up in NASA’s schedule of Apollo flights in its quest to land a man on the moon first. Jeffrey Kluger explains how this was prompted by the Cold War and the space race with the Russians who, it was feared, were about to jump ahead of the United States in the race for the moon. The mission was riskier and more daring than we knew. When the Apollo 8 mission to the moon was planned, no crew had flown in the Apollo space capsule. The year before, three astronauts--Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee--had been killed in a fire in the Apollo capsule during ground tests. The Saturn V rocket that would lift the astronauts into space had never put men into space before, and in its last unmanned test had pogoed wildly as it ascended. Engineering adjustments had to be made. Kluger has interviewed the three Apollo 8 astronauts (they are all still alive) and their families. His narrative gives us a wonderful sense of the character of the astronauts and the intimate drama of the mission.

The author tells us about all the challenges and problems that had to be addressed in a short window of time before the launch. The reader learns about all the various tasks and the huge collective community of planners and builders whose work had to be coordinated in order to accomplish the mission. Particularly memorable are the stories of the astronauts working behind the scenes on the floor of North American Aviation in Downey to make sure the Apollo capsule would be safe, after the terrible tragedy of the previous year. There were so many things in this mission that happened in actuality for the first time, never before tried--however numerous the simulations run on the ground. So much depended on detailed calculations, careful planning, and in the timeliness of execution. There were hundreds of thousands of parts that went into the spacecraft, and even the most minute lapse in design, assembly, or integrity of materials could result in utter disaster, as it had for Grissom and his colleagues. All these years later, it still impresses us as a complex and astonishing feat. 


The Apollo 8 astronauts (left to right) Apollo Commander Frank Borman, William Anders
(Lunar Module Pilot) and Jim Lovell (Command Module Pilot). The lunar module
did not accompany this flight.
 This is also an inspirational story. The Apollo 8 mission came at another time of deep division in our country, at the close of 1968, a troubled year in our history. The country was fighting a war in Vietnam, experiencing deep racial divisions and widespread political unrest, and had witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. And yet on Christmas Eve, in late December, the nation was focused on a national triumph, and the largest worldwide audience in television history tuned in to watch men talk to them from the moon and recite the moving opening passages from the Book of Genesis. 


The famous "earthrise" photo taken by William Anders as Apollo 8 orbited the moon.
 
If you decide to read this wonderful book, you should also go one weekend to the California Science Center in Exposition Park, where you can see on display an actual Apollo capsule. It is an interesting experience to imagine, when it comes to the flight itself, all the action of Kruger’s exhilarating and expansive narrative taking place within this impossibly cramped and enclosed compartment. And if you are interested in space, or even if you want a little uplift in these troubled times, you should not miss this event. This program is the first scheduled event for the Summer Reading Club for Adults, but everyone is welcome to attend. Like all library programs, it’s free, and those who come will be able to purchase the book at a great price and get it signed.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

This week at the library...

MONDAY
10:00 a.m., from your computer

SIGN UP FOR SUMMER READING CLUB
at Burbank Public Library

Go to the home page of our website, and look under "Check It Out" (lower left). Click on the summer reading link, and register as an adult, a teen, or a child, for a bunch of fun programs, activities, contests, and drawings over the course of the summer. Burbank Public Library makes summer reading fun!


Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

Le Petit Cinema presents...
THE BOOK OF LOVE
Henry (Jason Sudeikis) is a widowed architect who strikes up a friendship with Millie (Maisie Williams), an independent but troubled teen. Hoping to find her long-lost father, Millie asks Henry to build her a raft that can sail across the ocean. After agreeing to do so, the unlikely duo embark on an incredible adventure that deepens their bond and lifts their spirits. Music by Justin Timberlake.
107 minutes / rated PG-13



TUESDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

MEETING: FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY


WEDNESDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

APOLLO 8:
THE THRILLING STORY OF THE FIRST MISSION TO THE MOON
This program features space historian Amy Teitel interviewing author Jeffrey Kluger about his newest book, Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon. Written with all the color and verve of the best narrative non-fiction, Apollo 8 takes us from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from the test labs to the launch pad.

In August of 1968, NASA made a bold decision: In just 16 weeks, the United States would launch humankind’s first flight to the moon. Only the year before, three astronauts had burned to death in their spacecraft, and since then the Apollo program had suffered one setback after another. Meanwhile, the Russians were winning the space race, the Cold War was getting hotter by the month, and President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade seemed sure to be broken. But when Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were summoned to a secret meeting and told of the dangerous mission, they instantly signed on.

This program kicks off the Summer Reading Program for Grown-ups, but all are welcome to attend!


THURSDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

EXCEL CLASS FOR BEGINNERS
Learn how enter data, perform simple calculations, manipulate rows and colums, and much more. This class and the repeat session on Saturday are both fully booked. Call Laura at 818 238-5580 to be put on a waiting list for later classes.


Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

Family Night presents...
ARCTIC ANIMALS
Join the underwater explorer team of Wayne and Karen Brown on a thrilling Arctic Adventure in search of polar bears in the frigid location of Norway, via an exciting and fast-paced high-definition video presentation. Meet animals such as reindeer, seals, walruses, and whales, that are part of the Arctic ecosystem and able to survive this harsh environment. Bring your camera for a photo with a full-grown, 9-foot-long, inflatable, furry polar bear!


SATURDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

EXCEL CLASS FOR BEGINNERS
(See above)


Central Library, 10:15 a.m.

MUSIC AND MOVEMENT
Join us for a fun introduction to movement, coordination, rhythm, and dance! We'll be dancing using shaker eggs & scarves, and listening to music.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What we're reading: YA fantasies for everyone

There are some books that are specifically for teen readers, and some that, while written for teens, transcend that pigeonhole by their sheer excellence. There are a couple of new fantasy series and some older ones that I would, without hesitation, recommend to anyone who loves imaginative world-building, compelling characters, and a riveting story.


One such series is a new duology by YA author Leigh Bardugo. Although her Grisha trilogy that began with Shadow and Bone was well done and popular among teens (and probably among some adults), with these two new books Bardugo has created such an engaging bunch of characters that you long to be a part of their inner circle. Their leader is Kaz Brekker, a member of the Ketterdam underworld who has risen by a combination of smarts and ruthlessness to a position of some power in one of the city's many gangs. But this isn't enough for Kaz--he is motivated by both acquisitiveness and a thirst for revenge on a man who almost ruined his life, and when an opportunity comes up to score a treasure, rescue a hostage, and make a name for himself, he recruits six of the deadliest outcasts to help him, and the adventure is on.

I really enjoyed the first book. I liked the first series about the Grisha by Bardugo well enough, but was fatigued by all the magic and angsty pseudo-romance by the end of it. But this one stars a good old-fashioned gang of thieves with skills and exploits attributable for the most part to themselves, not to their paranormal powers. There is attraction among the characters, but it's much more subtle and doesn't take over the story, just adds to it. I thought Six of Crows was good, but the second book, Crooked Kingdom, really raised the bar. I got about a third of the way through it and thought, how can it get better than this? and after everything that has happened, how can there still be two-thirds of the book to go? But there was, and things just kept getting more interesting, more desperate, more seemingly unsolvable and insurmountable, with a great big build-up that made me crazy to finish but made me want to savor it all at the same time. You know a book is good when your first response at turning the last page is a more than half-hearted desire to start the book over again right that minute. Way to step up your game, Leigh Bardugo.


Another YA author who has stepped up her game is Laini Taylor, who wrote a previous trilogy that began with Daughter of Smoke and Bone (yes, sometimes confused with Bardugo's series due to their similar names). While I enjoyed that series and admired how she took tropes and stereotypes and turned them on their head, I still relegated that one to YA status; but the first book in her new duology is so beautifully written, with such glorious imagery and imagination, that I don't think anyone who loves fantasy will be able to resist it. It's called Strange the Dreamer.

This is the book that I was waiting for Taylor to write, the one that captures her ability to lure you into a world so completely and complexly drawn that when you come up for air, you can't believe that you're not really there.

It starts with an orphan, named Lazlo Strange. All orphans are given the surname of Strange, but Lazlo really is a little offbeat. He survives being raised by a community of priests who were ill prepared and not particularly beneficent towards all the orphans they got stuck with after war caused parentless children to "arrive like shipments of lambs" at the monastery. He grows up repressing an active imagination that is obsessed with a lost city that lies on the other side of a vast desert; he learns about it from one of the elderly and senile monks for whom he must fetch meals, and Brother Cyrus's stories possess his mind almost to the exclusion of all else. But the practicality of the monks doesn't allow for stories, or play, or anything, really, but work. So Lazlo works in their scriptorium, copying manuscripts, until the day he gets sent on an errand to the Great Library of Zosma. He never goes back. The library entices him with its stock of stories, and he disappears into its grasp until he is discovered days later, and taken on as an apprentice. The master who discovers him in the stacks says, "The library knows its own mind. When it steals a boy, we let it keep him."

Lazlo assumes he will end his days as a librarian, but after years of doing his job while indulging his passion for researching the lost city he has never forgotten, a surprising and wonderful thing happens: Proof of its existence manifests, and changes Lazlo's destiny.

This book is a combination of the best of everything. At its heart, it's the story of an underdog who gets the chance to become something more. But it's not just that; there's also the rich world-building, the magical, dreamy language, the powerful and intriguing ideas about gods and monsters. The book is completely immersive.

It is the first book of a duology, so you do have to suffer through the "to be continued" aspect when you read it. But it's so good that I know fantasy mavens will want to read it now and then reread it later when the sequel is ready to drop.



As for the older series, one is by Australian author Melina Marchetta, and the other by American writer Megan Whalen Turner. Both of their series suffer from a peculiar malady: They get better as they go on. That doesn't sound like a bad thing, but in practice, it can be. Many reviewers (and readers) have noted "second book syndrome" when it comes to the YA series--the first book was great, the second book was meh, and then the author pulls out all the stops and brings it together in a great third volume. But Marchetta's series begins with a book that's a good, solid fantasy but maybe not so special as to make you want to keep reading, and then goes on to a second and a third book that are so exponentially better than the first that I almost had trouble believing the same author wrote them. Thus, the challenge is to get people to read the first book but not stop, despite them perhaps finding it less than compelling, so as to have the sublime experience offered by the second and the third.

The first book in Marchetta's Lumatere series is Finnikin of the Rock. We read it in 10-12 Book Club twice over the past eight years, and on neither occasion was it anyone's favorite book. The club members liked it well enough; but it didn't engender the kind of rave reviews or provoke series loyalty like others have done. Don't get me wrong: It's not a bad book, it's actually quite clever and interesting. But when I moved on, first to Froi of the Exiles and then to Quintana of Charyn, I was blown away by the complexity of the moral dilemmas, the beautiful creation of the worlds inhabited by these characters, and the sophistication of this story.

The plot of the first book: A false king has taken over a kingdom, slaying the entire royal family; he has also put to death the high priestess of one of the goddesses worshipped there. As she dies, she curses the kingdom so that all still in it are trapped inside, and all outside its borders are exiled. The story starts 10 years later, as Finnikin, best friend of the young prince of the true ruling house, meets Evanjelin, a strange novice from a religious retreat, who claims that the ruling family is not all slain, and that both Finnikin and Evangelin have a role in breaking the curse and returning home to restore the kingdom.

I can't detail the plots of the other two books without spoilers, so I will just share another reviewer's summation of the two books: "Gripping, intense, complex, richly imagined, dazzling."

Not quite as extreme an example is Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series that begins with The Thief. I personally loved the first book, particularly the twisty nature of the plot that reveals itself only at the end and makes you want to reread the book immediately to see how it fooled you so thoroughly; but the first book barely begins the saga that takes place in the subsequent three volumes, and as it advances to The King of Attolia, The Queen of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings, the reader becomes further and further invested in the characters, personalities, and fates of these wonderful characters in their interesting kingdoms. But without the back story and foundation of The Thief, you experience none of the anticipation and revelations gifted to you by the other three books. Turner is a slow writer with long intervals between books, so I'm over the moon that the fifth book in this series, called Thick as Thieves, was just published two days ago; it will be on library shelves soon, and is at the top of my summer reads list.

Some other series that rate a look by adults who love good fantasy fare:

The Graceling Realm books, by Kristin Cashore
The Beka Cooper trilogy, by Tamora Pierce
The Great Library series, by Rachel Caine
The Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett
The Mirrorworld series by Cornelia Funke

Fantasy readers, you have a rich trove of series to read at Burbank Public Library!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What we're reading: The end to an epic journey

Back in July of 2016, I wrote an extended blog post, which you can read here, about suspense/thriller writer Greg Iles's fascination with a complex story about the fraught history of the American South in Natchez, Mississippi, past and present. At the time that blog post was written, the final book in the Natchez Burning trilogy was supposed to be called Unwritten Laws, and was to be published in April of this year. Well, the book is out, but it's now called Mississippi Blood, and I just finished reading it.

This is the book in which most of the secrets are revealed. Lawyer, author, and Natchez mayor Penn Cage is reeling from personal tragedy and a community in turmoil after the events of The Bone Tree. Penn's father, Dr. Tom Cage, is about to go on trial for the murder of his former nurse and secret lover, Viola Turner. The suit was initially brought against Tom Cage by Lincoln Turner, the son of Viola, who has just discovered that (contrary to what his mother always told him) he was in fact fathered by Tom Cage during a brief affair the two had back in the 1960s. Turner is an angry man who is determined to get justice for his mother, and has pinned all his hatred squarely on his white father, with some left over for Penn, the son who was raised in privilege while Lincoln was exiled to a life of poverty in Chicago.

Dr. Cage has remained mum about most things to do with the death of Viola Turner, mostly in an attempt to protect his wife, son, and granddaughter from scandal and retaliation, but the truth is about to be told. Not, however, by or with the consent of Penn, who continues to be frustrated by his father's stonewalling. Penn, a former prosecutor with a lot of trial experience, is determined to represent Tom in court, hoping to come away with a not-guilty verdict. Tom's health is so poor at this point that any prison sentence, however brief, will also be a death sentence. But Tom has completely excluded his son from the defense team and his trial strategy; instead, he hires the elderly but still dynamic civil rights attorney, Quentin Avery.

The added complication to all of this is that the Double Eagles, a vicious spin-off group of the Ku Klux Klan, and specifically their sociopathic leader, Snake Knox, will do anything to guard their hateful secrets, and the trial of Dr. Cage is about to blow those wide open. Between attempting to protect his family and trying to exonerate his father, Penn is in for a stressful couple of weeks (and so is the reader!).

Mississippi Blood was a satisfying and well-crafted end to the trilogy (which was actually part of a bigger story spanning six books). Iles left a few small things dangling at the end, in case he wants to revisit these characters and setting, but mostly wrapped it up. If you are a fan of courtroom drama, you will really enjoy this book, because unlike the others, which had a little more adventure "out in the world," this book took place inside the courtroom for about 85 percent of the book. But there is excitement to be had both indoors and out, and the unbearable suspense engendered by the trial keeps you reading to the end. And contained within it is history, a couple of love stories, a few murder mysteries (besides the main one), and a complex interwoven cast of distinct characters that run the gamut from heroic to despicable. It's exciting fare; but you definitely need to read at least the trilogy to understand anything of what's going on.

Find this book on the "New Books" shelves at all three branches.




Monday, May 15, 2017

This week at the library...

TUESDAY
Central Library, 12:00 noon

BROWN BAG BOOK CLUB
The club has read and will discuss Finding Nouf, by Zoe Ferraris. Bring your lunch and join the discussion.





Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

COLORING ZONE
Are you an adult who likes to color? Join us for our Adult Coloring Club! We provide the colored pencils, crayons, and coloring pages, or you can bring your own. Unwind, and express your creativity!














Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

SCENE OF THE CRIME BOOK CLUB
The club has read and will discuss Political Suicide, by Michael Palmer. All are welcome to participate.

For more information, call Naomi at 818 238-5620.







THURSDAY
Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

GENRE-X BOOK CLUB
Not your mother's book club

The club has read and will discuss The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson.

Genre-X is a book club for Millennials and Gen-Xers to hang out, drink coffee, and read short, interesting books.








FRIDAY
Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

Family Films presents...
A DOG'S PURPOSE
Based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog's Purpose shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog who finds meaning in his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. 100 minutes / Rated PG







CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING THIS WEEK:

PUPPY TALES READING PRACTICE
This is a read-aloud program for children in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade.

Sign-ups are required. Parents may sign up their child at the Buena Vista Branch Children's Library or by calling 818-238-5630. This program is full; sign-ups will begin again in the Fall.

This Thursday @ 4:30 p.m., Buena Vista Branch



BILINGUAL ENGLISH/SPANISH STORYTIME
This Thursday @ 6:30 p.m., Northwest Branch

Join us for a bilingual storytime with stories, songs and rhymes in English and Spanish. There will be a short video at the end of the program.

Vengan para una hora de cuentos bilingüe con cuentos, canciones y rimas en inglés y español. Habrá un video corto al final del programa.



BOOK PARTY: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS
Saturday, 2:00 p.m. @ Central Library

We will celebrate Captain Underpants with crafts, games, and a preview of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Get a new name with the help of Professor Poopypants, and fling some underwear to battle Turbo Toilet 2000!

Please note that sign-ups were required, and this program is FULL.




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Books beloved by artists

Don't you think that everyone likes to read a book with a protagonist or supporting character who shares something in common with them? My particular extracurricular interest is art and painting, and I love books with art as a theme. So in the same train of thought as the books about books that readers love, here are some books about or containing art that artists may enjoy. (You may also notice a tendency to choose books set in Paris. Well, it's an artistic town!) Some are big family sagas or historical fiction, a few are coming-of-age stories, and the rest are all about the painting. There are both adult and young adult fiction titles included, but don't let a label deter you: Read them all!

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
Theo Decker survives a brutal bombing at an art museum that takes the life of his beloved mother. In the confusion during the explosion, Theo rescues (but then keeps for himself) a priceless painting, which comes to symbolize for him his idyllic lost youth. Powerful, moody, and poetic (and long). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Adult fiction.

Carduelis carduelis--Goldfinch.

The Very Picture of You, by Isabel Wolff
Elsa is a portrait painter who elicits the stories of those she paints while they pose for her, and discovers some truths about herself in the process, especially while painting her sister's fiance. Adult fiction.

The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
Set partly in the past, partly in the present, this is the story of Penelope Keeling, whose father was a famous Cornish painter. Now in her declining years, her prize possession is a portrait by him called The Shell Seekers. Her three children all become aware of its value, and all have an opinion about what she should do with both the portrait and herself. Penelope has different ideas. This is a wonderfully drawn family saga, and if you like books set in World War II, half of this book takes place during that time period, in Penelope's youth. Adult fiction.

The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby
Dawn, Neil, and Normandy go to the Green Pastures School of Art and Applied Design. Each is artistic in a different way, as are all their crazy classmates, but Normandy has always felt overshadowed by her older sister, Keira, who preceded her at the school and went on to become a famous graphic artist. She is also discomfited by the fact that in her graphic novels, Keira has drawn her family--mother, father, and Normandy--as characters, and in a particularly unflattering--verging on vicious--way. Her response to this is to begin a project at school destined to bring the truth, however difficult and dangerous, into the open. YA fiction.

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You,
by Courtney Maum
Not my favorite, but some people may like it. It's about a guy who tries to bring some pizzazz to his life by having an affair. After having lost both the mistress and the wife, he then tries to revive his ailing art career by exploring new mediums and methods. I liked it for the setting (Paris) and the discussions about the art world. I never did figure out the title, because no one, anywhere in this book, is having any fun! Adult fiction.

A Paris Apartment, by Michelle Gable
Another one where the premise is better than the result, but again, the setting (Paris) and the convoluted process of holding a Sotheby's auction for the art was intriguing. Adult fiction.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt
This book isn't specificallly about art, but uses it as a vehicle. June Elbus's uncle, Finn Weiss, is dying of a mysterious disease (AIDS), and the way he chooses to spend his final days is painting a portrait of his nieces, June and her older sister. Although the bulk of the book is June's coming of age through the process of discovering and coming to terms with the secret parts of her uncle's life that were kept from her by her parents, the painting plays an ongoing role throughout the book that ties it all together. An Alex Award winner. Adult fiction.


I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
Twins Jude and Noah are both artistic, but Noah's art just burgeons out of him. At 13, he is being coached by his mother to apply for an arts high school, while Jude is acting out as a typical teenage girl. But jump to three years later and Noah has ceased to make any art, while Jude is struggling as an art student at the school Noah was supposedly destined to attend. What happened in those intervening three years? And who will help the twins to regain their balance and express their art and themselves? Beautifully written and characterized, with a touch of magical realism that enhances the story. YA fiction (but should be for everyone).

The Gravity of Birds, by Tracy Guzman
An art historian and an art authenticator are hired by a famous reclusive artist to sell a portrait that had a devastating effect on the two sisters who sat for it. But is the sale of the portrait the artist's real motive? This is a fairly simple story, and simply written, yet the complexity of human emotions and betrayals involved made it intricate and nuanced, and the imagery is compelling. Adult fiction.

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, by Susan Runholt
An art caper with a forged Rembrandt and two teenage girl sleuths. Fun, will appeal to fans of Nancy Drew, both young and old. YA fiction.

Heist Society (and sequels), by Ally Carter
Another art caper. The protagonist is from a family of international art thieves. A big robbery has taken place, and the mafia guy who owned the paintings thinks her father did the robbery, but he didn't. She's been given a deadline to give them back, so she and her cousins/friends have to figure out who DID take the paintings, and steal them back! Completely implausible, of course, but big fun. YA fiction.

The Painter, by Peter Heller
This book pairs thoughtful, in-depth musing about life's tragedies and how we react to them with breathless scenes of action worthy of the latest blockbuster thriller. The protagonist paints Expressionist masterpieces, while acting like a character gone astray from a Hemingway novel. Adult fiction.

Spending, by Mary Gordon
Monica Szabo is a painter in her 50s who has struggled her whole life with the dichotomy between making a living and expressing her art. Then a man comes along who wants to be her patron, in the sense of classical artists being sponsored by the Medici so they were free to make art. Monica struggles with the concept of being a "kept woman" even as she delights in the freedom to begin her most powerful and controversial work. Then their roles abruptly change, and new philosophical questions are up for review. An engaging story that addresses gender stereotypes, religion, and artistic integrity, without losing the immediacy of the relationship. Adult fiction.

The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Mary Rothschild
Annie is a hapless aspiring chef who happens upon a tiny Watteau painting in a junk shop, buys it for a new boyfriend who stands her up for their date, and then is intrigued enough by it to start looking into its history, which includes stories of Nazi Germany and the hidden and circuitous route the painting takes through centuries of diverse ownership. (The title of the book is the title of the painting.) Adult fiction.

The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes
In 1916, French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife, Sophie, and the portrait of her he has painted, to fight at the Front in World War I. A century later, Liv is given the painting as a wedding present by her new husband, shortly before his unexpected death. The past and present of the painting tie these two stories together and make for an engaging history. Adult fiction.

The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro
Claire Roth is a struggling young artist making a living by reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer. Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner, strikes a bargain with her to forge a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston 25 years before, in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowed gallery. But when the real painting is delivered to her for copying, Claire's eye for forgery finds suspicious signs that the supposed original may itself be bogus. Lots of great details about how forged paintings are made, and discovered. Adult fiction.

I'm sure there are many more books about painting to be discovered. When I do, I will share those, too!