2010 World Cup

Originally posted on Sat, Oct 30 2010 at ROPL.org.

On Friday, June 11th, the eyes of the world will turn toward South Africa. The 19th edition of the World Cup will be staged, for the first time in its history, on the continent of Africa. Starting on June 11th, the first of 32 teams will compete. These teams include six African nations, including the host country of South Africa; as well as 13 European countries; five from South America; three from central and North America; Australia and New Zealand; and three Asian nations, including both South and North Korea.

For those who don’t know how the World Cup works, the teams are broken down into eight groups of four teams. The host country is in Group A, along with three other teams. The United States is in Group C, along with England, Algeria, and Slovenia. The United States’ first match will be on the afternoon of Saturday, June 12th against England. Each team plays all the other teams in their group and the two teams with the most points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie and no points for a loss) advance to the next round, called the round of sixteen. The winners of those matches advance to the quarterfinals, then onto the semifinals and finally, on July 11th, the final – played in Johannesburg.

Even if you know nothing about soccer, the World Cup is an exciting time to support your country (wherever you’re from), learn about other cultures and catch a glimpse of what is called the beautiful game. All the matches, from the first match (South Africa vs. Mexico) to the final, will be shown live on the networks of ESPN and ABC. If you feel like getting involved, you can fill out a bracket (also called a wallchart), just like for the NCAA Final Four.

Enjoy the 2010 World Cup and don’t forget to check out our display of>soccer related materials at the library!

Other Resources

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Originally posted on Sat, Oct 30 2010 at ROPL.org.

All books about loss and grieving are not created equal. Some are moving and heartbreaking, some are beautiful, some are humorous and wonderful, some are harsh and unforgiving, and some are all of the above. Jandy Nelson’s young adult novel, The Sky is Everywhere is one of those rare novels that manages to capture the spectrum of emotions.

A few weeks before the novel begins, Lennie’s older sister Bailey dies. Don’t let the book jacket blurb fool you; this novel isn’t really about band geeks or a quiet girl (though Lennie — full name Lennon, name after John — is both). The Sky is Everywhere is a story about two losses (that of Bailey, and also their very absent mother) and how Lennie, her grandmother (the woman who raised her), her uncle and Bailey’s boyfriend Toby cope with Bailey’s death.

Except that’s still not the whole story. The novel touches all sorts of parts of us – as Lennie grows, as she falls in love and finds herself unable to be happy because she feels guilty – after all, her sister is dead. But what really makes The Sky is Everywhere so truly beautiful and heartbreaking is that Nelson’s not afraid to write about the mistakes people make. The ways they turn their grief into actions, and that those actions have consequences, both good and bad.

All too often in teen novels, actions have no consequences. There are few fights with parents/guardians (or they’re so horrible that there’s no overcoming them), friends fall out with no repercussions (or they pretend it never happened), boys run off with girls (or the other way around) and everyone’s fine with it. The Sky is Everywhere is about all of those mistakes, and more. Every action, no matter how small, has consequences. And what’s created is a world that is our own and is someplace that we can relate to. Grief, like love, turns us into irrational beings and Nelson’s novel captures this in all it’s glory — and horror.

The Sky is Everywhere is beautiful, moving and wonderful, all at once. Even if you’re never lost someone close to you, I highly recommend it. You need not be a teen to enjoy this fantastic novel.

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason

Originally posted on Wed, Oct 27 2010 at ROPL.org.

Back with his eighth Detective Erlendur novel, his sixth to be translated into English, Indriðason is at his best. Hypothermia is not a traditional murder mystery, but it is definitely a mystery.

What makes Scandinavian mysteries stand out from the rest of the genre is their use of the landscape, both physical and emotional, of the countries where the novels take place. In Indriðason’s case, the country is Iceland. in his previous novels, Detective Erlendur and his coworkers work together to solve crimes, usually very strange ones. The novels spend a little time with each of the members of Erlendur’s team, as well as the detective himself, but most of the focus is on the mystery they’re trying to solve.

Hypothermia is a completely different type of novel. Sure, there’s a mystery to be solved, but it’s not quite a murder. In fact, it’s a suicide. The novel works from two points of view, that of the woman who killed herself and Erlendur. The shifts in POV take place sporadically over the novel, giving us glimpses into what really happened — while Erlendur is trying to solve the case.

What makes Hypothermia so good, and so different, is that it’s a novel about obsession. Erlendur, for reasons we learn as we learn more about him, is obsessed with this woman’s suicide. This obsessions bleeds into other parts of his life — including his relationships with his family and two unsolved missing persons cases, and mysteries from his own past.

Indriðason’s writing is both moving and intimate with Victoria Cribb’s translation bringing a warmth to the story. While you don’t need to have read the rest of the Detective Erlendur series (at least those translated into English), it is helpful to understand the characters, especially those who usually play important roles, but have been relegated to the sidelines for this particular novel.

Set aside a few days and delve into the world of Detective Erlendur and his obsessions.

Other books by Indriðason:

Jar City
Silence of the Grave
Voices
The Draining Lake
Arctic Chill

Chilean Mine Rescue

Originally posted on Wed, Oct 13 2010 at ROPL.org.

Early Tuesday evening, preparations and tests began for the rescue of the 33 miners trapped over 2000 feet underground. By midnight eastern, the rescue efforts had begun and the first miner, 31 year old Florencio Ávalos, was released.

Overnight and into the morning, the rescue has continued. NASA helped create a capsule that would take rescue workers (one at a time) down to the mine and the miners back up. CNN created their own version of the capsule, to show just how tight the fit is. The order of rescue was determined by the miners themselves, as well as the rescue workers. The first few miners were the strongest, in case something happened to the capsule and they had to escape. Then the weakest were to be sent up, followed by the men who could remain down the longest. Luis Urzúa, the final miner to be rescued, is considered the leader of the 33 miners.

For more information on the history of Chile, as well as the history of mining, both inside and outside of the United States, check out the display in the library.

Here are some links about the rescue, and ways to follow the events as they unfold:

Other interesting links:

Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End by Leif GW Persson

Originally posted on Fri, Oct 08 2010 at ROPL.org.

In February 1986, Sweden’s Prime Minister, Olof Palme, was assassinated. Even now, 24 years later, the crime remains unsolved. Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End gives us a fictional account of the months leading up to the assassination. Written by a leading Swedish criminologist, Leif GW Persson, the novel is an engrossing story, involving both Sweden’s regular police as well as the secret police.

Though billed as a novel similar to those of Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, it shares little in common with these authors. Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End is less of a character study than a political thriller. There are few characters whose lives we explore and want to spend time with, as the readers do in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. There’s no tough, multi-layered detective like Mankell’s Kurt Wallander. Instead, Persson invites us into the world of Swedish politics, crime and the police through a multitude characters – many of whom are extremely unlikeable.

We spend time with the chief of police, the head of the secret police, a special adviser to the Prime Minster, several policemen and women, as well as a retired professor. Through these characters, and others, we’re slowly drawn into a world of racism, hatred, and the occasional desire to seek out the truth – and, later, what might happen.

The novel starts with the apparent suicide of a visiting American journalist and slowly unfolds into a nightmare for both the regular Swedish police and the secret police. While at first confusing, the switching narratives gives us a broad understanding of what’s going on – and we know what’s happening long before some of the characters do.

Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End is an intense, thrilling and ultimately satisfying (though slightly creepy) novel. You need not have read any other Scandinavian novels in order to enjoy Persson’s book. It is an nontraditional novel about a very nontraditional piece of Sweden’s history – one that still remains unsolved to this day.