What we are reading

Dante Valentine Series book two Dead Man Rising by Lillith Saintcrow.
Emerging from the flurry of current urban fantasy authors, Lillith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series is a refreshing read with a believable high tech and magic near future setting; focusing on a world that deals daily and publicly with magic rather than the Jim Butcher style cloak and dagger secrecy.      
                                                                                                  -Greg, North Branch
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
The author of Sophie’s Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner turns his attention to this memoir of personal struggle with depression. Styron writes, “the horror of depression is so overwhelming as to be quite beyond expression.” This sobering, yet oddly hopeful, tale of coping through understanding, is not so much uplifting as it is comforting in the knowledge that someone wrestles the same dark demons with whom so many others wrestle as well.          -Doug, North Branch


Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids by Julie Salamon

A behind the scenes look at a Brooklyn hospital serving a population that speaks over 67 different languages and facing a myriad of cultural conflicts and challenges. The reality is certainly nothing like “Grey’s Anatomy” or “ER”.                   -Kimberly, South Branch


The Twilight of American Culture by Berman, Morris

Published in 2000, The Twilight of American Culture examines American and global society at the dawn of a new millennium. Are we witnessing the beginning of a new enlightened consciousness or are we destined to plunge into another dark ages? Berman leans to the latter, but suggests that individuals leading the examined life should group together to perpetuate creativity and humanistic thinking in the face of rising corporate homogenization.                                                             -Andrew, North Branch





Purgatorio by Dante.

The second of three books comprising Dante’s Divine Comedy, this is an interlibrary loan, which I got after reading the Pinsky translation of Dante’s Inferno. This particular translation of Purgatorio was deftly crafted by husband and wife team Jean and Robert Hollander, two American scholars and teachers. Having gone through hell (literally) with his guide Virgil, Dante is making his way up the mountain of purgatory into paradise. Souls in purgatory can move up to paradise eventually, as opposed to those in hell who will stay there for eternity.

Though a more hopeful place than hell, sinners are still separated from God and punished in ways only Dante could devise. So far, my favorite punishment in purgatory has been for those guilty of envy: their eyes are stitched shut with iron threads while spirits fly overhead, intermittently thundering out admonitions against avarice and greed. Nice.

Will Dante make it to paradise? Will his guide be able to navigate the steep, upward climb? Read and find out!                       -Kerol, North Branch




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