As we welcome the new year, it’s a good time for the library to recognize our patrons and community for your trust and support. Thank you! We hope you will put January 13 on your calendar for the return of our Legendary Party – a family-friendly, community-wide night at the library!
When 2022 came around, we were still in the throes of the pandemic and taking care to keep each other safe and healthy. The Basalt Regional Library worked with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Governor’s Vaccines for All program to provide bi-monthly COVID vaccine clinics, free masks and free home test kits. Programs began to meet in person with limited numbers and you were able to utilize our new reservation system through Eventbrite. For those who prefer to continue using our Curbside TakeOut, that option is still available. What we learned from you was to be adaptable to maintain access to all the library’s resources.
And we have added to those resources! Hotspots for internet connectivity, laptops, chromebooks and ipads, book bundles, camping equipment, sewing machines and telescopes– all this in addition to our more traditional library collections are available to anyone with a library card. You may have noticed the just-installed electric vehicle charging stations in front of the main entrance to the library. We expect these to be up and running after the first of the year.
You showed up for a crazy number of new programs–Mountainfilm on Tour (coming again this February!), a workshop and jam session with Leftover Salmon, the Love Notes Project, Lunch With a Side of Murder, financial education workshops, Baby Gym, plus Author Talks, Music at the Library, Date Nights, Camp Out at the Library, and our Summer Reading Beach Party Kick Off! We hosted programs with the Roaring Fork Conservancy, A Way Out, Aspen Strong, Aperture of Hope, High Rockies Harm Reduction, The Art Base, the Aspen Institute, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, Ride the Rockies, and the Basalt Regional Heritage Society.
With the generous support of the Basalt Regional Library Trust, we are now partners with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This international program sends a book a month to children from birth to 5 years old to build their home library and literacy skills. The Friends Bookstore has provided needed funds for special requests from library staff, including the Summer Music Program. Our stalwart supporters of the Basalt Regional Library Foundation supplement our Collections Department with thoughtful additions to adult fiction. Additional funding was received this year from Alpine Bank; American Library Association/American Recovery Act; Aspen Ski Company Environment Foundation; Aspen Thrift Shop; Bessie Minor Swift Foundation; Carbondale Rotary Club; Charge Ahead Colorado; and the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Outdoor Equity Program.
Thank you for all you do for our library, and we look forward to seeing you at the Legendary Party on January 13, and at all the other amazing events coming up in 2023! Here’s to another great year at your library.
The River by Peter Heller
A Book Review by Amy Schuster
The River is a gripping, harrowing novel about friendships, survival, and natural disasters. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the story starts by detailing the canoeing expedition of Jack and Wynn, best friends who both love spending quality time outdoors. Their days commence by paddling along the Maskwa River in northern Canada and then are followed by leisure activities including picking blueberries, reading books, and gazing at the stars in the evening sky. One night they overhear a man and a woman bickering at a campsite nearby but don’t take any further action. Their adventures come to a screeching halt as a problem arises: there is a small wildfire spreading around them. They start to depart but decide to turn around to warn other campers about the fire. But they find no one around them. The next day, they encounter a man paddling alone on the river who informs Wynn and Jack that his wife went missing in the fog. The wildfire exponentially grows in size putting the two friends in a dire situation. Even though Wynn and Jack are both skeptical of the man, they both decide to help the man find his wife amidst the chaos around them.
Even though the book started off rather slowly, it definitely gained momentum and then turned into another novel that will leave you at the edge of your seat right up until the shocking ending . This book is so action-packed, you will be amazed that it is only 272 pages in total. It was suspenseful reading about these two boys in a state of urgency who risk their safety to help out strangers. Heller’s imagery and articulation of the wilderness and wildfire is beautiful, heartbreaking, and distressing, especially when he describes all the animals fleeing the fire. Heller has a profound way with words and the meanings behind them. “There’s always relief in committing to a decision, even when there’s no choice.” Heller did an excellent job developing the characters of Jack and Wynn and giving us their backgrounds.
Overall, I would give this book 8 out of 10 stars.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
A Book Review by Amy Schuster
Water For Elephants is told as a recollection of memories from the story’s protagonist, Jacob Jankowski, who is a 90-something nursing home resident, reminiscing on his time working for a traveling circus during the 1930’s. Jacob was a veterinary student who had to drop out because of the tragic death of his parents. Orphaned and broke, fate and destiny collide as he hops on a train and discovers it belongs to Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, which he describes as a “ship of fools.” Jacob is hired to be the circus’ animal caretaker. Shortly after arriving, Jacob meets Marlena, a gorgeous equestrian performer in the circus, and immediately falls in love with her. She is stuck in an unhappy marriage to the tale's antagonist, the mean-spirited and aggressive ringmaster, August.
The circus, which is having a hard time generating business due to the Great Depression, adds an elephant named Rosie to their ensemble, who is supposed to be the show’s stellar act. It turns out that Rosie is very charismatic but disobedient, not wanting to follow the instructions of August who is often physically abusive toward her. Jacob, Marlena, and Rosie share an incredible bond full of compassion and trust. Later on in the book, Marlena reciprocates Jacob’s romantic feelings and the two engage in a passionate affair, going behind the back of August.
Water for Elephants is a dark but beautifully written story with vivid imagery, especially when Gruen describes the circus and the lives surrounding it. There are many time jumps between the past and present which makes the story even more intriguing. Gruen touches on the books themes of life, love, animal cruelty, and the turmoil of living in the Great Depression era with poignancy and humor. The characters are very well developed as Gruen showcases each of the character’s personality and aspirations. This book is filled with pathos. Reading about how August abused, hit, and was cruel toward Rosie was heart wrenching and made me want to scream at the page.
Is this book predictable? Maybe somewhat. If you pick up any romance novel, you are likely to anticipate that there will be a love triangle. Despite it being predictable, it sure is entertaining. Water for Elephants is one of those novels that will keep you engaged from beginning to end. If you pick it up, you will have a hard time setting it down. I highly recommend this book. I would give it a 7 ½ out of 10 stars.
Adult News & reviews
Library news, info about upcoming events, reviews of books and films, and a look at the topics that affect us as a library.