Movie of the Month: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The handsome, former sports star, Brick Pollitt, and his sultry wife, visit his family’s Mississippi plantation to celebrate “Big Daddy’s” 65th birthday. There, the hot-headed old man confronts his son, and demands to know why he and Maggie haven’t given him a grandchild. Based on the play by Tennessee Williams, with an all-star cast comprised of Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, and Judith Anderson.

Celebrating 200 Years of Walt Whitman at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress will celebrate the 200th anniversary of American poet and changemaker Walt Whitman’s birthday in spring 2019 with a series of exhibits, public programs and a digital crowdsourcing campaign to showcase the Library’s unparalleled collections of Whitman’s writings and artifacts.

The Library’s Whitman Bicentennial series will be part of the citywide Walt Whitman 200 Festival and other commemorations in the Mid-Atlantic where Whitman spent most of his life. Whitman was born May 31, 1819, and died March 26, 1892. He spent about 10 years living and writing in Washington. During the Civil War, he volunteered in military hospitals in the city to provide emotional support to wounded soldiers.

Whitman worked as a schoolteacher, printer, newspaper editor, journalist, carpenter, freelance writer and civil servant, but he is best known as one of America’s most famous poets – and as a poet of democracy.

The Library holds the most extensive array of Whitman and Whitman-related collections in the world, including manuscripts, rare books, prints and photographs. Collection items range from handwritten drafts of poems and early prose writings to rare editions of “Leaves of Grass,” Whitman’s eyeglasses and walking stick and the most famous studio portraits taken in his lifetime. The manuscript collections are digitized and available online, as are many photographs.

The Whitman Bicentennial series is part of a yearlong initiative in 2019 inviting visitors to Explore America’s Changemakers.

More >>

Celebrating 200 Years of Walt Whitman at the Library of Congress

May 2019 Book Recommendations

Paul Kalanithi’s WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR; a 36-year-old neurosurgeon is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer just before his decade of training is completed.

Joanne Greenberg’s I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN; a sixteen-year-old schizophrenic is guided back to sanity by a psychiatrist; based on the author’s life.

Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey’s LIFE SENTENCES; three middle aged woman decide to make changes in their lives.

Ayn Rand’s THE FOUNTAINHEAD; an architect defies people and conventional standards during the construction of his masterpiece.

May 2019 Book Recommendations

History Matters

It happened on April 18, 1775. Bostonians Paul Revere and William Dawes History Mattersgalloped into history when they set out on horseback from the city to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were on the march to disrupt the Patriot cause. They planned to overthrow the fledgling revolutionary movement before more colonists were recruited to the cause of independence. Two signal lamps were lit, which meant the British were crossing the Charles river to launch their attack. Hundreds of Minutemen were roused and set out to confront the enemy. It was the beginning of the end of British rule in America, and a critical period in history.

The winner of the 2016 Grateful American Book Prize was Chris Stevenson’s, The Drum of Destiny, the story of a boy who walks hundreds of miles to join the American Revolution’s Continental Army. According to the author, “by reading [The] Drum of Destiny, young readers can learn about history without realizing they are learning about history. Most history textbooks are written with the idea of teaching kids facts they can memorize so they can then take a test. This method misses the most important aspects of history. The real life stories, the reasons behind the facts, and the character of our country’s founders are where the real learning is discovered.”


History MattersFrom February 23rd to March 6th in 1836, the Alamo Mission in San History MattersAntonio, TX was used as a fortress by Texans determined to win their freedom from Mexico. Approximately 4,000 troops under the command of General Antonio López de Santa Anna, sieged the fort, and trapped about 200 defenders. Nearly all of them were killed, including Colonel James Bowie, Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis, and frontiersman David Crockett. The battle captured the imaginations of settlers throughout the territory who rallied around the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo.” And, it set the stage for the independence of Texas, a hard won victory by Sam Houston and his 800 troops, who went up against Santa Ana’s 1,500 men at the battle of San Jacinto.

For further reading, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Margaret Cousins’ The Boy in the Alamo, a perennial favorite among preteens and teens.



History MattersOn Thursday, April 30, 1789, six years after the end of the American Revolution, History MattersGeorge Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States, on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York, in full view of the citizenry.

Washington had distinguished himself as commander of the Continental Army, leading a band of heroic rebels to a decisive victory. His citizen soldiers had been up against the disciplined Redcoats, who fought on behalf of King George lll, but they were defeated, soundly. The Revolution was, perhaps, the first great adventure tale in American history—from which a powerful, free democracy was formed that became the envy of the world.

For further reading, The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Laurie Calkhoven’s George Washington: An American Life.


April 18-30, 2019  — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

National Library Week

National Library Week (April 7 – 13) is a great time to remind yourself of all your library has to offer. Whether you check out the library in person or online, you’ll be contributing to your community.

This year’s theme is “Libraries = Strong Communities.”

Melinda Gates is the honorary chair of National Library Week. In the last 20 years, Gates’ Global Libraries initiative has invested more than $1 billion in enhancing libraries and empowering communities.

Think of librarians as information navigators who are here to help patrons find the resources they need on their information journey. The new James Patterson? We can request it. Printing tax documents? Yes, we can, for twenty-five cents per page.

Here are some other library fun facts to impress your friends at trivia night:

  • There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S. (That’s 16,568 libraries compared to 14,718 Starbucks.)
  • The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. With more than 167 million items, The LoC has 838 miles of bookshelves! (That’s nearly the distance from Asheville, North Carolina, to Dallas, Texas!)

By Melisa Pressley, Special to Black Mountain News

National Library Week