The cover image for this 2009 boo was shot by Jaems Karales during the 1963 march from Selma to Montgomery.

During the past few years we’ve seen a boom in books on the Civil Rights Movement.

Here are just a few of our recent favorites (plus one DVD). Click on the link to place a hold on the title.

Controversy and Hope: The Civil Rights Photographs of James Karales (2013)
by James Karales

Photojournalist James Karales (1930–2002) documented the 54-mile Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965. This beautiful new book presents many of his images from the era, including some published for the first time ever.

Controversy and Hope can be found with our New Nonfiction Materials in the Commons area on the Main Floor of the Library.

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What I know about Haute Couture, I could fit in a shoebox. Maybe that is why I found this film SO fascinating. If I knew more about the lifestyle these people were talking about, maybe I would have been bored. Instead, I was riveted. Could people really be this focused on clothes and shoes and, most shocking of all, accessories? Well, this film and the real characters in it proves that yes, people can be this focused on all areas of fashion. Anna Wintour is the “star” of the film. A British ex-pat who came to New York and the world-renowned Vogue (American VOGUE, that is) from British Vogue and is now Vogue’s editor-in-chief. Wintour is a fierce woman…who can make or break a designer’s career with just the shake of her head. She’s the character the DEVIL in The Devil Wears Prada is based on. She pretty much is the face of the New York fashion scene – simply put…what she says or wants GOES and if she doesn’t want it, it’s gone. More interesting, I thought, was her creative director at Vogue, Grace Coddington, who clashes often with Wintour and always loses (since Anna always gets her way). How Grace copes with her losses and her set-backs at Vogue and still manages to come to work every morning is beyond me. The dynamic between these two independent, strong and very alike and different (at the same time) women is what made this film work for me.

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My first trip to Venice was memorable in many ways. But, I will forever remember walking past a Valentino store and just being entranced at what stood in front of me…behind a mere pain of glass. I wanted that dress behind the window. Why? Well, it was simply the most gorgeous material possession I had ever seen. And, after watching the documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor, I find that I am not alone. There are people the world over that have fallen in love with Valentino’s designs and gift for creating beauty. The man, seen here as a perfectionist and a diva (if that word could be used for any man, it should be used for Valentino), just seems to know what styles, colors, fabric and design will make a woman’s beauty shine. His desire for excellence has paid off for 45 years, during which he has reigned as one of the premier (if not THE premier) woman’s fashion designer in the world. He focuses his designs on ONE thing…evening gowns…and has perfected the elegant, classic and fabulously stylish look. Any woman who possesses any imagination can visualize herself in a Valentino. And, in this movie, you get a little peek at how that international glory has not only been achieved…but been sustained for over four decades. Filmed with less of a history bent and more a “day in the life” spin, the documentary looks at Valentino’s 45th year in fashion…including the anniversary party and fashion show in Rome. His lifestyle, like his work, is the ultimate in style, but would we really expect anything else from someone who creates work that has the ability to transport us to another reality. He can be temperamental, but we expect that. He is demanding, but we understand that (could he really design the dresses he designs and NOT be showy?). He is not always gracious, but we over look that. Why? Because he is Valentino? No…there is more to him than that. As the documentary reveals, he has difficulty expressing his emotions to others, even those who are intimately close with him. We come to realize the reason Valentino is seemingly stingy on giving thanks is because, with his artistic temperament, he has trouble relaying expressions of gratitude. When he does, he gets overcome…he breaks down from all of the appreciation he has for his staff, friends and partner. He is an extravagant man on the outside, but inside, he is a sensitive soul. Anyone who is interested in fashion, interested in design or just plain interested in beauty should see this fascinating documentary.

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First of all, I’m not a rough and outdoorsy type. I love (LOVE) to travel but the thought of heading to a place where the food consist of things I couldn’t even look at or the thought of being without modern (and sadly, essential) conveniences (like a coffee maker, laundry machine, etc.) or having to sleep outside among the dirt and animals and bugs (THE HORROR!) is just unthinkable to me. But, of course, my idea of travel is not the only one out there. Movie star Ewan McGregor and his pal Charley Boorman come up with a plan to drive motorcycles from London to New York eastbound, meaning the long way around. And, at over 20,000 miles, long is an understatement. In a trip that they estimated would take them three and a half months, they started several months before the departure getting financial backing for their worldwide quest. They accepted an offer to do an ongoing documentary for British TV, they organized a crew of producers and camera people who would be accompanying them (only one cameraperson rode with Ewan and Charley…the other crew members drove different routes in SUVs), they scouted out the best roads, they talked with officials of each of the countries, they exercised to get in shape, and on and on and on. The DVD set (two DVDs at approx. five hours) is the resulting documentary they produced and is simply fascinating to watch. There is a good hour of pre-trek information, but most of the documentary is spent with Ewan and Charley on the road….in Britain, France, Germany, Croatia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, and finally North America. Each country they go to and each minute they ride gets more and more captivating. It is a story of adventure, survival and most of all, friendship.

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The second installment of the McGregor/Boorman world trek via motorcycles was even more exciting than the first (Long Way Round). This time, most of the episodes were devoted to the trip…rather than all of the preliminary work. Sure, the first few episodes cover some of the pre-trip stuff, but it felt like it moved along faster this time. And, once they got on the road, it was pure enjoyment. Though parts of Europe and then the entire length of Africa, Charley and Ewan ride gravel roads, sand highways, and rocky passages, all while we follow along. Not the most action-packed fun you can have, but for travel buffs who can never get the wanderlust out of their systems, this is a great way to do some good armchair traveling.

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A fun, HIGHLY entertaining look at a senior chorus that performs rock/pop numbers to audiences around the world. This documentary will warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes…all at the same time. The documentary allows you to get to know the Massachusetts-based singers, the organizer, and how all of the processes come together to make some of the more entertaining concert scenes you will ever see. Live audiences seem to LOVE Young @ Heart and once you see this film, you will know why. You will be inspired by their persistence, talent and love of music. A must see!

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This is one of the best films I’ve seen in a while…mostly because it’s so well done (and also because the penguins are just so darn cute). In reality, this film is a documentary, but with the way it is structured and told (with perfect narration by Morgan Freeman), this film takes on an epic quality. Like Gone with the Wind, this film is a saga. Gone with the Wind is a fictional saga of one spoiled woman in the Civil War South. March of the Penguins is a saga about the yearly penguin brigade from their home to the place where they mate and raise their young and back home again. The story doesn’t single out any one penguin in particular. Rather, it speaks of them as a group…which is appropriate since as a group huddled together is how they survive the harsh Antarctic winters. The scenery is breathtaking and the cinematography is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. At first, I thought this was going to be another IMAX-esque documentary about penguins at the South Pole. This film, though, is so much more than that. It is an odyssey…about more than just heading from one place to another for mating…it’s a love story of how these creatures bond with their babies to keep the little ones alive and with each other to survive in the harsh elements. The audience becomes so enthralled with these creatures that somehow, their pain and hardship affects us just as much or even more than actors in a feature film.

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