Aug. 3, 2008 Library Books

The following books are available at the Portales Public Library:

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth
From her engagement at age 2 to her wedding at age 9, young Leela’s future has been clearly mapped. But that vision changes drastically when at age 12 — just months before she moves in with her husband’s family — she finds herself in widow garb, stripped of her jewelry, beautiful clothes, and even her long hair while she goes into mourning for a man she barely knew. During the following long and difficult year, she slowly becomes aware of voices, particularly that of one Gandhiji, who speak of rights and freedom from British rule. This Gandhiji even dares to speak of the inequality inherent in the caste system in India and of breaking from some of the Indian traditions that placed unfair burdens on women and others. Leela’s gradual transformation from a spoiled daughter to a thoughtful revolutionary is based in part on the experiences of Sheth’s aunt. This quiet story is an insightful look at the lives behind the politics of change.

The Great Race: The Amazing Round-the-World Auto Race of 1908 by Gary Blackwood

A hundred years ago, the automobile was a novelty — a toy for the rich and famous. Prior to Henry Ford’s revolutionary assembly-line process, automobiles were essentially built one at a time, to order. European automakers eager to capture this young market devised races — emphasizing endurance over speed — to prove the superiority of their product. The New York Times and the Paris newspaper, Le Matin sponsored the granddaddy of all such races, with a course that began in New York and ended in Paris (going the long way across the United States, Siberia and Europe). That race, which included entries from France, Italy, Germany, and a last minute American car, was as much about the pluck, ingenuity, and determination of the crews as it was about mechanical dominance. Blackwood’s engaging storytelling brings to life the men behind the wheel, from the Italian poet to the determined American mechanic. He is especially effective at illustrating transcontinental travel in an age before paved highways, routine snow removal, or gas stations. Comparisons between the 1908 racecars and current automobile specs (e.g. 15 horse power engines versus 300 in a modern SUV) help to highlight the tremendous undertaking of the race. Black and white photographs of the participants, the cars, events and sights of the race enlarge this remarkable story. A short list of related Web sites, bibliography, end notes, map, and index enhance the book’s use for research.