THE ROAD to Cormac McCarthy

When No Country For Old Men won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2007 I told myself, “I must read Cormac McCarthy.”
I didn’t get around to it, however, until recently. I knew that All the Pretty Horses, volume one of “The Border Trilogy”, had received both the 1992 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Then The Road was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Last week I picked up The Road, thumbed through it, and noted the absence of quotation marks to indicate dialogue. Finding this somewhat distracting, I laid the book aside and turned to a different novel. Yesterday I picked up McCarthy’s book again—-and finished it this morning.
A man and his son, both unnamed, struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Possessed of meager provisions and a pistol with two bullets, the man convinces the boy that some kind of salvation exists near the sea. Through a blighted landscape of gray ash, dead trees, and chilling temperatures, the reader joins them on the road, encountering harrowing instances of debased humanity, cannibalism, and despair. The boy, who has never known any other life, seems, at times, touched by God, for he is ever aware of the fact that he and his father are the “good guys” who “carry the fire”. Eventually the man succumbs to disease, starvation, and exposure—yet remains convinced that “Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again.”
The Road has been called both “a masterpiece” by Booklist and “a novel of horrific beauty” by Kirkus Reviews. I agree. The book, deceptively simple and straightforward, is devastating and reminds us that the world teeters on the edge of the abyss.
On June 5, 2007, McCarthy sat down with Oprah Winfrey for his first and only television interview. When asked about his writing, McCarthy said he prefers simple, direct sentences and refuses to muddy up his text with “weird little marks” (quotation marks). The video can viewed on Oprah’s site: Just enter his name in the “Search” field on the upper right of the screen.
Directed by John Hillcoat, the film adaptation has just been released in theatres and is receiving generally favorable reviews. Viggo Mortensen, whom many will remember as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays the man.
East Central Regional Library owns all of McCarthy’s works in various formats: regular print, large print, audio, VHS, and DVD. Access our homepage at and click on “ECRL Catalog” if you’d like to request a specific item. Remember that library staff are a quick phone call away if you need assistance.

Bob Gray
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian

Thank you letter we received

April 23, 2009

East Central Regional Library Staff,

There are eight book-club members in Milaca that are in awe of the precious right to borrow books from our very own community library. Our April book selection was one of your book-club kits. Just like that we were on the same page at the same time reading with communal pleasure and nary a nickel spent. What a privilege!

With gratitude we thank you for the library’s range of reading opportunities.

Respectfully yours,

Eight Avid Readers

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Today is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss. We have Dr. Seuss books in every single one of our branch libraries. Go to the catalog page of our website, and do an author search — enter seuss, dr as the search term. When you get your Dr. Seuss book, grab a kid, and once again enjoy the lyric poetry. The National Education Association has proclaimed March 2nd as Read Across America Day. They even have this Read Across America poem on the NEA website:

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.

In schools and communities,
Let’s gather around,
Let’s pick up a book,
Let’s pass it around.

There are kids all around you,
Kids who will need
Someone to hug,
Someone to read.

Come join us March 2nd
Your own special way
And make this America’s
Read to Kids Day.

When you’re done with the Dr. Seuss books, the NEA site has a list of Teacher’s Top 100 Books for Children.

Barbara Misselt, Director

What Book Would You Save?

The One Book, Cambridge Community Wide Reading program committee would like to know what book is important to you. In the book chosen for the 2008 One Book Cambridge Community Wide Program, The Book Thief, books are very important to the main character, Liesel. She takes many chances with her life to find books during a time when book burnings were a regular occurrence in Germany. She even takes one right from a smoldering pile! Would you take such a chance?

As we celebrate School Library Media Month in April and National Library Week, April 13-19, stop and think about what the freedom to read means to you. Stop in and take a look at the display in the window of the Cambridge Public Library depicting the book burnings of WWII and the propaganda used by the U.S. to protest the book burnings. Did you know that books by Helen Keller, H. G. Wells and Jack London were burned in Germany? Take a peek at this informative display.

How important are books to you? If you had a fire in your home and you could safely save only ONE book, what book would you save? Stop by the Cambridge Public Library and fill out a form with your answer. Students in the local middle schools and high school are also participating in this thought provoking activity. We will collect all the entries and hope to have some of them published in the newspaper. Your name is optional. Help us discover what makes a book important to you!

Plus, there’s still time to join the One Book, Cambridge Community Wide Reading Program. Check out The Book Thief at the Cambridge Public Library or purchase your own copy at Scout & Morgan Books. Visit our website at for more information on the program.

Vickie Sorn, Community Services Coordinator

Holiday Gift Ideas for Teens

In my family, everyone looks forward to two gifts under the Christmas tree — pajamas and a new book. (For a peak at my family opening their books, check out my blog post from 2 years ago.)

The Cambridge Library has teamed up with Isanti County Family Services and generous library folks to give kids and teens new Christmas books through the Gift of Reading tree.
Give the Gift of Reading Tree

A bookmark is available in the library with suggestions for teen reads. If you want to give the teens in your life a new book, check out these book list suggestions — thanks to Chisago Lakes Branch Manager Angela Smith and Community Services Coordinator Vickie Sorn.

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas for Teens
Ages 14 & up!

Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer
Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by S. Limb
13 Little Blue Envelopes by M. Johnson
Great & Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Anne Brashares
Princess Diary Series by Meg Cabot
Jingle Boy by Scott Kiernan
Any Gossip Girl OR It Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Cut by Patricia McCormick
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Stormbreaker by Alex Horowitz (or any Alex Rider books)
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Godless (or Invisible) by Pete Hautman
Nailed by Patrick Jones
Holes by Louis Sachar
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Feed by M. T. Anderson
Crackback by John Coy
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
Nonfiction bks (sports, rockstars, cars)
Graphic Novels (Bone Series, any DC or Marvel superheros)

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director