Books · Movies


It’s the 65th Anniversary of the Allied Landing in Normandy. Preston Library has an extensive collection of resources related to D-Day, here are our favorites.

ddaypraeger From the Praeger Illustrated Military History Series comes four excellent volumes: Gold & Juno Beach, Omaha Beach, Sword Beach & The British Airborne Landings, and Utah Beach & The U.S. Airborne Landings. These slim volumes are packed with details, chronologies, maps and biographical sketches.
bedfordboys In one day the town of Bedford, Virginia lost 21 young men. Unlike other military history books Alex Kershaw’s The Bedford Boys follows the soldiers as well as their families and the hometown they left behind.
ddaycompanion Not a detailed history of the Normandy Invasion, but rather a series of essays that explore topics as varied as the functioning of Allied High Command, German defensive measures and the contributions of air power.  The D-Day Companion offers reader’s a big-picture view of the engagement.
longestdaydvd A film so epic it needed three directors, The Longest Day, depicts both the Allied and German preparations, mistakes, and random events that shaped the outcome of one of the biggest battles in history. The star studded international cast features: John Wayne, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum. Keep your eyes peeled for a pre-James Bond Sean Connery in the role of Pvt. Flanagan, he gets the best one-liners.

Based on the meticulously researched book of the same name by former war correspondent Cornelius Ryan, also available at Preston Library.

Books · Movies

The same old story?

Have you ever had to read the same book over and over again?

I must have been assigned Hamlet at least 3 times before I graduated from college…not that it isn’t worth revisiting the classics.  I just prefer new spins and variations on a theme.grendel

Take for example Beowulf.  I love it, really, I’m probably the only one who never complained about having to read it AGAIN. But isn’t it always a little more interesting to hear the story from another perspective?  And a lot of times villains are much more interesting characters than heroes.  John Gardner’s Grendel is not the dark, scary, one-note monster you remember.  This Grendel (although still a monster) is a fully developed character with thoughts and reasons to fuel his actions.  If you didn’t have to read it for school you should check it out.


King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies–it’s a good play and also ranks high on the tragedy-meter.  There’s not much funny about a King dividing his kingdom based on which daughter loves him most and the ensuing calamity of the decision.

Or is there?

Enter Christopher Moore.  Moore’s latest novel, Fool, retells King Lear using the same  warped sense of humor you might remember from such novels as You Suck: A Love Story.  In this version King Lear’s jester, Pocket, takes over the duty of narrator.  Tragedy has never been this funny.

And of course the list goes on once you take into account new settings for old stories.
Jane Smiley’s Pultizer Prize winning A Thousand Acres is King Lear set on an Iowa Farm.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski is Hamlet set in Wisconsin, with a dog.
And my personal favorite:
West Side Story is really Romeo & Juliet, only with better dance numbers.