Tag Archives: American authors

Art books seek good homes

Plenty of new books made their way into our home last year — most related to art, history or philosophy.

My favorite titles included When Art Worked: The New Deal, Art, and Democracy (Roger Kennedy), Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (Jennifer Homans), and Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes (Stephen Sondheim).

Also The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution (Denis Dutton) and Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (Mark Twain). Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics (1974-2007) (Suzanne Lacy) will likely be the next book I tackle.

Of course, I’ll have to make room on my bookshelves for these newer acquisitions, which has prompted me to start hauling out some old still-packed boxes labeled “books” in search of titles that might be better off in a new home — so more folks can enjoy them.

I figure that once our third and youngest child heads off to college in the fall, we really won’t need all those picture books and early readers. Of course, we’ll save the classics (like Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon) — and the favorites (like Rainbow Fish and I Love You Forever).

But the rest will be going to a good cause, or several of them. In case you’re feeling similarly inspired, I’m happy to share my list of places that need donations of gently-used books — though you should always call ahead to confirm specific needs, donation procedures and such.

The Volunteer Non-Profit Service Association (VNSA) will hold its 55th annual “VNSA Used Book Sale” Sat, Feb 12, and Sun, Feb 13 — at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix.

The sale includes rare and unusual books and foreign language titles, and many general titles will be half-off on Sunday. The event is free, though the fairgrounds do charge for parking.

Proceeds from the VNSA book sale “benefit Valley human service agencies.” To date, “more than $6,000,000″ has been donated to local charities. This year’s beneficiaries include the “Arizona Friends of Foster Care Foundation” and “Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County.”

The VNSA website provides details on two options for those wishing to donate gently-used books — at-home pick up or drop box locations throughout the Valley.

The Heard Museum will present its “15th Annual Heard Museum Guild Library Book Sale” Sat, Jan 29, and Sun, Jan 30 — at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The sale includes “30,000 books in every genre.”

The Heard Museum will also have other items for sale, including “American Indian and vintage jewelry, katsina dolls, prints, pottery and ceramic vessels.” Sounds like a great way to jump start your Valentine’s Day shopping.

Proceeds from the book sale benefit the “Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives” of the Heard Museum, “one of the country’s most comprehensive research facilities about indigenous art and culture from around the world.” The event has raised more than $250,000 in its 14-year history.

Special features of the sale include a silent auction of “high-end items and rare-edition books,” a Sunday sale, a special children’s area featuring children’s books and other items, and early bird member shopping (on Friday).

The Heard Museum website offers details on each day’s schedule and activities — and how you can donate books to the cause. Although admission to the book sale is free, there is an admission charge for those who also wish to explore the museum’s exhibits.

The Friends of the Phoenix Public Library organization holds book sales throughout the year, which include special shopping opportunities for “Friends” members.  The next sale is Sat, Feb 12, and Sun, Feb, 13 (members can shop Fri, Feb 11).

All sales take place at the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library warehouse in Phoenix. Those wishing to donate gently-used books have two options — requesting pick-up of books or taking books to one of several drop box locations.

Visit the Phoenix Public Library website to learn more about donation procedures, or to request a donation of books to your local non-profit organization. The site also offers tips on hosting a book drive to benefit the Friends organization.

With week one of the “New Year” — and all those well meaning resolutions — nearly behind us, this is the perfect time to declutter your home while enriching the literary lives of others.

– Lynn

Note: You may also wish to check with local schools, day care centers, pediatric medical facilities and children’s charities about their book needs. If your organization accepts donations of gently-used books to benefit local non-profits, please comment below to briefly let our readers know.

Coming up: Cupid meets curator, Art of “Sacred Places,” Film tackles bullying

Stories & songs with Bill Harley

Maybe you didn’t make it to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix for the recent celebration of John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

Bill Harley brings family-friendly story and song to the MIM in Phoenix on Sunday (Photo: Tom Thurston)

No worries. Sunday will be another fabulous day at the MIM as Grammy Award winner Bill Harley brings his family-friendly fare to the MIM Music Theater.

I spoke recently with the prolific singer/songwriter, storyteller, author and playwright — and his team was kind enough to send me review copies of his latest CD (“The Best Candy in the Whole World”) and soon-to-be-published paperback (“Between Home and School.”)

Harley is the father of two grown sons and currently lives with his wife Debbie near Providence, Rhode Island. He grew up in Indianapolis and Connecticut.

Two of Harley’s “Best Candy” stories are originals – while others are adapted from the British Isles, Africa and Appalachia. While you’re at the MIM for Harley’s concert, take some time to experience musical instruments from these (and other) regions.

"Best Candy" from Bill Harley is a decadent dessert for those with a sweet tooth for storytelling

I asked Harley whether storytelling seems a dying art. “It can’t really die,” shared Harley, “because it’s what people do.” Storytelling, says Harley, is what makes people human.

While talking about the family-friendly nature of his show, Harley noted that “songs and stories always go hand in hand culturally.” But what exactly is a story?

Story is “saying what happens before and imagining what happens after,” reflects Harley. “History is the winner telling the story.”

“My job,” says Harley, “is to watch, listen and pay attention” — adding that artists help others take a second look, to notice things they might otherwise miss.

So what are we missing as parents today? Many would say it’s family together time. Or ways to connect and communicate with our kids. Which is why a shared experience of story and song might be just the ticket this weekend.

Bill Harley's "Between Home and School" is an ode to the fine art of communicating

“I’ve done my job,” says Harley, “if I give kids and parents a common language.” Harley loves seeing parents and children in the audience elbowing each other during his show with a “Yup, that’s us” grin.

We focus too often, observes Harley, on what we think kids need to learn in order to grow up. It’s no less important, he says, to honor children’s emotional lives.

Harley describes his work as more descriptive than prescriptive — hoping concertgoers will leave considering not simply what they know, but what they feel.

–Lynn

Note: Harley performs this Sunday at 2:30pm at the MIM Music Theater. Visit www.themim.org or call 480-478-6000 to learn more about this concert and others in the MIM 2010-2011 Concert & Film Season.

Coming up: Reflections on NPR, “Glee” and GQ magazine