Category Archives: Books

Like books? So do we. The Memorial Library captures something unique of the history and culture of the American people. While our collection covers all the bases, we’ve also got some unexpected gems – and we’re always refining our stock. Want to keep abreast of the newest arrivals, the timeless classics, the downright quirky? Read on.

Baedeker Raids and Norwich – 75th Anniversary

By Danielle Prostrollo

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the first Luftwaffe raid of Norwich, part of the Baedeker raids that also occurred over Canterbury, Bath, Exeter, and York. The raids got their name from the Baedeker guidebooks which noted that these cities were of great cultural and historical importance. It is commonly accepted that it was from these guides that the Germans decided which cities to strike.

In honor of the anniversary we revisit a book review written by a former American Scholar. Snelling’s book is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about the raids and their effect on Norwich.


Norwich: A Shattered City by Steve Snelling

This highly informative and richly illustrated new book tells “the story of Hitler’s blitz on Norwich and its people” in 1942.

The book offers detailed accounts of the Baedeker raids that destroyed sections of Norwich, claiming 200 civilian lives. The images of the city’s familiar corners, parks, and streets register as shockingly unfamiliar in photographs from the time. Walking the beautiful, safe streets of our city today, it is hard to imagine other times.

Snelling’s book encourages Norwich’s modern citizens to pause and appreciate the city we might usually take for granted.

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Filed under Books, Local Interest, World War 2

My first overdue library book was A Light in the Attic


By: Danielle Prostrollo

Of course it is no badge of pride to have an overdue library book, but it is nonetheless true.  When I was about 7 years old I borrowed the popular Shel Silverstein book from the public library and then managed to accidentally keep it for, what I think was, 3 or 4 years.  That’s a lot of money in overdue fines.  But while my criminal record is forever tarnished, my relationship with poetry was shaped by that compilation.

I still go back to Silverstein on occasion, his writing is proof that poetry and literature does not need to be erudite to be masterful.  Most of his poems are one or two stanzas – short enough to keep the interest of young readers – and depict a world where not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but that it’s usually ok anyway.

In his later book Falling Up, Silverstein posits that if sunglasses keep out the sun then surely rainglasses can keep out the rain.  This kind of close-to-home whimsy allows kids (and grown-ups) to question their own world and consider why things are ‘the way they are’.

Other Silverstein works hit on aspects of life that most will find relevant well into adulthood as is the case with Tell Me which manages to distill common human phenomenon… “tell me I’m great/look thin/did a good job/etc… but be honest” into 8 lines.

In a time when it feels increasingly nice to turn off the news for a spell, A Light in the Attic (and any Shel Silverstein book) feels just as entertaining, relatable, and poignant as it did when I was seven.

You can find A Light In The Attic at the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library here:

Photo: from the cover of Silverstein’s Where The Sidewalk Ends


Filed under American Culture, Books, Memorial Library

Reading and eBooks

by Don Allen

I am a bibliophile. I love books. Can’t get enough of ’em. With the exception of romance novels and westerns, I’ll read virtually anything. That feeling of a book in your hands, the turning of the pages as hours drift by, almost nothing compares to it. I’ve owned hundreds of books on a dozen topics, read hundreds more, and the only thing I know for sure about whatever future house I own is that it will have a dedicated library. The greatest gift I was ever given, hands down, was being taught how to read.


When ebooks started to get big about a decade ago, I wasn’t that interested. I like the feeling of books, the smell, the look of a hardback and the portability of a paperback. Reading a book on a tablet or e-reader seemed almost heretical, a proverbial slap in the face to Gutenberg, and I steadfastly refused to get a Kindle or other such device. Still, admittedly, don’t have one.

But my appreciation for ebooks started to grow when I discovered how useful they were for researching at university. I could search for phrases or words so much faster with an electronic copy of a book than I could with a physical copy. Friends of mine studying medicine were thrilled with ebooks. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (commonly called the DSM) or other medical books, but they are HUGE, 1000+ pages at times. Being able to look up entries on an e-reader was a godsend for them.


My positive thoughts on ebooks were solidified during my teacher training and while I was teaching in the States. Kids that would just walk by a book on the shelf might be willing to read that book if it was on an e-reader. And reading is the truly important point, because without reading so much knowledge and culture would be lost. The written word will always be, regardless of what type of technology they come up with, the most important thing for the future generation’s ability to understand not only the past but also their present. So whether that’s with a book, or on an e-reader, I am a fan.

Here at the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library we understand this, and have been building a collection of ebooks. From history to fiction, classical to brand new, we have over 150 ebooks online (click here) that you can check out. Norfolk Library Service as a whole has over 15,000. Read them anywhere, anytime, without having to worry about forgetting it or losing it. So if you’ve always wanted to read Gone With The Wind, but somehow never find yourself at the Library, now you can. Child doing a report on World War II but is already carrying 100kgs of books around? Try one of our ebooks, they’re simple, free, and all you need is a computer or tablet, or today even a phone, and a library card.

I am still a bibliophile. The feeling of a book in my hands is still preferable to a computer or tablet, and always will be. But, more importantly, I’m a teacher, an educator at heart, and a proponent of the belief that reading, and the love of reading, is arguably the single most important skill to instill in our children. To that end an ebook is just as effective, just as useful, and just as important, as a physical one. So whether at the library or at home, turning pages or swiping a finger, pick up a book, or an ebook, today. I know I will.


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Filed under Books

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance

By Danielle Prostrollo

mlkToday marks another Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: a welcomed day off for many, a few mattress and car sales, and another cursory glance at the I Have a Dream speech.

But King was more than his iconic speech. He was a normal person who believed poor and working people should have equal opportunity to live with dignity and decency – a conversation we are still having today.

In a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King made it clear that “the ‘no D’ is as significant as the PhD and the man who has been to ‘No House’ is as significant as the man who has been to Morehouse” (King, p. 246).  In a recent Ted talk, Ken Robinson similarly chided the reality that certain jobs have been put on a pedestal and others disparaged.

To illustrate this point, Robinson recounts the story of a young firefighter:
“When I got to the senior year of school, my teachers didn’t take it seriously. This one teacher didn’t take it seriously. He said I was throwing my life away if that’s all I chose to do with it; that I should go to college, I should become a professional person, that I had great potential and I was wasting my talent to do that.” He said, “It was humiliating. It was in front of the whole class and I felt dreadful. But it’s what I wanted, and as soon as I left school, I applied to the fire service and I was accepted. You know, I was thinking about that guy recently, just a few minutes ago when you were speaking, about [the] teacher, because six months ago, I saved his life.”

The young firefighter pulled his former teacher and wife out of the wreckage of a car crash.

The world needs firefighters, garbage collectors, cleaners.  Every person deserves dignity and the chance to earn a decent wage.  Businessmen, lawyers, and the wealthy do not hold the monopoly on living value.  News stories about the minimum wage economy (e.g. Walmart wages and food stamps) put King’s belief in a current societal context.

We know the “I Have a Dream” speech but today we need to look beyond the myth at the imperfect man who battled the crushing pressures of fighting for what he believed in and can perhaps consider what we believe in and how we, too, might stand up for it.

A couple of books that help dispel the mythology of MLK, Jr.:
  • The Radical King, by Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Cornel West
    This book is a collection of King’s speeches organized and introduced by West to highlight the progression of King’s values over time
  • Death of a King, by Tavis Smiley
    Smiley takes interviews of King’s widow, close friends, and scholars and puts together a realistic look at the last year of King’s life
A link to Ken Robinson’s whole Ted talk (video and transcript)


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Filed under American Culture, American History, American Politics, Books, Current Events, Uncategorized