Tag Archives: Jane

Let’s Talk About It!


In conjunction with the Allegheny County Library Association‘s ongoing Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys initiative, in May our First Floor librarians applied for and received a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant will allow us to present an exciting five-part reading and discussion  series titled Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, Literary Reflections, led by history professor Dr. Christiana Michelmore.

Dr. Michelmore received her B.A. from Smith College and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, both in history. For seven years she lived and worked in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Pakistan. Until her retirement in 2013, she was chair of the Department of History, Political Science and International Studies at Chatham University. In addition to her commentary on the literary significance of the selections, Dr. Michelmore will offer her historical insights as well.

We’ll meet on Tuesday evenings in the Director’s Conference Room, First Floor at Main, at 6:30 p.m. All of the selections are available in our library collection. The dates and titles for our discussions are:

October 29: The Arabian Nights

These tales from the alluring and clever Shahrazad are presented in a wonderful translation by Husain Haddawy of Iraq. Dr. Michelmore has requested that we read tales 8-10 (that’s the framing story). Additionally, “The Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies” and “The Story of the Three Apples” are suggested. Of course, read as many as you like. Enjoy!

November 19: The Conference of the Birds

Farid al-din Attar, translated by Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi, The Conference of the Birds offers an accessible introduction to mystical Islam and its poetry. Read as many poems as you choose.

December 10: Snow, by Orhan Pamuk

Set in Pamuk’s native Turkey, this novel follows Ka, a poet and journalist who travels from Germany to Kars to investigate the suicides of some local women engaged in political resistance.

January 7: Dreams of Trespass, by Fatima Mernissi

Mernissi’s memoir of her life in a Moroccan harem provides a vivid portrait of a country struggling with great changes in the mid-twentieth century.

January 28: Minaret, by Leila Aboulela

The novel follows Najwa, a Sudanese woman who has moved to England. She finds empowerment through her Islamic faith, and perhaps a surprising female perspective on Islamic history.

Registration is required for the series, as space is limited. You can register on our website: Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys. For more information, please contact me at newandfeatured at carnegielibrary dot org.

I hope to see you on October 29 for the first of what I know will be an educational, illuminating, and challenging series.



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American Life Stories

READ ABOUT IT! American Life Stories is the title of a new book discussion series coming this spring to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main. Funded by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, this 4-part series will be held on Tuesday evenings  from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Director’s Conference Room . Titles and dates are:

March 9: The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

March 30: When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

April 20: Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Faroozeh Dumas

Mary 18: Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement by Dennis Banks

We are happy to announce that Dr. Liane Norman Ellison, a local author and poet, will be leading the discussion.


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Thank You, John Fetzer!

phil_fetzer1Who, you might well ask, is John Fetzer, and why I am taking the time to thank him?

John Fetzer (1901-1999) was an electrical engineer, a baseball fanatic, a radio and television pioneer, and a man who dedicated himself and his fortune to the “unseen elements” of life — the potential of love and forgiveness to create a better world. Currently operating with an endowment of over $400 million, the Fetzer Institute operates its own programs and services, but occasionally does offer grants that are competitively awarded.

That’s who John Fetzer was, and I am thanking him because in 2009 the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main was the recepient of a grant from the Fetzer Institute, as part of the Let’s Talk About It Series: Love, Forgiveness, and Wisdom (LFW).

Our LFW reading and discussion programs were held here at Main from January through March, and we had a wonderful time. With over 20 participants at each of our five meetings, we were led by Dr. Heather McNaugher of Chatham University,  and we discussed both classic and contemporary works of fiction with a focus on the role of forgiveness in the readings and in our own lives. When we discussed The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, we were treated to a reading of Act V, Scene III by a troupe of actors from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Drama.  And when we read the poetry of Rumi, we heard the poetry read aloud in both English and the original Farsi! We also read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen; The History of Love by Nicole Krauss; and Atonement by Ian McEwan.

My thanks, also, to everyone who participated — you came in the cold, you came in the snow, and you came ready to discuss!


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Love, Forgiveness, and Wisdom

Looking for a great way to welcome 2009? Beginning in January, 2009, the Carnegie Library-Main will begin a five-part humanities book discussion entitled Love, Forgiveness, and Wisdom (LFW). The series will be held on Thursdays this winter, from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Quiet Reading Room at the Main branch.

Our branch was one of 50 public libraries to receive a $2,500 competitive grant from the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute as part of their “Let’s Talk About It” series. fetzer_color1Through the reading and discussion of five works of classic and contemporary fiction, and facilitated by our program scholar, Dr. Heather McNaugher of Chatham University, LFW will investigate how literature can increase our understanding of ourselves and one another. Space in this program is limited, so register early at the Carnegie Library website.

The five works in the series were chosen by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, Director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, who has written a wonderful essay describing each selection and how each one relates to our topics. The five books we’ll be reading and discussing (and the dates) are:

We have some special events scheduled, including a presentation of the forgiveness scene from The Winter’s Tale by drama students from Carnegie Mellon University.

If you’d like more information, please email me at newandfeatured@carnegielibrary.org.



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