There are the blockbuster films everyone watches, the ones with “buzz.” There are the films the art-house crowd relishes for experimental cinematics or complex plotting. Then there are the quietly charming, unassuming movies that you just happen to stumble upon, possibly while in search of one of these other sorts. British-made This Beautiful Fantastic (available on hoopla) is just such a gem.
Not least among its attractions is the familiar and hugely talented cast, in some cases playing a bit against type and doing it splendidly. Tom Wilkinson (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel among a host of other films) has long been beloved on both sides of the Atlantic; here he plays a crusty, incorrigible, yet oddly charismatic neighbor to Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame. Her character here is a far cry from the self-confident, boundary-pushing Sybil. Instead, Bella is a slightly agoraphobic, obsessive-compulsive library assistant who aspires to write children’s books whilst trying to avoid her anxiety-producing jungle of a back garden. And most surprisingly of all, Andrew Scott–the creepily zany Moriarity of BBC’s Sherlock–plays a brotherly boy-next-door who is a key figure in the rehabilitation of Wilkinson’s and Findlay’s dysfunctional lives.
Thankfully, This Beautiful Fantastic isn’t a standard romantic comedy, however, nor does the boy-next-door become a boyfriend. The twin catalysts of the plot are a garden and a library, with the former forcing Bella to confront her crippling fears and the latter providing a somewhat comic backdrop for a mutually beneficial (and yes, adorably romantic) creative relationship. Gardens and libraries–what better sources for stories! While there is little to surprise the viewer here, there is much to delight. A sort of warm, Edenic innocence–with a touch of fable– envelops us as Bella and her imagined heroine learn to fly (and no, the metaphor doesn’t feel hackneyed).
So, if you’re up for some gentle entertainment as you navigate the new norms of our state’s cautious reopening, join the heroine of this well-told tale as she gradually emerges from her dim, well-ordered world into the strange and beautiful one outside her door.
In honor of National Library Week, this digital display is dedicated to books about libraries, library history, the role libraries play in people’s lives, the cultural and social importance of libraries, and the future of libraries. These are books that celebrate libraries and librarians.
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion.
Cotton Malone retired from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. Justice Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous email: “You have something I want. You’ re the only person on earth who knows where to find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don’t hear from you, you will be childless.” His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone’s Copenhagen bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria.
Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
People are drawn to libraries for all kinds of reasons. Most come for the books themselves, of course; some come to borrow companionship. For head librarian Kit, the public library in Riverton, New Hampshire, offers what she craves most: peace. Here, no one expects Kit to talk about the calamitous events that catapulted her out of what she thought was a settled, suburban life. She can simply submerge herself in her beloved books and try to forget her problems.
But that changes when fifteen-year-old, home-schooled Sunny gets arrested for shoplifting a dictionary. The judge throws the book at Sunny—literally—assigning her to do community service at the library for the summer. Bright, curious, and eager to connect with someone other than her off-the-grid hippie parents, Sunny coaxes Kit out of her self-imposed isolation.
The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Lucy Hull, a young Children’s Librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, is unsure where her life is headed. That becomes more than a figure of speech when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home and Lucy finds herself in the surprise role of chauffeur. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and dubious family history thrown in their path. But who is actually running away? And from what?
After a few good years of city life, Jordan Poteet returns to his small hometown of Mirabeau, Texas, to work as a librarian. Yet his quet domesticity is shattered when he locks horns with Ms. Beta Harcher, the town’s prize religious fanatic, in a knock-down drag-out battle over censorship.
When Jordan finds her murdered body in the library, he learns that Beta dead is much more dangerous than she ever was alive. Not only for poor Jordy, whom the police are itching to throw the book at, but for countless others. In fact, thanks to a cryptic list the police find stashed next to her fanatical heart, Beta Harcher has the whole town in a death grip…
In 1958, the first National Library week was celebrated. The theme? “Wake Up And Read!” Back in the mid-1950s, Americans were more interested in radios and TVs than in books. The American Library Association and the American Book Publishers believed it was vital for Americans to read, so they founded the National Book Committee in 1954, and together, with help from ALA and the Advertising Council, established National Library Week. Read more about the history of NLW at the ALA website.
To this day, National Library Week, now sponsored by ALA, is celebrated for one week in April, with special programs and activities to promote awareness of school, public, academic, and special libraries throughout the nation.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries continue to support their patrons with online collections and services. As an Abbot Public Library cardholder, you can access eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, music, movies, TV shows, and other items from our e-collections from the eBooks, Movies, and More! page, as well as digital resources that can help you learn a new language, do research for a homework project, build your resume, and so much more!
We want to hear from you! Please take a minute to share stories of your favorite Abbot Public Library experiences or tell us why you value the library!