Everything Hamilton

Antique paper background with black image of heroic figure pointing to the sky from on top of a star.

Review by Cherise T.

Alexander Hamilton.

My name is Alexander Hamilton.

And there’s a million things I haven’t done

But just you wait, just you wait…

If this stanza makes your heart beat faster or maybe even brings tears to your eyes, then Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, is the book for you. “Splurge” and download the audiobook as well since Mariska Hargitay’s narration is outstanding. Like the musical itself, words come at the reader fast, and it’s an adventure deciding where to plunge in first. The text, the personal side notations, the primary source materials, and the graphics are a treasure and a joy. The libretto alone would fill a Hamilton fan’s heart, but the book also includes an abundance of stories about the creation of all aspects of the musical. We see the development of the show from the perspectives of creatives and cast members. The vintage-style photographs of the cast taken by Josh Lehrer using a camera lens from the mid-1800s are gorgeous. The book is a celebration of the full arc of the production’s evolution, from Lin’s first rap for the Obamas in 2009 at the White House, through the off-Broadway production, and all the way to opening night on Broadway in 2015. There’s nothing like being in the room where it happens.

On July 13 at 7 pm, author Richard Bell is going to discuss some of the history surrounding Alexander Hamilton. Register with an email address to receive an immediate registration confirmation. You will receive the link to the online class in the confirmation email. If you prefer to call in by phone, please register for the class online, then email askhcls@hclibrary.org to request the dial-in information at least 1 business day in advance.

With Disney+ streaming Hamilton this July, University of Maryland Associate Professor of History Dr. Bell explores this musical phenomenon. He discusses what this amazing musical gets right and gets wrong about Hamilton, the American Revolution, the birth of the United Sates, and about why all that matters. It includes an examination of the choices Hamilton’s creators made to simplify, dramatize, and humanize the complicated historical events and stories. We will also talk about Hamilton’s cultural impact: what does its runaway success reveal about the stories we tell each other about who we are and about the nation we made?

Dr. Bell is the author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home. The book tells the gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South – and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. The book is available to borrow as a physical book and as an eAudiobook via Overdrive/Libby.

Cherise T. is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

An orange and black floral border frames a photograph of a thatched African cottage on dry scrubby ground. The title and author appears against the pale blue sky. A scroll at the bottom announces that is an international best-selling series.

Review by Cherise T.

Ready to jump into a new series and listen on digital audio without a waitlist? Explore Howard County Library System’s Always Available Audiobooks by RBdigital and get started with Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This series is so beloved that HBO produced a limited series and McCall Smith will release the 21st book in the series this coming October. The first 19 books in the series are available on audio with no holds.

Botswana is never more beautiful and filled with mysteries than when viewed through the eyes of Precious Ramotswe. Always ready to chat, commiserate, and give advice, Mma Ramotswe knows she is the perfect woman to open a detective agency. With cases ranging from a child who may have been abducted by a witch doctor to a possible philandering husband, the mysteries are always engaging. The stories are gentle with limited menace.

As I read this first book in the series, I knew that I would always be ready to settle into a cup of bush tea and a search for answers. Precious is a fearless, “traditionally built” woman who is empathetic, willing to see the best in people, but never gullible. She’s a great judge of character, as we learn right away when she hires Grace Makutsi as her assistant. They are a formidable team whose relationship and banter never cease to entertain us. I also enjoy rooting for Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the owner of the Speedy Motors mechanic shop, whose heart clearly melts every time he sees Precious. Thankfully, Precious drives a little white van that is often in need of repairs.

Please know that it’s easy to get set up with RBdigital on your device. We even have an online tutorial. You will have three weeks to listen to your book and may borrow up to six titles per month. I’ll bet you’ll soon be ready for book two, Tears of the Giraffe.

Cherise is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.