In accordance with local and state guidelines, all Carver County Library locations, including Express Libraries, will close March 18-27, when we will re-evaluate the situation. The health and safety of the public and staff is our top priority.

We are committed to remaining creative and innovative in our approach to serving you in new and unique ways. We will keep you informed as new information is available.

We are postponing all programs, events, outreach and homebound delivery services at all Carver County Library locations through April 30. The Friends of the Chanhassen Library spring book sale is also postponed.

Our website www.carverlib.org and library social media will be updated quickly if there are any additional changes in our operation as this situation continues. Please remember that the library’s website is in operation 24/7 offering downloadable eBooks. eAudiobooks, eMagazine plus many other online services.

BEST OF BEST

What books are the best of the best of the best?

The Guardian newspaper recently named the best books (so far) of the 21st century. Here are three of the top titles:

“Gilead” by Marilyn Robinson. In 1956, toward the end of the Rev. John Ames’s life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowan preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition: He “preached men into the Civil War,” then, at age 50, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle.

Rev. Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father — an ardent pacifist — and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend’s wayward son.

This is also the tale of another remarkable vision — not a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged in Ames’s soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten.

‘Never Let Me Go” by Ishiguro Kazuo. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special — and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

“Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel. In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war.

Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of 20 years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe oppose him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell.

Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power, but a single failure means death.

Patrick Jones is branch manager for the Chanhassen and Victoria libraries. He can be reached at pjones@co.carver.mn.us.

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