Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mysteries for the Squeamish

We had a patron, in fact quite a few over the years, who liked mysteries, but did not want any sex or violence in the books. That kind of mystery is generally called a 'cozy' or an 'English village mystery.'  The reference librarians started to keep a list of books for these readers, lists of what the patrons read and liked and what we would recommend next time they stopped by. I found my crumpled old list in the process of cleaning out the files in the Reference Department in preparation for the library move.
Here is the list of mysteries that would appeal to people who like the TV series 'Midsomer Murders' or who love Miss Marple.
Anything by Spencer Quinn as narrated by the Chet the Dog
Anything by Dorothy Gilman especially the Mrs. Pollifax series.
Anything with a priest in it like The Story Teller by Margaret Coel; Her Death of Cold by  Ralph McInerny;  anything by Father Andrew Greeley.

Any of the books pictured below are recommended for the squeamish mystery reader. Aside from a dead body or two, usually  killed out of sight at the beginning of the mystery before the reader becomes attached to the character, these mysteries will present a challenging puzzle without grossing the reader out with gory forensic details.

Related websites:
Cozy Mystery List
The Immense Popularity of Cozy Mysteries

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Displays at the Library

In October we see some really adorable displays pop up in the Children's Room. Where do all these things live between holidays? If you wander into the Children's Department storage spaces, they are jammed with stuffed animals, toys, and figurines for every holiday. Dare to open a closet door and risk a deluge of falling plush pumpkins and autumn leaf garlands. We are pretty sure Ms. Laura, the Children's Librarian, keeps the holiday decoration overflow at her house. Like every Children's Librarian, her head is packed with titles that match each and every festive occasion - and homework assignment too. Come take a look, and check out some books for your children on this and other holidays. Our holiday book collections and homework-appropriate titles will move with us to the new location, and I bet the displays will too.
Curious George in a Pumpkin Costume

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Books into TV Series: you can borrow both from the library

Mysteries rely on the setting to engage the reader - from country house to gritty urban locales to exotic places around the world, readers travel with their favorite detectives. Here are several dark and moody police procedural series that take place in northern England that have been turned into equally engaging television series.

'Vera,' based on the novels by Ann Cleeves, starring the irascible, but highly effective, police detective Vera Stanhope. Vera unflinchingly solves crimes in the windy chill of beautiful Northumberland, UK.

'DCI Banks,' another blunt and edgy police detective, comes to life based on the books by Peter Robinson. Banks solves crimes from the windswept and rainy moors of Yorkshire to the urban areas of Leeds.

Away from the wild moors and urban projects of Northern England, we go to the beautiful university city of Oxford to follow another character whose TV life became more well known than the books.
'Endeavour' imagines the early life of Inspector Morse, the Oxfordshire detective created by Colin Dexter.

The more whimsical comedy-drama, 'Midsomer Murders' is the long-running television series based on Caroline Graham's mysteries. There are more episodes of the television show by far than there ever were of Ms. Graham's books. Ms. Graham's and Mr. Dexter's books are out of print and hard to find, but well worth it if you can track them down.

Off to Scotland for the 'Shetland' series based on the novels of Ann Cleeves: 'Red Bones,' 'Raven Black,' 'Blue Lightening,' 'Dead Water.' Again the beautiful, but at times slightly menacing, landscape and weather makes a perfect backdrop for these mysteries.

To Sweden for more grey, windswept landscapes and a moody detective with 'issues', watch 'Wallander' based on the novels by Henning Mankell.

From mysteries to non-fiction and an urban setting, try 'Call the Midwife' based on the biography of an English midwife in post-war London, written by Jennifer Worth.

On a lighter note, try 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' based on the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood. The intrepid Australian Flapper solves crimes in post World War I Melbourne. The costumes and Victorian architecture are fantastic in this tv series.

Related Resources: Some of these books and movies can be found in our library catalog and some can be found on our downloadable resources listed on our All Things E page.

The 'Shetland' series by Ann Cleeves is now available as a downloadable audiobook from Hoopla. The 'Vera' tv series is also available on Hoopla now. Music from the 'Inspector Morse' series is available on Hoopla.
Several of Henning Mankell's books, 'Call the Midwife' and Ann Cleeves' and Peter Robinson's books are also available on 'eLibraryNJ.'

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Consumer Reports: A Self-Help Guide

Consumer Reports is one of the most-asked-for magazines here at Berkeley Heights Public Library.  You are always welcome to come look at it here and have us print out the article you need.  But if you're lying awake at 3 a.m. worrying, here's a tongue-in-cheek guide on how to get a Consumer Reports product review online from home using Flipster.

Step 1: Dishwasher on the fritz?  Congratulations, admitting that you have a problem is the first step. 

Step 2: Go to the BH library web site and click Databases and Articles.  Click on Flipster.

Step 3: Ignore the very tempting rabbit hole called People Magazine.

Now we come to a fork in the road. If you're just interested in product ratings, and don't want to scroll through some irrelevant search results, click Consumer Reports Buying Guide.

However, the Buying Guide comes out in December, so depending how far away last December was, you may want to click on plain old Consumer Reports to get the most up to date review.

Step 4: Type in the product (washers or shrimp or smartphones) that is currently making you worry about future buyer's remorse or adverse health effects.  

Step 5: After you type in your search change the dropdown from "this issue" to "all issues."  In this case, issue refers to the month and year the magazine was published, not your anxiety.

Step 6: Now you can print your Consumer Reports article.  Click "print" which is located in the right-hand column and then "print all pages in view" for your article.

Parting advice: if you decide to download the Flipster app, be warned that you can't print from the app.  It is very good for reading People on your iPad, though.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reference Questions Roundup

Going through the unfinished drafts of blog posts, I discovered this one from the early days of the blog. In celebration of our twelfth year, here is our 1,232nd blog post - a litany of reference questions and an observation about one of the hardest types of question.

Do you have a map of the travels of St. Paul? Where can I find an annual report of a company? Do you have the tax form for filing returns late? Who invented Mrs. (Santa) Claus? Who is the CEO of Overlook Hospital and what is his phone number? Can you get me the Texaco Star Theater featuring Ed Wynn on cassette? What were the reviews of the play "Diary of Anne Frank" when it first appeared in Israel and Germany in 1955 and 1956? Does Columbia Middle School have a time capsule and where is it? How can I get rid of the smell of a dead deer from the road in front of my house? Can you get me the Fugitive Slave Cases, 1850 - 1860 from the United States District Courts in Pennsylvania? Where did the glaciers stop in Berkeley Heights? How can I find missing classmates for my 60th high school reunion? I need to see the Williamsburg paint colors. Can you get me Joan Hamburg's recipe for ginger cookies; she mentioned them on her radio show. How can I learn how to read an annual report? I read a book from this library that I really liked a few years ago, but I don't remember the author or title, can you find it? I need the N.J. law about unlawful dumping of trash. Do you have a form for a living will? What newspapers do they have in Omaha, Nebraska and what are the phone numbers? What should I read next? Do you have the book that gives the value of cars? Who is my N.J. state representative? Can you find an obituary in the Star Ledger - I don't know the person's name or when he died. How should I prune grape vines? How do you distill water?
We get questions like this every day in the Reference Department, by phone, by email and in person.

Which one of the above is the most difficult question? I think it is, "what should I read next?" What people like to read is completely subjective and often hard to describe. The so-called "readers' advisory" question is definitely the trickiest one to answer successfully.

So answering questions that can be answered with a fact is far easier than answering a question that requires a subjective judgement based on the taste of the person who asks the question. But if you do ask your local public librarian what to read next, the librarian will try very hard to figure out what kind of reader you are, what reading mood you are in, and will try to steer you towards something enjoyable. Forget 'book guilt,' librarians just want people to enjoy reading.