Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Wendy Wasserstein, playwright, the Heidi Chronicles
Betty Friedan, feminist, the Feminine Mystique
Peter Benchley, Jaws
Mickey Spillane author of the Mike Hammer mysteries
Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Cheaper by the Dozen
see this USAToday article for a list of "2006 Passings"
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Military blogger, Captain Lee Kelley is one of the fifteen people profiled in the cover story who have been influential in their use of the blog or other web 2 feature to bring news directly to the consumer without using newspapers, magazines or other traditional news media. His blog is Wordsmith at War, one of the hundreds of military blogs reporting the war first hand. His pieces have also appeared on Slate's The Sandbox, a military blog compiled and edited by Doonesbury creator, Gary Trudeau which has been mentioned on the BHPL Blog before. The Sandbox has some good, solid writing and reporting of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars direct from the soldiers serving there.
BHPL's latest book on that subject is The blog of war : front-line dispatches from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by Matthew Currier Burden. A catalog search for the phrase "Iraq War personal narratives" yields 23 books, in addition to Burden's, Colby Buzzell's My War, Riverbend's Baghdad Burning and From Baghdad, with love : a Marine, the war, and a dog named Lava by Jay Kopelman.
Will Bounce fabric softener sheets pressed between the pages of a musty book make it smell better? According to Snopes, "Well, kinda." Don't try it on a valuable book though... and please, not on library books.
Really weird reference question: did "an international cookbook compiled by California home economics teachers include a recipe for "Stuffed Camel?" Answer: "True!" The Snopes article goes on to explain that the recipe might be a joke and compares it to the "recipe" for elephant stew that kids learn in elementary school, but it leaves out the punch line which was something about adding ten rabbits to the stew is optional because some people don't like hare in their food. (That is high humor if you are in fourth grade, remember?)
For more, interesting, bookish urban legends, go to snopes.com and type in "books" to learn if a young reader committed suicide having learned the plot of the last Harry Potter book, or if a woman who used the rest room at a funeral home and signed the guest book inherited the fortune of the deceased and so on.
Friday, December 22, 2006
ReadingGroupGuides.com Best of List 2006
BookReporter.com What to Give/What to Get
OneMinuteBookReviews.com A Print and Save Guide for Grandparents to Holiday Gift Books
Librarians surf the net so you don't have to!
Here's a good reason to give books as presents that isn't mentioned too often: Romance author, Brenda Coulter writes in her blog, No Rules, Just Write: "No gift is easier to wrap and ship than a book. Remember that the next time you ransack your attic for a piece of Christmas paper large enough to cover a CrockPot". I've been meaning to add her blog to the list of links on the right... look for it soon.Her posts are brief, soothing, funny, with interesting tidbits of book lore or sometimes just musings on daily life.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Robert Sabuda is one author/illustrator whose name pops up (aargh!) on most gift lists for children's books. Take a look at his web site to get a feel for his wonderful work. His books would be perfect for a child old enough to treat the book gently, but not too old to think it childish.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"The Year in Books
Slate picks the best books of 2006.
Posted Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006, at 1:31 PM ET
Michael Agger, associate editor
Like all good liberal arts majors, I used to read The Great Gatsby every year. That got old, though, and I switched to Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, the 1985 novel that introduced Frank Bascombe, a failed novelist adrift in a fog of suburban detachment. As a character, Bascombe is a charming paradox: a thoughtful guy trying to fit himself into a thoughtless existence. (In New Jersey, no less.) He's an Everyman in a particular sense: the modern male's often fumbling attempts to embrace normalcy. The Lay of the Land is the third Bascombe book, with Frank reappearing in fine, ruminative form. The novel spills over with drive-by philosophy, conjecture, and bullshitting. Despite a few Iron John moments, you bounce off Ford's prose as though it were a backyard trampoline: feeling weightless and alive. "
LibraryThing, the site where truly obsessive bibiophiles with time on their hands can catalog their own book collection, has a list of the "25 Most Reviewed Books" and the "Top 75 Authors" on their site. There are other lists of lists and categories of categories or classifications of obsessions on this page if you have some time to zone out in the bibliosphere (my word, will it be as popular as "truthiness"?)
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
According to their website: "During the Christmas season of 2003, author Gloria Houston gave a gift to the small town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina. She gave the rights to her award-winning children’s book, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. Over the preceding twelve months, Spruce Pine and Mitchell County had suffered serious economic challenges, losing over 2,500 textile, furniture and other manufacturing sector jobs to outsourcing.
From that original idea, the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree project was born. With entrepreneurial development as a primary focus, the project has created 30 individual small businesses that have produced quality, handmade products as part of the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree collection. The project also serves as a scholarship tool, with a portion of royalties received from product sales used to fund a scholarship program is to combat the alarmingly low student retention rate at Mitchell High School, the only high school in the county."
The crafts featured in the online catalog are gorgeous and can be ordered by calling its toll-free number.
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: an Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney (1988) tells the story of young Ruthie who finds the perfect tree before her father comes home from WW I and can be found in BHPL's Children's Department.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
In their review of the book The Story of French by Jean-Badoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, reviewer William Grimes tells us that, "The unique relationship between French speakers and their language is one of the grand themes in “The Story of French,” a well-told, highly accessible history of the French language that leads to a spirited discussion of the prospects for French in an increasingly English-dominated world."
Further he says, "Arguments are as much a part of French as the acute accent and the nasal “n.” Since the 17th century, it has been treated by French speakers less as a language than as a work of art, something worthy of constant analysis and curatorial devotion. "
He ends with question, "Is French a surprisingly robust international presence, as the authors’ carefully harvested statistics seem to suggest, or an invalid that needs help crossing the street, terrified at being run down by Anglo-Saxon vehicles with an insane, cursing American at the wheel?"
He hopes that French will not be run over by the allegorical Anglo-Saxon vehicle. For those of us belonging to the generation traumatized and trained like the recalcitrant peanut-butter consuming savages that we Americans are, by (native born) French teachers, and feeling that we really should have taken Spanish, I hope French lives on and even makes a comeback for several reasons.
1. I won't have to learn a new foreign language to feel useful
2. Arabic is too hard and also involves learning a whole new writing system
3. Sacre Bleu! French really does have the "bon mot" for so many things that English does not
4. People will tire of visiting other countries and want to return to France without feeling unpatriotic.
5. I tried to learn Spanish, but they pronounce all the vowels as written and that is too confusing.
6. We will all greet each other with a musical and not-to-be-ignored "bonjour!" How refreshingly polite.
Overcoming the hardships of a learning disability herself,Ms. West's book addresses high-school and college students with learning disabilities. She presents helpful motivational techniques which will contribute to a successful college experience. Ms. West will discuss the best methods for learning disabled students to navigate the college application process and to choose a suitable college program. After the program, copies of her book will be available for purchase and may be signed by the author.
Please join us for this free program, put call the Reference Dek to reserve a space (908) 464-9333
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Lately local mothers have been coming to the Reference Desk with seventh grade progeny in tow, and the question du jour is: can you recommend a science fiction book for a class assignment? Yesterday it was further elucidated that the book should take place in the future and that the student is expected to create a diorama as the final project. I remember the mad dash to find shoeboxes in my house when my children had that diorama-in-a-shoebox assignment. It seems like for the sake of closet organization and the artistically disinclined student that a written book report should be an alternative format. But, as local public library reference librarian, we just follow orders that come from the school, just as parents, and sometimes even students do. So I went to a database called Novelist that BHPL subscribes to and looked up their ready-made readers' advisory lists by topic and emailed the sci-fi ones to this blog. Because of copyright issues, below a partial list can be found. To see the rest of it and to learn how to access and use Novelist from your home computer, please check at the Reference Desk.
"The following information was generated by NoveList.
Explore Fiction -; Science Fiction -; Post-Apocalypse
1. Armstrong, Jennifer The Kindling
2. Carmody, Isobelle Obernewtyn
3. DuPrau, Jeanne the City of Ember
4. Foon, Dennis the Dirt eaters
5. Hoffman, Alice Green Angel
Something about the books on this list:
What happens as the worlds as we know it, ends? The books on this list explore the possibility of life after an apocalypse.
In completely unrelated book news, NPR reports that, "Each year, thousands of tourists create their own Rocky moment by running up those [Philadelphia Museum of Art}... stairs. Photographer Tom Gralish and writer Michael Vitez spent a year meeting and photographing those runners. They've written a book called Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps."
The Guardian book blog has a poll that asks what is your favorite book and why. Blogger Sarah Burnett asks, "What makes a book your favourite? Is it certain characters, is it because it changes your life, or is it down to memory and circumstance?" She goes on to say, "On a writing course recently we were all asked to bring a favourite book. We nodded sagely as the usual suspects rolled up: Orwell, Waugh, McEwan, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And then someone flourished The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo. It was a good book to read if you were thinking of changing your life, said its advocate.
I should confess straightaway that The Alchemist doesn't do it for me: I can't think of a reason why anyone would finish it, let alone nominate it as their favourite book. But putting my prejudice to one side, it still struck me that something 'being a good book to read if you are thinking of changing your life' is an unusual reason for choosing a favourite (of course, she may have had other reasons as well, but those escape me)."
I was interested in her reaction to the Alchemist, because a local book group just finished that book and although opinions were generally that it was somewhere between "ok, a light read, not bad, and new age clap trap," it did lead to a very interesting and lively discussion. The book is an allegory about a shepherd who goes on a journey to find his "Personal Legend" or what might commonly be called a life's dream. The book has an almost cult-like following, including Madonna, which is of course enough to turn a reader off right there in guilt-by-association. If your book group is looking for a short read, a break from the long tomes, and a possiblity of a good starting place for a discussion though, ignore the cheap shots and sarcasm employed by the Guardian book blogger and this blogger; try the Alchemist. Or, I could say, if you liked Jonathon Livingston Seagull, or other inspirational books, this might interest you also.
Finally, Conversational Reading has a link to a list of book lists which are fun to browse.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
"Check books out of the library instead of buying them. . . . New releases of hard-cover novels cost $25 and more these days. If you buy just two a month, that’s $600 a year. —From “Ten Sure Ways to Trim Your Budget,” in the News."
He goes on to give some "examples" from "real life people" about how buying books is sending them into debt.
"Polk Benham, St. Marys, Ohio: “Right now, it’s costing me forty-five dollars to fill up my 4Runner, which is about two novels. Tough decisions are going to have to be made. I’m used to having a newly released hardcover on the dash of my vehicle, another in the back seat for the kids. At home, we’ve got a novel in each bedroom, two in the family room, one in the laundry room for my wife when she’s down there, and a novella in the john. We go through a couple of dozen novels in a year without even noticing. I hate to say it, but this can’t go on.” "
and, in a beautiful bit of irony,
"Mrs. Louise Rodgers, Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “I never owned brand-new hardcovers when I was a girl, and now I want my twin sixteen-year-old boys to enjoy opportunities I didn’t have. My boys are like any American teen-agers, in that they eat, sleep, and breathe novels. And they don’t want the three-dollar used paperback version, either. It’s got to be new, mint, original dust jacket, the works. How do you tell a youngster that he can’t have that just-released Modern Library edition of the complete Sinclair Lewis he’s been dreaming of? But I guess that’s what I’m going to have to do; I don’t see any other option.” "
I know all parents of teenagers can relate to that, so remember, the library is here to save you from your bookaholic debt. Don't give in to that siren call of brand new hardcovers!
"Mitch Gelman, West Hempstead, New York: “As an accountant, the first thing I tell my clients is ‘Get a library card!’ "
Friday, November 3, 2006
USA Today's Travel section features an interview with Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence and other memoirs of this transplanted Brit. The article links to a review of wines of the region which are improving, it states, due to an influx of monied new vinyard owners, rich people retiring there for a second career as a vintner.
Take a look at the photo montage from Provence A - Z, Mayles new book or click around provenceguide.com for a taste of the scenery, including a guide to the famously beautiful hilltop villages of southern France.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
The second false assumption in the Times article is that the internet replaces the library as a source for information and research. The problem is that there is still a generation, baby boomers and older, who often do not know how to use the internet, do not own a computer and need help sorting out the rubbish on the internet from the truth. This is the generation that libraries and librarians help and teach every day.
Finally, not everybody has the money, or wants to spend the money, to buy books or to own a computer to access the internet. The Times piece is not totally without merit though, it is true that libraries are changing and may not always take the form they do now, but the reports of their near demise are premature, I think.
Sienfield weighs in on libraries too...They can't have very nice lives - librarians. It's like being a teacher, only without the opportunities for dating, because the only kids you meet are the nerds. So the last thing America's shsssshing minority needs is the indignity of a urine test. But that's just what we're doing. I'm not sure this is the best use of our time.The last time a librarian did something really stupid and reckless on drugs was when Laura married George.Last year, Florida's Levy County introduced drug testing for library volunteers. Whose average age is between 60 and 85. The volunteers were required to drive to another city - Gainesville - and urinate in a cup "within hearing distance" of a laboratory monitor. That'll teach 'em for offering to work for free. "Okay, grandma, now get pissing. And I'd better hear a nice even unbroken stream."And then something weird happened. Inexplicably, the number of volunteers dropped from 55 to two. It's almost like they didn't enjoy being degraded. And they call themselves the greatest generation.I know what you're thinking. If Aunt Iris has nothing to hide, she can get a little of her own urine on her hands and prove she's not strung out on junk. Then we can feel safe, and she can go back to mis-shelving the Readers Digests. But then a second thought occurs to you, later, when you really, really think about it. And that thought is this: What the f*** is wrong with us? Are we high?They're not flying planes. They're showing the homeless how to use the microfiche readers. For free. The only people who profit from this are the stockholders of the drug testing company, who stood to make $33 a head, money the library would have otherwise just wasted on books.A spokesman for the libraries said she wouldn't make the volunteers drive to Gainesville for their cavity searches anymore. And she also thought the problem wasn't the drug test itself, but the method they used. That's why they're looking into switching from urine tests to mouth swabs. The same method used by the Florida Department of Corrections.Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" which airs every Friday at 11PM.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
1: "we can afford (to buy) our own books." "for a few quid Amazon will deliver to your door." "Let us admit that people can buy their own books if they want to." Or, if not, she suggests getting books at a thrift store or reading them in a bookstore.
2: "the internet happened. ...anything you could want...the computer could do better."
3: "book-borrowing has dropped by 40 per cent while the cost of the service — now at £1.3 billion — has risen by the same proportion."
4. but, she opines, "to be anti-library is thought to be anti-book, literacy and all nice, decent British virtues that come with being shushed by a lady in a cardigan."
As I reread this (yes, while wearing a cardigan) I am simultaneously astounded at her unsubstantiated assumptions and resigned that many people apparently would agree with Ms. Rumbelow. People often ask me if I have been replaced by the internet. The answer is "no." At least I don't think all the people who I helped with their research today, and the people who take my computer classes think that I am a computer-in-a-cardigan. In fact, reference librarians are busier than ever. Next blog post, after I calm down and rest from all the "shushing" I did today, I will tell all about the modern public library and why it is not an anachronism and why librarians are not cardigan-wearing dinosaurs (ok, maybe the cardigan-wearing part is sometimes accurate...) but excuse me, I see a patron wandering around in the stacks looking for a ....BOOK!
You can cheat by saying which AUTHOR's books you would take if you want, but then it's only fair that you can only take one author's works. To answer my own question - I would choose P.G. Wodehouse, my favorite writer, a very prolific one and one whose works would definitely keep me distracted from the harsh realities of life on a desert island. I would feel guilty about not choosing Shakespeare, but should a person feel book-guilt when in exile?
Thursday, October 19, 2006
If you watch the show and it goes so fast that you need a review of medical terms and conditions or a clarification of the lightening fast thinking and and Jersey-esque verbal speed and brusqueness of the doctors (supposedly in a hospital in NJ represented by Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in the opening sequences), go to the show's website which recaps each episode in detail. Of course, bringing this BHPL blog back to it's core purpose,(promoting books, libraries and specifically BHPL) we think BHPL has a very good consumer medical reference collection. Because October is National Medical Librarians Month , we want to remind our patrons that the reference staff have been trained by NJ Medical Librarians to use MedlinePlus and other credible and authoritative sources on the internet to find reliable health information and we keep current on the best medical sites on the net, such as these "Top Ten Most Useful Sites" from the MLA site. Or this webpage which deciphers the acronyms on prescriptions "RX Riddles Solved."
I hope you are reading this blog "qd" or "adlib" with "os" and "od" of course.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Here is the introduction to the Sandbox:
"Welcome to The Sandbox, our command-wide milblog, featuring comments, anecdotes, and observations from service members currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is GWOT-lit's forward position, offering those in-country a chance to share their experiences and reflections with the rest of us. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. The Sandbox is a clean, lightly-edited debriefing environment where all correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted. And contributors may rest assured that all content, no matter how robust, is currently secured by the First Amendment. "
Read this post, The Search, by Adam Tiffen (Airborne JD) and look at his own blog, the Replacements.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Today, NBCC posts the Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Turkish novelist, Orhan Pahmun whose book Snow is BHPL's book group November selection.
The U.K." Mann Booker Prize was awarded Tuesday night to Kiran Desai. As the website for the prize states, "Kiran Desai was tonight (Tuesday 10th October) named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Inheritance of Loss, published by Hamish Hamilton. The Indian-born writer has a strong family tie with the prize as her mother Anita Desai has been shortlisted three times since 1980 but has never won. This year, however, her daughter, Kiran, has won the acclaimed literary prize. Author of the 1998 universally praised Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, Desai is the first woman to win the Man Booker since 2000 when Margaret Atwood scooped the prize with The Blind Assassin. Her winning book, The Inheritance of Loss, is a radiant, funny and moving family saga and has been described by reviewers as ‘the best, sweetest, most delightful novel’.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
We quote from the NJLA website here: "Who is the Super Librarian? Bedecked in purple spandex and an orange cape, the Super Librarian is part of a statewide campaign to promote some of New Jersey’s best resources: NJ libraries and librarians. For more information please see:The New Jersey Library Association website"
Super Librarian, she of the figure-hugging superhero suit flying high on a computer mouse with headphones at the ready, was devised as a marketing device to promote library use in New Jersey by giving the old bun-wearing, shushing Marian the Librarian stereotype a total makeover.
If you are looking for the perfect gift for the librarians or librarian wannabee's in your life, you can even shop at The SuperLibrarian online shop. Who can resist a dog dressed in a SuperLibrarian dog coat? The clock and the throw pillow are so UNUSUAL that they are sort of cool. Maybe the clock will remind kids it's time to go to the library to study? Anyway, the proceeds go to a good cause - New Jersey libraries.
Friday, October 6, 2006
What should I read next? If that's a question you ask yourself after finishing a book, you might like NextReads Newsletters. BHPL now offer subscriptions to NextReads free email newsletters which describe upcoming titles and older books by subject interest. The titles are linked to the library’s online catalog so patrons can check availability of materials at any time.
NextReads is available for fiction and nonfiction readers' advisory, 24/7.
How to Sign Up: Patrons can sign up for this new library service by going to the
Berkeley Heights Public Library’s website http://library.bhplnj.org/, then click on the “Weblinks” icon which will lead to the NextReads link.
NextReads provides twenty adult-level reading lists crafted for discriminating readers. Lists are sent out to the subscriber’s email inbox on monthly or bimonthly basis. The lists combine new releases, read-alikes, classics and forthcoming titles, not just the bestsellers. Both fiction and non-fiction lists are available and patrons may subscribe to as many or as few as they choose by selecting from genres such as Romance, Science Fiction, Armchair Travel, History, Biography, Mystery, Horror, Inspirational fiction and more.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Read the following text; point the cursor at the purple text so that the arrow becomes a hand; then left-click to go to the practise pages.
First: the Mouse - you need to know how to handle a mouse, so here are links to websites that will teach that skill. Click on the links below to go to "mousercize" lessons.
Mouserobics! is cute or annoying or both, but it does cover all the basics, so practise on this website by left-clicking on the word "Mouserobics" in the line above. Next try this site:
Mouse Exercises from SeniorNet, and this site from the Washoe County Nevada Library System which are both good sites for learning how to use the mouse.
Second: the Keyboard - you have to know your way around the keyboard. Here is a link to a keyboard tutorial. Point and click to any key on the keyboard picture to find out what the key does. The keyboard diagram comes from a Computer Training Tutorials site which is a couple of years old, but still useful. Click here.
Three: Vocabulary - you should familiarize yourself with some computer vocabulary. Go to this site. Your class handout also has a glossary of terms at the end.
Four: Shutting Down the Computer - when you are done using your home computer, this is how to turn it off properly. At the library, just log out using the red button on the lower left of the screen. Click on "Yes, reset the terminal."
Five: Practice what you have learned today by using this site from UNC and by returning to the sites listed in this lesson.
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
A former newspaperman and magazine editor, Benford’s eight published works include: the nonfiction World War II Quiz & Fact Books; World War II Flashback; Pearl Harbor Amazing Facts!; The Space Program Q&F Book; The Royal Family Q&F Book; the true crime book, Righteous Carnage (the List murders in Westfield) and the novels, Hitler's Daughter and The Ardennes Tapes. His works have been translated into French, Spanish and Polish, made into movies, television documentaries, CDs, used in trivia games, and have been book club selections. He also contributes articles on travel, history, antique cars, politics, coins, and crime to the New York Times Syndication; Associated Press, Travel & Leisure; Caribbean Travel & Life; American Legion; New Jersey Monthly and more than a dozen other publications in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
After the program, copies of the book will be available for purchase and may be signed by the author.
This program is free and open to the Public, but please call the Reference Desk to reserve a space.
Monday, October 2, 2006
"Veteran US journalist Bob Woodward has claimed that the true extent of insurgent attacks in Iraq has been hidden by the administration.
He makes the claim in a book, State of Denial, due to be released on Monday."
BHPL patrons can put a hold on the book from the online catalog.
Last week, or maybe the week before, was Banned Books Week which passed uneventfully. Here is a USA Today article about that most frequently banned book these days, Harry Potter (the series). The article states:
"A Georgia mother takes her fight against Harry Potter books to the state's highest school officials this week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, as her push hits the year mark and keeps going."
The Georgia mother believes the books promote witchcraft.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Then, having studied up on my destinations of Wells and Bath, I scanned through Watching the English by Kate Fox and True Brits by J.R. Daeschner to try to get a sense of Englishness. The first, an anthropologist’s field study of her countrymen gives insight into important cultural traditions such as talking about the weather, being polite, being reserved, pub talk, being self-deprecating and, most of all, being very funny - funnier than people from any other country on earth she says in a rare unbiased moment. True Brit describes events which reinforce the stereotype of the British tolerance or even love for eccentrics. For example the annual cheese rolling event in Cheddar Gorge which was banned at one point because of the dangers inherent in hurling oneself down a very steep, rocky hillside in pursuit of a hurtling wheel of cheddar cheese.
Next, I reread the appropriate portions of ex-patriot (American author) Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island. I recommend the whole book and all his others too, if you like humor. While I was there, the Guardian ran an excerpt from Bryson’s new book, the Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a memoir. Bryson has lived and worked as a journalist in the UK for over twenty years and seems to be popular over there judging by the piece in the Guardian. His description of growing up in the 1950’s in the American Midwest must seem like a window into American culture for non-Americans.
Then I bought a book by my favorite Scottish author even though reading about the Celts to the north wasn’t strictly on the syllabus. Alexander McCall Smith’s Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, the second in his Sunday Philosophy Club series featuring the fictional ethicist Isabel Dalhousie of the University of Edinburgh (not fictional of course.) The mystery for Isabel this time was to find out if the recipient of a new heart was experiencing “cellular memory” when he repeatdly dreamed of a menacing face which he felt might have been involved in the death of his heart donor. Isabel’s woolgathering musings are every bit as entertaining as McCall Smith’s other great female character, Precious Ramotswe of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series.
Then I read Hotel du Lac by Anita Bruckner which was about an English author who exiles herself to a remote Swiss hotel in the off season to escape a scandal of her own making. What I didn’t do is reread Hardy (of the West Country) who is terrific - if you feel strong enough to read something depressing, like when you are a teenager and like to wallow in that kind of thing, but the countryside, replete with cows, sheep and scudding clouds, seemed like a postcard and not a place where Tess would wander around in a cloud of hopeless yearning. But that’s just my opinion now – I loved Hardy when I was a gloomy teenager.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Comedy Central's The Daily Show turns serious when Jon Stewart interviews Daily Show guest authors.
The Daily Show's spinoff with more fake news is the Colbert Report. Here is the link to the authors featured on that show.
Some shows have books clubs like Oprah's Book Club such as -
The Today Show Books
Good Morning America's Read This!
The Early Show Books
Friday, September 15, 2006
The list of nominees for the British Booker Prize were just announced which are not as well known on this side of the pond, at least not until the awards are announced which usually stirs up more American readers' interest.
USA Today's Carol Memmott reports that Janet Evanovich has a new book out: How I Write: secrets of a bestselling author. Her Stephanie Plum series about the Trenton, NJ bounty hunter are so popular, this will sell by association. Many of her readers write to her for advice about becoming an author and so this book was born. It will probably be fun to read even by people who do not aspire to write.
And finally, our very own ex-governor, James McGreevey's new memoir, the Confession, is out and he will appear on the Oprah show next week. Present NJ governor, Jon Corzine, comments on his predecessor's book and TV appearance in today's Star Ledger: "I think Jim would have served himself a little better just to continue to go on and build his life. I don't know what's in the book, and I'm not particularly interested." Corzine went on to say in yesterday's radio interview, "I think that the stuff that gets off track and into, you know, prurience is not exactly positive for him or even the things he wants to have defended in public life."
What to look for in the near future: take a look at this preview of big name author releases this fall from USA Today's book section. Reporter Jaqueline Blais writes, "There is an impressive array of literary titles from Cormac McCarthy, Alice McDermott, Richard Ford, Charles Frazier and Thomas Pynchon."
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Mr. Bush's summer reading last year included books that took the UK newspaper, the Guardian by surprise. According to the Guardian article, he lugged around the following titles: "Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky... The other tomes are reported to be Alexander II: the Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M Barry."
I think this is the President's 2006 summer reading as provided by the White House Press office. It looks like he read a lot of history, hard-boiled detective stories (John D. MacDonald's Travis Magee series were terrific even though they have fallen out of popularity since MacDonald's death), a book about Fidel Castro, which makes sense of course, and another book on an epidemic, polio this year, last year it was the influenza of 1919.
It's always interesting to find out what other people are reading which is why Amazon has links to related titles based on people's purchasing habits.
Monday, September 11, 2006
This month's book display features books about 9/11. A partial booklist can be seen in the BHPL Buzz.
Take a look at St.Paul Pioneer Press movie critic, Chris Hewitt's article about 9/11 books and movies at this link.
Here is an excerpt from the column:
"9/11-themed books, movies worth checking out
BY CHRIS HEWITT
Movie Critic (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
My job required me to see many 9/11-themed movies, but somehow I've also become a voracious consumer of 9/11 nonfiction and fiction. I'm skipping the much-discussed quick responses such as "Fahrenheit 9/11," but here are a batch of recent books and movies worth checking out:
"102 Minutes," by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn: If you're going to read one book about 9/11, this is it. Using interviews with survivors, cell-phone calls from inside the World Trade Center and astonishingly detailed reporting, this heartbreaking, compulsively readable work of nonfiction makes you feel like you are there, awed and inspired by the heroism and sacrifice that occurred between the time when a plane slammed into the first tower and when the last tower fell.
"A Little Love Story," by Roland Merullo: It wouldn't be fair to say how this aptly titled charmer connects to the events of 9/11, but it's not giving away too much to say the novel offers hope by showing how life can go on in the wake of tragedy.
"Between Two Rivers," by Nicholas Rinaldi: The rivers are the Hudson and the East River, which converge near what's now Ground Zero. Rinaldi creates a dozen vivid characters who refer to 9/11 only obliquely but who also live their lives between two metaphoric rivers, as well: the future and the irretrievable past.
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," by Jonathan Safran Foer: Surprisingly witty picaresque story about a guy trying to put together the pieces of his life, with his father's key, retrieved from the World Trade Center wreckage, to guide him.
"The Looming Tower," by Lawrence Wright: What if the CIA and FBI had met, three months prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center, possessing the information needed to stop the attacks but refusing to share it with each other? Well, they did (on June 11, 2001), and Wright's riveting nonfiction account of the rise of al-Qaida argues convincingly that the attacks should have been prevented.
"Triangle," by Katharine Weber: This novel about the last survivor of New York's 1911 Triangle Factory fire does not appear to be about 9/11, but its connections to the World Trade Center go way beyond the coincidental similarity of the dates. In the lyrical final pages, Weber imagines a compelling, oddly hopeful answer to one of the most horrifying questions of that day: How could people bring themselves to jump?
Friday, September 8, 2006
'AWARD WINNING AUTHOR TO ADDRESS MYSTERY WRITERS
On Saturday, September 23, 2006, award-winning multicultural author Shirley Hailstock will speak with the members of Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. This best-selling author has revolutionized the publishing industry with her novels of suspense, which include dynamic characters and high speed, intense plotlines. "...her plots...are over the edge of the world" quotes the New York Times.
Suspense and mystery are close cousins in the publishing world and few know the publishing world or how to write edge-of-your-seat suspense like Shirley Hailstock. Every year, the September Sisters in Crime meeting is about honoring the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie, and this year is no exception.
Sisters in Crime meet monthly (except in November) at the Jamesburg Senior Center, located at 139 Stevens Avenue, Jamesburg, NJ. The writer’s group will meet at 930, general meeting starts at 1030 and Ms. Hailstock will take the podium at noon, right after coffee break.
Sisters in Crime is a mystery readers and writers organization devoted to the promotion and support of women mystery authors. Both men and women are welcome to attend and join the organization. For more information on Sisters in Crime-CJ, visit the website at http://www.sinccj.org/
PLEASE CONTACT NANCY QUATRANO FOR FURTHER INFORMATION - 386-546-5164 OR PRESIDENT DARIA LUDAS AT 732-521-5646.
"Mayhem at Buckelew House"
CRIME SCENE NEW JERSEY:Mysteries by Garden State Authors
Order by mail at http://www.sinccj.org/
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
"William Alexander had a simple dream of having a vegetable garden and small orchard in his backyard. It was a dream that would lead to life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, and weeds; midnight expeditions in the dead of winter to dig up fresh thyme; skirmishes with neighbors who feed the vermin (i.e., deer); the near electrocution of the tree man; and the pity of his wife and children. When Alexander decided to run a cost-benefit analysis, adding up everything from the Havahart animal trap ($60) to the Velcro tomato wraps ($5) to the steel edging ($1,200), then amortizing it over the life of his garden, it came as quite a shock to learn that it cost him a staggering $64 to grow each tomato."
Any non-professional (ie: not an actual farmer) who has grown tomatoes can relate to his experience I think.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Sicily, three thousand years of human history by Sandra Benjamin is another island history book on BHPL's New Non-fiction Shelves. "Sicily is know for its Mafia and its emigration," states the author (p. xiv Introduction.) That's a provocative statement about a fascinating island's history. Starting in 800 BC and ending with autonomy after World War II, Benjamin covers the sociopolitical history of the island.
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Since the NYT's links go bad after a short while, here is an excerpt from the column. The library has the NYT online, so full-text articles can be retrieved from as far back as 1851 even after blog links go to link heaven. He states at the start of the column:
"... I am never reading fewer than 25 books. I am not talking about books I have delved into, perused and set aside, like “Finnegans Wake” or Pamela Anderson’s first novel — that would get me up way over a hundred. I am talking about books I am actively reading, books that are on my nightstand and are not leaving there until I am done with them. Right now, the number is 27."
Later he names names:
"A few weeks ago, I read Barbara Freese’s “Coal: A Human History,” four chapters of “The Guns of August,” and a collection of harrowing stories about addicts, creeps and losers called “Jesus’ Son,” by Denis Johnson, which served as a 75-minute pit stop between Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination and the coal industry’s offensive against Al Gore in 2000. Simultaneously, I wrapped up “The Pickup,” a brilliant, insufficiently appreciated novel by Nadine Gordimer, and “Henry Miller on Writing,” ramblings by the most overrated writer of the 20th century. Meanwhile, I was blasting away at story collections by Mavis Gallant, John McGahern, Thomas Mann and Marcel Aymé, none of whom write about addicts. I was also plowing through A. J. P. Taylor’s heretical “Origins of the Second World War,” Paul Cartledge’s snappy reappraisal of Alexander the Great, and Jeff Long’s gutsy demythologizing of the Alamo legend. A bit farther back on the burner were Flann O’Brien’s uproarious “At Swim-Two-Birds” and Oscar Wilde’s children’s tales. I am also reading not one but two books about Pizarro’s conquest of the Incas. This is madness."
Yes, madness, but impressive. But about that Pamela Anderson title...?
There is also a writers group that meets at the Scotch Plains Public Library called the New Jersey Writers Society. Call the Scotch Plains Library for further information (908) 322-5007
Thursday, August 3, 2006
Angle of ReposeWallace Stegner
The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini
The Time Traveler's WifeAudrey Niffenegger
Balzac and the Little Chinese SeamstressDai Sijie
Jonathan Strange & Mr. NorrellSusanna Clarke
Life of PiYann Martel
The Reading Group Guides website is currently discussing Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, one of my favorite books in recent years.
On the same website is a reading guide and discussion for the Big Stone Gap Trilogy by Adriana Trigiani and Water for Elephants by Sara Ruen which has been touted as the best new read of the summer.
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
The website for the book is very weird and I gave up on it, but here's the link if you like interactive and, to my mind, ornery, websites. Googling the title turns up many reviews which discuss the beauty of the author and the size of her advance fee, but most reviewers seem to agree that the book does have merit and isn't just a case of what Justine Ettler in the Australian called "hot young author syndrome." Ettler goes on to say,
"Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a clever, sweet, lovable book. I really liked it. Maybe it's a bit precious in a Legally Blonde kind of way but I can live with that. I loved the PoMo way, even though it was a novel, it used conventions usually found in a university thesis. While it's true that Pessl is young, photogenic and precocious, she's also a very talented writer who has crafted a first-class debut. "
"The major advantage of Benezit over artist indexes . . . is that it provides more detailed biographical data. . . . And yes, Benezit often has the most comprehensive listing on an artist available anywhere, especially more obscure names. It also lists many artists who are not found in artist indexes or price guides. " - Artbusiness.com, May 2006
"This authoritative and useful work is the standard biographical listing of artists, outdoing similar resources in both size and scope. As such, it belongs in all major American libraries." - Library Journal, June 1, 2006
Monday, July 31, 2006
Music Online from the Alexander Street Press offers Berkeley Heights Library patrons three distinct music collections. African American Song includes jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folksongs and narratives. Classical Music Library has more than 50,000 recordings from various labels. Smithsonian Global Sound/Smithsonian Folkways includes music from around the world. Patrons can create an account and collect their favorites in a playlist. A recent post to this blog mentioned listening to Chaucer recited in the original Middle English from the Smithsonian database. This internet-based resource can be accessed from home computers by Berkeley Heights Library patrons or from the public access computers at the Berkeley Heights Public Library. These databases are really fun to browse through and listen to single tracks or whole albums, spoken-word (poetry and other recitations) or natural sounds (animal sounds, beer drinking, the office, the ocean and, get this, a frog being eaten by a snake!)
Learn-a-Test from Learning Express gives Berkeley Heights Library patrons remote access to a wide range of practice tests for the SAT’s, Advanced Placement, ASVAB, Civil Service, Real Estate, Postal, Police, Paramedic, Nurses Aid, TOEFL and more. Set up a free account, start a test anytime and finish it later if desired. The library's book collection has test books, but they always seem to be out when you need them, so this database ensures that you have no excuse not to study for those pesky SAT's etc.
To access these databases, go to http://library.bhplnj.org/ and click on “Remote Databases.” You will be asked for your BHPL barcode and pin. Call the Reference Desk at (908) 464-9333 for more information.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
The WSJ editorial was a tired and formulaic lament about how kids just don't read the classics anymore and why don't teachers and librarians put those fondly remembered books on summer reading lists? As Liz B. points out in the blog piece, actually we do recommend classics, but we also recommend lots of other kinds of books too. Be honest with yourself - do you always read classics and great literature? Do you sometimes read for entertainment? Well, children do that too and many grow up unscathed by the experience of reading books that have little literary merit. But don't get me started - read the blog piece linked above. Then cut your kids a break and let them enjoy summer.
Friday, July 28, 2006
In other book news this week, A Dress for Diana by Elizabeth and David Emanuel is the story behind Princess Diana's wedding dress and the authors have been making the rounds of TV shows to promote it. Some other most-requested new or upcoming books this week at the library were: Fiasco: the American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks, The Language of God by Francis Collins, The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, and for kids, riding on the wave of Pirates of the Caribbean - Piratelolgy by Dugald A. Steer a beautiful book that you might want to keep in mind for birthday or holiday gifts.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Nancy Bartholomew's stripper/detective (!) Sierra Lavotini featured in The Miracle Strip.
Sarah Stohmeyer's hairdresser/detective Bubbles Yablonsky from Lehigh, Pa.
Anthony Bruno's Loretta Kovacs novels, especially Devil's Food.
and for the more romantic, Jennifer Crusie's Welcome to Temptation.
Thanks as usual to Joyce Saricks who must read instead of sleeping. To access the Novelist database which has book reviews, book lists by theme and genre, book suggestions, go to our home page http://library.bhplnj.org and click on Remote Databases.