Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Farewell to Authors 2006

The following authors died in 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

You are Time's Person of the Year

By now most of us know that we are all Time Magazine's Person of the Year. Just look in that mylar mirror on the cover: there YOU are reflected as clearly as in a funhouse mirror. It must be everybody's fifteen minutes of fame.
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.

The Angry Raisins and other Urban Legends about Books

Is it really true that Steinbeck's the Grapes of Wrath was published in Japanese with the title, the Angry Raisins? According to the urban legend-busting website,, the status of that book rumor is "false."

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 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

Two Shopping Days Left to Buy Books

More end-of-year and best-books-of-the-year lists can be found on the following websites: Best of List 2006 What to Give/What to Get 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

More End of the Year Best Books Lists

Critical Mass has this post on best books of the year, including this article on suggested gift books. The last book on that list: "Finally a stocking stuffer from the incomparable paper engineer Robert Sabuda, "Christmas" (Scholastic, $12.99), with delightful pop-up figurines for each letter of the title, the last one featuring a resplendent Santa opening a card, accordion-like, with the words "Merry Christmas." "
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

Slate Article: The Year in Books and other Adventures in the Bibliosphere

I found this article in the online magazine, Slate. Below is the first pick by Michael Agger. For the rest of the article, click on the link below.
"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

Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree

The Town of Spruce Pine, Mitchell County, NC has been hit hard by layoffs from local mills and according to this USA Today article has found some work for its residents in marketing hand-made crafts. The White House Christmas tree this year features ornaments from the local craftsman. The website for the catalog is at
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.