Monday, March 31, 2008

Her Name is Sabine

The most arresting thing about Her Name is Sabine, a documentary filmed by Sandrine Bonnaire to document the effects of a lack of care on her younger autistic sister, Sabine, are the clips from the home movies Sandrine took when they were young. Spending five years undiagnosed in a mental institution renders Sabine nearly unrecognizable from the spirited girl she used to be.
"The most beautiful film Cannes has given us this year.”—Jean Roy, L’Humanit√©
"Intimate but never transgressive, informative but never clinical." Lisa Nesselson, Variety
This documentary will be shown at BHPL this Wednesday, April 2, from 7 p.m. to 8:25 p.m in the meeting room downstairs. It's in French with English subtitles. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

Friday, March 28, 2008


March Madness and Bracketology are not terms I'm that comfortable with, being extremely sports aversive/impaired/ignorant etc, which is probably fulfilling some librarian stereotype, so I'm taking a big chance here to post about the obsessiveness that takes over much of the nation this time of year: college basketball. I hope Wikipedia is right when it defines the term:

"Bracketology is the process of predicting the field of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, named as such because it is commonly used to fill in tournament brackets for the postseason. It incorporates some method of predicting what the NCAA Selection Committee will use as its Ratings Percentage Index in order to determine at-large (non-conference winning) teams to complete the field of 65 teams, and, to seed the field by ranking all teams from first through sixty-fifth. ESPN's Joe Lunardi is the inventor of the term "bracketology", starting first as the owner and editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and ending up with a gig as the resident bracketologist on ESPN."

The article has several warnings about needing more verification, so all you volunteer Wiki editors who also love basketball, get in there and pump up that article.

What does March Madness have to do with libraries? I stumbled across legendary UNC coach, Dean Smith's book, The Carolina Way, Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching (796.323 SMI) in BHPL's sports section. I was looking for Will Blythe's To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever, the story of the UNC/Duke rivalry which played out again this season recently. Art Chansky's Blue Blood, Duke-Carolina, inside the most storied rivalry in college hoops also mines that deep vein of fan obsessiveness and team rivalry. Turns out we don't have the last two titles, but we could get them on interlibrary loan if you need a Tarheel or Blue Devils fix.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Most Checked Out 2008 Fiction

Do you covet those unattainable books on the holds shelf behind the circulation desk? Here are the titles published this year that have checked out the most at BHPL:

1. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
A caper involving thrice stolen money, a racehorse, a car chase and a bad case of hives
2 (tie). The Appeal by John Grisham
"Millionaire purchases an unsuspecting candidate to run for Supreme Court judge when Mississippi rules against his chemical company."
2 (tie). Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell
The writing debut of a 64-year-old lawyer, this is "a suspenseful legal thriller that has drawn comparisons to the early work of Scott Turow."
4. 7th Heaven by James Patterson
"The Women's Murder Club chases a killer with a taste for fire."
5. The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller
"A mesmerizing portrait of two marriages exposed in all their shame and imperfection, and in their obdurate, unyielding love."
6 (tie). Waiting To Surface by Emily Listfield
"'It is possible, after all, for someone to vanish off the face of the earth.' So begins Listfield's autobiographical sixth novel, which echoes her own experience of losing a husband of 10 years either to death or mysterious disappearance."
6 (tie). People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
"An Australian rare book conservator uncovers the provenance of the newly reappeared Sarajevo Haggadah."
10 (tie). The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky
"Relationships are brought to the limit in Delinsky's splendid latest exploration of family dynamics."
10 (tie). The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters
"Have traumatic brain injuries suffered in Iraq altered a young British army officer's personality enough to make him a murderer?"
10 (tie). Last Call by James Grippando
"A Miami criminal defense lawyer and his best friend, bar owner Theo, follow a twisting 20-year-old trail of evidence in the murder of Theo's mother."
10 (tie). Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline
"In high school, Trish Gambone and her friends wouldn't give Mary DiNunzio, now an attorney, the time of day. Now Trish needs Mary's help to get out of a deadly predicament."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Very Short Book Reviews

Windy, chilly March has been a busy month for reading: three books for three book clubs and four strictly for entertainment and only one unfinishable one in the bunch. I try to keep track of books to recommend, so here's the rundown.
The Apprentice, my life in the kitchen, a memoir by chef Jacques Pepin transcends the memoir niche becoming an engaging story of growing up in France during the war, learning cooking the old fashioned way and moving to America to find fame and fortune. Recommended for readers who like light memoirs and cooking stories. The BHPL Friday bookgroup enjoyed this selection.
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny, the third in her Three Pines mysteries set in Quebec, finds inspector Gamache solving a mysterious death during a seance. I loved the first two in the series and this one was a bit weaker, so start with Still Life, then A Fatal Grace.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen needs little explanation by now, a bestseller and reading group favorite about a veterinary student who runs away with the circus during the depression. Everyone loves this book it seems, and so did I.
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, a fender bender in Edinburgh leads to murder and strange connections and coincidences among the accident's witnesses. I couldn't put this down and look forward to reading more books by this author.
Address Unknown by Katherine Kressman Taylor. This small gem is an epistolary novel set during the 1930's. Two friends, one American, one German, exchange letters reflecting their ever diverging political views. The ending is a satisfying twist of revenge. See review in previous post.
The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery. I tried to get one of my book groups to read this non-fiction account of a vegetarian naturalist, Montgomery, who takes in a runt piglet, Christopher Hogwood. Christopher becomes a celebrity of sorts in their small New Hampshire town. The book groupers voted this title down, with howls of derision, actually. I concede, it may not be a good book for discussing, but it is really charming and I learned a lot about pigs.
Finally, the least of all, BHPL's Tuesday book group read Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray. I didn't get too far into this book, but the first 35 pages seemed to be saying: women are more verbal and emotional than men. Men are task/action oriented and women are nurturing. And it said it again, and again, and again using the Martian/Venetian metaphor for explanation. In the early '90's those ideas seemed to be interesting insights, which have now become part of pop culture with some basis, perhaps, in neuroscience and psychology. Readers can probably gain some insights from this book, but don't spend too much time to ponder the writing style or the accuracy of the theories.

Address Unknown, small book with a big impact

Address Unknown by Katherine Kressman Taylor was first published in 1938 and was an immediate sensation. This short epistolary novel traces the correspondence between two German American friends: a Jew who remains in the United States and his friend who returns to Germany and gradually succumbs to the Nationalist rhetoric and anti-Semitism of 1930's Germany. The destruction of their friendship reflects the broader political picture. The Nazi betrays his American friend who, in a clever twist at the end of the book, exacts a revenge through letters intercepted by the German censors.
Library Journal calls this "one of the earliest pieces of Holocaust fiction." writes, "Address Unknown is a haunting tale of enormous power and enduring impact."
This small book would be a good choice for book groups, perhaps paired with another, longer work of Holocaust literature.

Hamish MacBeth Movie Marathon

Hot off the DVD shelves! I just took home the Hamish MacBeth DVD set of the British television series based on the mysteries of M.C. Beaton. Beaton writes two mystery series, one features Agatha Raisin, a brusque London business woman transplanted to the Cotswolds. The other series stars Highlander Hamish MacBeth, constable in the fictional town of Lochdub, Scotland. Beaton has devoted readers, people who put themselves on the BHPL reserve list as soon as they get wind of a new title in either series. So, to all you Hamish fans, the series is here. Actually it's at my house, but I promise to return it ASAP to give others a chance to see Robert Carlyle as Hamish and a perfect little town starring as Lochdub. It's all here, the wry humor, the small town feeling, Hamish's dog wee Jock, and some wandering hairy coo. See picture. Note: the series is based on Beaton's characters, but the stories are different and many details are different from the books.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow

"Ma patrie, c'est la langue francaise. (My country is the French language.)" -Algerian-born writer Albert Camus

The Story of French is not just a history of the language, but also a cultural and political history of places where French is spoken, and you don't have to know French to enjoy it.

As I read it I was compelled to stop and tell others about what I had just read, about the peculiarities of Jerriais, the "Norman" or "mispronounced" French spoken on the British Isle of Jersey; about the lingua franca of the Crusaders; about Alexandre Dumas's grandmother being a Haitian slave. And that's just the first chapter. If you're put off by its size, feel free to just read the parts that interest you.

Nadeau and Barlow also write about TV5, whose world news broadcasts you can watch by clicking here. It's the third-most watched international channel in the world (sadly, MTV outranks it).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Poisonous Potatoes

Find out why potatoes were believed to be poisonous when they were introduced in Europe for the first time - check out Susan Wittig Albert's first blog entry on her virtual book tour for her latest herbalist mystery, Nightshade. The BHPL Book Blog is the last stop on the tour; click here to get each day's link.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Electronic Magnifiers: Now Available for Check-Out

If the text in our large print books just isn't big enough for someone in your family, you can now check out an electronic magnifier that plugs into your television. Turn your TV to video input, then place the "monomouse" over the text you'd like to read, and the text will appear magnified on the TV screen.

The good news is that they can be checked out for a month. The bad news is that there are two of them, and one is already checked out. We're glad to put you on hold for a monomouse if you ask.

By the way, libraries have been known to check out stranger things - for example, in 2005, libraries in Iowa lent over 2,000 cake pans to their patrons.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Child / L'Enfant

"Bruno, a feral, 20-year-old petty thief, fathers a child with his 18-year-old girlfriend, Sonia -- then, without telling her, sells him on the black market. Having committed this unforgivable act, he tries to undo it."
-David Ansen, Newsweek
That's the premise of The Child, the Belgian film being shown at BHPL on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal raved that, "The illusion of reality is so nearly complete in this magnificent French-language film by the Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne that the screen becomes a perfectly transparent window on lives hanging in the balance."

This film is rated R. It's in French and has English subtitles. Admission is free; doors open at 6:45 p.m.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Next Good Book

Next Good Book is a new service on our web site, to help you keep track of your books and get suggestions for what to read next. You can get to it by clicking on Next Good Book in the top right corner of the BHPL web site.

My Bookshelves is my favorite part of Next Good Book. Once you create a log in, you can start adding books to a bookshelf called My Favorite Books. You can also create more bookshelves. I made one called Books I Want to Read:

You can also go into Next Good Book and look up your favorite book. Then click on Suggest or Who's Reading and look at some recommended titles that are associated with your favorite.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Bloodroot is a North American plant whose root appears to bleed when it's broken. In addition, it's toxic, and we all know how mystery writers love a poison. The bestselling author of Bloodroot, Susan Wittig Albert, will be guest blogging here on April 11. You'll have a chance to enter a drawing for her latest book Nightshade, and if you enter all the drawings on her blog tour, you could win the audiobook of Bloodroot.

Most of the mysteries in the series are set in Pecan Springs, Texas, where China Bayles has an herb shop. In Bloodroot, China goes home to the family plantation in the Yazoo Delta in Mississippi. Lest you get the wrong impression, China is not a Southern belle but a feminist who long ago renounced her ties to her family's history. Unfortunately, when it appears that the plantation manager has a valid claim to the family home and then disappears, China's elderly aunt is the prime suspect.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New! Online Book Clubs

BHPL is offering a new, free service on its web site: Online Book Clubs. Click on the Online Book Clubs logo at the bottom of the BHPL web site and choose from a variety of types of books (books in pre-publication, fiction, nonfiction, teen, mystery and more). You'll receive 5 minutes' worth of a book every day in your email. Once you've read 2-3 chapters, a new book starts. If you're hooked, come and check out the book at the library! It's easy to unsubscribe if you change your mind - just click unsubscribe at the bottom of the email.

Andy Warhol, Mozart and Whales

At Zosia Zaks' workshop on autism last night (did you know Andy Warhol showed signs of autism?), she recommended a few good autism-related books and web sites:

Autistic Adults Picture Project
Look at pictures of and learn about people on every level of the autism spectrum.

Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story, by Jerry and Mary Newport, with Johnny Dodd. (OK, so Zosia recommended the movie, but BHPL has the book. We can get you the movie through interlibrary loan if you'd like.) The book is located in nonfiction at 362.196 NEWPORT.

Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports From My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin's visual abilities and childhood obsession with cows eventually led to her designing humane livestock-processing systems that have been widely adopted. The book is located in the biography section under GRANDIN.

Elijah's Cup by Valerie Paradiz. One of the first autism mother narratives, by the mother of Elijah, who has Asperger syndrome. This should be available in a couple of weeks at the library.

Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults by Zosia Zaks. Zosia covers everything from coping with sensory overload at grocery stores to dating. Located in nonfiction at 616.8588 ZAK

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Zosia Zaks to Speak about Autism

Zosia Zaks has Asperger Syndrome. She was diagnosed as an adult at the age of 31. Having devised many creative strategies to address autism-related issues over the years, she wrote Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults to help other adults on the spectrum.

Next Wednesday, March 12, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Zosia will be speaking at the Berkeley Heights Public Library about the differences betweeen autism, Asperger syndrome and PPD-NOS. She will answer your questions about autism, including what happens to children with autism once they've grown up. She will be available for book signings at the end of the talk. There is no fee, but please call the library at 464-9333 to register.

In addition to speaking and conducting workshops on issues of importance to the Autism community, Zosia Zaks also consults with families, autistic adults, and professionals to meet challenges based on autistic strengths. She is currently pursuing licensure as a rehabilitation counselor at Hunter College.

March is Crafts Month

Berkeley Heights Public Library's monthly book display features arts and crafts titles for the month of March. We know that March is Crafts Month thanks to Chase's Calendar of Events which is a day by day chronology of festivals, annual celebrations, astronomical phenomenon (eclipses for example)and religious and secular holidays. The book lives on the reference shelves at Dewey #394 CHA and it's publisher, McGraw Hill, features Chases on its website. To find out what happened today, March 5, click here. To submit your own event for next year's calendar, click here and enter your information to the publisher by April 15.

To try a new craft or improve a skill, take a look at BHPL's Arts and Crafts book display. The library has a variety of books about knitting, crocheting, quilting, scrapbooking, stained glass, flower arranging and more. It's very tempting having the display so close to the Reference Desk. While posting this, I just pulled off another title whose author, Janet Walsh, assures me she can show Watercolor Made Easy. I hope so. The book gives demonstrations step by step. Speaking of watercolors, I found that American Artist magazine has a website with video demonstrations of painting that are helpful. Click here for a selection of demonstrations in various media. BHPL carries American Artist magazine, the older issues can be checked out for seven days.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BHPL Book Group to Discuss the Apprentice by Jacques Pepin

The BHPL First Friday of the Month book group will discuss the Apprentice, my life in the kitchen (2003), the memoir of noted chef, cookbook author and TV personality Jacques Pepin, on Friday, March 7, 2008 at 10:30 AM in the Meeting Room of the library. Pepin recalls his rigorous chef's training in post-war France, his success in America and the people he met along the way. At the end of each chapter is a recipe and accompanying anecdote. Take a look at M. Pepin's website for recipes of course, but also for his paintings because he excels at art as well as cooking and writing. The book is illustrated with the author's charming line drawings.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oprah's Online Classroom Debuts Tonight

Oprah Winfrey, doyenne of TV bookclubs and all-around new age guru, is bringing self-helper Eckhard Tolle's A New Earth, awakening to your life's purpose to the web starting tonight. Anyone interested in joining the ten week webinar can register on the website (click on the link in the previous sentence.)
USA Today featured an article about this new cyber frontier for Oprah's book club stating that 700,000 people are already signed up for this class. Now that dwarfs the lecture halls of yesteryear! The article also quotes Ms. Winfrey,
"We're going to be streaming live throughout the world," she says. "People are going to be able to stream themselves back and ask questions. We'll go through the book chapter by chapter. And I think the interest will just keep growing."
Indeed, you can take that assertion to the bank. Aside from the actual title selection and content, the big news here is the interactive, online approach. Expect other book entities to follow and be sure to tune in to our own virtual book tour when Susan Wittig Albert visits the BHPL blog on April 11.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rowling Howling about Unauthorized Potter Lexicon

J.K. Rowling, author of the enormously successful Harry Potter series and one of the world's wealthiest women, richer than the Queen of England in fact, is unhappy that a fan blog author has compiled a Harry Potter Lexicon and published it without her permission. She is suing the author, stating that,
"I am deeply troubled by the portrayal of my efforts to protect and preserve the copyrights I have been granted in the Harry Potter books," she wrote in court papers filed Wednesday in a lawsuit she brought against the small Muskegon, Mich., publisher.
She said she intends to publish her own definitive Harry Potter encyclopedia."

Well gosh, we wouldn't want to stop the poor woman from cashing in even more from her fame.
I'm sure there are many complicated, subtle reasons of copyright, intellectual property and so on that are involved here, but my first, admittedly non-legally qualified reaction, is: doesn't she have enough money to just relax and stop whining? On a slightly more specific and professional (librarian, that is) note, BHPL purchases many books of literary criticism, reference books about authors' works and other materials that are based on literary works. I don't see how this blog-based lexicon is any different. Which of course is for the court to determine. Thoughts anyone?