Thursday, July 30, 2009

Snakes in a Library

"This is going to seem odd, but could you help me identify this?" the patron said, proffering a plastic bag.

Mindful of another librarian I know of who had been asked to identify a LIVE SNAKE IN A BAG, I asked if it was a bug.

"No, it's a snake!" AAAAH!!!!! SNAKE!!!!

I asked if it was dead.

"Oh no, it's alive."

Well, it turned out to be a tiny snake (tied up in yet another bag inside) with an orange belly and a ring around its neck.

Trying to remain calm and not rip through the pages of our snake books, ever aware of the SNAKE BESIDE ME! (SNAKE!), I gave up and Googled it to save time. It was a ringnecked snake. They're very pretty actually.

Then the snake left. He is going to go live at Free Acres now.

If you'd like to see snakes in the library, come see the Lizard Guys on Monday, August 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Books by Dogs for Dogs

For those of you who follow this blog regularly (and there must be as many of you as beans in my garden) you will know that Addie, my dog, makes the occasional appearance. In addition to her blogging skills, Addie has a column on my bookgroup website where she lists books about dogs, by dogs (or from the point of view of dogs and ghost-written by humans.) And she gives one-line reviews and ratings of 1 - 5 dogbones. Knowing this, my library colleagues pass on to me any books they feel Addie might enjoy. The Unscratchables, a new breed of crime novel by Cornelius Kane is the latest doggish book that crossed my path. Simon and Schuster's website has an interview with the author who is as funny as the dog who wrote the book. You don't suppose Crusher McNash, Bulldog detective, and Cornelius Kane are one and the same? Doggone it, if you can't trust a dog, who can you trust? Addie is putting the Unscratchables on her reading list but right now she thought she needed to rest and recover from yesterday's hailstorm.
Photo: Addie a la Marilyn a la Warhol by way of Photoshop

Extreme Weather

Yesterday afternoon, here in Central Jersey, the wind kicked into high gear, torrents of rain blew sideways and hailstones as big as the proverbial golfball (ok- small golfballs) clattered on the roof and blanketed the ground - sending my dog under the bed and me running around shutting windows and mopping windowsills. The lights went out and, as I found out this morning, the library computers would have hid under the bed if they could have. They sent the Monday morning staff complicated error messages instead. They just wanted to be rebooted and soothed and then all was well with the library Circulation system.
Extreme Weather, a guide & record book by Christopher C. Burt (551.5 BUR) tells us that Cheyenne, Wyoming has the most hailstorms per year (9 - 10 days) Cheyenne dogs must spend a lot of time under beds. Mr. Burt also points out that the higher the cloud, the bigger the hailstone produced. High Plains cumulonimbus clouds can top 50,000 feet and "are capable of producing monstrous hailstones the size of softballs.) (p. 158) Yikes!
And finally, on page 159 there is a photograph of the largest hailstone "ever to be officially measured" - seven inches in diameter. It fell in Aurora, Nebraska, June 2003 during "tornadic thunderstorms." So, fellow Jerseyans, and Jersey dogs, it could always be worse.

Picture: my newly blooming Cosmos and Basil covered with hailstones, but still standing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's On TV Tonight?

In my house we have a nightly ritual called, "What's on TV tonight?" One of us reads the TV listings carefully and then announces something not-so-original like, "hundreds of channels and nothing worth watching!"
If you are looking for good TV programs, FREE, whenever it's convenient for you to watch, try My Librarydv, available from the BHPL website "Remote Databases." A quick browse of available videos revealed:
The Little Princess starring Shirley Temple
The Little Shop of Horrors with Jack Nicholson
The TV shows: Antiques Road Show and Today's Homeowner
Guitar Lessons
For children: Boohbah and Caillou.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ellen's Mystery Picks

The Genius by Jesse Kellerman
The son of Faye and Jonathan Kellerman is a great thriller writer in his own right. An art dealer takes the boxes of drawings that a dead artist has left behind, and finds a drawing depicting a boy who was murdered 40 years ago.

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall is being compared to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith. From the annotation: "Vish Puri styles himself as the best private investigator in India. His main gig is running background checks, but bigger, more sensational cases are coming his way."

The Bride Will Keep Her Name by Jan Goldstein
The manager of a New York art gallery finds out the week of her wedding that her otherwise perfect fiance, a TV journalist, may be involved in the murder of an escort girl. Perfect for those who loves mysteries and chick lit.

The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson
Two brothers who are lawyers lease offices on Baker Street and begin to receive letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. One sent 20 years earlier leads them to LA. Reviewers love the characters.

Mating Season by Jon Loomis. In Cape Cod, Detective Frank Coffin has to overcome his panic attacks while looking into the murder of a woman who had affairs with everyone in town. You might want to start with the first book in the series, the critically acclaimed High Season, which is about the investigation into the murder of a TV evangelist - with the murderer definitely still in town.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. This is the first in a trilogy everyone's talking about, a European blockbuster from an author who died shortly after its publication . . From the book's annotation: "A crusading journalist joins forces with a 24-year-old pierced and tattooed genius hacker to investigate a missing woman from one of the wealthiest families in Sweden."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Books for Guys

I sent my sister a link to the women's fiction recommendations Library Journal published a month or two ago, and she emailed me back asking for recommendations for her husband. He likes primarily nonfiction, books about sports, presidents and business or the economy. So, what I think of as typical guy stuff.

This is what I came up with for him:
Books published this year
Eiger Dreams – Jon Krakauer
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt - by T. J. Stiles
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich

Older books
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner - by Dean Karnazes
Tales from Q School: Inside Golf’s Fifth Major – John Feinstein
The smartest guys in the room : the amazing rise and scandalous fall of Enron / Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind.
Big Russ and Me: Father and Son, Lessons of Life - by Tim Russert

I picked a lot of these books from NextReads, which are book recommmendation newsletters that you can sign up for on the library home page.

Slideshow of Library Programs

Take a look at this slideshow of the library's photographs on Flickr showing library programs, and local activities and scenery in Berkeley Heights, NJ.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Tour de France

Hooray for July. I get to spend the whole month watching the Tour de France on TV (when I'm not at the library, that is). This year's race is pretty exciting, because Lance Armstrong is back after four years of retirement. He's currently in third, just seconds behind the 2007 winner, Alberto Contador. Since Lance and Alberto are teammates, everyone's wondering whether there will be infighting on Team Astana when they get to the Alps (that's when the race gets won). The Tour is great to watch even if you don't like sports, because of the fantastic scenery; it's like traveling to France (and this year, Barcelona, Monaco and Andorra) without the jet lag.

If you don't get Versus, the channel that shows the Tour, you can watch clips online on its web site. YouTube has great clips from the Tour (including some spectacular crashes). Or come by the library to check these out:

Hell on Wheels. This is a documentary on DVD. It's in German, so you have to read subtitles, but you get a behind-the-scenes look at a team in the Tour de France plus all the usual race footage. This DVD also answers the age-old question of when the racers get to take a bathroom break.

The Tour de France Companion: a Nuts, Bolts and Spokes Guide to the Greatest Race in the World by Bob Roll. Bob Roll is the nutty commentator for Versus, and this is his book. Esquire wrote about why Bob Roll is so funny if you're interesed.

French Revolutions by Tim Moore. Armed with only an old bike whose brakes need fixing, Tim Moore humorously sets off to ride the Tour de France route on his own in 6 weeks, before the pros get there. Here's an excerpt:
It's never wise to phone a Frenchwoman more than once in any given fortnight, even if — or perhaps especially if — she happens to work on a help desk. Asking the Tour de France press office for details of the race route was clearly ranked on the scale of telephonic enquiries somewhere between ‘Have you ever considered the benefits of pet insurance?’ and ‘What colour knickers are you wearing?’

We also have lots and lots of books on Lance Armstrong, the most inspiring one of which is his autobiography, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.

The Feast of Mount Carmel

Yesterday Berkeley Heights, NJ celebrated the final day of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Unique in the area, the popular festival featured a week-long fair with rides, food, and, on the last two nights - fireworks lit up the sky (and upset dogs for miles around who thought the 4th of July ended their misery :-)

Here is a link to this blog's write up last year about the Mount Carmel Society and the annual fair. Every July the library gets phone calls asking about the dates, times, meaning and history of the Mount Carmel Feast and the Society and Festival. This year the Alternative Press published an excellent article that answered many of the questions that people commonly ask which filled a need for authoritative information on the subject. Here is the link to the Alternative Press article about the Mount Carmel Festival.

Related links:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Looking Forward to Fall . . .

Apparently I left off some major upcoming bestsellers in the cheat sheet I published a couple weeks ago! Here are more titles you might want to get on the holds list for, stat:

Even Money - Dick Francis and Felix Francis
That Old Cape Magic - Richard Russo
The White Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom
True Blue - David Baldacci
Under the Dome - Stephen King
Kindred in Death - J.D. Robb
The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
The Humbling - Philip Roth

If you'd like something you can read now, I would suggest some of the women's summer reads that Neal Wyatt recommended in his latest Library Journal column here.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Scrabble Group Meets at the Library

Today was the Official Inauguration of the Library Scrabble Group which meets alternate Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m.

Call the Reference Desk for information and meeting dates.

Pictured: Meera Rao cutting the ribbon on the Scrabble box, Stephen Yellin and Jane Bloom

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Odyssey

The Next Stage Ensemble of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey brought Homer's The Odyssey to the Berkeley Heights Public Library's outdoor stage (aka: the parking lot) on Friday night. Using the sparest of props and imaginative staging, the traveling players enacted Odysseus ' long voyage home from Troy to Ithaca. Wiley Odysseus outsmarts the Cyclops; listens to the Sirens while lashed to the mast; sails between Scylla and Charybdis - whirlpools of death; dallies with beautiful Calypso and witchy Circe; sees his sometimes mutinous crew eaten, drowned, turned into swine, until finally: home, sweet, home where Penelope waits.

The audience brought lawn chairs, some had picnics before the show, and everyone fell under the spell of the wine dark sea (billowing chiffon scarves and windy sound effects) and the cast of hundreds of gods, sailors, monsters portrayed by the Next Stage actors playing multiple roles.

You have one more chance to see the players tread the boards (or asphalt, more accurately) on Friday, July 31 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. when they perform The Taming of the Shrew. Bring your lawn chairs!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Road Trip with Odysseus

It's that time of year again, when the actors of the Next Stage Ensemble of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey grace our parking lot. They will be performing "The Odyssey", the epic attributed to Homer, this Friday, July 10 from 7 p.m. to about 8 p.m. In case you've never read it, the Odyssey is one of the greatest works of Western literature, so you have to come. Remember to bring your lawn chair! You can read the first few pages of the play here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris

The BHPL Friday Book Group will discuss Joanne Harris' Gentlemen and Players on July 10 at 10:30 AM. Harris, author of Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange, is of French and English background, but this title takes the reader into that most English of institutions, the all-boy prep school. The story is told by two narrators: the venerable Latin Master at St. Oswalds and another teacher who plans to undermine the school by planting rumors and traps to create mayhem and to ultimately destroy St. Oswalds.
The plot description from Amazon:

'For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than thirty years. This year, however, the wind of unwelcome change is blowing, and Straitley is finally, reluctantly, contemplating retirement. As the new term gets under way, a number of incidents befall students and faculty alike, beginning as small annoyances but soon escalating in both number and consequence. St. Oswald's is unraveling, and only Straitley stands in the way of its ruin. But he faces a formidable opponent with a bitter grudge and a master strategy that has been meticulously planned to the final, deadly move.'
Gentleman and Players
has elements of the troubled friendship of Gene and Phineas portrayed in John Knowles' A Separate Peace, the creepy architecture of Hogwarts, the genial lovable gruffness of Mr. Chips and the plot twists of Patricia Highsmith's mystery The Talented Mr. Ripley. Similar to those prep school classics, but completely original, it is a seriously chilling portrayal of a psychopath balanced by the most rational and reasonable character of the Latin teacher and written in a wry, funny style that along with the very surprising plot turns kept this reader glued to the book over the July 4th weekend.

Highly recommended for mystery fans.

If you did not study Latin at your alma mater, it can be difficult to understand Magister Straitley, a man multarum literarum, who often gives verbum sapienti.

Joanne Harris website: for interviews with the author, book lists, FAQ's etc.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cheat Sheet

To reward you for being such a faithful blog reader, here are some upcoming bestsellers that are in the catalog (so you can go ahead and put yourself on hold for them now).

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson - August
Blind Man's Bluff by Faye Kellerman - August
Intervention by Robin Cook - August
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks - September
The Lost Art of Gratitude (an Isabel Dalhousie novel) by Alexander McCall Smith - September
A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve - October
I, Alex Cross by James Patterson - November