Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Round House Redux

We have posted previously in this blog about a rotating round house in Berkeley Heights:
Click here for the post about the Berkeley Heights Round House

Recently a contributor to the blog, Round Houses, architecture, notes & musings, contacted us about the post and asked if we have any pictures of the house.
Our original post states:
'If you've never had the chance to see the inside of Berkeley Heights' Round House, you can take a virtual tour while it is still for sale. According to some information we have in a folder dedicated to Berkeley Heights' 'Old houses and sites', the round house was built by an engineer and can rotate 90 degrees to provide warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. After three rotations, the house was no longer rotated.'

Like the rotating mechanism of the house, the link to the 'virtual tour' no longer works. Probably the real estate agency that put the slideshow up for the 2008 sale of the house, took it down after a period of time. Luckily, Ellen, who wrote the post, printed out the photographs from the website and put them in our 'Old Houses and Sites' binder. I scanned the photos and other documents that we have in our archives about the house and emailed them to the 'Round Houses' blogger.
We hope the 'Round Houses' bloggers post about our town's very own round house, but meanwhile, here are several photographs and a document from our vertical file (aka: archive.)
You can see these images and more about the Berkeley Heights Public Library and the Township of Berkeley Heights on our Flickr account and on the 'Local Information' page of our website.

Exterior of Round House from realtor's page

Information from 'Old Houses & Sites' archive
Questions about the Berkeley Heights Round House are not exactly 'Frequently Asked Questions,' but would fall into that category of quirky local history and factoids that most librarians know about their community.
Page from the 'Old Houses & Sites' archive
Interior of Round House with fireplace

Interior of Round House with stairs

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, the Grantchester mysteries by James Runcie (2012)
Opening line to 'The Shadow of Death,' the first story in this collection of connected short mysteries:
'Canon Sidney Chambers had never intended to become a detective.'
But, like many amateur detectives in the 'cozy' genre, this Anglican priest in an English village near Cambridge keeps getting drawn into solving mysteries in spite of himself. And, again adhering to the genre, Sidney is friends with the local police detective. Over weekly games of backgammon at the local pub, the two discuss the latest cases. The date of the first story is October 1953 and the book ends about a year later.
The first time I checked out this book, I read one story, and then returned the book to the library feeling it was just a bit too low-key for me, but this month, the calm pacing, the predictability of the genre, and the twists of plots and decency of the central character just hit the spot. If you read the Goodreads reviews, you can see that there is a fairly wide divergence of opinion about this book and it might be that some books fit a reader's mood at certain times and not at others, at least that was the case with me.
As Goodreads' 'Beatnik Mary' noted in her review, fans of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce mysteries (which I also enjoy) and golden age mysteries from Agatha Christie will enjoy this book.
Fans of television series set in the early 1950's, such as 'Call the Midwife' or the new post-war version of 'Foyle's War' might also enjoy this period piece. The Berkeley Heights Public Library owns both those series on DVD.

Related blog posts:
Review of 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie', the first Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley
Review of 'Merry Hall' by Beverley Nichols, the first of the author's gardening memoirs which takes place after WWII in England
Review of 'Laughter on the Stairs' the second memoir in the 'Merry Hall' trilogy by Beverley Nichols also takes place in post-war UK.
One of our most popular blog posts of all time (according to blogger statistics):
'If You Like Agatha Christie mysteries, try these authors."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How Do Libraries Select Books

The majority of adult fiction, mysteries and science fiction is ordered for the library based on reviews.  I regularly read Booklist, Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly.  In addition, I subscribe to several on-line review sources and also check the reviews in People and the Sunday edition of the Star Ledger.  Whatever I am reading, I look for reviews.  The reference staff checks a variety of bestseller lists.  Yes, we do our homework before a book is shelved and available to our patrons.

Reviews can be very straightforward and even forceful,  the reviewer may command
"All public libraries should buy this book!"  
 Reviewers are sometimes very polite and use phrases such as,
 "Nice but not essential," or imply the book might not be the author’s very best effort. 
Reviewers can be absolutely brutal,
"No public library should buy this book!"
Frequently, the reviews are puzzling and offer no real guidance or indication of who the intended audience might be.

The following snippets caught my eye this morning:

           " … sensitive readers may not get past the foul language…"

            "…if her novel has any weakness, it’s a lack of plot and character development…"

           '"…recommended for fans and those who’ve enjoyed a good cookie table…"

            "…fun if gruesome horror read…"

            "…gets off to a strong, compelling start but loses its way midpoint…"

            "…her novel’s startling ending may leave some readers scratching their heads…"

            "…readers will find that all their tears are worth it…."

Would you read any of those books?

Oh well, back to reading reviews and trying to find the right books for your library.
Related websites:

S. Bakos