Friday, May 30, 2014

Something Funny for Summer Reading

This is a reposting from last May. David Sedaris is funny enough to be recommended over and over :-)

In 'Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, Essays, Etc.' humorist and author David Sedaris offers his wry observations on the topics of living as an American ex-patriot in France and England, traveling the world on book tours and remembering his childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. His fans will enjoy his quirky obsessions which teeter on the edge of creepy and gross, but then pull back into touching and humane at the last sentence or two.
Standouts from this collection are: 'Dentists Without Borders' in which the author describes his own experiences with the health care system in France. He describes the care he received as inexpensive, accessible and not at all like what the opponents of "Obama care' describe as a health care plan 'where patients languished on filthy cots, waiting for aspirin to be invented." (3)
In 'Rubbish' (211) Mr. Sedaris takes it upon himself to pick up all the litter along the roads in his village in England by riding his bike around every day to pick up other people's trash. He becomes obsessed, "At nights I lie in bed and map out the territory I'll cover the following day... What did my life consist of before this? I wonder." (220)

Recommended for fans of the author. Read-a-likes - other humorous essay writers:
Quinn Cummings, Bill Bryson, Ian Frazier, Dave Barry, Sloane Crosby, Tracy Beckerman. (Click on the 'humor' label on the right side of this blog to find more posts about funny books and authors.)

There really is an app for everything: try the David Sedaris app to watch short videos of his diary entries.

David Carr's review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review (audiobook version)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Apps for That - a blog update

About a year ago I posted about the apps I have on my smart phone in There's an App for That! 
Over a year ago, my children had encouraged me to update from an embarrassingly uncool and pre-Diluvian flip phone to a really cool smart phone from a well-known and very cool company that is known for cool computers, cool phones, cool portable electronic devices and advertisements that are so cool I don't really know what they are trying to get me to buy. (But has a very catchy tune from the 'Pixies', watch the Gigantic ad here.)
Before I go any further in my update, let me just say that this is relevant to a library blog, because libraries are now really cool too. The Berkeley Heights Public Library has a phone app, downloadable e-books, a website of course, this really cool blog (ahem) and a very strong presence on social media (ie: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc)
So anyway, in the last year I have added a mini-tablet to my arsenal of techie stuff. The mini-tablet is from the same cool company referred to above. The idea is that my phone and my tablet will 'sync up' with each other, sharing content and reporting it all to the same 'cloud' where my stuff (photos etc) is stored. And my devices and my kids' devices are made by the same company so we can video talk with each other easily without having the battle of rival hardware/software occur. At least that's the idea and that is generally the case except when it's not working, but of course, one always assumes that if one was just 'cool' enough it would all work seamlessly and I would be singing 'Gigantic' and not cursing when both my personal and work to do lists appears on my phone, but not on my tablet.
Here are some of the apps I have added in the last year to my phone and tablet. I'm not saying I couldn't live without them, but they are really cool.
Merlin Bird ID - (free) a bird identifying app that allows you to look up a bird by characteristics and then gives you a best guess list and the calls of the bird plus maps of where it can be found and other information about the bird. That bird with the little beret look? It's a Black Capped Chickadee. Who knew?
BuzzFeed - (free) which is basically the biggest time-waster ever and really fun. If you have ever seen those fun quizzes being passed around on Facebook about which Jane Austen character would you be, or what country fits you best, BuzzFeed is probably the source of those little quizzes.
GasBuddy - (free) for finding the cheapest gas nearby.
United Airlines - (free) for keeping track of my flights and getting a mobile boarding pass.
For real estate searching, I have Trulia and Zillow  (free) which are useful for house-hunting or just for snooping about house values in your neighborhood.
Animoto - (free + fee version) which allows you to make free 30 second slide shows set to music. You can use photos from your phone or device, upload them to your account and make a really nice little slide show very quickly. For a fee, you will be able to make longer videos.
Overdrive Media Console - (free) allows me to borrow ebooks from eLibraryNJ through the library website. The reference librarians help patrons set this up on their devices all the time and it is hugely popular when people find out they don't have to purchase ebooks and e-audiobooks.
Zinio -(free) also available from the library website allows patrons to download magazines to their devices. I love this, the magazines look great on a tablet and they do not ever expire or come due.
I also have the apps for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and GoodReads so I can post to my personal accounts or follow what other people are posting.

What apps do you like? Click on 'comment' below to let us know.
Here is the link to one of the library's Animoto slide shows
and below is another library Animoto video. You can embed the HTML into a blog or website. How cool is that?

Going to the Library

Thursday, May 8, 2014

If You Like Sherlock Holmes, read these books

Fans of all-things Sherlock will enjoy Moriarty Returns a Letter (2014) by Michael Robertson, the fourth in his 'Baker Street Mystery' series. The premise - a law firm at 221B Baker Street still receives letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes and is required by the lease to reply to all of them. A descendent of Moriarty, Holmes' arch-enemy, returns to seek revenge in this outing. The fine line between the fictional stories and the confusion starting over a century ago about whether Sherlock Holmes existed or not, with some believing that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as literary agent to the real Dr. Watson, is explained. This is a series best read in order. Start with The Baker Street Letters (2009)
Related websites
The Baker Street Letters, author Michael Robertson's website
The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London
Free ebooks by Conan Doyle on Project Gutenberg
New York Times obituary for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Self-help books at the library

Self-help books, sometimes called self-improvement, are very popular at the library. A few on our new non-fiction shelf are:
One Simple Idea, how positive thinking reshaped modern life by Mitch Horowitz (150.1988 HOR)

Optimal Living 360, smart decision making for a balanced life by Sanjay Jain, MD, MBA (158.1 JAI)

I Can See Clearly Now by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (158.1 DYER)

Mr. Horowitz traces the history of the power of positive thinking and explores its efficacy.

Dr. Jain devises methods to improve decision-making abilities.

Dr. Dyer, a well-known inspirational and self-help author writes a memoir with lessons for self-enlightenment.

Browse the 150's on the library new non-fiction shelves or in the stacks for more self-improvement books. Or click on the tag 'self help' in our blog tag cloud for other posts which list self-improvement books the library owns.

For more reading ideas, be sure to sign up for Wowbrary which will send an email to you every Wednesday morning listing the past week's acquisitions at the Berkeley Heights Public Library.
Deer in Berkeley Heights: living in the moment