Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Borrow DVDs from Your Public Library

Borrowing DVDs at Your Public Library - our new ratings system

Can  you believe it? A new year is just hours away with all the hope and anticipation new beginnings promise. At Berkeley Heights Public Library, we are starting 2015 with a few changes that will make borrowing DVDs easier for our library users.  DVD boxes will now have visible rating stickers to help distinguish G, PG, PG-13 and R films.  We are making these changes to assist parents and caregivers in choosing appropriate viewing materials, but remember that these ratings are subjective and not intended to endorse, limit or restrict use.  Many animated PG films will be moved to the row of children’s DVDs - who knew so many animated films geared to family viewing have PG ratings?  In deciding which films to move, I have been reading reviews and ratings on several websites.  The following have been most helpful:  Kids-in-mind movie ratings; Common Sense Media; Dove; Parent Previews; and Is This Movie Suitable.  I check so many reviews because of the range of opinions and the variety of criteria used to rate movies.
The staff is also changing the loan period of TV series which have multiple discs.  These titles will circulate for 14 days, up from 7 days.  Now it will be easier to watch an entire season of Downton Abbey or Longmire without binge viewing.  Please be patient, this transition will be gradual until we capture every series/season. 
To all our library patrons:  Enjoy a Happy and Healthy New Year filled with interesting films - borrowed for free from your local library, of course!
The Berkeley Heights Public Library

- S. Bakos

Friday, December 19, 2014

Our blog's December holiday posts over the years:

The one in which Ellen listens to Dylan Thomas' 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' and tells us the Berkeley Heights connection with the author.

The one in which Anne tracks Santa Claus using the NORAD website. I am sure there is an app now, right?

The one listing a few of the library's MANY holiday craft books. 
It is probably too late to make crafts for gifts now, but you could start for next year or just enjoy looking at the pictures and then enjoy shopping online on Etsy letting someone else do the hard work of crafting.

Favorite Holiday Books gives you a small reading list for the season.

And feast your eyes on 'The Best Christmas Board' on Pinterest
and Hanukkah Card Ideas on Pinterest

Holiday Displays at BHPL

Book Displays in the Children's Room
Miss Laura's Poinsettias Look Real...
If it's December, it must be holiday book display month. The librarians found inspiration on Pinterest and Facebook to make a tree out of donated books (below). If you want to buy the book at the bottom of the pile, it will be like pick-up-sticks to get it without upsetting the apple cart. Or better yet, just wait until the New Year when we take down the display.
 Follow Our Pinterest board about library displays

Tree Made out of Donated Books

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I Read in 2014

Because December is a good time to think back on the year, I was just tidying up my reading journal to see what I read in 2014. What I read was lots of very light mysteries of the type called cozies, with a monthly foray into something a bit more literary for the library book group and the occasional detour into the quirky. I did not read much non-fiction this year, but I did follow up on mystery series that I enjoy,  re-read some classics and discovered some new authors.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Best Holiday Title: A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer (2013)
Best Rediscovered mystery series: The Riddle of the Third Mile, an Inspector Morse mystery by Colin Dexter (1997)
Best mystery on which a TV series is based: In a Dry Season, a DCI Banks mystery by Peter Robinson (1999)
Best Book Group Selection: The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012)
Best Sherlock Holmes recreation: 'The Baker Street' series by Michael Robertson (2009 - 2014)
Best Mystery Series Debut: The Outsmarting of Criminals by Steven Riglosi (2014)
Best Books about Bookshops: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley  (1917) and
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)
Best Summer/Beach Read: The Vacationers by Emma Straub (2014) and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (2012)
Best Continuation of Classic Mystery: The Monogram Murders, the new Hercule Poirot mystery by Sophie Hannah (2014)
Best Re-read Classic: Dubliners by James Joyce (1917)
Best Self-Help: 10% Happier by Dan Harris (2014)
Best Foodie Book or book on which movie was based: The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Marais (2010)
Best Fixing Up an Old House Memoir: Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett (2005)

My Year of Reading 2013, the first six months
My Year of Reading 2013, the second half
The Year in Books 2012

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Time of Year for Best Book List Roundups

While looking through the library blog, I came across this end of year post from six years ago. It made me realize that those end of  year look-backs are coming to tell us what happened in 2014. What happened to whom and where in the world it happened. For librarians, it's all about what we read and what we can recommend to our readers. So before I get to 2014, take a look at what we were reading not that long ago. If you missed these books, they  will no doubt be waiting on the shelves for you to check out. (Note: some of the links from 2008 no longer work - apologies.)

Best Books Lists 2008  (first posted on 12/26/2008)

Best books lists are typically compiled in November and December each year by various book reviewers. There are lists of best non-fiction, fiction, mystery, science fiction and other genres. There are high-brow lists and lists aimed at recreational readers. There are lengthy, subdivided lists and the punchy best five or best ten lists. The overall effect can be like listening to the weather report, at the end you still don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow. There is just too much information and the mind starts to tune it out. Well, mine does anyhow.

Some library patrons print out best books lists and carry them in their wallets all year, working their way systematically through them. Others produce rumpled scraps of paper with faded or illegibly scribbled titles of books recommended by friends, or heard about on the radio or television. Some people rely on their memory and others just browse the shelves when they get to the library. Some people put themselves on reserve for most bestsellers and others never read bestsellers. Some swear by Oprah picks and others find her taste very depressing.

Fortunately enough books are published each year so that there should be something for everyone. The trick is to figure out what it is. As I was browsing through the New Fiction shelves on Tuesday for myself in anticipation of two days off and optimistically thinking there would be time to read, a patron asked for a recommendation. Since I was stumped myself about what to read next, we looked together. My Director and I recommended the Inn at Lake Devine by one of my favorite authors, Laura Lipman and Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman because the patron seemed to like character-driven, psychological fiction like Jodi Picoult's and Sara Gruen's. I took home Bailey White's holiday stories as told on NPR, Nothing with Strings which was terrific, and Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders as the latest evidence of my 2008 addiction to the Grande Dame of Mysteries.

Take a look at these end of year lists to find what you plan to read in 2009 or come ask at the Reference Desk and we'll see if we can come up with a list made just for you.

NPR, the Complete Holiday Book Recommendations 2008

Amazon's Top 100 Editors Picks and the Top 100 Customer Favorites

Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

Louisa Ermelino writes in PW, "There were the authors we expected to deliver, and they did: Louise Erdrich with The Plague of Doves, Richard Price with Lush Life, Jhumpa Lahiri with Unaccustomed Earth, Lydia Millet with How the Dead Dream. A breakthrough surprise about cricket, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, delighted us, while Tim Winton's Breath took ours away. We listened to our elders in How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People; thought about our planet with The Soul of the Rhino; examined our history in The Hemingses of Monticello and Abraham Lincoln: A Life; and, thanks to Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, we even considered Jesus for President."

The PW Fiction list starts with Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News? the third novel featuring PI Jackson Brodie which I just started and expect to be as good as the first two.

Library Journal's Best Books 2008

The New York Times 10 Best Books 2008

USA Today's list of 10 Books We Loved Reading in 2008 probably coincides most closely with my own tastes because it includes Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which I enjoyed and which both appear on several other lists.

Sure Bets for Readers

What to Read: Sure Bets (originally posted March 27, 2013) 
or how does the librarian know what her patrons want to read next?

'Sure bets' according to librarian Joyce Saricks in her 'At Leisure' column in the December 1, 2012 Booklist are,
'titles and sometimes authors that appeal to a wide range of readers, that fly off displays, and that we turn to when our minds go blank and we can't think of anything to suggest to a waiting reader. These aren't current best-sellers but, rather, older titles we treasure.'

However you define it, every reference librarian likes to have certain books to recommend for each type of reader that will be available on the shelf. That's why bestsellers don't fit into this category very well. If a patron NEEDS a book to read RIGHT NOW, recommending a book with a weeks-long waiting list is probably not a helpful suggestion.

Of the books and authors Ms. Saricks recommends, I agree that for fun non-fiction, Mary Roach and Bill Bryson might work for readers who like science (Roach's 'Packing for Mars' is very funny and informative) and who like just plain laugh-out-loud writing (Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods' has been very well-received by many patrons I have recommended it to.)

Here are some 'sure bets' I have recommended and heard back from readers who enjoyed them:

For readers who want an action/adventure type of mystery, Stuard Woods' Florida-based mysteries deliver a good page-turning experience with a tough-guy edge and a little sex but not too much gore.

For readers who like dark mysteries, try Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch police procedurals set in Los Angeles. Readers who liked the TV series 'The Wire' would be a good fit for this author.

For readers who want cozy, reassuring, character-based novels, our Library Director has had success recommending Mary Ann Shaffer's 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society'. Unfortunately the author died before the book was published so this is a stand-alone title. But if readers like this historical cozy, they might enjoy Adriana Trigiani's 'Big Stone Gap' series based in West Virginia.

Trigiani falls almost in the 'chic lit' category but without the shopping aspect. For more good writing in the chic lit genre, try anything by Jennifer Weiner.

Some readers are WWII fans, for them recommend 'Unbroken, a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption' by Lauren Hillenbrand.

My favorite genre is cozy mystery, so if I find a fellow cozy fan who has not yet discovered Alexander McCall Smith's 'Number One Ladies Detective Agency' series, I can feel confident that reader is going to have a lot of good reading ahead of her.

Putting the right book in the right hands at the right time that suits the reader's mood just that that moment is a great feeling. What are some of your sure bets?