Thursday, December 29, 2016

What I Read in 2016

Best Book  of My Reading Year:
The Risk Pool by Richard Russo.
 I started reading Everybody's Fool, Richard Russo's much anticipated 2016 sequel to Nobody's Fool, but I had to return the book before I finished because it became due and there was a long waiting list. I will get back to that book when I can - Russo books require a fair commitment of time. Meanwhile, I owned a copy of The Risk Pool (1994) that features a shiftless, but charming, character who reminded me of the Sully in Nobody's Fool, one of my favorite books and favorite characters. Reading the Risk Pool over Thanksgiving week was a total immersion experience. It is a slow read, highly recommended for Russo fans, and readers who enjoy a deep dive into character and place, told with a sly, dark wit.

Short Novels, almost Novellas
Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent (Reviewed in this blog)

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Mrs. Brown by William Norwich (Reviewed in this blog)

Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, a Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
Smile and Be a Villain, a Dorothy Martin mystery by Jeanne M. Dams
No Corners for the Devil, a Cornish mystery by Olive Etchells
Dearly Departed, an Amy's Travel mystery by Hy Conrad
The Perfect Murder, the 1st Inspector Ghote mystery by H.R.F. Keating
The Darling Dahlias and the 11 O'Clock Ladies by Susan Wittig Albert
Threats at Three by Ann Purser
Dead Bolt (Haunted Home Renovation Mystery, #2) by Juliet Blackwell

Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation (The Grantchester Mysteries #5) by James Runcie

Blood Orange (China Bayles, #24) by Susan Wittig Albert
Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3) by Dorothy L. Sayers

An Obvious Fact (Walt Longmire #12) by Craig Johnson (This is Cowboy genre, not Cozy)
The Highwayman (Walt Longmire, #11.5) by Craig Johnson

Night Passage (Jesse Stone, #1) by Robert B. Parker

 By M.C. Beaton, one of my favorite mystery  authors:
Agatha Raisin Pushing up Daisies (Agatha Raisin, #27)
Death of a Valentine (Hamish Macbeth, #25)
Death of a Nurse (Hamish Macbeth, #31)

By Elly Griffiths:
The Zig Zag Girl (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #1) and the second in this new, renamed 'Magic Men' series,  Smoke and Mirrors
The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway, #8)

By Agatha Christie:
Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot, #7) by Agatha Christie
Closed Casket, a new Hercule Poirot mystery by Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie

A Murder of Quality (George Smiley #2) by John le Carré
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
I started John le Carré’s memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, but did not have time to finish before the holds list demanded I return the book.
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (unfinished, this was a long slog and I finally decide to go with the movie versions)
Journey to Munich, a Daisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear
Princess Elizabeth's Spy, a Maggie Hope novel by Susan MacNeal
By Bill Bryson: (author reviewed on this blog)
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1) by Graeme Simsion
The Diamond Caper by Peter Mayle
The Revolving Door of Life, a 44 Scotland Street novel by Alexander McCall Smith

Read for the Tuesday Library Book Group  
The View from the Castle by Alice Munro
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Tea with the Fireflies by Shona Patel
Thanks to Jane Austen
North By Northanger: Or The Shades of Pemberley (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, #3) by Carrie Bebris
Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice (The Austen Project, #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld
Medicine and Health (see blog post about reading while sick)

No Laughing Matter by Joseph Heller

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope by Tom Brokaw
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Fiction, not otherwise classified in this list
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Election by Tom Perrotta 

Children's Books
Beyond the Pawpaw Trees: The Story of Anna Lavinia by Palmer Brown
The Silver Nutmeg: The Story of Anna Lavinia and Toby by Palmer Brown
The Secret Garden & A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I am gradually rereading the Harry Potter series:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (#1 in the series) by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (#2 in the series) by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (#3 in the series) by J.K. Rowling

Christmas Books
Mistletoe Murders: and other stories by P.D. James
A New York Christmas by Anne Perry

Related posts from this blog:
What I Read in 2014
My Year of Reading 2013
My Year of Reading 2013, continued
The Year in Books 2012
The Blog Christmas Posts recapped





Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Atomic Training: learning technology with online tutorials

Does your smart phone seem smarter than you? Do you want to start a blog? Are you curious about how to get organized using Evernote? Are you under-utilizing your Firefox browser? Does Microsoft Word drive you nuts and what are all those options anyway? Are your spreadsheets adding up or just staring back at you mutely? Do you want to tidy up your email account and take back your iPad from your grandchildren? These and other vexing questions will be answered by watching short videos on Atomic Training, free from the Berkeley Heights Public Library.

To use this online resource,  go to our All Things E page
Click on Atomic Training to learn new technology and computer skills online by signing up for a free account using your Berkeley Heights Library card. No need to troll through You Tube to find the best video to learn how to master technology, Atomic Training has videos on hundreds of topics.

A video-based how-to training resource, Atomic Training opens up unlimited access to thousands of short videos covering more than 500 of today's most popular software applications on both PCs and Macs, including:

·    All the latest offerings — Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Google, and more
·    Valuable job training — Improve job skills with in-depth training on Excel and Photoshop
·    Learn valuable social media techniques with tutorials on Twitter, blogging, and podcasting
·    Mobile training — Learn how to use mobile products such as the iPhone and iPad
·    Access anywhere — Watch videos at the library or remotely from home
·    ADA Accessibility — All videos are closed captioned Accessibility Statement

A full list of courses can be found here (copy and paste this link into your browser)

Call the Reference Desk or stop by with your phone, tablet or laptop and we will get you started.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Using Ancestry Library for Genealogy Research

 Ancestry Library  - Census, military & immigration records for genealogy research

   Berkeley Heights Public Library offers library patrons access to Ancestry Library for their genealogical research. The following resources in Ancestry Library can be searched for free: the US Census from 1790 – 1940; vital records including birth, marriage and death records; ship passenger lists; immigration records; city directories, professional directories and British phone books; newspapers; school yearbooks and church directories; military records including draft and enlistment records. Over 11 billion records are accessible in the Ancestry Library database.
  Ancestry Library is the only database offered by the library that must be used while in the library using library computers or by using library wifi on your device. HeritageQuest, another genealogy database offered by BHPL, can be accessed from home by library card holders by going to our ‘Articles and Databases’ webpage 
  For beginning genealogists, Ancestry Library offers  ‘Learning Center’ and ‘Beyond the Basics’ sections in the database that will teach the user how to navigate the resources. Reference librarians can help patrons find the database and point out the basics to get you started finding your ancestors and personal history.

Monday, December 19, 2016

End of Year Clean Up: What Questions Have We Answered?

Do you love watching the TV quiz show Jeopardy? Do you yell the answers out when Alex Trebek asks questions? If so, you may be a reference librarian wannabe. At library reference desks around the world, reference librarians answer questions for a living. Many questions are about how to use the library, how to research a topic, what book to read, but other questions can be, well, anything at all. And all reference librarians savor the really difficult and really weird questions. We keep a file of questions in case the question, or questioner, pops up again. We take questions in person, by phone, by email and by text message. At the end of the year, we go through our file of saved questions and throw most of them out. Here are some gems, edited to preserve the privacy of the questioner. Enjoy; these reference question sheets are headed for the trash.

Q:How do I file in small claims court in NJ?
A: Read this six page information brochure about Small Claims.It gives links to the forms, the fees, and explains the whole process. We printed out the instructions for the patron and wished him luck.

Q: My printout is pink, can you fix it? How do I print in color? How do I print in black and white? How much do printouts cost? How do I print an attachment to email?
A: Questions about printing from the public computers are very common. We make signs and tip-sheets, but, because each question and each questioner is unique, the one-on-one approach works best when it comes to ornery printing problems. As for those pinko printouts: they come and go and we have not yet solved that problem, but not for lack of tinkering with the printer cartridges and cleaning sheets and test printouts. Grrrrr...

Q: I heard on the radio about a book about Israeli economists. Do you have it?
A: The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. They were psychologists and the author was not Lewis Marshall, as the patron told me. That threw me off, but when she mentioned the radio show she heard it on, I could work backward from there.

Q: Another, I heard it on the radio question: what is the organization that will take your stuff and then return it? We thought, but later the patron told us it had the words 'bread and clutter' in it and she heard about it on the radio.
A: Again, we traced it back from the radio website. Google was not helping us with these radio questions and the patrons had both misheard the vital keywords in each instance. By the time we thought we had the right anti-clutter answer, the patron called back to say she had called WOR and got the answer from them. Still not sure what bread had to do with it though.

Q: We get lots of medical questions and we often use to answer them. Usually patrons want information on alternative medicine. The worst questions were the one about the abcessed tooth, followed closely by the skin rash question.
A: I am not a doctor, I am just a librarian, please talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about this matter. Here is an article from a reputable source (Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, National Institutes of Health, etc etc,) that explains your condition in layman's terms. Please don't show me your rash, thank you. Good luck. Feel better soon.

So 'I heard it on the radio' (or misheard it on the radio) followed closely by medical and legal questions with a whole bunch of help me with the computer/printer/my tablet/the library catalog are some of our most frequently asked reference question categories. Before the internet came along, reference librarians would keep card files of frequently asked questions and answers so we would not have to look up the names of the Seven Dwarfs or the word for fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Those are actual examples of the file we had at Richmond Public Library when I worked there years ago. It seems as though whenever a reporter has a slow day they will write one of two librarian/library stories:

1: Weird reference questions asked at libraries. Just  Google that phrase for some funny reading, or here is an example from a Paste article about the New York Public Library reference files.
Reference librarians love those articles.

2:  Aren't libraries and librarians obsolete now that we have the internet is the other article that appears routinely about our profession. Librarians do not like these articles. We don't like them because they are often poorly researched and just untrue. Reference librarians are still answering questions all over the world, for people who do not use the internet or who use the internet but still can't find the answer. It's true that libraries have changed since computers and the internet came along, but we are still here to help.
Where is the Internet?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Memo Memes: passive aggressive memos

End of year tidying in the Reference Department meant going through our clipboard of recent memos to reference librarians and the binder of old memos. We tossed the outdated and  irrelevant memos. We also noticed the top 10 most popular memo items were as follows: (I might be exaggerating a little #Fakememos #ReductioadAbsurdum #LibraryLife)

10. Please answer the phone if no one else answers it. 
   10a. Clarification: If Circ is busy, Ref should pick up the phone for them.
9. To transfer a call, press the transfer button then transfer to the desired extension.
  9a. To put a call on hold, press the hold button.
  9b. To answer the phone, pick it up, press the lit button. Say 'hello.'
8. If a computer is not working, turn on the monitor.
  8a. If a computer is not working, check to see that it is plugged in.
  8b. If a computer is not working, press the power button on the CPU.
  8c. The CPU is the big box thing on the floor or the desk that is not the monitor.
7. If printer is not printing, check to see if it needs a new ink cartridge.
    7a. If printer is not printing, check to see if it is plugged in and turned on. 
    7b. If printer is not printing, check the paper.
6. Please use your 'library voices' in the library. (This means staff)
     6a. Do not yell at patrons to use their 'library voices.'
5. When finished in the Break Room, please wash your  coffee mugs
     5a. or I will throw them out.
     5b. Please throw out your old food in the refrigerator.
     5c. or I will throw it out.
     5d. Please mark your lunches with your name and date.
     5e. or someone will eat it or throw it out 
     5f. The Break Room has no more mugs, please bring in your own mugs.
4. Please read all memos on the memo clipboard and review them periodically.
3. Please write all notes to to other staff legibly.
    3a. email me if you can't write legibly 
    3b. Text me if it is an emergency.
    3c. Interlibrary loan is never an emergency
2. Please sign and date all notes you leave for the reference librarians.
    2a. No, I do not recognize your handwriting.
1. Please initial all memos when you have read them.

Thank you and here's to a whole new bunch of memos in 2017!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

GoodReads Best Books 2016 for Mysteries and Thrillers

Here is the list of the most popular mysteries and thrillers of 2016 according to the GoodReads poll of its readers. Go to the GoodReads website for more lists by genre of the top 2016 books

The GoodReads' Mystery and Thriller 2016 WINNER is:
End of Watch by Stephen King 'The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.'

The Nominees were... (from most popular by GoodReads' votes to least votes)
End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #3) by Stephen King
A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #12) by Louise Penny The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Brotherhood in Death (In Death, #42) by J.D. Robb
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad, #6) by Tana French
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
The Last Mile (Amos Decker, #2) by David Baldacci
The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon, #16) by Daniel Silva
The Widow by Fiona Barton
The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster, #1) by Robert Bryndza
The Kept Woman (Will Trent, #8) by Karin Slaughter
Into the Light (The Light, #1) by Aleatha Romig
Play Dead (D.I. Kim Stone, #4) by Angela Marsons
The Queen's Accomplice (Maggie Hope Mystery #6) by Susan Elia MacNeal
Redemption Road by John Hart

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Most Checked Out Books in 2016 - so far

We ran a report to find out which titles circulated the most this year. This report includes all books in the Children's collection and the Adult collection. Many of these titles are summer reading assignments from the local schools. This explains the massive popularity of The A.B.C Murders by Agatha Christie, a terrific mystery which went out 63 times this year, just topping The Girl on the Train because so many local students checked out our multiple copies of Christie's whodunit last summer.
What Librarians Do With Old Books in December

The A.B.C. murders : a Hercule Poirot novel     Christie, Agatha, 1890-1976    63          
The Girl on the Train     Hawkins, Paula    60          
Diary of a wimpy kid : old school     Kinney, Jeff    59          
A mango-shaped space     Mass, Wendy, 1967-    54          
The nightingale     Hannah, Kristin    54          
All the light we cannot see     Doerr, Anthony, 1973-    48          
15th affair     Patterson, James, 1947-    47          
Diary of a wimpy kid : Greg Heffley's journal     Kinney, Jeff    47          
Fool me once     Coben, Harlan, 1962-    45          
Rogue lawyer     Grisham, John    44          
Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone     Rowling, J. K.    43          
After You     Moyes, Jojo, 1969-    37          
Before the Fall     Hawley, Noah    37          
My name is Lucy Barton : a novel     Strout, Elizabeth    37          
Diary of a wimpy kid : the ugly truth     Kinney, Jeff    36          
Miller's Valley     Quindlen, Anna    36          
NYPD Red 4     Patterson, James, 1947-    36          
Pokemon adventures     Kusaka, Hidenori    36          
Merlin, the lost years     Barron, T. A.    35          
Fates and furies     Groff, Lauren    34          
Gathering blue     Lowry, Lois    34          
The last mile     Baldacci, David    34          
The black widow     Silva, Daniel, 1960-    33          
A man called Ove : a novel     Backman, Fredrik, 1981-    32          
Diary of a wimpy kid : the last straw     Kinney, Jeff    32       

Ideas for Book Groups

'What book do you recommend for our book group to read?' is one of our most common questions here at  Berkeley Heights Public Library Reference Department. Here is the list we provided to our two library book groups to select their 2017 reading choices. The annotations are taken from Amazon, our library catalog (marked OPAC), or my own notes (marked 'Anne'). Our book groups will meet in January to brainstorm this list and other titles for consideration for our 2017 reading season.

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams (2015) 'Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler's problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she's finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician.Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William's final book about the Schuyler sisters.' –OPAC content

As Good as Gone by Larry Watson (2016) 'It’s 1963, and Calvin Sidey, one of the last of the old cowboys, has long ago left his family to live a life of self-reliance out on the prairie. He’s been a mostly absentee father and grandfather until his estranged son asks him to stay with his grandchildren, Ann and Will, for a week while he and his wife are away. So Calvin agrees to return to the small town where he once was a mythic figure, to the very home he once abandoned.' - Amazon

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (2016) 'Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.' – Amazon. If your group has not yet read the lyrical classic, Out of Africa, that would make a good pairing with this title. - Anne

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (2016) “Set in London during the years of 1939–1942, when citizens had slim hope of survival, much less victory; and on the strategic island of Malta, which was daily devastated by the Axis barrage, Everyone Brave is Forgiven features little-known history and a perfect wartime love story inspired by the real-life love letters between Chris Cleave’s grandparents.” – Amazon. The author's earlier book Little Bee (2009) is a good choice for groups that have not yet read it. - Anne

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (2015) Many a therapist will tell you that honesty and transparency is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Lauren Groff cleverly turns this concept on its head in Fates and Furies, demonstrating that sometimes it’s what you don’t say—to protect your partner’s vanity, their reputation, their heart—that makes a marriage hum. –Erin Kodicek, Amazon

Glory Over Everything: beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grisson (2016) From the author of the New York Times bestseller and beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House, a novel of family and long-buried secrets along the treacherous Underground Railroad.-Amazon. Our group liked Grisson's earlier work, a fictional account of plantations and slavery, The Kitchen House. - Anne

Grunt, the curious science of humans at war
by Mary Roach (2016) “Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries –-- panic, exhaustion, heat, noise --- and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat.” – I love wacky and intrepid science reporter Mary Roach. The Tuesday group read Packing for Mars which is a great pairing with The Martian by Andy Weir, which the group read. Generally the groups prefer fiction to non-fiction, but read one or two memoirs or other non-fiction titles per year. - Anne

Guests on Earth
by Lee Smith (2013) “It's 1936 when orphaned thirteen-year-old Evalina Toussaint is admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, a mental institution known for its innovative treatments for nervous disorders and addictions. Taken under the wing of the hospital s most notable patient, Zelda Fitzgerald, Evalina witnesses the cascading events leading up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward, Zelda among them. Author Lee Smith has created, through her artful blending of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart a time and a place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, tragedy and transformation, are luminously intertwined.”- OPAC notes. Lee Smith and her publishing house, Algonquin Books, are favorites of mine and we recommend both to reading groups often. - Anne

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016) 'Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.'-Amazon

LaRose, a novel by Louise Erdrich (2016) “North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.” –Amazon. Louise Erdrich's books are usually a sure bet with our book groups. She does not disappoint. - Anne

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (2016) 'From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Vacationers, a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college— and what it means to finally grow up, well after adulthood has set in. Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.' - Amazon. I loved The Vacationers and would recommend it to book groups looking for a fun summer read; I think Modern Lovers would appeal mostly to an under fifty crowd. - Anne

Mothering Sunday, a romance by Graham Swift (2016) “A luminous, intensely moving tale that begins with a secret lovers’ assignation in the spring of 1924, then unfolds to reveal the whole of a remarkable life. Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild has worked as a maid at an English country house since she was sixteen. For almost all of those years she has been the clandestine lover to Paul Sheringham, young heir of a neighboring house. The two now meet on an unseasonably warm March day—Mothering Sunday—a day that will change Jane’s life forever.” – The book groups have read other titles by Graham Swift which are short, well-written, very understated and discussable. Now I just have to remember which title. hmm - Anne

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid (2014)( an Austen  Project boo - retelling by modern authors) “Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid has riveted millions of readers worldwide with her acutely suspenseful, psychologically complex, seamlessly plotted thrillers. In Northanger Abbey, she delivers her own, witty, updated take on Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose visit to the stately home of a well-to-do acquaintance stirs her most macabre imaginings, with an extra frisson of suspense that only McDermid could provide.” - Amazon

Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian (2015) “When Orhan’s brilliant and eccentric grandfather, Kemal Türkoglu, who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs, is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But Kemal has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in a retirement home in Los Angeles. Intent on righting this injustice, Orhan unearths a story that, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which Orhan’s family is built, a story that could unravel his own future. - Amazon

Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (2015) Based on the story of King David, traces his journey from an obscure shepherd to a hero and king before his fall. Peeling away the myth to bring David to life in Second Iron Age Israel, Brooks traces the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage. – OPAC content

Siracusa by Delia Ephron (2016) “New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn; his wife, Taylor; and their daughter, Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage.” –

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (2015) “Abby and Red Whitshank worry about Denny, their ever-mysterious son. Their other, more accountable grown offspring live nearby with their children, and Jeannie and the son nicknamed “Stem” work for Red, who carried forward his father Junior’s construction company. Retired social worker Abby and Red still live in the handsome, obsessively well-constructed house Junior built for a wealthy client, then slyly managed to make his own. During chaotic family gatherings, disorienting crises, and abrupt domestic reconfigurations (all subtly laced with motifs of blue and Wizard of Oz allusions), simmering resentments and secrets bubble up.” –Booklist

Station Eleven by Emily Mandel St. John (2014) A movie star who's decided to pound the boards as King Lear collapses and dies mid-performance, and shortly thereafter civilization collapses and starts dying as well. The narrative then moves between the actor's early career and a journey through the blasted landscape 15 years after the book's opening events. Indie Next darling Mandel breaks out with a major publisher.- OPAC content

The Ghost Map, The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson (2007) (non-fiction) “It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time.” - Amazon

The Girls by Emma Cline (2016) Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence. - Amazon

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (2016) “For the last 20 years, Jean Perdu has been the captain of a floating bookshop in Paris, a so-called literary apothecary where the proprietor can readily diagnose any psychological ills of the hapless readers who board the book barge and efficiently prescribe just the right book or books to address the ailment. If a reader is in search of levity after the loss of a friend or consolation in the wake of a bad breakup, Monsieur Perdu has just the thing.” –

The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper (2016) A touching and intimate correspondence between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, offering timeless wisdom and a revealing glimpse into their lives. - Amazon

The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion (2013) The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. –Chicago Tribune (Note: I loved this very funny book, a light read and very well done. Especially for fans of the tv show 'The Big Bang Theory'– Anne)

The Sound of Glass by Karen White (mystery) (2016) “Two years after the death of her husband, Merritt Heyward receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by his reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.” - Amazon

The Summer Before the War, a novel by Helen Simonson (2016)  “A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community.”—The Washington Post. “The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love on the eve of World War I that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is set.” - Amazon

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathon Evison (2015) “With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet’s past.” - Amazon

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (2014) An epic tale about an Irish American couple and the constraints of the American dream, this first novel is benefiting from tremendous in-house enthusiasm. Eileen Tumulty, raised by her immigrant parents in Woodside, NY, in the 1940s and 1950s, is determined not to settle for some boisterous, glad-handing type. Serious-minded scientist Ed Leary seems exactly the right sort to carry her to the larger world, but their marriage founders as she realizes that he really doesn't care about increasingly bigger, better homes, cars, and jobs. The portrait of a marriage and of a crucial time in American history; great for book clubs. – OPAC content

Friday, November 18, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Displays in the Children's Room

Happy Thanksgiving from the Berkeley Heights Public Library staff to all our patrons and blog readers!
Enjoy our displays of Thanksgiving books, DVD's, audiobooks and cute stuffed animals upstairs near the Circulation Desk and in the Children's Room. Thanks to Ann-Marie and Laura for decorating for the holiday.
The In the News and Trending Topics Shelves
The Slat-wall shelf: Holiday Crafts
I am NOT posting the very funny joke, 'The Library Parrot at Thanksgiving' this year. But if you just can't get through the holidays without that joke and some other Thanksgiving thoughts this blog has posted over the years, here are the links:

The Post with the original 'Library Parrot at Thanksgiving,' a true, or truthy, story

The Post with the Poem, with a plea to use our Columbia Granger's Poetry database

The Post about how librarians get ready for Thanksgiving, blog-wise that is  

The Post about how the library is open the day after Thanksgiving and what we do and maybe you don't want to go shopping  on Black Friday...

A very short, stupid turkey joke, right here in its entirety for  those in a hurry to be amused:

"Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?
drum roll please....
the outside.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Easy Walks near Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

I have been trying to increase the number of steps I take daily by adding short, level, easy, local, no-excuses walks to my daily routine. I use a pedometer which counts my steps and relays them by Blue Tooth to the free app that goes with the pedometer. This pedometer's name rhymes with SnitPit and I like it a lot, but I am not recommending one device over any other. I have become a bit obsessed with finding places to walk in good weather and in bad, but I prefer to go somewhere nearby. Here is a list of some of my favorite places so far and some books that list and describe where to go hiking and sightseeing in New Jersey. Let me know of some of your favorites by emailing reference at

Leonard J. Buck Garden, Far Hills, 07931
Reeves Reed Arboretum, Summit, NJ 07901
Greenwood Gardens, Short Hills, NJ 07078
Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morris Township, NJ

Wildlife and Animals:
The Raptor Trust, Long Hill Township, NJ 07946
The Great Swamp, New Vernon, NJ 07976
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, Morris Township, NJ 07960

Local Parks and Historical Sites:
Historic Speedwell, Morristown, NJ
Passaic River Park, Summit,NJ
Bryant Park, Summit, NJ

Off the Beaten Path New Jersey, a guide to Unique Places by Kay and Bill Scheller (2011)
New Jersey Day Trips by Patrick Sarver (2011)
BackRoads New Jersey, Driving at the Speed of Life by Mark Di Ionno (2002)
and many more titles can be found at Dewey Decimal #917.49

At the Reference Desk: quick, look this up for me!

Asked lately of the BHPL Reference Librarians: details of the questions were edited to preserve the privacy of the patrons.

Questions by phone:

Q: I need names of dermatologists in Livingston, NJ. Can you 'Google' that for me? I don't use computers.
A: We 'Googled' that question because the patron was in a hurry. We often look up physicians in the reference book 'The Official ABMS directory of board certified medical specialists' or use the American Medical Association's Doctor Finder webpage, but if patrons just want us to quickly search the internet with the understanding that the results are random and not a recommendation, we will do that for them. Using reference books and the AMA website takes longer than Googling.
Follow-up Q: That's a doctor who treats skin stuff, right?
A: Right.

Q:Is it illegal to sell a used mattress in New Jersey?
A: We quickly realized this is a complicated issue and while we were looking for the easy, quick, fast answer that the patron wanted, he changed the question to ask for a list of used furniture stores in the town where he lives. He does not use computers. If we were, we would mark the answer to this question, 'No, but it's complicated.'
Note: here is an article from about tougher proposed laws on the sale of used mattresses. We infer that used mattresses can be sold in NJ, but have to be sanitized first and carefully labelled following guidelines. Here is a PDF from the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs about used mattresses.

Q: How do I register to vote?
A: We recommended this Union County website for all kinds of election deadlines and other information.
The printable New Jersey Voter Registration Application is here

Follow-up Q: Can I register to vote at the library or a Post Office?
A: No. We have applications available (see above), but we cannot register voters.

Questions at the public internet computers:


Q:What email do I use?
A: We don't know. Is it Gmail, Yahoo, Verizon?
 Follow-up Q: What is my email user name and password?
A: We don't know.
Q: My home computer remembers. How do I find out what my password is?
A: Did  you write it down somewhere?

Q: Can I quickly print out something from my email on your computers?
A: Yes
Follow-up Q: Where is my email?
A: What kind of email do you have? (see above conversation.)

Questions at the Reference Desk in person:

Q: What ever happened to the Dewey Decimal System?
A: We still use it.
Q: Really?
A: Yes. 

 Q: I don't know the title or author, but I want to know if you have a book called something.
A: Can  you describe the book?
Q: Oh, you know, everyone is reading it.
A: Is it a bestseller?
Q: Can you get it for me?
A: It depends on what it is.
Q: I'll call my friend who recommended it.
A: OK, let us know what the title is and we'll take it from there.
Q: I'm sure you have it.
A: Probably, but it might be checked out.
Q: Yes, that's probably why it's not here.

Q: How do I connect to wifi here?
A: Your device will find 'LibraryWiFi.' There is no password to get into the network.
Q: No password?
A: No.
Q: It's not finding it.
A: Just wait. That usually works. Or reboot your device. Or look at your settings to make sure you are not on Airplane mode or something blocking it. 
Q: OK, got it.
A: Great.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Coming of Age Books

Try asking people for examples of coming-of-age novels.  Most readers agree that these stories follow the changes experienced as a character matures from youth or adolescence to adulthood.  Perhaps adulthood should not be measured in years, but in a character’s evolving and expanding view of the world.  Maybe it is when the character realizes that he/she is not the center of the world, but a participant.  Scarlett O’Hara took so long to reach that point that I was surprised to find Gone With the Wind on one coming-of-age list.  I think readers could argue if Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird should be replaced on coming-of-age lists by Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.
Older lists of coming-of-age novels contain books such as Anne of Avonlea, David Copperfield, and The Secret Garden.  Slightly newer lists will contain Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Lord of the Flies, and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.  An even newer list will have Nick & Norah’s Playlist, Secret Life of Bees, Kite Runner, Perks of being a Wallflower, Eleanor & Park, About a Boy and Fangirl.  John Green has dominated the market with Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Fault in Our Stars.  J.K Rowling gave us the Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins created Katnis Everdeen and the Hunger Games trilogy.  We have watched all of these characters mature whether we like or dislike the adults they became.
Although I have read and enjoyed many of the titles mentioned above, my coming-of-age list would include Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks, Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford and Montana 1948 by Larry Watson.  It is an eclectic mix, spanning from 17th century Holland to the mid-century United States. Whatever your definition of coming-of-age novels may be, these books can be enjoyed long after adolescence.

-S. Bakos

Related lists:
Coming of Age books on Goodreads
11 Coming-of-Age Books from the Huffington Post
Flavia Comes of Age
Bildungsroman definition 
Great Coming of Age Novels on Pinterest
Harry Potter Comes of Age

Monday, September 12, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver

If this blog were a greeting card, it would have a 'happy belated birthday' option. I noticed that our post on Mary Oliver's poem 'Percy and Books' has really been trending on our usage statistics in the last week. That's because Ms. Oliver's birthday was Saturday, September 10. She is 81. Happy birthday to a wonderful, American poet! Here is the link to our post 'Percy and Books' about her dog Percy. What does Percy feel about books? Well, they aren't dog treats or a walk are they?

Percy and Books (Eight) by Mary Oliver

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Notorious RBG: the Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My Yearly Biography Reading, or maybe not...

I am not a biography person so I was busy congratulating myself on reading my annual biography, autobiography or memoir.  I had finished Notorious RBG: the Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, before I realized that it is cataloged in 347.7326 (Law, Supreme Court), not BIO GIN.  That is the charm of selecting downloadable books from OverDrive or Hoopla – I look at what is new and available and don’t consider any classification system.  Now, in keeping with my self-inflicted reading requirements, I still owe myself a biography.
Reading Notorious RBG is an adventure.  The authors, Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, mix and match narrative, photographs, documents, cartoons and fan art.   The book has something for everyone, including a shout out to opera buffs.  The court decisions and legal briefs are described with enough detail to inform without overwhelming.  One particular decision involving voting rights, Shelby County v. Holder, has been mentioned almost daily on news programs during this election cycle so I was pleased to learn more about the background.  Perhaps the biggest surprise is the love story between RBG and her husband.   His final letter to her is heartbreaking.  Notorious RGB is a wonderful combination, mixing details about her ground-breaking legal career with enough personal information to make the woman in the formidable black robes more human.
Before the end of 2016 I must choose a biography or autobiography to read.  Books about the Kennedy family are still being published at a rapid rate, with the Roosevelts running a close second.  Alexander Hamilton is trendy and interest in Lincoln never fades.  I tend to avoid movie stars and anything too sensational – serial killers are definitely not an option.  Please send any recommendations through comments.

- S. Bakos

Related sources:

New York Times review of Notorious RBG, the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmen and Shana Knizhnik (2015)

Vogue review of Notorious RBG, '15 Things I Learned About Ruth Bader Ginsburg From Notorious RBG'