Quick Picks from CMCL

January 27, 2015

Blurbs From the Branch: Italy + Art = Awesome!

howtobebothOne of the best books I read in 2014 was Ali Smith’s new novel How to Be Both. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this book is not only extremely well written, but also very fascinating. It consists of two connected stories, one about a teenage girl living in the 21st century whose mother has just died, and the other about an Italian artist living in the 15th century. Smith masterfully weaves the two tales together with beautiful, poetic language, giving the reader a little bit of everything: love, art, magic, loss, sadness, struggle for identity, and, above all, the quest for truth and beauty. The coolest part? Because the two stories can be read in any order, the publisher printed half the books with the teenager’s story first, and the other half with the artist’s story first. So when you get this book from the library, which story is first in your copy will come as a surprise! I loved it!

 

– Becca

January 26, 2015

Off the Shelf: Cooking with Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey

Filed under: Info — cmlrob @ 10:00 am

abbeyI’m basically a newbie to Downton Abbey having only seen the last season and some episodes of the previous seasons.  (And I probably won’t go back and watch the others knowing the fates of Sybil and Matthew.)  This season finds the family feeling uneasy. The times they are a changin’ at the Abbey and if the Crawley’s feel uncomfortable now, just wait until the stock market crashes!  At least the family still has Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen as a constant of order and industriousness.  But what exactly does Mrs. Patmore prepare?  And don’t you ever wonder what all of those sauces she has the maids whip up taste like? I do.  Luckily for those of us who wonder, The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines exists.  With recipes like Lobster Thermidor and Lady Sybil’s Poached Salmon with Creamy Hollandaise Sauce, at least we can try some recipes Mrs. Patmore might put on the menu.

January 23, 2015

Checking In: A Show About Nothing

Filed under: Checking In, Movies & TV — Tags: , , , , — Eric D @ 2:34 pm

Place a hold!Today is a special anniversary: on this day in 1991, the second season of Seinfeld began to air on television! Far from being a “show about nothing,” as popularly described, Seinfeld started as the brainchild of Larry David and Jerry himself to show (in their own special way) how comedians get material from the seemingly mundane happenings of regular people. Season One – though in retrospect a great season like the rest of them – was short, and initially rejected by NBC as pointless. When Season Two aired, the show had gained steam and the producers were finally free to get daring. The star episode of this season is “The Chinese Restaurant,” where the gang goes out to see Plan 9 From Outer Space (one of the worst movies ever made) and ends up getting derailed by a craving for Chinese, a telephone which is constantly being used, and a flaky maitre’d. The archetypes of each character set themselves in stone over the course of this season: Elaine, the neurotic serial dater; George, the stingy, self-described “Lord of the Idiots;” Kramer, the mercurial, door-busting, perpetually jobless wackjob; and Jerry, the cereal-obsessed straight man who somehow holds them all together. The idea of a successful serial show where the characters never develop or change, a show which has not a single moment of actual pathos, was unheard of until this moment, and though many have tried to travel this road since, none have succeeded at quite the same level. Although we are gathered here today to celebrate Season Two of Seinfeld, our library system has each and every season available for checkout – go grab one and relive Festivus, the Soup Nazi, the car with the eternal smell, and the Bubble Boy. These pretzels are making me thirsty!

January 20, 2015

Blurbs From the Branch: Books for Serial Fans

Filed under: Blurbs from the Branch, Books, Info — Tags: , , , , — Becca B @ 8:00 am

Serial-2Are you going through Serial withdrawal after listening to the last episode of the season one podcast?  If you are like me (and why wouldn’t you be?), you can’t wait for the next season to begin.  To hold you over until then, I recommend you check out these true crime and investigative journalism tales, in either print or audio.

God’ll Cut You Down : The Tangled Tale of a White Supremacist, a Black Hustler, a Murder, and How I Lost a Year in Mississippi, by John Safran

The Most Dangerous Animal of All : Searching for My Father … and Finding the Zodiac Killer, by Gary L. Stewart

The Innocent Man : Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, by John Grisham

The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper, Case Closed, by Patricia Cornwell

People Who Eat Darkness : The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up, by Richard Lloyd Parry

A Death in Belmont, by Sebastian Junger

Devil’s Knot : The True Story of the West Memphis Three, by Mara Leveritt

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

The Devil in the White City : Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher : A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective, by Kate Summerscale

Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer

Defending Gary : Unraveling the Mind of the Green River Killer, by Mark Prothero

The Good Nurse : A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, by Charles Graeber

– Nicole

January 16, 2015

Checking In, Classics Edition: Dracula, by Bram Stoker

dracula-coverWhen I was in the ninth grade, I was assigned to read Bram Stoker’s groundbreaking Gothic horror novel, Dracula, for my English class. I considered myself a reader, even then, but when faced with a 400 page book written in 1897 in the midst of my great exploration of science-fiction, I confess that I skimmed it as quickly as possible and remembered next to nothing. However, around Halloween last year, I had the good fortune to have a particular film recommended to me: the Hammer Horror production of Dracula, starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and none other than Christopher Lee as the Count himself. Having been thrilled by the performances, and wondering how closely the plot resembled that of the original novel, I was inspired to pick it up and give it another go.

And now I am insisting that the rest of you go read it as well. Seriously- go!

There are so many things I did not remember about the novel of Dracula, and so much that differs from the myriad of theatrical and print rehashings that have cropped up over the years. Here are some things that struck me as I read the novel:

-Did you know that Dracula is an epistolary novel? Rather than telling it from a single point of view, the entire novel is told through diary excerpts, newspaper clippings, and letters- something which I clearly remember in Frankenstein, but had completely forgotten about in Dracula.

-Did you know that Dracula in the novel is not harmed by sunlight? He may not change his form, and most of his supernatural powers are nullified, but there is nothing stopping him from walking around in the daytime and doing as he pleases. The idea of vampires being harmed by sunlight was actually dreamed up by the writers of the 1922 film Nosferatu, who came up with it in an effort to be different than Dracula and avoid a lawsuit.

-Did you know that, contrary to pretty much every later portrayal of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, in the novel he is portrayed as a grey-haired scientist who speaks in broken English and often makes very little sense? And, even better, that his character feels way more like an uber-mensch for all his shortcomings than all the untouchable Hollywood actors who came after him?

There are plenty of familiar things, too- the Count’s angry red eyes, the pointy teeth, that black swooshy cape that everyone knows Dracula always wears, and the constant feeling of tension that comes from being stalked by a monster so old and powerful. If you can find an illustrated edition, all the better for you (I got a beautiful edition illustrated by Edward Gorey through Interlibrary Loan, which you could grab here! – but honestly, any edition will suffice, and with lengthy and intricate dramas like The Goldfinch and The Luminaries back in style in a big way, you’ll be surprised how well it fits into the modern literary world. After knowing the real story of the Count, you’ll never look at Dracula the same again!

-Eric

January 15, 2015

Inside Scoop: Best Non-Fiction Audio Books of 2014

Filed under: Inside Scoop, Library, Recordings, Spoken Word — Tags: — klsseong @ 12:23 pm

Here are a few titles from The Library Journal’s best nonfiction audio book of 2014.  The complete list can be found here.

Brierley, Saroo-  A Long Way Home.

Elwes, Cary-  As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.

Lewis, Michael- Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.

Poehler, Amy- Yes, Please.

long way homeelwesflashboys

yesplease

Kid’s Corner: Growing Strong Readers

15 minutes  a day is all it takes! Research continually shows that reading aloud to your child for 15 minutes a day is the single most valuable thing you can do to help your child become a strong reader and lifelong learner . Every time you read to your child you’re feeding her brain a serving of vocabulary, phonological awareness, comprehension, empathy, stress relief and bonding time with you! That’s a lot to pack into just 15 minutes!

Mom & toddler w book 1Reading for 15 minutes a day for five years =27,375 minutes or 456.25 hours of reading!

When we read one on one with a child we connect in so many tiny, but hugely important ways. When we listen and answer questions about a story, we glimpse the child’s comprehension of the story. We convey our values and children can learn about and discuss complex ideas they may not be able to do independently.

How to fit reading aloud into the daily chaos of family life

Make reading a daily routine-read at bedtime, bathtime, snacktime, before or after naptime.

Read magazines, newspapers (the sports pages, comics), cereal boxes, stories, poems, non-fiction, recipes.

Read in the car, at the park, in the airport, in the Dr.’s office, at the soccer field.

Read to older kids too! A child’s listening level doesn’t catch up to his reading level until about 8th grade.

Shared reading is shared experience and is valuable time spent with a child who growing more and more independent.

For kids with dyslexia reading aloud is even more important. The skills of decoding (phonological awareness and letter recognition) are separate from the skills of comprehension (vocabulary and  background knowledge). By reading to your child, tween or even teen your child can be gaining a passion for reading, background knowledge and vocabulary even while her decoding skills are still developing.

Join our Winter Reading Program for the month of January. For more read aloud tips go to WiserKids.org

Finally, choose books that interest your child. A good book is simply one that your child enjoys reading! Your librarians are always happy to help you and your child find appealing titles.

-Jenny F.

January 14, 2015

Straight Out Of The Box: New Biographies

Jacket1The library has purchased a number of great biographies recently about famous and not-so-famous people. Here’s a short list of titles you’ll find on the New Book Shelf in the 921’s:

Life Could Be Verse: reflections on love, loss and what really matters – Kirk Douglas
Not that kind of girl: a young woman tells you what she’s “learned”, by Lena Dunham (Golden Globe winner for her role on Girls)
On my own two feet: from losing my legs to learning the dance of life, by Amy Purdy (last seen on Dancing With The Stars)
The selected letters of Norman Mailer, by Norman Mailer
Yesterday, today, tomorrow: my life, by Sophia Loren
On the road with Janis Joplin, by John Byrne Cooke
Peter, Paul and Mary: fifty years in music and life
Barefoot to billionaire: reflections on a life’s work and a promise to cure cancer, by John Huntsman
Brothas be, yo like George, ain’t that funkin’ kinda hard on you?: a memoir, George Clinton
Blind curves: a woman, a motorcycle, and a journey to reinvent herself, by Linda Crill
Mr. Hockey: my story, by Gordie Howe
American titan: searching for John Wayne, by Marc Eliot
Walk to beautiful: the power of love and a homeless kid who found the way, by Country singer Jimmy Wayne

 

January 13, 2015

Blurbs From the Branch: A Delicious Read!

Filed under: Blurbs from the Branch, Books, Cooking — Tags: , , , , — Becca B @ 8:00 am

deliciousHave you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, even when you’re not?  I recently finished reading Delicious, by Ruth Reichl and found myself wanting to spend some time in my kitchen and whip up some culinary masterpieces.  Never mind that it’s not my forte.  I just wanted to experience the many flavors that pop up in this book.  You may know food critic Reichl from her judging stints on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters as well as her various cookbooks. Delicious is her first foray into the world of fiction. It tells the story of an employee of New York’s most iconic food magazine.  As a New York transplant, Billie Breslin discovers the downtown New York City food scene and is captivated by the city and its people.  The reader gets to experience the city and its food culture through Billie’s eyes and perfect palate which is absolutely hunger-inducing. The book even includes a mystery of sorts when Billie finds a secret room which houses letters from a 12 year old girl to James Beard during WWII.  In my opinion, the best part of the book is the gingerbread recipe that gets Billie her job at the magazine.  Try it and see for yourself.

Happy reading and eating!

– Kris

January 12, 2015

In the Know: A nurturing New Year

Filed under: In the Know, Info — Tags: , , , , , , , — Mark @ 1:52 pm

art doing nothingNow that everyone can take a deep breath following the flurry of the holidays, give yourself a gift by actively nurturing relaxation and mindfulness in the New Year. We are your resource for finding what suits you best on this journey to your source of peace. Massage, music, walking meditation, restorative yoga, salt baths, aromatherapy, breathing, de-cluttering, and hobbies are some possible avenues. Giving yourself permission to eliminate stress might open you to finding joy, experiencing serenity, healing wounds of the heart, achieving healthier self-love, or expressing yourself in positive ways-whatever you need most. You deserve it! Restorative Yoga is a type of yoga class that typically involves candles, relaxing music such as Tibetan Bowls, and two hours of gentle stretches held for five or more minutes. Some say the sensation after a good restorative yoga class is similar to that of a full-body massage. Find a local class or create your own quieting atmosphere and check out a Restorative Yoga DVD.  We have several resources in a variety of formats to help you get started in a meditation practice. You could begin with this guided audio CD set, Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield or try one of our other very portable formats like Overdrive Audio or Playaway.

Setting the stage for meditation is a very personal endeavor. For some this looks like a still, darkened, quiet place, and for some a long walk alone down city streets. If you have a hard time keeping your body still, try the benefits of walking meditation. Walking Your Blues Away by Thom Hartmann can get you started.

Finally, The Art of Doing Nothing by Veronique Vienne is a delightful little gem of a book that includes a recipe for a “gourmet nap” among other topics like the art of lounging, the art of waiting, and chapters on breathing, bathing, and meditating. It is a good place to start exploring mindfulness. Librarians are happy to help you navigate our collection on these topics and more. We wish you much peace, joy, reading, watching, and listening in 2015.

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