Sure, you can resolve to make 2016 the year to lose 10 pounds, run a marathon or learn to speak Spanish. Those are all fine goals. But here at the library we like our resolutions literary, and book challenges fit the bill quite nicely.
What’s a book challenge? Basically, you read books according to a certain set of guidelines and share your reviews of those books with other readers. There are food writing challenges, debut author challenges and “to be read pile” challenges, just to name a few. Continue reading “Your New Year’s Reading Resolution: Read Harder Book Challenge”
New books for the New Year! Here is the latest LibraryReads list, the top 10 books publishing in January 2016 that librarians across the country recommend. The list includes new novels from Elizabeth Strout (“Olive Kitteridge“) and Melanie Benjamin (“The Aviator’s Wife“), as well as nonfiction from the incomparable Bill Bryson (“A Walk in the Woods“)!
“My Name Is Lucy Barton” by Elizabeth Strout
“Set in the mid-1980s, Lucy Barton, hospitalized for nine weeks, is surprised when her estranged mother shows up at her bedside. Her mother talks of local gossip, but underneath the banalities, Lucy senses the love that cannot be expressed. This is the story that Lucy must write about, the one story that has shaped her entire life. A beautiful lyrical story of a mother and daughter and the love they share.” – Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA Continue reading “Top 10 Books Librarians Love: The January 2016 List”
How would you live your life if you didn’t have a home? These documentaries explore various homeless populations and examine the challenges they face in everyday life.
“Dark Days” (2000)
For years, a homeless community took root in a train tunnel beneath New York City, braving dangerous conditions and perpetual night. “Dark Days” explores the surprisingly domestic subterranean world, unearthing a way of life unimaginable to those above. Continue reading “On the Street: Docs About Homelessness”
“The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.” – Terri Guillemets
Winter reading is vital to my well-being, a respite from what can feel like eternal night. I was happy to discover December 21, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, is Celebrate Short Fiction Day. If you’d like to join the festivities, I can give you a few book suggestions:
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Ron Rash. This collection of stories centers around the people of Appalachia. “The Trusty” is the kind of tale that can haunt you long after you finish reading it. Set in Depression-era North Carolina, it follows the efforts of a prisoner to escape his chain gang by enlisting the help of a young farm wife who supplies water to the laborers. But all is not as it seems. “Cherokee,” a contemporary story of a young couple trying to win enough money at the casino to pay off their truck, had me holding my breath several times. Rash uses concrete words to explore spiritual and emotional depths, providing vivid mental images of the landscapes and people. Continue reading “Celebrate Short Fiction”
I’m not a big consumer of alcohol. It’s not that I don’t like beer and wine and other spirits; they just don’t agree with my fair-skinned, allergy-ridden constitution. So instead, I daydream about delicious drinks paired with tasty party foods or holiday meals, and then occasionally make an exception to my habit of avoiding alcohol. With the winter holidays on the verge, I’m about to make one of those exceptions. Eggnog! I love it – all that luscious heavy cream, frothed with eggs, darkened with rum and/or bourbon (or brandy, depending on the recipe) and tinged with freshly grated nutmeg. Mmmmmm. Really, what’s not to love?!
My mother had a passion for entertaining at Christmas time, and eggnog was on her list of things to make. She would haul her giant crystal punch bowl out from the corner cupboard and fill it with her version of this ambrosial concoction (borrowed from the American Heritage Cookbook – see recipe below), ladling it into matching crystal mugs to serve to the eager crowd. Continue reading “High-spirited Winter Holiday Cheer”
Welcome to the latest entry in the sporadically occurring series Better Know a Genre. Like many people, I find the holiday season to be more stressful than festive. I have to cook, shop, wrap and plan the order in which I will see all the branches of family (which always means somebody feels disappointed). It doesn’t help my mood that there are about 30 minutes of sunlight in the winter. So, to help lift my spirits, I try to keep my pre-solstice reading light-hearted and funny. Humor is a genre that is both easily defined and broad. It can be fiction or nonfiction. It can run the spectrum from gentle to raunchy (brown chicken brown cow). What one person finds witty, another person can find offensive (that’s the title of my autobiography). Laughter can be intended or unintended, but to be included in the humor genre, the author must be actually attempting to amuse the readers of the work. Here are some funny titles to get through the month: Continue reading “Better Know a Genre: Holiday Humor”
Like most people, I find new books by reading library blogs, or visiting askjeeves.com and typing “please show me a good book,” or perusing the shelves at my local library until I find a book with a cover that seems sufficiently gravy resistant. Occasionally though, a human will recommend a book. Such is the case with this month’s recommendation: a colleague said “Bats of the Republic” sounded like one of the weird books I like. I tipped my hat, gave my monocle a friendly shake and asked Jeeves about this weird book. (I’m compelled to note that while I do often enjoy literary oddities, in general my tastes lean to the conventional, and I have the crystal decanter collection to prove it.) Jeeves obliged and showed me a picture of the author’s tremendous mustache (or perhaps the mustache’s tremendous author?). I swooned, such was my joy at finding a novel so presumably suited to my tastes. After a quick trip to the market for a crystal decanter or two, I eagerly set to reading the words birthed by such an inspiring swatch of follicles. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Zachary Thomas Dodson”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“Better Call Saul”
Website / Reviews
A spinoff from the “Breaking Bad” television show, “Better Call Saul” takes place six years before the events of “Breaking Bad” and follows small-time lawyer Jimmy McGill and the circumstances that lead to his metamorphosis into criminal-minded lawyer Saul Goodman.
Continue reading “New DVD List: Better Call Saul & More”
In 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 Human Rights Day in order to highlight the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” Now, I think that is a really great idea. Human rights – everyone should have them and they should be protected.
But what exactly is meant by “human rights”? In trying to answer that question I have learned that there are two types of rights: rights that are essential for a dignified and decent human existence, and rights which are essential for adequate development of human personality. Rights under the first category include the right to fulfillment of basic human needs like food, shelter, clothing, health and sanitation, and earning one’s livelihood. The second category of human rights includes the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as cultural, religious and educational rights. Whew! I’m glad we’ve gotten that straight! I’m sure the book “The International Human Rights Movement: A History” could help explain the concept a lot more. Continue reading “Human Rights Day 2015”
My brother Michael and I were born about 16 months apart and have always been very close. When we started our adventures away from home, in the early 1990s, we began a series of correspondence by letter that has continued to this day. Back in the early days, we wrote each other once or even twice a week. We continue to correspond by pen and paper, although less frequently than in our youth, as we still live half a continent apart. Considered a “lost art” by many, both of us uphold the art of letter writing as communication, solace and even therapy. The library has many books about letter writing, and what better time to celebrate than December 7 – National Letter Writing Day! Continue reading “The Art of Letter Writing”