I rarely make resolutions. I do like the notion of the coming year as a clean slate, a calendar full of possibilities, and I’m a proponent of self-improvement. However, I bristle at the typical resolution’s focus on weight loss or basis in dissatisfaction, what I don’t have or don’t do but should. And because they are so often abandoned, making resolutions feels like I’m setting myself up for failure. Continue reading “New Year, New You? Three Books for Your Best Self”
Chris Siebeneck, Library Associate
The beginning of a new year is a fine time for considering past successes and failures, reflecting on their lessons and setting goals. Reading provides an efficient way to absorb lessons from numerous lives over a short period of time. In addition to offering lessons, the books listed below are populated with memorable characters and written with panache. They are also debut novels, and therefore examples of someone reaching a goal and, in all but one sad case, reaping the rewards. Whether your “debut novel” is about shedding weight, conquering a vice or writing a novel, one should remember that every lofty accomplishment is preceded by, if not staggering amounts of failure, years of practice. Continue reading “Literary Links: Debut Novels”
Do you love listening to audiobooks? Have you ever run all over town trying to find the book for your book club’s next meeting, only to discover that the slightly faster members of your book club already grabbed every copy available within a 50-mile radius? Hoopla can help! Hoopla is a media service that allows you to stream and download audiobooks, eBooks, comics, movies and television shows. Sign up for an account (this quick start guide shows you how), and borrow up to 10 items per month. The best part? Everyone in your book club can borrow the same book on Hoopla – there’s no limit to how many people can borrow an item at once!
Here are just a few of the book club-worthy titles available as audiobooks on Hoopla:
“My Brilliant Friend” is the first novel in the popular Neapolitan series by Italian author Elena Ferrante. Set in a downtrodden neighborhood, this story of female friendship is told in luscious prose. Book clubs will find lots to talk about in the forces that shape Elena and Lila’s evolving friendship.
Need a thriller that will keep you guessing? Try “The Good Girl” by Mary Kubica. Told in “before” and “after” and by multiple characters, this novel keeps the tension high as readers piece together the story. Continue reading “Audiobooks for Book Clubs on Hoopla”
I am one of those crazy, weird, super geeky people that actually tracks what they read. Not only that, but I have participated in a reading challenge for the past five years. This year, I originally set a reading goal of 75 books and then increased it to 100 when it became apparent that I was going to blow right past the original goal. I have reached and surpassed my revised goal by reading 125 books! I had someone tell me that a personally difficult year translates into a fruitful reading year, and this seems to be true. Looking over my list, there are several stand-out books, some that I have already written about and others that deserve a mention. There are also a few stinkers, but why dwell on that? I also discovered some interesting trends in my reading. Continue reading “What a Year! My 2015 in Books”
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”
“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”