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Mother-Daughter Book Clubs

February 3, 2016

Book cover for Little WomenMy daughter, Samantha, and I joined a mother-daughter book club when she was in fourth grade. The club consisted of the two of us and Samantha’s best friend and her mother. That club lasted until we had to move just before the start of sixth grade. And even though we are now just a club of two, Samantha and I have continued reading books together. We are currently reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. (Samantha chooses the books even if I offer suggestions.)

When I ran across the title “Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More” by Lori Day, I couldn’t resist and requested that it be purchased for the library. I think we did fine with our book club, but now that I have read this one, I really wish we had had the benefit of its recommendations and insights from the beginning. The first part of the book gives tips on how and why to begin a mother-daughter book club and how to keep it running smoothly. Part two delves into topics such as gender stereotypes and sexism, the sexualization of childhood (and how to bypass it), body image, bullying and how to be allies, encouraging healthy relationships, how to be inclusive, female leadership and the welfare of girls and women around the world. Each topic chapter highlights one or two books, provides discussion questions, suggests activities and finishes with a list of recommended books, including some kid appropriate, adult level books, movies/TV and media with suggested age ranges.

Our club read books such as  “The Giver,” “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” that led us into discussions about utopias/dystopias and how those societies reflect our own. We also had some deep discussions about race and racial violence when we read “Number the Stars,” and “If We Must Die: A Novel of Tulsa’s 1921 Greenwood Riot.” We even had discussions about about — shhhhh — s-e-x when we read “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Speak,” and “Fangirl.” And, of course, once you have read the books, who can resist seeing and comparing the movies?

I can’t overstate what our mother-daughter book club has meant to me. I’m sure that it would have meant a lot to us even if we had not moved, but it became so much more important because of the move. I miss having other members in our club if for no other reason than to help us narrow down book club selections!  I also miss the camaraderie and support that we gained from our other mother-daughter pair, and I would love for our club to expand again someday. But I’m so glad that we had this partnership developed ahead of our move to help support us through the loss of friends, family, pets, our place in the world and, at times, our sanity. I hope we continue for a long, long time.

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Keyword Search: Heart, States, Love, Matters, Poetry, Heal

February 1, 2016

Photo of a heart cut out of a wooden fenceValentine’s Day is not the sole domain of those enveloped in romantic love, though that does seem to be the emphasis. (Notice the numerous advertisements that run for heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, bouquets of roses and dinner reservations for two in the weeks approaching February 14.) But this red-letter day, designated to celebrate love, is fair game for everyone. After all, love takes many forms and evolves in stages across all kinds of relationships – between friends, parents and children, siblings and so on.

Seeking to expand beyond this romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day (but not wanting to exclude it), I decided to treat the library’s online catalog as an oracle and ask her (or him, or them???) to provide some alternative material to use in recognizing this day of love and also to address the varying places the human heart might find itself on the love continuum. So I typed in “heart, states, matters, heal, love and poetry” in the keyword search bar and waited patiently for a response. The answer divined from our cyber sage was a wonderfully varied list of titles that deal with the spiritual, physical and emotional realms of the heart.

Here are a few of the standouts:

Book cover for To Bless the Space Between UsTo Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings” by John O’Donohue is an exquisite collection of wisdom in the form of blessings that can help readers navigate both quotidian and extraordinary life events (marriage, new job, death, etc.). O’Donohue’s poetic and elegant language gives voice to the sometimes inexplicable feelings that arise in our hearts, providing a salve of both comfort and inspiration. For a taste of his eloquence in penetrating the essence of a heart state, read his blessing “For Courage” and see if your heart is moved in some way.

Book cover for The Heart HealersThe Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives” by James S. Forrester, M. D., chronicles the history of cardiac surgery and medicine. Before the 20th century, cardiac disease was a fatal diagnosis because operations on the heart were thought impossible. But then, in 1895, Ludwig Rehn sutured a knife wound in the heart of a living man (who survived), signaling a major turning point in cardiac medicine. From that launch point, Forrester provides a compelling read that covers a string of breakthroughs pioneered by unconventional physician-scientists. The long list of contributions made in the field of cardiology includes the invention of the heart-lung machine; cardiac resuscitation; valve replacements; pacemakers and defibrillators; clot-dissolving therapy; coronary artery bypass graft surgery; balloon angioplasty and stents; heart transplantation; and statin drugs that lower cholesterol levels, all of which have saved and extended countless lives.

Book cover for Love Poetry Out LoudLove Poetry Out Loud: 100 Passionate Poems to Stir the Heart,” edited by Robert Alden Rubin, is a delightful compilation. As the title suggests, a key criterion in his selection process was out loud readability, and he recommends you read the poems aloud to yourself or loved one(s) to fully appreciate them. Old and new poems are included, and they cover the wide-ranging landscapes that love cycles across – seduction, amusement, regret, infatuation, grief, passion, etc. Accurately expressing the complex feelings that arise in the heart is no easy feat, and these powerful poems bridge the gap between two people to create a shared experience of love, in all its permutations.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

photo credit: Hole in the Heart via photopin (license)

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Cooking With eBooks

January 29, 2016

My iPad rarely leaves the kitchen. I use it to play podcasts or audiobooks while I do the dishes. I check Facebook while I’m waiting for the pasta water to boil. But the thing I use the device for the most is my daily meal preparation. No, I’m not like that German dad using the tablet as a cutting board in the YouTube video that made the rounds a few years ago. Through the library’s OverDrive eBook collection, I can download new cookbooks from some of my favorite foodies and make meal planning and cooking that much easier. Whether I want to consult the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten,  New York Times columnist Mark Bittman or the Food Network’s Rachael Ray, the library’s eBook collection has me covered. Here are just some of the new and popular cookbooks you can have at your fingertips in almost no time.

book cover for NOPI cookbook

NOPI: The Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully

Yotam Ottolenghi is beloved in the food world for his beautiful, inspirational cookbooks, as well as his Ottolenghi delis and his fine-dining restaurant, NOPI. In the NOPI cookbook, head chef Ramael Scully’s Asian-inspired pantry meets Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern influences and brings the restaurant’s favorite dishes within reach of the home cook.

 DinnertimeThe Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime” by Ree Drummond

The #1 bestselling author and Food Network personality at last answers that age-old question –“What’s for Dinner?”– bringing together more than 125 simple, scrumptious, step-by-step recipes for delicious dinners for the whole family. She includes her family’s favorites, like  tomato soup with Parmesan croutons, buffalo chicken salad, baked ziti and shrimp scampi. 

Book cover for The Food LabThe Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” by J. Kenji López-Alt

As Serious Eats’s culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that’s perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it and more. In this book, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new — but simple — techniques

Book cover for 100 Days of Real Food100 Days of Real Food” by Lisa Leake

The creator of the 100 Days of Real Food blog draws from her hugely popular website to offer simple, affordable, family-friendly recipes and practical advice for eliminating processed foods from your family’s diet.

Here are more popular eBooks for cooks!

OverDrive has a sizable selection of books on food and cooking, including food memoirs and cookbooks for kids – look for the “Cooking and Food” category under eBook nonfiction.  Finally, if keeping your tablet in the kitchen has the screen greasy and food-spattered, see tips for screen cleaning from Tablet PC Review. Happy cooking and eating!

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The Slow Lane: Docs About Small Town Life

January 27, 2016

vernon floridaIt often takes a patient viewer to sit through films about small-town life, but the rewards can be rich and powerful. Check out a few of these films that examine life at a slightly slower pace.

vernon-floridaVernon, Florida” (1981)

Fire up the pickup and head down to this bizarre backwater town with Errol Morris, as he presents a pastiche of fascinating interviews with the weird and wonderful people of Vernon, Florida.  From the passionate turkey-hunter to the peculiar pet collector, each member of this motley crew has a story to tell.

middletownMiddletown” (1982)

This classic six-part series explores both the continuity and the change embodied in the people and institutions of one Midwestern community: Muncie, Indiana. In intimate detail, the films demonstrate how society and culture have changed less than one might think.

nimrod nationNimrod Nation” (2007)

This eight-part series profiles rural Watersmeet, Michigan, where everyone follows the progress of the high school basketball team – the Nimrods. This series sympathetically observes life and conversation in local coffee shops, hunting lodges and locker rooms as the long, cold basketball season unfolds.

 

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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The February 2016 List

January 22, 2016

Library Reads LogoMy library coworkers’ reading tastes vary widely. Some are graphic novel and comics experts, others are sci-fi and fantasy aficionados and some kill it at every trivia night because they are voracious nonfiction readers. Many best-of lists in book-ish publications (both in print and online) offer recommendations that lean towards what you might call literary, which I personally love (I read a lot of contemporary fiction and memoirs). The LibraryReads monthly list, however, often offers up a list as diverse as the reading tastes of our patrons. The list of books publishing in February that librarians across the country recommend clearly reflects this diversity. What other list has a stunningly written historical fiction sharing space with a steamy romance? Enjoy this month’s picks!

Book cover for Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysSalt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys
“Titanic. Lusitania. Wilhelm Gustloff. All major maritime disasters, yet the last is virtually unknown. Ruta Sepetys changes that in her gripping historical novel. Told in short snippets, “Salt to the Sea” rotates among four narrators attempting to escape various tragedies in 1945 Europe. Powerful and haunting, heartbreaking and hopeful–a must read.” – Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL

Book cover for Black Rabbit HallBlack Rabbit Hall” by Eve Chase
“Young Amber Alton and her family adore Black Rabbit Hall and the joy and peace it brings to them all. That is, until a tragic accident changes everything. Three decades later, Lorna decides her wedding must be celebrated at the crumbling hall. As the book moves between these two time periods, secrets slowly unfold. Perfectly twisty with interesting characters and a compelling story that kept me up too late.” – Deborah Margeson, Douglas County Libraries, Parker, CO

Book cover for A Girl's Guide to Moving OnA Girl’s Guide to Moving On” by Debbie Macomber
“Leanne and her daughter-in-law Nichole both leave cheating husbands to start over. They learn that it is never easy and that hardships abound, but they meet many wonderful people on their way to happily-ever-after. Believable characters and an enjoyable story made this perfect for relaxing reading—definitely one of Macomber’s best. An excellent choice both for long-time fans of the author and for those who have never read her novels.” – Linda Tilden, Cherry Hill Public Library, Cherry Hill, NJ

And here is the rest of the February list for your hold-placing pleasure. 

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Oscar Buzz for Book Adaptations

January 20, 2016

The Best Picture nominations for the 2016 Oscar’s were announced last week, and films based on books make up the majority of the list. If you are a read-it-before-you-watch-it kind of person, then your to-read pile just got much bigger.

Book cover for The Big Short by Michael LewisThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis
This nonfiction work investigates the 2008 stock market crash and economic crisis, citing such factors as expanded home ownership and risky derivative elections in the face of increasing shareholder demands, and profiles responsible parties in government, financial and private sectors. An unlikely basis for the plot of a riveting drama, but there you go.

The film is nominated for Best Picture, Director (Adam McKay), Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Adapted Screenplay.

Book cover for Brooklyn by Colm ToibinBrooklyn” by Colm Tóibín
Leaving her home in post-World War II Ireland to work as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn, Eilis Lacey discovers a new romance in America with a charming blond Italian man before devastating news threatens her happiness.

The film adaptation is nominated for Best Picture, Actress (Saoirse Ronan) and Adapted Screenplay.

Book cover for The MartianThe Martian” by Andy Weir
After a bad storm cuts his team’s Mars mission short, injured astronaut Mark Watley is stranded. Now he’s got to figure out how to survive without air, shelter, food or water on the harsh Martian landscape until the next manned mission in four years.

The film adaptation is nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Matt Damon) and Adapted Screenplay.

Book cover for The Revenant by Michael PunkeThe Revenant: A Novel of Revenge” by Michael Punke
A story of survival on the American frontier chronicles the exploits of fur trapper Hugh Glass. Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his fellow trappers but survives and treks through the wilderness to seek justice.

The movie adaptation is nominated for Best Picture, Director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy).

Book cover for Room by Emma DonoghueRoom” by Emma Donoghue
A five-year-old narrates a story about his life growing up in a single room where his mother aims to protect him from the man who kidnapped her when she was a teenager and has held her prisoner for seven years.

The film is nominated for Best Picture, Director (Lenny Abrahamson), Actress (Brie Larson) and Adapted Screenplay.

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