Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What Are You Addicted to?

Recently the medical profession was involved in a fierce fight over classifying video game addiction as an actually psychiatric disorder. As I watched doctors arguing that changes in the brain could be viewed in MRIs of video game players I started thinking about whether I had any addictions. The closest I come is a really strong desire to eat chocolate or use my lip balm all the time. Then I realized I had an unacknowledged addiction, that dirty little secret that affects so many librarians. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now; its reading. I have stacks of books on my bedside table, a few cookbooks scattered in the kitchen, magazines in the bathroom, loaded bookshelves in the living room, and a stack of books in the guest bedroom. “They are for guests,” I tell my husband, “who might want something to read”. Really they are my emergency stash. I can’t imagine anything worse than running out of stuff to read. Ask any librarian about the “storm surge”. Just as some people run to the grocery store to stock up before a big storm, the Library sees a flood of people coming in to stock up on that other essential; reading materials.

I remember watching an episode of The Odd Couple when I was very young. What struck me with such impact that I can remember it now, was the plight of Oscar Madison. For some reason he was staying at a monastery where there was nothing to read. Poor Oscar was so desperate he began reading his toothpaste tube. I feel your pain, big guy.

"I can't go to sleep without reading. No magazines in the "brother john?" Oscar Madison.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Judy Pancoast to Perform at the Dover Public Library

To help us celebrate the beginning of the Children's Summer Reading Program, Judy Pancoast, our traveling minstrel, will perform a free concert on the library lawn on Thursday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome! Internationally acclaimed children's singer/songwriter, Judy has been performing original music for children and families for over 10 years. This is just one of many exciting events that the Children's Room has planned this summer, visit the library's website for a complete listing.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Words in a French Life

I have mentioned one of my favorite blogs, French Word-A-Day previously. I was delighted to see the author of the blog, Kristin Espinasse, has now published a book. Words in a French Life describes how she met and fell in love with her husband, as well as giving a more complete picture of their life abroad. It is charming, often funny, as well as educational if you make an effort to learn all the French lingo she throws at you. Do you know French slang for gross? Its beurke, pronounced burk or beark. You never know when that may come in handy.

I will share one of the interesting little tidbits from the book with you:

“For lunch and dinner the French children have three- and sometimes four-course meals. A starched bib carefully tied around the child’s neck, the feast begins. The main dish includes a garden vegetable (organic), a fresh catch such as trout, and a plate of local goat’s cheese, after the cheese comes homemade yogurt a la fraise.”

Compare that to an American child’s favorite lunch; peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Although, I must admit, I find goat’s cheese to be beurke.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party

Susan Vreeland's latest novel, Luncheon of the Boating Party, follows the creative process surrounding Auguste Renoir's masterpiece of the same name. This is fascinating historical fiction that looks at Renoir's bold decision, and perhaps egotistical one, to create a painting of massive proportions that he believed would "blow the whole stuffy Salon apart with an assimilation of styles they won't dare deny is genius." The painting depicts 13 models, an unlucky number that worried Renoir, which made the task that much more daunting. One might think that the story surrounding one painting would not be enough material for an interesting novel, but Susan Vreeland is one of the master's of this genre, as she proved in Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Highly recommended!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Traveler

The Traveler Book on CD by Ron McLarty read by the author (a plus, in my opinion, for a first person narrative)

When Jono Riley - middle aged New Yorker bartender/sometime actor - learns that his childhood friend Marie has died, he returns to the neighborhood in Providence where he grew up. Jono, the “traveler”, moves not only in space, but also back in time. The nostalgic flashbacks to street life in a working class Irish/Italian/Portuguese neighborhood of the 1960s are wonderful. The depiction of the friendship of the four boys and Marie - as well as their relationships with their enemies/rivals/parents - is perfect – as is the dialogue. All the things that make growing up great and terrible are portrayed splendidly.

Jono becomes involved in trying to solve the old mystery of who shot Marie many years ago (her death was caused by the bullet – which doctors weren’t able to remove – finally “traveling” to her heart). He reconnects with old friends – and old enemies, as his spontaneous investigation bumbles along. He learns more than he wants to know – about the people he loved/hated and about himself, his inability to have a solid commitment.
You really ought to give this a try – as well as McLarty’s The Memory of Running – another terrific tale to which to listen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have You Read Jody Picoult's Latest Work?

Did you know best selling author Jodi Picoult is now writing Wonder Woman comic books? She was approached by comic book publisher DC when they noticed her one of her characters in The Tenth Circle is a comic book artist. Two comic books are already published, three more will be forthcoming. Interested? Go to Jodi's web page and click on comics soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kid's Summer Reading Programs start this Monday!

Summer Reading Programs for kids from 5 years old and up start this Monday, June 25 and run through Friday, August 10. Reading Quest is this year’s theme for the Children’s Summer Reading Program which is for kids ages 5-12. The program is designed to encourage children to make reading an important part of their summer activities, and is complete with minstrels, castles, and dragons.

Sign-up begins Monday, June 25 and continues throughout the summer. Dover Public Library cardholders (including non-resident borrowers) are welcome to join in the fun. Children must come to the library in person to register and receive their booklets or folders in which to record the books they read. Don’t miss all the fun. Call the Children’s Room for more information at 516-6052.

For older kids the library has the Teen Summer Reading Program. This year’s teen reading program also starts on June 25th and runs through August 10th, but sign ups are welcome any time during the summer. Participants who complete at least one level of the program, out of a possible four, will qualify for the Grand Prize: a 4G iPod Nano.

To reach each level of the program, participants must do one of three things: read for an accumulated total of 5 hours, complete a “Book Review” tag for a book read, or create a piece of art inspired from something read. Each time a level is completed, teens can dip into our prize box, which is filled with gift certificates, books, and merchandise from local businesses (limit 4 prizes per participant). Call the library at 516-6082 for more information.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer Reading Assignments!

Many of our elementary, middle and high schools assign summer reading to their students. Now there's a growing trend among universities to do the same thing for their incoming freshmen. The goal, says U.S. News, is to engage students early with some challenging reading and then carry on discussions when the fall semester starts. One dean adds that participation in such a reading program "eases the intellectual and emotional transition newcomers make when they arrive on campus. [They are] a catalyst to get the discussion started, make new friends."

The themes of the books generally parallel issues confronting today's college students or reflect topics in the daily news and popular culture. Some of the books chosen by various academic institutions for Summer 2007 include:

  • The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler
  • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  • Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
  • Branded: the Buying and Selling of Teenagers by Alissa Quart
  • A Hope in the Unseen: an American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League by Ron Suskind
  • A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
  • The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  • Year of Wonders: a Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks
  • The Measure of Our Success: a Letter to My Children and Yours by Marian Wright Edelman
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

What book would you have freshmen college students read? Give us your suggestions! Mine would be from author Tom Wolfe: either Bonfire of the Vanities or I Am Charlotte Simmons.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Miranda!

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at interrogation time and at court.

Thanks to Hollywood those words are very familiar to all of us. On June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Miranda v. Arizona decision, ruling that criminal suspects had to be informed of their constitutional right to consult with an attorney and to remain silent prior to questioning by police. These rights became known as the Miranda warning. The phrase is now so well known that it has become a verb. When you have been read your rights, you are said to have been "Mirandized."

Did you ever wonder how it all came about? Back in 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for the kidnapping and rape of a young woman. He made a confession to police without having been advised his right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during police questioning. During the trial, prosecutors offered only his confession as evidence and he was convicted. The Supreme Court ruled that Miranda did not understand his right not to incriminate himself or his right to counsel and they overturned his conviction. Miranda was later convicted in a new trial, with witnesses testifying against him and other evidence presented. He served eleven years.

Ironically, when Miranda was killed in a knife fight, his killer was given the Miranda warnings; he invoked his rights and declined to give a statement. He was released and immediately fled to Mexico.

Want to know more?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Devil’s Feather

The Devil’s Feather by Minette Walters, read by Josephine Bailey.

Connie Burns, a Reuters war correspondent, follows a hunch that has her convinced that a British mercenary, MacKenzie, is using the mayhem of war zones in troubled countries to cover his serial rapes/murders. As she tries to put the story together, a mysterious assailant kidnaps her and holds her prisoner for three days in Iraq. After she is released, she flees to Dorset and rents an isolated house to try to recover from the torture and abuse.

There she hesitantly forms a friendship with a local doctor and a reclusive young woman who has lost her entire family in a car crash. From them, Connie learns the troubled history of the house and attempts to piece together what actually occurred there. And, as the days go by, she realizes, with increasing fear, that MacKenzie is coming for her.

This is nice little thriller.. British, but not so much you have trouble with the language.. Good cast of characters and dialogue…


Monday, June 11, 2007

Scandinavian Crime Novels – So Cold They’re Hot

A recent article in Booklist Magazine has sent me down the reading road to Scandinavian crime novels, which according them, is the hot new genre. The trend started in 1997 with Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers and has grown slowly and steadily ever since. Of the 19 books mentioned in the article the library owns 13, not too bad considering we were not exactly aware that it was the “new, new” thing! But as I was reading What is Mine, by Norwegian author Anne Holt, I could completely understand the allure of Scandinavia as a setting for a murder and mayhem. Although liberal and pristine on the surface, the countries of the midnight sun spend half the year in semi darkness, being lashed by wind, freezing rain, and snow, which these writers take full advantage of in setting the mood in their novels. After months of relentless cold even happy souls turn short tempered and gloomy and as for those “borderliners,” well over the edge they go. I’m well onto my second, (out of a stack of four) Scandinavian serial killer thrillers, this one Swedish, and already the bodies are stacking up and the moods are turning bad so I know I won’t be disappointed.

You can check out our list of Scandinavian Crime Fiction by picking up a book mark at the Circulation Desk.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spy Sizzles this Summer

I'm very excited that Daniel Silva's 7th spy thriller featuring Israeli Intelligence officer Gabriel Allon is being published this summer. It's called The Secret Servant and finds the famed spymaster/art restorer investigating sinister terrorist plots in Amsterdam and London. Silva warrants comparisons to Ludlum and LeCarre, he's really that good. I would caution readers to read this series in order: there is complex character development and each novel builds on the one before it. The international settings, fast-paced plots, and Allon's unorthodox methods add immensely the enjoyment. If you start now, you'll have plenty of time to read the first six before The Secret Servant's July 24 publication date! Here they are in order:
1.) The Kill Artist
2.) The English Assassin
3.) The Confessor
4.) A Death in Vienna
5.) Prince of Fire
6.) The Messenger

Highly recommended for great summer reading!

How do you find out about books you would like to read?

Do you get your book suggestions from friends, or library staff? Do you simply browse for something that looks interesting? Or do you rely on book reviews from newspapers? If the latter is your preferred method be aware that newspapers are downsizing or eliminating book review sections from their newspapers. One of the reasons given for this move is the supposed popularity of online reviews--hmmm I'm not buying it. We get many patrons in, many of them senior citizens who want no part of using a computer, clutching their Boston Globe or New York Times list with notes in the margins. The New York Times has actually increased its book review section to make up for newspapers, such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who have completely eliminated their book review sections. Let's hope that the Boston Globe does not follow this alarming trend, and keeps printing their reviews!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Award Winning Audio Books

The winners of the 2007 Audies, were just released. The Audies are like the Oscars of the audio book industry. Look here for a complete list of all the winners and finalists

These are a few of the winners that are available in Dover’s audio book collections:

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen

Echo Park by Michael Connelly

If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

For the Love of a Dog by Patricia McConnell

World War Z by Max Brooks

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't Miss These Great Series

Jack Kerley – The Hundredth Man, The Death Collectors, A Garden of Vipers. Just keeps getting better…

The Monkeewrench series by P. J. Tracy.. Pretty cool, even if you’re not a techie (and I’m not). Last book, Snow Blind, headed in a different direction and I liked that.

Nicola Griffith’s Aud Torvingen series. Tough chic Aud (martial arts instructor like the author) and her noir adventures.

John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series set over in
Maine. Mysteries with supernatural overtones.. I love these. The setting, the characters (the supporting cast is terrific), the language, everything.

George Pelacanos. He’s got two different series going. I think he’s one of the most overlooked good authors. Don’t let some of the covers put you off, this guy is really good.


New Train Set in Children's Room

Thanks to the generosity of Bob Breneman, owner of G. Willikers of Portsmouth, the Children's Room has a new train set!

A couple of months ago, we contacted Bob to order a few new pieces for our old, well-used Brio train set. When he called to say that he had our new pieces, he surprised us by donating a whole new set to the library!

Here is Quentin, one of our young patrons, enjoying the new trains.

Thank you, Bob, from all of us at Dover Public Library!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Zippy Listening

There haven’t been many audiobooks out lately that have captured my attention. By sheer good luck I picked up Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy. I had been meaning to get around to it for awhile and I finally ran out of audiobooks when the Zippy CD was in. Wow, what was I waiting for???? What a delightful memoir of growing up in small town Indiana during the early 1960’s. It brings back many memories no matter where you grew up. Remember the days when you could hardly wait to get out on your bike and explore the world? And sleepovers where sleeping was the last thing on your mind; hysterical giggling could not be stopped by any number of hissed whispers from annoyed family members. Listening to Doctor Demento, and playing favorite record albums over and over and over again, remember record albums for that matter? Zippy’s happy world is peopled by her beautiful sister Lindy, her obsessive father, her mother who spends her days reading science fiction on the couch, a distant idolized older brother, a peculiar cross-eyed cat called PeeDink, a pet chicken, her friend Julie the fearless farm girl, Dana, the arrogant, exotic girl from California, Rose the perfect, Edythe the strange old lady across the street who hates her, and a crotchety pharmacist amongst other original, charming characters.

Her second memoir, She Got Up Off the Couch, tells the story of how Zippy’s mother finally liberated herself and began going to college. It is just as full of clear- eyedobservations, amusing stories, and unique characters as the first book. Part of the fun of the Zippy experience is in listening to the author’s sweet girlish voice relating her adventures. By the end of the first audiobook that joyful, funny voice will seem like an old friend. If you are not a fan of audiobooks it is well worth reading the two books. They include photos of Zippy and her family which add a whole other dimension to the stories.

For your enjoyment, here is a classic conversation between Zippy and her mother after Lindy mischievously tells Zippy she was adopted.

‘…I jumped up and ran straight in the house to my mother, who was sitting in her corner of the couch, which by this time was a total nest. She was reading Isaac Asimov, the love of her life, and eating popcorn from the night before.

I skidded to a stop in front of her and gave her a look of hardest accusation. Without looking up at me she said, “You should brush that worm stuff off before you come in the house.”

“As if that matters! How could you not tell me I was adopted?! Don’t you think I have a right to know? And who were my real parents anyway?” I was trying to be mature, but periodically spit flew.

“Gypsies, honey.” She still had not looked up from Isaac Asimov Explains the Whole of Reality and Then Some.

“Gypsies? Really? This was somewhat compelling. I sat down.

“Yes, I thought we managed a very wise trade.”

“Gypsies? In Moreland?”

“They were just passing through. We heard them long before they arrived, because their horses and their wagons are all covered with bells. It’s quite lovely. And they were led into town by a pack of wolves, who, during the full moon, stand up and preach.” She looked up for a moment, remembering. “They were such a sight.”

There were at least forty-two questions I needed to ask, but only one that mattered. "What did you trade for me?"