Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Worst, Craziest and Most Humorous Titles of 2008

Here are my nominees for "The Worst Titles of 2008", collected over the past 12 months as I scoured dozens of book review journals. I make no claims about the contents of these books as I haven't read any of them!

Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All by Christina Thompson. (an exploration of the conflicts between Westerners and the Maori of New Zealand.)

Big, Bad and Barbaric by Jaid Black (a paperback romance)

Keep Your Mouth Shut and Wear Beige by Kathleen Gilles Seidel (humorous novel with instructions for the mother-of-the-groom!)

Hairdos of the Mildly Depressed by Doug Crandell. (2 southern brothers: one balding; one mildly brain-damaged. Think Augusten Burroughs.)

Succubus in the City, and its sequel, Succubus Takes Manhattan by Nina Harper. (Doing Satan's bidding in NYC!)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows (actually a very popular title here but I can never remember it exactly!)

Why We Suck by Denis Leary (also very popular but I truly detest the word "suck" and think it should never be used in a title!)

Please feel free to post you own nominees too!

The Leper

In 1918, Marine Captain John Severson led the battered remnants of his company deeper into a gloomy German forest, desperately seeking a way past enemy lines; instead he led his men straight into a forgotten Leper colony. After the war he accomplishes his dream of becoming a school teacher. It is a perfect year for him; he loves teaching, enjoys being home in Minnesota, and falls in love with a beautiful young woman who agrees to marry him. All his plans are torn asunder with the first leprous lesion which brings the health board chasing after him. The next years are spent in a hellish Louisiana Leper colony. Severson's decency spurs him to stand up for the rights of fellow patients and begin reforms. A raging flood and murderous Klansmen lead to his escape. He doesn't remain free long, he ends up in Molokai, the infamous Hawaiian Leper Colony.

You will find yourself rooting for John Severson, a noble man trying to make the best of a life blighted by a disease which automatically makes one an outcast. The story is suspenseful and full of interesting historical details. If you enjoyed
Molokai by Alan Brennert, you will love The Leper by Steve Thayer.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yet Another Fake Memoir

Oprah has been caught out again by endorsing a memoir, in this case Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblat, that turns out to be made up. Oprah called it "the single greatest love story". The couple in the memoir had supposedly met in a concentration camp during World War II--the truth is they met on a blind date in New York--considerably less engaging as a story. Here is a description and excerpt of the book from Oprah's web site:
When he was 12, Herman Rosenblat and his family were taken from their home in Poland and sent to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Young Herman was forced to work shoveling bodies into a crematorium. All the while he did not know if he, too, would soon be killed.One day two years later, Herman walked up to the barbed wire fence and saw a girl on the other side. "She says, 'What are you doing in there?'" Herman says. "I said to her, 'Can you give me something to eat?' And she took an apple out of her jacket."The girl fed Herman an apple every day for seven months. Then one day he told her not to come back—he was being moved to another camp. "A tear came down her eyes," Herman says. "And as I turned around and went back I started to cry, too. I started to cry knowing that I might not see her again."Herman was shipped to Czechoslovakia. Just two hours before he was scheduled to die in the gas chambers there, Russian troops liberated the camp and Herman was set free.

What I don't understand is why people want to write memoirs when they don't feel their lives are exciting enough to merit one? If they have the urge to write why not try fiction.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Hunger Games

I repeatedly get asked about what kids can read once they are finished with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series. And though I have a "If you liked Twilight try..." booklist available, fans may also be interested in titles that get Stephenie Meyer excited. One such title, that she gushed about on her blog at http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/, is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Here is what she had to say:

People often ask me for reading suggestions, and I'm always happy to share because books are exciting things to me. My latest excitement is this: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I was so obsessed with this book I had to take it with me out to dinner and hide it under the edge of the table so I wouldn't have to stop reading. The story kept me up for several nights in a row, because even after I was finished, I just lay in bed wide awake thinking about it. I've been recommending it to total strangers in Target. And now to everyone who reads my website. The Hunger Games is amazing.
--Stephenie

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008's Best Books


It’s that time of the year when booksellers, reviewers and critics analyze the year’s published works and choose their “Best Books of 2008”. Here’s several top lists for you to peruse:
Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and The New York Times.

I wondered if there was any commonality among the lists and so conducted my own quick poll. Among the fiction titles with appearances on at least four lists were Home by Marilynne Robinson, The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon, Lush Life by Richard Price, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, and Unaccustomed Earth: Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. Non-fiction with four or more citations included: Night of the Gun: a Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life---His Own by David Carr, The Dark Side: the Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer, The Hemingses of Monticello: an American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed, The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria, and This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust.
Other frequently listed titles also recommended by our staff are: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly and The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.
Enjoy a good book as 2008 draws to a close!

Do You have a Favorite?

A library patron asked me a stumper of a question last week. Who is your favorite author? I can't pick just one, I have a list of favorites in many genres. Its like asking a mother who is her favorite child. If I feel liking reading science fiction I like Octavia Butler and Sherri Tepper. For mysteries I like James Lee Burke, Kerry Greenwoood, Elizabeth Peters, and Suzanne Arruda.Jonathan Kellerman and Jeffrey Deaver for thrillers. Jonathan Katz and Patricia McConnell for books about dogs. Carl Hiaasen, David Sedaris, and Lisa Lutz for humor. Don't even get me started on historical fiction, I have way too many favorite authors in that genre; Geraldine Brooks, Ken Follett, Rosalind Laker, Kathryn Harrison to name just a few.

I just can't limit myself to one author above all others.
How about you; is there one author you prefer above all others? Who is it?

Monday, December 15, 2008

At Your Service

New Hampshire was hit by a devastating ice storm Thursday night and many areas are still without power. On Saturday the Library served as an impromptu shelter for many Dover citizens who sought some warmth and light. We fielded phone calls all day from anxious residents who wanted to make sure we would be open. The Library was jam packed with people using the wireless network, Internet computers, checking out books, re-charging cell phones, and enjoying the film matinee. We even received a phone call from someone in a Midwestern state who hadn't been able to contact her parents and wanted to know if phone lines were down. It was good to see so many people turn to the Library in time of need. We were glad we could help.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Books for Holiday Giving

The Children's Room has compiled some helpful lists of holiday books to give children. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Merry Christmas, Ollie by Olivier Dunrea
Baby Elf’s Christmas by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
The Night before Christmas: tenth anniversary by Clement C. Moore/Jan Brett
The Christmas Bears by Chris Conover
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Christmas at Stony Creek by Stephanie Greene
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kinkaid
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Found the Time...

“If I Had the Time…” has been the heading of a number of blogs listing new non-fiction books that librarians here at DPL find intriguing but just do not have the time to read. In one such blog post for the Children’s Room, I listed King George: What was his Problem? : Everything your schoolbooks didn't tell you about the American Revolution by Steve Sheinkin. After years of writing American history textbooks, Steve Sheinkin used all the amazing stories and quotes that he collected in his research to write this funny, simplified, but entirely true account of the American Revolution. History was never my favorite subject but this book looked like fun so I finally found the time to read it. If school textbook editors had allowed Sheinkin to write history books like this one, I would have looked forward to my history homework reading assignments.
Here is one scene that Sheinkin recounts involving Samuel Adams and John Hancock as they high tail it out of Lexington after Paul Revere’s warning:

“When Samuel Adams heard the explosion of gunfire from Lexington, he had a pretty good
idea of what just happened.

“Oh, what a glorious morning is this,” he said.

John Hancock thought Adams was talking about the weather, which was not bad, but not
glorious. Adams clarified: “I mean, what a glorious morning for America.”

What was so glorious about it? Adams must have been thinking that those early-morning
shots would be the start of a long, hard fight for American independence.

Hancock must have been thinking about lunch. He sent a messenger back to Lexington,
instructing Dorothy and Aunt Lydia to meet him in Woburn (where Adams and Hancock were
now headed). He told them to “bring the fine salmon” that they had planned to eat that day.

Wait a minute. The American Revolution just started, and we’re talking about salmon.
What just happened back there on Lexington Common?”

I, for one, had to find out! And, when Steve Sheinkin’s second volume, Two Miserable Presidents: Everything your schoolbooks didn’t tell you about the Civil War, was added to our collection, I found the time to read that, too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Gift Ideas

I believe that one can never have enough good cookbooks. I love to browse through my favorites, even when I am not looking for a recipe. So if you are looking for a gift idea for someone who loves to cook, or someone who could use good advice on the topic, here a few that came out in 2008. Of course, if you would just like to just peruse these yourself they are all available at the DPL. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wrap these up!


What do an 1890 first edition of the "Tragic Muse" by Henry James, a 1919 first edition of "The Book of Halloween", and a 1911 first edition of the "Biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe" have in common? They are all for sale in our mini-antiquarian corner near the main circulation desk. More than 40 items have been sold from the 100 we pulled from our basement collection for the sale. Among the remaining items are: three volumes of an 1898 first edition of the "Life and Works of Susan B. Anthony", five volumes from the 1800's of "Pomes" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, three volumes of an 1883 edition of the "Life of Andrew Jackson", an 1853 edition of the "Life of Roger Williams". Other titles include "History of Our Lord in Works of Art", "Cathedrals of New England", "Weir of Hermiston", "Life and Letters of General Thomas Jackson", and "Paul Jones Founder of the American Navy". All are priced right for gift giving: $5 - $100, and proceeds go to the Friends of the Dover Library.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It's Been a Harry Potter Weekend

The Family Channel seemed to be playing every Harry Potter movie yet made every minute of the day this past weekend. Actually it was rather soothing to wrap presents and decorate with the enchanting background music and the familiar voices of Harry and his friends floating around the house. Much more pleasant than the sounds of dogs barking out Christmas carols. A hot topic of conversation over dinner with friends was the question of why the latest Harry Potter movie was delayed from opening Thanksgiving weekend as was usual. Was it a conspiracy by those vampire-loving Twilight nuts? We were all disappointed at not getting our usual Harry Potter fix. There is hope for those of you who long to return to Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling has released Tales of Beedle the Bard. It is not a Potter story, but is is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and features commentary by Albus Dumbledore. The following description is from Amazon.com, but don't order the book, put a reserve on the Library's copy!

'Offering the trademark wit and imagination familiar to Rowling's legions of readers--as well as Aesop's wisdom and the occasional darkness of the Brothers Grimm--each of these five tales reveals a lesson befitting children and parents alike: the strength gained with a trusted friendship, the redemptive power of love, and the true magic that exists in the hearts of all of us. Rowling's new introduction also comments on the personal lessons she has taken from the Tales, noting that the characters in Beedle's collection "take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe," and "that magic causes as much trouble as it cures."

But the true jewel of this new edition is the enlightening and comprehensive commentary (including extensive footnotes!) by Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, who brings his unique wizard's-eye perspective to the collection. Discovered "among the many papers which Dumbledore left in his will to the Hogwarts Archives," the venerable wizard's ruminations on the Tales allow today's readers to place them in the context of 16th century Muggle society, even allowing that "Beedle was somewhat out of step with his times in preaching a message of brotherly love for Muggles" during the era of witch hunts that would eventually drive the wizarding community into self-imposed exile. In fact, versions of the same stories told in wizarding households would shock many for their uncharitable treatment of their Muggle characters.

Professor Dumbledore also includes fascinating historical backstory, including tidbits such as the history and pursuit of magic wands, a brief comment on the Dark Arts and its practitioners, and the struggles with censorship that eventually led "a certain Beatrix Bloxam" to cleanse the Tales of "much of the darker themes that she found distasteful," forever altering the meaning of the stories for their Muggle audience. Dumbledore also allows us a glimpse of his personal relationship to the Tales, remarking that it was through "Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump" that "many of us [wizards] first discovered that magic could not bring back the dead."'

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

If I Had the Time...

These new non-fiction titles all have some connection to water! I'd love to read them...if I only had the time!
Thames: the Biography by Peter Ackroyd.
This 215-mile river flowing through London is exquisitely explored in all its misery and majesty. As a Dickens lover and a huge fan of Clare Clark's novel The Great Stink, I know I would enjoy this biography of a river which has been a playground, an attack route, an artistic inspiration, a power source, a royal stream, and even a sewer.

The Gulf Stream: Tiny Plankton, Giant Bluefin, and the Amazing Story of the Powerful River in the Atlantic by Stan Ulanski.
This fascinating blend of science and history delves into the marine life, the transport properties, and the notables who've studied this "ocean conveyor belt" which can even been seen from space. Ponce de Leon discovered it, and Columbus used it, as did the real pirates of the Caribbean and later slave traders. Benjamin Franklin experiemented with its temperature differences in order to chart the stream's boundaries and perhaps speed up delivery of the mail.
Discover its major role in the development of East coast America.

Weather Matters: an American Cultural History Since 1900 by Bernard Mergen.
Hurricanes, floods, tsunamis and other stormy conditioons are examined for their enormous social and cultural impact. Weather, after all, is always a topic of conversation in America. Our inability to control nature, its unpredictability, its politics (Katrina), and even weather lore and humor and the marketing of weather are delightfully explained here.

Bridges: 3000 Years of Defying Nature by David J. Brown
Not on the subject of water, per se, but over the subject of water is this grand coffee table volume. With over 300 photos and illustrations, the author relates the origins, engineering, structure, materials, and design principles of over 100 of the world's greatest bridges. Arranged chronologically, this is a delightful (and fairly non-technical) book for an architecture or civil engineering buff. I adore going over the Zakim bridge in Boston so I loved this book!

Looking For a Good Book?

We have just issued the 2008 Librarians' Choice bookmark which lists many of our favorite books this year. The New York Times has also come up with their own list of notable books of 2008. If you can't come in to pick up your book mark; here is a virtual copy. (Click on the image to make it larger.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pirates Take 60 English Men, Women, and Children Captive

I am not talking about the modern day piracy off the coast of Somalia, but of a little known raid that took place in 1625. Barbary Pirates stormed a church in Penzance, Cornwall, ruthlessly taking the congregation to sell as slaves. Jane Johnson was inspired to write The Tenth Gift by this old family tale of a stolen ancestress. The novel is actually the intermingled stories of Julia, a modern day Englishwoman who finds the scribbled notes of one of the captives, Cat Tregenna, in a very old book of embroidery patterns. Julia is so intrigued by Cat's story that she travels to Morocco to find out the truth of what happened to Cat and the faithful lover who struggled to rescue her. This atmospheric audio book transported me to the hot, dusty streets of exotic Morocco, just the ticket during a cold, grey New England day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

You Might Be A Librarian If.....

Seattle Librarian Danielle Dreger-Babbitt has done better than Jeff Foxworthy with her "You Might Be a Librarian If" column. I confess some of the things are accurate: alphabetized spice cabinet- guilty, change Scrabble to Trivial Pursuit and its dead on, but I have no pets named after authors.

There is a Librarian here who owns a Nancy Pearl action figure and secretly longs to be on a book cart drill team. Can you guess who she is? And are you at heart a Librarian?

You might be a librarian if:
You compulsively reshelve items and straighten shelves when browsing at Barnes and Noble
You alphabetize your spice rack (and everything else)
You own more cardigans than shoes
You own cats named "Ernest, "Kerouac," or "Flannery"
You have a secret desire to be on a bookcart drill team
You know the Dewey Decimal System by heart
Nancy Pearl is your idol and you own her action figure
You go on vacation and visit other libraries
You don't have a Netflix account and borrow all of your music and movies from the library instead
Your home library has just as many books as a small public library
You were totally blogging and social networking before 2003
You read banned books
You can kick everyone's butt at Scrabble

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Christmas Wars

Every year about this time a struggle begins at the Circulation Desk between those who would happily listen to Christmas carols from September onwards and those of us who more sensibly prefer Christmas to begin a week or so before Christmas Day. A compromise has been crafted declaring no Christmas music shall be played at the Desk until after Thanksgiving Day. We have brought up hundreds of Christmas books and CDs from storage so you are more than welcome to start your holiday celebrations whenever you desire.

So how about it; are you a "can't get enough of Christmas" kind of person, or a "let's keep it special by limiting it to a couple of weeks" person?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Hours

The Library will close at 5:30 Wednesday evening. We will open again on Saturday from 9 to 5. We will be closed on Sunday due to Dover's Holiday Parade.
The Library staff wishes you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Stress Christmas Shopping


Christmas shopping doesn't have to be stressful...you can do it right here at the library. We have quite a Christmas sale corner near the front desk with great ideas for gift giving. Dover maps, note paper, library book bags, copies of the Port of Dover hardcover book and paperback copies of the Marlinspike are all for sale, benefiting the Friends of the Library. In addition you can purchase a "Hidden Treasures of Dover NH" jigsaw puzzle or a "Factory on Fire" DVD and support Dover's Main Street organization. We also have the "Great Blaze (a look back at Dover's Deadly 1907 Mill Fire)" DVD for sale. So if your Christmas gift list is longer than Santa's and a mall is your worst nightmare, shopping at the library could be the way to go.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama is the new Oprah!


Isn't it nice to have a president-elect who is a reader? As a dad, he's already read all the Harry Potter books with his girls and, according to reports, is now tackling the popular Twilight series with Malia. On the campaign trail he showed he was familiar with Michael Pollan's books on food and Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World.


But our new president has something even more magical...he's acquired 'The Oprah Touch" for sending books to the top of bestseller lists. As he ascends to the presidency, Barack Obama has been reading about Lincoln and FDR, specifically Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and Jonathan Alter's The Defining Moment: FDR's 100 Days and the Triumph of Hope. These two books were published in, respectively, 2005 and 2006, yet they are currently #13 and #120 on Amazon's top sellers list! Our library copies are out in circulation and there are four holds on Goodwin's title.


I wonder what Michelle Obama is reading? Any guesses?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilighters Rejoice!

There has been a lot of buzz and press about today's release of the movie Twilight. The movie is, of course, based on the wildly popular Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. But what is a twilighter (if you don't know what this is see our August 13th post) to do after you having read all the Stephenie Meyer's books and seen the movie? Luckily the vampire genre is flourishing and here are few good books that you can sink your teeth into! (I couldn't help myself.)

Bloodline: a novel by Kate Cary
Blue Bloods Series by Melissa De la Cruz
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer
Cirque du Freak Series by Darren Shan
Midnight Predator by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Marked by P.C. Cast (The House of Night Series)
My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwic
Night Road by A. M. Jenkins
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
Suck It Up by Brian Meehl
Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley
Sweetblood by Pete Hautman
Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Thirsty by M.T. Anderson
Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
Vampire Kisses Series by Ellen Schreiber

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If I had the time...


Things I probably won't get to do but might if only I had the time to read these books:
Smoking Food, a beginner's guide by Chris Dub; Manage your life with Outlook for Dummies by Greg Harvey; Getting into Guinness: one man's longest, fastest, highest journey by Larry Olmstead; Preserving food without freezing or canning. And, something interesting for the man in my life to do if he had time to read this: 50 Fish to catch before you die by John Bailey.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Salute to Library Pages!!!

Our two-week annual booksale is now over and we are offering all the "leftovers" for free. I've uploaded some pictures of the messy remainders. We make only feeble attempts to bring order to the booksale and you can see how bad it gets at the finale.

This morning, as I was bemoaning the clutter, I was reminded of the 2007 bestseller by Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, which explored what would happen to the Earth if humans disappeared. If you're not familiar with that book's premise, it's that man-made structures and systems would quickly degenerate if people weren't there to maintain them and that nature would quickly take over. There was a similarly-themed documentary on The History Channel this year called "Life Without People." Wow, I thought, this same phenomenon happens on a smaller scale in our own library!

Library pages are the often-unsung heroes who reshelve all returned materials and keep our dozens of stacks and bookshelves in near-perfect Dewey Decimal or alphabetical order so we can all find what we're looking for. Our booksale started out looking like this:


but, in just a fortnight, degenerated into this:

Yes it may be true that librarians can obsess about keeping order, but without our constant attention to where items are located, chaos would soon reign. The library would have few satisfied customers if our 100,000+ books looked like those remnants in the booksale! So here's to you Joanne, Sara and Kristen, our library's hard-working and dilgent pages who fight the never-ending battle against misshelving, book-tossing, and general unkemptness!

Good Book Buys


Although our annual book sale is officially over, we have an on-going mini sale in our Internet Room where you can purchase nearly new hardcovers, paperbacks and media for $1 to $3 (hint: Christmas is coming). We also have a great selection of specially priced "collectible" books for dabbling antiquarians (hint, hint: Christmas IS coming!).

Friday, November 14, 2008

The (not really) Bestsellers' List

There's "THE" Bestsellers' List, and then there's "yours"! Here are the books you checked out most this past year that didn't make it to the top of the charts nationally. For fiction you really liked the light stuff:
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner, Deep Dish by Mary Kay andrews, and Getting Rid of Bradley byJennifer Crusie . However you balanced your fun with some serious nonfiction: Glimpses of heaven: true stories of hope and peace at the end of life's journey by Trudy Harris, Her last death: a memoir by Susanna Sonnenberg, and Mollie Katzen's recipes--Salads by Mollie Katzen.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Driving in to work today I heard an interesting segment on NPR about the Swedish author Stieg Larsson . Stieg Larsson wrote a trilogy of books with the first one being The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is currently #17 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction list. I have not read the book myself, but a couple of my colleagues have been raving about it. What I didn't know is that Stieg Larsson died in 2004. When Knopf picked up the rights for publishing it in the United States they needed to use some inventive marketing techniques since they had an unknown author who could not do book tours. First they starting giving out advance copies to booksellers, and basically to anyone who asked. They went so far as to take an ad out in the New York Times Book Review telling readers if they wrote asking for a copy they would get one in the mail. They also made use of bloggers. The books were already popular in Europe and so getting the book into the hands of some influential book bloggers was important. When the book was finally published it had glowing blurbs on the back from Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Harlan Coben, and debuted at #4 on the New York Times Best-Seller List.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The King of Gross Out Grosses Himself Out

I just read about Stephen King's latest book of short stories "Just After Sunset", which apparently includes a story about which Mr. King said "I even grossed myself out." Wow that is saying something! But this started me thinking, didn't he retire at one point? In fact in 2002 he declared that "he would stop writing." Well since 2002 he has published more books that the average writer does in a lifetime. Just imagine how many books he would have published if he wasn't "retired". Crazy Stephen.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Remembering Michael

When I was ten years old my dad took me to see The Andromeda Strain. I remember sitting very tensely in the dark movie theater, barely breathing, watching the riveting, horrifying tale play out. I can still see the figures in their astronaut suits walking through the eerily quiet town, past citizens who had dropped mid step. It was my first experience with one of the maestros of thrillerdom, Michael Crichton. Since then he has written many bestsellers that were often turned into movies; Jurassic Park, Sphere, Congo, The Great Train Robbery, Timeline, and The Terminal Man, to name just a few.

Sadly, the world lost a great story teller Tuesday when Michael Crichton passed way. He will be missed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

If I had the time...

My latest list of newly-received non-fiction which I'd read...if I had the time:

Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family’s Schizophrenia
by Patrick Tracey (a journey to trace his two sisters’ illness)

Alphabet Juice: the Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences: with Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory by Roy Blount Jr. (witty, punny wordplay)

FabergĂ©’s Eggs: the Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire by Toby Faber (the tale of the czar’s 49 bejeweled eggs)

Getting Into Guinness: One Man’s Longest, Fastest, Highest Journey Inside the World’s Most Famous Record Book by Larry Olmstead (why do people do this? Olmstead explains the obsession.)

The Big Necessity: the Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George (Sanitation as a central challenge to human development)

Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces by Robert Clark (Story of the 1966 flood in Florence which killed 33 and damaged over 14,000 artworks.)

The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez (Bio of a phony paintings peddler and his Nazi ties)

Unforgettable Walks to Take Before You Die by Steve Watkins & Clare Jones (I’ve done two of them!)

Writing on Stone: Scenes from a Maine Island Life by Christina Marsden Gillis (a summer resident of Gotts Island, SW of Mt. Desert, for 40+ years)

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein (originated as zany schtick on NPR’s Weekend Edition)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Voting in Dover

Just in case it slipped your mind, national and state elections are being held Tuesday, November 4. The polls will be open in Dover from 7AM to 7PM. The City Clerk's office has posted a list of voting locations. You can also look at sample ballots for your ward. Not sure what ward you are in? Use the Street Finder.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

November--Time to Vote!

The Ladybug Picture Book Award, a project of the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library, is designed to promote early literacy and honor the best in recent children's picture books. Each year, a committee of children's librarians from around New Hampshire selects 10 picture book titles and during the month of November, New Hampshire children from preschoolers to those in third grade vote to select the award winner. The winning picture book is announced at the end of the year and the author and illustrator receive a crystal award created by Pepi Herrmann Crystal.

Children in preschool through third grade are invited to choose their favorite picture book from the 2008 list of nominees. Ballots and tally sheets are available in the Children's Room and on our website. All votes MUST be received at the Center for the Book (mailing info is on the tally sheet) by December 1, 2008.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Haunted Dover

Curious about what ghosts roam through Dover on All Hallow's Eve? You might be surprised at what you find...

Treat yourself today!


You've got the candy, now how about something to go with it: come in and browse our "still gigantic" book sale. The lowest prices were just posted this morning, ranging from just .10 for paperbacks to $1 for hardcovers. These prices will continue through Sunday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or Treat Tactics

The following excerpt is from The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford. In it, Jim explains Halloween strategy to his little sister Mary, who will be participating for the first time.

“The idea,” he told Mary, “is to get as much candy as possible. You want candy, wrapped candy. If you get a candy bar, that’s the best—a Hershey bar or a Milky Way. Mary Janes are okay if you don’t mind losing a few fillings, little boxes of Good & Plenty, Dots, Chocolate Babies, packs of gum, all good. Then you’ve got your cheapskate single-wrapped candy—root-beer barrels, butterscotches, licorice drops—not bad, usually given out by people who are broke, but what can they do? They’re trying.

“You don’t eat anything that’s not wrapped, except for Mr. Barzita’s figs. Some people drop an apple in your bag. You can’t eat it, but you can throw it at someone, so that’s okay. Once in a while, someone will bake stuff to give out. Don’t eat it—you don’t know what they put in it. It could be the best-looking cupcake you ever saw, with chocolate icing and a candy corn on top, but who knows, they might have crapped in the batter. I’ve seen where people will throw a penny in your sack. Hey, a penny’s a penny.

“You always stay where we can see you. If someone invites you into their house, don’t go. When we tell you to run, run ‘cause kids could be coming to throw eggs at us. If you hear someone shout ‘Nair bomb,’ run like hell.

“What’s a Nair bomb?” asked Mary.

“Nair is that chemical stuff women use to take the hair off their legs. Kids pour it into balloons and throw them. If you get hit on the head with it, all your hair will fall out. If it gets in your eyes, it could blind you for a while.”

Mary nodded.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Candy Please

One of our blog readers recommended Candyfreak by Steve Almond after reading the previous post on candy corn. I thought I would share a bit of Almond's Halloween reminiscences with you in the spirit of the season.

"I can think of nothing on earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night, which, for me, was ten to fifteen pounds of candy, a riot of colored wrappers and hopeful fonts, snub-nosed chocolate bars and SweeTARTS, the seductive rattle of Jujyfruits and Good & Plenty and lollipop sticks all akimbo, the foil ends of mini LifeSavers packs twinkling like dimes, a thick sugary perfume rising up from the pillowcase. And more so, the pleasure of pouring out the contents onto the rug in the TV room, of cataloging the take according to a strict Freak Hierarchy, calling for all chocolate products to be immediately quarantined, sorted and closely guarded, with higher-quality fruit chews and caramels next, then hard candies, and last of all anything organic (the loathsome raisins). A brief period of barter with my brothers might ensue. For the most part, I simply lay amid my trove and occasionally massed the candy into a pile which I could sort of dive into, a la Scrooge McDuck and his gold ducats."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Ode To Candy Corn

Candy corn may seem timeless but it was born at the Wunderle Candy Company in the 1880s. That whole school of candy - mellocremes - was already in full swing, in various agriculturally inspired shapes and sizes. Then in 1898 Goelitz Confectionary Company took candy corn into the big leagues, associating the confection with Halloween. It was, needless to say, a big hit. And why shouldn't it have been? Candy Corn was made for stardom. Those shiny, waxy yellow ends demand to be clutched by the handful and eaten, top, middle, bottom, top middle, bottom, in a compulsive rhythm until they are gone. Chocolate gets all the fanzines, but it is the clay of candy. Matte, endlessly shapeable, chocolate is all about taste. Candy corn gets by on looks alone. Odes should be written to its waxy gleam, its whimsical design, its autumnal shades. I fell for candy corn hard. It was the first candy for which I had a specific desire rather than a generic sugarlust. I loved how it returned, Halloween after Halloween. We trick-or-treated on the overly lit cul-de-sacs of suburban Maryland, compromising our store-bought costumes by donning coats. We ran from house to house, suffocating plastic masks pulled up onto the tops of our heads. One popular house distributed full-size Three Musketeers bars. Candy corn came in slender, oblong boxes or little plastic bags cherishing only four or five kernels. At the end of the night our brown paper bags were awkwardly heavy. It was never enough. I usually ate all of my candy by the next evening, and then started in on my brother's. When I got tired of the sugary candies in our bags, I switched to chocolate, then back again.
From Candy and Me: a love story by Hilary Liftin

Monday, October 27, 2008

Look It Up

We have quite a few word geeks working here at the Library, really no surprise when you consider our profession. This morning the hot topic of conversation was not the Red Sox, or politics, but an obscure little word that appears in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Both librarians had made the effort to look up the word, gallimaufry, to find out its meaning. They had some fun tossing it around at the Circulation Desk, to see who knew what it meant. This of course led to a discussion of favorite words. One librarian's current favorite word is "heinous", and she likes to use it whenever possible. Another librarian favors "bogus". My particular favorite is from the Bridget Jones novels and cannot be used in polite society. How about you, have you added a new word to your lexicon that you are particularly fond of?

By the way, if you are planning on reading
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, gallimaufry means hodgepodge. There, I saved you a look-up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Booksale Starts This Saturday

The Friends of the Library Booksale starts at 9AM tomorrow for library card holders only. The general public may attend starting Sunday, October 26. There are thousands of books and AV materials for adults and children available. Don't miss this huge sale!

But It's Mostly Just Pictures!


Yesterday one of our voracious readers eagerly came in to pick up the new entry in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. The new book is called Welcome to the Jungle, and is a graphic novel, or as some like to call them, cartoons. There is a debate about how cartoons and graphic novels differ, if at all, but that is fodder for another blog post. Anyhow, our fan of the Dresden Files was crushed at what he saw. At first glance he didn't realize it was in comic format, he was mainly concerned about the length--it was less than half the size of the other 10 novels in the series. You know how it is when you are looking forward to reading the latest offering by your favorite author--you might have to have your name in the queue to get it and it finally arrives. Book nerds I know, but fun none the less. I felt for this man. He flipped through the book and kept repeating "But it's mostly just pictures!" To make matters worse he had requested we purchase this book. He dejectedly handed back the novel, not interested. Graphic novels are immensely popular in our library, but I'm not sure how crossing between two formats will fare with readers. How would you feel about reading 10 novels in a series and having the next one be in graphic format? To be fair this is apparently a prequel so it can stand alone as a graphic novel. There are many angry reader comments on Amazon's review section for the book. Apparently our fan was not the only one caught out by this.