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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Advertising Books on TV

This morning I was flicking through channels looking for a news show that was not featuring endless commercials or discussions of Sarah Palin's new clothes when I saw video of a man walking with a group of frisking Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. Since I have Goldens I had to stop and see what it was about. I was startled to discover it was an advertisement for a book! Dean Koontz was walking with a group of dogs and talking about his book The Darkest Evening of the Year. It is very rare to see books advertised on TV. Why is that, I wonder. Is it because they assume people who read don't watch TV? Or that people who watch TV can't read? Anyway, you should read Dean's hilarious account of the making of this commercial. And it is a great book, especially for Golden Retriever aficionados.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keep It Safe in a Book Safe

I have seen hollowed out book safes selling from $35 all the way up to $175. There is no need to spend that kind of money when it is very easy to create your own using a book you bought at the library book sale! My husband bought an old Physician's Desk Reference at a previous book sale and created quite a spacious book safe to hide valuables in. He had so much fun he hollowed out another book to hold a liquor bottle as a creative Christmas gift. Take a look at these comprehensive step by step instructions for creating your own hollowed out book. There are many different methods, you will find other instructions on the Internet. Make sure to come to the Library book sale this Saturday and pick out a nice fat book for your very own book safe.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

National Book Awards Finalists Announced

On Wednesday the finalists were announced for the 2008 National Book Awards. For a full list, and more information, visit the National Book Foundation web site.


Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project
Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
Marilynne Robinson, Home
Salvatore Scibona, The End


Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals
Jim Sheeler, Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives
Joan Wickersham, The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order

Young People's Literature:

Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hitchhiker Trilogy Expands to a Sixth Book

Can you really still call it a trilogy when it is comprised of six books? It seems to be the sort of silliness that Douglas Adams, now deceased writer of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, would have approved of. Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, is undertaking the daunting task of resurrecting Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and Trillian (we hope) in the new book to be titled "And Another Thing". Fans of the series will be watching closely. It doesn't seem right to me to take over another author's work although it has certainly been done before, with Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With The Wind" being a prime example. The only rendition of her story I enjoyed other than the original was Carol Burnett's spectacularly hilarious parody "Went With The Wind". How do you feel about an author co-opting the characters and storylines developed by another writer?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My favorite book of the year (so far...!)

I've read some fabulous novels this year but I just finished one that stands head-and-shoulders above the others. It's American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld and it's a stunner! It's loosely based on the life of Laura Bush (the author says 85% is fictionalized) and focuses on the modest Wisconsin upbringing of Alice Lindgren. After a life-changing traffic accident as a teenager in which she causes a fatality, Alice becomes a teacher and later a librarian in her hometown. Still single in her early 30s, she meets "churlish" Charlie Blackwell and they (oddly) fall madly in love and marry. Charlie's from a prominent, wealthy, and politically-connected family (his father is a former Governor and his domineering mother Maj [for "Her Majesty"] still rules the roost.) Charlie and a couple of his brothers work in the family business but later Charlie buys the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, his "dream job". The main focus of this wonderful story is the evolution of Alice and Charlie's marriage: his frustrations about his legacy, her capitulations to his lifestyle and politics, his alcoholism and recovery, and his eventual election to the U.S. Presidency, but it's Sittenfeld's writing that immediately captures the reader. Alice's careful, yet honestly detailed narrative of her life and her insightful introspection as to how she ended up as The First Lady are pure magic. As much as I cannot wait for the real-life presidency of George W. to end, I will sincerely miss reading more about Alice and Charlie!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Will We Ever See the Midnight Sun?

Stephenie Meyer's fans have been on a rollercoaster ride lately. They have been anxiously awaiting publication of Midnight Sun which the author is still writing. Then came the news that someone had posted the unfinished manuscript on the Internet. The author was so upset by this violation of her rights that she may not continue with the story. She says " My first feeling was that there was no way to continue. Writing isn't like math; in math, two plus two always equals four no matter what your mood is like. With writing, the way you feel changes everything. If I tried to write Midnight Sun now, in my current frame of mind, James would probably win and all the Cullens would die, which wouldn't dovetail too well with the original story. In any case, I feel too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun, and so it is on hold indefinitely."

We will all have to wait, perhaps, forever, to discover Twilight from Edward's perspective. To read more of Stephenie Meyer's discussion on the stolen story, visit her blog.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nobel Prize in Literature

Alas the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was named today, and it was not an American but a French writer by the name of Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio. Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, described Le Clezio's work as having "cosmopolitan character. Frenchman, yes, but more so a traveller, a citizen of the world, a nomad." Mr. Engdahl recently sparked controversy by saying that United States "is too isolated, too insular" and doesn't really "participate in the big dialogue of literature." This drew angry responses from American writers and critics. An American author has not won the prize since Toni Morrison won in 1993.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

If I had the time...

More wonderful new non-fiction I'd read...if I had the time. Each one seems to have an English connection this time:

The Terminal Spy: a True Story of Espionage, Betrayal and Murder by Alan S. Cowell
Cowell, NY Times London Bureau Chief , spins the intriguing and terrifying tale of the fatal poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvenenko in the Millennium Hotel's bar. The former spy drank green tea with honey, lemon and, as it turns out, radioactive polonium. Who was behind the killing? There are competing conspiracy theories, but the finger points eventually back to Putin.

Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret History of the Natural History Museum by Richard Fortey
The retired senior paleontologist at this world-renowned London museum takes readers on a fascinating and affectionate behind-the-scenes tour of the institution, and tells marvelous and often humorous anecdotes about the staff, the exhibits, and its hidden stores. So enjoyable!

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
While the words "witty" and "Puritan" seem destined never to co-exist in the same sentence, Sarah Vowell has done it! This is a quote from the Publishers Weekly review which really intrigued me about this book: "While the Puritans who had earlier sailed to Plymouth on the Mayflower were separatists, Winthrop's followers remained loyal to England... Vowell underscores that the seemingly minute differences between the Plymouth Puritans and the Massachusetts Puritans were as meaningful as the current Sunni/Shia Muslim rift."

Get Your Bets In Now

On Thursday, Oct. 9th the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced. If you have been listening to the news you know that this will not be an American--for more on that read Charles McGrath's article in the New York Times. Anyhow, what I didn't know is that you can actually bet on who you think is going to win. Is there anything that you can't bet on these days? I am not much of a gambler and so perhaps I am showing my naivete, but I find this bizarre. What do you think? Apparently there are 4 to 1 odds on the Syrian poet Adonis. If you hear of any hot tips let me know.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Books Becoming Films

The previews for the big movies of the fall season are coming out and some of them look intriguing. Many of them are based on books, although you would never know it from the advertising. This is your chance to read up on the complete story, not the abridged version the studios offer. Coming to a movie theater near you soon, and already at your public Library:

The Duchess
starring Keira Knightly is based on Georgiana:Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman.

The Secret Life of Bees starring Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning is based on the novel of the same name by Sue Kidd. This is a great story by the way, you should definitely read it.

The Road starring Viggo Mortenson is based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy's last novel turned film, No Country for Old Men, won last year's best picture Oscar.

And for the kids, The City of Ember, based on the novel of the same name written by Jeanne DuPrau, looks so good I am going to go see it. This book was chosen by the children of New Hampshire as a Great Stone Face Award winner.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Name That Banned Book!

How much do you know about books that have been banned or challenged around the country? In honor of Banned Books Week, take our quiz and find out.

"Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain't a moment to lose. They're after us!"

Jim never asked no questions, he never said a word; but the way he worked for the next half an hour showed about how he was scared. By that time everything we had in the world was on our raft and she was ready to be shoved out from the willow cove where she was hid. We put out the camp fire at the cavern the first thing, and didn't show a candle outside after that.

Click on comments for the answer....

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Name That Banned Book!

How much do you know about books that have been banned or challenged around the country? In honor of Banned Books Week, take our quiz and find out.

Lennie reluctantly reached into his pocket. His voice broke a little. "I don't know why I can't keep it. It ain't nobody's mouse. I didn't steal it. I found it lyin' right beside the road."

George's hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring back a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Lennie laid the mouse in his hand.

"I wasn't doin' nothing bad with it, George. Jus' strokin' it.

Click on comments for the answer....

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Name That Banned Book!

How much do you know about books that have been banned or challenged around the country? In honor of Banned Books Week we will be posting a paragraph or two from a challenged book each day. Can you name this book?

What Jem did was something I'd do as a matter of course had I not been under Atticus's interdict, which I assumed included not fighting horrible old ladies. We had just come to her gate when Jem snatched my baton and ran flailing wildly up the steps into Mrs. Dubose's front yard, forgetting everything Atticus had said, forgetting that she packed a pistol under her shawls, forgetting that if Mrs. Dubose missed, her girl Jessie probably wouldn't.

He did not begin to calm down until he had cut the tops off every camellia bush Mrs. Dubose owned, until the ground was littered with green buds and leaves. He bent my baton against his knee, snapped it in two and threw it down.

Click on comments for the answer....