Friday, October 29, 2010

A Tribute to a Librarian

Today my mother died after a short month-long illness. She was not only a great mom, she was my mentor as a librarian. Before her retirement in the late 1980s, she had worked in local public libraries for about 30 years and I basically grew up in a library. She always instilled in me an appreciation of books and reading and she always let me read whatever I wanted. We liked a lot of the same books but we also liked to “bicker” about the merits of various titles we’d read. In fact, my mother was reading and enjoying one of my favorite books of this year, “The Lonely Polygamist” by Brady Udall, when she passed away.

There were two children’s books that we’d argued about when I was in grammar school. These two books were her favorites from her own childhood: “Hitty: Her First Hundred Years” (1929) by Rachel Field about a doll’s travels over a century, and “The Secret Garden” (1911) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the story of lonely orphans on the Yorkshire moors. Over and over, she’d recommended these books to me and each time I tried to read them I hated them. She finally gave up and “Hitty” became a running joke between us, calling any book we’d disliked “Hitty-ous”.

This past Monday, October 25, I opened a box of donated books at the library. My mother had been admitted to a hospice house three days earlier. This is absolutely a true story: the two books on top of the pile were “Hitty” and “The Secret Garden”. I know now that this was her signal: she is still nagging me to read these damn books. I promise, Mom, this time I’ll read them! Lovingly, Cathy

Musings on Candy Corn

Where do you stand on candy corn? Some of the librarians are addicted to it, you can't leave them alone with the bag of the stuff or they will demolish it. Others of us can't abide the stuff. Lets see, I could eat a luscious piece of chocolate with nuts and caramel, or a blob of sickly sweet wax. I agree with Lewis Black's assessment, from his hilarious essay, "Halloween; It's Scary for all the Wrong Reasons". 
Nothing proves just how stupid we are as a people more than candy corn. Which, by the way, is not candy at all. You can actually melt it down and run a car. I think it's tar based. Candy Corn is the only candy in the history of the country that has never been advertised. It just appears.
 Want to read the rest of the essay? Check out Nothing's Sacred by Lewis Black.

Happy Halloween from the DPL!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Literary Halloween Costumes

Do you know what you are going to be for Halloween? I've come across a few amusing literary Halloween costume ideas lately that I thought I would share with you. Why be a boring old ghost when you could be Miss Havisham, or Captain Underpants. They have some good ideas at Lit Drift. On the other hand, consider what famous literary characters would like to wear for a costume. Spark Life proposes that Holden Caulfield wouldn't dress up because it would be too phony, and Edmund from The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe would be a box of Turkish Delight. The most unexpected find were the pet costumes featured in the Critterati Contest. Waiting for Dogot cracks me up. Make sure to look at both slide shows on this page.
What literary character would you dress as?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Books, Books, & More Books!

The Dover Public Library's Annual ENORMOUS, GIGANTIC, STUPENDOUS Book Sale is almost here. The sale starts this Friday, Oct. 29 from 9am to 5:30pm, for Dover Public Library cardholders, and on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 9am to 5pm for the general public. As you can see from the picture we have a few books so don't miss it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Vampire in Literature and Film

Vampires have breached the gates of Harvard! A new class offered by Harvard's Extension School--The Vampire in Literature and Film--is proving to be quite popular, 183 enrolled. Professor Sue Weaver Schopf is teaching some of the classics, like The Vampyre by John Polidori, and some more modern titles by Charlaine Harris, and yes Stephenie Meyers. Professor Schopf loves the Twilight series, and scoffs at the criticism it has received. "She is just as interested in the strange, overwhelming negativity that surrounds Stephenie Meyer's chaste young-adult series as she is in its mass appeal. Why do these books provoke such a strong reaction?" FYI--there are already plans in place to teach the course again next fall. Follow the link to read the article about the class in the Boston Globe.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Forget Shakespeare, It Is the Zombies that Jane Needs to Worry About

Dear Jane Austen Loving Librarians,
Now that the dust has settled from your quibble over who is more awesome, Jane Austen or William Shakespeare, I must you ask a more important question. Could Jane Austen kick a zombie's butt? Because Dover is under threat of imminent zombie attack this Saturday at 3pm.
Perhaps we can find the answer in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith.
 It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.      

Friday, October 22, 2010

NBA Finalists Announced

Not that NBA the National Book Awards of course!
Here is the list of fiction finalists:

Adult Fiction
Great House by Nicole Krauss
I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

Lord Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
So Much for That by Lionel Shriver

Young People's Literature
Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

To see the finalists in other categories visit the NBA web site.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Library in Autumn

We had a drenching downpour earlier this afternoon and it looked like November was setting in early. Then the sun broke through the grey sky and it turned into such a splendid Autumn day I had to take some photos.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween Drop-in Story Time!

Calling all ghosts, goblins, witches, princesses, etc., to join us on Monday, October 25 @ 7:00pm for a special Halloween "drop-in" story time for ages 3 & up.
Miss Kimberly will try not to be too scary!
If you'd like to--- wear your Halloween costumes or come in your pajamas. All are welcome.

Great Expectations of Cake

Put down your weapons, quarreling Jane Austen and Shakespeare Librarians, and think of Charles Dickens. Poor Charles, the Miss Havisham Wedding Cake that was entered in the Decorated Cake Competition at the Royal Melbourne Show in Australia was disqualified for being in poor taste. Personally I would have given it extra points for being hilarious. Check out the Hotham Street Ladies blog for more photos.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jane With a Little Bit of Yiddish

I was reading an article about Howard Jacobson, winner of the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question (on order at the library), in the the New York Times Book Review. Now Mr. Jacobson is a Jewish man who writes about the Jewish experience, but he refers to Jane Austen several times during the interview--I am not making this up. “I’m an old-fashioned English lit. man,” he said. “Straight down the line — it’s George Eliot, it’s Dickens, it’s Dr. Johnson, it’s Jane Austen.” Early in his career he tried to write like his heroes, but that didn't work so well for a Jewish man from New York. Mr. Jacobson has been likened to an English Philip Roth (he writes about British Jews), but he would rather be the English Jane Austen. I will leave you with my favorite quote of the article--maybe my new favorite quote period.
“I’m an English writer who happens to know about Jews and would like to write like Jane Austen, with a little bit of Yiddish,” he said.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Silver Lake Summers Tuesday Night at the Library

Tuesday, October 19 at 7:00pm in the Library Lecture Hall
Sponsored by the NH Humanities Council, we are proud to offer the Pontine Theatre's presentation of Silver Lake Summers, which explores the life of E.E. Cummings. An American poet and painter, he was a life-long summer resident of Silver Lake, NH in the town of Madison in Carroll County. His home, Joy Farm, is on the National Historic Register and Harvard University is home to a large collection of his letters, diaries, manuscripts, notebooks and sketchbooks. These materials form a basis for this show which includes scenes from their full length play and featuring remarks about the poet's special connection to New England, along with slides of historic photos and his paintings.

Co-Directors of Pontine Theatre Marguerite Mathews and Greg Gathers are the creators and performers of this presentation. Together they offer a theatre of astonishing dramatic and visual integrity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Want to Save Money?

That usually gets people's attention! If you haven't borrowed one of the library's Kill A Watt Energy Detectors now might be a good time. What is a Kill A Watt Energy Detector you may ask? It is a small device that allows you to plug your appliances or electric devices into it, and you can monitor the energy usage of that item. Armed with this information you can quickly identify the biggest opportunities for savings. Winter is coming and that usually means higher utility bills so take advantage of a Kill A Watt Detector today so you can have some extra $$$ in your pockets for the holiday season!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Evocative Scent

Fragrances are wonderful memory triggers. The smell of Coppertone immediately brings back my memories of happy  days at the beach. Finally, there is a perfume for all of us devoted readers. It is called In the Library, and it is a "warm blend of English Novel, Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish". The creator of the perfume says of his inspiration: 
There are few things more wonderful than the smell of a much-loved book.  Newly printed books certainly smell very different from older ones.  Their ink is so crisp though the odor of their paper is so faint.  Older books smell riper and often sweeter.  Illustrated books have a very different odor from those with straight text and this smell often speaks of their quality.  I've also noticed that books from different countries and different periods have very individual scents too.  These speak not only of their origin, but of their history to this moment.  I can distinguish books that were well cared for from those that were neglected.  I can often tell books that lived in libraries where pipes or cigars were regularly smoked.  Occasionally I run across one that I am certain belonged to an older woman fond of powdery scent.  Books from California smell very different from those I buy in New York, London or Paris.  I can tell books that have come from humid places - these have a musty richness in the scent of their pages.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shakespeare Kicks Jane Austen's Butt!

Yep, that's right. I'm busting on Jane Austen again. How many books about Jane, Eliza, Mr.Darcy, and her neighbors can we stand? I'm surprised they have not come out with one by her mother called Jane Journal: My Experience with the Author in Utero. Now Shakespeare is another story. Lots more. We've had several new novels come in which use Shakespeare's plays in the plot. Juliet by Anne Fortier is a wonderful first novel set in Siena Italy. The books switches between Julie Jacobs in present day Siena and her ancestress Giulietta Tolomei, the model for the original Juliet. Jennifer Lee Carrell's Haunt Me Still has Kate Stanley agreeing to direct MacBeth. And we all know what happens when the Scottish play is involved. Murder and creepiness abound. So much more exciting than polite conversation and witty reparte. Et tu, Jane.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Instant Success!

Funny essay in the New York Times about the book "Operation Dark Heart", which the Pentagon made into an instant best seller by buying all the first-run copies in order to protect national security. There are many authors who are wild with envy about Anthony Shaffer's instant success!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Kids, Reading, & the Digital Age

A new study concerning kids and reading in the digital age had some interesting findings about eBooks. "The study found indications that technology could be a positive motivator to get kids reading -- 57 percent of kids (age 9-17) say they are interested in reading an eBook, and a third of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had access to eBooks on an electronic device. " If you have a device that is compatible with the New Hampshire Downloadable eBooks, and are willing to share with your kids there are some great titles available. For teens the popular Maximum Ride and Twilight Series are available, as well as titles by Sarah Dessen, Scott Westerfeld, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Walter Dean Myers, to name a few. There are fewer titles for younger kids, but Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is available. Something to think about if your kids need a nudge.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Message to Publishers of Weighty Tomes

Dear Publishers,
If you must print books of 900 plus pages please print them in two volumes. I am halfway through Ken Follett's Fall of Giants and am in danger of breaking my wrists due to the sheer weight of the book, or breaking my nose if the book falls on me when I read in bed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Ol' Dead Dad Syndrome

I had to laugh when I read an article in Publishers Weekly titled "The Ol' Dead Dad Syndrome: Why are there so many dead parents in kids' books?" by Leila Sales. I have been asking myself that questions for years, and Ms. Sales has some interesting theories. First, lazy writing. She believes that creating and developing characters is hard work, and that some authors take the easy way out, and lop off a few here and there. Second, it is an easy way to create sympathy for a character. "Dead parent equals immediate sympathy." And third, grownups are boring. When kids are left to their own devices they can run wild and get into all sorts of trouble as the Baudelaire children prove in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events series. Ms. Sales suggests one possible solution to this--set the book at a boarding school, summer camp, or another parent-free zone--Hogwarts anyone? I found the article interesting, and believe Ms. Sales was making light of the "syndrome", but with anything these days there are some that took offense. For an interesting defense of dead parents take a look at Nathan Brandsford's blog. Is it me or is everything too complicated these days?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

We Are Fearless Readers

Dover Public Librarians celebrate Banned Books Week by reading our favorite banned and challenged books.

Horse by Juliet Clutton-Brock was challenged at a Montana school for promoting evolution.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Support The Hunger Games

I am so embarrassed. A parent right here in New Hampshire is trying to get The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, banned from a Goffstown school, just days before Banned Books week began. This excellent book is not pro-violence in any way. In fact, it is a favorite of the Librarians here. It was chosen as a Librarian's Choice book in 2009 and was also was the 2009-2010 Isinglass Award winner. If you search our blog you will see The Hunger Games mentioned quite a few times, that is how much we like it. Show your support by reading it. I highly recommend it.

We Are Fearless Readers

Dover Public Librarians celebrate Banned Books Week by reading our favorite banned and challenged books.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson was challenged for promoting homosexuality.