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Showing posts from May, 2017

Summer Reading

"It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer." Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Memorial Day, whether it be warm and sunny or (as it happened this year) chilly and rainy, traditionally heralds the start of the summer season.  With Memorial Day now behind us, summer is unofficially here. And with summer comes the annual parade of summer books and summer book reading lists.

"Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season; it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill."…

Staff Picks -- Great Food Writing

In an earlier post, I described the Staff Picks display in the North Main Book Nook. Allison Murphy, one of the library's amazing children's librarians, is currently in charge of filling a quadrant of the display.  She recently decided to theme her display, and she wrote a blog post about it:
Do you eat to live or live to eat?  Although there are many days when I view food as fuel to keep me going, there are many others when I enjoy researching a recipe or selecting the best spice to pair with the main course.
I love food so much that I’m happiest while watching a Netflix show about a cooking school, listening to an audiobook of a chef’s memoir, perusing a new cookbook, or reading about how someone turned a broken-down building into a bustling, hip bistro.
If you check out my section of the Staff Picks book display, you’ll see that my choices are trending towards food writing these days.  One of my all-time favorite titles is The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love by …

Thursday Night Book Club -- May, 2017

On an unseasonably warm May 18th, the Wallingford Public Library Thursday Night Book Club met to discuss our May book, Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. In the opening pages of this tightly controlled novel, a house fire kills four people, including a young couple whose wedding had been scheduled for later that day. The rest of Did You Ever Have a Family is an exploration of the aftermath of that tragedy and its impact on the lives of the family members and friends who survived. Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle of what happened in the hours before that explosion, and in the months and years that preceded it, fall into place.  Clegg's first novel is about forgiveness, connection, and families, both the ones we are born into and the ones we make. As one character comments towards the end of the book, "Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part. Even if that part is coughing to death from cigarettes, or being blown up young…

North Main Book Nook "In Case You Missed It" Display

Remember the North Main Book Nook?  I promised to describe each of the five themed displays in our new Readers Advisory area, and I've gotten through two so far.  It's time to keep going! This post is about the In Case Missed It display, which is located on the large table by the glass window facing the staircase.

The table is filled with books that were very popular when they were first released but which, for one reason or another, you may not have gotten around to reading yet.  Several of the titles on the table are of books that were published many years, or even many decades, ago (To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).  Other titles are of books that were published much more recently, some of which have only just shifted out of "new book" status, like Fool Me Once and The Emperor's Revenge. This is a display that will rotate regularly, and new books will be added to it all the time.

Come check out the books currently o…

Print Books vs E-Books

The arrival of the electronic, or e-, book, was heralded as the next great technological advance in the history ofthe book. Jason Merkoski, a member of the team that invented the Kindle, published a book a few years ago called Burning the Page: The Ebook Revolution and the Future of Reading.  In it, Merkoski states that "ebooks will rule the day, and when people a few years from now talk about "books," what they'll really be referring to are ebooks, not print books.  Eventually the "e" will be dropped, and books will be assumed to be digital, just as most music is now digital; after all, we don't refer to music as e-music."

Contrast this with Robert Darnton, the former director of the Harvard University Library and founder of the Gutenberg-e Program, who writes in The Case for Books: Past, Present and Future: "Consider the has proven to be a marvelous machine -- great for packaging information, convenient to thumb through, comfortabl…

Dystopian Fiction -- American War by Omar El Akkad

The word "dystopia" is derived from the Ancient Greek -- "dis" meaning "bad" and "topia" meaning "place." In dystopian fiction, the author creates an unlikable society, usually including a totalitarian government that takes away civil liberties and creates very unpleasant living conditions, often due to a set of circumstances, such as population overcrowding or a cataclysmic weather event, that ushers in the authoritarian regime.  The novel's main character typically rejects the society in which he or she lives and attempts some sort of escape from it.
In 2017, dystopian fiction is all the rage.  Earlier this year, Wired Magazinereported that "bygone dystopian fiction is back in vogue" and The New York Timeswrote that "several classic dystopian novels...seem to be resonating with readers at a moment of heightened anxiety about the state of American democracy." Articles discussing the rise in interest in dystopian…

More on Reading and Its Benefits

David McCullough isn't the only one to extol the benefits of reading.  Here is what Programming Librarian Julie Rio shared with me about it recently:
A few months ago, I read about the results of a study conducted by researchers at the Yale University School of Public Health and published in the September 2016 journal Social Science & Medicine. The study revealed that people who read books live longer than those who do not. The researchers followed the same group of 3,563 adults aged 50+ for more than a decade, taking into account gender, marital status, income, cognitive ability, and education level. The people who read up to 3.5 hours per week were 17% less likely to die (during the 10 years of the study) when compared with people who did not read at all. The people who read even more than 3.5 hours per week were 23% less likely to die. Whoa, wait a minute! I always thought that my sedentary pastime of reading was bad for my health, and this study contradicted that. Book lo…

David McCullough on Reading

David McCullough, the author and historian who has won both the Pulitzer Prize twice (for John Adams and for Truman) and the National Book Award twice (for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback), and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006, published a new book last month called The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For.  The book is a collection of speeches written and delivered by McCullough at various events over the last several decades. It's a short book, and the speeches are charming and accessible.  Here is a sample, taken from McCullough's 2008 Commencement address at Boston College entitled "The Love of Learning."  It was one of my favorite sections of the book:

"Read.  Read, read!  Read the classics of American literature that you've never opened.  Read your country's history.  How can we profess to love our country and take no interest in its history? Read into the history of Greece and Rome.  Read about…

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth  Strout, whose novel in stories Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer Prize, was made into an Emmy Award winning HBO miniseries, and was the March book club pick for Wallingford Public Library's Thursday Night Book Club, is the author of several previous books and story collections in addition to Olive Kitteridge, including Amy & Isabelle, Abide with Me, The Burgess Boys and My Name is Lucy Barton. Strout's newest book, Anything is Possible, was published on April 25th.  On Saturday, I sat down and read it.

Anything is Possible is in many ways, both a sequel and a companion to My Name is Lucy Barton. During Lucy Barton, Lucy and her mother gossip about several people from their hometown of Amgash, Illinois. In Anything is Possible, we meet these people and read, in nine interconnected stories, about their lives.  Lucy is physically present in only one of the nine stories, but she hovers around and above every one of the others.  In a manner that is reminiscent of Oli…