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Showing posts from July, 2017

The 2017 Man Booker Prize Long List

For a certain type of person, to-do lists are a big deal, and checking items off your list is an even bigger deal. There is a sense of accomplishment as you work your way through a list, and when everything is checked off, you can throw the list away, give yourself a pat on the back and move on.

For book lovers, book lists can be a source of particularly great pleasure. A book list comes out: if it is a book list I follow, I check to see how many of the books on it I have already read, and then I decide which books on it that I haven't read to put on my "to-read" list. If it is a book list I particularly trust, I usually give it the benefit of the doubt and make sure to read all the books on the list.

Book lists come in all kinds of categories: Best books of the month, the year, the decade, the century; seasonal book lists; best books to give as gifts; Oprah's book lists, Bill Gates' book lists, Emily Watson's book lists; lists of best books for men, for wom…

Thursday Night Book Club -- July, 2017

Last week was the warmest week of the summer of 2017 (so far), and Thursday July 20th was the hottest day of the week, so it seems particularly fitting that the Thursday Night Book Club gathered on the evening of the 20th to discuss Maggie O'Farrell's Instructions for a Heatwave. In the late spring and summer of 1976, the United Kingdom experienced a record-breaking heatwave. For four months, the temperature was over 90 degrees each day, and there was virtually no rain. O'Farrell's novel is set during that heatwave, opening on the morning of Thursday July 15th, 1976: 

"The heat, the heat. It wakes Gretta just after dawn, propelling her from the bed and down the stairs. It inhabits the house like a guest who has outstayed his welcome: it lies along corridors, it circles around curtains, it lolls heavily on sofas and chairs. The air in the kitchen is like a solid entity filling the space, pushing Gretta down into the floor, against the side of the table."

A few m…

The Dreaded Reading Slump

Those of us who work at the library talk about books we are reading a lot. Shocking, I know. We read during our breaks and when we are eating lunch or dinner, and we share our opinions as we read. We look at the carts of new books when they arrive and discuss which ones we want to read first. We study each others' displays, brainstorming other books to add. We are readers. So if one of us gets into a reading slump, it's sort of a big deal, and as Programming Librarian Julie Rio writes below, it isn't always so easy to get out of a reading slump once you get into one:

For an avid reader, one of the most horrible feelings in the world is being in a reading slump. I should know. I'm just coming out of a wretched, six-month-long reading slump.

For those who may be unaware of the term, a "reading slump" is the unfortunate occurrence when a reader can't find ANY book to hold their attention. A reading slump can happen for many reasons.

Maybe you just finished …


On July 1, the calendar shifted to the second half of 2017, and here at the library, a new set of librarians started stocking the Staff Picks display in the North Main Book Nook. Along with a fresh collection of favorite books to choose from, we have four new voices to hear from. Today's blog post comes from one of the librarians who will be displaying her favorite books through the end of September. Janet Flewelling is Wallingford Public Library's Head of Emerging and Creative Technologies, which Janet says means she's the person who manages all of the computers in the library. In other words, she's really important!  Janet reads widely, across genres, and because she has a 45-minute drive to work (on a good day) and another 45-minute drive home from work (ditto), she often reads by listening to audio books in her car. Here are her thoughts on a recent read:

According to Merriam-Webster, serendipity is the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things…

The Still Point of the Turning World

Sometimes, there is an article that is so eye-catching, so interesting, so about what you're about at that moment, that it's almost a blog post in itself. I came across one such article in the middle of June, when I saw the cover of the Travel section of the Sunday edition of The New York Times (never mind that it was delivered on Saturday -- that's an old gripe). A single photo took up the entire above the fold page, a magnificent picture of the reading room of the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome. Actually, it wasn't even clear that the photo was of the reading room, because all you could see above the fold were stacks and stacks of beautiful old books, along with the curved tops of reading lamps and the bent head of a person. Nor was it clear what the article that accompanied the photo was about, because both the rest of the photo (showing the elegant tables and chairs of the reading room, the rest of the lamps and the rest of the reader), along with the headline and de…

My First Audio Book

I am very old-fashioned when it comes to reading.  I read books, the physical kind, the ones that you hold in your hands, with pages that turn, with that particularly bookish smell.  I have absolutely nothing against ebooks as a general concept, and I think reading is reading, no matter how you choose to do it. But for me, it's always been about the printed words on the page, and not about reading on a screen.

Similarly, until last week, I had never listened to an audio book. I have friends who walk everywhere, and they love to listen to a book while they are out strolling with the dog or running errands.  I have other friends with long car commutes, and they say listening to books while driving is practically the only quality reading time they have. One friend lived in Connecticut when his children were growing up and owns a summer home in Maine. The drive between the two houses took nine hours each way. He, his wife, their three daughters and their dog read allsevenHarryPotterb…