Sunday, December 22, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Nothing But the Truth

Finishing up our holiday book buying guides, we land a list of nonfiction titles that are captivating, interesting, and compulsively readable. Even those who profess to dislike nonfiction will find themselves drawn into the stories here, which include such a diverse range that you're bound to find a gift that appeals to that one person you can never figure out what to get for Christmas.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson // Follows the Arab Revolt and all the ensuing plots to control the Middle East toward the modern day make up of the region.
2. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan // A superbly researched biography of Jesus.
3. Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of Muder in My Family by David Berg // Did you know that Woody Harrelson's father is a murderer? This true-crime murder drama, told by trial lawyer and brother of the murdered man, tells the tale.
4. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn // Through research and interviews, Guinn vividly fills in the background story and mysteries that have long surrounded Charles Manson.
5. After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story by Michael Hainey // A son, now a grown journalist, researches the cause and circumstances of his father's death.
6. The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan // The town of Oak Ridge, TN, was top secret and did not appear on any maps, but for years, the young women who lived and worked there helped build the atomic bomb. Mind blowing.
7. Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia // A homesteading family who aren't as pure as they appear. A man vs. government fight over land. An engrossing look at power on its many scales.
8. Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott // An inspirational title about finding balance in life and find ourselves in the face of infinite hardships.
9. Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley // A highly original tale of the phone's rise to power and its huge flaw that allowed it to be exploited by "phone phreaks," mobsters, and more.
10. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach // "America's funniest science writer" takes you on a journey that starts in your mouth and ends in your... digestive system.
11. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart // The history of the plants that humans have turned into alcohol, complete with perfect cocktail recipes.
12. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed // When a woman loses everything, she hikes alone for 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself again. Powerful.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Honorable MENtion

What qualifications are there for "dude books"? Realistically, any book could be read by any man in the world and be the right book for that dude. But for our purposes, we've selected titles that are in demand when it comes to our male library guests and co-workers. Humor, sports, and some pretty serious nonfiction make this a compelling list with lots of possibility.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown // The true story of the nine-man rowing crew (including their coxswain, of course) who stunned the world by winning gold at Hitler's 1936 Olympics.
2. Let me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings by Ron Burgundy // "Anchorman" and Will Ferrell fans will kiss you for buying them this, so be prepared.
3. William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher // Every guy ever loves "Star Wars," not as many love Shakespeare, so consider this a culture infusion.
4. League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada // An exploration of the shocking injuries that continue to rack the NFL and decommission key players.
5. Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel // Pulitzer Prize winner Finkel takes a hard look at the veteran's experience of what life is like after the grueling intensity of war.
6. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan // Comedian Gaffigan's absolutely hilarious account of fatherhood. Seriously buy one for every dad you know.
7. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell // Another must-read from Gladwell, who explores how to fight the good fight and take down the big guy.
8. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman // Chuck explores the rise of the anti-hero.
9. Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities by Chris Kluwe // Kluwe, a longtime NFL punter, speaks freely (and pretty verbosely) on pretty much everything. His open letters are legendary.
10. Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman // Manliest man Nick Offerman offers anecdotes and advice on being awesome and manly.
11. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New American by George Packer // Packer's National Book Award winning nonfiction profile of America shows the strained bonds that hold the country together.
12. Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke by Rob Sheffield // Rolling Stone writer Sheffield explores love and loss to the background music of karaoke.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Ladies' Night

Before we launch into our women vs. men book lists, let us be super clear that gender isn't a very legit predictor of a person's reading preferences. The best way to guess what your friend or loved one will want to read is by knowing what they already like to read and predicting a hit based off that knowledge. Having said that, these are good, well-received books that just might suit your mom or sister or aunt. Give 'em a try!

From left to right, top to botom...
1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson // The amazing tale of a woman's life from start to end, the twist being she dies and is reborn again and again....and again.
2. Longbourn by Jo Baker // In the "Upstairs, Downstairs" world of Pride and Prejudice, this is a peek into the downstairs.
3. Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt // When a family starts coming rapidly apart, one headstrong woman tries endlessly to keep it together.
4. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell // The true story of how a Gilded Age daughter hid herself away and spent her family's fortune not on opulence, but on charity.
5. Someone by Alice McDermott // Crowd favorite McDermott's newest follows a woman through her very ordinary life. She didn't win a National Book Award for nothin'.
6. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud // A sweet, kind schoolteacher is drawn into a thrilling new family's lives until a shocking betrayal leaves readers wondering who the real monster is.
7. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett // Beloved author Patchett shares nonfiction essays about life, love, friendship, and art.
8. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // A beautiful, touching novel about a daughter's search for her missing, agoraphobic mother.
9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion // A brilliant, socially awkard professor tries to use science to find a wife, meets an intriguing woman who fits none of his criteria, and we all know where this is going but we want to be there when it happens.
10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt // Everyone loves Donna Tartt, so this story of fate will not disappoint.
11. The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls // A story about sisterhood, finding oneself, and triumph over adversity, all told in Walls's shining prose.
12. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter // A story that's a little bit about Hollywood's golden age, a little more about love, and a lot about the crazy coincidences that propel life forward.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Smart Art

Often we get the impression that some people consider graphic novels (or more commonly referred to as "comics") to not be "real books" or to be in some way watered down. We beg to differ! It's really a unique format that combines literary devices and art to tell stories, engaging your brain in decoding information in two ways simultaneously. When we say it like that, I bet they sound pretty intense—and anyone who has read Art Spiegelman's tremendous Maus series or Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis can tell you how awe-inspiring a graphic novel can really be. We've selected some parts of series and some stand-alones to illustrate the clever complexities of this visually stunning format.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, and Lee Burmejo // This prequel cracks into two of the most intense characters of Alan Moore's groundbreaking Watchmen graphic novel. One of four Watchmen prequels released this year!
2. The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice by Mike Carey and Peter Gross // If you know someone who loved Harry Potter and they're NOT reading The Unwritten, you need to change that ASAP.
3. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm // A nonfiction graphic novel about momentous decisions that led to the dropping of the first A bomb.
4. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg // A collection of an imagined civilization's early history. Or maybe the stories are myths. Whatever they are, they're lovely to behold.
5. The Walking Dead Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn // Anyone who has been keeping up with The Walking Dead series will surely have this on their Christmas list.
6. Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederick Peeters // An idyllic day at the beach becomes a nightmare when the body of a young woman is found floating in the waters. Then everyone starts aging rapidly and no one can leave. Haunting and totally original.
7. March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell // Congressman John Lewis uses the graphic novel format to tell the true story of his struggle for civil rights. Powerful.
8. Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fedrego // Fans of the ongoing Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series will love this prequel.
9. The Property by Rutu Modan // Reminiscent of so many Holocaust homecoming tales, Modan explores the deep rifts between Poles and Jews that still exist to this day.
10. Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger // A dark, fairy-tale-esque story reminiscent of selkie myths created by master storyteller Niffenegger.
11. Genius by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen // A quantum physicist turns to his father-in-law, who claims Einstein entrusted him with his final secret, to save his job.
12. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker, and Philip Simon // The true story of Brian Epstein, the manager who discovered and lead the Beatles to their greatest successes only to die tragically before his time.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Business Time

Not everyone is a fan of fiction. Some readers feel pretty firmly that what they select for their reading material should be actionable and beneficial to their success in life and business. If you know one of these readers, help them further their improvement goals by selecting one of the titles below. They all relate in some way to furthering the career goals of your loved one, a gift that will surely keep on giving.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff // Real, usable ideas to work past mediocrity and let nothing get in the way of being awesome.
2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger // Berger explains the 6 steps that make ideas or products "contagious."
3. The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting by Allan Greenspan // Years of rigorous research lead Greenspan to new economic forecasting conclusions.
4. The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More by Richard Koch // Get 80% results with 20% effort in business? Sign us up!
5. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin // Using a series of guideline questions, Lafley and Martin show how any business can become a winner.
6. Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Raj Sissodia // Co-founder of Whole Foods explains how four tenets can propel a business to its highest potential.
7. Sometimes You Win -- Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses by John C. Maxwell // The title says it all; help others learn from their losses.
8. Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut // This book teaches its readers how to be charismatic, magnetic, and influential.
9. From the Ground Up: A Food-grower's Education in Life, Love, and the Movement That's Changing the Nation by Jeanne Nolan // An inspiring read for anyone considering a future in food growing.
10. Without Their Permission: How the 20th Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian // Reddit co-founder Ohanian shares tips and tricks for harnessing the power of the Internet.
11. Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg // Sandberg encourages women to break the glass ceiling with actionable, practical ideas.
12. The Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's for Meaning and Authenticity by August Turak // An exploration of applying the principles of the Trappist monks to business practices.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Word Nerds

We say "word nerds" in the most endearing sense possible (and with the full knowledge that many of us would qualify as such). These readers have favorite authors you've never heard of and always have a great book recommendation up their sleeve for slipping out at a cocktail party. They've read everything, so what books do you get for them? We humbly offer up the titles below, ones that have won awards, blown away their readers, and gained their authors instant praise and attention in the literary world. But wrap these with a gift receipt; who knows if your word nerd has already devoured them.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell // A haunting, shockingly beautiful, surreal fairy tale of a novel.
2. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo // A Man Booker shortlist title that explores an Zimbabwean emigrants quest for identity in America.
3. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton // A no brainer. It won the Man Booker, for crying out loud!
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent // The guardians of a young woman charged with murder find there's more to her story than everyone thinks.
5. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri // Jhumpa Lahiri is just brilliant.
6. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra // Beautifully fleshed out characters brought together by the Chechen war discover the coincidences that have brought them together.
7. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride // With the flair of Mark Twain, McBride tells the story of the failed raid on Harper's Ferry. Impressive research makes this an excellent read.
9. The Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon // The darling of the English department, Pynchon, gives creative writing students something to envy and enjoy.
10. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karin Russell // A writerly short story collection with brilliant moments.
11. The Tenth of December by George Saunders // National Book Award finalist and refreshingly original short story collection from a master of the medium.
8. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld // A masterfully told story about family ties.
12. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward // Award-winner Ward's heart-wrenching memoir about loss and circumstances.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: College Ruled

After college, it's easy to look back and realize just how much free time you had during those first years of your new independence. Think about how many books you could have been reading instead of watching reruns of "The Simpsons" while eating $.10 noodles you made in the microwave! If you're buying for a college student this year, remind them of the importance of being well read with a thoughtful book gift.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie // A rumination on race and identity that is on pretty much every "best of" list of 2013.
2. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh // READ ALL THE INSIGHTS!
3. The Circle by Dave Eggers // People either love or hate Eggers, but this Facebook-inspired, life-after-college book is getting talked about seriously everywhere.
4. The Panopticon by Jennie Fagan // A delinquent girl with a troubled past gets super paranoid when put into a halfway house. She's a gutsy narrator young people will adore.
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman // A supremely awesome supernatural tale whose unsettling nature really creeps up on you. It's a read-in-one-sitting type of good.
6. Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez // The perfect book for the burgeoning Kerouac fan, telling the story of On the Road from the perspective of "the Mexican girl."
7. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner // A finalist for the National Book Award, Kushner's novel about a young artist trying to make her mark is bold and memorable.
8. Night Film by Marisha Pessl // Interactive and perfect for young people who love our highly integrated world, it's a strange mystery. Like super strange.
9. The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz // Ideal for the college student who can't remember how many times they've watched "Moonrise Kingdom."
10. The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith // Hey, everyone knows someone who needs a little help out there...
11. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker // History, mythology, and magic become quite chummy in this interesting read.
12. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer // A novel about teenagers with enormous potential who grow up and see how much their potential amounts to in the real world.

p.s. The Internet is filled with lists everyone needs to read in their 20s. Consider these all fairly good options as well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Teen Dream

Teen readers are so! lucky! The Young Adult literature scene is ah-mazing—so amazing that adults dip into it constantly (especially when something huge comes along every couple years). With more and more young adult books being optioned and made into blockbuster movies, teen reading is not really in a dire situation. In fact, teens and young adults read more books than older people do. So buy a teen a book! They're not going to hate it, we can assure you of that, particularly if you choose one of the stellar titles we've selected below.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo // Best described as Russian Harry Potter minus all the school parts and plus constant action. Buy it with Shadow and Bone for full awesomeness.
2. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black // A vampire book by a veteran author is actually scary and contains no sparkles.
3. Homeland by Cory Doctorow // Fans of Doctorow's Little Brother and conspiracy lovers will adore this novel.
4. QB 1 by Mike Lupica // This veteran sports author knows how to narrate a football scene.
5. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal // Very Grimm, perfect for teens who are into modern takes on fairy tales.
6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean // Get this for the teen who is anxiously awaiting the 1/14/14 publication of Hollow City.
7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth // The final book in the Divergent trilogy blew everyone's minds this year. It's totally worth it to get a teen all 3.
8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell // A really great love story with some heart-wrenching substance. All the feels!
9. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson // Part dystopia, part magic, it's all we could ask for in an epic adventure.
10. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater // The 2nd book in hugely popular author Stiefvater's Raven Cycle. Super, super good.
11. The 5th Wave by Richard Yancey // With so many zombie apocalypse books out there, this title about an alien apocalypse is extra spooky.
12. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang // This 2-part graphic novel set melds history and mythology into an unbelievably readable package.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Everything In-beTWEEN

Buying gifts for "tweens" (those young, middle-school-aged people who aren't quite teens, but are more mature than kids in grade school) can put the gift giver in a pickle. Their reading abilities are probably fairly solid and they are likely interested in young adult books that have made their way into pop culture, like the ubiquitous Hunger Games books. You don't want to offend them by selecting titles that are "for little kids," but you also don't want to upset any parents who might find a book's subject matter too mature for their tween.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Sidekicked by John David Anderson // For tweens who enjoy debating which superpower is best.
1. I Represent Sean Rosen by Jeff Baron // For tweens who would love to work in the movie biz.
3. Doll Bones by Holly Black // For tweens who love to get a little creeped out.
2. Jinx by Sage Blackwood // For tweens who love fantasy adventures filled with magic and danger.
10. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani // For tweens who wish life was more like a Disney movie.
11. Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson // For tweens who crave adventure.
12. Force Out by Tim Green // For tweens who love sports above all.
6. Battling Boy by Paul Pope // For tweens who gobble up comics.
5. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan // For tweens who've been reading these Riordan books for-ev-er.
9. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente  // For tweens who love fairy tales and epic adventures.
7. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool // For tweens who read to find out who they are and who they could be.
8. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt // For tweens who love mysteries.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: It's All Elementary

Keeping kids reading through their elementary school years can be challenging, but finding the book that turns students into lifelong readers is rewarding for everyone involved. Skill levels in the elementary school age range vary widely, but the books we've selected for these readers have age-appropriate subject matter and lots of fun for kids.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt and Jennifer Bricking // The outside world threatens a peaceful swamp and its animal scouts must fight for their survival.
2. Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown // From the author who brought us Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess, a fun imagining of what the Star Wars crew would've been like in middle school.
3. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell // Fun graphic novel styling tells the story of a squirrel, a girl, and unexpected superherodom.
4. Bink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo, Allison McGhee and Tony Fucile // An adorable best friend duo that march to the beat of their own drum.
5. Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young // This book is making lists all around the world, no joke. Reminds us of Roald Dahl's stories in the best way imaginable.
6. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff // A National Book Award nominee that immerses readers in a lovely magical world with plenty of mystery.
7. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes // A laugh-so-hard-you'll-snort kind of story boys and girls alike will love.
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney // Of course this is on the list. An easy choice for all boys.
9. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O'Hara // Satisfies kids' hunger for entry into the rising "zombie" fiction genre with plenty of giggles, so it's not really scary.
10. Stallion by Starlight by Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca // Number 49 in the amazing, neverending Magic Tree House series. You'd think kids would want to read them in order, but many don't mind skipping around.
11. "When Did You See Her Last?" by Lemony Snicket // The 2nd in Snicket's newest series, it's characterized by clever kids and incompetent and/or evil adults. Smart and funny.
12. A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems // Elephant and Piggie fans will not be disappointed with this newest adventure between the pachyderm and porcine pals.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: "Again! Again!" Preschoolers

For many children, "preschool" is the perfect age range for beginning to read those longer picture books that adults love and children finally have the patience to enjoy. It's also the height of "Again! Again!!" those eager requests to hear the same story over and over and over... and over. Parents and caregivers might find themselves thinking "I like The Hungry Caterpillar too, but enough is enough!" For these young kids, repetition is an important part of learning.

These 2013 titles will be welcome additions to a preschooler's book collection. Who knows? One of them may just become an instant favorite, cheered on by calls of "Again! Again!!"

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Crankenstein by Samantha Berger and Dan Santat // On par with the classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
2. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown // A story about being yourself while still respecting others.
3. Train by Elisha Cooper // In a year of tons of train books, this one stands out. Beautiful illustrations with lots of detail.
4. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers // Funny and endearing, this cute book shares the gripes of all the crayons, who have frankly had enough.
5. Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile // A high-energy story for kids who like to go, go, go!
6. How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton and John Rocco // Kids will relish the idea of owning a pet train.
7. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin C. Stead // Whimsical illsutrations and a funny story all lead to delight when little readers spot the whale before the narrator does.
8. Moo! by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka // A cow in a car. What could go wrong?
9. Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea // Super hilarious, it's a sincere story about getting to know someone before you judging them.
10. That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems // The much-awarded author and illustrator proves again that he is the master of children's books.
11. What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis // This is admittedly a novelty choice, but it's a strange fact that all kids love the ridiculous song upon which this picture book is based.
12. Dot. by Randi Zuckerberg // An adorable book for tech-savvy kids and their parents who worry about too much screen time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The 12 Days of Bookish: Those Teeny Tiny Tots

Balking at buying a book for a baby? Don't! Research shows that reading aloud to babies early and often plays a critical role in their success with language and reading, both skills that are necessary to support lifelong learning. Instilling a love of books early on is of utmost importance—it's why we offer weekly storytimes for everyone from birth to 6 years old. You might be surprised how soon babies can hold a book and flip through its pages!

Here are some of our favorite 2013 board books for babies and toddlers. Their durable design will let them be enjoyed again and again for years to come.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Moby-Dick by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver // These BabyLit Primers are always adorable. This one condenses another classic masterpiece into a fun ocean lesson for little ones.
2. My Blankie by Alice Beauvisage // For toddlers who love their blankie, a sweet story that shows the power of imagination.
3. The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi // Loads of pages and colorful illustrations, plus lots of sounds to imitate = baby gold.
4. Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli // Peek-through pages give beginning-letter clues, perfect for learning letter recognition.
5. Diggers Go by Steve Light // For tiny tots fascinated with big trucks, an excellent book with plenty of motion.
6. Faces for Baby by Yana Peel // An introduction to modern art for babies. Beautiful and appealing.
7. Tails Chasing Tails by Matthew Porter // An adorable guessing game by a hip indie artist.
8. You Are My Baby: Safari by Lorena Siminovich // Matching + animals = learning in the cutest way possible.
9. Sophie's Busy Day by Dawn Sirrett // Perennial baby shower favorite Sophie la Girafe gets her own touch-and-feel book.
10. Peek-a-boo Who? by Simms Taback // Classic children's book creator.Peek-a-boo flaps. Colorful illustrations. We couldn't ask for more!
11. I Am Blop! by Hervé Tullet // Quirky kidlit favorite Tullet comes out with another fun, imaginative book about the latent possibilities of the simplest shape.
12. Emma by Jack and Holman Wang // One of the newest in the Cozy Classics line, a sweet simplification of the classic Austen tale told by felted figurines.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Best Gift Books of 2013: The 12 Days of Bookish

Ahhh, Wisconsin in December. The snow has started falling in haste, the temperature is dropping, and all we can think about is cuddling up under a blanket with an entertaining book—hot cocoa optional. That's probably not shocking; as librarians, we spend more time than most thinking about books. This year, we're putting our expertise to work for you in selecting some of 2013's best books for gifting. These are the books that your loved ones will be surprised and delighted to receive, the books that will show what a thoughtful gift giver you are. You don't have to say it was our idea; your secret is safe with us.

We've separated our recommendations out into categories by recipient and will be adding new shortlists daily for 12 days. We can't wait to reveal what we've been working on, but it's strictly Do Not Open until December 11! We'll wrap up our recommendations on December 22, just in time for you to finish your shopping.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#ThankTheBook: The Books That Made Us Readers

We're pretty active on Twitter over here at MCL and this week, we've been excitedly watching Penguin Publishing's Thanksgiving/reading-appreciation contest, #ThankTheBook. It's so inspiring to see the worldwide community of readers share their love of literature by showing gratitude to the book that got them hooked. Can you remember which book made you fall in love with reading? Speak up--we want to know! Better yet, if the author is alive and active on Twitter, find them and share your enthusiasm. Authors are always grateful to hear how their stories have shaped the lives of their readers and many authors are happy to respond with a quick retweet or reply.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a few MCL staff members have shared their beloved books, the ones that turned them into lifelong readers.

Jane D., Youth Services Librarian:
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater.
The Faraway Lurs by Harry Behn. (Available exclusively through Interlibrary Loan)
Abby B., Reference Librarian:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.
Ann C., Circulation Supervisor:
The entire Trixie Belden series by Julie Campbell.
Chris S., Adult Services Librarian:
The Wrong Stuff by Bill "Spaceman" Lee.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Ann L., Director:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside! Winterizing Tips

It's a fact of life in Wisconsin: as the temperature drops, our heating bills rise (and stay plenty high for a good half of the year!). Winterizing your home is a simple way to keep heating costs manageable while also keeping you warmer and cozier. Some big ways you can impact your home's heat efficiency are also expensive: replacing old windows and doors, and insulating homes built before WWII. We're going to ignore those and focus on low-cost and DIY alternatives that may seem small, but can make a welcome impact.

1. Draft dodgers for your doors and windows:
Photo credit: A Little House in the City Blog
You can purchase these through online crafters via Etsy, on large retail sites, and in stores, but you can also DIY for fairly cheap. Blog tutorials abound on how to create draft dodgers; all you need are the materials to do it and basic sewing skills. Some (like A Little House in the City) use rice as filler while others use beans, dry popcorn, or quilt batting.

2. Pick up a window insulation kit, caulk, and weatherstripping.

If you're not in the market for replacing your windows, then these three things will help make them as efficient as possible for keeping warm air in and cold air out.

3. Switch your ceiling fans to "reverse."
Photo Credit: Look Up/Hunter Fan Company
This may sound silly, but if your ceiling fans have a reverse switch, use it! The clockwise motion of a ceiling fan on a low setting forces cool air up and warm air (which sits along the ceiling, because heat rises) down.

4. A little insulation in the right places goes a long way.

If you have a house built before WWII, you might not have insulation. In these cases, even if you can't afford to insulate your entire house, consider hitting the "easy" places: the attic floor and the basement ceiling. Up to 25% of heat loss occurs through the roof and 15% of your heat goes into the ground. Insulation can greatly reduce those numbers.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Catalog Search Tips: Advanced Search Basics

When you have a very specific information need, finding inadequate search results can be frustrating to say the least. Imagine you want to find mystery fiction audiobooks, but you really only want the books on playaway, not CDs or cassette tapes. If you search for "mystery fiction" and limit the results to sound recordings, you'll get EVERYTHING and have to pick through all the results for playaways. If you work in the opposite direction and search for "playaways" similar troubles arise. Today we'll show you an awesome, useful search function: Advanced Search!

It's tucked away, but with a simple click, you can find it. On the top navigation bar of the CAFE catalog, click "Search." You'll get a dropdown menu with many options, the fifth being "Advanced."
The Advanced Search option basically does a Boolean search without you having to remember to use AND, OR, or NOT. Click on "Advanced" to get the appropriate screen.
We're going to use the example we discussed above to illustrate how to use the Advanced Search function. Our search is just a template, really; you can plug in your own keywords once you understand the basics.

1. Plug "Mystery fiction" into the first search field. Plug "playaway" into the second search field. Don't worry about changing "Any Field" to one of the presented options; you'll probably get more results searching in "Any Field."

2. Reap the rewards! We came up with 447 results for mystery fiction playaways, which can be limited by audience as discussed in our previous tutorial. Instead of sifting through the 6,931 mystery fiction general audiobooks to find playaways, you get what you're really looking for, faster.

Play around with it and see how helpful it can be. Use the supplemental "Limit by:" dropdown box for added customization. For instance, you could enter "climate change" in the first field and then limit by "DVD" to find all the global warming movies available at the libraries in our system. The possibilities are exciting, and you'll be searching like a librarian in no time!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Catalog Search Tips: Quick Library Search Basics

People say to us all the time, "I just searched for that and came up with nothing! How did you find it?!?" The simple answer is that we do this all the time, but that doesn't mean that you can't learn to search just as effectively as us. We're starting a series of search tips based on actual queries, but before we dig in too deep, let's cover some basics of searching the catalog.

1. If you just want to see what is in OUR library, use the top dropdown box to select "Mukwonago Community Library."
 If you want to see what is in EVERY library, you can search this CAFE page (referred to in the dropdown menu as "CAFE--All Libraries").

2. If you're searching for a known author, type his/her name like this: Last Name, First Name. Usually, a dropdown pops up and you can select the appropriate author. This will give you the greatest number of results.

3. If you're searching for a known title, just type it in and hit enter. If you decide, upon seeing the results, that you want an audiobook instead of a print book, use the left-hand navigation to limit your selection. In this specific case, you would want to select "Nonmusical Sound Recording."

4. Use that left-hand navigation liberally, especially when you're searching a subject (like our example below, "deer"). You can limit by so many facets, but the ones we use most often are Type of Material, Target Audience, Library, and Literary Form.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November is National Novel Writing Month!

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to those in the know) is upon us! If you've ever thought to yourself, "Man, I really ought to find time to write that novel," this is the month to do it. Things you ought to know before you get started:

  • All participants are encouraged to write 1,667 words a day, which generally fits into about an hour. 
  • You can write more than that though, as it's best to be ahead in case you miss or have a slow day.
  • At the end of each writing session, upload your entire writing piece into NaNoWriMo's word counter.
  • Connect with the local community or personal friends who are also working on their novels. Encouragement is the best.

Sign up for free on to track your progress through an amazing 50,000 word odyssey. We'll be posting our progress throughout the month, so keep us updated on yours, too!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bone-chilling Kid Reads

We're continuing our series of scary reads for Halloween with a spooky smattering for kids! Parents and caregivers, as with all books we recommend, it is recommended that you evaluate both the reading difficulty and the necessary maturity level of the book whenever possible. It's excellent for kids to read something that's interesting to them, but if they're not prepared for the intensity of a scare, it might be best to read the book with a buddy or even to wait until they feel more comfortable.*

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. The Dark by Lemony Snicket // Best for PreK-grade 2
2. The Ghost-eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. // Best for PreK-grade 2
3. The Teeny-tiny Woman: A Ghost Story by Paul Galdone // Best for PreK-grade 2
4. The Banshee Train by Odds Bodkin // Best for PreK-grade 3
5. The Ghost of Nicholas Greebe by Tony Johnston // Best for grades K-4
6. The Seer of Shadows by Avi (720 Lexile) // Best for grades 2-7
7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (640 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6, though there is an Easy Reader version, In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories also by Alvin Schwartz (430 Lexile) for PreK-grade 3
8. Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine (590 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6
6. Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac (730 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6
10. Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn (750 Lexile) // Best for grades 4-6

*The first five books on our list are adult-directed text, intended to be read to a child, therefore no Lexile level is included.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blood-curdling Teen Reads

To cap off Teen Read Week, we've created a short list of terrifying teen reads — it is, after all, October and Halloween is on the horizon! 'Tis the season to be a little freaked out about being alone in a dark house, right? These books range in terror index from "the uncomfortable feeling someone is watching you" to "hiding in the shower while being stalked by a deranged murderer with a sharp knife." How much horror can YOU handle?

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake // In which a teenage boy carries on his father's work, killing the dead.
2. The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey // Apprentice teen monster hunter must stop monsters which feed through horrible teeth in chest.
3. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry // In which a teen boy must seek gainful employment as a zombie bounty hunter.
4. The Diviners by Libba Bray // A teen girl and her museum-curator uncle investigate creepy occult murders.
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman // In which a young boy is raised by ghosts in a graveyard after his entire family is murdered.
6. Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore // An otherwise ordinary teen girl from a witchy family finds herself suddenly plagued by a nasty ghost.
7. Lord Loss by Darren Shan // In which a teen boy witnesses the brutal murder of his entire family and dodges demons left and right.
8. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan // Four teens try to hide their involvement in a hit-and-run, but find themselves stalked by a mysterious revenge seeker.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Light ON "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown"

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

It's Teen Read Week and I'm celebrating by doing something I do on the regular: reading YA lit and encouraging you to do it, too! Why adults wait for a novel to become inescapably huge (the Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games series come to mind) before reading them mostly because everyone else is, I'll never understand. The entertainment value of the area is clear, with more and more YA novels and series being picked up by major studios and being converted into movies. I'm not saying that all YA literature is good, because I have read the Twilight series and I was sincerely unimpressed (though I get why the story really carried people away). But several YA authors continuously blow me away: Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and countless others. This week, I'm devouring (vampire pun!) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, bestselling author of the Spiderwick Chronicles and Doll Bones.

The world Black has created here is like a super creepy alternate reality: The world is basically the same except there are evil vampires lurking in the dark and everyone knows it. Teenagers have sundown parties where they hole up in a home all night, garlic and rose brambles strewn over entrances. Tana wakes up in a bathtub the morning after one such party, disheveled and embarrassed, and hopes to sneak out before any of her friends wake up. But the living room is pure carnage, bodies and blood everywhere, and none of her friends will ever wake up. Except her ex-boyfriend, who is tied to a bed and infected by a vampire's venomous bite. Chained in the same room is a red-eyed vampire who inexplicably warns Tana that the monsters who massacred her friends are still in the house, biding their time until sunset. Tana moves quickly, rescuing her infected friend and (crazily) the incredibly dangerous vampire beside him. What follows is a seriously tense, very unnerving trip from that death-reeking house to the local Coldtown, a government-established, self-contained community for vampires, infected humans, and normal humans who for their own reasons want to be used by the vampires. Tana is a wonderfully conflicted character: brave despite her fear; strong despite her frailties; simultaneously repulsed and drawn to the coldness. Her back story is touched with terror, which makes her current predicament even more harrowing.

Black's monsters are fairly consistent with the well-established vampire mythology of literature: cold, heartless, hungry, but capable of feeling some human impulses. Black's writing is strong and suspenseful; chapters alternate between Tana's present and what I'll just refer to as "side stories" (including Tana's story, the chained vampire's story, what is going on in the world around while Tana tries to save herself). For lovers of vampire fiction and YA lit, it's a strong recommend. With the rate YA novels are being turned into movies, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets optioned. Find it in print in the catalog!

- Abby, Reference Librarian

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pastiche Booklist

Most writers agree that if you want to learn how to hone your writing craft, you MUST, MUST, MUST read. Because of this, writers turn out to be some of the best creators of fan fiction, and when their fanfic gets published, it somehow transcends the stigmas of fanfic, becomes legitimized and turns into a pastiche. We've created this booklist to salute Jo Baker's eagerly anticipated novel, Longbourn, officially released on October 8 which is set to enter the pantheon of literary pastiche. The books collected here incorporate characters or worlds from novels previously written by a different author (like Baker's Longbourn which principally includes characters from Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice).

From left to right, top to bottom:
1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. // Work it references: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
2. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (or the movie version with a hugely talented cast). // Work it references: Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
3. Drood by Dan Simmons. // Work it references: The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens.
4. Wicked by Gregory Maguire. // Work it references: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
5. Dust and Shadow by Lindsey Faye. // Work it references: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
6. March by Geraldine Brooks. // Work it references: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Light ON "Love in the Time of Global Warming"

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

If you follow us on Twitter, you'll know about my odyssey through Francesca Lia Block's body of work. More often than not, I'll write tiny reviews on Twitter for the Young Adult titles I'm reading, but Block's newest novel (pub. date August 27, 2013) was a beautiful read that could be enjoyed by adults and young adults alike.

In the recognizable style of Block, Love in the Time of Global Warming tells the story of a North American (possibly global) apocalypse with plenty of magical realism. It's a modern-day pastiche of Homer's Odyssey, but instead of a war leading main character Pen (née Penelope) to her journey, it's the swelling of the Pacific Ocean that rises over her California home, robbing her of her family, friends, and comfort*. Fearing the worst has happened to her parents and brother, Pen hides out inside her pink family home until the vicious world outside barges in, disrupting her fear and forcing her to flee into the desolate wasteland around her. She quickly learns that the worst post-apocalypse terrors aren't other humans. After all, how bad are humans when giants, sirens, and witches abound? Pen doesn't travel alone, surrounding herself with a ragtag posse of outcasts who somehow survived the flooding and the fires and the flesh-eating giants. The posse intently searches for Pen's family with clues delivered by a harbinger, a mystic and of course, the Odyssey itself.

The allusions to the Odyssey are admittedly obvious, with pertinent passages being read almost immediately after an encounter with a Homeric character and a member of Pen's posse making an unsubtle statement pointing out how their life reflects the Odyssey. For someone unfamiliar with the epic poem, I can see these moments being helpful in drawing the necessary ties between Block's and Homer's work. (Block might have benefited from watching my favorite take on Homer, O Brother, Where Art Thou... generally though, everyone would benefit from watching it; it's awesome.) I found myself wishing the direct quotations would stop, but they didn't really detract from my enjoyment of Love in the Time of Global Warming. Block's prose is lyrical as ever and I'm nothing if not a sucker for magical realism. It's available in print throughout the catalog. Give it a read and stop by to talk about it!
- Abby, Reference Librarian

* Here, I should point out that the title is a little misleading. You'll have to read it to understand why, but global warming is not discussed in much depth at all.

Friday, October 4, 2013

National Book Award for Fiction Longlist

The National Book Foundation released their longlist for fiction on September 19th. How many of the titles have you read? Click through the links below to learn more about the books and place holds on any/all of them!

From left to right, top to bottom:
1. Pacific by Tom Drury.
2. The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver.
3. The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner.
4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. (Sidebar: This is nominated for practically every award this year)
5. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. (Another frequently nominated novel)
6. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.
7. Someone: A Novel by Alice McDermott.
8. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon.
9. Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders.
10. Fools by Joan Silber.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Light ON "Rose Under Fire"

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

First things first, for adults who think there's no quality writing for teens, stop doing everything you are currently doing and get yourself a copy of Rose Under Fire's companion novel, Code Name Verity or better yet The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and get ready to be amazed by how great Young Adult literature can be. I absolutely loved Code Name Verity, so I could not wait to get my bookish paws on Wein's 2nd in her saga of female WWII air transport auxiliary (ATA) pilots.

Where Code Name Verity explored (among other things) the cruelty of the Gestapo in WWII, Rose Under Fire dives into the atrocities of concentration camps. It opens on American-as-apple-pie Rose generally enjoying her time serving the war effort as a transport pilot (ferrying people and planes to UK destinations, no air combat required), even though a fellow female pilot fatally crashed her plane and bombs are constantly falling on England. Her British uncle pulled some strings for her to get her spot, so you won't be surprised when he pulls strings AGAIN to have her fly him to Paris. The civilian pilots of the ATA—especially the female ones—were as a rule not allowed to fly into Europe proper, but that uncle makes it happen and that's the last we hear of Rose for a while. The letters from her friends and family follow, sharing how little is known about Rose's disappearance as she flew her plane back to England. Is Rose dead? Alive? And if she is alive, where is she? As months pass in the series of letters, no one knows anything and it is endlessly heartbreaking. All this happens within the first quarter of the book and I in no way plan to spoil the rest of it for you.

I started the story, which has one pivotal character in common with Code Name Verity, thinking to myself "Don't let [Character] lose another friend!" and considering how unfair it would be for her to have two friends fall in this horrible, bloody war. The second after I thought those thinks, I knew what was going to happen and felt silly for hoping. Because war isn't fair and it's typified by loss and Wein doesn't gloss over the atrocities that have been discussed and documented. I've read a lot of WWII fiction and I am always beyond disturbed to think that these stories, while fictionalized, are NOT exaggerations. If you like WWII fiction as much as I do, this (as well as the books I mentioned in the first paragraph!!) are must reads!

-Abby, Reference Librarian

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Tribute to our Departed Colleague

We're deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague, Romaine Kleinfeldt. For such a petite woman, she maintained a huge presence in the library, serving the MCL as both a circulation staff member and the president of our Friends of the Library group. With her love of reading, her quick wit, and her ever-present smile, she endeared herself to her coworkers and community. In honor of her status as a devoted Anglophile, we've compiled a memorial booklist that highlights titles she read (or in a few cases, watched) with voracious hunger and passion. Please immerse yourself in one of the titles below; she would have enjoyed nothing more than to inspire a love of reading in you.

From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor.
2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
3. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.
4. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.
5. A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
6. The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool Will Somers by Margaret George.
7. Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics by Sarah Gristwood
8. The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens who Made England by Dan Jones.
9. Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens by Jane Dunn.
10. Anne of the Thousand Days/Mary, Queen of Scots (DVD)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Light ON "Orange is the New Black"

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman's Prison by Piper Kerman

For anyone who has watched the Netflix original series "Orange is the New Black," this book is a must read. For anyone who's curious about how prisons help their inmates become law-abiding citizens before returning them to society, this book is an essential read. I will sheepishly admit that I watched the show and read the book because of this Buzzfeed post, but am very glad I read it, all in all.

Ten years after leaving her drug-dealing lover, Kerman finds herself indicted on federal drug charges for having one time (ONE TIME!) internationally delivered a suitcase of drug money. If the indictment had come a year later, she would have been safe and free, happily living her life with her boyfriend Larry in New York. Imagine the shock her loved ones felt when they heard that Piper, a WASPy Ivy League-college graduate, was involved with drug trafficking--frustrated, not understanding how a 10-year-old infraction could put her in prison for anywhere between 15 months or more. Ok, so she made some really terrible choices in her youth and no one is arguing that she didn't, but 15 months in a federal prison seems like a terrifying amount. Kerman rails frequently on mandatory minimum drug sentencing and as her memoir progresses, it's clear that the majority of women in the prison on similar (but more often, much more serious) drug charges do not have their involvement in drugs behind them. It's also clear that the inmates are not gaining much serious help to avoid getting tangled back into their familiar webs once they've be released. Kerman has good things to go home to (a really excellent job, a supportive Larry, a new apartment) and many of her fellow inmates have none of this, moving into homeless shelters, entertaining no job prospects, and very often having lost custody of their children. Kerman builds strong bonds with many of these women, who become part of her salvation amid acclimation to prison culture, truly terrible treatment by prison personnel, and the loss of a family member.

Kerman's memoir is ultimately about finding peace and focusing on growth while facing a dark personal conflict; it's not voyeuristic and it certainly doesn't glorify prison life. It's fortifying, really, to read about her ability to make something good come of her experience and the statistics she spreads throughout the reading are shocking. You know the end of the story without reading it--Piper is no longer in prison and has written this very successful book while leading a duly successful career in the outside world. What I admire most is that she has become an advocate for the incarcerated and continues to use her once-embarrassing experience as a platform for change. It's available throughout the catalog as an ebook, audio download, CD book, and of course in print, and it comes highly recommended!
-Abby, Reference Librarian

Friday, September 20, 2013

Nonfiction Friday -- Oktoberfest!!!!

A 16-day festival celebrating beer? Jawohl!! Count us in! Oktoberfest begins in Germany on September 21 and ends on October 2. Can't fly there and enjoy the festivities? Here are a few titles that will get you in the party mood.

From left to right...
1. Beer, Food, and Flavor: A Guide to Tasting, Pairing, and the Culture of Craft Beer by Schuyler Schultz
          Call number: FOOD 641.23 SCHULTZ
2. Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin's Historic Bars & Breweries by Jim Draeger
          Call number: 663.42 DRAEGER
3. Brewing Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Beer at Home by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher
          Call number: FOOD 641.873 FISHER
4. Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites by Cynthia Nims
          Call number: FOOD 641.53 NIMS

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nominees All Around -- Lit Lists You'll Love

Ahh, award season—the most wonderful time of the year! We have so much to look forward to as more and more shortlists are announced, including most recently the Man Booker and National Book Award for Young People's Literature nominees. Let's dive right in to this amazing literary sea, shall we?

Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2013
* On the heels of the shortlist announcement, we discovered this really cool Book Globe that plots on a map the settings of every Man Booker winner and nominee. Makes us think that the recent announcement of opening the award to US authors could create even more diversity in the setting of this illustrious award.

From top to bottom, left to right...
1. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton // US release date: October 15, 2013
3. Harvest by Jim Crace
4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
5. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
6. The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

National Book Award Young People's Literature Longlist 2013

From to to bottom, left to right...
1. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
2. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
3. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
4. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
5. The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
6. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
7. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
8. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
9. The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
10. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nonfiction Friday: Hispanic Heritage Month

Though we're posting this on September 13, Hispanic Heritage month doesn't technically start until September 15. We're sure no one will mind if you start recognizing it a little early! It's a month dedicated to embracing and celebrating the heritage and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Between our shelves and the offerings throughout the CAFE Catalog, we're sure you'll find the material that suits you.

From top to bottom, left to right...
1. Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario. Call number: 305.23089 NAZ
2. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. Call number: 921 SOTOMAYOR S
3. Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe. Call number: 305.86872073 THORPE
4. Unbreakable: My Story, My Way by Jenni Rivera. Call number: 921 RIVERA J
5. The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider. Call number: FOOD 641.5884 SCHNEIDER
6. The Tree is Older Than You Are with poems and stories selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. Call number:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Flaherty-Dunnan 2013 Short List

Awarded by the Center for Fiction, The Flaherty-Dunnan Prize recognizes the best first novel published in the previous year. Established in 2006 as the John Sargeant, Sr. First Novel Prize, it has for the past six years offered a barometer of the talented new writers beginning what we hope to be promising careers. Former winners include Marisha Pessl for Special Topics in Calamity Physics, who recently published the creepy mystery Night Film (watch for this in an upcoming Book Light!), and Benn Fountain for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. We don't know who has won yet, but we know the "short list," which turns out to be a pretty amazing reading list of current fiction.

Click through the links to place holds on any of these exemplary titles.

1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.
2. Eleven Days: A Novel by Lea Carpenter.
3. Ghana Must Go: A Novel by Taiye Selasi.
4. The Morels by Christopher Hacker.
5. Motherlunge by Kristin Scott.
6. The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson.
7. Wash by Margaret Wrinkle.
8. Y: A Novel by Marjorie Celona.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Nonfiction Friday: Back to School

By now, many of our patrons with families have shifted their focus from the entertainment and energy of the summer to education, education, education! Whether students are going into the classroom or learning in a home environment, the library has materials to support their needs! For this week's Nonfiction Friday, we're sharing some of our homework help resources, too. Check out our list of subscription databases for great resources, many of which are accessible from home. A valid library card is necessary for home use of the databases, so stop by the library if you need one.

Keywords to search for in our catalog: Study skills; Test-taking skills; Learning strategies; Academic achievement; Home schooling; Education; School children; Home and school.

Dr. Spock's The School Years: The Emotional and Social Development of Children by Dr. Benjamin Spock.
Call number: 649.129 SPO

A classic in the field, though it shares its shelf with many esteemed volumes.

Study Smarter, Not Harder by Kevin Paul.
Call number: 371.30281 PAUL

Learn study skills that work, for yourself or for the children you care for.

Your Complete Guide to College Success by Donald J. Foss.
Call number: 378.198 FOSS

Perfect for first year students, or even those looking for a boost to their continuing study.

The Everything Homeschooling Book by Sherri Linsenbach.
Call number: 371.042 LINSENBACH

This and other homeschooling resources are waiting here for you!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Light ON "The Final Solution"

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon

It was a strange, nonlinear line which brought me to read The Final Solution this month. I won't take you down the path; I'll just say I've loved other novels by Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Wonder Boys, and The Yiddish Policemen's Union) and saw this relatively short offering as a quick dip into the mind of this gifted, Pulitzer Prize winning author.

The focus of The Final Solution undulates around an extraordinary gray parrot—Bruno, who calls out lengthy strings of numbers in German—and his mute companion, a little Jewish refugee named Linus. The omniscient narrator's perspective shifts from chapter to chapter, detailing the unfurling events as perceived by a diverse cast: a clever octogenarian, a since-retired Sherlock-esque detective of international fame; a suspicious character living in the same boarding house as Linus and Bruno; in their own turns, the couple who owns the boarding house; an inspector called upon to solve a murder and a disappearance; even the bird himself. The swiftly swapping narration, steadied by Chabon's carefully wrought language, flows quickly through the brief story... though more than once, I found myself re-reading paragraphs that seemed overly complicated, not sure once I'd found the meaning what it applied to anymore.

If you take it at its word and consider it a story of detection, you might be disappointed. It doesn't quite fit in with the modern-day mysteries and the resolution is only kind-of satisfying. Thinking back about it again and again, I can really only come up with one clue in the whodunit. But bonus: Chabon doesn't include a lengthy monologue by the crime-solvers explaining how they came to their ultimate conclusion (their final solution), so that's something I can get behind. The story really is much more of a protracted character study than a mystery, with Chabon's elegant language and one-sentence paragraphs building humans moreso than suspense or thrills. We get to know several characters with some intimacy, but sadly we see so little of the interesting personalities populating The Final Solution that more questions are left dangling irritatingly in front of our faces than are answered.

Overall, it was a quick read filled with some really fine turns of phrase and brilliant metaphors, and an OK story of detection with a resolution I didn't expect. Even though it wasn't my favorite read ever, my opinion of Chabon's mastery hasn't changed. His particular gift for verbose prose is much better suited to a longer novel. It seemed to me that this could have been a much shorter story in the hands of a more concise writer, that Chabon had a vase for a short story and too many lovely words to fill it and didn't mind if he spilled a little so long as he could do so beautifully.

Until next time...
- Abby, Reference Librarian