Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recommended read: Half a Life

Half a Life by Darin Strauss is a deeply personal story; do not tread lightly. See, Strauss accidentally killed a classmate when he was 18 (half a life ago). Celine was on her bike and crossed two lanes ending up in front of Darin's car. It was too late.

It is safe to say that we all have experienced grief in some form or another, but probably not under these horrific circumstances. Strauss is excruciatingly truthful (read his admission that he was essentially putting on a show for two pretty girls that come upon the accident scene) and generous to a fault as he lays bare his emotions and thoughts on the accident, then and now. He was often gauging his outward emotion on the emotions of others around him. All the while, he was really trying to understand the meaning of the accident.

On a side note: His writing style is unique and fluid, possibly coming from his fiction background (most notably for Chang and Eng). The chapters are short and poignant. Check out this interview with Strauss from the Daily Beast.

Find it in the catalog!

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Bookmas Tree

Two of our library elves*, Gingerbread Crumble and Merriweather, assembled a holiday tree out of library books.  Sprinkles, our craftiest elf, made the garland and super cool topper.

*We have several library elves, most just move books around and generally cause mischief.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Read/ Listen: 33 1/3 Book Series

Proving that sometimes good things do come in small packages, Continuum's 33 1/3 series is a dream come true for the musically obsessed.  Each tiny book is written by a different author and is focused entirely on one album.  There is great variety among the different albums chosen, ranging from Neutral Milk Hotel's indie rock cult classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea to Nas's masterpiece Illmatic to Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love.  Super fans will enjoy reading all about their favorite albums.  But casual listeners and even skeptics might just discover a new appreciation for the albums highlighted in these books.  Below are some of the newest titles in the series:
Read: Song Cycle by Richard Henderson (2010).
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Song Cycle by Van Dyke Parks (1968).  
Find it in the catalog!

Read: Highway to Hell by Joe Bonomo (2010).  
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Highway to Hell by AC/DC (1979). 
Find it in the catalog!

Read: Wowee Zowee by Bryan Charles (2010).  
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Wowee Zowee by Pavement (1995).   
Find it in the catalog!

Read: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten (2010).
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy (1988).
Find it in the catalog!

Read: Spiderland by Scott Tenant (2011).
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Spiderland by Slint (1991).
Find it in the catalog!

You can discover more about the series (and lots of other cool stuff too) by checking out the official 33 1/3 blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Horror Movie Night: Gremlins

On Tuesday Night at 6:30 PM, we will be showing Joe Dante's classic '80s horror film Gremlins at Dundee Township Public Library.  Whether you are tired of watching classic, violence-free Holiday films (you can only watch It's a Wonderful Life so many times), want to wax nostalgic about Corey Feldman's career, you really love Howie Mandel's voice work, or just think the little gremlins are so cute, you should come and check it out!  There will popcorn, holiday cookies, and a raffle for a gift card. 

The movie is part of a new club we have at the library for 20 and 30 somethings.  Below is the event info:

When:  Tuesday, December 14 at 6:30 PM
Where:  The meeting room (downstairs) at Dundee Township Public Library District.
What:  Watch Gremlins and nibble on popcorn and holiday cookies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recommended read: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue
Find it in the catalog!

Room is told from the point of view of Jack, who has just turned five years old. He lives with his mom, Ma, in Room, which is actually an 11 x 11 foot garden shed. Jack tells the reader about their routine in Room, which in addition to eating, taking a bath, and doing laundry includes activities such as Phys Ed (they move furniture on top of the bed so they can run on Track that's in the shape of a C), Parrot (Ma plays the TV, mutes the sound, and Jack recites verbatim what he just heard), Corpse (they lay down next to each other being as still as possible), Keypad (Jack presses buttons trying to figure out the code), and Skylight (they stand on top of the table under Skylight and yell as loud as they can). Ma limits Jack's TV watching, which he accepts but doesn't like. Ma and Jack have found resourceful ways of creating activities. Jack keeps adding segments to a snake under the bed made of old egg shells, they've attached toilet paper rolls together to make Labyrinth, and Jack even keeps Ma's bad tooth that falls out to play with. Ma has repeated the stories including The Count of Monte Cristo, Goldilocks, and Princess Diana numerous times for Jack, and they also enjoy singing pop songs to each other.

Each night Jack must be in bed in the wardrobe by 9 PM, because that is when Old Nick punches the numbers on the keypad and comes into Room. Ma keeps Jack out of sight of Old Nick, who takes away their garbage and begrudgingly brings limited food and household items that Ma requests. Each week Ma and Jack are able to request something special, called Sundaytreat.

Because Room is all that Jack knows, he is connected to all the inanimate objects inside, referring to everything by name: Table, Remote, Rug, Wardrobe, Bath. Ma is the only other person he's ever talked to, so her word is law on what the world is. She has told Jack that everything outside Room and what he sees on TV is Outer Space (he refers to the various TV stations as "planets"). But when Jack starts to ask questions after noticing the same pills ("killers") used by Ma on TV, Ma then begins to tell Jack the truth about the world and how she ended up in Room-- kidnapped when she was a 19-year-old college student seven years earlier, Old Nick locked her inside the soundproof garden shed in his backyard. As Ma explains more and more to Jack about the outside world, she formulates a plan for how they can escape.

Jack is one of the most memorable characters from a work of fiction that I have read in quite some time. He has such an open, innocent view of the world, and his voice remains stuck in my head, weeks after finishing the book. I think Donoghue did an amazing job of writing a character who is, in a way, an alien to life on Earth-- even though Jack loves shows like Dora the Explorer and can sing songs by The Beatles and Kylie Minogue, he has never interacted with people and places "outside." I think Room is definitely one of the best books of 2010 and I think you will become quite attached to the character of Jack. As Ma shares her plan for escaping with Jack, I started to actually feel a little sick with worry because I didn't want anything to go wrong. Once you start reading you will curse any task (eating, working, sleeping) that takes you away from finishing this book.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shelf oddities: wardrobe edition

Spruce up your wardrobe for the holiday season with some ideas from French Chic: How to Dress Like a Frenchwoman by Susan Sommers. Truthfully, some of the content is still basically useful. The photos, however, are not.

Aww, look: the gigantic tote had a baby purse!

The caption in the book actually reads "You may not dare wear a towel, but it does provide inspiration." Oh yes, a towel will push my outfit over the edge into chic-land. I don't know about you, but I'm also inspired to rock a side pony tail and crimp it.

If you're not into butt bows, you could always try butt ruffles . . . that match your shoes.

646.34 SOM
Find it in the catalog!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cast the Book: Inherent Vice.

Read the Book:
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson has recently expressed in interest in adapting the Thomas Pynchon stoner noir novel Inherent Vice, which follows drug-addled P.I. Larry "Doc" Sportello who is trying to track down his ex-girlfriend's missing mobster beau.  The novel is set in 1969 and set in the mythical L.A. neighborhood of Gordita Beach.  It's an enjoyable read that could easily pass as an account of Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski's early years (though less funny than the Coen Brother's film).  P.T. Anderson has an excellent track record; most of his films range from good (Hard Eight) to mind-bogglingly awesome (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights ).  So I, for one, couldn't be more excited to see his take on the book.  

Robert Downey Jr. is rumored to be cast as Doc.  I think RDJ is an excellent actor and really shines in comedies, but I don’t quite see him for this part.  First off, RDJ is quite a bit older than Doc, who is 29 in the book.  Also, I think RDJ is a bit too smart and charming to really be a convincing Doc, though he did a nice job playing a paranoid drug addict in A Scanner Darkly .   However, if P.T. Anderson is interested in a middle-aged Doc; I think RDJ's blue collar counterpart, Sam Rockwell, would be a great choice.  He’s made a career out of playing desperate and pathetic characters (think: Snow Angels , Confessions of a Dangerous Mind , and Safe Men ).  Also,  NOTE TO CASTING DIRECTORS, he has real life experience as a private investigator.  Then all the movie would need is one good dance sequence! 

Below are my casting choices for the major characters in Inherent Vice:  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recommended holiday craft book: A Greener Christmas

edited by Sheherazade Goldsmith
745.59412 GRE
Find it in the catalog!

A Greener Christmas is filled with a variety creative ideas for holiday crafts, decorations, gifts, and recipes. Even if you are a novice crafter you will find projects to complete, such as natural cards, recycled paper cards, or fabric Christmas cards. If you enjoy sewing, colorful crafts like fabric garland, glove purses, or a flock of festive birds are projects you may like to tackle. I really appreciate that the idea for these crafts is that you are using what you already have on hand. Many times I come across interesting projects that require materials I would have to go out and purchase before I could even start any of the steps. Now whenever I work on crafts and greeting cards my goal is to reuse as many materials as possible in the creation of something new.

Not into crafts at all? I still recommend this book to you if you enjoy baking or cooking. Goldsmith provides tips on buying locally, choosing seasonal foods, and more. Plus you'll find many mouth-watering recipes to make for holiday get-togethers, like shortbread cookies, spiced nuts, mulled drinks, ginger cake, and four types of stuffing.

A Greener Christmas is also a great gift to buy for a friend or family member who enjoys crafting and baking. The book includes many color photos of both the finished products and the instructions, which I'm always happy to see and is extremely helpful.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recommended escapist read: Star Island

by Carl Hiaasen
Find it in the catalog!

This book definitely pokes fun at the extreme nature of celebrity culture today. 22-year-old Cherry Pye is a fading pop star and former child actor of a Nickelodeon TV show. She is about to release her second comeback album and go on a tour, despite her drug/alcohol problems (which her mother insists on calling "gastritis") and the fact that she can't sing at all. Her team of handlers employs a look-alike, Ann DeLuisa, who they call on to distract the paparazzi so that they can transport Cherry to rehab/the hospital anonymously. Cherry Pye is dating a young actor, also very into drug scene, who is working on the latest Tarantino movie and lives on Star Island. When Cherry's bodyguard quits, he is replaced by Chemo, a tall, cold man with severely damaged skin and one good arm. In place of a second arm is a concealed weed wacker which he uses to intimidate people. Paparazzo Claude "Bang" Abbott wants to have a photograph session with Cherry, believing not only that she is on her way to destroying herself but also that her post-death status will be comparable to that of Marilyn Monroe. After discovering that Cherry's family has duped the paparazzi with the lookalike, Abbott kidnaps Ann in an attempt to negotiate for time with the celebrity herself. Hiaasen also intertwines a plotline involving a man named Skink who lives in the Florida swamps. He involves Ann in one of his cons and subsequently becomes the person she calls for help when she is kidnapped.

Anyone who even occasionally reads People or US Weekly should be able to catch all of Hiaasen's name-dropping. If you are fed up as it is with celebrity stories, then you probably do not want to read this fictionalized account. But if you are in the mood for something slightly wacky that is unforgiving in its portrayal of celebrity life, I recommend you read Star Island.  Although the book lagged a bit after Ann's kidnapping and I expected more from the ending, overall I still found the book to be entertaining.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Charles Schulz

Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz was born on November 26, 1922. His comic strip, "Peanuts" (which Schulz originally called "Li'l Folks"), continues to run in syndication, and TV specials written by Shulz featuring the Peanuts gang have become a big part of many people's holiday-viewing rituals (It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; A Charlie Brown Christmas, etc.). Schulz died February 12, 2000, the night before his final strip appeared in Sunday papers February 13, 2000, announcing his retirement. For as long as I can remember I've looked forward to reading the Sunday "Peanuts" strip; even now, the reprinted strips are the first ones I go to read in the paper.

In honor of Schulz's birthday, I thought I'd highlight the excellent book Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. When I read this book several years ago I couldn't put it down. Actual comic strips from the "Peanuts" run are included throughout the book, which really highlights how much of Schulz's life he included in the strips-- from his childhood and his own family. If you are a fan of the "Peanuts" comic strip I think you will become engrossed in this book, especially if you know little about its creator's life.

Find it in the catalog!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Author Frances Hodgson Burnett was born November 24, 1849, in Manchester, England. She immigrated to the United States with her family in 1865, living near Knoxville, Tennessee. To help with her family's finances Frances started to submit stories to women's magazines, which lead to her publishing children's books, novels, and even plays.

In honor of her birthday, here are some materials in our collection you may want to check out. For the books, the years in parenthesis denote the original publication date.

The Secret Garden (1911)
Norton Critical Edition:
PB CLASSIC BURNETT (other versions also located in JUV FICTION BURNETT)
Find it in the catalog!

The Secret Garden is one of my favorite books. Mary Lennox, a spoiled, bratty girl, is sent to live at her reclusive uncle's Yorkshire estate in England after her parents die of cholera in India. Mary is transformed into an independent, active girl through her time spent out in nature in the gardens and develops close friendships with Martha, Dickon, and her cousin Colin.

We have two movie adaptations at the library. I love the 1993 movie adaptation, starring Kate Mabley and Maggie Smith:

The Secret Garden (1993)
Find it in the catalog!

The Secret Garden (1975 TV adaptation)
Find it in the catalog!

Other books by Frances Hodgson Burnett:

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886)
Find it in the catalog!

A Little Princess (1905)
Find it in the catalog!

The Lost Prince (1915)
Find it in the catalog!

Sara Crewe: Or, What Happened at Miss Minchin's (1888)
Find it in the catalog!

Frances Hodgson Burnett: Beyond the Secret Garden
by Angelica Shirley Carpenter
Find it in the catalog!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Recommended read: Welcome to Utopia

Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town
by Karen Valby
976.4 VAL
Find it in the catalog!

I picked this book off the shelf because I remember reading Valby's original article "Welcome to Utopia" in an issue of Entertainment Weekly. Utopia, Texas, is a small ranching town that has only recently been exposed to pop culture through the Internet and endless cable stations. In the book Valby focuses on four people: a retired general store owner, Ralph; a waitress and mom of three sons serving overseas, Kathy; a twenty-something planning on leaving Utopia, Colter; and a teenage girl, one of the few black people in town, who dreams of moving to Austin after graduation to pursue a music career, Kelli. Every other chapter Valby writes about a specific institution in town, such as the Pico Gas Station, Post Office, and Waresville Cemetery. These short chapters provide vivid snapshots of Utopia by sharing stories and memories of Utopians.

In her writing Valby allows the townspeople to retain their voices so the reader gets a better picture of what life in Utopia means to them. If you read this book I think you'll become attached to the people Valby interviews; I found myself very invested in learning about Colter and Kelli especially. Colter often makes the long drive out of town to see the newest movies, buys unique clothing items for his wardrobe off eBay and thrift shops, and keeps insisting he will move away to go to school, but hasn't followed through on that change yet. Kelli and her family (her father is black and mother is white) provide an interesting point of view on the town, as they are in many ways considered to be outsiders, even though Kelli's mother and grandparents grew up in Utopia.

Each morning the coffee drinkers (including Ralph) meet at the store to talk; as Valby's interviews take place at the end of George W. Bush's term in office and during the 2008 election, politics is one of the topics on their minds. Several townspeople make no excuses for their prejudices and opinions, including one man, Milton, who votes Republican for the first time in his life instead of voting for Barack Obama because Obama is black.

Throughout the book Valby writes about how the Utopians give her a hard time about living in New York City and ask her how she could stand the smell, the rude people, etc. The assumptions they have about big city life are probably comparable to how people in more metropolitan areas view living in a small town. After you read Welcome to Utopia maybe some of your assumptions about small town life will be challenged just like my assumptions were.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Geek Chic: Vintage robots and tin toys

 Robots are a geeky obsession of mine.  Perhaps it's the result of watching too many episodes of the Jetsons as a kid, but robots have a fun retro appeal to me.  I have a small collection of robot tin toy reproductions, which started when I spotted the super cool Schyllling reproduction of Robot Lilliput at a toy store.  Many of the original toy robots were manufactured in Japan before World War II.  Below are photos from my robot and tin toy collection: 

This Robot Lilliput who is thought to be first ever robot toy in existence.  The original was manufactured in the mid-to-late 1930s.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gifts for People You Don't Like, Part 2: Christmas from the Heart

Christmas from the Heart: All Through the House
Better Homes and Gardens.
Call Number: 745.59412 CHR 1996
Find it in the catalog!

Appreciating this book requires a certain aesthetic that just doesn't appeal to a grouchy, minimalist like myself.   I lead an existence that doesn't require tea cozies, tissue box covers, dolls, or napkin rings.  But whimsical people who have a fondness for Mary Engelbreitian quaintness, or people with seasonally themed tableware, most likely will find many projects to their liking in this book.   That being said, I find some of the ornamentation in the book to be on the outrageously lavish.  Do you really need to decorate every square inch of your house for the holidays?

Anyway, below are some of the stranger highlights from the book:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Amazon's Best of 2010

As we approach the end of the year, we'll see more and more best of 2010 lists. One I find especially valuable is Amazon's best of the year. I'll extol its virtues with a list of my own:

1) There are 100 titles, which allows for quite a bit of variety.

2) I like to see if I have read any of them (no), so I can see if I'm more in-the-know than I thought (no).

3) Decide, then, which ones I would like to read. Amazon does a good job of giving you a lot of information up front about titles. Not only the synopsis, but reviews from professionals and customers, author information, and some books you're able to "look inside."

4) Compare the customers' ratings and how they align with the editors' choices. I have found that customers are harsher. Controversy can be good.

5) Ideas for holiday gift giving. There's something for everyone.

Check our catalog before you buy. We might have what you're looking for.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gifts for people you don't like, part 1: Glorious Christmas Crafts

Glorious Christmas Crafts: A Treasury of Wonderful Creation of the Holiday by Anna Hobbs
Call Number: 745.5951 GLO
Find it in the catalog!

Though I can barely operate a hot glue gun without risking hospitalization, I come from a long line of crafty and handy people.  So naturally, a lot of the gifts I've received over the years have been homemade and, on occasion, terrible.  Some examples include:  sweatshirts "jazzed" up by use of glitter pens and bedazzlers,  a reindeer doorstop made out a sock and a soda liter filled with beans, several draft snakes, and not one, but two bat houses.  But hey, it's the thought that counts and as an adult, I appreciate these gifts in their odd glory, granted I haven't saved too many of them.

Glorious Christmas Crafts has some cute Christmas craft ideas for non-grinchy people who posses the talent and the will.  But since I can barely handle the task of wrapping the gifts I buy, I don't really care about those projects.  Instead, I'm highlighting some of the more head-scratching gift ideas and decorations in the book.  They are sure to make memorable if not appreciated holiday presents:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bigfoot Books

I'm a big fan of Graham Roumieu's wonderfully deranged and hilarious Bigfoot memoirs, which show Bigfoot's every day life as a celebrity that very few people ever see.  If you've ever wondered how Bigfoot really feels about Chewbacca, Snuffleupagus, or people who litter (hint: he wants to smash them all), these books are a must read.  Roumieu's Bigfoot is lonely, violent, occasionally profane, and grammarians will gasp at his prose.  I imagine Bigfoot's voice sounds very similar to the Cookie Monster's.  These books are probably best read indoors and away from public areas, as you may receive strange looks from laughing too hard otherwise.  Lest you need anymore incentive to read the book, the author is kinda cute too.  Below are the three titles in the series:

Call no.: 741.5 ROU
In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot
Find it in the catalog!
Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir (2005). 
Find it in the catalog!
Bigfoot: I Not Dead (2008).
Find it in the catalog!

Other titles on everyone favorite Sasquatch:

Ape-Men: Fact or Fiction? (2006).
Call Number: 001.944 APE
Find it in the catalog!

Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend by Joshua Blu Buhs (2009).
Call Number: 001.944 BUH
Find it in the catalog!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Spectres Reveal Themselves!

- Ghost Busters, 1984

Thanks to an experimental new photography method, one so highly technical that I can't go into it here, we are able to provide you with actual physical images of the apparitions haunting your local library. I must warn you, these images may be unsettling for some of you. Think twice before following the link.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Strange Happenings

"Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of  1947."
- Ghost Busters, 1984

As even a non-Ghost Busting scientist can tell you, no human being would stack books this way. It's illogical and frankly not something a mortal being is capable of. So, we couldn't help being alarmed when these seemingly random symmetrical book stackings began to crop up around the library. We've chosen to document this paranormal activity. You know, for science. See the spine-tingling photos below for what can only be concrete evidence of the supernatural at work. (We have ruled out the possibility of smarmy, egg-headed librarian humor. It couldn't be that.) Stay tuned for further paranormal developments.

* Note: The signs referencing the eerie similarity to Ghostbusters were added by library staff.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Recommended read: The Lost Cyclist

The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance
by David V. Herlihy
NEW 796.6 HER
Find it in the catalog!

The title of this book refers to Frank Lenz, a 25 year-old from Pittsburgh who embarked on a cycling tour around the world in May 1892. A clerk at a brass factory, he had previously entered different races before deciding to try touring full-time. His tour proposal, in which Lenz estimated a two yearlong bicycling tour through North America, Asia, and Europe, was accepted by Outing magazine. Lenz acted as their correspondent, writing about his journeys and providing his own photographs (he was an amateur photographer) to accompany the articles. He started in the United States before crossing the Pacific by ship, then traveled through China before continuing on through Burma and India before his death in Turkey in 1894. When they didn't hear from Lenz for several weeks, family and friends worried about what happened to him, and Outing (after lying about his safety) eventually sent another cyclist, Will Sachtleban, to discover the truth behind what happened to Lenz in Turkey.

Will Sachtleban (from Alton, IL) and Thomas Allen were college friends who completed their own bicycling world tour. Their tour lasted three years in duration, and they came home just as Lentz was starting his way through China. The first part of the narrative goes back and forth between following Lenz for a chapter and then Sachtleban and Allen. The second part describes Sachtleban's struggle to get the truth about Lenz's death and his slow progress toward a trial. Because of the tension in Turkey between the Kurds and Armenians, Sachtleban encountered problems getting people to talk to him and then stick to their stories.

The Lost Cyclist is a really fascinating read, and not just because of the mystery surrounding the fate of Lenz, who insisted on traveling through Turkey even after others recommending he go through Russia. I couldn't believe the long distances that cyclists like Lenz, Sachtleban, and Allen traveled--they had to carry all their supplies with them (including bulky cameras), and encountered curiosity and even animosity when visiting foreign countries where it was a rarity to see white people, let alone white people riding odd machines like bicycles. Lenz was sometimes greeted with cries of "foreign devil," with stones and other objects thrown at him. This sort of reaction was the opposite to what cyclists experienced across the United States, where cycling clubs, journalists, and friends held dinners and parties for them. The book also includes many black and white photographs taken by Lenz during his journeys.

If you are interested in this topic you may also want to read the article "The Last Ride of Frank Lenz" by Geof Koss from Adventure Cyclist.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cool Stuff on the Web: Hop Cast

 Check out the Hop Cast

This video podcast by Chicagoans Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder should be appreciated by beer enthusiasts of all varieties. New fans of craft beer will find Brad and Ken's beer reviews very useful. Hardcore beer geeks will love the interviews with commercial and home-brewers. Chmielewski and Hunnemeder have traveled around the country visiting different breweries, but Chicago breweries really take the spotlight on the Hopcast. And why not? Chicagoland has some of the best breweries in the country. My favorite episode is an interview with Gabriel Magliaro and Matt Gallagher from Half Acre (my current favorite brewery).

The Hop Cast definitely have a laid back and casual vibe to it.  Brad and Ken aren't such huge snobs that they would throw away a bottle of beer just because it's a couple of years old.  The hosts have a wacky sense of humor and their podcasts often feature friends and family members.  However, they have also had Chicago food royalty like Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan of Publican on the show too.  The Hop Cast will definitely deepen your appreciation for the fine craft beer produced in this area.  Drink well and responsibly!

For even more information on beer, check out one of these awesome titles:

Great Beers: 700 of the Best from Around the World (2010).  
641.23 GRE (New Non-Fiction)
Find it in the catalog!

1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die (2010).  
641.23 ONE (New Non-Fiction)
Find it in the catalog!

Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink (2009).
Mosher, Randy.
641.23 MOS
Find it in the catalog!
Check out my earlier review.

Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast's Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home (2006).
Calagione, Sam.
641.873 CAL
Find it in the catalog!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bill Bryson at the Chicago Public Library

Author Bill Bryson will be stopping in Chicago as part of his book tour for the recently released At Home: A Short History of Private Life. This Wednesday, October 13, Bryson will be at the Harold Washington Library. Visit the Chicago Public Library's event page for more information about his appearance. It starts at 6 PM and is first come, first served.

Bryson is one of my favorite authors, and I've loved his past books Notes from a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods, and I'm a Stranger Here Myself (just to name a few). No matter what the subject matter, he always injects humor into the discussion that makes you think about any number of things--history, people, culture-- from a different angle. If you can't attend his appearance in Chicago, you can still enjoy his new book At Home by putting yourself on hold for the book version or audiobook version.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

witches, potions and spells oh my

It's that time of year again, you know the dark, scary time when all good witches and wizards are out getting ready for the most important night of the year....Halloween.

"Double double, toll and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble". Come see all things witches and wizards at our display at the library until then end of the witching hour.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Young and Restless Event: Trivia Night

Brain full of useless information?  Don't waste it!  Join us for Trivia Night this Tuesday (October 12th) at 7 PM.  We will be meeting at Emmett's Tavern in West Dundee (128 W. Main St.).  Perhaps you can even put us know-it-all librarians to shame.  We will bring a variety trivia games with us as well as our sparkling personalities. 

The Young and Restless is a new group at the Dundee Township Public Library District for twenty and thirty somethings.  You can find out more about us by joing our Facebook group or giving us a call at (847)428-3661 x 308. 

Register for this event online.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recommended read: A Vintage Affair

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
Find it in the catalog!

Phoebe Swift opens her own vintage clothing shop, Village Vintage, in London after years working at Sotheby's auction house. She loves vintage clothes not only because of their unique designs but because of the stories she imagines behind each piece. Throughout the book we learn the stories of the people buying the clothes at Village Vintage in addition to the people selling items to Phoebe that she will sell at the shop. One person who contacts Phoebe about selling her wardrobe, Mrs. Bell, is an elderly woman. Phoebe develops a friendship with Mrs. Bell and learns the heart-breaking history behind a blue woolen child's coat that Mrs. Bell refuses to part with. The story goes back to Mrs. Bell's childhood in Avignon, France, during World War II, when she made a mistake that affected her best friend, Monique, for which she will never forgive herself.

The characters in this book are realistic and memorable. From the beginning, you root for Phoebe to do well with her shop. A Vintage Affair deals not only with her day-to-day dealings at the shop but also how her grief over the recent death of her best friend Emma affects Phoebe's life and her relationships. Phoebe moves on from her ex-fiance Guy and begins to date Miles, who is widowed with a spoiled teenage daughter. She becomes friends with another man, Dan, who writes a piece about the opening of the shop and helps bring in business. Plus, Phoebe's mother is having problems getting over her husband's affair with a younger woman which subsequently resulted in marriage and a new baby. As a consequence of being left for a younger woman, Phoebe's mother is obsessed with researching procedures and treatments she may use to appear younger.

I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the plot of a woman owning her own vintage fashion shop. I was quite transfixed by Wolff's descriptions of the dresses and other items for sale in Phoebe's shop, even though I do not know a great deal about fashion and designers. I found it interesting to learn about vintage clothes. But as I read I found the story to be so much more. Phoebe's relationship with Mrs. Bell is a wonderful part of the story, and I found myself caring as much about Mrs. Bell's past as I did about Phoebe's business and her life. By the end of the book, you'll be crying as Phoebe works towards finding what happened to Monique.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Page through some magazines...

Haven't checked out our collection of magazines yet, well this is the time. We have over 250 magazines which includes our Children's Dept. collection. We have something for everyone. Magazines on cooking, business, travel, men's and women's issues, woodworking, finance and health.

One favorite is Real Simple. It has everything and anything to do with organization, cooking, re-using items, crafts, articles and suggestions on family and cutting back on stress which we all seem to have nowadays!

Looks like People magazine isn't the only one with an annual list. Check out Time magazines top 100 of the world's most influential people in the April 2010 issue.

Check out the Teen area for magazines like Seventeen and Thrasher.

We also carry the the newspapers for this area which includes: Dundee Herald, Elgin Courier, Northwest Herald, Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, Wall Street Journal and Barrons.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recommended craft book: Collage Playground

Collage Playground: A Fresh Approach to Creating Mixed-Media Art
by Kimberly Santiago
NEW 702.812 SAN
Find it in the catalog!

In this book Kimberly Santiago shares many creative ideas that she uses in her collage projects, which look like mini works of art. I found the book useful in triggering my imagination for how I could apply Santiago's techniques to other projects I enjoy working on, such as homemade cards and envelopes. While Santiago provides directions for making specific collage projects, I focused on the Collage Elements chapter, which demonstrates how to make collage sheets, altered book pages, weaving, and transparency art. When learning about the different collage elements I thought about how I can reuse materials I already own, like old book and magazine pages.

I immediately tried out the weaving technique:

I tore out some book pages, shaded one page with different colors of crayons, and used an exacto knife to cut the weaving slits into the other book page. Since I was using an old history book with yellowed and delicate pages, I had to start over a few times when cutting the weaving slits, since they keep ripping. I'm going to make pages like this for my next batch of homemade cards.

Check out Collage Playground and you will become inspired to create, create, create!

A bit of magic anyone

Looking for something new and fun to read? I just discovered a series by Madelyn Alt. It is A Bewitching Mystery series, a paranormal chick-lit mystery series. The first in the series is The Trouble with Magic. The book is set in a small town, Stony Mill Indiana, where everyone knows everyone. The story is about Maggie O'Neill, a small-town girl, stuck in a dead-end job until she starts working at Enchantments, an Antique shop with mystical secrets. Soon after she starts working there she discovers her new boss Felicity is a witch. On top of that Felicity becomes the suspect in the murder of her sister. Maggie must enlist Felicity's wiccan friends for help. It's then she discovers she has magic powers of her own. If you are looking for murder with some magic thrown in give Madelyn Alt's books a try.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Icing on the Cupcake by Jennifer Ross

Find it in the catalog!

Ansley is engaged to her college boyfriend, Parish, and is about to graduate and embark on a life she's always dreamed of having. But when Parish breaks off their engagement after witnessing Ansley's cruel treatment of a sorority sister, a depressed Ansley writes to a grandma she's never met, Vivian, who lives in New York City. Vivian left her husband Asher and daughter, Hattie, when Hattie was 5 years old, and married businessman Charlie, who has now passed away. Against the wishes of her mother, Ansley moves from Dallas to New York, where Vivian tells her to move on (Ansley still feels Parish will take her back). In order to continue living with her grandmother, Ansley must find a job within 8 weeks, which Ansley isn't prepared for. She feels out of place in the city-- instead of wearing dark colors she wears heels and bright outfits, and she smiles and looks people in the eye, while they avoid her. An especially funny scene is when, after a long night of marathon cupcake baking, she takes her baked goods to Central Park to get people's opinions. The passerbys ignore her and are suspicious about why she is giving away food for free. A bright spot is her friendship with Dot, who gives Ansley tips about fitting in in NYC and also helps out when Ansley decides to combine her business degree with her passion for baking cupcakes to open her own cupcake shop. By undertaking the opening of her own business, Ansley commits herself to hard work and in the process changes into a kinder person who doesn't need a man in her life to be happy.

This is a fun book to read for anyone who enjoys baking. Ansley arranges ingredients on the kitchen counter and formulates recipes to help calm herself down, and it's intriguing to read her thought-processes for formulating new recipes that reflect her feelings. The end of each chapter includes a cupcake recipe with delicious-sounding names. Seeing Red and Tasting Chocolate, or Shot Through the Heart with Cream Cheese Frosting; Taste of Summer the Way it Used to Be--Peachy with Praline Topping; and Bittersweet Paris with Orange Frosting are just a few examples. Many of the recipes are referred to in the plot and once you read the cupcake's description you will be tempted to try out the recipes for yourself. Plus, you may learn new baking tips, such as using a baking stone, the benefits of potato starch, and the proper way to beat butter to make frosting.

Because I enjoyed the baking aspects of the book I allowed certain annoying plot points, like the return of a jealous sorority sister and the rushed mother-daughter reunion ending, to slide. Overall, The Icing on the Cupcake is an entertaining read with lots of mouth-watering cupcake recipes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Now Playing at the Library: The Big Lebowski, Tuesday Night

Do you enjoy bowling? White Russians? Nihilists?  All of the above?  Come join us to watch the Coen Brothers' cult classic Tuesday night (September 14) at 6:30 PM, which features all of those things and so much more!  Did I mention there will be free pizza?  The movie will also be the first meeting of a new group we started at the library for twenty and thirty-somethings called Young and Restless (YAR, for short).  Please, check out the shiny, new Facebook page for YAR.

For fans of the Big Lebowski or other Coen Bros' films, check out The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers by Catherine Falsani (Find it in the catalog!).  The book frames the Coens' films in a religious context; Dudeists may be surprised to learn that the Dude is in fact a lamed-vavnik*.

Event Info:
When: Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 PM
Where: Dundee Township Public Library District, Meeting Room
What: Watch the Big Lebowski and eat pizza. 
Cost: Free  

* Lamed-vavnik= In Judaism, one of the 36 righteous ones.  If even one is killed, the world will end.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Banned Book Week - Read at Your Own Risk

Celebrate the Freedom to Read during Banned Book Week September 25 - October 2, 2010. Banned Books Week's goal is "to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society." This was said by the First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug in 1982 when she began the first Banned Book Week.

Banned Book Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), American Society of Journalists and Authors, Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

I was familiar with some of the books on the list but some I have to say amazed me. For example, Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, The God of Small Things, Fahrenheit 451, American Heritage Dictionary and 1984. Children's books did not escape the list, Harry Potter books, James and the Giant Peach, The Golden Compass, Forever by Judy Blume, Bridge to Terabithia, and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to name a few.

Come to the library during Banned Book Week and check out our display.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Recommended read: Medium Raw

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
NEW 641.5 BOU
Find it in the catalog!

In this book Anthony Bourdain writes on various food-related topics such as the basic cooking skills everyone should have, organic food, chemically treated hamburger meat ("I believe I should be able to treat my hamburger like food, not like infectious #@!%# medical waste."), the non-threatening personas preferred by Food Network, and Top Chef. He shares his opinions on people working in the industry today, whether they be chefs or food writers. Bourdain also talks about his life post-Kitchen Confidential, including becoming a father and the changes he's made to deal with the responsibilities of having a daughter and being a husband. He hilariously describes his methods for suggesting to his daughter that Ronald McDonald is one to be feared: "Kids don't give a @#$ about calorie count--or factory farming, or the impact that America's insatiable desire for cheap ground meat may have on the environment or our society's health....But cooties they understand."

In the chapter "I Lost on Top Chef" Bourdain writes about cheftestant Erik Hopfinger, who appeared on the Chicago season. As a fan of this show, it was interesting to read about the selection process of this chef and Bourdain's experience of being on the judging panel. In "Heroes and Villians" Bourdain doesn't hold back in letting you know who he thinks are the good guys in the food industry (he reserves an entire chapter to why he isn't a fan of food writer Alan Richman).

My favorite chapter is the one Bourdain devotes to his observations from a day spent watching Justo Thomas, a 47-year-old Dominican American who has worked in New York City for 20 years and is responsible for cutting all the fish for the well-reviewed seafood restaurant Le Bernardin. Bourdain is fascinated by the way Justo approaches the different types of fish and how quick and efficient his movements are; other Le Bernardin chefs walking by Justo's station are obviously proud of what Justo can do (three people are needed to fill in for Justo when he is gone). Later in the chapter Bourdain describes the experience of treating Justo to a meal at Le Bernardin, which is the first time Justo has ever eaten at the restaurant.

You'll want to pick this book up if you are a fan of either Anthony Bourdain or just plain old entertaining food writing. Bourdain's descriptions of food are intricately detailed (see chapter titled "Lust"). Bourdain's show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations, is celebrating its 100th episode with a marathon starting tomorrow at 8 AM. The special "100 is Not Enough" airs Monday at 8 PM before the airing of  the 100th episode at 9 PM.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What was I thinking?

Anyone who knows me knows I ABSOLUTELY LOVE NCIS!! So, when I wrote about the best show on TV being Mad Men I must have been having a senior moment. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good show, but my favorite is NCIS. The main character is Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs played by Mark Harmon. He is a tough, determined and deep down caring person who everyone respects even when he does the "head slap" when the rest of the team get out of line. The rest of the cast include Michael Weatherly, David McCullum, Pauley Perrette, Cote de Pablo, Sean Murray and Rocky Carroll.
Just start watching and you will get hooked.
Season 8 begins on September 21st at 7p.m. on ABC. I know I will be watching!


I don't get it but I like it.....

"From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it."

Groucho Marx (1895-1977)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best show on TV?

Do you like Mad Men like we like Mad Men? If you missed the 61st Emmy Awards on Sunday we can report that Mad Men won 3 Emmys, one for Best Drama. This is their second win for Best Drama.

If you are not familiar with Mad Men let me give you a brief synopsis. The show is set in the 1960's Manhattan where competitive men and women on Madison Ave. work in advertising. The main character, Don Draper, played by John Hamm is considered the biggest advertising man in the business. The show focuses on Don and his colleagues and also family life during the 60's.

Check out the show on Sunday nights at 9pm on amc.

Summer reading recommendations for August 30

Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies
940.531503924 GIE
Find it in the catalog!
“This book really gives a great understanding as to what happened outside and away from the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family. Mrs. Gies is riveting in her approach. She goes in to detail about the Second World War and what it was like to hide someone and also stay one step ahead of the Nazis. I highly recommend this book to adults and children over ten.”
-- Camille B.

Treasure Hunt by John Lescroart
Find it in the catalog!
“Great audiobook! The story starts with a body in a lake that’s found while the lake is being drained. The victim is Dominic Como who was a mover & shaker among San Francisco multimillion dollar non-profit community. This community and its various entities start anteing up thousands of dollars in reward money. And then another body is found.”
-- Jeanne

A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett
Find it in the catalog!
"To be honest it took me awhile to get into this book. The first 100 pages or so seemed to take awhile but after that it flew by! Buffett took awhile to set up the setting and characters, which in the long run really was a benefit to the story. I loved his descriptions of characters and settings -- I could really see the beaches in my head and the personalities of the characters."
-- Emily G.

The Other Family by Joanna Trollope
Find it in the catalog!
"She did it again -- great book. Kept you guessing till end if original family would accept new family. Will definitely read more from this author."
-- Mary Beth B.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Covers......I just don't understand why

You would think someone would be interested in this.

This book was published in 1949.

There are 2 libraries that have this book. Two questions...why and who!

Amazon review gave it 4 1/2 stars. I loved the Product Review..."Learn to recycle Rover into beautiful garments and accessories."

The Wall Street Journal Review says "You're harvesting what would normally end up clogging your vacuum cleaner anyway."

These 3 books I can't even find any longer. Thank you!!