No, no, no. You can't come to the library looking for a date. Well, actually, I suppose you can. After all, they do say "Check out a librarian!" But what I mean is that in this modern world where most of us are sitting at computers for most of the day, you can turn that screen time to productive use in finding that special someone. Oh, there are lots of online dating sites out there. And you may even have been brave enough to try out one (or two...). But here is how hip your library is: You can find materials on how to (and how NOT to) do it at the library!
Backgammon has a long history, starting in ancient times and evolving to modern online play. It is a game of both luck and strategy. According to the website Gammoned.com, the term "backgammon" is likely to have derived in 1645 from the Saxon words "baec" (back) and "gamen" (game). But the game is believed to have begun in Mesopotamia in the Persian empire (present day Iran, Iraq, and Syria) and is the oldest known recorded board game in history. You can take part in this ancient tradition by joining the Backgammon Club at the Vineland Branch Library on Thursdays from 11am to 1pm. And, of course, you can brush up on its history and strategy by checking out these books at your library!
Squish is an amoeba who first appears in Babymouse: Mad Scientist, written by sister and brother team Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. Squish also appears in his own series, starting with volume one, Squish, Super Amoeba. These kid friendly graphic novels are great for readers of all ages, especially elementary school students.
In addition to reading graphic novels, do you like to create your own graphic novels? If so, please check out our Graphic Novel Making Contest. Happy reading, writing and drawing!
The 1949-1959 VW Beetle by Bob Wilson is the authority source for anyone looking to restore a Type 1 (Beetle) Volkswagen. The author documents, through both text and photo-illustrations, annual changes/modifications to the car. Since many of these changes were subtle, his research is invaluable and very difficult to locate in other sources. As my son & I restored our 1958 Beetle, we looked to this book many times as a guide in choosing a color, part, or material.
The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker – This beautifully-written story takes place in two separate time periods which sometimes, like water, seem to blend together--the early 1800’s and the 1970’s--on storm-beaten Yaupon Island off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The historical portion of the novel deals with the mystery of the missing daughter of disgraced Vice-President Aaron Burr, Theodosia, who disappeared at sea in 1813. For purposes of this story, she was saved from death by pirates by feigning insanity and survived, barely, on Yaupon, forever cut off from the mainland and her former life. She is the ancestress of two older sisters, Maggie and Whaley, who struggle to remain on the island of their births, now down to a population of three, in the 70’s. Woodrow Thornton, the only other modern inhabitant and himself a descendant of a freed slave who worked for Theodosia, is the sisters’ only support system; together they cling to their intermingled yet solitary island lives.
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce – I really had a hard time putting this book down! I found myself wanting to finish it quickly without detouring to read other books as I often do. Essentially it is a love story about a married couple on a ski holiday who get caught in an avalanche but manage to rescue themselves, only to find themselves in an evacuated mountain village still being threatened. An impending sense of doom permeates, while at the same time the story is moving and uplifting. The novel can only be described as compelling because although the reader suspects where the story is going, it is necessary to find out the meaning of the trip!
Miss Timmin’s School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy – This atmospheric fiction debut is set in a girl’s boarding school in 1974 India where world societal changes that started in the sixties have filtered into even this closed society. In a bit of a switch, scandals are brought by the adults in charge rather than the students themselves. Stories and rumors swirl around the proper headmistress and her teachers, including Charu Apte, the new teacher from a respectable family with secrets of its own, and the wild English woman teacher, Moira Prince, who sets her sights on Charu. Moira seduces sheltered 21-year-old Charu and introduces her to characters in the community offering the glamor of casual drugs and vice; then one night during the monsoon season the conflicted Charu quarrels with Moira who then falls - or is pushed - to her death in a mountainous area known as “table-land.” These plot lines are woven together as part cultural lesson and part 70’s history lesson, with portrayals of terrific student characters who turn into sleuths to attempt to solve all the mysteries.
Sister by Rosamund Lupton – This is another compelling read which is a psychological thriller/mystery but is also a moving family story about an older sister’s love for her younger sister. Beatrice rushes to London from her home in New York when she learns her free-spirited younger sister Tess is missing; when Tess is found dead and Beatrice learns that she died shortly after giving birth to a stillborn child, she refuses to believe that Tess took her own life. Soon she is virtually inhabiting her sister’s life, living where she lived, working where she worked, in an effort to solve the mystery of her untimely death. The story is written in the form of letter to her sister; the reader knows that somehow Beatrice has proved her theory and that Tess was actually murdered, but the search for the killer continues until the final twist ending. There is a lot of buzz about this book!
The setting: A radio station in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 1975. In Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay depicts the frozen Canadian north on the verge of major changes: the arrival of television, oil and gas exploration, and heightened tensions between natives and outsiders.
For anyone who has a romantic yearning to go to or return to the northern wilderness, this book evokes all the lonely beauty of the land (and sky). And the author is absolutely on target in her portrayal of the misfits, dreamers, emotional refugees and native peoples who create lives for themselves on the edge of the tundra- just the way you would find them if you traveled to a remote, icy frontier. The plot leads in a meandering way to unexpected twists of fortune, romantic pairings, and tragedy; my interest in these (for the most part) sympathetic, complex characters kept me hooked throughout.
I loved Ann Patchett's Bel Canto and Run is just as good. Race relations, politics, faith, family loyalty and death are just some of the major themes. Every character is so well drawn - from the emotionally spent former mayor of Boston to the young girl who stalks the mayor and his two adopted sons. A couple of passages are so memorable and full of meaning, that I've read them over and over: the inner thoughts of the old priest in the retirement home ("It would be possible to overlook just about anything if you were trained to constantly strain forward to see the power and the glory that way waiting up ahead. What a shame it would have been to miss God while waiting for Him."), and of the poor young black girl sprinting around the track at Harvard ("She no longer felt like touching all the dirt and the muck she had so patiently submitted herself to so that people would think she was a very nice girl. She was not such a very nice girl. Nobody who was very, very nice would ever work this hard to take something they wanted only for themselves.").
Naming a baby is sometimes quite a dilemma for parents. Bring Back Beatrice! (by Jennifer Griffin) is a handy tool for you to pick that beautiful but sometimes unpopular name for your newborn. With a subtitle that reads, "1,108 Baby Names with Meaning, Character, and A Little bit of Attitude," this book brings back names that went out of fashion or have been forgotten such as Ursula, Miriam, Leah, Kendrick, Everett, Philippa, and many more. Each entry has a short historical note, variations, nicknames, and alternatives. In booklet format Bring Back Beatrice! will help you browse and pick with ease that special name that makes your child stand out from the crowd, and hopefully be inspired for future greatness.
This year's theme is Travel and World Culture. Come to the library to see fun performers like Caterpillar Puppets performing 'Aztec Pinocchio'; pick up a stamp and mailing label so you can send us a postcard from wherever the summer takes you (from Milpitas to Miami to Madrid); and, of course, read books to earn prizes! For more information, please visit our Summer Reading 2011 page.
If you'd like to start reading books that are related to the theme, try these book lists created by librarians at other libraries:
One World, Many Stories (for children)
You Are Here (for teens)
Novel Destinations (for adults)
Or, of course, visit your local library and ask a librarian for recommendations.
Several weeks ago I went to the Bay Area Maker Faire, an annual event for inventors and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. A combination county fair with side shows of steam punk vehicle rides, the Maker Faire has been described as a playground for geeks. In the building featuring O’Reilly Publications (a sponsor), I found Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks and Good Food. This is a cookbook for those wanting to know how food works: there are sections on the chemical reactions that occur when heating and cooling food, the role of air in baking, food additives (make your own liquid smoke), and kitchen hardware as well as ways to organize your equipment and ingredients. Interspersed are recipes and interviews with innovative cooks, scientists and foodies. Writer Jeff Potter has his own blog and you can sign up for email, Facebook and Twitter updates.
By the way, another Maker Faire sponsor TechShop will open up a site this month in downtown San Jose a few blocks from King Library.