Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!
Back in the pre-internet, pre-cell phone days, the largest national communications network was the telephone. Using a rotary dial and some patience, you could reach someone on the other side of the country in just a few minutes, which was a revelation. The system worked amazingly well but it had a major security flaw, and this flaw made the network the personal playground of an underground band of "phone phreaks."
The phreaks discovered that they could re-route calls and bypass the system, using whistles, taps, and brazen ingenuity. College students, blind teenage prodigies, and various outlaw characters (including Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs) created "blue boxes" for their underground operations, which, according to Jobs, presaged the creation of Apple Computers.
Eventually, Ma Bell and the FBI caught up with them and everything unraveled...but not before the phreaks left their mark on the industry. Phil Lapsley's history of that era reads like the very best of espionage fiction except that it's true. Modern technology makes such a David and Goliath story unlikely to ever happen again -- and Exploding the Phone uncovers the whole fascinating secret history.
This week we have nothing but joyful proclamations. Ann has left Appalachia in the dust and reports that she is now the proud owner of a home with running water and electricity. I think we can safely declare the arrival of spring.
This year, many Darien Library staff members were givers for the second annual U.S. World Book Night, a celebration developed to promote a love of reading and to help connect potential readers with great books. As the folks at WBN say: "Books are fun--and they can also be life-changing." We couldn't agree more, so here's what we did!
Pat T: “I received a box of 20 copies of The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer, my first choice book selection, so one of my co-workers suggested I distribute them at a Darien bar, The Goose, since the book is about a young man who spent many of his formative years in a bar where his uncle was a bartender. At first, people were a bit hesitant since they didn’t know what to make of us presenting them with a book, rather than a bottle of beer or glass of wine, but they ended up being pleasantly surprised and thankful for the book. One gentleman said he only had time to read when he traveled since he had three young children at home, so I replied that business trips are the perfect opportunity to enjoy reading a good book and suggested he pass it on when he finished it. The bar owner thought her patrons were very receptive to our program and ask if we would plan on doing it at the bar again next year, with a bit of notice, so she can advertise it to the community in advance. I already have 4-5 new WBN ambassadors for 2014. Overall, it is a very worthwhile program that I enjoyed being part of and we had fun along the way!”
Krishna: “Pat and I handed out our books at The Goose. We gingerly approached the patrons, with prior permission from the owners and soon there was a buzz all around the bar. Lynn Gagliardi, one of the owners, told us it was a home run and invited us back next year. Lynn also stated she wanted to do more publicity for it and after World Book Night she wanted to have a book group at The Goose featuring the books we give out. Those are excellent community connections and I'll raise a glass to that!”
Abby: “I was very excited to offer City Of Thieves by David Benioff in celebration of World Book Night. I went a mostly cyber route due to scheduling, and am thrilled with the response. A few book recipients have even asked how they can get involved next year. I'll be shipping copies of the book to 8 different states for folks ages 28 to 80. A few copies I hand-delivered went to neighbors. One recipient was a woman I've seen at school pick-up for years but have never spoken to. She was in the car next to mine reading when I went over explained World Book Night and gave her a copy. A second copy went out in the parking lot when I saw a neighbor I know to be a big reader walking by. Both seemed surprised and excited to be given a book out of the blue! I hope to be a giver again next year. It's a wonderful thing to share a book you love.”
Elizabeth: “I was a giver of David Benioff's City of Thieves. I contacted Stamford's Yerwood Center and made arrangements to give the books out to high school students at the center for their afternoon study hall. I gave a quick booktalk which helped to get the teens interested. Yerwood Center is dedicated to providing Stamford youth with educational and personal development opportunities that will empower them to reach their potential. Everyone was very appreciative including the supervisor who shyly asked "Can I have one too?" Answer: Of course! My 6 year old daughter also helped hand out the books, which was a good teachable moment for her to learn about community service.”
Stephanie: "I gave out my favorite book: The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. It's technically for kids, but I've read it many times as an adult and still love it. I handed copies out in a Brooklyn park, to dog walkers and tourists, and then at my favorite sports bar during commercial breaks of the Celtics-Knicks game. Many adults who hadn't read it were not convinced until I told them it was my FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME with a lot of emphasis, but those who had read it eagerly snapped up a copy to take to read to a child in their life, because they already knew how great it was. I had even more fun than last year!"
Just in case you were disappointed because February was only 28 days, here is another February day. In April. Also we have an Ann update of sorts. She wants all to know the egg tree has been dismantled but is confident it will reappear next year. She also feels that the end of her Sandy Nightmare might just be on the horizon. However I feel we need
I know that last week I promised more exciting Caroline news. I lied. You all are going to have to wait another week. But trust me. It will be worth the wait. Also there is no egg tree this week. We are too cold. In related news, please won’t you join me in visualizing a soup pot in PA with a certain someone inside it? I think you know who. This week we have Chicks with Bricks (oh yes. They are BACK! And we may never let them leave!), a prostitute, an invalid, a flat out imposter! some perfection, the Bronx, and a few punches being thrown.
Let us begin!
Abby is reading this one on her own. I swear. I had nothing to do with this. “They say ‘write what you know’ so it makes perfect sense that Anne Perry is now a world famous writer of murder mysteries. This can only mean that like so many of my co-workers, I too am reading Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham. The book will be released May 1. I'm only about 20% in but am having a tricky time coming up with a one word description. The best I can do: whacked (but in a good way). Thus far, this true story of Perry as a teen living in New Zealand and participating in a brutal murder is creepy, surreal, and disturbing. High praise indeed. One thing I know is I don't ever want to see the words ‘brick’ and ‘sock’ together in the same sentence. I can't wait to steal a few minutes here and there to keep reading while I'm supposed to be doing other things. By the end, I suspect I will be obsessed with Anne Perry and read everything I can find about the case.”
Miss Kiera of the CL is enjoying some YA lit! “This week I totally love Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. I should have known I’d fall in love with this book since I adored her first novel, Between Shades of Grey (not to be confused with another title of dubious origin that employs both the words “shades” and “grey.”) Out of the Easy is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950. Josie is a young girl who is caught between two worlds. Her mother is a prostitute who is selfish, destructive, and abusive. Josie longs to get out of New Orleans, attend college, and remake herself into an educated, respectable person. She doesn’t want to fall into the traps of the environment she has grown up in and yet she finds herself being pulled into the seedy underbelly of the Big Easy. Like David Copperfield, Josie must discover if she is to be the heroine of her own life or whether that station will be held by anyone else. Sepetys populates Josie’s world with fully-formed supporting characters and weaves such rich details into the setting that you can almost taste and smell fresh beignets and chicory-spiced coffee. “
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is sneaking in an adult book! “I just finished The House Girl, a debut novel by Tara Conklin. I enjoyed it, although I could put it down, so it wasn't as enthralling as I thought it would be. It tells the story of two very different women living very different lives. In the present day, ambitious lawyer Lina Sparrow is assigned to work on a slavery reparations case at her prestigious law firm. Her job is to find the descendent of a slave with a compelling story to capture the hearts and minds of the potential jury. Meanwhile, in 1852, Josephine is a talented artist and house slave to Lulu Bell, an invalid and aspiring artist. Their stories intertwine in interesting ways, but I found the parts that took place in 1852 much more interesting than the parts which took place in the present.”
Barbara M. I cannot continue on believing that this is ok. “I have finally finished Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and it was worth investing my time in each of its 922 pages. I have, however, not moved from the continent of Asia for I have started How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid. It is a parody of a self-help book and because it is written in the 2nd person it puts you, the reader, in the center of the story. Hamid’s writing is clever and wry and the story line holds your interest.” There is not a baguette, Eiffel Tower or Nazi in sight. I say, “Bring Back Barbara! We don’t want this imposter!”
At least Jeannie is back to normal and doing two things at once! “I am reading the The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France by John Baxter. I thought it might be cathartic after reading The Dinner. And it is! I can still look forward to an evening of dining with family and friends. Of course it's the food that matters! Mr. Baxter makes his way from the perfect Apéritif to the perfect Entrée to the perfect Digestif and the many courses in between to create the perfect feast to be enjoyed with family and friends. Baxter, an expat, seeks out the best ingredients and pairs them with engaging commentary on this most wonderful of foodie regions as he travels through Paris and its suburbs. I love the little pen and ink drawings that complement many pages. My Beloved World is a memoir by Sonia Sotomayor. I am reading it more out of interest in the background of the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice than for its page-turning quality. She tells her story in plain language of growing up in the Bronxdale projects in poverty, with an alcoholic father and an angry mother, who both worked to provide her with tuition for what they considered the best education at Catholic schools. Sotomayor grows into a smart, discerning woman and graduates from Princeton and Yale to become a corporate lawyer and a Supreme Court judge. Although she had a difficult life she talks fondly about family, especially her Abuelita with whom she spent a lot of time. She describes many life experiences that may have been influential in her success, like how at an early age she regularly accompanied her grandmother to buy whole chickens and watched them being butchered so they'd get the right one or how she became good at poker. This is an interesting read.”
Stephanie tells us her take on a book that has been divisive to say the least. “Opinion is divided in the library about The Dinner by Herman Koch, so I had to read it. I liked it! So far it seems like the people who haven’t liked it or who have been unable to finish it found the characters too unlikable, which is fair, but I loved how horrible those characters were. They were horrible and unredeemable almost to the point of parody, like in an A. M. Homes novel. I love that. The book is very well-paced and escalates at just the right speed. It’s also an absurdly fast read for being almost 300 pages. A perfect book for the plane, unless you’re stuck behind a seat-reclining jerk, because it will probably nudge you to finally give that jerk what’s coming to him. (There are some great passages about what it feels like to imagine you’re punching somebody in the face.) Or a great summer read if you’re the type who sits under an umbrella instead of out in the sun.”