You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!

Words.  This week I have none.  Literally.  My words from last week became prophesy on Monday afternoon when the sickness began.  I couldn’t even watch The Game past halftime.  The Traveling Companion however taped it for me and because he is a wise man, and because he has learned from our unfortunate taping history he stayed up to make SURE that it taped so that I can enjoy that when I am well.  What has been interesting about this whole thing is that when you have no voice, you literally HAVE NO VOICE, and when you do try to talk the world rushes at you begging you not to speak.  So this week I am afraid I don’t have much to say.  Because I can’t.  So enjoy that.  Or not.  This week we have turmoil, a fun home, a convalescent home, an unreliable narrator, paperbacks, and some narcotics.  Playlist?  But of course! 

Let us begin!

Abby is here with what is rapidly becoming a staff pick. “Like Virginia before me, I was charmed by the film Begin Again. Starring Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knightly, the film tells the tale of two people whose lives intersect at just the right point in time. Ruffalo is a once influential music producer experiencing a personal and professional decline. Knightly is a free-spirited songwriter dealing with a cruel betrayal. When Ruffalo happens upon Knightly reluctantly performing at a small club, he can see something vibrant and special.  Ruffalo’s character Danny exudes both pain and amazing creative energy. Their collaboration and friendship allow them to find their way back to what they most cherish. Real life pop star Adam Levine does a nice job playing Knightly’s beau, and there is a terrific concert performance of a song written for the film I cannot get out of my head. Ruffalo demonstrates why he is one of our top actors and it’s nice to see Knightly and playing a lighter role. “

The Always Effervescent Julia Rae has been joining us on the Front Lines while she is home for Holiday Break.  Here is what she is excited about. “I am lucky enough to attend a college that assigns books for winter break that are actually interesting. My favorite was a graphic novel called Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. The author gives her readers a very personal and engaging overview of her experiences with her interesting, to say the least, family life. She tackles the issues of coming to terms with her sexuality and aloof father. Not only is Bechdel a talented artist, she is also a phenomenal writer, each page was so rich with honesty and stark descriptions I could hardly put it down. The other book I was pleased to spend Christmas reading was Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please. It is so difficult to be funny yet engaging and authentic, and yet she pulls it off marvelously. I had a good chuckle at least every page and I always felt uplifted while reading. She gives so much to her readers; detailed anecdotes, hilarious jokes, and heartfelt advice. These two books are definitely getting packed into my already-stuffed bags and going back to school with me!

Barbara M is reading dark this week which is a change for her. “I’ve just finished reading The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubière and it is a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the last pages. Madame Préau is now elderly and frail both physically and mentally after having spent several years in a convalescence home. She’s moved back to her old neighborhood which has changed drastically since she last lived there. Across the street where there was once a garden, there is now a house and from one of her windows she can see directly into the backyard.  Her neighbors seem to have two young children but Madame Préau sees a third child in the background who she feels is being abused. She tells the authorities, she tells her doctor and she tells her son but no one can find any proof of her accusations. Is this the result of Madame Préau reliving her difficult past or is it real?”

Here is Steph’s take on the same book. “This week I read The Stone Boy, by Sophie Loubière, on the recommendation of Barbara M. Now, if you know anything about Barbara’s reading habits, you know she doesn’t read many thrillers, even French ones. So when she recommended this book, a true thriller from start to finish, I knew it had to be good! The book follows Madame Préau, who has just moved back into her home in the Paris suburbs after taking a break from life for unspecified but seemingly dark reasons. Her days are highly regimented; dinner at the same time each night, cleaning at the same time each morning, shopping every Friday, and a bit dull, so she takes to keeping an eye on her neighbors. She quickly realizes that her next door neighbors have three children, one of whom she sees very rarely and who appears to be abused. She begins to investigate and get the authorities involved, but several previous occurrences keep anybody from taking her seriously. Madame Préau is a terribly unreliable narrator, but a sympathetic one, and the tension in the story ramps up quickly. I burned my dinner slightly because I was trying to read this book at the same time I was cooking. I know The Girl on the Train is supposed to be the new Gone Girl, but I didn’t care for it. I’d recommend this book instead, for sure.”

Miss Elisabeth of the CL is back again this week!  “Dipping my toes into adult book pool again, this week I read the fantastically inspiring When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win WWII by Molly Guptill Manning. This is the remarkable true story of the Armed Services Editions, portable paperbacks that American publishers produced for troops headed overseas. Before the publishers stepped in, there was the American Library Association’s National Defense Book Campaign, which organized book drives all over the United States, collecting over 10 million volumes to give to the armed forces. All told, the United States sent over 120 million books overseas during the war. The entire program came about as a reaction to the book-burning habits of the Nazi’s, with President Roosevelt saying, ‘Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever.’ Reading this book made me proud to be a reader, proud to be a librarian, and proud of my country. It’s a gripping, quick read. I can’t recommend it enough!”

My delightful friend Golda R of WW Norton Publishing (that’s her real name..Hey Hey Golda!  What’s doin?) had been telling me about this book for months before she sent me a copy.  She promised me a book that would help scratch my never-ending itch for dysfunctional family literature.  It finally appeared before the holidays and I really have to say Golda knows me well.  Maybe too well.  Bastards by Mary Anna King opens with Mary flying to Oklahoma to bear witness at the bed-side of the dying woman who raised her, and her brother and sister.  But at the start we learn things are not as they seem.  Because while she is indeed going to pay respects to a dying woman who did indeed raise her, she is not in fact Mary’s mother, she is Mary’s maternal grandmother.  How did Mary make it from New Jersey to Oklahoma to be raised by old folks? Mary’s real mother was incapable of caring for her children due to crushing poverty and an absent father whose main talent seemed to be looking for Jesus via the use of narcotics.  This however did not stop her mother from having his babies.  Like clockwork.  And then she would just give them away as if they were kittens. Mary has four sisters who were given away and who, as teenagers, came looking for their birth family.   This funny, wise and very moving book comes out in June. 

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here as always from That State Up North and as always she comes bearing good tunes and even greater wishes. What’s good Pats?” So here we are at the height of the cold and flu season and our lovely JD is down for the count. I know it’s hard to imagine our fearless YAWYR leader speechless but it’s happened folks. Since I can’t bring her broth, I trust that all of you will and when you do make sure you congratulate her on that big football win. I think that will bring a smile to her face and I’d like to know that even if she has no voice that she is smiling. Seriously, everyone here in The D is hoping you feel better soon, Jen! 
Comfort. I’ve always taken comfort in words, books, libraries and museums. Words have the ability to soothe, inspire and conjure other worlds when our own might feel less than ideal. Reading allows us to experience life through a different lens. In light of the recent tragedy in Paris, I hold tight to my own hope for a positive evolution that advances the written word and art in all its forms without fear of retaliation. This week’s playlist shares a little music love and I think we could all use some of that right now.


What's the Hoopla?

How about some great series from Across the Pond?

Not sure what this is?  Read all about it here. And remember!  Our Holiday gift to you is 20 downloads this month.  Enjoy!


You Are What You Read!

Greetings! I wish you all a Very Happy End of the First Full Work Week of 2015. And it’s been quite the week!  Lots of cold and a little snow, which is feeling oddly familiar and not in a good way. It’s January, after all so we should not be shocked or surprised.  And that is all I am saying about that.  The SoNo Loft this week would like us to consider the following resolution:  2015: Be BraveEleanor Roosevelt once said that you should “do one thing every day that scares you.” So I charge each and every one of you to stretch a bit in the coming year.  Make yourself a little or a lot uncomfortable every once in a while.  Now, with this being said, Be Brave does not mean Be Stupid. Please make sure you all have your flu shots (it’s not too late!), that you are taking care of yourselves by bundling up, staying warm, getting into the sun and fresh air when possible and eating well. Sick?  Call us up on the phone to renew your items.  Don’t have anything to read? Consider our digital library!  Too sick to read?  Watch some good stuff through Hoopla!   We have seen a lot of illness this week and this is no way to begin a year People! And frankly?  I have no interest in spending my weekend or my Monday night while watching the College Football National Championship curled up on my couch, with nothing but a box of Kleenex and a cocktail of Nyquil Rocks with a Robitussin Chaser willing to be next to me.   So Be Brave, not Stupid and Soldier On!  And Let’s Go Buckeyes!  (You had to know that was coming and I applaud my restraint over the last 2 weeks).  

This week we have a Martian, and monsters, Burma, and bone disease.  The Playlist is cued and ready!

Let us begin!

Miss Elisabeth of the CL is sharing the feedback her dad gave her on her Christmas gift to him.  How’d it work out Elisabeth? “I heard great things about The Martian by Andy Weir (including a recommendation by our own Alan Gray!) and got it for my father for Christmas. My dad is the person who encouraged me to read science fiction, and it has always been a shared love of ours. He started reading it the evening he opened his presents and finished it two days later, and very eagerly to texted me about how much he loved it! ‘An intense read! One of the best crafted survival epics I've read in a long time. It's very technical and scientific but somehow the author has made it a completely believable story. It's really Swiss Family Robinson meets Robinson Crusoe, meets a probable scientific future. I'm on the last few pages and wow! I could read this forever. You're the best, Daughter Dear!’”  I would say that you gifted well!  Good job Miss E!

Miss Lisa of the CL is enjoying some Hair-Raising Reading Time. “I just read an awesome graphic novel called Through the Woods by Emily Carroll.  It is totally creepy and brilliant.  Carroll’s beautiful illustrations are a perfect companion to her stories, which are as timeless as folk tales but a million times more unnerving.  She nails all the things you wouldn’t want to meet in the woods, including burrowing monsters that turn you into a frightening empty shell, ghosts with blood vessels, and chopped up ladies who sing through the floors. Mainly, her work is all about the fear of not knowing what the heck is going on – you just know you’re scared out of your mind.”

Sweet Ann! just finished this year’s Booker winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Here’s what she thought: “This novel won the Man Booker prize and has been put on many lists as one of the best books of the year and I have to agree.  The story begins with Dorrigo Evans, an aging Australian surgeon, reflecting on his life as he writes the forward for a book of drawings done by a fellow POW during their torturous time as prisoners of war in Burma during WWII. It is a difficult read when you learn how these Australian men were treated by the Japanese to build the Burma-Thai Railroad in 1943. These prisoners did not have tools, clothing or food and were beaten and tortured constantly and many did not survive.  Another intriguing aspect of this book is Dorrigo's personal life.  Prior to the war he is engaged to a woman who is deemed to be the proper wife of surgeon, but he really doesn't love her.  He has an affair with his uncle's wife whose memory of their times together will help him get through the horrors of the war.  There is such a twist in the story that was not revealed to just about the end of the book and it was great.  This is a heavy book but one I believe well worth reading.”

Steph tackled something that has been on my bookshelf for years and is one of those ‘Most Definitely Someday Books.’ Here’s her take on an American classic. “Over my vacation, I read Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. It’s been on my to-be-read list for years, as I’ve heard dozens of readers sing its praises. And with good reason! It’s spectacular. The book has two stories. The first is of Lyman Ward, a writer and historian who is newly confined to a wheelchair due to a bone disease, trying to maintain his independence. From his seat in the 1970s, he’s researching and writing about his grandmother, Susan, in the mid-1800s, and how her life went from one of culture and civilization in the East to one of hardscrabble mining towns out West after she married an engineer. The book weaves back and forth between the two, illuminating not just the highs and the lows of their lives, but the development of the United States, for better or for worse. Lyman is angry but compassionate towards his grandmother, whose voice springs to life in dozens of letters, and who he is determined to protect from modern intrusion. I was instantly swept up in the writing and the story—it is just so rich. It combines the resonance of good historical fiction with characters you feel you could reach out and touch. This is truly one of the great American novels, and reminded me very much of Stoner by John Williams, another favorite of mine.  This is a great choice for settling in by a fireplace during a snowstorm.”

Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC from The State Up North with some final thoughts and of course The Playlist.  Congrats on that new coach Pats, we look forward to next November.  Now what’s good?  “It’s a new year and it’s a time for new beginnings and new opportunities, but we can’t move forward without reflecting on the past. It has not been a great year for our country. Abroad it’s much the same. Unrest and uneasiness are an unpleasant, but unavoidable part of change. Our freedoms here are many and public libraries are a physical manifestation of our freedom of thought and speech. To protect those freedoms, we have a responsibility to be brave. We can march to our own beat. We can be fearless and jump feet first into something that makes us uncomfortable. We can have necessary and difficult conversations. So be brave. Maybe start with some music. Be brave and listen to what I believe were some of the Best Albums of 2014.”


You Are What You Read!

Greetings!  And a very Happy 2015 to us all!  I know I am not alone in being rather pleased to kick 2014 to the curb.   I don’t know of a single person who didn’t have a hard time of it this past year, whether it was health, monetary or professional issues and in some sad cases a bit of it all.  So all I am asking for is a better year.  It doesn’t have to be a stellar one, though that would certainly be lovely.  I am only asking for better.  This weekend also brings us the first full moon of the year.  This moon is known as the Wolf Moon.  Apparently this was because wolves would howl outside villages in hunger.  So let’s show some kindness People!  See a wolf this weekend?  Throw it a bone won’t you, preferably a nice meaty one. This week we have England, Brooklyn, Dystopia, and of course The Playlist!  New Year!  New Playlist!

Let us begin!

Amanda took my advice and watched Small Island. “I decided to watch this because I’m a fan of Benedict Cumberbath (hello, Sherlock!). Quickly I changed course as I got pulled into the struggles of two Jamaican immigrants to England around WW2. They were taught that England was a kind and gracious mother who loved all her children. They arrive with high expectations, but are met with scorn, racism, and violence. Meanwhile, their landlady struggles with having her dreams clipped by circumstances that led to a cold marriage. The two couples’ lives are headed towards a major collision. I’m easily led to tears and this one left me weeping. This miniseries is based off an award-winning novel that The Guardian selected as a defining book of the decade.  I also suspect that Cumberbatch’s socially awkward portrayal of Bernard led to his BBC Sherlock role. I highly recommend Small Island for history buffs. “

Barbara M has just finished reading a book that has proven to be a favorite with all who pick it up. I’ll let her explain.  “I recently read a children’s fiction book, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson which is neither only for children nor truly fictional. This poignant fictionalized memoir written in verse describes Woodson’s childhood first in the south during the Civil Rights Movement and later in Brooklyn as her passion for writing blossomed. Woodson’s free verse poetry is easily accessible and flows effortlessly. This is a beautifully written book that touched me deeply. “

I spent my Christmas break playing Book Catch-Up.  This time of year is tragic for new books and I usually spend it tackling the To Be Read Pile of books that have already been published that I have missed.  So, on the advice of some of my Librarian Friends (I am looking at you Sue B and Mary C!)  I picked up Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  Now please understand that this book had to be practically shoved into my hands.  I am not a fan of Science Fiction or Dystopian Lit.  But they were so passionate and so insistent that I acquiesced to them and I am happy to report that I could not imagine a better use of two days off.  When the world as we know it vanishes in the blink of an eye due to a virus that kills in the matter of hours, what’s left?  Art is what is left.   Art and a nostalgia for everything that we take for granted. Which sounds odd I know, but trust me on this: you want to pick this one up and savor it.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here with our first playlist of the year.  What’s good Pats? “This week I am on the road. We took to the road after the holidays to visit friends and family. NYC was dressed in all her holiday finery and we enjoyed a lovely dinner in CT with friends that overflowed with laughter. Thank you Christine & Peter! Currently we are with the east coast cousins in MA. We will hike around the Acton Arboretum, sit in front of a big fire, swap stories and laugh like you do with the best of friends. There are few people whom we enjoy more than these folks and it’s both the perfect way to end and begin a new year. It’s been a rough year and I think we can all say that we’re looking forward to better days. Wishing you better days in 2015!  “


What are my neighbors up to?

Here is a list of the most popular items this week.

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Hellidaze edition of You Are What You Read!  It’s hard to believe that this time next week we will all be standing in line trying to return that gift that leaves us scratching our head and pouring ANOTHER glass of eggnog.  The words from The SoNo Loft remain ‘Just Breathe’ so, as always in the coming days, heed the message, stop, and take a deep breath.  I know that for myself, this weekend will be spent tying up those loose ends and then as a reward for just getting it done, a Sunday Morning Meet Up with a selection of some of my Outlaws for a catch-up and some breakfast.  Remember People!  The important stuff always gets done and the most important piece of the Hellidaze is being with your people!  As a reminder we are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but we will see you bright and early on the 26th for our regular hours.   Next week, we will have our big reveal as to what the Library’s Top Ten Reads of 2014 are.  So put your heads down, power through it with a bit of joy, a whole lotta eggnog, maybe some pants with an elastic waist and we’ll catch up next week. This week we have Lord Byron, whimsy, Miss Alabama, genius, and some Little House. Of course we have The Playlist for your dashing through the snow, rain or ice, or whatever it is the Weather Gods will be slinging at us.

Let us begin!

Abby explores the history of the seemingly newish Tech Industry with The Innovators by Walter Isaacson.  “My biggest takeaway from The Innovators is that even the most creative and brilliant minds need to master the art of collaboration in order to bring about progress. The book opens with the story of Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, who was the daughter of Lord Byron. Ada was an accomplished mathematician and early logic theorist whose work set others on the road to computing. In fact, throughout the book, women are the unsung heroes of early computer programming. While men tended to build the machinery, it was women who were instrumental in making the contraptions work. The Innovators is an enjoyable and educational book; that’s a tough combination to master, but Isaacson has again shown he has found the right formula.”

Pat T has a solution for us this week. “If you are feeling stressed with the holiday rush, I suggest you take 10 minutes to read the delightful, Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow. Basically, this whimsical book agrees that yes, the holidays are a lot of work, but it also reminds of us what we would be missing if we didn't celebrate. So keep it simple and enjoy this special time with family and friends!
Happy Holidays!”

Sweet Ann is breaking out of her usual fare and doing things a little differently “I am listening to I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg.  It’s read by Ms. Flagg and it's a hoot.  I am known for reading on the side of dark and depressing but occasionally I need a chuckle.  You wouldn't think this book would make you smile since it opens with the main character, Maggie Fortenberry, a former Miss Alabama, planning her demise in the local river. Maggie is an interesting woman who can't stop putting other’s needs before her planned departure.   This novel contains race relations, a little person, a murder mystery and a cast of characters that will make you smile. “

Steph is getting that jump on 2015. “I’m using the holidays to start getting ahead on my 2015 reading. This week, I read Kelly Link’s short story collection Get in Trouble, which comes out in February. She is a genius who brings a new life to everything she writes. Whether you’re a lifelong short story lover, or have been coming back to stories thanks to writers like George Saunders, or perhaps don’t like them at all, you’ll find something to love in this book. Link combines the clarity and structure of an Alice Munro story with the imagination of our best fantasy writers. Each story has a surreal element (for instance, superheroes are real and they have conventions like every other profession) and is set in a world that is otherwise our own.  The tension between reality and fantasy is spectacular, taking most of the stories to a whole new level. While not all of them are perfect, there are 5-6 stories in here that blew me away. I can’t wait to start recommending this one.” It comes out in February and will be in the catalog next week.

How am I avoiding the Hellidaze? The same way I always have; with my nose in a book.  I have never been shy about my love of The Little House Books. In fact, not only was the next installment in the series was always one of my favorite gifts under the tree growing up but if I am being totally honest, it was probably the first of many obsessions that I cultivate to this day.   I had nothing but contempt for the TV series by the way.  They weren’t faithful to the stories and Melissa Gilbert just plain annoyed me.  So I will be tucked away in a corner with Pioneer Girl:  The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill, editor.  Hidden away from the world since the 1930’s, Wilder’s biography has a lot of surprises in it.  Think a not-so-sunny prairie with financial insolvency, early death and child labor.   Add to that some meticulous foot notes by the folks at the South Dakota Historical Society who researched each and every sentence, added photos pertaining to the text when they could be found and I will be in Little House Heaven. For those hankering for more on the true story there is this New Yorker article that I reread every couple of years and don’t forget another favorite of mine Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure. 

DJ Jazzy Patty McC from That State Up North.  What’s doing Pats? “Greetings from the Motor City! Chanukah is here and Christmas is right around the corner. Seems like everywhere I turn there’s a procession of cars with menorahs on top or a car grille with a wreath strapped on to it. How is this not a fire hazard? Folks here take their holidays VERY seriously. Plastic Santa’s line the rooftops, 12-foot blow-up Chanukah Bears holding dreidels sit on lawns and Hines Drive Lightfest will celebrate its 21st year. It’s a 4-mile light show spectacular complete with 55 animated holiday-themed displays. Because here in the Motor City, we do everything with our cars, holiday driving through a light show on a roadway is just part of the seasonal merriment. So may you have a dusting of snow for your holiday, enjoy a steaming mug of Glögg in front of the old Yule log and share it with those you love. This year it seems appropriate to share something from The Godfather of Soul. Happy Holidays everyone!”


New eBooks from OverDrive

Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Deadline by John Sandford

The Escape by David Baldacci

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney


You Are What You Read!

Greetings!  This week’s brilliant message from the SoNo Loft is one we all need to heed this time of year.  The Loft is reminding us to ‘Just Breathe.’   It’s very easy to get sucked into the insanity of the season this time of year and rush about like a four-year-old on an extreme sugar high.  Cathy the sister-in-law posted the above list on Facebook earlier this week and tracked it down for me so I could share it with you all. Thanks Cath, you’re the best.  It’s a to-do list that we all could use as a blueprint for the upcoming days. This weekend, take a moment to look around, breathe and be present in the moment.  We have a gift for you all!  Instead of just 10 Hoopla downloads for this month, starting Monday and going through the end of January we are allowing 20!  If you haven’t played around with Hoopla you really should.  There are no pesky holds to deal with, no need to fret about returns, and there is something for everybody including music, movies, series and documentaries, and audio books. To learn more click here. So Very Merry from us!  Enjoy!  This week we have a midwife, a trio of anthropologists, obsession, Russia and some monsters under the bed.

You know we have The Playlist.  Don’t even worry your pretty heads about that.

Let us begin!

Babs B has just finished My Notorious Life by Kate Manning.  What did you think Babs? “I absolutely loved this one!  Based on a true story, this is a well-researched, beautiful historical novel that traces the life of Axie, an impoverished Irish girl from the slums of New York City.  How she becomes a midwife in the second half of the 19th century is really the heart of this story.  Axie came from nothing and ended up being a very wealthy woman.  Even spending time in jail didn't deter her from helping women deliver their babies or performing abortions on women who had been raped.  Axie was way ahead of her time on this subject, which can still be a debate in this day and age.  The end of this book will shock readers in a good way. I never saw it coming!

Laura has just finished a book we have been shouting about for a long time now and has won a well-deserved place on the New York Times Best of 2014 list.  Here is what she thought of Euphoria, by Lily King. “Taking place between the two world wars, you meet Nell and her husband Fen, anthropologists who are running for their lives from a blood-thirsty tribe deep in the jungles of New Guinea.   When they meet Bankson, an English anthropologist who introduces them to the female-dominated tribe, the Tam, a love triangle of epic proportions is set in motion.  Tragedy ensues and the reader is left wondering who is more civilized; the well-educated scholarly scientists or the actual natives who have patiently taken them into their societies.  I listened to the audio book and was entranced each and every hour.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here to tell us what her latest obsession is.   “Guilty or not guilty?  After binge listening to the addicting Serial podcast, I remain undecided.  Is there reasonable doubt that Adnan Syed committed murder at the age of 17? Absolutely! If you don't know what I am talking about, then you are missing out on one of the best crime dramas produced in years and it’s not even on TV.   From the creators of This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig, Serial is a podcast that follows one true story over an entire season.  For its debut, Koenig conducts an investigation into the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee and whether or not Lee's ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was wrongly convicted for her murder.  Koenig is a masterful storyteller and how she presents her investigation is absolutely enthralling.  You get sucked into the real time play-by-play of what she finds in the case files, interviews with the very likable Syed, the other key players and witnesses. For any true crime fan, the inconsistencies and details that went unexplored are not all that surprising, but as a listener you find yourself shocked. For Adnan Syed, the buzz and cult-like following the show has generated has had major impact for his case.  But how much impact remains to be seen, as Serial continues to play out in real-time. For all of you other Serial addicts, join me next Thursday at the library as we play the final episode in the podcast with a follow up discussion of the case.”

The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Midnight in Siberia by David Greene.  “Part travelogue, part cultural snapshot, David Greene has created a remarkable portrait of the Russian everyman today. Greene spent three years as an NPR Moscow Bureau chief, ending in 2012. During this time, he clearly developed a deep infatuation with the people, the culture and the country. He wanted to discover what Russians really thought of the changes they had experienced in the post-Soviet years. In order to do this, he wanted to get out the globalized environment he found in Moscow. So he and his former colleague and interpreter Sergei embark on a 6000 mile cross-country Trans-Siberian rail journey from Moscow to Vladivostok. Through conversations with fellow travelers, as well as in-depth interviews with individuals in stops along the way, we are offered a rare portrait of a people who are deeply conflicted about democracy. While grateful for the end of much of the commonplace oppression suffered during Soviet times, they still miss the economic stability inherent in such a system; who maintain deep religious and spiritual ties and who seem married to the idea that being Russian and suffering go hand in hand. Greene creates a new window from which to view Russia in the twenty first century. This book is extremely compelling and I couldn’t put it down.

Stephanie has never made a secret of her love of Stephen King.  So what does she think of his latest? “This week I was delighted to read Stephen King’s latest, Revival. Despite being burned many times by some slouches, I still read each of his books. I can’t resist! Revival wasn’t as fantastic at 11/22/63, but it was still a great read. You will be stunned to hear that this book opens in a small Maine town, and features a young boy who turns into an adult with a drug problem. Crazy, right??? But no matter how many times King goes back to that well, there’s still more water for him to draw on. In this story, King explores the nature of devotion and religious belief. Protagonist Jamie is haunted throughout the book by his childhood minister, who leaves the church after a horrific tragedy and re-enters his life years later as a very changed man. Though much of the book reads like King’s more recent novels, which focus more on human relationships than monsters under the bed, it does take a turn for the horrific, and has one of the most frightening endings I’ve read in one of his books. If you’re looking for a holiday distraction, or to feel grateful for your life in the real world and not in a Stephen King novel, look no further.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in residence with some final thoughts.  Here’s what is going on in her world.  “This year my son will not celebrate Christmas in his school classroom and this makes me happy. I’ve got nothing against celebrating holidays it’s just that his classroom is so diverse that if one religious holiday were singled out it would be unfair.  I was a theology minor in school and feel that part of my job as a mother has been to teach my children about different religious celebrations. I consciously chose to not raise my children with a religion but rather expose them to everything and when the time came for them to make a choice (or not) they would be educated in that decision. The choice will be theirs, not mine. I believe we should all have choices. Often folks who need choices the most don’t ever get to enjoy that privilege.”


You Are What You Read!

Greetings! A Happy Friday to us all.  Mistakes.  We all make them. Last week I was so obsessed with eradicating all the M’s that I forgot to link to the correct post. I rectify that here.  Sometimes we learn from our mistakes. For instance, for The Game last year, my brother taped it because he was running in a race that morning and we would not be darkening his door until well into the second half.  This seemingly excellent plan enabled us to catch up with each other, nibble on what emerged  from The Green Egg and sip a beverage in a leisurely manner before settling down to the business at hand. It all went swimmingly and The Game was a thing of beauty. A tied score in the last 32 seconds and then it happened.  Because The Game ran long we were confronted with The Blue Screen of Death.  Yup.  The DVR ran out of room and we were tasked with frantically trying to determine the ending.  Well, this year was going to be different! This year, Peter set the timer for the next two shows. We were covered! Peter ran his race, we showed up early in the afternoon, caught up with each other, ate lovely lunch, sipped a little something and then settled in to watch The Game.  When our quarterback got badly hurt in the beginning of the 4th quarter with the score tied, we were on pins and needles!  How would this play out? And then what happened? Yup. Cue The Blue Screen of Death, which left us scrambling to find out how it all ended. Next year there will be no race, no leisurely nosh. We have learned our lesson. The Game begins at noon and we will be watching it live.  Last week I failed to credit sister-in-law Cathy for the picture so I am doing that now. Cathy, my apologies!  Great picture from The Shoe and thanks! Mistakes happen People!  We are only human after all.  So learn your lessons, learn to apologize and move on knowing better.  This week we have murder, creepiness, some organizing, hockey and how about a nice cup of hot chocolate to go with that Playlist?

Let us begin!

Abby has another series that she wants to tell us about. “Fans of the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly will be happy to learn the Detective is back in The Burning Room and as methodical and determined as ever. Harry has been in the elite cold crimes unit for a few years, but when a man dies due to a decades old shooting, it’s ruled a murder. Harry and his partner catch the case and must balance the challenges of a fresh crime against the techniques of solving a cold case. As usual, Connelly weaves an intricate web of clues and connections that allow Bosch to close the case. The road to getting there illustrates that justice is not always what we imagine, but that’s doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying. Connelly is one of the few crime writers who can offer a new book with regularity and consistent high-quality.”

Sweet Ann is here this week with a story of book happenstance with The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster.  What have you got going Ann? “As I was shelving books one day, I saw this book and was intrigued by the title as well as the cover.  I am so glad I chose to read this book written by a British author.  I found this book to be creepy and one I could not put down. It tells the story of Julia, a forty-eight-year old child psychologist and magistrate in London. She works with damaged children and makes decisions that will shape their lives. As Julia looks back on her childhood and the choices she made, we learn of Julia's actions and the way she was raised by her dismissive mother. As a reader you feel you are almost reading the case study of young Julia and discovering who she becomes as an adult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book”. 

Barbara M is busy busy busy!  I’ll let her explain. “I have read an incredible amount of books on organizing; too, too many. For the most part they all say the same things. Things I already know. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is different. One of her instructions is to store all similar items in the same place instead of by frequency of use. Storing items by frequency of use she says makes it easy to forget about them. She also never piles things. She rolls things and stores them vertically making it easy to see what you have. She is ruthless. Her main principle is that you should keep only things that ‘spark joy’. While that idea made sense to me her suggestion that you thank your discards for having served you well was beyond what I could do. I won’t and  can’t follow her instructions systematically. There is no way I can put all my clothes in a pile on the floor and then sort through them. However, that being said, this book has somehow inspired me to look at the amount of things I own in a different way.”

Steph!  What’s this week’s read? “This week I have been engrossed in Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard by John Branch. You may have seen the story of Derek Boogaard before, in Branch’s three-part New York Times feature on Boogaard, published after his tragic death in 2011. After an improbable rise through the ranks of hockey, Boogaard became one of the most feared enforcers in the NHL. However, this rise was accompanied by countless injuries to his body, including several broken noses, a ruptured disc in his back, and hands that were constantly swollen and covered in open wounds. His friends and family worried about him, but playing for the NHL was all the boy from rural Saskatchewan wanted, and team doctors kept fixing him up. These fixes came with many painkillers, however, and before long Boogaard developed a fierce addiction that worsened after a horrific concussion. This addiction led directly to his death at age 28, shocking everyone around him and the entire sports community. Branch, who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on this story, tracks Boogaard’s tragic story from beginning to end with copious detail from interviews, credit card statements, and medical records. It’s heartbreaking to watch it unfold with hindsight, seeing all the places someone might have made a difference. While Branch  subtly underscores the story with references to hockey culture and how it contributed to Boogaard’s death, he seeks not so much to place blame as to instigate change. Though this is a must-read for hockey fans, any sports fan will see the parallels between Boogaard and the stories of sacrifice from every sport.  This is a top non-fiction book of the year.”

Miss Elisabeth is in the spirit! "This week I read the absolutely delightful My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Edited by YA Author Stephanie Perkins and featuring stories by such YA stars as Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, Matt De La Pena, and David Leviathan, this book is the perfect choice for curling up by a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Each story features some kind of romance, most swoon-inducing. I would say there’s not a bad story in the bunch; I had my favorites (the editor’s own It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown was definitely one of the best), but the entire collection is worth a read, something which is not necessarily true with other themed anthologies I’ve read. Don’t let the YA label fool you! The book is not filled with angst-y teens. Most of the stories are about true young adults (i.e., out of high school) and some deal with decidedly grown-up problems, like hunger. This little gem of a collection is sure to put a smile on your face, bring you great holiday cheer and it would make an excellent holiday gift!"

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with some final thoughts on foibles.  What’s good Pats?  “Mistakes. Gaffes. 404s. Screw-ups. Blunders. Faux pas. Solecisms. Lapses. Hiccups. Admit it, we all make mistakes. Guess what? That’s usually a good thing. Mistakes are necessary for our own education. Just ask any Rube Goldberg enthusiast. I try to not make the same mistake twice and while I am not entirely successful in that endeavor, I try to be conscious about it. I will not use the most overused cliché in writing about insanity here. You know what it is. I will say that lately it has felt like the world has gone a bit insane and that can be unsettling. As if the holiday season wasn’t stressful enough! Things can feel like they are spinning out of control with injustices abounding, frustration and anger seem to be the emotions of the day. Will we learn from these mistakes? I certainly hope so. We shouldn’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. That would just be insane.”


What's This Week's Hoopla All About?

Getting the tree this weekend? How about some music to get you in the Holiday spirit?

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