What Are My Neighbors Up To?

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

The Inside Man

I Am Big Bird
I Am Big Bird

For almost 50 years, Carroll Spinney has brought a roller-skating, alphabet-singing, beloved eight-foot bird to life on "Sesame Street" -- he's the man inside the costume. Spinney is also the talent behind Oscar the Grouch, known for his wisecracks and garbage-can home. You could hardly imagine two characters with less in common, but Spinney brings both to life. Now, we get to peek beneath the yellow feathers and garbage can lid to meet the man himself in the new documentary, I Am Big Bird.

How does Spinney control Big Bird's face and arms? What color was Oscar originally? What does Big Bird have to do with a presidential election, and the opening of Red China? How did a little boy, bullied at school and raised in a violent household, grow up to create such universally-adored characters?

Spinney's stories range from devastating (Big Bird sing "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service) to laugh-out-loud funny (how he met his current wife). He's a shy man who never sought the spotlight, but spending an hour and a half getting to know Carrol Spinney is time well spent.

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and Welcome to the Phone It In Edition of You Are What You Read.   Because that’s basically what I am doing.   Phoning it in.   This week there are no housekeeping chores to do.  No Taffy.  No Fudge.  The SoNo Loft is still a construction site so there is no message of good cheer for week 4.   It’s August and we are all just about done in.  A rather brilliant patron told me this week that she considers August to be the Sunday night of all the months which to my mind is exactly right. While it’s still summer, you can see that it’s winding down and a Monday morning is knocking on the door.  Things are quieting down around town as they do when we all scurry to wherever it is we Summer.   Let’s be honest with ourselves and face it.  We all have a serious case of Short Timer Syndrome. 

I have spent my week making a pile.  I add to the pile.  I take away from the pile.  I keep picking things up from the pile. Turn it over in my hands.  Consider it.  And then I either put it back on the pile or reject it for something else.  The pile grows and shrinks. The pile often becomes dangerously large threatening to topple over or it becomes ridiculously lean.  Will the pile fit in the bag?  Will I need to bust out another bag? If I am to perfectly honest with myself the pile is an obsession.  For a lot of women this describes the packing for vacation process.  Clothing items are purchased, lovingly folded, and packed in tissue.  Entire outfits composed complete with appropriate shoes and accessories and infused with dreams of fun and frolic, are put together with meticulous thought and care.  But this is not your normal vacation pack. This is me deciding what books are coming to the shore with me.  I have an almost pathological fear of being without decent reading material.  I think that most readers feel this way and there is in fact a word for it.  Abibliophobia is the fear of being without a book.  This week’s image is what I think is going to be the final stack.  There is a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction, some silly and a heavy emphasis on Edith Wharton for my yearly literary project.  I am sure that the pile will continue to be edited up until the time of departure. And as if the pile weren’t enough, the Kindle is fully loaded, just in case.

The Traveling Companion and I leave early, early on Sunday and we are winding our way down to the sea for a much needed break for us both.  So next week Steph will be writing this piece. Make sure you say hi to her and bring her a lovely wedge of cheese, artisanal if at all possible.   She’s not into the Taffy and Fudge thing so much.  I’ll see you all in 2 weeks.

This week we have some Girl Power, sand, hounds, photography, cattle, a family saga, and the Grey Lady.

Every vacation should have a playlist!  Why not make it two!   

Let us begin!

Mallory is letting her Nerd Light shine this week, “Okay, so its official, Hoopla’s new comic collection is pretty fantastic. I ended up checking out all ten issues of Lumberjanes last night and did not fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. An adventure tale at its core, Lumberjanes follows five female friends as they evade their camp counselor to solve puzzles and battle mythical creatures. I didn’t realize there was a Powerpuff Girls shaped size hole in my heart, but with their ‘friendship to the max!’ exclamations and their diminutive size yet powerful constitutions, the Lumberjane gals are filling that very real void. Each issue of the Lumberjanes is silly and light with exceptionally well-drawn (pun intended) characters, perfect if you miss your Saturday Morning Cartoons ritual.”

Julia Rae is here with lots and lots of stuff. “I am the type who has multiple books in her beach bag (sorry for the sand, Shelvers). It's difficult for me to feel satisfied from just one story line. So if you're like me at all and want an easy, whimsical, summer book paired with a stormy, elegant novel then I must recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson-- the perfect marriage of reading. Both plots are enjoyable, but the speed in which you can finish The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will encourage you to keep chipping at Life After Life. These books are my ideal summer reading.”

Pat T has never hidden her love of the hound and here she is with a new favorite. “We are in the dog days of August so I think it is fitting to read David Rosenfelt's newest book, Who Let the Dog Out.  Andy Carpenter is a criminal defense attorney who takes on cases in between stints with his real passion, a dog rescue organization he runs with his friend Willie. When they get a call that there has been a burglary at the shelter, Willie and Andy track down the location of their dog, Cheyenne, using a GPS tracking collar. When they show up at a house in New Jersey and find Cheyenne sitting in a room next to a brutally murdered man, they set out to investigate. Andy and his team put all the pieces of the puzzle together in this light detective mystery, filled with likable characters that have a sense of humor and with man's best friend, there's a lot to enjoy while reading this book!”

The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Hold Still by Sally Mann.  “Sally Mann, the iconic photographer of Immediate Family (1992), provides a memoir here of both her life and her art. Evocatively written, Mann delves into the lives of her ancestors, and the South; the people and the land which come together in her photographic work. Do not for a moment hesitate because you aren’t all that interested in photography!  Her story includes a murder-suicide (which happened in our own backyard, New Canaan), rampant racism, a stalker (pre-social media), and wonderful stories of friends and neighbors including Cy Twombly and William (Bill) Eggleston. Equally engaging and penetrating, Hold Still is one of the best books I have read in 2015.”

Jeanne only doing one thing. Discuss.  “Katherine Applegate, the award-winning children's author of The One and Only Ivan, has touched our hearts again with a new YA novel, Home of the Brave. Her writing continues to show intelligence, precision and warmth. This novel in verse tells the story of Kek, a young Sudanese refugee who has been sent to Minnesota and struggles with grave losses of family, of childhood, and of reason. Applegate creates in Kek a survivor whose skill and love of the cattle he herded in his home country and surrounds him with challenges, but also hope. I read this in one sitting.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan has just finished Tiny Little Thing, Beatriz Williams.  How you feeling on this one VA?  “It is easy to see how the Camelot Era serves as inspiration in Beatriz Williams newest book, Tiny Little Thing. Set in the late 60’s this is the story of how politics, secrets and family ambitions can get in the way of marriage. Christina ‘Tiny’ Hardcastle has been groomed to marry a man destined for greatness. Since childhood, her mother has prepared her for this course in life, and except for one brief euphoric moment Tiny has never altered her path.  Now, she and her husband, Frank, are on the cusp of becoming the golden couple in politics, but Tiny realizes this may not be the future she wants.  It took me a few chapters to warm up to this book, mainly because I found Tiny to be a little too meek for my taste. Eventually, she finds her voice, her backbone her wit, and that is when I started enjoying this novel.  If you are looking for a more substantive beach read than your typical chick lit book in these final days of summer then I would highly recommend Tiny Little Thing. Williams masterfully creates a family saga written with rich details of a bygone era and packs in one whopper of a surprising ending. I also didn’t realize this was the second book in a family saga about three sisters.  I will definitely be going back to read The Secret Life of Violet Grant.  “

Stephanie.  No Abibliophobia for this girl!  “This week I’ve been lugging around The Kingdom and the Power by Gay Talese. I have no idea why I keep reading these massive classics in the middle of the summer. I must be enjoying this one, though, because it keeps going in my bag every morning! This work, published in 1969, examining the men (and it was pretty much only men) who built and grew The New York Times, is like a cross between a formal history and a juicy memoir. Just when you think you can’t take one more sentence about paper mills in the late 1800s, Talese shares an anecdote so delightful you can’t help but be drawn  back in. I’ve been sharing his gossip with people all week, and either they’re very funny little stories, or people are just being polite in laughing at them. I do recommend it! Whether you’re a Times subscriber or not, it’s a fascinating lens on what power and access can do, and what journalism was like on the cusp of the Internet revolution that would change it so irretrievably.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with our final musings and not one but TWO playlists this week (squeal!).  What’s good Pats?

Merriam Webster-- vacation, noun – a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel.

It’s time for our annual road trip Up North to Harbor Springs. On Saturday, I will return to the place where Ernest Hemingway spent the summers of his youth. I should note there will be no hunting or fishing on our trip but I may document various taxidermy I find along the way. We have only one rule in our family while on vacation: NO FORCED ENTERTAINMENT. While there we will enjoy a treat from Howse’s Fudge that is appropriately located under the town library. We will eat local ice cream and enjoy some outrageous cookies from Tom’s Mom. We will kayak and swim in the clear, blue water of Lake Michigan; attend a pig roast at my favorite local farm  and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower at the International Dark Sky Park.  As if all this wasn’t enough, my favorite independent bookstore up north, Between the Covers is having a book signing by Mark Alpert of The Six.   I’m as giddy as a four-year-old in a candy shop. Really, it’s almost too much to have all of my favorite things collide into one vacation. So, I decided, in addition to a new playlist I’m including last year’s Vacation On! because who couldn’t use 2x the vacation tunes?! Hoping yours is equally filled with whatever delights you.   

DL WHOLE LOTTA VACA NEEDED 2015

DL VACATION ON! 2014 

New eBooks from OverDrive

Here are the new books available from OverDrive.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis 

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis

The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Deadly Assets by W.E.B. Griffin

The Dust That Falls from Dreams by Louis De Bernieres

Gulp:  Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach 

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

No. 4 Imperial Lane by Jonathan Weisman

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell

The Swerve:  How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah

New eBooks from 3M

You did it
You did it

These are the new titles available from 3M.

Nice New Book Goodness

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!

What's the Hoopla?

This week let's do some armchair traveling, shall we?  nd remember you don't have to wait!  Immediate gratification can be yours!

Not sure what this means?  Click here!

What Are My Neighbors Up to?

Gorgeous cover
Gorgeous cover

Here is a list of our most popular items this week

You Are What You Read!

Welcome to the Blue Moon Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week’s housekeeping involves two Thank-Yous. First one goes to Cathy of the Admin for making the offering of taffy from her travels. Thanks Cath!  The Always Charming Pete E is back from travels to the Left Coast and has gifted us with chocolates.  Thanks Pete!  So at least things are slightly back to what passes for normal around here. This being said, The SoNo Loft is still silent. It looks to me like a new roof is involved so say a prayer that the railing will be replaced soon, and the messages of good cheer will resume.

I am sure that you are all aware that tonight there will be a Blue Moon; meaning that it is the second full moon in the month which is a rather rare occurrence. So rare in fact, that it won’t happen again until January 2018.  Because the lunar calendar and the calendar year aren’t perfectly in sync, this happens every three years or so. Please note that this is not a global event, New Zealand  will be missing out on this one.  Of course this is all rather tricky, because the original definition was the third full moon in a four moon season.  I know! This had me scratching my head too. BUT if you think of it as each season has 3 months that should mean 3 full moons not 4.  And then as if all this wasn’t whacky enough, there is the whole Blue Moon Rhyme which dates from 1528 “If they say the Moon is blue, we must believe that it is true.”  Um ok.  Not sure who ‘they’ are and why we should listen but when a ditty has been quoted for  487 years then who am I to question? And then there is the whole color piece.  Apparently forest fires and volcanic eruptions can cause the moon to have a bluish cast.  AND then when you factor in what this rogue moon does to the liturgical calendar? Honestly? It’s all too much for my pea brain in this heat.  Just enjoy the moon People.

This week we have some Hostess cupcakes, a few Gods and Goddesses, and a repeat appearance from a beloved character.

The Playlist?  But of course!  But it may not be available in New Zealand.

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann has just finished Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos and here is what she thinks of that. “This is the deeply moving story of high school teacher Charles Marlow, his wife and their autistic son Cody.   Charles and his estranged wife try to make the best living arrangements they can for their son, Cody.   One of the themes in this novel is the influence of memory on all of us.  The following is a quote from the book:

Memory--uncorrected, uncorroborated, and (by its very nature) unreliable--is what allows us to retroactively create the blueprints of our lives, because it is often impossible to make sense of our lives when we're inside them, when the narratives are still unfolding: This can't be happening. Why is this happening? Why?
  Is this happening now?  Only by looking backward are we able to answer those questions, only through the assist of memory.  And who knows how memory will answer?  Who will it blame?  Who will it forgive? Perhaps the most important character in everyone's life--and the one we have the most ambiguous relationship--is memory itself.


This is a wonderful thought provoking novel with well-developed characters.  I also loved Ms. Kallos' earlier novel, Broken for You”.

The Amazing Amanda has been making her way through the mythology saturated world of Rick Riordan. “There are currently four different series set in a world where demigods; the human children of gods; fight to save the world on behalf of their godly parents. I'm currently 3/5 of the way through the second series which has the demigods journeying to the ancient lands of Rome and Greece to battle the mother of all gods, titans, and monsters: Gaia.  In The Mark of Athena, the second to last chapter stopped my heart. I suspected what was to happen to at least one character, but wow. Guessing and hearing are two different things. It was so sad that I couldn't pick up the new book all weekend. What I appreciate the most about Riordan's novels is the unexpected ways the monsters all have lives and ambitions beyond just being ‘meant to frighten/kill/harm you.’ You don't see that most works other than maybe a vague sense of them working towards a greater goal. In this world, the monsters have jobs, dreams, and families; you almost feel bad when they're killed off. But if you let sympathy get to you, they'll kill you instead. “

I was lucky enough to be asked to read an advance copy of After You by JoJo Moyes (yes, I do have the best job ever) the sequel to Me Before You.  Life doesn’t always go as you planned and as Lou discovered in Me Before You, sometimes the greatest gift is the one you didn’t know you had coming and the one you want the least.  In After You, we discover what life has in store for Lou, her family and the Traynors.  As in Me Before You, there are plenty of laughter, tears, and the joy of the unexpected.  There are a whole lot worse ways to spend a fall weekend and I can’t think of many more that could be better than tucking in with Lou and company.   Get excited! This comes out at the end of September. 

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with the final musings of the week.  What’s good Pats? “The Blue Moon tonight feels particularly auspicious. Maybe it’s because we are immersed in wedding season. Seriously, I know about half a dozen friends and relatives who are getting married this summer. Maybe it’s because my 22nd wedding anniversary is today. I think it’s the culmination of all those things plus the fact that my first child was born on a Blue Moon. Neil deGrasse Tyson would tell you that the moon won’t actually be blue tonight and has the potential to be more red than blue unless a volcano erupts somewhere today. Check that out here. I suggest tonight we all indulge in a little romance. So tonight get outside, look up and let the moon rays wash over you. After all, tonight only happens once in a Blue Moon. Now enjoy a little music to put you in the mood.”

DL ONCE UPON A BLUE MOON 2015

New eBooks from OverDrive

Here are the new books available from OverDrive.

Barbarian Days; A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America by Arthur C. Brooks

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

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