Small Wonders

E.B. White
E.B. White

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other mens writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for."

What a wonderful quote from Socrates. Most of us like nothing better than to benefit from someone else's hard work, however, chances are, Socrates had a lot more time on his hands than most of us do today. Pulled in all directions, it's often hard to find time to read the newspaper every day, let alone an entire book. Well, we may have just the solution for you. Check out this selection of  "small wonders"-- books that measure about 5 x 7 inches, most with fewer than 200 pages, and all certain to improve your life.

The list is rich in titles that amuse, educate, offer advice, and short tales of lives well lived. The smallest in the collection is E. B. White's essay, Here is New York. At 60 pages, it is a witty, perceptive piece about Manhattan, speaking to what lasts and what really matters. If you haven't read it before, you are in for a rare treat.

As you may expect, many of these tiny volumes are dedicated to advice for the newly graduated. Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett and Maria Shriver each have words of wisdom about what you can do with your life, especially when you are young and opportunities abound.  Perhaps the best known is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, a college professor, diagnosed with terminal cancer, who wrote about achieving childhood dreams. It is at times humorous and inspirational, but ultimately it is simply about living your best life.

Please take the time to enjoy one of these small wonders, it won't take long and will certainly be worth the effort.

What's the cure for yet ANOTHER hideous cold and snowy weekend?





We got a beautiful shipment of New Book Goodness to help you through.

Who’s in The House?  
So glad you asked!


We have the new Brad Meltzer, the new Dean Koontz, the new Stuart Woods, the new W.E.B Griffin  just to name a few!


Come on down and visit us! 

Desketeers Reveal their Top Twelve!

Sure.  Everyone has a top Ten List and why should the Desketeers feel left out?  And why just stop at ten?  We like an even dozen!  
Here is what thrilled us this year.  We guarantee that this is a list like no other.  They are not in order of favorites.  That is like singling out your favorite child. Sure you have one, but you never admit it.



  Room  by Emma Donaghue.  You have heard us rave about this one.   We loved the story of five year old Jack and his Ma and their life in and out of Room.




The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine.  Sense and Sensibility retold almost 200 years later and set in Manhattan and Westport.  





Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  Although Henrietta died in 1951 at the age of 30 her legacy lives on in her harvested cells.  This is a fascinating story of faith and medicine.



The Big Short:  Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.   This is the story of the financial meltdown of 2007-2008 as told by the author of The Blindside.   




Every Last One by Anna Quindlen.  A family tragedy told in Quindlen’s wonderful prose and believable characterizations.  While you may think you know where this one is going, you will be surprised.




The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.  A first novel about Hungary, World War II and star crossed lovers.  This one has been called a modern classic.




Father of the Rain by Lily King.  This novel features not only beautiful writing but also a great story about a WASP family from the 60s to present day.



Leaving the World by Douglas Kennedy.   Heroine Jane Howard keeps trying to “leave the world” whether by wallowing in Academia or through escapes of her own design, but she is never quite successful.  We loved how Kennedy is one of the few male authors who actually “get” the female voice right on the written page.




And of course because we are the Desketeers and we are food obsessed here are our favorite food books of the year.  


Lunch in Paris:  A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard.  A lunch date in Paris ends in marriage and a new life in Paris.  




Around my French Table:  More than 300 Recipes from my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.   Not just 300 recipes, but sumptuous food photography, wonderfully doable recipes and great food writing.  We love Dorie!



97 Orchard:  An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegleman.  This is a fascinating look at how five immigrant groups shaped what is our food culture today.  Foie Gras anyone?




Fannie’s Last Supper:  Re-Creating One Amazing Meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Cookbook by Christopher Kimball. Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated took 2 years to research and prepare in the style and form of Fannies's day a 12 course Christmas dinner.  



We wish you a joyous holiday season and the most happy of new years!

Appearances can be deceiving....

Coming to DVD Tuesday, November 23rd
Coming to DVD Tuesday, November 23rd

As we mentioned earlier this week, due to an upcoming major upgrade to our library catalog, some new items may not be appearing in our OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog), so it may look as if we don't have the item that you are searching for.  Also, until the upgrade is complete, the option to place holds has been disabled. (The completion date for the upgrade is December 8th.) We know that this is frustrating and we apologize. If you have a question about a new or upcoming publication or release, please come in or call. Email us at, IM us on AIM & Y!M at deweydarien, or text us.

It appears that this glitch in the system has mostly affected the display of new and upcoming DVDs.

Here's what's coming out on Tuesday, November 23rd (not only are they on order, they're in the building and ready to go on Tuesday!):

Eat Pray Love

The Expendables


The Pillars of the Earth (The 2010 STARZ miniseries)

Here are the titles that came in earlier this week:

Disney's A Christmas Carol

The Kids Are All Right

Cats & Dogs - The Revenge of Kitty Galore

Lottery Ticket

We will continue to post notices on our catalog page alerting you about  books and DVDs that are on order and the dates that they are expected. 

Again, we apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

King James Version

Every so often, a young athlete's story is so outstanding that he (or she) starts garnering national when LeBron James landed on Sports Illustrated's cover as a high school junior back in 2002, labeled as "The Chosen One." Eight years later, he is the premiere superstar in the NBA, but nearly a decade ago in Akron, Ohio, he and four other players comprised what may have been the best high school basketball team of all time.

More Than a Game documents this team and the way each of the five players learns to depend on the others and grow on court and off, including footage all the way back to their junior high years, friendships and tensions, controversy, setbacks, and achievement together. We all know what happened to LeBron, but who were the other four guys who helped him become a household name before he was old enough to vote?

A little more slick than Hoop Dreams, a lot more involving than re-created films "based on the true story," filmmaker Kristopher Belman took a chance when he started documenting the Akron team in 2001 -- there was no way of knowing that the story would be worth telling. Here we have the early days of a future Hall of Famer, the coming of age of five young men, and a compelling piece on sports and high school basketball in our modern culture -- a three pointer!

Best in the Field

We're just a few days away from kicking off the college football season, which brings to mind two recent films, We Are Marshall and The Express.

Ordinarily, sports films are really hard to get right: walking in the door, the audience knows what's going to happen. Making everything look authentic and telling the story in a fresh way is a huge challenge and often results in a pale imitation of the original events. These two films, however, are the exception that proves the rule. Both go to painstaking lengths to reproduce the look and feel of the eras, and both stories transcend sports.

We Are Marshall recalls the tragic plane crash that decimated the school's 1970 football team, and the slow, painful recovery of a university, team, and town. The Express brings Syracuse running back Ernie Davis to the big screen as his too-brief career played out against the backdrop of the early Civil Rights struggles. As we get ready for tailgating, cheers and chants, the snap of the snare drum, team mascots, and cool autumn afternoons at the stadium, these two films are the perfect way to start to the season!


Welcome to August!

As Gershwin so famously stated, “summertime and the living is easy!” So shouldn’t picking your beach/poolside reads also be? Here is what Readers' Advisory is looking forward to delving into during these last days of summer. It is a lot like us, eclectic with some old friends making an appearance and some new things to look forward to!

Priscilla remembers beaching it and loving Helen Fielding’s wonderful book Bridget Jones's Diary. Bridget and her escapades kept Priscilla and her daughters laughing all the way through. She and the rest of the RA staff are also looking forward to Richard Russo’s latest, That Old Cape Magic. Russo leaves the familiar territory of upstate New York and this time sets his story in Cape Cod. Jack Griffin uses a trip to the Cape as a trip down Memory Lane with some surprising results. No one can do characters like Russo and we cannot wait to meet this latest group.
If  you are looking for a locale book, I am having lots of fun with Nancy Thayer’s Summer House. Set on Nantucket it tells the story of the Wheelwright family. This is a classic summer beach read with all the elements; great summer location, a family with secrets, and an easy breezy story telling manner.
For classics in a truer sense Marianne plans on taking another go at The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. She proclaims this 1919 masterpiece great reading any time of the year.
Pat is re-reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. We all feel that it is one of those wonderful books that you need to re-visit from time to time. She is hoping that this will make waiting for Jeannette Walls sophomore effort, Half Broke Horses (Oct. 2009) go a little faster. Walls is taking the life of her tough as nails grandmother and turning it into fictionalized account of her life. 
Barbara  M. heartily endorses Cutting for Stone, and we all have to agree that it is the best novel we have read this year.   If you are looking for the sort of book that envelopes you and causes you to live in a world utterly unlike your own, look no further. This is more than the story of Marion and Shiva, twins orphaned at birth, this is the also the story of their extended family and the denizens of their home, a hospital in Ethiopia. Verghese makes you really love and care about these characters and the journey that their lives take. For sheer fun Barbara likes Janet Evanovich’s latest offering Finger Licking Fifteen. Stephanie Plum is back and as always on the case to solve a mystery with her usual wit and humor.
Some of our current non-fiction picks include Farm City: The Education of an Urban Gardener Novella Carpenter looks at the empty lot next to her apartment building and sees not urban blight but a chance to grow some fruits and vegetables. One thing leads to another and somehow bees, chickens, rabbits and two pigs come into the picture.   Crazy for the Storm is something that Erica L. and several other staff members are enjoying. Eleven year old Norman Ollestad survives a plane crash that kills his father and his father’s girlfriend, but can he make it down the mountain face to safety? Fordlandia; The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s forgotten Jungle City  is the perfect example of the phrase “ well it seemed a good idea at the time”. Henry Ford decided to take a rubber plantation in the middle of the Brazilian jungle and build the ideal industrial American city complete with an Opera House and of course, square dancing . As you can imagine, this did not end the way he had hoped.
This is a list with a little something for everyone. So, pack up the beach bag with sun block, a bottle of water and some good reading. Because, honestly, is there any better way to spend a summer afternoon?


Worth Reading (and Thinking About)

One day last week I was looking for a good book to read. While browsing the Library's 7-day books, I began chatting with Pat and Jen, two members of the Darien Library's terrific Readers' Advisory team. Both women enthusiastically recommended Chis Cleave's new novel, Little Bee. Mr. Cleave's award-winning first novel, Incendiary, published in 2005, had somehow missed my radar, so I was not familiar with him or his books. I'm happy to say that my colleagues' recommendation was right on the mark. The plot revolves around the hot button issue of immigration and deftly exposes the many sides to this issue. The narration alternates between Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee recently released from a detention center outside of London, and Sarah, a career woman, wife and mother living in the suburbs. Through Little Bee, we come to know Sarah, Andrew, and Charlie, the British family whose lives intersect fatefully with that of Little Bee. I found the story engrossing and the characters richly drawn. If you enjoy thought-provoking, realistic fiction, Little Bee may be a good choice for you or your book club. But, if you're looking for something else entirely, have a chat with our Readers' Advisory team. They'll be sure to find something you'll enjoy!

Countdown to "Mudbound"

At 7 p.m. next Wednesday, August 13th, Hillary Jordan, the author of Mudbound will be the special guest speaker at our Adult Summer Reading Grand Finale. We know how wildly popular the book is (there are 42 holds on the book right now!), so we also know that you're as eager as we are to learn more about "Mudbound"...and Hillary. Well, as luck and timing would have it, Janet and I had the chance to talk for a bit with Hillary earlier today, and you can listen to the conversation
right here.

hillary jordon.jpg
Hillary Jordan

Summer's beginning to wind down and we'll enjoy some down time at our Grand Finale wine and cheese party. We're counting on having a good time, which is why we're counting down...counting down to Mudbound.


Make sure you're Library-bound for "Mudbound"

hillary jordon.jpgbooks_mudbound.jpg

Hillary Jordan
(photo credit: William Coupon)

As if we weren't already excited enough about this summer's Adult Summer Reading we get to celebrate! (Well, I know we celebrate books and reading here every day...but, this...THIS(!) is different!) On Wednesday, August 13 at 7 p.m. we will host the Grand Finale! and it's going to be good. Really good.

Join us for a wine and cheese party and Grand Prize drawing,

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The Grand


AND... meet Hillary Jordan, the author of Mudbound! We are extremely happy that she's agreed to come to Darien Library. First of all, we love the book. Period. It's an extraordinary story, incredibly well told. My hunch is that it is destined to become an important American book; one which earns a spot in our collective memory. Not a lot of books are able to do that.

Erica and I met Hillary back in January when we attended a conference in Philadelphia, and we each received advance reading copies of Mudbound. Neither of us big fiction readers, Mudbound swallowed us whole and we came out the other side richer for the experience. The word-of-mouth about this book is loud, and clear, and sustained, which is unusual for a first-time author. And it's not just here in town. We're hearing Mudbound-chatter no matter where we go. We're calling this "the little book that could" and we're just watching as it gains momentum. It's a beautiful thing.

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