Greetings and welcome to the Phil’s Back Edition of You Are What You Read.
First, a gentle reminder and a plea. If you are sick PLEASE stay home. We are dropping like flies here and while we are flattered that you consider the Library to be an essential to your life, there may not be enough of us to help you if this continues. Remember you can library from home (Hoopla, OverDrive, Glossy Magazines), and we will do everything in our power to renew items while you recover. You can reach out via email or phone. Just please, for the love of all that is holy, do not reach out to us with that used Kleenex. Thank you for your consideration.
Frequent Visitors to this space will remember that February 2nd is the day we throw all modern science and new-fangled book learning out of the window and allow a rodent in Pennsylvania or Staten Island decide for us how the rest of this long, bleak unrelenting winter is going down.
This should come as no surprise when you think that we are a society constructing pigs out of lemons, toothpicks, and spare change for some New Year’s good luck.
“Gee Jen,” you all ask while cocking your heads to the side, “what’s the back story on this temporary leave of our collective senses?”
Today is Candlemas, if you happen to be Christian or Imbolc if you happen to be Celtic (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Manx, or Cornish not the Basketball Team). This is regarded as the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Because they had no Super Bowl or access to Queso Dip they had to come up with something to alleviate the desolate reality of winter. ey People, you use that you’ve got.
Anyway back to the whole Christian Candlemas thing. As Christianity took hold in Europe, they used February 2nd to celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, with a whole big feast. A feast without Queso, but a feast just the same. In most parts of Europe, it was enough for them to believe that it was a sunny day it portended another 6 weeks of winter. Of course, the Germans had to do that one better and turn it into an animal act involving rodents. The day could only be considered sunny if small rodents like badgers saw their shadows. When they immigrated to this country they not only brought a whole bunch of case meat, brewing techniques, and lederhosen with them, they brought this tradition with them, but thought using groundhogs might be a better fit seeing that this is what this country had plenty of.
Fast forward to 1887, when newspaper editor Clymer Freas sold the idea to his fellow members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to make it an official celebration. And so it stands today.
This morning Punxsutawney Phil AKA as The PA Rodent saw his shadow so gird the loins for 6 weeks of frozen, grey dispiriting tundra living. Or if you prefer a closer rodent, Staten Island Chuck did not. Phil is only 40% right most of the time while Chuck has a better average at 80% but he’s only been at it since 1992. Whatever People. It’s February. Keep Lemon Pig close and keep trudging through it. We’ll be on the other side of this. Eventually. Someday.
If you’re still interested in learning any more of this you can read more about it on History.
This week we have some pretty, a date with death, tiny red flags and some NYC.
Let us begin!
Here is Diane’s latest entry in her series of Reading Pretty. “Carolyne Roehm's At Home in the Garden is now in our collection. This book is filled with beautiful photographs of the author's gardens, home interiors, and extensive decorative objects collection. As always, she offers many inspiring vignettes. Included in this book are whimsical watercolors by Roehm of botanical and entomological illustrations. While the medium is new to the author she seems to have also mastered this technique. I absolutely love each of Carolyne Roehm's books. The photography and content is always superb. I understand she has announced her thirteen book is being collaborated on with her publishing team. I can't wait.”
Sweet Ann has just finished one of our most popular books, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. “This novel will grab you from the beginning. In 1969, four siblings, Varya,13, Daniel,11, Klara,9 and Simon,7, decide to go to a fortune teller to hear their futures. Each sibling enters the fortune teller's apartment separately and learns the date of their deaths. For the most part, they do not share their ‘death dates’ with each other but they will all be greatly influenced by what that woman has told them. After the fortune telling incident, the book is then divided in to four sections each telling the story of one of the siblings and how the fortuneteller's prediction influenced their life choices. Each character is well developed and you believe their life's journey. It is an engaging, at times heartbreaking novel, that as a reader you will not soon forget.”
Kaitlin from the Rock is in the House! “Hello! I recently read We Could be Beautiful, by Swan Huntley. This was a creepy one for sure! Catherine West is rich--like, REALLY rich. She lives in an expensive apartment in New York City, is an avid collector of fine art, and has tried to buy her way to happiness for most of her adult life. She finally meets William, who is the perfect Prince Charming, he loves Catherine for who she is and not for her money, is handsome, elegant, and wealthy in his own right. The pair are absolutely perfect for one another. But tiny red flags keep appearing, the most disturbing of which is how Catherine's mother -- who suffers from Alzheimer's -- seems to be very upset by the relationship. I have to say, I picked this book up on a whim and was not expecting a psychological thriller--and it definitely took a turn in a direction I was not expecting at all! I highly recommend if you like that genre.”
Jeanne is back to doing one thing this week. “The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis weaves interesting bits of New York City mid-twentieth century history, such as jazz and bebop artists, with the mystery of an unsolved murder. The characters in 1952 are mainly residents of the Barbizon Hotel for Women who are trying to make it as models for the Ford Agency or Katherine Gibbs secretaries. Meanwhile Davis tells a parallel story of a female journalist who, as a resident of the renovated Barbizon in 2016, is trying to uncover the truth of what happened to two of the women one fateful Halloween night in 1952. Davis gives the reader a sense of women struggling in both centuries to find fulfilling careers or husbands. Or both? The author also provokes the reader on what the public wants in media – the quick video or the in-depth narrative. Or both? A good read.”