Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New, Free Online Book Clubs!

Email book clubs are available now from Enter your email address, choose your preferred book genres and every day, Monday through Friday, you will receive in your email a five-minute selection from a chapter of a book. By the end of the week, you’ll have read 2-3 chapters. Every Monday we start a new book. Sign up and start reading today!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Body by the Library?

Sure, you could use all of those heavy books that you've been meaning to read for weight lifting (Infinte Jest anyone?), but we why not use the library's great collection of workout videos and books instead? Experts all agree; the weight loss and exercise plan that works is the one that you'll stick with. If you find it difficult to get to the gym, try checking out some workout videos and books from the library. Keep yourself interested and challenged by checking out a different video each week and watch the results!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Nonfiction Book Club Choices for 2009 -New titles and some older favorites

Tried by War : Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James McPherson
Recalling one of the classic works on Honest Abe, T. Harry Williams' Lincoln and His Generals (1952), McPherson's fluid narrative renders balanced judgments of Lincoln's performance as a war president. As with the law, Lincoln was a self-taught strategist whose political acumen, McPherson illustrates in instance after instance, was vital to his conduct of the Union cause. Lincoln's political skills factored into several levels at which a commander in chief functions, specified as the setting of policy, national strategy, military strategy, military operations, and, occasionally, military tactics. Though it has assumed the look of lore in Civil War literature, Lincoln's dealings with generals become exceptionally vibrant in McPherson's prose, rewarding even buffs who've seen it all about McClellan or Grant. Suggesting Lincoln stuck too long with McClellan, McPherson shows how unsatisfactory alternatives, as well as the Young Napoléon's political strength, compelled Lincoln to go once more to the well with McClellan. Equally effectively, McPherson depicts the North's shifting political moods toward the war's cost and length and toward emancipation as crucial to the environment in which Lincoln made his decisions. No surprise coming from the immensely popular McPherson, this is first-rate reading for the Civil War audience.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
Kidder, a master documentarian, has primarily practiced his art on his home turf, Massachusetts, proving that one small place abounds in amazing stories. Now, in his most compelling chronicle to date, this Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner investigates a far harsher world in the company of Paul Farmer, a radical public health reformer devoted to providing medical care to the poor, mainly in Haiti. A Harvard-educated medical anthropologist, TB expert, and MacArthur genius gifted with an unshakable moral imperative, an ardent imagination, and limitless energy, compassion, and chutzpah, Farmer created Partners in Health, a renegade yet hugely influential organization. A powerful presence, this uncompromising visionary is too spectacularly impressive not to be disconcerting, and Kidder shares his puzzlement over and occasional discomfort with this charismatic and tirelessly giving man who eschews personal comfort to care for the underdogs of the underdogs. As Kidder accompanies Farmer on his exhausting and risky daily routines and epic travels, he parses the cruel realities of deep poverty and the maddening politics of international health care. Most importantly, Kidder portrays a genuinely inspired and heroic individual, whose quest for justice will make every reader examine her or his life in a new light.

Tenth Muse : My Life in Food by Judith Jones
In her entertaining, wondrously informative remembrance of her rich life, written with not a paragraph or even a word of pretension or boastfulness, cookbook editor Jones recounts experiences that food and book lovers will admire and envy and, when the book is finished, wish took up twice as many pages. Jones reaches back into her childhood for clear memories of signs and indications that food and its preparation would always be a source of delight. Clearly woven into her remembrances, like a bright thread, is her abiding interest in things French; in fact, after college, she journeyed there and took up long-term residence, meeting the man who would become her husband and absorbing the Gallic delight in scents and sauces. Once back living in New York, she worked as an editor at Knopf, sort of falling into editing cookbooks. Her crowning achievement was the acquisition of the manuscript to what would be called Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by the unknown Julia Child. Other important cookbook acquisitions followed, reflecting America's growing sophistication in the kitchen, and the last 100 pages of the book contain many of Jones' favorite recipes.

Girls Like Us : Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon--and the journey of a generation by Sheila Weller
The epic story of three generational icons, this triple biography from author and Glamour senior editor Weller (Dancing at Ciro's) examines the careers of singer-songwriters Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, whose success reflected, enervated and shaped the feminist movement that grew up with them. After short sketches of their early years, Weller begins in earnest with the 1960s, switching off among the women as their public lives begin. A time of extremes, the '60s found folk music and feminist cultures just beginning to define themselves, while the buttoned-down mainstream was still treating unwed pregnant women, in Mitchell's terms, "like you murdered somebody" (thus the big, traditional wedding thrown for King, pregnant by songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, in 1959). Pioneering success in the music business led inevitably to similar roles in women's movement, but Weller doesn't overlook the content of their songs and the effect they have on a generation of women facing "a lot more choice," but with no one to guide them. Taking readers in-depth through the late '80s, Weller brings the story up to date with a short but satisfying roundup. A must-read for any fan of these artists, this bio will prove an absorbing, eye-opening tour of rock (and American) history for anyone who's appreciated a female musician in the past thirty years. B&w photos. (Apr.)

American Bloomsbury : Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau : their lives, their loves, their works by Susan Cheever
A request to write a new introduction to Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, writes novelist and memoirist Cheever, inspired her to explore the literary atmosphere of Alcott's childhood. A daughter of one of the free spirits intellectually supported and financially subsidized by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa intermittently lived in Concord, Massachusetts, where Cheever sets her intimate narratives. She explores the interpersonal relationships linking the prospectively famous writers Emerson drew in. In the transcendentalist florescence of the 1840s and 1850s, the aspirant writers tried out their ideas and idealism in conversation at Emerson's house, alongside Concord's roads, or afloat on its creeks. Moving among descriptions of such haunts, Cheever constructs a many-layered contemplation of this distinctive collection of American literary icons in their formative periods, and encompasses day-to-day events and the character of their attractions, as between a married Emerson and Margaret Fuller, whom Emerson lodged in his house. Emotionally warm and critically engaged, Cheever's hBy far the largest number of examples New Yorker 0 staff writer and Harvard physician Groopman adduces to show how doctors think shows them thinking well for the good of their patients. In the initial example, one doctor seen by a woman with a long-standing weight-loss condition concedes being stumped and sends her to a specialist who finds the cause of her woes and, most probably, saves her from an early death. Both physicians are praiseworthy, the second more than the first only because he believed a patient whom others had come to pooh-pooh as a complainer and then thought of examining for something that the others had missed. The lesson? A doctor has to think with the patient, not despite or against her or from an assumption of superior knowledge. Subsequent chapters show doctors thinking in resistance to economic pressure by hospitals and insurers, in thorough solidarity with parents about their children's care, against a host of professional assumptions and in resistance to pestering by drug companies--all to help patients achieve their own goals as far as possible. An epilogue suggests a few questions patients should ask to help their doctors think clearly and, as the last chapter's title puts it, "In Service of the Soul." A book to restore faith in an often-resented profession, well enough written to warrant its quarter-million-copy first printing.

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
By far the largest number of examples New Yorker 0 staff writer and Harvard physician Groopman adduces to show how doctors think shows them thinking well for the good of their patients. In the initial example, one doctor seen by a woman with a long-standing weight-loss condition concedes being stumped and sends her to a specialist who finds the cause of her woes and, most probably, saves her from an early death. Both physicians are praiseworthy, the second more than the first only because he believed a patient whom others had come to pooh-pooh as a complainer and then thought of examining for something that the others had missed. The lesson? A doctor has to think with the patient, not despite or against her or from an assumption of superior knowledge. Subsequent chapters show doctors thinking in resistance to economic pressure by hospitals and insurers, in thorough solidarity with parents about their children's care, against a host of professional assumptions and in resistance to pestering by drug companies--all to help patients achieve their own goals as far as possible. An epilogue suggests a few questions patients should ask to help their doctors think clearly and, as the last chapter's title puts it, "In Service of the Soul." A book to restore faith in an often-resented profession, well enough written to warrant its quarter-million-copy first printing.

Journey from the Land of No : A girlhood caught in revolutionary Iran by Roya Hakakian
Poet and documentary filmmaker Hakakian presents a lyrically poignant account of her coming-of-age years in revolution-beset Iran. The daughter of an accomplished poet, she and her exuberant extended family were members of Tehran's once vibrant Jewish community. After the shah was ousted and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from a 15-year exile in 1979, life as she and her family knew it unraveled rapidly. Reflecting on growing up both Jewish and female in an increasingly restrictive environment, she is able to offer a unique perspective on the search for spiritual sustenance in a rapidly constricting society. It is both a joy and a privilege to bear witness to one young girl's remarkable emotional and artistic metamorphosis within a stunningly repressive culture.

DB - 12/22/08

"A lot of little old librarians..."

Extra! Dewey Decimal System Creates Storms in Florida (or)
Seinfeld and Melville Dewey Produce Perfect Storms
OK so State Sen. Ronda Storms (FL) has a problem with Dewey. Hey, she has a point. The classification system that public libraries use isn't always intuitive and sometimes it's downright frustrating. I mean, should Recycling at Home (363.7282) really be that close to Cannibal Killers (364.1523) or Discovering the Vernacular Landscape sharing a shelf with Reluctant Metrosexual? People are always picking on poor Melville, but really, LITTLE OLD LIBRARIANS?

Library Use Up/Library Funds Down

Check out this clip from MSNBC on libraries. It's not exactly news--libraries always seem to be among the first in line for budget cuts--but the report is well done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Minute Gifts for Kids

Gift recommendations from School Library Journal. If you're like me, there's always room for a book in your list of presents--for kids or adults.

Always Read the Book First!

Coming Movie/Book Tie-ins
Yes Man (Dec.19, with Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel)--Book by Danny Wallace
Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Dec. 25, with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett)--Short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Marley and Me (Dec.25, with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston)--Book by John Grogan
The Spirit (Dec. 25, with Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johanssen)--Graphic novel series by Will Eisner
Tale of Despereaux (Dec. 25, animated, with voices of Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Kevin Kline and others)--Book by Kate DiCamillo
Revolutionary Road (Dec. 26, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet)--Book by Richard Yates
The Reader (Jan.9, with Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes)--Book by Bernard Schlink

Escape the Holidays

The holidays got you down and you want to get away. Why not escape for a while with a travel memoir. The following are the most popular memoirs in the last six months. Where would you like to go?

Eat, pray, love: one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia
by Elizabeth Gilbert

This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve amoung both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life.

Down the Nile: alone in a fisherman’s skiff
by Rosemary Mahoney

This is travel writing at its most enjoyable: the reader is taken on a great trip with an erudite travel companion soaking up scads of history, culture and literary knowledge, along with the scenery.

Shadow of the Silk Road
by Colin Thubron

Thubron, a gifted writer with over a dozen books to his name, has written a vivid account of his journey, often under intimidatingly iffy circumstances, across the full length of the ancient Silk Road, from China to the Mediterranean.

River of doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s darkest journey
by Candice Millard

The River of Doubt—it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunt its shadows; piranhas glide through its waters; boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.

The geography of bliss: one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world
by Eric Weiner

Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness."

Ghost train to the Eastern star: on the tracks of the great railway bazaar

by Paul Theroux

Theroux's odyssey takes him from Eastern Europe, still hung-over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. No one is better able to capture the texture, sights, smells, and sounds of that changing landscape than Theroux.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Best Business Books of 2008

Here they come! Best book lists for the year are arriving daily. This is your opportunity to check your list to make sure you have not missed the titles that have risen to the top for 2008. Today's featured list is from Business Week. You may also find the lists from the Financial Times, BNET, and the Editors of Amazon useful. Titles found on more than one of these lists are The Snowball by Schroeder (all 4 lists), Outliers by Gladwell (3 lists), Sense of Urgency by Kotter (3 lists), When Markets Collide by El-Erian (2 lists), Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein (2 lists)


The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. Charles R. Morris

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. Alice Schroeder

The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs. Charles D. Ellis

Hell's Cartel: I.G. Farben and the Making of Hitler's War Machine. Diarmuid Jeffreys

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. Dan Ariely. (MIT)

The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives. Michael Heller (Columbia University)

The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation. A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America. Thomas L. Friedman.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. Leslie T. Chang.

Outliers: The Story of Success. Malcolm Gladwell.

Posted by SH

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flash! News from the Department of Distraction

Something for Everyone
Looking for something to do while doing your homework, working on a sales report or suffering from insomnia? Try this Google search: "top 10" 2008. (Best of all, this is one Google search where page 87 is just as useful as page 1!)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An Easy Way to Save Paper When Printing

How's that for a catchy title?

Librarian in Black (Nov.17 entry) notes a free program that maximizes paper use when printing documents. Among other things, it eliminates those extra pages which just have a logo or banner ad or ID of some sort. The program, Greenprint, also includes a PDF writer. Check out the web site to see how many pages, trees and pounds of CO2 have been saved so far.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Attention Wellesley High School Alumni

It's that time of year again for Wellesley's rite of passage for juniors - the thesis. How many of you wish you could have blogged about your potential topic choices and ideas and thus gained insight from former students? Well, now is your chance to share your experiences with current 16 year olds looking for your words of wisdom. Students are beginning to choose areas of interest and final papers are due just before February break. -- DB 12/3/08

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What to give, what to give...

A Book (of course)
National Public Radio has put together a list of recommended gift books for the holiday season. The Big Pictures: Best Gift Books 2008 gives a nice little book talk for around 20 titles with lots of nice pictures. Included are The Oxford Project (in which the author photographs everyone in his town and then again 20 years later) and Seen Behind the Scene: Forty Years of Photographing on Set--taking the reader backstage in the production of some classic films. As a special bonus, the NPR site includes a little phot gallery with some of the books. (Note that this list is part of a Best Books of 2008 series which includes Best Foreign Fiction and 10 Best Cookbooks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Make the Library Part of Your Social Network

Wellesley Free Library now has a Facebook page featuring all our latest news including events, classes, programs and updates from this blog.

Recent research documents the educational benefits of social networking technology. A June 2008 study from the University of Minnesota found that students who use social networking sites demonstrate creativity, learn technology and communication skills, and come into contact with diverse viewpoints.

So become a fan of the WFL on Facebook... it's good for you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Book Award Winners

For those of you waiting impatiently for the announcement of the National Book Award winner for 2008, you wait no longer. They are just in time for your holiday list. The winners for each category are:


Peter Matthiessen.
Shadow Country: a new rendering of the Watson legend
Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.


Annette Gordon-Reed. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Historian and legal scholar Gordon-Reed presents this epic work that tells the story of the Hemingses, an American slave family and their close blood ties to Thomas Jefferson.

Young People's Literature

Judy Blundell. What I saw and how I lived.In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.


Mark Doty. Fire to fire: new and collected poems.
Mark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of Mark Doty's seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. Doty's subjects-our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire's transformative power, and art's ability to give shape to human lives-echo and develop across twenty years of poems. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought; here one of contemporary American poetry's most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our times.

Posted by SH

What do these photos have in common?

And, for extra credit, Which photo is which: Meryl, Dewey and Vicki?

In order to have guessed right, you'd have to be up on your best sellers, actresses and inside movie scoop.
Yes, that's Meryl Streep (in the middle) cast to star in the coming movie version of the best selling Dewey the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, written by librarian Vicki Myron (yup, on the right).
Dewey is on the left. Here's the Booklist review of the book. Put your request in NOW for the next available copy in Minuteman.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Picture and Answer Session

Sometimes a picture is worth...

There are a lot of question-and-answer web sites around. They're so thick sometimes, you can trip over one on your way to your local library catalog. Here's one you won't want to miss, though. At you send in a photo and ask for an ID or explanation or a source or whatever. On a recent browse I found:
-- a flashy, fiery tattoo-looking design that someone was wondering about (someone ID'ed it as the logo of a metal band called Slipknot)
--an uncompleted painting of a dog and a man on a beach (the painter was looking for ideas on how to finish it)
--a photo of an American soldier cradling a wounded (Iraqi?) boy (a viewer sent in the photographer's name and web site)
--a screendump from a Nokia phone with unidentified icons on it

Other users were trying to find the value of collectibles, identify insects or plants, or locate individuals.

You can search by tags or categories or, of course, you can just browse the pictures chronologically and look for bizarro pix.

Monday, November 17, 2008

December Movie Releases Based on Books

The following movies are scheduled to open in theatres in December:

Frost/Nixon is based on the Tony Award winning 2007 play by British dramatist Peter Morgan and recreates the post-Watergate interviews between talk-show host David Frost and a disgraced Richard Nixon. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen.

Defiance is based on Nechama Tec's 1993 nonfiction book Defiance : The Bielski Partisans. This WWII drama chronicles the efforts of three Jewish brothers who fight back against the Nazis and stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell.

directed by John Patrick Shanley, is based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 play about a nun who accuses a priest of abusing a black student. Set in the Bronx in 1964, the film stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and others.

Revolutionary Road is based on Richard Yates' 1961 debut novel (a finalist for the National Book Award). Sam Mendes directs this romantic drama with Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates.

is based on the 1981 stage play by British playwright C.P. Taylor and directed by Vicente Amorim. The film tells the story of a professor whose ideas are mangled and turned into propaganda by the government. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong, Jason Isaacs, and Gemma Jones.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Love Paris in the Springtime, I Love Paris in the Fall....

Curl up and savor the charms of Paris during the dark days of November.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
Gopnik's "Paris Journal" column, a popular feature in the New Yorker, has won magazine reporting awards. Several of those columns are gathered here, with entries from his private journal serving as a sort of mortar holding the individual columns together. Lovers of the French capital will agree with Gopnik as he extols the virtues of Paris, where he and his wife and son moved in 1995, and where he had wanted to live since he was eight years of age. With no equivocation but certainly with occasional exasperation, he asserts that "a love for Paris came to be one of the strongest emotions I possess." The overarching theme of the book is France's ambivalent status in the world today and just how French self-attitude is different now from what it used to be--in other words, the "persistence of this civilization in the sideshow of postmodern culture." Falling under Gopnik's critical eye are such specific topics as Islamic terrorism, labor relations, French versus American versions of the health club, and "the French gift for social dramatization."

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull
Turnbull, an Australian journalist, made a life-changing decision at age 27, when she took a yearlong leave of absence to travel the world. While in Bulgaria, she met a Frenchman, whom she arranged to visit later in Paris. The visit went well (despite her doubts in the intervening months about the wisdom of her decision and her alarm at finding adult comic books upon arriving at his apartment)--so well that she moved in soon after and has been living in France ever since, ultimately marrying the man who on their first meeting described himself as "maniac." (She later understood that he meant "neat freak.") Turnbull's account of navigating another culture, learning a new language, and reinventing her professional self is a delight to read, filled with observational humor. We know she's truly integrated when she gets a small terrier (that she then spends obscene amounts of money taking to a chic dog-grooming salon) and is able to flip insults back in French to a rude customer in a patisserie.

I'll Always Have Paris by Art Buchwald
Those who believe themselves immune to envy should read this book. Like most of us, columnist Art Buchwald has endured some hard times: early years in an orphanage, the collapse of a 40-year marriage, his wife's death of cancer. But, oh, what a run he had in the middle part of his life: 14 years in Paris, 1948-62, writing for the Herald Tribune and hobnobbing with the rich, the famous, and the literary. Whether it was hanging out in the cafes of Montparnasse or St.-Germaine-des-Pres with other expatriate writers (Styron, Plimpton, et al.), downing champagne with the Rothschilds, or nightclubbing with Audrey Hepburn, Buchwald lived the Paris of your dreams--and usually someone else picked up the tab. As a restaurant reviewer and columnist-about-town, Buchwald had free access to Paris' many pleasures, and though he turns coy when the topic comes to sex, he appears to have enjoyed them all. And, of course, on those rare occasions when Paris lost its charm, there were always road trips: fox-hunting with John Huston in Ireland, attending Grace Kelly's wedding in Monaco, riding a Ferris wheel with Orson Welles in Vienna. Are we envious yet? If so, here's a thought: despite Buchwald's wealth of experience, this memoir never quite comes together. No movable feast, Buchwald's Paris is a long string of anecdotes. Doesn't help, does it? What's elegant prose against a free trip to Monaco?

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
"You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil." Begun in the autumn of 1957 and published posthumously in 1964, Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast captures what it meant to be young and poor and writing in Paris during the 1920s. A correspondent for the Toronto Star, Hemingway arrived in Paris in 1921, three years after the trauma of the Great War and at the beginning of the transformation of Europe's cultural landscape: Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubist forms; James Joyce, long living in self-imposed exile from his native Dublin, had just completed Ulysses; Gertude Stein held court at 27 rue de Fleurus, and deemed young Ernest a member of rue génération perdue; and T. S. Eliot was a bank clerk in London. It was during these years that the as-of-yet unpublished young writer gathered the material for his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, and the subsequent masterpieces that followed. Among these small, reflective sketches are unforgettable encounters with the members of Hemingway's slightly rag-tag circle of artists and writers, some also fated to achieve fame and glory, others to fall into obscurity. Here, too, is an evocation of the Paris that Hemingway knew as a young man -- a map drawn in his distinct prose of the streets and cafés and bookshops that comprised the city in which he, as a young writer, sometimes struggling against the cold and hunger of near poverty, honed the skills of his craft. A Moveable Feast is at once an elegy to the remarkable group of expatriates that gathered in Paris during the twenties and a testament to the risks and rewards of the writerly life.

Paris in the 50's by Stanley Karnow
To a one, writers familiar with the Paris of the 1920s wax nostalgic--those who still have the breath to do so, that is--about that time and place. But Karnow, Paris correspondent for Time during the 1950s, found that the seemingly less vibrant postwar period also offered no dearth of great memories. Of course, no etranger can correctly interpret or even comprehend all sides of the Parisian's psyche; even Karnow admits that "the longer I remained in France, the more its intricacies daunted me." Daunted or not, he had a glorious, eye-opening, consciousness-expanding time in the City of Lights, which he recollects in a rousing combination of voices: memoirist, traveler, and foreign correspondent. His anecdotally rich narrative begins in June 1947, when, fresh out of college, he inaugurated a summer visit that extended for 10 years. He was transformed from a wide-eyed kid into a seasoned appreciator of the nuances, ambiguities, ironies, and contradictions that are Parisians' staff of live. Not content with simply ensconcing himself in the Time bureau offices, which, however, "occupied the two floors above a bank in a magnificent eighteenth-century building on the Place de la Concorde, one of the splendors of Paris, if not the world," Karnow created a personal life for himself and took in all that Paris and the provinces had to offer. And now he offers this succulent book, which Francophiles will devour.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Are You Nosy? Too Much Time on Your Hands?

Here's A Delicious Site for You...
Now you can see what web sites other Internet users are bookmarking AS THEY ARE BOOKMARKING THEM! You don't need to wait until a site gets popular or limit yourself by your own search terms. If that seems exciting to you, let me explain. At you can watch the new additions as they are posted. Every few seconds (there are over 5 million users) a new bookmark, with screenshot, appears. Follow the link or save it to savor it later.
A little background, for those born too late to have absorbed the concept by osmosis: is a social bookmarking site which allows people around the world to store their favorite web sites, organize them and share them with five million friends. (Reddit and Digg are two other popular sites with similar concepts.)
So you submit a bookmark for a web site, and assign a "tag" (or subject) to it. This site is then added to the list of web sites under that particular tag. You, or anyone else, can search for all bookmarks given that tag.
I'm not saying this is a must-see or anything, but it is kind of fun.

The President-Elect on Libraries

Obama's Speech to the American Library Association (2005)
During the campaign last year, I was asked by a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times if she could interview me about the nature of my religious faith. It was an interesting proposition. I sat down with the reporter, who asked me some very pointed questions about the nature of my faith, how it had evolved. Then the reporter asked me a surprising question. She asked me, “Do you believe in heaven? And what’s your conception of it?”

I told her, you know, I don’t presume to know what lies beyond, but I do know that when I sit down with my six-year-old and my three-year-old at night and I’m reading a book to them and then I tuck them in to go to sleep, that’s a little piece of heaven that I hang onto.

That was about a year ago, and what’s interesting now is watching my six-soon-to-be-seven-year-old reading on her own now. My four-year old will still sit in my lap, but my seven year old, she lies on the table and on her own. She’s got the book in front of her. She’s kind of face down, propped up. And I say, “Do you want me to read to you?” “No, Daddy, I’m all right,” she says, and there’s a little heartbreak that takes place there.
In the speech the new prez displays his usual eloquence on such subjects as the importance of libraries, threats to libraries and the "need to read." Click here for the whole speech.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Explore Wellesley's Natural History

Wellesley’s Natural History Guides

Over the years the Wellesley Conservation Council, the Wellesley Historical Society and the Massachusetts Audubon Society have published guides to the natural history of Wellesley. Most of the guides include maps of localities mentioned in the text such as park land, open space, points of interest, and historic sites. The Wellesley Free Library has kept many of these guides and they are available at the library.

Walks in Wellesley; Exploring Wellesley’s Open Space by Margaret Klein Wilson -- A field guide and enjoyable armchair ramble through Wellesley’s open spaces.

Walks in Wellesley Supplement -- A booklet intended to be used in conjunction with the Map of Parks and Public Lands (included)

Geological Story of Wellesley by Katharine Fowler-Billings -- A guide to the geological sites of interest in Wellesley written by a geologist for the layman.

Birds of Wellesley by Clark Ewer – A booklet which provides an indication of the distribution, relative abundance and habitat preferences of the bird species found in Wellesley.

The Web of Life around Longfellow Pond; a Trail Guide

by Beverly

Morrison – A guide to the 62 acres of land

between Oakland St and Route 9 which includes several kettle holes, marshy areas, open fields, high ridges together with Longfellow Pond.

Four Tours of Historic Wellesley by Margaret S. Urann – A guide to four tours describing historic points of interest in Wellesley.


Massachusetts Book Awards

The Massachusetts Book Awards recognize significant achievements from the Massachusetts writing comunity in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, and children's literature. This year's awards ceremony will be held at the State House on November 20, 2008, in the Great Hall at 2 p.m. Below are a two of this year's Award Books. Click here for the complete list.

Fiction: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, written by MIT Writing Professor Junot Diaz (Cambridge). This wonderful novel of the immigrant experience is also a driving expose of the travails of the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship of Trujillo. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Oscar Wao helps us to understand the experiences brought to Massachusetts by our newest residents.

Nonfiction: Salem Witch Judge by Eve LaPlante (Brookline) depicts the career of Samuel Sewell, the only judge to repent publicly his involvement in the witch trials. Sewell, a distant relation to LaPlante, went on to argue for the rights of Native Americans, for the abolition of slavery and for equal rights for women … all of this in 1600s Massachusetts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where to Find FREE On-line Books

Hundreds of Sites Offering Free Books!
The University of Pennsylvania has compiled a huge list of on-line sources of free books. They've cleverly called it The Online Books Page. The book categories range from Catalan poetry to needlework pattern books with slave narratives, dime novels, sheet music and classical Hebrew texts in-between. The larger general book sites like Google, Gutenberg and Microsoft are there too. Take a look.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hear Toni Morrison

Listen to the Author Read from her New Book-- A Mercy
Listen to the NPR podcasts of Toni Morrison reading from A Mercy which NPR calls a "stunning return to form for Morrison... A Mercy deserves to be counted alongside some of her most acclaimed novels, such as Sula and Beloved." In a starred review Booklist uses words like "brilliant," "riveting," "poetic" and "deeply involving." (Sounds like those movie review blips on the dvd boxes, doesn't it? Well, follow the Booklist link for the whole review.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tony Hillerman Gone But Never Forgotten

Tony Hillerman was known not only for his 18 popular Southwest mysteries with Detectives Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee but also his books celebrating the natural wonders of the Southwest. His desire through his writing was to share his respect of Native American culture. He will be missed by his fans but will be remembered through his award winning prose. (See titles below.) He was the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1974 and the Grandmaster Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1991. Mr. Hillerman died in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 26, 2008.


Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman.
Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high lonely place -- a corpse with a mouth full of sand, abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn cannot help but suspect the hand of a supernatural killer. There is palpable evil in the air, and Leaphorn's pursuit of a Wolf-Witch is leading him where even the bravest men fear ... on a chilling trail that winds perilously between mysticism and murder.

Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman. [Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award]
Two young boys suddenly disappear. One of them, a Zuni, leaves a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police tracks the brutal killer. Three things complicate the search: an archeological dig, a steel hypodermic needle, and the strange laws of the Zuni. Compelling, terrifying, and highly suspenseful, "Dance Hall of the Dead" never relents from first page til last.

Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman.
A noted anthropologist vanishes at a moonlit Indian ruin where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground for profit. When two corpses appear amid stolen goods and bones at an ancient burial site, Navajo Tribal Policemen Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth the astonishing truth behind a mystifying series of horrific murders.

Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman.
Since his retirement from the Navajo Tribal Police, Joe Leaphorn has been called on occasionally by his former colleagues to help them solve a puzzling crime. And Leaphorn, aided by Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito, always delivers. But this time, the problem is with an old case of Joe's ndash;ndash; his "last case," unsolved and haunting him. And with Chee and Bernie on their honeymoon, Leaphorn is on his own. The case involved a priceless Navajo rug gone missing. Now, years later, Leaphorn is picking up the threads of a crime he'd thought impossible to solve. Hillerman is at the top of his form in this atmospheric and stunning novel.

Hillerman Country: A Journey through the Southwest with Tony Hillerman by Tony Hillerman.
This... is a collaborative effort between the author and his brother, a professional photographer for 40 years. The text mixes popularized history and anthropology with personal observations and anecdotes. A thoughtful selection of excerpts from Hillerman's novels serve as captions to many of the 200 color photos. Barney Hillerman's camerawork exhibits an understated and straightforward honesty by avoiding over-studioization. (from Library Journal)