Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Omnivore's Dilemma

"What shall we have for dinner?" is often called the omnivore's dilemma as we choose among the countless offerings of nature and try to assess our foods' safety, nutritive value,
health benefits and potential implications for the health of our environment. Best selling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and often shocking examination of eating in America is an eye opener. As we begin to recognize the profound implications of our everyday food choices, we realize that we really are what we eat and what we eat can remake the world. -DB

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week

A good book can be challenging to the reader and, when it's a library book, challenged by the reader--that is, a reader can request that the book be censored (banned) from the library's collection. Chances are you've read about these challenges in the news; in the past eight years there have been over 3,700 challenges brought to American libraries by their patrons. Banned Books Week celebrates the effort by libraries to uphold standards of intellectual freedom and resist efforts to ban books. If it weren't for such efforts, books like Harry Potter or The Catcher in the Rye wouldn't have a spot on library bookshelves.

To celebrate Banned Books Week, why not check out a "banned" book from the library? Here's a list of the Top 100 Classics that have been banned or challenged, and if it's something more recent you're looking for then check out these lists of the Top 10 Banned Books by year. Another interesting website is this map showing locations of book bans and challenges between 2007-2009.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oprah, again

Oprah has picked a new book -- for the 63d(!) time -- for her book club. The new selection is Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan. The book is a collection of five short stories about children in Africa; one of the stories originally appeared in 2005 debut fiction issue of The New Yorker. The author is a Nigerian Jesuit priest who has an MFA from the University of Michigan.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best of the Natonal Book Awards Fiction Campaign

Want to have a say in the selection of the Best of the National Book Awards? For the first time, the National Book Foundation is allowing the public to assist in selecting the winner. If you would like to vote, go to the National Book Foundation's website today through October 21 to cast your vote for one of the following six finalists, four of which are short story collections.

Short Stories:
The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever.

Collected Stories of William Faulkner by William Faulkner.

The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor.

The collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty.

Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison
Nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.
A postmodern epic, a work as exhaustively significant to the second half of the twentieth century as Joyces "Ulysses" was to the first. Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.

Don't miss out! Check them out and vote before October 21. SH

Calling All Readers!

Looking for something new to do this Saturday?
Here's your invitation to join a fun, informal book chat. This isn't a book group; we won't be discussing a specific title. Instead, share your reading list, get great suggestions for new books to read, and hear about the great titles that others are reading. You'll hear descriptions of everything from Cheever's short stories to the latest Robert B. Parker. No sign-up necessary, just drop by the Hills Branch for a fun and lively hour of talk about books.
Saturday September 26th, from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon
Hills Branch Library 210 Washington St.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

History is not Inevitable

Many people think history is boring. Perhaps it is because history is taught as Social Studies. This approach views history in large broad trends and gives every race, nationality and sex equal time and importance. Gone is the study of great people and pivotal events which make history exciting. Another drawback to the Social Studies method is that it makes historical events seem like they could not have happened any other way.

Narrative history, history written as an unfolding story, is not just interesting but very entertaining. Nothing makes history more interesting and thought provoking than to contemplate what might have happened. Alternate history stories make history come alive by focusing on a significant turning point, accident or decision and their consequences.

The books I recommend below are collections of alternate histories written by renound Historians such as Stephen Ambrose,David McCullough, John Keegan and James McPherson. They provide a short summery on what really happened and how events could have unfolded differently. See how our history was not inevitable and could have been very different.

Cold War Hot : Alternative Decisions of the Third World War
by Tsouras, Peter (Editor)

Dixie Victorious : An Alternate History of the Civil War
by Tsouras, Peter G(Editor)

The Hitler Options : Alternate Decisions of World War II
by Macksey, Kenneth (Editor)

Napoleon Options : Alternative Decisions of the Napoleonic Wars
by North, John (Editor)

Rising Sun Victorious : The Alternate History of How the Japanese Won the Pacific War
by Tsouras, Peter G. (Editor)

Third Reich Victorious : The Alternate History of How the Germans Won the War
by Tsouras, Peter (Editor)

What if? : explorations in social-science fiction
by Polsby, Nelson W. (Editor)

What If? : The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
by Cowley, Robert (Editor)

What If? 2 : Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
by Cowley, Robert (Editor)

What Ifs? Of American History : Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
by Cowley, Robert; Beevor, Anthony (Editors)


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why pay?

for faxes, calls to other countries, conference calls, voice transciption, videoconferencing, 411

PC World has sifted through all the free and "free" services available on the Web and has published a list of 19 free web services that will save you money. So it's not just cool widgets that you've lived your whole life without (and could continue to live without). No, these are services that you might well be paying for this very minute. There's fax service, long-distance calling (worldwide!), conference calls, text-messaging, videoconferencing and a few others. I wish I could say I've tried them out, but I just haven't had the time and what with the press deadline approaching...You know how it is.
If you try one or more of these free services, how about leaving a comment for other readers?
(Thanks to ResourceShelf for this one.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are you finding the movies you want?

Our browsing collection of current feature films is located in the atrium along with other new materials including books and audiobooks. These films are not requestable but we own multiple copies of each title so you may find the most recent love story, thriller or science fiction available for circulation for one week. If, however, your taste is more toward foreign film, documentary, educational, biography, old classics, etc., we have a few thousand titles to fit the bill. Here is a sampling of recent acquisitions which are requestable, circulate for three weeks and are located in the Media Room on the first floor.

5 Day Fit Yoga (2009)

Verdi's Aida (1966)

Alice's House (Portuguese) (2009)

James Dean - the Fast Lane (2009)

Ballerina (Russian) (2009)

Gmail for the Computer Shy (2009)

Coco Chanel (2009)

Zorba the Greek (1964)

Full Metal Jacket (1987)


Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

We all remember what we were doing 8 years ago when terrorists changed our lives. Many of us have personal stories and a knot clinches in our stomachs when this day arrives.

My link to New York on this day was through my 22 year old son who we had just delivered to his first professional job at Lehman Brothers.
When the attacks began that fateful morning, I knew his office was across the street. But was he there or had he been in the towers that morning? At 2:30 that afternoon I finally heard from the mother of a friend of his that he was okay, and he was able to get through on the phone lines himself that evening. He had been in the towers twice that morning, and he had been scheduled for a breakfast at the top of the towers. The company had cancelled it due to the economy but he was indeed across the street from the attack. The aftermath certainly took its toll on him but like a soldier returning from the war, he has spoken about it very little. My story has a jubilant ending unlike some of the rest of you. Let's all remember not only the victims of the attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania, but all of the emergency personnel and volunteers who were there during and after.

Some books and films you might request:

9-11 : a tribute. 2002.

United 93 [videorecording] / Universal Pictures. 2006.

September 11, 2001 : a collection of newspaper front pages / selected by the Poynter Institute. 2001.

Let's roll! : ordinary people, extraordinary courage / Lisa Beamer with Ken Abraham. 2002.

102 minutes : the untold story of the fight to survive inside the Twin Towers / Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.

Last man down : a firefighter's story of survival and escape from the World Trade Center / by Richard Picciotto with Daniel Paisner. 2002.

World Trade Center (DVD)/ Paramount Pictures. 2006.

Saint of 9/11 : the true story of Father Mychal Judge (DVD) . 2006.


Job Searching 2.0

There's a ton of online tools to help you with your job search, but one of the newest and more interesting job databases mines Twitter--which increasingly more business are using to post open positions--and allows you to search for jobs. TwitterJobSearch.com has a variety of ways to find jobs, through keyword searching, browsing by position, or through their really cool mashup with Google Maps--and they even have an RSS feed you can create. The tool isn't limited to jobs, though--some companies advertise intern positions as well. For example, recently Addidas was advertising intern positions for their Rockport creative design team, based in Canton. Of course, you'll still want to go with the traditional job search methods--like networking, want ads, monster.com, etc.--but if it's cutting-edge or internet-advanced employers you're looking for then you might add this to your list to search.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Man Booker Prize

What is the Man Booker Prize?  Well, it's a pretty famous prize for fiction awarded each year. To qualify for the prize, an author must be a citizen of a Commonwealth country.  (The Commonwealth of Nations is comprised of 53 nations formerly part of the British empire.)  

The Man Booker Prize shortlist is going to be announced Tuesday, September 8.  The longlist was announced at the end of July and consists of 13 titles.  Two favorites  are A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book and Colm Toibin's Brooklyn.  

The Children's Book is scheduled to be published in the United States on October 6.  

Brooklyn came out back in May.  


Friday, September 4, 2009

The Dork in All of Us – Dork Tower

Dork Covenant comically introduces us to the world of the maligned and misunderstood gamer as exemplified by resident dorks Matt, Igor, Carson, and Ken.

Kovalic's simplified black and white artwork places the emphasis where it belongs, on the characters and the plot. Some graphic novels draw the reader with great inking or smooth layering. Dork Tower offers something much more substantial.

The star of this volume is a gem for Lord of the Rings fans and can be found on pages 67-73. That strip captures the essence of this web-comic turned graphic novel.

Every volume sees growth in the plot and the characters. Kovalic touches on relevant issues from the time whether the invasion of collectible minis, the latest video game system, or being a Mac or PC person.

Not everything is an inside joke that only uber geeks can understand, which is a trap other comics fall for. Kovalic broadens the scope for a general audience while maintaining multiple levels of comprehension.

At the heart of Dork Tower are the characters. We feel their pain and their joy as they suffer unemployment, enter relationships, and support one another as friends should. Dork Tower has a little of everything and it starts with Volume 1: Dork Covenant. Grab it today from the Graphic Novel kiosk on the 2nd floor behind the stairwell. You won't regret it.


Rachel Simmons is Back!

Rachel Simmons made the rounds in Metro Boston around 2004 speaking to middle school students and their parents about girls, bullying, and cliques in schools. Odd Girl Out was the result of 300 interviews with girls and 50 adults regarding these acts of aggression and the toll that it takes on a girl's self-esteem.

I guess it was comforting as a parent to know that your child was not the only one who was the target of these groups of girls, but I was disappointed that there was nothing offered to help parents and girls combat what was happening. Curse of the Good Girl does what Odd Girl Out did not--offer strategies and exercises to assist parents in teaching girls to be individuals, for it is more important to stay true to what they believe than to be liked and follow the crowd. Perhaps Metrowest Boston will be seeing Rachel again! SH