Archive for November, 2009

Library Book Fair at Bel Air Barnes & Noble

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Contact: Janine Lis, 410-273-5601 ext. 2256
Marketing Manager
Harford County Public Library

November 30, 2009
Authors and More at Library Book Fair!
Nine authors will be appearing at the Harford County Public Library Book Fair at Barnes & Noble in Bel Air on December 3rd. The library will also provide story times for the young ones and Wi games for all at this annual fundraiser.
The author schedule is as follows:
Bobbie Hinman, author of The Belly Button Fairy, 11 am – 1 pm
Tracey Kiely, author of Murder at Longbourn: A Mystery, 11 am – 1 pm
Loree Lough, author of Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska, 1 pm – 2pm
E.D. Baker, author of The Frog Princess, 6 pm – 8 pm
Paula Hyman Chase, author of Flipping the Script, 6 pm – 8 pm
Stephanie Guzman, author of the Adventures of Oliver the Clownfish: Acting
Cool, 6 pm – 7 pm
Dr. Janet Horn, author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Mid-Life and Beyond:
A No-Nonsense Approach to Staying Healthy after 50, 6 pm – 7 pm
Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret,
7 pm – 8 pm
Henry Peden, author of A Guide to Genealogical Research in Maryland,
7 pm – 9 pm

The Library will also be conducting three story times including Tag Team from 11 am to noon; Mitten Time from Noon – 1 pm; and Laugh Out Loud from 1 pm – 2 pm. Later in the evening from 6 pm – 9 pm customers of all ages can play Guitar Hero World Tour and Beatles Rock Band!
To support Harford County Public Library, customers can either let the cashier know at checkout that they are there to support the library, or they can present the cashier with a Book Fair voucher. Vouchers are available at all library branches and online at under the Hot Topics link on the homepage. A percentage of their sale will be donated to the Library.
The fundraiser runs from December 3rd through December 9th at any Barnes & Noble nationwide. It does not include purchases made online.
Harford County Public Library operates eleven branches located throughout Harford County, Maryland. The library serves over 200,000 registered borrowers of all ages and has an annual circulation of almost 5,000,000. The mission of Harford County Public Library is to provide access, service and information to the citizens of Harford County anytime, anywhere and to create an environment that encourages the acquisition of knowledge and the love of reading.

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Happens Every Day: An All-too-true Story by Isabel Gillies

Isabel Gillies shares with readers her miserable year and a half in Oberlin, Ohio, when her husband left her for another woman and a professor of literature at that! This sojourn in Ohio was made all the more miserable by the fact that she had thought that this new life would be idyllic, homey, and marriage-affirming, rather than marriage–shattering. Ho hum…

Readers may at first rejoice in Gillies’s perfect marriage to a sensationally handsome and talented poet, who finally lands a position teaching literature at an exclusive private college, even if she isn’t quite able to describe his poetry and doesn’t seem interested enough in it to read it on her own. His one reading of a poem to her that she describes to readers baffles her. She says, “Man, it was dark. And truthfully I had no idea what it meant” (43). In fact, she doesn’t urge him to read any more poems to her, nor does she seem to read them on her own. Now, the guy is a poet by profession, and she thinks that she might have hurt his feelings by not discussing his poetry or asking him ever again to read one of his poems to her. Are these two headed for trouble, or what?

Readers may likewise pause to wonder just what Gillies celebrates in her move to Ohio. At first, this cosmopolitan New Yorker is horrified at the thought that she might have to raise her two adorable, we are constantly reminded, little boys in (shock, horror) the great provincial wilderness of Ohio, even if it is in a town only an hour from Cleveland and centered around a college that is one of our nation’s most progressive “mini-Ivies.” Readers may be tempted to sympathize with Gillies, who set aside her somewhat mediocre acting career to bear and raise children and move to the hinterlands with her husband. But think again.

Could it be that this tale of betrayal most foul is really a memoir that reveals more about the author than about a man who might have made a mistake in his choice for a bride? I do not condone infidelity; nor do I sympathize with Josiah, her husband, but readers may see my point that the book tells us very little about Josiah. What we do learn is that he gives up his four cats to suit Gillies. He apparently is a celebrated intellect in 20th century literature and a poet of merit; we are not certain though, because we really get little sense of his accomplishments and his thoughts. We do know that he falls for an intellectual professor, who more likely shares a love of literature with him. We also know that apparently Gillies and Josiah fight quite viciously from the get-go. Even Gillies suggests that she should have seen the warning signs. Of what? His impending infidelity, or their unsuitability as a couple? One wonders.

In any case, Happens Every Day tells us a tiny bit about Oberlin College and its students, although the one student who speaks in the book comes across much like, as Gillies calls him, a surfer dude, which is unfortunate, considering the high academic standards necessary for admission and the vibrant intellectual life of the students there. But if readers would like a tiny taste of what it might be like to live in Oberlin for a year, one may want to try Happens Every Day…or maybe just drive to Oberlin and enjoy the campus without the hand-wringing and sobbing of poor Isabel Gillies in her agony of abandonment.

D. L. S.

Coming to America

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

According to Wikipedia, “Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival… The traditional “first Thanksgiving” is the celebration that occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621.” The festival was probably held in early October 1621 and was celebrated by the 53 surviving Pilgrims, along with Massasoit, the Wampanoag Native American supreme leader of the region and 90 of his men.
In celebration of Thanksgiving tomorrow, follow this trail. Read and watch more about what it has been like for different groups who have come to America, and for those already here:
This is part one of a TV documentary on the Native American experience
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
An “exploration of the Puritans and their journey to America to become the people of John Winthrop’s city upon a hill.
“The extraordinary true story of a young man and his will to turn his life into something truly remarkable.”

Book to Movie

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The Blind Side, the movie directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Sandra Bullock, Kathy Bates, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw and Rhoda Griffis is now playing in theaters. Read more…

The movie is based on the true story, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis (Find this book in our catalog). PW’s starred review called it a “colorful saga of left tackle prodigy Michael Oher. Combining a tour de force of sports analysis with a piquant ethnography of the South’s pigskin mania, Lewis probes the fascinating question of whether football is a matter of brute force or subtle intellect.”

Here’s what it says about the book in our catalog: “The young man at the center of this extraordinary and moving story will one day be among the most highly paid athletes in the National Football League. When we first meet him, he is one of thirteen children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or any of the things a child might learn in school – such as, say, how to read or write. Nor has he ever touched a football.What changes? He takes up football, and school, after a rich, Evangelical, Republican family plucks him from the mean streets. Their love is the first great force that alters the world\’s perception of the boy, whom they adopt. The second force is the evolution of professional football itself into a game where the quarterback must be protected at any cost. Our protagonist turns out to be the priceless combination of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback\’s greatest vulnerability: his blind side.”

Book to Movie – The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Opening on Friday, November 27 in New York and Los Angeles: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, directed by Rebecca Miller and based on her novel of the same name (Find this book in our catalog).
The movie stars Robin Wright, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Blake Lively, Maria Bello, Julianne Moore, Monica Belluci and others.
Miller is the daughter of Arthur Miller and wife of Daniel Day-Lewis.
On December 4, the movie opens in San Francisco, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Seattle.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “What part of our selves do we hide away in order to have a stable, prosperous life? Pippa Lee has just such a life in place at age fifty, when her older husband, a retired publisher, decides that they should move to a retirement community outside New York City. Pippa is suddenly deprived of the stimulation and distraction that had held everything in place. She begins losing track of her own mind; her foundations start to shudder, and gradually we learn the truth of the young life that led her finally to settle down in marriage – years of neglect and rebellion, wild transgressions and powerful defiance. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is the study of a brave, curious, multilayered woman – an acutely intelligent portrait of the many lives behind a single name.”

More Library Journal Best Books of 2009

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Wolf Hall: a novel by Hilary Mantel (Find this book in our catalog)
We all know the story of Henry VIII, but what about his adviser and, finally, victim, Thomas Cromwell? Mantel makes Cromwell and indeed all Tudor England her own, giving us a whole new picture of the wily statesman in a rigorously written work full of careful detail but driven by the drama portrayed. A model not simply of historical fiction but of literary endeavor in general. (LJ 9/15/09)

All the Living by C E Morgan (Find this book in our catalog)
“All the Living” has the timeless quality of a parable, but it is also a perfect evocation of a time and place, a portrait of both age-old conflicts and modern life. This lyrical and moving debut novel is an ode to the starve-acre southern farm, the mountain landscape, and difficult love–an unforgettable book from a major new voice. (catalog notes)

Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen (Find this book in our catalog)
A mesmerizing novel about estranged sisters and the cultural and family history that binds them Van and Linny Luong are as baffling to each other as their parents’ Vietnamese legacy is to them both. Van, the quintessential overachiever, has applied the same studied diligence to her law career and marriage-a beau ideal that vaporized when Mr. Right walked out. Linny-pretty, fashionable, untethered-is grasping for purpose when her affair with a married man takes a humiliating turn. Each is the last person her sister would call, but when Mr. Luong summons them home for his American citizenship party, Van and Linny find themselves communing about their past-their late mother, their father’s obsession with his Luong Arm invention, even the irony of their romantic straits. As these unlikely confidantes chart the uncertainty that defines them, they forge a tentative new relationship and the wherewithal to overcome disappointment. (catalog notes)

Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (Find this book in our catalog)
Lark and Termiteis set during the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea. It is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us. At its center, two children: Lark, on the verge of adulthood, and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but filled with radiance. Around them, their mother, Lola, a haunting but absent presence; their aunt Nonie, a matronly, vibrant woman in her fifties, who raises them; and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, who finds himself caught up in the chaotic early months of the Korean War. (catalog notes)

Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love and Death in the Kitchen by Jason Sheehan (Find this book in our catalog)
Cooking Dirtyis a rollicking account of life “on the line” inthe restaurants, far from culinary school, cable TV, and theMichelin Guide—where most of us eat out most of the time. Ittakes the kitchen memoir to a rough and reckless place.From his first job scraping trays at a pizzeria at age fifteen,Jason Sheehan worked on the line at all kinds of restaurants: aFrench colonial and an all-night diner, a crab shack just off theinterstate and a fusion restaurant in a former hair salon. Restaurantwork, as he describes it in exuberant, sparkling prose, is a wayof life in which “your whole universe becomes a small, hot steelbox filled with knives and meat and fire.” The kitchen crew is afraternity with its own rites: cigarettes in the walk-in freezer, sexin the basement, the wartime urgency of the dinner rush. Cookingis a series of personal challenges, from the first perfectly donemussel to the satisfaction of surgically sliced foie gras. And thekitchen itself, as he tells it, is a place in which life’s mysteriesare thawed, sliced, broiled, barbecued, and fried—a place wherepeople from the margins find their community and their calling. (catalog notes)

The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels by Janet Soskice (Find this book in our catalog)
In 1892, identical twins Agnes and Margaret Smith discovered what remains to this day among the earliest known copies of the Gospels. Soskice vividly recounts the story of two unlikely and unsung heroines in their effort to discover the Bible as originally written. (catalog notes)

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Find this book in our catalog)
The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family-including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister-have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family. As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. (catalog notes)

A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert (Find this book in our catalog)
A Short History of Women is a profoundly moving portrayal of the complicated legacies of mothers and daughters, chronicling five generations of women from the close of the nineteenth century through the early years of the twenty-first. (catalog notes)

Library Journal Best Books of 2009

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

On 11/15/09 Library Journal announced its best books of 2009

Read more…
There is a main list, and lists for genre fiction and best how-to.
Here is a selection from the main list all owned by Harford County Public Library:
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much : the true story of a thief, a detective, and a world of literary obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett (Find this book in our catalog)
While most thieves steal for profit, rare-book thief John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much” immerses the reader in the world of literary obsession and reveals how dangerous it can be. (catalog notes)
Nurtureshock : new thinking about children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. (Find this book in our catalog)
Award-winning science journalists Bronson and Merryman argue that when it comes to children, parents have mistaken good intentions for good ideas. The authors demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring. (catalog notes)
The Children’s Book: a novel by A S Byatt Knopf. (Find this book in our catalog)
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession,that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centers around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves. (catalog notes)
The Strangest Man : the hidden life of Paul Dirac, mystic of the atom by Graham Farmelo. (Find this book in our catalog)
Paul Dirac was among the great scientific geniuses of the modern age. One of the discoverers of quantum mechanics, the most revolutionary theory of the past century, his contributions had a unique insight, eloquence, clarity, and mathematical power. His prediction of antimatter was one of the greatest triumphs in the history of physics. One of Einstein’s most admired colleagues, Dirac was in 1933 the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel Prize in physics.Dirac’s personality is legendary. He was an extraordinarily reserved loner, relentlessly literal-minded and appeared to have no empathy with most people. Yet he was a family man and was intensely loyal to his friends… Based on previously undiscovered archives, The Strangest Man reveals the many facets of Dirac’s brilliantly original mind. A compelling human story, The Strangest Man also depicts a spectacularly exciting era in scientific history. (catalog notes)
Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller (Find this book in our catalog)
Ayn Rand is best known as the author of the perennially bestselling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Altogether, more than 12 million copies of the two novels have been sold in the United States. The books have attracted three generations of readers, shaped the foundation of the Libertarian movement, and influenced White House economic policies throughout the Reagan years and beyond. A passionate advocate of laissez-faire capitalism and individual rights, Rand remains a powerful force in the political perceptions of Americans today. Yet twenty-five years after her death, her readers know little about her life. In this seminal biography, Anne Conover Heller traces the controversial author’s life from her childhood in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution to her years as a screenwriter in Hollywood, the publication of her blockbuster novels, and the rise and fall of the cult that formed around her in the 1950s and 1960s. (catalog notes)
The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes (Find this book in our catalog)
…presents a series of stories which collectively provide an account of the second scientific revolution, which produced a new vision–Romantic science–in 18th-century Britain. Included are chapters on botanist Joseph Banks (1743-1820), astronomers William Hershel (1738-1822) and his sister Caroline (1750-1848), 18th-century balloonists, chemist Humphry Davy (1778-1829), and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and the soul. The text also contains an alphabetically-organized list of key individuals in 18th-century science, a thematically grouped bibliography, and some 70 b&w; and color reproductions. The book is academic but accessible to the general reader. (catalog notes)
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James (Find this book in our catalog)
From a young writer who radiates charisma and talent comes a sweeping, stylish historical novel of Jamaican slavery that can be compared only to Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” (catalog notes)
Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson (Find this book in our catalog)
In 1695, Isaac Newton—already renowned as the greatest mind of his age—made a surprising career change. He left quiet Cambridge, where he had lived for thirty years and made his earth-shattering discoveries, and moved to London to take up the post of Warden of His Majesty’s Mint.Newton was preceded to the city by a genius of another kind, the budding criminal William Chaloner. Thanks to his preternatural skills as a counterfeiter, Chaloner was rapidly rising in London’s highly competitive underworld, at a time when organized law enforcement was all but unknown and money in the modern sense was just coming into being. Then he crossed paths with the formidable new warden. In the courts and streets of London—and amid the tremors of a world being transformed by the ideas Newton himself had set in motion—the two played out an epic game of cat and mouse. (catalog notes)

Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies

Friday, November 20th, 2009

New Moon, the second movie in the Twilight Saga, based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, opens 11/20/09.

If you like books about vampires and werewolves, try the titles on my booklists now on Readers Place

The First Tycoon wins National Book Award for Nonfiction

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The First Tycoon : the epic life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles Wednesday evening was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction. (Find this book in our catalog)

This is what it says in our catalog about this outstanding biography of the man said to be the creator of modern capitalism: “A gripping, groundbreaking biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism. Founder of a dynasty, builder of the original Grand Central, creator of an impossibly vast fortune, Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt is an American icon. Humbly born on Staten Island during George Washington’s presidency, he rose from boatman to builder of the nation’s largest fleet of steamships to lord of a railroad empire. Lincoln consulted him on steamship strategy during the Civil War; Jay Gould was first his uneasy ally and then sworn enemy; and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States, was his spiritual counselor. We see Vanderbilt help to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation—in fact, as T. J. Stiles elegantly argues, Vanderbilt did more than perhaps any other individual to create the economic world we live in today. InThe First Tycoon, Stiles offers the first complete, authoritative biography of this titan, and the first comprehensive account of the Commodore’s personal life. It is a sweeping, fast-moving epic, and a complex portrait of the great man. Vanderbilt, Stiles shows, embraced the philosophy of the Jacksonian Democrats and withstood attacks by his conservative enemies for being too competitive. He was a visionary who pioneered business models. He was an unschooled fistfighter who came to command the respect of New York’s social elite. And he was a father who struggled with a gambling-addicted son, a husband who was loving yet abusive, and, finally, an old man who was obsessed with contacting the dead. The First Tycoon is the exhilarating story of a man and a nation maturing together: the powerful account of a man whose life was as epic and complex as American history itself.”

If you like reading about powerful and visionary businessmen, you might like to read the books in my booklist, “Captains of Industry” now on Readers Place. Click here.

National Book Awards

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Last night, Wednesday, November 18, the National Book Awards
were presented at a black-tie dinner at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan. Read more…
The winners:
* Fiction: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Find this book in our catalog)
* Nonfiction: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles (Find this book in our catalog)
* Young people’s literature: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose (Find this book in our catalog)
* Poetry: Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy by Keith Waldrop
Gore Vidal was awarded the medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Dave Eggers accepted the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.