Archive for December, 2009

New Feed URL for BlogaBook and Offline for Maintenance

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

BlogaBook will be offline for maintenance for a few days in preparation for the library’s new website.

As part of the transition as we move to our new “home” on the web, BlogaBook will have a new Feed URL. If you subscribe to BlogaBook, please update your feed reader software or website to reflect this new Feed URL:

If you have any questions, please contact HCPL Web Services.

Thanks and Happy New Year!

NPR has picked its best books of 2009

Monday, December 28th, 2009

NPR has picked its Best Books of 2009. There is a multitude of lists, such as best debuts, best gardening books, best mysteries, etc., so I am just providing the link for you to check for yourself! Among other things, lists of best books are often a good starting point for finding books to read in your book club. NPR actually has a list of Best Books for a Book Club.

Worst Books of 2009

Monday, December 28th, 2009

To balance all the lists of best books I have been mentioning this Holiday season, I thought you might like to consider a very personal worst books list from the blog of a Book Maven.

This list was posted on December 20 on her blog by Bethanne Patrick. Bethanne Patrick is managing editor and host of The Book Studio. The Book Studio is a project of, the website for public television and radio station WETA in Washington, D.C.

Save the date… National Poetry Month

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

April is National Poetry Month. We are going to celebrate again in 2010 with a pledge contest as we did in 2009. During the month of March, we will invite our customers to pledge to read “A poem a day for 30 days in April”. On March 31, we’ll draw a name at each branch and the winner will receive a copy of Poem in Your Pocket: 200 Poems to Read and Carry.

Look out in your branch and on our website for posters and more information!

Bel Air Branch Library Hosts Three Book Groups

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

In July 2009, Bob Hoff, facilitator of one of the three book clubs hosted by the Bel Air branch of Harford County Public Library gave an interview with Reading Group Guides, the online community for reading groups. Read more…
For 10 years Bob has facilitated the contemporary fiction group. Here are the names of five books that have generated particularly good discussions for the group. There are listed them in alphabetical order by title:
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Find this book in our catalog) “A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.” (catalog summary)
Cost by Roxana Robinson (Find this book in our catalog) “In Cost, Robinson tackles addiction and explores its effects on the bonds of family, dazzling us with her hallmark subtlety and precision in evoking the emotional interiors of her characters.” (catalog summary)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Find this book in our catalog) “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island, boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.” (catalog summary)
Hannah’s Dream by Diane Coplin Hammond (Find this book in our catalog) “A charming, poignant, and captivating novel certain to enthrall readers of Water for Elephants, Diane Hammond’s Hannah’s Dream is a beautifully told tale rich in heart, humor, and intelligence.” (catalog summary)
Lottery by Patricia Wood (Find this book in our catalog) “Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic, Woods debut novel is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered story about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes individuals as capable.” (catalog summary)

Seasons Readings

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
Independent Booksellers revealed “Season’s Readings” on Morning Edition on December 3rd. These thoughtful books available in Harford County Public Library are fine books for Winter Reading, which starts January 4, or for book groups:
The Hour Between (Find this book in our catalog) by Sebastian Stuart
Await Your Reply (Find this book in our catalog) by Dan Chaon
Little Bee (Find this book in our catalog) by Chris Cleave
Blame (Find this book in our catalog) by Michelle Huneven
Bad Things Happen (Find this book in our catalog) by Harry Dolan
Going Away Shoes (Find this book in our catalog) by Jill McCorkle
Logicomix (Find this book in our catalog) by Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos Papadimitriou
This Is Where I Leave You (Find this book in our catalog) by Jonathan Tropper
The Pattern in the Carpet (Find this book in our catalog) by Margaret Drabble
Selected Poems (Find this book in our catalog) by Wallace Stevens

Booklist Top Sci-Tech Books of 2009 in HCPL

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

On December 1, Booklist published a feature by Donna Seaman naming the Top 10 Sci-Tech Books: 2009.
Here is a selection of this year’s most significant and intriguing Sci-Tech books available in Harford County Public Library:
Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age by Kurt W. Beyer (Find this book in our catalog) ” Hopper made herself “one of the boys” in Howard Aiken’s wartime Computation Laboratory at Harvard, then moved on to the Eckert and Mauchly Computer Corporation. Both rebellious and collaborative, she was influential in male-dominated military and business organizations at a time when women were encouraged to devote themselves to housework and childbearing. Hopper’s greatest technical achievement was to create the tools that would allow humans to communicate with computers in terms other than ones and zeroes. This advance influenced all future programming and software design and laid the foundation for the development of today’s user-friendly personal computers.” (catalog summary)
On Thin Ice: the changing world of the polar bear by Richard Ellis (Find this book in our catalog) “As global warming threatens the ice caps’ integrity, the polar bear has come to symbolize the peril that faces all life on Earth. Here, the acclaimed science writer Ellis offers an impassioned and moving statement on behalf of polar bears–and all they stand for.” (catalog summary)
The Sound of Wings: the life of Amelia Earhart by Mary S. Lovell (Find this book in our catalog) ” This definitive biography of aviation legend Amelia Earhart delivers a brilliantly researched report on Earhart’s life–from her tomboy childhood and early fascination with flying, her peculiar business/matrimonial realtionship with publisher G.P. Putnam to her consuming quest for avaiation fame.” (catalog summary)
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 Einsteinrsquo;s most admired colleagues, Dirac was in 1933 the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel Prize in physics.Diracrsquo;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. His tastes in the arts ranged from Beethoven to Cher, from Rembrandt to Mickey Mouse.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 summary)
The Wolf in the Parlor: the eternal connection between humans and dogs by Jon Franklin (Find this book in our catalog) “A man and puppy exhumed from a 12,000-year-old grave sends a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer on a journey to understand the human/canine relationship.” (catalog summary)

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Author O’Nan is known for his realistic fiction & Last Night at the Lobster is no exception. Manny DeLeon is the hardworking manager of a Red Lobster that is slated to close just before Christmas. All he wants is one last perfect night, but a snow storm and complications with his love life seem set to prevent that. This tender yet harsh story brings together a small group of characters, those staff members who through loyalty or the need for cash have turned up for work on this last day. With very few of them working, they must band together to turn out meals for those customers who brave the snow. The relationships between the characters, the trials of managing a restaurant and the thanklessness of that role, are all portrayed with feeling and a clarity that puts the reader right in the restaurant with them.

Stewart O’Nan’s website

Stewart O’Nan Fiction
Boston Noir (featured author), Songs for the Missing, Last Night at the Lobster, The Good Wife, The Night Country, Wish You Were Here, Everyday People, Writer’s Harvest (featured author), A Prayer for the Dying, A World Away, The Speed Queen, The Names of the Dead, Snow Angels, In the Walled City.

Snow Angels was made into a movie with Kate Beckinsale.

My New Orleans, Faithful (with Stephen King – about Boston Red Sox), The Circus Fire, The Vietnam Reader, On Writers & Writing (featured author).

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman (Find this book in our catalog)
My book club read this book last month. We all loved it and found a great deal to discuss, despite the fact that we all found it “depressing but good!”
Blackbird House should appeal to readers who like books with a dark, moody New England sort of sensibility. One reader compared the book for this reason to the classic, Ethan Frome.

Blackbird House is a series of interconnected stories about the inhabitants of a Massachussetts house over the course of two centuries. My book club thought Hoffman used the short story form with very great success. The writing is beautiful. We enjoyed the discipline and how much is conveyed with an economy of words. We enjoyed the descriptions of the natural environment, the beach, the pear tree, the pond, which mirrored the emotions of the characters.

There is no plot. Everything is about the relationships and the emotions of the characters throughout the generations. Often it is tragedy that changes the relationships and also the inhabitants of the house. There are a few recurring themes: the strength and sisterhood of women, the strange power of love, madness, the presence of the occult just under the surface of daily life.

Throughout the book, Blackbird House stands both as a place to which people are drawn over and over again, and as a symbol for the common needs and emotions that bind humanity.

Books about celebrity couples

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

There has been a great deal of interest on the TV and other media in the latest Ian Halperin book, Brangelina, about the celebrity couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It has just arrived on the shelves of Harford County Public Library (Find this book in our catalog).

Seeing the keen interest in Halperin’s exclusive revelations and personal anecdotes of this superstar couple’s relationship, I wondered if there were any similar books currently out there for fans of the celebrity biography. The answer is, not many lately – perhaps it is because most celebrities warrant a book all to themselves, and autobiographers prefer to write about themselves! Perhaps it is because Halperin’s book is critical of the couple, saying their Hollywood handlers have manipulated the public into “believing a glamorous fairytale that bears little resemblance to the reality of the pair’s life together” (dust jacket).

If you enjoy reading unvarnished behind-the-scenes anecdotes about celebrity couples you could try Nemesis : the true story of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie O, and the love triangle that brought down the Kennedys by Peter Evans (Find this book in our catalog).

This more recent book is about one side of a former celebrity couple: The Unsinkable Heather Mills : the unauthorized biography of the great pretender by Neil Simpson (Find this book in our catalog) “Who exactly is the woman who was married to the most famous living Beatle?” (catalog summary).

This current book talks about the pleasures and pains of being married to a celebrity. My Delicious Life with Paula Deen by Michael Groover (Find this book in our catalog) is the story of a successful partnership. Paula Deen’s fan have heard about the fairy-tale romance, “but they’ve never heard Michael’s side of the story. Here, for the first time, the Savannah native tells all, from his quintessential Southern childhood on the banks of the river to his career as a docking pilot to his international travels with his bride. Along the way, he speaks frankly about the children he adores, the challenges and rewards of blending families, and the pleasures and difficulties of fame. Michael loves food and is a pretty good cook himself, and each chapter is accompanied by one of his trademark recipes…” (catalog summary).

To read about other successful partnerships that could be a source of inspiration try:
Barack and Michelle : portrait of an American marriage by Christopher Andersen (Find this book in our catalog)
It’s All About Him : finding the love of my life by Denise Jackson (Find this book in our catalog). “this inspirational book gives the reader an all-access look into one of country music’s most famous couples” (catalog summary).