Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Reading: a Summer trilogy, Books about Bookstores, turn back the clock a decade or two and more...

Summer Reading So Far

I have been remiss in writing a summer reading post this year.  My intentions were good, as usual, but the last few hot days have served as a reminder that I can’t ignore.  I always start with a summer/beach trilogy and Mary Alice Monroe’s Low Country Summer Trilogy is just right.  When the first book, Summer Girls, ended with a cliff-hanger, I was anxious to see how the second book, Summer Wind, would start.  Well, it started the next day.  No flashbacks or explanations, the action picked up right where it ended.  The last book, Summer’s End, ties up the loose ends and almost everyone lives happily ever after.  
Next, several staff members were excited about Cynthia Swanson’s The Bookseller.  I was a little reluctant after Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June.  Really, how many good books can you expect about bookstores? The Bookseller surpassed my expectations and returned me to an earlier time in the 1960s. 

To turn the clock back one more decade,  Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event  takes us back to the early 1950s in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Three plane crashes and many deaths brought the city to a standstill.  You couldn’t live in Elizabeth without knowing someone who had suffered a loss or been somehow impacted by the tragic accidents.  Newark Airport was closed during the investigations.  In the Unlikely Event offers a precisely cut slice of life in 1950s Elizabeth in the same way that Blume’s Wifey offered a slice of Plainfield in the 1970s. 
Many people know that TheGuernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of my favorite books.  I  found  it so charming that I couldn’t decide if I had high expectations or no expectations for The Truth According to Usby Annie Barrows, co-author of TGL&PPS.  Once again I was speeding back in American history and, this time, I landed in the late 1930s.  The characters are as quirky as the small town is pretentious. The federal government is busy employing people through the WPA (Works Progress Administration) to move the economy forward at the same time a local factory is squashing any attempts to unionize.  I enjoyed the fictionalized history lesson; I enjoyed the main characters; I laughed when appropriate; I pondered the mysterious fire at the factory; I enjoyed the parts of the story told by letters to people we never met; and, I sympathized with any and all affairs of the heart.  However, I was more confused than charmed by the story as a whole.  Although my praise is so faint it may disappear from  the screen, I am glad I finished the book.  
Although I never want summer to end, I am looking forward to The Girl in the Spider Web (David Lagercrantz continuing for Stieg Larsson) and The Secret Chord (Geraldine Brooks).  Fall always brings books to remind us that lazy reading is over and it’s time to get serious again.
- S. Bakos

Friday, July 17, 2015

If You Like PBS Mysteries, Read the Books

'In a Dry Season

If you like the PBS television show 'DCI Banks,' read the series it is based on by Peter Robinson. 'In a Dry Season' is the tenth in the series and the first I've read. Alan Banks has been relegated to boring desk jobs for insubordination and is assigned to a cold case when a skeleton is found in an abandoned village which is revealed when the summer drought dries up the reservoir that had covered the town for fifty years. The book alternates between the story of the village during WWII and the current investigation into what appears to have been an unreported murder there. This book is a great depiction of the deprivations and tragedies of WWII in the U.K., interwoven with a believable present-day police procedural. The suspense lasts until the last chapter.
Recommended for fans of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series and Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series.' This was first posted February 19, 2014

BHPL owns the following titles in the DCI Banks series, shelved in Mysteries under the author's name, MYS Robinson:
Abatoir Blues
Bad Boy 
Children of the Revolution
Close to Home
Friend of the Devil
Piece of my Heart
Playing with Fire
Watching the Dark

BHPL owns seasons 1 and 2 of the TV series based on the the Peter Robinson books: DCI BANKS, shelved with the DVD's under 'DCI'

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Top 5 Reasons to Listen to Audiobooks

Audiobook advantages: The 5 top reasons to 'read' audiobooks

Audiobook Advantage #1: Your house will be very clean!
I recently started “reading” books on my daily commute and discovered a few advantages to listening to a book compared to reading words on a page.  I was a little reluctant to listen to someone else do the reading (I rather like the voices in my head,) but two people convinced me to give it a try; plus I was curious as to how a narrator manages the voices of more than one character. The first person told me that she downloads audiobooks to her smartphone and listens while she cleans her house. As a result, her house is very clean because she does not want to stop listening to the book she just downloaded.   

Audiobook Advantage #2: Shorter holds lists.You will probably have more chances to get your hands on the title you want to read if you are willing to listen to it. The second audiobook fan who got me started down the audio road recommended a book she had just read and the only copy available at the time was on CD. 

Audiobook Advantage #3: Follow the Reader. Right now I’m listening to the recently released In the Unlikely Event, an adult novel by Elizabeth, New Jersey native, Judy Blume. The story begins in Elizabeth, NJ in the early 1950s when airline travel was new. Judy Blume was a young girl living in Elizabeth when a series of airline accidents resulted in the shutdown of Newark Airport. She uses these actual events to tell the fictional stories of three generations of people who were brought together by the tragedies. The reader, Kathleen McInerney, convincingly uses different voices for each character and reads at just the right pace and with the right sense of drama. This brings me to Audiobook Advantage #3: If you like a particular book and want a similar experience, you can either look for more titles by that author or you can see what else the reader has narrated.  Simply search for the reader’s name the same way you would search for an author’s name. I found two more adult novels by Judy Blume to add to my reading list and two more books narrated by Kathleen McInerney that I’m adding to my reading list.

Then there is Audiobook Advantage #4: You can read 2 books at once. I listen to one book during my daily commute and read another at home on the sofa.

Audiobook Advantage # 5: the Voices in Your Head versus the Voices on the Audio.
The people who listened to the Harry Potter books, instead of reading the words on printed pages, raved about the man who read the books. Jim Dale, the reader/performer created 134 different character voices for the Harry Potter series. That was a record until Roy Dotrice started narrating the Game of Thrones series using 224 different voices. 

If you want to read In the Unlikely Event, you can place a hold on the book or the audiobook. As of 1:00 p.m. June 15, if you place a request for the book, you will be number 12 on the waiting list. Applying Audiobook Advantage #2, if you place a request for the audiobook you will be number 4 in  line.
As for me, I’m still trying to decide if I want to apply Audiobook Advantage #1. Do I have to clean while listening at home or can I just listen on the sofa? Audiobook Guilt #1: You don't have to jog or clean while you listen, but you can and it makes the job much more fun.

Take a look at our 'All Things E' page to find sources for borrowing ebooks and e-audiobooks for free.

-Melanie Edwards

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What to Do in New York City: a Shaggy Dog Story

At the Berkley Heights Public Library Reference Desk, we get lots of questions about travel books. We have a pretty good collection of Fodor's and other publisher's books covering travel around the world. Because our town is a suburb of New York city, most residents already know how to get around in the city and where to go, but we have some books on the topic, just in case our patrons need some fresh ideas. Which reminds me of the shaggy dog story about the Montana rancher who longed to see New York city and asked his neighbor, a retired New Yorker, for advice. Everything in this story could be true and there are links to the attractions listed. The Dewey Decimal number for New York City travel books is 917.471 if you want to browse our book collection. Enjoy the story. This is dedicated to our native New Yorker, Alice at the library, who introduced me to Cel-ray soda at Goodman's Deli. To me, native Philadelphian, it tastes like old socks, but Philly sights and food is a story for another day. 

Having retired from his job as an influential NYC tycoon and man-about-town, Simon bought a small idyllic ranch in the foothills of the Rockies in Montana.  His next door neighbor, Jake, was a third generation rancher with a 40,000 acre cattle ranch.
            One day, Jake knocked on Simon’s door and asked, “What is New York City like?”
Somewhat taken aback by the question, Simon inquired why Jake was interested.

            It seems that Jake, having lived on Montana all of his life was fascinated with New York City, having seen it as the setting for many TV shows, and having read about it in numerous magazine articles.  And now, as he was approaching late middle-age, he wanted to visit NYC.

            “After having worked non-stop on my ranch for the last forty years, I’m going to be taking a two-week vacation, and I’m going to NYC.  What do I need to know so I don’t look like a hick in the” City”?  What should I do?  Where should I eat?  How do I get around? . . .
            Amused by his neighbor’s questions, Simon began to answer Jake’s questions.

            “There’s so much of everything in NYC.  There’s something to do for everybody.  Take museums for instance.  You can go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Guggenheim, or the Whitney, or MOMA, the Museum of the Barrio, . . . or any number of other museums.  Depending upon the season, you can go see various NY sports teams -  the Mets, the Rangers, the Knicks, the Giants, the Jets, the Devils, the Islanders, or my favorite team, the Yankees, play.  For sheer entertainment, you can take a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan – I recommend you do it on a clear night!  You might want to go to the top of the EmpireState Building or the Freedom Tower, visit the NY Stock Exchange, ride the Staten Island ferry, go to a Broadway show, window shop on Fifth Avenue . .  . go to the Bronx Zoo, or the Botanical Garden, or the American Museum of Natural History . . . or the Hayden Planetarium.  It’s up to you.  There’s so much to see and do, and everywhere you turn, there is world-class everything!

            After enumerating NYC’s offering for over thirty minutes, Jake excitedly began making a list of all the placed he wanted to visit, and all the things he wanted to do.  And in short order, Jake’s two weeks were filled with things to do in “the city that never sleeps.”  Then, Jake asked Simon about where to stay and what to eat,

            “Well, Jake!  There are chain hotels, boutique hotels . . . Hotels from the very expensive to the relatively inexpensive.  There are world famous hotels like the Waldorf Astoria and Plaza to budget hotels such as Holiday Inn.  And there are lots of world class restaurants representing many of the cultures of the world.  And then, there are all the dives in the neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Chinatown, the lower East Side, Harlem, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the Upper West Side – there are too many to name!”
            One of Simon’s favorite places to eat had been the Carnegie Deli, and so he advised Jake to have lunch there one day.  And knowing how “New York” the Carnegie Deli could be, Simon instructed Jake how to act when ordering lunch.

            “When you enter, you’ll be propelled to a table and immediately asked what you want.  Just say, ‘I’ll have a pastrami on rye – and make it lean.’  You’ll also be asked what you want to drink.  Real New Yorkers drink Dr. Brown’s Cel-ray soda”

            Impressed by his friend’s knowledge of NYC, Jake asked Simon to create an itinerary that would make full use of his vacation time in NYC.

            Two months later, Jake found himself in NYC.  No longer wearing his boots, his wide-brim Stetson, and his worn Levi’s, he felt like he could fit into the hustle and bustle of NYC.  He felt comfortable riding the subway, enjoyed the special exhibit at the Met, almost fell asleep during a lunch-time folk concert in Thompkins Park, experienced a Yankee game, visited the SouthStreet Seaport, gawked at the exotic foodstuffs displayed in Chinatown grocery stores, thrilled at the view from the observation deck of the Empire State Building, was mesmerized by the precision dancing at the Radio City Music Hall . . .  By the end of his two week stay, Jake was exhausted but awed by the variety, vitality, and quality of New York life.

            On his last day in NYC, Jake, having checked off the activities which Simon had deemed “experience worthy,” discovered that the one thing he had not experienced was a lunch at the Carnegie Deli.  So before taking the “Train to the Plane,” he walked into the Carnegie Deli.

            “And what’ll you have?” asked the graying waiter, propelling Jake toward a small table across from the deli counter.

            “Pastrami on rye – and make it lean,” replied Jake, trying to act nonchalantly as Simon had instructed.

            “Very good, sir!  And what’ll you have to drink?”

            “Dr. Brown’s Cel-ray . . .”

            “Very good, sir!  And what’ll you have with your pastrami?”

            “Oh! Just a little mayo.”

            “And how are things in Montana?”          

Thanks to Ted, raconteur of long, long jokes... I promise to hold the mayo.
Happy Birthday, Alice!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What if Book Reviews Were Written Like Text Messages? BR=TM

A while ago I wrote a blog post in which I wondered...What if Book Reviews Were Written Like Wine Reviews?

Recent 'Incoming' text messages which I have had to decode by 'Googling' the acronyms sent to me by younger, hipper people (ahem, my kids) got me to thinking about...

What if book reviews were written like text messages with a bit of Twitter hashtags thrown in?
Or should I say #whatif? BR=TM ROTFL because YOLO, I literally can't even um like imagine, but here goes.

In our continuing series of posts about what is new on our non-fiction shelf, LMK if u like these books:

Get What's Yours, the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J Kotlikoff
(368.4 KOT) Our BR=TM: How is that even possible? Define 'yours' #getmoreSS$$

The Teenage Brain, a neuroscientist's survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults by Frances E. Jensen, MD (612.6 JEN) Our BR=TM: RUH ROH enter the teen brain AYOR The Struggle is Real! But seriously folks, if it's quiet, too quiet, check their rooms.

Biscuits, sweet and savory southern recipes for the all-American kitchen by Jackie Garvin (641.815 GAR) Our BR=TM: OM NOM NOM #nuffsaid WTF (Well that's *fantastic, right?)

 How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest et al (305.409 BER) Our BR=TM: Ladies and Germs...I am sure the Academie Francaise is rolling in its collective grave at the very perish-the-thought of les messages SMS. Mais, non! #Jamais! #SacreBleu

I aw8t 4 u 2 reply to this post.
IMHO this post rocks!