Tuesday, February 24, 2015

'Every Patient Tells a Story' - especially if they are 'highlighter yellow'

This book review was originally posted on our blog on 8/29/2009. Today, while looking for books on health careers for a patron, I spotted the book on the shelf at 616.075 SAN among the many books written by doctors about medicine.  I recommend this book for young people interested in a health career, for patrons who enjoy medical TV shows, and for anyone who likes a good medical puzzle.

Every Patient Tells a Story

Lisa Sanders, MD writes the monthly column Diagnosis for the New York Times Magazine and is a consultant for the television series House, MD. Dr. Sanders was a broadcast journalist specializing in medical stories before deciding to become a doctor as her second career. She now teaches at the Yale School of Medicine as well as being a practicing internist. She collects stories of interesting diagnoses and writes about them in her NYT column and now has a book out, Every Patient Tells a Story, medical mysteries and the art of diagnosis (2009) which recounts not only the stories of patients whose illnesses were hard to diagnose, but also discusses the diagnostic process and the importance of the physical exam, a fast-disappearing art apparently as high-tech tests replace that skill in many cases.

In the introduction, the case of a young woman so jaundiced that she is "highlighter yellow" (p. xii) but does not have hepatitis, is solved by an internist who takes her history again, examines her, rereads her chart and test results and has an "aha" moment where he puts together all the clues to come up with a rare disease which he then verifies by a trip to the library and a close look at her irises to see if there is a golden ring around the outer edge. If you have watched the TV show House, you may recognize this disease from one episode.

I suspect that my friends, family and colleagues will be glad that I have finished the book so that I will no longer regale them with alarming stories of medical near-misses while they are dining. Librarians who took their lunch in the staff room this week provided a captive audience for my chapter by chapter synopses of this book. I will check it in and now it goes to the patron who saw it on my desk and asked to be put on hold for it. Enjoy, but don't come down with every symptom you read about. That's "Intern's Disease," a manifestation of the power of suggestion.

Every Patient Tells a Story is non-fiction that will appeal to fans of medical novels by Patricia Cornwell, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Michael Palmer, Abraham Verghese or Tess Gerritson.
Also of interest: The Medical Science of House

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Miss P. the Best in Show Beagle and the Doggy Dewey Decimal Number

Congratulations to Miss P., the adorable Beagle who was selected Best in Show last night at Westminster Dog Show. If looking at her cute little face doesn't make you want to run out and get a dog, I don't know what will. The library can help with that. Run directly to the shelves with the
Doggy Dewey Decimal number which is:
in libraries around the world that use the Dewey Decimal system. There you will find books on all breeds and on selecting, raising and training dogs.

For more Beagle mania, take a look at our post about Miss P.'s Grand-uncle Uno who won Best in Show in 2008: Uno the Beagle Wins Westminster Dog Show.
Miss P, (NBC photo of the Dog Show Winner)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Valentine's Day Conversation with the Library Computer

Art by AsdeF
Why don't I just blog about romance books today?  Searches of the library OPAC (Online Public Access Computer, formerly known as the card catalog) tell us that:
# items (books+) in library with keyword 'Valentine' = 203
# items (books+) in library with keyword 'Valentine' upstairs only (ie: not kid's books) = 106
#DVD's in library with keyword 'Valentine' = 25
#books with keyword 'love' in library = too many to count. That query caused our online catalog to give up and answer '250', which is what it says when the number is larger than 250. It just gives up and expects the term to be narrowed or qualified in some way to bring the number below 250. Sometime it is difficult to 'heart' the library catalog. It is an ornery computer servant, like HAL, that has its own rules, regardless of what we want to ask it. I imagine my conversation with HAL/OPAC would go like this:

Anne the Librarian: "How many books about love do we have, oh library computer?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, I can't do that."
Anne the Librarian: "OK, so how about just adult books about love?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, I can't do that."
Anne: "OK, would you believe, just books with the Library of Congress Subject Heading 'Love'?"
OPAC: "I'm sorry, Anne, you sound like Maxwell Smart, that is the wrong video entertainment format. I can't understand you."
Anne: "I am going to power you down now, OPAC. Good bye!"
OPAC: "Nooooo...."
Anne: "Mwah ha ha."

Happy Valentine's Day! We've got lots of books about romance and love at BHPL, more than 250 I'm guessing. Just ask at the Reference Desk.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Florida Authors for a Cold Winter in the Northeast

Funny Florida authors Picasa collage
New Jersey is experiencing another cold, snowy, icy, icky, or as the Scots would say, 'dreich,' winter season. Some of our snowbird patrons have escaped to Florida for the duration, but for those of us bundled up in our sweaters and boots and hats (and that's just indoors) -  who are toughing it out at home, some funny books from Florida authors may help warm you up, carry you off to warmer climes, or at least make you laugh and escape this northeast winter for a little while.

Dave Barry wrote a humor column for the 'Miami Herald' for years which was laugh-out-loud funny, especially if your sense of humor is an only slightly grown-up appreciation of the humorous potential of words like booger and laughing until milk comes out of your nose. Think third-grade lunch-room hijinks as related by a grown-up who never grew up. But don't take my word for it, read some of Dave's old columns on his website. Then for a novel-length dose of Dave Barry, read his latest book, Insane City.

Carl Hiaasen also writes for the 'Miami Herald', is also very funny, writes terrific books for adults and young adults and, if that isn't enough for one person, is friends with Dave Barry! In fact, Barry and Hiaasen played in 'The Rock Bottom Remainders,' a rock group made up of authors who write well but whose musical talent was more enthusiastic than skilled.

When I started thinking about Florida authors I enjoy reading, I discovered Tim Dorsey, who is now on my 'to read' list. Like Barry and Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey was also a journalist at a Florida newspaper and as I began to ponder what it is that causes Florida journalists to become humor writers, a quick Google search revealed a column by Janet Maslin of the New York Times comparing and contrasting these three authors. The three authors are considered to be what we in the library world call 'read-alikes.'  Read Ms. Maslin's review for more on these three authors. I love Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen's writing so I'm off to the stacks to grab a Tim Dorsey novel starring 'Serge Storms' for the weekend.

Happy reading and stay warm!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Projected Shortage of 2015 Tax Forms at Libraries

2015 Tax Forms at the Berkeley Heights Public Library

The Berkeley Heights Public Library is always happy to receive free tax forms to hand out to our patrons yearly around this time through April 15. But this year, cutbacks to the IRS budget may result in a shortage of available tax forms for our patrons. We received an email from the IRS stating that because of budget cuts, the IRS Tax Forms Outlet Program has reduced the number of forms and publications they will provide to the Berkeley Heights Public Library and other U.S. public libraries this year. Only Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ will be available in paper form for library patrons to
take home. They are projected to  be shipped at the end of January or early February.

As in past years, our reference librarians will help patrons find tax forms online and print them out. We charge ten cents per page for printouts.  Unfortunately, the instruction booklets which are so popular will not be sent by the IRS this year to libraries. We have printed a copy for patrons to use in the library and the instruction booklets can be viewed online and downloaded from the IRS website.

Copies of tax forms and instructions are available online for viewing and downloading at irs.gov/forms. For forms and instructions to be delivered by mail, the IRS suggests ordering online at
irs.gov/orderforms or by phone at 800-829-3676. If you are ordering by phone, expect long waits due to the IRS staff reductions.

As in previous years, New Jersey tax forms will not be mailed to the library, but can be printed from the New Jersey Department of Taxation website.

If you have questions or need help locating and printing tax forms, please
talk to our reference librarians
- in person at 290 Plainfield Avenue,
- by email: reference@bhplnj.org
- or by phone 908-464-9333

Library staff are putting together a binder of printed forms and instruction booklets for patrons to photocopy or use in the library. We can show patrons how to find forms or print them out for patrons, but we cannot give tax advice.

Related websites and articles

IRS Forms and Publications page

New Jersey Division of Taxation tax forms

AARP Tax Help locator

AP Article about IRS budget cuts

Federal Times report on IRS budget cuts

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Movies Shown at the Library in 2014

Did you miss one of our Third Thursday Movie Nights? All of the movies shown in 2014 are part of the library’s circulating collection and can be checked out.
January                       Shun Li and the Poet (Italian, Mandarin)

February                     Austenland (English)

March                         Aliyah (French)

April                            Broken (English)

May                             Clandestine Childhood (Spanish)

June                            Watchtower (Turkish)

July                              Son of the Bride (Spanish)

July                              Philomena (English)

July                              Barbara (German)

July                              The Hunt (Danish)                

August                        Caesar Must Die (Italian)

August                        Wadjda (Arabic)        

September                  The Lunchbox (Hindi, English)

October                      Chef (English)

November                   Words and Pictures (English)

December                   The Hundred Foot Journey (English)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Borrow DVDs from Your Public Library

Borrowing DVDs at Your Public Library - our new ratings system

Can  you believe it? A new year is just hours away with all the hope and anticipation new beginnings promise. At Berkeley Heights Public Library, we are starting 2015 with a few changes that will make borrowing DVDs easier for our library users.  DVD boxes will now have visible rating stickers to help distinguish G, PG, PG-13 and R films.  We are making these changes to assist parents and caregivers in choosing appropriate viewing materials, but remember that these ratings are subjective and not intended to endorse, limit or restrict use.  Many animated PG films will be moved to the row of children’s DVDs - who knew so many animated films geared to family viewing have PG ratings?  In deciding which films to move, I have been reading reviews and ratings on several websites.  The following have been most helpful:  Kids-in-mind movie ratings; Common Sense Media; Dove; Parent Previews; and Is This Movie Suitable.  I check so many reviews because of the range of opinions and the variety of criteria used to rate movies.
The staff is also changing the loan period of TV series which have multiple discs.  These titles will circulate for 14 days, up from 7 days.  Now it will be easier to watch an entire season of Downton Abbey or Longmire without binge viewing.  Please be patient, this transition will be gradual until we capture every series/season. 
To all our library patrons:  Enjoy a Happy and Healthy New Year filled with interesting films - borrowed for free from your local library, of course!
The Berkeley Heights Public Library

- S. Bakos

Friday, December 19, 2014

Our blog's December holiday posts over the years:

The one in which Ellen listens to Dylan Thomas' 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' and tells us the Berkeley Heights connection with the author.

The one in which Anne tracks Santa Claus using the NORAD website. I am sure there is an app now, right?

The one listing a few of the library's MANY holiday craft books. 
It is probably too late to make crafts for gifts now, but you could start for next year or just enjoy looking at the pictures and then enjoy shopping online on Etsy letting someone else do the hard work of crafting.

Favorite Holiday Books gives you a small reading list for the season.

And feast your eyes on 'The Best Christmas Board' on Pinterest
and Hanukkah Card Ideas on Pinterest

Holiday Displays at BHPL

Book Displays in the Children's Room
Miss Laura's Poinsettias Look Real...
If it's December, it must be holiday book display month. The librarians found inspiration on Pinterest and Facebook to make a tree out of donated books (below). If you want to buy the book at the bottom of the pile, it will be like pick-up-sticks to get it without upsetting the apple cart. Or better yet, just wait until the New Year when we take down the display.
 Follow Our Pinterest board about library displays

Tree Made out of Donated Books

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I Read in 2014

Because December is a good time to think back on the year, I was just tidying up my reading journal to see what I read in 2014. What I read was lots of very light mysteries of the type called cozies, with a monthly foray into something a bit more literary for the library book group and the occasional detour into the quirky. I did not read much non-fiction this year, but I did follow up on mystery series that I enjoy,  re-read some classics and discovered some new authors.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Best Holiday Title: A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer (2013)
Best Rediscovered mystery series: The Riddle of the Third Mile, an Inspector Morse mystery by Colin Dexter (1997)
Best mystery on which a TV series is based: In a Dry Season, a DCI Banks mystery by Peter Robinson (1999)
Best Book Group Selection: The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012)
Best Sherlock Holmes recreation: 'The Baker Street' series by Michael Robertson (2009 - 2014)
Best Mystery Series Debut: The Outsmarting of Criminals by Steven Riglosi (2014)
Best Books about Bookshops: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley  (1917) and
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)
Best Summer/Beach Read: The Vacationers by Emma Straub (2014) and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (2012)
Best Continuation of Classic Mystery: The Monogram Murders, the new Hercule Poirot mystery by Sophie Hannah (2014)
Best Re-read Classic: Dubliners by James Joyce (1917)
Best Self-Help: 10% Happier by Dan Harris (2014)
Best Foodie Book or book on which movie was based: The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Marais (2010)
Best Fixing Up an Old House Memoir: Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett (2005)

My Year of Reading 2013, the first six months
My Year of Reading 2013, the second half
The Year in Books 2012

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Time of Year for Best Book List Roundups

While looking through the library blog, I came across this end of year post from six years ago. It made me realize that those end of  year look-backs are coming to tell us what happened in 2014. What happened to whom and where in the world it happened. For librarians, it's all about what we read and what we can recommend to our readers. So before I get to 2014, take a look at what we were reading not that long ago. If you missed these books, they  will no doubt be waiting on the shelves for you to check out. (Note: some of the links from 2008 no longer work - apologies.)

Best Books Lists 2008  (first posted on 12/26/2008)

Best books lists are typically compiled in November and December each year by various book reviewers. There are lists of best non-fiction, fiction, mystery, science fiction and other genres. There are high-brow lists and lists aimed at recreational readers. There are lengthy, subdivided lists and the punchy best five or best ten lists. The overall effect can be like listening to the weather report, at the end you still don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow. There is just too much information and the mind starts to tune it out. Well, mine does anyhow.

Some library patrons print out best books lists and carry them in their wallets all year, working their way systematically through them. Others produce rumpled scraps of paper with faded or illegibly scribbled titles of books recommended by friends, or heard about on the radio or television. Some people rely on their memory and others just browse the shelves when they get to the library. Some people put themselves on reserve for most bestsellers and others never read bestsellers. Some swear by Oprah picks and others find her taste very depressing.

Fortunately enough books are published each year so that there should be something for everyone. The trick is to figure out what it is. As I was browsing through the New Fiction shelves on Tuesday for myself in anticipation of two days off and optimistically thinking there would be time to read, a patron asked for a recommendation. Since I was stumped myself about what to read next, we looked together. My Director and I recommended the Inn at Lake Devine by one of my favorite authors, Laura Lipman and Kaaterskill Falls by Allegra Goodman because the patron seemed to like character-driven, psychological fiction like Jodi Picoult's and Sara Gruen's. I took home Bailey White's holiday stories as told on NPR, Nothing with Strings which was terrific, and Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders as the latest evidence of my 2008 addiction to the Grande Dame of Mysteries.

Take a look at these end of year lists to find what you plan to read in 2009 or come ask at the Reference Desk and we'll see if we can come up with a list made just for you.

NPR, the Complete Holiday Book Recommendations 2008

Amazon's Top 100 Editors Picks and the Top 100 Customer Favorites

Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

Louisa Ermelino writes in PW, "There were the authors we expected to deliver, and they did: Louise Erdrich with The Plague of Doves, Richard Price with Lush Life, Jhumpa Lahiri with Unaccustomed Earth, Lydia Millet with How the Dead Dream. A breakthrough surprise about cricket, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, delighted us, while Tim Winton's Breath took ours away. We listened to our elders in How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People; thought about our planet with The Soul of the Rhino; examined our history in The Hemingses of Monticello and Abraham Lincoln: A Life; and, thanks to Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, we even considered Jesus for President."

The PW Fiction list starts with Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News? the third novel featuring PI Jackson Brodie which I just started and expect to be as good as the first two.

Library Journal's Best Books 2008

The New York Times 10 Best Books 2008

USA Today's list of 10 Books We Loved Reading in 2008 probably coincides most closely with my own tastes because it includes Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which I enjoyed and which both appear on several other lists.

Sure Bets for Readers

What to Read: Sure Bets (originally posted March 27, 2013) 
or how does the librarian know what her patrons want to read next?

'Sure bets' according to librarian Joyce Saricks in her 'At Leisure' column in the December 1, 2012 Booklist are,
'titles and sometimes authors that appeal to a wide range of readers, that fly off displays, and that we turn to when our minds go blank and we can't think of anything to suggest to a waiting reader. These aren't current best-sellers but, rather, older titles we treasure.'

However you define it, every reference librarian likes to have certain books to recommend for each type of reader that will be available on the shelf. That's why bestsellers don't fit into this category very well. If a patron NEEDS a book to read RIGHT NOW, recommending a book with a weeks-long waiting list is probably not a helpful suggestion.

Of the books and authors Ms. Saricks recommends, I agree that for fun non-fiction, Mary Roach and Bill Bryson might work for readers who like science (Roach's 'Packing for Mars' is very funny and informative) and who like just plain laugh-out-loud writing (Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods' has been very well-received by many patrons I have recommended it to.)

Here are some 'sure bets' I have recommended and heard back from readers who enjoyed them:

For readers who want an action/adventure type of mystery, Stuard Woods' Florida-based mysteries deliver a good page-turning experience with a tough-guy edge and a little sex but not too much gore.

For readers who like dark mysteries, try Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch police procedurals set in Los Angeles. Readers who liked the TV series 'The Wire' would be a good fit for this author.

For readers who want cozy, reassuring, character-based novels, our Library Director has had success recommending Mary Ann Shaffer's 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society'. Unfortunately the author died before the book was published so this is a stand-alone title. But if readers like this historical cozy, they might enjoy Adriana Trigiani's 'Big Stone Gap' series based in West Virginia.

Trigiani falls almost in the 'chic lit' category but without the shopping aspect. For more good writing in the chic lit genre, try anything by Jennifer Weiner.

Some readers are WWII fans, for them recommend 'Unbroken, a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption' by Lauren Hillenbrand.

My favorite genre is cozy mystery, so if I find a fellow cozy fan who has not yet discovered Alexander McCall Smith's 'Number One Ladies Detective Agency' series, I can feel confident that reader is going to have a lot of good reading ahead of her.

Putting the right book in the right hands at the right time that suits the reader's mood just that that moment is a great feeling. What are some of your sure bets?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Thanksgiving Post

Every Thanksgiving for some years now, we have posted Thanksgiving cooking advice, jokes and a very long shaggy dog story, er shaggy turkey story? Here is the link to last years Thanksgiving post:

In the interest of new blog content, here is an even newer bit to help our faithful blog readers and library patrons get in the holiday spirit: a Thankgiving poem from Granger's poetry database.

Poem: Thanksgiving Wishes
Author: Arthur Guiterman (1871–1943)

 I wish you all that pen and ink

—Could write, and then some more!
I hope you cannot even think
—Of half you're thankful for.
I hope your table holds a wealth
—Of prime Thanksgiving fare,
And Love and Peace and Joy and Health
—Will all be seated there.
I trust your guests will all be bright,
—But none of them too wise,
And each will bring an appetite
—For mince or pumpkin pies.
I hope the fowls will all be fat,
—The cider sweet to quaff,
And when you snap a Wishbone, that
—You'll win the larger half!

Guiterman, Arthur. “Thanksgiving Wishes.” Columbia Granger's World of Poetry Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. 22 Nov. 2014.

To find this and 103  other full-text poems with the word "Thanksgiving' in the title, Berkeley Heights patrons can search our 'Columbia Granger's World of Poetry database.' All BHPL databases are linked to our 'Databases and Articles' page. Have your library card barcode handy to authenticate yourself so you can use Granger's and dozens of our other online research resources.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Learn Something New from the Teaching Company at the Library

The Teaching Company makes instructional DVD's and CD sets called "Great Courses' which you can borrow from the Berkeley Heights Public Library. These sets cover a variety of historical and artistic topics with  lectures from well-known university professors. You can find them by typing 'Teaching Company' or 'Great Courses' into the library catalog. You can find and read Ellen's blog posts about the courses she listened to and watched by using the same keywords in the blog's search box. Here is a sample of three of Ellen's reviews with links to the full reviews:

Listen & Learn (first posted Thursday, July 3, 2008)
Do you ever carelessly say "gonna" instead of "going to"? That's the way language has been changing and making new words for millennia. The Indo-European root words for "go" and "carry" (words that sounded something like "bear" and "ink") ran together to become the English word "bring". There also used to be a word that meant "repeatedly" that's now just the suffix "le" in English; it's the difference between dab and dabble, drip and dribble.
I learned this from 'The Story of Human Language,' a Teaching Company course on CD which is a series of lectures by linguist John McWhorter. The Berkeley Heights Public Library has over 200 courses, on CD, DVD and audiocassette tapes by the Teaching Company and Recorded Book's Modern Scholar.
Posted by Ellen at 7/03/2008 10:31:00 AM

How to Listen and Understand Great Music (First posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011)
New Jersey's own Robert Greenberg is the entertaining lecturer of the music appreciation course with that name 'How to Listen and Understand Great Music,' which BHPL has in its nonfiction audiobook collection. Dr. Greenberg tells funny and illuminating stories about composers. You get to hear a little of each selection, which is a good way to figure out what you'd enjoy listening to on your own in full later. This audiobook course is located at BHPL at CD AUDIO 780.9 GRE - scan the walls for a pink flamingo to find the nonfiction audiobooks.
Posted by Ellen at 12/13/2011 11:28:00 AM

Museum Masterpieces: the Met  (First posted Thursday, December 1, 2011)
The library has a wonderful Teaching Company course on DVD that you can borrow called Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are 24 half hour lectures.
My favorite part was learning about the historical connections between works of art in the Museum. An amazing engraved helmet, the "burgonet with falling buffe"  is on display in the Department of Arms and Armor. The helmet was given to the Medici court in Florence sometime in the 16th century. The helmet appears in a portrait of Cosimo II de Medici, which the Met web site says is not on display - another reason to check out the DVDs. The lectures will also give you a peek at famous prints, photographs and costumes usually not on display.
The period rooms you can wander around in (like the bedroom from the Sagredo Palace in Venice, above) have always been my favorite part of the Met. The DVDs showed me several rooms I had never come across before, including the Verplanck Room in the American Wing. The Verplanck Room's furniture is from the home Daniel Verplanck grew up in. Daniel's childhood portrait by John Singleton Copley is also at the Met, and the view in the background is that of his family's home in Fishkill-on-Hudson. The walls and cornice of the room were taken from another house in the Hudson River Valley, so the portrait's background gives you an idea of what the view through the room's windows may have been like.
Posted by Ellen at 12/01/2011 11:07:00 AM
Flamingo Signage

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Craft Books

Craft Fail, when homemade goes horribly wrong by Heather Mann (2014) is a laugh-out-loud collection of pieces from crafter and blogger, Heather Mann who has immortalized those moments when the nifty little craft you saw on Pinterest and attempted to reproduce just turns into a lumpy blob, making you join the legions of crafters who realize, "I'm no Martha Stewart!"
Ms. Mann tells us that failure is all part of the learning process, an important part and a pretty funny one too as the examples in her book Craft Fail clearly show.

For examples of funny fails, take a look at her blog 'Craft Fail, where crafters go to fail' http://craftfail.com/
and be sure to check out her book for more laughs.