Here are some mini-reviews of the best new books at your library:
- Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero: This is the story about the kids from Scooby-Doo all grown-up. While this sounds like a bit of a silly idea, it is well-executed with some dark undertones.
- The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota: This is a book that challenges its readers to step into the shoes of another–in this case, take a walk in the lives of Indian migrants in Britain.
- Defectors by Joseph Kanon: This is a wonderful thriller and spy novel that is set in the early 1950s during the Red Scare. It was so gripping that it only took me about a day to get through it.
- The Child by Fiona Barton: The author’s previous book, The Widow, centers around a cold case–this book does as well, only this time, it involves the murder of a newborn. There’s a huge twist at the end that will leave you thinking about this book for some time to come.
- The Force by Don Winslow: This quote from NPR was so wonderful that I have to use it. “An instant classic, an epic, a…Wagner opera with a full cast and buckets of blood and smack and Jameson whiskey.” If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then I don’t what to tell you.
- Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (e-book): A book about dementia that’s sweet (but not too sweet) and relatable.
- The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (e-book): Goss is drawing from Robert Louis Stevenson, H. G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mary Shelley in this story of friendship and history. Rather than being derivative, it’s actually quite insightful.
- The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman: This book is a testament to the power of reading. Literature vs. video games–who will win?
- Theft by Finding by David Sedaris: For fans of David Sedaris, this is like a glimpse into his mind–an all-at-once shocking and amazing place.
- Silver Silence by Nalini Singh (e-book): If you like paranormal romance, then this book is for you. There are changelings, humans, and a race called Psy who ward off all emotions.
I just finished “Miles, the Autobiography” and I have to say I loved it. Miles Davis is a figure not unlike those in the media today. His book is full of judgments and outright dismissals of other artists. If you can get past the general ‘meanness’ of the biography, I think that fans of Miles Davis will enjoy his take on the world.
Additionally, his feelings on other musicians have also been recorded during a series of blindfold tests that forced Davis to figure out who was playing and then remark on what he had heard. In one particular test, he said of Eric Dolphy’s “Miss Ann” that “nobody else could sound that bad!”
If you’re interested in Miles Davis or any other famous figure, let a librarian know. We have a rather expansive biography section full of information about your faves!
I’ve always had a thing for poetry and I’ve always loved Emily Dickinson from the moment I read her work in high school (or maybe junior high–I don’t remember). I would consider myself an amateur Dickinson scholar; amateur is the key word here. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center, along with the Folger Library, recently did a free marathon reading of her work. The entire thing is around 8 hours long! While I realize that is a long time to spend listening to Emily Dickinson poetry, it is in celebration of her 184th birthday. In fact, 8 hours was only enough time to get through about a third of her work.
Poet, Eleanor Heginbotham starts out the recording with Dickinson’s letter to her editor, abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Emily says: “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?” Well, hats off to Emily! Her verse is alive and well and I couldn’t be more thankful.
In case anyone actually ends up listening to this, here is a link to part 2.
And, of course, we have all of Dickinson’s work at your library if you want to brush up!
Again, I know it’s been a minute since anything has been posted to the library blog. Four of your librarians recently returned from ALA. For those who are confused by random acronyms, that stands for the American Library Association. Among many other things, the ALA has an annual conference that is huuuge. Think around 13,000 (if not more) librarians storming McCormick Place in Chicago ready to learn something new, network with other librarians, and take a look at some new products. Since each of us does something a little bit different at the library, we all attended different sessions and probably had varying experiences. Since I can only speak for myself, that’s what I’ll do. It was my first time going and I was amazed and quite overwhelmed at first. To give you an idea of how I felt, here is a floor plan. I eventually got my bearings and had a wonderful time and I think everyone else here did as well.
Anyway, I just wanted to explain why there have been no blog posts this week (so far).
When I came back on Monday, the library was insanely busy (which is awesome). Every summer, we have reading programs for adults and kids so this contributes to a lot of the traffic. By the way, you can still sign up for the adult Summer Reading Program or come to any of the events that are going on for kids! However, this year has objectively seen more patrons and check-outs than ever before.
I know this to be true because we were almost completely out of date-due cards. What is a date-due card, you ask? Well, we used to stamp the date that your items were due on these cards and that’s how you would know when to return your items. At this point, they’re a bit antiquated, but we still use them to secure our collection. The fact that they were almost gone means that more items are being checked out than any other time in our recent past. They are a non-consumable supply, so when we have to re-order them, it means we’re doing good things. I absolutely love working for this library and our community and I hope that we continue to be surprised by how many books are getting taken out. Also, let it be known that we are always looking for ways to make your library experience even better–if you ever have any suggestions (or compliments), let us know. You can send us a Facebook message, contact us through our website or stop in!
After a week-long hiatus, we’re back! Here are some of the best new books at your library. This time, we’re focusing on e-books and e-audiobooks. If you’ve never used library e-books or e-audiobooks (and you’re interested in doing so), talk to a librarian today!
- Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (e-book) by Alison Weir: I feel like I’ve researched everything there is to know about Anne Boleyn. This book was a breath of fresh air because it fictionalizes the drama of this era. Weir also writes non-fiction books about the English royals, so she knows her stuff.
- Black Mad Wheel (e-audiobook) by Josh Malerman: What I enjoyed the most about this book was Malerman’s prose. He’s very sparing in the use of his words, so in this way, they really pack a punch. This is a book by a musician–about musicians. A rock band is asked to investigate a strange sound in the Namib Desert of Africa during the early Cold War. What goes down during their mission isn’t quite clear at first, but I will tell you that the main character ends up in the hospital.
- The Heirs (e-book and e-audiobook) by Susan Rieger: A wealthy and powerful (and also dying) man is about to leave his five sons (and wife) without a father/husband. He may have also left a mistress along with other children. Read this for some high-brow drama.
- Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable (e-book) by William Shatner and Jeff Rovin: If you enjoy casually reading about horses, then this is the book for you. It’s clear that the author has a deep passion for the creatures while reading this book. Even though I think he could have used a better editor, it’s still fun to read the meandering thoughts of William Shatner.
- White Fur (e-book) by Jardine Libaire: People fall in love, make money and die in New York City in the 1980s. What’s not to love? Joking aside, this book was painful to read because it left nothing left unsaid. It’s beautiful and smart and I loved it.
I know a lot of people are watching Starz’s new TV show American Gods based on Nail Gaiman’s novel of the same name. If you’re enjoying the battle between old gods and new gods and the combination of mythology and modern fantasy, then you’re sure to like these other titles available at your library.
- “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Nail Gaiman: It might seem a little silly to put another Neil Gaiman novel on the list, but he mixes myths and gods into a lot of his work. In this one, an angel and a demon band together to stop the end of the world.
- “Autobiography of Red” by Anne Carson: This novel in verse takes Geryon (a winged monster who fights Herakles) and rewrites the character into a modern teen who falls in love with the Greek hero instead of being slain.
- “Mr. Fox” by Helen Oyeyemi: This terrifying novel blurs the line between fantasy and reality. A writer named St. John Fox struggles deeply with one of the muses in his books.
- “Grendel” by John Gardner: The author does a complete retelling of the Old English poem Beowulf from the monster’s perspective. Although this novel was published in 1971, it still holds up today.
If you’re interested in these or anything else, give your library a call!
As someone who is currently pursuing my Master’s in Library and Information Science, I’ve been reading widely on a lot of topics including those that also relate to museums. Many museums have been working diligently for a number of years in order to digitize parts or all of their collections to be accessed on their website. For example, one can search or browse through the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago. I had a passionate debate with a fellow student over whether digitization actually increases or decreases visits to the museum. In this debate, I can understand both sides. I truly believe that an image on a computer or phone will never replace the experience of seeing a Picasso or Monet in person. However, when I was in my undergrad, many of my classmates in our Art History class were guilty of using digital collections for our museum assignment instead of actually visiting. However, this is nothing new; students have been looking for the easy way out since the beginning of education.
Now, Google has made it even easier to browse popular artists’ works and get the information that you’re seeking. They even claim that you can “visit hundreds of museums around the world right from your laptop.” I beg to differ. While I think this is a great discovery and educational tool, I am never going to substitute my trip to MoMA for an image on Google.
To find out more, click here.
I just finished a couple books and they were both awesome! The best part about these two books is your library owns them, so stop in and check them out or put them on hold today.
“A Face Like Glass” by Frances Hardinge: Everyone in Caverna is born with a blank canvas for a face and must be taught how to make expressions. Facesmiths are the professionals who provide the service of creating expressions for the people of Caverna. The problem with this service is that it costs money–the rich get to choose from an array of faces while those that don’t have financial resources get stuck with faces that have already been chosen for them such as expressions of subservience. This book is pure magic in both the craft of the writing, as well as the actual content.
“Bad Dreams and Other Stories” by Tessa Hadley: This short story collection gives readers complex characters and a sense of closure when each story is finished. I actually became attached to a lot of the characters here instead of forgetting them the moment I moved on to the next story. The connecting thread between these stories is self-reflection–each character goes through a deeply conflicting experience and must look inside themselves for the answers.
In order to highlight some of the best and newest additions to the Jacksonville Public Library’s collection, the blog will have a regular curation of mini book reviews. If you’re interested in any of these titles, stop in or give us a call!
- “I’d Die for You” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anne Margaret Daniel: This is a new collection of Fitzgerald’s previously unpublished or uncollected short stories. Not every story is destined to become a new classic. However, each story gives readers insight into the famed author’s psyche while trying to produce new work.
- “Anything Is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout: As with other works by Strout, it’s hard to quite tell if this is a novel or a collection of short stories. Either way, each chapter or story is connected by common themes. Strout’s newest book is well-written and examines ideas like class (as in working-class etc.), insecurity, and forgiveness. Don’t miss out!
- “The Pearl Thief” by Elizabeth Wein: I am reviewing a novel for young adults because both adults and teens alike enjoy reading them. This book is published by the same author as Code Name Verity. However, you do not need to read the previously published novel to understand and enjoy this new one. It’s both a murder mystery and a coming-of-age story. The thing I loved most about this book was the main character–she’s witty and real.
- “House of Names” by Colm Toibin: This book is quite tragic… Characters are thrown into dungeons and the amount of violence that occurs is quite staggering. However, the violence isn’t gratuitous. With Toibin’s adept writing, the characters are alive with depth. This book doesn’t quite seem like Toibin’s other work, but it is a great book on its own. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I turned every page.
- “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore: This book is all about workers’ rights. The women Moore writes about died from the radium they were exposed to while working for dial-making factories. The women’s lives were painful and tragic, but their legacy has paved the way for the protection of workers today.
- “The American Spirit” by David McCullough: This collection of speeches is tied together by the theme of history. McCullough is synonymous with expert as he has won 2 Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his previous work. These speeches instill a much-needed hope at a time of unrest on both sides of the aisle.
- “Shattered” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes: This book explores the ins and outs of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. Ultimately, it looks at what went wrong and tries to make sense of Clinton’s shocking loss last November. This book is the first word on 2016, but it most certainly will not be the last.
- “The Shadow Land” by Elizabeth Kostova: In Kostova’s third novel, she returns to Eastern Europe–Bulgaria. The author has spent much time in this country as this is where she met her husband. The novel starts in 2008 with the main character teaching English in a new country and quickly turns into a mystery to figure out the life of a man named Stoyan Lazarov. Kostova has managed to make another masterpiece so check it out today!
- “The Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli: This new young adult novel explores all the challenges and beauty that comes with new love. This book is super fun with a cast of characters that will keep you entertained. Try this one out for a summer beach read!
- “Richard Nixon” by John A. Farrell: This biography turns Richard Nixon into a human with depth and feelings. However, it doesn’t let Nixon off the hook for the corruption of his presidency. The book also brings previously unknown details to light from diaries and reports that were recently discovered. If you’ve ever been curious about Nixon, the man, this book is for you.
The library is now subscribing to a new language learning database: Rocket Languages. All you need is your library card and you could be on your way to finally fulfilling your New Year’s resolution from five years ago to learn a new language. I kid.
But, really, I’ve been meaning to brush up on the seven years of Spanish I took in both high school and college–I can barely remember how to have a basic conversation. I’m pretty excited myself to have this new resource!
Rocket Languages has a really neat component called the Interactive Audio Course that allows users to have real conversations. I can attest to how important this is because I have forgotten all of my Spanish because I haven’t been using it. The database even has culture lessons and games! So, if you’re looking for something fulfilling to do this summer, learn a new language with the library’s new database.