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Friday Faves

  • freegal halloween

    There are two holidays that stick out in my mind as having the best music. Christmas, of course, and Halloween. Nothing gets me in the haunting mood like a creepy minor chord.  Freegal, which allows you to download 3 songs a week with your Provo City Library Card, has a wonderful collection of those classic creepy tunes you are looking for.

    Here’s a list of some of the best for your spooky playlist!

    By Michael Jackson

    By Bobby Boris Pickett

    By Ray Parker Jr

    By Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

    By The Clovers

  •  celebrity favorites

    It’s my last week working here at the library, so I decided to indulge myself and write about some of my favorite things: books, and my celebrity crushes. These are the men that make my heart go all aflutter. Admittedly, I’m not an expert on any of them. But I figured that if I can waste time admiring their physiques, following them on social media, and reading articles about them, I may as well get a peek inside their heads and find out what their favorite books are.

    The difficult part for me was deciding which of these celebrities to write about. Hugh Jackman (who I’ve had a crush on since I was twelve) has an entire article where he explains the personal significance behind his favorite books, like Muhammad Yunu’s BANKER TO THE POOR and John Steinbeck’s GRAPES OF WRATH. Hugh seems to be an avid reader, in addition to his many other hobbies, such as fighting world poverty, gluten-free cooking, practicing his yoga headstands, and speaking out about the importance of sunscreen.


    We get it, Hugh. You’re perfect.

    Then, there’s Harry Styles, the mysterious and artsy member of the British boyband One Direction… which may or may not still be a band, now that Zayn left to make his own music and date supermodels. During their hiatus, Harry has been busy getting ready for his major acting debut (a World War II movie directed by Christopher Nolan), Louis’s had a year of ups and downs, Niall released a single, and all Liam seems to do is sit around tweeting and wearing athletic wear.

    Harry has never explicitly stated which book is his favorite. To be fair, he’s been pretty busy since he got famous on the X Factor at age sixteen—I imagine there isn’t much time for pleasure reading when you’re constantly touring, recording, or on-set. But there’s a few paparazzi shots of him reading books while he’s traveling, such as the philosophical poetry of Rumi. I take this as further evidence that he and I are destined for each other; Rumi has been one of my favorite poets ever since reading a compilation of his spiritual verses for my Humanities of Islam class two years ago.

    harry styles

    This isn't the most flattering picture of Harry... but I own the same book he's holding, so I think that's pretty neat.

    This list wouldn’t be complete without love-of-my-life Paul McCartney—a young Paul McCartney, not the version who’s fifty years my senior. The post-Beatles, sheep-raising, vegetarian Paul living in Scotland and starting up his band Wings.

    paul mccartney

    I read Philip Norman’s new 800-page-biography on Paul last summer, and have spent many a late night watching all of Paul’s interviews through the decades on Youtube— but I still had to do a little bit of digging to figure out his literary interests. He discusses in this interview how bedtime stories and the writings of Lewis Carroll influenced both him and John Lennon’s songwriting. His favorite author is Charles Dickens—NICHOLAS NICKELBY is his favorite. Paul also collects books, according to a Twitter question-and-answer session he did a few years ago, but he hasn’t given any hints to what’s on his bookshelf in the last few years (again, too busy touring). However, we do have the children’s picture book he wrote, HIGH IN THE CLOUDS, available on our library shelves.

    And, last but not least, there’s Leonardo di Caprio. Oh, Leo. Beautiful Leo. I’ve always admired him as an actor, from his younger roles in WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE and Baz Luhrmann’s ROMEO + JULIET. (Baz Luhrmann is, of course, right next to Hugh Jackman on my list of Australia's Best Gifts to the World.)

    I didn’t truly appreciate Leo until I saw him in THE GREAT GATSBY. It happened to come out at the end of my junior year of high school, after my English class had read the novel together. That movie—also directed by Baz Luhrmann, further proving Baz’s creative genius—was beautiful and magical and its tragic ending left me bawling in the theater. BAWLING. (Granted, it was finals week so my emotions were rather high-strung.) Anyway, with shots like this, it was hard not to fall for Leo.


    Leo’s favorite book is THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. This book Ernest Hemingway's classic about an unlucky old Cuban fisherman trying to catch a giant marlin. While Hemingway fervently denied that there was any deeper symbolism or allegorical storytelling going on here, I think the overarching theme of this book is one which says a lot about Leo’s personality.

    First off, Leo likes the ocean. We know this from his avid efforts in marine conservation and his roles in movies with oceanic settings, like THE TITANIC. His entire Instagram is dedicated to posts about environmental activism, and he’s even attended a few of the same conferences as my dad, a conservational scientist. (They haven’t actually MET… but they were in the same auditorium at least, which is enough to make me envious. Maybe one day he'll introduce me.)

    leo fish
    leo our ocean conference

    My point is that THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA has both oceans AND fish. It’s Leo’s perfect pleasure read. A win-win situation. The only way this book could be any better for Leo is if Hemingway had included a chapter about how to practice sustainable fishing, as well as an epilogue warning of the devastation of global coral reef bleaching.

    This book is also relatable to his own life; he probably sees it as an allegory to his acting career. While Santiago, the old fisherman, was experienced and definitely qualified to catch a giant marlin, he didn’t have much luck. (Okay, okay, Santiago DID catch a marlin, but it ended up getting devoured by sharks so I feel like the comparison still stands.) Similarly, Leo was an experienced actor and nominated for an Academy Award on four separate occasions. However, that Oscar always seemed to get away. Maybe Leo thought his luck had run dry, just like the old fisherman.

    Fortunately, Leo’s story has a happier ending-- in the 2016 Academy Awards, Leo caught his big ol’ Oscar as Best Actor in the film adaption of THE REVENANT: A NOVEL OF REVENGE. Leo has finally achieved his goal, and even used his acceptance speech to raise awareness to the plight of climate change.

    So there you have it. From Steinbeck to Rumi, I feel like my good taste in celebrity crushes is reflected well by their good taste in literature. Admittedly, knowing all my celebrity crushes’ favorite books is a rather useless bit of information. But at least I can rest assured knowing that if I ever run into Leo at a conservation conference, at least I can impress him with my knowledge of this Hemingway classic.


  • dance movies 1

    I’m a sucker for cheesy chick flicks, and dance movies are no exception. They are in their own category of favorite for me, probably because deep down inside I wish I was more of a dancer. I took a little here and there growing up, and even tried to get into it again in college, but to no avail. Unfortunately ballerinas don’t come in the 5’10” variety. When I took the accelerated advanced ballet class at BYU, I had a zeal that rarely emerged for coursework. My teacher saw this and really tried to mentor me. I was the same size as the two boys in the class (most of the girls barely passed the 5’ or 100 lbs mark) and because of my athletic background I could keep up with the boys with the bigger and double-time jumps. That bit was fun but I never felt like I could quite fit in with the other little dancers, no matter how graceful or accurately I moved. Watching dance movies gives me that little taste of a dancer’s life that I never had. I go to almost all of Ballet West’s major performances and listen to Tchaikovsky when I want to mellow out, but dance movies are a favorite because it combines chick flick rom-com with dance.  Here are a few that the library owns:

    Untitled 1STEP UP 
    Directed by Anne Fletcher

    Ballet meets the streets, traditional classical meets contemporary hip hop, and love unfolds as prejudices give way. Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan are a perfect pair because their chemistry is 100% real- they are now married and have a daughter! Even though the plot seems a bit unbelievable at times, a great soundtrack and awesome dancing make for an epic dance film. The step up franchise has continued with 4 other Step up movies, varying in acting ability, dance skills and chemistry between the main actors. My personal ranking of the 5 movies goes as follows: 1, 2, 4, 5, 3.

    Untitled 2TAKE THE LEAD 
    Directed by Liz Friedlander

    Antonio Banderas ballroom dancing...need I say more? That alone makes this movie worth watching. TAKE THE LEAD has an endearing plot where the friendship and love seem to grow organically as ballroom dance and ballroom etiquette becomes integrated into their lives. This has a nice take home message and entertaining, classy dancing.


    Untitled 3SAVE THE LAST DANCE 
    Directed by Thomas Carter

    There seems to be a trend of good dance movies coming out in 2006. I’m not sure why, but it’s interesting. This is another ballet meets hip hop movie in the streets of Chicago. Ballerina Kat has suffered a tremendous loss, and a new friend helps in the healing process as she strives to accomplish her dreams. This film gets into deeper things with divorce, race, death, gang violence and inner city culture all while telling the tale of a dancer as she grows up.


    Untitled 4FOOTLOOSE
    Directed by Craig Brewer

    This is the remake of the original FOOTLOOSE from 1984, also found here at the library, showing how dancing is a very good thing despite some rigid city rules. I think I like the new one better because I don’t see any chemistry between Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, whereas with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, there is plenty of chemistry despite their relatively new acting chops. This is a fun movie showing teens' lives can be enhanced by good clean dancing and new friends.


    Untitled 5DIRTY DANCING 
    Directed by Emile Ardolino

    This is an old classic when it comes to dance movies. Try to ignore the age difference and sketchy relationships and focus on the fun latin dance moves. I admit the whole setup is odd with the family vacation summer camp vibe, but nevertheless this film is very entertaining. If you’ve ever wondered where the phrase “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” come from, or wondered what ‘the lift’ is that’s mentioned in so many rom-coms, then you need to watch this. Like #4 there was also a remake done, found here, but it’s not nearly as good as the original in my opinion.


    As far as dance movies are concerned there are definitely more than 5 good ones, so this list is just the tip of the iceberg. A few that the library doesn’t own that I also love include: CENTER STAGE, STREETDANCE, HONEY 2, A BALLERINA'S TALE, FIRST POSITION, and HIGH STRUNG. Enjoy and keep dancing!

    The library hosts various dance related activities that you can come to no matter your dance ability. Seriously any level, we don’t judge! We have a Learn It series with zumba and bollywood classes. It’s a great way to get some exercise and move to some good beats! September through May on first and third Mondays of each month, we host cultural performances which often include dance, theater and music groups- Wasatch ballet, legacy dance studio, WOFA afro fusion dance, and more!  Be sure to look out for and attend these events.

  • fiction


    Part two of my favorite books of 2016 consists of five fiction titles.  Lately, I’ve been picking up books from best seller lists without reading a thing about them.  I have pretty much just judged them by their titles, covers, and the fact that at least a few people have liked them.  So far, I haven’t been led too far astray and found these five gems.  I’m not going to tell you very much about them and hopefully when you fold back their covers you will be as surprised and delighted as I have been.


    My Name is Lucy BartonMY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
    by Elizabeth Strout

    When I want to read something beautifully written, I pay a lot of attention to award winning authors.  Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer and, while I don’t usually enjoy short stories, I did like reading Olive Kitteridge.  So, I picked up My Name is Lucy Barton and started reading, hoping to enjoy more of Strout’s lovely way of expressing the feelings and thoughts of her dynamic characters.  I did!  This is a wonderful example of her gift as a writer and I loved every word.


    Americas First DaughterAMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER
    by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

    The cover of this book displays stately Monticello and a woman in a big dress.  So, when I decided to check it out, I obviously knew it was about Thomas Jefferson’s daughter.  I was expecting a historic novel of some kind but I don’t think I expected Patsy Jefferson to be such a complicated protagonist.  Dray and Kamoie give readers a new perspective on the birth of our nation and everyday life in the colonies from the eyes of a woman in the center of it all.


    Black Rabbit Hall
    by Eve Chase

    I honestly knew nothing about this book when I downloaded it to my tablet.  But I did like the cover, with its dark wrought iron gate and stately mansion in the distance.  I was in the mood for something a little gloomy and the image spoke to me.  And…I loved it.  There’s a little romance, a little mystery, a bit of angst, tragedy and deception.  All these things worked together to delight and captivate me.  I can’t wait to recommend it to all my fellow Kate Morton fans!


    by Chris Cleave

    It wasn’t the cover as much as the amazing title of this book that hooked me.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven screams of an amazing story to be told.  There is definitely not a shortage of World War II fiction available, but I believe I liked this better than All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale, though I did really like both of those.  But Cleave’s characters were so relatable and witty that I wanted to keep them as friends forever, despite their flaws and shortcomings.


    Rare ObjectsRARE OBJECTS
    by Chris Cleave

    This book definitely grabbed me with its cover.  It depicts a lovely girl in a beautiful dress staring at the camera and made me think of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, which was a favorite of mine a few years ago.  Plus, I don’t read a lot of fiction that takes place during The Great Depression and I like to mix things up sometimes.  This was another random choice that I am very glad I made.  Chris Cleave presents lovely complicated characters and a beautiful message of redemption.

  • nonfiction


    Around February the Provo City Library presents a “Best Books of…” program where our librarians talk about their favorite titles published during the previous year.  To do this, we somewhat obsessively read everything new we can get our hands on.  This year I’ve been working hard to find titles I can talk about next February and I’m excited to say there are lots I’ll have to choose from.


    Below is a preview for February’s program.  It’s a list of my five favorite nonfiction titles published so far in 2016!


    When Breath Becomes AirWHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR
    by Paul Kalanithi


    Just as Paul Kalanithi began finishing up his last year of residency, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  Given about a year to live, he decided to fulfill his dream of being a writer by penning this amazing memoir.  I love, love loved Kalanithi’s beautiful prose and thoughtful reflections on what it means to live life and accept death.


    by Adam Hochschild


I am sure I learned about the Spanish Civil War during some history class but I certainly don’t remember it being this fascinating.  Hochschild here presents this conflict and its impact on world history as both governments and individuals took sides and prepared for the greater conflict of an impending world war.


    by Carlo Rovelli


    Although this book is less than 100 pages long, it seemed like a lot more since I found it  necessary to read most of the book at least twice just to sort of walk away with a vague understanding of the concepts Rovelli discusses.  This is not to say he does not write in an understandable and approachable way.  He does.  I just don’t get physics.


    RomanovsROMANOVS: 1613-1918
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore


    What I learned from this 700 page tome is that the Romanovs were mostly all crazy.  Also, they were surrounded by mostly crazy people.  I don’t mean to be super judgy about it, all the stress of running an empire and producing heirs would really drive any sane person mad.  Also, it makes for a really great read.


    by Siddhartha Mukherjee


    DNA is a fascinating little molecule. What I found more fascinating in this book is how the discovery and study of DNA has affected society and culture.  The many issues involved with so many conflicting but valid opinions make this history of genetics as gripping as a novel. 



  • americana

    In my family the Fourth of July was a big deal. My family loved to celebrate the birth of the United States of America. We knew who the founding fathers were. Because of this I tend to pay attention to the many myriad of picture books that are published about Americana themes. Here are my top five favorite Americana picture books to get even the younger readers in the mood for any patriotic holiday. 

    by Lane Smith

    John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Ben Franklin are four of the most famous early American patriots. In this humorous picture book author and illustrator Lane Smith explains why these four men were so important. Smith also throws in a few tidbits for the adults who will tend to read this book to youngsters by comparing these patriots to another John, Paul, George and…Ringo who also made a historical impact.

    by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    One of the most beloved past presidents of the United States is Abraham Lincoln. Arguably he could be credited with holding this country together. In this biography Doreen Rappaport shows not only the great accomplishments that Lincoln was able to achieve, but she also includes actual quotes from speeches or writings of Lincoln. Readers can learn from his actual words just exactly what he thought and said. And to top it all off, the illustrations by Nelson are sure to keep young readers interested in this great man.

    by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day

    Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are both credited as being founding fathers of the USA. And at times they were great allies and friends. But there is also a history of the two patriots being frustrated and angry with each other. Jurmain tells younger readers about the impact that these two great men had on the young nation as well as explaining their whole history—including the quarrels and disagreements. 

    by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Cece Bell

    Granted, this isn’t a picture book about a particular founding father or patriot—but it is a picture book about an Americana legend. Yankee Doodle is a song that most children sing around holidays such as the Fourth of July. In this picture book twist Crankee Doodle is just that—cranky. His horse has to try to convince him to head to town and complete what children know should happen according to the song. Kiddos who especially love twists and silliness will enjoy reading this parody.

    by Susan Katz, illustrated by Robert Neubecker

    There are a lot of Americana books for young readers that are about the early days of the United States; but what about the American spirit that is still around today? This particular book is full of poems of all the many Presidents of the United States. They tell about all sorts of somewhat unknown facts (like how one particular president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get help to get out). With a variety of Presidents and time-periods young readers will learn that Americana picture books aren’t just about things that happened in the distant past—they can also be about what happened more recently

  • food books


    Food and books…these are a few of MY favorite things! There are so many great food memoirs, cookbooks, and novels where food is the main attraction. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

    food love storyFOOD: A LOVE STORY
    by Jim Gaffigan

    Looking for an awesome audiobook? Look no further! Jim Gaffigan loves food and will make you laugh the entire 7 hours and 17 minutes you listen to this book. I’m sure the print version is funny, but the narration by the author is the only way to go, I think. A full review of this title can be found here.   


    The Sharper Your Knife the Less You CryTHE SHARPER YOUR KNIFE THE LESS YOU CRY
    by Kathleen Flinn

    Kathleen Flinn writes about her experience attending the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She gives an insider’s look at the program’s intense teaching methods, competitive students, and interweaves over two dozen recipes along the way.


    Fat CatFAT CAT
    by Robyn Brande

    Overweight teenager Cat embarks on a high school science project, using herself as the test subject. She chooses to emulate the ways of hominins, the earliest ancestors of human beings, by eating an all-natural diet and foregoing technology, not an easy feat!  A full review of this title can be found here


    by Drin Gleeson

    This beautiful cookbook has yummy recipes and is a feast for your eyes with its multi-media artwork. A full review of this title can be found here


    Relish My Life in the KitchenRELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN
    by Lucy Kinsley

    Lucy has loved food all her life, the daughter of a chef and a gourmet, she didn’t really have much of a choice. Now a cartoonist, she traces key experiences in her life revolving around food and the lessons she’s learned about cooking and life. Each chapter includes an illustrated recipe. A full review of this title can be found here

  • spider man


    I love superheroes. I especially love Spider-Man. In fact, I can’t remember a time in which I did not love Spider-man (though I assume there was a year or two after birth). With his appearance in the most recent Captain America movie and future movies in the works, he is being talked about quite a bit again (as if Spider-Man is ever not talked about. I mean come on, he’s Spider-Man). I decided to think about what books, adult and children’s, would benefit the Wall Crawler himself. I think that these 5 books would be right up Spidey’s alley. 

    by William B. Helmreigh  

    Does anyone know New York City better than Spider-Man? This guy might. They should at least meet to compare notes. Spidey could always use another route for getting from one end of the city to the other quickly and discretely.


    by William Safire  

    Peter Parker is definitely a witty guy, especially when battle villains as Spider-Man. But, with how often he has to come up with a clever or snarky comment, I’m sure he could use some advice from Pulitzer Prize-winning William Safire as he discusses various elements of the English language.  


    by Mordicai Gerstein

    Our Web Slinger spends a lot of time at great heights as he swings from building to building. Perhaps this picture book could help him see how another man got from one building to another at a great height without suffering from overwhelming vertigo.  


    princess in blackTHE PRINCESS IN BLACK
    by Shannon & Dean Hale

    Like many good superheroes, Spider-Man goes to great lengths to keep his identity secret. Princess Magnolia is also a masked hero and, thus far, she has managed to keep her identity a secret. Spidey might want to see how she does this.


    made to stickMADE TO STICK
    by Chip Heath

    Come on, with a title like that, I had to throw this one in there! I think Spidey would approve of the wit here. Plus, it’s a great book about why some ideas stick, without the use of webs. 

  • adult kid books 

    There are plenty of books in the children’s department here at the Provo City Library that adults love to read. The same is true in reverse. We often send our smaller patrons over to the adult’s department to find a specific title they are interested in. Here are 5 of my favorite titles that kids can enjoy, but which can’t be found in our Juvenile Fiction collection.   

    by Alan Bradley

    A new favorite character among readers, Flavia de Luce is a witty 11-yr-old sleuth and an aspiring chemist. Previously, Flavia’s time has been spent trying to make her sisters’ lives miserable and being made miserable in return. That’s until she finds a dead man in the garden and realizes she’s finally found something to truly put her mind to. This is the perfect book for young mystery-lovers that need to be challenged just a bit.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: While only 11, Flavia often speaks, thinks, and acts like an adult. There is also a smattering of swearing and the occasional Agatha-Christie-esque murder.   


    01.05.2018 Book ThiefTHE BOOK THIEF
    by Markus Zusak

    As soon as it was published, The Book Thief became an instant classic. The tale of young Liesel Meminger and her hodge-podge family is narrated by Death. He is a thoughtful and beautiful storyteller, following the little “book thief” during the first half of WWII in Nazi Germany. This is a great read for anyone, but especially for the many kids who love WWII historical fiction.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The Book Thief can at times be both a little slow and very sad. It touches on themes of wartime violence and Nazi philosophy. It also has quite a bit of language in it both in English and German. I enjoyed listening to this book because the reader gave those words the appropriate color.   


    01.05.2018 To Kill a MockingbirdTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    by Harper Lee

    With over 3 million reviews on Goodreads, most people are familiar with Lee’s tale of childhood antics and the cancer of racism. Scout is an adventurous but naive character who only experiences racism from a distance until it’s thrust violently into her life. Seeing the small southern town through Scout’s eyes can be a wonderful, if gradual, first step into an eye-opening recognition of injustice.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The main conflict of this book is the accused rape of a white girl by a black man. Both the racism and the believability or un-believability of the girl are sensitive topics. There are also the obvious racial slurs, other language, and violent scenes.   


    01.05.2018 Hitchhikers GuideTHE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
    by Douglas Adams

    Arthur Dent discovers his good friend is actually an intergalactic hitchhiker when he’s plucked from earth just moments before it’s destroyed. Hilarious and very British, chaos ensues as a ragtag group travels the universe. While this one may be a bit of a stretch for some kids, many enjoy both its hilarity and thoughtfulness. 

    Why it’s on the adult side: To be fair, this is an adult book. It’s both witty and, at times, philosophical. Be prepared for a smattering of language and sexual innuendos of varying degrees.   


    01.05.2018 Michael VeyMICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25
    by Richard Paul Evans

    At our library, this book is cataloged as “young adult,” but it’s enjoyed by all ages. 14-yr-old Michael Vey has Tourette's syndrome, but he also has incredible electrical powers. After discovering that one of the most popular girls in school (and his crush) has similar abilities, the two embark on a quest to discover the origin of their mutation. This story is action-packed and a lot of fun.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: Although plenty of kids love this series, I was surprised at the amount of violence. There is also moments of psychological torture that, if really considered, can be quite emotional.   

  • As librarians, we're pretty committed to the idea that the right book at the right time can change your life. So, every time we read Harry Potter, we can't help but think that things might have gone differently for Professor Snape if maybe he'd just read the right books. 

    Here are five suggestions that may have changed the course of our favorite villian-not-villian, Severus Snape. 

    by Dale Carnegie

    As you read the Harry Potter books, it's really clear that Snape could use some good friends. One of America's best-selling self-help books could surely help him learn how to be friendlier (we're sure these techniques work on muggles, though we've never tested them on wizards).  


    by Steve Smallman

    Sometimes the lessons we teach our kids are the most helpful; in this picture book, many princes try to climb Rapunzel's hair, only to find that it's too slippery. Luckily, a hairdresser comes to her rescue and teaches her proper hair hygiene. If Rapunzel can get rid of greasy hair, we're confident Snape can too. 


    by Gaston Leroux

    Perhaps Snape should have spent some time with this classic tale of unrequited love; he may have behaved differently. It doesn't end well for the Phantom either. 


    by Martin Yate

    Maybe if Snape had turned in a better cover letter to Dumbledore he would have locked down that Defense Against the Dark Arts position years ago! 


    by Daid Zyla

    The subtitle of this book reads: "a fashion expert helps you find colors that attract love, enhance your power, restore your energy, make a lasting impression, and show the world who you really are." Snape, throw off the black, and show your true colors! 


    While writing this post, we couldn't help but be a little sad thinking about Alan Rickman's recent passing; come and see his masterful performance as Snape (could they have picked a better actor?!?) tomorrow at our Harry Potter Movie Marathon. We'll start screening the first film at 9:30 AM. 

  • bring spring


    Spring is upon us, and I don't know about you, but I suddenly find myself invigorated and ready to get some things done! There are many things I have been neglecting over the winter, and now that the sun is shining and I don't have to wear my heavy winter coat outside, I think I'm just about ready to tackle them. Here's my list of biggest things to tackle over the next few weeks and the books I’m going to use to get them done.

    pruning plant by plantPRUNING PLANT BY PLANT
    by Andrew Mikolajski

    My yard feels like a wild forest sometimes, and it seems like the reaching branches sneak up on me each season. For many plants, the end of winter and beginning of spring is the right time to prune and get them ready for the new growing season. This book is a DK publication, which means it is especially gorgeous to flip through, and the many photographs are sure to perfectly illustrate just what you need to know to get your garden ready for the warm weather.


    by Francine Jay

    I don't know what it is about cold weather, but I can't help but accumulate growing piles of things that need to be organized.  Stray junk mail, art projects from my kids, and thank you letters seem to find their way into a box that I always intend to “go through later.” Somehow, the warm weather of spring always manages to inspire me to unpack my piles and get organized again, and this book has many helpful tips and hints to inspire anyone like me.


    by Sandra Block  

    Tax season always seems to sneak up on me, and each year I promise myself that I'm going to pay more attention to saving receipts throughout the year and looking for ways to lower my taxes. This book is a great resource for just this endeavor!




    by Erica Stauss

    Each spring I get so inspired by things growing everywhere that I recommit to eating produce in season. We have a few seasonal cookbooks that are committed to showing which recipes will make the best of each season, and I especially like this book as it includes information on preserving and homekeeping as well.


    complete home repairCOMPLETE HOME REPAIR: WITH 350 PROJECTS AND 2,300 PHOTOS
    Black & Decker Corporation

    These Black & Decker books are amazing in their ability to help novices like me understand what to do. From patching part of my driveway concrete that chipped from the ice in the winter, to touching up the caulk in my bathroom, to improving the efficiency of my appliances, this book is a gold mine for homeowners who need to do small repairs or simply making things work better.

    We also have an online resource for home improvement just like this book except that it also includes videos and magazine articles, through our Home Improvement Reference Center database. 

    Looking for more springtime recommendations? You're in luck!


  • dollhouse

    Truth: I actually wanted to call this list "5 Books to help you furnish that dream dollhouse you've always wanted but you couldn't afford", but the title, though accurate, proved itself a bit unwieldy. I love dollhouses and miniatures, and below I've listed some of my favorite books that contain instructions on house to build inexpensive dolls, furniture, and miniature accessories for one-inch-scale dollhouses. These make great parent and child team projects!

    dollhouse decoratorTHE DOLLHOUSE DECORATOR
    by Vivienne Boulton

    A guide to do-it-yourself dollhouse decoration presents full-color, step-by-step photographs that depict each stage in the creation of dolls, furniture, furnishings, accessories, and more, as well as pattern templates and photos of the finished product.



    by Sue Heaser

    A selection of 40+ projects guides readers in creating realistic-looking food from polymer clay for their dolls' house the easy way! Renowned polymer clay expert and author Sue Heaser teaches how to make over 100 items of food which cover a number of popular periods, including Georgian, Victorian as well as modern day. A comprehensive techniques section covers everything crafters need to know to work with polymer clay miniatures such as shaping, mixing colors, creating texture and baking. Illustrated step-by-step projects and color photos throughout show how simple the finished items are to complete. Presentation ideas for displaying the food, from bread baskets to complete table settings, are also included.

    by Jane Harrop

    Create a range of beautifully detailed accessories for dolls' houses of every period and style. From tables, chairs and shelves, to letter racks, mirrors and coat racks, everything you need to make your dolls' house a home is here. Over 30 detailed, step-by-step, illustrated projects show how to make a variety of decorative accessories. Further illustrated variation ideas allow you to adapt the style or period of the project, and mix-and-match your favorite projects to suit your dolls' house. An illustrated section on the basic materials and equipment used offers practical guidance, while the basic techniques, such as working with wood, using glues, and varnishing, are illustrated with step-by-step photographs. Easy-to-use templates and diagrams are provided where necessary, including color photocopying pages with a selection of pictures and patterns, and inspirational color photographs show the accessories displayed in situ.

    by Jane Harrop

    An essential step-by-step guide to making over 35 toys and games for the 1/12th scale dolls' house. Projects include: building blocks and mini houses, kites, abacus, xylophone, Jack-in-the-box and more! Templates and diagrams for each piece are also included.



    by Sue Heaser

    Create life-like curtains and window dressings for dolls'houses of every period and style. From curtains, blinds and drapes, to pelmets, tiebacks and valances, everything you need to create inspirational window dressings for your dolls' house is included here.

  • 1000pages

    With summer ever nearing (and our own Summer Reading Program imminent), it’s time to start considering the books that will occupy your next three months. While many folks will plan a grand stack of books to consume, others would rather take on one or two behemoths of literature. We raise a toast to those brave souls undeterred by doorstop-sized books, so in that spirit, here are 5 classics of world literature that weigh in at over 1000 pages.  

    warandpeaceWAR AND PEACE
    by Leo Tolstoy    

    Perhaps too obviously, this list must start with the book that has practically become cultural shorthand for “a gigantic book.” Tolstoy’s titanic novel of the years before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars is a surefire way to get some serious literary bragging rights. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed midway through, you can decompress by watching the recent (and terrific) BBC adaptation of the novel.   


    LesmiserablesLES MISERABLES
    by Victor Hugo

    You may already know this story very well, but Hugo’s novel is a landmark achievement that stands above all its many adaptations. This story of the French Revolution may seem daunting at the outset, but at least there’s a convenient soundtrack for your reading journey.  



    donquixoteDON QUIXOTE
    by Miguel Cervantes

    Cervantes’ epic journey of a romantic idealist lost in the contemporary world is a perfect choice for any daydreamer looking for a challenge. Recent translations have worked diligently to maintain this story’s unique voice and grasp of language – but bonus points if you conquer it in its original Spanish



    gonewiththewindGONE WITH THE WIND
    by Margaret Mitchell

    Despite its gargantuan size, GONE WITH THE WIND was one of the most popular novels of its time, which is often credited to Mitchell’s unfussy, simple style. The Depression-era equivalent of a beach read, this book may be huge, but you may be able to get through it faster than it would take to watch the movie!



    infinitejestINFINITE JEST
    by David Foster Wallace  

    After four historical epics from around the world, here’s a novel of colossal length that confronts what it means to exist in our modern world. Wallace was a singular writer who, despite his verbose work, never wrote condescendingly or ostentatiously. INFINITE JEST is a major literary challenge, but its fans promise a rich, profound experience (and it’s this librarian’s own summer challenge).  


    To all summer readers, with books big and small: good luck!

  • Every Friday, we'll bring you short lists of things our staff members are loving lately. Here's a list of Sharon's Five Favorite Clutter-Defeating Books. It's the new year, and you might not be able to take control of all aspects of your life, but these recommendations can certainly help you take control of your stuff!


    1The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
    by Marie Kondo

    A practical guide and international bestseller from a Japanese cleaning consultant. Marie’s new book, Spark Joy, will be released on January 5, 2016.  


    2ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World
    by Evan Michael Zislis

    Zislis is a professional organizer who helps people simplify so they can focus on what matters most: “who we love, what we do, how, and why we live - because everything else is just stuff.”  


    3Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized 
    by Susan C Pinsky 

    Pinsky gives practical, ADHD-friendly solutions for a more organized home and life. 


    4Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good 
    by Andrew J. Mellen 

    Professional Organizer Mellen offers this comprehensive 400-page book to make your life more organized.  


    5Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down
    by Peter Walsh

    The author maintains that people cannot make their best and healthiest choices in a cluttered, disorganized home. He presents a 6-week plan to help readers declutter AND lose weight. Walsh appears regularly on The Rachael Ray Show and writes for O: The Oprah magazine. 

  • kidsdvds

    Are you looking for a fantastic movie for the entire family? Here's a list of my favorite too-often-forgotten DVDs that your entire family can enjoy!

    dir. Brad Bird

    Hogarth Hughes just rescued an enormous robot that fell from the stars to Earth. Now young Hogarth has one very big friend and an even bigger problem: how do you keep a 50-foot-tall, steel-eating giant a secret?  

    dir. Joe Johnston

    When Alan Parrish discovers a mysterious board game, he doesn't realize its unimaginable powers until he is magically transported into the untamed jungles of Jumanji! There he remains for 26 years until he is freed from the game's spell by two unsuspecting children. Now a grown man, Alan tries to outwit the game's powerful forces.    

    dir. Hayao Miyazaki

    On her 13th birthday, a young witch named Kiki must fly away from home to a new city to find her niche in life. Accompanied by her chatty cat, Jiji, she starts a flying delivery service and discovers lots of fun-filled escapades and meets plenty of new friends.  

    dir. Chris Noonan

    An orphaned piglet, Babe, is cared for by a sheepdog and soon thinks he is one too. The farmer senses something special in Babe and enters him in the National Sheepdog Championships.  

    dir. Alfonso Cuarón

    An imaginative young girl is forced to be a servant at a boarding school after her father is killed in WWII.

  • films that dont get old
    dir. Nancy Meyers

    Even though the entire premise of THE HOLIDAY is that the two leading ladies swap homes because they don’t want to be in their hometowns for the holidays, while watching it again, I forget that it’s a Christmas movie. It’s a film played year-round because it really doesn’t have the Christmas vibe, and every time I come across it on TV, I find myself stopping to watch it. What makes it so engaging? I think it is a combo of the nod it gives Classic Hollywood (which I love), the idea of just getting away from it all and heading to England, and—let’s be honest—I wish Jude Law’s character existed in real life. Watching it again got me to thinking what other films will I stop and watch even though I’ve seen them dozens of times? (I have excluded John Wayne films from my list because he probably wins for the most watched, and I thought you would like a variety.)

    North by NorthwestNORTH BY NORTHWEST
    dir. Alfred Hitchcock

    An advertising man, played by Cary Grant, is mistaken for a government agent and is on the run for his life. I’m a fan of both Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock, so putting the two together is a perfect combination. I love the mistaken identity, the music, the humor in the moment of danger, the dialogue (so many great lines to quote!), and having the adventure travel across the U.S. When I went to Mount Rushmore on a holiday, I made my group eat at the cafeteria because of this film.

    Behind Enemy LinesBEHIND ENEMY LINES
    dir. John Moore

    Owen Wilson plays an American pilot shot down over Bosnia during a reconnaissance mission and it is up to his commander, played by Gene Hackman, to orchestrate his escape. This has got to be one of my favorite modern “war” films. It has the element that I love in my action films (and books): humor even in the moment of danger. I love when Wilson’s character is talking to Hackman’s character as he works on his escape and Wilson says, “You’re an optimist, Sir. I had you figured for a grouch.”

    Pride and Prejudice Kiera KnightlyPRIDE & PREJUDICE
    dir. Joe Wright

    I have a long saga to explain my experience with Pride & Prejudice, but to sum it up, when people found I was a librarian, they would talk about how great the book was and I would have to admit I have never read it, so I finally read it and found it frustrating. I even watched the Colin Firth film version and hated it. So when my friends all decided to go see the new Pride & Prejudice, I went along not thinking I would like it. I was so wrong. I LOVED IT! To this day anytime the Gazebo Scene comes on I stop whatever I am doing to watch it.

    Where Eagles DareWHERE EAGLES DARE
    dir. Brian G. Hutton

    Based on Alistair Maclean’s WWII novel by the same title, this is the story of an American general who is shot down over Germany and is captured; due to his knowledge of the D-Day invasion, the Allies have to go in to rescue him before the plans are compromised. This film was a vehicle to bring class to a young Clint Eastwood by pairing him up with Richard Burton and it gave Burton some brawn by teaming him with Eastwood. Great action sequences with lots of explosions.

  • americana

    Two hundred and fourteen years ago today, on February 26th 1802, Victor Hugo was born.  To celebrate his birthday, I thought a list of my favorite musicals inspired by novels would be appropriate.  I’ll admit that there was a bit of a battle and some of my favorite musicals didn’t make my list.  But here are what I consider Broadway’s best interpretations of some fantastic books!

    by Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo’s masterpiece tells of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who overcomes much to become a community pillar only to discover how hard it can be to escape your past.  I am constantly amazed at how well the music and lyrics capture a very complicated story. And the upshot of watching the musical over reading the book is you don’t have to sludge through the 50 pages Hugo spends describing the Paris sewers.  That said, everyone should still read the unabridged version at least once in their lives because it really is just that good.

    by Gregory Maguire

    I read WICKED by Gregory Maguire before there was a musical.  A while later a friend went to New York and returned raving about the amazing musical she had just seen called WICKED. I was very surprised.  My first question was “Did it end happily?” She said it did and I knew they had changed a lot while adapting that book for the stage.  I believe the book has some good parts and the concept itself is brilliant.  But I usually recommend people just enjoy the musical and leave the book on the shelf.  Does that make me a bad librarian?

    by Mark Twain

    The sign of a great musical is one with music that doesn’t leave you.  It’s a musical where, days later, you are still humming its tunes and singing its lyrics. BIG RIVER does that to me.  Who doesn’t love a song about the virtues of hogs?  Or the “*&#  *$&% Government”? Or the desire to just fish or think about fishing all day long?  These songs just speak to my soul.  In all seriousness, I love the music in BIG RIVER.  It is fun and heartfelt.  Mark Twain probably deserves some of that credit for devising characters you just can’t help but love and a story that refuses to lose its relevance with age.

    by Gaston Leroux

    No list of great musicals would be complete without THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  The musical does veer somewhat from the novel but not in ways that ever really bothered me.  The music is brilliant and the story has a little bit of something for everyone.  It has a little romance, a little adventure, a corpse hanging from the ceiling, and a deformed masked man obsessing over a pretty young girl.  Wonderful family entertainment!

    by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

    I am just realizing that I have never read DON QUIXOTE and I’ve always wanted to.  In fact, I just put the downloadable audio version on hold…there are two people ahead of me.  I hope they hurry up and finish it.  MAN OF LA MANCHA is one of the first musicals I ever saw, so there is a special place in my heart for that old man and his quest.  But, I really do need to read the book.  I’ll let you know which I like better.

  • trilogies 01


    Next Tuesday the final volume of Justin Cronin’s PASSAGE trilogy will be released.  I am VERY excited about it!  So, to commemorate here is a list of some my favorite trilogies!  

    The Passage Trilogy


    by Justin Cronin
    (2010, 2012, 2016)  

    You may notice from the publication date that it has been four long years since THE TWELVE was published.  That is why I’m so excited about this final installment appearing on our shelves.  I want to know what happens to Amy and her friends in their post-apocalyptic world filled with the living dead!  This is a dark and gripping story filled with characters I’ve grown to love in a terrifying world I am really hoping gets better by the time I turn the last page in THE CITY OF MIRRORS.   

    mistborntrilogy thumb

    by Brandon Sanderson 

    (2006, 2007, 2008)  

    I may love this trilogy mostly because I want alomantic powers more than any other fictional magic I’ve encountered.  It just sounds like fun and I want to fly.  Also, Brandon Sanderson writes great characters that I quickly grow attached to with plot lines that are seldom predictable.  Technically, this trilogy has turned into a series, but the first three tell a great story all by themselves.  

    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy


    by J.R.R. Tolkien 

    (1954, 1954, 1955)

    I don’t think I really need to defend this choice.  It’s kind of a given.  

    otori cycle

    by Lian Hearn 
    (2002, 2003, 2004)  

    TALES OF THE OTORI mixes a little bit of magic with feudal Japan.  It was one of those books that didn’t get a ton of attention when it was first released but I couldn’t put down.  That sounds a little sad, but hidden gems like ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR are a librarian’s best friends.  We rely on them when recommending books to people who have already read “everything”.  And who can resist magical ninjas?  (Again, technically, this is a series, but I didn’t love any of the books after the first three so I pretend they don’t exist.  I can easily recommend people just read the trilogy.)  

    jason bourne

    by Robert Ludlum 

    (1980, 1986, 1990)  

    If you have watched the movies, you will still be surprised by what you find in these classic spy novels.  Beyond an amnesiac assassin named Jason Bourne, the books and the movies don’t have a whole lot in common.  Cold war technology and spy craft may seem a little dated to some, but just think of it like a historical adventure novel and it becomes charmingly retro.  Right?

  • food books


    Food and books…these are a few of MY favorite things! There are so many great food memoirs, cookbooks, and novels where food is the main attraction that it's hardly surprising that I just can't get enough of them. Here are five more of my favorites, in no particular order (can't get enough either? Here are the first five I recommended!).

    deliciousDELICIOUS!: A NOVEL
    by Ruth Reichl   

    Billie Breslin has moved from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York. When the publication is shut down, Billie is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine's deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the "Delicious Guarantee.” What she doesn't know is that this experience will lead to a life-changing discovery.


    by Alea Milham

    While I have only recently picked up this book and haven’t had a chance to make anything yet, I’m excited to try out several of the recipes. In flipping through the book I’ve already learned a lot, like did you know that you can brown ground beef in a crockpot?!? I’m anxious to try that tip since cooking ground beef is one of my least favorite food prep tasks.

    by Aimee Bender

    Rose Edelstein is able to taste people's emotions in food, which at first discovery is quite shocking. She learns to harness her gift as she becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds are unable to discern. A full review of this title can be found here.   



    Tips and tricks to help cooks on any level improve their skills in the kitchen. A full review of this title can be found here



    by Molly Birnbaum

    Although I read this book four years ago, I still think about this memoir often. After a freak accident, aspiring chef Molly Birnbaum must figure out how to cope and hopefully continue her career now that she is unable to smell or taste as she once could. A full review of this title can be found here

  • text friendly

    Epistolary novels are stories written as a series of documents like journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings. It’s an interesting feature that can lend a sense of intimacy between the reader and the characters. But with our world going increasingly “online,” we’ve begun to see emails, text messages, and blog posts shaping communication and expression – even in books! When I came across my first text-message-heavy novel, I was dubious: is this going to cheapen the story? I was surprised to find that the author was able to take something so mundane and tell a compelling story with it. Below are five young adult novels that incorporate electronic messaging into the story. They might surprise you! 

    8.18 Darcy Swipes LeftDARCY SWIPES LEFT
    By Courtney Carbone

    Jane Austen meets the smart phone in this fun, modern telling of Pride and Prejudice. Told via text messages, Tinder, emails, and more, this translates smartly into modern culture.  Mr. Collins finishing his line with a #humblebrag or Mary's esoteric status updates fit perfectly in with my ideas of the characters from this classic novel. 


    8.18 TTYLTTYL
    By Lauren Myracle

    Zoe, Maddie, and Angela are starting their sophomore year, and use instant messaging to keep each other updated as they start dating, sort out other friendships, and cope with disasters.  Each character has a distinct voice and the story deals with genuine issues even though it is told completely through texts. 



    8.18 Bad KittyBAD KITTY
    By Michele Jaffe

    Seventeen year old Jasmine “Calamity” Callihan is spending the summer in Las Vegas with her father, stepmother, and snotty cousin Alyson.  Thank goodness she can keep her friends updated via text when she gets tangled up in an outrageous adventure and has to outwit a crazed killer before he takes more lives.



    8.18 The Future of UsTHE FUTURE OF US
    By Jay Asher

    It's 1996, and Emma Nelson has just gotten the internet. Her former best friend Josh gives her an AOL CD, which she installs, but when she logs on, she finds a weird site called Facebook. She can see herself in the future - and she doesn't really like what she sees. Josh, on the other hand, has a future that looks pretty ideal. Emma tries to find ways to change her future, while Josh tries to keep his the same. 


    8.18 Little Blog on the PrairieLITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE
    By Cathleen Bell

    Gen Welsh does not want to spend her summer living as if it's 1890, but since her mother signed the family up for a summer "historical reenactment" camp, Gen finds herself milking cows, churning butter, and using an outhouse. Desperate for some normalcy, Gen uses her totally-against-camp-rules hidden cell phone to text her friends about camp life, but when her friends secretly post her messages to a blog, it goes viral.