Faves on hoopla

I’ve been listening to some solid music lately. Some new artists, some classic artists, some new stuff by older artists and some Prince (hey, that’s what I’m into right now).

I’m exploring this collection of music through the Traverse Area District Library’s latest and greatest digital offering called hoopla. OMURGERD, you didn’t know TADL has a pretty great and growing collection of free digital books, movies, magazines, and information on anything you could or would ever want to know about, and MUSIC!? It’s true, we do.

TADL started offering hoopla about a month ago and it’s been amazingly popular with library cardholders. Basically, it’s an online service to stream or download music, movies, tv shows, and audiobooks on your device or PC.

Personally, I think it’s the coolest offering next to Zinio digital magazines. And it’s definitely the easiest to use. All you need is a valid TADL card and to live in the taxing district, which is Grand Traverse County, Almira, Inland, and Elmwood Townships.

With this new service, there is never a waiting list, you can borrow up to 10 items per month and begin streaming content immediately.You can also download content to view at a later date (in case you won’t have WiFi in your igloo or ice fishing shanty).  At the end of the lending period the item just “poof” disappears from your device, so don’t even fret about an overdue item or a fine.

I’m definitely feeling the music collection right now but there are some pretty legit movies, tv shows, and audiobooks available through hoopla too. The entire collection seems to get better all the time, with more than 150,000 titles in the system and new ones added weekly, including 11,000 audiobooks, around 40,000 movies and TV shows, and100,000 music titles, The best part is that all of this material is absolutely free.  It’s an excellent supplement to the library’s physical collection with brand new music releases like Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities to Love  and music by the “better than Drake” Childish Gambino. He’s the best rapper living, his words, not mine, although Troy does seem to know how to lay it down.  And then there is Prince, all of him, and of course the guitar shredding of Grammy nominated St. Vincent.

hoopla music favs

1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
2. Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
3. Pretty much the entire works of Prince
4. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

So, those are my current hoopla faves, my picks.  Go ahead, grab your TADL card, log in, and start browsing hoopla for yours.

3 to 5 with James Scott

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

In Which A Librarian asks a Talented Author a Small Number of Questions

One of our many awesome book clubs is Books & Brewskis. We meet monthly at The Filling Station Microbrewery where the staff is suuuuuuuper nice and the pizza is hot and delicious and the beerz is flowin’. And we talk about awesome books (or at least regular books that awesome people have feelings about).

In February, we will be reading the debut novel of James Scott: The Kept. Here is the summary:

In the winter of 1897, Elspeth Howell treks across miles of snow and ice to the isolated farmstead in upstate New York where she and her husband have raised their five children.  But as she crests the final hill, and sees her darkened house, immediately she knows that an unthinkable crime has destroyed the life she so carefully built.

 Her lone comfort is her twelve-year-old son, Caleb, who joins her in mourning the tragedy and planning its reprisal. Their long journey leads them to a rough-hewn lake town. There Caleb is forced into a brutal adulthood, as he slowly discovers truths about his family he never suspected, and Elspeth must confront the terrible urges and unceasing temptations that have haunted her for years. Throughout it all, the love between mother and son serves as the only shield against a merciless world.

 A scorching portrait of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence, The Kept is told with deep compassion and startling originality, and introduces James Scott as a major new literary voice.

Sounds beautiful and creepy, two of my favorite qualities in a book. And, lucky us, James Scott was nice enough to answer some questions about himself and his new novel, which is receiving excellent praise.

Q: Reviews of The Kept categorize it as a western, a thriller, a historical novel, crime fiction AND literary fiction. How would you describe your book and did authors of a specific genre inspire your work?

A: I like authors that sprinkle some genre into literary work. I love Cormac McCarthy for example, and he often draws from westerns or thrillers. Right now, I’m reading Station Eleven, and that combines a bunch of things. If you had to put it on one shelf, though, it would be literary, simply because it doesn’t adhere to any of those genre conventions fully enough to qualify completely, I don’t think. It’s the platypus of books.

Side note: I don’t read reviews. I read three and a half. That was plenty.

Q: How important are titles to you?

A: Pretty important, but not crucial. I liked The Kept because it spoke to many elements of the book, and in that sense, it shifts in meaning depending on where you are. I have trouble with them until I have a clear idea of what the book’s about in the larger sense.

Q: This novel is set in the turn of the twentieth century. How much research do you do before you began writing?

A: Before I started? Almost none. Once I got going, I had a better sense of what I needed and was able to fill in the holes as I went. I can fall down research holes and never emerge, so I wanted to go to the library/internet/youtube/expert with questions that were as specific as possible.

For the aspiring historical fiction writers out there,  if there was a Sears catalog when your book takes place, find one. It has everything– guns, clothes, perfume, food– you could ever need.

Q: Whatcha working on now?

A: A novel set in Vermont in the 1990s. The main character runs an architectural salvage shop and is a volunteer diver for the police department. I told my agent it would be funny, and it’s funnier, I suppose, but it’s definitely not funny. More death and misery!

Q: Anything unexpected in your reading pile/ #toread stack?

A: Unexpected? Probably not? Lemme see… Find Me by one of my best friends from grad school, Laura van den Berg; Sometimes the Wolf, by my other best friend from grad school and best man, Urban Waite (I read that one, but he made some changes that I’m sort of skimming to find); The Kid (Ted Williams bio that I’m sort of savoring); Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell; Duplex by Kathryn Davis; and All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu.

I keep some short stories close by in case I don’t have the patience/time for a novel: Best American Short Stories (Egan, ed), Man v. Nature by Diane Cook, Karen Bender’s Refund.

Librarian’s note: Ok, I asked more than 5 questions. But it’s my blog post and he’s got great answers so, if you’re a rule stickler, don’t read on.

Q: What’s just about the best thing you’ve ever seen?

A: I don’t have kids yet, which would be the easy answer. Instead, here is a list of finalists:

  • My wife in her wedding dress
  • Walking up to my mom’s house at Christmastime, when it’s all lit up and warm inside
  • My dog swimming
  • Sunsets:
    • reflected on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY
    • over the land beneath Lookout Mountain, in Georgia, which is one of the places I go to write and also where I got married
    • from the Cross at Sewanee, in Tennessee
    • on the horizon of the Atlantic in Ogunquit, Maine
    • on the mountains in Vermont
  • The moment of blackness before a movie starts
Q: If you were a Dewey Decimal number, what number would you be?

A: Oh, I’m fine being in old 813. 8 is my lucky number and 13 is 13. So it’s nice and even.

Books & Brewskis will be discussing The Kept on Tuesday, February 24 at 7 PM. In the meantime, check out James Scott’s website and his recommendations for wonderful things!

Party Banter Friday | January

Party Banter Friday: 

In Which A Librarian Provides You With An Interesting Fact to Make You More Popular During Weekend Socializing


Happy PBF! You know how when it’s bitterly cold out, you hole up in your house and at first it’s kind of cozy and you make snacks and watch an entire series of a TV show on Hoopla (plug for Hoopla which is the awesome new way you can download music, TV, and music with your library card)? But then like a month passes and you don’t feel cozy, just cold, and you’re out of snacks and going out doesn’t seem like an option, but staying in your house one single second longer also doesn’t seem like an option so you just stay in bed and shop online for sun lamps?

We’re at that point here in the great white north. BUT, there’s hope. And it comes in the form of this month’s Party Banter fodder fact. Feel free to share this fact in all your socializing, even if you don’t socialize again until spring:

Annie Dillard lived alone in a valley in Virginia  while she wrote her Pulitzer Prize winning narrative, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and recovered from pneumonia. She transposed entries from her journal “onto thousands of note cards and then, for eight months, wrote the note cards up into a book. Towards the end of the eight months, Dillard was working for up to 16 hours a day. She lived mainly on coffee and Coke, and lost 30 pounds in weight. The plants in her house died.”

(Quotation taken from Robert McFarlane’s article, An Impish Spirit, available here.)


This is to say: ok, maybe we’re all going a little crazy. But if you’ve got coffee and pop in your pantry and some half-dead houseplants*, you could be on your way to a Pulitzer Prize!

At the very least, you could be on your way to reading a really great book about nature, solitude, faith, and exploration in the vein of Thoreau’s Walden. And if you finish that and like it, I would suggest trying For the Time Being by Dillard as well. If you’re a slow reader, it may be time for the thaw by the time you finish them. If not, we’ll always have more suggestions for you here.

*: and also are sort of a genius and a really lyrical writer


Photo credit: Above photo from brainpickings.org; our featured image for PBF is a picture from our digital history collection. You can view the original image and browse our collection here.

Reference Couch: 2015 for Procrastinators

The Reference Couch

In Which A Librarian Tries to Solve Your Personal Problems with Literature

Did you mean to get around to making some changes in the new year, but 2015 just rolled around so fast? Did you tell yourself you were going to read those January 1st resolution articles that all your friends posted, but then by the time you got around to it you didn’t feel up to all that scrolling? Were you just too excited about the new season of The Bachelor to think about anything else, but then after you watched it you felt, more than ever, the need to find purpose in your life?

Just because the new year already started, doesn’t mean it’s too late to make a change. But since you’re already a little late to the game (and a little bit lazy), might as well assess your options before you jump in. The library has information about pretty much whatever new thing you want to start doing or old thing you want to stop doing. Go ahead and dabble a bit before you get crazy with the “taking action”. 2015 isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Grab a snack, maybe waste some time watching daytime television and then leisurely check out the list of resolution options below, based on my extensive research of what I feel like people are probably resolving to do this year (I’m a little bit lazy too):

body1. Start a weird diet or a not-that-weird diet. I was just poking through our collection of dieting books and we’ve got something for any crazy or sane way you could think of to lose weight. You could diet every other day, you could diet for 17 days or 4 days. If you’re a MILF or a goddess, or a thug, there is a diet for you. If you want to live longer, eat yourself more fertile, eat only specific colors, we’ve got it. Getting your diet book at the library is particularly genius because by the time you’ve quit, you’ll have to return it so it won’t lurk around your house judging you.

2. Cook more. I think I’ve mentioned our cookbook selection before, have I not? We just have a splendiferous cookbook collection. You should come in and look and take a few home. Even if you just look at the pictures while you eat pizza rolls.

3. If that all seems “a little much”, you could just resolve to eat breakfast, like sometimes. Whole Grain Mornings can help you out there. A Real American Breakfast can also inspire you to at least scramble an egg.

4. Drink more water. There’s not really a book about this. You should just drink more water. But you can watch Tapped, a documentary about access to clean drinking water, while you drink more water.

5. Exercise. We’ve got exercise DVDs from Jane to Jillian! You can do yoga, work out that core, there are several items with the name “bootcamp” in them if you’re into that. Do it! Or think about doing it.

6. Sleep better. If all that serious thinking about eating right and moving more hasn’t worn you out, you might read what the guys over at Harvard have to say about a good night’s sleep; as well as several books and DVDs with advice on making your children sleep, ALL of which I have personally read and/or watched in an attempt to my own child to sleep (the winner here for me was the Sleepeasy Solution).

mom7. Make/save/somehow get your hands on s’more money. Peruse Money magazine for FREE and get a leg up on saving money. If you’re a young buck you can read The Student Loan Mess. Old bucks can read The 5 Years Before You Retire or choose from our bevvy of retirement planning books. We’ve got yer Jim Cramer, yer Suze Orman, and yes, we have the weird bow-tie Free Money guy from the commercial. And if all this talk about money money money money has you disheartened, read The Man Who Quit Money and consider the option of living in a cave like Suelo.

8. Find a new job. Come on over and search for jobs with our free wi-fi, using one of our computers or laptops. And while you’re here, read The Bigs: The Secrets Nobody Tells Students and Young Professionals about How to Find a Great Job… Or just tell everyone you’re doing that and come to the library and look at fun stuff.

9. Find a new partner.  Reignite some passion with your old partner. We have all of Steve Harvey‘s books. Nuff said.

10. Get out more.  Whether getting out means the great outdoors or trekking the globe, you can start at the library. Look in the 508 section for Natural History (i.e. books about going outside, I particularly like The Bumper Book of Nature). Or if you’re hoping to travel more, check out the 914-919s for wanderlust.

11. Get organized. Oh yeah, we’ve got stuff about that. And we’ve conveniently organized them for you here.


12. Lay off the technology, except for reading Fine Print. Eric Brende has some really interesting things to say about man and machine in his book Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology. It’s call number is 303.483 BRE in case you’ve already given up technology by the time you get here and can’t look it up in the catalog.

13. Free your mind by being nicer and happier. George Saunders gave a great speech on kindness that you probably didn’t hear if you didn’t graduate from Syracuse University. So you can read it in book form. It’s called Congratulations, By the Way. I find that even typing the word “happiness” into a search bar makes me happy, but if you’re more high maintenance, you could try Spontaneous Happiness, A Short Guide to a Happy Life or this sweet art book by an adorable woman named Maira Kalman called And the Pursuit of Happiness.

14. Free Your Mind by listening to more En Vogue this year. Step 1 and 2: Be color blind and don’t be so shallow. The rest will follow.

15. Dance like no one is watching. I see this phrase emblazoned on a lot of crafts, so I assume this is a resolution of many. I’ll just leave this here.

I hope this post RESOLUTIONIZED your 2015. My resolution was to create more words.

 Photo Credit (featured image): arthursoares via photopin cc

Got a question for The Reference Couch? Email us at ask@tadl.org, or send a message to us on Facebook.

3 to 5 with Charles Baxter

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

In Which A Librarian asks a Talented Author a Small Number of Questions

We love Charles Baxter’s fiction, non-fiction and poetry and we extra-love that he has ties to Michigan where he directed the Creative Writing program at University of Michigan. He is a National Book Award finalist, has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant and was also a Michigan Author of the Year. You can check out his work here (may I recommend The Feast of Love to start?) and read his quick interview with us below:

Q: When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself a writer?
A:  When my first book, Harmony of the World, was published in 1984.
Q: Have you read anything lately that makes you think differently about fiction?
A: No. Once I reached middle age, I had a fairly clear idea about what fiction was and could do. Nothing that I’ve read lately has changed my view of that, fortunately or unfortunately.
Q: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
A: The unrelieved suffering of children and of animals.
Q: Anything unexpected in your reading pile?
 Thanks Mr. Baxter!

TADL #toread: Allison Beers

Allison Beers is the owner of the events management company, Events North, and a 7-time (!) 40 under 40-er for the Traverse City Business News. Here’s what’s in her #toread pile:

photo (2)

Allison says:

“I love to read books from amazing business leaders to get different perspectives on what made them successful.  I was an English major in college and was fortunate to get to read so many classics while at Albion.  Dr. Horstman is a Traverse City resident and was a professor of mine (one of my favorites) at Albion so I HAD to read his new book.  Between running two businesses and two kids, I try to read a few minutes here and there when I can!  Also, I own about 110 scarfs so I’m always looking for new ways to tie them!”

Check out some of Allison’s books at TADL:

Not Becoming My Mother by Ruth Reichl

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Rebuilding the Foodshed by Philip Ackerman-Leist

The Work of Leaders by Julie Straw

Want to show us what you’re reading?: Post a picture of your #toread stack and use the hashtags #tadltoread and #fineprint.