PBF: June 2016

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

War. Huh. What is it good for?

Well, actually quite a lot it turns out if you look at it as a catalyst for scientific advancement.

Mary Roach’s latest book, Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War, just hit our shelves and I had to be the first person to read it. I love Mary Roach’s books. Well researched, quirky, and often darkly hilarious, her books simmer in the science of the human experience. Her books about death (Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers), sex (Boink: the Curious Coupling of Sex and Science), food (Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal), and spirituality (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife) along with her latest about war could be gathered into one compendium called Life: the Human Experience.

Roach always focuses on the science behind these mundane elements of life on Earth.  There is surprising science all around us and she drives that point home in the first chapter by examining something so seemingly mundane it probably never crossed your mind: the science of fabrics. Nantick Labs in Massachusetts tests and develops everything the army eats, sleeps in, carries, and wears. They think of everything. A cloth is fire resistant but is it toxic? Will it wick away moisture? Can it be easily printed on or dyed? How many washes will it stand up to? Does it itch or retain body odor?

Amazingly, the army employees fashion designers to come up with solutions to other problems like snipers lying on their stomachs for hours at a time or the tear of Velcro giving away a solider’s position.


Mary Roach’s books are great for amazing facts that broaden your understanding of the world. For instance in WWII, the British Army were so beleaguered by disease spreading flies that each man had a quota that everyone was to kill 50 flies a day! The Allies and the Axis powers all waged war on pests on the battlefields and the home front. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, the illustrious  Walter Reed was called in to investigate a typhoid outbreak. He noticed flies transferring lime from latrines and graves onto food and the war on flies began for the American Army. This discovery created an occupation called military entomologist, which still exists today.


Flies, however, come with a positive side. The use of maggots to clean away necrotic flesh has be recorded as far back as the Maya and Aboriginal Tribes of Australia.  Baron Dominique Larrey, Napoleon’s personal surgeon, recognized that solider’s whose wounds were colonized by maggots had lower morbidity ratres as did Joseph Jones during the American Civil War. Maggots were officially approved to treat wounds in 2007 by the FDA.

Medically, the army has always been on the cutting edge of wound care and trauma. World War I saw the invention of reconstructive plastic surgery credited to New Zealand surgeon Harold Gillies. Walter Yeo, a sailor who lost his eyelids in the battle of Jutland, is often described as the first to benefit from advanced plastic surgery.

[Photo of Petty Officer Yeo redacted due to high probability of squeamishness bordering on nightmarish terror. If you would like to see how the first recipient of plastic surgery fared, photos are available on Google images, good luck!] 

More soldiers ever are surviving dramatic wounds from the most powerful explosives in human history. Living after having your leg or arm blown off takes a lot of adjustment, but what if a more sensitive part of the body is lost forever? Roach’s focus on human relationships and intimacy leads to a heart breaking chapter about the army’s attempts to reconstruct and, if need be, replace genitals. Though the first penis transplant happened only a month ago at Massachusetts General Hospital and was done for a cancer survivor, John Hopkins has been working on transplants for veterans for years.

With war a seemingly constant topic of discussion among humans in every country on the planet, it is nice to look at it from an objective and largely unemotional place. These interesting facts can take any war conversation from the political to the material in just a few seconds. Roach really explores the humanity behind war and the scientist trying to keep soldiers alive and as happy as possible as they try to kill one another.

Book Fitting: Wedding Planning

I am getting married! I was never the type of girl to dream about my future wedding and plan it out in detail… I was more likely to fantasize about the layout of my future home library or how my first archaeological dig would go.  But now I’m faced with the seemingly monumental task of planning a wedding for my friends, my family, and myself. This is far easier on my Fiance (of course) since he is an only child with a small family and I’m from a massive Irish Catholic family who all expect to be invited as well as a certain level of pomp and circumstance (and an open bar).


Due to the upcoming nuptials and my complete ignorance when it comes to planning something like this, I have been getting into the wedding guides and wedding book selections offered in our collection.  The wedding is going to be a do-it-yourself affair, hopefully at an outdoor venue with an indoor reception. Music, budget, decor, food, dresses, color schemes, invitations, vows, gifts for the wedding party, rehearsal dinner – all of it is in my wildly unprepared and  untrained hands, oh and the whole thing is going to be popping off in about a year and a half.

Awesome. Did I mention I wanted to elope?

The Knot: Outdoor Weddings : Fresh Ideas for events in gardens, vineyards, beaches, mountains, and more by Carly Roney


Like I said above, I want to get married outdoors and this book has a lot of awesome photographs and ideas. These couples make weddings look so easy! Just show up on a mountain top or in a barn strung with fairy lights looking like love incarnate and BOOM, married. Though this book is less about planning your wedding and much more about style, there were a lot helpful hints about keeping your guests comfortable no matter what the weather has in store and how to come up with a sensible and still beautiful “Plan B” in case the storm of the century happens on your special day. Rain on a wedding day is supposed to be good luck, right?

Style Me Pretty Weddings : Inspiration & Ideas for an Unforgettable Celebration by Abby Larson


Who doesn’t want to be pretty? Especially on your wedding day. This is the first book I looked at that used “tablescape,” a word that fills me with anxiety and dread. The plates and flatware need to be planned for how they look against tablecloths? WHY!? While the cover of this book may look very traditional, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  It was definitely written with millennials (the vast majority of people getting married at the moment) in mind. The ideas are cute, quirky, easily personalized, and in many cases, affordable. I really liked the “Advice” and “Special Touches” sections in the book. Basically these sections are quick little “don’t panic, go with your gut, you’ll be fine” reminders. That’s something every bride-to-be could use right! What’s even better is that all this advice is offered up by the couple whose wedding is being profiled. Real life advice from people who have been there, very helpful indeed! They even go a step further with a whole DIY section for some of the decor found in the featured weddings. I got a lot of ideas from the “whimsical” and “al fresco” chapters in this book. Each chapter represents a style of wedding and comes with a style blueprint so if you love a certain style or want to combine styles it’s really easy to figure out how to get the look you want.

Martha Stewart Weddings: Ideas & inspiration by Martha Stewart 


Hyper-organized, very beautiful, and EXTREMELY detailed in a way only Martha Stewart can be, this book delves into every aspect of planning a wedding from engagement, to ceremony and reception and finally send off. The advice and styles come from Martha Stewart Weddings magazine which began in 1995. Trends over the last two decades are identified as well as what is currently hot and what is not. Included are step by step guides to EVERYTHING included in this impressive volume. Martha (yes we are on a first name basis now) even gives you helpful break down of the budget, how to merge religions in one ceremony, the names of different dress styles, and great advice on writing your vows. I am still in the beginning stages of planning so this book was a little overwhelming for me but I can definitely see using it a lot down the road. I’m going to have to buy a copy!

Weddings in Color by Vane Broussard & Minhee Cho


You guys, this book is so much FUN. It’s just color palletes that are then broken down by how those colors can be used in flowers, fashion, paper products, “tablescapes” *shudder* and more. At the end of each chapter they have an “Ask the Expert” section about catering, cakes, fashion, and planning. This is a really great beginning-to-get-excited-about-your-wedding book and a great one to help you nail your color scheme and get DIY projects planned out. Not so helpful with scheduling and planning things down to the last microsecond/cent like Martha does (love her but terrified of her) but it’s a great starting point and super fun book.

And at last, my favorite title.


*All book cover images are from the tadl.org catalog. The top “bridezilla” image is from eecards.com. The featured image at the top of the page is from http://www.weddingpartyapp.com/blog/2013/12/27/2013-year-bridezilla-favorite-stories/

Fine Print Revived!!!

Hello all you Traverse Area District Library patrons and Fine Print readers!

I’m Colleen, the newest sheriff in town.

I mean Adult Services

I wanted to revive this blog for a couple of reasons. I think it is a great vehicle to showcase our collection and get to know you, our patrons! I also love how clever and down to Earth Annie’s writing is and I hope I can emulate her style. Finally, I love to read and I love libraries, why wouldn’t I want to write about them?

The blog, for now, will keep its original style and featured content while I’m getting used to writing it, but that could change in the future. I am thinking about having an entire feature just for trying out cookbooks, a look at classic science fiction, pulp novels, and other under appreciated literature, and a review of our various book club discussions!  For now though, enjoy the first post since the revival of this blog:  3 to 5 Questions for Authors with Mardi Jo Link!

3 to 5 Questions: Mardi Jo Link

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

Mardi Jo Link started her publishing career with true crime titles like When Evil Came to Good Hart, Isadore’s Secret, and Wicked Takes the Witness Stand. In 2013,  this Michigan native switched to biographical material. Her memoir, Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass On a Northern Michigan Farm, was an Indie Next pick, has been optioned for film, and received significant national attention. Her latest book, The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance, tells the story about how her eight best friends met and how they now take yearly trips to Drummond Island and will be out in paperback this August. Mardi’s books are uniquely North Michigan and are filled with so much humor and heart (yes, even the true crime books) that they are hard to put down. Her books have been wildly popular in Michigan as well as all over the country. We met for coffee and breakfast at Brew in order for me to ask her a small number of questions.

I love both your true crime books and your memoirs, why did you choose to stop writing true crime?

After publishing my first books I was looking for an agent to take my career to the next level. In the meantime I had also published some essays about my life as a single parent and the agent who was most interested in my work suggested I write a memoir. So, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn the spotlight on my own life. Bootstrapper was the result.

Bootstrapper gets very detailed about life on the farm and the difficult time you went through keeping everything running on top of raising three boys! What was the most difficult part for you and what is your favorite farm animal?

I’d say the most difficult thing is the relentless string of issues that arose during that difficult year. There was always something to be fixed or something going wrong. I’d say my favorite animal is definitely horses though I was surprised at how interesting chickens are!

In Drummond Girls, the eight of you become friends at Peegeo’s Food and Sprits (some of you as employees and some of you as regulars at the bar). What was/is your favorite thing to order there?

Vodka Soda and deep fried cauliflower! Yum! Today I’m partial to their Veggie Sub.

In interest of Fine Print tradition, I’ve gotta ask, if you were a dewey decimal number, what number and why?

My answer, at least today, is American Colonial History (973) because I have been conducting research on my own family tree for my next book. I’m researching specifically the Penn’s Creek Massacre and two young German girls a Delaware Indian raiding party captured and then raised when their parents settled on Indian land. I’m not sure what form the book will take, and to help me figure that out for the first time I’m doing something called “blogging your book.” Which just means blogging about the writing and research process. You can find it at  “A string around my finger.