Category Archives: Library Lurve

Summer Reading for Graduates

If you’ve noticed that the only food group in your diet lately has been Free Pasta Salads, don’t worry. It’s not a covert conspiracy between macaroni salesmen and Midwestern moms to take over the world. Alright, it is, but it’s also graduation party season. And in your mayonnaise dressing haze, you may have forgotten that in exchange for the free food, you should bring a gift for the recent graduate (if you’ve crashed the party and are having trouble picking the grad out of a crowd, look for the one giving off the ‘frightened and aimless’ vibe, usually characterized by nervous laughter and a constant darting of the eyes).

Maybe your biggest gift to them is a human representation of life choices they should avoid. But you can’t wrap that. So consider the (cue echo) GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE. Instead of giving them a dayplanner or a laundry basket or the cash they really want, you could give your grad a book. And if you can’t afford to buy them a book, give them the following list and take them to the library to get a library card, the greatest gift of them all!

High School Grads:

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For Guidance:

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: This book has remained popular since it’s release in 1990. I’m convinced it’s going to change my life once I  get around to reading it.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison: This essay collection about modern situations involving empathy explores how we relate to others. Good buy if you’re terrified your teen has spent too much time on their phone and won’t know how to feel empathy, although I think they’ll probably do ok. They just call it feels now.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: This guy won a Nobel Prize so you should listen to what he has to say about our quick intuitive thinking vs. our deliberate logical thinking and when to use which.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit: Got a grad that wants to explore? Send them packing with this thoughtful book to ponder as they wander.

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming by Per Espen Stoknes: Since they have to fix that.

For Fun:

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley: If American Graffiti took place in this century in Australia and instead of cruising you spent the night biking around with a boy searching for your favorite graffiti artist. So maybe not at all like American Graffiti. But still great.

The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour: This is one of my favorite summer books. A group of recent grads on a road trip, falling in and out of love and wondering what their futures hold.

College Grads:

“There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a… a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know… a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about 10 minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle… and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights, and I ride my own melt.”

In my opinion, the above speech by Reality Bite’s Troy Dyer is the only graduation speech you need. But if you were looking for something a little more hopeful, try any of these:

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: This collection by 2012 Yale grad, Marina Keegan, includes her popular essay from the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness”. The piece went viral after Marina was tragically killed in a car crash just days after her graduation

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling: Lookit, everyone knows that everything that comes out of Rowling’s mind and mouth is wise and golden, so why wouldn’t you give this book to everyone you know?

Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders: Saunder’s speech to Syracruse U grads on how to live a satisfying life by being kinder.

If This Isn’t Nice What Is: Advice for the Young by Kurt Vonnegut: This is a collection of Vonnegut’s best speeches and includes “How to Make Money and Find Love!” and “How to Have Something Most Billionaires Don’t”

For Fun:

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham: Gotta let Lena herself describe this one:

“If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile…No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.”

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: A reinvention of classic love stories. Three recent college grads in the 1980s tryna figure it out.

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This generation isn’t the first to be chastised for being entitled. Anthony and Gloria, the main characters of this novel (believed to be based on Fitzgerald himself and his wife Zelda) are young, beautiful, and spendin’ cash like it’s going out of style in the early 1900s. But, as the title might imply, it doesn’t bode well for them… “Life plays the same lovely and agonizing joke on all of us.”

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: This book is so funny, but also so real and unapologetic about how hard it is to do what you really love.

Just Kids by Patti Smith: From Publishers Weekly: “In 1967, 21-year-old singer–song writer Smith, determined to make art her life… left her family behind for a new life in Brooklyn. …Through a series of events, she met a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe who changed her life—and in her typically lyrical and poignant manner Smith describes the start of a romance and lifelong friendship with this man.”

Good luck graduates. Stay sweet. Don’t ever change. I’ve had a crush on you since the first grade and never had the nerve to tell you, etc. etc.

 

What You Should Read based on your Go-To Karaoke Song

That annoying DJ who tries to harmonize with everyone is about to ask the bar to “give it up” for you.  You know your song. You’ve choreographed your leg kicks. But the big question, my little China doll, my island in the stream, my gypsy tramp and/or thief: what are you going to read when the lights go down?

Ballads

1. Bob Seger catalog: Tom Drury catalog

Here in Michigan “Night Moves” is our “Born in the USA”. When I was very pregnant with my son, I fantasized about showing up at a strange bar with an empty suitcase for a prop and doing a wistful rendition of “Against the Wind”. Never happened, but I (and you!) can live out my Seger fantasies of rough youths, struttin’ women and Boomer regrets with the laidback and lyrical books of Tom Drury. Drury has three books, written over the span of 20 years, that explore the lives of characters growing up in and passing through Grouse County, Iowa. Like Seger, Drury’s prose are conversational and about the “everyman”. James Kidd of The Independent said that Drury’s first book The End of Vandalism “doesn’t so much thrust as insinuate its greatness upon you”. Lose your awkward teenage blues in this writer.

2. Islands In The Stream by Kenny Rogers, featuring Dolly Parton: The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

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If you’ve got somebody who will make a fool of themselves singing this song with you, than you have a true partner. Such is the duo in Zadoorian’s The Leisure Seeker. John has progressive dementia. His wife Ella has too many physical ailments to count. So they escape their kids and hospital visits in an RV set for Disneyland and “ride it together”. And they rely on each other, uh whoaaaa, from one lover to another, oh whoaaa.

3. I’ll Be There For You by Bon Jovi: Endless Love by Scott Spencer

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“When you breathe, I want to be the air for you”. Sounds creepy-intense. If that’s your thing, read Scott Spencer’s Endless Love, the 1979 classic of young love. Young love so deep that when David is forbidden to continue seeing Jade, he thinks maaaybe he’ll win her back by starting a safe fire to her home and rescuing her family. It goes awry. “Baby you know my hands are dirty. But I wanted to be your valentine.”

4. Stay by Lisa Loeb: First Bad Man by  Miranda July and An Education by Lynn Barber

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I sang this song until I was breathless while riding my bike through my neighborhood in junior high, wishing my eyesight were poor enough for cat-eye glasses. It’s a perfect serenade for a naive young woman in her first relationship and, wouldn’t you know it, people write books about that sort of thing too. I would tell you to read An Education by Lynn Barber and First Bad Man, Miranda July’s new novel, but you only hear what you want to.

5. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by The Shirelles: Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller

What a sweet song. Please sing this with lots of swaying. Then read the triple-biography Girls Like Us. Carole King wrote the song, which makes this pairing particularly apt; but the book also captures a lot of the hope and romance that “Will You…” expresses. All three women experience a lot of love (it was the sixties) and loss. Especially Carly and James Taylor. Sigh.

6. Mama Tried by Merle Haggard: The Kept by James Scott

OMG, this book was made for this song.  I can’t even. The mama in James Scott‘s The Kept sure did try. First she did a series of unforgiveable things. But oh how she tried after that. Caleb is “the one and only rebel child” because all his other siblings and his father were brutally murdered. He and mama take off in the frozen wilderness to track down the killers and “mama seemed to know what lay in store”. Read. It.

7. Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain and Tennille: Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom

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You’ve got to believe that love will save the day if you’re singing this song. That and a hearty helping of cheeseball are the only ways you’re going to pull it off.  Look in your heart and find this memoir of love at long last, Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom. Patience is an editor at Harlequin and reads fictional romance all the day long. But can love like that exist in the real world? Can it?

8. Damn, I Wish I Was your Lover by Sophie B. Hawkins: Rainbow Rowell

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Sophie B. Hawkins of the “As I Lay Me Down” song that for some reason always conjures up memories of watching Party of Five also sang “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” some years prior! Shucks!  Anyway, that feisty, fun, smart sort of yearning feeling you get when you hear “Damn…” can also be found in the fiction of Rainbow Rowell, particularly Fangirl, Attachments, and Eleanor & Park. But if you didn’t think you could feel the same passion as you could in 1992 because you’re old and married now, for goodness sakes read Landline. It’s the best. She’s the best. Damn, I wish I was her best friend.

9. Beginnings by Chicago: Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke by Rob Sheffield

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“I wish I could sing it to you, oh no”. I hesitate to put this song in the ballads category, because there was some serious dancing going on when my friend Joel, also a librarian, sang this at karaoke. Librarians can turn it up. If you love this tune and the thrills and chills of new love, read Turn Around Bright Eyes. If you hadn’t already guessed, this book is about karaoke, but it’s also about new beginnings.

On the Dance Floor

1. Gypsies Tramps and Thieves by Cher- American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare, The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott

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And every night all the men would come around…

If you haven’t actually karaoke’d to Cher, you’ve dreamed of it. Oh, to be an alto. Not only do I think American Rose is a great book match for a guy or gal who can belt “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves”, I think Cher herself would dig this book. The true story of the famed vaudeville stripteaser Gypsy, that is more crazy-scandalous then a commercial for Dr. Phil. Illicit affairs, rampant swindling, murder, false teeth, sequins and yes, gypsies, tramps and thieves. It’s all there for you.

2. Bowie: The Wicked and the Divine series by Kieron Gillon and Jamie McKelvie

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The question isn’t whether or not you should sing Bowie, it’s what Bowie song to sing. Suffragette City? Young Americans? Modern Love? Probably you should just fill up the queue with all of them. No one else really felt like singing tonight, right? And while you’re waiting for your name to be called again, start reading the graphic novel series The Wicked and the Divine. Every 90 years, 12 gods appear on earth in fantastic outfits and are revered as pop stars for two years, until they die. I’m pretty sure this is the closest you’re going to get to experiencing what David Bowie was dreaming/hallucinating in the seventies.

3. Kiss Me Deadly by Lita Ford: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

No TV. No money. Late for her job. Lita wanted a little more thrill out of life. If you can’t get it from dancing to her tune, get it from the queen of romantic suspense, Ms. Nora Roberts. One of her latest is called Whiskey Beach, so if reading the word “whiskey” doesn’t make you throw up in your mouth a little the morning after karaoke, give it a try!

4. Pencil Thin Mustache by Jimmy Buffett: Carl Hiaasen

Buffett and Hiassen are a tropical match made in heaven. “Oh I wish I had a pencil thin mustache, then I could solve mysteries too.” As luck would have it, you can because Hiaasen’s forte is Florida-based mysteries! Try Bad Monkey or Skinny Dip. See? Those even sound like titles to Buffett songs!

5. Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy by Big & Rich: Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

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Sounds like you’re having a hard time expressing your desire to relate to the fairer sex. Let’s start with The Feminine Mystique and move on from there.

6. Tight Pants Body Rolls by Leslie Hall: Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture by Frank Owen

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You just came to dance and you don’t care who knows it. High kicks. Body Rolls. While you’re re-hydrating and resting your shins, you might be interested in Clubland, Frank Owen’s six year exploration of late 90s Manhattan discos. Actually, there’s no “might” about it, you will definitely be into this no-rules, no-limits exposé.

7. Prince: Amor & Psycho by Carolyn Cooke

Prince is a storyteller that pushes the envelope. He doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects, even if they make some uncomfortable. And I know for a fact they make people uncomfortable because when I was a young child and my sisters were teenagers, they helped me memorize the words to all the inappropriate Prince songs and man does it make people uncomfortable to hear a seven-year-old sing “Delirious”. Carolyn Cooke’s offbeat collection of stories, Amor & Psycho give off a similar vibe. Kirkus Reviews called the collection “erotic, whimsical, and profound”. So put on your raspberry beret, drive your little red Corvette over to the library and pick up this book.

8. Queen: Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones 

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There are so many hits to choose from here and you’ll do none of them justice because Freddie Mercury has the best voice of all time. But it’s fun to try. And just like there’s no match for Freddie’s voice, I couldn’t find a book that embodied Queen as well as this rock bio of the band’s frontman. Author Jones traveled around the world to talk to Mercury’s closest friends and family and the result is an intimate story about one man and his love of music.

 

Called Out For Excessive Window Shopping

Hey Tiger Fans,

We’re lookin’ pretty good this year, eh? Ehhhhh? And I’ve got a new superstition that will help us ensure those Tigers keep go gettin’ em. Instead of growing our beards out or not changing our socks (these things tend to scare the patrons), let’s all consume as much baseball pop culture as we can and our collective Field of Dreams vibes will float up into those Pure Michigan skies and hover right over Comerica Park. If you read/watch/listen to it, they will win. Sorry, am I getting too The Secret-y?

The late great Ernie Harwell used to say that a player was “called out for excessive window shopping” after a strikeout. But window shopping at the library is a good thing. Like a good FREE thing.

So if you love the Tigers, browse through our baseball collection. They’re all homers! To make this list, I channeled my inner Lynn Wells, the librarian with the heart of bitter from Major League:

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“Agh, I got some readin’ to do.”: BOOKS 

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Fiction:

” What about losers? What about failures? What about the ordinary @$*! outcasts of this world – who happen to comprise ninety percent of the human race! Don’t they have dreams, Agni?”                                                   – Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel

Non-Fiction:

“Why do we remember the Boys of Summer? We remember because we were young when they were, of course.”- Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer

“In case you haven’t noticed and, judging by the attendance, you haven’t…”: MOVIES:

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Pitcher’s Got A Big Butt: Baseball’s Underdogs

I Believe in the Church of Baseball: Baseball and Redheaded Women

  • Field of Dreams: Kevin Costner stars as a baseball guy with a sassy red-headed love interest named Annie who loves reading. “Is this heaven?” “It’s Iowa.” Gah, this is a good movie.
  • Bull Durham: Kevin Costner stars as a baseball guy with a sassy red-headed love interest named…Annie…who loves reading. And off-shoulder tops! But actually totally different.
  • A League of Their Own: Hey Geena Davis. Where’d you go, girl? I’ll always be a wannabe Rockford Peach.
  • Fever Pitch:  Drew’s cute. Jimmy’s cute. And the Red Sox actually won when they were filming this movie. That’s the real game at the end there. #specialfeaturesnerd
  • Trouble with the Curve: I think at this point we’ve established at this point that baseball guys can only love redheaded women. This is a great flick if you want to trick your husband into watching an emo flick by saying, “I got a baseball movie at the library!”

With or Without an Asterick: History Lessons

  • Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns: If you’ve got 18.5 hours to kill, check out all 9 innings of this Emmy-award winning documentary.
  • Pride of the Yankees: The story of Lou Gehrig as portrayed by dreamboat Gar Cooper.
  • Eight Men Out: Charlie Sheen, John Cusak and the guy from The Cutting Edge tell the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal.
  • 42: A bio film that shows the career of Jackie Robinson as he struck that color barrier out.
  • The Rookie: Based on a true story and every minor league baseball player’s favorite movie.
  • Moneyball: What’s sexier than a good-lookin’ catcher? Statistics.

“Wild thing, you make my heart sing.”: SONGS

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There’s nothing quite like sitting outside with the radio coming through the screen window and a baseball game tuned in–but there are a few songs that come close. Like Centerfield by John  Fogerty or Joe DiMaggio Done It Again by Billy Bragg and Wilco (lyrics by Woodie Guthrie). Miggy and Verlander are both walking up to Eminem this year. Click here to see walk up songs for the whole team.

That’s all for now Tigers fans. I’m looooong gone.

This post is dedicated to my dad who loves baseball the most and always helped me cheer for Sweet Bou Whitaker (I had trouble with my L’s).

The featured picture is from the Detroit Free Press and found on historicdetroit.org.

 

 

 

 

Future Islands Changed My Life

One year ago this month, the band Future Islands appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and blew everyone’s mind, including Letterman’s, leaving him chuckling, “I’ll take all of that you got!”

It was my first time seeing and hearing the band and it was the first time in a long time that I felt moved by new music. They oozed sincerity, not aloofness, not hipness, not rock-starness. They made me smile. That performance should have been the final scene in a movie where everyone finally recognizes how sweet and awesome the guy they’ve been ignoring is. If they ever remake Back to the Future*, it should replace the scene where Marty McFly and the Starlighters play Johnny B. Goode.

Then I looked up the video. More genuine feels.

Step three. See if my local public library has their records. Of cooooourse they do! I even got a “good record” and a nod by the Sight & Sound department when I checked it out. That’s the public library equivalent of street cred.

So here it is one year later and I’m still listening to and thinking about the Singles album and what I’m thinking about it is that I think it changed my life.

Not in a big way, but in some important ways. The way books usually change me. I loved it so much I wanted to call old friends and talk about it, which reminded me I should call my old friends more and made me miss them in the best I-have-great-old-friends way. I started feeling brighter in the dark winter mornings because I danced and sang “My Sun In the Morning” with my son. The way frontman Samuel T. Herring seemed to pour his heart out with his unadorned lyrics made me feel less self-conscious about the way I expressed myself, through words, and dress and dance.

Being moved by the authenticity and simplicity of Future Islands also made the irony and sarcasm and power-trips, and yadda yadda yadda seem that much more tiresome. And I began looking for the feeling I got from that music in the television and movies I watched, the books I read, the Facebook friends I followed. I’m still looking (LA Story with Steve Martin comes close). But in the meantime, I’m not sick of listening to Singles on repeat and I don’t know if I ever will be. Daaaang,  “Back in the Tall Grass” makes me feel like a teenager with the whole summer ahead of me and a big ol’ crush to take up all my thinking time.

So lots of other people have written much smarter and more informative reviews of this band, but I hope this one is the most sincere because this band makes me want to make the whole world more sincere. I hope they have the same effect on you or, rather, I hope something you read or listen to or watch has this effect on you. Start looking for it at the library.

*: please don’t ever try to remake Back to the Future.

Photo Credit: Bjørn Giesenbauer via Flickr

Cabin Fever Cures

Up here in the north it’s looking a little like the zombie apocalypse. Whiteout conditions are making it difficult to see so we have to rely on our hearing to notice each other coming- the tell-tale sign of a fellow Febru-zombie approaching is the sound of clomping boots and deep, shallow mouth breathing. We’ve all got static-y hat hair and barely any skin left above our lips from blowing our noses too much.

So it makes perfect sense that with the below ZERO temperatures and the blowing snow and our hideous appearances, we have chosen to stay indoors until we run out of either food or sanity. Here is a list of ways the library can help you thwart cabin fever:

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Photo credit: Cabin via photopin (license)

Your Coffee Table Is Talking About You

If I’ve learned anything from browsing the home decor area of our collection, it’s that people named Judith seem to have some sort of leg up on the interior design industry. But if I’ve learned anything else, it’s that beautiful books on a coffee table never go out of style. From Judith’s Guide to Country Chic to Japanese-Inspired with Judith, it’s agreed that a good ol’ book on a table will help make your home homier and say to your houseguests, “Hey, I think about things.”

Except sometimes beautiful coffee table books are really expensive. And so instead, your coffee table is saying, “I fold laundry.” or  “I bought a ceramic dish intending to also buy pretty things to put in it but now it’s where we put the cat toys” or “I watch Game of Thrones and eat macaroni and cheese and then I leave the bowl here so the noodles dry up and stick to it.”

That’s fine. You do you. But, if you ever want your coffee table to say something else, your local library has a collection of beautiful, smart books, in all shapes and sizes, that will start great conversations with your guests. And the best part is that you can switch them out whenever you want. If you’re feeling goofy and bright one day and dark and down and why-aren’t-we-freaking-out-about-climate-change-all-the-time!!!!-ey the next, we’ve got books for that, and for everything in between.

So, what do you want your coffee table to tell your friends? Here are just a few examples:

“I appreciate beauty.”

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Though your curtains may be old sheets and your couch covered in Slurpee stains, you can still display something of beauty in your living room:

Sharon Tate: Recollection by Debra Tate: Sharon Tate was, among many other things, actually the most beautiful person that ever lived. Even as a young child, she is stunning. This collection of photographs and personal stories compiled by her sister Debra, with a foreword by Roman Polanski, focuses on her joy and her life, rather than her brutal death by the Manson Family. You and your guests will stare. You’ll gaze. Note: Don’t keep this book on your table if you have hopes of making out with a date. Both of your faces, lovely as they may be, will only look sadly ordinary in comparison. Mood killer.

Other Worlds by James Trefil: These images of the cosmos are almost as breathtaking as Sharon Tate’s face. We have a lot of gorgeous books of space photos, but the nebulae in this collection are particularly stellar.

“I’m socially responsible.”

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A smart-looking book haphazardly lying around to make it look like you’ve read it says more than a 24-hour news channel blaring in the background, and it says it quietly:

Posters For The People: Art of the WPA by Ennis Carter: These bright posters were created by the artists sponsored by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and 40s, part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. I particularly like the ones about books and not burning them. It’s too bad some of the illustrators of these posters are anonymous because they deserve big-time credit.

The Innocents by Taryn Simon: Taryn Simon interviewed and photographed 45 men and women who were wrongfully accused and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit and then, eventually, freed. The portraits are quiet and thought-provoking. Most of them take place at the scene of the crime.  And the author gave a voice to the accused that they might not have otherwise had.

“I like things you probably haven’t even heard of. I’m hip.”

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Everybody wants to be tastemaker or turn their friends on to something they might really love. I find that people are more likely to respond favorably when I leave the new thing I love out for them to find instead of talking incessantly about it and accidentally spoiling the plot:

Acme: Our Annual Report to Shareholders and Rainy Day Saturday Afternoon Fun Book, a Library of Novelty by Chris Ware: Really anything by graphic novelist, Chris Ware is going to be colorful and intricate and attention-grabbing. But Acme‘s size and browsability make it a perfect coffee table book. This collection of comics is complex and inventive and weird and just fun to look at. I might also recommend Hand-Drying in America by Ben Katchor as another good graphic coffee table book…if it were not currently checked out and placed on my own coffee table.

The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover by Kevin Reagan: Alex Steinweiss is the guy who first said, “Let’s illustrate album covers!”. Aren’t you glad he said that? He created quite the art form and music and art lovers will be very impressed with you and these illustrations (more the illustrations than you, it’s really cool looking).

“I am one with nature. Every day is Earth Day up. in. here.”

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If the scent of your vinegar-based cleaning products and your vegan cashew-cheese hors d’oeuvres aren’t enough to let people know you’re crunchy, let your table tell them:

The Life and Love of Trees by Lewis Blackwell: Glorious (and I don’t use that word lightly) pictures of trees from every angle, in every season, everywhere on Earth. And awesome tree quotes too like “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” This book is so deep it’s got roots.

Seeds: Time Capsules of Life by Rob Kesseler and Wolfgang Stuppy: Seeds are super crazy looking close up. This should be the only sentence on the book jacket. Just kidding, the book jacket has lots of important facts about seeds that will help you enjoy the book even more. Like, “No matter how small, packed into every seed is the complete genetic code needed to produce a new plant, whether it is a tiny herb or a giant rainforest tree.” The more you know. Cue rainbow.

Earthsong by Bernhard Edmaier: Did you know that the color flourescent rave party green exists in nature? It does. In South Iceland. This book of aerial photographs shows us parts of our planet untouched by humans. Volcanoes, sea floors, and glaciers in all their grandeur.

“I know about art.”

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The above phrase is really best said with a coffee table book since it would sound really dumb coming out of your mouth. Please don’t ever say, “I know about art” with your mouth. Say it with your library card:

Magritte by David Sylvester: I feel like even if you’d never heard the word “surreal”, it would appear in your head as soon as you looked at a Magritte painting. This book is a biography as well as an art book, with full color reproductions of his work. A good ice-breaker when entertaining friends and looking at this book would be, “So what is reality?”

Robert Frank: Story Lines by Robert Frank: Frank traveled the world and captured graceful and intimate photos of it. This collection takes us to Paris, Wales, and London in the late 1940s and early 50s, and then back to America where his portraits of regular everyday people come together to tell a story of the time. I really love his pictures of Detroit in 1955.

Check out these books and get that coffee table saying something flattering about you. Maybe it will say such nice things, your guests will forgive you for having to share a seat on one old beanbag. Maybe. As long as one of your guests isn’t Judith.

Featured Photo Credit: Alex Clark via photopin cc

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.

Library Lurve: Not So Traditional Holiday Movies

I’ll be hosting my brother and his family during the holidays and it’s always a tradition for us to make homemade pizza and sack out on the couch for family movie night. Sure, I love the holiday movie classics but over the years I’ve come to enjoy some more recent movies that have joined the ranks among my holiday favorites. Some may be a little unexpected and hopefully offer a pleasant surprise to inspire your own movie night this holiday season.

Ready? Ok, here they are, my top 5 holiday movie picks (available at your library…for FREE! Srsly, free).

 

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990) written and directed by Tim Burton
The ultimate Tim Burton movie as far as I’m concerned. The costume design, the make-up, the Depp. It’s a touching story of an almost human creation who is first accepted by his suburban neighbors and then cast away and shunned but not before he creates the most beautiful snow angel for the most beautiful snow dance ever. This movie brings tears to my eyes for many reasons.

2. The Family Stone (2005) written and directed by Thomas Bezucha
Experience an entire family’s worth of drama overflowing with legit moments of genuine emotion and awkwardness in all things that are love and family. Fly your freak flag!

3. Rare Exports (2010) written and directed by Jalmari Helander
I first saw this movie on the big screen at the State Theatre. It was a little more demonic than I had anticipated, which I loved! It’s a Finnish film offering an exceptionally odd sense of humor. This movie will forever change the way you think of Santa.

4. Gremlins (1984) directed by Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus
What if your cute, fuzzy Christmas gift turned into pure evil? Well, that’s what you can look forward to in this comedy/horror film starring Billy and Gizmo. I must admit when I was younger and first watched Gremlins I was more horrified than amused. But, watching it now…it’s pretty funny.

5. The Royal Tenenbaums (2010) written and directed by Wes Anderson
Add this move to your annual playlist for full enjoyment of this Anderson masterpiece. With each viewing I find something new and surprising that I hadn’t noticed before. An estranged family of former child prodigies reunite in their childhood home after the news that their  father is terminally ill. It’s a movie about a weird family and what better way to celebrate the holidays than hanging out with your own weird family while you watch and celebrate another on the screen.

Library Lurve: Holiday Gift Guide

Need some holiday gift ideas? We’ve pulled together a great list of new and recommended titles for all ages (youth, teen, adult) to offer some inspiration during this holiday gifting season. Check out the books listed below from us, your library, then shop and buy local at your community book stores for your gift giving needs. Happy Holidays!

Youth
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1. A Cookie for Santa by Stephanie Shaw This picture book features the Gingerbread Boy meeting Santa; a cheery Christmas tale.  
2. Eerie Elementary by Jack Chabert This series of illustrated early chapter books is fun and engaging.
3. Flora and the Penguin by Molly Schaar Idle Flora is back with a new friend, Penguin!  This wordless picture book is beautifully illustrated to tell a story of learning to treat each other with respect and kindness.
4. Little Kids First Big Book of Animals by Catherine Hughes This introduction to animals is well suited for the younger child.  With big, bright pictures splattered across the pages along with short, concise information this book is sure to be a hit with animal lovers.
5. Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins Squirrels, hawks, power lines and change highlight this delightful animal fantasy story where nothing is as it seems.  Newberry Award medal winner Perkins has delivered yet another captivating tale.
6. Rags, Hero Dog of WWII: A True Story by Margot Theis Raven Rags (a stray dog) and a U.S. soldier in France find comfort and companionship in one another. Rags stays with Sergeant Donovan throughout the war, carrying messages for the troops and raising spirits with his company.
7. The Quest for the Diamond Sword:  An Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure, Book One by Winter Morgan A great read for your Minecraft enthusiast!  This first chapter book in a series is filled with adventure, mystery and crafty challenges.
8. Rain Reign by Ann Martin Rain Reign is the story of Rose (Rows), who has Asperger’s Syndrome and is fascinated by homonyms. During a storm her beloved dog, Rain (Reign) runs away and Rose must find the courage to step outside her self-imposed boundaries to save Rain.
9. Tickles, Pickles, and Floofing Persnickles: Reading & Writing Nonsense Poems by Jill Kalz This book is a fun way to introduce basic poetry forms and terms though the use of original nonsense-themed poems.
10. Who? by Leo Lionni Along with titles Where?, What?, When?, this board book series, illustrated by the award-winning Leo Lionni, features friendly mice discovering other animals, places, objects, and seasons in their world.

Teen
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1. Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin This nonfiction title reads like a spy thriller. Sheinkin opens with FBI agents confronting Harry Gold in his home, rifling through his papers, and poking holes into his double life. Harry becomes the thread that ties the story together. The story covers everyone involved in creating the atomic bomb, from Oppenheimer to Roosevelt to Stalin. This book would appeal to fans of the military, U.S. and world history, and spy novels.  
2. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant This anthology of stories includes works by some of today’s top young-adult authors. It explores the intersection of fear and romance, ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders and the cover looks cool and creepy too. 
3. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins Twelve holiday stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Years, there’s something here for everyone. Including works by: Jenny Han, David Levithan, Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, and more.
4. Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning #1 NY Times bestseller, Hillenbrand tells the story of a man’s breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome. History buffs and fans of the movie will enjoy this book. 
5. Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor Sky and River have lived on an island since they were very young. On Sky’s sixteenth birthday they are “rescued” and taken to California. There, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she has just met. With no frame of reference for our modern world, Sky struggles to adapt. This gripping story of love and survival is lyrical and haunting.
6. Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston Carbon eating dragons are flourishing in our industrialized world. Michigan, long a bastion of industrialization, has been overrun with dragons and abandoned by people. Owen, a dragon slayer in training, moves to a small town in Canada with his aunt and father. There, Owen and his bard, Siobahn, fight to keep the dragons from encroaching further on humans. This fantasy adventure is set in the modern world and will appeal to adventure readers who don’t mind a bit of school and family issues mixed in. 
7. V is for Villain by Peter More Brad Baron is used to looking lame compared to his older brother, Blake. Though Brad’s basically a genius, Blake is a superhero in the elite Justice Force. And Brad doesn’t measure up at his high school, either, where powers like super-strength and flying are the norm. Being moved into the ‘remedial’ program is a new low for him. Until he starts to question the status quo. Could he have finally found a direction for his life? Villainy is in the eyes of the law makers. Who says they are right?
8. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Cadence Sinclair Eastman doesn’t remember what happened the summer she was 15. She is the eldest Sinclair grandchild. Beautiful. Privileged. Damaged. Liars. In the summertime all the Sinclairs live on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. They live a life of carefree luxury. They are cracked and broken. A story of love and romance. A tale of tragedy. Which are lies?  Which is truth?
9. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple They’re strong, powerful, and if you cross them, things will quickly go very badly for you. Only one thing scares them—growing up. Because in the world of the Wrenchies, it’s only kids who are safe… anyone who survives to be an adult lives in constant fear of the Shadowsmen. All the teenagers who come into contact with them turn into twisted, nightmarish monsters whose minds are lost forever. Not for the faint of heart, the images are dark and disturbing and some may find the language offensive. Give this to older teen readers who want something unique that they won’t soon forget.

Adult
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1. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of his characters, illuminating the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. 
2. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel A brilliant collection of contemporary short stories that demonstrate what modern England has become. Enjoy the classic wicked humor of Mantel, found in each story–which range from a ghost story to a vampire story to near-memoir to mini-sagas of family and social fracture.
3. Bird Box by Josh Malerman Michigan author, Malerman, shares his propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world. It’s been hailed as a masterpiece of suspense from a brilliant imagination.
4. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters Set in London in the early 1920’s where ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change, impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers at their genteel Camberwell villa where the lives of all will be transformed.
5. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi In this follow-up to bestselling Plenty, Ottolenghi continues to explore the diverse realm of vegetarian food with a wholly original approach. From inspired salads to hearty main dishes and luscious desserts, Plenty More is a must-have for vegetarians and omnivores alike.
6. Redeployment by Phil Klay Redeployment takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned.
7. Sparrow Migrations by Cari Noga Local author and recipient of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, Noga offers a braided narrative of ordinary people transformed by an extraordinary event, the “Miracle on the Hudson” – and by each other. 
8. Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse.

 

Library Lurve: Teen Idols

We asked staff who made their brains and/or hearts throb as teenagers. Please note that the most eloquent answer came from our volunteer Dylan, who still is a teenager.

Hey Staff, who was your Teen Idol?

Amy, Adult Services at Woodmere:

Hardships were plentiful in my youth, growing up in rural Northern Michigan in the 90’s as I did, idolizing the leaders of the Seattle grunge music movement. Namely, the internet hadn’t become a “thing” yet, grunge wasn’t covered in teen magazines, and we only had 3 television stations that came in, none of which were MTV. Stefanie Sargent (guitarist of 7 Year *itch), Shannon Hoon (frontman of Blind Melon), and topping the list, Layne Staley (front-man for Alice in Chains); I loved each for their raw voices and powerful come-and-get-me attitudes. After discovering and falling madly-in-love with each of these personalities, I would shortly afterwards find out that they were already dead. I wore mourning garb to school for a week when Layne passed in 2002.

If you need something dark and moving this winter, or if you’re feeling the need for flannel-clad nostalgia, check out the compilation disc (no relation to the movie), Sleepless in Seattle or, my favorite, Dirt by Alice in Chains.

Annie, Adult Services at Woodmere:

I was in junior high when No Doubt released Tragic Kingdom and Gwen Stefani blew my mind. A platinum blonde in a crop top and ska pants with a bindi? And the cover art had moldy oranges all over it. It was all so funky and fearless to me and I loved feeling that way when I was listening to it. Like a lot of female vocalists in the 90s, Gwen seemed totally confident even though she was singing about all of her vulnerabilities- maybe because she was singing about them. In some ways, I feel like it’s the opposite now. But I still think “Just A Girl” is the best song to rock out to when a “girl” is taking on a fierce challenge. And I married a guy who knows how to play “Sunday Morning” on the guitar (He’s my Gavin Rossdale:).

Betsy, Adult Services at Woodmere:

The Lowe brothers were all the rage when I was in my teen years.  I thought Chad Lowe was just scrumptious to look at and way cuter than Rob (but only because I thought Chad would be more obtainable than dreamy Rob and less popular).  I would tear out their pictures from Teen Beat magazine, post them on my bedroom walls and pretend they were my boyfriends, talk about my day with them and cry my heart out to them about real boyfriends who just did not measure up.  Even today when I see Rob Lowe on the Direct TV commercials and as you see laugh lines forming on his face and I sigh and think, “We are growing old together.”

(Want to read about why Betsy was so twitterpated? Check out Rob’s memoirs, Stories I Only Tell My Friends and Love Life.)

Christopher, Youth Services at Woodmere:

But of course, the fabulous BEATLES.  I was in 6-7 grade and our family was driving up to the Searchmont in Ontario to go skiing. On the AM station came the song “I Want To Hold Your Hand” (available on Beatles, 1962-1966). I turned it up, my father turned it down, I turned it up, and thus the magic of great music erupted in me. The Beatles greatness and charisma made much of what they accomplished transcendental.

Dylan H.,Teen Volunteer at Woodmere:

I’d like to thank Jeff Williams for giving me such a wide variety of songs to project myself onto. One of my new favorites, he and his daughter Casey have given me a new lease on music. Jeff’s mad guitar skills and orchestra pieces (Yes, he conducts an orchestra and plays that sweet 6-stringed beast) along with his daughter’s vocals have turned one of my favorite shows (RWBY) into a musical pleasure. His work has been the first album I’ve bought in years. Jeff and Casey have some of my favorite songs and I love ’em.

Katheryn, Adult Services at Woodmere:

I had many crushes over the years. I grew up without People magazine, the internet or cable. MTV was the Ed Sullivan Show or the occasional American Bandstand. I didn’t scream for the Beatles (George was my favorite) or the Rolling Stones or any others in the “British Invasion.” I bought Tiger Beat for Bobby Sherman of the television show “Here Come the Brides.” I liked the character he portrayed and the songs he sang, not to mention he was CUTE! (We didn’t use HOT!) I still have his records. CDs didn’t exist, nor iPods or mp3 players, and cassettes were just coming out. I fell for Davy Jones of the Monkees— CUTE, smart and the accent, oh my: the one and only fan club I joined (the equivalent of following someone on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

I don’t recall any centerfold in my teen magazines. The photos were all black and white. I do remember pictures of Bobby Sherman with a girl *rumored* to be his steady, and “rumors” that they might be engaged. Turns out the rumors were wrong, they were *married* secretly so as not to jeopardize his popularity with his girl fans. They had to come clean when she was pregnant with their first child.

Melanie, Youth Services at Woodmere:

Hmmm, let’s see, my teen years began in the psychedelic sixties, late sixties.  Independent, rebellious, soft-spoken yet outspoken, did not take drugs.  She went by one, short first name.  Yes, that would be Cher.  My older sister took me to see Sony & Cher at the Ohio State Fair when I was twelve.  We were there early and got great seats, only a few rows away from the stage.  I remember Cher saying how she made most of her own unique clothing.  I recall giving that a try and never being very good at it.  However, I did quite well with the rebellious attitude….and the Beat Goes On.