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; 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

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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.

Book Fitting: Cheap and Thoughtful Gifts

Book Fitting: In Which a Librarian Tries On a Book

I can tell you of a gift card that you can get for free. It doesn’t expire if you keep using it and you can get probably, oh, I don’t know, like a million dollars worth of stuff with it.  Can you guess what it is? Wait for it…

It’s your public library card guyzzzzz.

Don’t roll your eyes at me. It’s true. The library is your Santee Claus. And this year, if you’re good, your library card will not only provide you with gifts aplenty, it can even help you give gifts. No money to buy your loved ones presents? No idea what to do except panic? No problem.

Here is a list of books to help you give the best gifts this holiday season.

Are you crafty?

If you’ve graduated from using safety scissors, you can make a thoughtful gift using one of these books. I would pretty much love anything from Danny Seo’s Upcycling, especially the plastic banana fruit tray and bad art glitter (in case I’m on your list).


50 Knitted Gifts for Year-Round Giving, Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, Paper Crafts with Style, WrapagamiUpcycling: Create Beautiful Things with Stuff You Already Have

Are you long-winded?

Got a way with words? Make your friend a comic book. Write a letter or a poem or come over and use our genealogy section to research your family’s history and give your relative a family tree, or as I like to call it (begin echo) THE GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE .


Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics, For the Love of Letters: A 21st Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing, Raw Art Journaling ,

Are you stylish?

If you have taste or if you have friends who think you have taste, make an awesome winter flower arrangement (out of paper) for them, create your BF’s signature scent, or offer to help re-do their closet for them.


Ikebana: The Art of Arranging Flowers, The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers, The Perfume Kit: Create Your Own Unique Fragrances, Adorn: 25 Stylish DIY Fashion Projects, Style Bible

Are you hungry?

There are lots of creative and easy foodie gifts to make. Who wouldn’t love a homemade cheese and beer kit (I would!)? Or delicious holiday pudding (me again!)?


One-Hour Cheese, Treats: Delicious Food Gifts to Make at Home, Mini-Farming Guide to Fermenting, Puddin’: Luscious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Pudding Cakes, Pies, and Pops

Are you surly?

Don’t tell The Mall, but it’s actually not required that you buy gifts for people at all. At least not according to this guy: Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays by Joel Waldfogel.









Did you get or give a library-inspired gift? Share it with us!


Reference Couch: It’s All Relatives

The Reference Couch

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

Q: Thanksgiving with the fam has made me a Scrooge. How do I celebrate the rest of the holidays with my relatives without getting into an argument about my living situation/employment status/sexual preference/looking at my phone too much/ dietary restrictions/use of language/how often I wash my hair/political opinions/riding a bike instead of driving?

A: Gol-ly, that’s a lot of conversation topics to successfully avoid. Still, you’re not alone. I’d venture to say that the majority of people crammed on their relatives’ couches for the festivities can’t escape without at least one good choke-on-your-pie-because-you’re-biting-your-tongue moment.

Your query makes me think of this great simple poem by Louis Simpson which you can find in Louis Simpson: Collected Poems or the poetry collection Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor:


Ed was in love with a cocktail waitress,
but Ed’s family, and his friends,
didn’t approve. So he broke it off.

He married a respectable woman
who played the piano. She played well enough
to have been a professional.

Ed’s wife left him…
Years later, at a family gathering
Ed got drunk and made a fool of himself.

He said, “I should have married Doreen.”
“Well,” they said, “why didn’t you?”

Great poem, right? So, a short answer to your question would be to just keep that little poem in your pocket or your head or your heart and repeat it to yourself when Uncle Biff taps your full dinner plate and sputters, “Minute on the lips, forever on the hips!” Just try and think of Ed instead.

If you’re looking for help for more specific problems, here a few more recommendations:

Problem: Your aunt keeps tsking, “You kids and your phones/gadgets.” You are 33 years old.

circleAnswer:  You might calmly inform Auntie that the current generation actually reads more books (like, book books) than the older. Although you tend not to use the library as much (passive-aggressive sigh…). Here’s an article about it.  Then, you two can read The Circle by Dave Eggers together and have a great discussion about technology and what it means about privacy and human contact and life as we know it. If you’re anything like my book club, the next eight times you see your aunt there will be less tsk-ing and more holding hands and gasping, “It’s just like The Circle!”

Problem: Everyone in your family drives SUVs and pick-up trucks and you get teased when you come in the front door with your bicycle helmet. An unidentified relative has replaced your stocking with a little girl’s bike basket.

goingAnswer: Uh, biking can be totally BA.  To prove this, check out Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America, a travel memoir by Brian Benson. Dude went on a cross-country bike ride with a new girlfriend, so the man knows pain and knows how to write about it with skill and humor. Casually drop the knowledge gleaned from this tale into dinner conversation and mention the gnarly windburn you got last week. Then sneak a “Share the Road” bumper sticker on everyone’s cars on the way out.

Problem: Grams is straight-up angry that you don’t eat animal products. You used to love her cheesy SPAM potatoes!

afroveganAnswer: Behind those pursed lips, Grandma just wants to know you’re getting all your vitamins. I myself am mostly vegetarian and nary a phone call from my Mom ends without her wondering if I’m getting enough protein. But there is a great way you can convince Grams that vegans love cozy delicious stick-to-your-ribs grub just as much as SPAMmers; and that is by bringing a side dish from Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan cookbook, a vegan take on African cuisine. Bring a side of Terry’s roasted parsnips in barbecue sauce or slow-braised mustard greens. Or win the whole family over for dessert with a cocoa-spice cake with coconut-chocolate ganache. Yum.

Problem: Your cousin made a sexist comment during the lighting of the hannukkiyah you are now determined to spend the rest of the eight nights at the kids table teaching your nieces and nephews alllllll about feminism.

cover_bad_feministAnswer: Wave after wave, baby. We’ve got all the classics as well as some popular new feminist reads (see below). Before long, those whipper-snappers will be quoting Gloria Steinem and Daniel Radcliffe alike (yes, Harry Potter is a feminist!).

Classics: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem

New classics: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, Feminism Unfinished: A Short Surprising History of American Women’s Movements by Dorothy Sue Cobble

Problem: You promised your mom you would not get into another Baby Boomers VS. Millennials argument like last year. But you don’t know if you can control yourself.

Boomsday-coverAnswer: Perhaps your best option would be to get your generational woes off of your chest before you’re asked to stand at the head of the table and give a holiday toast. Do this by reading Boomsday. Christopher Buckley was debating about Boomers way back in 2007 when we Millennials were too enamored with the invention of the iPhone to notice. All sides are poked fun at in this political satire. I suggest it on audio because it is read by hilarious Gen-Xer, Janeane Garafolo.

Problem: Your sister isn’t coming this year because her partner doesn’t feel welcome.

youAnswer: The library is a great place to check out temporary coffee table books that can spark productive discussions with their mere presence (and even more so if you actually open them). Try You Can Tell Just By Looking: And 20 Other Myths About LGBT Life and People. If you need more time with it, you can renew it in person, by phone, or online.

Problem: Everybody is angry about what everybody has been posting on Facebook all year long.

Answer: This is the easiest fix of them all. Call a family truce and have the whole gang share a link to Fine Print! It’s that blue button with the “f” right down there.

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


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 gift guide 14

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 gift guide 14

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 gift guide 14

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.


Party Banter Friday | December

Party Banter Friday: 

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

TGIPBF guys! We know the facts. And because we work with the public, we also know that talking to people can be awwwkward. So instead of hanging out by the snacks all night or rehashing that one time you almost met a semi-celebrity, look here Fridays for a compelling and/or amusing fact to wow your bosses’ husband or your Tinder date or your sleeping cat with this weekend.

This week’s fact is from The Book of General Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know is Wrong by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson:

According to the Johns, it was not Marie Antoinette who uttered the famous words “let them eat cake” in 1789 in regards to the rioting poor who had no bread to eat. Antoinette’s biographer claims it was “Queen Marie-Therese, wife of Louis XIC, the Sun King” who said it and even then, she wasn’t talking about cake. Rather, she was referring to brioche, a buttery egg-y pastry.


If you found that fact so engaging that you’d rather stay in and read than socialize with people, we can’t blame you. The book is available here.

If the last three paragraphs were the longest thing you’ve read since your 5th grade book report on Hatchet and you’ve had your fill of the written word, visit our Sight & Sound department for movies and music.

If what you took away from this fact was, “Unh…pastries”, please check out The Art of French Pastry by Jacguy Pfieffer.

Photo credits: ChrisGoldNY via photopin cc; our featured image for PBF is a picture from our digital history collection. You can view the original image and browse our collection here.

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.