3 to 5 with Stuart Dybek

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

Stuart Dybek is a talented poet and short story writer and the recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, an O. Henry Award and a PEN/Malamud Award.  Lately he has published (simulataneously) two books of short fiction: Paper Lantern: Love Stories and Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories.


You can check out his books here and look for him in Northwest Michigan on May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at our Main Library.

In the meantime, read our short  interview from a master of short fiction:

Q: What books had a strong influence on you at the beginning of your writing career? Lately?

A: I’m not sure exactly when the “beginning of my writing career” was but whenever it was it seemed to go on a long time. I started to write some as a senior in high school, a time I was moving away from my obsession with science fiction and turning into a beatnik. Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man in one hand and On the Road and A Coney Island of the Mind in the other. I think the writers that most made me want to write were that so-called Lost Generation of Jazz Age exiles: Sherwood Anderson, Scott Fitzgerald, Joh Dos Possos, TS Eliot, Ernest Hemingway. I still love their work. Lately, I read a beautiful book of poems, The Earth in the Attic, by a Palestinian-American doctor named Fady Joudah.

Q: What did you find the most useful in learning to write? The least?

A: [Most useful] Learning that to rewrite meant not to correct “mistakes” but to tell the story to myself over until it was ready to tell to a reader. [Least useful] Fancy words when simple ones would do.

Q: Tell us some of your most vivid memories of libraries or librarians, good or bad (but hopefully good).

A: The old vinyl collection in the days of 33 ⅓ records at a library in Memphis where they let you take out six in a day. In the summer, I listened my way through 20th century classical music.

Q: What number would you be in the Dewey Decimal system?

A: 527 (Celestial Navigation!)

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

A: Necker Island, when it rose deserted from the Caribbean in the British Virgins, circa 1969 when the sea was still the sea.


Now that’s poetry.

Photo credits: author image from www.poetryfoundation.org/; book images from www.barnesandnoble.com/.


Party Banter Friday | November

Party Banter Friday: 

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


Happy PBF! As it’s November or “eatin’ season”, many of us are dusting off our cookbooks and our elastic pants in anticipation of the many cocktail parties, potlucks, and nightcaps we will hopefully garner invitations to. For most of these affairs, you’ll have to bring a dish to pass and, because you’re reading this, you’ll also be armed with a foodie fact to share.

This week’s fact comes from the new cookbook 200 Skills Every Cook Must Have: The Step-by-Step Methods That Will Turn a Good Cook Into a Great Cook by Clara Paul and Eric Treuille. It’s full of pictures and easy to follow instructions from salting a fish to poaching fruit in wine.

As well as this little morsel…

The spice saffron is really expensive. 

Ok, you knew that. But did you know why? Saffron comes from the the dried stigma of the saffron crocus and can only be picked BY HAND, making it a very labor-intensive job.


Save this fact to add faux-casually during post-dinner conversation in the hopes that everyone will assume you are a master chef and not the guest that brought the extra napkins.

Another fact, on the house, if you are the guest that was asked to bring extra napkins, your host distrusts either your cooking or your organizational skills.

We can help:

How to Cook Everything: The Basics

The Starter Cook

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Time Management for Dummies

Happy bantering!

Photo credit: lars hammar 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.


Reference Couch: Breakup Songs

The Reference Couch

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

Q: My BFF just went through a dramatic breakup and she’s really mopey. Also, I don’t really want them to get back together since he’s a jerk. What are some good breakup songs that will make her get over him already?

A: BFFs with jerk BFs are the worst. You probably want to dance around her singing Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves. But keep in mind, everyone needs some time to sit around in their pjs, eating Doritos and watching High Fidelity (does that sound too specific?) and just be sappy until they feel okay again.

Tom from our Sight & Sound department is providing you with a Top 10 list of Breakup Songs your pal can listen to until they figure out that they will survive (and maybe even be better off). And I’ve taken the liberty of providing “liner notes” for some of my favorites…


1. “Heard It Through the Grapevine” BY Marvin Gaye ON What’s Going On (Marvin had WAY more personal problems than one little old breakup “going on”. Read this intense biography of him, but only if you want to cringe every time Sexual Healing comes on the radio for the rest of your life.)

2. “You Oughtta Know” BY Alanis Morissette ON Jagged Little Pill (This song has special significance to me. I listened to it on repeat for the entirety of my 8th grade winter break because my boyfriend broke up with me after I’d already spent my allowance on his Christmas gift. He still oughtta know.)

3. “Somebody That I Used to Know” BY Gotye ON Making Mirrors

4. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” BY Joy Division ON Left of the Dial Dispatches from the 80’s Underground

5. “I Will Survive” BY Gloria Gaynor ON Billboard Top Hits, 1979 (Duh. And also “Fire” by the Pointer Sisters is on this album and it’s a great song. The Sisters don’t really sing about breakups but they sing a lot about what they will and will not accept from a partner, which your friend might need a lesson in. Basically, they want someone with a Slow Hand that will Jump for their love.)


6. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” BY The Righteous Brothers ON Anthology 1962-1974

7. “Someone Like You” BY Adele ON 21 (Adele is the best for crying and lip-synching.)

8. “Kiss and Say Goodbye” BY The Manhattans ON The Best of The Manhattans

9. “Scientist” BY Coldplay  ON A Rush of Blood to the Head (For the conscious uncoupler.)

10. “I Will Always Love You” BY Whitney Houston ON Bodyguard Original Soundtrack (Ok, I take back what I said what about Adele. Whitney reigns supreme for crying and lip-synching.)

Tom also added some hidden tracks from albums you might not think of as breakup soundtracks:


11. “Delilah” BY Tom Jones  ON American Hustle Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

12. “I’m Not In Love” BY 10cc ON AM Gold 1975 (And maybe sneak in a little Linda Rondstadt singing “You’re No Good” while you’re at it. )

13. “I Hear You Knockin’” BY Smiley Lewis ON Rocks (I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in. Ever. Go away.)

Photo Credit: Featured images by talented graciehagen via photopin cc

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

Book Fitting: Women in Clothes

Book Fitting: In Which a Librarian Tries On a Book

Here at TADL, we love us some books, but there are just so many! Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO television series Girls and author of the new book Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, (ahem, both available at the library) said it best: “Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading”.

Unfortunately, a Tuemondnesday probably isn’t in the near future; so instead we’d like to tell you: it’s ok to “try on” a book. Don’t call it book quitting, call it book fitting. That’s actually the beauty of the public library, taking home a book to see if it fits you and bringing it back if it doesn’t. Actually, you have to bring it back either way, but you get the idea.

This week I’m trying on Women In Clothes, “conceived and edited” by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton.

The book is described as “an exploration of the questions we ask ourselves while getting dressed every day” and these questions were asked to 639 women. These are essays and interviews and photos that reveal not only the drama and spirit of personal style, but also the sentiment behind those clothes and the life stories that are wrapped up in the way we dress.


For example, as a New Yorker born in India describes how after September 11, she and her family were terrified to “look strange” and had an aunt that tried to wear jeans after only wearing saris and couldn’t sit down in them. Or a series of photos called Mothers as Others where women were prompted to talk about a picture of their mothers as young women, before they became mothers. Or actor Molly Ringwald discussing her first clothing memory.

Reading the Q & A from the women surveyed, I couldn’t help but think about my own answer to some of the questions and what that says about my history or where I’m currently at in life.  Was there a time in your life when your style changed dramatically? is one of the book’s questions. And as a new mom, my own answer was “Eesh, yes.” and also “Eesh, yoga pants.” But it was fun to reminisce about other times my style had changed, from desperately wishing I could afford colored jeans at KMart to discovering vintage clothing stores.

It’s a great book to flip through, visually pleasing, with artistic, big, colorful photographs; but also a book that you could really sit with and spend an entire afternoon (or a week, it’s over 500 pages) immersed in and, as soon as I return it, I certainly recommend that you check it out.

Photo credit: All photos featured are images from the book.

3 to 5 with Rachel Weaver

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

We were fortunate enough to have author Rachel Weaver stop by the Woodmere branch to promote her new novel Point of Direction. This adventure story set in Alaska has been described as romance, psychological thriller, and moving literary fiction. Check it out and decide for yourself! Weaver’s debut novel is an Indie Next selection and has been praised in Publisher’s Weekly and O, The Oprah Magazine. We see big things coming for Rachel and we’re so happy she came by and answered our 3 to 5 Questions:

Q: Point of Direction definitely has elements of adventure in it. Do you have any favorite adventure stories?

A: My dad was a storyteller and big adventurer, from hitchiking to travelling through Mexico, so I grew up always hearing stories of mischief and adventure. I also love Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner.

Q: Have any books or authors helped to shape you as a writer?

A: Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson; Hemingway for his sparse and adventurous writing and Louise Erdrich for her lyrical prose.

Q: Tell us some of your most vivid memories of libraries or librarians, good or bad (but hopefully good).

A: I have a lot. To get my first library card, I had to be able to write my name and I practiced and practiced for hours because I wanted a card so bad! My Mom would take us every Saturday and check out four books and let us pick out books too, but I wanted my own card.

Another one: when I lived in Petersburg, Alaska, I decided I needed to read poetry and just started at A, reading one poet from each letter, A to Z.  Petersburg is a small town (only about 1,000 year-round residents) and when the librarian got a grant to purchase more books, she took suggestions from patrons on what to buy in order to fill the collection with material that the residents loved. I suggested so many titles that one day when I came in, she had changed the “New Books” sign to “Rachel’s Books”!

Q: Finally, what number would you be in the Dewey Decimal system?

A: Oh, I think I would be in the 500s. (The 500s is the Science section of our non-fiction collection and includes subjects like natural science, math and physics, astronomy, plants, and zoology, the perfect section for an adventure seeker like Rachel!)

To learn more about Rachel Weaver and her book, visit http://www.rachelweaver.net/ and watch the super awesome book trailer for Point of Direction here.

Photo credits: photos from http://www.rachelweaver.net/


TADL #toread: Sarah Lucas

Another bright young 40 Under 40er sent us her (partial!) #toread pile. Sarah Lucas is the Regional Planning Program Manager at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments and reads so much she had to buy a second table to “make room for the ever-growing stacks of books I MUST read – before I can move on to the shelf of must-reads on the shelf…”

We asked Sarah:

Is there a book you always say you’re going to read but probably never will? Ulysses by James Joyce

What book to you recommend for other people’s #toread piles?  Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy. Thought-provoking, strange, and entertaining; Walker Percy is probably one of the most under-appreciated of American authors.

Thanks for sharing Sarah! We noticed a TADL book in that stack too!

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

Reference Couch: Winter is Coming

The Reference Couch

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

Q: I almost went bananas last winter. It was soooo long and sooo cold. What can I do to keep from being bored this winter?


Already Cold


Dear Already Cold,

I feel you. Last winter was harsh and also didn’t end until around June. Like everyone else, I got really into Game of Thrones and shudder whenever a character warns, “Winter is coming.” Up North, that phrase feels all too real. (BTW, you can get Game of Thrones to read or watch or listen to at the library).

But fear not, winter up here doesn’t have to be the 45th Parallel of Peril. TADL can entertain you for all seven or eight months of the frosty season. Here are just a few things I can recommend to stave of winter boredom:

Get Out:


The library has events year-round, like showing movies for our Books to Movies program or meeting at The Filling Station to drink beer and talk books for our Books & Brewskis club. From author readings to cooking classes to yoga, one of our six community libraries always has something going on, so brace yourself against those icy winds and come on over.

Stay In:

If (when?) you reach that point in winter where you will only agree to participate in things you can do while sitting under your ratty old afghan on your couch, you can also reach the library from home by checking out ebooks or curling up and watching movies (you can watch movie previews now from our website because we’re awesome). Tom from Sight & Sound recommends the following films for chilly winter nights:

wintermovies1. The Cuckoo (Foreign) 2. Picnic 3. Blood Simple 4. Midnight in Paris 5. Rare Birds

Of course, you can also read books under blankets. There are a lot of great winter-y novels, from cozy to bone chilling. Here’s just a sample:winterreads

1. Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 2. Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell  3. Wintering by Kate Moses

Get a Hobby:

As long as the winters are up here you could spend your time becoming an expert in any new-fangled thing you fancy. Like knitting, skiing, indoor gardening, card games, or re-organizing your closet. You could find religion, get killer buns, AND repair your snowmobile with material from the library. Actually, if you decide to come out of the house again after the thaw, you should  just stroll through our non-fiction section. Every time I walk back there, I come out with a new zest for learning Farsi or canoeing or making crafts out of cat hair (seriously, see below):


1. The Ukulele Handbook 2. Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs 3. Home Cheese Making 4. Crafting with Cat Hair

Throw A Party:

We have A TON of cookbooks: for your crockpot, for your vegan brother, for your foodie friend that gets a little hoity toity at dinner parties. Bake it, fry it, mix it up.  And when you don’t fit into your pants anymore, you can check out 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.


1. Winter Cocktails 2. Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food 3. One Pot 4. Homemade Decadence 5. Simple Thai Food 6. Preserving by the Pint

Since you’ve made all that food, you might as well throw a party. And Sight & Sound Tom also has some ideas for your wintertime music playlist while you entertain guests:wintermusic

1. Bill Frisell/Big Sur 2. Asgeir/In the Silence (Tom also highly recommends the Icelandic version, Dýrð í dauðaþögn ) 3. John Fullbright/From the Ground Up 4. Elton John/Tumbleweed Connection 5.  Natalie Merchant/Nonesuch

Whew! I got a little over-excited, reader, about all that is available at the library. It might take you until mid-December just to read to the end of this post. But I hope you’ll stay warm and stay busy and, if you make any cat hair crafts, please don’t bring them to us as gifts. We’re good.


Annie at the Reference Couch

Send your Reference Couch questions to ask@tadl.org or send us a message on Facebook!

Photo Credit: Featured photo- Mikko Erholtz via photopin cc

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

3 to 5 with Michael Hainey

3 to 5 Questions for Authors:

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

We Skyped with Michael Hainey!!!

photo (1)

One of our awesome book groups, Books & Brewskis, got the chance to talk face-to-screen with author and Deputy Editor of GQ Magazine, Michael Hainey about his book, After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story. In the book, Mr. Hainey describes his journey to find out the truth about the night his father, a newspaper man in Chicago, unexpectedly died. Hainey was just six-years-old at the time. If you like true stories of family and secrets and mysteries and healing, and books with heart (but not gushy heart), don’t miss it.

Honestly, I was so excited to talk with Mr. Hainey and so impressed at the thoughtfulness with which he answered our questions, my notes look like chicken scratch. So this isn’t a true 3 to 5 interview but I did manage to write the answer to one question he answered for us:

Q: If you were a Dewey Decimal number, what number would you be?

A: Why do I want to say 800s? [we informed him that poetry can be found in the 800s ]. That makes sense because I love poetry and I lived in the stacks when I was a kid!


To listen to more Michael Hainey check out this interview or visit his website www.aftervisitingfriends.com. Listening to him speak will make you want to read his book even more.

To learn about our next Books & Brewskis date, click here.

Thanks also to The Filling Station Microbrewery for being our gracious hosts every month.

Photo credit: Featured image from  www.aftervisitingfriends.com.


Party Banter Friday | October

Party Banter Friday: 

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

Boo! Happy Party Banter Friday. The best thing about Halloween being on a weekend this year is that, if you’re socially awkward, you can hit up all those costume parties you were too uncomfortable to RSVP to because you can wear a costume!

“Is that you, Kevin?”

” No, it’s [insert incredibly empowering literary character that you dressed up as, probably Katniss]. And I’ve got some interesting things to say.”

You’re in luck because we’ve got at least one interesting thing for you to say! And here it is:

What do the wildy popular novels Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell have in common?


They were all written in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month, a yearly writing project where writers seasoned and new attempt to write a novel during the month of November. And guess what, it starts tomorrow!!


This is a great segue into making plans to see the person you’re talking to again because the library has NaNoWriMo events aplenty. Check the out here and then spend the rest of the evening brainstorming about your idea for the next great novel. We’ll say we knew you when.

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

TADL #toread: Emilee Syrewicze

Emilee Syrewicze  is the Executive Director at Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing and was on the 2014 Forty Under Forty list for Traverse City Business News.  So we had to know just what she’s reading.


Here’s what Emilee had to say about her #toread stack:

“Reading is my favorite thing to do. Period. I LOVE IT!

I love to mix-up my reading (though I typically read books in the order in which I buy them).  A classic novel here, non-fiction there, and a biography thrown in once and a while for good measure.  Right now, I am reading a fantastic book about micro finance efforts in developing nations called If I Had a Water Buffalo by Marilyn A. Fitzgerald, Phd. (a local author,  philanthropist and fellow Rotarian).  I plan on re-reading Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner because I am a fanatic about water policy and the evolution of the water crisis in the American West, additionally it is a great historical read (not many people expect that, but it is full of interesting historical facts/stories).  I decided to throw in a classic (Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier) and a book I have wanted to read for about 10 years but am just now getting around to (Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond).  Finally, I cannot wait to read And the Mountains Echoed by one of my favorite authors of all time Khaled Hosseini (author of Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns).  I am convinced that Hosseini’s books should be read by every person alive.”

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