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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Philosopher's Stone

The Philosopher's Stone is a term not many had heard of before Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published twenty years ago. As a matter of fact, the American publisher changed the title to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [J ROW, YA ROW, J AB/CD ROW, eBook, eAudiobook] because it thought American audiences wouldn't understand the reference. The Philosopher's Stone is a concept from the ancient art of alchemy that has to do with turning ordinary metals into gold.

Here's a fascinating look at a scroll that is being sold at auction today, which was a guide for alchemists in their pursuit of gold and the elixir of life.



Learn more in The Chemistry of Alchemy from Dragon's Blood to Donkey Dung, How Chemistry was Forged by Cathy Cobb [eBook] and Transforming Matter: A History of Chemistry from Alchemy to the Buckyball by Trevor H. Levere [540.9 LEV].

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Take Refuge in a Hallmark Movie

The writer of an article in the Washington Post recently mused,
Watching Hallmark in December this year feels like a metaphor for all of the good citizenship questions we’ve been asking ourselves: Must we watch yet more CNN guests debate the tax bill? Must we have yet another fight on Facebook about Roy Moore? Must we always remain alert, in case the country just curls up and dies?

Should we be watching a climate-change documentary instead? Or is there time in the middle of all of that to just . . . watch Hallmark?
I know people who start watching the Hallmark Channel as soon as Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten! But, what if you don't have cable and can't watch the Hallmark Channel? Come to the Library where we have Hallmark holiday movies such as

Call Me Mrs. Miracle [DVD CAL]

A Christmas Wedding Tail [DVD CHR]

A Heavenly Christmas [DVD HEA]

A Princess for Christmas [DVD PRI]

Now don't you feel better already?


Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Best Books Lists

Every media outlet that reviews books has a yearly "best of" list that it publishes in November or December. There's the New York Times, NPR (National Public Radio), GoodReads, and a gazillion more lists to choose from.

One of the annual lists is published by LibraryReads, a website you probably don't know unless you're a librarian! If you're looking for good books, with general appeal, and that are well-written, LibraryReads is probably THE source to check out. The books are reviewed by librarians with a eye to books that will probably be popular among general library readers. LibraryReads publishes a list of ten books that will be published during the upcoming month. The annual list is the "favorites" of the 120 recommendations. You'll find no esoteric books here. All are good solid readable choices. And, the Nesmith Library owns all ten!


I have read three out of the ten: Little Fires Everywhere, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and News of the World. I highly recommend all three, but, I can say Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is probably the best book I've read in years! It has everything I look for in a good book--it is well-written, discussable, has a likeable main character, albeit a character with faults, has a bit of humor, and, the book ends exactly as it should end!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Poetry Friday--Rossetti Again

On Tuesday we celebrated the birthday of Christina Georgina Rossetti and listened to her poem, "In the Bleak Midwinter," sung by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir.

Photo by Kizzume.

Today, I'd like to feature another of Rossetti's seasonal poems that is found in Poems: Rossetti [821.8 ROS].
from Later Life: A Double Sonnet of Sonnets

                        18.

So late in Autumn half the world's asleep,
    And half the wakeful world looks pinched and pale;
    For dampness now, not freshness, rides the gale;
And cold and colorless comes ashore the deep
With tides that bluster or with tides that creep;
    Now veiled uncouthness wears an uncouth veil
    Of fog, not sultry haze; and blight and bale
Have done their worst, and leaves rot on the heap.
So late in Autumn one forgets the Spring,
    Forgets the Summer with its opulence,
The callow birds that long have found a wing,
    The swallows that more lately gat them hence:
Will anything like Spring, will anything
    Like Summer, rouse one day the slumbering sense?

We are definitely in that late part of autumn when "half the worlds' asleep." The Winter Solstice is still two weeks off and then hopefully we will rise up in anticipation of spring. It will come.

Lisa at Steps and Staircases is playing hostess to the Round-Up this week.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Kind World

Radio station WBUR in Boston has a regular feature titled, "Kind World," this week's segment told the story of a woman, Rachael Cerrotti, whose grandmother, Hana Dubova, was the beneficiary of an act of kindness during World War II. I strongly recommend you listen/read to the segment here, especially if you need a boost of "feels."

The world is a better place for the myriad and unheralded acts of kindness performed daily. Some kindnesses and actions, however, are recognized in books, film, and radio. Here are five additional stories of World War II and the good people who helped along the way:


Ackerman, Diane. The Zookeeper's Wife. [940.5318 ACK, AB/CD 940.5318 ACK, eBook, eAudiobook]

Greek, Joe. Righteous Gentiles: Non-Jews Who Fought against Genocide. [YA 940.5318 GRE]

Mazzeo, Tilar J. Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto. [940.5318 MAZ]

Talbott, Hudson. Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism during the Holocaust. [J 940.5318 TAL]

Winton, Barbara. If It's Not Impossible--: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton. [940.5318 WIN]

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Halifax Explosion

Photo courtesy Nova Scotia Archives.

One hundred years ago today, a massive explosion of munitions headed for the war in Europe occurred in the Halifax harbor. The resultant damage included approximately 2,000 deaths and 9,000 injuries, and most of the structures within a half-mile of the explosion were leveled. News of the explosion traveled quickly and within hours the people of Boston had met and organized a relief effort. To this day, the people of Halifax remember the Bostonians' act of kindness by sending a majestic tree for the holidays each year.

Learn more here:



Or borrow one of these:

Bacon, John U. The Great Halifax Explosion. [eAudiobook]

Walker, Sally M. Blizzard of Glass; The Halifax Explosion of 1917. [eAudiobook]

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Happy Birthday Christina Rossetti

Poet, Christina Rossetti, was born in London on this day in 1830. Her work is still being read and published today. A collection of her work is found in Poems: Rossetti [821.8 ROS].

At this time of year, Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter" is often heard sung by choirs worldwide. It is a rather beautiful, albeit melancholy, piece.



Other musical versions can be found on these Christmas collections:

Brightman, Sarah. A Winter Symphony. [CD HOLIDAY BRI]

Colvin, Shawn. Holiday Songs and Lullabies. [CD HOLIDAY COL]

McLachlan, Sarah. Wintersong. [CD HOLIDAY MCL]

Taylor, James. James Taylor at Christmas. (Also on Taylor's A Christmas Album.) [CD HOLIDAY TAY]