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Monday, November 30, 2009

Thoreau's Keen Observations

Last year, the New York Times ran a article about Henry David Thoreau called, "Thoreau is Rediscovered As a Climatologist". I recently found the article and was fascinated by its premise: Thoreau's keen observations of his surroundings now have a use in studying climate change.

With Thoreau's findings as a base, scientists have made startling discoveries such as, "...27 percent of the species documented by Thoreau have vanished from Concord and 36 percent are present in such small numbers that they probably will not survive for long." How sad is that?

Borrow A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers [818 THO] and travel to Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire as they existed in the 1840s. Plan a summer trip exploring some of the sites Thoreau visited and note how they have changed. Become a keen observer and record your observations and maybe a century from now someone will be studying your notes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher used mathematics to create mysteriously fascinating works of art. If you have a few days off for the Thanksgiving holiday, you may want to spend a little time poring over some of the books we have on M.C. Escher. I guarantee you'll find yourself drawn into his works:

Bool, F.H. M.C. Escher: His Life and Complete Graphic Work. [760 BOO]

The World of M.C. Escher. [769.92 ESC]

There is more information on Escher, and galleries of his art, here. You'll also find a interactive Escher puzzle if you click on "downloads"!

At Escher's World you can experiment with computer-aided design.

Remember, the library closes at noon today and will reopen again on Saturday at 9. Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

National Book Award Winner

The winners of the 2009 National Book Awards were announced last week.

The winner for Fiction is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann [F MCC]. From the publishers's synopsis:
Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth.
Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the "artistic crime of the century." A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence.
The "artistic crime of the century" referred to is the daring feat of Philippe Petit, highwire artist, who walked between the Twin Towers in 1974.

Petit is the subject of an intriguing film called Man on Wire [DVD MAN], and also a children's picture book by the award-winning writer/illustrator, Mordecai Gerstein, The Man Who Walked between the Towers [JP GER].

Here's an interesting interview with Petit from Psychology Today.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Dessert

Just a few more days until Thanksgiving, and if you haven't got your holiday feast planned, you better get a move on!

Traditionally, pumpkin pie is the dessert to finish off the meal. The tradition has historical roots since pumpkin was one of the foods introduced to Europeans by the native American peoples. I've read that colonists made pumpkins into pies as early as the 1600s.

Pumpkin pie is not to everyone's liking, but there are many ways to dress up, or revamp, the traditional pie. Some people top a plain pie with crunch:
Prepare the traditional pie as directed, bake for 15 minutes. Combine:
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
Cut in 2 tablespoons butter and work together until crumbs are formed.
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
After the pie has baked for 15 minutes, add the crumb mixture and continue to bake according to directions.

Some dessert makers combine pumpkin puree with vanilla ice cream to make a frozen pumpkin pie. Still others skip the puree/ice cream mix and simply purchase ready-made pumpkin ice cream.

This Thanksgiving, don't serve pie at all--try some other pumpkin desserts such as the ones found in Caroline Boisset's Pumpkins and Squashes: Gardening, Craft and Recipes [641.6562 BOI]. Boisset made my mouth water with the recipes for treats such as "Pumpkin Honey Oatmeal Cookies," "Anardi" ("This traditional combination of pumpkin and almonds soaked in syrup is typical of Mediterranean countries."), and, "Pumpkin and Orange Roulade." Browse through our holiday and dessert cookbooks for more alternatives to the same old pumpkin pie.

Photo by twoshortplanks

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poetry Friday--Poets House

Last week on Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers had a brief segment on the opening of the new Poets House in New York City.
One of the first things you notice about Poets House is there's no apostrophe in the word poets because Stanley Kunitz said it should not be something someone possesses. It's for everybody.
Just as poetry should be for everyone!

If you're lucky enough to live in the New York City area, or are planning a visit, you may consider scheduling a stop at Poets House, especially when you read about all the events and programs taking place.

Poets House has a library to die for--50,000 books of poetry! I'm sure some of these titles, which we have on our shelves, are also in the collection at Poets House:

A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout [J 811 FOO].

The Spoken Word Revolution: (Slam, Hip Hop, & the Poetry of a New Generation) [811.508 SPO]. The book comes with a CD so that you can listen, too!

Voices: Poetry and Art From Around the World [YA 808.81 VOI].

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at The Drift Record. Drift on over and stay a while.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In Case You Haven't Noticed...

the gift-giving holidays are rapidly approaching. A book is always a great gift, but, if you're ordering your books online, you may want to preview them first before you purchase them. Come on down to the library and browse our new book shelves! We have all sorts of new titles, both fiction and nonfiction, that may make the perfect gift.

Here's a small sampling of the titles (all published in 2009) that were on the shelves yesterday (with short blurbs taken from the jacket flaps):

Bell, Gordon. Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything. [303.4834 BEL]
What if you could remember everything? Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell draw on experience from their MyLifeBits project at Microsoft Research to explain the benefits to come from an earthshaking and inevitable increase in electronic memories...
Bird, Larry, and Earvin Magic Johnson. When the Game was Ours. [796.323 BIR]
From the moment these two legendary players took the court on opposing sides, they engaged in a fierce physical and psychological battle...
Brown, Sandra. Rainwater. [F BRO]
The year is 1934. With the country in the stranglehold of drought and economic depression, Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in balance...
Chabon, Michael. Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. [B CHA]
A shy manifesto, an impractical handbook, the true story of a fabulist, and entire life in parts and pieces...
Kessler, Ronald. In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. [363.283 KES]
Secret Service agents, acting as human surveillance cameras, observe everything that goes on behind the scenes in the president's inner circle...
Moerk, Christian. Darling Jim. [F MOE]
When two sisters and their aunt are found dead in their suburban Dublin home, it seems that the secret behind their untimely demise will never be known...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Love Affair With a Mantis?

As odd as it sounds, it must be true. If you visit this site, you'll see what I mean.

If your kids have an interest in mantises, we have several books in our children's room collection including Monster Bugs by Lucille Recht Penner [E PEN] for beginning readers, and Praying Mantises [J 595.727 PRA]. There is also a delightful picture book by Kiyoshi Soya called A House of Leaves [JP SOY] in which a little girl hides from the rain along with a few buggy creatures.

In our adult section we have A Guide to Observing Insect Lives by Donald Stokes [595.7 STO]. Stokes lists mantids in the section on winter insects. The reason being that praying mantis eggs overwinter in hardened casings. You can easily find a case at this time of year. As a family project look for a case in the spring and bring it indoors to watch the little mantids hatch!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Coming This Friday...

at a theater near you is a film based on the book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis [796.332 LEW]. Here's the catalog description of the book:
Details the life of University of Mississippi football player Michael Oher, who was raised by a crack addicted mother and adopted at the age of sixteen by a wealthy family, and explores the rising importance and salary of the offensive left tackle in the game of football.
The film stars Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Kathy Bates. Quinton Aaron plays the young athlete, Michael.

The book also comes in audio form [AB/CD 796.332 LEW], and, as of Monday, was still sitting on the shelf! Hurry down and maybe you can snatch it up!

Other books by writer Michael Lewis include: Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood [306.874 LEW, also AB/CD 306.874 LEW], based upon Lewis's own life, and Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game [796.357 LEW, also AB/CD 796.357 LEW], a look at baseball.

Monday, November 16, 2009


With the H1N1 flu going around, everyone is buying waterless hand sanitizers. This can be costly so, you may want to investigate a homemade version. I found one at eHow: How to Do Just About Everything.

There are plenty of things which you can make on your own for a whole lot less than the commercial brand. Here are just a few examples, and some books to show you the way:


Blaydes, Carrie. Fashion DIY: 30 Ways to Craft Your Own Style. [YA 646.404 BLA]

Codina, Carles. The Complete Book of Jewelry Making. [739.27 COD]

Okey, Shannon. Crochet Style: Chic and Sexy Accessories. [746.434 OKE]


Smith, Allison Chandler. The Girl's World Book of Bath and Beauty: Fresh Ideas & Fun Recipes for Hair, Skin, Nails and More. [J 668.55 SMI]

Traig, Jennifer. Makeup: Things to Make and Do. [YA 646.726 TRA]


Coetze, Karen. Sew-It-Yourself Home Decor. [646.2 COE]

Henderson, Stevie. Great 2 X 4 Accessories for Your Home: Making Candlesticks, Coatracks, Mirrors, Footstools and More. [684 HEN]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poetry Friday--"Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur"

The creator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [F CAR and J CAR], Lewis Carroll, also wrote poetic parodies, humorous verse, and riddles. Some of them have been collected in Poems of Lewis Carroll, selected by the late Myra Cohn Livingston [821.8 CAR]. This one, although tongue in cheek, does have a ring of truth to it! (In reading it, make sure you get "Enthusiastically" right!)

Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur

"How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once 'the very wish
Partook of the sublime.'
Then tell me how! Don't put me off
With your 'another time'!"

The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
And thought "There's no hum-drum in him,
Nor any shilly-shally."

"And would you be a poet
Before you've been to school?
Ah, well! I hardly thought you
So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic--
A very simple rule.

"For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.

"Then, if you'd be impressive,
Remember what I say,
That abstract qualities begin
With capitals always:
The True, the Good, the Beautiful--
Those are the things that pay!

"Next, when we are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint."

It goes on...and on...You can read the rest in Poems of Lewis Carroll, or online here.

Check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up being hosted by Gregory K.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Country Music Awards

Last night the 43th Annual Country Awards were held in Nashville and Taylor Swift was the big winner with four statuettes, one of which was for "Album of the Year."

The nominees for CMA "Album of the Year" were:

(Award goes to Artist and Producer)

American Saturday Night
Brad Paisley
Produced by Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois

Defying Gravity
Keith Urban
Produced by Dann Huff and Keith Urban

Taylor Swift
Produced by Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift

Love On The Inside
Produced by Byron Gallimore, Kristian Bush, and Jennifer Nettles

That Lonesome Song
Jamey Johnson
Produced by The Kent Hardly Playboys

I'm happy to say that we own every one of the nominated albums. They are all in the section CD COUNTRY. Check them out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

American Army field hospital inside ruins of church. France, 1918

Today, I invite you to think about those veterans who have suffered mental or physical damage as a result of their service to our country. The Library of Congress has put together a page of the Veterans History Project entitled, "Disabled Veterans: The Unhealed Wounds."
For disabled veterans, their wounds of war are daily facts of life. They are obstacles or impediments, but for the men and woman in these stories, they are not roadblocks. All say they don’t want special consideration for their disabilities, only fair and humane treatment—from the government they served and from the communities in which they live.

Stories of men and women from many wars are included. You'll find audio, video, and written interviews and memoirs.

If you are, or know of, a disabled vet, you may be interested in this title from our collection: The Wounded Warrior Handbook: A Resource Guide for Returning Veterans by Don Philpott [362.1086 PHI].

There are many other stories in Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project, divided up into topics from "Art of War" to "Women in Four Wars". For a complete listing click here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cookie Swap

Just a few weeks ago The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman [F PEA] was released. It's a book celebrating the tradition of the cookie swap whereby a group of people get together to exchange cookies and to enjoy each other's company. The Christmas Cookie Club starts like this,
I am the head cookie bitch and this is my party. The Christmas cookie club is always on the first Monday of December. Mark it on your calendar. Twelve of us gather with thirteen dozen cookies wrapped in packages. Homemade, of course. We each bring a dish to pass around and a bottle of wine.
Sounds like a fun read!

Several publishers seem to be on the same cookie swap wavelength, because Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year by Julia M. Usher [641.8654 USH] was also recently released. This book is a real treat for the eyes! The decorated cookies and their unusual presentations are outstandingly photographed by Steve Adams. If the idea of creating works of cookie art is daunting, then look for one of our many straight-forward cookie books, such as The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook by Susan Mahnke Peery [641.8654 PEE].

Monday, November 09, 2009

Writing as a Gift

On Wednesday, November 18 at 7:00 pm, we will hosting a workshop for adults and older teens, "Writing as a Gift: How to 'Wrap Up' Your Writing as a Holiday Gift." The workshop will be conducted by writer and editor, Julie MacShane.

Julie says,
Giving a poem or story as a holiday gift is one of the most powerful and personal gifts you can present to someone you care about. Penning a short story or remembrance about that person is a wonderful testament to a strong relationship. Poems of love or tribute are always appreciated.

Participants are asked to bring a copy of writing that they may want to give as a gift. During the workshop the samples will be discussed and suggestions made for improvement.

Julie will show participants how to give their writing gifts "sparkle" through the use of color, art, stickers, and special holiday-themed paper. There will also be discussion of the best and least expensive ways to bind these gifts.

Call the library at 432-7154 to register.

If you'd like to create a piece of writing for the workshop, here are a few books to help you get started:

DeSalvo, Louise. Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives. [808 DES]

Polking, Kirk. Writing Family Histories and Memoirs. [929 POL]

Rozakis, Laurie. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creative Writing. [808 ROZ]

Spence, Londa. Legacy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Personal History. [808 SPE]

Whitman, Joan. Recipes into Type: A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors. [808 WHI]

Friday, November 06, 2009

Poetry Friday--Where in the Wild?

Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed...Revealed [591.472 SCH] with its "ear-tickling" poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy and "eye-tricking" photos by Dwight Kuhn is, quite simply, AWESOME!

For a teacher the book could serve several purposes:
  • Science through the study of animals, camouflage, pattern, etc.
  • Literature, specifically poetry. Especially a study of forms.

  • Fold out pages contain factual information about each creature.

    For the reader there is the added delight of the search!

    Here's one of the concrete poems found within. I hope the scan is clear enough to read, if not, come down to the library to borrow the book!

    The Round-Up this week is being hosted by Wild Rose Reader.

    Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Going Down the Road

    Although it's not going to start until January, USA Network is already promoting a new series, "American Character along Highway 50," hosted by Tom Brokaw.

    We don't have any books on Highway 50, but we do have several on highway travel including The Next EXIT: Your Guide to Gas, Food, Lodging, Medical Services, and Retail Stores at Every Interstate Highway Exit [910 NEX], Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 600 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice-Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More by Jane and Michael Stern [647.9573 STE], and Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives: An All-American Road Trip--With Recipes! by Guy Fieri [647.9573 FIE].

    We also have books dealing with highway history such as First Highways of America by John L. Butler [388.1 BUT], and Route 66 Remembered by Michael Karl Witzel [388.1 WIT].

    If you have a hankering for a road trip, make sure you take along a few CDs for the trip such as John Mellencamp's Freedom Road [CD ROCK MEL] and Bon Jovi's Lost Highway [CD ROCK BON].

    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Snows of Kilimanjaro

    Photo by mgjefferies

    Ernest Hemingway begins his short story, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro,"
    Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai "Ngaje Ngai," the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.
    Perhaps you read the story back in high school, or maybe you watched the 1952 film starring Gregory Peck? "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is one of those titles that everyone recognizes, and I'd even venture to guess that everyone associates Hemingway with the story.

    I have some bad news to share, though--in a few years the snows will no longer cover the mountain. Climate change is taking its toll--rapidly. Read about Kilimanjaro's disappearing glacier here.

    To read Hemingway's story, borrow The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway [F HEM] or you can listen to it on audio, The Snows of Kilimanjaro; and, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber [AB/CD HEM].

    To see photos of the way other places on Earth are changing, click here.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Staring at Goats?

    This Friday, a new movie starring George Clooney is opening, The Men Who Stare at Goats. This intriguing title is also the title of a book by Jon Ronson [355.3434 RON] upon which the movie is based.

    Several years ago I read the book simply on the basis of the title alone. Wouldn't you? Here's the description from the publisher:
    In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted military practice — and indeed, the laws of physics — they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them.

    Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren't joking. What's more, they're back and fighting the War on Terror.

    With firsthand access to the leading players in the story, Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades and shows how they are alive today within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in postwar Iraq. Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners of war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 debleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces Command Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? How was the U.S. military associated with the mysterious mass suicide of a strange cult from San Diego? The Men Who Stare at Goats answers these and many more questions.
    By the time I had finished reading the book, I was sure that it was a work of fiction! One of the subject headings for the book is "Parapsychology: Military aspects." Truthfully, doesn't that scream "make-believe" to you?

    Take a look at the trailer below if you haven't already seen it at the theater or on television. I can't wait to see the film!

    We have another book on our shelves that may be of interest: Warfare in the 21st Century [355.02 WAR]. In it you'll find a reprint of an article from The Christian Science Monitor, "Bang! You're Incapacitated," by Brad Knickerbocker. The article, originally published in 2002, contains examples of nontraditional methods of defeating an enemy such as
    Malodorants--chemicals that mimic the most revolting smells (rotting food or human waste) and can disperse attackers like a skunk at a garden party.

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Holiday Gifts

    It's the first week of November and thoughts turn to holiday gift giving. If you want to make gifts and have them completed in time, then you should start soon.

    Here are a few books with holiday gift projects for you to start, and complete, in time for the holidays:

    Doherty, Elisabeth A. Amigurumi! Super Happy Crochet Cute. [746.434 DOH]

    DuMont, Katie. Picture Perfect Framing: Making, Matting, Mounting, Embellishing, Displaying and More. [749. DUM]

    Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts: An A-to-Z Guide with Detailed Instructions and Endless Inspiration. [745.5 MAR]

    Sterbenz, Genevieve A. Bead Style: Fabulous Chunky Jewelry. [745.5942 STE]

    Tourtillot, Suzanne. Decorating Baskets: 50 Fabulous Projects Using Flowers, Fabric, Beads, Wire and More. [745.5 TOU]

    Wasinger, Susan. Eco-Craft: Recycle, Recraft, Restyle. [745.5 WAS]