Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
These are the chandeliers hanging in a giant foyer.
Just for pretty, this is another chandelier they have in a different part of the building.
If you are in L.A. & have a little extra time, I would highly recommend dropping by the library. In addition to a beautiful building, they have many interesting program & exhibits--& quite a lot of books, too!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Unlike Mumma and her devout sister Lillie, Agnes struggles with her faith. Why are some people so at home in the religion they were born to, while others chafe at it? Does her trip to the Holy Land change Agnes's philosophical framework, or is she left without a moral compass? Where is Agnes at the end of the novel? Is she a “soul who cannot find her way?”
Russell paints a vivid picture of America in the Roaring Twenties, and identifies a strong correlation between identity and consumption (with Freud and postwar advertising to thank). How has advertising changed since the 1920s? Do you recognize modern America in the descriptions?
T. E. Lawrence, Karl Weilbacher, Gertrude Bell, Lord Cox, and Winston Churchill all have theories on imperial rule and how to best resolve the growing conflicts in the Middle East. What are their ideas and how do they hold up to hindsight and a modern historical perspective?
Mary Doria Russell discusses writing Dreamers of the Day (another interview with the author)
Friday, October 23, 2009
I have tried the video download, choosing a PBS Nature program and in about fifteen minutes, I was watching a documentary on birds.
If you have the Overdrive Media Console software already installed, the video will download in about ten minutes or so with a high-speed internet connection. I am not sure how it works with most computers, but for mine it opened up in a small window and then I clicked the small Windows Media Player icon on the bottom and the video then displayed in a larger picture through Windows Media Player. If you are not sure if you are able to watch videos on your computer or device, be sure and go to the "Help" section for answers and troubleshooting if you are having problems.
From our website, you can download audiobooks, eBooks, even videos. Just recently, the iPod-compatible format was added to this feature! Now you can search our Digital Library for iPod compatible audiobooks. Downloading is easy with the help of our handy FAQs. Or stop by your local branch & check at the Information Desk--we have helpful handouts for you!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Ursula LeGuin (born October 21, 1929) is a renowned American science fiction and fantasy author. She has won 5 Hugo Awards and 6 Nebula Awards for her work. In 2003 she was awarded the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award. Her books The Lathe of Heaven and the Earthsea trilogy have been adapted for television.
Ursula LeGuin writes for adults, young adults, and children--her Hainish Cycle, beginning with Rocannon's World, is for adults, and the award-winning Annals of the Western Shore series, which starts with 2004's Gifts, is for young adults.
Interview: Ursula LeGuin on The Left Hand of Darkness (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This year's theme is "Read Beyond Reality," so I figured I'd open up the discussion for everyone's favorite science fiction/fantasy/horror books. Here are my top ten--what are yours?
10. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Using psychology as a base science, Isaac Asimov's Hari Seldon sets out a plan to save the galaxy from itself. Not the most engaging characters in the genre, but an undisputed classic, and definitely worth a read on the pure idea front.
9. The Talisman - Stephen King and Peter Straub
Jack Sawyer is the modern American version of a prince--the son of a movie star. Unfortunately, she's dying, and when she flees to the east coast in an attempt to avoid the duplicitous Morgan Sloat, a frightened and depressed Jack stumbles onto the magical world of the Territories--both wondrous and terrifying, and populated by "Twinners" of people in his world. He makes a daring trek across the Territories--and the United States--in search of the magical Talisman, which will save his mother, and both worlds in which she is queen. Excellent character work.
8. Animal Farm - George Orwell
Orwell's short allegory of the Russian Revolution features pigs who decide that they've had enough of being ruled over by humans--four legs good, two legs bad!--and lead the animals of Manor Farm in a successful revolt. But as the revolution grows darker and the pigs become more like the humans, even the basic tenets of Animalism come into question. A great, quick read that will make you think... but which is also an entertaining story in its own right.
7. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
While The Hobbit's famous sequel, Lord of the Rings, rightly holds pride of place, The Hobbit itself is worth reading on its own merits. Initially meant to entertain children, it is the story of a comfortable hobbit who--much like Tolkien himself--loves tea parties, stories, and a good smoke in the garden. When adventure overtakes him, he goes along unwillingly as a burglar for a troop of dwarves trying to reclaim their treasure from a dragon. But Bilbo the hobbit has greater reserves of strength than he suspects, and his kindness and fairness ultimately save more than his own skin. As he travels, he never loses his love of his home, but can he ever be truly comfortable there again?
6. The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
Some books in this series are better than others (I can live without The Last Battle), but the power of Lewis's story is unshakeable. Four children, at the height of the Blitz, are taken to the country. There, they find a wardrobe that leads to the magical world of Narnia, and its mystical creator, Aslan--who is not, after all, a tame lion. As the books progress, others join the Pevensies, even replacing them in later books, as they fight through battles both physical and moral. A note on the numbering: At some point, the publishers decided to re-number the books in chronological order of their events. This makes very little sense, as in the original order--which began with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the reader discovers Narnia along with the characers, while in the chronological order, the prequel, The Magician's Nephew comes first, and there are many things in it that refer to books that are technically later in the series. In my opinion, it's better to read these books in the original order.
5. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Not quite as visibly SF/F as some of the others (but very much in the horror tradition), Lord of the Flies is still speculative fiction. A plane carrying schoolboys away from a war crashes on a paradisical island, leaving the boys on their own. Set up as a contrast to boys' adventure stories where everything works out, in Golding's view, everything goes wrong. The boys carry a seed of their own destruction with them, and when, at the end, the adult world comes to rescue them, the reader is left wondering if they're any better off.
4. The Stand - Stephen King
Very few plot ideas are simpler to explain than The Stand: Virus wipes out 99% of humanity, and the survivors regroup. How does that go on for 1100 pages? Because King delves into how it would feel to the survivors to go through the now barren landscape, in which magic is starting to reassert itself. Not for the fainthearted, the extended version of The Stand contains some occasionally questionable segments, but the powerful vision at the core--the haunting idea of the empty world and the resurgence of wild magic--carries this through as a classic of speculative fiction.
3. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggin is a genius born among geniuses. A third child in a world of two-child limit laws, Ender was requested by the government in order to save the world from a race of invading aliens. Sent to the elite battle school, he finds himself twisted into increasing complex "games" meant to train him for the war, and losing means more than dropping a point or two in the statistics. In the life and death world of battle school, Ender is forged into a soldier in this story where questions of what we ask of our children take the forefront.
2. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
(Link to first book in the series.)
Oh, the horrors! It's a children's series! Let's create a whole new bestseller list so it doesn't crowd out "real" books!
When JK Rowling set out with her bespectacled boy wizard to tell a modest story about saving the world while drinking pumpkin juice and flying Firebolt brooms in Quidditch games, she probably had no idea what she was getting into. A worldwide phenomenon that got kids and adults reading together--and reading long and fairly challenging books, at that--Harry Potter has earned its place as a fantasy classic. Beginning with eleven year old Harry having a fun adventure involving a three-headed dog named Fluffy and a dragon named Norbert, the series grows up with Harry, evolving into a story about the sins of the past, the power of love, and the mystery of death. If you've discounted Harry Potter as a kiddie phenomenon, give it a try--you'll be surprised.
1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
(Link to first volume.)
In the end, as they say in The Highlander, there can be only one, and in the world of fantasy that "one" is Lord of the Rings. It's the taproot of modern fantasy.
Picking up a few decades after The Hobbit left off, Bilbo's nephew, Frodo Baggins, inherits the ring of invisibility Bilbo found... which belongs to Sauron, the dark wizard who once enslaved all of Middle Earth, and who now wants it back, to call all of his minions to him and send his shadow armies marching across the face of the world. While Aragorn, the king-in-exile, leads great battles to reclaim his throne, Frodo and his companion, Samwise Gamgee, take a long, thankless trek across the dark realm of Mordor, to destroy the Ring in the fires where it was forged. As they go, the power of the Ring acts on everyone who comes into contact with it, no one more devastatingly than Frodo.
But even as they fight their large battles, there is another one waiting at home. Will the hobbits find the strength to defend their own beloved Shire, or will all be lost in the end?
I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of an author groupie. In addition to Sarah, I've checked out bookish events featuring Sandra Cisneros, Bruce Campbell, Anne Rice, David Sedaris, & most recently Elizabeth Gilbert. It's hard to top David Sedaris live, but Sarah Vowell did not disappoint.
For those of you unfamiliar with Sarah's work, she writes about historical events from a personal (& often snarky) perspective. The first book I read of hers, Assassination Vacation, is about her tour of the U.S. seeking out places & facts about the first 3 presidential assassinations. In the book she was reading & signing last night, The Wordy Shipmates, she's writing about the Massachusetts Bay Colony, specifically her two main 'characters', John Winthrop (of the 'city on a hill' sermon) & Roger Williams. Don't call it her book about the pilgrims! She is specific that the Pilgrims were a different bunch of folks. She is writing about the Massachusetts Bay Colony, after the pilgrims' landing & before the Salem Witch Trials.
Sarah is careful to call herself a reporter rather than a historian. Don't expect to find a lengthy bibliography in her works. She reads first-person accounts & interprets for herself. You are more likely to find interviews with park rangers & asides about friends & family (particularly her nephew Owen) she has brought with her to collect information than more dense scholarly sources.
Last night, Sarah read from her book & fielded a lot of questions. She's a very entertaining speaker, her wit as dry in person as in her books. Anyone who can make folks want to read about assassination & Puritanism has got to be something special! Look for her next book, which apparently will be about Hawaii & missionaries. Owen has discovered video games now, but he's still traveling around with his aunt & knows more about King Kamehameha than most ten-year-olds.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Ntozake Shange is an African-American poet, playwright & author, most famous for her choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. I also recommend her children's book about jazz, Ellington was Not a Street, and her adult novel Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, about 3 artistic sisters from North Carolina. Ms. Shange is also a Poet Hero! Among her many awards are an Obie, a Los Angeles Time Book Prize for Poetry, and a Pushcart Prize.
The newest titles the library has to offer is "Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People" by William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, or the DVD about the Iditarod "Toughest Race on Earth" and the new Kate Shugak novel by Dana Stabenow called "Whisper to the Blood". Also if you click on the "Download Digital Media" link on the main page and use "Alaska" in the search box you will find six downloadable movies and two audiobooks. If you are interested in learning more about Alaska point your mouse to the library catalog and search the huge array of books that will feed your curiosity.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Agnes begins to break the mold when she buys new clothes and gets her hair bobbed. Makeover shows are popular on television today, and people often say that “this has changed my life.” Do you believe them? Are appearances really that powerful?
Clothing is mentioned a great deal in the novel. In what ways are the characters in Dreamers of the Day defined and/or influenced by their clothes? How do Agnes, Mumma, Gertrude Bell, and T. E. Lawrence use their fashion choices as indicators of their attitudes? Is your clothing a tool or a disguise or just something to cover your nakedness?
What does Rosie embody for Agnes? Is her attachment to her little dog “pathetic,” as she suggests? How does Rosie's existence color the novel and influence its chain of events?
Interview with Mary Doria Russell about Dreamers of the Day
Thursday, October 15, 2009
--P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975) is the author of several series of comic novels. I've been reading his Jeeves & Wooster series since my teenage years--great light comedy for when you need a break! Now you can also watch episodes from this series on DVD, starring the inimitable Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly celebrating 1939 as 'film's finest year'. Here are a list of the films they list to lend credence to this claim. Have you seen them all? Do you agree with EW? Check them out and see!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
They forget to mention to Youth Services types that you must also have an intimate acquaintance with gluesticks, foam-board, construction paper, and of course, ninja ducks.
This month at Cherry Hills, we're holding 3rd Degree Thursdays, a creative problem-solving game based on Odyssey of the Mind. (Why? I miss OM. ;p) Today, the problem was to make a monument to something that didn't deserve a monument, using two paper bowls, some string, a bit of modeling clay, some toothpicks, cotton balls, and a couple of small leftover summer reading prizes. Participants had no idea what the question was going to be before they arrived.
May I introduce you to Fuzzyland?
Created on the fly from random materials, by a five year old (the program is kids eight to eighteen, but she came with her sisters), Fuzzyland has a whole social system, and networks of relationships among its inhabitants... which are made out of cotton balls and pom-pom critters, as well as one of our favorite ninja ducks (the unofficial mascots of the Teen Advisory Board).
Maybe you'd like a more traditional monument. Meet Ninja Duck I:
Or The Statue of Cotton Balls:
And our oldest, unsure what to create to monumentalize, went with an abstract sculpture, sure to be a hit on the modern art circuit:
All of this is part of what the library does for kids--we like to offer them oppurtunities to be creative and solve problems on their own, and to give them the materials they need to keep their minds ticking along.
In preschool, we make flags monthly for the countries we "visit" via storytime, and all summer, we have programmers for all ages.
This is one of the best parts of my job as a children's librarian. You can keep track of all of our upcoming programs--for kids and adults--at the website.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Interested in Route 66? Check out the library's Armchair Adventures blog as they virtually travel the Mother Road.
Extra credit: Who coined the term Mother Road in the first place?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The process for choosing a winner is thus: first, a longlist is announced, chosen by the year's judging panel (7/28/09). That's whittled down to a shortlist (9/8/09). Then, finally, a winner is chosen.
AS Byatt – The Children’s Book
JM Coetzee – Summertime
Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall – How to Paint a Dead Man
Samantha Harvey – The Wilderness
James Lever – Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Ed O’Loughlin – Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore – Heliopolis
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
William Trevor – Love and Summer
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger
A. S. Byatt - The Children's Book
J. M. Coetzee - Summertime
Adam Foulds - The Quickening Maze
Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer - The Glass Room
Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger
For those who attended the program, here is Nancy's GOOP recipe:
1. Mix 2 cups cold water, 3 tsp sugar, ½ cup flour
2. Mix with 2 cups boiling water
For more about Nancy, check out her Recycle Runway website.