Monday, September 27, 2010

All Rise in Praise of Bread

I love the smell of fresh-baked bread. I don't make it very often, but every Easter Sunday I spend the better part of my day making Easter Bread using the recipe of an old friend's Russian grandmother (the bread has to rise 3 times!). Do you like to make your own bread? The bread book that has been making its way around my workplace lately is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (you can also check out their website, or the video below). I have not tried to make it yet but several of my co-workers are fans.

Other recommended bread titles in the library catalog include:

The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart

The Bread Bible: Beth Hensperger's 300 Favorite Recipes

The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson, with Carol Flinders & Bronwen Godfrey

Or, try something a little out of the ordinary:

Maori Fried Bread

The Knead for Bread (a blog about baking)

Amish Friendship Bread

Ethiopian Injera (not just a bread, it's also used as a utensil!)

James Beard's Amazing Persimmon Bread

Jamaican Hard Dough Bread

Sweet Anise Bread from Uruguay

Traditional Pan Cubano

Nigel Slater's Crispbread Recipes

Korean Egg Bread

Chinese Steamed Bread

Swedish Limpa Bread

Gesine Bullock-Prado recommends: Natural Red Grape Sourdough Starter/ Mothersponge

How to make dough ornaments

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Happy Anniversary, abcreads!

abcreads turns one today (not counting its brief tenure as the Magical Summer reading group blog)! We are celebrating with not one but 3 prize drawings!

The rules are simple: we ask a question, you post an answer. The first person to post a response wins a fabulous prize (a mug or a bag). Only one prize per reader, but you are welcome to respond all three questions.

The third question:

What would you like to see written about on abcreads?

Thanks for taking part in abcreads' anniversary celebration! Keep reading & recommend us to your friends!

Happy Anniversary, abcreads!

abcreads turns one today (not counting its brief tenure as the Magical Summer reading group blog)! We are celebrating with not one but 3 prize drawings!

The rules are simple: we ask a question, you post an answer. The first person to post a response wins a fabulous prize (a mug or a bag). Only one prize per reader, but you are welcome to respond all three questions.

The second question:

What is the last book you read?

Happy Anniversary, abcreads!

abcreads turns one today (not counting its brief tenure as the Magical Summer reading group blog)! We are celebrating with not one but 3 prize drawings!
The rules are simple: we ask a question, you post an answer. The first person to post a response wins a fabulous prize (a mug or a bag). Only one prize per reader, but you are welcome to respond all three questions.

The first question:

Who is your favorite author?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books Week

This year Banned Books Week is September 25th-October 2nd. Here are some of ALA's activity ideas for the week-what you can do to fight censorship, keep books available in your libraries, and promote the freedom to read!

Stay informed. If you read or hear about a challenge at your school or public library, support your librarian and free and open access to library materials. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates they learn of only 20 to 25 percent of book challenges. Let us know if there is a challenge in your community. Find out what the policy is for reviewing challenged materials at your school or public library. Join the Intellectual Freedom Action News (IFACTION) e-list.

Organize your own Banned Books Week at your school, public library, or favorite bookstore.

Help spread the word about Banned Books Week by downloading the Banned Books web badges on our Free Downloads page and hosting them on your blogs and home pages. You can also create a public service announcement (see our sample PSA script for ideas).

Get involved. Go to school board meetings. Volunteer to help your local school or public library create an event that discusses the freedom to read and helps educate about censorship—maybe a First Amendment film festival, a readout, a panel discussion, an author reading or a poster contest for children illustrating the concept of free speech.

Speak out. Write letters to the editor, your public library director and your local school principal supporting the freedom to read. Talk to your neighbors and friends about why everyone should be allowed to choose for themselves and their families what they read. Encourage your governor, city council and/or mayor to proclaim "Banned Books Week - Celebrating the Freedom to Read" in your state or community. See our sample letter to the editor for ideas.

Exercise your rights! Check out or re-read a favorite banned book. Encourage your book group to read and discuss one of the books. Give one of your favorite books as a gift. Click the following link for a list of books banned or challenged 2009-2010 or visit the ALA's Frequently Challenged Books page.

Join the Freedom to Read Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to the legal and financial defense of intellectual freedom, especially in libraries. You can also support the cause by buying Banned Books Week posters, buttons and T-shirts online.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


In honor of our ongoing Mandarin Chinese classes (see below), celebrate all things Chinese @ your library! We have several new titles you might want to check out:

A Thread of Sky: A Novel by Deanna Fei

For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose

Country Driving: A Journey through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language by Deborah Fallows

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu

The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu

Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth by Hilary Spurling

The Mao Case by Qiu Xiaolong

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Lee Valley Poems = Li he gu de shi by Yang Lian

Life and Death are Wearing Me Out: A Novel by Mo Yan

For a list of Chinese cookbooks, click here.

For a list of our Chinese language learning materials, click here.

Or, check out the class itself!
Introduction to Mandarin Chinese
Saturdays, 9/4–10/30
11:00 a.m.-noon
Learn a dynamic mix of Mandarin Chinese language along with various aspects of the Chinese culture with instructor Ying Ding. For ages eight and up. Register online.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bring the Performing Arts Home!

Going out these days to see a show is expensive. Maybe you just don't have the time. Have you considered checking out a performance DVD from the library to watch at home in your jammies with your feet up? Most folks know you can borrow blockbusters & fiction movies from the library. Did you know you can also borrow concerts, shows, even ballet?

How about a blast from the past? The Live Aid concerts from July 13, 1985 are available to check out. If you like jazz, I very much enjoyed Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense, which included performances from contemporary musicians including Anat Cohen, Marco Benevento, Terence Blanchard, Bill Frisell, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Aspiring guitar players, consider It Might Get Loud , featuring The Edge, Jack White, & Jimmy Page. If you're a world music fan, Umm Kulthum: A Voice like Egypt is worth a watch-this informative documentary narrated by Omar Sharif contains clips & background information. Other new music DVD titles in the catalog include: I Can Tell the World: Singing to Heal our Racial Divide; Not the Messiah: He's a Very Naughty Boy (the Monty Python troupe reunites onstage for a one-night-only performance of a musical adaptation of their film Life of Brian); The Clash Live; Neil Young: Heart of Gold; Soul Power, following 1974's most celebrated American R&B acts as they came together with the most renowned musical groups in Southern Africa for a 12-hour, three-night concert held in Kinshasa, Zaire; & When You're Strange: A Film about the Doors.

Prefer dance? See the incomparable Margot Fonteyn in Romeo & Juliet or Mikhail Baryshnikov in The Nutcracker. Check out the tango in Tango Our Dance; enjoy the kids of Mad Hot Ballroom learning dance for the first time; or the inner city youth inventing their own dance in Rize.

The library system can even provide your opera fix when the Santa Fe Opera's season is over! Our catalog includes performances of Gotterdammerung, L'Elisir d'Amore, The Tales of Hoffmann, & more.

Be sure & check our catalog for other concerts, performances, & documentaries about the performing arts!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Digital Detox Week

"Did you just have to click on a link? What is it about our technology that is so addictive? As much as we hate to admit it, we are hooked on the digital world. Whether it is texting, gaming, downloading or emailing, so much of our time is spent in the virtual realm. Luckily, the off button is easy to find. Take a week to cut back on digital stimulation as much as you can. The goal is not to dwell on the pitfalls of our electronic devices but to reflect on ourselves. And who knows, if the magic begins to creep back into your life, the digital detox may never end."
~from the Adbusters website

Digital Detox Week, formerly known as TV Turnoff Week, was launched by Adbusters magazine and other organizations in 1994. It takes place twice a year, in April & in September. It is estimated that 70 million people have taken part since its inception. The next Digital Detox Week is September 19th-25th! Time to give yourself a break from all the electronic devices that rule our lives-turn off your computer, your TV, & see what else the world has to offer. I don't know if this means you should eschew your e-reader as well...

For more suggestions on beginning your digital detox, visit the Adbusters website or check out examples from the Atlanta's Examiner. Tammy Strobel, of the website Rowdy Kittens, takes a "digital sabbatical" regularly.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spring Creek Concert

Last Friday the bluegrass band Spring Creek played in our outdoor performance area! They drew quite a crowd.

I missed their show myself, but to check out their song stylings visit their website or the video below! They'll make you want to dance!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ave's First Library Card

An ABC Libraries customer made this excellent PSA about a child getting her first library card-how timely since this month is Library Card Signup Month!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories

"In the ghost story, obligations do not cease with death, & the past is never a closed book. What has been can be again, though often terribly transformed. For a progressive age...the idea of a vindictive past held an especial potential for terror."
~from the introduction by Michael Cox & R.A. Gilbert, written All Souls' Day, 1990

I have to confess that I am not a huge fan of anything in the horror genre (I recently considered writing to a movie theater chain to ask that they only show horror movie previews before horror movies because I dislike them so much). I thought, however, that I could probably stand some Victorian ghost stories. The introduction put me in Victorian perspective: Gothic tales set in the past were on the wane, & modern-day domestic fiction was more prevalent; & the rise of science could not quash the delight in a ghost story-although many stories were now presented with "spurious factuality", such as being in the form of a diary.

I read 5 stories from this collection: "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" by Henry James; "Reality or Delusion?" by Mrs. Henry Wood; "The Body-Snatcher" by Robert Louis Stevenson; "At the End of the Passage" by Rudyard Kipling; & "John Charrington's Wedding" by E. Nesbit. Most of the stories I chose because of I had heard of the writers before in other genres. All were well written. I found "The Body-Snatcher" & "At the End of the Passage" the most gripping-"The Body-Snatcher", in tune with the era's preoccupation with science, had a medical theme as scholarly anatomists learn where the bodies they dissect come from; "At the End of the Passage", though set in India, has very little local color but has the air of an intense fever-dream brought on by heat & loneliness. "John Charrington's Wedding" was the shortest & almost a romance until its disturbing finale. The Master, Henry James, presents a story of sibling affection gone sour-most of the characters are unlikeable, but that's what makes the story work so well. Mrs. Henry Wood's story, beginning with "This is a ghost story. Every word of it is true", is the only story to ask, as in its title, was the ghost sighting real or imagined? "Reality or Delusion?" is probably the most down-to-earth, workmanlike of the stories, our unnamed narrator laying out the tale with the sobriety & eye for detail of a historian.

I am still, slowly but surely working my way through "Our Mutual Read", the Victorian reading challenge I started in January. My goal was Level 3: to read 12 books, at least 6 written during 1837 - 1901; the other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction. Rashly, I also thought I might do the Period Film Mini-Challenge (watch at least 6 films that take place between 1837 - 1901) & the Short Story Mini-Challenge (read 12 short stories written or taking place between 1837 - 1901). Here's how I've done so far:

Level 3: 12 Books
-Death at the Priory: Sex, Love, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick
-The Clumsiest People in Europe, or: Mrs. Mortimer's Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World, edited and with an Introduction by Todd Pruzan
-The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon by Brian Thompson
-Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale by Gillian Gill
-The Second Mrs. Tanqueray by Arthur Wing Pinero (from Representative English Plays edited by J.S.P. Tatlock & R.G. Martin)

Period Film Mini-Challenge: 6 Films
-Return to Cranford
-The Mill on the Floss (1997 version with Emily Watson)
-Alice: A Look into Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & at the Curious Relationship between Alice Liddell & Lewis Carroll
-Around the World in 80 Days

Short Story Mini-Challenge: 12 Short Stories
-Victorian Love Stories: An Oxford Anthology (4 stories)
-The Oxford Book of Detective Stories (6 stories)
-The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories (5 stories)
-The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

Well, it looks like I certainly have my work cut out for me! At least my Short Story Mini-Challenge is more than complete. (I can always aim for Level 2 [8 books] if the going gets rough.) Here are the next books I hope to read: Lectures on Art by John Ruskin; Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon; The Warden by Anthony Trollope; The Observations by Jane Harris; The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale; The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler; & Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

abcreads Book Banter

Well, we're almost finished with the summer online book group-autumn doesn't officially start until September 23rd, after all-but we do still have the forums open for your use! Click on the "abcreads book banter" icon on the right side of the page if you haven't checked them out yet!

You can still comment on any of the books we've read this summer, or we've added some new categories: What are you reading in September; Need a reading challenge; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die; & Can you recommend a book about...? (Have trouble seeing the new topics? Click on Topics View at the top of the forums.) If you have another category you'd like to add or a specific question-just click on New Topic to add it!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Living Green

My sister & her girlfriend having been raving about the Santa Fe Farmers' Market, so I made a special trip up there yesterday to check it out. (Note: I actually spent the night in Santa Fe, since the optimum time to arrive is between 7-8 a.m.) It is quite an event! Lots of local produce, meats, eggs & other handmade items (mostly baked goods & soaps & toiletries) from a variety of vendors, much of it pesticide-free or organic. I didn't end up buying much myself, as schlepping it back to Albuquerque by train seemed like a chore, but it made me think about what I've been missing not checking out Albuquerque farmers' markets, in my case the Downtown Growers' Market. (I like that many markets now have websites with information like locations, hours, vendors, even a mission statement-the Downtown Growers Market, for instance, "is a growers' only open air market featuring 100% locally grown New Mexico produce. All produce is grown within 60 miles of the market, so you are guaranteed to find only freshly picked produce at every booth.")

While I was up in Santa Fe, hanging out with Nancy (an environmental educator through her Recycle Runway program-couture fashions designed from trash!), we discussed her suggestions to keep a green home. Here are some of Nancy's tips:

In the kitchen
  • Compost! Nancy collects all her kitchen scraps in a bucket to take to the compost pile in the backyard. This includes all vegetable & fruit scraps, used paper products (paper towels, napkins), & eggshells. No meat! For more composting tips, visit the city website.
  • Nancy keeps a plastic tub/dishpan in the sink all the time. She puts dirty dishes in there to soak, & also uses it to collect the water when she rinses fruits & vegetables. This water, ofen called 'gray' water, she uses to water her garden.

In the bathroom

  • Does your water heater take a long time to heat up? Nancy keeps a bucket in her shower to collect the water as she waits for it to heat up. When the bucket is full, she uses the water to flush the toilet. She usually tries to do the same with the water from the bathroom sink.
  • There are two trashcans in Nancy's bathroom-one for non-compostable trash, & the other for compostables (including hair, gently-used tissue, cotton balls).
For more environmental questions, check out the GreenFILE database from the library's resource center. GreenFILE is a research database covering all aspects of human impact on the environment, drawing on disciplines including agriculture, education, law, health and technology in providing information about the issues facing our planet. If you're interested it what the City of Albuquerque is doing about sustainability, visit the city's website.