Thursday, August 30, 2012

Free eBook Sources Roundup

More and more people are reading eBooks these days, on smart phones, tablets, computers, and dedicated eReaders.  Though the library is a great source for eBooks, there are many more available on the internet for free!

In January, I posted a great list of sources for free eBooks that you can still access here.  Here are some other websites to keep on your radar for yet more free Ebooks. has a daily list of free Kindle books available on  Many of these are publisher promotionals that may only be free for 24 - 48 hours.  You can sign up for a daily email to be notified of the latest additions. has over 70,000 eBooks, with approximately 12,000 free in a variety of formats.  These books are from indie authors and small publishers. is a Christian publishing house that has free eBooks in a variety of formats and a variety of languages including English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish among others. is another site with free eBooks from independent authors.  Most books are in PDF format, though EPUB and Kindle formats are being introduced.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Literary Tourism: Rome & Paris

We've written before at abcreads about literary tourism, but now we've finally done some!  This spring (we're a little behind in our report), your intrepid abcreads reporter journeyed to Europe.  Amongst the myriad of things to do in Paris & Rome, we found time for a bt of literary sightseeing.


The Keats - Shelley House is right beside the Spanish Steps! The English Romantic poets were very smitten with Rome, & this site, 26 Piazza di Spagna, "is most famous for being the final resting place of John Keats, who died here in 1821, aged just 25, and to this day Keats’s bedroom is preserved as a shrine to his tragic story".  This is a small museum, but chock full of books & memorabilia.

Not strictly literary, but cool:


These posters were dotted throughout Rome, indicating that a movie had been filmed in the area & telling you a bit about the film.  Roman Holiday fans might guess that this sign was around the corner from La Bocca della Verità.


It may seem morbid to some, but I can't imagine visiting Paris without stopping at their famous cemeteries, a stop at both Montparnasse & Père Lachaise were in order.



The tomb of Oscar Wilde has had to be surrounded by plastic to protect it.


Our "Latin Quarter Literary Loop" walking tour, recommended by Lonely Planet, included sites such as  Sartre & de Beauvoir's hang-outs (Les Deux Magots & Café de Flore),  #56 Rue Jacob - in 1783 treaty recognizing  American independence was signed;  the original Shakespeare & Company bookstore owned by Sylvia Beach; the home of Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas (27 rue de Fleurus); & the literary cafés of Montparnasse (Le Dôme, Select', La Rotonde).




Have you done any literary sightseeing, or do you have any in mind?  Other books we consulted for our trip included Walks in Hemingway's Paris: A Guide to Paris for the Literary Traveler by Noel Riley Fitch and Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of the City's Most Illustrious Figures by Christina Henry de Tessan.  If you know any other good reads for the literary tourist, let us know!

Also see: "A Google Maps Tour of Famous Authors' Homes".  We walked by the site of Hemingway's apartment, too!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lucky 500 - Winners!

And the (randomly chosen) winners are...

Olivia B
Cassandra S-H
Leah H

Congratulations! Please send us an email to & let us know at which library you'd like to pick up your prize!  Make sure you bring a photo ID when you go to pick up your prize.

You can visit our "Lucky 500 - with prizes!" post to view the comments by all the those who participated in our Lucky 500th contest.  Thanks to all of you for the kind words.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bubonicon, and NM Science Fiction & Fantasy

Perhaps it is the altitude. Or the presence of the National Labs. Or the stimulating and evident cultural mix. Or just the grand scale, wide skies and ever-changing beauty of the Land of Enchantment. But for whatever reason, New Mexico is blessed with a particularly high concentration of
Science Fiction and Fantasy authors.

And not just authors, but also fans of the genres. Authors and fans will converge August 24-26 to celebrate their mutual interests when
The 44th Annual Bubonicon
occurs at the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown.

Bubonicon (in classic fan humor fashion, the name a wry nod to the fact that NM is the only state with annual cases of bubonic plague) is one of the largest such conventions in the Southwest, but still noted for having a welcoming atmosphere. The con is also famous for the distinguished group of local authors likely to attend, many of whom have themselves been guests of honor at other conventions worldwide. Look below for a list of New Mexico's science fiction and fantasy authors.

With so many authors in attendance it is not surprising that Bubonicon (or "B-con", to its intimates) also has a reputation as a "readercon", a gathering leaning more to print works than other media. But do not fear a dry professional conference -- while there are discussion panels which may verge on the scholarly, there is always a fun and lively recognition of science fiction and fantasy in movies and television, and the possibilities inherent in the genres. Costumes are always appreciated (this year's theme is "Mayan Apocalypse"), from "hall costumes" up to the often clever and elaborate presentations during Saturday evening's Costume Contest. The con also celebrates New Mexico's own filmmakers, with screenings of locally-produced films.

Other media are represented in the Art Show, where SF/F-themed works are on view and many are for sale. A Dealer's Room offers current and hard-to-find books, SF/F-themed clothing and jewelry, and a wide range of interesting odds and ends to catch the eye of anyone venturing inside.

This year's Guest of Honor is well-known author Brandon Sanderson; kicking things off as Toastmaster is author and screenwriter Michael Cassutt. Guest Artist is book illustrator Ursula Vernon. Many of the authors in attendance will be available for book signings.

While many of the hundreds attending Bubonicon each year are regulars (some sporting T-shirts from B-cons decades passed) new blood is always welcome and visitors are guaranteed a memorable experience. Day passes and weekend passes are available at the door.

Visit the Bubonicon website for the full schedule of events. And continue on below for an overview of New Mexico's science fiction and fantasy authors, many of whom are likely to be in attendance at Bubonicon 44.


New Mexico's science fiction and fantasy authors are not just numerous and productive, but also highly talented and respected. In the list below you will find New York Times bestselling authors, Hugo (the highest award presented by the World Science Fiction Society) and Nebula (presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) award winners, and authors whose works have been turned into movies and television series. (And authors who have worked on movies and television series.) Lifelong New Mexican Jack Williamson (1908-2006) was the second author to be named a Grand Master of science fiction, and many of these authors have garnered other awards and recognition.

While distinguishing themselves in SF/F, many of these authors have also written in other genres, including detective/noir, horror, western, historical fiction and romance.

Many of these authors are likely to be in attendance at Bubonicon 44, and available for book signings.


Daniel Abraham
        also writes as M.L.N. Hanover
        Titles in the Collection       Author's website
        also writes as James S.A. Corey
        Titles in the Collection       Author's website
Doug Beason
Suzy McKee Charnas
Stephen R. Donaldson
Steven Gould
Titles in the Collection      Author's website
Darynda Jones
Jane Lindskold
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
George R.R. Martin
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
Victor Milan
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
       also writes as Alex Archer (in the Rogue Angel series)
       also writes as James Axler (in the Deathlands series)
       also writes in the Jake Logan western series
John Jos. Miller
Titles in the Collection       Author's Wikipedia page
Laura J. Mixon
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
        also writes as M.J. Locke    
        Titles in the Collection     Author's website
Pati Nagle
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
        also writes as P.G. Nagle     
        Titles in the Collection     Author's website
Scott S. Phillips
Titles in the Collection     Author's website
John Maddox Roberts
Titles in the Collecton      Author's Wikipedia entry
Melinda Snodgrass
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
S.M. Stirling
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
Sheri S. Tepper
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
       also writes as E.E. Horlak
       also writes as B.J. Oliphant (Shirley McLintock series)
       also writes as A.J. Orde (Jason Lynx series)
Ian Tregillis
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
Robert E. Vardeman
Titles in the Collection       Author's website
        also writes as Karl Lassiter
        Titles in the Collection     Author's website
        also writes as Jackson Lowry
        Titles in the Collection     Author's website
Sage Walker
Titles in the Collection      Author's Wikipedia entry
Walter Jon Williams
Titles in the Collection      Author's website

Gone But Far From Forgotten

Fred Saberhagen (1930-2007)
Titles in the Collection      Author's website
Jack Williamson (1908-2006)
Titles in the Collection      Wikipedia entry
Roger Zelazny (1937-1995)
Titles in the Collection      Author's website

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Film & Filmmaking

We live in a filmmaking culture - isn't Albuquerque's new nickname Tamalewood? & the Albuquerque Film Festival was August 16th-18th - & we here at ABC Libraries like to think our catalog reflects that.  Whether it's film criticism, books about independent filmmaking, screenwriting guides & the like, we try to have your needs covered, whether you are a film buff or an aspiring filmmaker!  Here are some interesting items about film & filmmaking from the library catalog - & there are many more we haven't mentioned.


Save the Cat Goes to the Movies: The Screenwriter's Guide to Every Story Ever Told by Blake Snyder
You can also access a PDF overview of the lists from the guide on the author's website.

Conversations at the American Film Institute with the Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation edited by George Stevens, Jr.

Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking by Devyani Saltzman

All I Really Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger by Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn

Rebel Without a Crew, or, How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez

Hollywood: A Third Memoir by Larry McMurtry

Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe

Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael edited by Sanford Schwartz

Unsafe on Any Screen: Cinematic Sleaze and Cheese by Scott Phillips (local author!)


Film School (DVD)
This is a local production about independent filmmaking.

Il mio viaggio in Italia (My Voyage to Italy) [DVD]
Martin Scorsese directs and narrates this personal documentary about Italian film and select Italian filmmakers and the influence they had on him.

The Brothers Warner (DVD)
Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack, the Warner Brothers, turned a storefront into a dream factory. Filmmaker Cass Warner Sperling tells a story of sibling rivalry, social conscience, and the silver screen.

This Film is Not Yet Rated (DVD)
Kirby Dick's provocative film investigates the secretive and inconsistent process by which the Motion Picture Association of America rates films.

The Stars' Caravan (DVD)
Aging projectionist Zarylbeck has devoted years of his life to Kyrgyzstan's nomadic cinema, leading caravans of mules and horses carrying projectors, screens and film canisters to the wandering tribes. This impressionistic, creative documentary creates a vivid and lyrical picture of a land and a people coping with massive political, social and economic upheaval.

Local items

100 Years of Filmmaking in New Mexico, 1898-1998,  a joint project of New Mexico Magazine, a division of the N.M. Department of Tourism and the New Mexico Film Office

Movies Made in New Mexico, 1898-1999 (library use only)

New Mexico Film Directory: The Official Directory of Support Personnel, Businesses, and Resources in the State of New Mexico (library use only)

Looking for even more items?  Try searching under subject "motion picture" - "motion picture authorship" if you are looking for screenwriting guides, "motion pictures reviews" for criticism, "motion pictures production & direction" for - well. you get the idea.  Don't see something in our catalog that you'd like to recommend? Remember, you can  also Suggest a Purchase - check with library staff if you don't know how!

Local links

Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s Moving Image Arts Program

City of Albuquerque Film Office

Albuquerque Studios

New Mexico Film Office - includes links to crew & casting calls!

Crew New Mexico

Experiments in Cinema Film Festival

Currents New Media Film Festival

Santa Fe Film Festival

Monday, August 20, 2012

Featured Author: Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson says he writes "funny books about unfunny things", books about "mysterious worlds most people don't see", written about in "as human a way as possible."

From extremists and psychopaths to psychic warriors, Jon Ronson's journalistic pursuit of unusual stories takes him to the edges of human experience. And he takes us along on the (highly entertaining, and sometimes scary) ride.

Them: adventures with extremists

A wide variety of extremist groups -- Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis -- share the oddly similar belief that a tiny shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, journalist Jon Ronson has joined the extremists to track down the fabled secret room.

As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of "Them" but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place. Was he just not invited? Them takes us across three continents and into the secret room. Along the way he meets Omar Bakri Mohammed, considered one of the most dangerous men in Great Britain, PR-savvy Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Thom Robb, and the survivors of Ruby Ridge. He is chased by men in dark glasses and unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp. In the forests of northern California he even witnesses CEOs and leading politicians -- like Dick Cheney and George Bush -- undertake a bizarre owl ritual.

Ronson's investigations, by turns creepy and comical, reveal some alarming things about the looking-glass world of "us" and "them." Them is a deep and fascinating look at the lives and minds of extremists. Are the extremists onto something? Or is Jon Ronson becoming one of them? - from the book jacket

The Psychopath Test

They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry.

When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths, and teaches Ronson how to spot them. Armed with these new abilities, Ronson meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath—a claim that might be only manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-long naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers.

Along the way, Ronson discovers that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their most insane edges. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating adventure through the minds of madness - from the book jacket

The Men Who Stare At Goats

Bizarre military history: In 1979, a crack commando unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known laws of physics and accepted military practice, they believed that a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and—perhaps most chillingly—kill goats just by staring at them. They were the First Earth Battalion, entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back—and they’re fighting the War on Terror.

An uproarious exploration of American military paranoia: With investigations ranging from the mysterious “Goat Lab,” to Uri Geller’s covert psychic work with the CIA, to the increasingly bizarre role played by a succession of U.S. presidents, this might just be the funniest, most unsettling book you will ever read—if only because it is all true and is still happening today. - from the book jacket

This book was the basis for the movie starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Robert Patrick.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Books on Writing

I write. A lot. And I expect that I always shall.

And I plan to improve my writing as I go. So I look for inspiration and insight everywhere. "Everything is grist for the writer's mill." With that goal, I examine every book on writing that I encounter.

Here are some of the best.

The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction by John Dufresne

I encountered this book just a few weeks ago, but it is already on my "most recommended" list.

Dufresne's book reminds us of several very important and basic truths right from the start:
  • You can't have written unless you write
  • There's an infinity of things you can write about
  • There's no such thing as a perfect first draft
  • Good writing is good re-writing
Writing is not just putting words on paper or disc. The process of writing includes observing the world around us so we can mine the details to put into stories to make them believable and captivating. Dufresne provides exercises to increase our awareness of those details, and a wide range of examples of inspirations for story material. There are also many different exercises to encourage and maintain the flow of writing. The book also thoroughly addresses that which is oh-so-essential to quality writing: mindful editing and re-writing.

Conversational and humorous, The Lie That Tells A Truth provides the beginning writer with perspective on the craft (aided by many insightful quotes from authors and artists), plus editing guidelines useful to writers of any experience level.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury recently passed away, but in addition to his many memorable fictions he has left us this timeless book on the nature of writing.

Not so much a "how-to" as a "why-to", this book moves on to "have-to" -- if you feel you have to write to let out all of the details you have accumulated about life, if you cannot rest properly unless you have written, if you feel you have to give time to your observations and ideas or you might just burst, then this book is for you.

In true Bradbury fashion, it's really all about love: loving life, appreciating it to the fullest, then letting that love and excitement start your writing and fuel it every day. "I get up each morning and step onto a land mine and get blown to bits," writes Bradbury, "then I spend the rest of the day putting myself back together."

I defy anyone to read two pages of this wonderful, inspirational book without Ray stirring your blood and getting you excited about the possibilities of life. And wanting to write about them.

“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”  - Ray Bradbury

Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

Lots of books on writing offer "tricks of the trade". Note that Roy Peter Clark promises not tricks but "tools" and "strategies" -- the writer as craftsperson, with a box of tools essential to the craft.

In workmanlike fashion, the author structures the book into four sections: "Nuts and Bolts," "Special Effects," "Blueprints," and "Useful Habits." Roughly half the book is devoted to creative techniques and strategies; the remainder presents tools for critiquing and tightening what has already been written. (Roy Peter Clark comes from a journalism background, and naturally supports clear and concise writing. But the techniques provided are important for writing clean fiction as well.)

This book is highly browsable -- open it to any page and you'll find a tool to help make your writing better. If fact, a writer might find it useful to copy the chapter concepts onto cards (Chapter 28: "Put odd and interesting things next to each other") and draw a card at random to apply to the day's writing.

You'll find yourself returning to it again and again. Then buying a copy. And recommending it to other writers.

Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein

"Inside information" from a veteran editor.

As mentioned elsewhere, there is no such thing as a perfect first draft. But even established authors can be so close to a project that they miss simple errors in the final draft.

Stein provides time-tested techniques for analyzing your writing, recognizing common traps that even the best writers fall into, and fixing any problems you find.

Flash Writing: How To Write, Revise and Publish Stories Less Than 1000 Words Long by Michael Wilson

Why flash fiction? According to the book jacket, "flash fiction is one of the hottest literary trends of the 21st century. Online magazines crave it, mainstream publications such as Esquire, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair publish it, and many other markets and contests seek it."

Why this book? Because the characteristics that make for a good short-short story - brevity, clarity, and punch - are also the characteristics of good writing in any genre.

True to the material, Flash Writing offers brief, clear sections that present guidelines for writing a story 250-1,000 words long. But the skills, exercises, and insights can be applied to any writing, of any length.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Science Corner: Outstanding Science Poetry for Kids

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has produced an annual list of "Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K - 12" since 1973.  The NSTA's purpose is the "stimulation, improvement, & coordination of science teaching & learning".  Their book review panel selects the titles from a variety of genres, & notes which of the National Science Content Standards each book matches, such as "Science as inquiry", "Physical science", "Science & technology". 

There have been several works of poetry to make this list since 2001, mostly nature-related, & several are available in the library catalog. Sylvia M. Vardell of Book Links magazine suggests "Share these science-poetry titles in combination with an informational title on the same topic, examining how information is presented in prose & in poetry.  Or consider how the book's illustrations (whether paintings, prints, or photographs) offer details alongside the poetry."

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems written by Leslie Bulion

What's for Dinner?: Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World written by Katherine B. Hauth

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night written by Joyce Sidman

Ubiquitous: Poetry & Science about Nature's Survivors written by Joyce Sidman

Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg written by Mia Posada

Tracks of a Panda written by Nick Dowson

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow written by Joyce Sidman

Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems  written by Joyce Sidman

Welcome to the River of Grass written by Jane Yolen

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem by Linda Glaser

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Browsing the Shelf: Personal Appearance & Poets Ranked by Beard Weight

Some of my favorite books have been discovered by browsing the stacks.  Sometimes I find myself in an unusual section (this probably happens more to me than the average customer, since I am in the library all the time,  but bear with me), I spy an intriguing title, & I start to explore the books around it.  That's how I found myself  in the 390s (Customs, etiquette, folklore in the Dewey Decimal classification system) & particularly immersed in the 390s (Costume & personal appearance). Here's a list of some of the most interesting titles that I found between call numbers 391.413 - 391.64!

Poets Ranked By Beard Weight: The Celebrated Edwardian Classic by Upton Uxbridge Underwood

The Dirt on Clean : An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg

Hair: Public, Political, Extremely Personal by Diane Simon

The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning, and Sexual Power of Red Hair by Marion Roach

Rapunzel's Daughters: What Women's Hair Tells Us About Women's Lives by Rose Weitz

Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff

Inventing Beauty: A History of the Innovations that Have Made Us Beautiful by Teresa Riordan

The Shoe Wearer's Handbook by Clare Barron and Kent Basson

Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us by Rachelle Bergstein

The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort by EllynAnne Geisel

Even if the library is closed, you can get lost in the stacks using the online catalog!  If you are looking in a book's record, click on the call number (in the Location - Call # - Status table), & the catalog will display "Nearby Call Nos" for you to browse at will.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New & Noteworthy Graphic Novels for All Ages

With the publication of Alison Bechdel's second graphic memoir, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, & Craig Thompson's Habibi fresh in my mind, I feel compelled to revisit one of my favorite topics: graphic novels in the library catalog.  Here are some of the top graphic novels for adult & youth, as suggested by the Booklist magazine of March 15, 2012, & a few other of the latest graphic novel arrivals for good measure. As Abrams ComicArts advertises, "Powerful stories, artfully told!"

For Adults, top graphic novels recommended by Booklist

Big Questions, or, Asomatognosia: Whose Hand Is It Anyway? by Anders Brekhus Nilsen

Daytripper by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá

The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes

MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman

Zahra's Paradise by Amir & Khalil

For Adults, new in the library catalog

The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra by Shin Takahashi, Iroha Inoue, Trend-pro Co. Ltd.

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle

Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli

The Silence of Our Friends written by Mark Long & Jim Demonakos

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

For Youth, top graphic novels recommended by Booklist

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol (Young Adult)

Patrick in A Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories: A Toon Book by Geoffrey Hayes (J Easy)

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap

For Youth, new in the library catalog

Star Wars, The Old Republic vol. 3: The Lost Suns (Young Adult)

Pandemonium by Chris Wooding & illustrated by Cassandra Diaz (Children's)

Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack, Jr. (Children's)

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Fishy Business by Maxwell Eaton III (Children's)

Hades: Lord of the Dead by George O'Connor (Children's)

For more graphic novels for all ages, try a subject search using the term "graphic novels".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lucky 500 - with prizes!

We are celebrating reaching 500 blog posts here at abcreads - yeah!  As part of our celebration, we have prizes for 5 lucky winners. All you have to do is answer, in the comments section of this post, one of these 5 questions!  The lucky winners will be chosen using a random number generator.

1. Which is your favorite ABC Library branch?

2. What is your favorite library memory?

3. What is the last thing you checked out from the library?

4. Have you ever stumped a librarian with a reference question?

5. Have you ever attended a library program - book group, movie, storytime, music event?  If you've attended more than one, which was your favorite?

The fabulous prizes are:

Share your love for the library on the blog to win a prize that will let you keep sharing the love with every swig of coffee you take & every meal you make!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Refresh Your Browsers, The Library Home Page Has Changed!

Hello library customers!  The library website is in the midst of a redesign, so we wanted to check in & make sure that we are all on the same (web)page, so to speak.  This is the library's new home page:

If this is not what you are seeing when you try to access the library's home page, please go to the new web address:  Please note, this is no longer the same address that is on the side of your library card, so if you've bookmarked the old address, you'll want to change that!

As you can see, the new home page looks a little different, although all the content you know & love is still there, we promise.  If you have questions or comments about the new site, please leave them in the comments of this post, or feel free to contact us via any of the methods listed below!  We welcome your feedback.

Call (505)768-5170
SMS (505)819-3563

Monday, August 6, 2012

Readalikes: John Lanchester's Capital

"As readers who love big, enveloping social novels mark the bicentennial of the birth of  Charles Dickens, the writer at the very heart of this literary tradition, Lanchester's many-themed Capital moves this popular genre forward. His inquiry into what we posess and desire brings other recent, smart, entertaining, and topical novels about money, home, and identity to mind, tales about the entwined lives of very different characters striving to keep body and soul together in a storm of change."
~Donna Seaman, "READ-alikes: Getting Ahead", Booklist (3/15/12)

As a library worker, I find that customers often ask me for book recommendations.  Sometimes I find it difficult to make suggestions, particularly if the customer is not very specific about what they like. Or many times people ask about "the last great book you read" & when you tell them they blink & say, "OK, what else?"  or ask another employee for their suggestion.  So, I have taken to employing the other tools available to me (& to you!) -  NoveList Plus, a library eResource, & the "You Might Also Like These..." suggestions, displayed at the bottom of the record for many (but not all) books in the library catalog.

Let's start with John Lanchester's Capital, described as "an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London—a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder—are receiving anonymous postcards reading 'We Want What You Have.' Who is behind it? What do they want?"  Booklist's Donna Seaman has compiled a list of readalikes, none with a publication date older than 2003, that includes
Look up Capital in the library catalog, & you will find under "You Might Also Like These..." 12 title & 10 author suggestions.  If you hover over "Why did we recommend this?" under each title & author, the reasons for the suggestions vary: "if you like literary fiction about London, England you may like this"; "these books are both literary fiction about neighbors"; "both these books are also about suspicion".

If you log on to NoveList Plus (available with your valid library card), you will find the same list, as our catalog enrichment is powered by NoveList, but you will also be able to "Search for More". NoveList Plus is an eResource, which you can find listed on the Books & Literature LibGuide or using the A to Z eResource List (both LibGuides & eResources link from the library's home page). Using NoveList's list of genre, subject & location of the book, you can choose which elements interest you most to find more titles like Capital.  It's kind of fun to mix & match!

For myself, based on what I've read in the past (& not having read Capital), I might recommend White Teeth by Zadie Smith (character-driven, race relations, social classes); Life Class by Pat Barker (interpersonal relations, war & society,working class men); The Crimson Petal & The White by Michel Faber (strong sense of place, stylistically complex,social status); & Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (suspenseful, swindlers and swindling). 

Have you read Capital? Do you agree with the suggested readalikes? Do you have some readalike recommendations of your own?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

(Mostly) New & (Definitely) Noteworthy Essays

The fa­mil­i­ar es­say­ist [in the genre’s hey­day] didn’t speak to the mil­lions; he spoke to one read­er, as if the two of them were sit­ting side by side in front of the crack­ling fire with their cravats loosened, their fa­vor­ite stim­u­lants at hand, and a long even­ing of con­ver­sa­tion stretch­ing be­fore them. His view­point was sub­ject­ive, his frame of ref­er­ence con­crete, his style di­gress­ive, his ec­cent­ri­cit­ies con­spicu­ous, and his laughter usu­ally at his own ex­pense.
~Ann Fadiman

When thinking of the world "essay", don't let your mind get drawn into images of school homework assignments.  From Michel de Montaigne to Christopher Hitchens, essayists seek to entertain, enlighten, & engage with their very personal viewpoint. Today might not be the "heyday" of the essayist, but I think that there are some fine essays out there for your reading pleasure, on a disparate variety of subjects, from art to caving, fashion to Def Leppard, creating to being. As Alexander Smith says in "Of the writing of essays", "Everything I see or hear is an es­say in bud. The world is every­where whis­per­ing es­says, and one need only be the world’s amanu­en­sis." 

Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism by John Updike [eBook only in our catalog]

Cleopatra's Nose: 39 Varieties of Desire by Judith Thurman

Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews, 1989-2010 by Geoff Dyer

Woolgathering by Patti Smith

Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell

Living, Thinking, Looking : Essays by Siri Hustvedt

Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery by Jeanette Winterson

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson

In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood  [eBook only in our catalog]

Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writings on Politics, Ice Cream, Churchill, and My Mother by Simon Schama

Lost in Language & Sound, or, How I Found My Way to the Arts: Essays by Ntozake Shange

Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography by Errol Morris

Pulphead : Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan

For the Time Being by Annie Dillard [eBook only in our catalog]
Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places by Ursula K. Le Guin

Something to Declare by Julia Alvarez

Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work by Bell Hooks

Other Colors: Essays and a Story by Orhan Pamuk

The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays by Caroline Knapp

For a variety of short pieces on different topics, try a keyword search in the catalog using the words "best writing".  You'll find collections that include the best of writing on language, science, spirituality, music, travel, the military, & more in recent years.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The weather
is often a subject for discussion, especially lately with a dry-grass summer and our teasing monsoon rains. Are the local weather patterns changing? If so, what can we expect?

The books below will help you learn more about the atmospheric ocean that envelops us all and the currents in that ocean that we call "weather" - both the everyday and the phenomenally unusual.

Skywatch: The Western Weather Guide by Richard A. Keen

"Provides an understanding of how weather actually works. Richly illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs, maps and drawings, Skywatch covers such phenomena as fronts, jets, cyclones and whirlwinds. Learn how to build your own home weather station and how to read weather maps. Compare the climates from dozens of sites throughout the West - from the heights of Pikes Peak in Colorado, to below sea level in Death Valley. Nontechnical and easy to understand, Skywatch will make a 'weather nut' of every reader." - from the book jacket

The Handy Weather Answer Book by Walter A. Lyons, Ph.D.

Frequently Asked Questions about weather, organized by concept. What are crepuscular rays? Browse and find out! From the same folks who brought you The Handy Science Answer Book.

Contents:  Weather Fundamentals - Instruments and Observations - The Upper Atmosphere and Beyond - Clouds - Hurricanes and Tropical Storms - Thunderstorms, Floods, and Hail - Lightning and Thunder - Optical Phenomena - Tornadoes - Cold and Winter Storms - Heat and Humidity - Earthquakes and Volcanoes - Air Pollution and the Environment - Weather and the Human Body - Weather Forecasting - Climate Change - Careers in Meteorology

 Freaks of the Storm: From Flying Cows to Stealing Thunder, the world's strangest weather stories by Randy Cerveny

We've all heard the stories: people and livestock picked up by tornadoes but deposited safely, boards blown through posts, absurdly big hail, "rains of blood". How many are true? Weather expert Randy Cerveny collects the strangest stories and reveals the truth and the science behind them.

From Booklist:
"In October 1947, in Marksville, Louisiana, hundreds of fish were falling from the sky. In November 1915, in Great Bend, Kansas, a tornado picked up five horses that landed unhurt a quarter mile from their barn. During a hurricane in 1938 along the eastern seaboard, residents discovered chickens with their feathers completely plucked by the wind. In Udall, Kansas, in 1955, a local barber was thrown out of bed, through a window, and into the street. He did not wake up. Cerveny, a professor who specializes in weather and climate, drew on his database of 8,000 recorded events to explain these occurrences. There are chapters on tornadoes, lightning, hail, rain, hurricanes, snow, wind, dust devils, and water spouts. He chronicles the oddest weather extremes (136 degrees in El Azizia, Libya, in 1922, and 129 below zero at the Russian research facility in Antarctica in 1983). The official world's record for a one-minute rainfall is 1.23 inches on July 4, 1956, in Avondale, Maryland. Cerveny's stories will captivate readers, or frighten them, or maybe a little of both." George Cohen Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

If you believe some people, weather is becoming apocalyptically destructive. Other people maintain that there are just more people on the planet to be affected by extreme weather and our pervasive media makes us more conscious of it.

Whichever way you lean, the chances are that sometime in your life you will be affected by extreme weather, if only a heat wave or a winter storm. National television meteorologist Bonnie Schneider interviewed a wide variety of experts to get you the most practical and straightforward information about the challenges weather can offer us and how to cope with them.

This book helps you analyze the likelihood of your being affected by different types of weather and gives you guidelines to handle scenarios whether in a car, outside, at work, on a boat, or at home. Extreme Weather also provides checklists to help you be prepared to protect your family and home should extreme weather occur.

The heated debate about climate change and global warming continues.  (Pun intended, but the arguments are indeed sometimes very vigorous.)  The consensus of the scientific community is that global warming is occurring, with a significant portion of the affect attributable to human activity. But a very vociferous group counters that this is just a misinterpretation of natural cycles, and part of an alarmist "hoax."

The questions remain: Is our planet growing warmer? Is this part of a natural cycle? How much of the change can be attributed to human activities? What can we do about it?

After one of the hottest and driest summers in New Mexico's recorded history, it is hard not to come down on the side of those who maintain that our climate is shifting. But the debate continues, with new publications coming out at both poles of the discussion.

Inform yourself with these library resources, and draw your own conclusions.

Browse titles regarding weather

A link to a map showing current wind patterns
over the continental U.S., based on information
from the National Digital Forecast Database:

Wind map

Fascinating and educational, hypnotic and captivating!
Don't be surprised if you become lost in it...