Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gifts on a Shoestring Budget

Oh, the holiday season with its myriad of gift-giving.  Often, shopping for the holidays requires sticking to a strict budget, which sometimes makes finding the right gift for someone even more of a challenge.  All the websites and magazines tell us to make our own gifts to cut down on costs, but there are plenty of us who don't have the skills to pull this off.  Sometimes going to a craft fair at your church or your school helps keep costs down while giving unique hand-crafted gifts. Ask around your circle of friends and family to find an event close to you. Also consider the Nob Hill Shop and Stroll on Saturday, December 8th and the Old Town Holiday Stroll on Friday, December 7th to support local merchants! You can also stop by the Friends for the Public Library Book Sale on Saturday, December 8th, the Main Library Bookstore and seek out inexpensive books for gift giving, or check out our Fiction-to-Go shelves at certain branch libraries.  If picking out a book for someone feels like a daunting task use our booklists to give you some ideas of what to get the bookworm in your life.

Of course, if you are the crafty type, the library carries plenty of books to help you out with ideas or instructions.  Search the subject Gifts in our catalog, or take a look at the short list below to get you started:

Creative and Thoughtful Gift Giving: Easy Ideas for Making Gifts Special by Leah Ingram

Shabby Chic: The Gift of Giving by Rachel Ashwell

Jazzy Jars by Marie Browning

Making Glorious Gifts from Your Garden by Marie Browning

Perfumes, Scented Gifts, and Other Fragrances: Beautiful Gifts to Give (Or Keep) by Kelly Reno

The Gift Basket Design Book: Everything You Need to Know to Create Beautiful, Professional-Looking Gift Baskets for All Occasions by Shirley George Frazier

Gifts with Heart: Inspiring Stories, Handmade Crafts, and One-of-a-Kind Ideas by Mary Beth Simmons

Sometimes gift wrapping and making cards can be fun, sometimes it can be a chore.  Here are some books that will give you some creative gift wrapping and card making ideas.  They are full of beautiful photographs which are fun to look at, even if the gift wrapping is more effort than it's worth.

Presentations: A Passion for Gift Wrapping by Carolyne Roehm

Creative Giftwraps: Ideas and Inspirations, Tips and Techniques by Constance E. Richards

Handmade Giftwrap, Bows, Cards, and Tags by Jill Williams Grover

100 Fresh and Fun Handmade Cards: Step-by-Step Instructions for 50 New Designs and 50 Amazing Alternatives by Kimber McGray

Artful Cards: 60 Fresh and Fabulous Designs by Katherine Duncan Aimone

Greeting Cards Galore by Mickey Baskett and Marci Donley

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Documentaries of Homelessness

Almost two years ago, in February of 2011, teams of volunteers spread out across Albuquerque to survey homeless people sleeping on the streets of the city.  It was very early in the morning, in the middle of winter, during one of the coldest weeks Albuquerque had ever seen.  With the wind chill, temperatures were at records lows.  The people sleeping under overpasses and in abandoned porches could hardly move to answer questions, and the volunteers filling out the forms were shivering so badly they could hardly write.  Finally Mayor Richard Berry called a halt to the survey so that emergency shelters could be opened and the homeless could get out of the cold.  The remainder of the interviews took place at these emergency shelters where volunteers surveyed 475 homeless men and women during this three day effort. 

This survey of Albuquerque's homeless was due to the effort of a new initiative called Albuquerque Heading Home.  This initiative, based on models used in other cities has a goal of ending homelessness in Albuquerque.  Through the efforts of community volunteer programs and local agencies, Albuquerque Heading Home places chronically homeless and medically vulnerable individuals and families in permanent housing, then gives them case management and as much support as possible while they adjust to life off the streets.  The program hopes that once the worry of looking for shelter is removed people can focus on staying out of homelessness forever.  Those placed in housing are offered services to help them make this transition.  Volunteers visit with people placed in housing to offer support.  The survey taken in 2011 helped the program determine which individuals were the most at risk to die from living on the streets of Albuquerque, and therefore, needed to be placed in housing immediately.  To learn more about Albuquerque Heading Home visit their website at You can find out more about the city's support for the project here.   

On Saturday, December 1, the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill will be showing a documentary film that details the work of Albuquerque Heading Home, including footage of the bitterly cold Survey Week of 2011 and interviews with people who have been placed in permanent housing.  The documentary is about half an hour long and is free to the public, with first come first served seating.  Further details can be found at this link

An important aspect of Albuquerque Heading Home is their approach to building strong communities to ensure that homelessness will become a thing of the past.  The hope is that a community that comes together to deal with problems will always find a solution to anything that might arise.

The library also carries many wonderful documentaries about homeless people around the United States:

Dark Days
A fascinating film about the people who live inside the New York City subway system.  An entire society has been built up by the people who call the underground tunnels home, but Amtrak says they have no choice but to evict them.

Without a Home
A young woman follows the lives of different homeless people trying to survive in the L.A. area.  The range of people she films show the scope of homelessness in the United States, from families living in cheap motels, to addicts living on skid row, to people struggling to find shelter from day to day. 

It Was a Wonderful Life
This amazing film follows the lives of four women who are homeless, telling the story of how they came to be that way, showing us how easy it can be to slip from living in a home, to living on the streets.

Skid Row
Pras Michel, formally a member of the Fugees, goes undercover to spend nine days on L.A.'s infamous skid row.  How he survives and discovers the community of southern California's homeless is inspirational. 

Tent City U.S.A.
Shelters in Nashville, Tennessee are so crowded that the homeless are building a massive "tent city" in the middle of the city.  This documentary follows the people of this tent city.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hollywood of the Past

I love the studio era of Hollywood.  There is so much to learn about, so many myths and truths to uncover.  I can't even pick my favorite anecdote of Hollywood lore.  To me they are all fascinating and I become a movie know it all when I watch TCM or any old movie that features my favorite studio actors and actresses. 

The studio system of Hollywood is generally considered to have run from the early 1920s through the early 1960s.  During this time movies were made in factory-like production studios who employed nearly everyone from directors to cameramen to people who managed movie theaters around the country.  Movies were made quickly, usually in a matter of a few weeks, and often as cheaply as possible.  Actors rarely did "takes", instead spending more time in rehearsals.  New movies were released every week and shipped to theaters around the country (these theaters were often under contract to movie studios as well) and were often only shown for a week. 

Getting a contract with a movie studio was the goal of every Hollywood hopeful although only a few rose to become actual movie stars.  Most contracted players filled became character actors filling small roles or extras filling the background.  Those who caught the eye of the studio bosses were groomed to become glamorous movie stars.  Everything they wore, everywhere they went, everyone they were seen with was arranged by the studios they were contracted under.  Actors rarely had a say in what movies they could or could not act in, they could only negotiate their salaries when their contracts expired, and were placed on suspension when they did not obey the very strict codes of conduct laid out in their contracts, or when they refused to make the movies the studios wanted them to.  

The district of Hollywood was also under control of the heads of the studios who had full reign over everything from the press to the police.  Gossip columnists like Louella Parson and Hedda Hopper who wrote for newspapers and magazines were told by the studios what they could and could not publish, and who they had access too.  Many Hollywood scandals and rumors were never written about, since the studios had control over the press. 

I was excited this year when two novels came out about this time in history.  The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, about the woman who accompanied silent screen actress Louise Brooks on a trip to New York City, and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub about a small time girl becoming an award winning actress in studio era Hollywood.  I think I set my sights too high though since both of these books left me feeling a little disappointed.  Neither captured the magic of that time, or that place, although I ended up liking The Chaperone very much once I got over the fact that it was (as the title suggests) more about the chaperone, Cora, than about Louise Brooks.  However the library offers many books about the history of Hollywood and lots of DVDs of movies that were made during the studio era.  Here are some suggestions to get you started: 

About the history of movies and the people who made them:
Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood is a film documentary first aired on the Turner Classic Movie channel about the rise and fall of the studio system. 
The Hollywood Studio System by Douglas Gomery gives a wonderful written history of studio Hollywood. 
George Cukor: Master of Elegance by Emanuel Levy
Wilder Times: The Life of Billy Wilder by Kevin Lally
He Ran All the Way: The Life of John Garfield by Santa Fe writer Robert Nott (he often writes film reviews for the Pasatiempo, the weekend supplement for the Santa Fe New Mexican) is an interesting look at the actor and producer.
The Red and the Blacklist: The Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman is a look at the horror of the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy era.

Books about MGM: 
The Golden Girls of MGM and The Leading Men of MGM, both by Jane Ellen Wayne are biographies of the most prominent stars of the studio Metro, Goldwyn, and Mayer. A merging of three smaller studios created the massive MGM in 1924, and it quickly became the biggest and most glamorous studio in Hollywood. The histories portrayed in these books have to be taken with a grain of salt since they feature imagined conversations between the stars (with no way to verify if they actually took place) but it is good reading anyway.
MGM, When the Lion Roars: The Story of a Hollywood Empire is a wonderful film documentary of the infamous studio.
The Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer is a print biography of the head of MGM during the studio era.

The studio system offered glamour on the surface in order to hide the ugly inner workings: 
Despite the System: Orson Welles Verses the Hollywood Studios gives an example of one director who rebelled against the studio system. 
Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System by Sharon Waxman is about the end of the studio era.
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel is a DVD documentary of one of the men who turned the studio system on its head.  Famous for his low budget films Corman is STILL making movies after nearly fifty years in the business!

Other books and movies on Hollywood trivia and scandals:
Cut: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies by Dannielle Doggett are the stories behind some of the mysterious deaths of Hollywood. 
Frankly My Dear: Quips and Quotes from Hollywood compiled by Shelley Klein
Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger is the ultimate guide to scandals in Hollywood.  Once again, it is hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction, but it is still a deliciously fun book to read.
The Cat's Meow, a fiction DVD based on rumors about Thomas Ince, a movie producer who died while aboard the yacht of newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst. It stars Kirsten Dunst as Hearst's mistress, actress Marion Davies, and Cary Elwes as Thomas Ince.

Unfortunately, the library does not carry copies of these books, but they are worth looking for around bookstores or online, or seeing if they are available for an interlibrary loan:
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Hollywood is a great book of movie trivia. 
Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era and Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio Era both by Turner Classic Movies have beautiful photos, biographies, and style tips of different actors.

This is just a short list of great titles the library carries.  You can also view digital copies of movies, especially older classics like film noir and silent movies, on our website. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Featured Author: Zoë Ferraris

When I lived in Saudi Arabia, I discovered that there are rules for everything. How to tuck your feet when you pray. How to dispose of old bread. How to trim your eyebrows. [In the novel] Nayir discovers what I’m learning myself: that Islam is not all about the rules. They’re often just window dressing, a show of religiosity. For the biggest problems, you’ll only find the answers in your heart.
~Zoë Ferraris, "What's Islam About?"

In the early '90s, Zoë Ferraris, an Oklahoma-born military brat, married a Saudi-Palestinian Bedouin man and moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with their young daughter.  For nine months, in the midst of the aftermath of the Gulf War, she lived with her husband and his family in a conservative Muslim community.  Ferraris and her husband have since divorced and she now lives in California, but after she got her MFA in Fiction in 2006, her experiences in Saudi Arabia inspired her to write three mystery novels set in that country.
Each book features forensic scientist Katya Hijazi and desert guide Nayir Sharqi working in collaboration with the police. Zoë Ferraris' books have received much praise, including: "my favorite kind of mystery: an unlikely detective guiding us through an unfamiliar world" (David Ebershoff); "This deeply original work is entrancing, stylish, and utterly compelling" (Diana Abu-Jaber); and "a suspenseful mystery and a sobering portrait of the lives of Muslim women" (Booklist). 
Sixteen-year-old Nouf ash-Shrawi, daughter of a wealthy Saudi Arabian family, mysteriously disappears and is eventually found drowned in the desert. Was she kidnapped, or did she run away—and if the latter, why? Nouf's brother, Othman, asks his friend Nayir Sharqi, a local desert guide, to find out what happened to his sister. Nayir's investigation leads him into unknown territory—notably, the secret realm of women in a segregated Middle Eastern society. In an unusual partnership that challenges his traditional ideas, Nayir works on the case with Othman's fiance, a laboratory technician in the medical examiner's office
After the body of a brutally beaten woman is found on a beach in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Detective Osama Ibrahim, along with the help of female coroner Katya and her friend Nayir, discovers that the victim was a controversial filmmaker and must discern whowanted her dead.
Ibrahim Al-Brehm, a respectable husband and police inspector on Jeddah's murder squad, goes to Katya, one of the few women on the force, to locate a missing woman and Katya uncovers a murder which connects the woman to a human trafficking ring.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ABC Libraries are closed for Thanksgiving!

All ABC Library locations will be closing at 6 pm on Wednesday, November 21 and will remain closed on Thursday, November 22nd and Friday, November 23rd in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday.  Normal hours will resume on Saturday, November 24th.  You can find a chart of library holiday hours and closures from the library's home page.

When the libraries are closed, you can still access the online catalog, My Account, and download eBooks and eAudiobooks.  If you need research assistance, make sure to check our online Reference Desk!

Hope you have a safe and happy holiday!

To learn about Thanksgiving, has some interesting videos, or visit the library catalog.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The New Mexico of John Nichols

I think I will always have a soft spot for the author John Nichols.  Over the years he has published several books, both fiction and non fiction, about New Mexico and every one looks at the state in such a wonderful and humorous way.  Usually his fiction takes place in made up or unnamed towns in New Mexico, but they offer such great composites of all the little towns in the northern part of the state.  Places like Truchas, El Rito, Taos, and Espanola have obviously influenced his writing, including his most famous book, The Milagro Beanfield War

The Milagro Beanfield War was published almost forty years ago, yet it brings up issues that a problem in New Mexico even today.  The story revolves mostly around Joe Mondragon who sets off a chain of events when he waters his fields with water that is not technically his.  Water rights have been a hot topic of debate since New Mexico first became a territory of the United States and John Nichols explains this issue with candor and humor.  Little has changed in New Mexico since The Milagro Beanfield War first came out, so the story, with its colorful cast of characters, is still relevant reading.  The other two books in the so called New Mexico Trilogy, The Magic Journey and The Nirvana Blues have the trademark Nichols humor, but they seem to lack the charm of the first one. 

Just recently Nichols published a book called On Top of Spoon Mountain about a writer who is determined to make it to the top of a mountain he used to climb in his youth.  Reading this book made me remember what I love about John Nichols like how his writing makes me laugh, or how much I love northern New Mexico and all its quirky charm, or how I appreciate the indignant voice he uses when discussing environmental issues.  Reading his books can be hit or miss -- sometimes I love them and sometimes I hate them, but when he gets it right his writing is near perfection.

Thank you, John Nichols for writing so many great books about The Land of Enchantment!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November is National Bread Month!

The Grains Food Foundation is celebrating National Bread Month in November! November 17th is also celebrated as Homemade Bread Day. (However, National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day is in September and National Banana Bread Day is in February, in case you were keeping track of bread holidays.) We thought we would celebrate along with them with a list of books about bread and bread making from the library catalog. Maybe you'd like to spend some time in November enhancing your bread making skills?

White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf  by Aaron Bobrow-Strain

52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander

Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers by Daniel Leader with Lauren Chattman

Savory Baking from the Mediterranean: Focaccia, Flatbreads, Rusks, Tarts, and Other Breads by Anissa Helou

Quick Breads by Beatrice Ojakangas [eBook only in our catalog]

The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking  by Laurel Robertson

Bread Machine Baking: Perfect Every Time - 75 Foolproof Bread and Dessert Recipes Custom-Created for the 12 Most Popular Bread Machines by Lora Brody and Millie Apter

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

The Wooden Spoon Bread Book: The Secrets of Successful Baking by Marilyn M. Moore

Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads by Peter Reinhart

Classic Sourdoughs: A Home Baker's Handbook by Ed Wood

Build Your Own Earth Oven: A Low-Cost, Wood-Fired Mud Oven, Simple Sourdough Bread, Perfect Loaves for Bakers & Beginners Both by Kiko Denzer

The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott

World Sourdoughs from Antiquity by Ed Wood

Early Bird Baking: Breakfast Baking at Home by Stephen J. Ryan [DVD]

Panes & Pancitos: Dulces y Salados by Claudio Olijavetzky

Do you make your own bread?  What kind do you prefer?  What's your favorite receipe?

In related bread news, 2012 also marks the 250th anniversary of the invention of the sandwich.  And did you know the bread machine has been around since 1986? (It was first released in Japan.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The World from Your Armchair: Literary Travel Books You Won't Want to Miss!

Here at abcreads we are inveterate armchair adventurers.  So when we spied Booklist's series of Top 10 Literary Travel Books, we had to share some of the titles with you!   You'll think you've been there, or you'll want to go!

Crazy River: A Journey to the Source of the Nile by Richard Grant

The Ice Balloon: S.A. Andrée and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration by Alec Wilkinson

Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now - As Told by Those who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left it, and Long for It by Craig Taylor

The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels by Richard Paul Roe

The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Last Uncontacted Tribes by Scott Wallace

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo

India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking by Anand Giridharadas

Molotov's Magic Lantern: Travels in Russian History by Rachel Polonsky

Saved by Beauty: An American Romantic in Iran by Roger Housden

The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road by Paul Theroux

To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron

You might also enjoy:

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa  [eBook]

The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy

Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide by Doug Mack

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell

Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, An Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People who Make This Country Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Le Road Trip: A Traveler's Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift

A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bully Books

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly one-third of teens reported being bullied from middle school to high school in 2007.  Bullying takes many forms but most often starts as one-on-one physical bullying at the elementary level.  As students grow older, emotional and cyber bullying tend to dominate.  This booklist is designed for...anyone working with teens and tweens to help address, through literature, the emotional and physical aspects of bullying and its effect on the bullies, the bullied, and the bystanders.
~Sara Konery and Cassandra Rondinella, "Bully Books" (VOYA October 2012)

All books are young adult fiction unless otherwise noted.

Names Will Never Hurt Me by Jaime Adoff

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Leverage by Joshua Cohen

Breaking Point by Alex Flinn

Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner with Emily and Sarah Buder [302.34 Gardner]

Right Behind You by Gail Giles  [eBook only in the library catalog]

Teen Queens and Has Beens by Cathy Hopkins

Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery by Susan Juby

Boy Girl Boy by Ron Koertge

The Girls and Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Dough Boy by Peter Marino

Drowning Anna by Sue Mayfield

Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Bystander by James Preller [J Fiction]

Who I Am by M.L. Rice

Scrawl by Mark Shulman

Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi

Jumped by Rita Garcia-Williams

Ironman by Chris Crutcher

Saturday, November 10, 2012

ABC Libraries are closed for Veterans Day!

All ABC Library locations will be closed on Monday, November 12th in honor of the Veterans Day holiday.  Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, November 13th.  You can find a chart of library holiday hours and closures from the library's home page.

When the libraries are closed, you can still access the online catalog, My Account, and download eBooks and eAudiobooks.  If you need research assistance, make sure to check our online Reference Desk!

For more information about veterans and Veterans Day, visit the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the library catalog.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Diversity in Books for Teens & Tweens

"Building a dynamic presence of YA books written by authors of color will do more than serve the needs of teens of color.  Books by Latino, Native, African, and Asian American authors provide all teens with the opportunity to build more universal perspectives.  Some teens will finally find stories that validate their own existence, while others will be able to build capacity for knowing, accepting, and treasuring people with a different life experience."
~"Wheaties Boxes, Rolling Stone Covers, and Library Shelves: Projected Preferment" by Edith Campbell, Voya October 2012 (vol. 35 # 4)

Let's face it, the teen years can be difficult and challenging, particularly for young adults who are different from the culture around them, and when parents try to help, often the teens just don't want to talk.  That's why we think that it's so important to offer materials for teens that cater to a variety of interests and describe different experiences - sometimes, if a teen won't talk, they just might read, if they can find an adequate reflection of their own lives.  Here are some titles to share with a teen outsider to "promote racial, gender, sexual orientation, and class diversity in children's literature":

The Choke Artist: Confessions of a Chronic Underachiever by David Yoo

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty  by G. Neri

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

How Tía Lola Saved the Summer by Julia Alvarez

The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

Useful links:

American Indians in Children's Literature

Native American Themes in Childrens & YA Books

Children's and YA Books with Asian Heritage Themes

Children's Book Council (CBC) Diversity blog

The Brown Bookshelf

Lee & Low Books - An independent childrens' book publisher focusing on diversity. Their mission is to meet the need for stories that all children can identify with and enjoy.  Look for some of their titles in our catalog!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Homes and Haunts

Library cataloging can be a language all its own.

Catalogers go to school for years to learn the style and syntax peculiar to library catalogs, and to make the entries clear and accurate. But more and more often now library customers are accessing catalog information themselves, often online from home.  Because of this, library systems are making efforts to produce catalog entries that are more "plain language" and user-friendly to all.

But one still encounters authority terms that are downright esoteric. How many people know what a vade mecum is? Were you paying attention in class when your English teacher explained the bildungsroman story, or a robinsonade? Do people really speak of vagabondage? **See below for explanations of these terms.**

There is one cataloging term, however, that is self-explanatory and even rather lyrical and poetical. This term is Homes and Haunts.

Just as it sounds, under Homes and Haunts you will find items discussing and revealing the living spaces and stomping grounds of noted people. These items help you delve more deeply into how these people lived, and how the places they frequented influenced their lives and work.


Are you a Jane Austen fan? Homes And Haunts Austen Jane brings up these titles:

A rambling fancy : in the footsteps of Jane Austen / Caroline Sanderson

A walk with Jane Austen : a journey into adventure, love, and faith / Lori Smith.


Want to know the surroundings in which Allen Ginsberg howled? Homes and Haunts Ginsberg:

The Beat Hotel : Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963 / Barry Miles


Homes and Haunts Hemingway brings up several titles, including:

Walks in Hemingway's Paris : a guide to Paris for the literary traveler / Noel Riley Fitch


These subjects also range out further than specific people. For example, Homes and Haunts Architects brings up:

Architects' dream houses / Jean-Claude Delorme ; photography by Thibaut Cuisset ; [translated from the French by Willard Wood]

And Homes and Haunts Artists New Mexico brings you:

Artists at home : inspired ideas from the homes of New Mexico artists / by Emily Drabanski ; foreword by Elmo Baca

Homes and Haunts Motion Picture Actors and Actresses takes you to books touring the homes of Hollywood stars:

Lost Hollywood / David Wallace

Movie star homes : the famous to the forgotten / Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham


Browse Homes and Haunts and discover how the places frequented by famous people helped make them who they became.

** Explanations for terms mentioned above**
vade mecum (sometimes vademecum or vade-mecum) -- a manual, handbook, or pocket reference
bildungsroman -- a coming-of-age story, where a major character experiences growth/transition from youth to adulthood
robinsonade -- derived from Defoe's Robinson Crusoe; stories where protagonists are suddenly separated from civilization and thrown upon their own resources
vagabondage -- the preferred term is now vagrancy

Monday, November 5, 2012

Orphan's Tales, Prestor John, & Fairyland: Reading Catherynne Valente

“Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.” 
~Catherynne Valente
Catherynne Valente is a New York Times bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction novels, short stories, and poetry. Her first book was published in 2004.  She has been nominated for the Hugo (2010), Locus (2010 & 2011) and World Fantasy Awards (2007 & 2009), and in 2010 her crowdfunded novel became first self-published work to win a major literary award, winning the Andre Norton Award for YA literature. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and enormous cat.
Here are some of works that you can find in the ABC Library catalog
Orphan's Tales
The Orphan's Tales is a fantasy series by Catherynne Valente with illustrations by Michael Kaluta.  There are two books in the series, In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice; each of these books are split into two volumes.  In these stories, a tattooed young woman lives alone in the Sultan's garden.  When a young prince visits her, she tells him the stories that have been inked upon her skin.  Each volume of the books is a story: Book of the Steppe, Book of the Sea, Book of the Storm, Book of the Scald.
A Dirge for Prestor John
 In 1165, a letter ostensibly written by the distant Christian king Prester John describing a kingdom of wonders rocked medieval Europe. Catherynne Valente retells this legend, imagining what might have been discovered by Rome's ambassadors if the letter had not been a hoax. The Habitation of the Blessed is the first book in this series.
Catherynne Valente's books for younger readers now number two: The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making and The girl who fell beneath Fairyland and led the revels there. They tell the story of 12-year-old September from Omaha and, as you might imagine, her adventures in Fairyland, which includes characters such as a Green Wind, a fickle Marquess, and a book-loving Wyvern.  Full of magic and shadows, these books will appeal to readers of The Golden Compass and Alice in Wonderland.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Featured Author: Peter Ackroyd

“And when I was young, did I ever tell you, I always wanted to get inside
a book and never come out again? I loved reading so much I wanted
to be a part of it, and there were some books I could have stayed in
for ever.”  ― Peter Ackroyd, First Light

Are you a fan of historical fiction?  Do you enjoy reading a good literary biography?  Consider the works of British writer Peter Ackroyd!  His award-winning fictions & histories are a must-read for any Anglophile, and his massive oeuvre, containing histories, retellings of classics, and inventive novels, has a little something for everyone.   Ackroyd is noted for a narrative style that brings history to life.
Histories of England

In a 2008 Guardian online profile, Peter Ackroyd said "London has always provided the landscape for my imagination. It becomes a character - a living being - within each of my books." Whether exploring the geological layers of London, the building of Stonehenge, or connections between the Thames and historical figures, Ackroyd's sociological histories are lively and insightful, full of keen observations. 

Ackroyd's Brief Lives

The books in the Brief Lives series are about 200 in pages in length - a brief read indeed in this age when many books seem more likely to be 400 - 600 pages!  Ackroyd has planned this series to showcase the lives of a variety of cultural figures.


Ackroyd's "inventive, imaginative" biographies are definitely longer than his Brief Lives, though he also focuses on cultural figures in these works.  Publisher's Weekly called Ackroyd "an accomplished literary biographer" - his biographies are meticulously researched, but imbued with his own narrative flair that keeps readers locked in to the story.

Retellings of Classics

With The Canterbury Tales, Ackroyd translates the classic poem into the prose vernacular.  His Death of King Arthur streamlines the plot for modern-day readers.

Ackroyd brings his unique take to fiction with novels such as The Clerkenwell Tales, which features well-known characters from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, but creates new stories for them; The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is told in the voice of the doctor, but also counts as characters Lord Byron and Mary Shelley herself. 
Peter Ackroyd has also written a series of books for children called Voyages Through Time.

 Find Peter Ackroyd's works in the library catalog!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Featured Author: Christina Skye

Christina Skye is a romance writer who began writing Regency romances in the 1990s but in the Noughties transitioned to contemporary fiction.  She is probably best known for her Code Name series, but she also has a passion for knitting which has led her to collaborate with Debbie Macomber, and she also has a Chinese connection, since she has a doctorate in Chinese language and literature. Her interest in China led Skye to work in cultural and translation positions at various corporations in China during the 1980s, and when she returned to the U.S. she wrote 5 books about Chinese art and culture, in addition to working as a consultant for the National Geographic Society and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  All this and novels too!  Here's a roundup of some of her works in the library catalog:

The Code Name series

A sequence of romantic thrillers that includes Code Names Nanny, Princess, Baby, Blondie, & Bikini.  Each book features a different heroine (from dog trainers to pastry chefs and then some) and the locales range from desert islands and cruise ships to Los Alamos, but  the heroine is always romantically entangled with a Navy SEAL.  Fictionwise says "Christina Skye's Code Name books deliver fast-paced thrills with sizzling romance."
The Draycott Abbey series
Another series which features a variety of protagonists linked by Draycott Abbey, a beautiful English abbey.  Treachery, ghosts, stories set in the age of chivalry featuring knights and ladies, ex-Royal Marines, and mysteries around every'll find it all at Draycott Abbey!  To Catch a Thief is just one book in this long-running series.
The Knitting Diaries
Macomber, Mallery, & Skye each contributed a story to this uplifting anthology. Her story, "Return to Summer Island", inspired Skye to begin her next series!  Knitting patterns are included! 

The Summer Island series

Christina Skye has written two books so far in this series, A Home By the Sea and The Accidental Bride.  Skye has said she loves her new series because of the "wonderful opportunities to revisit continuing characters and explore the powerful bonds of friendship."   Read more about Skye and the Summer Island series in Booklist magazine's article "Story Behind the Story: Christina Skye's The Accidental Bride".