Friday, June 28, 2013

True Crime

This is an opportunity to explore our history and to gain insight into ourselves. And therein lies the answer to our riddle: true crime appeals to us not because of its crimes, but because of its truths.
~from The Weekly Lizard, "Why We Love to Read True Crime"

I think that people feel extraordinarily vulnerable in this society and this culture. And one of the reasons that people are so interested in crime true and imagined is they're - it's something they're worried about. It's something they're thinking about. It's something that they want to solve. They want to know: Could that happen to me? And they want to know: How can I make it so it doesn't happen to me?
~Walter Mosley, in an interview with NPR

Why do we read true crime?  Here at abcreads, we're not sure.  But true crime's enduring popularity has not abated since the days of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (considered by many critics to be a pioneering work of the true crime genre). Here's a list of some popular true crime titles that you might want to check out, or let us know in the comments your favorite true crime reads.

Psycho USA by Harold Schechter

The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession by David Grenn

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story by John Berendt

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo-- and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Parry

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors and Other True Cases by Ann Rule

For more true crime titles, try a keyword search of "True crime", or a subject search using "Crime", "Serial murders", or "Forensic Science".


"10 True Crime Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Living Without Memory: Fictional Accounts of Alzheimer's Disease

Last year, for World Alzheimer's Day, Alzheimer's Disease International debuted a Facebook app to raise awareness of the disease.  This app, according to Adweek, caused "all of the information in your Timeline to temporarily vanish for the day. All of your posts and pictures [were] still saved, but inaccessible...and replaced by this message: 'Imagine your life without memories. For 36 million people living with Alzheimer's disease, this is reality.' Facebook profiles are such an intrinsic part of some people's lives that 'losing' years of deeply treasured cyber-mementos, if only for a day, could provide at least of small taste of what Alzheimer's patients endure."

There are many books in the library catalog about Alzheimer's Disease: history, biography, patient care, prevention, treatments.  But there is also a growing body of fiction that includes Alzheimer's patients, either as protagonists of their own story or characters is someone else's. Some authors hope that these fictional stories will help start conversations about the disease - for author Alice LaPlante, "diving into the heart and soul of Alzheimer's was...cathartic. 'My mother is in her last stages right now...I wanted to put myself in that position, to understand what my mother's going through, and I just imagined myself into it.'" A reviewer of Lisa Genova's Still Alice asserts:

And what gives it the greatest impact is the fact that the vast majority of it is from Alice's own perspective. We share her own perceptions of the world and then feel them change as her mind deteriorates... it's as close as you could possibly get to experiencing the effects of Alzheimer's disease without having it. That might sound like too much to take... and I can't really disagree, it is like that at times... but if we really want to be able to help our loved ones and others with Alzheimer's, what could be a better start than to understand what they're going through as much as possible?

With Alzheimer's Disease and dementia a very real worry for today's aging population, we have compiled some fictional accounts of living with catastrophic memory loss, ranging from literary fiction to mystery, with a couple of recent non-fiction titles tucked in at the end.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Someone Not Really Her Mother by Harriet Scott Chessman

Bill Warrington's Last Chance by James King

Looking for Lily by Africa Fine

The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey

The Pleasure Was Mine by Tommy Hays

Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott

Keeper: One House, Three Generations, and a Journey into Alzheimer's by Andrea Gillies

I Still Do: Loving and Living with Alzheimer's by Judith Fox

For more information about Alzheimer's Disease, try the New Mexico Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Festive Summer Grilling Ideas

Looking to heat up the grill this summer?  Here are some cookbooks that will be sure to spice up your life!

Latin Grilling: Recipes to Share, From Patagonian Asado to Yucatecan Barbecue and More by Lourdes Castro [eBook]

The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood, and Vegetables by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat  [eBook]

The Gardener & the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig

25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling Fish by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig [eBook]

The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook by Robb Walsh

The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook: Barbeque-- It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore by Ardie Davis, Paul Kirk, and Carolyn Wells

Charred & Scruffed: Bold New Techniques for Explosive Flavor On and Off the Grill by Adam Perry Lang with Peter Kaminsky

Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn

Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook with More Than 200 Recipes by Robb Walsh

Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook: Featuring Fried Green Tomatoes, Southern Barbecue, Banana Split Cake, and Many Other Great Recipes by Fannie Flagg [eBook]

Want even more suggestions?  Try a subject search using the term "Barbecuing" or "Outdoor Cooking"!

And, just because it's our favorite grilled item:

Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures in Grilled Cheese by Shane Sanford Kearns [eBook]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Popular Philosophy & Spirituality

And remember, the unexamined life is not worth living and the unexamined sitcom is not worth watching.
~William Irwin, Ph.D.

Can entertainment be dangerous?
Do ordinary moral rules apply in the arena?
Can philosophy help Katniss decide between Gale and Peeta?
Could mutations someday become a reality?
~from the inside cover of The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason

Wikipedia defines philosophy as "the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language... In more casual speech, by extension, 'philosophy' can refer to 'the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group'." Philosophy is a one of those fields of study that might cause some people to ask: "Why do I need to know about that?  How do I use that in my everyday life anyway?"   But the folks behind the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series think differently.  They say: "Philosophy is everywhere. You can find it at work behind the scenes in Hollywood TV shows and movies, between the pages of the latest graphic novel, and within the characters of your favorite book. It's not just about the ancient Greeks and Philosophy 101. Philosophy is all around you and that includes pop culture." ABC Library owns several titles in this series, as well as a couple other books that will entertain and enlighten.

Evermore: Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe by Harry Lee Poe

Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts edited by David Baggett and Shawn E. Klein

Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper than Swords edited by Henry Jacoby

Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant edited by Jason T. Eberl and Kevin S. Decker [eBook]

Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful than You Can Possibly Imagine edited by Kevin S. Decker and Jason T. Eberl [eBook]

The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All edited by Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson

Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy: How to Philosophize with a Pair of Pliers and a Blowtorch edited by Richard Greene and K. Silem Mohammad [eBook]

South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer, and More Penetrating Cobbled Together by Richard Hanley [eBook]

Hitchcock and Philosophy: Dial M for Metaphysics edited by David Baggett and William A. Drumin [eBook]

The Grateful Dead and Philosophy: Getting High Minded about Love and Haight edited by Steven Gimbel [eBook]

Johnny Cash and Philosophy: The Burning Ring of Truth edited by John Huss and David Werther [eBook]

Halo and Philosophy: Intellect Evolved edited by Luke Cuddy [eBook]

Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think! edited by Gary L. Hardcastle and George A. Reisch [eBook]

A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

For more popular philosophy titles, try a keyword search using the term "Popular culture and philosophy".

Several pop culture touchstones also have books written about their spiritual side!  To uncover the religious aspects of pop culture, try:

The Gospel According to the Simpsons: the Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family by Mark I. Pinsky

The Gospel According to Tony Soprano: An Unauthorized Look into the Soul of TV's Top Mob Boss and His Family by Chris Seay

The Gospel According to the Beatles by Steve Turner

The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert L. Short

The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

Perhaps you're feeling Machiavellian?  Check out the BBC's list of "10 of pop culture's best Machiavellian characters"! Also, we've got we've got a book for you!

What Would Machiavelli Do? : The Ends Justify the Meanness by Stanley Bing

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Joyce Carol Oates Turns 75

The number of books that Joyce Carol Oates has written rivals her age. Considering the fact that she’s turning 75 this year, that number is staggering.  This prolific and versatile author has penned novels, short story collections, poems, plays, essays, and criticism. And she’s not one of those writers who churns out formulaic books that make you wonder if she’s sitting at home spinning large wheels labeled “plot” and “character” and then plugging in whatever comes up. Oates is a well-respected literary giant whose writing in all genres is enviable.

It’s hard to say what’s most interesting about her. She’s purported to write for eight hours every day (a professor I know once went to a party where she was in attendance.  Apparently, as soon as she was ready to leave, she got into the backseat of the car, pulled out a laptop, and began writing on the ride home). She has two pseudonyms (Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly).  She’s won numerous accolades such as an O. Henry Award, a PEN/Malamud Award, and a National Humanities Medal.  She’s written several historical novels, including ones about Marilyn Monroe and The Chappaquiddick Incident. Besides writing, her other obsession is running.  At Princeton she advised Jonathan Safran Foer’s senior thesis, which eventually became his best-selling novel, Everything Is Illuminated. In short, she’s really a one of a kind.

We have quite a number of her books in the library catalog. But if you’ve never read her, where do you begin?  Many critics have compiled lists to help J.C.O. newbies first navigate her daunting oeuvre. Here are some of their recommendations, with a few of my own mixed in:

We Were the Mulvaneys

The Falls


Black Water

I'll Take You There

High and Lonesome: New and Selected Stories ,1966-2006

Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Learning about the d/Deaf World

The public television documentary Through Deaf Eyes, a documentary of nearly 200 years of Deaf life in America (you can find the companion book in the library catalog), begins with the following true or false quiz:

All deaf people use sign language.
Sign language is universal.
Deaf people live in a silent world.
Having a deaf child is a tragedy.
All deaf people would like to be cured.

How would you answered? The correct answer to every one is "false".

Did you know that, in Deaf culture, "use of the lowercase d indicates what you are. deafness is a physical description...The use of the uppercase D indicates who you are. Deafness is an identity, a community, a culture, a mode of being"?  Or that ASL is not the only sign language?

 If you would like to learn more about the Deaf community, or explore the perspectives of deaf citizens with your children, here are some items from the library catalog to get you started!

Easy & Easy Reader

Enrique habla con sus manos por Benjamin Fudge [Spanish language]

Max Learns Sign Language by Adria F. Klein

Moses Goes to School by Isaac Millman

Dad and Me in the Morning by Patricia Lakin

J & YA

Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick

A World of Knowing: A Story about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet by Andy Russell Bowen

Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris

Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

Sign Language ABC by Lora Keller

Singing Hands by Delia Ray

General Interest

Through Deaf Eyes: A Photographic History of the American Deaf Community by Douglas Baynton, Jack Gannon, and Jean Lindquist Bergey

Shouting Won't Help: Why I - And 50 Million Other Americans - Can't Hear You by Katherine Bouton

The American Sign Language Phrase Book by Lou Fant and Barbara Bernstein Fant

No Walls of Stone: An Anthology of Literature by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers edited by Jill Jepson

Song Without Words: Discovering My Deafness Halfway Through Life by Gerald Shea

Seeing Voices: A Journey into the Land of the Deaf by Oliver Sacks

The Hammer [DVD]


Inside Deaf Culture

National Association of the Deaf

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Roaring Twenties

"Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

So said F. Scott Fitzgerald, the American writer most commonly associated with The Jazz Age, whose Great Gatsby is often considered the first great American novel. It’s been almost a hundred years since The Roaring Twenties, and yet Americans still have a certain fascination with the time period.  Whether it’s flappers, bootleggers, the Charleston, the overall excess, or the sense of reckless abandon, we love to imagine what it was like to live in this time period.  Perhaps we wonder how it felt to believe that the possibilities in life were endless, without the knowledge of the inevitable crash looming just down the road.
This summer, Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby is giving modern audiences another glimpse into this fleeting, glittering era. Whether you’re a film buff or a book lover, the library has a whole slew of materials to slake your interest in this decade.


The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties ed. Teresa A. Carbone

Storybook Style: America's Whimsical Homes of the Twenties by Arrol Gellner

The American Twenties: A Literary Panorama ed. John K. Hutchens.  

Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties by Marion Meade.  

Readings on the Great Gatsby ed. Katie de Koster

Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex,Style, Celebrity and the Women who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz.   

The Twenties: From Notebooks and Diaries of the Period ed. Edmund Wilson   

The Twenties: Fords, Flappers, & Fanatics by George Mowry  

Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties by Lucy Moore

America and the Jazz Age: A History of the 1920s by Fon W. Boardman, Jr.


The Artist, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, 2011 Fiction Artist
Chicago Miramax Films, 2002 Fiction Chicago
The Great Gatsby, Paramount Pictures, 1974 Fiction Great
Midnight in Paris, Sony Pictures Classics, 2011, Fiction Midnight
Singin' in the Rain, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1952, Fiction Singin’

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New & Novel Reads: Art & Artists

Here at abcreads, we don't know much about art, but we know what we like.  And what we like is to read about art and artists!  Here are some of our catalog's most recent acquisitions: rituals, concepts, tributes, and one inspiring speech.


How artists work, how they ritualize their days with the comforting (mundane) details of their lives: their daily routines, fears, dreams, naps, eating habits, and other prescribed, finely calibrated "subtle maneuvers" that help them use time, summon up willpower, exercise self-discipline and keep themselves afloat with optimism. Artists considering how they work--in letters, diaries, interviews, beguilingly compiled and edited by Mason Currey. Portraits that inspire, amuse, and delight and that reveal the profound fusion of discipline and dissipation through which the artistic temperament is allowed to evolve, recharge, emerge.

Sorted Books by Nina Katchadourian

"Sorted Books is many things at the same time: a series of sculptures, or photographs, or site-specific installations; a collection of short stories, or poems, or jokes; a work in which the 'found object' is subject alike to chance and the most painstaking choices; a delicate conceptual game with the horizontal and the vertical. But it is first of all an act of reading." -- from the introduction, by Brian Dillon.

Artful by Ali Smith

Presents a meditative collection of writings on the nature of art and storytelling and incorporates tribute elements to iconic writers and artists throughout history.

Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he urged them to make good art. The book Make Good Art, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman's inspiring speech.

All descriptions are taken from the book's listing in the library catalog, under the tab "More Details".

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Duct Tape Crafts

Crafting with duct tape is such a fun idea that Duck Tape has its own page of "Ducktivities". So popular that Project Runway made prom dresses from duct tape. So popular that "Duct Tape Crafts" has its own Pinterest page with more than 4,000 followers.  So popular that the Duct Tape World Art Workshop will be a featured teen activity for the Summer Reading program at Alamosa, Cherry Hills, East Mountain, Erna Fergusson, Ernie Pyle, Juan Tabo, Lomas Tramway, Los Griegos, Main, and North Valley Libraries!  Make sure to bring your own duct tape!

Have you never crafted with duct tape? You can use festive duct tape (it's not just silver anymore!) to make jewelry, decorate your boots,  make party favors, spruce up an old recliner, make yourself a new wallet, and more!  Intrigued? Consider checking out one of these books from the catalog before or after the workshop for your teen!

Dazzling Duct Tape Designs: Fashionable Accessories, Adorable Décor and Many More Creative Crafts You Make at Home by Tamara Boykins

Go Crazy with Duct Tape by Patti Wallenfang

Just Duct Tape It! by Patti Wallenfang

Ductigami: The Art of the Tape by Joe Wilson