Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tournament Reads

This has been a big soccer summer - last month saw the Copa America, and the European Championship (Euros) is still ongoing. There will also be soccer at the upcoming Summer Olympics. One of our favorite irreverent soccer blogs, Dirty Tackle, posted a video from the England soccer team's hotel and training base which featured a look at the team's well-stocked bookshelf in the "leisure room". If only the video featured shots of the players reading!

What is considered a tempting read for the average soccer player? Well, Dirty Tackle compiled a list of the seemingly "hand-picked" titles on display. Here is a list of books from the team's training base which are in our library catalog:

Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho

Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs

Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom

George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones

Do you think many of these got read by the players? Would you be interested in reading a book endorsed by your favorite athlete? Since our Summer Reading theme (going strong until July 16th!) is Get in the Game: Read, we've compiled a list of other recent titles from the library catalog sports fans might enjoy:

Why Soccer Matters by Pelé

Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper

Gareth Bale: The Biography by Frank Worrall [eBook]

More Than a Team: A Father, a Son, and Barça by Vicenç Villatoro [eBook]

Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer by Chuck Culpepper [eBook]

Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town by Warren St. John [eBook]

This Love is Not For Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez by Robert Andrew Powell [eBook] 

Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil Through Soccer by David Goldblatt [eBook]

Find a Way by Diana Nyad

A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid From the Taliban in Plain Sight by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein

Speed Kings: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World by Andy Bull

Badger: The Life of Bernard Hinault and the Legacy of French Cycling by William Fotheringham

Das Reboot: How German Soccer Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World by Raphael Honigstein

Great Men Die Twice: The Selected Works of Mark Kram edited by Mark Kram, Jr

The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games by Ron Kaplan

The Three Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory by Julie Checkoway

This is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, the Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn From the T-shirt Cannon by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro On the Brink by Juliana Barbassa

Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith

Earnhardt Nation: The Full-Throttle Saga of NASCAR's First Family by Jay Busbee

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Marvelous Joelness of Joel Salatin

How much do you know about the food system and farming practices here in the United States?  I have been learning about them recently, but my education got a big boost a few weeks ago when I saw Polyfaces: A World of Many Choices - a beautiful documentary about Polyface Farms

Joel Salatin is the face of Polyface (oops, that was a pun), which is his home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia - and a multi-generational, very unconventional, oh-so-cool farm.  Polyface means "many faces," and the farm's emblem is the simple outline of a tree, containing a cow, containing a chicken, containing a fish.  As alluded to, the uniqueness of their farm is that they don't focus on only one crop or animal, but they create a symbiotic relationship between pigs, cattle, rabbits, and chickens, by strategically moving them around the fields, woods, and ponds that make up the farm.  They help each animal to live the way it was designed to live, engaging in the functions that not only make it happiest but also contribute to the well-being of every other organism on the farm - not to mention whoever may eat the animal down the road.

The film covered how richly the Salatin's animal rotation system builds the soil and the land's fertility.  It also gave a snapshot of daily life on the farm (which, in the summer, includes the Salatin's internship program for young farmers), and some things Polyface has put its hand to, such as an annual "field day" for the community, tours of the farm, sales and delivery of their products, and an on-site farm kitchen.  The entire operation (especially some scenes involving juicy, delicious-looking tomatoes) seemed too good to be true in comparison to my experience of our food system as I shop in grocery stores and drive through farm-lands on road trips. 

Here's how all of this relates to the library: Joel Salatin is not only a famous farmer, but he's also the author of 10 books.  I was so interested in the ways of his farm, that I began listening to the audio-book version of Joel Salatin's newest book, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs.  You can probably tell from this title that Joel is a bit kooky - what's really funny is that the book is hardly about pigs, though they do serve as one of the many illustrations of Salatin's points throughout.  From what I gather, this new book is different from his previous ones in that it is written specifically to call out Christians who believe it's okay not to steward the earth well.  His others aren't religious at all.  The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs has been even more eye-opening than the documentary was for me - in ways both disturbing and inspiring.  Even though I'm not a farmer (though now I want to be!), I can't wait to read more of his books to learn more about the animals, the environment, the industry, and how I can contribute to a healthier food system. 

Salatin encourages everyone to "farm" to the extent that they can - raising backyard chickens for eggs and feeding them with table scraps instead of filling up landfills, composting, adding on solariums to homes and churches for growing food in the winter, planting fruit trees and vegetables instead of growing a lawn, and collecting rainwater.  He also encourages buying locally whatever food you can't grow yourself.  So I thought I would provide a few related resources at the end of this post.  There are many of us in Albuquerque interested in such things!  If you know of anything I am missing, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Joel Salatin's Books +
Raising Chickens
Books by Michael Pollan
Plowing with Pigs by Oscar and Karen Will
Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof

Local Organizations & Farms in New Mexico 
Skarsgard Farms
Old Town Farm
Los Poblanos
Red Tractor Farm
Rio Grande Farm
Farm to Table
New Mexico Farmers' Markets

The Micro Farm Project
Permaculture in Wikipedia
Seeds of Change [based in Santa Fe until 2010]

Also, check out our Home & Garden LibGuides which includes great information about our Seed Library, composting, mulching, water conservation, mini-farming, and xeriscaping.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blast from the Past - The 1980s

Forgive us our nostalgia. All of us. When I was kid, I bemoaned my parents’ lionization of the 50s and 60s, but now here I am, approaching middle age, and I’m spending an awful lot of time reflecting on the good-old-days, which we all know were actually the 80s. At least I have an excuse. My latest novel for young readers, The Riverman, is set in 1989. And while it isn’t explicit in its pop culture references—sorry, Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” does not play on the radio during any key scenes—the narrative is infused with atmosphere of the period. These were the days when the Berlin Wall was falling and TV talk shows were warning us that if we didn’t die of marijuana addictions then satanic cults would get us in the end. It was the last gasp of hair bands and Porky’s movies and the first gasp indie rock and Steven Soderbergh films. A moment of great transition, at least that’s what it felt like to a 13-year-old. 
~Andy Starmer, "8 Book Recommendations Based on Your Favorite 80s Movies"

The 1980s are often remembered as the era that gave us Walkmen, video games, the mullet, and Madonna; the Rubik's Cube, acid-washing, MTV, and Yuppies; Cabbage Patch Kids, New Coke, and movie blockbusters. An era that was coming down, socially and culturally, from the idealism of the 1960s and the excesses of the 1970s into its own self-centered materialistic consumerism. We had big hair and wore shoulder-pads a lot. There were preppies, and Valley Girls, and Goths. Michael Jackson moonwalked and John Hughes gave us the teenage psyche on film.

But, there was also famine in Ethiopia, war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Falklands, glasnost in the USSR, protests in China's Tianamen Square - seems like we spent a lot of time in front of the television watching live news coverage of tragedy. Mount St. Helens erupted and we lost the Challenger space shuttle. There were environment disasters in Bhopal and Chernobyl, assassination attempts on the American president and the Pope, and Anwar el-Sadat, Olof Palme, Indira Gandhi. and Benigno Aquino, Jr. were killed. We heard of gene therapy and surrogate parenting for the first time; we read about "bag ladies" for the first time and "Just Say No".

Let's go "Back to the Future" with a list of recent books set in the 1980s - featuring a story set in the SoHo art world as New York City reinvents itself; a crime novel set in the height of Catholic IRA and Protestant paramilitary factions conflict in Northern Ireland;a "tender and mournful"* novel set during political turmoil in South Korea; a real-life Rolling Stone reporter writes "reunion lit"*; a bed-ridden Turkish widow looks back at her life; Lloyd's of London is embroiled in corporate malfeasance; a young man comes of age in a "legendary African American enclave" on Long Island; and beyond.

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme

Good Faith by Jane Smiley

Off Course by Michelle Huneven

The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

I'll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin

The Hunger and the Howling of  Killian Lone by Will Storr

Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Don't You Forget About Me by Jancee Dunn

Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell [YA]

Paint It Black by Janet Fitch 

Walks With Men by Ann Beattie

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

An Absolute Scandal by Penny Vincenzi

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn

Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Silent House by Orhan Pamuk

The Unseen World by Liz Moore

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick


11 Books that Will Make You Nostalgic for Summers Past [Pop Sugar]

Librarians Love: 80s-Inspired Books [YALSA]

Books Set in the Eighties [Goodreads]

Andy McSmith's top 10 books of the 1980s [The Guardian]

The 1980s []

*from the library catalog 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Brilliant Brontes: Branwell Bronte: The Lost Son

Anne Bronte (1820-1849), Emily Bronte (Thornton, 1818 - Haworth, 1848) and Charlotte Bronte (Thornton, 1816 - Haworth, 1855), English writers, Oil on canvas by Patrick Branwell Bronte (1817-1848), ca 1834. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 Dec 2015.

Patrick Branwell Bronte, was the only son in the Bronte family, but he became a tragic disappointment to himself and his relatives. Branwell died at the age of 31 due to alcoholism, opium addiction, and tuberculosis. Branwell, as he was called by his family, was as talented as Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, but lacked focus to such an extent that if he were alive today, he'd likely be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Branwell was the first published poet of the family and also pursued painting and music with the encouragement of his father, Reverend Patrick Bronte.

The Bronte family was constantly pummeled with losses, tragedy, and economic hardships. Their effervescent mother Maria Branwell Bronte died of uterine cancer when the children were very small. Two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis, exacerbated by their time enrolled at the notorious Cowan Bridge School. Their devoted servant, Tabitha Aykroyd, and somber aunt, Elizabeth Branwell, cared for the children after her sister's death and were constant, unselfish caregivers. Aunt Elizabeth remembered her three nieces in her last will and testament, leaving each of them £900, which made it possible for them to pursue writing full-time, after many attempts to provide for their family as teachers and governesses. Branwell was not remembered in her will, because it was assumed that as a man, he would be the most capable of making a living.

The graveyard surrounded the Bronte family parsonage's house and garden, which meant that decaying bodies polluted the water supply, which is about as unsanitary and Gothic as it can get. The villagers suffered even more from epidemics of cholera, typhus, smallpox, and dysentery, because the sewage drained in their direction. The average age of death was 25 years old. After the daughter's experiences at Cowan Bridge School, the world must have seemed to be an ominous place, despite their father's guidance and their spiritual inner resources. Branwell didn't find comfort in religion and even professed atheism, although on the day he died, he had a quick change of heart.

The deaths of their mother and especially their sister Maria impacted the family tremendously; however, Branwell seems to have never recovered from these devastating losses. Branwell's father, the Reverend Patrick Bronte insisted on educating Branwell at home, but his motives for doing so have been a subject of speculation. It could have been a cost saving measure so that the sisters could be educated away from home or Patrick's concerns about Branwell's propensity for tantrums and overall high-strung emotional instability. Regardless, Branwell was spoiled, coddled, severely isolated and unable to cope with reality as an adult. Patrick taught his children literature, geography, history, mathematics, the classics, Latin, French and poetry. Nothing was off limits to his children from his library. His educational contributions and encouragement for walking and enjoying the inspiring Yorkshire moors influenced his brilliant children immeasurably.

As a curate, Patrick Bronte realized that he would be unable to provide his daughters with dowries needed at that time to secure advantageous marriages for them. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne were acutely aware of their need to provide for not only their family, but for themselves after their father and aunt passed on. The Bronte children were extraordinarily intelligent, imaginative, and prolific writers, even at a very young age. Their first major literary undertaking came in the form of toy soldiers Patrick gave to twelve-year-old Branwell, which he shared with his sisters.

Branwell named his toy soldier Bonaparte, Charlotte's soldier was the Duke of Wellington, Emily named her soldier Gravey, and Anne dubbed her soldier Waiting Boy. These toy soldiers became vehicles for the poems, plays, and stories of their fantasy worlds of The Glass Town, Verdopolis, Gondal and Angria. The children's sources of inspiration came from The Arabian Nights, Lord Byron, and the political developments they followed in the news. Branwell drew the maps of Angria. Each child developed their writing skills through this creative refuge, producing tiny books in order to preserve their need for secrecy.

In 1831, Charlotte was sent to the Roe Head School in order to prepare herself for gainful employment and started to withdraw from Branwell. Emily and Anne began their own collaboration about the fictitious Gaaldine, an island in the South Pacific. As he grew older, Branwell began to hang out with the other town boys at the local tavern. He constantly borrowed money, incurred debts and tried to be a musician and a painter. There are numerous stories about why Branwell failed to apply to the Royal Academy of Arts, the most famous one being that Branwell was too intimidated and afraid of failure, so he spent the week sight-seeing and drinking the money provided for this important trip.

Branwell was apprenticed to a portrait painter named William Robinson. Branwell's famous portrait of his sisters originally included him, but at some point Branwell decided to remove himself by painting over his own figure. Eventually, Branwell decided to give up trying to make a living as a portrait painter, despite his promising talent. Supposedly, William Robinson didn't teach his student how to properly mix his paints. Branwell's paintings do have unpolished, amateurish qualities that testify to his lack of discipline.

In 1839, Branwell tutored two boys in the Lake District, but was fired in 1840. Branwell then tried to work as a clerk for the railroad and wrote poetry that he got published in various literary papers. Branwell was fired by the railroad in 1842 over bookkeeping errors, but probably more for a mixture of incompetence and drunkenness than deliberate theft. The next year, Branwell tutored the oldest son in the Robinson family, where his sister Anne was established as the governess. In July of 1845 he was fired for having had an affair with the mother, Lydia Robinson. He returned to Haworth in disgrace and sank into a consuming depression that was exacerbated by his alcohol and opium abuse. After the death of Mrs. Robinson's husband, she refused to reunite with Branwell and periodically sent him hush money, which he used to feed his addiction.

Branwell's behavior at home deteriorated and his family took the brunt of his self-pity, tantrums, debts, and destructive acts, such as setting his own bed on fire. Patrick took it upon himself to share a bed with Branwell in order to keep him under some semblance of control, even as Branwell exhibited delirium tremens. He died on September 24, 1848 of a combination of the effects of his addiction, which also masked a walloping case of tuberculosis. Branwell summed up his life with the following words: “In all my past life I have done nothing either great or good.”

Branwell's difficult personality and downward spiral of addiction impacted his sisters' novels. Anne Bronte spent considerable time caring for Branwell at his lowest moments, so she did not romanticize difficult men the way Charlotte and Emily did in their novels. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall the mistreated wife, Helen Graham, flees her alcoholic husband, Arthur Huntingdon, whose vicious behavior is impacting their son. Anne's depiction of Arthur Huntingdon's demise mirrored Branwell's death and shed a light on how alcoholism affects families.

The character Hindly Earnshaw in Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights, is not only an alcoholic, but cruel, miserable, and loses Wuthering Heights through accruing unmanageabel debt. Near the end of Branwell's life, his debts were considerable and the possibility of jail was imminent, despite his shattered health.

In Charlotte Bronte's novel, Jane Eyre, John Reed, Jane's loathsome cousin becomes an alcoholic and out of control gambler who commits suicide in order to escape his astronomical gambling debt. The gin-loving servant Grace Poole's naps allow Bertha to escape and set a fire in Mr. Rochester's bedroom and to ultimately set the fire that destroys Thornfield.

Alcoholism and substance abuse was one of the dark sides of the Victorian Era. People could obtain cocaine, laudanum, arsenic, and various kinds of opiates at the local drug store. The temperance movement was on the rise. Ironically, Patrick was the president of his local temperance society and Branwell served as the secretary.  Branwell was a lonely young man who craved male friendship. Alcoholics and drug addicts had a solitary struggle of harrowing abstinence tinged with stigma. The Bronte family was deeply enmeshed and helpless to save Branwell, who died, probably without ever being informed of the publication of his sisters' books.

In the aftermath of Branwell's death, Charlotte wrote to her friend Ellen Nussey:

"He Died after 20 minutes struggle on Sunday Morning 24th Septbr . He was perfectly conscious till the last agony came on - His mind had undergone the peculiar change which frequently precedes death, two days previously - the calm of better feelings filled it - a return of natural affection marked his last moments - he is in God's hands now - and the all - powerful - is likewise the all - merciful - a deep conviction that he rests at last - rests well after his brief, erring, suffering, feverish life fills and quiets my mind now. The final separation - the spectacle of his pale corpse gave more acute, bitter pain than I could have imagined - Till the last hour comes we never know how much we can forgive, pity, regret a near relation - All his vices were and are nothing now - we remember only his woes." - See more of Charlotte's letters at:

For further reading about Branwell and his family check out the following recommendations:

The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë

The Brontës : Branwell, Anne, Emily, Charlotte  

*This post is part of our year-long Brilliant Brontës challenge! To see more posts, search for the labels "Brontë, challenge" in the blog sidebar. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Anglophile's Delight: Britannia Rules at the Library

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
~William Shakespeare, Richard II

Tea, The Office, fish and chips and The Beatles. That's only a sampling of all the wonderful things our friends across the pond have to offer. If you're interested in knowing more about the British way of life, then you're probably an Anglophile.

There's no exact scale of Anglophilia, no telling what triggers it in people. Maybe you got sucked in by foodies like Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, and now you know the difference between high tea and afternoon tea, and like to bring trifle to potlucks. Maybe you just like to watch Premier League football. Perhaps it was a love of English literature that awakened the Anglophile in you - Trollope? Hardy? Sue Townsend? Harry Potter? Or was Masterpiece your gateway to the British Isles? Doctor Who? James Bond?  (Full disclosure: these actually contributed to our own Anglophilia.) We're not alone in our admiration - Voltaire was an early adopter, and Germany, despite its knotty history with England, shows even today a deep reverence towards the very English Shakespeare - though Christopher Hitchens made some scathing remarks about Anglophiles. Whatever brought you to appreciate all things English, or to want to read about Anglophilia, you can rest assured that the library catalog supports your quest - except in spelling, because generally we stick to American spelling ("color" rather than "colour", etc.).

You can find a plethora of items in the library catalog on British history, genealogy, folk tales, art, empire, novels, guidebooks, war, monarchy, television, and the like; for our list below we've chosen a few more obscure titles, for the discerning Anglophile. Hope you find something to  add scope and depth to your admiration, or at least to entertain you enough that you don't turn Anglophobic!


The Great British Tuck Shop by Steve Berry [eBook]

Great British Bake Off 2013 by Linda Collister

National Trust Kitchen Cookbook by the National Trust

Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking by Kate Colquhoun

Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent

The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Andoree

Chocolate Wars: The 150-year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers by Deborah Cadbury


British Invasion: How The Beatles and Other UK Bands Conquered America by Bill Harry

Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock by John Harris


How to Speak Brit: The Quintessential Guide to the King's English, Cockney Slang, and Other Flummoxing British Phrases by Christopher J. Moore

That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore


Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Red or Dead by David Peace

Mad For It: Short Stories On Football's Greatest Rivalries - Part 1, Manchester Utd. v. Liverpool : Seeing Red by Andy Mitten [eBook]


Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War, and the Twilight of Empire by Calder Walton

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy by Paul Thomas Murphy

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj by Anne de Courcy

Arcadia Britannica: A Modern British Folklore Portrait - 125 Color Photographs by Henry Bourne

Bloody British History by Geoff Holder


Bright Particular Stars: A Gallery of Glorious British Eccentrics by David McKie [eBook]

Hedge Britannia: A Curious History of a British Obsession by Hugh Barker [eBook]

How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books by Joan Bodger

The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall

Ghoul Britannia: Notes From a Haunted Isle by Andrew Martin [eBook]

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley

Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina Stibbe

London Fog: The Biography by Christine L. Corton 


P.S. Everybody's heard of some famous Brits - typically at the Benedict Cumberbatch, Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Ramsay, J.K. Rowling, Stephen Hawking, Princess Diana fame level - but why not wow people with some slightly more obscure pop culture icons, all of whom you can find in the library catalog: Jeremy Paxman, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, the Mitford sisters, Marco Pierre White, Viv Albertine, Alexander McQueen, Gertrude Bell, and Tracey Emin, just for starters?