Jan's Column 2013
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December 26, 2013 - Boxing Day
Here we are on the other side of Christmas. I hope you had a very merry holiday and that you spent time with those you love and got gifts you're not rushing out to exchange. Today is Boxing Day in Commonwealth nations (Britain, Canada, Australia, etc.). It is also the Day of Good Will in South Africa and Namibia, Family Day (Vanuatu) and Thanksgiving in the Solomon Islands. In Ireland, December 26th is St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren and in many European countries (Germany, Poland, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands) today is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day. According to Wikipedia (that font (fount) of wisdom and knowledge) it was a custom in Britain for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food. Boxing Day for some of us is the day we figure out how to use whatever gifts we received on Christmas Day. You may have already noticed - if you've already cast your eyes down the page to scan for new titles-that there are only two new books this week. I guess the publishing houses just ran out of steam at this point. There are books ordered with release dates for the last two weeks of the year but they haven't arrived yet. But, if you received an electronic book reader (Kindle or Nook) or tablet or Ipad, or smartphone or Iphone you can avail yourself of the thousands of ebooks available through the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium. If you go to this website: http://dbooks.wplc.info you can sign in using this library's name - just start typing DeForest and it should pop up. Type in your library card number and you'll be able to check out ebooks. If you need help there are tutorials on the website or give us a call and we'll try to walk you through the process. Next week we will have more "actual" books for your consideration. In the meantime, there are a lot of books available digitally. Enjoy!
December 19, 2013 - Winter
Here it is a couple of days before winter officially starts and already everyone is tired of winter. There's something about a winter that starts in earnest after the set of holidays at the end of the year, which makes hard cold and lack of light seem more doable. Possibly because Ground Hog's Day is only a month away and after that, it's about six more weeks until signs of spring start appearing. But when the hard, cold part of winter arrives before the actual start date (December 21st) you have to start wondering why you live in such a place. While some of us are busily counting the minutes until spring arrives (or the January thaw or any thaw), there are other things to be counting down. There are only six days until Christmas (or five until Christmas Eve if that's when you celebrate). That's six days or 144 hours which is 8,640 minutes. Still plenty of time to get everything done and read a book or two (and you'll find a nice selection to choose from further down the page). And the good news is that there is light a little longer in the evening sky now. Beginning on December 2nd, sunset has been at 4:23 p.m. The days have continued to get shorter but all the lost time has been in the morning. On December 16th, we gained a minute at sunset and today we gain another minute so that sunset is at 4:25. Things don't start going the other direction in the mornings until January 8th although we stay stuck at 7:29 for sunrise from December 28th on. We're almost through the darkest days!
December 12, 2013 - Disjointed Time
What is with this arctic cold? We just got into December and here we are having arctic blasts. This isn't' supposed to happen until well into January. So, maybe by January we'll be having the March boys-basketball-tournament- blizzard and spring will arrive in February. Speaking of disjointed time (I sort of was, really. Although, admittedly this wasn't one of my smoother segues.) in fewer than two weeks it will be Christmas Day. In fact in two weeks, Kwanzaa will begin and Christmas, 2013, will be past. Two weeks is plenty of time to finish up the few minor preparations you have yet to do. I know you've finished your shopping, wrapped all your presents, baked all the cookies, and are ready to sit back and soak in the joy of the season. Part of the joy of the season is sitting with your feet up reading a good book. Speaking of good books (see how smooth that segue was?) we have plenty of them. Many of which are listed below. Stay calm and read on! Enjoy.
December 5, 2013 - Holiday Countdown
By the time you read this, there will be fewer than 3 weeks left before Christmas. In fact there are 20 days until Christmas Day itself and only 19 if you celebrate on Christmas Eve. Those 20 days equate to 480 hours, 28,800 minutes, or 1,728,000 seconds - in case you're counting. There's still heaps of time to do all your shopping, get the presents wrapped, get the tree set up, the outdoor lights strung, the cookies baked, the Christmas music found (or checked out from your local public library), the eggnog nogged, and all the hundreds of little preparations necessary to create your family-specific brand of Christmas celebration. Now that we've survived Black Friday -survived all the advertising if not the actual throngs at the stores-and moused our way through Cyber Monday, there's more relaxed time to hunt for bargains and avoid the crowds. We continue to have new books arriving almost daily, so if you need a little down time, a little "me" time, sit down and relax with one of these new books. Enjoy!
November 21, 2013 - Turkey Day Countdown
We are now into the serious countdown for Turkey Day. Counting today, you have seven days (or 168 hours or 10,800 minutes) until Thanksgiving Day arrives and those pumpkin pies should have been baked, the spuds peeled, the cranberry/orange gelatin mold chilling, and the sweet potato casserole, the green bean/mushroom soup/french-fried onion ring casserole, the stuffing, dinner rolls, and the gigantic turkey all baking merrily away in the oven, scenting the house with mouth-watering smells. We are also counting down to the shortest day of the year. With all the dark, gloomy, days we've had recently (But very typical of November really. Aren't Novembers always referred to as gray in poems and literature?) it's hard to believe the days could be shorter. But they will be. Although, there is good news on the evening side of things. As of today, sunset will only get 7 minutes earlier. Right now the sun is setting at 4:29 p.m. The earliest sunset occurs on December 8th and 9th when it sets at 4:22. Where not going to talk about what happens on the sunrise end of things. I'm sure you can imagine what's going to be happening there. But while these countdowns are grinding away, there are plenty of new books to read. Right now a large number of books on the Kennedy assassination are being published. Everything from non-fiction re-examinations of the event to what-if-scenario fiction has been arriving for the past few weeks and continues to arrive. Christmas-tie-in mysteries and fiction titles have also been arriving and continue to arrive. If you cast your eyes down the page you will see some of these examples as well as a number of other exciting new books. Enjoy!
November 14, 2013 - Thanksgiving
Do you recall a couple of weeks ago when I sort of got ahead of myself and was counting down the days until Thanksgiving and Christmas? Well, today I'm not ahead of myself at all. It is exactly two (count them, two) weeks until Thanksgiving and this year, Thanksgiving Day is four weeks from Christmas. You'll notice that I said "this year". That's because Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of the month and sometimes the month starts on a Thursday so the fourth Thursday is the 22nd which would leave five weeks until Christmas. By presidential proclamation, Abraham Lincoln set the date of Thanksgiving as the final Thursday of November. In 1941, FDR signed a joint resolution of Congress making the fourth Thursday of November the day to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. The choice of the fourth Thursday was an attempt to stimulate the economy by allowing more time to shop before Christmas. Usually this plan works. This year it didn't. I don't think you can get a later date to celebrate Thanksgiving Day than the 28th. I know. Too much information. One of the hazards of being a librarian. Fall books do continue to arrive. Below you will find many new and exciting titles from which to choose. Enjoy!
November 7, 2013 - Shorter Days
Three weeks from today is Thanksgiving Day (if I'm looking at my calendar correctly) and after Thanksgiving it's, oh, about 3 weeks and 5 days until Christmas Eve. The year is slipping away in much the same manner that the length of day has. Suddenly ( the end of Daylight Savings Time does happen suddenly: no way around that!) it's getting dark at 5 p.m. which makes for shorter days which may explain why the days go by so fast this time of year. But be that as it may, long evenings mean plenty of time for reading and do we have books for you! There are a number of Christmas-themed books appearing now - because after all, Halloween is past and the stores are stocking Christmas items as Halloween sale items are still on the shelf. So cast your eyes down the page for the latest offerings at your public library. Enjoy!
October 31, 2013 - All Hallows' Eve
Today is Halloween, or All Hallows' Evening or Eve. This is the first day of the Christian celebration of Hallowmas. Hallowmas begins on Hallows eve which was when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself. All Saints (Hallows) Day is November 1st is a major feast day and honors the blessed who have not been canonized and who have no special feast day. The third day of Hallowmas is All Souls Day or the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed. All Souls' Day focuses on honoring all faithful Christians who have died. Surprisingly enough these three holidays (holy days) had very little to do with how the celebration of Halloween has evolved over the years. Remembering the dead and decorating graveyards was part of the traditions. In England, a popular tradition associated with All Souls' Day was souling, in which bands of children went round to the houses of the well-to-do on Souling Day, as they called it, begging money, apples, ale, or doles of cake. In some parts specially baked cakes were prepared in readiness to give away; they were called soul-cakes. Soul-cakes get us part of the way towards the idea of treats around this holiday. But enough historical information. Children in the area have already had their evening of trick-or-treating at the High School. Older "children" have had their Freakfest in downtown Madison. If you're a traditionalist, today is the day you should don your costume and go and ask your neighbor, "Trick or Treat?" I hope you get lots of treats, and speaking of treats, we have a lot of excellent books listed below that will make reading a real pleasure. Enjoy!
October 24, 2013 - Fall
It seems as if it's suddenly Fall, and not just that friendly, warm-days-crisp-night Fall, but the relentlessly, grey-skied days of November that herald the transition from Fall to Winter. The growing season has abruptly and absolutely ended. The thermometer has been below the freezing mark for a number of hours on a number of days and while we have yet to have had a hard freeze there aren't many flowers still blooming that haven't had some human intervention (although I do have a tomato plant on my porch that is still sending forth blossoms on the two green stalks it has left). Birds have been migrating through. The white-crowned sparrows came back about 4 weeks ago and I'm still hearing them. Migratory flocks of robins are around town sparrows are flocking up. It seems like there have been more hawks around and turkey vultures. Birds that live much further north, where there is already snow cover and therefore food shortages are staging south. And we're lucky enough to be on their route. All those robins that were chirping around so noisily all Spring and Summer started getting quite in July and started flocking up at the end of August. We get to have robins again for a while as more northern nesters come back through on the way to where they will spend their winter vacations. I don't know about you, but a cold, gloomy Fall day is the perfect time to curl up with a couple of cats, a hot cup of tea, some blanket-type cover for the legs, and a good book. Speaking of good books, we have a number of new titles for you to peruse this week. Enjoy!
October 17, 2013 - ...Again!
Boy is my face red. Last week I looked at the calendar wrong and thought Thursday of the upcoming week was the 17th. Obviously it wasn't. Obviously no one noticed and let me know I was living with my head in the future. And, obviously, this week's Thursday is actually the 17th - so all that date information I gave you about how many days until this holiday and that holiday is still accurate but now it is also timely. In the meantime, we are still waiting for the season's first frost and first freeze, which if forecasts hold could both be happening this week. There has been frost on the rooftops about three times already, but no official frosts. The average frost for this area is any time within the first 10 days of October, so we've already a week's grace. The new fall books are dropping into our work room nearly as fast as the leaves are falling from the trees. There's lots of time in the mornings and evenings now when it's too dark to do anything outside, which makes it perfect reading weather. What a happy coincidence that good reading weather and lots of new books happen at the same time (I suspect the publishing houses' marketing departments have figured this out.)! Enjoy the new books!
October 17, 2013 - Fall Holiday Countdown
Today, October 17th, is exactly two weeks (that's 14 days or 336 hours) from Halloween - the first of the late Fall holidays and one of the most child-oriented of the annual calendar. Some holidays have added a bit of a pay-off for kids by adding candy to a pre-existing holiday (Easter and the 4th of July (Parade) leap to mind). But Halloween is the big one where candy and treat accumulation and playing tricks, which include dressing up in costume, are pretty much the point of the holiday. The next big Fall holiday also includes consuming mass quantities but Thanksgiving isn't really a child-based holiday. For those of you who are hosting Thanksgiving dinners, November 28th is 28 days from Halloween (That's 672 hours.). After Thanksgiving we start speeding towards the pinnacle of child-based holidays, Christmas! Which is only 26 days from Thanksgiving (or 624 hours) and 54 days (1296 hours) from Halloween or 68 days from October 17th (1632 hours). So, now that you have a sense of how much time you have for planning for the upcoming holidays and planning for your upcoming reading, cast your eyes down the page to see some of the exciting new books that have arrived at the library. Enjoy!
October 3, 2013 - Autumn is Upon Us
Here we are in the month of October. Why it seems like only yesterday when I was talking about all the new spring books that had begun to arrive. Now, suddenly, autumn is upon us and the fall list of books from the publishers is arriving en masse. We've had a couple of mornings when there was frost on the rooftops, but so far, no frost or freeze warnings have been issued. This means, among other things, that the tomatoes continue to ripen on their pathetic looking plants. There's something about tomato plants at the end of September that seems to be just waiting for that killing frost so it can go on to that great garden in the sky ( or, I suppose, if it's been an evil tomato plant, it will go to that great rototiller in the ground). Allergy suffers are waiting - nearly as pathetically as the tomato plants-for the first killing frost. Sure, weeds, grasses, and ragweed are hardly producing any pollen now. But what there is, still gets blown around. And for allergy sufferers who are also blessed with mold allergies, well, we're not only praying for a killing frost, but also for a little snow cover. There is nothing like a little snow to keep the mold from blowing around. So, there's a lot to be said for autumn. The end of the growing season, the end of pollen production, the arrival of lots of new books from best-selling authors, and the possibility of snow just beginning to peak around the November page of the calendar. There are also achingly blue skies, cool nights, warm days, trees dressed up in jubilant colors, football, apples, and cozy evenings. So, now that we're in October, time to get to the books which are listed below. Enjoy!
September 26, 2013 - Mysteries
This week's book selections are unusual. First, no non-fiction titles arrived this week, so the entire list of new arrivals is fiction. Second, many of the selections available this week are mysteries. (Mystery fiction is a fairly recent genre appearing in the 1800s with Willkie Collins and Edgar Allen Poe and the Industrial Revolution, the urbanization of the population, the rise of crime and the resulting rise in professional policing and detectives. Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series helped define and popularize mysteries. The preceding is a hugely condensed synopsis and quite a simplification too.) Third, many of these mysteries have continuing characters -- such as Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone who has been with us since "A is for Alibi" and is now to "W" - and have become series. Fourth, two of this week's book have authors that died in 2010. Both Robert B. Parker and Dick Francis are no longer with us, but books are still being published using their names in the titles. Felix Francis is the son of Dick Francis and co-authored four books with him, so in a way, he is just carrying on the family business. Michael Brandman and Robert Parker collaborate on a number of screenplays which took the Spenser and Jesse Stone characters to the big screen (and/or TV screen) so Brandman has written with Parker and can imitate his style. Finally, you may notice that two of the titles this week "Dexter's Final Cut" and "The Final Cut" are quite similar. The funny thing about copyright law is that one of the things you can't copyright is the title of a work. This is why good catalogs allow searching by both title and author. With that, I will let you get on to the actual book selections. Enjoy!
September 19, 2013 - Ahoy, Matey!
Ahoy, matey! Today, September 19th has very few interesting holidays or special days associated with it. I suppose if you're from St. Kitts or Nevis today is a very important day since it is the day independence from the United Kingdom is celebrated. It is also the day in 1995 when Orville Redenbacher (of popcorn fame) passed away. The most interesting celebration that occurs on this day is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So, "arrrr!" and "yo, ho, ho!" Remember to have a parrot on your shoulder, a patch over an eye (Right eye or left eye, it doesn't matter. The choice of the eye is up to you.) a bandanna or tricorn hat on your head, and a large, dangle-y earring (Once again, you may chose whichever ear you prefer). If you don't want to add costuming to enhance the effect of your special vocabulary for today, just pepper your speech with some of the following phrases: "Arrrr!" "Rrrrrr!" "Ahoy!" "Avast!" "Shiver me timbers!", "Aye" "Blimey!" "Hornswoggle" "Landlubber" and "Thar she blows!" If all else fails, try singing phrases from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" such as "I am the pirate king!" or "Pour oh pour the pirate sherry, fill oh fill the pirate glass and to make us more than merry let the pirate bumper pass!" And with that, I will leave you to dig through the following titles for treasure. Enjoy!
September 12, 2013 - Library Card Sign Up Month
Here we are almost at the mid-point of September and I haven't mentioned yet that this is Library Card Sign Up month. If you're reading this column, the odds are pretty good that you already have a library card, but if you don't, this is the month to get one. Why, you can become part of the national movement to get everybody a library card during the month of September (and the start of school). September is not only Library Card Sign-up Month, it is also National Chicken Month, National Piano Month, National Honey, Courtesy, Rice, School Success, Sewing, and Read-a-New Book Months. And today, September 12th (when I assume you could be reading this) is National Chocolate Milk Shake Day - what a great excuse to have a refreshing, chocolate-y treat while reading a new book. And speaking of new books, there's a whole lot of good reading available at the library. Why did you know that at the end of 2012 the library had over 65,000 books? Did you also know that through the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium you have access to over 53,000 electronic books? Stop by and check out some of these books. Books appreciate getting off of their shelves, getting a little fresh air, having their pages turned, and seeing other places. Below are some books that haven't really had time to get bored with sitting on the shelf yet. They're brand new and ready to roam to other places before spending settling down on a shelf. Enjoy!
August 29, 2013 - Hot and Humid
The flow of summer books is ebbing just as summer weather is reasserting itself with temperatures and humidity in the 90s. Now I know there are many of you who just love this kind of weather. I am not one of those people. I like the spring and the fall when overnight lows are in the upper forties and sleeping with the windows open requires a comforter (or two). Hot and humid weather like this is perfect for visiting the air-conditioned library and checking out some books (or other reading material) and / or dvds. Reading or watching movies is the perfect way to get through a heat wave. Below you will find just some of the new books that have arrived at the library lately. Enjoy
August 22, 2013 - Canada
I'm back! And I bet you didn't even know I was gone. I left for Stratford, Ontario on the 12th, having already submitted my column for last Thursday, and got home on the 17th in time to write this for this Thursday. I go to see the great repertory theater that exists out in a city of about 25,000 that just happened to have the Stratford name and decided to create a Shakespeare festival back in 1951. It was an idea that caught on. Every year I go for a week and go to theater twice a day (which is really arduous). This year I saw four Shakespeare plays (Merchant of Venice, Romeo & Juliet, Measure for Measure and Othello), two musicals (Fiddler on the Roof and Tommy-two very distant ends of the musical spectrum), a Noel Coward play (Blithe Spirits), and a swashbuckling adaptation of the Three Musketeers. All were excellent productions. I find theater one of the most relaxing things do. There's something about the cadence of iambic pentameter that syncs with the heart beat and gets you into a deep awareness state (which some would call sleeping). While not going to theater one can go into the charming shops and restaurants and walk around in parks with ancient trees and listen to band concerts and watch the swans glide down the Avon River. The down side of being on vacation is, of course, returning to work. The piles of mail weren't too bad - only about 4 inches thick when stack both at work and at home-it's my email inbox that's the problem. There were over 300 emails just waiting for me to do something about them. Oh, well. The vacation was great while it lasted. In the meantime, there are lots of new books to take you away on a mental vacation. Enjoy!
August 15, 2013 - Counting
Here we are in the middle of August with the weather persisting autumnally and pre-season Packer's football already underway. I know this is pre-season and wins and loses don't really count, but I believe that winning is a habit and so is losing. I think Vince Lombardi would agree with me. Enough said. I was rather disappointed. The Summer Reading Program ended last week and we've yet to get the tally on all the numbers of books read and /or minutes spent reading. A whole lot of items were checked out during July (over 46,000), the height of the Summer Reading Program, and I'm sure a large number of those are books and attributable to the program. If I'm counting correctly there are only eighteen days left until the final summer holiday, and the quasi-official end of summer, Labor Day. And once we get past Labor Day, you know what that means don't you? It means you can put away your white shoes and straw hats and pull the wool clothing out of the closet for airing. It also means the publishers Fall list of titles will begin arriving. I have to tell you, almost every major author has a new book coming out in the next couple of months - so stay tuned. In the meantime you'll find some new books. Enjoy!
August 8, 2013 - Harry Potter
Last week was our tenth (annual) Harry Potter Birthday Party. When we first started doing these parties J.K. Rowling was publishing a new book about once a year and then the Harry Potter movies started up. For a few years there we could count on the enthusiasm and hype from the book launch or the movie launch to bring people to the party. The final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was published in July, 2007. The final movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" was released in July, 2011. Last year was the first year the party and fictional character had no outside factors to add energy and interest. But we had a good turn out and decided to try it again this year. Well. We had an extraordinary turn out this year. More people in costume, more people staying longer, and more excitement than we'd seen in a few years. It's very hard to estimate attendance when everyone is in motion all the time. I do know that an entire sheet cake was inhaled by the crowd. And that we went through three gallons of "pumpkin juice" (my secret recipe) and about a gallon of "butter beer" (again, my secret recipe which involves absolutely no butter nor beer), and that almost four pounds of pretzel rods and an equal amount of frosting (You put frosting on the end of the pretzel rod and roll it in sprinkles to make an edible wand.) and uncountable numbers of sprinkles were also consumed. All-in-all a most excellent party. We overheard people at the party already talking about next year. So, if you missed this year's party and don't want to miss the 2014 party, just put July 31st on your calendar now. In the meantime, as you wait for next year's party, there are a number of new books for you to occupy your time with. Enjoy!
July 25, 2013 - "The Cuckoo's Calling"
The most interesting literary thing that has happened lately is the revelation that J.K, Rowling of Harry Potter fame penned a well-received mystery using a pseudonym. The jacket blurb purportedly says that the name "Robert Galbraith" is a pseudonym. This got some reporters wondering who the author might be. Apparently there is a software program that analyses text using author's preferences - such as preferences for certain words, length of sentences, length of words - an analyses was done on this work and J.K. Rowling was at the top of the list. This analysis was done by computer science professor Patrick Juola using the Java Graphical Authorship Attribution Program to help determine authorship. Forensic linguistics (who even knew there was such a field of study?) uses word pattern usage to help attribute authorship. While the results are never one hundred percent conclusive they can predict with a pretty high level of probability. Once Rowling was determined to be the most likely author the publisher was asked and confessed. This shot that book to the top of the best-seller lists. There were thirteen copies of "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith before the identity of the author was revealed. Eight more now show on order. The number of holds jumped from zero to 620 almost overnight. Our copies should have arrived before you read this and I'm sure other libraries copies will also be arriving soon. And speaking of J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, our tenth annual Harry Potter's Birthday Party will be held this year on Harry Potter's birthday, July 31st from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend. Come in costume. Drink pumpkin juice and butter beer. Eat Cake. Play games. Take part in the slug eating contest. In the meantime, while you're figuring out your costume for the party, there are lots of new books to read. Enjoy!
July 18, 2013 - Summer Birds
It's hard to believe we've passed the middle of July. The back-to-school sales (at least the back-to-college ones) are starting to appear. The dawn chorus is getting quieter as the final batches of eggs have been laid, hatched, and fledged. The main purposes of all that singing at the crack of dawn is 1) to let the lady birds know what a wonderful partner and provider you'd be and 2) to warn away all those potential rivals and to defend your territory. Once the offspring have fledged, the need to proclaim numbers 1 and /or 2 is pretty much gone. If you're a bird who just likes singing because it annoys human beings who are trying to sleep - and I know there is at least one cardinal who does this - you at least are starting all the chirping and warbling later since dawn is now about 20 minutes later than it was a month ago. This summer is moving on apace. This year the number of summer books offered by publishers seems to offer a steady stream of new books. This isn't always the case. Some years there's a big push of summer reading titles that appear at the end of May or the beginning of June and after that push, books just dribble in until the fall titles start appearing. All that being said, below you will find some titles in that stream of books. Enjoy!
July 11, 2013 - Hot Hot Hot
Here we are, having just rolled past the 4th of July, and boy, did the weather cooperate on that day -- there were light breezes and the humidity dropped so the sunshine made for a near-perfect summer day. If the weather could only stay that way! But of course it can't. Heat and humidity and threats of thunderstorms have returned this week. Crummy weather is good for some things though. It is perfect weather for reading and we have tons (well, not tons actually, but hundreds of pounds) of new books to help you resist the urge of engaging in outdoor, heat-stroke provoking activities. My whole point, which I started out with in the first sentence and then got lost on a bird walk, is that now that we are settling into the middle of summer and the hottest time of the year, it is a good time to come to the library to cool off and to get some books or dvds or cds to enjoy somewhere out of the heat. As previously mentioned there are lots of new books for you to choose from, so cast your eyes down the page and enjoy!
July 4, 2013 (or there abouts)
It’s hard to believe we are already at the 4th of July. The weather has been hot, humid, rainy, gloomy, and recently, downright autumnal. It’s really kinda hard to get a fix on the date when the season won’t seem to settle down. This holiday week looks like it will be pleasant – i.e. not sweltering—and since Independence Day may free up some time for you, and since reading outside in the shade in the summer is a very pleasant guilty pleasure (which I am always urging you to indulge in), you will find below a nice long list of new books for your perusal. If you’re in town on the 4th and plan on watching the parade, watch for the library’s “float”. Give us a shout out and we’ll try to get some candy to you! If you stay around for Bingo, you will find library staff and Friends of the Library scooping frozen custard as a fundraiser. Stop by and say “Hi” and help support the library by indulging in a cool summer treat. Hope to see you there!
June 27, 2013 - Officially into Summer
Now that we're officially into Summer, the weather has turned delightfully rainy, muggy, soggy, damp, and overcast (Which is an interesting word, BTW [by the way - for you non-texters]). It comes from Middle English and meant overthrow (meaning literally to throw something over, like a garment: "Overthrow that blanket onto your horse, Wulfric!" or "Overcast that that cape onto the bed, Rowena." The idea of clouds overcasting a sky as a metaphor came into the language about 1300. So even back in the Middle Ages, weather forecasters were talking about overcast skies. But, I digress.). All the humidity, besides making one's skin "glow", makes one long for sitting quietly. Preferably in air-conditioning. Reading is a non-glow producing activity to practice during this kind of weather. The library has lots of new books to whet your interest, but not your brow. Below is a sampling of the new books available at your public library. Enjoy!
June 20, 2013 - Summer Solstice
Today is the eve of the summer solstice. Tomorrow, June 21st, at 12:04 a.m. the summer solstice will take place. This marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and marks the sun's most northerly point in Earth's sky. It also marks the longest day of the year - sort of - if you're counting seconds. If you're just looking at the minutes of daylight that's a slightly different story (which I'm about to tell you!). On June 21st, sunrise is at 4:18 (let's use military time, shall we - so 0418 hours) and sunset is at 1941 (that's 7:41 p.m. and we're not talking about visible light but when the sun goes below the horizon). June 22nd is the same thing 0418 and 1941. In fact, sunset remains the same until July 1st and sunrise has only gotten 4 minutes later (0422) So if you think the longest day is defined at the evening end of things (Because, really. Honestly who's up at 0418 anyway?) then there are eleven days - from June 21st on-that have the latest sunset of the year. Which give you more natural light to read all the marvelous new books that have been arriving! Cast your eyes further down this page to see a sampling of those books. Enjoy!
June 13, 2013 - Concerts and Movies in the Park!
We are in the second full week of June and counting down to a couple of what-have-come-to-be-traditional summer events. Those two "events" would be better characterized as series. The Concerts in the Park (Fireman's) series starts on Tuesday, June 11th with the Madison Wind Ensemble (I hope I am not your only source for information about library events since, if you were depending on me you would have missed the first concert! Apologies.) followed by the Prairie Thunder Cloggers on June 18th, and Mr. Steve, Master Facilitator of Fun, on June 25th. This will get you through the month of June as far Concerts in the Park are concerned and hopefully get you checking our website or following us on Facebook or Twitter or, a really radical idea, coming into the library and picking up a flyer or bookmark with all this information on it! The second series is Movies in the Park (Fireman's) which also starts this week. The June movies - start this Friday, June 14th at dusk, with "Escape from Planet Earth". On June 21st the movie will be "Madagascar 3" and Beverly Hills Chihuahuas 3 will be shown on June 28th. More information about the rest of both series which go into the first week of August with a little break around the 4th of July is available at the library, on the library's website, on Facebook and Twitter, and on posters around town. Hope to see you all at these many events. These events are made possible through sponsorships. While waiting for all this free entertainment to come your way, there are lots of good books arriving almost daily at the library. Below are just a few titles available for your reading enjoyment. Check them out!
June 6, 2013 - Start Reading and Earning Dragon Dollars!
Now that summer is officially here -- and by that I mean: 1) It's past Memorial Day weekend, 2) The Summer Reading Program has officially started, 3) High School Graduation has taken place, and 4) the Dragon Arts Fair has taken place - it's time to start reading and earning those Dragon Dollars. If you don't know what I'm mean by Dragon Dollars stop by the library and sign up for the Summer Reading Program and you will be illuminated. The Movies in the Park (Fireman's) will be starting Friday, June 14th at dusk (weather permitting) with the animated feature film "Escape From Planet Earth" and the Concerts in the Park will kick off on Tuesday, June 11th with the Madison Wind Ensemble at 6:30 p.m.. Check our website and in the library for more details. In the meantime, since the weather has turned downright autumnal, it's perfect weather to snuggle up with a good book - and we have a lot of them. Cast your eyes further down the page to see some of the new titles that have arrived at your public library. Enjoy!
May 30, 2013 - Summer is Here!
Here we are on the other side of Memorial Day, which means a couple of things. First, summer has -more or less - officially arrived. Second, with the arrival of summer, the Summer Reading Program has also started. Starting on May 28th you can begin counting all the books and pages you are reading towards the Summer Reading contest and towards earning Dragon Dollars. Those Dragon Dollars - as you may or may not know- can be used to purchase items in "Ye Olde Dragon Dollar Shoppe". The Summer Reading Program runs from now until the first Saturday in August. That's plenty of time to accumulate dollars and purchase all sorts of fabulous prizes for yourself, your children, or your grandchildren. Stop by the library for more details. You will find some exciting new book titles below to help you get started in the Summer Reading Program. Enjoy!
May 23, 2013 - Special National Days
May is a month that is filled with special days, special weeks, and month-long observances. For example, May is American Bike Month, Asparagus, Asthma & Allergy Awareness, and Flower month to name a few. It is also National Hamburger, Salad, and Strawberry month as well. Interestingly enough, the third week of May - of which we are currently in-has no special designation. May 20th (Monday) is Strawberry Picking Day. It is also Cher's, Dolly Madison's, and Jimmy Stewart's birthdays. The 21st is Armed Forces Day and the anniversary of the founding of the American Red Cross. Wednesday is the anniversary of Mister Rodgers' Neighborhood and National Maritime Day. Thursday is Victoria Day in Canada. Friday is Hug Your Cat Day (my cats made me put this in). Saturday is National Tap Dance Day, Towel Day and National Senior Health and Fitness Day. Sunday is National Sorry Day in Australia which is a fascinating annual event. This day is used to remind and raise awareness about the mistreatment of that continent's indigenous people. And that's it for this 3d week of May. There are a number of new books listed below for you to peruse. Enjoy!
May 16, 2013 - Summer is Coming
Here we are in the middle of May, counting down to the beginning of summer, the end of the school year, the start of the Summer Reading Program, and the longest day, and we're stuck in this see-sawing weather. Having daytime highs in the fifties and freeze/frost warnings over the past weekend (and high winds. Let's not forget the high winds that actually created wind chills!) and then in a couple of days having highs in the mid-80s leaves one confused about many things. Such as how to dress and when it might be good time to take the winter survival gear out of the car, when it might be a good time to put the stocking cap and mittens away. It's hard to contemplate putting plants in the ground (or in my case, porch pots) at this point. Because there will undoubtedly be another frost/freeze warning and then those aforementioned plants will have to be covered. Somehow covering plants in the spring just doesn't seem right - in the Fall it's a different story. In the meantime, while we're waiting for Mother Nature to make up her mind about what season we are actually in, there are plenty of great books for you to read to help you while away the time. Enjoy!
May 9, 2013 - Books
We have a ton of terrific new book titles this week, so rather than chatting up here in this part of the column, I'm going to get out of your way and send you right on down the page. I think everyone should be able to find at least one book that sounds intriguing. Without further ado, I will let you scroll your eyes down the page in your search for the next book to read. Enjoy!
May 2, 2013 - National Days of Today
Here we are in the month of May and May has many things to offer. For example, May is Asparagus Month, as well as Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month, National BBQ, National Egg, National Hamburger, and National Salad Months. This first week of May is National Postcard Week as well as Teacher Appreciation Week. This day, May 2nd, is Dr. Benjamin Spock's birthday (1903) and Holocaust Remembrance Day. A useless piece of trivia (Although all pieces of trivia can be used for one-upping know-it-all's, say, at family gatherings, or when actually playing trivia games of one sort or another) -- no other month begins or ends on the same day of the week as May in any year, and January of the following year always begins and ends on the same day of the week as May of the current year. (To save you from having to verify this yourself by checking the closest calendar, I just did. Amazingly enough, it's true - at least for this year. Is that weird or what?). Another thing about the month of May is that the very end of the months puts us very, very, very close to the start of the Summer Reading Program. So, if you want to start training for the summer reading contest, below you will find a number of new and exciting books to read. Enjoy!
April 25, 2013 - "How Long Can You Tread Water?"
It was sunny all day yesterday, and today there is cloud cover but sunshine is still peeking through. This has to be a record for this month - a day and a half without rain (or snow flurries, or sleet, or freezing rain or freezing mist). As I write this at the beginning of the third week of April we have had 5.76 inches of rain so far, for the month of April. This puts us 3.51 inches ahead of a normal April. I know "April showers bring May flowers" so I'm expecting a spectacular May, flower-wise. Being somewhat of a worrier by nature, this has me thinking about all the rain. Put that together with the fact that all the animals and birds are pairing up, and yes, I know it is that time of year, but still... I keep having flashbacks to when I was a mere slip of a girl listening to (vinyl) records on my Victrola by Bill Cosby (his first album, I believe "Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow. Right") that contained a comedy routine about Noah, which feature a dialog with him and the Lord. If memory serves, at one point the question "How long can you tread water?" is posed. For some reason that question keeps echoing through my mind and my answer does too. I can't tread water very long at all. So, with that cheerful thought and always hoping for the best - more sun, rain only when and only as much as needed - let's examine all the new books that have arrived (not by boat (or ark)) this past week. Enjoy!
April 18, 2013 - Crane Counting
This past Saturday was the Annual Midwest Crane Count. The International Crane Foundation has been coordinating a scientific, volunteer count of sandhill cranes in the upper Midwest since sometime in the mid-1990s. Which, when I think about it is when I got involved in counting. I have counted the same two sites since I started and a couple of years ago added a third site that was adjacent to "my" other two. And how so you count cranes, I hear you asking. Well, it all starts in the wee hours of Crane-count Saturday morning. You get your cup of coffee. You get dressed. You drive up to Columbia County (which is where I count).You arrive at 5:30 a.m. and you mostly listen for the first half hour or more. Then you can start using your eyes as well. I tell you, there is nothing quite like driving off to an appointment with nature before dawn while everyone else is still abed to make you feel virtuous. It's quiet and peaceful (although this year the migratory flocks of robins were a little rambunctious at dawn) and without urban glow you really get to use your night vision and then watch with wonder as the colors start to come up as the dawn's light intensifies. This year the snow (it was accumulating on the road as I drove from site to site.)sleet, and wind made all the birds a little slow to get going. With only five minutes left to go in the count I did find seven cranes having breakfast, and that was my count for this year. If you've never tried it, it's worth doing in that it provides data about a bird that was nearly extinct in the state and it's fun to be out at the crack of dawn with a purpose. While you're considering contacting the International Crane Foundation to volunteer for next year, you will find a number of books listed below that just arrived at the library. Enjoy!
April 11, 2013 - Possibly, Maybe, Almost for Sure
A week ago I would not have made this avowal, but having more than a week of temperatures in the 40s, 50s, and, yes indeed- , 60s and having seen not one, but two motorcyclists driving around on a sunny day, I am willing to say (with a lot of knocking of wood) that spring has (possibly, maybe, almost for sure) arrived. And now that I've said that, I will throw in the caveat that spring in Wisconsin can mean snow blisteringly hot weather one day followed by snow showers the next. But I have moved my pots of grass for the cats out on to the porch. (We all know that grass can stand a little frost.) and dragged my big plant pots out of the basement (Did you know that there are 13 steps from my basement to first floor and then there are 15 strides to the porch? And did you know that when you're carrying 80 pounds tight to your body it's real easy to start tipping backwards but that if you lean forward and your shoes don't come off some combination of physics, gravity, and/ or Newton's first or second law of motion, will keep you moving up the stairs. Spring cleaning, getting ready for spring planting, warmer days, shorter nights, and lots of bird song, and plenty of spring book titles, all point to the overdue arrival of spring. And speaking of spring book titles, just cast your eyes down the page and you will see the latest books that have arrived at your library. Enjoy!
March 28, 2013 - Cranes
At the end of February, with the local birds beginning to sing and stakeout their territories, I ventured out to Kearney, Nebraska to see the beginning of the sandhill crane migration. On the drive out I had excellent timing and missed the now around Des Moines and had pretty good roads as I drove by 100s of cars and trucks in the ditch. On the way back I was following behind a snow storm with just the right amount of time to have good roads as well. This weekend – almost a full month later—I am heading back out to Nebraska to see the sandhill crane migration at its peak. Once again it looks like I will be dodging snow along the way. At the end of February, I saw thousands of sandhill cranes, which is a very impressive sight. This time the count will be in the tens of thousands -- up to half a million. That sight is more than impressive. If I get good pictures, I will post them on Facebook. In the meantime, while waiting for spring to arrive right here in DeForest, Wisconsin, there are some new, excellent books for your enjoyment listed below.
March 21, 2013 - Signs of Spring
Regardless of how much snow is on the ground, and how we still seem to be in a biweekly or triweekly snow storm pattern, there are definite signs of spring. Robins are starting to appear more frequently, the house finches are singing away, the gold finches are starting to look a little lighter in hue, and there is a bunch of our volunteer landscapers at the library outside of my office window as I write. I believe they may be pruning some of the bushes and someone seemed to be hacking away at something with great vigor. If the sun is shining and it's not snowing, I guess you just have to get out there and start acting like spring is just around the corner. We have a number of new books - because the publishers just keep cranking out the spring book list-so stop by and check out these new titles. Enjoy!
March 14, 2013 - Pi Day
Today is March 14th which can be written as 3/14 or 3.14 which is also known as the Greek letter Pi or π which makes today Pi day. This is a day celebrated around the world by mathematicians, scientist, and those who remember high school geometry. Pi, as you all know, is an important mathematical constant (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter) which is also an irrational number - it goes on and on and on no matter how many times you divide the numbers into each other it never comes out even. The value of π, using superfast computers, has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond the decimal. π is used in all sorts of sciences and architecture. I find it more than a little coincidental that today is also Albert Einstein's birthday. Now there was a fellow who knew his way around mathematical calculations and proofs. So, how do you celebrate π day? Well the obvious answer is to eat pie! But since pies are messy to distribute to large numbers of people, we thought we would hand out some π cookies if you come in a recite a few of the digits in π library staff. If you want to know what a π cookie looks like, you'll just have to stop by the library on March 14th. Another reason to stop in is to check out some of the new books that have just arrived. Enjoy!
March 7, 2013 - Sports
Here we are in March, and so far it has been coming in more like a lamb than a lion. But this meteorological analysis is based only on the first three days of the month which have had a high percentage of sunshine. Of course, as anyone who has lived in Wisconsin for more than few minutes knows, March is the month for all the high school basketball tournaments. And, as anyone who has lived in Wisconsin for more than a few minutes knows, there is often ("Very often", some would say. Well, some might even say "always") a major snow storm during basketball tournament season. Now that snow storm may not appear during the boys' tournament but wait until the girls play, or it may hit both of the tournaments. These March snow storms are usually that heavy, wet snow you get when the temperatures are warmer (So the air can hold more moisture --physics is not always our friend.). The good news is that in March whatever snow we get won't last long because spring is coming at us very fast (March 20th). Before you start spring cleaning, and gardening, and all those other outdoorsy things you've been waiting to do all winter, remember there are still plenty of days left to sit a read a good book. And speaking of good books, we just happen to have some! Below you will find some of the books that have been arriving at the library. Enjoy!
February 28, 2013 - Endings
February ends today, which means our Winter Reading Program - DeForest Gets Its Ducks in a Row and Reads-will be ending. And we all know what the end of the Winter Reading Program means, don't we? It is nearly as good a predictor of the end of winter as any of those prognosticating rodents that get all the news coverage at the beginning of the month. The end of the month of February also means that bird activity has started to pick up considerably. The cardinals have started singing and the chickadees have shifted to their "phoebe" song. The geese that have wintered over have starting taking to the skies again, some even taking practice runs at heading north. For me, if it's the end of February you will find me on the road heading out to Nebraska to see the beginning of the sandhill crane migration. With the days getting longer, the sun getting warmer, and the birds twittering in the trees, can the Spring List of books from the publishers be far away? Absolutely not! Below you will find some early arrivals. Enjoy!
February 21, 2013 - History of the Day
Only one more week left in February and we all know what that means. It means the Winter Reading Program is drawing to a close. And with the end of the Winter Reading Program in sight, we hope that also means the end of winter is also in sight. February 21st is quite an interesting day - not only because it is the 52nd day of the year. On this date in 1842 the patent for the first sewing machine was granted to John Greenough. In 1848 Marx and Engels published the "Communist Manifesto" and oddly enough, in 1613 Mikhail I became Czar of Russia (the first Romanov) - historic irony at work? In 1878 the first telephone book was published in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1925 on this date the first "New Yorker" magazine was published. In 1948 NASCAR was incorporated. In 1958 the peace symbol was designed and completed by Gerald Holtom by a group opposed to atomic energy research. W.H. Auden, Erma Bombeck. Rue McClanahan, Tyne Daly, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and my cousin were all born on February21st. February 21st might just also be the day when you find a book listed below that you're really anxious to read. So cast your eyes down the page and check out what exciting new titles have arrived!
February 14, 2013 - St. Valentines Day
So. We're halfway through the month of February. Six weeks into the year. Twelve days past the Ground Hog's Day prediction of an early spring. Four days past the Chinese New Year that welcomed in the Year of the Snake. And we're at the most romantic of holidays, Valentine's Day. St. Valentine's Day celebrates the feast day of at least two St. Valentines (Valintinus of Rome and of Terni and possibly a third who went to Africa and was martyred there). Valentine's Day's link with romance was not created by the greeting card companies. In fact, it was the great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer who is to blame. The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in "Parlement of Foules" (1382) (The Parliament of Fowls) where Chaucer wrote "For this was on St. Valentine's Day when every bird comes there to choose his mate". Ever since that association, February 14th has been a day to send heart-shaped valentines, and exchange love tokens - usually in the form of candy (preferably chocolate which wasn't available until 1650 or there abouts in Europe) and flowers. If you are reading this on Thursday, February 14th and you haven't given your sweetie some sort of love token, I suggest you put the paper down and drive to a gas station, or pharmacy, or grocery store and do something about it now. There are cards and candy and roses everywhere! If you have been forethoughtful, then cast your eyes down the page to see a fine selection of new books that are at your public library. Enjoy!
January 31, 2013 - Back from Iceland
Well here I am. Back from Iceland and still in one piece - mostly. I did have one encounter with a slick layer of ice at 9 o'clock in the morning (so it was still dark) at the Althingvellir - the meadow where the Althingi, the precursor of parliamentary government, began in 930. The meadow is in the valley between the two tectonic plates (the North American and the Eurasian) that meet in Iceland and was the place where free men assembled annually to decide on the laws that governed them and to settle legal disputes. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. Anyway, as I was doing the Icelandic shuffle across the parking lot to the valley viewing area my right foot hit an immovable object. A large stone (possibly lava) was sticking out of the ice just enough to trip me. I stumbled forward. My traveling companions, who were watching from a safe distance behind me, said my left leg went over my head in what looked like some kind of figure skating move - possibly an axel. I landed on both feet. I didn't fall and was standing upright almost before I knew what had happened. I did however, feel a muscle pop in my hamstring and had to hobble over to the viewing area to look at the Althingvellir in the murky pre-dawn. It was a powerful experience to be in the place where the idea of government by the governed was practiced over a thousand years ago. The torn muscle didn't detract from the experience at all. In fact, it has been a reminder (with every step I take) that what we remember most from our vacations and travels through life are the things that don't go smoothly. Those missteps provide the grist and fodder for the stories we tell. I have a few more stories from Iceland to tell, so tune in next week. In the meantime some other story tellers, have written some books which you'll find waiting for you at your library. Enjoy!
January 17, 2013 - Iceland
The books listed below pretty much emptied the backroom of new books, so the odds of having any new books to talk about next week are somewhat diminished. But this works out, because I won't be here next week to talk about them anyway. I am going on vacation. I am going to Iceland for a week. "Why Iceland in winter?" I hear you asking. "It seemed like a good idea at that time", I hear myself responding. Iceland is actually a perfect vacation spot for a librarian. The jólabókaflóð -- Icelandic for "Christmas book flood" is the annual flood of new books in Iceland occurring in the months before Christmas every year. Icelanders love books. Everyone seems to be an author, or if not, they aspire to be one. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. There is a deeply-rooted culture of giving books as presents so releasing all the new titles at Christmas time makes a lot of sense. Because giving books as presents is so important physical books are also very important. Handing a book you've chosen for someone is a whole different experience from giving someone a link to a download. It's a bit more personal somehow. One Icelandic proverb says "Blind is the man without books" another says "Better to be without boots than without books". All of which means that Iceland will undoubtedly be a good match for this book-loving librarian. Iceland also has volcanoes and geysers and the highest waterfall in Europe and lagoons with steaming hot water even at this time of year. So geologically, it's a really cool place to go too. Oh, yeah, and there are Icelandic horses and glaciers and probably some elves and dwarfs too. If I get a chance while I'm there and if I have an internet connection, I'll let you know about my travels. "If" is the operative word. In the meantime, enjoy the books listed below!