Must See TV in October

Image by GDJ at Open Clip Art. Click through for source.

Image by GDJ at Open Clip Art. Click through for source.

Fall means football, changing leaves changing and the return of TV shows!  While some of my favorite TV shows (Empire, How To Get Away With Murder, & Scandal) have already returned, there are some more shows that premiere very soon that I’m excited about:

1. The Flash (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)

The last season of The Flash left viewers with a lot of questions. How did Barry’s battle with the Reverse Flash end? What will happen with S.T.A.R. Labs? What will happen between Barry & Iris? Most of these questions will likely not be answered within the first episode. If you wanna catch up on the first season of The Flash it’s available in our catalog.

2. iZombie (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW)

Olivia “Liv” Moore is a medical examiner who also happens to be a zombie. She applied for the job as a medical examiner so she could have access to brains. Little did she know that when she ate the brains of murder victims, she would get visions that led to discovering how they died. So, with this new found gift she works with the Seattle Police Department Detective Clive Babineaux to help solve cases. Initially I wasn’t going to watch this show because from the trailer I thought that it looked stupid, but it’s actually a good show. Unfortunately, season one isn’t in our system, but the graphic novels that the TV show are based on are available.

3. Arrow (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)

Oliver Queen is no longer the Arrow! Well at least that’s what the show’s writers and Queen himself want us to think. I doubt that the fairy tale world of Oliver and Felicity Smoak will last (sigh) We’ll just have to see what happens when the show comes back. Season 3 is available in our catalog along with tons of graphic novels featuring Green Arrow.

4. American Horror Story: Hotel (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX)

Ryan Murphy’s creepy anthology show is back for a fifth season. This time it takes place in a hotel. Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Matt Bomer are back for another season. There’s a new face along for the ride this time: Lady Gaga. I’m really interested to see how she’ll do on the show. Previous seasons of American Horror Story are available in our catalog.

What new shows are you watching this season? Which ones are you waiting on to return? Let us know in the comments below!


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I’ve Got Nothing Against Bram Stoker, But…

A little over three weeks out from Halloween, I thought it might be fun to write a quick post about vampire fiction. I’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s great, but I prefer Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. Mr. Stoker literally wrote the rules on vampire fiction with Dracula, and Mr. King followed suit with some flourishes of his own.

Since then we’ve seen many non-traditional takes on the fictional vampire. I am particularly fond of two.

Octavia Butler’s Fledgling mixes strong and accessible prose with a unique angle on the vampire genre. Her vampires constitute a species apart from humans, not undead  supernatural monsters. She tells the story from the perspective of a young (by vampire standards) girl who must recover her lost memories and learn what it means to be something other than human.

In American Vampire writer Scott Synder and artist Rafael Albuquerque have taken the classic vampire mythos and added more than a dash of grit and grime. The stories of their characters play out over the history of America, moving deftly back and forward in time to key moments in their personal histories, and different eras in the history of the nation. Even if you don’t normally read graphic novels, give this series a try. The first volume even includes a story from Mr. King!

There’s a lot of great vampire fiction out there, so I would love to hear about more of it—conventional or not!


-Scott P.




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Foodie Fiction Finds

I love food. There, I said it. I enjoy the whole process: planning what to eat, shopping for ingredients, cooking and baking dishes and, most of all, eating the labors of my work, as well as the works of others. I also enjoy reading about food. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before my penchant for reading cookbooks the same way others read novels.

Then there are those books that actually are cookbooks disguised as novels.  Most of them tend to fall into the cozy mystery category, which has everyone from coffeehouse owners to bakers, tea shop ladies to caterers and food writers to food truck operators solving crimes, while cooking great food in the process. Most of these even have recipes at the end of the book, so you can continue your relationship with the story and author after the dastardly perpetrator has been caught.

Recently, I’ve found myself enjoying more of the foodie fiction books that are not specifically mysteries.  Here are just a few:

Chef’s Table by Lynn Charles – Chef Evan Stanford runs a successful New York restaurant, but his passion for his work is gone. And then he meets Patrick, the cook at his neighborhood diner. Patrick’s companionship, in the kitchen and the bedroom, reawaken Evan’s lust for cooking, and for life.

Aftertaste by Meredith Mileti – As if I needed another reason to read this book besides the food, it’s mostly set in Pittsburgh! There are specific references to the Strip District and the Pennsylvania Macaroni Factory and allusions to Enrico Biscotti Company. Follow along as Mira’s career and personal life is completely destroyed, and she builds it back up by returning to her roots.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert – Chef Lou Johnson is about to get an unwelcome surprise. Her fiancé is sleeping with his law firm’s intern, but he never understood why Lou wanted to be a chef anyway. Then she, literally, bumps into a man who could be “the one.” But Al has a secret that threatens to ruin any chance he has of a future with Lou. Can the chef whose restaurant fails forgive the man who wrote the scathing review that shut it down?

Delicious by Ruth Reichl – We’re used to reading Reichl’s books on her foodie upbringing, and her stint as editor in chief of Gourmet confirms that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to cuisine. But now she’s written a novel? Could it be any good? The answer lies in this tale that’s part chick lit, part foodie fiction, with a dash of romance and a hint of a puzzle to solve. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of the demise of an iconic food magazine and the interesting people it employed. The backdrop of New York City rings true, as only a book written by a New Yorker who loves its food scene could do.

If you’d like to explore these and similar titles, stop by the Main Library and browse the Food Fiction display I put up this week…

Foodie Fiction 1

Happy Reading & Eating!
-Melissa M.

P.S. Ruth Reichl is coming to Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ Literary Evenings, Monday Night Lecture Series on October 26th. Get your tickets here. I’ve already got mine!


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Your One-Way Ticket to Neverland Awaits … at After Hours!

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“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Being a grown-up is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. As I get older and the world gets crazier, I seem to get more  wistful and nostalgic for time gone by.

There is one plus to all this, though: getting to attend grown-up things like After Hours at the Library, which is planned for this Friday and will feature the theme of Neverland.

If you’re local to Pittsburgh, you still have time to escape with us and join in the fun.  Here’s what you need to know:

DATE: Friday, October 9, 2015

TIME: 7pm – 10pm

PLACE: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main (Oakland)

WHAT: Experience a magical night in Neverland. Enjoy craft drinks, light bites, delicious desserts and live entertainment!

  • Drink selections including Wigle Whiskey cocktails, Full Pint Brewing beer, Kaliber Brewing gluten-free hard teas, juice box margaritas and wine
  • Gourmet hors d’oeuvres from Sweet Peaches, The Pub Chip Shop and Legume
  • A treasure hunt with your favorite Peter Pan characters
  • Live performances from local bands Nameless in August and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
  • Nostalgic fun, including temporary tattoos, screen printing, crocodile corn hole and crafts
  • A photo booth to capture your night in Neverland
  • Silent auction and raffle for great items from local business


VIP Presale: $45 per person, includes a Neverland drinking glass (Quantities are limited.)
(Guess what?  As an Eleventh Stack reader, you’re a VIP!)

General Admission: $55 per person

Hors d’oeuvres and three (3) drink tickets included in the ticket price

You can buy tickets here.

Sorry, no lost boys allowed. Guests must be 21 or older to attend.

Thank you to our October 2015 After Hours Sponsors!

  Consolidated Communications

Full Pint Brewing, Kaliber Brewing, Legume, The Pub Chip Shop, Sweet Peaches, Wigle Whiskey, Yelp

After Hours @ the Library supports the day-to-day operations of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. For tax purposes, the fair market value of the refreshments and entertainment for the event is $25. The tax-deductible portion of each ticket is the cost of the ticket, less $25.

For questions about the event, please call 412.622.6276. We hope to see you there!

~ Melissa F.

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September 2015 Recap

If you, like most of us, got caught up in the rush of back to school and the end of summer (and Summer Reading), you may have missed these awesome posts by Team Eleventh Stack.

Kids aren’t the only ones going back to school. Jess gave us resources for grad school (and a nice run down of Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance), and Melissa shared her favorite books from her year of nonfiction.

“9-11,” by Abbas Derissi, via the Voices Education Project. Click through for source page.

Bonnie T. contemplated her summer reading goals while Kelly obsessed about time and how we spend it. Sheila reflected on September 11, and Scott P. explored a little-known mountaineering disaster in Soviet Russia in the late 1950s and then delivered a potpourri of mini book reviews.

Kayla recommended Luckiest Girl Alive and then declared September the month of Mindy. Melissa F. exulted over Margaret Atwood; Ross ran down the good, bad and ugly of Johnny Depp’s oeuvre; and Tara dug into the real history behind the comedy television series Another Period.

Joelle investigated her family roots, and Suzy asked us all to be a little kinder. Ginny challenged us to get educated for the upcoming election, and Scott M. gave us some resources for raising multi-cultural kids.


Image courtesy ALA. Click through for source.

To cap off the month, we celebrated Banned Books Week. Leigh Anne jumped the gun by a few weeks when she rose to defend the challenged book Some Girls Are. Abbey explained the difference between banned and challenged books to kick off BBW, and Kelly covered the recent challenge of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in Tennessee. Ross covered the delightful FREADom event, and Jess gave us a run-down of the top ten challenged books of the past year. Guest blogger Carl wound things up with an investigation into the philosophy of reading and the right to free thought.

Onward into fall!

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Banned Books Week: Some Final Thoughts

Eleventh Stack brings Banned Books Week 2015 to a close with a guest post from Carl, who works at our West End location. We hope you enjoy his philosophical ruminations about censorship and intellectual freedom. Our regularly-scheduled monthly recap will return next week.

I’ve never been entirely clear as to why a book is banned. Particularly in this country, where the political culture is based on rebellion and allotments of freedom, it seems paradoxical. The champions of liberty gag an individual’s artistic expression while withholding that material from the community. The process is autocratic and reeks of distrust. Rather than acknowledging the complexity of life, banning a book assumes life to be a simple, black and white process. In other words, it is a denial of truth.

Literature and stories challenge readers to reexamine themselves while exploring and developing points of view previously unknown. Even the most nefarious text offers a glimpse into new ways of being and knowing for a reader. But exposure does not necessarily entail acceptance. A reader must question the work. The human intellect then serves as our bulwark against stupid. I’ve read plenty of text that I found banal and dry, oh such a bore! I’ve read text that is morally reprehensible, at least to my Catholic upbringing. Each time I’ve come away a better person. I’ve learned how to develop arguments against what I find disagreeable. Rather than throwing a tantrum and begging for salvation, I’ve developed my soul, or my intrinsic nature – those qualities that make me who I am, how I learn and choose to be.

Throughout history, publications challenging the status quo and/or “normal” ideas of propriety have been burned, desecrated or otherwise removed from view by figures of authority. Whether this is due to a ruler wanting a fresh intellectual start for the culture, as it happened in Qin China c. 200 B.C.; or because the publication was deemed a threat to society, much the way certain parents freaked out over imaginative representations of witchcraft in Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone like it was 1692; such reactions, when successful, do indelible harm to intellectual freedom, creativity and individuality.

See copyright notice in comic sidebar. Additional copyright © 2015, Debbie Ridpath Ohi. All rights reserved unless otherwise noted. Click through for artist's comic use policy.

See copyright notice in comic sidebar. Additional copyright © 2015, Debbie Ridpath Ohi. All rights reserved unless otherwise noted. Click through for artist’s comic use policy.

Not to mention the sad cases of books being lost in a major disaster or to the slow ravages of time. Though items like those were not banned in any official sense, their destruction bans enlightenment. Legends of rivers running black with ink dot history. Whether these stories report full on destruction of a library, or represent a general brain-drain, the moral stays the same – the removal and/or destruction of books (and art work generally) forces thinkers to reinvent the wheel and desolates the cultural landscape.

There is no such thing as a bad book. Certainly it could be written poorly, but in such a case there is something to be learned from the author – how not to write. But what of the ravings of a racist lunatic as seen in Mein Kampf? What can be gained from that exposure? I wouldn’t know. I haven’t read it. But I’m happy that I have the choice to do so. Literature is a window to historical truth. It allows us to climb into the minds of persons no longer alive, but who, for better or worse, impacted our world. As much as we may want to vaporize aspects or persons from the historic record, doing so obscures truth and hampers humanity’s ability to grapple with change in a knowledgeable, peaceful and complex way.




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Your Top 10

We’ve been officially discussing the concept of banned books since 1982. That’s 33 years of giving time and space to the idea that, for whatever reason, people shouldn’t read or have access to something. Last year, there were 311 book challenges made, with an eye of having them restricted or removed from schools and libraries, to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported.

The 10 most challenged titles of 2014 were:

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

Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

 It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

— Jess


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