Tag Archives: fiction

It’s Pumpkin Season!

pumpkinsI know, I know. It’s actually been pumpkin season for at least a month now. As soon as Starbucks rolls out their pumpkin spice latte, people go crazy thinking it’s fall. They want to start raking leaves, wearing sweaters and craving other autumnal activities, even if it is still 75 degrees outside.

There is at least one person at my house who goes bonkers for anything pumpkin flavored. It certainly doesn’t hurt that his birthday is on October 31st. So while planning his Pumpkin-Themed Birthday Extravaganza, I began to wonder what kind of pumpkin books we had in the collection. Turns out that we have quite a bit, even besides the expected children’s items. Here are a few that stood out to me…

Carving Pumpkins:
Carving the Perfect Pumpkin [DVD]
Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic Hood
Extreme Pumpkins: Diabolical Do-It-Yourself Designs to Amuse Your Friends and Scare Your Neighbors by Tom Nardone
Carving Pumpkins by Dana Meachen Rau
How to Carve Freakishly Cool Pumpkins by Sarah L. Schuette

Cookbooks:
Holiday Pumpkins by Georgeanne Brennan
Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito – (Yes, pumpkin is one of the 10!)
Pumpkins: Over 75 Farm-Fresh Recipes
Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel

Growing the Biggest Pumpkin:
Lords of the Gourd: The Pursuit of Excellence[DVD]
Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Susan Warren

Picture Books for Kids:
Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke
The Perfect Pumpkin Hunt by Gail Herman
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Night of the Pumpkinheads by Michael J. Rosen; pumpkin carvings by Hugh McMahon

Other Items that I’m Sure Have Nothing to Do with Actual Pumpkins:
Pumpkin Teeth: Stories by Tom Cardamone
The Pumpkin Man by John Everson
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz
The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
Pumpkin Scissors: The Complete Series [DVD]

Happy Autumn!
-Melissa M.

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the Pumpkin-Themed Birthday Extravaganza will begin with pumpkin French toast bake and pumpkin pie smoothies for breakfast. Pumpkin mac-n-cheese will be the lunch special. Then, there will be pumpkin-shrimp bruschetta, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, arugula and dried cherry salad and pumpkin ravioli with sage browned butter for dinner. We’ll finish up with pumpkin tiramisu and a side of pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies for dessert. I also have recipes for a few pumpkin cocktails! ;)

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Six-Word Memoirs Are For All

What’s Your Six-Word Memoir?

The Six-Word Memoir is an internet meme that is ancient (born 2008) by meme standards, yet it still maintains popularity due to the endless possibilities.  The memoirs get much love on Tumblr, including lots of photos of Honest Tea caps.   According to Smith Magazine, which started the online project and published a book or two, “a Six-Word Memoir® is the story of your life—some part of it or all of it—told in exactly six words.”Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes.  Never worn.” is credited as being the very first.

On the First Floor at Main, following in the Teen tradition,  we asked patrons to share their Six-Word Memoirs.  As always, we were not disappointed.  My favorites include “the pub quiz ended in bloodshed” and “never gotta mustard, always gotta ketchup.”

Because I am a super-nerd (Hey, I’m a librarian!), I also think it’s fun to create Six-Word Memoirs for literary characters.  Here are some, and the only rhyme or reason for their choosing is that they are from my favorite classics.  Please feel free to create your own memoirs – for yourself or anyone else – in the comments of this post!

Anonymous, Beowulf: Grendel’s gonna die!  His mama too!

Cather’s My Ántonia, Ántonia: Hey Jim, you totally missed out.

Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Underground Man:  I’m inventing existentialism. I feel weird.

Flaubert’s  Madame Bovary, Emma Rouault: Country life is boring.  Hi, handsome!

García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Narrator: I don’t care about your feelings.

Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Jude:  It is hard to be me.

Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles, Tess: You think Angel’s a bit much?

Roché’s Jules Et Jim, Kate:  French, German, tall, short.   Can’t decide.

Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Romeo: She died.  I will.  Wait, what? AND Juliet: Just until he’s back. Wait, what?

Thoreau’s Walden, Henry: Shhh! Sometimes Mom brings me cookies.

Happy memoiring!

Holly

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Reading Outside Your Box

Once or twice before, I have talked about and even challenged you to read outside your comfort zone. Just to let you know that we’re not all talk and no action here at the library, I want to share with you a project my First Floor colleagues and I are working on. Under the guidance of our fearless leader, each one of us is reading (or at least browsing) a book in each one of the featured genres we have in our First Floor: New & Featured collection.  Not to bore you with a list, but just to inform you, those genres are: Bestsellers, New Nonfiction, Biographies, Travel, Cookbooks, New Fiction, World Fiction, Mystery, Paperback Fiction, Romance, Inspirational Fiction, Historical Fiction, Short Stories, GLBT, Foreign Language, African American, Science Fiction, Horror, Graphic Series, Graphic Novel, Manga, Graphic Nonfiction, Magazines, and Zines. Whew!

There is a genre selected for each one of our twice monthly staff meetings. Prior to the meeting (sometimes wayyyyyy before) each of us selects a book from that genre and either reads it, or peruses and researches it. We then give each other a 2-3 minute talk about the book. Many of us are finding books we like in areas that we thought we wouldn’t. A few of us are having our biases confirmed. But nevertheless, we are exploring all the genres to help us do our jobs better.

Here are some of the books we’ve discovered so far:

Google_coverAre You Smart Enough to Work at Google? by William Poundstone – The entire book is devoted to the types of questions you may be asked in the new interview style. ʺYou are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown in a blender. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?ʺ   Even more interesting than these interview questions are the insights offered into how megalithic super successful companies go about finding the right employee amidst the thousands that line up for these jobs.  It turns out that the intelligent and well-educated person isn’t necessarily creative.  Also, the word ʺsmartʺ in the title is too general to relate to the specific areas of knowledge Google is courting.  Maybe “are you nerdy enough to work at Google” would be better.  Poundstone also wrote a book about Microsoft’s hiring process – How Would You Move Mount Fuji? : Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle: How the World’s Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers (2003). – Georgia (New Nonfiction)

Battleborn_cover  Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins – The ten short stories in this collection are first and foremost about setting – the West (Battleborn is the nickname of Nevada and the home state of Watkins) is a central character and the Western atmosphere gives a stable, vintage setting to the edgy stories.  The author’s life is as interesting as the book – she is the daughter of Charles Manson’s right hand man and a central part of the Manson Family, although he was not involved in the murders.  With Battleborn, Watkins won the 2012 Story Prize for outstanding short fiction. The two other finalists were Junot Diaz and Dan Chaon. – Sheila (Short Stories)

Christmas_Kid_cover The Christmas Kid and Other Brooklyn Stories by Pete Hamill – An iconic New York writer gives us stories set in Brooklyn, the borough in which he grew up and which represents an important part of his early life. The stories showcase a bygone New York and are filled with nostalgia. The title story is one of the strongest, about a young concentration camp survivor who becomes part of a new and extended family in New York. In ʺLullaby of Birdland,ʺ we meet a musician and the family whose life he inadvertently changes, then disappears. We encounter quirky people and everyday people going about their lives. Most of the stories are very short, originally written for the New York Daily News in an effort to bring short fiction back into newspapers. – Joanne (Short Stories)

Cowboy_Lust_cover Cowboy Lust: Erotic Romances for Women edited by Delilah Devlin – Satisfies the needs of those who are hankering for a good man. All of these cowboys are fit, ruggedly handsome, and in touch with their feelings. (This is ʺfictionʺ, remember!)  Everyone gets what they want, and need, in this collection of short stories, even if they didn’t know it was what they wanted in the first place.  A quick, light read perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon on the porch. – Melissa (Romance)

Dream_Blue_cover Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg – Set in Chicago during World War II, this nostalgic story focuses on the lives of three sisters who learn to experience wartime life. Food rations, USO dances, new jobs, and letter-writing all become routine tasks for the girls, and their strong caring for each other carries them through these difficult times. Snippets of letters from the soldiers abroad add realistic, heartbreaking twists to this well-crafted tale. – Karen (Historical Fiction)

Forgotten_Garden_cover The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – Opens with a little girl who turns up on a wharf in Australia. She doesn’t know her name or who her parents are–but she does have a little white suitcase and a book of fairy tales by one whom she calls the Authoress. The dockmaster, who found her, raises her and calls her Nell. Decades later Nell’s granddaughter goes on a quest to discover her origins. – Bonnie (Historical Fiction)

Kissing_List_cover The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents – This collection of contemporary short stories explores the age-old philosophical questions, including ʺIs monogamy old-fashioned? Does it count when you’re drunk?ʺ Several of the stories follow young, fancy-free Sylvie, who has lived in London for the past year, kissing, kissing, kissing anyone and everyone. She moves to NYC, tries to be more adult-like, and eventually succeeds – hilarity and debauchery notwithstanding. This is an excellent choice for readers who’ve already read the typical chick-lit, have somewhat matured in their reading tastes, but aren’t ready for Margaret Atwood yet. – Rita (New Fiction)

Lemon_Grove_coverThe Lemon Grove by Ali Hosseini – Hosseini is an Iranian-American who chooses the setting of contemporary Iran with its uncertain politics and government. The story is the personal one of a family that is affected by and reflects upon the problems of the country as a whole. Lyrical writing and highly developed characters give a strong sense of time and place. One twin brother, after being saved, narrates why and how he came to attempt suicide, but returns stronger and tries to renew what has been lost. A great discussion book. – Terry (Inspirational)

Rise_Rome_coverThe Rise of Rome by Anthony Everitt – Although much has been written about Rome’s decline and fall, it’s beginning is just as interesting. Born as a market town between the eighth and seventh century B. C. (according to legend founded by the twin brothers Romulus & Remus) Rome soon grew into one big bloody empire. Noteworthy is the way the Romans treated those they conquered (they invited them to be Romans), the duel between the plebeians and the patricians and the fall of the Republic. Famous people also make themselves known: Julius Ceasar, Cato the Elder, Cicero, Hannibal and Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who defeated Hannibal twice. It’s fun! It’s educational! It’s Rome! – John (New Nonfiction)

Russian_Travel_cover Russian Travel Made Easier: Advice for Friends by Elena Istomina & Natalia Khrystolubova – A new take on the travel guide, particularly for the traveller who has a dream destination that is somewhat forbidding, whether for language, culture, or exoticism.  This is a guide to Russia written by two Russians who are very familiar with the United States and its norms and customs, and who are driven by their desire to introduce Russia to U.S. (and other) travelers who might be unsure where to begin.  The guide is succinct and answers very fundamental questions, leaving it to the more traditional travel guides to post the hours of the Hermitage and other popular tourist locations. An insider’s view on how to get there and experience a more authentic Russia, consider it a necessary supplement to any travel guide to Russia.  It’d be really nice to have something of the sort for every other country out there as well. – Miguel (Travel)

Signet_Southern_cover Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories edited by Dorothy Abbott and Susan Koppelman – Nice selection of the usual suspects – Faulkner, O’Connor, Capote – but also women and writers of color, including McCullers, Walker, Hurston, as well as a fair number of lesser-known writers. This, and the fact that the works span 200 years, makes for a great range of material. – Jude (Paperback Fiction)

Slynx_cover The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya – Picture a barren, bleak, battered nation after a cataclysmic event that nearly utterly destroyed civilization. Also, it is Russia. And there are great beasts in the wilderness waiting to eat anything that moves. This is where our hero, Benedikt, labors to transcribe and preserve old books. There’s no prestige in the work, but at least he doesn’t suffer from any mutations and has thus far avoided execution for being a Freethinker. – Connie (World Fiction)

Some_Like_Hot_cover Some Like it Hot by K.J. Larsen – Cat DeLuca works for her deranged, but lovable, high school classmate at his Chicago PI agency. When he is murdered, it is up to her to avenge his death. Both cheeky and thrilling- this is a fun murder mystery! – Holly (Mystery)

 

Twelve-Tribes-of-Hattie_cover The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis – Each of the 12 chapters corresponds to one or more of Hattie’s 12 children, struggling for a better life in the non-Jim Crow north. This is a fictional companion to Isabel Wilkerson’s knockout non-fiction The Warmth of Other Suns, a history of the African-American diaspora of early 20th century America. Hattie loses her first two babies to illness and loses her love of life at the same time. Things are never really better outside of Georgia, but each child must find his own way, leaving Hattie and her misery (of which there is plenty) behind. – Jane (New Fiction)

Wrestling_Reality_cover Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon, Wrestling’s Gay Superstar by Chris Kanyon and Ryan Clark – Chris Kanyon was a popular wrestler in WCW and WWE, debuting in 1994 and semi-retiring in 2004. Throughout the height of his career, he remained closeted and went to great lengths to remain so.  He suffered several injuries in the early 2000s and, during one hospital stay, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  His career took a downward turn when he discussed coming out as a gay wrestler without succumbing to playing a stereotyped character. He stayed active in gay causes and independent wrestling in his final years.  Tragically, he took his own life shortly before the release of this book. – Rick (GLBT)

So if you are having trouble reading outside your usual “box,”why not do it in a group? Gather up some friends or co-workers and agree to read a book in a particular genre. You can all read the same book, or mix it up and all read a different one, like we’re doing. You never know what pleasant surprises wait on those shelves just outside your reach.

-Melissa M.

Today is the day! Click here to learn how you can support the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh through the Pittsburgh Foundation’s Day of Giving.

DoG2013

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Ideal Bookshelves

A thoughtful relative gave me a copy of My Ideal Bookshelf, a collection of essays in which famous people in a variety of fields talk about the books that are most important to them. You’ll find essays from luminaries like Alice Waters and James Franco, as well as from people who are prominent in their fields, but not necessarily “famous.” The gorgeous illustrations that bring each person’s choices to life are colorful and exciting, a wonderful reminder of just how much emotional and psychological resonance physical books still hold for many people. You can learn more about the project, which is the brainchild of Jane Mount and Thessaly LaForce, at the book’s companion website, which also features many other ideal bookshelves on various themes, from Jane Austen to sci-fi, available as prints, paintings and note cards. You can even submit your own ideal bookshelf for custom design!

At first I was overwhelmed by the thought of picking only ten books that were meaningful for me–couldn’t I just have an Ideal Bookcase? But on reflection–and sober contemplation of my savings–I decided that I’d better think about it a little harder. I’ve whittled down the many, many books that have danced through my life over the years to a list of five that have a special meaning. The other ones? Well, you’ll just have to ask me about them next time you visit the library!

ideal

The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death, Daniel Pinkwater.

Walter, our hero, is introduced to the art of snarking out–sneaking out of the house at night to go to the 24-hour movie theater–by his friend Winston. Walter and Winston are bored with the lack of academic challenge at their school and the tedium of their everyday lives, so when a typical night of snarking out turns into an adventure involving a missing scientist and his greatest invention, the boys are definitely up for the challenge.

This novel was the first book I’d ever read that implied there’s a lot of interesting things going on underneath the surface of everyday life. It was also the first book I’d read that criticized teachers who give tons of busywork instead of actually teaching, something to which I could, sadly, relate all too well. For good or ill, I credit Snarkout Boys for making me the contrarian adventurer I am today.

The Heidi Chronicles, Wendy Wasserstein.

Heidi Holland lives through some exciting times, but she isn’t always sure what to make of them as they pass by. Between glimpses of Heidi in her current life as a feminist art historian, the reader is treated to long scenes from various times in Heidi’s life: trying to figure out boys; discovering consciousness-raising, radical politics, and good sex; and navigating the shallow, greedy culture of 80s materialism, to name but a few. Can a determined young woman live life on her terms? Heidi Holland can, and does, but it’s not easy.

Of all the shows my college theater group produced,  Heidi Chronicles was my favorite. I had only one scene, but I went to as many rehearsals as I could so I would understand how this baffling, cultural-reference-riddled play (I had to stop and look something up in just about every line of dialogue) could ever come to life. Between the words on the page and the skillful architecture of the stage, I came to understand a lot more about art history, women’s history, and feminism. Theater really should be seen and heard, as well as read, so try the digital audio version on for size, too.

Cooking for Dummies, Bryan Miller.

Although IDG’s “Dummies” series takes a lot of good-natured ribbing for their approach, this particular title is extremely helpful. Miller’s introduction to kitchen skills covers basic tools and techniques for the beginner kitchen wizard, then moves on to simple foods, like salads and pasta, that are pretty hard to screw up. Once you’ve got those under your belt, you can move on to strategies for shopping, meal planning, and dinner parties. Miller ends the book with lists of books and resources to consult next, ensuring that you can take your cooking up to the next level, if you want. Perfect for new college grads, or anyone else who’s tired of relying on take-out and the microwave.

This book saved me from a lifetime of eating frozen dinners. I was trying to get serious about exercising and losing weight, so I thought it would be a good idea to learn to cook properly, too (go big, or go home). Miller’s book gave me the basic kitchen skills I needed and the confidence to try more advanced dishes, and I plan to give it as a gift to all the kids in my life when they’re ready to strike out on their own. This is also the very first book I ever checked out of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger.

Henry’s rare genetic anomaly randomly sends him back and forth in time; Clare’s life follows a normal, sequential pattern. Their asynchronous love affair is magical, passionate, and exciting, but also fraught with difficulty. After all, it’s exasperating when the person you love can vanish at any moment, and it’s no picnic for the vanisher, either. Is this a love story for the ages or a train wreck waiting to happen? Literary romance fans who haven’t devoured this book should bump it to the top of their lists, at once.

I’m not the sort of person who reads popular books at the same time everyone else is reading them. I made an exception, though, the year I went to library school, and everybody was swooning over this book. A time-traveling librarian? How could we notIt was the first time I’d been on the same page–literally and figuratively–with a group of friends over a book, and the fact that we were all working hard, studying hard, and partying hard together made it even more meaningful and worthwhile.

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed.

Strayed’s collection of tough-love advice, collated from her tenure as advice columnist “Dear Sugar” on The Rumpus, is tough, tender, hilarious and heartbreaking. Strayed’s overall tone is warm and friendly, making you feel as if you’re sitting in the kitchen–or maybe a coffee shop–with the very best kind of friend: someone warm and sympathetic, but unafraid to call you on your crap, if need be. Letter-writers bare their souls on topics from the loss of a child to professional envy of a friend, and Strayed answers them all the even-tempered wisdom that is hard-won by those who have seen, and survived, many of life’s more unpleasant aspects.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Cheryl Strayed. She’s endured a great deal in her life, but she didn’t let it make her bitter. She writes with both wisdom and humor. She knows when cuss words make a piece of writing work, and when to use gentler language.  And she genuinely cares about the people who write to her, and wants to help them achieve their highest potential. Those aren’t bad things to aspire to, methinks, and I ask myself sometimes, “What would Cheryl say?” when I ponder my own dilemmas. Hopefully keeping this book handy will keep me grounded and sensible–but not too sensible–as I navigate my 40s.

Your turn: what books would be on your ideal bookshelf? Tell us about a book that means a lot to you, or reminds you of a specific time in your life.

–Leigh Anne

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It’s Back to School Time!

schoolpicIf you have kids, by now they’ve probably started their school year. (Except, maybe, if your teachers are on strike, but that’s a whole other story!) I just want to take this moment to remind you that the Library is here for all of your school supplemental needs. If your child needs some extra help in a language, we have video, audio and print materials to help. If they need to do a report on a president, we have videos and books about everyone from Washington to Obama. If you want to know what you could be doing to encourage homework completion, we have books and online tutors for that. If you and your kids need a break, you need to know that the Library has movies and fiction and programs galore! Here is just a sample of what’s waiting for you and your school-age children at the library…

For You:

A Parents’ Guide to the Middle School Years by Joe Bruzzese

Making Friends: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Child’s Friendships by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer

The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5: How to Support Your Child’s Education, End Homework Meltdowns, and Build Parent-Teacher Connections by ML Nichols

You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10-25 by Laurence Steinberg

For Your Preschooler:

3-2-1 School Is Fun!

200 Essential Preschool Activities by Julienne M. Olson

For Your Elementary School Student:

Making a Bully-Free World by Pamela Hall

My School Community by Bobbie Kalman

First Day of School by Anne Rockwell

Manners at School by Siân Smith

For Your Middle School Student:

Dealing with Bullies, Cliques, and Social Stress by Jennifer Landau

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Stuck in the Middle of Middle School: A Novel in Doodles by Karen Romano Young

How Not to Choke on Tests: Achieving Academic and Testing Success by Stephanie Watson

For Your High School Student:

The Dictionary of High School B.S.: From Acne to Varsity, All the Funny, Lame, and Annoying Aspects of High School Life by Lois Beckwith

How to Become a Superstar Student [DVD] by Professor Michael Geisen

Been There, Survived That: Getting through Freshman Year of High School edited by Karen Macklin

Teens’ Guide to College & Career Planning: Your High School Roadmap for College & Career Success

For You & Your High School Senior:

Getting In Without Freaking Out: The Official College Admissions Guide for Overwhelmed Parents by Arlene Matthews

Tackling College Admissions: Sanity + Strategy = Success: Just for Parents by Cheryl Paradis and Faren R. Siminoff

Happy School Days!

-Melissa M.

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Ten Things About “Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love” by Sarah Butler

  1. Reading it took my breath away. The writing is simple but true.
  2. Lists start each chapter with the two main characters, Alice and Daniel, writing their own. “Ten Things I’m Frightened Of”, “Ten Things People Say to You When Your Father Dies”, and “Ten Things I’d Rather Forget” are a few of them. It’s a good writing technique and helps the reader find out a lot about a character’s interior thoughts in a small amount of words.
  3. Daniel has synesthesia so sees words and letters as colors. He describes someone’s name as “the color of sun-warmed sandstone”. The letter D is “a pale orange, like powdered sherbet”. Alice’s name is the color of “milky blue water”.
  4. Butler does a wonderful job of capturing the ache of wanting someone to love you.
  5. Daniel walks around London, collecting things like bottle tops, paper clips, a string of plastic pearls, and an empty photo frame to make found art he uses to express himself.
  6. This sounds weird, but I felt like my heart was also reading and reacting along with me.
  7. “When the whisky is finished, I screw the top back on and slam the bottle into the ground. It doesn’t break. I want something to break.” Those lines perfectly capture the frustration of feeling broken and wanting anything around you to be broken, too.
  8. Butler’s writing style put me so into the novel that when a character was distracted, I felt it, too. A character’s thoughts would interrupt lines of dialogue and leave me with their feelings of uncertainty in my head.
  9. Lines like these: “And I carried on doing what I’ve been doing for years. I have written your name more times than I can remember. Always, at the beginning, I write your name.”
  10. I didn’t want it to be over.

Ten Things I've Learnt About Love

Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love is the debut novel of Sarah Butler. Alice is the youngest of three sisters and has never felt a true part of the family since her mother died when Alice was young. She’s off in Mongolia, escaping heartache, when she hears that her father is dying and returns in time to be there when he dies. Daniel is homeless and looking for the daughter he’s never met. We watch as these two slowly come together. As I mentioned before, Butler’s writing is simple but true and shows how the hope of love can root us when nothing else can. I really look forward to Butler’s future work.

~Aisha

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Dog Days of Summer*

Happinessisawarmpuppy

I became a dog person the moment I saw my dog at a family picnic. I loved everything about her; her happy swishy tail, her sweet personality, her beautiful amber eyes and tiny little nose. I liked her foot fringe and her bounciness and her curly ears. Then I found out that she was an abused shelter dog, rescued by my boyfriend’s cousin (thanks, Dan!) from being euthanized. So, despite the fact that I’d only been dating this guy for a few months, that I never owned a dog, that I wasn’t even allowed to have a dog in my apartment, and knew nothing about caring for a dog, I got a dog.

Suzy.Ozzy

Ozzy Girl

That was 13 years ago. The boy and the dog are still the same.

It goes without saying that librarians love cats. But we love our dogs, too!

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Pets!

My Favorite Books About Dogs

GoDogGoGo Dog Go!, P.D. Eastman

This was my all-time favorite when I was a kid. My parents probably have horrible flashbacks just looking at the cover. To this day, my heart lifts when I see the cover.  Basically, it’s a bunch of colorful dogs doing things like racing cars and bicycles and  partying in trees. Exactly what you think it would be.

ZorroZorro Series, Carter Goodrich

This children’s series is unbearably sweet and so funny. The illustrations are gorgeous, too. Anyone who has brought another dog home will be able to relate to the disgust Mister Bud feels when Zorro, a little pug with a big attitude, shows up on the scene. Mister Bud has a schedule and he sticks to it. He doesn’t want to share anything, ever and is grumpy about this new mutt. Then one day Mister Bud realizes that Zorro has the same schedule! Suddenly nap time is more comfortable and walks are more fun and even though Mister Bud could still be grumpy, they become best friends.

DogBoyDog Boy, Eva Hornug

In 1998, the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of the Russian economy created over 2 million homeless children. Many parents simply packed up and left, leaving children as young as two years old to fend for themselves. Dog Boy was inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a four-year old who lived with a pack of wild dogs for two years until he was “rescued.” If you are interested in the real story, it is included in Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children by Michael Newton. Dog Boy is a work of fiction (and one of my favorite books), and it is so beautifully and realistically rendered that I found it so easy to imagine to sleeping in a pile of smelly wild dogs, burying my face in their warm bellies to escape the harsh Moscow cold and sharing scraps of food with them. Four-year-old Romochka and the dogs work together to survive and that includes preying on other people. Eventually they earn the notice of the “authorities” and Romochka is “rescued” from the dogs. I honestly don’t know what I expected, but I found the ending heart-breaking. This book stayed with me for a long time.

CujoCujo, Stephen King

Cujo is the reason every kid who grew up in the 80s has an unnatural fear of rabies. Do you know how many people in Pennsylvania contracted rabies last year? 450. Out of a population of 12.76 million. Dudes, you’re not getting rabies. I read the book and saw the movie. Believe it or not, the book is sympathetic to the poor dog. Cujo didn’t want to get sick; in fact, there are chapters from his point of view that are downright heartrending. He is simply a dog with a hurt nose and can’t figure out why he wants to hurt “his” boy. According to King, he wrote this novel while he was drinking heavily and barely remembers writing it it all and in fact, wishes he could remember writing the good parts.

WaltertheFartingDogWalter the Farting Dog Series,  William Kotzwinkle

I’m married to a guy named Walt, so obviously I find these books extra-hilarious (and the stuffed animal!) Walter is an apologetic-looking dog who passes gas morning, noon and night, which causes him to be banned from all kinds of places. However, he also foils burglars with his smelly farts! Yet poor Walter isn’t allowed at the beach, on a cruise ship or yard sales. Interestingly, Walter is based off of a real dog whose owner fed him beer and doughnuts.

DogStoriesDog Stories, Diana Secker Tesdell, Editor

Mark Twain, Tobias Wolff, Jonathan Lethem and Anton Chekhov are only a few of the authors featured in this Everyman’s Library Pocket Classic, Dog Stories. In “Her Dog” by Tobias Wolff, a man talks to his dead wife’s dog to assauge his grief. But Victor the dog will have none of it, saying, “…I loved her more than you. I loved her with all my heart.” There are humorous tales from a dog’s point of view, including tales from P.G. Wodehouse and O. Henry and many more touching portraits about man’s best friend and his ability to amuse us, touch our hearts, and drive us crazy.

Also, if you feel like crying your eyes out, read the prologue to Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s written from the point of view of a dog who is grieving his lost owner.

Now go cuddle with your pooch-
suzy

*From the Columbia Encyclopedia:

Dog Days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.

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Maybe in This Lifetime

I use Goodreads to keep track of books I’ve read and want to read and every time I put another book in my “to read” list, I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure. I understand that I will never be able to read every book published and I’m fine with that. I just want to read every book I want to read and don’t seem to be making any headway. Even though I tell myself not to put any more books on my list until I finish a book or to review my current “to read” list to make sure I still want to read the books on the list, I never listen. The list grows and grows. Because not all books are created equal, there are some books in which I’m more interested in than others. Here are some books that scream at me when I look at my Goodreads list.

Fiction

At the Mouth of the River of Bees     The Collected Stories of Grace Paley    TheInterestings

SalvagetheBones     The Savage Detectives

At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories by Kij Johnson

  • This is a book of science fiction short stories and while I read a lot of short stories, I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi short stories. The titles of the stories (“Schrödinger’s Cathouse”, “My Wife Reincarnated as a Solitaire”, and “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change” are a few) make me think these stories will be ambitious and very interesting.

The Collected Stories of Grace Paley by Grace Paley

  • I initially was interested in this book because it’s a. short stories and b. for some reason, I had confused Grace Paley with Grace Coddington and wanted to see what kind of stories Coddington had written. (Don’t worry about me; I’m fine.) Once I realized they were not the same person, I did a little research into Paley and she sounds like she was an interesting woman and was multi-talented, also writing poetry.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

  • I started this book about a group of adults who met at summer camp when they were young are still friends years later a couple of months ago, but didn’t have time to finish it. I really enjoyed what I read and have been hoping to get back to it. I also think the cover is beautiful.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

  • Taking place in Mississippi right before, during, and just after Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones follows the Batiste family as they deal with the storm along with their daily lives which are difficult enough in their poverty-stricken household.

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

  • Out of all the books on this list, this is probably the one I’ll get to next. Two founders of a poetry movement attempt to track down a vanished poet and end up on the run. The story follows them through several continents and is narrated by the people they encounter. I’ve also heard good things about Bolaño’s 2666 so may put that on my never-ending list once I finish The Savage Detectives.

Non-fiction

The Antidote     Bruce     Detroit

Her     Salt Sugar Fat

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

  • Since I’m from Indiana, I should probably have John Mellencamp’s biography on this list, but if I had to choose between reading a bio of Springsteen or reading a bio of Mellencamp, I’d probably choose Springsteen. (Sorry, John. It’s nothing personal. I used to dance in front of the TV when you came on. I remember you when you were John Cougar Mellencamp. I went to grad school near your town and never once stalked you. I sing your songs way more than I sing Springsteen songs. I respect you. I just think Bruce’s biography might be slightly more interesting.)

Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

  • While I know a little about why the city of Detroit has declined, I’ve not yet sat down and read a book about it. LeDuff, a reporter and native of Detroit, dissects what led to Detroit’s decline with what I’ve heard is a darkly humorous eye.

Her by Christa Parravani

  • I had this checked out and returned it because I had just finished Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen and didn’t think I was in a place to read another memoir just yet. Her is about twins, the author, Christa, and her sister, Cara. Both talented artists, their lives split apart and Cara dies while Christa struggles with being alone without her twin.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

  • This has been recommended to me by several people. I don’t usually like to know how bad for me the food I’m eating is, but this sounds more like an investigative book and less like a health book so I’m more likely to read it and enjoy it.

Are there books you keep intending to read, but somehow they keep getting pushed down your to-read list? Or are you able to keep a tight rein on your to-read list? (If so, please tell me how.)

~Aisha

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Literary Cookbooks: Wookie Cookies and More!

Dear Reader, if you want to get crazy and mix your two favorite things, food and literature, look no further than the Library.  We actually have a subject heading for that: Literary Cookbooks.  Cook like you are in Bon Temps, Narnia, or Jane Austen’s England.  Below are some highlights from our collections.

Cover Image What would Katniss bake?  Find out in: The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to “Groosling” — more than 150 recipes by Emily Ansara Baines.

Book CoverHere you’ll find a veritable smorgasbord of literary yums, from James Bond to The Great Gatsby.

Book CoverWho could resist Boba Fett-Uccine? The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies, and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.
Cover Image Plan a Pride & Prejudice dinner party!  Check out Cooking with Jane Austen, by Kirstin Olsen.
Book Cover Get campy with your cookery! True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Gianna Sobol.

Happy eating and reading!

Holly – CLP Main

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Spies, Pirates, and Rogues

Sky’s and Suzy’s recent posts about the seafaring life and pirates  inspired me to think about some historical romance novels that mix adventure, danger, and espionage with a romantic love story. In these novels, it isn’t all ballrooms, musicales, and country house parties, lovely as those things are.

lordladyspy

Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Lord and Lady Smythe are out of work spies vying for one prime open position working undercover for the Crown. Their marriage has been foundering on lies for years, as identities are kept secret even from each other. Who will win the position? And can this marriage be saved? There soon will be others in this series, coming this fall.

 

Swept Away by a KissCaptured by a Rogue Lordand In the Arms of the Marquess by Katharine Ashe

Ashe is a history professor and has a wonderful way of weaving history with romance. In her Rogues of the Sea series, three aristocrats, two who work undercover for the government and another a Robin Hood-type privateer, encounter love amid danger on the high seas. Ashe has another series, The Falcon Club, about another secret group, whose characters also appear in this series.

MTASCover

More Than a Stranger by Erin Knightley

Benedict and Evie have been faithful correspondents since childhood, until he abruptly stops writing and breaks Evie’s heart. Now he’s on the run for his life. Can he count on his childhood friends for support? And will they forgive his deceptions or use them against him? First in a series.

TheTurncoat_100

The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

This debut novel is classed as historical fiction instead of historical romance, but there is a beautiful love story that sizzles. Kate Grey is a dubious Quaker turned rebel spy who falls for British officer, Peter Tremayne. Can they trust each other while on opposite sides of a war? The first in a series set in pre-Revolutionary Philadelphia, with the second coming this November.

A Lady’s Revenge and Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn

Nexus is a secret network of spies working against Napoleon Bonaparte. A Lady’s Revenge features the dangerous story of agents Guy and Cora while Checkmate, My Lord, is Nexus’ director, Somerton’s story. A bit arduous at times–the author describes her books as “historical romantic thrillers” with “a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending”–the writing is so strong, I couldn’t put them down. The third book is due out this fall.

~Maria

Note: This post is the second in a series highlighting historical romance novels I’ve greatly enjoyed.

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