Tag Archives: summer

Travel Here, Travel There, Travel Everywhere…..Hopefully

Summer is the time to take vacation. Some people like to take vacation at home, just relaxing and reading a good book (a librarian can hope). However, some people like to travel during their summer vacation. The question is always, where to go? There are lots of lists about where you should take your (summer) vacation. I’ve been very lucky with my personal travel experience. I’ve been able to visit a lot of places, and for one semester in undergrad I was able to study abroad. The one thing that I have learned through my travel experiences is that you can have fun anywhere you go; it’s all in how you plan it. Make sure that you are prepared for that plan to fall apart entirely, and then you will be able to explore. Some books that I have found helpful, either because they are awesome reads and take place where I was traveling, or because they provide loads of information, are below.

where to go when

DK books overall are extremely helpful. They provide a lot of information and most of them also contain maps. Where To Go When is great if you are taking a summer vacation … not during the summer. Or in fact if you are taking a summer vacation during the summer too. It will tell you weather and other facts about places, including what is happening during that time of the year.

count of monte cristoIf you are traveling to France, consider taking along this classic. The Count of Monte Cristo has everything a book needs: romance, adventure, mystery, and revenge. This book gives the appeal of old France along with the importance of the City of Love. Plus the movie is awesome!

we were liarsThis book is not your typical beach read, but what kind of post would this be if I didn’t put a beach read on for the summer? We Were Liars is about a girl who is trying to remember her last summer on the private island where she had been every summer before. What was different about this summer? What had happened? A sad, but moving book, I would recommend this book for any time of the year. If this isn’t the type of beach read you are looking for though, there are a lot of lists with plenty of other titles.

I hope everyone has a wonderful adventure-filled (or not, if you prefer quiet) summer. Are you traveling somewhere exciting? Let me know in the comments.



Filed under Uncategorized

The Untraditional Summer Reading List

Recently I’ve seen a lot of blogs about cheery/easy/uplifting summer reads. I get it, I understand why so many people like those types of books for over the summer. They are traveling and going to beaches and want a book that goes along with the freedom and joy of summer. However, occasionally I find that this is exactly the time to read sad/serious/scary books, because when you are done with the story you are able to look up and see a beautiful view and remind yourself that it’s just a book. Hopefully.

After the endAfter the End by Amy Plum

This is the first book in the series, and unfortunately the second one isn’t due out until spring of next year. However, it is still a book worthy of a read. Juneau, a young girl that lives in the Alaskan wilderness, is forced to go on a hunt to find her family, that she believes has been kidnapped. During her hunt, she discovers that what she believes (that the world ended in 1984) is not true, and people have been existing and creating for the past 30 years. This book is fascinating and adventuresome, and forces the reader to ask a couple of questions about survival.

we were liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Most of this book takes place at a lake house during the summer. Many people would think that would make this book a traditional summer read, but pick it up and you will discover that it is not as close to a summer read as one would hope. The story is from the point of view of a young girl whose family is owns an island that she gets to visit every summer. And then one summer she meets and falls in love with a boy. What happens afterward is capable of wrenching every reader’s heart strings.

if i stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay is the story about a young girl that has a very important and life or death decision to make. That may seem drastic, but that is what the tale is about. Although sad, this book is capable of making the reader think about what there is beyond what we see and deal with on a daily basis.

I hope that you take a chance and read at least one of these books.



Filed under Uncategorized

Outside Activities

I wasn’t very good at summer as a kid. I have fair Irish skin (I have ALL of the freckles and wear SPF 50 sunblock marketed to babies). Getting dirty was not my idea of a good time. My neighborhood was the typical super hilly affair found all over our region, so riding bikes was more of a chore than fun. My idea of playing outside was reading on the back porch. I was outdoors, what more did those people want?

An accurate depiction of my childhood. Photo via Historic Pittsburgh.

Little has changed. You’re very surprised, I’m sure. Here’s a few of the books that will be keeping me company on the back porch for the rest of the summer:

Girls at the Kingfisher Club – A spin on the Twelve Dancing Princesses tale, set in Jazz-Age Manhattan. Need I say more?

We Were Liars – This is a pick from my book club, but I’m excited to dive into E. Lockhart‘s new one (I really loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Laundau Banks). Two generations of families who vacation together. A mysterious accident. Supposedly a doozy of an ending. I can’t wait.

Hidden – What happens when the wife and the “work wife” finally meet? In the hands of Catherine McKenzie, I’m sure it’ll be good.

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line – My non-fiction selection. I like being able to peek behind the curtain and check out jobs I’ll never hold. Chef in a fancy restaurant is certainly one.

– Jess



Filed under Uncategorized

Extravaganza’s Almost Here – Can You Dig It?

Late spring is when the phone calls and chat questions start trickling in, first one by one, then in a chorus: “You’re having the summer reading thing again this year, right?” “My kids LOVE Extravaganza–please say you’re doing it.” “Will there be another festival on the library lawn?” Yes, yes, and yes!


This year is lucky number 13 for the Summer Reading Extravaganza, which is brought to you by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and a host of other sponsors, including EQTthe Allegheny Regional Asset District, and Giant Eagle (click here and scroll down to see just how many community groups pitch in to help us make this event a stellar one). The celebration of reading will take place:

Sunday, June 9, 2013
12 – 5 pm
On the lawn at
CLP – Main (Oakland)

and will include fun activities for the whole family, including:

Once again the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will offer summer reading programs for kids




and adults.


But remember…

boromirSRE boromirSREyou’ll need to register in order to enjoy the festivities to the fullest.*

However you choose to participate, we hope you’ll make the 2013 Summer Reading Extravaganza, and the 2013 Summer Reading Program, a part of your warm-weather fun again this year.  Grab your library card and dig deeply into the wonder and magic of a day at the library, followed by a summer of reading bliss.

–Leigh Anne

*On-site registration will be available the day of the event

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dreaming of Summer Vacation(s)

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” Earl Wilson
It’s only February and I’m already planning my vacations for the year. I’m from Michigan and, while I don’t have nearly enough vacation time to explore my home state as much as I’d like to–most of what I want to see is over 6 hours away– I figured I’d better check out what’s close to me here while I’m living in Pittsburgh.
Clear Creek State Park (author's photo)

Clarion River, Clear Creek State Park (author’s photo)


A co-worker turned me on to Cook Forest, so we have booked a few nights in May (before the Memorial Day crowds descend) at this scenic state park. The cabins are historic–they were built by the CCC in the 1930s–and are situated right on the Clarion River. They are also rustic (and I’m a hotel sort of girl) but I think I can handle it for a few days of hiking, peace, and quiet.


As some blog readers know, I am a big history buff. So of course I have to visit Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent estate in Virginia, especially since I’ve read about him and this place for so many years. We’re staying in historic Charlottesville, which I have heard is quite lovely.

Lake Erie, Presque Isle (author's photo)

Lake Erie, Presque Isle (author’s photo)

As a Michigander, I also have to get my Great Lakes’ fix. And this gem of sandy beaches, salt-free water, and endless vistas is my balm for homesickness (and is a mere 2 hours from downtown Pittsburgh!).

In future, I also hope to visit Mount VernonGettysburg, Old City Philadelphia, Fallingwater, and Washington D.C.

How about you? What not-to0-far destinations might you have in mind?



Filed under Uncategorized

Summers Gone By

During the summer, I enjoy historical novels and short stories as well as historical non-fiction set in summer locations, specifically the seaside or the English countryside.  (Come to think of it, I enjoy these types of books year round because I love summer so much!).  These are a few of the titles that evoke (for me) quiet summer days when all you want to do is read, daydream, and escape.

  Summer by Edith Wharton. This little-known but exquisite novella published in 1917 tells the story of Charity Royall’s forbidden affair with an engaged man. Unlike many of Wharton’s other novels which have city society settings (say that three times quickly), this is set in the New England countryside, which is richly evoked in its descriptions of nature.

  The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home by George Howe Colt. I so wish my family had a summer cottage or house (preferably on the Big Water somewhere in Michigan, my home state) but I can dream about it with this wonderful story. Colt traces the history of his family’s house, from its humble beginnings through the twentieth century, to its present condition. Woven together are descriptions of the development and history of the  Cape Cod area and his personal family history.

 The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Chopin’s 1899 masterpiece (another novella) caused such a sensation that it devastated  Chopin’s career. Edna Pontellier is summering in Grand Isle with her husband and children, when she falls in love with Robert LeBrun. Her “awakening” to a realization of what she believes she wants is in direct conflict with her status as an upper class married mother in the Victorian era.

The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway. Many are not aware that Ernest Hemingway spent almost every summer of his life until he was eighteen in northern Michigan; the family still owns property on Walloon Lake. These stories, linked chronologically in the life of Nick Adams, are based on his experiences and memories there. 

The Alchemist’s Daughter by Katherine McMahon. In early eighteenth century England, Emilie Selden lives a life of seclusion and protection with her widowed father, an alchemist, whom she helps in his laboratory at their country estate, Selden Manor. Under the influences of Sir Isaac Newton, they conduct experiments in alchemy, a combination of the study of chemistry with philosophy. But their world is turned upside down when Emilie falls for sophisticated city merchant, Robert Aislabie, who threatens to disturb their quiet, untraditional life. 

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo.  In New Jersey, vacationers are terrorized by the first documented attacks by sharks. Fascinating, well-written account, reads just like a thriller.

 Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. In 1899 New England, precocious teenager Olympia Biddeford embarks on a romantic affair with a married man nearly three times her age, threatening her lifestyle, her class status (and his), and her future. One of Shreve’s little-known gems.



Filed under Uncategorized

now you’re cooking

We’ve certainly had our share of hot summer days lately, haven’t we?  This is the kind of weather that means two things:  farmer’s markets and farm shares (aka CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture).  And that means it’s time for all kinds of warm-weather food:

Salad as a MealSalad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season, by Patricia Wells:  I have two of this author’s other cookbooks, and she has wonderfully tasty, simple recipes.  …………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………..

Cold SoupsCold Soups, by Linda Ziedrich: If you haven’t tried gazpacho yet, here’s your chance. Plus lots of other refreshing soup ideas! ……………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………….

Garde MangerGarde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen, by Culinary Institute of America Staff: Pronounced “gahrd mahn-ZHAY,” this is a French term for the cold pantry where cold buffet dishes are prepared and other cold foods are stored. But that’s just the tip of the ice sculpture (another item sometimes created in the garde manger). This book starts with salads and cold soups, and includes cured and smoked foods, sausage, terrines and pâtés, cheese, condiments and other hors d’oeuvres.

Recipes from an Italian SummerRecipes from an Italian Summer, by Joel Meyerowitz and Andy Sewell:  Not only does this cookbook have recipes for all kinds of summer food, but it also contains beautiful photographs of the Italian countryside, along with a guide to summer food festivals if you’re ready for a trip.  ………………………………………………….  ……………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The Perfect ScoopThe Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments, by David Lebovitz:  A former pastry chef at Chez Panisse gives us standard and not-so-standard recipes for the most wonderful food on the planet.

………………………………….  ……………………………………………………….  …………………..

Happy eating!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Big To-Do

In the depths of winter, my ever-expanding “to-read” list is a monolith blocking the sun. When the skies clear and summer has finally arrived, it’s when that list begins to look less infinite. It is at this time an avid reader must form a plan and strike, because deep down the reader knows we will never read all we want to read, but we must believe we can, or else all is lost.

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at my past summer failures – my dog-eared, incomplete copies of Infinite Jest, Don Quixote mark the failures of a prideful youth (the past two summers). But it’s ok; it’s a lesson in humility. I will dust myself off and try again, but this summer is about reasonable expectations. A constant barrage of literature that will keep me engaged and not damage my momentum in crossing more off my list. As always, dear reader, I will let you know how I fare, and what turns I took along the way. Without further ado…

The Bad Guys Won – Jeff Pearlman

Back when baseball was gritty, salaries were low (George Foster making 2 million a year is considered blasphemous) and players had something to prove, the Mets showed New York they had more swagger, more talent, and more fun than any professional team has ever had before, or since. The story of the rise to stardom of the ‘86 Mets gives me hope in being a Pirates fan, but it also makes me wistful for an era of baseball I never knew.  Worth it alone for the early career hijinks of Lenny Dykstra (my favorite ballplayer).

Tom Sawyer; and, Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Confession time. I’ve never read “Huck Finn” (dodges slap in the face). I know the story, I know I’m supposed to love Twain (and as a rule I do) but I’ve never read one of the most important books in American history. I’m remedying that currently, and really, really regretting that I haven’t done so already. Making up for lost time feels good.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/The Age of Wonder – Richard Holmes

Blame David Grann for this odd pairing, but it is through him I first became interested in Sherlock Holmes by reading his constant referrals to the detective in his stories (seriously, pick up a Grann article and you will see Sherlock).  For the first time I felt that I was missing something in not reading Conan Doyle’s significant work, and out of my debt to Grann I will read them all. (Note: Sherlock Tones is also one of the better nicknames ever given to me).

Evidently Sherlock leads to Richard Holmes, because of Grann’s mention of the British Royal Society in The Lost City of Z, I have been since enamored by the idea of a committee in which the celebration of art and discovery is listed as its sole purpose. This book has been on my list for ages itself, and I’m relishing the opportunity to tackle it under the summer sun.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

This book holds a special place in the “Ask Tony if he’s read this fantasy book series” contest. I can’t tell you how many people told me about this book (okay it was three!) – it is praised on high by fans of Herbert and Tolkien alike. Clearly, these people know how to get my attention, as I don’t read much beyond those two “fantasy” authors, unless you count Douglas Adams, who I think gets his own category of awesome. Anyhow, Rothfuss seems like a guy to read and cheer for, he envisioned The Kingkiller Chronicle series and was soundly rejected for years before winning the attention and success he has since earned. So I’ll be reading this before Game of Thrones after all.

I’m sure, as is the case with any plans, that the books may change and I may run out of time like any other season, but I’m looking forward to this next month of reading as if I have a sense of organization. How about you, dear reader? Anything I should add to the list, or would you care to share your own?

– Tony

P.S. – The title of this post is inspired by the Drive-By Truckers. Perfect summer music if I ever heard it.


Filed under Uncategorized

The Joys of Summer

I have vacation on the brain, but I don’t leave for a week.  At this rate, it’s going to be very hard to get any work done.  So this post is dedicated to all the things I love about summer.

It’s the height of the growing season, and right now your garden might be a little hard to keep up with.  To stay focused, check out Keeping the Garden In Bloom: Watering, Dead-heading, and Other Summer Tasks, by Steven Bradley. Once that produce starts rolling in, you’ll want to read The Summer Cook’s Book: A Guide to Planting, Harvesting, Storing, Canning, Freezing and Cooking Popular Fruits and Vegetables by Brenda Cobb.  And if you’re unable to garden, you can still reap the benefits – visit the library’s CSAs, Farms and Farmer’s Markets page.

Of course, there’s more to summer dining than just produce.  If you want to put together a quick, satisfying, and in-season meal so you can spend more time having fun, try Summer Gatherings : Casual Food to Enjoy with Family and Friends, by Rick Rodgers.  If your interests lie in taming the flames, and wielding your skills everywhere from the stadium parking lot to  the middle of nowhere, check out How to Grill, by Steven Raichlen (of PBS fame).

Many people spend the summer hiking on trails all over the Pittsburgh area.  Whether you’re looking to get started, or you want new trails to explore, there’s something for you in Best Hikes Near Pittsburgh by Bob Frye.  You can even take your buddy, with Doggin’ Pittsburgh : the 50 best Places to Hike With Your Dog in Southwest Pennsylvania by Doug Gelbert.

Birdwatching is a fun summer hobby in both backyards and state parks.  If you want to develop your own personal wildlife habitat, there are many ideas in North American Backyard Birdwatching For All Seasons: Feeding and Landscaping Techniques Guaranteed to Attract Birds You Want Year Round by Marcus H. Schneck.  Once you’ve found the birds, you’ll want to know what you’re looking at – and hearing!  Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song by Les Beletsky is unique among bird guides, in that it contains a little computerized gizmo that will play the sound of each bird.  It’s definitely worth trying out if you have even the most passing interest in birds, or if you own cats.

Great vacations usually make great photos, but brushing up on your skills doesn’t hurt either.  Take a look at Digital Nature Photography Closeup by Jon Cox, or the National Geographic Photography Field Guide to Landscapes : Secrets to Making Great Pictures by Robert Caputo.

And if none of these ideas tickle your fancy, visit the Carnegie Library’s Outdoor Activities page.  You’ll find general and local resources on everything from camping to caving to water activities.  Or you can always come into the library to browse the collection, maybe take in a free event, and soak up some air conditioning.

– Denise

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Kicking, Screaming and Ice Cream

Has the unseasonably warm weather left you panting and delusional? Think you have nowhere to turn?  Feeling sweaty and alone? Look no further than the library for help. Not only can we offer you air conditioning at the library, we also have books about making ice cream

book jacket      book jacket       book jacket      book jacket       book jacket

 – Lisa

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized