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January 2, 2017

Best Books of the Year 2016

Filed under: best books — rmlblog @ 7:30 pm

The “best books of the year” lists have again been published. The winner by a long shot is Underground Railroad by Colin Whitehead. It is a very long book so allow yourself plenty of time to read it.

I have made a booklist of the titles that have been put on at least 5 lists for fiction and 3 lists for nonfiction. Tell us what you think.

We will again be having our Book Pot Luck on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, this year on Feb. 4, at 11:30 am. Participants will be recommending their favorite books to each other.

dark-matterMy personal favorites this year were Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, a sort-of science fiction book, but really a character-driven thriller and a book I read in pre-publication format and will be on my book discussion list next year, Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living.

The other favorites I had — at least as I rated them on Goodreads — can be divided into a few categories.

Books we read for book discussion: The Story Hour by Thirty Umrigar, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, The Muralist by B. Shapiro, Best Boy by Eli Gottleib, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

Fantasy Books (my personal favorite genre): Mistborn : A Secret History and War of Kings, both by Brandon Sanderson; the Harry Potters I reread this year; The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett.

Classics: Night by Elie Wiesel and Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.

And others: The Couple Next Door (the next Gone Girl) by Shari Lapena; Shrill by Lindy West; Carla Buckley books Deepest Secret and The Good Goodbye; John Lewis’s March series; Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.

And, of course, Louise Penny’s newest Three Pines mystery, The Great Reckoning. As always with this series, start with the first book, Still Life.still-life

I’d love to hear about your favorites for the year and consider joining us for the Book Pot Luck. Contact me by Jan. 20 with your recommendations so I can order copies for people to borrow that day.

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November 17, 2016

Have a Great Ride with Audiobooks

Filed under: audiobooks — rmlblog @ 11:31 pm

A recent discussion on WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook was about audio books, their history and the current increase in popularity. That reminded me that it was the time of year to remind people of the various ways to access audio books for those long car rides.

The SAILS system has a large, over 20,000, selection of audio books for all ages, on all topics, and varying lengths. For families there are books such as the Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings series that appeal to a wide age range. Many of the young adult titles– The Hunger Games or frank-beddorFrank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars — are enjoyable for adults as well. There are classics — Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, Just So Stories — that are good for all ages. To find the books in the catalog, just limit the search to Audio Books instead of Everywhere. Most of the titles will be on cd and most are unabridged.

Another option is the downloadable audios through OverDrive. These can be downloaded to an mp3 player or a smartphone and then accessed by bluetooth if you have it in your car. There are almost 3000 audio book titles in OverDrive and more if you use the Boston Public Library eCard.

For people without families, I recommend the books by Louise Penny, Spencer Quinn, Alexander McCall Smith and Patrick Tull as well as nonfiction titles such as Destiny of the Republic or A Walk in the Woods.

October 24, 2016

Fear of Books: Book Burning May 1933

Filed under: History,Reading life — rmlblog @ 12:57 pm

My husband and I went to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on our recent vacation to Washington, DC. One of the events that I did not know anything about was the May 1933 book burning by the National Socialist German Students’ Association. From the USHMM website:

In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933, university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in most university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and “unwanted” books onto bonfires with great ceremony, band-playing, and so-called “fire oaths.” In Berlin, some 40,000 persons gathered in the Opernplatz to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner. 1

book-burning-may-332

The lists of some of the authors whose books were burned is interesting: Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, John Dos Passos, Sigmund Freud, André Gide, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Jack London, Karl Marx, André Malraux, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, H. G. Wells, B. Traven, and Erich Maria Remarque.

While all of these authors are old (several where on my parents’ bookshelves), many are still read today. What was so scary to the Nazi regime that they felt the need to destroy the words and ideas of this writers? It might be interesting to read some of them with an idea to trying to understand what would have made them degenerate, decadent and indecent. In September we have Banned Books week. Maybe we should also have a Burned Books week.

It made me think more about the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. There isn’t a corresponding Freedom of Thought, but that is probably because it would be hard to enforce the negative. In this age of highly charged political conversation, we are pressed even more on the need for freedom of speech, even speech we disagree with. The German people were denied this freedom because the government wanted to control all of their lives. I hope the United States sticks to the Constitution and allows us our diversity.

1 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Book Burning.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005852 Accessed on October 19, 2016.

2 Books and writings deemed “un-German” are burned at the Opernplatz. Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933. — National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

September 27, 2016

What is a Classic?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 10:10 pm

As part of the reorganization of space at the Library, we have created a bookshelf of Classic books. The shelf can only hold about 75 books so choosing which books are “classic” will be a challenge.

Some authors are easy choices: Twain, Hemingway, Hawthorne, Melville, Fitzgerald, Austen, Dickens, Hardy. But what about Tolkein? or Gabriel García Márquez? Graham Greene? Arthur Conan Doyle?

Is it age that decides a classic? Or whether it is taught in school? classics-bookshelf

It may come down to space. Many of the “H” authors can be considered classics which is lucky because it is often hard to “weed” that section. It would be wonderful if more “S” authors were classics because that is another crowded section.

The P’s stuffed with books by James Patterson and Jodi Picoult do not have many authors that are classic in the usual sense. However, Terry Pratchett is certainly a classic fantasy author.

Stop by the bookshelf — along the wall where the glass cabinets used to be — to see what’s there and what’s missing. What would you call a classic?

September 20, 2016

Backing up Your Pictures and Files

Filed under: Uncategorized,Using the web — rmlblog @ 10:10 pm

One of my friends recently had the “blue screen of death” on his computer. All of the files he used for our music ministry were potentially gone (luckily someone could get his computer working again.) I realized again how important it is to have computer files saved in more than one place.

While taking a course on the Android phone through Lynda.comgoogle choices, I learned about Google Photos. It turns out if you have a Google account, you can set up your phone to save your pictures to this “cloud” storage. Then when you need more storage on your phone you can delete older pictures knowing they are saved somewhere else. I can then get my photos from a computer to upload to Facebook.

For my work and home files, I use Dropbox, a free service that you install on your computer. Certain files I store permanently there so I can access them from whatever computer I am using. I have even stored my travel information there and share it with my family in case of emergencies. There is a limit of how much you can store for free, but I haven’t run out yet.

Google also has Google Drive which allows you to save files that you can Google docswork on from different computers or share with different people. Great for family event planning.

I’m sure there are other methods: external hard drives, usb “thumb” drives, and other services. And then getting rid of old files is another project.

Consider backing up your files so you won’t lose your precious photos and memories.

July 26, 2016

Get Reading Suggestions Sent to Your Email

Filed under: Reading life — rmlblog @ 11:19 pm

Do you know that if you get the Library newsletter emailed to you, you are signed up in the LibraryAware database? LibraryAware provides specialized recommended booklists covering a wide range of topics. There really is a list for every reading interest.

newsletters list

We use their software to create the monthly newsletter and several home-grown lists such as Summer Reading, Best Books of the Year, and Debut Fiction.

The LibraryAware lists consist of one part new books in the subject and another part older titles that you may have missed.

To sign up for the different lists go to RMLonline and click on Book Newsletter.

newsletter link

 

June 29, 2016

Enjoy these Audio Readers This Summer

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 6:36 pm

A good audio reader can make even a “okay” book sound wonderful; and a bad reader can make a good book awful. And a good book makes a long ride go quickly for everyone.

Audiofiles has a list of “Golden Voices” that highlight award-winning audio readers. All of these readers are available on cds of the books; if there is an * next to the reader’s name, then you can also download some of their books through OverDrive. In Enterprise, you can limit your search to Audiobooks and Author and plug in the name of the reader.

My personal favorites are Jim Dale * who did the Harry Potter series, Ralph Cosham* who did the first ten of Louise Penny’s mysteries, Carolyn McCormick* who did the Hunger Game series, Anna Fields* who was the voice for Susan Elizabeth Phillips for many years and Patrick Tull who did the Patrick O’Brian series.

Alyssa Bresnahan
Scott Brick* (does nonfiction as well as fiction)guidell
Barbara Caruso (primarily women writers)
David Case* (classics and literary fiction)
Jim Dale* (young adult fantasy and more)
Gerard Doyle (mysteries and thrillers)
Grover Gardner* (some of everything)
Dion Graham (thrillers and more)
George Guidall* (one of the all time best! Really good with mystery and suspense)
Edward Herrmann* (lots of nonfiction as well as children’s)
Dick Hill* (Michael Connolly and Lee Child!)
Derek Jacobi* (a wonderful actor who does a number of historical fiction titles)
Martin Jarvis* (Wodehouse, Christie, and Dick Francis, oh my!)
Simon Jones* (children’s and adult both)
Garrison Keillor (You know his voice from Prairie Home Companion)
Katherine Kellgren* (historical fiction and women’s lives books)
John Lee* (some of everything — including Ken Follett)
Miriam Margolyes (children’s and young adult)
Wanda McCaddon* (nonfiction history)
John McDonough (nonfiction, children’s and adult fiction)
Robin Miles* (mostly books by women authors, both fiction and nonfiction)
Frank Muller* (Great voice — all older books including John Grisham. He died in a tragic accident several years ago.)
Davina Porter (lots of mysteries)
Simon Prebble (does some of everything)
Barbara Rosenblat (THE voice for many women mystery writers)
Stefan Rudnicki* (nonfiction and science fiction)
Jay O. Sanders* (Danielle Steel, Tony Hillerman, James Patterson and others)
Lynne Thigpen (You know her from Law and Order.)
Simon Vance* (reads everything)

 

May 24, 2016

Walking a Mile in Their Shoes

Filed under: Book Discussion Group,Psychological — rmlblog @ 11:40 pm

It is says that you can’t understand someone unless you walk a mile in his/her shoes. Well, that’s not realistic, but what if I just read about people I don’t understand?

In the world of politics, I don’t really understand Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, so I’m going to try to read books by both of them.

I don’t understand Mormons so The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Harrison is added to my list.

I really liked the book, The World’s Strongest Librarian, which discusses Tourette’s Syndrome. There is a new book by Lindy West about being fat: Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman which may help me understand that condition.

Sometimes fiction helps you understand a person’s life. Lisa Genova does a wonderful job with early onset Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease and traumatic brain injury.

I’ve created a clickable list of the books (and a movie) listed below.

Here are other situations that might be worth understanding:

  • Life in Prison: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson;
  • Transgender: She’s Not There by Jennifer Boylan and Becoming Nicole by Amy Nutt.
  • Palestinian/Israeli/Middle East: Children of Jihad by Jared Cohen
  • PTSD sufferer
  • Homeless person
  • Illegal Immigrant/ Illegal Aliens: The Same Sky by Amanda E. Ward; Into the Beautiful North by Luis A. Urrea; Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe; Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario;
  • Refugee: Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie; When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi; City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence; The Illegal by Lawrence Hill; In order to Live by Yeonmi Park
  • Black Life in America: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Jazz by Toni Morrison; Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson; Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson;
  • Drug Addict
  • Poverty in the World: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
  • Survivors of Disasters: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers; Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
  • Boy Soldiers: A Long Way Gone and Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah
  • Islam: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid; Stranger to History by Aatish Taseer
  • Disfigurement: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy; Wonder by RJ Palacio
  • False Imprisonment: Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino; Innocent Man by John Grisham; That Night by Chevy Stevens
  • Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Hadden; the movie, The Story of Luke; Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison (and Switched On.)
  • Abduction: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

 

April 27, 2016

Women’s Lives and Relationships — Just for Women?

Filed under: Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:24 pm

I am in a Reader’s Advisory Group that is looking at the category of “Women’s Fiction” or as we rather call it “Women’s Lives and Relationships.” We are getting ideas to help people who like this kind of novel find other authors they might like.

But we are having trouble deciding what fits in the category. It’s easy to say that the books have to be contemporary and about contemporary times. No historical fiction. The focus has to be on the emotional life of the people. Thrillers don’t count — they have their own audience. The plot is what drives thrillers. Psychological thrillers may be character driven, but they don’t fit either.

Many books are about women who help each other through life: think of Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons by Lorna Landvik,Wednesday Sisters by Meg Clayton wednesdayor Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. The subject term for this in the catalog is Female Friendship. But what if there are some men in the group? Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle or The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister both have men who help the group deal with their problems. Then the subject heading is Friendship Fiction.

Mother and Daughters- or Sisters- Fiction is another category for which most books would be Women’s Fiction. However, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper has a completely different feel than Liane Moriarty’s Three three wishesWishes, but both are about sisters. And not all writers have the same tone for all their books.

To complicate the subject, women’s lives are different when they are teens, twenties, young mother, empty-nester, part of the sandwich generation, and retired. Someone who likes Sophie Kinsella might not want to read Ann Leary’s The Good House or Jeanne Ray’s Eat Cake.

The articles all say that Women’s Fiction books must be about women and by women authors. Is this true? Do only women read books about women? What about The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion? This is categorized as romance and humor, but it is not a Romance novel.

So if you like books about Women’s Lives and Relationships, which authors would you read? I’ll make a book list of what we discover.

March 29, 2016

From Garden To Table

Filed under: Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 12:39 am

garden vegetables

Now is the time to start planning your vegetable garden, if you haven’t already. There is nothing quite like fresh vegetables in the summer and there are now many resources to help you decide what to cook with your results.

Here’s a website that might be helpful (and doesn’t have ads!):  https://ag.umass.edu/home-lawn-garden/fact-sheets/vegetables

I have also made a list of books you might find helpful.

 

 

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