Monthly Archives: August 2011

Quilting in the Library

The students in our new quilting class learned all about fabric, needles, and other quilting basics at our first class last Friday.  Our instructor, Anne Lemin (from Quilted Lovelies), who is graciously volunteering her time and some of the supplies, helped students work on quilting a hot pad.  The class will complete three projects over the course of ten weeks.  We hope to offer more classes like this in the future.  Be sure to check out the completed class projects at our Fall Festival on October 22nd from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – our quilting class will have its own booth!

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Events


Why YA

I am not a young adult by any stretch of the imagination, but I am absolutely a huge fan of YA Fiction, YA as in Young Adult.  If you go searching for a definition or an age range for this type of literature, you won’t find one upon which everyone agrees.  Generally, YA literature is officially marketed to those between the ages of 12 and 25 (yes, a very wide age range).  The reality is that many, many adults of any age read YA Fiction.  There have even been some books that have started out as adult fiction, but have gravitated toward YA over time-  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, now on many required high school summer reading lists, is a good example of that movement.

YA Fiction includes every genre you will find in adult fiction – chick lit, traditional romance, Christian fiction, historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, steampunk, and more.  The difference is that the main characters are generally in their teenage or young adult years.  YA fiction often explores complex themes, just like adult fiction. And much of the writing is, well, superb, as good as anything you find in adult fiction.

I gravitate toward dystopian, sci-fi, steampunk and some sci-fi/fantasy YA novels.  I don’t like vampires and werewolves , but I did read Twilight (and did not like it for particular reasons).

YA fiction is often series based, and one I often recommend is The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness.  The first novel is The Knife of Never Letting Go.Picture another planet colonized by humans where all the women have been killed by a germ (or so the story goes) and all the males remaining can hear every other male thought, 24/7/365, which they call The Noise. The last kid remaining has reached the age where he must now must go through his adult initiation, but his guardians work to get him to escape the colony because the ritual and the secret behind it is so awful.  That sets off an engrossing, emotional, tense story that asks the reader to look at questions about choices, failure and forgiveness, the power of love, the power of evil, truth, lies, manipulation, all wrapped up in what we call human nature.  It’s about the idea that life is grey, not black and white, but in Ness’ world black and white are bad, and so is the grey, and you have to try to tease out the little bit of good that might be hiding.  Plus Ness’ story also is a commentary about our modern society and its flaws. Oh, and you have to decide what it means to be human, with the story coming at you at 100 miles an hour. 

If you dive into The Chaos Walking Trilogy, it’s better in print, because Ness provides  images of what The Noise is really like.

So try YA.  You might be glad you did. (Posted by Nancy Novak, Children’s Librarian)

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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Book Reviews


The New Poet Laureate

The Library of Congress announced the new Poet Laureate yesterday.  Philip Levine is the 18th Laureate.  He’s won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award and received rave reviews from critics over the course of his long career.  Hailed as a “working man’s poet,” many of his poems are about doing blue collar work in Detroit.  I was driving home yesterday, listening to the radio, and I heard an excerpt of the poet reading one of his poems, titled “What Work Is.”  I admit that my reading life does not include much poetry.  However, I’ve always enjoyed poetry with great imagery, which this poem certainly has.  Levine made me feel as if I were waiting in a long line of factory workers, desperately hoping I would be chosen to work a shift that day, and if I were not, it would be simply because of the whim of a man.  The desolation and hopelessness were evident.  I was especially struck by the last line because I think it could have several meanings.  It made me want to go home and discuss the poem with someone.  And I think that’s probably the sign of a great poet. 

I also wanted to give you a little background on the history of the poet laureate.  The position was created in 1936, and a poet has been chosen by the Librarian of Congress every year since – past poets have included Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop.  The Poet Laureate is then responsible for choosing a project that promotes poetry – past projects have included sponsoring poetry conferences, having citizens choose and share their favorite poems, and bringing poetry into high school classrooms.

Philip Levine - courtesy of American Public Media


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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


First to the Reading Finish Line

It shouldn’t surprise you that the library staff at the Azle Memorial Library love to read, right?  To get in the spirit of summer, we did our own version of a summer reading contest by keeping track of how many hours we read, beginning June 1.  The winner would be whoever filled up all the squares on our summer reading poster, equaling 230 hours.  Well, we’re happy to announce that Tracey, who runs our Library at Home program, was the first to reach that goal!  Way to go, Tracey!  She said one of the books she most enjoyed reading was “The Husband Tree” by Mary Connealy, and her favorite audiobook was “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.  Adding up everyone’s hours resulted in a whopping 685 hours read in a little over two months.  So, if you’re looking for a good book to read, chances are one of our well-read staff members will be able to find you something you’ll like!

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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


Review of “Season to Taste” by Molly Birnbaum

I first heard about “Season to Taste” by Molly Birnbaum a few weeks ago while I was browsing catalogs to find books to buy.  I love cooking, so any new memoir from a chef or a foodie never fails to grab my attention.  However, this book appeared to be about much more than just the preparation or love of food. 

Birnbaum was an aspiring chef in Boston, working at a swanky French restaurant and about to begin studying at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.  Food was her life, and at the encouragement of her chef mentor, she spent a lot of her time at work memorizing the smells of exotic herbs.  Soon she was able to correctly name ingredients such as pineapple sage and lemon verbena blindfolded.  Then one morning she went for a run and was hit by a car.  She was lucky – she escaped with injuries that could be fixed – except, it seemed, the damage done to her sense of smell.  Suddenly, she could no longer smell a clove of garlic in a frying pan or the scent of apple pie in the oven.  She sank in to a deep depression when she realized that an inability to smell meant an inability to truly taste, which is so essential for a chef.  She could taste the sweetness of a grape, but the taste wasn’t any different from that of an apple.   

Eventually Birnbaum moved to New York to find a job at a publishing house and slowly began to rebuild her life.  To do this, she threw herself in to the study of one of our most important senses, smell, and what it means for one’s life to be without it.  She studied the links between smell and taste, mood, and attraction.  She interviewed doctors, researchers, and writers to understand the process of smell and if it can be regained or relearned once lost.  This book opened up a new world for me, where a loss of smell can be dangerous.  Birnbaum said she constantly worried about not being able to smell gas if there was a leak.  I have considered what the world would be like if I couldn’t see or hear, but I admit I take the ability to smell completely for granted.  Well, not anymore.  Days after reading this book, I’ve caught myself being much more conscious of and grateful for the wonderful variety of smells around me.  I respect books like this, which shed light on an issue most people don’t think about.  In the science and medical communities, the study of smell is not particularly well-funded or well-researched.  Perhaps Birnbaum’s book will do something toward changing that.

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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in Book Reviews


Oodles and Oodles of Books

We just received a big shipment of new books, so come on in to beat the heat and find a great book!  You’ll find new releases like “Smokin’ Seventeen,” “Agent X,” and “Moonwalking with Einstein.”  And even if a new release isn’t on the shelves, you might still be able to find it in our catalog and put a hold on it.  If you need help doing this, call one of our friendly librarians, or ask someone at the Information Desk when you visit us. 

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Posted by on August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


Now Accepting Donations…

I always reevaluate my love of books when I’m in the middle of moving.  Do I really need two copies of “Jane Eyre,” or “To Kill a Mockingbird” for that matter?  Must I buy every Williams & Sonoma cookbook that I find?  Because anyone who’s ever moved knows that books are HEAVY, and it’s just no fun to lug them around.  So, if you’re moving, too, or just cleaning out your closets this summer, you might want to think about donating your new or gently used books to the Library.  There’s no guarantee they’ll make their way into the collection, but we’ll gladly accept them (well, everything that is, except your VHS tapes).

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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

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