Well, it’s finally happened! Amazon is allowing libraries to lend e-books to be read on Kindles. For a long time this was not possible, and we’ve been anxiously waiting for the day we could provide our patrons with free access to Kindle ebooks. Because what could be better than downloading books on your Kindle for free?! It’s actually quite a simple process, but I highly encourage you to go through the excellent tutorial offered here. The video does a great job of explaining how to search for just Kindle books and how to download them on to your device. And as always, if you come up against any problems, call or come in to the library and we can walk you through the process. So, take some time and browse our OverDrive catalog for our new Kindle e-books. Happy e reading!
Monthly Archives: September 2011
Every year, librarians and educators across the country celebrate Banned Books Week. The last week of September gives us all an opportunity to think about books and reading in light of the First Amendment. Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) looks at the books that were most challenged by the public and compiles a top ten list. In recent years, titles have included “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Kite Runner,” “Catcher in the Rye,” and “Twilight.” Most of these books have been challenged for one reason or another, either in public or school libraries, but not banned. Thinking about this topic reminded me of the scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird” where Scout and her father, Atticus, are talking about how her teacher has forbidden her from reading with her father at home. Scout explains that she can’t even remember when words started making sense to her, but she says, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” For me, and I think for a lot of people, reading is about as essential as air or food. So this week, I encourage you to celebrate your freedom to read. Consider what reading has meant to you in your life. Has it comforted you? Allowed you to walk around in someone else’s shoes for a while? Given you knowledge and confidence? So why do you enjoy reading? I would love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to comment on this post!
For more information about Banned Books Week, check out ALA’s website.
I know I’m not the first person to say this, but there are some really good shows on TV right now. And thanks to hulu and the fact that networks offer a lot of their shows online, I can finally watch some of them. And with the Emmys last week and all the new shows this fall, it’s a great time to talk about the best of the best in TV.
What We Liked: My two favorite shows from last year had to be “Mad Men” and “Friday Night Lights.” “Mad Men” is just consistently brilliant and completely engrossing. I can’t recommend it as a show that restores your belief in humanity or one that will make you smile and laugh, but the acting is superb, and I still can’t decide if I like or despise the tortured Don Draper. And that keeps me coming back for more. Plus, not a small part of me wishes I could wear hats and gloves every day without sticking out like a sore thumb.
“Friday Night Lights” ended its run last year. It was never a huge hit, only earning decent ratings. But it was such a sincere, heartwarming show, with believable characters and story lines. I thought it did a good job of showing small town Texas and how important football and family are to so many people here.
New Shows to Watch: I talked with our resident media expert, Brandi Head, who handles our movie programs and does our movie and TV ordering. She highly recommended the new show, “Person of Interest” with Jim Cavaziel, saying it looked like a movie it was of such good quality. She also really enjoyed “New Girl,” starring the adorable Zooey Deschanel, which Brandi said was hilariously funny.
Emmy Winners: I didn’t watch every second of the Emmys – I usually tune in only for the big awards. It just feels good to have those shows that you love be loved by someone else (“Mad Men” won again for Best Drama, and Kyle Chandler finally received an Emmy for his work on “Friday Night Lights”). The good news is that we’ve gone ahead and ordered the TV shows of the big winners of the Emmys. So, we’ll be adding shows like “Justified,” “Good Wife,” and “Mike and Molly” in the next few weeks. Also, for those series that won, if we already had the first season, we’ve ordered any additional season that has been released since. So, if the silver screen is failing to capture your interest right now, with the typical lull between summer blockbusters and potential Oscar releases, you might want to think about turning to TV. There’s a lot to choose from, and a lot of it is actually quite good!
Why do we like to be scared? Is it the rush of adrenaline that we get? Do we like knowing deep down that we’re actually safe in our house, even when we’re watching a really frightening movie? I’m sure psychologists have pondered this question and come up with some very sound reasons as to why. But I don’t have a good one. Because each time I read a scary book or watch a spooky movie, I ALWAYS end up regretting it. Always. I couldn’t sleep the entire summer after watching “The Sixth Sense,” which, by the way, is not scary to most people!
So, because I never learn my lesson apparently, I decided the library’s Main Street Book Club, in keeping with Halloween, should read a scary book next month. We’re trying something different, though. We call it “You Pick,” and everyone in the club gets to choose their own book (if you’re a wimp like me, perhaps just read a suspenseful novel or a cozy mystery). Then, on October 18th, at 6:30 p.m., we’ll all meet to talk about what we liked, didn’t like, and hopefully find some good ideas for what to read next.
I just finished “The House Next Door,” which was just creepy enough to be fun to read but not at all gory or overdone. It was creepy, though. I literally found myself checking closets to make sure they were in fact empty, and I fell asleep with the light on two nights in a row. I’d never read any novels by Anne Rivers Siddons, but she’s an excellent writer, with great character development and a knack for describing scenes and emotions so that readers feel like they’re experiencing events right along with the characters. It’s a story about a wealthy, middle-aged couple who live in a beautiful neighborhood. They love each other very much and are extremely content with their lives. That is, until two newlyweds buy the piece of property next door on which they plan to build a house. The couple is upset about this disruption to their neighborhood, but once they see the plans for the house, they no longer complain. Because it is a stunning home, one that seems to have grown up right out of the ground. The couple also befriends the architect, an absolute genius who is already receiving other commissions because of the beauty of his first project. However, as the house is being built, strange events take place – mauled animals are found on the property, and the future owner suffers a bad accident while checking out the site. Soon the newlyweds move in, and life seems to return to normal. They soon throw a housewarming party, which is where things quickly unravel. I don’t want to go into much detail because the beauty of this story rests in the momentum and suspense Siddons is able to create, with terrifying, goosebump raising events happening every so often. Suffice it to say that you’ll be glad you checked this one out!
Next, I’ve decided to try a Stephen King. We’ll see how long I last…
You can’t rush genius, right? Well, Dwight Garner from “The New York Times” doesn’t quite agree. In his recent article, the author bemoans the amount of time it takes big name celebrity authors in the U.S. to produce another novel. Some writers, like Jeffrey Eugenides and Jonathan Franzen, have taken almost a decade to write something else. At first, the public waits with bated breath, clamoring to see what these authors will write next. Then three years go by, then four, then five, and we begin to forget to miss them. Meanwhile, some authors are churning out five or six novels a year (helped, of course, by co-authors).
This article put me in mind of Harper Lee, the author of the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She reportedly started a second novel, which she has yet to finish. And her first novel was published in 1960! Hers is an extreme case – Lee has all but retreated from public life and does not court attention or seem to worry about her relevance to society. It does make me sad, though, because it makes me wonder what we’re missing. Would she be capable of another equally stunning story? Would we have met characters we would have loved as much as Scout and Atticus? Thinking about this has made me realize that when we read an author’s work and come to love it and and the world and characters they have created, we feel like we know that author. We even feel like we own that author, that we have some kind of claim on their time and their talent. They can’t just cut us off after one book – we want more! And sooner, rather than later, please.
I want to agree with Garner and join in his plea to good writers to write more often. I would love to read a new novel by Leif Enger every year or immerse myself in another world created by Ann Patchett more than once every four or five years. I’m an impatient person by nature, which makes it even harder to wait. But I’m also not a writer – I can’t imagine the torturous process that is really good writing. It’s also difficult to imagine the kind of pressure that an author must feel to deliver another masterpiece. So, while I’ll hope for a quicker return on the next novel from my favorite authors, I’ll be content to wait until genius strikes again and the words begin to flow and their next book is born. And I’ll even try not to forget about them in the meantime.
Nancy Novak (our children’s librarian) and I attended an Educator Evening in the Fort Worth Cultural District last week. This was a chance for local teachers and librarians to visit the various museums and cultural institutions in the area and see what they have to offer for students and patrons. They were incredibly generous and gracious, with staff on site to answer our questions and let us know about their upcoming programs and exhibits. And because I’m relatively new to the area, I had no idea Ft. Worth offered this much! Do you know what’s available to you in your own backyard? Here’s just a snapshot: the Bureau of Engraving and Printing offers an amazing free tour of their money printing facilities; the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is giving free tours to the public that discuss the many sustainable features of their building and landscape; the Ft. Worth Astronomical Society, in conjunction with the Noble Planetarium, offers free monthly star parties; and the National Museum of History and Science will be hosting an exhibit in the next few weeks called “Discover the Real George Washington,” with artifacts from his Mount Vernon home.
The Azle Memorial Library will be working with these cultural organizations over the next several months to offer free programming for you at our library. We have several exciting things in the works, so please be sure to check out our flyers in the library and our other promotional materials in the newspaper and around town.
The 3rd Tuesday has just about become my favorite day of the month. It’s the day the Main Street Book Club, hosted by the Azle Memorial Library, meets to discuss our latest pick. We meet in the Community Room from 6:30 pm to about 7:30 pm. On the 20th, we’ll be discussing “Room” by Emma Donoghue. It has been a wildly popular book, one that takes your breath away. I would reserve several hours to read it where you won’t be distracted or need things like food, water, or social interaction. Because you won’t want to look up from those pages! Trust me. And just to warn you, it isn’t a cozy, light book. The beginning is hard to read, and the middle, well, I had to remind myself that everything would be okay, the world wasn’t ending. It’s a really excellent story about a mother’s absolute love for her son, who because of her determination, creativity, and intelligence is able to survive a seemingly impossible situation. So, pencil book club in to your calendars. We have great fun discussing good literature, and we always save a little time at the end for food!