Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why We Broke Up

I’ve noticed I go through reading phases.  Last year I read several political biographies in a row.  Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been reading all the latest books about the techies who have revolutionized our world (i.e. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, and Steve Jobs).  It’s clear that my brain would obviously need a break from reading about search algorithims and programming languages.  Which would explain why I’ve now read several young adult novels in a row.**  And I’ve become obsessed with Why We Broke Up.  Now, I must warn you – this book made me mad.  It dredged up the memory of every awful breakup I ever went through, and I found myself wanting to call certain people and let them know just what I thought of them.  Luckily, common sense intervened.  But for anyone who has gone through a bad breakup, you’ll understand that Daniel Handler gets it right.  He truly captures the giddiness of young love and how that feeling makes the world seem bright with possibility.  Handler also portrays the betrayal, grief, and terrible doubt one feels after a breakup.  Nancy Novak, our Children’s Librarian, has been similarly enamored with this book, and I’ve included her review below.  

 **This is not to say that young adult novels are the cotton candy of the literary world.  They can be full of substance and make one wrestle with some of the more weighty matters of one’s existence.  I was just fairly certain I wouldn’t encounter pages and pages on how Google decides what ads to display with its search results! 

Posted by Nancy Novak, Children’s Librarian:

I loved this book. If ever there was an accurate portrayal of the drama of high school relationships, with all of their facets, this is it. Handler’s got the whole thing down well, and treats us to these amazing “lists” of teenage angst and experience throughout the story. The art by Maira Kalman is exquisite. I think my only complaint would be that the book is HEAVY, given the thick, lacquered paper. This is necessary because of the artwork.  So, I will endure weight for substance any time.

If I had owned the book I read, I would have been highlighting many insightful sentences.  For example, “But you put one over on me, too, the other side of the napkin I discovered too late.  Just like we discovered as the waitress plunked down the coffee and the bill and stalked off that there wasn’t any sugar at our table: when it was too late, Ed, to do any good.”  For most of the novel, I really didn’t hate Ed. I found his character, as portrayed by Min, quite charming and sincere. But there’s the rub. It wasn’t sincere. It turned out to be typical jock, I am the master of the universe stuff. Practiced and refined over many so called “relationships”. Quite a cautionary tale for girls who swoon over such guys – do you really want to lose your virginity, and perhaps part of your soul, with someone who has an act like that?

Al, of course, is her real love, the guy she SHOULD grab and hold onto. I liked the way Handler delivered these smart, intelligent kids to us. There are so many in high school, and often they go unnoticed.  They need to be celebrated and given their moments on the stage of life.

Teens ought to read this one, and then recommend it to their friends.  I think it would make a good book to choose for a high school English class as it could spark a lot of interesting discussion.

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Manor House

If you’re like me, even the brilliant Oscar fashions of last night didn’t fill the gaping hole on Sunday night now that the second season of Downton Abbey is over.  To console myself, I rented PBS’ Manor House, fully expecting it to be a watered down version of the sumptuous Downton Abbey.  But I have to admit I fell in love with it and kept wondering why in the world they didn’t do another season.

Manor House was a fascinating social experiment that occurred in 2001.  An upper middle class family in England was chosen to live like royalty from the Edwardian period for three months.  PBS then cast people to fill the roles of butler, housekeeper, footmen, maids, and chef.  Everyone involved was to completely shun all modern amenities and conveniences and live as they did back in the early 1900’s.  For Sir Olliff-Cooper and his family, this meant wearing diamonds, eating caviar, riding horses, having someone else dress them, and generally having their every whim catered to.  For the downstairs staff, life meant waking up at 5:30, stoking fires, waxing floors, polishing countless pieces of silver, running trays up and downstairs, and rarely taking a break.  It was interesting to see how quickly people started to identify with the role in which they had been cast.  The downstairs staff came to resent a lot of the people living upstairs.  And while they formed deep bonds from working so hard and so closely with each other, none of them felt that it was work they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.  In stark contrast, Sir Olliff-Cooper wondered how in the world he would ever be able to return to his normal life.  Lady Olliff-Cooper felt that the manor house had become her real home and the 21sth century was simply some futuristic dream.

While watching the show, I couldn’t quite make up my mind whether or not I liked the Olliff-Coopers.  With reality TV, editing can do so much – if producers decide to make someone unlikable, it’s fairly easy for them to do so, simply by leaving out some things and emphasizing others.  It’s hard for me to identify with people who enjoy being waited on all day and who really live a life of pleasure (though I readily admit that running a house and looking after 300 employees would take some work).  I also didn’t like the fact that there was such a division among the two groups – if a maid saw Lady Olliff-Cooper in the hallway, she was to avert her gaze and retreat to a corner so the lady of the house wouldn’t be incommoded by having to acknowledge her.  However, some of the comments made by Sir and Lady Olliff-Cooper made me like them more and wonder if they were really so terrible after all.  

I highly recommend the series.  It made me think quite a bit about what role I would have preferred – something downstairs or upstairs?  I also came away feeling very grateful to live in a more modern world where people expect and demand certain rights.  If only we could bring back some of those dresses…

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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Azle Goes West Finale

Well, I can’t believe it, but February is almost over.  Which means that Azle Goes West is almost over.  It’s been a great month, filled with storytelling, banjo playing, craft making, chili and cornbread eating, and more.  We’d like to thank all of those people who participated in and attended our events.  We hoped you enjoyed yourselves!  We have two programs left.  Senior Cinema is this Monday, February 27th at 2:00 p.m. in the Community Room, and we’re watching the 2010 adaptation of Charles Portis’ “True Grit.”  Then, on Tuesday, February 28th at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room, two docents from Amon Carter will be here to discuss the work of Charles Russell and Frederic Remington.  So, break out those cowboy boots one last time and help us celebrate the great American West!

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


An American Classic

When was the last time you laughed out loud because a book was that funny?  So funny that you wanted to read passages aloud so others could share in your hilarity?  Well, True Grit, by Charles Portis, is full of such choice passages.  Here’s just one example:

LaBoeuf: “Earlier tonight I gave some thought to stealing a kiss from you, though you are very young, and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I am of a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt.”

Mattie:  “One would be as unpleasant as the other.”

Mattie is simply priceless.  She is 14 and acts like she’s 40.  She’s always giving out pearls of wisdom and quoting Scripture and doesn’t possess an ounce of self-doubt.  She is unintentionally charming and hilarious and a breath of fresh air.  She goes off in pursuit of her father’s killer, aided by the U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn, and a Texas ranger, LaBoeuf, who are wonderful, memorable characters in their own right.

We’re reading True Grit for Book Club this month, in keeping with our Azle Goes West program.  We’ll meet to discuss it Tuesday, February 21st at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room.  We’ll also have a contest to raffle away the absolutely excellent 2010 film adaptation by the Coen brothers.   


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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


A Valentine to Azle

In the midst of our Western month, surrounded by tan and plaid and leather, I can’t help succombing to the glittery pinks and lavendars of Valentine’s Day.  It’s actually one of my favorite holidays, possibly due to the fact that I am a sucker for hearts, flowers, and romance.  So, I wanted to write a valentine to the wonderful town of Azle.  Thank you for supporting us by using the library and attending our programs.  It means so much to us to be a part of your lives.  We love talking about your favorite books and movies with you and getting to know you and your families better.  I am personally grateful to the wonderful people who come to the Main Street Book Club each month.  Your love of books and passionate discussion make book club one of the highlights of my month.  So here’s to a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  We love you!

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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


We’re Cookin’ Up Some Chili and Cornbread!

“Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern cornbread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite so bad as the Northern imitation of it.” – Mark Twain

Well, you know you’re a librarian if, when you’re preparing for your upcoming Western cooking class, you create a Powerpoint presentation of the history of chili and cornbread.  That’s right, our Director has prepared a wonderful slideshow that is sure to entertain as well as inform.  This is Texas, after all, and we take things such as chili and cornbread quite seriously.  We’ll be demonstrating how to make three different kinds of chili:  your classic Texas chili, a healthier version chock full of vegetables, and a chicken white bean chili.  We’ll also be baking cornbread from scratch, and using one of those wonderful mixes from the store (possibly the only time a store-bought mix is as good as something homemade).  So we hope you’ll come with an appetite worthy of a Texas cowboy and join us in the Community Room on Monday, February 13th at 2:00 p.m. for our monthly What’s Cookin’ class.

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


Charles Dickens’ 200th Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 200th year anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.  It has been fascinating to read articles about this man and his accomplishments.  Did you know he authored 14 novels, not including a manuscript unfinished at his death?  He was a child laborer, actor, and social reformer.  Dickens was a man of uncommon vigor, who habitually walked at least a dozen miles every evening. 

I’ve read a few of his novels, and it’s become tradition at our house to read “A Christmas Carol” every year at Christmastime.  His novels are dense and wordy, full of rich descriptions and wonderfully named, quirky characters.  My goal is to read one new Dickens novels this year.  My father just finished “Little Dorrit” and has raved about it, so that’s probably the one I’ll choose.  What about you?  Any favorites?  Do you have one in mind that you want to read?

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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

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