Friday, April 26, 2013


One of our newest magazines is Mindful: Taking Time for What Matters.  From the website we learn that “Mindfulness is nothing more than just paying attention to what is going on in our minds and how that shapes our day-to-day experiences in life” (submitted by leoartalejo on Wed, 02/13/2013).  It’s slowing down, being present in the moment, paying attention to what is going on NOW and recognizing what you and others are feeling.  Can we slow down enough to practice this every day?  In a lifestyle where even goofing off can be tied up in busyness, it’s a good thing to try. SG

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reading About Cooking

One would think reading and cooking are two different things, one doing, the other thinking. Lots of people read cookbooks however, without cooking.This writer is one such person! We come to the other path, reading a memoir about cooking. These are three such books.

Kathleen Flinn's memoir, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks is fascinating. After the author had gotten her culinary degree in Paris, she was unsure what to do. When she noticed a woman in the supermarket, cart stacked with processed and packaged food her "chefternal" side took over, and she helped the woman buy ingredients for dinners and told her how to cook them. When the woman earnestly thanked her, an idea was born. She publicized her cooking school with an ad in the paper, then visited the the people who replied. All were inexperienced home cooks, some never learned, some felt intimidated. All benefited! We get to know the students as they work their way through knife skills, cutting up chickens and bread. Recipes too! A fun and interesting read. ML

Ellie Mathews wrote The Ungarnished Truth: A Cooking Contest Memoir about her experience winning the Pillsbury Bake Off. When she entered her Salsa CousCous Chicken recipe she had no idea she would win a million dollars. The book is funny in a mildly satirical way as Ellie is drawn deeper
into the cooking contest subculture. She gives you the million dollar recipe too! ML

Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton is not a strictly chronological memoir, but a passionate discussion of a difficult life. Gabrielle's father was an artist, her mother a Frenchwoman who stayed home and cooked for her large family. To Gabrielle it was idyllic, until the divorce. Mom and the older kids took off and Gabrielle was left to her own devices. At 13 she started working, at 16 moving to New York City. What followed was 20 hard years in the food industry, opening a restaurant, and getting a MFA from University of Michigan. She eventually opened a celebrated restaurant and married an Italian man in spite of being a professed lesbian! This memoir features wonderful, sensual writing about food, rage, and a longing to find home. One of the best I've read! ML

Friday, April 19, 2013

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and the library has many books of poetry on display for your browsing pleasure (and fun activities throughout the month!).

One of my favorite books of poetry is The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink edited by Kevin Young. It could be the topic of food and drink but I think I enjoy it so much because Mr. Young has put together a well thought out and diverse collection of over 150 poems. Contributors include Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Rumi, and many more.

From the chapter Soup Lines & Staples, a poem by Langston Hughes: I, Too, Sing America:

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed –

I, too, am America.

- Langston Hughes

Let's hear some of your favorite poems.  You can comment here or join us on Facebook or Pinterest.  And stop by the Library with a 'poem in your pocket.'  We'd love to hear from you!  SG

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Here Be Monsters!

Michael Largo's The Big, Bad Book of Beasts describes both some of the world's most unusual and mundane creatures, real and imagined.  For example, under "D" you'll find entries for Dodo, Dog, Dolichorhynchops (aka Prehistoric "Sea Wolf"), and Dragons.  I particularly enjoyed Largo's well-researched asides on the folklore of various beasts, as well as the numerous illustrations and renderings (such as the detailed Harpy skeleton on p. 187).  Definitely worth checking out!  HM

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mothers and Daughters

Warning -- Domenica Ruta's With Or Without You does not have a nice, neat, happy ending . . . but it doesn't have a bad ending either.  In fact, it really doesn't have an ending at all, just the honest depiction of a life in progress.  In this memoir, Ruta explores her relationship with her narcissistic, drug-addicted mother and how that relationship ultimately led her to both destroy and attempt to redeem herself.  At the same time darkly humorous and heart-wrenching, With Or Without You brings home the point that in at least some ways, we are all just like our mothers.  HM

Friends for Life

It's 1974, and a group of kids at an arts camp dub themselves "the interestings" and vow to stay friends forever. Meg Wolitzers's novel The Interestings follows the friends into their fifties. While at first they all have ambitions to go into the arts, only two of the friends actually do that. The rest grapple with the effects of time and life on their ambitions and friendships. We get to know these characters and root for them as money, work, marriage, and the big issues of the decades (moonies, aids, autism!) affect them. A big talky novel, I loved it! ML

History of the World through Stamps

Scott Stamp Catalogues are chock full of information about the process of making stamps, telling you all about forgeries and fakes, values, lithography, foil, gum, etc.  They are also beautiful to browse for the fantastic artwork.  Check out the children’s stamp design contest winners or the stamps of the Bahamas if you want to see some colorful examples.  You can also learn about the history of a place based on its stamps – whether the stamps show scientific discoveries or distinguished people, sports team winners or landmark events, extinct species or famous weddings – these catalogs show you the history of the world.  You can also find the addresses and contact information for Philatelic Societies (philatelic, of or relating to philately which is the collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks, and related materials; stamp collecting) should you decide to become a collector.  Think there’s no money to be had?  You’re probably right but once in awhile a stamp goes for an enormous amount of money, especially if it’s a misprint.  The stamp pictured here is the most famous misprint going for 9 billion U.S. dollars in 2007.  That’s right – 9 billion!  SG

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Batter Up!

If opening day for Baseball is important to you, then make sure you read a classic poem to celebrate America’s favorite sport. Ernest Lawrence Thayer's Casey at the bat : a ballad of the Republic sung in the year 1888 is a baseball poem that is a must-read for adults and children alike. It is as entertaining today as it was way back when. The poem was originally published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888. Since that time it has been recited in Vaudeville, on stage, in the movies, and on television. There’s even a sequel to the poem that tells about our mighty batter’s most magnificent moment. Enjoy. DB

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bringing the Outside In

Woodland Style by Marlene Hurley Marshall is a lovely book about bringing natural elements from the outdoors to decorate your home. Featuring many beautiful photographs, the book explores decorations made with foraged twigs, vines, moss, flowers and bark. Also featured are holiday and seasonal decorations as well as recipes that use wild edibles. There are photos of artworks such as carved wood and jewelry using acorns. Fantastic, I'm looking forward to setting in front of the fire on this cold spring day and reading this! ML

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Please Pass the Poems...

Kevin Young has combined two things we Americans love in his new book
The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink. The volume contains 158 poems written by various poets who appreciate good food and good verse. The book is divided into sections that relate to food in different seasons and under all sorts of circumstances. Kevin talks about how food has played a part in his life, from childhood and family traditions to its healing power. He invites you to “Help Yourself.”  Don’t miss the “Song to Bacon”. DB

Monday, April 1, 2013

A compelling fantasy.

The Mapmaker's War is Aoife's (pronounced ee-fah) story, a young woman growing up in an ancient society with ambition to change her life. She loves maps and is adventurous, and is given the chance to do this when in her culture women stay home and raise children. During her travels she happens upon a secretive people who seem to live ideal lives of peace and happiness. They claim to protect a mythic creature, a red dragon who has a hoard of treasure. When Aoife reports their existence, her culture is consumed with the madness of war and conquest. Overcome with guilt on what she has unleashed Aoife tries to warn the peaceful culture and is imprisoned as a traitor. There is plenty of subtext in this story of peace and war, and the madness of invasion, as well as a good fantasy story. I spent one lovely night reading this. ML

Family Secrets

In Erin Kelly's new book, Burning Air, the McBride family, who have a upper-class privileged life, gather at their country home the first time since the death of their mother Lydia. There, secrets emerge, most shockingly a stranger in their midst who is plotting revenge on every member of the family for an imagined bad deed by their mother from years before. We gradually learn, as the tension mounts, just what happened so many years ago and how one lie created so much misery. Well written and compelling, this novel will hold your attention.