What is it about reading a book that takes place in a location with which your're familiar? We all love reading a book that aptly describes a place we know, or has a cast of characters that we can vaguely recognize. The book My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby is such a book. But it is so much more than that too. The Melby's lived in Iowa, almost five hours away from the Chain O' Lakes here in Waupaca County. Melby's mother had family in Waupaca and so they made frequent visits to the area. That is how the Tom Thumb Mini-Golf got on their radar and it's why, when it went up for sale in the 70s, they purchased it. For the next 30 years the Melby's ran Tom Thumb in the summers while continuing to live in Iowa the rest of the year. The author, June, and her sisters LeAnn and Carla were young girls when the family purchased the mini golf course. They spent all of their summers and many of their spring and fall week-ends up in Waupaca working alongside their parents to keep Tom Thumb running. It took an extraordinary amount of work, with little financial reward, to keep the business afloat. The title of the book has a kind of double meaning, for surely every family has its hazards and Melby shines a light on her family's in an honest and sometimes amusing way. Read more »
It's snowing outside so we know winter is far from over but the Library has a way you can beat those winter blues. Come on in and sign up for the adult reading program Biblio Bingo. The program runs for eight weeks and in that time participants must read at least four books from four different categories on a bingo card. Those who get a Bingo get to pick out a small prize and enter a drawing for prize baskets but more about that later.
Everyone who participates in this program will tell you that they don't do it for the prizes. They do it for the reading - they do it because it introduces them to new authors, genres and subjects. They participate because all of the categories and booklists are generated by staff and are books that we have in the Library. (Each year we do purchase a few new books for the categories and this makes the overall collection stronger). A library's identity is wrapped up solidly in the books that live on the shelves and it's a give and take relationship between the books and readers. This program breathes new life into some of those books and makes them near and dear once again.
The next few blog posts will highlight each of the categories for this year's Biblio Bingo - how we came up with the names and some of the books that made it on to the lists. We truly have fun creating this program from scratch every year and if you will allow us a small pat on the back, sometimes we consider ourselves quite clever for some of the names we give the categories. The categories highlighted in this post are GREAT LAKES and MEADOW MUFFINS & GUNPOWDER. Read more »
Five reasons why you should read The Scavengers by Michael Perry
1) It takes place in Wisconsin
2) It has a protagonist who fights for her place in the world
3) It has good detail about scavenging for food and junk
4) It leaves you feeling that, above all else, there are good people in the world
5) You can learn a new language. Wait, what?
Here is an excerpt from the novel where the protagonist, Ford Falcon, and her neighbor and life-saver, Toad, are having a conversation:
"Then why not get a horse?"
"A hay-burner?" he snorted. "Too jumpy, too spendy". Then he said, "Lottom bine? Peam stower or porse-hower, you'll wear yerself opposite-of-in keeping either one hed and fappy. He paused and pointed at Frank and Spank. "Dem dos oxiis all the horsepower I like dough-knead. Plus any knucklehead can traise and rain an ox"
When you get to the point where you can translate Toad's language all by yourself you really feel like you've reached a milestone. This dysopian novel with a decidedly Wisconsin flair is for younger people, but adults will certainly enjoy it too. Call the Library to reserve a copy or reserve a copy online here.
Husband has been on a "food memoir" kick lately, reading quite a few books written by chefs, foodies or people who come from families where food is another beloved member. He enjoys these books and tells me bits and pieces of the things he has read to the point that my interest in reading a "food memoir" was piqued. I remembered that the Library had one such book and that it had received good reviews so I brought it home for Husband to read earlier this spring. He read the book in two days and gave it the big thumbs up so I decided to read it too and I'm glad I did. Blood, Bones & Butter is by Gabrielle Hamilton and not only can she cook, but she can write too. Hamilton owns a restaurant in New York City called Prune (there is a reason for this name) and has become a celebrity chef in her own right. She knows food and she can write it about it in a way that keeps the pages turning. Admittedly, if descriptions of food bore you, this is not the book for you. But if you like reading about food, how it is grown, how it is cooked, how it is eaten and what it does for a body and soul then you will enjoy this book. It's not all Hamilton writes about either. She has lived an interesting life albeit a sometimes desperate and lonely one. Read more »
Getting lost in a good book is a reader's dream. Getting lost in a good book that revolves around other good books (and short stories) is a reader's dream multiplied. Every time I read a book about books I wonder why I can't be so clever as to write something similar. So it was with the latest books book I read, "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry", by Gabrielle Zevin. When this book arrived on the van delivery one look at the cover told me that it was going to have quirky characters. And indeed it did, starting with the titular character himself. A. J. Fikry owns a bookstore on a remote (fictional) island off the coast of Massachusetts. He is a curmudgeonly bookstore operator, not real fond of children and most other annoying customers. His bookstore isn't doing so well because it's not stocked with anything people really like to read; only books that pass muster with A.J., who is a bit of a literary snob, grace the bookstores shelves. A.J. is only in his late 30s but is already a widower, having lost his beloved wife Nic in a car accident a couple years previous. This is indeed a huge loss because while there is someone out there for everyone as they say, there might not be two people out there for A.J. and soon the reader starts to fear that A.J. will spend the rest of his days and nights alone. A.J. is doing everything he can to make sure those days and nights are numbered by staring down the bottom of a bottle of something almost every night. Read more »
It is almost the end of the third month of 2014 although you would not know it by the weather. Back in June we posted some staff picks from the first half of 2013 and the intent was to follow that up in January with some favorites from the second half of the year. So while I am a couple months behind, it's still possible to get this list done before it's time to post our favorites for the first half 2014. In the interest of actually accomplishing this post, I held staff to five of their favorites from the last half of the year. This was very hard for Lyn and Carol as they are prolific readers. It wasn't so hard for me. (the ipad is still cutting into reading time even though I resolve to change this week after week)
Here are our favorites from the last half of 2013 (these books were not necessarily published in 2013) Read more »
It is winter and we all have the blues... it must time for Biblio Bingo! Our annual adult reading program started on Monday and judging from the response we've received so far, people are ready to play. Winters can be hard around here and this program always seems to come along just when folks are looking for some diversion from the usual get up, shovel snow, go to bed, get up, shovel snow, go to bed. Each year we think we've exhausted all the possible book categories there could be and each year we surprise ourselves by thinking of some clever new ones. This year's favorite new categories are "Real Housewives of Historical Fiction", "Saved from the Chopping Block" and, pictured above, "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover". This last category is especially fun because readers are asked to pick a book from an assortment that have been completely wrapped up. The idea behind this category is that all of us, whether we are aware of it or not, judge books by their covers. This category forces us to read something without the benefit of our initial judgments. So far, several participants have chosen "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover" as one of their categories and they've been pleasantly surprised by what they've picked. If you do pick one of the wrapped books, you get to go in the stacks and find another one for staff to wrap for someone else to pick. Other book categories this year include "From Russia with Love" (because the Winter Olympics are in Sochi, Russia), "The Great War" (in observance of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I), and "Pick-Up Artists" (books that have great first lines). Read more »
In October I wrote a post about the short list finalists for the 2013 National Book Awards. This is the first year that the awards started off with a "long list" and then narrowed that list down to five books in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Youth and Poetry. The winners were announced at the annual Awards gala on November 20th. Here they are:
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
The reviews on this book mention that it is "darkly funny" often. The book deals with slavery and features the abolitionist John Brown among its many real life historical figures. The protagonist is a young male slave who is mistaken as a girl and swept along with John Brown's "army". The Minneapolis Tribune summed it this way
“As in Huck Finn, this novel comes in through the back door of history, telling you something you might not know by putting you in the heat of the action…It is a compelling story and an important one, told in a voice that is fresh and apolitical.” Read more »
We are trying to get better at keeping displays in the adult stacks timely and connected to events here and now. This is why a couple of weeks ago I was taking down the Halloween books and preparing a display for the Thanksgiving holiday. There is a dearth of books about Thanksgiving that are targeted for adults so I was digging deep into the stacks to find what I could find. I remembered that we had purchased a book a couple of years ago titled "The Wordy Shipmates" and I went looking for this book thinking that it was about the daring souls who braved the Mayflower voyage back in 1620. I was wrong about that. The book, by Sarah Vowell, was about the Puritans who came later and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I remembered that I had been interested in reading this book when we purchased it but held off because the book was part of our adult reading program Biblio Bingo. Like so many books that get on my list, it got put on the way way back burner. So even though the book was not about the "Thanksgiving Pilgrims" I decided to read it anyway in honor of the holiday. However, I had three books at home waiting to be read so I decided to order the audio version of this book through Infosoup. Choosing to listen to an audiobook is always fraught with a little risk. People who use audiobooks regularly will know exactly what I mean by this. The readers, sometimes hired actors, sometimes the authors, can make or break the "reading" experience. Read more »
Teacher on the Trail™ @ the Library
Wednesday November 13, 2013 at 6:30pm
Adults and Elementary school aged youth and up welcome
The Alaska Iditarod, the annual sled dog race, has a place in the collective imagination of nearly every American. The setting for the race, the wide open spaces between Anchorage and Nome, is just one of the many reasons why this is so. Alaska is our last frontier - if you want to forge a new life, test your mettle against the elements, or get lost in a big way, Alaska is still a place where this can be done. The Iditarod encompasses all of these things - it's a race lasting days, sometimes weeks and the dogs and humans that participate experience extremes in weather, endurance and accomplishment. The modern Iditarod race started in the 1970s as a way to bring historic Alaska to life in a way that would put the state on the national radar. The race also pays homage to a similar kind of sled dog race that took place in 1925. That year a diphtheria epidemic was threatening the village of Nome and the only way to get the vaccine supplies to the isolated town was by sleds. A relay of sorts began and both humans and dogs emerged as heroes in saving the children of Nome from the ravages of the dreaded disease. (Balto, one of the sled dogs is immortalized by statue in Central Park) Most of us learned this story at some point in our childhood and the image of those dogs racing to save the lives of young children stayed with us - as it does for today's children. The race these days is a test of wills supported by modern technology (which makes finishing times faster each year) and a network of volunteers that is huge in scope. It is Alaska's signature event. Read more »