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FEBRUARY 29, 2012
Killer Quake

Thompson, Jerry
Cascadia’s Fault: The Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America
Berkeley, Calif.: Counterpoint, 2011

The earthquake that people have been talking and worrying about since I was a kid has always been “The Big One”, the California quake expected to devastate L.A. or San Francisco.  This book introduces the Cascadia Fault, the fracture running from Vancouver Island down to northern California.  The Cascadia Fault explodes roughly every 500 years, and some scientists believe a disaster is due to occur sometime in the next 50 years.  But are we ready?  If you are familiar with this area – which encompasses the metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Portland, and all the small towns in between – you will want to read this book.

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posted by Emily, Columbine Library

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FEBRUARY 27, 2012
Monthly Picks: Just DVDo It!

Unlike bears, many humans essentially hibernate year-round. Sure they leave their house to go to work or see a movie, but back at home it’s couch and computer time while they snack like grizzlies storing fat for next year’s winter. It's a common problem. The Library even contributes to America's lounging habit by providing thousands of great books for free. Who has time for a stomach crunch when there's Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series to catch up on?

The Library also can be your partner in physical fitness. I don't just mean jogging in place while you wait for our automated book return to accept your items. No, I'm talking about DVDs designed to help you create an exercise regimen right in your living room.  I've always been skeptical of such workouts until a friend gave me P90, the "easier" version of Tony Horton's more famous P90X workout. I’m a husky gentleman who’d lose to a honey-baked ham in a flexibility contest, especially if the ham has extra glaze. But I’m 10 days into the three-month P90 program and I’m seeing encouraging results. If I can get fit from at-home exercise, you can too.

Now, while the P90 series tends to have long hold lines that might discourage you, there are hundreds of workout DVDs the Library usually has on the shelf at any given time. With this much variety, you’re bound to find something you like. I wanted to spotlight a few choices here:

Leslie Sansone's "Walk Away" series  - The title says it all. Leslie Sansone's various DVDs encourage power walking in place, incorporating basic aerobic exercise and the limited use of free weights. I've tried the three-mile walk and felt great afterwards.

Fat Burning Kickboxing Workout For Dummies  - Don't let the word kickboxing intimidate you. There are 10 basic steps in this 60-minute DVD, which is estimated to burn 700 calories per session. Released in 2006, it was named by Fitness Magazine as the best calorie blasting DVD of the year.

Physique 57  – This series from New York City’s most popular exercise studio gives a full-body workout and requires no equipment except a ball and chair.

Exhale. Core Fusion Pilates Plus  – Five 10-minute workouts mix Pilates and Yoga. A great program for people who don’t want to have to buy any gear such as dumbbells.

Tracy Anderson’s 30 Day Method  – This one is particularly challenging because it’s long, to the tune of 90 minutes. It’s cardio with a lot of dance moves, so if you like to bust a move then this may be the workout for you.

No More Trouble Zones  – Great mix of cardio and strength-training, like the P90 concept.

Bob Harper’s “Inside Out”  –  This one will make you burn for sure. You’ll need a few light free-weights as well to maximize the workout’s benefits.

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posted by Sean, Standley Lake Library

Category: Monthly Picks

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FEBRUARY 24, 2012
How many versions of Jane Eyre can you find?

Jane EyreMost people are aware of the countless retellings of Jane Austen’s works, especially Pride and Prejudice.  Another author who was writing slightly later in the 1800’s, but whose works are also considered classics is Charlotte Bronte.  The continued popularity of Jane Eyre, in particular, is clear when you look up the title in the library’s catalog and see 67 references to books, movies, and articles!  Here are a few highlights…

Jane Eyre DVD F 791.4372 JANE EYRE 2011

Adele:  Jane Eyre’s Hidden Story FICTION TENNANT

Becoming Jane Eyre FICTION KOHLER

The Eyre Affair FICTION FFORDE

Wide Sargasso Sea FICTION RHYS

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posted by Emily, Columbine Library

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FEBRUARY 22, 2012
A Book We Love: On Writing

Chances are you already know Stephen King is the prolific author of numerous horror books, from The Shinning and Carrie to It and The Stand. However, did you know he also writes under the pseudonym Richard Bachman? Did you know the following movies are based on King’s writings: Stand by Me (based on the novella, The Body), The Shawshank Redemption (based on the short story, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption), The Green Mile (based on a serial novel of the same name), and Apt Pupil (based on a novella of the same name)? It turns out there is a lot to learn about one of America’s busiest authors.

 

 

On WritingKing’s book, On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft is part memoir and part guidebook for writers. King writes about childhood memories, addiction, writing, and much more. In one interesting anecdote, King describes how his wife rescued one of his stories from the garbage and encouraged him to finish it – that story, Carrie, would become his first published novel. On Writing is a great book for people who are fans of Stephen King, aspiring writers, or individuals who like to read autobiographies and memoirs.

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posted by Sunshine, Columbine Library

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FEBRUARY 19, 2012
A Bit of Time

Life gets complicated. Sometimes there just isn’t time to delve into a lengthy novel. One solution to a temporary lack of time to read is to choose a collection of essays. When you only have a bit of time, be sure to pick up one of the following books and take a few moments to enjoy an author who is being concise, witty, or thoughtful in another form of writing:

Cool, Calm and Contentious - Merrill Markoe
Originally the head writer for David Letterman, Markoe offers here personal essays that veer from the hilarious (reading her Mother’s diaries and reflecting on her own Mother’s parenting) to the serious (her awakening years as a rebellious student at Berkeley.)


This I Believe I & II – Personal Essays of Remarkable Men and
Women
Each volume contains a hand-selected collection of 80 essays from the hundreds submitted for the weekly NPR radio program. In a short piece, each of these Americans, some famous, most not, expresses their personal beliefs about what powers their lives on a daily and more general level.


Small WonderSmall Wonder
- Barbara Kingsolver
Covering a wide range of topics, Kingsolver reflects on life in America, the challenges of families, and travel to other countries.  She has a gift for explaining her thoughts and an almost endless font of optimism about human beings.



The best American essays 2011, 2010, 2009…The Best American Essays

Don’t miss this annually published collection of the best non-fiction essays written each year by masters of the genre. There are surprises from authors you thought you knew and a diversity of subject matter (from revelations about man’s best friend to the orbit of the moon.)
 

Me Talk Pretty One DayMe Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
If you haven’t read the quirky and entertaining Sedaris, you should start with this compilation of his commentaries and observations. He discusses the hazards of learning another language as an adult and his early life with his micro-manager Father, Lou.

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posted by Bonnie, Lakewood Library

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FEBRUARY 17, 2012
Epistolary Movies

In the early days of the novel, back in the 18th century, the standard narrative technique was called epistolary because the story took the form of characters writing letters back and forth to each other, sometimes never physically meeting. The style still pops up now and then. A recent example is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  The format may even be poised to make a big comeback. There have been novels presented entirely in the form of email exchanges. And how hard would it be to update the epistolary style to the form of text messages, Facebook posts and tweets? If it hasn’t been done yet, there’s bound to be a YA author out there working on it.

I don’t find the format too compelling as far as books go, but it’s interesting to see filmmakers try to adapt the style to the screen. One attempt is 84 Charing Cross Road, the true story of a poor New York bibliophile who begins a correspondence with a British antiquarian bookstore and is soon exchanging letters with all the employees and even their families.

Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula is, as far as I can tell, the only adaptation that maintains the novel’s epistolary style. Most scenes are introduced with a voiceover indicating someone is writing a letter, telegram or journal entry and that we’re “seeing” what they’re writing.

I would count World War 2: When Lions Roared as an attempt to do an epistolary movie. This great teleplay uses a split-screen to show characters talking to each other while seldom being in the same room. Visually, I think it’s the closest film has come to reproducing an epistolary reading experience.

My favorite use of an epistolary conceit in film has to be 1776.  George Washington is never shown in this movie, but his presence—ranging from the humorous to the poignant—is felt increasingly by the brilliant use of his read dispatches to Congress. Abigail Adams is also only able to be on-screen through the symbolic letters she and John exchange.

Got any other examples? Write and let us know about them!

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posted by Sean, Standley Lake Library

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FEBRUARY 14, 2012
Magazines for Dog Lovers
We all know there are plenty of books on dogs out there to read. The library has everything from true dog stories--think Marley and Me  -- to novels -- The Art of Racing in the Rain  -- to how-to books -- try Chihuahuas for Dummies or Barron’s Dog Training Bible. But what if you don’t have the time to read a whole book? Maybe you are just looking for something quick to entertain or to inform? The library subscribes to a number of titles you may be interested in. Older issues can be checked out, while the very newest ones are available to read in the library. Here are four titles of interest:

The Bark: Dog is My Co-Pilot is a magazine that looks at life with dogs. There’s poetry and fiction, essays and art in each issue. Plenty of non-fiction articles describe how dogs and humans relate, whether it is as family pets or service animals. A recent issue discusses lessons from sheepdogs as well as budget ways to travel with your pet (how about a home exchange?).

The Whole Dog Journal looks a bit like a newsletter. The focus is on natural dog care and training. Want to know if the dog food you’re using is healthy? There are in-depth, unbiased articles on food and treats, as well as on toys and equipment. Useful articles on health and training issues are written with a holistic view of pet ownership.

Dog Fancy may be the best-known magazine on dogs, and has been around for many years. It carries articles on specific breeds as well as information on lots of other things. Dog Fancy calls itself the “authority on anything dog.” It has lots of pictures.

American Dog profiles the lives of individual dogs and also covers anything related to caring for and enjoying them. This magazine does more advocating on dog-related social issues than the others. A great source for “human interest” stories on dogs, with photography as well as informative articles.

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posted by Ros, Lakewood Library

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FEBRUARY 13, 2012
Books for Downton Abbey Devotees
Anglophilia seems to be at fever pitch lately, thanks to Downton Abbey, the superb British period drama about the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and the servants at their Yorkshire estate. The show, which airs on PBS’s Masterpiece, recently won the Golden Globe for Best Miniseries along with a slew of Emmy Awards. If you can’t get enough of the drama at Downton, check out one of these titles.

 

Below StairsBelow Stairs by Margaret Powell
Originally published in 1968, this memoir of a teenage kitchen maid working in grand English homes has climbed the bestseller lists in Britain recently, thanks to the popularity of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs.

The Children’s Book: A Novel by A. S. Byatt
Byatt conjures the Edwardian era in this complex novel focused on two aristocratic families. Spanning from 1895 to just after World War II, The Children’s Book evokes the cultural, historical, and cultural changes of the period.

InheritaInheritancence: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles by Robert Sackville-West
Since 1604, the house at Knole has been home to thirteen generations of one aristocratic family – the Sackvilles. This lively tour of Knole (one of the largest private houses in England) and biographies of four centuries worth of inhabitants gives readers a glimpse of Britain’s aristocratic heritage.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Set in England between the wars, The House at Riverton is the story of an upper-crust family and their longtime maid, Grace, who witnesses shocking events during a society party, and keeps them secret for decades.

The American HeiressThe American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin 
Like Downton’s Lady Grantham, wealthy American Cora Cash marries a titled but cash-strapped English duke and must learn to navigate an unfamiliar social scene full of traps and betrayals.

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes 
A celebration of all things Downton, this lavish book includes on-set photos, research from the production team, and historical information about life in the Edwardian age.

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posted by Briana, Evergreen Library

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FEBRUARY 12, 2012
Isabel Dalhousie Series
Alexander McCall Smith, renowned for his series the “Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” is the author of several other series as well. As a fan of philosophical musings, I have particularly enjoyed his Isabel Dalhousie series (originally called the Sunday Philosophy Club series). In both of these popular series, his main character is female. Although characterized as a mystery, Isabel Dalhousie isn’t your typical mystery solver (e.g. not a private eye, not with the police). She just tends involve herself with those trying to sort out a mystery in their lives.

In The Forgotten Affairs of Youth she is assisting an Australian woman, Jane, who is trying to identify (and perhaps even locate) her biological father. Along the way we are privy to Isabel’s insightful, though wandering and sometimes very tangential, musings, such as “Nobody felt very much ashamed of anything any more, Isabel thought. You could do what you liked and then speak about it at great length on a confessional television show and nobody would bat an eye. And while that revealed a healthier attitude when it came to dealing with things that were better unconcealed, or with things that should not involve shame at all, it also meant that one of the main reasons for social restraint had been removed.” (p. 155) Begin with the first book in the series, The Sunday Philosophy Club.”

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posted by Polly, Columbine Library

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FEBRUARY 8, 2012
A Book (and HBO Series!) We Love: Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones

A movie or television series can make the book better. I enjoyed the HBO series Game of Thrones enough to watch it twice and then read the book. The HBO series brought the book’s intricate plot and richly drawn characters to life. It is a sweeping epic fantasy with charming and sinister knights, political intrigue, battles, love stories, supernatural forces, and even dragons. Although I could easily check out the second book in the series; I’m going to wait and watch season two of the HBO series first – in this case, for me, it is better that way.

“Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.”

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posted by Pam, Standley Lake Library

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FEBRUARY 6, 2012
Strange Musical Collaborations
Oh, Lou Lou!

So have you heard the travesty that is Lou Reed’s latest work, Lulu? Using Metallica as his backing band, Reed has created what many critics are calling the single worst album ever made. You can decide for yourself by getting the CD through the library, but please don’t retaliate afterward by doing something rash like petitioning to cut off our funding.

It’s definitely a strange collaboration, foreshadowed by a notorious live performance of “Sweet Jane” in 2009. Who in the world could listen to this and think, “Wow, Metallica and Lou Reed sound great together!” Only a pairing of Snoop Dogg and Kenny Rogers rapping Christmas songs while the Trans-Siberian Orchestra blares away in the background might be worse (though TSO can make almost anything sound classy).

The Lou Reed/Mettalica train wreck aside, I love it when different musicians team up in odd ways to produce something unexpected and jaw-dropping without being unlistenable. JCPL happens to have a few of my favorites:

Raising Sand  – Rock god Robert Plant meets bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss. This is a warm, rich album that caught everyone off-guard.

Seeking Major Tom  – Captain Kirk covers a lot of famous songs with a host of equally famous artists, including Brad Paisley and Peter Frampton.

Distant Relatives  – Rap meets Reggae as Nas works with Damian Marley on an album concerned with the well-being of Africa.

Duets - Lots of artists produce duet CDs, but I think this is one of the cooler ones, as opera star Pavoratti hooks up with everyone from Eric Clapton to Frank Sinatra to Lionel Ritchie while covering opera and pop rock standards.

Turtleneck and Chain - SNL’s Andy Samberg’s hilarious band is back with a ton of weird collaborations with celebrities, including director John Waters, Beck and Michael Bolton.

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posted by Sean, Standley Lake Library

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FEBRUARY 5, 2012
Civil War Classics
During this commemoration of the multi-year 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it seems appropriate to highlight some of the best in the JCPL collection. More has been written about the Civil War than any other American war so there is no shortage of choice, but these titles that have risen like cream.

Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era, by James M. McPherson, is an excellent single volume history with which to begin. He distills the best of 150 years of research and turns it into a flowing, Pulitzer-Prize-winning story.

The Civil War The Civil War, a Narrative. This unique three-volume set has a Southern slant that illuminates how much of what’s available is clearly from the Northern perspective. When Foote discusses the President, he means Jefferson Davis.

There are two “Great American Novels” from the Civil War. One is Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, published in 1895, about the interior life of a common soldier, Henry Fleming, and how he copes with cowardice and the reality of war. The second title is The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which also won a Pulitzer. Gettysburg and the generals involved create a breath-taking novel even for people who don’t have any background on the battle.

The Civil WarThe Civil War. This 11- hour film is full of the kind of details that make history fascinating. One of the commentators in this series is Shelby Foote and there are many quotations from Mary Chesnut's Civil War. Her diary from behind the Southern lines is full of both an insider’s (she was married to a Senator) and an upper-class citizen’s experience of the war.

One of my favorite quirky pieces in the JCPL collection is the "After Action Report" by Joshua Chamberlain. His humble, no-nonsense report is only six pages, describing his actions at Little Round Top at Gettysburg. It belies the later belief that this might have been the single most important turning point in the war. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

For Cause and ComradesFor Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War by James M. McPherson (see also the first title). He gathered letters and diaries, only things written at the time, to describe the kind of men they were. I had always wondered how Pickett got his men to walk across 3/4 of a mile of open, flat field in the face of heavy artillery and rifle fire. This book examines their political, spiritual and patriotic beliefs and shows how much has changed, and how little.

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posted by Sharon, Lakewood Library

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FEBRUARY 4, 2012
Pigeon English and Readalikes
Pigeon English by Stephan Kelman 
Recently emigrated from Ghana, Harri moves with his mum and sis to London. Full of gang-slang, Harri’s infectious voice charms readers, as he tries to solve a neighborhood murder.

 

 

If you enjoyed Harri's journey, you might also enjoy Chris Cleave’s breakthrough 2008 novel Little Bee for the issues and Room and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime for the charming voice.

Straddling two continents, Little Bee hails from Nigeria yet finds herself on the run in England. The two locales are bound by a horrific incident she encounters with a British couple on holiday near the conflict-ridden Niger River Delta. This novel is so remarkably different, with such a unique voice and compelling story that you won’t quit until it’s finished. A stunning story that breaks your heart with horror and makes you smile through your tears at courage you know you'd never have.

Emma Donoghue’s Room and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime immediately draw you in through the voice of two young narrators, who both face compromising situations as they interface with the worlds of imprisonment and autism.

In Room, a 5-year-old narrates a riveting story about his life growing up in a single room where his mother aims to protect him from the man who has held her prisoner for 7 years since she was a teenager. Your compassion will overflow for the courage of both of the wonderful characters.



In Curious, Christopher, despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with the world, sets out to solve a mystery of the death of a neighbor’s dog. His mathematical genius and obscure preferences and phobias do not overshadow his human kindness and curiosity, they only endear us to him.

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posted by Joanna, Standley Lake Library

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FEBRUARY 1, 2012
Book These Titles for Adventure
Tales from the edge: true adventures in Alaska - edited by Larry Kaniut
This book brings together a collection of real-life adventures and travel writing about America's last frontier in an anthology that features contributions by Dana Stabenow, Peter Jenkins, Spike Walker, Jay Hammond, Nick Jans and other outdoor writers. Lots of adventure in this one. 


The cruelest journey: 600 miles to Timbuktu - Kira Salak
Kira Salak was the first person to kayak solo 600 miles down West Africa's Niger River to Timbuktu which she recounts here. She has traveled alone to almost every continent and often to the most inhospitable locations. Try this title for adventure.



Four corners: one woman's solo journey into the heart of Papua New Guinea - Kira Salak
Another title by Kira Salak, the adventurer and talented storyteller, who achieved her goals of crossing Papua New Guinea and her lifelong dream of authorship with the above title. Here you find a well-crafted narrative which carries you through Papua New Guinea and the written page.


Kon-Tiki: across the Pacific by raft - Thor Heyerdahl
This account of Heyerdahl's expedition from Peru to Tahiti on a balsa wood raft is the classic adventure story. The author and 5 others made a 104 day journey across the Pacific Ocean in 1947. The story and photographs make this a must read. 

Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa - Karin Muller
Seeking a competitive edge in her judo practice as well as a fresh perspective on her life, Muller embarked on a yearlong quest to deepen her appreciation for such Eastern ideals as unquestioning commitment and single-minded devotion to detail. This memoir is the story of her search for harmony, or wa, and takes you into the centuries-old customs that underlie everyday life in Japan.

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posted by Christina, Lakewood Library

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