Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Monday, December 29, 2003

Imagine a village devoted to books... sigh

Sixpence House is Paul Collin's book about moving to Hay on Wye in Wales. This village of 1,500 has 40 mostly used/antiquarian bookstores. It is a book lovers bliss to visit, but Paul and his young family decide to relocate to Hay.

This is a charming book that will appeal to book lovers and to readers who enjoy titles like a Year in Provence.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Quiet best seller

In 1944, it came out. It hasn't been out of print for almost 60 years without any marketing efforts. It has sold almost 1.2 million copies. Have you guessed yet? Probably not. The book is The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is as relevant today as it was then.

All kids long to fit in and it is hard for Wanda, a young Polish American girl. She wears the same faded dress everyday and is mocked by kids in her class. Wanda claims to have a hundred dresses at home. When Wanda, her brother and father move away to a place where they can be accepted, her classmates must deal with their feelings about their behaviour. Most kids have been on both sides of this fence and will really relate to The Hundred Dresses. Besides a great book for kids to pick up, this book would make a great way for teachers and parents to start a discussion about teasing.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Holiday ideas

Books always make a great gift. They are never a size too small or too large. They tell the recipient, "I think you are smart and would love a book."

What are some that I would recommend?:

*Harry Potter - you can't go wrong with a gift of Harry Potter. It is great for all ages.
*No Flying in the House by Brock - This is a classic book for girls just starting chapter books and happily back in print in paperback
*Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Gannett - Another classic for kids, which is now available as one volume. This is also a great read aloud book.
*Christmas Menorahs by Cohn - The true story of how a town fought a hate crime and how it brought them together.
*Silver Packages by Rylant - A man rescued in the Appalachian mountains repays the dept by giving silver packages to kids from the back of a train year after year. This is the story of the impact those packages have on the life of one boy.

*For Matrimonial Purposes by Daswani - a chick lit book set an Indian family with a daughter to marry off
*War of the Flowers by Williams - a massive fantasy book from the master. A diary left to Theo Vilmos sets off events between the world of the fairies and our world.
*Big House by Colt - A man looks back on his family's tale when the family summer house must be sold. A great work of nonfiction
*Following Foo by Wong - Actor BD Wong's book about his premature son. A touching and funny tale.
*Cooking for Mr. Latte by Hesse - A true courtship with recipes.
*Fool's Puzzle by Fowler - The first of her Benni Harper mysteries. Not to be missed.
*Big Bad Wolf Tells All by Kauffman - a fluffy chick lit romance, Tanzy likes bad boys, so when she is in danger her aunt hires a body guard who has to pretend to be a sheep not a wolf.

Don't like these? Ask at your local library for ideas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Your own library of 10,000 books

Have you always imagined your own library? With one of those little ladders that rolls around the walls? Me too. I can't give you that, but Project Gutenberg has reached 10,000+ volumes online. These classic books are available free of charge to anyone who wants to use them.

Project Gutenberg enters books that are no longer covered by copyright and makes them available to anyone who would like to read them. So next time you want to read Scarlet Letter, Plato's Republic, Wind in the Willows and thousands more just go to Project Gutenberg.

Go look for a favourite. If it isn't in there, they are also always looking for proofreaders and people to enter text (type or scan).

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Glory of Gamers

I will say right off that I played my first computer game on an old PDP in the basement of the math department around 1975. It was a version of the board game Risk, which took much longer to play online. I also vaguely remember a really bad Star Trek game. My brothers were big D&D players. My mother would take station wagon loads of teen boys on long road trips to Columbus to buy 12 sided dice and the latest dungeon master guidebook.

I don't play computer games anymore, but when I saw Dungeons and Dreamers I had to read it. Brad King and John Borland chronicle the rise of computer games from the games of the 1970s. They go from the early online MUDs to founding fathers of games like Richard Garriott. Even if you are not a big gamer this book will pull you in. I think they do a great job of creating the atmosphere of how it was in the beginning. They interviewed most of the big names in the rise of gaming. It also looks at things from the gamers perspective. A fun read!

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Pink and Say

Did you ever think a picture book could break your heart? Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco is such a book. This is the story of Polacco's great-great grandfather Say Curtis.

Say fought in the Civil War at the age of 15. In battle he wounded and is saved by a young black boy, who is also fighting. Pink (Pinkus) Alyee is the first black person Say has ever met. Pink has even met Lincoln. Pink's family shelters him from the southern soldiers at great cost. Later the two boys are captured and sent to Andersonville.

Pink is hung in Andersonville and Say makes it a family tradition to pass on the story of his friend. This is the hand shook that shook the hand ... of Lincoln.

This is a powerful book showing the high cost of war and the power of a friendship.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Here at the library, we recently had a class on historical fiction. Linda L. brought and discussed The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. She hooked me. The novel is part of a trilogy about Josephine, the wife of Napoleon. Written as a diary, Gulland's research shows in it's detail, but not in a clinical or dry way. There is a guide in the back for book club discussions as well as genealogical charts and time lines.

The first volume opens on Martinique, when Rose, as she was known then, gets a diary for her 14th birthday from her her Aunt Desiree in France. Shortly after she sneaks off to a voodoo woman and get's her forturne told. "You will be unhappily married. You will be widowed. You will be queen." The first volume goes up to her wedding to Napoleon. Linda is now reading the second in the series Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe and says it is even more engaging. The final volume is The Last Great Dance on Earth.