Showing posts from March, 2016

Books to Get You Thinking

What lies beyond our earth in the farthest recesses of the Universe? It is a question that has intrigued and fascinated us from earliest times. Despite the remarkable progress that has been made over the past century in helping us better understand the structure of the Universe and the extraordinary cosmological events occurring in its vast expanse, there is much that still remains a mystery. It was Albert Einstein’s (1879 - 1955) seminal work that provided an elegant mathematical framework to study how the spacetime continuum is influenced by the all-pervasive gravitational field. One of the remarkable results of this theory is the fact that space and time expand or contract in response to the presence of matter and energy. Just as a stone thrown into a pool of water results in ripples travelling outwards, the gravity waves emanating from a change in matter create ripples in the spacetime topology. The search for concrete evidence for gravity waves has been a long and ongoing scien…

Spring Fever via Movies

Springtime….it’s here. You can smell it in the air. The blooming flowers and budding trees relay nature's message that we've made it to the end of the winter months. Parents anticipate the longer days of sunlight, getting their kids outside to partake in organized outdoor activities or to play in the fresh air in the backyard. Baseball fanatics can hardly contain themselves as they follow their team of choice through its spring training. Families are dusting off their swim gear for their spring break excursions that are just around the corner.

Of course, spring also brings those rainy days, creating ideal conditions to hunker down and catch a movie. The Mercer County Library's collection, which includes feature films, documentaries, and foreign films, contains over 100 baseball productions alone! If you can’t get outside to enjoy the weather, take a look at what our branches have to offer. You can easily experience green gardens, spring break, baseball, and lovely spring-l…

You Are What You Eat

While they have surely been successful at keeping themselves thin, I really do not want Gwyneth Paltrow and Alicia Silverstone preaching at me about food. We all know their message: eat healthier, live healthier. However, when their books are full of pretentious pretty people and all-too-beautiful pictures of food assembled meticulously with tweezers and lit perfectly? I do not live in that world.

My world involves me getting home after work and trying to get a healthy dinner on the table, quickly, for hungry family members who are busy, too. I know how important it is to eat more plants and better food, but my world is not assembled with tweezers and rarely is it perfectly lit.

Sometimes my world involves cursing.

I am not alone. There has been a bit of a backlash against the pretty, twee image of vegan and healthy-diet cookbooks. People who live in the real world are looking for healthy food they can make quickly and easily, without breaking the bank on specialty ingredients. Lucki…

Would You Travel Back in Time?

They say that all good things come in threes, and this is certainly true for three recently published young adult books about time travel. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, Into the Dimby Janet B. Taylor, and The Girl from Everywhereby Heidi Heilig all contain time traveling heroines. Is it a coincidence that these three authors have written about time traveling teenagers right around the same time? I think not! With the major success of the television and book series Outlander, a story written by Diana Gabaldon about a woman from the 1940s who travels back in time to the eighteenth century Scottish Highlands, writers and publishers are certainly smart to capitalize on this cultural phenomenon. As a big fan of Outlander (a book series which I highly recommend for adults who enjoy historical fiction or romance), I was looking forward to reading these three young adult time traveling adventures, and I definitely was not disappointed.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken follows the story of Ett…

One Last Dip in the Groove

Two old friends of mine recently asked me for advice on setting up a vinyl playback system, so I explained what sounds best and how to do it cheaply. One of them loves Martin Scorsese-directed films so much that I just knew his renewed interest in records has a lot to do with the new Scorsese-created TV show called Vinyl– to such an extent that I did not even bother asking. Anyway, since most of the advice I gave was about phono cartridges, and how they can sound wildly different and can employ differing technologies, it occurred to me that I should make one final blog post related to vinyl records – and make it specifically about phono cartridges (the most critical aspect affecting sound quality). So here goes:

Moving Magnet Cartridges
Most phono cartridges you have ever heard – or the most common – are “moving magnet cartridges.” These are not the cartridges most audiophiles tend to use, although certain classic ones have a devoted following (such as the Shure V15 series). Generall…

Celebrate Irish Writers

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, now is the time to check out books by writers from Ireland’s native shores, available at the Mercer County Library System.

The Granta Book of the Irish Short Storyedited by Anne Enright
Lyrical, dark, comic or iconoclastic, the Irish short story has always punched well above its weight. Anne Enright has brought together a dazzling collection of Irish stories by authors born in the twentieth century, including Colm Toibin, Mary Lavin, Frank O'Connor, William Trevor, Claire Keegan, Kevin Barry, and others. With a pithy and passionate introduction by Enright, The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story traces this great tradition through decades of social change and shows the pleasure Irish writers continue to take in the short-story form. Deft and often devastating, the short story dodges the rolling mythologies of Irish life to produce truths that are delightful and real.

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin (author of Brooklyn)
“Toibin's 10th novel …

Tech Tip: SVU: The Official NHL App

I remember April 2, 1972 as though it were yesterday.

In 1971, my brother and I somehow discovered the sport of hockey. There’s a bit of a weird hive mind quality to kids such that when one kid “discovers” something and begins to obsess over it, every kid in the area does; and that’s what happened in my neighborhood with hockey circa 1971-72. We began to play street hockey with other kids in our Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoodNote 1A largely Catholic neighborhood so, needless to say, there was no shortage of kids. If you’ve seen Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and remember the scene with the Yorkshire Catholic family, it pretty accurately depicts the consequences of Catholic family breeding practices in those dark days. – a lot of it; year-round. We also became avid fans of the Flyers, Philadelphia's professional hockey team. The Flyers were chasing a playoff berth all season and their fate came down to their final game on the last day of that 1971-72 season, as fates typi…

Board Books

Many children’s first books will probably be board books. The tough, durable, thick cardboard pages make them a good choice for little readers who like to physically interact with their books. They are a great introduction to reading and promote early literacy. By reading board books to your child, you show them how pages are turned left to right and how pictures help tell a story along with the text. Babies and toddlers may want to “read” the board books themselves by flipping the pages and describing the pictures. Often classic children’s picture books are shortened in board book format which fits younger readers’ attention spans more appropriately.

Classic Children’s Stories as Board Books
The Mitten by Jan Brett
A traditional Ukrainian folktale retold with Jan Brett’s signature beautifully detailed illustrations. Various winter animals seek shelter from the snow in a boy’s discarded white mitten until it is full to bursting!

A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn
A mother …

Books to Get You Thinking

The financial markets got off to a rocky start in 2016 with the overriding fear that global economic growth was slowing down. All eyes were on China - as the world’s second largest economy, China has an important role. The Chinese economy has been faltering with the manufacturing sector contracting for ten straight months. China’s challenges will likely have a destabilizing effect on the entire global economy. Any economic slowdown in China would mean less demand from consumers in China and would translate into lower revenues for producers from around the world. This month’s selection includes books focused on different aspects of China, both economic and political. They answer many questions that readers may have about the evolving ties between the US and China and their ramifications, their mutual interdependencies, and the future role of China as a dominant global force in the political and economic arenas.

Dealing with Chinaby Henry Paulson
A former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Henry Pa…