Showing posts from January, 2017

Books to Get You Thinking

The National Book Foundation was founded in 1950 with the aim of recognizing literary excellence. The National Book Awards, presented in November, expand the audience for literature through honoring American authors of different genres. On November 16, 2016, the 67th National Book Awards Ceremony was held in New York City and awards were announced in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature, in addition to the Foundation’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In her address, Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Association, stressed the vital role that literature plays in societies: “Let us remember that books give us hope, give us comfort, that they light our way, and that they bring us together. Together, we can work to make that community of readers bigger, and stronger, and more powerful.”

Robert Caro, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of several outstanding political biographies, won the medal for Distinguish…

Books into Television

If you ever take a look at the library’s Facebook page on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., you will see that I am a fan of mysteries, mainly based in the United Kingdom, and their corresponding television series. To me, these pairings fall into two categories—one where the television series is very similar to the books (or, as similar as it can be) and one where there are similarities, such as characters’ names, but the stories are completely different. This second category is easier to deal with since you can read the books as quickly as you like without worrying about ruining your viewing pleasure.

Here are some of my favorites and a few I have not seen because I do not want to watch the mystery before I read it! All are owned by the Mercer County Library System.
Murdoch Mysteries The Murdoch Mysteries television series is based on books by Maureen Jennings. The main character is William Murdoch, a detective with the Toronto police. The books and series take place in the 1890’s. Jenning…

Book Club in a Bag: "The Door" by Magda Szabó and More Things Hungarian

As you may know, the library has book kits that you can check out for your reading group. There are at least 117 kits as of this blog post!—take a look at the list in the catalog. You can also find kits in the catalog by searching the subject "book club in a bag". You may reserve the title by contacting the owning branch and the checkout period is a generous six weeks.

Usually, one member of the book group will reserve the book in a bag title, check out the books on her (his) library card, and later return all the books. Typically, there are 5 to 10 copies in each kit and the kit often includes discussion questions—a great way to make the book club happy! Here is one of the titles:
The Door by Magda Szabó
Recently my book group read one of the more obscure book in a bag titles: The Door by the Hungarian author Magda Szabó. Szabó (1917-2007) was unknown to me and my group, but she is major 20th century European author. Only a few of her novels are available in English. Merc…

The Constitution, Electors and Presidential Elections

Today is Inauguration Day and regardless of your political leanings, the election of 2016 had many people talking about the Constitution, how we elect a President and the history of our elections. A search through our collection reveals a few interesting tidbits about presidential elections—namely, the Electoral College was included due to the work of a local attendee to the Constitutional Convention and the 2016 election probably does not even come close to the drama of the election of 1800.

The main Constitutional debate in 2016 was about the Electoral College and why we even have it. Historically, the point behind using Electors and not the popular vote is rooted in the population numbers of certain states in the early years of the country. Certain states had populations that far outpaced most of the others in the young nation. In order to make the system fairer to the less populous states, electors were assigned to skew the results toward a more balanced representation. Not s…

A Librarian's Daughter: How I Am Raising a Reader and Library Lover

As a youth services librarian, the importance of reading to children is ingrained in me. My daughter is 19 months old and I have been reading to her, quite literally, since the day she was born. When packing my bag for the hospital, I knew it had to include books for my husband and me to read to her. Now, she absolutely loves books. Most of the time, she would rather sit and flip through her books or be read to than play with her toys or watch TV. She can point out colors, shapes, letters, numbers and animals. She even has some parts of her favorite books memorized and chimes in while I am reading. Although I stress the importance of reading to their children to other parents as part of my job as a librarian, it was not until I became a parent myself and watched the magic unfold in my own child that I truly understood the wondrous benefits of reading to children starting from day one.

As my daughter is getting older, she is starting to develop very strong opinions about which b…

'Tis the Season for ... New Year’s Resolutions

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as the old adage goes. But did you know a classic a week makes our world look less bleak? By diving into the world of classic literature, we improve the quality of our minds, and our lives. The most beloved characters of the literary world teach us important life lessons as they cope with loss and hardships with admirable strength and fortitude. Of course, I am not suggesting you read the classics every time you pick up a book. But why not select a classic novel every now and then? The next time you find yourself browsing the library shelves looking for a good book to read, check out a timeless classic and enjoy a deeply satisfying read.

You may well ask, what is a classic? As wittily opined by Mark Twain, a classic is a book that everyone praises and one that nobody actually reads! The definition of a classic literary work, according to Merriam–Webster, is a book “serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value.” When referring to the…

Be Careful With Chargers – Avoiding Headaches and Expensive Repair Bills

Some of the most frequent mistakes people make when dealing with technology at home and work are related to the chargers and transformers that come packaged with devices. Most of these mistakes stem from three big misconceptions about chargers—they are interchangeable, you can leave them plugged in all the time, and you can buy off-brands that are just as good as the real ones for a fraction of the cost. In most cases, these are partially true, but not paying attention to the device guidelines can cost you money down the road, whether it be to replace a burnt out charger or a costly home repair. Below are some tips that address the specific misconceptions, but one thing that covers all of them is to read the instructions about proper charging of the device. I know, who really ever reads the instructions? You do not have to read the full thing, but do at least skim the part about proper charging.

Let us start with the first one, that they are interchangeable. This problem center…

Get Back in Shape—Library Style!

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to get back in shape by exercising. Why not make the library your workout partner? The Mercer County Library’s exercise programs, fitness DVDs, high-powered music, books, magazines and databases about sports, medicine, and overall health are the resources you need to develop your own personalized fitness plan.

Step 1—Check with your doctor! To ensure your safety with your new personalized fitness plan, it is important to understand your body and any limitations you may have. If you need help locating a doctor, the library subscribes to a database called FolioMed New Jersey Medical Directory[in-library access only], which provides patrons with proprietary databases of physicians and healthcare facilities in the Northeastern United States.

Step 2—Try a few programs to see what interests you. Some of the classes the Mercer County Library System offers include yoga, chair yoga, Bollywood workout, posture exercises, wii bowling, active aging…

Books to Get You Thinking

An annual end of the year tradition for the editors of major newspapers, journals and media organizations is to select the Top Ten Books in both the fiction and nonfiction genres that were published during the year. As the year 2016 quietly slips away into history, we look back on some of the nonfiction titles that have defined the year and have been deemed to be truly outstanding. These titles have appeared in the Best Books 2016 lists of the New York Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Economist, Foreign Affairs, and Library Journal. The finest writing in 2016 deals with serious and difficult subjects that bring to the attention of the readers some of the most pressing problems of our times. All of these titles are available at the Mercer County Library System.

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich
Nominated as one of the Best Books of 2016 by The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, the book is authored by Svetlana …