Showing posts from February, 2019

It’s a Mystery!

I read (and watch) a lot of mysteries --so many that I am always vaguely surprised that I have never stumbled onto a corpse – after all, in my “book world” the bodies are just everywhere!

Although I read a lot of mysteries, I have my preferences – for instance, I’m not crazy about the serial killer sort or cozies. I prefer series to stand-alones and I like my mysteries to be fairly substantial.

That said, I have one unbreakable rule: when reading series, I have to read them in order. If I can’t find the next book in the series, then that series is dead to me until I do. The internet means that keeping track of mystery series has gotten easier – no more poring over the title lists in the books to figure out what’s next – and my go-to resource is Stop, You’re Killing Me: a website devoted to mysteries.

The Stop, You’re Killing Me site’s tag line is “a website to die for … if you love mysteries” and that pretty much says it all. Each author has a page listing each series in chronological…

Locked Room Mysteries, Sort-of

I am sure you have heard of the genre “locked-room mysteries” – mysteries where the crime (most often murder) takes place in a location where, due to the circumstances, it is seemingly impossible for the culprit to have gotten in or out.  While thinking about this topic, I read what many list as the quintessential locked-room mystery, The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr (available to library patrons through our interlibrary loan service).  The crime takes place in an actual locked room, with other equally confounding situations occurring throughout the story.

Smithsonian Magazine credits Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” as being the first locked-room mystery.  This made me start thinking about what else I’ve read that falls into the locked-room category.  What I came up with are not traditional locked-room, but mysteries that give me the same feeling because of their locations.  A good example of this is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None

(Apologies to those …

Exploring Dungeons & Dragons at Your Library

In 1974, game designers Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson released Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that would continue to be played and enjoyed by gamers of all types for the next forty-four years. There is a good chance you have heard of Dungeons & Dragons in one form or another. Perhaps you remember it from Steven Spielberg’s E.T., have seen it played in any number of television shows such as Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, or Freaks and Geeks, or heard Weezer sing about it in “In the Garage.” Maybe you watched the cartoon series from the ‘80s or read a book that spawned from one of Dungeons & Dragons’ many and varied settings. Maybe you were around during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and remember the game’s supposed connection with the occult. And maybe you were lucky enough to have played it. If you haven’t played – don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time!

What is Dungeons & Dragons?

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a tabletop role-pla…

When your child says “I need a good book to read…” Help is here!!

Have a beloved favorite book from your childhood?  A book that you still remember how it felt to read it, the world it inhabited, and the characters you grew to love?

Books with great stories are still being written today!  But how to find them?  Certainly ask your local youth services librarians for recommendations - they are your go-to children’s literature experts!   

The American Library Association (ALA) also makes it easy to find memorable books for your child today! 

Every year in January, ALA announces its Youth Media Awards - the famous Newbery & Caldecott medals and honorary medals given to the best books of the year! 

The John Newbery Medal is for the best children’s fiction books of the year and the Caldecott Medal honors the best illustrated picture books of the past year. 
But there’s more!  Here are some of ALA’s other annual Youth Media Awards:  
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are awarded each year to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of boo…

Books to Get You Thinking

December is the month when major newspapers and journals traditionally delve into the thousands of books published during the year and make their selections of “best books” in both the fiction and nonfiction genres. It is an eclectic mix that encompasses a diverse range of topics, from history and current affairs to biographies, memoirs, technology and science.  This month’s column features a selection of nonfiction titles from the best books of 2018 that you can include in your list of Must Read titles.  I can think of no better way to spend those long winter evenings than nestling in your favorite armchair with a blanket and a good book!  All titles can be found at the Mercer County Library System.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

A deeply moving and inspirational memoir, Educated was named a top book by multiple journals and newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, The Guardian and the Financial Times.  It is the story of a young girl brought up in the…

Batting 1,000

This post is the 1,000th we have published on our blog since we started it in April 2009.  Since then we have featured regular posts, such as Books to Get You Thinking (114 posts) by Nita at our West Windsor Branch and Tech Topics (this is #120) from our information technology department, as well as posts for kids and adults on a variety of topics.  Kids Corner so far has 180 posts about music, books, crafts, and other activities for younger children.  Not surprising, since we are a library, the top adult topics feature 115 posts that offer advice on research and 112 on reading suggestions.  We also have produced 40 each on food, hobbies, and history.  But, it isn’t all about the numbers, although we are happy that we have thousands of regular monthly readers – our posts have been read 613,427 times in just under ten years!

I have been involved with the blog since that first post in 2009.  Heck, I wrote that first post in 2009!  Since then, I have gotten to know a lot by helping to e…

Show the Library Some Love: Join a Book Club

February is Library Lover’s Month, and I can’t think of a better way to use the library than for a book club. My book club has been together for over 13 years and we have read well over 100 books!  Coincidentally, I started working for the Robbinsville Branch soon after we got together.  I remember feeling intimidated at our very first meeting as I learned that 3 of our members are teachers (2 of them English teachers), and very well read. One of my fellow members talked about books she heard about on NPR! I didn’t listen to NPR! I thought to myself “How am I going to find anything worthy of them to read?” Yikes. Fortunately, I discovered different ways the Mercer County Library System gives people like me, or anyone interested in their next favorite read, many options. 

For instance, did you know that the MCL system offers a Book Club in a Bag program? Newly formed book clubs, or even old timers like mine, can find inspiration here. Everything you need is in the bag, which includes …


The term “foodie” first appeared in 1980 in a New York Magazine article by restaurant critic Gael Greene. According to Ann Barr and Paul Levy, in their Official Foodie Handbook (1984), a foodie is “a person who is very, very, very interested in food. Foodies are the ones talking about food in any gathering -- salivating over restaurants, recipes, and radicchio. They don’t think they are being trivial –foodies consider food to be an art, on level with painting or drama… the purpose of life is eating well.”

Dave DeWitt, author of The Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson and Franklin Revolutionized American Cuisine, defines foodies, for the most part, as amateur gourmets: “In the popular culture of the United States, foodies differ from gourmets, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. Gourmets are epicures of refined taste that are often food professionals—chefs, restaurant and winery owners and gourmet food manufacturers. Gourmets simply desire to eat the finest fo…