Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How's it going to end?

Someone asked me the other day about the new Lee Child novel 61 Hours. I said I loved the book but hated the ending. I will try not to ruin it for those of you who have yet to read it, but there may be some hints, so read with caution (or come back and read this after you've finished).

In the conversation, I was given a quizzical look and asked, "How can you love a book and hate an ending? If the ending is bad it ruins the whole book for me."

For me it is the journey, or in this case, the race. In Child's books it is all about pacing. He puts you in a place, an event happens and it is a roller coaster ride from there, so hold on tight. It slows down here and there, but that's to catch a breath before it launches itself into action. But for me this roller coaster ride ended too short. Maybe the book should have been 63 hours.

At the end of a book like that I like all my loose ends wrapped up. I don't like lingering questions and cliffhangers. I don't like having to wait months (or in some cases years) to find out what happened. I am impatient. I suppose that is why I only read series' after there are a bunch of books already published. And that is why I don't like TV shows that you must watch in sequence or risk being completely lost. Some people like the anticipation, not me. What about you?

One more thing about 61 hours. If you like to read books during the summer that are set in the winter, this has some vivid descriptions of brutal wind-chills that made me yearn for a scarf.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Reading and Relaying!

We all talk about how great it is that summer is here. No school, vacations, participating in the Summer Reading Club, lounging with a good book under a shady tree or next to a cool lake, but there is another sign that summer is here. It's our Des Plaines/Park Ridge Relay for Life. Last year was a special year for the Book Babes because we had so many people from the library join our team or stop by to visit our campsite in honor of Kathy and Barb. We also had a member of our team crowned Queen of the Relay! (If you don't know who was named Queen, just ask any of the people pictured in this group shot.) This is the "before" shot taken before midnight at our campsite. Read Karen's Plaintalk entry about the Relay to see the "after" picture taken at about 5:00 AM on Saturday. We're more tired (okay, we're limp dishrags) but we're still smiling.

This year we're walking again at Maine West High School from Friday evening, all night, through Saturday morning. We're walking especially for Bob (pictured front row right) who is now recovering from surgery. Come to our campsite on the track between 6 and 6 and have a Magic Cookie Bar!

Have you walked the Relay for Life before? (I'm the orange shirt in the middle with the crazy smile - Linda K.)

Summer Fun

Summer reading is known for its playful and escapist qualities, and in honor of that, roll the metaphorical dice and come play Greenopoly on the 3rd floor.

Our summer trivia game acknowledges the greenness of our fair city along with the diversity of materials on the Readers' Services floor.

It's simple to play and each week through August 1st there are 8 new questions to answer. That means many chances to win a $25.00 gift card to one of the "green" retailers in our area. Many thanks to the Friends of the Des Plaines Library for supporting this program.

Here are some details.

Celebrate the abundant natural and other green gifts of Des Plaines.

The 3rd floor of the Des Plaines Public Library.

Pick a question about a Des Plaines Park or other Des Plaines location and find the corresponding “board piece” on the 3rd floor. Answer the question and drop it in the TOP HAT.

Gifts cards to Pesche’s Flowers, Lurvey’s Garden Center, Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market and the Des Plaines History Center.

New Questions and Prizes Every Week! Stop by the Information Desk on the 3rd Floor for more details.

Greenopoly and Summer Reading Club 2010 are made possible by the generous sponsorship of The Friends of the Library.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Is Where the Pizzeria Is (Was)

I'd like to convey a note of remembrance for a great Des Plaines institution that closed its doors a year ago this month.

In my opinion, one of the most important establishments in any kind of town or city is a good local pizzeria. I suppose this stems from the fact that I grew up in Topton, PA, which had a population of just 2,000 people yet had two pizzerias: both were named Tony's, were owned by the same people, and were right around the corner from one another. To me, this unusual anomaly was always the principal factor that made Topton unique, but it also provided something else: a community center-point. I have many fond memories of going to Tony's after Little League games (it was a block or two blocks away from the baseball field, depending on which one you went to), or running to grab some pizzas for the cast and crew of the Drama Club when we had a break in between dress rehearsals in high school. In fact, while providing my mother-in-law with a recent whirlwind tour of Pennsylvania (she'd never been there before), we stopped and ate at Tony's. There, I bumped into a couple old friends (and their new kids) who had moved out of town as well but were back eating at Tony's.

"A place where everybody knows your name" may sound trite, but there's a reason why that phrase is oft repeated (besides the many epsiodes of "Cheers"): a local pizzeria offers familiarity, and with that comes peace and comfort. It also helps if the food is good, too.

When I started working at the library a few years ago, I didn't know Des Plaines very well. However, it only took me a little bit of time before I found the local pizzeria just down the street from the library: Depot Pizzeria at the Sim's Bowl & Lounge. The people there were extremely friendly and made their customers feel welcome. The pizza was great, and it was twice as better on Wednesdays due to it being half the cost.

What made me happiest, however, was seeing families with kids in little league uniforms coming in to the Depot during the summer. The time and location may have changed, but I was glad to see people still held the core values of fun, family, and food. I understand it was a long-standing establishment in the heart of downtown Des Plaines, and I feel lucky to have experienced a part of its tradition. While we are not sure what the future may hold for that particular spot of real estate, I wanted Depot Pizza to be recognized and remembered for the spot that it held in the heart of many Des Plainians. You are missed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

National Flag Week

Yesterday, June 14 was Flag Day, commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States of America by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. It's part of National Flag Week.

We Americans have been celebrating Flag day since the late 1800s.

Here are some fun flag facts with a few famous, and not so famous, folks:
(Sorry, I couldn't resist the alliteration.)

President Woodrow Wilson first officially proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. Then, in August 1949, an Act of Congress established National Flag Day.

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Legend has it that Betsy Ross was a seamstress who often made clothes for George Washington, and that in 1776, he asked her to sew the country's first flag. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Not quite...

USflag.org states that Francis Hopkinson should get the credit for the design of our first flag. A patriot, lawyer and congressman from New Jersey, he was appointed to the Continental Navy Board in 1776 and four years later put forth in writing that he had actually designed the first U.S. flag. Claims by relatives of Betsy Ross, an upholsterer who occasionally did sew flags, that she created the U. S. flag did not appear until one hundred years later.

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After witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to our national anthem. He was said to have been inspired by the sight of our American flag illuminated by the "red glare" of British incendiaries.

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Want to know more? Check these out at the library:

The Care and Display of the American Flag

Woodrow Wilson : A
Biography by John Milton Cooper

Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller

A Grand Old Flag: A History of the United States Through Its Flags by Kevin P. Keim

The Star-Spangled Banner; America the Beautiful CD by Whitney Houston

Flags of our Fathers DVD

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In 1914, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane delivered a Flag Day address in which he quoted the flag as if it had spoken to him directly. He said,
"I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Free Ravinia Lawn Tickets! Starry Nights of Classical Music!

Yes, it's that time again! As in the past, Ravinia has generously supplied local libraries with a limited number of tickets for our patrons. These are lawn tickets to classical music concerts (so no Sheryl Crow or Sting tickets), and a great opportunity to listen to first-rate classical performers in a beautiful setting.

Tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis on Saturday, June 19th from 9 am to 11 am by the entrance to Community Room A on the 1st floor. (The ticket line forms at the front door.) Any tickets available after that will be distributed at the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk. The ticket limit is 2 tickets per person.

Want to know what concerts we have tickets we for? Stop by the 3rd floor desk to view a list of available concerts and pick up a Ravinia concert schedule.

The third floor is also where you'll find classical music CDs--and all other music CDs--to check out. Some of our most recent acquisitions include the following:

Prokofiev: Piano Concertos 2 & 3 performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy and featuring one of my favorite pianists, Evgeny Kissin.

Beethoven: Complete Works for Piano and Cello performed by Simone Dinnerstein and Zuill Bailey (currently on the Billboard Classical Bestseller list).

Mendelssohn: Piano Trios performed by music legends Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax.

Happy listening and concert-going!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Phrase to Carry with You

There are times when a passage in a book sticks with me and resonates for more than it was intended. It might be a passage or just a phrase. But it sticks around and I am continually reminded of it in my day to day life.

I am currently reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. A beautifully written story about a pair of twins who grow up to be doctors. In the book, Sister Mary Joseph Praise has an adage she lives by that is repeated several times, "Make something beautiful of your life." What a simple phrase. What a simple purpose. For Sister Praise, attending to the sick is her way of making something beautiful of her life. For another character parenting is the purest way of making something beautiful. That line has remained in my mind as I have continued through the book.

Yesterday I found myself looking through some old photographs of local boys who fought in WWII. Many of them died in action. Make something beautiful of your life. And I thought of their unfinished painting, still beautiful, but as striking for what was undone as for what was done.

I look at my 3-year old son and think what beauty he will make of his life and what beauty he already has created. And I think of how much more I have been inspired to create and beautify because of him.

It was probably 20 years ago I first read the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The phrase in that book that has stuck with me is, "You've got to cross that lonesome valley..." I have crossed a few lonesome valleys in the years since, and that line (and that book) has comforted me, given me perspective.

I could list a few more examples, and I am sure there have been a million other equally poignant lines or passages that have gone unnoticed. But that is the beauty of books and the arts, they speak to us in ways far deeper than we expect, and we can take what they give and carry it with us.

Is there a phrase or passage from a book that has stuck with you through the years?

We are discussing the book Cutting for Stone at our Thursday Evening Book Club this week. Stop by if you've read the book.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coming Attractions July 2010

Add a bestseller to your summer reading list...

...click on the title to reserve your copy now!

James Lee Burke


J. A. Jance

Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

Nora Roberts

Daniel Silva

Jennifer Weiner