Thursday, July 29, 2010

Greenopoly: it's the PLAY in Work. Learn. Play.

August 1 marks the end of our summer reading clubs, including Greenopoly, the 3rd floor game featuring Des Plaines parks and cultural institutions, like the History Center, the Self-Help Closet and Food Pantry and the Frisbee Center. Over 700 answers were submitted by our loyal patrons so far, and we've given out several gift cards to the winners, including cards to Pesches', Lurveys' and Joe Caputo's. ( Flowers and produce - it's all green, man!)

So, if Greenopoly was the summer book club, where were the books? Well ... everywhere. You can't imagine how many times patrons have told us that they didn't realize we had something in the collection, like, "I didn't know you had magazines", or "I didn't know you had books in Polish"or "I didn't know you had such a clever and imaginative Readers' Services staff". (Actually, the only time I hear that last statement is when I talk to myself, but theoretically a patron could say it someday.) Greenopoly was our attempt to entice patrons to walk around the 3rd floor and behold the abundance and diversity of our collection not to mention the abundance and diversity of parks in Des Plaines! The library's logo says "Work. Learn. Play." We at the Readers' Services desk are obviously partial to "Play", and we found hundreds of patrons who agree.

If you liked the game, kindly let us know. If you think we should try something else next summer, we'd like to hear that too. And as always, we offer our hearty thanks to The Friends of the Library who so graciously support the summer reading clubs and who paid for all the gift cards.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Independents Day: The Indie Bestseller Lists

Many book lovers are familiar with the New York Times Bestseller lists and the Publishers Weekly Bestseller lists, the latter of which you can find at the public service desks at the library. But if you want a different perspective, check out the Indie Bestseller lists, formerly known as the Book Sense Bestseller lists.

As the the graphic above indicates, these lists are based on book sales at independent bookstores nationwide. While the Indie Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list has some titles in common with the Publishers Weekly Hardcover Bestseller list, including the latest titles by Janet Evanovich and James Patterson, the Indie list generally features additional offbeat and/or literary fiction titles.

The July 22nd Indie fiction list includes British author David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which The Washington Post characterizes as "a rich historical romance set in feudal Japan, an epic in sacrificial love, clashing civilizations and enemies who won't rest until whole families have been snuffed out. Yes, the novelist who has been showing us the future of fiction has published a classic, old-fashioned tale. It's not too early to suggest that Mitchell can triumph in whatever genre he chooses."

Another title on the Indie list is Mr Peanut by Adam Ross, the recipient of rave reviews as well as high praise from authors including Richard Russo, Stephen King and Scott Turow. Joanne Wilkinson of Booklist describes it as: "Powerful . . . delivers one scorching scene after another. Ross is interested in all the soul-killing ways men and women try and fail to achieve intimacy. And [with] noirish sensibility and elegant prose, he wraps his age-old theme in a confounding yet mesmerizing format."

I also really like the Specialty Indie Bestseller lists on subjects including personal finance, baseball, poetry, music, and politics and current events.

Check them out for ideas about what to read next, or, as always, feel free to stop by the Readers' Services desk for suggestions.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Big Reads of Summer

What makes a great summer read? Is it the sheer size of the book? If so, the latest sensation by Justin Cronin, titled The Passage, may be just the ticket. At over 700 pages it is sure to keep even the fastest reader occupied for a long weekend. I read it over the 4th of July holiday and enjoyed it so much I hated to see it end. It's about vampires, it's about a military experiment gone horribly wrong, and it's about the world starting all over again. Best of all it's the first book in what is expected to be a trilogy. While there's nothing wrong with small books, there's just something special about a huge book that looks like a big old doorstop. Some of my favorite "big" reads over the years have included Under the Dome by Stephen King, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. What are some of your favorite "big reads of summer?"

(My cat Maggie loves big books as much as I do but instead of reading them, she has fun jumping over them and knocking them down.)

Linda Knorr

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reality DVD

Who would have thought a trailer advertising HBO Documentaries before the feature film Crazy Heart would be a smart move? But some ad exec must have done some research on academy award winning films and documentary film viewers, and bingo, hit the target with me in the audience. I knew nothing about the ten week HBO Documentary summer series until then. Catching the shows on Monday nights will be a challenge, but I like knowing they are there.

Conveniently checked out from our library though, I recently watched three documentaries on DVD. As it happens, none were produced by HBO.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein questions freedom of speech in the intelligent design debate. Academics and scientists from around the world argue passionately in this controversial satirical film.

Cover Girl Culture, a film produced by Women Make Movies, interviews the staff of Teen Vogue, therapists and teenage girls to understand our society's obsession with beauty.

Lastly Afghan Star. This is a film about an American Idol type competition in Afghanistan. The imitation of our show is delightful but then the implications of men and women singing in public for a nation in conflict with the Taliban become apparent.

New documentaries are added to the collection every month and some will probably be from this summer's hbo series. If you need help finding a good one, just ask.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Try us, you'll like us!

While at the Readers Services desk this past week, a patron came by with a question regarding a particular book she was searching for. The catalog said it was on the shelf, yet it wasn't where it should have been. Through our combined efforts (ie. following significant hunches) we were able to locate the book in an area that was outside the scope of the original search. The bottom line? Success: someone walked out the door in possession of the item she came in looking for. I was glad she had stopped to ask for assistance.

While we may be working on something or answering the phone wearing masks (the picture is from Halloween a few years ago), our top priority is to assist you, the patron. Some people act apologetically when they approach the Readers Services desk for help; I imagine others don't approach at all, unfortunately, thinking we are too busy to assist them. Nothing is farther from the truth - we are there at the desk to help you, everything else is secondary to that purpose. We have many resources at our disposal that could assist you in what you are searching for. Or, if you are not sure of what your target is, we can help you figure that out, too. Stop by, say hi, and let us be a part of your experience here at the Des Plaines Public Library!

For a while the Readers Services department motto has been "In certain areas, yes. In other areas, also yes." I'd like to add the phrase stated in the title, "Try us, you'll like us!"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Have you read this?

This is not your typical summer read, I know, but if you're interested in how things work and you're not too squeamish, I recommend adding Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach to your summer reading list.

From the first autopsies in the time of King Ptolemy I of Egypt in 300 B.C., to the once-living crash test dummies of the present day, in Stiff, Mary Roach examines what happens to our bodies after we die. Sometimes bizarre, often inspiring, and always fascinating, these true accounts of the 2,000 year history of the human cadaver and how it has impacted scientific discovery are told with wit and compassion.

My husband recommended it to me a few years ago, and, after listening to him laugh his way through his second reading of it, I gave it a go. I have to tell you, in these stories, dead people are fun!

Just look at a few of the chapter headings:
  • A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Practicing surgery on the dead
  • Dead Man Driving: Human crash test dummies and the ghastly, necessary science of impact tolerance
  • The Cadaver Who Joined the Army: The sticky ethics of bullets and bombs
  • How to Know if You're Dead: Beating heart cadavers, live burial, and the scientific search for the soul
Stiff was published in 2003, but I've read it twice now, a few years apart, and Ms. Roach's treatment of this delicate subject is a masterful balance of humor and respect that never goes out of fashion. It is wonderfully written and backed by impeccable research. I know I'll revisit it again and again.

If this looks like something you'd like to read (and maybe talk about) head over to the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk at the library. We'll be talking about Stiff at the next Thursday Evening Book Discussion - July 8 at 7:30 PM in the Heritage Room. Sign up and pick up a copy of the book.

Other books by Mary Roach:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coming Attractions August 2010


Click on the title to reserve your copy now!

Sandra Brown

Robin Cook

Philippa Gregory

W.E.B Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV

Linda Howard

Faye Kellerman

Kathy Reichs

James Patterson & Liza Marklund

Elie Wiesel