Friday, July 27, 2012

Top Ten Lists OR The Agony and the Ecstasy

John Cusack in High Fidelity
A few days ago, I felt like I'd stepped into the novel High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. The novel's endearing anti-hero, Rob, played by John Cusack in the movie, is a record store owner and pop culture and list-making obsessive. Rob and and his record store co-workers are constantly creating "Top Five" lists, such as the Top Five Elvis Costello Songs and Top Five Favorite Records.

Now, on the face of it, this sounds like a fun exercise, and it can be. But as I tried to create a list of my own Top Ten CDs for the library's Staff Picks page, I found myself obsessing over what to include à la Rob and his friends. How many and which Bruce Springsteen CDs to include? Is three too many? (Nope.) How can I decide between the Beatles White Album and the 1967-1970 compilation I listened to incessantly as a teen? (I didn't. I ultimately selected 1, a compilation of their singles. While music purists like Rob might mock that choice, it IS the Beatles CD I listen to most these days--it's the one on my iPod.)

My final list can be viewed on the library's Staff Picks page here. You can also easily access the Staff Picks page by clicking on the link on the catalog homepage. (It's on a tab on the upper portion of the page, right next to the bestsellers link.)

There's something for everyone on the Staff Picks page, from Cathy's Top Documentary Films to Ms_Fitz's Top Nonfiction Picks to Teen Librarian Joanie's Teen Fiction Picks. There's even a Top Magazine List--Jackie's picks, including some lesser-known but really cool magazines like Tin House and Bust.

Inspired to create your own lists? You can do so in our online catalog. After logging in to your account, go to My DPPL, click on My Lists under My Collections, and select Create a New List.

Want to create a Top Five List of your own, à la High Fidelity? Share one in the comments section below!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Revisiting Old Favorites

I recently decided to watch one of my favorite childhood movies again and see if I still enjoyed it. I can remember watching Jurassic Park repeatedly circa age seven, and gobbling up any toys and picture books associated with the franchise. I memorized all the dinosaurs and their various abilities. It was very serious business for me at the time. 

When I sat down to watch it a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised by how great the movie still is to me. The dinosaurs are incredibly realistic and frightening 19 years after its initial release. At the same time, beyond the universally appealing drama and adventure, as an adult I can appreciate and understand more aspects of the plot. 

We all have favorite movies and books that seem to withstand the test of time. My other repeat favorites include Wes Craven’s Scream, one of my perennial Halloween-time picks. The blend of wit and horror always seems fresh and entertaining. Mean Girls still ranks as one of my favorite comedies and always makes me laugh out loud thanks to Tina Fey’s hysterical screenplay. 

Although I typically never reread books even if I really loved them due to the never ending list of books I want to read , I do revisit Stephen King’s The Stand every once and a while. There are always portions of the novel that resonate with me differently over the years. Moreover, the favorites I do tend to revisit always provide a comforting nostalgic appeal with every viewing.  

Are there any books, movies, or albums you find yourself revisiting every few years? If so what draws you to look at an old favorite time and time again? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Brrrrr! Cold Books and Movies for Hot Weather

The weather outside is a sunny 99 degrees and as I was outside running errands in this weather, I did my best to imagine myself cold. My dad always told us kids to do that whenever we complained about the heat. So I recalled this past winter when the thermometer dipped below freezing and my fingers and cheeks ached with cold. I longed for a bright and balmy summer day. I sought out beach reads and fun-in-the-sun movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith and Dirty Dancing.

Well call me fickle, but now that the sweat is trickling down my back, I'd like to escape to a winter wonderland. If you are like-minded and need a mental chill, take a snow day and check out one of these to watch:
  • Fargo
  • Better Off Dead
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Smilla's Sense of Snow
  • The Shining

or these to read:
  • Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • 61 Hours by Lee Child
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbo 

Settle in, grab a popsicle, and imagine yourself cold.

What other books and movies give you frostbite?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Literary Wanderlust

There are as many reasons to read as there are books in the world. Some people read to learn something new, or confirm something they already knew. Some people read out of obligation to school or work. Some people read to pass the time, or to get caught up in a thrilling plot. Some people read what is trendy, the bestsellers, what their friends tell them they just have to pick up. And some people read because they feel as if there are a thousand other lives inside them, lost lives they never lived and never will, and to read is to escape their own body for just a little while, and peek into another life.

That last one is me today.

I find myself in these moods where I feel like there is so little that I’ve experienced, that any one person has experienced, and I need to step into someone else’s skin. Or several people’s skin. These moods can be triggered by anything at any time-- a song on the radio, an article on the internet, a sound or a smell or a color that reminds me of being somewhere and someone else. I feel the urge to jump from body to body, and live every life I was never born into. I become fascinated with certain times and places (for instance, this morning I heard a Woody Guthrie song and wanted to go find my fortune in California in 1930), and the only way to satisfy this strange kind of wanderlust is to read until I’m full up and want to come home.

And it does happen eventually. Sometimes it takes longer than other times (I’d much rather stay in the wild of Alaska for a while than in 1970s Vietnam), but there’s no place like home. 

(Image: "Man on a Ladder" by Quint Buchholz)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Resurrecting the Classics

There are a number of characters having surfaced across the ages of literature who remain as timeless and relevant as ever. Either because of some essential relatibility or enduring charm, they have staved off the onset of being lost and forgotten among the personalities of so many unremembered stories. Not only are they still familiar to us in their original contexts but many have even been re-imagined by modern authors who, captivated by their tales, felt that their inken journeys were yet unfinished.

Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet first seen in Pride and Prejudice is perhaps the most oft' revisited character in English literature having inspired at least five film adaptations including a 1940 film with Mary Boland, the BBC television special starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, the more recent film featuring Keira Knightley, the Bollywood inspired film Bride and Prejudice, and not least of all Bridget Jones's Diary (inspired by the book by Helen Fielding which was a modern re-imagining of Bennet's story).

But Austen's most well-loved story has not only been revisited on-screen. In fact there are many authors still writing who have picked up the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy where Austen left off. The beloved Mystery writer P.D. James recently published Death Comes to Pemberley wherein James imagines that Darcy's foe Wickham has been murdered and chaos ensues. Sharon Lathan also picked up where Austen left off in her Darcy saga which begins with Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Carrie Bebris writes mysteries featuring the literary power couple--her series kicks off with Pride and Prescience.

But Elizabeth Bennet is not the only character to have had an entire sub-genre of fan-fiction unfold on her behalf.

If you enjoyed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jon Clinch's Finn explores the seedy characters surrounding Huck's father.

For fans of Sherlock Holmes Nick Rennison has compiled an Unauthorized Biography, imagining a Victorian London wherein Holmes was a real-life figure. In the anthology The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes beloved authors such as Stephen King and Peter Lovesey each contribute a new Holmes adventure. BBC has envisioned a modern retelling of the adventures of Holmes and Watson in the new television series Sherlock.

For those who prefer modern adventure James Bond and Jason Bourne have long outlived their authors.Carte Blanche (2011) sees Agent 007 going strong re-imagined by Jeffrey Deaver nearly half a century after the death of Ian Flemming who originally penned Bond's exploits. The Bourne Imperative (2012) is the most recent installment in Robert Ludlum's acclaimed series written by Eric Lustbader eleven years after Ludlum's passing. Both series have (of course) spawned lucrative film franchises which begin respectively with Dr. No and  The Bourne Identity.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Audiobooks - Free, Fun and for the Teen in all of us.

Inspired library staff would like you to know about a summer audiobook program for young adult (an older!) listeners that has been organized by the audiobook industry, and the company Overdrive - MyMediaMall. It's called Sync. It's easy to use and has the feeling of community built in -- like a Summer Reading Club. Two specially selected MP3 audiobook titles a week can be downloaded and enjoyed throughout the summer. Listen after the day is done. Listen around the kitchen table as a family. Take a walk with a great storyteller narrating through your earbuds.

The books each week include a popular contemporary title and a related classic title. Since these have been chosen by the audiobook publishers to promote their industry, they are the best of the lot with talented actors as readers. The idea of pairing contemporary and classic titles invites discussion.

It's easy to get started, especially if you have already used Overdrive MyMediaMall audiobooks from the library. All the how-to's are on the Sync website, but basically you download the Overdrive Media Console to your computer or use the APP for your mobile device. From then on just download the audiobook offerings from audiobooksync.com. Once downloaded you can listen to the titles all summer.

I'm impressed with this private/public program. Let us know if you are too. Write us at readersservicesdesk@dppl.org

Current and Upcoming Titles

July 5 – July 11, 2012
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Read by August Ross
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Read by Ian Holm

July 12 – July 18, 2012
Guys Read: Funny Business by Jon Scieszka [Ed.] et al., Read by Michael Boatman, Kate DiCamillo, John Keating, Jon Scieszka, Bronson Pinchot
The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories by Mark Twain, Read by Norman Dietz

July 19 – July 25, 2012
Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter, Read by Kirsten Potter
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, Read by a Full Cast

July 26 – August 1, 2012
Pinned by Alfred C. Martino, Read by Mark Shanahan
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

August 2 – August 8, 2012
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Read by Khristine Hvam
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Read by Simon Prebble

August 9 – August 15, 2012
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, Read by Rupert Degas
Dead Men Kill by L. Ron Hubbard, Read by Jennifer Aspen and a Full Cast

August 16 – August 22, 2012
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, Read by Jay Laga’aia
The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Read by William Roberts

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Battle of the Bands- This Friday!

Summer is, in my opinion, the best time to be at the library. The magazines and light beach-reads are plentiful, the AC is always a giant relief in 100 degree weather, and best of all, during the Summer Reading Club, it seems like there is always a great event going on at the library. Take this week for example-- this Friday (July 6) is Battle of the Bands right here on Ellinwood, outside the library! It starts at 6pm, and features several local teen bands.

The line-up so far includes:

Dive Bomber
Peyote River
Saving Sanity
Storm the Front

Come eat pizza (courtesy of the Des Plaines Park District), hang out, and vote for your favorite group. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite band!