Friday, November 30, 2012

November Noir

November is National Novel Writing Month. A month in which aspiring writers all over the country flock to NaNoWriMo's website to commit to writing every single day in November to kick-start their creative drives. Our very own Des Plaines Library staff is in on the action this November with a Murder in the Des Plaines Library mystery novel which is available to to read here for any party interested in a little bit of municipal murder. As of today, the novel is complete, so you won't even have to suffer any unnecessary suspense!

That's not the only place to look for a new Mystery, though; we've got a lot of great recently arrived titles and coming attractions by beloved authors like Janet Evanovich and J.D. Robb. Or, pick up a darker read by Swedish author Helene Tursten. For a complete list of new and upcoming Mysteries and availability details, click here.




Monday, November 26, 2012

A Look Back at Des Plaines

Images of America: Des Plaines is a new book, just released today! 

Part of a series of local pictorial histories produced by Arcadia Publishing, it affords a fascinating glimpse into the Des Plaines of the past. Using photographs from it’s own substantial archives, along with those of local residents, the Des Plaines History Center collaborated with our very own David Whittingham of the Readers’ Services department here at the library to create this unique treasury our city's memories.

I grew up here in Des Plaines so I've always figured that I know this town pretty well. It's landmarks and history feel familiar to me. Among this book’s 200 photographs, there were places and incidents I recognized instantly, like the old McDonald's, the Methodist Campground, and the crash of Flight 191. But there were also a number of surprises inside, like the legacy of Socrates Rand and the town’s reputation as a leisure destination. Part nostalgia and part discovery, Images of America: Des Plaines uses photographs to tell the intriguing story our city.

The book will be available for purchase at the: 

Saturday, December 1st from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM in  Friends Room B/C. 

David Whittingham will be there so come and get your book signed by the author! What a wonderful gift idea for a long-time resident.

On December 14th from 5:30PM to 7:30 PM celebrate with us at a book launch party here at the library! Author David Whittingham will talk about making the new book. Plus, we'll have an introduction to the new Des Plaines history portal, desplainesmemory.org by librarian Steven Giese.

You can also buy Images of America: Des Plaines at the Des Plaines History Center's gift shop or online at Amazon.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Am I Thankful For (Des Plaines Public Library edition)

It is Thanksgiving season and that always leads me to think about what I am most thankful for. I could provide you with a list of everything in the whole world that I am thankful but that would be a rather long list and I don't want the whole world to know just how much I love things like Wendy's Baconator sandwich (but it is awesome!).  So here are five things about Des Plaines and our library that I am grateful for:

1. The People: I love working here. I have so many great coworkers whom I consider tmy friends. Whether it is talking books sports or our families, it is a great place to be. We are all much closer than coworkers and it really feels like a family.

2 The Collections: I love the books, the music and movies and all the different ways I can access them (digitally, in person, audibly, visually, etc). Have you checked out Zinio? or Freegal?

3. The Public. Public is the Des Plaines Public Library's middle name. There are folks who I look forward to seeing, talking with, and helping. I love the way the community uses and supports the library. Our patrons make the library fun and vibrant and memorable. Thanks for making my day every day.

4. The nearby Restaurants: OK. maybe I love my food a little too much, but there are so many great restaurants here in Des Plaines. I could list them all but that is what Yelp is for. My favorites are Paradise Pup, The Choo Choo, Via Roma, Mexico and Little Villa (and I really miss the pizza from the Depot Pizzaria and bowling alley).

5. The River. What the river? Really? The Des Plaines River is a metaphor for Des Plaines and for life. Several times over the summer I found myself sitting by the river watching it go by. It might be murky and seem a bit slow moving, but there is an abundance of life both within the river and springing up along the shores. And just when I have stopped thinking about it, it surprises me. It could be the sight of a fisherman, the change of a season, or a flood, but it wakes me up and makes me thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving Des Plaines.

Friday, November 16, 2012

David Bowie & Bing Crosby and Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse: What Do These Pairs Have in Common

Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse
It seems like every singer over a certain age has released a CD of duets in the last ten years, usually sharing the microphone with singers decades younger. Think Tony Bennett and Jerry Lee Lewis.

At my most cynical, I think of an old Saturday Night Live sketch, in which Joe Piscopo impersonates Frank Sinatra recording an album of duets with younger, hipper singers in an attempt to reach a younger audience. Piscopo as Sinatra calls the album, “Frank Sings Tunes the Young People Will Enjoy.”

While I think there’s some truth to the sketch, I nevertheless love the results of one such duet: Body & Soul performed by Tony Bennett and the late Amy Winehouse. Although Bennett is not a performer I seek out—he’s a little too smooth for my taste, his music too “easy listening”—pair him with Winehouse, whose voice crackles with warmth, and you’ve got a great duet. She brings her distinctive voice and edge and tension to the song, which was her father’s favorite, and when she and Bennett harmonize, the contrast of their voices and the way their voices rise and dip above and below one another is bewitching.

Fact is, duets done right can be sublime, and given the inherent drama of two people singing to one another, it’s no surprise that some of the best were written for musical theater. My musical theater favorite is One Hand, One Heart from West Side Story, sung by the characters Tony and Maria. With Bernstein’s gorgeous chord changes and soaring melodies and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, One Hand, One Heart is one of those songs that takes music--and the listener--to new heights. It’s been recorded by everyone from Barbara Streisand and Johnny Mathis to cast members of Glee, but I’ll stick with the Original Broadway Cast Recording with Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert.

Another lovely duet is The Sea of Heartbreak, recorded by Roseanne Cash and Bruce Springsteen for Cash’s album The List. Roseanne’s father, Johnny Cash, recorded the song, as did Don Gibson in the 1960s, but it makes for a perfect duet with Cash and Springsteen. Both of them capture the longing in the lyrics, and Bruce practically croons on this song—in a good way. (For some reason, singing on other artists' records often brings out his prettiest singing, whether he’s singing with Roseanne Cash or Roy Orbison.)

Some other great duets are:

You Mean So Much to Me performed by Southside Johnny and Ronnie Spector on the album I Don't Want to Go Home (which DPPL cardholders can download for free via Freegal).

You Can Close Your Eyes performed by James Taylor and Carole King, a show-stopper in the documentary Troubadours: The Rise of the Singer-songwriter. (But to hear their performance in full, check out Carole King’s CD Live at the Troubador.)

Sweet Jane performed by Maria McKee and Bono.

And while it’s not a personal favorite, for sheer weirdness I have to mention The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

What's your favorite duet? Or what two singers would you most like to hear perform together? (I'd most like to hear Bruce Springsteen and the amazing Maria McKee, who in a better world would be better known.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Internetless, or How the Library Saved Me Again

In Miranda July's indie film "The Future," her character Sophie greets her husband Jason at the door as he is coming home one day, frantically telling him she's cancelled their internet service for the next month, and they have just enough time to "look up important things" before it shuts off entirely. While watching this film with my own husband, he (I had assumed) jokingly asked me what I'd do if he did that. Not wanting to reveal myself as a complete internet addict, I told him I'd be just fine. "It might even be fun" were my famous last words.

I did not realize he'd been inspired.
I was decidedly not fine.

We don't subscribe to cable or any newspapers. I rarely buy music, choosing instead to stream it for free online. Most of my friends, I keep in contact with through email or Facebook. The internet is our window to the world at home. It's what we have instead of practically everything else. So when it was gone, what could I do? How was I going to entertain myself and the young children that frequent my house, and magically know all the things the internet provided information for, like knitting patterns?

Well, the first day, I cleaned. Then I walked around, admiring my cleaning. Then, when I realized I was about to go stir crazy, I went back to the library.

I got 10 magazines, 5 dvds, 2 books, and, of course, checked my email, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and used the wifi to download all my favorite podcasts onto my ipod. Within just half an hour, I was all set to go home and not be completely bored, clueless, and isolated from civilization.

That was a few days ago. Since then, I have calmed down. I've stopped sadly walking the edges of my house, hoping against hope that one of my neighbor's wifi signals magically opened up. I've almost forgotten what I used to do online every five minutes. I watched the first season of The Venture Bros, which I had forgotten how much I like. I've read The Graveyard Book, March, and am working on Doctor Who: Shada, the Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams. I even finished a few DIY projects for the holidays, thanks to the crafty books on the 4th floor, all without the internet's help. I've read countless books to my son, and he's gotten to see some old-school Sesame Street, which we never would have even thought to seek out online.

Seriously, without the library and its materials, I don't know what I'd be doing internetless. Definitely not magically knowing how to make vegan gift baskets on my own. But thanks to these things being available to me, it's not only been not-horrible, but actually a really stimulating way of taking a break and exploring new things I might not have discovered if I'd stuck to my own little niches online.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Wonderful World of eReaders or: How I gained access to all the hot titles and stopped worrying about what to read during the holidays

Is there a book you have been on hold for what seems like forever for? Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl immediately comes to my mind. What if I told you you could become the first in the hold line without cheating? The library has three copies with no hold list (at this time of writing!), and all can be checked out for 28 days. If you are a Des Plaines Library cardholder, simply search “Nook” in our online catalog and place a hold on one of our ereaders.When your hold is in, visit the Reader Services desk on the 3rd floor and pick up one of the circulating Nooks the library owns. 

In addition to the Nook devices, we also have Sony Readers and Kindles available for checkout. The Sony Reader has both the Hunger Games trilogy and the first four books of the A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin (the inspiration for the Game of Thrones series you probably have a hold on). The Kindle also has a solid collection of new favorites including Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. To find out the exact titles available on each ereader, click here to access the catalog, click on one of the ereaders (i.e. Sony Reader), and then click on the “Summary” option to view the titles available on the ereader. 

With the holidays coming up, if you have an ereader on your wish list but aren’t quite sure which one to go with, checking out different types of ereaders can be a way of seeing what might work best for you. These ereaders are equipped with at least 15 books apiece, easily enough to get you through downtime during holiday festivities without having to carry a bag of books with you.

If you have any questions regarding our circulating ereaders, feel free to contact the Reader Services department.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

American Historical Fiction

Another election season has come to a close. Whether your candidate of choice won or lost, it's good to remember that nothing is permanent in the United States. Every few years, we get another chance to decide what's important to us, and who we think will help make those things come to fruition. The years pass, the country changes and grows, and soon "tomorrow" becomes "history."

Historical fiction can take us back to a time long past in our nation, help us remember where we used to be, and where we've come. Here are some novels available at our library that take place during tumultuous times in the U.S. -- wars, the Dust Bowl, the turn of the 20th century, even back to our nation's very beginnings. Will our great grandchildren write novels about the 2010s? Only time will tell.