I wanted to do a quick update on what I’ve been reading…I realized that the most recent titles I posted about were nonfiction, and I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me suddenly having switched to the dark side. No, I’m still firmly rooted in the world of fiction, happily delving into some good ol’ fashioned pleasure reading (dedicated readers of nonfiction, please take no offense…I have nothing against it, I’m just generally more of a murder and mystery type of gal. This says more about me than it does about nonfiction.).
I’m just a few chapters into Stuart MacBride’s Birthdays for the Dead, a gritty little tale of a serial killer who has abducted 12 young girls who are 12 years old. With each girl, he waits one year after the abduction, then starts sending the parents photographs that document the torture and eventual death of their child–one photo each year. Investigators are just beginning to find the bodies of some of the victims of the ‘Birthday Killer’ when a 13th girl goes missing. Even more harrowing is that one of the investigators, Det. Constable Ash Harrison, has a daughter who went missing years ago; he has already received five pictures from the Birthday Killer, but Harrison continues to tell people that she ran away so that he can stay on the case. Each time a body is found, his tension is palpable as he prays–begs–for it not to be his daughter. There’s a small amount of relief provided by the new forensic psychologist Harrison has been partnered with; Alice McDonald is young and has keen insight, but is also a bit neurotic and has some odd issues to deal with. Overall, though, this is a proper Scottish thriller, violent and a bit grimy, with some dark humor thrown in.
As for the science fiction, I’m not reading but watching…I’m a bit of a latecomer, but I’ve just gotten into the Dr. Who series that began in 2005. I know!! I’ve had many people tell me to watch it, and so now I am, and it’s far better than what I imagined. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, watching a few episodes from the original series, I was totally hesitant to watch it again. Then I saw Torchwood (SO good!) and made the commitment. I’m only a couple episodes in, and am very happy I have more than 80 to go.
I’ve often thought that, if there was an area of knowledge that I could suddenly gain understanding and excel in, it would be physics and astronomy.
This goes back a bit, to the days when I was fascinated with the planets. When I was 8 or so, I received a book about the beings that inhabit different planets. As it turns out, this book was fiction. I didn’t realize that, and was amazed and delighted that the book gave me numerical call signs to actually make contact with the planets–yes, really!! I spent many hours in my room, on the floor facing the window, with my walkie-talkie in hand, patiently tapping out (in Morse code, of course) these call signs. Hours. To no avail. No matter, though, I moved on…I had a period of fascination with Mars, and ordered as many books from the Weekly Reader as I could get my hands on. Then movies about space and aliens and time travel and the future. Books about string theory (started, rarely finished) and the cosmos. Pictures from the Hubble.
As it currently stands, I have a really hard time grasping some (most) of the basic principles, but I am still fascinated by it all. Is the universe expanding? What happened before the Big Bang? What is at the bottom/on the other side of a black hole (a thing we know exists not because we see it, but by the disappearance of everything else around it, that is crazy!)? Do all points in time really exist at the same time, all the time, and if so, can I somehow go back to the 23-year-old me and say ‘hey, maybe don’t take in 8 cats’? And most importantly, the question that comes to my mind whenever I read something about some distant star, why are we just now seeing the light from something that happened millions of years ago, and does the thing even exist anymore?? I don’t understand Einstein’s theories, I can’t really visualize multiple dimensions, and light years are mind-boggling. I just can’t.
Imagine my pleasure upon discovering The Universe: an illustrated history of astronomy. Pictures! Concise explanations! A fold-out timeline! 100 brief and interesting tidbits about astronomy explained for someone like me. If you’re like me, and you desperately want to ponder the mysterious stars and expanse of space and matter, but just can’t quite manage it on your own, you’ll want this book. Or, if you’re a little more advanced than I, but want something beautiful and very interesting to read, you just might want it as well.
On April 15, 2013, Columbia University announced the 97th Annual Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, letters, drama, and music. Curious about this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners? Take a look at the following books:
Fiction–The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. From the media release: “an exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.” Read the rest of this entry »
I love quilting. From choosing the pattern and all the fabrics, to cutting the pieces and creating the quilt itself, I love each step. Unfortunately, for me quilting is usually a cool-season activity. I just can’t seem to get enthusiastic about dealing with 5 or 6 yards of fabric when the weather is hot. But I’ve found a way around that! Small quilts! From 48″ square to 12×18″ or any size in between. They are just as much fun to make as a full size quilt, with only a fraction of the fabric to deal with. Now I can give in and make that Red and White quilt I’ve always wanted to make, but have avoided because there would have been too much red in a full-sized quilt!
101 Fabulous Small Quilts from That Patchwork Place is a great collection of quilts. There is a wide range of beautiful designs, with full color photos and easy to follow instructions. But there are some important things missing in the book itself.
The introduction and back cover mention quilt designers by name, yet there is no name index. There is a table of contents, but it contains only the names of the quilts, and not even in alphabetical order. The arrangement of the book, if there is one, I just can’t grasp. Logical groupings such as stars, strips or applique would have been very helpful, or at the very least a thumbnail next to the title in the table of contents.
As it is, the only way to find something in this book if you don’t know the name of the quilt is to flip page by page through it. Which I’m sure is something most quilters will love doing, as this really is a book of eye candy for quilters. As a Librarian who also quilts, I find it frustrating that a book with such potential fell so short.
Everyone has been in love, is in love or wants love. It’s universal. Young love is white-hot. Rainbow Rowell has captured its intensity in “Eleanor & Park,” an insightful and honest tale of two people who genuinely need each other.
Park is half-Korean and tries to fly under the radar in his own world of music and comics. Eleanor, with her wild red hair, is new in school, wears weird clothes and comes from a broken family. The two characters–and the reader–fall in love over the course of a school-year in 1986. Like any romance, there are complications, but they’re blips. The real problem is Eleanor’s alcoholic, time-bomb of a step-father. Eleanor and Park make the most of the time that they have–but there’s never enough time when you’re young.
If I haven’t convinced you, John Green loved it and recommended it during his Reddit AMA. I honestly don’t think I’ve cared about a fictional relationship as much as I did in “Eleanor & Park.” I recommend this book to everyone–young, old, everything in-between–who has been in love, is in love or wants love.
Close your eyes for a second and imagine the most wonderful treehouse you can think of. If you’re like me, what comes to mind is probably something out of Swiss Family Robinson. My real-world experience with treehouses is very limited. Trees we had. Tree swings even. But not a treehouse.
The people at Black & Decker and have come up with the most amazing DIY guide to treehouses I’ve ever seen. You want your kids or grand kids to have their own Swiss Family Robinson adventures, or if you’d like to have them yourself, The Complete Guide to Treehouses is for you.
Although it does assume some previous familiarity with tools and basic construction methods, as you’d expect from Black & Decker, there are step by step instructions full of photos and diagrams to lead you through the process. Well written and easy to follow, the book is laid out in four sequential sections, each building on the previous.
Treehouse Basics deals with all the things to consider before you build: Choosing the right tree or trees, Planning and Design considerations, including local laws or ordinances; and Treehouse Safety.
Treehouse Building Techniques is the largest section of the book (as you’d expect from Black & Decker) and includes the how-to information for each of the basic components of a treehouse: the platform, walls, doors, windows, roof. They include proper building and safety considerations for each step. From anchor bolts, joist hangers, knee braces, framing walls, doors and windows it’s all here. And it’s presented in a way that even a novice builder can follow.
Plans for 6 different treehouses are included at the back of the book, if you’d rather follow a pre-designed plan. But beware – one flip through this book and you’ll want to building your own treehouse!!
Iowa City Public Library begins almost three weeks of programming related to the Civil War on Thursday, April 25. ICPL is fortunate to be one of the two libraries in Iowa to receive a grant from the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History to provide programming related to the Civil War and to host the Civil War 150, a national traveling exhibition, (the Olwein Public Library also received a grant). The panel exhibition is organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with The Library of America. The project Civil War 150: Exploring the War and It’s Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It, has been made possible in part through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
One of the many programs offered is a book discussion of the Civil War. The title we selected is “The Civil War : a concise history” by Louis Masur. A limited number of free copies of Masur’s Civil War book are available at the Reference Desk. The discussion will be Saturday, May 4 at 10:30 in Meeting Room E. I am sure we also talk about other works on the Civil War. And if you are interested learning more about the Civil War the library can provide you with a wealth of both print and audio materials.
For more information about the other programs related to the Civil War 150, visit www.icpl.org/civilwar150/. Please join us for our opening reception Thursday evening at 7 pm. Three local musicians, Guy Drollinger, Mike Haverkamp and Dave Hicks will play Civil War era music and Greg Prickman, head of Special Collections & University Archives at the UI Library, will give a presentation on the UI Civil War Letters & Diaries Digitization Project.
One could argue, in a very wide sense, that all books matter. Or rather, the idea of books and what they are, what they mean, makes them all matter. You know? In a real sense, though, not all of them matter as much as others, both objectively and subjectively. I won’t go into details about that, though (no need to thank me, fans of Nicholas Sparks).
Frye Gaillard has written a lovely book titled The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir. He speaks of books that have had a profound effect on him and his life, for reasons too numerous and important to go into here; his explanations are wonderful little stories in themselves, and convey the meanings and relations of these books to him in a way I cannot. Sometimes the book itself, and the story it contains, is the essence; other times, it’s a moment or part of his life that has some connection to a book that makes it indelible in his memory. Each chapter tells you something about Mr. Gaillard, something about the books he’s read, and something about the importance of books in general, and in the lives of the people who read them.
One wonderful thing about a book like this is it prompts me to recall the books in my own reading history that have mattered most; I imagine that many of us would do the same. I could never be as eloquent in my explanation of why those books matter, but here are a few titles that come immediately to my mind:
The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, because it was the first book I can recall reading that had a main character who dies, and I distinctly remember crying when I got to that part…I was shocked and saddened, and surprised (disappointed? hurt?) to read a book that seemed very, very real.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, because it was so cool, so unlike my own life, and it was even better than the movie that I loved so much. I wrote several book reports on this book, re-reading it every year, and I’d be a little mortified to go back and read them. Also–this book encouraged me to read Robert Frost, and I’d like to think that Ms. Hinton is responsible for others doing the same thing.
Atonement by Ian McEwan…I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my husband and I have had more than one major argument over this book, and it is simply–in my opinion–one of the best reminders of the power of the written word.
So, dear reader(s), please chime in with some of the books that have mattered most to you…