Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years' Resolutions

Whether your New Years' resolution is to lose weight, get in shape, or to get more organized, the library has just the ticket for you.

Books about losing weight and getting in shape abound and you're sure to find one that suits your goals and your lifestyle. And don't forget to look for DVDs to help you on your journey to becoming fit.

If organization is your goal for the new year, look no further. We have what it takes to help you get the clutter under control.

Or if your resolution is something totally different, be sure to check with the reference librarians to see what books, e-books, DVDs or audiobooks the library might have to keep you on track all year long.

Have a safe and prosperous New Year.

Dawn @ Warrenton

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mary Higgins Clark Read-Alikes

Having sold more than 80 million copies of her suspense novels, Mary Higgins Clark could be considered the queen of intrigue. If her books are your cup of tea, you might try novels by the following authors too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Stories

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, and I've always enjoyed listening to holiday music for weeks before the big day, especially while baking or wrapping gifts.

Last year I tried something different, and started a new tradition for myself. While busily preparing packages for under the tree, I listened to recorded Christmas stories and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Last season I listened to David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice. Not exactly your traditional feel good heart warming holiday stories, but hilarious none the less.

So this year I'm in search of another good "listen" for the holidays. As I generally prefer silly over sappy, on the top of the list is A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, on which the iconic movie is based. Read by Dick Cavett, I feel sure this will provide quite a bit of entertainment.

Runners up on the list include the following:

Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas


A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry



If none of these titles appeal to you, check out the library catalog under Christmas Stories for a list of audiobooks to put you in the holiday mood.

Seasons Readings!

Dawn @ Warrenton

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Holidays are Here!

It's hard to believe that the holiday season is here! And with it comes the joy, the fun, (and let's just go ahead and, admit it, the stress) of holiday decorating, gift selecting, cooking, beating the deadlines for mailing packages, and the balancing acts of visits to family and friends.

If you need some help finding new and exciting recipes, want to decorate your house in a special way, or learn how to celebrate in a simpler, greener way, check out these titles at the library.





When my children were younger we often made inexpensive gifts for friends and family members. If part of your holiday tradition is to do the same, or you're interested in making this part of your children's holiday, you might go to these titles for inspiration.




Have a joyous holiday season, however you choose to celebrate!

Dawn @ Warrenton

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wreath Making

I have always loved making wreaths, especially at Christmas. My favorite type of holiday wreath to make is boxwood ... the earthy scent and the boxwood's tendancy to stay green when left in the cool December air make it an ideal medium for me.

But there are lots of other materials you can use to create that one-of-a-kind wreath for your door, your mantel or as a gift for someone special. Here in Virginia, magnolia is often used to make holiday wreaths. Whether left green or painted, magnolia leaves are lovely in wreaths. Of course, pine garlands and wreaths are traditional and provide wonderful aroma.

While I've never attempted to make a wreath entirely of fruit, these wreaths, decked with apples, oranges, pomegranates, and cloves, harken back to days gone by and also can provide lovely aroma for the season. And of course, wreaths of dried flowers and herbs are always popular and can provide year-round pleasure.

The library has a whole collection of books with ideas, instructions, and inspiration for wreath making year round. So give it a try; you may find a new outlet for your creative bent.
Dawn @ Warrenton

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nicholas Sparks Read-Alikes

Bestselling American writer Nicholas Sparks' novels usually revolve around fate, love and/or tragedy. If you enjoy his works, consider checking out the following authors:

Looking for a laugh? Check out this 2010 Thurber Prize winner

The 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor was awarded on October 4 to Steve Hely's debut novel How I Became a Famous Novelist. I read the novel back in August '09 (I used the Reading History feature in my online library account to figure the date out) and after many laughs, gave it a five-star rating.

Hevy's protagonist, Pete Tarslaw, an employment-challenged liberal arts graduate, utilizes any/all formulaic publishing tricks to become a famous novelist. His aim isn't glory and riches, mind you (but they are a nice benefit), but simply to make an ex-girlfriend, who is about to marry someone else, jealous.

Inspired by fictional best-selling author/hack Preston Brooks, Pete's rules (aka "Writery Statements") for certain best-seller list glory include, "Must include a club, secrets/mysterious missions, characters whose lives change suddenly, surprising love affairs, women who've given up on love but who turn out to be beautiful." Glance at any best seller list and I'm sure you'll see a few authors who employ these tacks on a regular basis. Pete succeeds with the best selling Tornado Ashes Club.

Hely, who currently writes for the hit sitcom The Office, uses satire and a sharp wit to make a mockery of the publishing industrial complex, including the authors who aspire to literary success. While there are moments of sentimentality, How I Became a Famous Novelist, remains funny through the end.

Read an excerpt and listen to Terry Gross' interview with Mr. Hely on NPR's Fresh Air.

Alison @ Warrenton

Monday, November 22, 2010

Smart Start-Small Business Information

Many people are opening their own businesses these days. If you want to join them but aren’t sure what sort of venture to undertake do a little market research with the help of: Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark J. Penn, The Small-mart Revolution by Michael Shuman or How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation by Anthony Mancuso. If you decide to start a nonprofit corporation you will want to be sure to visit the Bealeton Library where the staff will help you make use of a special Grants and Funding Research Center.


Is there is a market for the service or product you plan to provide? You can find out about your competition, how well they’re doing and where their businesses are located by using databases available on the library’s website and do some research through the: Business and Company Resource Center or Reference USA, to name just two of the many resources you will find there.


When you’re ready to get the business underway use Mike P. McKeever’s book: How to Write A Business Plan to help you organize all the details, and if you plan to build a website read; Webonomics; Nine Essential Principles For Growing Your Business On The Web by Evan I. Schwartz. The Women’s Small Business Start-up Kit is helpful for women just venturing into the self employment market. A business loan or other funding is often essential to get the business going so you might need to consult Ashees Advani’s; Investors In Your Backyard or read the; Loan Financing Guide for Small Business Owners by D. Neil Berdiev.


Perhaps you already have a business and are looking for ways to modify or improve it. If you are considering incorporating you should read Tips and Traps When Incorporating Your Business by Jeffery A. Jensen. If you are trying to figure out what changes to make and what aspects of the business you want to keep the same as you grow, John C. Bogle helps you get a perspective on what is truly essential to a good business in his book Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life.


The library has a good supply of books and other materials to help business managers and prospective managers do market surveys, locate funding, write business plans and even start a business from scratch.



Come to the library. Let us help you get your business started.



Jeanne @ Warrenton

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mystery Book Club Recommends

Members of the Mystery Book Club recently discussed the books of two British authors, Minette Walters and Robert Goddard. While Walters and Goddard might best be described as writers of psychological thrillers, their plots generally involve the pursuit of clues to get at the truth of something and a quest for justice.

This quest is often taken on by an individual as in Walters’ The Shape of Snakes in which the main character pursues the truth in a case the police have mishandled. In Goddard’s Into the Blue main character Harry Barnett searches for a women missing and thought dead when the police decide not to pursue a murder without a corpse.
Robert Goddard peoples his novels, such as Sight Unseen, with lots of interesting characters. Three of the book club’s members especially recommend Hand in Glove for wonderful character development and a “couldn’t put it down” reading experience. Betty very much liked its exciting, intricate plot. Steve described Goddard’s Caught in the Light as “excellent — a mystery within a mystery” but ultimately a story about revenge as a dish best served cold. Another of Goddard’s complex plots was found by Sue, who read Long Time Coming, which involves forged Picassos, Irish politics and betrayal by an old school friend.
One book club member enjoyed the psychological complexity of The Chameleon’s Shadow by Minette Walters. Dave thought that her book called The Breaker was an easy to read police procedural. Anna found The Sculptress an easy read with an unusual premise that keeps the reader engaged to the end. Some members felt that Walters’ detailed scenes of violence and cruelty and her depiction of unlikable and unsavory characters make her books more of a challenge despite being well-written.
Books by both Walters and Goddard contain complex plots and interesting characters. Goddard’s characters travel from one European country to another while Walters’ generally stay closer to home. Both authors offer well-written, suspenseful stories that keep the reader engaged to the very end, usually with a few surprises along the way. The Mystery Book Club highly recommends Robert Goddard and Minette Walters.

Happy Reading!

Maryellen & the Mystery Book Club members.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

Questions about learning ability, intelligence measures and various ways to stimulate creative thinking are in the news of late.

A resource that might help you make sense of these terms is: Intelligence And How To Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count. Many of us who are trying to help children measure up or excel may tend to overlook the fact that intelligence, learning and creativity are important concerns for adults as well.

If your child is nervous about measuring up you might want to check out the books from the Core Knowledge Series, such as, What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. This book is designed for fourth-grade students and will give your child a stimulating taste of what is to come in the year ahead. Learn more about the Standards of Learning tests.

What will become of your own mental abilities as you age? Some say that with age comes wisdom so there is hope for the aging brain. A good book about tracking down wisdom is: How To Live: A Search For Wisdom From Old People.

On the more scientific side you might like to read about ways to keep your brain active into old age by reading Zaldy S. Tan’s: Age-proof Your Mind: Prevent, Detect And Stop Memory Loss—Before It’s Too Late.

Take the time to learn about the fascinating connection between our health and state of mind in: Extraordinary Healing: The Amazing Power of Your Body’s Secret Healing System and to learn about how music and art contribute to our ability to think creatively in: The Mozart Effect: Tapping The Power Of Music To Heal The Body, Strengthen The Mind, And Unlock The Creative Spirit.

In many ways just conversing with another person presents us with the biggest mental challenge we face in life. The Art Of Conversation: A Guided Tour Of A Neglected Pleasure will remind you of this and help you get the most out of your opportunities to speak with others. Coming together to enjoy some mind stretching games or puzzles can help get the conversation going. There are plenty of ideas for games you can play with friends and family in Creative Family Projects, Games, And Activities by Cynthia MacGregor.

After you have spent some time looking at these books you realize that, whether you’re in the fourth grade or in your fourth decade, one thing you have in common with everyone else is a wonderful mind.

Jeanne @ Warrenton

Friday, November 5, 2010

Twelve Books

Some of us who are avid readers have begun to wonder at the state of publishing these days. It is not unusual to find typos, mix up of character names, poor grammar and other small but annoying problems in recently published books.

For this reason, I am impressed when a publisher dares to be different. Such is the case with Twelve. According to the company’s Mission Statement, Twelve was established in 2005 to publish only one book per month, books that “explain our culture; that illuminate, inspire, provoke, and entertain.” This publisher further promises that “each book will be carefully edited, designed, and produced.”

Whether you are looking for fiction or non-fiction, memoir or social commentary, there will probably be a book by Twelve to interest you. Three of my favorites are:


And there are others such as: War by Sebastian Junger, Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens, Hard Call by John McCain, Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley, and Columbine by David Cullen.
With the gift-giving season fast approaching, many of us will purchase books as gifts for friends and family. It is nice to have the option to select from such a long list of books exhibiting both quality and timely content. See more about library staff recommendations for gift-giving this season with titles chosen especially for children, teens, or adults.
Don't forget that purchasing from Amazon.com through the library's Wowbrary site sends contributions directly to Fauquier County Public Library. And see other ways to give gifts to the library.

Maryellen @ Warrenton

Monday, November 1, 2010

Recommendations from Marshall...

Johnetta @ John Marshall - A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick, is the first in the Cobbled Court series. This is the story of a quilting shop and the women that it brings together. The owner regularly organizes a “Quilt Pink” day to recognize breast cancer awareness. When she is diagnosed with cancer, the sisterhood of quilters come together. Uplifting and inspiring. - Johnetta

Veronica @ John Marshall - The Passage by Justin Crow is yet another vampire novel! This one is very well written and certainly a page turner. The government accidentally releases a virus that infects most of the world. The people who are not turned into “virals” (vampires) are in a fight for their lives and it seems a losing battle until a young girl appears.

Deborah @ John Marshall - Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, is a funny and touching story of a resilient young girl of twelve, living in the South of the 1960s. CeeCee was the caretaker of her troubled mother until circumstances change her life. This book is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loved The Secret Life of Bees.
















Monday, October 25, 2010

Collaborations

There is one name on the cover, but two people write the books! Why is it that some writing teams use both names (Barry and Pearson, Preston and Child, LaHaye and Jenkins, etc.) but others prefer to use a pseudonym which makes the author appear to be another person? To create an air of mystery, perhaps? Whatever the reasons, here are some worthwhile mysteries in the “one name on the cover” category.
Wife/Husband collaborations:
Robin Paige (Susan and Bill Albert) For this series set in Victorian England the authors conducted painstaking research to bring historical accuracy to their novels. Susan Albert, who writes three other mystery series, explained that she and Bill decided to end this series in 2006 because the research just took too much time. The first title is Death at Bishop’s Keep (1994) followed by eleven others through 2006.

Barbara Allan (Barbara and Max Allan Collins): humorous Trash ‘n’ Treasures series, starting with Antiques Roadkill (2006)

Parent/Son or Daughter collaborations:
Charles Todd (Carolyn and David Todd Watjen): two series set in post WWI Britain (Ian Rutledge, A Test of Wills; Bess Crawford, A Duty to the Dead)

P J Tracy (Patricia and Traci Lambrecht): a series about a game software company owner starting with Monkeewrench (2003)

And, of course, cousins:
Ellery Queen (Manford Lepofsky and Daniel Nathan aka Manfred B Lee and Frederic Dannay)
Ellery Queen (both the pseudonym of the authors and the name of the character created by them) was patterned after S S Van Dine’s character Philo Vance. Over the next 41 years the character evolved and the writing went through stylistic changes. The name of Ellery Queen is still synonymous with the mystery genre but is, according to Max Allan Collins, the least read of the major names in the field today.

Maryellen @ Warrenton

Monday, October 18, 2010

'Tis a Gift to be Simple

"Tis a Gift to be Simple" -- As the lyrics of this old Shaker hymn tell us, simplicity is a good thing. While the economic downturn has forced many of us to downsize in various ways, it has also given emphasis to the movement that promotes voluntary simplicity.

A collection of essays explaining the whys and hows of this movement can be found in a book appropriately titled Less Is More by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska. Many of the contributors to Less Is More have written extensively about the need to live simpler lives and how this can be accomplished by individuals, communities and nations.

Juliet Schor explains “why we want what we don’t need” in The Overspent American. In Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic John DeGraaf and David Wann explain all the problems brought about by modern society’s quest for material gain. They discuss strategies and movements, including "voluntary simplicity," that can help us realize that “the best things in life aren’t things.”
Theodore Roszak tells us that teaching the world to live simply is the task of the aging boomer generation in America the Wise. Suggestions for downsizing one’s living space are offered by Sarah Susanka in The Not So Big House. Robyn Griggs Lawrence explains the need to re-use, recycle and appreciate the beauty in items that are not new in The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty.

For many years, Bill McKibben has been an advocate of scaling back and learning to live more simply. In The End of Nature he points out the damage being done to the planet by our too-complex way of life. He offers specific examples of changes that lead to recovery and renewal in Hope, Human and Wild. His latest book, Eaarth, describes the damage to our climate and environment that will have lasting effects. He offers not only a new name for this changed planet, “Eaarth”, but also thoughts about the lifestyle changes necessary to survive well on it.
Enjoy one or all of these thought-provoking books. Here’s to the simple life!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall is Planting Time

Fall planting time is here and maybe you’re looking forward to sprucing things up a bit around your house. For the really hard stuff you may need to find professional help, but there are many landscaping decisions and tasks you can undertake and enjoy doing yourself.

The Homeowner’s Complete Tree And Shrub Handbook by Penelope O’Sullivan is a good first resource to help you figure out what is already growing in your yard. If you need help coming up with designs and deciding what to plant you can build your confidence and draw inspiration from Joel Lerner’s Anyone Can Landscape!

Fall is a good time to do something about those bare patches that started showing up in the lawn during the dry spell we had in August. If you need help figuring out what kind of grass seed is best and don’t want to use a lot of pesticides and fertilizers check out Paul Tukey’s The Organic Lawn Care Manual. Or maybe you’ve decided grass just isn’t the right thing for those persistent bare spots and you want to try something else. If that’s the case then take a look through Barbara W. Ellis’ Covering Ground for a glimpse of the many different kinds of plants that might fit the bill.

Why did the flowering cherry you planted last spring near the old walnut tree fail to thrive even though you watered it every day? Can it be saved? Should you feed it or move it? A look through The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations might reveal the problem and help you decide what to do next. If you want to use hardy native plants in your landscape you should read Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by A. M. Armitage or The American Meadow Garden by John Greenlee.

If flowering plants are your passion and you want something blooming in your landscape all year round you should consult Trees and Shrubs for Fragrance by Glyn Church and look through P. Allen Smith’s Colors for the Garden. Don’t forget that pine trees and fir trees also make appealing and fragrant additions to the home landscape. Richard L. Bitner’s Conifers for Gardens describes many varieties that will thrive in our climate.

Come by any Fauquier County Public Library and let us help you create a home landscape you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

Happy fall planting!

Jeanne @ Warreton

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warm up to a Hippo

Not to play up the librarian stereotype, but I never read or was interested in mysteries until I returned to librarianship and started working for Fauquier County Public Library.

Well, stereotype or not, I'm hooked. With mysteries, what I usually do is find an author I like (and prefer foreign vs. domestic settings) and then read everything they've put out -- Donna Leon (especially appreciate the descriptions of Venice and food), Elizabeth George (gotta love Sargeant Havers' spunk) and Deborah Crombie (the English settings and personable characters go well with a cup of tea) are a few of my favorites.

For the past year or so, I've been exploring chilly Scandinavian crime novels, specifically Henning Mankell (I seem to gravitate to crabby protagonists), Karin Fosum (the best -- can't put them down!) and the like.

But what about Stieg Larrson's Millennium Trilogy? Can I admit that I just don't get what all the fuss is about? While I read books 1 and 2, I couldn't bother to finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. While I normally will finish a book, even if I don't like it much, I knew I better get the latest Larrson back into circulation (will this book ever drop off the holds list?) and get out of the cold, try something new.

Which brings me to Michael Stanley and his (or should I say "their," as it's actually two South African authors) Detective Kubu Mystery Series. Enough of the unforgiving cold and bleakness of Sweden, take me to the warm climes of Botswana and the amiable Assistant Superintendent David ('Kubu,' a nickname that means "hippopotamus") Bengu.

So far there are two books in the series, A Carrion Death and The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu. Like my favorite Nordic reads, these are procedural in nature. While both titles provide the classic elements of mystery and intrigue, what really sets them apart are the engaging characters, particularly meal-obsessed Kubu and his beloved wife Joy, and the post-colonial African setting. I always enjoy reading about the culture and politics (the good and the bad) of distant lands, and after reading these two titles, I'm left wanting to read/learn more about/visit contemporary southern Africa.

If you're tired of hearing about Stieg Larrson and have had your fill of the usual mystery procedurals, I encourage you to give detective Kubu a try.

Alison @ Warrenton

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Summer reads remembered

Library staff has been busy sending in reading recommendations from those lazy hazy days of summer. Take a look at these two great reads.

Sheree @ Warrenton: I read a great book this summer, Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It is a book written more thatn 50 yars ago that is timeless and speaks to every woman, in all stages of their lives. The library also has it available on CD and large print.

Vicky @ Warrenton: This summer I started reading the Supper Club mystery series by J. B. Stanley. James Henry, a former professor of English Literature at William & Mary, reluctantly moves back to his hometown of Quincy's Gap, VA in the Shenandoah Valley to care for his widowed father.

Newly divorced, the overweight and shy James takes a job as the head librarian for the local library. He also joins a supper club for dieters who call themselves the "Flab Five." The books are well written, the plot lines are interesting, and there is a twist or two along th eway to give each book an unexpected ending.

The series starts with Carbs and Cadavers and the sixth book in the series, Black Beans and Vice, will be published in November 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Librarian is a Camel

As you can imagine, library staffers are always avid readers, so it's no surprise that we've had lots of submissions for the blog based on staff picks. We hope you get to enjoy some of the titles being recommended.

Shannon @ Bealeton -I read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. It is a biographical novel on the life of the Italian artist Michelangelo. Stone presents the personal story behind Michelangelo’s work as well as the fascinating history taking place in Italy at that time. But what is most intriguing is the passion, creativity and emotion Stone fabricates throughout the story and spawns in his readers.

Kathryn @ Warrenton - In honor of National Library Card Sign Up Month (September) I read The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton and a similar title from the children's collection--My Librarian is a Camel by Margaret Ruurs. Both were very interesting and verified for me how lucky we all are to have our own library in a brick and mortar building here six days and 24/7 online!!

Although I read many good books this summer, I particularly enjoyed The Lost City of Z by David Grann. His book is all about the trek into the Amazon jungle….one I’ll never be likely to make…especially after reading the book! And also read Alive in Africa by William Wheeler, as a comparative travel of the two continents. Again, neither trip will I be likely to make other than by armchair. No mosquitoes that way!


Happy Reading!









Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Notes Returns

With the onset of homework, football games, and the passing of the Labor Day Holiday so ends the summer. As we welcome fall (and hopefully cooler temperatures), we'll share what some of the library staff have been reading this summer.

Alison @ Warrenton - One of the books I read over the summer was The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine (the pseudonym for mystery writer Ruth Rendell). Akin to the type of article you’d find in Vanity Fair Magazine, this fast-paced, suspenseful novel covers the rise and fall of a fairly selfish/self-centered British politician, the murder of his mistress and the mystery behind her death. The voices and personalities behind the two very different narrators, particularly the creepy, self-pitying Jane Atherton, make this a page-turner.

Beth @ Bealeton - One book I read this summer was Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories just to get a jump on Halloween, I guess! I enjoy short stories of all types because they’re easy to fit into my hectic schedule and because I think a special skill is required to construct a good one. This book contains 14 stories selected by Dahl, none written by him, although his nine-page introduction to the volume is quite entertaining. According to him, “Good ghost stories, like good children’s books, are damnably difficult to write.” He should know—he read 749 stories before finding the relative handful that met his standards.
Anonymous @ Warrenton - Over the summer I read Shaghai Moon by S.J. Rozan. This is the ninth in the author's Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mystery series but it can just as easily be read as a stand-alone by someone not familiar with the series. Enough of the characters' backstory is given that you don't feel left in the dark. Rozan is a very good writer and does lots of research. The story takes place in Shanghai's Jewish ghetto and includes scenarios that occur when different cultures meet, both then and now. The story and characters are well developed making this a very satisfying reading experience.
Gloria @ Marshall - Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, is the delightful love story of two mature people from very different cultures. The ending made me want to stand up and cheer! I couldn't agree with her more. The relationship that develops between the Major and Mrs. Ali is a lovely thing to follow in this beautifully written novel.

Check back next week for another installation of recommended reads from library staff.

Dawn @ Warrenton

Monday, April 26, 2010

Summer Hiatus

Library staff are busier than ever helping library visitors find the information, books, DVD's and books on CD they need and want. So busy, that with summer vacations coming on top of all that, we've decided to take Book Notes on its own vacation.

We're taking a summer hiatus and will return in the fall to keep you up to date on great materials available at the library.
You can check the library's website for other helpful book lists and suggestions for reading.

Happy Summer.

Dawn S. @ Warrenton

Thursday, March 25, 2010

For perspective, listen to lectures

For a fresh perspective on our current problems, consider reading some classic works and then listening to some lectures to help you see how pertinent they are to our situation today.

Allow Alexis de Tocqueville to explain Democracy in America as he saw it, and then listen to a lecture by William R. Cook on Tocqueville and the American Experiment.

Or read The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and listen to Joshua Kaplan discuss Political Theory: The Classic Texts and Their Continuing Relevance.

For another angle on our current debate about man and nature read Walden by Henry David Thoreau and then listen to Ashton Nichols’ lecture on Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement.

For a perspective on human interaction try reading David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature and then listen to Peter Kreeft’s lecture Ethics: A History of Moral Thought.

Our contemporary issues involve us in a great conversation and the value of our contribution may hinge on how well we’ve been listening.

Jeanne @ Warrenton Library

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Feeling down?

Perhaps you’re feeling down because you don’t want to face doing your taxes. Or maybe you’re grumpy from dealing with the pollen and rain and mud that spring always brings. Well then, let us recommend a humorous book to lighten your mood.

Have you been spending a lot of time lately wiping up after muddy paws? Do you love animals but find yourself peeved at your pet? Try reading: How to Keep Dinosaurs by Robert Marsh and those muddy paws won’t bother you so much. Or maybe you’ve been watching the birds and other wildlife outside your windows and feeling sorry for them on still chilly nights. You could cure yourself of that by picking up Hey Ranger!: True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America’s National Parks by Jim Burnett.

Maybe you’ve been stocking your pantry in anticipation of the next power outage. Or perhaps you’re wondering why you ever bought a house so far out in the boonies. If this describes your situation you’re sure to find some ideas to keep you laughing by candle light in Watchagot Stew: A Memoir of an Idaho Childhood with Recipes and Commentaries by Patrick F. McManus or in Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small-Town America by Bill Geist.

Check our Web site for a longer list of humorous books or come in and let us help you find something. We’re sure to have a book that will brighten your day.



Jeanne @ Warrenton

Friday, February 26, 2010

10 Years of Mystery Book Club Favorites


Mystery Book Club

members gathered

recently for a photo.

At the end of each year members of the Mystery Book Club review the books we read as a group that year and vote on one or two favorites.

In 2009 the group’s favorite book was Still Life by Louise Penny. Tied for second favorite were Case Histories by Kate Atkinson and A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George.

Our 2008 favorite was Nancy Pickard’s The Virgin of Small Plains. That year our group also enjoyed The Indian Bride (Karin Fossum), The Jury Master (Robert Dugoni) and Savage Garden (Mark Mills).

2007’s favorites were two popular authors who have written multiple series: Anne Perry, especially the William Monk series, and M. C. Beaton’s Hamish MacBeth series. Also earning a number of votes that year was Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger.

The Mystery Book Club’s favorite title read in 2006 was The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. There were two titles tied for second: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear and The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey.

In 2005 we especially enjoyed reading Blood at the Root by Peter Robinson and Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers.

Nevada Barr was our favorite author for 2004 with most members reading either Track of the Cat or Deep South. Second favorite that year was Allana Martin’s Death of the River Master.

In 2003 club members selected The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King as our favorite read, with The Sculptress by Minette Walters generating a very interesting discussion that year.
Club members chose The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte as the favorite book read in 2002. John Dunning’s Booked to Die earned the most votes in 2001.

2000 was the Mystery Book Club’s inaugural year and our reading list concentrated on the classics including The Daughter of Time (Josephine Tey), Gaudy Night (Dorothy Sayers), The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett), And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie) and (always a worthwhile challenge) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

Members of the Mystery Book Club invite you to try some of our favorites and, if you think you would enjoy discussing books like these, to join us at noon on the third Thursday of each month. We are looking forward to many more years of satisfying reading, good company and interesting conversation.

Maryellen @Warrenton

Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Club Broadens Horizons

The Bealeton Library book club, formed in 2005, has an eclectic focus. We read a wide range of genres and topics, including general, literary and historical fiction; mysteries; memoirs and other types of nonfiction. All agree that the book club has introduced us to works we probably would not have read otherwise and has broadened our horizons considerably.

One pleasant discovery during our first year of reading was Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Virginia author Dean King. This tome retells the tale of the 1815 shipwreck of an American merchant ship off the northwest coast of Africa, the crew’s capture by nomads, and their excruciating ordeal in the desert. King relies heavily on the ship captain’s written account, which was very popular with 19th century readers. King's writing updates the story for a contemporary audience and is a superb page-turner.

Another author of histories that read like novels is Erik Larson. Our group has enjoyed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, which interweaves the creation of the 1893 Chicago world’s fair with the case of a notorious serial murderer, and Thunderstruck, which juxtaposes Marconi’s invention of the wireless telegraph with the hunt for another psychotic killer. We enjoyed Larson’s books so much that we chose another of his titles this year. At our February meeting we will discuss Isaac’s Storm, a graphic account of the deadly 1900 Galveston hurricane and the story of the meteorologist whose personal life was profoundly affected by this disaster.

In June we will read Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, a well-reviewed oral history about the depression of the 1930s. In addition to these history selections, we will also sample a mystery, two novels and a travel book during the spring and summer.

To inquire about the Bealeton Book Club, e-mail Beth Stenberg or call at 439-9728. New members are always welcome.

Beth @ Bealeton

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Have a spot of tea and British fiction

I’ve been on “British kick” lately with my reading, I can’t imagine why. It all started with my book club’s choice of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. It’s a great book to read, and to discuss with the girls.

Then, a title at the library caught my eye: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows, who also writes children’s books. This one is a wonderful fiction book with lots of British history. The library has in on CD and in large print also.

Because I enjoyed reading it so much, a fellow employee mentioned that I might also try Jacqueline Winspear. She writes a mystery series about Maisie Dobbs. I am not usually a fan of mysteries, but I couldn’t stop until I had read all six books in the series. I have recommended them to several people and everyone, so far, loves them.

Maisie is British, female, a private investigator and a psychologist, and all the mysteries take place after WWI. So, more England, history and fiction. We have these on CD and I’ve heard they are also very enjoyable to listen to. So, brew up “a spot of tea” and be entertained, while you learn.

Sheree @ Warrenton

Monday, January 4, 2010

Not Yet Time to Say Good-Bye

In October of 2009, the Mystery Book Club read the last novel written by Tony Hillerman who passed away in October 2008. Having been a fan of Mr. Hillerman for over 20 years, I wondered if this re-reading of The Shape Shifter would bring some type of closure to my relationship with this author.

In preparation for the book club discussion I also read Hillerman’s memoir Seldom Disappointed, which won an Agatha Award for best nonfiction work of 2001. This book revealed much about the author’s personal life, how his books were written and how outside forces influenced both. Consequently, no closure came, but rather the desire to re-read more of Tony Hillerman’s books, especially the early novels such as The Blessing Way, Dance Hall of the Dead and The Dark Wind.

Some authors continue to remain popular after they’ve died. Douglas Adams’(1952-2001) Dirk Gently and Hitchhiker’s Guide series are still required reading for science fiction initiates. In fact, fascination with Adams’ characters is so great that Eoin Colfer, author of the popular Artemis Fowl series for children, has just published an authorized new Hitchhiker novel called And Another Thing.

Books by James Michener ( 1907-97) and Taylor Caldwell (1900-85) still remain on library shelves. Ed McBain’s (1926-2005) titles might still be found at the library, but the bookstore probably won’t have any of his books in stock. Novels by Robert Lewis Taylor (1912-98), author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Travels of Jaime McPheeters, are getting hard to find.

William Hoffman, referred to as Virginia’s “least-known best writer,” passed away on September 13, 2009. I especially enjoyed his novels Tidewater Blood and Wild Thorn featuring Charley LeBlanc, the black sheep of a Tidewater family.

While it is sad that Hillerman, Michener, Hoffman and the others are gone, it seems to me that it is not yet time to say goodbye. If you’ve never read anything by these authors I encourage you to do so now. If you’ve read their books, but not recently, this might be a good time to enjoy them again.