Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Magazines For 2010

The American magazine industry is still in the throes of a radical upheaval to its business model, losing more than half-a-dozen titles in the past year alone. Despite this, we continue to add magazines to our collection. Here is a mostly complete list of new titles added for 2010:

American Spirit: The magazine of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Country: Do-it-yourself projects, comfort food recipes and that old time, all-American flavor to crafts and gardening.

Futbol Total: Everything you need to know about the “beautiful game:” Scores, team news, conference standings. (Spanish-language).

Modern: Contemporary design, decorative arts and architecture.

Ode: News, science and culture with a positive attitude.

Siempre Mujer: Spanish language women’s magazine.

Tikkun: America’s Jewish news journal.

Tricycle: Buddhist spirituality, news and culture.


Woodsmith: One of the nation’s oldest and largest woodworking magazines with tips, projects and plans.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Find Your Inner Poet!

Celebrate National Poetry Month with three poetry workshops at the Newport Public Library, April 4, 11, and 18. Each session will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Marianne Klekacz, a poet from Salado, Oregon, will facilitate the workshops. Klekacz is a former president of the Oregon State Poetry Association and a board member of Writers On The Edge. Her full-length poetry collection, "When Words Fail," was published in 2009.

The workshops will focus on "Having Fun With Poetry," exploring a selection of light and fun poems, and in the process figuring out what makes a poem a poem. Participants will spend some of the time working on their own poetry.

The first two sessions will conclude with readings from two noted Oregon poets. Penelope Scambly-Schott, winner of the 2009 Oregon Book Award for Poetry is the guest poet for the April 4 workshop. Peter Sears will read at the April 11 program. Sears is the founder of the Oregon Literary Coalition, a co-founder of The Friends of William Stafford, and a recipient of the Stewart Holbrook Award Literary Legacy Award.

The final workshop will give participants an opportunity to read from their own material created in the workshops.

These workshops assume no pre-knowledge of poetry, and are suitable for all ages. Participation is free, but attendees are asked to bring their own writing paper and pens, and to register at the library. For more information, call 541-265-2153 or check the library’s website.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Horns by Joe Hill

This one makes my list of dark favorites. Iggy's true love has been dead almost a year, and his bright future has fizzled away. He bleeds his time away in an alcohol-fueled haze in the town where they both grew up, and where most of the population believe he's guilty of her murder. Then, on the anniversary of her death, something intercedes in his slow suicide, offering him the power he needs to find her killer.

Hill plays with morality and religion, making Old Scratch new and recasting him as a necessary part of the wheel of life, death, and justice. I didn't expect to like this one; from the cover, I expected horror, and instead got a sort of salty frolic through the fields of grief, love and vengeance. Ig is a great character, whose internal compass of right and wrong rings true even as he surrenders to some of his more demonic impulses. I laughed, I cried (in my defense, there were a couple of really sad parts), and I recommend it to anyone with a slightly twisted sense of humor and an earthy sensibility. (Earthy here signifies that this book has a few dirty words, very little sex, and some arguably unavoidable violence.)

Hill is the second son of Stephen and Tabitha King; I didn't know that when I read it, or even when I originally composed this blog post. It's kind of an interesting fact, but don't prejudge him on that; Horns stands on its own two feet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The bronze readers

Near the circulation desk of the library sits a bench, which features a bronze statue of reading children. Once a patron asked me how much money the library had spent for this bench. He wanted to know because he didn't like it. You can't sit on it, he complained, because it's so low, and because of the statue.

That patron was absolutely correct. It's not well-designed seating for adults. But kids really like it. They like to sit next to the bronze boy and girl, to make up stories about what they're reading, to pat their bronze heads. They say bye-bye to the bronze children as they leave the library. One little boy was observed giving the bronze girl a kiss on the cheek.

So we like the bench and statue, even though it's not a comfortable place for grownups to sit. I told the unhappy patron that we didn't spend any money on it; it was a donation from a very generous patron, who prefers to remain anonymous. The artist is Max Turner.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Show me the sparkle of your China

If you've been following this blog, you know that we've been on a bit of a China kick. We wrote about Wild China, a beautiful DVD that explores China's extraordinary and threatened ecological richness; and China Road, a journalist's fascinating journey east-to-west across 21st-century China.

If you're as interested in China as we obviously are, here are some other recommendations for you:

China: A History by John Keay: This is a brand-new history written by a correspondent for the Economist. It's next on my list of things to read.

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler: The author takes to China's roads to describe the country's dramatic modern transformation and the social upheaval that accompanies it.

The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester: The title character of this book is Joseph Needham, an English scholar who became obsessed with rediscovering China's lost greatness. Winchester is one of the finest nonfiction authors I know.

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck: written in 1931, this novel remains a sensitive and moving portrait of a Chinese peasant family. I found Buck's portrayal of Chinese women especially sympathetic and moving.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Google News Archive - WOW!

A growing number of newspapers and magazines are starting to charge for access to their online archives. (SIlly rabbits. Don’t they know information wants to be free?) Newport Library offers free access, with a valid library card number, to Gale Periodical Database, that offers thousands of archived periodicals, most with full-text and images.

Google News Archive offers the same service to anyone, no library card needed! Type in a search term and Prest-O! Change-O!, tens of thousands of (usually) relevant magazine and newspapers articles appear. Most articles are free to view, although some may be links to pay-to-view sites and those are clearly marked. One cool feature is an interactive graphical timeline that can be used to limit your search to a certain time period.

Google News Archive is great for students working on research papers, history buffs looking for the odd 90-year old newspaper article or just anyone looking...well...for anything. Local news, foreign news, news of the past, present and future. Well, maybe not the future. But you know Google. They’re probably working on that, too.

Check out Google News Archive HERE.

Friday, March 19, 2010

eBooks @ the Library!

The Newport Public Library joins libraries across the state in offering free, downloadable eBooks. From the comfort of your home, you can go to Library2Go at library2go.lib.overdrive.com, browse the collection, and check them out!

eBooks are growing in popularity, and we are excited to offer this new format in addition to the thousands of downloadable audiobooks and videos currently available. Hundreds of best-selling and classic eBook titles are available, all of which can be read on your computer or on a compatible portable reading device, such as the Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble nook. You just need to download free software called Adobe® Digital Editions, and if you transfer the book to a reader, you will also need to load the software for your reader.

Library2Go’s eBook collection features thousands of titles in various genres and subjects, including mystery, romance, science fiction, literature, biography, business, self-improvement, health, and science.

If books on electronic devices are not your cup of tea, don’t worry; we don’t plan to replace traditional books with eBooks. But if you like the idea of carrying a shelf of books in a single lightweight reader, eBooks might be just the thing for you!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can you imagine a book where every sentence is a question?

"Do you regard yourself a responsible person or an irresponsible person, and would you elect to be the other if you could? Does life insurance strike you as practical or as absurd, if not dishonest? Do you know anyone on whom you can drop in unannounced and in whose kitchen you might then sit and talk pleasantly? Are you engaged in a fight against clutter? . . ." (p.32)

The Interrogative Mood, by Padgett Powell, is a compilation of questions from the piercingly insightful to the completely mundane. Some are intimate, others bizarre. There is no plot. There are no characters, other than "I" and "you". It is one long peculiar monologue which engages your mind almost against your will. Will you stop and mull over the thought-provoking questions or simply become frustrated when your expectations for standard novel components are not met?

If you have an open mind, you may find an unusual pleasure in Powell's work. Martha here at the library recommends it highly as an object of contemplation, to be read and reread slowly and with due consideration. For her, it has become a vade mecum (vay-dee mee-cum), a Latin term for a "useful object, constantly carried on one's person" or a "handbook or manual." (definition from http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vade_mecum). The Interrogative Mood doesn't work as quick read for simple entertainment, but holds treasures for those prepared to seek them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The ladies of Waynesboro, Ohio

...And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer is a fat novel that tells the story of the Waynesboro Women's Club, founded in 1868 by respectable young ladies who wish to read, study, and do a few good works in their little Ohio town. We follow those ladies through the next six decades, as they marry, have children and grandchildren, and work for causes great and small. Their friendship and mutual love remains strong throughout the tragedies and triumphs of their lives.

Now, this is not the kind of book I usually read. I generally want murder, or perhaps an attack by alien lizard-beings. But I loved ...And Ladies of the Club. It has a strong sense of place and time: the Midwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has never been so well rendered. Its ladies do not have many of the rights that we take for granted today, but they have intelligence and character, and I truly enjoyed the long story of their lives.

I read all 1170 pages of ...And Ladies of the Club over one leisurely summer weekend, years ago. It remains a book that I recommend to friends -- even those who, like me, prefer books about murderous lizard-beings.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Moliere in Love?

Once in awhile a random movie I watch turns out to be so delightful, I wonder why I never heard of it before. This weekend I watched the 2007 French film, Moliére, and fell into a world of wit, romance, and farce that was totally enchanting. Loosely based on the life of the 17th century French actor and playwright, the story purports to explain the inspiration for Moliére’s comedic social satire.

After Moliére was tossed into debtor’s prison, Monsieur Jourdain offers to pay his debt if he will teach him how to act. Jourdain is a rich dilettante who hopes to win the heart of Célimène, a snobbish young widow, by performing a play he wrote for her.

Moliére moves in with Jourdain and his family disguised as a priest named Tartuffe. Elmire, Jourdain’s lovely and neglected wife, takes an instant dislike to him. French actor Romain Duris plays Moliére with all the glamour and passion of one of the Three Musketeers, and over time, Moliére wins Elmire’s friendship and love.

The movie has been compared to Shakespeare in Love, because it is a fictional biography fashioned in the writing style of the subject. It is never dull, is full of laugh-out-loud humor, and has a satisfying sense of moral justice.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Side Of China You've Never Seen

As China opens its doors ever wider to the rest of the world, some of its wilder inhabitants are also making their debut on the world’s stage. Wild China highlights China’s efforts at endangered species protection, habitat preservation as well as a nascent environmental movement in a country where such concern for the natural world has taken a back seat to economic development.

But of course it’s the animals that make Wild China such a treat to watch. The world’s smallest mammal, the bamboo bat, no larger than a bumble bee, makes its home in hollowed out bamboo stalks. Remarkable Yunan snub-nosed monkeys call across the forest like rambunctious children at play, their faces living portraits in ancient wisdom. And a 400 year old turtle, the species now extinct in the wild, lives out its final days in a temple pond.

Wild China takes great pains to show the close interaction of the Chinese people to their environment. But it is an uneasy relationship at best. Recent and rapid economic development has caused wide-spread habitat destruction and pollution in heretofore inaccessible rural areas. And China must somehow balance centuries of resource use of plant and animal species with increasing demands on those resources.

Wild China is an armchair traveler’s dream come true, offering a lushly filmed look at corners of the country few Chinese themselves have ever seen. It is also an alarming environmental wake-up call that we should all heed. Reserve it today HERE.

Monday, March 8, 2010

KISS - Or How I Fell in Love With My Dictionary

KISS stands for "Keep it Simple, Stupid," or sometimes "Keep it Short and Simple." The KISS principle states that simplicity should be a key goal in design, and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

How does this relate to loving my dictionary? Mostly, it’s because, while reading, I frequently come across words for which I don’t know the meaning. This is where a dictionary comes in handy. I keep dictionaries in strategic locations throughout my house and in my office at work for those occasions. I’ve come to love opening my dictionary, discovering new words and then learning their meanings.

Sometimes, though, I get the feeling authors are showing off, when they write sentences that force me to look up every other word. Don’t get me wrong; I love authors who can make their words sing. I just don’t enjoy authors who use “ten dollar” words when other, simpler words will do the trick.

Here’s an example of a sentence I read from an interview with a successful author who will remain unnamed: "… This forces the crime writer to eschew adolescent whining, jejune sermonizing, and solipsistic arias of self-pity." Was it really necessary to pummel me with words most people don’t understand? Come on, Keep it Simple, Stupid!

Now, I don’t want to imply that I think every piece of writing should be taken down to the lowest common denominator. I just appreciate those authors who can get deep, really deep, using simple thoughts and words.

Here’s an example of what I mean from Willa Cather’s My Antonia:

"This guarded mode of existence was like living under a tyranny. People’s speech, their voices, their very glances, became furtive and repressed. Every individual taste, every appetite, was bridled with caution. The people asleep in those houses, I thought, tried to live like the mice in their own kitchens; to make no noise, to leave no trace, to slip over the surface of things in the dark. The growing piles of ashes and cinders in the back yards were the only evidence that the wasteful, consuming process of life went on at all.'

Simple. Very, very deep. And, it sings!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The evolution of reading with my son (from 0-8)

When my son was a little guy, I showered him with picture books of all kinds, from Spot Goes to the Beach to Harvey Slumfenburger's Christmas Present. We read them all, some of them over and over. This was undoubtedly good for my son's imagination, vocabulary, and cognitive skills, but that's not the part I miss; his brain seems to be developing just fine these days even without a daily dose of Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (and even with a daily dose of Super Mario Brothers.) I'm the one having trouble adjusting; paging through picture books by myself is just not the same.

Fortunately, there's a silver lining. His rejection of picture books has led him through many a Magic Tree House and Geronimo Stilton book on his own, and has finally brought him here, to a point where we two can actually read and enjoy the same book and talk about it. Don't get me wrong, we started reading Harry Potter books aloud when he was 5, and that was a great thing in its own way. But being able to pass Percy Jackson & the Olympians back and forth, talking about what we liked and comparing the book to the new Lightning Thief movie is a whole new level of discourse. We just started book 4 (well, I let him have it first, so I haven't started it yet) but I'm already dreading the end of book 5, when I'll have to bring home another dozen books in the hopes that one among them will catch his interest and become our next shared read. (It's true; he likes only about 20% of the many books I bring home for him. That's one excellent reason to get kids' books at the library rather than the book store!)

The Lightning Thief is a fun, fast-moving book that dips into Greek mythology to create a book full of heroes and monsters with a sympathetic and admirable main character. In Book One, he's in sixth grade, young enough for grade schoolers to relate to (although in the movie, they made him a high school kid.) There are enough interesting male and female characters to engage both girls and boys, and in the book, there's none of the romantic tension that was added in the movie. The chapters are full of action and humor, with themes of friendship and strength in the face of challenges.

If you have suggestions about other great books for parents and kids to share, let me know!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fix That Car

So you're working on your brake calipers, or your fuel pump, or your alternator. But you don't have the manual for your car, and you don't want to buy one. (After all, you just bought new calipers, or a fuel pump, or an alternator.)

The Newport Public Library has Chilton Guides to many cars, trucks, and vans. They're in the reference collection so you can't check them out, but you can make photocopies of the pages you need. (At the library, you always get 5 free photocopies per day from reference books.)

Not only that, but we also have a Chilton database, so you can look up the parts you need from your home computer. Just go to this page and click Chilton Library. You will have to enter your library card number. Then select the year, make, and model of your car, and you'll get a menu (like the one pictured here) that helps you find the information you need.

As always, if you have any questions with this free service, please don't hesitate to call the library at 541-265-2153.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maybe the earth is trying to tell us something

Miles O'Mally is a precocious 13-year old with a passion for Puget Sound, Rachel Carson, and marine life. Like a young Doc Ricketts, he wanders the mudflats near his home in Olympia, collecting sea creatures to sell to aquariums and private collectors. One night he finds a dying giant squid, and afterwards his life is never the same.

Miles is the protagonist of Jim Lynch's novel, The Highest Tide, which is this year's selection for NEWPORT READS! He has a crush on Angie, the older girl next door, and is close friends with Florence, an elderly neighbor who is the local psychic. His best friend, Phelps is obsessed with sex, and his parents are always fighting. The novel is both a coming-of-age story and a cautionary tale about the fragility of our planet.

The Newport Library Foundation has planned a series of events around the book. The kick-off, which will introduce the book and include a marine life scavenger hunt, takes place on April 8 at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Attendance will be limited to 100 attendees, so free tickets will be available at the library starting on March 22.

Jim Lynch, the author, will give a talk at the Oregon Coast Community College on April 15, and the final program will be a panel of marine scientists on April 22 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. All programs will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Read the book, join the discussions, and we hope to see you at one or more of the events!