Monday, August 31, 2009

Hangin' with the Fruit Bats

I’m not sure where The Fruits Bats are hanging out these days, but they are often figured as a Chicago band (OK, Eric Johnson's from here, but hasn't lived here in a while. Maybe?). They certainly have plenty of ties to these parts, and while main Bat Eric D. Johnson may be well traveled, spending time in bands in San Francisco (Vetiver) and Seattle (Factums), you get the feeling he likes it here when he sings on album’s third song, “I’m heading back to the place that makes sense to me, my heart belongs to the snow, Buffalo and Chicago”. Ruminant Band was recorded in Chicago and it's The Fruit Bats 3rd album overall and first since 2003’s Spelled in Bones. What do they sound like? The Fruit Bats music is often compared to The Shins, which makes a lot of sense given Johnson spends time playing in that band too. But rather than the 60s inflected, moody, folk-pop that the Shins employ, the songs on Ruminant Band choogle with a laid-back authority that’s grafted to the sonic bones of The Band, the Allman Brothers, and 70s AM radio in all the best possible ways. Califone’s (another nod to Chicago) Tim Rutilli even lays down a guest vocal on one track. If you like The Shins, or the last couple of Wilco records, do yourself a favor and check out The Fruit Bats.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coming Soon and Already Here

In 2007 many fantasy readers, myself included, were saddened when they learned that Robert Jordan passed away. Jordan was the author of the enormous “Wheel of Time” series. For those who may not be familiar with the series, it is a long-running tale, set three thousand years after a devastating war against a demonic force called "the Dark One" who sought to unmake all of creation. That being is trying to touch the world again, and according to prophecy, only one man the Dragon Reborn, can stand against him.

Despite 11 hefty volumes, the series was not complete at the time of Mr. Jordan's death. The protagonists were still scattered about the world. The nations were divided against each other rather than standing against the true threat. The Dark One was poised to unmake creation. The Dragon Reborn was yet to fulfill the prophecies that say he would save the world. Many a loose end needed tying up.

This November, the series continues once more.

Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson was contracted by Jordan’s estate to complete the series. This November Wheel of Time fans will be able to read The Gathering Storm, the first of three volumes which will wrap up the series.

But November is months away, you say? What about now? Well, if you are not familiar with Mr. Sanderson’s works, you can familiarize yourself. I was only vaguely aware of his works before discovering he was to complete the Wheel of Time. Now, after finishing his Mistborn trilogy (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages), I believe that a good choice was made in tapping him to complete Mr. Jordan’s work.

This trilogy puts an original spin on the venerable “prophesied hero” story. Namely, it asks the question "What if the hero failed, and a thousand years of tyranny followed?" What would that world look like? What would its heroes look like? The books maintain a good balance of intrigue, action, and romance. His magical system “Allomancy” operates under logical (for magic) rules. More importantly, he’s good at taking his magic system and incorporating it into the society he’s writing about. His world is more than a quasi-medieval kingdom with a layer of the fantastic over it. It takes the fantastic into account with how things are run, from police forces, to military, religion, even politics. I can hardly wait to see what he does with Wheel of Time.

Search our Online Catalog for these titles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Julia and Her Love Affair with France

Now that you have seen the movie, why don't you try the books?

I don't remember watching Julia Child regularly (that was in my pre-Food Network obsession days,) but when I did, it was just as much fun to watch her in action as it was to see what was cooking. And when I had the pleasure of seeing her kitchen at the Smithsonian (yes, they have the whole thing!), it was interesting to realize what a true pioneer she was. If you want to recapture the essence of Julia then try the book, My Life in France by Julia Child and her grandnephew Alex Prud'homme. Her voice and enthusiasm come across loud and clear.

Julia had quite a few adventures before becoming a cooking goddess. She went with her husband Paul to Paris in 1948, when he got posted there for his government job. And there she discovered Paris and French food. She got started at Le Cordon Bleu, made friends with future collaborator Simone Beck, and discovered the job of sharing her cooking techniques. And if that were not enough, the Childs got posted to Germany and Norway and got involved with McCarthy politics, as the senator attempted to "clean up" the government. All that and she wrote a monumental cookbook too! What a life! Discover the joy of Julia once again! Bon Appetit!

And if you want to try her famous French cookbook vicariously, try Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell. It's a thirty-something's culinary challenge, and obsession with Julia and the art of French cooking. She's a pretty funny writer. And an equal part of this book is about life and how to live it, and yes - food. Both are very good reads.

Search our Online Catalog for these titles.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What's Obama Reading?

What’s President Obama Reading While He’s On Vacation?

In addition to playing tennis with the First Lady and spending time with his kids, President Obama has brought a number of books on his vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. According to the White House he’s taken the following titles with him:

The Way Home by George Pelecanos.
After years of rebellion that cost him his father's trust, Christopher Flynn now has a steady job at his father's company, but when temptation revives his old habits and instincts, he struggles to get past the demons trying to pull him back.

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman.
Examines America's loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11, and the global environmental crisis, and shows how the solutions to these two problems are linked.

Lush Life by Richard Price.
Still living on the Lower East Side and waiting tables, thirty-five-year-old Eric Cash has every reason to be jealous of Ike Marcus, an ambitious young man on the way to the top, until he is supposedly gunned down by street thugs while walking one night with Eric.

John Adams by David McCullough.
Chronicles the life of America's second president, including his youth, his career as a Massachusetts farmer and lawyer, his marriage to Abigail, his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson, and his influence on the birth of the United States.

Search our Online Catalog for these titles.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Club Start-Up Tips

Thinking of launching a book discussion group? The Glenview Public Library has numerous resources to help you make a go of it.

Start out with Talking About Books: A Step-By-Step Guide For Participating In A Book Discussion Group by Marcia Fineman (374.22/FIN). This invaluable resource provides readers with the tools needed to think about book discussion in a whole new way. It's easy to use and full of practical pointers for getting a discussion going and keeping it going. Also included are lists of questions that can be used with any book. It's a great resource for new book clubs as well as for already established ones.

Another useful title is The Reading Group Handbook by Rachel Jacobsohn (374.22/JAC). Jacobsohn seems to have thought of everything one would need to prepare and think about before beginning a group. She gives helpful check-off lists to keep the mechanics of the group running and covers everything from cookies and coffee to how you diplomatically deal with "the rambler”.

Once you’ve got the basics down, consider checking out one of our “Book Club in a Bag” kits. Each bag contains 12 copies of a discussable title and a book discussion guide with thought-provoking questions. These handy sets go out for 6 weeks and are the perfect way for your new group to get up and running or for your established group to conveniently provide all its members with the same title.

So with the summer coming to an end (how did that happen?), now would be a good time to start planning for your book club. Those long winter evenings will be here before you know it and nothing warms you up more than a good book!

Search our Online catalog for these titles.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe, Elizabeth Berg's newest title, was released in April 2009. I always look forward to Berg's novels because of her graceful and gentle style and her down-to-earth characters. Somehow April, May and the summer almost passed me by and I still hadn't had a chance to sit down and read her newest novel. That's when I ended up checking out the audiobook on CD so that I could listen to it on my way to and from work. What a treat! It can be hit or miss when authors narrate their own works. Elizabeth Berg is definitely a "hit." She is a wonderful storyteller, both in the written and in the spoken word. If you're looking for a good read, either in print or audio, I highly recommend Home Safe. Try it, and let me know if you agree.

Search our Online catalog for these titles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Murder in the Marais

Cara Black starts off her series with lead character Aimee Leduc in the book Murder in the Marais. What starts out as a simple and overpaid job of hunting down a encripted website, ends up becoming a case of murder. Aimee finds the body and sets in motion an investigation that goes all the way up to the top level of French politics.

The Marais is the traditionally Jewish section of Paris. And this is where the French Jews were rounded up during the occupation. Memories are long for injustices, and Aimee finds she is sifting through the history of the occupation in order to find out who would want an elderly Jewish woman murdered and who wants her to stop investigating.

This is a fast paced story but Black gives the reader enough time to get to know Aimee and her unusal background. Black hints at the fact that Aimee has secrets of her own that will be revealed in later books. Aimee is a tough character who has been trained by her recently deceased father in the art of detection. And it does not take the reader long to admire her tenacity and skill at going undercover to figure out the case. I'm looking forward to reading the next one in the series. A good mystery and a very good read.

Search our Online catalog for these titles.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scandinavian Crime Wave

Traveling to Scandinavia this summer? Do not be alarmed, the crime wave is contained only within the pages of their popular crime fiction novels. More people are murdered within the pages of Scandinavian crime novels than in the streets of Oslo, Stockholm and Reykjavik combined. Some of the hottest crime novels are emerging from cooler climates, from newcomer Stieg Larsson’s blockbuster novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (second best–selling author in the world last year) to Henning Mankell’s scruffy and complex Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. Stieg Larrson’s second translated novel, The Girl who Played with Fire , hit the stores in late July 2009 and is expected to be a hit. Scandinavian crime novels are very popular world-wide and U.S. publishers are scrambling to translate the best ones. Even television is getting in on the bandwagon, this past spring, Masterpiece Mystery introduced author Henning Mankell’s Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in a three episode miniseries that has received two primetime Emmy nominations. New to Scandinavian crime novels? Try one these; The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo, Don’t Look Back by Karin Fossum, The Man on the Balcony by Maj Sjowall, and Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriaason, Woman with Birthmark by Hakan Nesser and Demon of Dakar by Kjell Eriksson.

Search our Online catalog for these titles.

Friday, August 14, 2009

RIP Les Paul and Rashied Ali

The music world lost two greats on Thursday (August 13) with the passing of guitar innovator Les Paul and free-jazz drummer Rashied Ali. It's hard to calculte the impact Les Paul had on rock and jazz with the invention of one of the first solid-body electric guitars ("The Log") in 1939. His early experiments with multi-tracking are now standard in the recording studio today. Similarily, Ali was the stalwart drummer for jazz giant John Coltrane over the course of his final recordings, beginning with Meditations and continuing through Interstellar Space, Live in Japan, and Coltrane's final live recording, The Olatunji Concert. You can check out more information on both artists here at the library.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Tabasco Empire of the McIlhenny Family

Jeffery Rothfeder's book McIlhenny's Gold: How a Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire is not just a book about a business. It is a book about a family - the McIlhenny's, a place - Avery Island, Louisiana, and a time - the Civil War reconstruction era. Rothfeder does an excellent job of explaining how the product Tabasco - has been intertwined since the beginning with these three.

The business was begun as a post war enterprise. It grew to engulf the island - which is also home to salt mines. It helped create one of the first "company" towns. And it helped change the culinary culture as the appreciation for hot foods has grown. Tabasco has become an icon.

The McIlhenny family is full of bankers, naturalists, and soldiers and their family-run company has, in some ways, become an extension of themselves. Rothfeder does a nice job keeping the story going through the decades. An interesting story of history, food and a family run business. Don't blame me if you run out and get some hot sauce. A very good read.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Welcome to The glenVIEW

We're proud to launch The glenVIEW, a blog from the Reader Services Department at the Glenview Public Library! Find book, movie and music recommendations, read alike suggestions, author information, local literary events, and more – all brought to you by the Reader Services staff. Please be sure to leave a comment to let us know your thoughts.

Meet our blog contributors!

Carmen G. is the Readers Advisory Librarian. She co-leads the 'BookBites' reading social book group that meets at the Hackney's. She recommends good reads, helps to plan fun activities and programs for readers and helps with the library's social media and online reach. Depending on her mood she likes to read something fun like Marian Keyes or perhaps an international mystery, when she's not zipping off to faraway exotic places in the world.

Monique F. grew up wanting to be Nancy Drew, but today she works in the Reader Services Department and runs the Quarterly Mystery Discussion Group. She is an eclectic reader who reads across the spectrum in both non-fiction and genre fiction. She tries to stay away from any book that is labeled poignant.

Carolyn R. is a part-time para-professional in Reader Services and when she is not working the desk she moderates All Things Spanish. Carolyn likes to read fiction and non-fiction alike but never has enough time to read all the books on her list. She is drawn to foreign authors, mainly Latino and foreign films. She is not very likely to make a selection based on the bestseller list.

Kay B. grew up loving music and reading. She is the go-to person in Reader Services for all your classical and music theater questions. She has been instrumental in bringing the Chicago Lyric Opera lectures to our library and also helps with the Mystery Club. In her spare time, she teaches music, reads, walks and does needlework.

Nicole M. is the Young Adult Librarian here at Glenview, serving teens in high school with books as well as programming. When she is not at work, Nicole is busy raising school age twins. Nicole likes to read a mix of teen and adult fiction and non-fiction and has taken to audiobooks in her daily commute.

Michael W. is our Audiovisual Librarian. He’d never owned a single audio recording until one fateful day in 1981 when his 8th grade Language Arts teacher (whose name he now conveniently forgets) shamed him by handing out a grade of ZERO on a simple assignment that required students to stand-up, recite the lyrics to a favorite song and then play a cassette tape of said song for the rest of the class to hear. Embarrassed, Michael spent the remainder of his childhood (and more) dedicated to listening and collecting as much music as he could to make up for that ONE mistake. He ALSO loves films, reads a bunch and really enjoys helping patrons with the Glenview Public Library’s downloadable services. Stop by the AV ROOM to chat, he’s always happy to talk about movies, music and technology.

Gayle W. has been a member of the Reader Services Department for many, many moons. When she's not working out there, she co-leads the book discussion group Page Turners. She enjoys reading non-fiction, especially memoirs, because truth is stranger and at times, more exciting than fiction! She also teaches the "fun" Internet workshops and one-on-one tutorials on eBay, Online Travel, and Online Shopping. See Gayle if you want to find/sell a collectible, book a vacation package, or shop and save

Ethan F. is a part-time member of the Reader Services crew. He reads books of all genres, but his favorites tend to be horror, fantasy, and scifi. He claims to be addicted to movies as well, and just like his taste in books, his tastes stray towards horror and scifi more often than not. He’s also a music lover and listens to everything from classical to death metal, jazz to electronica, and anything in between. Stop in and feel free to chat with him about movies, music, video games, and more! If he’s not working hard at the library, you can probably find him playing Dungeons & Dragons or petting a dog.

Teri R. reads mysteries--from gritty to cozy, she loves them all. Not that she can ever solve the crimes! Lately, she is loving the unreliable narrator trend. She also tries to keep up with current literary fiction and nonfiction of all kinds, particularly history.