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Books and Love in Barcelona April 23, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Books, Fiction, Literature, readers, Reading.
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Oh, to be in Barcelona, now that April’s here!  Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, and today is one of their special days, La Diada de Sant Jordi (that’s Catalan for St. George’s Day).  This is a day to celebrate books and love.  Ladies receive roses as gifts, and men receive books.  The romance comes from the St. George legend.  The day is special to books because it is International Book Day, so designated because both Shakespeare and Cervantes died on April 23, 1616.

You’re probably thinking, how can I get in on this celebration?  Well, a red rose for your wife or sweetheart (and your mother-in-law) would be a good start.  And there are some wonderful books about Barcelona:  Robert Hughes wrote a landmark book (Barcelona) about the fabulous art and architecture of the city.  Even more apropos might be the remarkable Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a novel set in Barcelona which features a graveyard of books and in which fictional characters seem to come alive. 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

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This Week’s Best Bet in Downtown West Palm April 13, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Public libraries, readers, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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If you love books and media, you need to take a tour of the wonderful new downtown West Palm Beach Library at 411 Clematis Street.  There are so many wonderful things to see in the new Library, and you don’t want to miss any of them.  So – here is the schedule of tours: 

Monday, April 13

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 14

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 15

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 16 (Grand Opening Ceremony at Noon)

11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m.,

5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.

Tours in Spanish at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.

Friday, April 17

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 18

10:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 19

2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

I’ll be blogging in more detail about what the Library has to offer – so stay in touch!

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

What Would a Future President Read? January 29, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Literature, readers, Reading, Reading lists.
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McNally Jackson Booksellers in New York City is presenting a fascinating program on the books that President Obama read in his twenties, as well as a few more recent titles.  The bookstore’s John McGregor came up with the idea and compiled the list based on titles mentioned in Obama’s own books and in interviews.  Here’s a link:  http://news.shelf-awareness.com/nview.jsp?appid=411&j=618968.  (You will have to scroll down a bit.)

Let me tell you that it is a rich – and richly varied – trove of titles.  I must admit that when I come across an interesting reading list, I check it to see how many of the items I have read.  The number wasn’t as high as I’d like – 12 out of 54 – but several of the books would be on my all time list of important titles:  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Bartleby the Scrivener, the Bible, Heart of Darkness, and Self-Reliance.   

I wish that I could attend that discussion.  I do believe that that, among many other things, the books we read reveal something about us and help to create who we are.  Let me know how you react to the future President’s reading list, and if you found any favorites there.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

Well Worn Books January 28, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I just dropped some books in the book return.  I had to wait a few moments for the man in front of me.  When he realized I was behind him, he apologized and turned to me with a book in his hand, saying what a great book it was and how much he had enjoyed it.

This is always good news to me, but I was particularly struck by it this time.  It was a book from the music section, and it was far from attractive – plainly bound and worn with time and use.  But because the man was interested in the topic and moved by its contents, he could see beyond that.

I do love it when the new books arrive – bright, shiny, and full of possibility.  But the ones that have the reader’s seal of approval…well…you just might want to take a closer look. 

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

It’s Okay to Ask the Librarian – Really! November 13, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Librarians, Public libraries, readers, Reading.
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I have discovered to my distress that many people think it’s inappropriate to ask a librarian for help.  Apparently, someone drummed it into their heads that they’re supposed to be able to find things on their own in the library.  Or perhaps they had an unfortunate experience with the mythical mean librarian who asked sternly, “Have you looked in the card catalog?” 

Do not be intimidated!  We are here to connect you with the book or DVD or CD or information that you want.  They pay us to do it, and fortunately most of us really like to do it. 

Also – here is something to consider.  The contemporary public library is probably a lot different from your school library.  So even if you were a library whiz back in the day, and no matter how intelligent and informed you are, there are a lot of new developments.  We work here every day, and we have advanced degrees in library science.  Did I mention that we are here to help you? 

I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that a particular item was not to be found in the library, when in fact it was there all along.  I’m really worried about the ones who don’t ask and miss out entirely. 

If you can find what you need in the library on your own, that is fine.  But I have to tell you that I often ask for assistance when I go to another library.  A good librarian can help you find things you didn’t even realize were available.  For example, when I was doing research in the Law Library at FSU, I told the reference librarian about my topic.  He came up with the actual transcript of a pivotal trial, which I hadn’t even thought to ask for. 

It doesn’t matter whether you want a great mystery novel, need help researching a medical condition, or want to look up a stock price.  Always ask!  It is true that there may be some questions that are too far out of our expertise or beyond our resources, but we will at least try to set you on the right path. 

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

A Day (Off) in the Life of the Book Goddess (and more reasons to love your book club) October 30, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Librarians, library programs, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Monday was a day off for me, so after I had done some laundry, I set off for the campaign headquarters of the presidential candidate of my choice.  I had arranged to meet up there with one of my wonderful book club friends, Kathleen.  We were making calls to likely voters, and one lady said she wanted applications for absentee ballots.  Kathleen said we would take them over to her house – so we set off to make our delivery. 

When we got there, the voter and her mother were sitting in the shade of their peaceful front yard.  We had a nice visit while they filled out the forms.  

After we took care of delivering the forms, we decided to call Sylvia, another book club member who lives nearby and see if we could drop in.  She was happy to hear from us, and set out wine, cheese, crackers and fruit on her patio.  What a gracious hostess!  Kathleen started teaching us how to play Hawaiian gin rummy.  Then Sylvia got another call from yet another book club member, Faith, who was also in the neighborhood.  We were delighted that she could join our party. 

Eventually we had to leave for our various commitments, but what a wonderful day it was!  I felt that I did something useful, and I got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world.  I can’t guarantee that you will find friends in your book club as fabulous as mine, but I think there’s a good chance. 

Oh – and after that, I went to my bellydance class.  I had met the teacher at the West Palm Beach Public Library where she gave an introductory lesson.  When I went home, I read Exit Music by Ian Rankin, which is pretty terrific – a library book, of course. 

Those of us in the library profession are fond of saying that libraries change lives.  There is no doubt that they have changed mine. 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

How to Enhance Your Reading Experience, Part I October 21, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Books, Fiction, Literature, readers, Reading.
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Let’s say you’re at home.  You decide to get yourself a nice beverage to enjoy while reading.  Don’t just pick the first thing you run into in your fridge!  No – first you might want to read “The Book Examiner’s ultimate guide to pairing alcohol and literature: read, drink, and be merry.” 

This sounds like fun – the right beverage with the right book!  The Book Examiner has put together a delightful list of beverages and the books that might complement them.  

A word (or several) of warning:  since they are all alcoholic, you might have a good reason for avoiding them altogether.  Also, if you read in the morning, or on your lunch hour, or if you’ll need to drive, I’d certainly recommend coffee or a soft drink.  In fact, the Book Goddess advises you not to do anything illegal, immoral, or likely to produce a hangover. 

Even without the warning, I really think Barbara Pym would go better with hot tea (think of all those church gatherings!), though sherry is not out of the question.  And sweet iced tea would be the beverage of choice for much of Southern literature.  But there are a lot of wonderful suggestions on the Book Examiner’s list, including Old Peculier, which I thought was an invention of Martha Grimes until I found it in a store in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The red wine suggestions seem especially apt – “Classics, high-brow travel writing, brainy literary-type tomes, history, historical novels, food writing, and anything with a reference to Provence in the title….” 

Does this sound lovely?  The world can be a worrisome place; I think it’s a good thing to seek out small pleasures. 

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

Browsing for Books? October 8, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Fiction, Literature, Public libraries, readers, Reading.
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On one of my professional listservs, there’s a discussion going on about whether people are browsing for books in libraries anymore.  Many people, we are told, simply place holds on the titles their friends recommend or they hear about through the media. 

I certainly do see people browsing here at the Library, but maybe not in the numbers they once did.  And if browsing is on the decline, I think that’s unfortunate. 

I am a great believer in serendipity.  When I go to a new destination, one of my favorite things to do is to wander.  For example, that’s how I encountered Barcelona’s truly fabulous central market.  Yes, I could have read about it in a guidebook and planned to visit at a certain date and time, but the surprise was marvelous.  I like to leave time and space for discovery, for encountering something I hadn’t anticipated. 

I know everyone is overscheduled and stressed out.  But I think a really great form of relaxation would be to simply wander in the stacks of a good library.  Spread out before you is the wisdom of the ages, should you feel in need of it…but also wonderful escape reading, how-to manuals of every description, volumes of great art, biographies of the noble and the notorious…and the travel guides that will help you be a better wanderer. 

These are tough times.  It might also be a good time to go to the Library and see if you can find your own personal instruction book to help you deal with whatever challenges you are facing. 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

On Not Reading Books September 19, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I was just checking out the Library’s Twitter site (brilliantly maintained by our newest Reference Librarian, Britta Gregor), where I encountered a link to the Times of London and a list of “10 Books Not to Read before You Die.”  

Well.  I knew before I got there that I was going to encounter Ulysses by James Joyce.  It has always been a matter of some pride for me that I plowed through it in three weeks as an undergraduate at the University of Florida.  (This was in Brandon Kershner’s wonderful Modern English Novel course.)  It isn’t easy and when people tell me they are thinking about reading it, I always suggest they try Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which gives you a bit of the effect but is much more readable. 

I discovered that I had in fact read five of the books on the list in full – and you can read about my adventures with Proust elsewhere in this blog – and liked some of them very much.

But this amusing article does make a good point, which is that you don’t need to be a slave to the experts.  I don’t happen to agree with Mr. Wilson about Pride and Prejudice, but based on his review, I don’t plan to read The Dice Man anytime soon. 

Having said that, I personally enjoy some of those “must read, must see, must hear” lists very much.  To find some of them in our library catalog, click here.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

Help! I Need A Novel! August 11, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Books, Fiction, Literature, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I recently got a question from a patron who wanted to know the best websites for selecting fiction.  This is an excellent question, and one problem is that it will have different answers for different types of readers.  The other problem is that there are endless book-related websites, and we are only going to scratch the surface here. 

First of all, I want to refer you to our Library website, where we have a whole set of pages (and many more links) devoted to helping you find something great to read:  http://librarytogo.org/books_l2go.htm.

Being a librarian makes you very aware of how many books there are out there, and it makes me want to pick out the very best.  So, here are some really good sources of “best” lists:

American Library Association Notable Books:  http://www.ala.org/ala/rusa/protools/notablebooks/thelists/2008list/notablebooks.cfm

New York Times Notable Books:  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/books/review/notable-books-2007.html

American Booksellers Association http://www.indiebound.org/indie-next-list

Some readers like to find books of a specific genre, setting, or subject matter.  Websites which are very helpful for this include:

What Do I Read Next? – Search fiction by subject, settings, time period, major character:   http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/WDIRN?locID=41100_wpbpl

What Should I Read Next? – Provide a title and find out what others who read that book have read (UK emphasis, so nice for Anglophiles):  http://whatshouldireadnext.com/search

Reading Robot – Focuses on genre fiction; nice because you can choose (or exclude) certain writing styles or types of characters:  http://www.tnrdlib.bc.ca/rr.html

And one last, not to be missed source:  the National Public Radio Books page, which always makes me want to drop everything and start reading one of the wonderful featured titles:  http://www.npr.org/templates/topics/topic.php?topicId=1032

Wow!  I haven’t even said anything about the book-related social networking sites like GoodReads, LibraryThing and Shelfari.  I think I’m going to have to leave them for another post.

Do you have any favorite book-related websites?  Please share!

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess