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This Book is Not for Everyone March 26, 2010

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Literature, Mysteries, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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It’s a great joy when you recommend a book to someone, and they just adore it.  Recently I recommended the wonderful British mystery writer, Peter Robinson, to a long time patron.  When she stopped by yesterday, she thanked me and was looking forward to reading more of his books.

However, it can be deflating when you love a book and the person you recommend it to does not share your enthusiasm.  I have had book clubs disappointed with two of my all time favorites, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.  My friend Peggie was lukewarm about another favorite, Raney by Clyde Edgerton, though she truly loved my recommendation of The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz.  And my supervisor, a former children’s librarian and outstanding human being, inexplicably does not like Winnie-the-Pooh.

It happens with me, too.  I finally gave up on the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, mostly because I found parts of it too brutal for my taste.  And both the aforementioned Peggie and another friend, Joanne, highly recommended The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille.  I just bogged down and stopped listening to the audiobook.  I’m not really sure why.

Please keep on recommending books, because when it goes right, you make a truly fabulous connection.  Just remember that we may not love the same books.  But in the library, the good part is that the price is right and we have no problem when you bring the item in for a return or exchange!

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

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The Fault Tree March 4, 2010

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club, library programs, Mysteries, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I was sorry to miss our most recent Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club here at the Library.  If you like mysteries, please pay us a visit.  We meet on the 4th Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m.  Nice people, interesting discussions.

The book for February was The Fault Tree by Louise Ure.  The “detective,” Cadence Moran, is a blind auto mechanic.  I know – the scenario is unlikely, but the author does a great job of getting inside the head of this character.  Cadence’s automotive sensibilities (recognition of engine sounds, etc.) become an integral part of the plot. 

I did enjoy the story line, but what I liked even more was the insight into Cadence’s unique experience of the world as a blind person.  I’d recommend the book to fans of Laura Lippman and Sue Grafton.

The next meeting of the Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club will be on Saturday, March 27th.  The selection will be Rough Weather:  A Spenser Novel, by the late, great Robert B. Parker.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

Just Browsing? Why it’s Important November 30, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Do you enjoy browsing for books?  Many people do, but I believe I read somewhere that this behavior is on the decline.  So I’ve decided to give you permission to browse, and to tell you why I am convinced it’s a good thing for you to do.

I’m aware that there is much to be done and little time in which to do it.  I can be very task-oriented myself.  This is a good thing in certain situations, but taken to excess, it can create a very limited, hunched-over, tightly wound individual.  I suggest browsing for books as a fabulous way to de-stress and open your mind a little.

So – you enter the ground floor of the West Palm Beach Public Library.  You have a few minutes to spare on your lunch hour.  Wander into the collections.  Yes, you may head straight for your favorite (Mysteries?  Food & Wine?) – but how about something completely different?  For now, judge the books by their covers.  Open a few and read the first few paragraphs.  Act on impulse – the price is right!

How do you feel now?  Perhaps you will read about another culture, or learn a new craft.  Maybe you will plan a trip or think about starting your own business.  There is a wonderful feeling of possibility in a library, a sense of new worlds to explore.  I’m feeling better just thinking about it.  How about you?

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

P.S.  While this article was originally addressed to West Palm Beach Public Library patrons (in the Holiday 2009 issue of Library Currents), I’m sure that most of my readers have a favorite library or bookstore for browsing.  We need to cherish and support these wonderful resources!

Celebrating Agatha Christie September 14, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Authors You Shouldn't Miss, Books, Fiction, Mysteries, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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What comes to mind when you hear the word Torquay?  For me, it is an image of John Cleese as the hilariously incompetent hotel proprietor in Fawlty Towers. 

But this week is different, as Torquay is hosting the Fifth Annual Agatha Christie Festival in honor of the their native daughter (and best-selling novelist of all time, thank you very much).  It sounds like it will be great fun, starting with the opening event:  A Fete Worse Than Death!  I wish I were there. 

Agatha Christie occupies a special place in my reading history.  I first encountered her at age eleven.  I was a precocious reader, and teen fiction as we now know it really did not exist.  My mother loved reading murder mysteries, and she was pretty sure Agatha Christie would provide a reasonably age-appropriate reading experience.  

Well, the die was cast.  I started reading Agatha Christie that summer, and I have adored murder mysteries ever since.  Christie was still living when I started reading her, and for some years my mother would give me the latest hardback for my birthday or Christmas. 

To the best of my knowledge, I have read all of her fiction.  My favorite of her detectives is Miss Marple, and I highly recommend Murder at the Vicarage, the first of the Miss Marple mysteries.  The distinguished mystery novelist and critic H. R. F. Keating named these as her top three titles:  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (also a personal favorite of mine), Murder on the Orient Express, and Sleeping Murder

Christie is not so well known for the non-mystery novels that she wrote under the name Mary Westmacott.  One of these titles, Absent in the Spring, would make my list of all-time memorable books, and I am happy to see that it is in print.  I will be ordering it for the Library.  

If by some happenstance you have never read anything by Agatha Christie, I think you would enjoy the experience.  And if you like it, there are dozens more! 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

Loving the Product August 31, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Librarians, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Many years ago I read In Search of Excellence, the landmark leadership book by Tom Peters.  He writes compellingly about the elements that make businesses successful, and one of the points which has stuck with me is the importance of “loving the product,” whether you are a CEO or an employee on the production line. 

I’m happy to say that our Library staff is full of people who “love the product.”  Lunch and break time conversations often focus on whatever wonderful book we are reading or remember with particular fondness.  Our Staff Picks section on the First Floor is full of an amazingly wide range of handpicked titles. 

And you love books, too.  When you enter the Library, you feel at home.  You have to choose carefully between the many books you want to check out, because you can’t carry all of them.  You join in the conversation by recommending books to us.  Then, to continue the business analogy, you help us “increase our sales” by checking out books.  Please – keep up the good work! 

We’re very grateful to all our customers.  You are the reason for the Library, and we thank you for helping us get our new home off to a great start! 

Happy Reading, 

The Book Goddess

(This essay originally appeared in the September/October issue of Library Currents, which also includes information on Library and Friends activities for all ages.  You can find it at our homepage:  http://www.mycitylibrary.org/.)

Loving Frank August 25, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Great Reads, library programs, Literature, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Have you read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan?  There’s a good chance that the answer is yes, especially if you’re in a book club.  Our most recent Second Saturday group had one of our liveliest discussions yet about this one, and I would certainly recommend it to you, for single or group readership. 

Here’s a bare bones, non-spoiler summary of the plot:  Mamah Cheney, a well-educated married woman with small children, falls in love with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  They leave their respective families and journey to Europe together.  There are, of course, consequences for all concerned. 

One of the challenges in reading and discussing the book is remembering that is a fictional account, even though the general outline of events did in fact occur.  In any case, it provoked some very strong responses from our members! 

One person found it very romantic, and thought that Frank and Mamah had found a once in a lifetime love.  Another reader was appalled that Mamah would leave her young children under these circumstances, and yet another had some extremely hostile things to say about Frank.

I enjoyed the book tremendously for a number of reasons, but especially for the portrayal of the life of the mind, not just in the persons of Frank and Mamah, but in the intellectual ferment in Europe and the growing importance of feminism. 

Did I mention that the book is beautifully written and very readable?  Loving Frank is not to be missed!  Highly recommended

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

P.S.  Here’s a link to questions for discussion from the publisher.

Wine Glass Painting 2009 June 23, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in library programs, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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This Thursday, June 25th, I will be presenting a workshop on wine glass painting from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Auditorium of the West Palm Beach Public Library at 411 Clematis Street.  It’s easy and fun and you will be amazed at how creative you are.

Wine Glass Painting

Wine Glass Painting

Please bring a wine glass (larger ones work best) – we will supply the paints, brushes, etc. 

I hope to see you there! 

Happy Painting, 

The Book Goddess

P.S.  We did this last year and it was a great success! 

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Doing without Dewey June 9, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Librarians, Public libraries, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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The Rangeview Library District near Denver has decided to discontinue use of the Dewey Decimal system for its shelving arrangements.  They will use an organizational scheme similar to a bookstore.  I do not know all the details of how this will work, but since the Rangeview Director, Pam Sandlian Smith, is my former boss, friend, and generally greatly admired person, I am quite interested in seeing how it turns out.  And let’s just say that most of Pam’s ideas turn out to be very good ones.  (Keep in mind that she dubbed me the “Book Goddess.”) 

We actually considered this approach for our Book Floor at the West Palm Beach Public Library, but eventually chose to use bookstore categories AND keep the Dewey Decimal system.  So – we do have a separate cookbook section, and a history section, and even some more unusual sections like Guys Read and Go Green, but within those sections the books are arranged by Dewey. 

I was a bookseller for eight years before I went to library school, and I like to think that I can see the strong and weak points of each system.  At our library, I believe we have the best of both.  You can walk in the door and go right to the section of your choice (there are about 50) and enjoy browsing as you might at a bookstore.  You can also use the computer catalog or the assistance of a friendly library employee to find the exact book that you want.  

There were a number of considerations that went into our decision making, but I think that we arrived at the best arrangement for our library.  If you visit the Denver Post site, you can see the article and comments about the Adams County Public Library.  I’m happy to see that people care so much about their local library. 

Happy Reading,

 

The Book Goddess

Cookbooks for Summer Reading June 5, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Reading lists, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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NPR recently released their “Summer Books List,” and this past Sunday’s New York Times featured their Summer Reading selections.  

One similarity between the two is that they both included a selection of cookbooks.  I love cookbooks, and my observations as a bookseller and a librarian are that many people do, whether they like to cook or not. 

And in these trying economic times, it might be a good idea to take an interest in food preparation.  Some financial pundits tell us that we could be wealthy if we didn’t go out to eat so much, though I doubt that applies to restaurant owners.  These are complex issues. 

However, the ability to prepare a good meal for friends, family, or yourself is undoubtedly a useful skill, and can also be an act of generosity, a creative outlet, or a way to take out your aggression by vigorous vegetable chopping. 

We have a wonderful Food and Wine section on the First Floor, and many more food titles in the Grand Reading Room on the Fourth Floor.  I’ve selected some delicious sounding titles from among our new arrivals, and you can link to the list here.  Just keep in mind that there are many more! 

Happy Reading and Cooking, 

The Book Goddess

Book Talk: Don’t Despair, Repair May 20, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Talk, Books, library programs, Reading, The Latest and the Greatest, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Tomorrow (Thursday, May 21) at 12:15 in the Hibiscus Room at the West Palm Beach Library, I’ll be presenting a selection of books on how to “Make the World a Better Place.”  It’s easy to become discouraged about the problems besetting the human race, but you know what they say about the darkness and a single candle.

We’ll also have some excellent new titles for your reading pleasure.  I hope to see you there!

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

P.S.  Yes, this program used to be called “The Latest and Greatest.”  In case you were wondering.