Jan's Column 2024

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Past Columns

A trifecta of prognosticating animals (Booky, Phil, and Jimmy) declared on February 2nd, that there would be an early spring. The weather during the last part of January and so far this month and even into the 10-day forecast seems to be bearing their prognostications out.  The days are noticeably longer – we are gaining a little over a minute everyday at sunset and making very slow progress on the sunrise end of things. But still. Progress is progress.  While the snow cover has mostly left except where there huge piles (mountains some would say), that green grass showing through heartens the winter-weary soul. One almost expects the birds to begin returning. I haven’t spotted any returning birds yet. Only the usual suspects are hanging out on my porch, but the squirrel activity has certainly ramped up. And the very best news for library users is that the book drought we had been experiencing seems to have lessened. The UPS guy has been like a rainmaker this past week. Bringing little showers of books into the library on an almost daily basis.  This week we have a full baker’s dozen of book titles for you to peruse. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction:

“A Murder in Hollywood: The Untold Story of Tinseltown’s Most Shocking Crime” by Casey Sherman. Recounts how a famous Hollywood starlet from the 1940s and 1950s became involved with an abusive West Coast mob boss and explores the explosive trial that resulted from his murder at the hands of the actress' daughter.

“National Geographic Bucket List Family Travel: Share the World With Your Kids on 50 Adventures of a Lifetime” by Jessica Gee. From the mega-popular Bucket List Family, who have visited more than 90 countries around the world, this ultimate – and beautifully illustrated – expert’s guide provides all the know-how to fulfill your own family’s bucket list and create new and lasting memories for years to come.

“Why We Read: On Bookworms, Libraries, and Joust One More Page Before Lights Out” by Shannon Reed. A humorous and incisive exploration of the joys of reading from a teacher, bibliophile and Thurber Prize finalist.

New Fiction:

“All My Secrets” by Lynn Austin. When her husband's unexpected death bestows his fortune on a male heir, Sylvia tries to marry her daughter off to a wealthy husband to maintain their lifestyle, but is stopped by her mother-in-law who wants more for her granddaughter.

“The Blueprint” by Rae Giana Rashad. A harrowing novel is set in an alternate United States—a world of injustice and bondage in which a young black woman becomes the concubine of a powerful white government official and must face the dangerous consequences.

“Redwood Court” by Delana Dameron. Mika Tabor, the baby of the family, learns important lessons from the people who raise her: her hardworking parents, her older sister, her retired grandparents and the community on Redwood Court, who are committed to fostering joy and love in an America so insistent on seeing Black people stumble and fall.

“A Sign of Her Own” by Sarah Marsh. Inspired by a true story, describes the life of Ellen Lark, a deaf woman who became a favorite student of Alexander Graham Bell while he raced against Western Union to cast a human voice over wires.

Death of a Spy, No.36 (Hamish Macbeth Mystery)” by M.C. Beaton with R.W. Green. Scottish Highland village Sergeant Hamish Macbeth introduces as his new assistant officer, James Bland, an American who is secretly investigating a Russian spy ring, in the latest addition to the long-running series following “Death of a Traitor”.

“The Kamogawa Food Detectives, No. 1 (The Kamogawa Food Detectives)” by Hisashi Kashiwai. Down a quiet Kyoto backstreet, “food detectives” Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare, the proprietors of the Kamogawa Diner, through ingenious investigations, recreate dishes from a person’s treasured memories, which hold the keys to their forgotten past and future happiness.

“A Pie to Die For, No. 1 (Lucky Pie Mysteries)” by Gretchen Rue. Este March, owner of the Lucky Pie Diner in Northern Michigan, where certain customers are granted their greatest wishes upon eating her family's magical pies, investigates after an unpopular new produce vendor is found murdered on his boat.

“Bride” by Ali Hazelwood. Misery Lark, daughter of the most powerful Vampyre councilman of the Southwest must leave her life of anonymity among the humans and uphold a historic alliance with the Weres by marrying their Alpha, Lowe Moreland.

“Simply the Best (Chicago Stars)” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. When Brett, the hottest sports agent in the business, and Rory, the sister of his superstar client, meet and have a disastrous one-night stand, resulting in murder, they find things getting messy, dangerous, heartbreaking and sexy as they struggle with themselves, each other and love.

“Crosshairs, No. 16 (Michael Bennett Thriller)” by James Patterson & James O. Born. NYC detective Michael Bennett teams up with a former Army Ranger and sniper whose long, unexplained absences from duty causes suspicions during the investigation of a serial killer, in the 16th novel of the series following “Obsessed”. 

Happy Ground Hog’s Day! At this writing, our prognosticating Badger, Booky, has yet to take a squint outside to see what he sees and make a prediection. Will he see his shadow thus forecasting an additional 6 weeks of winter? Or will he not see his shadow and the January thaw we have been experience for the past week or more, will continue? Tune in on the actual day to see what Booky predicts. Booky, as you probably recall, has a perfect record for Ground Hog Day predictions. While badgers and ground hogs are both, squat, short-legged mammals the similarity ends there. Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are grazing members of the rodent family; badgers are hunting members of the weasel family, (Mustelidae). This pretty much means, theoretically, a badger could eat a groundhog for lunch which is probably why our badger’s predictions trump the local groundhog’s prediction consistently. Ground Hog’s Day is a nice way of celebrating that spring might just be about to appear over the horizon. Sure, February, over the decades has had days that don’t get above zero and March is rather notorious for dumping large amounts of snow during high school basketball tournaments. But still, we are at least at the top of the hill, and will be rolling towards spring any day now. The seed catalogs and seed packets are beginning to appear in mailboxes and in hardware stores. The spring book titles are also beginning to appear.Below you will find some of them. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction:

“Hello, Friends” by Dolce Sloan. A standup comic and correspondent for comic and correspondent for “The Daily Show” offers a comedic trip through her whirlwind life.

“Big Meg: The Story of the Largest and Most Mysterious Predator That Ever Lived”  by Tim and Emma Flannery. A father-daughter scientist team presents an account of the ancient marine creature known as the megalodon, a now extinct shark that was the largest predator of all time, and its impact on both marine ecosystems and the human psyche.

New Fiction:

“Even if it Breaks Your Heart” by Erin Hahn. A heart-buckling ride of a romance by beloved author Erin Hahn, Even If It Breaks Your Heart is about two teens finding out that sometimes, the hardest part of discovering what you want is getting the courage to pursue it.

“The Year of the Locust” by Terry Hayes. CIA spy Kane travels to the badlands where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet to exfiltrate a man with vital information for the safety of the West—but instead he meets an adversary who will take the world to the brink of extinction.

“The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder” by C.L. Miller. A former antique hunter investigates a suspicious death at an isolated English manor, embroiling her back in the dangerous world of tracking stolen artifacts.

“Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead” by Jenny Hollander. After fleeing as the lone surviving witness to horrific, gruesome events at her graduate school, Charlie Colbert disappeared and rebuilt her life only discover that the events of that night are being adapted into a film

“The Lantern’s Dance: A Novel of Suspense Feature Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, No.18” by LuAnne Rice. Discovering an old journal written in a nearly impenetrable code that is linked to a zoetrope whose images dance with the lantern’s spin, Mary Russell, when secrets of the past appear to be reaching into the present, must figure out how these items are related to Damian—and possibly to Sherlock Holmes himself.

“Northwoods”  by Amy Pease. The dark underbelly of an idyllic Midwestern resort town is revealed in the aftermath of a murder with ties to America’s opioid epidemic in this un-put-down-able and thrilling debut that is perfect for fans of James Lee Burke, William Kent Krueger, and Mindy Mejia.

“A Love Song for Ricki Wilde” by Tia Williams. In this enchanting love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Seven Days in June, a free-spirited florist and an enigmatic musician are irreversibly linked through the history, art, and magic of Harlem.

“Fourteen Days: A Collaborative Novel” by The Authors Guild, Margaret Atwood, et al. During the pandemic, a group of Manhattan neighbors gather nightly on a rooftop to tell stories in a collaborative novel where each character was secretly written by a major literary voice, including Margaret Atwood and Celest Ng

As the days have noticeably begun getting longer and the brief bout of bitterly cold wind chills has loosen its grip, and the mountains of snow are slowly turning into mere hills of snow, the drought of new books reaching this library has also begun to end. Below you will find ten (count them, 10!) new book titles. Indeed some of them are so new that they technically haven’t been published yet even though the physical book is sitting on a shelf in our backroom even as I write. “How is this possible?”, I hear you. “So glad you asked,” I reply. Publishing a book is the final part of the process of bringing a book from the writer’s pen to the physical or digital book that you, gentle reader, can sit down and read. Formatting, editing, designing cover art, determining fonts, chapter headings, etc. all precedes publishing as does the printing, binding, and shipping from the publishers. Releasing the final product into the world is the final step of getting a book into your hands. That releasing of the book is the publishing, Due to mostly market consideration, books are not “published” until certain dates. So right now three or four of the books listed below will not be published until the 30th. That doesn’t mean you can’t put a hold on the book, it just means we can’t release it by wanding the barcode to make it available to fill holds. Occasionally we get books with strict “on-sale” date which threatens dire consequences if we let those books loose before that date. All that being said, below are some new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

New Non-Fiction:

“Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America” by Joy-Ann Reid. Tracing the extraordinary lives and legacy of two civil rights icons, this gripping account of Medgar and Myrlie Evers is told through their relationship and the work that went into winning basic rights for Black Americans, and the repercussions that still resonate today.

“Come and Get It!” by Kelly Reid. It's 2017 at the University of Arkansas. Millie Cousins, a senior resident assistant, wants to graduate, get a job, and buy a house. So when Agatha Paul, a visiting professor and writer, offers Millie an easy yet unusual opportunity, she jumps at the chance. But Millie's starry-eyed hustle becomes jeopardized by odd new friends, vengeful dorm pranks, and illicit intrigue.

“Mastering Crypto Assets: Investing in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Beyond” by Martin Leinweber. A team of seasoned investors and digital asset strategists presents a comprehensive guide aimed at institutional and professional investors for integrating crypto assets into traditional portfolios. The book offers in-depth explanations of the structure of this new asset class and its impact on investment portfolios.

“The War Below Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power our Lives” by Ernest Scheyder
This book reveals the explosive brawl among industry titans, conservationists, community groups, policymakers, and many others over whether some places are too special to mine or whether the habitats of rare plants, sensitive ecosystems, Indigenous holy sites, and other places should be dug up for their riches.

New Fiction:

“Burma Sahib” by Paul Theroux. An Eton graduate is conscripted as a servant of the British Empire to oversee local policemen in Burma, forcing him to navigate social, racial and class politics in the new novel by the acclaimed author of “The Mosquito Coast”.

“The Women” by Kristin Hannah. In 1965, nursing student Frankie McGrath, after hearing the words “Women can be heroes, too,” impulsively joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows her brother to Vietnam where she is overwhelmed by the destruction of war, as well as the unexpected trauma of coming home to a changed and politically divided America.

“Queens of London: A Novel” by Heather Webb. In 1925 London, brilliant criminal mastermind Alice Diamond, the queen of an all-girl gang with plans on building a dynasty the likes of which no one has ever seen, must outwit and outsmart Britain’s first female policewoman who is determined to prove herself by putting Alice out of business—permanently.

“Last Night” by Luanne Rice. During a blizzard in Rhode Island, a renowned artist is found murdered and her young daughter gone missing, plunging Detective Conor Reid, his brother Tom and the woman's grieving sister into a chilling investigation.

“Mockingbird Summer” by Lynda Rutledge. Set on the eve of massive cultural shifts, Mockingbird Summer explores the impact of great books, the burden of potential, and the power of friendship with humor, poignancy, and exhilarating hope.

“The Dark Fable” by Katherine Harbour. Evie Wilder is an orphan who has gone through most of her life unnoticed until she's caught up in a dramatic heist and captures the attention of the Dark Fable. They have chosen her for a reason: she can turn invisible. This skill would make Evie a treasured asset to the legendary group of thieves known for spiriting away obscure and occult artifacts.

This week I have very few books to regale you with. I blame the supply chain. The two major winter storms the past week, I believe, slowed down the delivery of the many, many books we have on order. As of this writing, because of the holiday, neither the USPS nor UPS are making deliveries. Soon, we will have many books to tell you about. In the meantime, there are a half dozen listed further down the page. But since there is a lacuna in the titles of hard copy, print materials, let me tell you about some other hard copy, print materials we have.  Did you know that the library subscribes to 126 magazine titles?  We have many of your “classics” like “Better Homes and Garden”, “Consumer Reports”, “People”, “Popular Mechanics”, “Prevention”, and “Newsweek”.  But we also get some titles that are a but more esoteric like :”Elle”, “The Atlantic”, “Lighthouse Digest”, “The Cottage Journal”, “Flower”, “F1 Racing”, “Game and Fish Midwest”, “Writer’s Digest”, and “US Weekly”.  These magazines live upstairs at the end of Fiction on the Library Street side of the building. You should be able to locate them and other magazine titles that may be of interested, in the library catalog. Placing a hold on a specific issue can be a bit tricky, so if you need help. Ask at the Circulation desk.  Overdrive, the online resources available through the Libby App, has a large number of magazines available in digital format.  Check out the Libby App. Check out our magazines. Check out the titles listed below. And enjoy!

By the time you read this, assuming you read it on the paper’s publication date, Friday, January 12th, then we shall have, perhaps, passed the first major snow event of the season that has any chance of staying around.  As of this writing on Monday, the forecast is full of possibilities, but nothing tangible yet.  Libraries, like grocery stores, sometimes experience a run in front of major snow storm predictions. There is often a run on milk, eggs, and bread at one place and books, dvds, board games, and puzzles at the other. Everyone is stocking up in order to make it through a couple of days without easy access to what might be needed.  I hope you had a chance to stock up, or if not, that the potential forecast didn’t pan out.   I would like to note that as of January 10th, we started gaining a minute of light in the morning which will accelerate to a minute every couple of days going forward. At the evening end of the day, since the earliest sunset which occurred at 4:22 on 8th, 9th, and 10th of December, we have already gained 20 minutes. Of course, we all know the old weather adage about January, don’t we? As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. As we head towards the coldest couple of weeks in the year, there are some new book titles, listed below, to keep you warm.  Enjoy!

I, for one, am hoping that this shiny, hardly-used, new year will be better than the previous year. You get to a certain age-- and trust me, I am well past that certain age--and the names of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues start appearing in the obit section of the newspaper. 2023 was one of those years for me. I imagine you all have your stories of loss and blessings from 2023 to tell. Stories are really important. They help us organize our thoughts in not only a linear, chronological fashion, but also causally and etiologically (the non-medical definition). Stories help us make sense of the world and of our actions. I believe that stories define what it is to be human as much as, if not more, than tool making.  Science has found any number of animals that use tools of some sort. Story tellers in other species have yet to be found.  (Although I do think my cats tell each other stories about, say, their trips to the vet or the birds they just saw on the porch.) The stories we tell delve into motivation as well as telling a series of events. Our stories sometimes describe not only how we behaved but how we could have or should have behaved. Stories can help us understand other people’s circumstances and the reasons for their actions. They can create empathy. Libraries are filled with stories. Some of those stories are telling a series of facts in a narrative frame to aid understanding of the events and motivations of people. That is non-fiction. Libraries are also filled with fiction stories too which ask us to imagine plots, people, and even different worlds. If you’re reading this you probably like stories too. Below are some of the recent titles of books filled with stories some of which may help you understand your own story better. Enjoy!