Library Column–July 22, 2005

Farmers’ Market

The Friends of the Warren Public Library will be at the market July 23rd, August 13th, September 3rd and October 8th. Come and buy books to go with your veggies! (Cookbooks anyone?)

Technological Challenges

Changing formats in our entertainment media can be a hassle for individuals but it is a major expense for libraries. The Warren Public Library has a large and varied collection of audio books on tape. Although most of the collection is good for several more years of listening, circulation is declining: new cars have CD players only. If you’d like to be able to continue to listen to books on tape, there is a new gadget available. You can find it at electronics stores and it is called a universal FM transmitter which plugs into the headphone jack of a tape player and your car’s cigarette lighter. This will allow books on tape to be heard through your car speakers. (Thanks to Dorothy Tod for the suggestion.)

Speaking of format changes, our large collection of video tapes is also gradually becoming obsolete. Thanks to everyone who has donated DVDs! We have room for a few hundred more, so please keep the donations flowing.

Evening Hours

Warren Public Library will be open until 8 p.m. every Wednesday through the rest of the summer. This is an excellent time to access the computer or check out a book. Avoid the crowds! (Well, I’m mostly joking, but the library is a bit more crowded in the summer.)

New and Entertaining Books

I’ve been concentrating on summer reading, also known as escapist fun. Enjoy!

The Body in the Snowdrift by Katherine Hall Page. An entertaining "winter in Vermont" mystery set in a small, family-owned ski-resort not far from Warren (a fictional ski-resort). Except for one really gruesome murder and a lot of truly difficult family interactions it is a pleasant light read, complete with recipes.

New Mercies by Sandra Dallas. A steamy southern story, sort of a mystery but not quite, complete with a decrepit mansion, a puzzling murder, racial conflict, old family secrets and too many beaten biscuits, all set in 1933 Natchez, Mississippi.

Mimi and Toutou’s Big Adventure: The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika by Giles Foden. Bizarre is right. The story of a series of small ship battles vaguely connected with World War I. The British Navy gathered a collection of eccentric volunteers under the leadership of a nutty lieutenant commander and sent them off to Africa with two tiny boats. The boats had to be hauled from South Africa, first by railroad, then by road, by water and again by railroad to reach Lake Tanganyika, where they captured one German boat and sank another. This story eventually morphed into a movie: The African Queen. An entertaining read with interesting connections to colonialism, war, eccentricity and memory.

Bahamarama by Bob Morris. Fun summer read, involving a recently released convict (innocent, of course) trying to clear his name, rescue his damsel in distress, sort out several interlocking mysteries, save his family home and defeat the bad guys (fortunately, both crews of bad guys are incompetent). Locale is Florida and the Bahamas, during hurricane season.

Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel Dewoskin. First person story of living in Beijing for several years as a twenty-something expatriate. Rachel stars in a TV soap-opera, hangs out with other foreigners and with Chinese and provides some interesting observations on culture, change, sex, language and misunderstandings.

The Manhattan Project by Peter Lefcourt. Supposed to be a funny story about ABC shooting a reality TV program about a warlord in Central Asia. Unfortunately a bit too realistic, but it does have some amusing moments. Note, the depressing realism in Central Asia didn’t bother me, but I have this awful feeling that network TV really does operate as described.

Voltaire in Exile by Ian Davidson. This is the book for people who are worried about getting bored in retirement. Voltaire went into "exile" aged 56 years old. In the last 25 years of his life (among many other activities) he wrote Candide, led campaigns against horrendous judicial injustices, built a huge watchmaking industry, wrote thousands of letters and generally made a nuisance of himself. A lively read about an eccentric, brilliant, creative, larger-than-life human being.

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