Library Column – February 15, 2007

Help! The Warren Public Library is suddenly short of circulation desk volunteers. Anyone available? Specifically we need staff for Monday from noon to 2, Fridays from 2-4 and from 4-6, Saturdays from 1-4. Need to be detail oriented, outgoing type. The Friday and Saturday timeslots will probably be temporary, the Monday time is for an indefinite time and we always need someone to fill in spaces on a flexible basis (volunteers do need breaks sometimes). Thanks in advance.

A few reviews–books, DVDs and two audio books:

His Excellency George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis. This biography concentrates on Washington’s character. What did he do and why did he do it? For me, the most interesting part discussed his changing views on slavery and being a slave-owner.  Well-written and easy to read.

Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood. Another fun mystery set in 1920’s Australia. A bit of white-slavery, mesmerism and a very clever murderer, neatly entertwined.

Global Warming: The Signs and the Science (DVD). Are things melting? The “yes they are melting” argument, succinctly covered in 60 minutes of pictures and talking heads.

The End of Suburbia (DVD). Mostly about peak oil, but also includes a brief history of suburbia. Other topics covered: highway expansion, food production, shopping as a way of life and, of course, where do we go from here?

Under Orders by Dick Francis. An excellent mystery which offers a complex plot: Internet gambling schemes, steeplechase races, mayhem, secrets and death at the racetrack. Francis is a master of the genre.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (audio cassettes, read by the author).  An amazing memoir of an Irish Catholic childhood, painfully funny, sad and joyous. The author’s reading is just beautiful.

Blame it on the Rain: How the Weather has Changed History by Laura Lee. An entertaining, and sometimes depressing book about crucial moments in history where mud, snow, sleet or rain changed the course of human destinies. I was fascinated by the chapters entitled “Gee, it’s Cold in Russia” I-IV. In case anyone hasn’t caught on yet, it is a very bad idea to invade Russia because if the snow doesn’t do you in, the mud definitely will. An easy read.

The Golden Door Cooks Light and Easy: Delicious Recipes from America’s Premier Spa by Chef Michel Stroot. Low-fat gourmet recipes from a fancy spa.

Widdershins by Charles de Lint. Fantasy, by one of the best writers in the genre. In de Lint’s world, the mythical and the legendary are one step away from the regular world, with results that are amusing and frightening and mind-stretching, all at the same time.

Everyman by Philip Roth. A brief book about living and dying and the difficult passage through old age and infirmity that some of us are forced to muddle through. A man reviews his life as he is facing yet another operation. Why has his life turned out this way? Whose fault is it? Thoughtful but not soft-hearted.

The Goodbye Summer by Patricia Gaffney (audio CD). A story about trying to get unstuck from the place you are so you can get stuck somewhere else. A young woman tastes freedom when her grandmother moves into assisted living, but isn’t sure what to do with it. Unfortunately, this edition is abridged, and not altogether successfully. I enjoyed the story, but got lost once or twice because of the cuts. [Note: I almost never buy abridged audio books, but sometimes we do accept donated editions.] 

See you at the library!

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