DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

April 2010

Apr 30 2010

Book Spine Poetry

by Jesse M

April is National Poetry Month, and so for today’s post, I thought it would be appropriate to feature something poetry related: book spine poetry! I first encountered this idea a couple of years ago on the website of artist Nina Katchadourian, who had dubbed her titular wordplay The Sorted Books Project. The idea was the same though. Take a group of books, pull out select titles and place them in sequence so that a sentence or phrase is formed when the titles are read from top to bottom (or from left to right, if left standing vertically on a bookshelf). And voila! You’re a poet! The result range from silly to seemingly profound, but the process is always entertaining.

Many individuals, institutions, and websites have tried their hands at producing book spine poetry this year. One of the largest collections can be found at the website 100scopenotes.

Another good place to view book spine poetry is the image hosting/sharing website Flickr.  Several libraries (such as Somers Library and Thomas Memorial Library) have set up Flickr accounts where you can view their submissions.  Still want more?  A  simple search for “book spine poetry” reveals the creative efforts of a multitude of individual poets.

Try crafting your own!

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Apr 28 2010

Are You an Open Book?

by Jimmy L

Have you ever said “I’m an open book”?  Well, for some, it isn’t just a saying.  A few people in Denmark have started a movement known as The Human Library.  Basically, these are organized events where people get to “check out” some books.  The only catch is that the books in this case are actually people.  These books/people converse and answer questions about their lives in an attempt to foster understanding and get beyond stereotypes.  I think the following video was made in the UK (thus the British accents), but it gives a good explanation:

What do you think of this idea?  The DeKalb County Public Library is not organizing a Human Library, but we thought the idea was kind of neat.  However, if you are interested in telling your story, we are organizing a series of StoryCorps style interviews called DeKalb Recorded History – Share Your Story (click for more details).  Please note that this program is geared towards seniors.

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Apr 23 2010

Death under the Midnight Sun

by Lesley B

For a country with such a tolerant and liberal reputation, Sweden has a lot of murders—on paper. In striking contrast to the flat-packed cheeriness of IKEA, the country’s other major export is crime fiction. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander books are bestsellers here in the States.  Both series have been adapted for the screen and the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is in theaters now. Larsson and Mankell are the best known, but other frequently recommended writers are Hakan Nesser, Ake Edwardson and Kjell Eriksson. Karin Alvtegen, the great-niece of Pippi Longstocking’s creator, Astrid Lindgren, has been nominated for an Edgar Award for her mysteries. If you want to go back a bit, DCPL has copies of the Martin Beck mysteries of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, a Swedish couple credited with influencing this new generation.

An article in the Economist triggered my interest in these books. I’d noticed a lot of book jackets with Scandinavian names on them going by me at work (some of them are Norwegian – Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum,  K. O. Dahl) but didn’t realize how extensive and well-regarded Swedish crime fiction has become. Since these writers are frequently compared to old favorites of mine, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett,  I am looking forward to spending the summer reading about long, deadly winters.

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Apr 21 2010

My Favorite Foodies

by Jnai W

I love Food. I’ll be the first to own the fact that my love of Food has expanded my waist line and made my butt bigger but who cares? It’s not Food’s fault.  Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of my favorite fellow foodies, whether they be esteemed chefs or just really good people who like to eat.  Please consider the following food appreciators:

Jamie Oliver: I’ve just gotten hooked on his new ABC show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  Jamie Oliver, a.k.a “The Naked Chef” (yum!), is on a mission to save America from poor eating habits and overly-processed rubbish disguised as food. So far, based on the premiere episode, he has been met with stiff opposition from defensive locals, red-tape bound cafeteria ladies and school children who prefer breakfast pizza and strawberry-flavored milk over anything nutritious and normal colored. You’d have to watch the show to see if he can soften the cholesterol-caked hearts of the masses and start a food revolution. But you can trek down to The Library to check out books by The Naked Chef.

Nigella Lawson:  She is one of my favorite foodies and her story is rather remarkable to me. Not a trained chef or cook, Lawson is instead a journalist and food writer who began her career as a food critic.  She has long since become an icon in cookery and food appreciation in the U.K and the U.S. I like the fact that she takes a relaxed and loving approach to the culinary arts. She’s also gorgeous and sultry; truly a food romantic.

Justin Wilson: I remember as a kid watching cooking shows on PBS with my mother. Among such notable chefs as Martin Yan, Jacques Pepin and, of course, Julia Child is another favorite of mine, Justin Wilson. I remember being struck by the visage of a large man in a bow-tie and a thick, drawling Cajun accent. My siblings and I would mimic his catchphrase (“I gerr-own-tee!”) and mispronouncing Worcestershire sauce (“Whats-dis-here sauce?”). I was pleased when I noticed that the Library has several of his cookbooks, chock full of recipes for great Cajun cooking.

Top Chef:  As Bravo Television’s best reality show since Project Runway, Top Chef brings together contestants from around the country to compete for coveted prizes and the prestige of being crowned “Top Chef”.  My only gripe about this show has been the fact that, unlike standard cooking shows, recipes aren’t provided during the episode. Luckily, there are now at least 2 Top Chef cookbooks available, allowing fans to partake of some of the tasty-looking dishes.

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Apr 19 2010

The long and winding DVDless road

by Patricia D

We were a few hours into a 13 hour car trip when tragedy struck.  The hand-me-down portable DVD player, meant to provide a pain-free way to while away the miles for the members of the Back Seat Club, failed to deliver somewhere south of Lexington.  As a veteran of I-70 through Illinois and Missouri, I knew we could pass the time with show tunes, cow counting, keeping a sharp eye for State Troopers, and one endless tutorial in knock-knock jokes.  We made the trip with only minor complaints but of course my family was ready to run out and get a new DVD player for the Back Seat Club because 12 hours on an interstate without a Disney movie apparently equals child abuse.

As I contemplate the purchase, I’m at odds with myself because even though this is a good way to keep the dreaded “Are we there yet?” scenario from playing out between state lines, I don’t think it’s good for a young brain to be subject to such a passive activity for a 12 hour stretch.  A dear friend very sensibly put a stop to this inner struggle when she said, “Look, get a little MP3 player instead, download books from OverDrive and the BSC can listen to stories while counting cows.”  The woman is brilliant.   Listening to stories will do so much more good than an 84th viewing of the Lion King—it improves vocabulary, increases comprehension, and most important of all in this Google world, it develops an attention span that will last long enough to get through a college lecture.

Getting books in MP3 format can’t get any easier either.  OverDrive is a new downloadable audiobooks service at the Library and has a permanent home under the “eLibrary” menu of our homepage.  You can also get to it from the Reference Databases page.  You may check out two items at a time, with your choice of 7, 14 or 21 days circulation.  You’ll need to download the OverDrive Media Console the first time you use the product but it’s easy peasey.  Click on the Quick Start Guide once you’re in OverDrive for simple step by step instructions.  Before you know it you’ll have something you can listen to on your PC, MP3 player, and in some instances even your iPod.  You just need your library card.  Go forth!  Listen to books!

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Apr 16 2010

Fantasy Fiction: It’s Fantastic!

by Jesse M

In today’s post I’ll be focusing on fantasy fiction, a venerable genre that has experienced an explosion in popularity in recent years. As Wikipedia explains, fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Fantasy is often grouped together with it’s sibling genres (horror and science fiction) under the umbrella of speculative fiction, or SF, as they all share similarities. Generally speaking, what sets fantasy apart is an avoidance of scientific or macabre themes.

Fantasy has always been one of my great loves. I grew up in a fantasy friendly household; my parents owned a well-thumbed set of the Lord of The Rings trilogy as well as several of the cartoon film adaptations (such as The Hobbit), all of which I heartily enjoyed. Learning to read in kindergarten and first grade, I slowly developed my new found skills by consuming juvenile literature and comic books, but it wasn’t until my second grade year that my reading abilities really blossomed. The catalyst occurred when my older half-brother introduced me to his stash of fantasy novels while I was visiting on vacation. I was instantly hooked. I devoured all the books in his collection, including such seminal works as Weis & Hickman’s Dragons of Winter Night and Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard. Upon arriving back home from vacationing, I dragged my mother around to numerous bookstores and hobby shops, doing my best to acquire more books to satisfy my growing hunger for fantasy fiction.

That hunger has remained with me to the present day, and luckily the modern fantasy fiction landscape features an abundance of talented, prolific authors available to satisfy my cravings. In fact, a couple of recent articles have noted that the genre is experiencing a boom. Continually rising annual sales have given it the distinction of being the biggest genre in publishing, and the plethora of talented young authors in the field promising a high volume of quality works in the years to come.

If fantasy is a genre you might be interested in, allow me to recommend a few of my favorites.

Fans of the epic fantasy produced by J.R.R. Tolkien might enjoy Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey, the first of two novels wherein the majority of the protagonists are individuals that are considered “evil” by the rest of the world. Jacqueline Carey is also the author of the Kushiel series of novels, which I highly recommend.

Quite at odds with the Tolkien-esque variety of fantasy fiction is that produced by China Miéville, author of Perdido Street Station, a multiple award winning book set in the city-state of New Crobuzon and featuring a cast of exotic and alien characters, magic (thaumaturgy) and steampunk technology. Miéville describes his work as “weird fiction“, and it is, but it is all the more pleasurable for it. A must read.


George R. R. Martin
currently holds the distinction of being my favorite fantasy author. His Song of Ice and Fire series has won numerous awards (the first three novels each received the Locus Award) and garnered accolades for it’s richly detailed setting, incredibly complex and numerous characters (as well as the ruthlessness with which he is willing to kill off major characters as the plot advances), and epic scope. The first book in the series is titled A Game of Thrones and I can’t suggest it forcefully enough! There is one caveat, however; the series isn’t finished yet, with another three volumes still to come, so prepare yourself for a painstaking wait after you’ve finished reading the currently published material.

And finally, no list of fantasy novels would be complete without a mention of the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling. This series, both the books and movies, has had a profound effect on the fantasy genre by inculcating a whole new generation of children with a love of reading in general and fantasy fiction in particular. It is difficult to overstate its impact and it will remain relevant in the world of literature for many years to come.

I’ll have to stop there due to space constraints, but your exploration of the fantasy genre can continue! A great place to start is this article profiling the “20 greatest fantasy writers of all time”. Check it out.

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Apr 14 2010

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

by Nancy M

145 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The four year Civil War was coming to an end with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Confederate Army, dashing dreams of glory for one particularly dangerous Confederate, John Wilkes Booth. It was that fateful night that Booth, an admired and well-known actor, freely walked into the theater box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head.

While many of us know this story of the sixteenth president’s assassination well, we are less familiar with the following twelve-day manhunt for Lincoln’s assassin. James Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer is an exceptionally researched day-by-day account of the chase and capture of John Wilkes Booth. It vividly tells how Booth evades capture and details the actions of his accomplices, complete with historic pictures, newspaper articles, letters and more. This book, written for young readers, is actually based on Swanson’s adult book, Manhunt: The 12- Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, an Edgar Award winner for the best true crime book of the year. Both are nail-biting reads, even if you do know the outcome, and worth checking out, whether or not you know much about this time in history.

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Apr 9 2010

Favorite Fictional Characters

by Amanda L

I recently read a blog post about favorite fictional characters. It started me thinking, what is my favorite character of all time.  I must admit, it is Laura Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie series. (I’m sure the television series and Melissa Gilbert’s way that she portrayed the character influenced me.)

I found an article that was written for NPR several years ago that lists the 100 best characters since 1900.  Here are their top 5:

1. Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

2.  Holden Caufield  from The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

3. Humbert Humbert from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

4.  Leopold Bloom from Ulysses by James Joyce

5. Rabbit Angstrom from Rabbit Run by John Updike

Laura Ingalls Wilder did not even make the list of top 100, but I still hold her as my favorite character. What is yours?

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Apr 7 2010

Welcome Back To Embry Hills!

by Jnai W

Embry Hills Staff Members: (l-r) Zakiyyah Williams, Deborah Stone, Frieda Lesser, Ann Wooten and Jnai Walker

After a year of renovation, remodeling and expansion, the Embry Hills branch is now open to the public again. The little neighborhood branch on Chamblee-Tucker Rd. has undergone a dramatic transformation in size (an additional 4,000 sq.ft.  of space) and appearance.

Over this past weekend, the Embry Hills community had the opportunity to get a glimpse of their newly expanded library at Saturday’s  re-dedication ceremony.  Library staff, patrons and esteemed community members, including Library Trustees Eleanor Duke, Elizabeth Joyner and Dr. Curtis Clark and DeKalb County Commissioner for District 7, Connie Stokes, were on hand to commemorate the re-opening and to tour the facility. Thus far, community response has been positive (so much so that several patrons have already joined Embry Hills’ nascent Friends group).

Amber Northrop, Embry Hills Staff Member

For their part, the Embry Hills community has been quite patient with the expansion process, so they deserve our thanks and appreciation (The staff also greatly appreciates the patron who offered us a gift of chocolate truffles on our opening day! Thanks, Ms. Wieder!)

With excitement and anticipation running high, Embry Hills officially re-opened its doors on Monday at 11 am. In the first few hours, foot traffic was light but, as staff suspected, patrons began trickling in at around  2 pm, likely still operating on Embry Hills’ former business hours. But with an expanded space come additional hours of operation, so please be sure to visit us on  Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 am to 8 pm and on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm. For pictures of Embry Hills’ dedication and of the new building click here to see our Flickr page.

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Apr 5 2010

Are you wooly from all the stress?

by Patricia D

If you are then I suggest you get yourself off to a baseball game.  Not the Braves, at least not the Atlanta Braves–nothing against the Braves, it’s just that I still haven’t gotten over the 1992 season.  No, what you need if you’re stressed is minor league ball.  Luther Williams field in Macon will always hold the place in my heart as the perfect baseball park.   It’s the place where I learned it is possible to buy boiled peanuts with one’s beer.  It’s also where I saw a lot of the guys now in the majors when they were still wet behind the ears.   Minor league ball is where you’ll find young families out for a nice evening as well as the serious guy who’s scoring the game.  Perhaps the best part, for me, is that moment when the sun has dropped, the sky is that gorgeous shade of blue-black  and then suddenly the smell of the dew hitting the grass is all around.  I cannot think of a better way to spend a nice June evening than by measuring it out in strikes and hits.  Georgia is rife with minor league teams, but if you can’t get to a game try out these titles.

The Southern League: Baseball in Dixie by Bill O’Neal

Not-So-Minor Leagues by Douglas and Kathleen Gay

Small Town Heroes: Images of Minor League Baseball by Hank Davis

Stolen Season by David Lamb

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