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

October 2016

Oct 24 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

by Jencey G

How many of you remember Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn?  You probably either read the book or saw the movie.  Sister Dear has a similar feel to it.  This story is about two sisters, Allie and Emma.  sister-dearAllie is in prison for a crime she did not commit.  At the beginning of the story we meet Allie as she is departing from prison.  She has one goal and that is to prove her innocence.  The only consistent visitor she had during her time in prison was her sister Emma.  Allie’s young daughter Caroline only came and visited once or twice.  Emma told her sister that visiting made Caroline upset. Or did it really?  Is there a future for Allie in Brunswick Georgia?

The story is told from alternating points of view.  We hear from Allie, Emma, the sheriff, Caroline, and another character, Natalie the vet.  Emma and the sheriff are hiding a secret about what really happened.

The author slowly introduces the antagonist of the story which may catch readers by surprise.  Readers will want to skip to the end to find out if Allie is able to prove her innocence? Who really committed the murder?

The theme of the story is forgiveness and being able to move on from the past.  Can we let that go or be forever prisoned by these events?

This story really resonated with me.  I have a younger sister, so I was totally able to identify with the relationship between these sisters.  This book is one of the best that I have read this year! What is even more exciting is the author, Laura McNeill, will be at the Clarkston Library to discuss the book on Saturday, November 19th at 2:00 pm.I hope that you can join us for the discussion. Click here for information.

Please visit the catalog for a copy or drop by the Clarkston branch.

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Oct 21 2016

Three Across, Four Down

by Camille B

crossword-picture-1I’ve slowly become a crossword enthusiast over the years. I don’t know if I’ll ever get good enough to attempt the ones in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, but there is just something about filling in those little blank squares of a crossword puzzle that brings me a certain sense of peace and satisfaction.

I have many friends and family members who simply cannot relate to this. They cannot fathom why I would want to sit and stare at little black and white squares for hours picking away at strange clues–digits that really mean toes, picnic guests that are ants, and words that are simply not what they seem.

But word lovers everywhere know what I mean. They know the feeling that comes with solving the clues, the exhilaration of filling in that final blank space that completes the puzzle; and if you did it without help from your crossword dictionary or a clue from Google, this is certainly cause for celebration.

Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman of the Huffington Post says, “Every day, I do the New York Times crossword puzzle. It truly is a ritual for me, almost as sacred as Shabbat: Every night before going to bed, I load up the crossword on my phone or my computer, and try to plow through that mental challenge. I’ve discovered that there’s a deep satisfaction that goes far beyond filling in that last box to complete the puzzle.”

Research shows that people’s love for puzzles, in general, stems from many different reasons:

  • Rising to a challenge
  • Exploring language
  • Proving something about yourself to yourself
  • Demonstrating abilities to other solvers
  • Expanding vocabulary
  • Testing abilities
  • Broadening general knowledge
  • Playing with other solvers
  • Competing in crossword tournaments
  • Escaping boredom or depression
  • Passing the time
  • Learning something new
  • Using wordplay to stay mentally alert
  • Thinking outside the box by thinking inside the box
  • Improving memory
  • Having fun

And forget the myth that you have to be a wizard to decipher a crossword. “Gee, you must be really smart” people say to you in fascination, with the grave misconception that you have to be some kind of genius to figure out the clues. And God forbid you’re filling the answers in with pen– you’re mentally elevated to Jeopardy status!

Rubbish all of it. I’m no pro as I said, but I believe that there is a method to the seeming madness. Maybe everyone creates their own method as they go along, but a lot of it you get after doing it for a while. There are words that pop up almost every time that are called repeaters, and I go for these first because after getting them filled in it gives me more to work with in solving the remaining clues. And yes, some might make you scratch your head for a bit, but this makes getting the right answer all the more rewarding.

How helpful are these puzzles and word games to brain fitness? I had always believed the answer to this  to be “very” and was surprised to discover that it varied depending on who you asked. While some believed that a link could definitely be found between the two, there are others who now challenge the belief that crossword puzzles help with brain fitness and keeping Alzheimer and dementia at bay. Here are two articles that support each theory:

Brain Myth: Doing crossword puzzles can keep your brain young.

Do Crossword Puzzles Boost Your Brain Health?

So maybe you’re not a fan of crossword puzzles per say.  Maybe sudoku is more your thing or cryptograms (another of my favorite). If you just have a love for words and word solving, here are some great word games that are guaranteed to keep you occupied for hours:

Bookworm       Words with Friends        Missclass        Boggle          4 Pics- 1Word          Letter Press

Here are just a few of many great books to be found on puzzles at your local DCPL:

How to conquer the New York Times crossword puzzle– Amy Renaldo

Four-letter words: and other secrets of a crossword insider– Michelle Arnot

The crossword century– Alan Connor

Cracking codes & cryptograms for dummies– Denise Sutherland and Mark Koltko-Rivera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

missclass

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Oct 14 2016

Knitting up the Ravelled Sleeve

by Dea Anne M

 

(Time of day – about 8:00 p.m.)

“No. You can’t stay up another 10 minutes. Bedtime is bedtime. Get your pajamas on and get your teeth brushed.”

“Yes. You can have a glass of water and then I want to see that light go out.”

“No, there isn’t a werewolf living in your closet. Now, go to sleep…”

“…and be sure you close your eyes. It’s already 5 minutes past your bedtime and tomorrow is a school day.”

This was a fairly standard scenario at my house when my brother and I were very young. Our family pod wasn’t particularly rigid or strict, as I recall, but both of my parents (especially my father) were very invested in making sure that we children got our required amount of sleep. They were young parents and maybe they were nervous about doing  everything right. Now, if we go forward in time several years, my younger sisters are about the same age as my brother and I in the scene above and the following would be part of a typical evening spent getting them to bed.

(One weary parent or another is shutting the door to the bedroom. The time? 8:30 p.m., 9:00, 10:00, 11:00? Who knows?)

“Yes, you can have the light on.” ”

“No, you don’t have to go to sleep right away.”

“Yes, you can play with the Legos but keep it quiet and don’t come out.”

Oldest children (and some of those in the middle) will sometimes complain that the youngest “Had it so easy.” I think that parents don’t shrug their shoulders and just give up – I think that they just decide that certain things (“Try not to break any bones if you can help it and leave the cat alone.”) are more important than some others (“You know we have broccoli at least once a week. Okay, just one little bite, okay?”) when it comes to raising children.

But this isn’t a post about child rearing or sibling order. This isn’t a post about the importance of family meal times either. This is a post about…sleep. When I was a kid, it wasn’t so much that I minded sleeping as it was all the exciting things that happened after 9:00 p.m. (or so I imagined). In later years, studying or just having fun often seemed more important than getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Night owl habits can be hard to break, but I think that I’m finally becoming someone who appreciates the early hours which, cliche or not, really are the best part of the day. I don’t seem to know that many people anymore who brag about how little sleep they’re getting and, in fact, more seem to complain about restless nights or noisy neighbors. Clearly, sleep is important for everyone, regardless of age, and getting enough of it can benefit everything from memory to weight loss.

But how do we get the sleep that we need in this stressed-out, always connected culture that we inhabit? If you aren’t naturally what my grandmother would have called a “good sleeper” or you’re just interested in the always intriguing subject of sleep,  then DCPL might have resources to help. Consider these:

The always lively, often controversial, Arianna Huffington’s latest book is Sleep Revolution: transforming your life , one night at a time. If that subtitle gives you pause, you may be interested to know that Huffington experienced a revolutionsleep revelation of sorts when she collapsed several years ago due to exhaustion. Since then, she has made it a mission to get good sleep – and to make sure that you get it too. In spite of that, this isn’t so much a how-to book as it is a look at the latest science on sleep. Huffington covers everything from the deceptions practiced by the sleeping pill industry to how artificial light (including that from our devices) effects our sleep. There’s also a discussion of how parents can have productive conversations with children about sleep and “model” the type of sleep behavior that they would like to see. Hmmm….so maybe I would have happily gone to bed at my assigned time if everyone else hadn’t seemed to be having so much fun?

Do you feel that you aren’t getting the quality sleep that you need at night and does that have an impact on your soundlywaking hours? If so, you might check out Robert S. Rosenberg’s Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: a doctor’s guide to solving your sleep problems.  There’s lots of useful information here as well as a few tidbits that might surprise you. Did you know that a blue room is the most conducive to slumber? On the other hand, the “blue light” created by televisions, smart phones and computers can disrupt your melatonin production thus leading to a restless night. Which might mean that your bedside table should hold print books and an old school alarm clock instead of devices. I mean, once you finish painting the walls.

All living things seem to require a certain amount of sleep (or its equivalent) but sleep itself, and what really happenslife during it, remains in many ways a mystery. If you’ve always been curious about what sleep means in a cultural context be sure to check out The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff. Duff explores the meaning of sleep, both in its physiological aspects as well as its social significance. Along the way, you’ll discover some interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that before the widespread use of electric lighting, people really did go to bed and arise with the sun but most people woke up for a lengthy period of time in between during which they would do some chores, pray or read. Fascinating stuff!

I’ve come a long way from the would be night owl, feet dragging to bed habits of before. These days I go to bed happily, dare I say eagerly, and, for the most part, I sleep well. How about you? Are you an early riser or do you come alive in the late hours? Most importantly, do you get enough sleep?

 

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Oct 10 2016

Out With The Old

by Camille B

picture-of-signboardWould you believe that you can still find a working payphone at the Decatur Library? I don’t mean a relic, barred off by velvet ropes where people can come by and stare in wonder (although they probably do). I’m talking about an actual, receiver- still- attached, working payphone.

You certainly don’t see these around anymore and many kids today have no idea what they are or how they work, just take a look here at the young man in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xm0CoT5n7A.

This youngster’s not alone, and it’s not just younger kids, teenagers too seem in awe of this blast from our past. I have a sixteen year old niece who has never seen an actual payphone, or a rotary phone for that matter, except for the ones on TV. Funny or sad, the most vivid recollection of the phone booth this modern generation might have in the  coming years, would be of Clark Kent using it to change into Superman.

Of course I couldn’t stop my mind from travelling down memory lane, wondering what else had faded away or died a quiet death while we weren’t looking? Those things which we believed to be so indispensable that are now simply memories that make our kids chortle and roll their eyes at us as though we lived during the Middle Ages.

Well honestly, quite a number of them that popped up are already pretty much obsolete and the others, though they’re putting up a brave fight to stay with us, will soon also be a thing of the past.

The following items came up repeatedly on various lists:

Rotary Phones- picture-of-rotary-phoneI think that the rotary phone would certainly be a great conversation piece among the younger and future generations. There were no buttons to press, not even for redial. Before thumbs rocked, the index finger ruled, for both scrolling down the pages of the telephone directory and dialing -the long way around. And if the phone rang, you picked it up, without knowing who was calling. If you missed a call, you dialed *69.

Mailing a letter- When was the last time you saw a teenager in line at the Post Office?  Just about everything is done online, even getting copies of grades and turning in assignments. All correspondence is done through text, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Disposable Cameras- Gone are the days of dropping off your disposable camera at Walgreens and anxiously waiting  the one hour for your honeymoon photos to be developed, hoping that the weird, grinning man you met doesn’t appear in any of the backgrounds.picture-of-disposable-camera

Today we can easily snap and store hundreds of photos to our heart’s content, using our tablets and smart phones and getting results in an instant. We now even have the option of developing them ourselves. And thanks to Photoshop, you can also say bye-bye to the weird grinning man in the background.

Cursive Writing- Alas, the lost art of cursive writing which was such an integral part of the schools’ curriculum and encouraged proper penmanship among students, today is almost non-existent. The logic behind it seems to be that we rarely put pen to paper anymore anyway. Maybe in years to  come there will be no need for pen and paper at all, so the thought is, I guess, why waste time with such a practice?

Still, I believe that there’s just something about a person having good penmanship, don’t you think? And it’s one of those things I’d most hate to see go. Some states and schools are still fighting the good fight to keep it as part of their school’s curriculum, Georgia included, but sadly it’s dying a slow death.

Renting a Movie- Years ago, we probably couldn’t imagine life without popular video rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. For many it was part of the weekend experience. You stopped off at the video store down the street Friday or Saturday night to rent four or five movies which you kept for a few days.

Good times for us, but hey, no love lost for the modern generation, not when they have Redbox, Netflix, Hulu and other ways to rent movies or stream them online in your own home.picture-of-blockbuster-sign

Remembering Phone Numbers- Before everyone had a cellphone with the capability of storing every possible phone number you could think of, there was just that one house phone, remember? With probably an extra line or two for everyone in the house to use. You could recite grandma’s number by heart and aunt Helen’s, the Vet, and Wong’s Chinese takeout on the corner. Any others were probably penciled in your telephone and address book that you carried with you in your handbag.

Mixed Tapes- Look at how far we’ve come from the mixed tape. Remember all that time spent compiling our favorite songs on a single cassette with 60 or 90 minutes worth of playing time? Arranging the songs in just the right order, then listening first to one side and then flipping it over to listen to the other? And who could forget using a pencil to reel the tape back in when it somehow got unraveled.

Today there are ipods, MP3 players, tablets and cellphones that enable us to create, download and store endless playlists all at the touch of a button.

And there is my absolute favorite…

Handwritten Letters- I can’think of a person who doesn’t love to get a handwritten letter. I most certainly do. How often do I get them? Not very often, I’m afraid. It is now very rare to receive a warm, handwritten letter from a friend or loved one. In the busyness of today’s world, all our new technology has completely replaced putting pen to paper.

But the memories are still there of the handwritten love letters we kept over the years, now yellowed with age.

Letters have brought comfort to men at war, cheer to sick loved ones, and solace to broken hearts. Letters and love notes have evoked the theme for many a love story.
There were so many other things on the ‘out with the old’ list that stirred up feelings of nostalgia as I did research for this post.  You can find a few more here on this link 50 things we don’t do anymore due to technology.

And though we say out with the old, we still pause to reminisce about those things that contributed to our lives in some small way over the years, even as we embrace all that technology and the future has to offer us today.

“We all have our time machines.  Some take us back, they’re called memories.  Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

– Jeremy Irons

Visit your local Dekalb Public Library or visit the website to find copies of these titles:

The great acceleration: how the world is getting faster, faster/ Robert Colville

The way we will be 50 years from today/edited by Mike Wallace

Toilets, toasters & telephones/ Susan Goldman Rubin

From radio to wireless web/ Joanne Mattern

The history of the telephone/ Elizabeth Raum

How to write anything: a complete guide/ Laura Brown

 

 

 

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