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Commuter’s Corner

Mar 18 2013

Listen Up!

by Nancy M

Bloody-Jack-298431Spring Break is just a few weeks away and I’m sure many of you out there have road trips planned. Personally, I hate being in the car. I was the youngest of 3 kids who always had to sit in the middle seat for our endless 16 hour drive to Lake Michigan every summer. These days, I have a long daily commute to the Library and on my weekends I get to drive around with a toddler who hates being in the car just as much as I do. But I really can’t complain (I know it would seem that’s all I’m doing) because I have access to something amazing…audiobooks!

Now, we have a pretty extensive audiobook collection and they get checked out quite a bit so I know most of you out there know about audiobooks. But what you may not know is how beneficial they can be to your child’s reading abilities. Listening to audiobooks carries many of the same benefits that reading instills in your child plus more. They can help improve language skills, (“oh, so that’s how you pronounce that word!”), concentration, and allow many children who might not be strong readers to enjoy a range of books without hampering their confidence. Plus, there are a ton of really great kid and teen audiobooks out there that parents can enjoy with their kids.

Here is a listing of my top 3 favorite audiobooks in the following categories:

Teen (12-13 and up)

3.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and narrated by Kate Rudd (be warned, especially if you are driving, that you will cry your eyes out. This was the 2013 Odyssey winner.)

2. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (narrated by the author as well as a full cast. This is truly an amazing imaginative audiobook experience. The Golden Compass is the first in the trilogy His Dark Materials. Book 2 is The Subtle Knife and book 3 is The Amber Spyglass.)

1. Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer (hands down my favorite audiobook ever! Katherine Kellgren is the most talented narrator out there today and Bloody Jack is just the beginning of an expertly narrated series. Check out her other books as well; she is building quite a resume.)

Middle Readers (8-12)

3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (13 books in total with Tim Curry narrating a number of them. The first book is called The Bad Beginning.)

2.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and narrated by the author (Neil Gaiman lends a perfectly creepy voice to this perfectly creepy tale.)

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale. (117 hours of pure storytelling delight. Peter & the Starcatchers is the first in another great series narrated by Dale)

For Younger Children

3. Frog and Toad Audio Collection by Arnold Lobel and narrated by the author.

2. Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne and narrated by the author.

1.  The One and Only Shrek! Plus 5 Other Stories by William Steig and narrated by Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep.

You can check out audiobooks at your local DCPL branch or you can download some of them by accessing OverDrive on our website. Click here for Amanda’s tips on how to download audiobooks or check out a tutorial here. And please feel free to share your own audiobook favorites for any age. I’m always looking for good suggestions!

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Mar 15 2013

Red Means Go

by Veronica W

Imagine this. You are driving down a two lane road, traffic in one lane going east, the other travelling west. The eastbound lane, (yours, of course) is bumper-to-bumper, for some reason in the far distance. Suddenly you see in your side mirror that the driver of a car several lengths behind you, has decided not to wait and has shot out into the westbound lane.  He travels about twenty five feet, then makes a left turn onto a side street,  narrowly escaping a collision with 06-Prepare-to-be-Annoyeda car heading west. I don’t have to imagine this scenario because I have seen it, not once, not twice but three times in as many months.

I learned to drive in New York City, famous for its Andretti style driving.  In fact, I was told that Atlanta’s helter skelter traffic is due to all the transplanted, bad driving northerners who have invaded the Georgia roadways.  While I don’t know about that, I do know that once you’ve driven in gypsy cab land,—aka Manhattan—you can drive pretty much anywhere (…in the U.S. anyway. I hear driving in China is almost surreal). However what happens on the roads today can stress even the most skilled driver, because sometimes it’s impossible to defend yourself against the jaw-dropping, aberrant behavior of other drivers (road construction requires another post).

Tom Vanderbilt has written an informative but highly entertaining book entitled Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us).  For those people who want to listen to something while they drive, it comes in audio book form as well as print. In this book, these questions are answered:

  • Why I Became a Late Merger (and Why You Should Too)
  • Why Does the Other Lane Always Seem Faster
  • Why You’re Not as Good a Driver as You Think You Are
  • Why Ants Don’t Get into Traffic Jams (and Humans Do)
  • Why Women cause More Congestion Than Men (and Other Secrets of Traffic)
  • Why More Roads Lead to More Traffic (and What to Do About It)
  • How Traffic Explains the World

Ronin. Bullitt. What’s Up Doc?. Gone in 60 SecondsThe Bourne Identity.  What do all of these movies have in common? They are all on the Best Car Chase Movies of All Time list. I love car chase movies and  reality is suspended as I watch the mayhem caused by a car hurtling through a crowded street.  I’m not so thrilled when I witness the same recklessness on I-285. Although in my younger years I loved speed, today I often stay in the right lane; not because there is less lead in my foot but because sometimes I think the other two lanes are reserved for the racers. By the way, a car salesman recently told me the 4 cylinder is the new 6 cylinder, the 6 is the new 8, etc.  Hmmm. I wondered why all those little cars seemed so peppy.

Now that you are playing with the idea of leaving your car at home, how will you get to where you need to go?  The “MARTA is smarter” people advocate public transportation.  Fitness folk suggest you walk… or at the very least, ride a bicycle. Since none of these options are viable choices for me, I’ve decided it’s less aggravating to care for and feed a horse. Buggies are optional.

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Feb 15 2013

The Sound of Silence

by Veronica W

As I sat at the red light, my car was vibrating and my ears were assaulted. Ilake tried to identify the person with the deafening music but I couldn’t. They could have been five cars behind me but it didn’t matter because their bass was so loud, it shook every car in line. Although it was a balmy spring day, I rolled up my windows in disgust.

I have a sister who lives in and loves New York City…Manhattan to be exact. Although she lives in a high rise, traffic sounds and general city life were heard very clearly through her windows on the fourteenth floor, no matter the time of day.  When she visits me, after awhile she gets antsy at the quiet. Imagine my delight last year, when I visited NYC and rode down Fifth Avenue and saw signs that warned people of a stiff fine for honking.

George Prochnik, in his book In Pursuit of Silence,  “examines why we began to be so loud as a society, what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet and what are the benefits of decluttering our sonic world.”  When I encounter people who must fill up air space with conversation, radio, television or music—especially when I am being quiet myself—it makes me  wonder if silence is uncomfortable for them.

There are many ways and places people can enjoy noiselessness—or at least replace it with more desired noise.  A charming picture book is Sitting in My Box. A little boy has found a big box, and it is his getaway in which he reads or dreams. A host of different animals crowd in, until they are finally “persuaded” to leave.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, in her poem Exiled, laments, “Searching my heart for its true sorrow/This is the thing I find to be/That I am weary of words and people/Sick of the city, wanting the sea.” Her refuge from the cacophony of the city was the ocean. I can identify and as often as  I can, I visit the Monastery in Conyers, where I sit by the lake and feed the ducks. Where do you go for peace and quiet?

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Oct 22 2012

Quiet Time

by Jnai W

I take my quiet time, my moments of relative solitude, any way I can get them.  Often my me-time takes place as I’m commuting to work. Usually that means MARTA, with a commute time that clocks in at just under 3 hours. ( I know that seems crazy and unreasonable—well, it is but nothing gets the blood flowing like chasing a bus or weaving around idlers-on-the-subway escalators at the crack of dawn.)

The truth of the matter is that I rather like mass transit. It’s not perfect but it affords me some time to do things that nurture my creative streak while preparing for the day ahead. While I’ve taken my people-watching down to the barest minimum—just enough to keep an eye out for the shiftier of my transit mates—I can still take the time to journal, read or listen to music.

I’ve been reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I’m reading a book about being a quiet type in a loud type society. Lately, and I’m not sure why, I’ve been reading this book while listening to decidedly extroverted, noise pop like M.I.A, Sleigh Bells or someone else. Oddly enough I listen to it as loud as I can within reason—loud enough to overcome the roar of the bus’ engine but soft enough to not be called out by the bus driver/noise ordinance cop who’s in no mood to hear for my “teenager music”. (“Whaddya mean you don’t wanna hear my Dizzee Rascal, sir?)

I find myself relating to alot of my fellow introverts featured in this book. I land on passages about Don, a Harvard Business School student who worries that his mild, reserved demeanor is losing him ground in the aggressively extroverted culture of his school. While reading, I’m hearing the catchy synthy dance pop of singer Santigold singing a lyric to her song “L.E.S Artistes”—”Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later/ You don’t know me I am an introvert, an excavator”. It’s an apropos lyric that swirls around me, inculcating me for a moment in time in a cubicle of communal solitude, if that makes any sense.

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Foundation coverBack in 1973, the BBC aired a radio adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s seminal Foundation Trilogy. The Foundation series details a far future universe populated by a decaying empire of humanity spread across the Milky Way galaxy. In order to prevent humanity from falling into an extended galactic dark age, Hari Seldon, founder of the prophetic statistical and sociological science of psychohistory, works to establish a Foundation of knowledge and educated society on the remote planet of Terminus. The Foundation trilogy follows the lives and adventures of a variety of Terminus citizens throughout the decades and centuries after the establishment of the Foundation.

The Internet Archive is hosting the 1973 Foundation BBC radio adaptation of the Foundation Trilogy as part of their Old Time Radio collection. It is available here for both streaming and download in multiple formats.

If you are interested in listening to the original story on audiobook rather than the radio adaptation, you can check it out through the Library! Follow these links to Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.

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Feb 7 2011

To E(book) or not to E(book)

by Patricia D

Kindle.  Nook.  Literati.  Something produced by Apple.   Someone you know got an eBook reader for Christmas.  If that someone had the same sales person as my sister-in-law, they were told the public library has electronic books to download onto said eBook reader (with the exception of the Kindle, because we all know only Amazon purchased content can be viewed on a Kindle.)   Sad fact:  DCPL currently does not have electronic books to be loaded onto any eBook reader currently on the market.  We would love to have them, primarily because our mission is to provide the materials and information our patrons want.  Also, some of us got eBook readers for Christmas too and for me, paying for a book is a verrrrrry hard idea to get my head around.  However, Economic Reality is most certainly Coyote Ugly these days and adding another dimension to DCPL’s collections is something we can plan but not implement.

We can offer, thanks in large part to the generous support of the Friends of the Dunwoody Library, a very nice downloadable audiobook collection, which can be played on computers, MP3 players and in some instances, iPods, though at the moment I have yet to figure out how to manage that technological feat (for more technical help with downloadable audiobooks, please see this post).  These downloadable audiobooks can be accessed from either our OverDrive page or from the catalog, where they are being added as quickly as we can catalog them.  I find it amusing that we’re cataloging something we can’t actually hold—it’s a little like trying to catalog Daniel Tiger’s (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood  character) imaginary best friend, which was part of the cataloging final in graduate school.  Keep an eye out for the “downloadable audiobook” format as you search the catalog and please know, as soon as we are able, that there will be listings for “electronic books” as well.

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Dec 27 2010

Travelin’

by Patricia D

I put over a thousand miles on my car in the past week.  My family is all up North and we tried Christmas without them once.  It was a little sad and a lot lonely so now I bite the bullet, load up the Backseat Club’s MP3 player with audiobooks and spend a lot of quality time with asphalt but not, thank you, state troopers.  I like being in the car for big stretches of time, watching the land slip past, noting where there is now yet another outlet mall or huge subdivision festering on a  landscape that used to feature crops or timber.  We stop every now and then to check out some oddity (an antique,  fully automated Noah’s Ark fitted out with  lots of stuffed rats, gophers, small birds and a dove) or historical site.  Our visit to Camp Wildcat, site of the first engagement of regular troops in Kentucky during the Civil War, was made memorable by the folks who preserved the site as they explained that the many bullet holes in the restroom roof were made by local marijuana growers  who didn’t have as fine an appreciation for history as one might hope.  We were perfectly safe, they assured me, because each of them had weaponry in their trucks.  A subsequent visit to Cowpens National Battlefield seemed quite tame in comparison.

The concept of distance is funny.  As my little car is slurping up the miles I often think about  Laura Ingalls Wilder’s first time away from her family in These Happy Golden Years, when she goes off to teach at her first school.   She is miserable and has no hope of respite because twelve miles  (six each way) just for a weekend is just too much for the family horses.  For Laura twelve miles might just as well have been the nearly 1400 that I travel.   She covered many more miles than those twelve in her lifetime and in addition to her Little House series for children she wrote about her travels in  Little House in the Ozarks, West From Home and  On the Way Home, all found in the adult collection.  I’ve read and love them all but it is those twelve miles that most often come to mind.

Two other writers leave me thinking about travel while I’m scouting for the next Pilot station out in the wild.   John Steinbeck is perfectly capable of putting his reader right in the middle of a landscape with just one paragraph and his Travels with Charley: In Search of America is lovely.  William W. Starr’s Whisky, Kilts and the Loch Ness Monster: Traveling through Scotland with Boswell and Johnson is a newcomer to the shelves but I promise, if you give it a try you’ll be thinking about Scotland for quite a while after you’ve returned the book.  Try out either for the next long trip and see if those miles don’t just slip away.

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I am always looking for a way to occupy my time during my long daily commute.  I used to check out audiobooks from the Library but have recently migrated to using the Library’s downloadable audiobook service, OverDrive. I love that I can “check out” an audiobook even when the Library is closed. It can be a little tricky at first especially when trying to use it with an Apple product. To begin using the service, first check out the Library’s OverDrive Page. Both the Quick Start Guide and Guided Tour can help you get started downloading and transfering audiobook files fast.  Here are ten tips that I have found helpful:

10.  You will need your DeKalb County library card number and PIN.

9. Make sure you download the Overdrive Media Console. (This is OverDrive’s software.)

8.  If transferring to an Apple device, make sure you have the most current version of iTunes loaded onto your computer.  In addition, iTunes needs to be set to enable “Manually Manage Music” setting.  See here for further instructions.

7. If using a Windows computer, make sure you have version 9 or higher of Windows Media player.  Also, make sure you have installed the Windows Media Player Security Upgrade by going into OverDrive Media Console, clicking on “Tools”, then clicking on “Windows Media Player Security Upgrade”.

6. You can browse titles by categories (listed on the left under “Fiction” and “Nonfiction”) or you can use the search box on the top right corner if you are looking for something specific.  An easy way to search for available titles is to click “Advance Search” (top right, inside of the orange search box) and make sure “Only show titles with copies available” is checked.  You can leave the other spaces blank, if you just wish to browse.

5. Each downloadable audiobook has different technical and license restrictions, so when looking at an audiobook, pay attention to the “Plays On” icons.  These icons tell you what computers and devices the audiobook will and will not work on based on whether or not they are lit up.  One tricky situation: if the icons indicate iPod-compatibility but not Mac-compatibility, then the only way you can transfer it to your iPod is through a PC.

4. During the check out process, you will be asked to choose a lending period, either 7, 14, or 21 days.  You can only have 2 downloadable audiobooks checked out at any one time, and you may not “return” a book earlier than your selected lending period, so choose carefully.

3. After checking out your audiobook, click on “Download”.  This should automatically open up OverDrive Media Console.  You can then choose how many parts (if not all) you wish to download.   If you wish to play, transfer, or download more parts of the same audiobook within the same lending period, you need only open up Overdrive Media Console and go from there. You would not have to go through the OverDrive website again within the same lending period unless you are checking out a new title.

2. To transfer the audiobook file(s) to a device make sure that you click the transfer button in Overdrive Media Console.

1. The digital file will stay on your computer or digital device even though you might not be able to listen to it past your lending period. You can delete the file the same way you do any other file you have on your computer or device.

Still needing some help with our new audiobook service? Representatives from OverDrive will be at the Dunwoody Library on October 28 with their Digital Bookmobile for you to get some hands on experience with the experts.  Full details here.

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Dec 21 2009

CDs and DVDs and Audiobooks-Oh my!

by Vivian A

If you dread hearing “How much longer?” or “Counting cows is boring!” check out your local library for things to check out for your Christmas roadtrips. DCPL has tons of interesting, entertaining and educational DVDs, audiobooks and CDs to engage you and your children on the way to grandmother’s house or wherever you’re headed this holiday season.

Try out any or all of the Harry Potter books read by the vastly talented Jim Dale. Or get a life and listen to someone’s biography or autobiography. Watch a holiday classic like It’s A Wonderful Life or Home Alone.

All it takes is a scan of your library card and you can entertain yourself and your passengers for miles. Who knows you might be so engrossed in your story that you won’t want to stop for anything but gas. If not you can always go back to counting state license plates.

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Jun 17 2009

About A Washboard

by Jnai W

I’ve been feeling really nostalgic lately and that’s all thanks to my new washboard. I’ll explain if I may.

I live in a cute old apartment complex with a pool that, curiously, hasn’t been opened yet, at least 300 small children gone summer-crazy and a dodgy, probably-haunted laundry room. Needless to say, with its odd horror-flick lighting and creepy little noises, it’s not really an enjoyable place for sorting one’s fine washables and lingering around while the clothes are cleaning. So I decided, being kind of a romantic at heart, that I should get a washboard and launder my clothes the old-fashioned way.  I figured that it beats having to trudge to a laundromat or beg friends and family into letting me use their washer and dryer all the time. (I’ve tried to find a way to tie “washboards” to DCPL in some relevant way but this is the best I could do.)

I have to say, DCPLers, that I’m really enjoying my washboard. The most fun part–aside from the actual using of the washboard–was purchasing  and bringing it home Sunday before last.  The reactions I got when I bought it and toted it home on the bus were similar to the ones I get when I tell people  that I work at The Library: a mixture of amusement (“Oh, how cute! Do people still use libraries?”) and general good will.

“Oh, you mean a scrub-board?” the friendly ACE Hardware worker corrected me, before offering her assistance and quizzing me about how southern I was.

Later, as I was walking to the nearest bus stop with my new purchase, one lady hollered out of her car window ” I haven’t seen one of those since I was a kid! Where’d you get that?”

Not long after that the bus driver that day and the lady in the seat behind me  had their own fond memories of their mamas or other loved ones working their laundry over the scrub-board (but now I’m confused–is it scrub-board or rub-board?)

This is kind of what my washboard looks like...

This is kind of what my washboard looks like...

I’m still trying to figure out how to bring this blog post home and make it some how relevant to the Library. I guess I just like the fact that it’s really useful, traditional (nostalgic, even) and inexpensive to use…kind of like the Library, perhaps?

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