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

January 2012

Jan 30 2012

The Books They Gave Me

by Jesse M

For this week’s post I’m highlighting a blog called The Books They Gave Me. Begun in June of last year, The Books They Gave Me (hereafter referred to as TBTGM) is a blog “In which we reflect on books given [to] us by loved ones”. The format is minimalist; just an image of the book cover and a paragraph or two by the submitter reflecting upon the gift and the giver. Despite this many of the posts are deeply personal, moving tales of shared passion and human understanding, as exemplified in the gift of a perfect book.

TBTGM is driven by user submissions, so if you’d like to contribute, you can go here to view the submission guidelines. Alternately, feel free to share your story here in the comments.

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Jan 27 2012

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

by Patricia D

In the original Grimms’ version of Cinderella the rotten step-sister can’t get her foot into the shoe and her mother hands her a knife and tells her to cut off her toes to make it fit.  After all, once she’s queen she won’t need toes.  That works fine until some little birds squeal on her as the Prince is taking her home.  He takes her back, there’s a whole “OMG—what a silly mistake we made, here’s the right girl”  scene where the second sister has to cut off her heel.  Not surprisingly, given the chattiness of small birds, the Prince is back pretty quick and he’s getting annoyed.  This is when Cinderella, who has been in the room the whole time,  pulls the mate to the now gore encrusted shoe out of her pocket and says “Oh, yeah, it was me all along.”

I want you to think about this carefully, because I want you to forget that blond chick in the blue dress  with all the singing mice.  Cinderella was not meek and mild.  Like a real girl, a much abused girl, she stood there with the other shoe in her pocket while her rivals stepped all over her with their mutilated feet.  She waited for the right time to pull her golden ticket out of her pocket and she waltzed off to Princess-hood.  Yeah, she took her sisters with her, but they get their eyes pecked out on the way to the wedding.  This is a story that reassures me because Cinderella is nobody’s doormat.  She isn’t perfect, she has a tiny taste for revenge and she can make a plan.

Why do I need this reassurance you ask?  One word answer: Disney.  Junior is hard into the Princess thing right now, happily abetted by her crazily indulgent family and friends.  I had a hard time allowing the Barbie look-alike Princess Aurora for Christmas but I did, consoling myself that this is a phase that will pass, and she will still grow up to understand that she can have a meaningful life even if she isn’t pretty, rich, and sweet.  However, she’s been begging for the Prince Philip doll (or should that be action toy?) because Aurora isn’t “complete” (her word) without him.  Ye gads, what have I done?

Am I over thinking this?  Maybe, but I’m not the only one and, much as I despise most Disney versions of my beloved fairy tales, I can’t really lay all the blame at the feet of the Mouse.  Peggy Orenstein examines the “princess-ification” of our daughters in a funny, thought provoking and comforting way in her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter.   At least, it’s comforting to me.  Then again, I really like the Grimms’ Cinderella.

Try these as well, in case you want to get back to basics with fairy tales:


Jan 25 2012

Food for the future

by Dea Anne M

The Epi-log blog on the Epicurious website ran a story about a month ago regarding  potential global food profiles of the future as forecast  by futurist Christopher Barnatt. The not-so-good news is that Barnatt predicts that food will become increasingly scarce, and more expensive to purchase, due to declining oil supplies, global water scarcities, and increasingly unpredictable climate changes. According to Barnatt, these changes will necessitate that we start getting serious about producing and sourcing more of our food close to home. Barnatt sees as the good and hopeful news in all of this the already growing trend of urban based agriculture. Check out, for example, this design (at right) for a skyscraper housing gardens on some of its floors. For home-based food production, the Windowfarms Project offers options for growing hydroponic vegetables in window installed units. Barnatt goes on to say that we will all most certainly be eating less meat in the future and, because of drastic decreases in global shipping, we will not have the same variety in our diets that many, in the developed nations at least, enjoy now and certainly we will have access to fewer non-native fruits and highly processed foods. The trade-off is that locally sourced and fresher foods will insure a better diet for most of us. That might not be such a bad thing…less beef and fewer bananas but better health and fresher food.

I’ve posted here before about the pleasures of gardening on a personal level. I think that more and more, though I come to look at growing food as a potentially important skill to cultivate (as it were!). Barnatt’s predictions, if likely (and I think they are), seem to make it all the more vital to not only extend myself more as a gardener, but to actively encourage others to get involved with locally based food production. The possibilities are exciting when cities like Detroit are encouraging urban farming on a large scale and more and more restaurants are installing roof-top gardens.

Are you interested in exploring the topic yourself and maybe taking on the role as an urban pioneer? If so, check out these resources from DCPL.

Even if you aren’t interested in becoming an urban homesteader,   Your Farm in the City: an urban dwellers guide to growing food and raising livestock by Lisa Taylor will still give you a lot of great advice and information on producing a farm’s worth of vegetable, fruit, and herbs in the city or town setting. Useful information targeted to the urban gardener includes dealing with specifically urban pests, zoning laws, vandalism, and potentially suspicious neighbors.

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Jan 23 2012

On the Record

by Greg H

One really great thing about working in a public library is that there seems to always be something on the shelves that you haven’t seen before.  My most recent discovery is Record Store Days by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo.  Their book traces the history of the record store and its importance as a place where people could interact and share their love and knowledge of music.  For some people this became a hobby and inspired a life-long passion; for others, like Peter Buck of REM,  it was a stepping stone to their own careers in music.

I feel a little jealous as I read through this book.  My hometown did not feature a full service record store, let alone one with listening booths.   We bought our 45s at the G.C. Murphy in town or, sometimes,  Troutman’s department store.  These stores usually had what we were able to hear on the local AM radio stations. I don’t remember wondering about what other music might have been out there.  We never encountered the kinds of knowledgeable employees or fellow music fans who could help inform our choices.  These are the people that Calamar and Gallo celebrate.

Record Store Days is loaded with anecdotes, quotes and wonderful pictures of music stores and fans from the past 100 years.  It also includes a compilation of the best record stores nationwide according to the major music publications.  This book wouldn’t be so nostalgic, however,  if it wasn’t also a cautionary tale. Independent music stores like those found in this delightful retrospective are an endangered commodity in these days of downloading digitally. Ziggy Marley is quoted as saying “Record stores keep the human social contact alive, it brings people together. ” With that in mind, read Record Store Days, but then visit your friendly neighborhood record shop.  It’s nice to know that they’re still out there.


The above video appeared on Decatur Metro last week and I couldn’t resist reposting.  Stop-motion animation is so cool!

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Jan 13 2012

Dreams in January

by Patricia D

We’re coming up on a three day weekend and I’m telling you, after the frenzy of the past month I’m ready for a little extra rest.  As grateful as I am for the breather though, I believe that Memorial Day and Labor Day should be more than just bookends for the summer and I don’t want MLK Day to become just a rest stop after the holidays.

Perhaps the best known of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches is the one he delivered on what was surely a stifling, muggy day in Washington, D.C. in 1963.   Much like a chorus singing Handel in a food court gave a gift to those around them, he delivered a gift to his country on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  This speech is not the first of his writings—it may not even be considered to be his finest work by some—but for me, it best sums up not only the sacrifice and work that went into the Civil Rights movement but also the hopes I still have for us as a country.  Some of it is a little painful to read, even for an adult, but I think if you track down a copy of the picture book I Have A Dream you’ll find that the best of it is easily available to a child, illustrated by 15 artists of staggering talent.  If you haven’t read the entire thing, you’ll find the full text there as well.

I’m not going to make a list of the biographies, collections of his writings and the histories of the civil rights movement in the collection  (the list would be long indeed) but I am going to encourage you to take a look at the catalog and pick out a few things to remind you that this isn’t just a three day weekend coming up.


Jan 11 2012

Umm…do you mind?

by Dea Anne M

Well, the holiday season is behind us and with it goes the feeling (some might call it a delusion) I always have that the world is a happier and politer place between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Of course, crowded shopping venues, overspending, and pressure to bake and decorate can snap the nerves of even those who are normally courteous. Still, my fuzzy feelings about the holidays persist year after year.

So is the world generally getting ruder? Anyone who spends any amount of time in the “blogosphere” has witnessed, or suffered, the sometimes shocking incivility that crops up in so many comments threads. Most of us have known the frustration and anger caused by rude fellow drivers. Of course, it’s a presidential election year which is bound to add increasing  volatility to an already contentious and high-volume political arena.

Maybe it’s time to give some thought to what it means to be truly civil. I don’t mean manners in the sense of knowing which fork to use or always sending thank-you notes (although I think that is an excellent practice). Some sources define “civility” as politeness or courtesy but I think a meaningful definition goes deeper than that. Respect, consideration, and generosity must also figure into the equation.

Are you interested in exploring this topic and maybe, just maybe, helping to make the world a better place? If so, check out these resources from DCPL.

Saving Civility: 52 ways to tame rude, crude, and attitude for a polite planet by Sara Hacala. This brand-new title presents a definition of civility that encompasses personal values and attitudes and not just “proper” behavior. The approach of the book is less about correcting other people’s behavior and more about how we as  individuals can provide a positive influence that inspires change. Short chapters with titles such as “Sharpen Your Social Antenna” and “Take the High Road” provide concise and accessible advice for doing just that. Highly recommended!

P. M. Forni’s The Civility Solution: what to do when people are rude provides solutions to “everyday” discourtesies in an appealingly compact package.  Forni outlines an approach to rude behavior that emphasizes personal assertiveness (as opposed to aggression) and “not taking it personally”…an observation that I think can be easy to forget but important to remember, especially when we get caught up in the heat of the moment.

Amy Alkon, author of the popular blog The Advice Goddess, is also the author of  I See Rude People: one woman’s battle to beat some manners into an impolite society. As the title suggests, Alkon’s employs a “defensive strategy” approach to dealing with the rude, and some of her ideas are quite brilliant if not actually suggestions that the rest of us would (dare) use.  More an entertainment than an actual manifesto for change, the book is, nonetheless, very fun to read.

…and finally the thrill lovers among us can always re-watch The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal on DVD, certainly not to emmulate the star villain’s well-known solution to rudeness (yikes!), but to enjoy Anthony Hopkins turn as the terrifying, yet strangely “civilized” Hannibal Lecter.


Jan 6 2012

Book Club Resources

by Amanda L

Are you in a book club or have you ever wanted to join a book club?  The Library is a great place to find a book club to join, find books for your book club or learn different ways to run your club.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

Good books lately: the one-stop resource for book groups and other greedy readers by Ellen Moore and Kira Stevens 

In Good Books Lately, the founders of the country’s first book group consulting company dish out fun, stimulating advice based on their own experiences and those of hundreds of book group members on everything from: how to start a group—and keep it going, how to tell a book by its cover (really!), how to generate a lively discussion, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, dirt, and favorite book lists, the best and worst book group books, and book group troubleshooting.

 Teen book group discussion @ the library by Constance B. Dickerson

This guide for young adult librarians and teachers profiles fifty titles, including novels, biographies, and plays; it offers notes on their themes, genre, and characters, as well as discussion points. Individual chapters discuss the purpose of reading groups, advertising, scheduling, group size, and creating a comfortable environment.

The Kids book club book: reading ideas, recipes, activities, and smart tips for organizing terrific kids book clubs by Judy Gelman and Vicki LevyKrupp

The first complete guide-for use by adults and children-to creating fun and educational book clubs for kids.

The Book club companion: a comprehensive guide to the reading group experience by Diana Loevy

The Book Club Companion is full of innovative ideas to help you share your love of books-not only enriching your reading experiences, but strengthening friendships (and forming new ones).

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