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

September 2015

Sep 25 2015

What’s In a Name?

by Camille B

Single RoseHow do you feel about your name? Do you walk around wearing it proudly like a badge of honor? Or do you dread when people ask for it, certain that there’d be an invisible bubble above their heads with the word Huh?

Is your name a strong one? Is it quirky? Plain? Are you annoyed when people get it wrong? According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, a person’s name is to him or her “the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It’s therefore no wonder that we may get slightly bent out of shape when people misspell or mispronounce it.

Does your name suit you? Do you think you look like a Helen or a Joan? We hear people make comments all the time like, “Well, he just doesn’t look like a Bob to me.” Or, “I think she looks more like a Claire than a Jenny, don’t you?” And it might sound silly, because really, how can a person look like their name? But somehow we seem to get it.

Do people eventually grow into their names? Live up to them? Carry the weight and obligation with them for the rest of their lives as with royal families? Or are they haunted by the name forever if they happen to be children of infamous or notorious parents? 

When I first began delving into the topic of names and what they mean to us, I quickly discovered that the subject is way more complex and intriguing than I had imagined and that one blog post would never suffice to cover all that the topic entails. However, one question kept coming to mind–the question of whether or not a person’s name is directly linked to his or her destiny.

In today’s society it is felt by many that a person’s name can make or break them. As a matter of fact, there are many parents who shy away from giving their children certain names because of the stigmas attached to them. Is there some truth to this or is it just mind over matter? For instance, can the name on a job application (whether it sounds black, white or Hispanic) give favor or prejudice to a person’s chances of getting a job?

Interestingly, as I researched arguments for and against this theory, I came to see a lot of truth on both sides of the argument. While some researchers believe that our names can have a significant impact on who and what we become in life, others argue that it has no bearing one way or another and that many other factors come into play in determining where our road in life leads us.

Professors at the University of Melbourne and New York University, for instance, found that people with simple, easy-to-pronounce names were more likely to be favored for a promotion at work. (See this NYU press release.) An article from BBC Focus magazine quotes Ohio University Professor James Bruning: “The impact of names comes from how people expect to see you.” The article goes on to say, “while prejudging people based on their name might seem unfair, we sometimes do so subconsciously when making decisions.”

Maybe even though our names can play a role in our daily lives, it’s not enough to control our destinies in any major or significant way. An article in The Week quotes psychologist Martin Ford: “Names only have a significant influence when that is the only thing you know about the person. Add a picture, and the impact of the name recedes. Add information about personality, motivation, and ability, and the impact of the name shrinks to minimal significance.” That same Week article makes the comment: “Condoleezza Rice’s name might have held her back, but she was so smart, talented, and driven that she became Secretary of State.”

More research led me to Wes Moore’s book The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, the story of two fatherless boys with the exact same name. One became the first African-American graduate of Johns Hopkins to be named a Rhodes Scholar, the other went on trial for robbery and murder, eventually being convicted and sentenced to prison. They grew up mere blocks apart, amidst almost identical circumstances, but in spite of the similarity in their names, their life choices ultimately led to two entirely different outcomes. Gives you pause to wonder doesn’t it?

Below are some books on names, their history and their meanings, which you can find on the shelves of DCPL.

Baby Names Around the World by Bruce Lansky

The African Book of Names: 5,000 + Common and Uncommon Names from the African Continent by Askhari Hodari

The New Jewish Baby Book: Names, Ceremonies & Customs: A Guide for Today’s Families by Anita Diamant

The Perfect Baby Name: A Proven Plan for Choosing a Name You’ll Love by Jeanine Cox

The Art of Baby Nameology: Explore the Deeper Meaning of Names for Your Baby by Norma J Watts

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Sep 21 2015

National Voter Registration Day

by Glenda

Register to VoteNational Voter Registration Day is September 22, 2015.  Across our wonderful nation Americans will celebrate this day by registering to vote. National Voter Registration Day started in 2012. In its inaugural year, 300,000 voters registered to vote on that day. Hundreds of local, state and national organizations participate in National Voter Registration Day. Did you know that the state of Georgia provides online voter registration, or that you can come to any DeKalb County Public Library and get a voter registration form any time the library is open? Did you know that it is your right as an American citizen to vote? So vote!

For more information, see our Voting and Elections subject guide.


I used to think that I only liked stories.  Give me a good novel any day, but if a book was found in the nonfiction section, then I wanted nothing to do with it.

Now, with the authors of narrative nonfiction telling so many crazy facts in a wide range of styles, I’ve had to change my mind.  Nonfiction done well is just as entertaining as a novel, and you can even impress your friends with some new facts when you’re done reading.

devilErik Larson introduced me to narrative nonfiction with his The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.  Fascinating… and creepy! This is a tough story about a serial killer on the loose during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair —I wanted to think it was fiction, but Larson’s meticulous research proves otherwise.  Don’t try this one if you are easily rattled.  Considering Larson’s other subjects include devastating hurricanes, sinking ships, and the rise of Nazi Germany, if you don’t like a serious subject with some dark themes, you’d best stay away.

Try Mary Roach instead.  She tackles a variety of science subjects—gulpspace travel, digestion, human cadavers—with a witty and irreverent tone that makes strange topics accessible and appealing.  Start with Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.

Travel writing has long been a mainstay of narrative nonfiction, and one of my favorite authors is John Steinbeck.  How wonderful for me that he decided to write about one of his road trips!  Travels with Charley: In travelsSearch of America is the story of Steinbeck’s 1960 road trip through almost 40 states in his pickup truck with his dog Charley.  While not light subject matter—Steinbeck witnessed firsthand the difficulties of desegregation in the South, for example—this book paints a fascinating picture of America and of the author himself.

So if you’ve been stuck on novels, give one of these a try.  I’m glad I did.


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Sep 8 2015

All Cats, All the Time

by Hope L


Recently, a person who works behind my library branch found a litter of kittens under his car.  He came to the library to ask for ideas or for help, and naturally the staff directed him to moi, the resident Cat Lady.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love cats. We have four of our own–two senior citizens and two juvenile delinquents that some like to call kittens. But I am not looking to rescue six more cats.  Although, I must admit, I did the math and came up with ten cats and thought to myself, “Hmmm … cheaper by the dozen?”  NOT!

But as I followed the man asking for help and saw the poor little things under the car, and their mother was purring and rubbing up against my legs. I just couldn’t leave them.  After all, the man needed to go somewhere and couldn’t back his car out, now could he?

So, of course, we boxed up the felines and I ended up at the nearby animal shelter and asked if there was room at the inn, and natch, there was not. They offered me medical care for the cats and asked if I would foster the family until they could be adopted. “Why, sure,” I said, wondering to myself how long it would take for my spouse to file for divorce. Yes, we would take the kitties, I planned, and our four could reside upstairs and these wildish six downstairs, which would make 10 cats altogether.

Now, after you wrap your mind around that, keep in mind that Mama cat was quite friendly at our first meeting, even allowing us to place her and her brood into a cat carrier that I just happened to have at-the-ready at the branch, just in case a wandering cat happened along again in the parking lot, as they often do.

Now, Mama was actually purring and rubbing up against my leg at home in our basement when she bit my ankle. It just drew just a bit of blood, which did not concern me too much.  “Just a little love bite,” I said to myself. The next time, though, she sank her fangs into my forearm, leaving a bruise and a full six-teeth mark that bled impressively. “Nope. Not a love bite–this is clearly a warning: ‘Stay away from my children –  or I’ll cut you!'”

Fiercely protective, that one. But she needn’t worry because her kids will be well-taken care of and, more probably, spoiled rotten.  And luckily for you cat lovers out there, DeKalb County Animal Shelter is running a September “Fall in Love” adoption special through September. All dog, cat, kitten and puppy adoptions are free.

Well, I can’t finish now without recommending a few books, too. Check them out at DCPL.

Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan

The Complete Cat’s Meow: Everything You Need to Know about Caring for Your Cat by Darlene Arden

The Everything Cat Book [eBook]: All You Need to Know about Caring for Your Favorite Feline Friends by Karen Leigh Davis


Sep 4 2015

This weekend, don’t forget…

by Dea Anne M

The annual AJC Decatur Book Festival will take place this coming weekend and it is an event that you surely won’t want to miss. This year’s key speaker is Erica Jong who will appear in conversation with flyingRoxanne Gay at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts starting at 8:00 p.m. on Friday September 4th, although a quick check reveals to me that the event badis now sold out. Erica Jong is, of course, the author of the notorious novel Fear of Flying, which celebrated its 40th anniversary two years ago. She is as well a noted poet and also has published books of essays including Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir. Her new book (on order now at DCPL) is Fear of Dying. Roxane Gay is the author of the provocative book of essays Bad Feminist.

The festival has offerings for every range of ages and interests. Tracks include Business and Marketing, Personal Journeys, and Healthy and Local. Every year includes programming for childrenboss as well as teens. The Decatur branch of the Dekalb County Public Library will provide the stage for a series of programs presented by WABE. Featured are Paul Downs, author of Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business, with a special look at local arts publishing powerhouse (now sadly gone) Nexus Press hosted by ArtsATL, and a special presentation honoring the winners of the 2015 Lillian Smith Awards.

Clearly, the festival offers something for everyone. See a complete schedule here.


Sep 2 2015

Final Nightmare

by Joseph M

Noted filmmaker Wes Craven died last week after a battle with cancer. Horror movie enthusiasts will almost certainly be familiar with Craven’s work as the creator of the Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream franchises, among other works. I must admit that I’m not the biggest fan of horror movies in general, and part of that may be attributable to being terrified by Freddy Krueger when I was younger. Craven’s films may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his influence on the genre is undeniable. Although DCPL does not carry some of his more infamous films, we have a few books that can give you more information about his life and work, including Screams and Nightmares: The Films of Wes Craven by Brian J. Robb. If you are interested in his work with the written word, check out Fountain Society, his first book. Want more? Just type in Wes Craven in the “Any Word(s)” search field of our catalog for a listing of other related works.

I’ll leave you with this link to a eulogy in montage format from Time.com; just a warning, you might want to turn your speakers down a bit. Enjoy!