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

April 2018

Apr 30 2018

How to Find a Book

by Dea Anne M

bookspostI worked as a bookseller for a number of years and I’d have to say that the most rewarding aspect of that job for me was helping my customers pick out great books to read. Of course a lot of folks would come in knowing already what they wanted to purchase (“Do you have the latest John Grisham?” Where are your yoga books?” “Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Harry Potter!”), but more people than you might think want to have books recommended to them. Not to brag (except that, of course, I’m bragging), but I took a lot of pride in my ability to ask the right questions in order to guide my customer to just the right book.

Not so for a co-worker of mine at another store (at the time I was working for a small local chain of “neighborhood” bookstores). This guy was famous for his love of the thriller genre. I mean that’s all he ever read. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has their preferences. The problem was that thrillers were all that he’d ever recommend…to anybody. I’d heard this about him, but I’m not sure that I completely believed it (how could a devoted bookseller be so wedded to a genre?) until he filled in at my store for a week. It was true! Whatever the customer’s expressed preference – lush romance, civil war novels, the hardest of sci-fi – he’d show them all the same thriller that he’d been raving about all week – let’s call it “Be Very Afraid!”

Me – “That lady asked for an historical romance set in late 1800’s Colorado.”

Him – “Yeah. So?”

Me – “You showed her “Be Very Afraid!”

Him – “She wanted a good book and that’s a good book!”

Me – “So if someone came through that door right now and wanted a good book for her seven year old nephew who loves dinosaurs, color wheels and knock-knock jokes would you show her “Be Very Afraid?”

Him – “It’s never too early to get kids hooked on quality fiction!”

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture.

Now some of you might look at the title of this post and think “Well, gee, she works in a library! How hard can it be to find a book? Just go to the shelf!” I can assure you that even when surrounded by books it can often be difficult to find just the right one. Luckily, DCPL is here to help.

tub

Sometimes you might just want to know what other people have read and enjoyed because the odds are pretty good that you might enjoy it too.  In Ten Years In the Tub , novelist Nick Hornby chronicles his own pursuit of the pleasures of reading. He talks about the books he has read and loved, the books that he’s purchased then shelved never to be picked up again, and those books hurled across the room in anger or set down in bored indifference. You might get new reading ideas from this very gifted writer – plus he’s very, bookshelfvery funny.

My Ideal Bookshelf Thessaly La Force (editor) and Jane Mount (illustrator) is a charming idea, and beautifully executed. La Force invited authors, chefs and other luminaries (Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Waters and James Patterson to name a few) to name the books that have been the most important in shaping their lives. Mount then created charming paintings featuring the spines of said books. Also included is commentary from each contributor illuminating the personal importance of each title. This is a gorgeous coffee table that might just inspire some new choices for you.reads

Sometimes you want your book to be more of a snack than a seven-course meal. For those times, you’ll want to peruse 100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover’s Guide by David C. Major and John C. Majors. As you might suspect from the title, the book surveys a number of very short books – both fiction and non-fiction. It’s clear that the Majors brothers are deep readers with a breadth of interest. The summary of each title is succinct, while still compelling, and the authors often include biographical information on the author and some of the publishing history as well. It’s true that the most recently published recommendation is probably Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf: A New Verse Translation but that shouldn’t deter you. Classics are, after all, classic for a reason.

magicFinally, we come to a fabulous tool that’s available to you through DCPL’s website. This wonder is NoveList Plus (scroll down under Books and Literature and click NoveList Plus link) and you’ll find it among our reference databases . You can use NoveList Plus to search for potential great reads in all sorts of useful ways. I happen to love Elizabeth Hand’s novel Waking the Moon and NoveList Plus provides me with a handy list of “Title Read-alikes” such as Counterfeit Magic by Kelly Armstrong. I can also look up “Author Read-alikes” to find authors who share a similar style such as Stephen Baxter.  I can also search for books that I might enjoy by inputting appeal terms that mirror aspects of Hand’s work flightsuch as “complex” (character), “atmospheric” (tone) and “richly detailed” (writing style). This brings up suggestions like Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver and The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks.  You can search by genre or by audience (adult, teen, ages 9-12 and ages 0-8). You can specify books of a certain lexile range or narrow your search to authors of a specific cultural identity. You can even use NoveList Plus to look for non-fiction. I can’t recommend this tool highly enough if you’re looking for your next great read. And if you work in a library (like me!) NoveList Plus is one of the best tools out there that you can use to find good books for your patrons.

How do you find a book?

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Apr 23 2018

A Room Of One’s Own

by Camille B

Cosy Room 2I remember seeing a TV commercial some years ago where a mother was desperately trying  to find a little peace and quiet from her little ones. Seeking refuge in the restroom, she sat there for a few minutes with the door closed trying to catch her breath. But it wasn’t long before she looked down to see tiny fingers wiggling beneath the restroom door, trying to get her attention once again.

We can all relate to reaching that level of exhaustion where we need to just take some time away to breathe. And even though we may not be dealing with small kids on a daily basis, we know when our mental batteries are drained and need recharging.

When we’ve had a horrible day, sat in traffic for hours, got flipped off by an impatient driver, picked up the kids late from school- again, forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner, the list goes on and on.

But where do you go to find that alone time? Where is that sacred place that’s yours and yours alone? Where you can hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and have it respected? Where is your place you can kick off your shoes and unwind, preferably with a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee or tea?

Some of you are probably laughing to yourself, wondering “Is she serious? I can barely take a restroom break for a full five minutes without being interrupted, much less find time for, what is it? Rest and Relaxation?”

And it’s understandable that we feel this way, with the whirlwind of life around us. Slowing down or stopping for anything “me related”  seems like such a luxury, and many women claim to feel that twinge of guilt when they step back for a moment to take care of anything that doesn’t involve their family or loved ones–like that mother probably must have when she saw the tiny fingers peeping under the bathroom door.

The truth is though, we’re no good to ourselves or anyone else when we get like this. Stress left unchecked can lead to other health problems in the long run such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. According to an article in the Huffington Post “Having your own space—where you can think, dream, ponder, plan and create, or just be—is essential in our fast-paced, over-connected world.”

Still the question remains, where is that place that we go when we need to retreat and refuel? Daddy has his Man Cave, the kids have their game rooms or tree houses. And let’s face it, they would be contented just about anywhere as long as they have their smart phones with them.

What is the woman’s version of a Man Cave? And if one more person says it’s the kitchen, I’ll scream. Because I’m betting you that as much as Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray love their kitchens, it is not the place they go when they need to relax and unwind.

She Sheds are now becoming quite popular with women everywhere, and before I began writing this post I had actually never heard of them. They are apparently the woman’s version of a Man Cave and women are becoming very creative with building their own. So if you have the space and resources, this might be the way to create your getaway. Check out She sheds: a room of your own by Erika Kotite at your DCPL branch for interesting ideas for this project.

But having your own space doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a She Shed, nor does it have to be an entire room, although that would be ideal. It could be just a nook or cranny, an unused storage room or closet, whatever space you have available in the home. Not all of us have the luxury of a backyard shed or greenhouse that we can turn into that idyllic place, but we all have a place in the house where we can set up our own sanctuary.

In his book A Room of Her Own: women’s personal spaces, Chris Madden shows you how you can use whatever space you have to create that level of comfort you want. A review on Amazon describes the book: Full-color photography and a charming text capture the special places that women have created as retreats from busy daily routines and offer creative and inspirational decorating ideas to help transform one’s dream room into reality. 

Maybe you’ve had it at the back of your mind for a long time to create that reading room, or crafting room. A place where you can take a mental holiday, exercise, light a scented candle and pray or meditate, do yoga, take a nap, or unplug. But somehow you haven’t gotten around to it as yet. Here’s hoping that the seed of an idea has been replanted once again and that you’ll be inspired to start wherever you are, using whatever you have. Because we all deserve to have a room of our own.

 

Check out these titles at DCPL:

 

Book

 

 

A room of her own: women’s personal spaces– Chris Casson Madden

 

Book 2

 

 

 

Small Spaces /the editors of House Beautiful magazine

 

Book

 

 

 

500 ideas for small spaces: Kimberly Seldon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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