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


Aug 12 2011

ShareReads: Looking for Calvin

by David T

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

Though it had a comparatively short life on the comics page, ending its original run more than 15 years ago, Calvin and Hobbes still has a tremendous following. As a longtime fan of the strip, I was intrigued by Nevin Martell’s Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip.

C&H creator Bill Watterson is an intensely private man who has succeeded in doing something quite unusual for a famous person in 21st century America – he has largely kept his personal life out of the media. He seldom gives interviews, discourages interest in himself as opposed to his work, and maintains his integrity to a degree for which he has sometimes been criticized. He turned away millions of dollars by refusing to allow his syndicate to license Calvin and Hobbes merchandise, and ended the strip early rather than see it outlive its freshness and originality.

Not surprisingly, Watterson chose not to give his biographer an interview, or otherwise participate in the creation of Martell’s book. That could have been a fatal blow to the book, but it’s not. Martell visited Watterson’s hometown, met people who knew him, including his mother, and interviewed many other cartoonists, most of whom hold Watterson’s work in high esteem. The result is a book that tells those of us who love Calvin and Hobbes a little more about how it came into being, explains why it stands out as something special, and, best of all, encourages us to revisit the strips themselves. In addition to Martell’s book, DCPL has more than a dozen collections of C&H strips; if you haven’t checked them out, you’re in for a treat. Don’t miss the ones in which Calvin shows his own unique uses for libraries and reference librarians!

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Jul 20 2011

A Book By Any Other Name…

by Joseph M

When you see a book at the library or bookstore and want to know more about it, do you ever wish you could get beyond the vague summaries and overenthusiastic blurbs on the cover jacket and find out what the story is *really* about? If so, Better Book Titles may be right up your alley. Here’s a description from the website: This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!

Featured books include classics, modern best-sellers, and children’s books. While I would take issue with a few of the proposed title revisions, I found the majority of entries to be clever and amusing, and hopefully you will too!


May 9 2011

Mark Your Calendar!

by Greg H

It’s human nature.  When one holiday passes, we’re quick to scan the calendar for when our next one will be, paying special attention to those holidays that mean a day off from work.  But what if you can’t wait a whole month for Memorial Day? Just do a quick search on the internet and you can find lots of other observances and minor holidays to celebrate in the  interim. Some last a day, some just a week, some get a  full month,  but  many are thought-provoking while others are funny and, no doubt intentionally, ridiculous.  For example, May 16-20 is National Bike to Work Week. All that extra bicycling may have led to the creation of  Cover the Uninsured Week, which follows from May 21-28.  Melanoma Monday is always the first Monday in May. I’m all for increased awareness of any serious disease but it is unfortunate that their big day sounds like a Bangles song.  My personal favorite is May 4th’s  Respect for Chickens Day. It turns out that chickens don’t at all mind winding up deep-fried and served up with cole slaw as long as we don’t take them for granted. May 4th is also Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you…get it?  Imagine Obiwan with a lisp.) The very next day is Martin Z. Mollusk Day in Ocean City.  Basically it’s Groundhog Day but with a hermit crab (which, FYI,  is not a mollusk) in place of Punxsutawney Phil.  May eleventh is Eat What You Want Day which, without knowing it, I observe every day.  Tuba Day and No Pants Day share the first Friday in May.   Be wary of anyone celebrating either but turn and run if you see anyone celebrating both!  So you see, there is no dearth of people, places and events to celebrate.  Just don’t expect your boss to green light  your leave request for National Sea Monkey Day (May 16).

May is also Get Caught Reading Month so be sure to visit your local library or your book shelves at home and read in plain sight.


Jul 12 2010

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

by Jesse M

Most of us are familiar with the expository phrase, “ It was a dark and stormy night“. It has been utilized by a number of authors over the better part of the past two centuries, including such notables as Ray Bradbury (in Let’s All Kill Constance) and Madeleine L’Engle (in A Wrinkle in Time). But did you know that the famous opening line is actually the beginning of a much longer sentence? Here it is in its entirety:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

The quote comes from a book published in 1830 titled Paul Clifford by author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. The sentence is a prime example of what is referred to in literary criticism as “purple prose“, which wikipedia describes as “passages…written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself”.
Back in 1982, a professor in the English department of San Jose University began a contest named in honor of the author, wherein entrants compete to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. Since its inception the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has grown to feature multiple competitive categories (such as detective, science fiction, and children’s lit, among many others) and thousands of submissions. This year’s winner is author Molly Ringle and here is her winning entry for your reading enjoyment:

“For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.”

If you enjoyed that, go here check out the rest of this year’s winners as well as (dis)honorable mentions. And to read a “Lyttony” of grand prize winners from previous contest, go here.

Do you have a favorite bit of purple prose you’d like to share? Post it in the comments, or even try composing your own!