Monday, September 29, 2014

I cannot resist

Yes, this is going to be an entire blog post about nothing other than the incomparable, amazing, Caitlin Moran.
Were to even start...well, to be honest, I could go on and on about her, but many of you, I suspect, have not yet been introduced to Moran.  Today is indeed your lucky day.
A friend gave me a copy of Moran's book How to be a Woman just over a year ago and it has not left me since, though I have shared it with many.  I laughed out loud until tears came to my eyes more than once while reading this book.  It is quite possibly a terrible book to read in a library, coffee shop, or other such places where quiet or some level of reserve is expected.  The looks you will get...but that's part of what makes it beyond fabulous.
This book  is not a novel but rather one outspoken British comedian's rendition of what the modern woman is, or should be.  Moran takes on the delicate and indelicate topics about women as a whole, addressing everything from shaving to the pornography industry with an easy aplomb that will leave you smiling, angry, and impassioned to make this world that we live in a better place for woman as a whole.  A few tidbits from this book are pictured here. 
But why am I writing about Ms. Moran today?  Well, because her next book is finally here!  And like the first, it is taking the world by storm.  This summer, a couple of us had the marvelous pleasure of reading her first novel, How to Build a Girl, and were definitely not disappointed.  It's anxiously awaited print debut is here. It's in the Library.  You can check it out in print or audio format.  Don't wait, run to the shelves now and get your copy.

Oh wait, you want to know what it is first...can you feel our excitement about this book?  The main character of this novel, 14 year old Johanna, is actually a typical teen struggling with a family that is struggling in its own rights.  As the oldest daughter with an out-of-work father and a mother struggling with depression, she finds herself drowning under the weight of caring for her younger siblings and trying to make her life look more like something that she wants it to be.  Johanna does what so many of us have always wanted to do.  She takes off and builds a new life from scratch, including giving herself a new name, image, identity, and a cause to fight for.  "I want to be a self-made woman. I want to conjure myself out of every sparkling, fast-moving thing I can see.  I want to be the creator of me. I'm gonna begat myself."  This witty, sarcastic, tale of a girl becoming a woman in her own way is full of grit, tenacity, and hilarity.  Johanna's journey will shock you, endear her to you, and feel all too familiar as she speaks with a voice that rages aloud the thoughts and ideas that have been in your own minds.  It is absolutely not to be missed.

And of course, we love Caitlin Moran because she understands just how important reading and libraries truly are.  To read more Moran, check out her weekly column on The Times website.
If you like her, we also recommend the following books:
The Year of Yes by Maria Dahvana Headley
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And more about the banned....

There is so much I could say about this week.  To put it simply, there is too much beauty in the world, in shared experiences, in small moments, in the pain and life of the everyday experience that you or the person standing next to you to ignore.  Books capture this.  Writers capture this beauty.  They inspire us, challenge us, delight us, and teach how to make it through or to be better.  And sometimes, a book simply turns a large mirror onto a truth that we do not want to face. When a book does all of or even some of this, there are those out there who fear it.  The reaction to ban it, to deny others access to it has resulted in what we now celebrate as Banned Books Week.
And I say, what these books capture, bring to light, show us time and again is beautiful.  Just like one of the picture that I came across this week made for the celebration of the freedom to read.

Check out more of these beautiful pics about Banned Books compiled by Huffington Post.

Or take a moment this week and watch a video on the ALA Virtual Read-Out channel.  I just cannot get enough of these videos.  There are so many fabulous ones.  If you like books, authors, comedy, or pretty much if you are breathing, you will enjoy these.  Scroll and find your favorites...
Some of the best that we liked:
Markus Zusak - of course!
Sherman Alexie - best job of pointing out the ridiculousness of book banning in true Alexie style
Laurie Halse Anderson - fabulous
Khaled Hosseini
Ellen Hopkins and Laini Taylor are both worth watching.
And this year would be totally incomplete without hearing Lois Lowry and Jeff Bridges.
...this list could get really quite fast. 

Or Better yet, come any night this week at 7 p.m. to the Library and listen to some live banned book reading.  I know you'll enjoy it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week!!

Every year, the TVCC Library joins with the American Library Association and libraries across the United States in celebrating Banned Books Week. This year, BBW is September 22nd thru the 26th.
What is Banned Books Week? Most of us have heard of banning books or burning books in an historical context... something you may have read in a history textbook yet doesn't seem relevant today. What many don't realize is the practice of banning books (removing them from libraries and school curriculum) still happens today. Not only does it still happen, but it is happening in the United States.
Part of our American character is that this country was founded on certain fundamental freedoms we all have which are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.  As a society we celebrate those freedoms, stand on them, defend them. One of those freedoms is the Freedom to Read, which means the freedom to read, to think, to speak, and to choose. Book banning defies that freedom by removing access to books or other materials because individuals may find some of the content offensive.
The list of books that have been challenged or removed from library shelves over the years is astounding. For example, the American Dictionary was removed from a library because some of the words defined were deemed inappropriate to all readers. Little Red Riding Hood by the Grimm brothers was removed from school libraries because,
"The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol."

This week please join with us in celebrating your freedom to read and choose for yourselves what you like to read.  What to expect...
  • You will find lots of information about banned books and a great selection of them in the Library.  
  • We will be hosting a public read-aloud event each evening Monday thru Thursday in the Library from 7-9.  Come listen to live reading by some of our TVCC staff and faculty or read yourself from your favorite banned book.  
  • Watch the ALA YouTube channel to hear other banned book readers and authors in the Library throughout the week. 
  • Enter the Library's BBW contest here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or in the Library itself and be entered to win prizes throughout the week! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

For the athletes

This reading list is dedicated to the athlete in you who is inspired by those who work hard, who fight for a dream, who set aside themselves to work as a team...
These titles are funny, inspiring, and well worth reading.

Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.- an absolutely wonderful read about a runner who is kicked off of the team for protesting unfair practices by the college he runs for.  It is a powerful story about commitment to health, to sport, to truth, and to one's own beliefs.  A must read.

The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - this year's best-selling sensation chronicles the American team's quest for excellence and of course the gold medal during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. 
The Natural by Bernard Malamund - And then there is the story of The of the great baseball stories of all time...which is so much better than the movie.  No Robert Redford, but this is a great book.

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger - Pulitzer Prize winning Bissinger chronicles a realistic look into small town America and the obsession one town has with winning the football state championships.  Brilliant and relevant.

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand - Okay, truthfully, all we can say is if you have yet to read this awesome and inspiring story, you are missing out.  It will have you gripped from page one following this crazy fascinating tale of utter faith and hope.  Believing in something, fighting for a dream...this is the book that shows us how.

The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost

Women Who Win: stories of sports and life

You Let Some GIRL Beat You? the Story of Ann Myers Drysdale - capturing the magnificent story of one of the greatest basketball players of all time, according to her former coach Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, this book shows the challenges and drive one woman faced because she just wanted to play basketball with the best even if it meant being on a team where women were not allowed or have ever asked to be.

Red and Me: my coach and lifelong friend by Bill Russell - Bill and Red?  Basketball legends?  What more need we say?  You will laugh out loud, be amazed, and utterly astounded.  Basketball players or lovers of the game alike need to read this one.

Born to Run: a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has ever seen by Christopher McDougall - Yes, we would be absolutely remiss if we did not mention this one.  An absolute must read on any list of books but especially this one.

Yes, we could go on there are so many but these are really the cream of the crop.  Come check one out today and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Sometimes human places create inhuman monsters"

Quoting the incomparable Stephen King, and for those of you who like a little thrill, here's our summer reading list of our favorite monster books.  These are guaranteed to make your pulse quicken and have you holding your breath until the very last page.  For a thrill, we recommend any of these titles.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Yes, seriously.  This would not be a real monster list if we did not start with this one.
It by Stephen King
Monster by Frank Peretti - this noted Christian author will have you up late at night desperate to finish this book.  He will also leave you questioning what you know, what you think you know, and what is real or just your fear.  And if you like this one, equally terrifying and fantastic to read is Peretti's The Oath.
World War Z: an oral history of the zombie war by Max Brooks
I am Legend by Steven Niles - The world's population has all but been extinct by a vampire virus.  Only one man has survived.  Faced with keeping himself alive, he battles vampires, the question of what caused the epidemic, and the question of what to do next pulls readers from page to page in an intellectual and heart-racing thriller.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells - still timeless in its perfect ability to truly capture fear in the heart of every audience with the unknown, Wells spins and weave a tale of the monster only your own mind can create.  Without details or description, he manages to keep you on the edge of your seat page after page in this all too realistic scenario of an alien invasion.

The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice
Watchers by Dean Koontz
The Historian  by Elizabeth Kostova - Yes, this one is a vampire book, but it is so very much more.  After finding a mysterious book in her late father's library, a young woman finds herself on a journey to discover the truth behind what happened to her parents...a journey that leads her through historical archives and libraries to the truth behind the legend of Dracula...a journey both fascinating and terrifying.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The beauty of the everyday

There's the inescapable compulsion to read books that pull us out of our lives, that allow us to travel to places and times new and exciting, to take us on journeys we could never imagine going on, to experience something new.  And yet, so many books aren't about the unknown.  Instead, they capture glimpses of ordinary lives...moments that allow us, the readers, to see as beautiful even extraordinary.  And yet those moments are quite normal and ordinary. These writers have transposed on the page the lives of their characters, people like you or I, but do so in a way that allows us to see the beauty and amazing light that can be found in that ordinary moment, in the everyday of life.  Try out any of these summer reading picks.  They are guaranteed to lift you out of your world, allow you to escape into another, and will leave you with a better appreciation and a new perspective on your own.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler - This book is about the connections and strengths that we can find in ordinary people, even those who are nothing like us.  Following the tragic albeit funny life of Macon Leary, a man who makes a living writing for travel magazines but oddly despises traveling, the charm of this novel happens when he meets the crazy, eccentric Muriel.  She is a dog trainer and more than a little odd, but you will fall in love with the way that she turns Macon's life upside down and somehow helps him to find himself in the process.

Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg - If you haven't read Elizabeth Berg yet, this is a fabulous book to start with.Okay, really, any of her novels are fabulous.  Range of Motion is about a young man and his wife.  He is in a coma after a sudden accident with the world doubting that he will recover.  She is the only one who seems to still hope and believe in his recovery.  This is a truly beautiful and moving look at remembering, healing, loving, and finding joy or even peace in the small moments of everyday.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen - Yes, another of our favorite authors who writes remarkable and compelling stories.  Mary Beth is a mother, a wife, keeper of a home, and content with the carefully built life that she has...until one act of violence rocks her entire world to the core.  You will gasp aloud, hold your breath from one moment to the next, and find yourself loving the moments in both her life and yours.  Guaranteed this one you will like.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - For the more adventurous at heart, this novel is one you'll not want to miss.  Scientist Dr. Marina Singh has to go to the Amazon rainforest to find her friend and mentor who has disappeared.  She was working on the development of a new drug that wold be greatly important to today's world.  Marina is placed greatly out of her comfort zone as she traverses the beauties and the dangers of the forest.  While reading this, you will find the yourself enthralled with the majestic backdrop of the story.  But there's so much more to this story.  It is also about science...about the hope of what science can do and the costs that factor into any discovery.  Simply breathtaking to read.

Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah - More than anything, this novel is about choices.  Beginning with the choice of two young girls who are as unlike each other as they are in social standing but choose to become friends.  As their lives go from one choice to the next, through college, career, relationships, and the consequences that come with each, these two friends will see each other through learning as much from their friendship as they do from their mistakes.  I have to say, that I picked up a Kristen Hannah novel on a whim and found that every page held me and surprised me with the tenderness and vulnerability in her characters.  Every novel of hers has held true to that since.

These ladies all hold unmitigated writing styles and any of their novels or non-fiction works are not only well worth the read but will keep you wanting more.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Roasted, fresh herbs, sweet creams, rich flavors

For comfort, to sustain, to indulge, or just because it is delicious, we all have a weak spot for exceptional food.  This list includes some titles that will feed your taste buds and your reading bug at the same time.  They are as mouthwatering as they are entertaining.

How to cook a tart by Nina Killham - "Cookbook author Jasmine March's life is like a perfect...her husband, Daniel, has taken up with one of his Zone-dieting drama students; Careme, her daughter, is bent on starving herself to death; and Jasmine's fellow foodies have had just about enough of her astronomically caloric recipes. To make matters worse, her publisher is threatening to cancel her contract. And then there's the small matter of the dead body she finds one morning on her kitchen floor." (from  If you aren't tempted yet...just read the first chapter and you'll be hooked.

Julie & Julia: my year of cooking dangerously by Julie Powell -full of charm, mishaps, determination, a little romance, and a lot of more than one variety...

Delancey: a man, a woman, a restaurant, a marriage by Molly Wizenberg -  "When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, she vowed always to support him, to work with him to make their hopes and dreams real. She evinced enthusiasm about Brandon's enthusiasms: building a violin, building a boat, and opening an ice cream store--none of which came to pass. So when Brandon started making plans to open a pizza restaurant, Molly felt sure that the restaurant would join the list of Brandon's abandoned projects. When she finally realized that Delancey really was going to happen, that Brandon was going to change all of her assumptions about what their married life would be like, it was too late. She faced the first crisis in their young marriage. Opening a restaurant is not like hosting a dinner party every night. Molly and Brandon's budget was small, and the tasks at hand were often overhwelming. They had to find a space they could afford, gut renovate it themselves, find second-hand furniture and equipment, build what furniture they couldn't find, buy and install a wood-burning oven, pass health inspections, hire staff, and establish a billing and payroll system. They lost a financial partner. Their cook disappeared the day they opened. Still, their restaurant was a success, and Molly managed to convince herself that she was happy in their new life. Until Halloween night, when she was forced to admit she could no longer pretend. While Delancey is a funny and frank look at behind-the-scenes restaurant life, it is also a bravely honest and moving portrait of a tender young marriage and two partners who had to find out how to let each other go in order to come together" (from publisher)

Cooking for Mr. Latte: a food lover's courtship with recipes by Amanda Hesser - Ms. Hesser is fantastic!  She is today's woman.  A lady who likes the good things in life, wants to catch a man, and was raised to believe that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  After meeting a man who may just be Mr. Right at a coffee shop, Amanda undergoes a ridiculously hilarious venture into the world of cooking complete with every mistake possible and learning a lot about herself in the process.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes - "Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. In Under the Tuscan Sun, she brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table" (from publisher)

The New Great American Writer's Cookbook - a cookbook of recipes and anecdotes by your favorite literary giants including Patricia Cornwell, Anna Quindlen, Sandra Brown, Fannie Flagg, Ann Patchett...and the list goes on.  Light.  Fun.  Delicious.

Chocolat by Joann Harris - though this book doesn't have the recipes, it is a beautiful romance and story of personal exploration that is destined to leave your mouth watering and your heart full.

And after you read one of these, you'll want to stop by our cook book section and check out at least one of the scrumptious cookbooks we have abounding in delicious recipes for every taste, ethnicity, diet, and desire.  Seriously, we do have the Chocolate & Coffee cookbook.  Imagine what else you'll find on our shelves.