prayers-for-saleHennie Comfort has lived in the mining settlement of Middle Swan, located in mountains of Colorado, for more than 70 years. As she begins contemplating moving down the mountain to live with her daughter, she passes on the stories of her life to her new friend, young Nit Spindle, who’s recently arrived in the isolated town.

Set during the hardscrabble years of the Great Depression, Hennie’s stories, like one of the beautiful quilts she stitches, are made up of all kinds of material – joyful, tragic, laugh-out-loud funny. Life in the mining town is hard – the work in the mine is dangerous, the weather is often harsh and luxuries are few.

Prayers for Sale follows Hennie’s many tales – the death of her first husband in the Civil War and the death of the second in the mines, the loss of children, the love of her mountain home – as well the stories of her often colorful friends and neighbors. Hennie shows no prejudice, becoming friends with people from all walks of life, guarding their secrets and keeping their stories. Hennie has secrets of her own – watch for a surprise twist at the end of the book. This oral history, while unique to this small town, is universal in it’s themes of love, friendship and survival. You’ll be glad you visited.

May 5th

curiousCurious Case of Benjamin Button – Brad Pitt, Tilda Swintson

Benjamin Button was a not-so-ordinary man who began his life under unusual circumstances. Born in his eighties, and unable to stop time, he continued to age backwards. His life story is detailed from the end of World War I in 1918 and into the 21st century, when he discovered a love that lasted beyond time. IMDB

wendyWendy and Lucy – Will Patton, Michelle Williams

Wendy is a down-on-her-luck girl who’s hoping to turn things around for herself with a summer job in Alaska, but finds herself stranded with no money in a small Oregon town. IMDB

May 19

paulPaul Blart, Mall Cop – Kevin James

A mild-mannered security guard gets his chance to show the world what he is made of when a heist shuts down the mall complex and he becomes the police department’s eyes on the inside. His sense of duty prompts him to try to save the day all by himself and prove that an average Joe can make a difference.

valkyrieValkyrie – Tom Cruise

Based on the incredible true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and his ingenious assassination plot targeting Adolf Hitler, this engrossing thriller reenacts the daring operation to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants the world has ever known.

I have to give  credit where credit is due; this idea was posted on a list serve by Glenda Mulder from Laurens (Iowa) Public Library.  Thanks for sharing Glenda!

susan-boyleGiven the You-Tube popularity of the Britain’s Got Talent segment, I thought I’d share the idea with you as well.  (If you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen this video clip  of Susan Boyle yet, drop everything and do so now.  It will make your day and let you look at life in a whole new way!)

As I was pulling items for this display, I realized (to my dismay) that I, too, am guilty of judging a book by it’s cover.  Since our selectors do a top-notch job of weeding, I thought there might be slim pickins.  Instead, what I discovered was a wonderful wealth of the old classics — books like Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and James Joyce’s Ulysses and Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark.  These books date back to the days when well-loved copies were sent to be rebound — not that we don’t do that anymore, just not as much!  Most of them have plain covers, with no pictures or glossy photographs or even the title!  But open them up and the magic is still inside.

magazinesIt was a wonderful Sunday to spend outdoors, provided you’re the star of a murder mystery set in turn of the century London.  Idle away the afternoons of the April-May monsoon season with a couple picks from DPL.

If you have the attention span of a gnat and enjoy nonfiction like myself, it’s a good time to skim through Best American Essays 2008.  Here an editor has reviewed and picked the best of this genre.  You know, the kinds of thought pieces the Quad-City sophisticates and literati chortle over at all the premiere area intellectual salons.

We buy an edition every year, as well as Best American Magazine WritingBest Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Short Stories.  Think how many of those little advertiser cards would get strewn on your floor had you actually parsed through each magazine.

cooking-greenWe’ve all become very aware of our environment, it’s perilous condition and how we impact it every day. Many of us have taken steps to reduce this “carbon footprint” by recycling, using less energy, cutting back where we can. But have you considered your “cookprint”?

In Cooking Green Kate Heyhoe explains that your cookprint is the environmental impact produced by your kitchen, then clearly advises you on how to reduce yours. A lot of her ideas are common sense – buying Energy Star appliances for instance – but some are techniques you may not be familiar with. For instance, she advocates passive cooking which takes advantage of residual heat – start your lasagna in a cold oven, then turn it off 15 minutes early leaving the oven door closed till finished. You’re still cooking the foods you want, just doing it smarter.

Heyhoe looks at each zone in the kitchen (cooking, cleaning, refrigerating) and discusses the best green alternatives. She also talks about the food itself – buy local as much as possible, consider the impact of production and transportation of other foods, eat more plants than animals. She explores the higher environmental costs of meat and seafood, but offers smart, simple ways to reduce their negative impact.

Of course, who would go green in the kitchen if there wasn’t anything good to eat? Heyhoe addresses that too, including 50 delicious recipes, from main course to vegetables to desert, with tips and ideas on the best way to prepare them. Each recipe has a “green meter” which tells you exactly what you’re saving (in energy, time and money) The dishes are simple and practical and would be a great way to help you take advantage of seasonal foods from the farmer’s markets.

This fun and fascinating book will entertain and educate the cook and non-cook alike.

national-parksOr explore a historic house. Or visit one of the natural wonders of this country. Celebrate National Parks Week (April 18-26) and discover some of the special places of America.

The United States established the first national park in the world in 1872 with Yellowstone National Park. Since then, the National Park service has developed hundreds of parks, recreation areas, historic sites, monuments and memorials throughout the country. Everyone’s familiar with the famous sites, like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite but there are many more worth visiting ranging from the seashores of North Carolina to Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home in Kentucky to the volcanoes of Hawaii. The National Parks offers tons of services including ranger talks and ranger-led walks, preservation of the natural and historic treasures and multiple recreational opportunities, almost all of which are free or very low cost.

While it might be a little late to visit a park this week, now is the perfect time to plan your summer vacation or your next weekend getaway. Be sure to check out the books available at the library including:

National Parks of the American West for Dummies

Haunted Hikes: Spine Tingling Tales and Trails from North America’s National Parks by Andrea Lankford

Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks by Lonely Planet

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States

Great Lodges of the National Parks by Christine Barnes

Yellowstone: a Natural and Human History by David Wallace

April 22 is Earth Day!  This holiday has been celebrated in America since 1970, but due to the timeliness of this topic, there’s a vast array of newer materials on all things having to do with “green” and the environment.   Check out some of these titles:

from-bottom-upFrom the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers by Chad Pregracke with Jeff Barrow.  Talk about a home-town hero! Chad started his river clean-up project right here on the Mississippi in the Quad Cities.  His Living Lands & Waters, a not-for-profit organization, has received tons of corporate sponsorship and has now expanded its efforts to clean up other rivers.

green-bookThe Green Book: the Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet by Elizabeth  Rogers and Thomas Kostigen.  This compact little book is clearly organized, which makes it easy to quickly check the areas you most interested in — be it home, work , school or travel.  Another appealing addition (interspersed between chapters) is the series of quotes from celebrities, such as Robert Redford and Martha Stewart.

hot-flatHot,  Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman.  This book by a Pulizter Prize winning author has received rave reviews and has been a number-one bestseller.  Basically, the sub-title sums it up: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America.

The Quad Cities is celebrating Money Smart Week  April 18-25th.  Besides the multitude of informational programs being offered throughout the week, you can also get more in-depth suggestions from current materials at the library.

s In this struggling economy, the Penny Pincher’s Almanac by Reader’s Digest may be just the ticket for many of us.  Presented in the typically quick and clever digest style, it’s full of easily accessible ideas.

greenback

Who isn’t interested in money?  In Greenback: the Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America by Jason Goodwin, the author explains how “money has always been at the heart of the American experience. ”

girl-get-your-credit

For practical points on getting out of debt, try Girl, Get Your Credit Straight! by Glinda Bridgforth.  The book is organized to encourage readers to get their priorities straight and to plan their spending.  It also has ideas on ways to increase one’s income.

Be sure to check out all the events sponsered by the Davenport Library this week including supermarket shopping and budgeting tips as well as a Community Shred Day at the Fairmount Library on Saturday, April 25.

frugallibrarianWhat’s more frugal than economy of thought?

Think of the minutes I’m now able to idle away with mundane mental patter and take credit for someone else’s idea. Kidding.

I believe I originally saw it in the Argus, and numerous other online sources…10 uses for coffee filters.  Great ideas are great ideas, and I’d be remiss to not pass this one along.

I remember waiting in the return aisle of a certain globe-punishing international conglomerate forever just to return a sub-$2 pack of filters because they were the wrong size.   Never again.  Contain the explosion from microwaved hotdogs and wash it down with wine from which you’ve strained the cork bits=two filters down.

You’re welcome.

the-helpFresh from college with no prospects (marriage or job), Eugenia (“Skeeter”) Phelan returns to her parent’s comfortable home in Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter desperately wants to break out of the roles that are expected of her – marriage, children, the country club – and become a writer.

Aibileen, a black maid, has had 17 children, that is, she’s raised 17 white babies for the families she’s worked for. The loss of her own son while his white bosses looked the other way has caused her to view the world she’s always taken for granted and unchangeable with new eyes.

Her best friend Minny is the best cook in the county but because she can’t hold her tongue and keeps mouthing off at her employers, she’s always looking for a new job. At home she struggles to raise her children and cope with an abusive husband.

On the advice of a New York book editor, Skeeter decides to write about black domestics and their relationships with their white employers by talking first to Aibileen, then Minny. This turns out to be a dangerous project – it’s 1962, Jim Crow laws are in full effect in the Deep South and the Civil Rights movement is stirring up strong emotions. Skeeter is ostracized by her friends and Aibileen and Minny fear for their safety (Medgar Evers was gunned down in their neighborhood during this time) These three women, with so little in common, find themselves sharing their stories, their fears and their hopes. Together they create a grassroots change in their own homes and neighborhoods.

The Help is an amazing book with characters that you care for, authentic dialogue and a real sense of time and place. The tension builds as each woman puts herself at risk and there is sadness and hardship, but there is also friendship and laughter and hope for a better world.