February 2

Amelia – Hillary Shank, Richard Gere

Bound by ambition and love, Amelia Earhart and husband and business partner George Putnam’s enduring marriage could not be broken by Amelia’s determination to fly, nor her passionate affair with Gene Vidal. Amelia set off on her most daunting mission yet, a solo flight around the world that she and George both anxiously foresaw as destined, whatever the outcome, to become one of the most talked-about journeys in history.

Zombieland – Bill Murray, Woody Harrelson, Abigal Breslin

In a world that has become overrun with zombies, two men must figure out how to survive. Wimpy Columbus is afraid of his own shadow, while Tallahassee is the biggest, baddest gun-toting zombie-slayer who ever lived. When they meet two sisters, Wichita and Little Rock, the four strike out for an amusement park that is said to be zombie-free. This mismatched group will have to rely on each other to survive, which could be worse than surrendering to the zombies.

February 9

Couples Retreat – Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Kristin Bell

Eight friends are on vacation in paradise, one they’ll never forget. Their group-rate vacation comes at a price when they discover that participation in the resort’s unconventional couples therapy activities is anything but optional.

Good Hair – Chris Rock

Comedian Chris Rock tackles the very personal issue of hair, and how attaining good hair can affect relationships, wallets, and a person’s self-esteem. Features interviews with Dr. Maya Angelou, Nia Long, Ice-T, Raven Symone, and more.

Time Traveler’s Wife – Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams

Clare has been in love with Henry her entire life. She believes they are destined to be together, even though she never knows when they will be separated. Henry is a time traveler, cursed with a rare genetic anomaly that causes him to live his life on a shifting timeline, skipping back and forth through his lifespan with no control. Despite the fact that Henry’s travels force them apart with no warning, Clare desperately tries to build a life with her one true love.

February 23

The Informant! – Matt Damon, Scott Bakula

The U.S. government decides to go after an agri-business giant with a price-fixing accusation based on the evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president turned informant Mark Whitacre. The FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent.

If you’re looking for book that will just plain make you feel good, look no further. I’ve just discovered Joyce Stranger, a prolific English author who writes novels about animals. That may sound horribly middle-brow and non-literary, but The Go-Between is surprisingly engaging and unpredictable.

The book focusses on Flyer, a Siamese kitten who loves people. He begins life with one family and ends up with a completely different, though equally loving, owner. Through the force of his personality, determination and will to survive , he influences everyone he meets. He also acts as a catalyst – bringing together neighbors who  create a new sense of community.

If you ever need a recommendation for someone who wants  a good story, with a little romance, and is completely G-rated, here you go.

I have been a fan of “American Chopper” since it first appeared on the Discovery channel many years ago. The choppers are neat, but what I really enjoyed was the interaction between the family and employees of Orange County Chopper. In watching the show I have watched this company grow from a small cement brick building, to the mega complex it is now. I have watched the family’s ups and downs. This year has been especially hard with Paul Sr firing Paulie and Mickey’s struggles with alcohol addiction. This book shows how Paul Sr. took his hobby and made it into a multimillion dollar company, but still keeping his values intact.  If you are a fan of the show you will enjoy this book, if you are starting your own business, you will enjoy this book as the lessons Paul Sr teaches are practical and sound.

“In The Ride of a Lifetime, Teutul elucidates the business principles that have made Orange County Choppers a household name. His smart, commonsense business wisdom works for businesses both big and small in any industry. Here, readers will learn firsthand how Teutul built a uniquely successful business by working hard and demanding it from others; encouraging and embracing unfettered creativity; establishing well-defined roles for every team member and demanding they support each other; and using honest conflict and confrontation to solve problems and constantly innovate. The Ride of a Lifetime is a smart, tough-as-nails guide to business success that every entrepreneur should read. Paul Teutul, Sr (Montgomery, NY), is the founder of Orange County Choppers, one of the world’s premier builders of custom motorcycles. He formerly ran a family-owned steel fabrication shop before he began building custom bikes as a hobby, eventually founding Orange County Choppers in 1999. Since 2002, he and his business have been the subject of the hit TLC show American Chopper.”  amazon.

It throws one for a bit of a loop to write down dates like 2010 without seeing George Jetson puttering around in his airborne aquarium.

Similarly, assembling a list of fiction titles that hits shelves long after the subzero temps have left creates a warm feeling, albeit brief.  There will be a baseball game or two on the television, and, heck, I might finally be writing the correct date on my checks.  What’s crazy is you can place those holds now.

The possibilities of short-term time travel might not be that awe-inspiring, but given the bleakness of being Iowan right now, grade me on the curve.

Jodi Picoult — House Rules
Rita Mae Brown — Cat of the Century
Alexander McCall Smith — Double Comfort Safari Club
James Patterson — Worst Case
Tim LaHaye — Matthew’s Story


Lacuna: 1)an empty space or a misssing part  2) a cavity, space or depression.

This new novel by Barbara Kingsolver was worth the wait — it’s been nine years since her last novel, the very popular and acclaimed Poisonwood Bible.

The Lacuna takes place in both Mexico and the U.S. with most of it written in journal format.  Kingsolver also throws in some actual newspaper articles and other documents which add credibility to the time period (the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s).  The main character, Harrison William Shepherd, is the son of a dull Washington bureaucrat and a flamboyant Mexican mother, who has left her husband to live with a current lover on a Mexican island.  Without school or friends to occupy his time, Harrison spends many hours swimming, where he discovers a lacuna in a sea cliff which leads to a secret,  hidden pool.  As Harrison matures, his particular set of skills gains him employment with the famous artists, Diego Rivera and his wife, Frida Kahlo.  Since they later harbor the exiled communist Leo Trotsky, Harrison ends up working as a secretary for him as well.  This part was especially interesting —  perhaps because of the real personages in the book, it was easy at times to forget that this was a work of fiction!

After Trotsky’s murder, Harrison comes back to the United States (accompanying some of Frida’s paintings) and settles in North Carolina, where he finally realizes his dream of writing romantic adventure novels.  He becomes a hugely popular author, but his luck turns sour when he is later cited as a Communist sympathizer.

It’s not until the ending that we discover the significance of the title.  As both Kahlo and Shepherd are fond of saying, “The most important part of the story is the piece you don’t know.”  Read it and enjoy finding  out for yourself.

How many of you hit the cineplex this holiday season?  And enjoyed adaptations of books like Walter Kirn’s Up in the Air? Did you know that Natalie didn’t even exist in the book? The author explains in an NPR interview that a “whole new character had to be introduced. A sort of sidekick had to be given to a lonely hero who spends most of the time in the novel observing and thinking about his world. But now we had to give him a chance to talk about his world.”

Another George Clooney vehicle., The Men Who Stare at Goats, is based on a  book by Jon Ronson. This is  even more mind twisting. The viewer wonders how much of the film (which inevitably alters a book) is true even though it’s based on a non-fiction work. The caption “More of this is true than you would believe” precedes the movie which sets up the question, “which particular parts are true?

What follows is the  depiction of the military’s  experimentation with New Age psychic phenomena.  Apparently, the Jeff Bridges character was based on a real officer (Lt. Col. Jim Channon) who led a hippie army called the First Earth Batallion (or the New Earth Army in the movie) , according to Wired magazine.

And don’t forget Roald Dahl’s wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox, starring the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep. There is an insightful article about the Wes Anderson adaptation  in November/December’s  Film Comment.

I don’t know about you, but I always want to get back to the library and check out the book that inspired the movie in the first place. And then read about the book and the movie in our great magazine collection.

Inspired by the life of the author’s Korean mother, this first novel by Eugenia Kim is a beautiful and satisfying story.  The Calligrapher’s Daughter spans 30 years of Korean history, from 1915-1945, and is narrated by najin Han, the daughter of an ultra-traditional and aristocratic calligrapher.  Born in 1910 at the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Korea, her life, through privileged, is restricted by strict social standards, including a very limited education for women.  When her father decides to marry her off at age 14, her mother bravely defies him by sending her instead to Seoul, where she serves as a companion to the young Princess Deokhye during the waning days of the centuries-old dynasty.

Later, Najin attends college and works as a teacher and school principal.  When her parents again choose a husband for her, she is pleasantly surprised to find that she concurs with their choice of Calvin Cho, who is leaving to study for the ministry in America.  However, only one day after her wedding, she is denied a passport.  An entire decade passes, separated from her husband with little hope for reunion, as she struggles to survive the hardships and poverty brought on by World War II.  Both lyrical and tragic, this novel celebrates the perseverance and strength of women — a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age saga.

Library patrons don’t often get a chance to see how the dollars and quarters accrue in their favor.  Spend a couple minutes plunking in values on this Library Value Calculator assembled by several libraries across the country to get an accurate representation of the kind of value you as a consumer have reaped.

For example, if you have used the library to answer two reference questions, borrow two books, check out two movies, and use the internet for two hours, count yourself a savvy spender friend.  You’ve just saved 114 dollars.  Before you call these figures inflated and self-serving, go to a doctor, lawyer or body shop and see how quickly their services tally up.

Being a library cardholder is not just good citizenship, it is smart money.

We have a display for you! At both Main Street and Fairmount Street libraries, we have mysteries and DVDs of Sherlock Holmes spinoffs.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King  is the first in a series featuring a feminist Mary Russell. A teenager at the time, she meets the great Holmes  while she is wandering the Sussex countryside. Holmes mentors Mary as they investigate the kidnapping of an American senator’s daughter. The World WarI era , an Oxford setting – where Mary is a student, and the evolving relationship in which Holmes mentors his young protegee are all strong points of the novel.

The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr is a humorous paranormal twist on the Holmes canon. The setting is a ghostly Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh,Scotland. Watson and Holmes are called in by Sherlock’s brother to investigate murders that Mycroft fears may threaten Queen Victoria. The author of The Alienist “reflects a deep knowledge and understanding of Holmesiana.” Publisher’s Weekly

Suppose its time for that blog post again…

Our tax forms arrived a little bit late this year, but we just assembled the displays at Main and Fairmount.

Outside of the IRS office, libraries are the only place where you can get forms if for some reason you still haven’t attempted filing online.  Though a slower and typically less-accurate process, some people prefer the paper method.  We stock the federal and state forms as a service, though the chute gets narrower every year as they try to corral the populace as a whole into e-filing.

New this year is the:

Schedule L (Standard Deduction for Certain Filers – it isn’t as simple anymore since there are new add-on deductions on top of it) and

Schedule M (Making Work Pay Credit)