The Davenport Public Library will be closed December 31, January 1 and 2 in observance of the New Year’s holiday. All locations will be open their regular hours again on January 3rd – Noon to 8pm for Main and Eastern, 9:30am to 5:30pm at Fairmount.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

Here’s the final installment of personal Best Books from our Blogging Librarians.

Amber loved The Agency: A Spy in the House and The Agency: The Body at the Tower by YS Lee : “This YA mystery series follows Mary Quinn on her path from the gutters and gallows to a member of the secret detective organization of Victorian ladies called the Agency. I could not pull myself away from these books full of smart, determined females, little bits of saucy romance, and lots of fascinating tidbits about the Victorians!”

Ann’s favorite for 2010 was City of Thieves by David Benioff : “In the midst of the worst possible circumstances, the true character of people is revealed, good and bad. Despite horrific images (starvation, torture, war), what I remember most about this book is the light – friendship, loyalty, laughter, finding something to celebrate even when the world seems to be ending. It’s a testament to the best of the human spirit.” Ann blogged about it here.

There you have it – an eclectic, wide-ranging variety of the Best Books of 2010. Now it’s your turn – what was your favorite book that you read this year and why?

Our roll call of Personal Favorite books of 2010 from our Blogging Libraries continues….

Rita had two favorite books this year : “I couldn’t decide between these two as my favorite, of all the books I read and listened to this year. They both have a little magic in their stories. I enjoyed both books very much. I will let you decide.”

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman – For years, 12-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt has been the cartaker of her psychotic mother, Camille – the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt from Savannah, Tootie Caldwell, who whirls CeeCee into her world of female friendship, strong women, wacky humor and good old-fashioned heart.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen – Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew – a reclusive, real-life gentle giant – she realized that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

More personal Best Books from our Blogging Librarians!

Lexie loved Graceling by Kristin Cashore : “This is a fantasy novel about a world where some people are gifted with a “grace”, an extreme skill. It tells the story of Katsa, a girl who has been graced with killing, and her unlikely friendship with a young prince. When the two discover a disturbing secret about a nearby ruler, they must work together to bring peace to their land. It has action, drama, romance and an interesting and well-developed new world.”

Michelle’s favorites were some of the hottest books of the year : “My favorite book(s) that I read this year are actually two books that have to be read together, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by the late Stieg Larsson. The second and final installment of the Millennium Trilogy are a tour de force that pack a powerful punch of intrigue, scandal, corruption and mystery in present day Sweden. The first tow films with English subtitle are now available at the library with the final film’s release in the United States coming in January. There is even an English version that will be released sometime near the end of the next year!”  Michelle blogged more about “Fire” here and about “Hornet’s Nest” here.

Whoosh! That’s the sound of 2010 racing past. With 2011 nearly here, let’s take some time to remember our favorite books of the past year. Follow us this week as our Blogging Librarians once again give us their personal Best Book and why. These books weren’t necessarily written in 2010, just read this year. You’re sure to find some great titles to add to your list!

Lynn gets things started with her favorite : “The last (sadly) book in the Izzy Spellman series is The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz. All the members of the Spellman family are eccentric, and uniquely eccentric. They pursue their own ends aggressively and obsessively but ultimately act in the best interests of the family and the family-owned private investigation business. It’s one of those books that is truly hard to put down once you start.” Read Lynn’s full description here.

Tana‘s pick is one of the biggest books of 2010 : “My favorite book for the year was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. (Ann blogged about this book here) I thought the author did an excellent job of evoking time and place, ie, Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s. I think I also enjoyed it from a personal perspective. Since I still have aunts who live in the South, I have memories of visiting them when they all had “help” of their own.”

The Davenport Public Library will be closed December 24, 25 and 26 for the Christmas holiday. All locations will be open their regular hours again on December 27 – Noon to 8pm for Main and Eastern, 9:30am to 5:30pm at Fairmount.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday!

The Great Depression of the 1930s was the longest, most widespread and deepest depression of the 20th century. It’s effects were devastating – unemployment rose to 25%, even 50% in hard hit areas, and people struggled simply to get food on the table. Gifts for Christmas – let alone extravagant overspending – was impossible for many families and the holidays were just another day to get through.

Into this bleak landscape, in one of the most desperate areas of the country, a message of compassion arrives. An anonymous ad is placed in the Canton, Ohio newspaper offering 75 families in distress a cash gift. Letters were to be sent to a “B. Virdot”, General Delivery. Within days the post office was deluged. The mysterious “B. Virdot”, whose identity was never revealed, gave a modest gift of $5 (which, in 1933 was worth close to $100 today) to 150 families, spreading cheer – and more importantly hope – not only to them, but to others desperate to know someone still cared.

Nearly 70 years later, Ted Gup was cleaning out papers that had been left to him by his grandfather when he came across a cache of letters all addressed to a “B. Virdot”. Here at last, the mystery of who this anonymous benefactor was and why he did it are revealed and recounted  in A Secret Gift. In addition to discovering his grandfather’s life story, Gup tracks down many of the recipients of his grandfather’s gift and it’s impact on their lives. The stories of hardship are heartbreaking but the power of even such a small gift and it’s ability to turn people’s lives around is an inspiration.

Are you getting a little tired of all the Christmas schmaltz? Fighting off that Bah Humbug feeling about now? When all the holiday madness starts to get to be too much, but you don’t quite want to give up on finding some Christmas spirit, try watching one of these movies. None of them are about Christmas (or New Years), but each has great holiday scenes – just enough glitter and holly to keep you in the mood!

Love, Actually – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Kiera Knightly, many others

This one actually has a lot to do with Christmas, but it’s really about love in all it’s funny, touching, heartbreaking forms.

When Harry Met Sally – Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal

Not Christmas, but New Year’s Eve. Funny with several classic, iconic scenes. Don’t miss it.

Trading Places – Eddie Murphy, Dan Akroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis

Everything starts at one of those dreaded Christmas office parties…… A modern comedy classic.

Meet Me in St Louis – Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien

One of the great American musicals, this movie introduced the heartbreaking song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

About a Boy – Hugh Grant

A trust fund slacker living off the profits of the Christmas song his father wrote years ago, gains a life – and a heart – with the help of a little boy. Sharp and funny.

While You Were Sleeping – Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman

Through misunderstandings that never get cleared up, lonely Lucy gains a family and falls in love – with the wrong guy! Set during Christmas and New Years. Bullock is at her charming best.

What could be more festive than flaming candles in a girl’s hair or drinking cup after cup of strong coffee accompanied by pastries? This time of year makes you think about the customs of cold weather countries.

Lucia Day often begins with the daughter of the house bringing breakfast and coffee to her parents (adorned with a wreath of candles). How to Make a Swedish Christmas and Christmas in Scandinavia have recipes and instructions for making  ornaments like woven heart baskets and straw horses.

Swedish Christmas Crafts by Helene Lundberg has great, and simple, ideas for decorations, such as putting small white candles in a row of bright red apples to use as a centerpiece or using coarse salt for a snow substitute. Or how’s this for a frugal gift idea? Use a tin can after stripping off the label for a container of nuts or candy. Tie a piece of pretty cloth over the top.

Coffee is a central part of a fabulous Icelandic custom called the Four Coffees. Beatrice Ojakangas’ Great Scandinavian Baking Book includes instructions for a succession of cookies, cakes and breads that are eaten. With each pastry, one cup of coffee is consumed. With the fourth cup, you can eat anything at the coffee table.

Embrace the cold and snow season – revel in spicy cookies, lots of candles, and plenty of coffee.

Lately, my mother and I have been on 1940’s holiday movie binge and they are all FANTASTIC! Of course we watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) every year, but here is a list of some of the  films that we have just discovered:

It Happened on 5th Avenue
Starring: Don DeFore, Ann Harding and Charles Ruggles

A homeless man and ex-GI secretly move into a millionaire’s empty mansion during the holidays and are soon joined by a young woman after they catch her robbing the mansion of its fur coats. Unbeknownst to the gentlemen, the young woman is actually the millionaire’s runaway daughter and soon she invites her cranky father, the millionaire, to move in with her as an undercover vagrant.

Christmas in Connecticut
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet

A Martha-Stewartish journalist becomes frantic when her publisher insists she treats an injured GI to a real family-oriented Christmas at her Connecticut home–what will happen when they find out she has no cooking skills, no husband, no baby, and no home in Connecticut?!

The Shop Around the Corner
Starring: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan

Two workers in a Budapest gift-shop absolutely loathe each other, but are unaware that they are each other’s beloved anonymous pen-pal. Who will be the first to discover the truth? This is the original movie that inspired You’ve Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks!

Holiday Affair
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh and Wendell Corey

Classic romance where a single mother struggles to choose between a comfortable fiancé and an unexpected romantic stranger on Christmas.