It is inevitable that librarians would jump on Quiet by Susan Cain. This bestseller traces the role of introverts in American society. Having a good character and reputation was once the highest goal one could aspire to. That is, until the cult of personality gradually began to take over  – with the rise of Dale Carnegie and commercial advertisements.

The book (and audiobook) is an empowering treatise for those who have grown up with teachers, relatives and strangers criticizing the natural tendencies of the non-extrovert.

Cain says their reserve and solitary nature are qualities that brand them as those possessing  “a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.” It turns out that these are actually strengths, and they should be celebrated, rather than be regarded with suspician. Introverts have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, making them good inventors, researchers, musicians, scientists and writers.

The American Library Association blog, Shelf Renewal, blogged about Cain recently. In the post, Introverts Rising, they categorize literature’s most famous characters as either introverts or extroverts. (Howard Roark is an introvert; Tom Sawyer is the ultimate extrovert).

The audiobook version of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is, for me, the ideal audiobook. It’s easy to pick up the narrative’s thread  after a day or a week if you just listen to it in your car.  Isaacson writes in a straightforward, journalistic style, accessible for listeners as well as readers.

It’s both fascinating in terms of the story of Steve Jobs as a person and as a  genius of electronic aesthetics. You learn a lot about computers,  design theory, and how to pull extremely clever pranks and practical jokes.

Isaacson presents a picture of a man with great flaws and immense talents. At the end of book, the listener is still not able to draw a pat conclusion about his character. The last part is, of course, painful to hear –  as Isaacson tells the story of a life and spirit cut tragically short.

If you enjoy P.G. Wodehouse, you will love Simon Brett’s newest mystery, Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter  Blotto is even more clueless than the aristocratic Bertie Wooster.

While Wooster has his butler, Jeeves,  Blotto is also lucky enough to have a  much smarter sidekick.  In this case, the handsome son of the Duke of Tawcaster (pronounced taster) is guided by his sister, Twinks. She is not only smart, but beautiful and loves to use her analytical skills to solve mysteries. In this book, she feels fortunate to have a dead body right in her own home, Tawcaster Towers. Her mother, the Duchess, forces the local constable to spirit away the dead body before her dinner party adjourns for cigars.

Britain’s ruling class is parodied in a cheerfully absurdist writing style, and the time between the two world wars seems refreshingly innocent.

February 29th will be here before we know it! Yay, we need more February, right?

The Proposal  doesn’t actually take place in a leap year as far as I know, but Sandra Bullock’s character, Maggie, does follow that holiday’s tradition of a woman proposing to a man.

The ruthless Maggie, in order to avoid deportation, forces her subordinate, (Ryan Reynolds), to marry her. Hilarity ensues when they visit the groom’s  family in Alaska. As is mandatory, Betty White plays a grandmother prone to mildly offensive insults and truth telling.

Alaska, Bullock and Reynolds are enjoyable to behold. You could do worse than pop this into the dvd player on your extra day of 2012.

At the start of A Quiet Death, Hannah Ives is riding the Washington D.C. metro when her train crashes. Though injured herself, she tries to help a fellow passenger who is very badly hurt. In the confusion, she ends up with a shopping bag he was carrying. Eventually she reads the letters it contains in order to return the bag to him.

I picked up the book because I was interested in the Washington D.C. setting and that promise was fulfilled. Marcia Talley does well in portraying a city that revolves around the government – for example, the subtleties of how prestigious a restaurant is  – based on the level of the bureaucrats who frequent it.

The mystery itself, however, seemed a bit contrived. Instead of checking with transit or police officials who may be able to locate the mystery passenger, Hannah decides to find him herself, relying on simple google searches. Nothing very intriguing there. Security is also lax at Fox, I mean Lynx, News where Hannah drops in to interview their news anchor, whom she’s never met.

A pleasant read, but not a real page turner.

How often do you actually gasp with surprise anymore? Towards the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love, the many plot strands of this movie come together and there is a “reveal” that is truly unexpected.

 I applaud director Glenn Ficarra for adeptly weaving together so many relationships and wonderful performances, especially by Emma Stone. She and Ryan Gosling have a chemistry, rivaled only by that between Gosling and Steve Carell. When the last two have a falling-out, it’s almost more upsetting than the breakup of Carell and Julianne Moore. Gosling, as the epitomy of cool confidence, is a pleasure to watch. (There is a scene that will have you running to the library catalog to see if Dirty Dancing is on the shelf)

Go now, and have the time of your life-

If you ever need a DVD for all generations – say, around the holidays…,  Miss Potter is perfect for this situation – it is whimsical without being overly saccharine.

This is a peek into Victorian society – in which Beatrix is encouraged from childhood on to exploit her talent as an artist, yet her parents are bound by rigid class lines when it comes to marriage.

The cast is filled with great British character actors, including  Barbara Flynn and Bill Paterson as Beatrix’ parents. And the wonderfully weird chaperone, Miss Wiggin, is played by Matyelok Gibbs. Emily Watson plays the sister of Beatrix’ fiance, who immediately adopts Beatrix as a soulmate and friend.

As a bonus, it is  beautifully produced with a wonderful soundtrack by Katie Melua.  Even though this isn’t technically a holiday movie, it will add a bit of magic to this festive season.

Don’t forget to check out the actual books (The Tailor of Gloucester was Beatrix’ favorite and perfect for the Christmas season).

Another cool feature of our new catalog is ….wait for it…

Map It!

It’s Friday night and you see that a dvd you want for the weekend is in at the East Moline Public Library.

You click on the title of the dvd, then choose Map It and you’ll get a Google Map of the greater Quad-City area. Hover over the yellow balloon (yellow balloons mean that the item is on the shelf). You’ll see the library’s hours, phone number and directions to the library.

How cool is that?

Have you ever read a book that was so good, you were sure you’d  have no trouble remembering the title or author? Weeks later you want another book by that author; it turns out that the jumble of words you’re able to recollect don’t add up to anything that’ll retrieve the book.

Our brand new catalog has many exciting new features including “Reading History”. If you choose to “opt in” – from that point on, a list of what you’ve checked out will be saved.

If you decide that you don’t want the information saved any longer, all the data will be deleted.

So say goodbye to keeping lists – in notebooks, on pieces of scrap paper or in any of dozens of websites. We’ll do the work for you!

 True Love (And Other Lies) by Whitney Gaskell has an interesting premise and a promising heroine.Things I like – Clare is funny and snarkily irreverent about her job as a travel writer for the magazine, Sassy Seniors!

Based in New York, she must evaluate destinations with an eye for early-bird specials and frugal accommodations. Usually, when she gets to travel, she’s sent to budget hotels in American cities.When she finally  gets an opportunity to go to London, she feels the time spent paying her dues has paid off.

(Actually the reason I am reading the book is because I did a search for novels about travel or travel writers).

Stay tuned…