May is “Get Caught Reading” Month. How does one celebrate? Well, you could read, or take a picture of a friend or co-worker reading and post it on a bulletin board. (You can email bworthington@publishers.org to get the logo to make your own “celebrity” poster).

You can order an actual celebrity poster on www.getcaughtreading.org. Rob Lowe anyone? Supported by the Association of American Publishers, other celebs are Iowa’s own Shawn Johnson, Sebastian Junger and Emma Roberts.

Some schools and libraries are designating a spot for kids (and adults) to read for fun during the day. Can you think of a better way to take a break?

The popularity of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games, got me thinking about apocalyptic books I’ve read. Alas, Babylonby Pat Frank was on school reading lists- years ago. Originally published in 1959, the novel is about the survival of a community in Florida after the United States has been hit by  nuclear missiles.

What is satisfying about this books is how the extended family of Randy Bragg gets back to nature in order to survive – using local plants, fruits and trees to eat and to re-build. And eventually they thrive and learn to appreciate their new-found lifestyle.

The story has alot in common with that of  Swiss Family Robinson. Like the Pat Frank book, the characters respond to adversity with ingenuity. Both books take place in tropical settings, which give the families a definite advantage. They don’t have to cope with cold weather and are surrounded by abundant sources of food and fuel.

Shipwrecks, nuclear war and other disasters have always been  catalysts to the imaginations of novelists. How do you think you would fare in those circumstances?

Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni is the basis for initiatives by cities and libraries across the county. A slim volume, it has concrete ideas for individuals and for the community at large.

The author talks about the difference between manners and civility, and makes the case that good manners are the tools to promote civility. Manners have gotten a reputation as something that are phony and ineffectual,  but, in fact, the purpose of good manners is to show that you think the best of those you encounter and you assume they have only the best motives. You can’t control the rude and callous behavior of those around you, but you can choose to do everything you can, large and small, to make the world a more positive place. This philosophy, in fact, has been shown to increase one’s own happiness.

Being able to have some control over one’s daily interactions is a powerful idea.

The website of the American Library Association promotes Civility & Diversity: “When it comes to finding information and instruction for how to become more civil, there is probably no better source … than Emily Post’s Etiquette. ” In the workplace, a civil atmosphere promotes customer satisfaction “when co-workers work together, they work better, enriching our users’ experiences.”

According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, March is International Ideas Month – dedicated to all ideas – large or small, great, and  not-so-great.

I used to have a colleague at Davenport Library who was known for her enthusiasm for “ideas.” It was infectious and fun – sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t get very far at all.

What’s the best idea you ever had – at work or in your personal life? Maybe an idea for a patent? The Davenport Public Library is now the official Patent & Trademark  Resource Center  for the state of Iowa. If you have an idea for a revolutionary mousetrap, or toothbrush, you may want to check out Davenport Library’s patent resources.

 

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-