Reader's Exchange

May 2012 - Posts

At least pastrami will never go out of style

Just my luck.  According to Weather Underground's Manhattan forecast, all the days I'll be vacationing in New York City next week indicate a chance of showers.  Of course, the lowest probabilities coincide with the days I'd be indoors anyway at the Book Expo.   Rainy weather icons for the 10-day lineup resemble a bakery window--an orderly display of weird blue and gray cupcakes.

Rainy day graphicThe good news: temperatures at least 20 degrees cooler, so cardigans just earned a slot (along with the umbrella) on my mental packing list.

I'll take along most of my black garments, safe bets anywhere but especially in NYC.   Not that anyone would mistake me for a local; once I've questioned why the Second Avenue Deli is on 33rd Street or stopped to exclaim, "Hey, isn't that the church from  Ghostbusters?" , no amount of neutral attire will mask my tourist-ness.

I even thought about picking up a defiantly not-black new sweater.  Sadly, the trendy hues ordained by the fashion industry for this season (neon--really?) aren't for everyone and certainly not for me.

Fortunately, having devoted more time to pondering what to read in-flight than what to wear on arrival, I can assure you that the book market continues to offer its customers multiple options
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As in fashion, certain themes--hoarding and Titanic (mentioned in last week's post); World War I and Downton Abbey-related fictional scenarios; mysteries in increasingly exotic locales--will naturally be promoted.    The difference is that readers can still expect to find other choices calibrated to their tastes.

Should you find hoarding a bit too real or off-putting, you can enjoy empowering tomes like How to Organize Just About Everything or Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life or other volumes from the catalog subject heading "orderliness".

If you've dutifully adopted recipes from low-fat, heart-healthy recipe collections, you'll find that Rosie's Bakery: All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book either confirms your virtue or at least provides a guilty pleasure.   For a culinary vantage point devoid of judgment, there's Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America's Top Restaurants or Kitchen Wisdom: Stories That Heal.  And then you can revert back to the straight and narrow with Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.

Tori Spelling's recent books (starring Tori Spelling)--sTORI telling;  Mommywood, Uncharted terriTORI; CelebraTORI: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner--are popular here.   For other personal revelations and viewpoints (but with a non-Hollywood slant) you could seek out Scholars with Autism Achieving Dreams, edited by Lars Perner or Bruce Isay's All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. 

As for me, I'm packing some Playaways.  They're compact, tasteful, and rainproof.

Finders, keepers

That tip about foregoing grocery shopping when you're hungry is smart, if unrealistic.  And evidently I wasn't the only ravenous post-workday customer dashing into Sprouts on the way home yesterday.  When an enticing parcel of treats not even remotely suggested by my shopping list dived off the shelf straight into my cart, this shopper was understandably too weak to protest.

Ogling the package in question, the scrubs-clad customer behind me in the checkout line voiced an "Mmmmm" of approval.  "You know," I offered, "I can crack this thing open right now." Shopping bag 

"Thanks very much, but," she smiled, delving into her basket and brandishing another variety of indulgence, "I'm all set."  Those goodies had been plucked from the same display as mine.  Was it coincidence that my choice (I'm tall) came from the top shelf and the daintier height of the other customer correlated with her pick? 

As a scan of our recent acquisitions will prove, publishers also market to us where we are, at least figuratively.  Lately, they've noted, we're interested in reading about hoarding behavior and Titanic.

Jill Smolinski's Objects of My Affection considers why it is that things and the acquisition of things can take over our lives and families.  A homeless woman ironically discovers that she can earn a living assisting another woman whose home is overrun with material possessions.  Kirkus Reviews finds this new fiction title "a warm appraisal of our addiction to stuff."  Kristina Riggle's Keepsake, due out in late June, chooses the torn-from-TLC theme of obsessive hoarding as a danger to family unity and physical safety.  Two daughters of a hoarding mother develop into opposite models: one a compulsive cleaner, the other a second-generation accumulator threatened with the loss of her children as a consequence of continued stockpiling.  In a starred review, Booklist predicts that readers will be "horrified yet sympathetic at the same time."

Which brings us to the 100th anniversary year of the sinking of Titanic and its consequent trove of new publications.  You won't have seen most of these titles on the shelf; they've been checked out:  Shadow of the Titanic: the extraordinary stories of those who survived by Andrew Wilson; Titanic tragedy: a new look at the lost liner by John Maxtone-Graham; Voyagers of the Titanic: passengers, sailors, shipbuilders, aristocrats, and the worlds they came from by Richard Davenport-Hines; Gilded lives, fatal voyage: the Titanic's first-class passengers and their world by Hugh Brewster; and Building the Titanic: an epic tale of the creation of history's most famous ocean liner by Rod Green. 

And those are just the newest nonfiction picks:  Fiction enthusiasts should know about Kate Alcott's The Dressmaker, Cathy Gohlke's Promise Me this, Mindy Starns Clark's Echoes of Titanic, Yvonne Lehman's Hearts That Survive, Tricia Goyer's By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and David Kowalski's The Company of the Dead

These new offerings present no serious danger of clutter.  They'll probably attract hold requests, which means that you'll read and return long before they evolve into stacks at home.  As happens with tasty extras tucked into my grocery bag, residential space allocation is just not an issue. 

Better living and more animated discussion through 3D

Don't let its tepid-sounding name fool you; Library Link of the Day is a source you might want to add to your RSS feeds.

LLD offers great daily environmental-scanning capability with one thoughtfully selected feature each time.  Though its audience is "library knowledge workers", anyone interested in information provision/technology/access would be intrigued. For example, yesterday's link starred Jay Leno.  In the video clip, he's delightedly showing off his prototyping 3-D printer.  Jay uses it to recreate rare or impossible-to-locate parts for his extensive vintage car collection.

Just try watching this (and I'll understand if you get temporarily sidetracked by the "vehicles" tab) without either replaying what you just saw to prove that it really worked or muttering "No way!", or both.  You'll probably also catch the posting date:  June 29, 2011, nearly a year ago.

That's because 3D printing technology isn't brand-new.  The concept required a bit of exposure before library folks could envision its feasibility in their realm.   As taxpayer-funded entities, libraries are compelled to assess cost vs. benefit and that sort of thing.   Those factors continually throw cold water on our predilection for trying to be all things to all people. 

Still, we remain on the lookout for new ways to facilitate empowerment and access.  These days, the "maker space" scenario now exemplified by the Fayetteville, NY public library receives considerable press.    Fayetteville Free Library's acquisition of 3D equipment for public use resulted from a generous donation.  That gift didn't merely bestow technology on one library; it's also promoting field testing of assumptions about the viability of their model.  Dreams of further maker spaces will encounter hard realities like logistics, staffing, and price tag.  But so did visions of public access computers once upon a time.

Jetsons' worldDespite Mr. Leno's step-by-step exposition of how his prototyper works, I suspect he still finds the process a bit magical.  Any tool that eradicates limitations and enables us to accomplish exactly what's required must be.  Perhaps that's why Leno likened the 3D technology to The Jetsons

I have to disagree, though his meaning is clear:  futuristic.   And who doesn't love the Jetsons?  But that amiable family enjoyed a houseful of labor-saving devices and still felt put upon by any remaining responsibilities; pioneering spirits they were not.  And as for their Eisenhower-era stereotypical family roles, those were tired even when the show first aired.

Library Link of the Day readers may prefer another campy animated role model:  the kind of guy who invents at the drop of a hat whatever the situation requires; who lends his talents to extract others from their difficulties; and who even remains pleasant throughout it all.   I refer, naturally, to Professor Pat Pending.  Of course, if he'd contrived a 3D printer back in the day, we'd have found the notion cartoonish.       

Does environmentalism sound fishy to you?

Name the trend--Hunger Games, Downton Abbey, cupcakes, social networking, recycling and eco-friendly lifestyle, financial education for kids, apps, eBooks--and you can count on us to offer enlightening resources.  We know that our customers will be hungering for a full accounting.  

Lionfish approachingBut not for lionfish.

The ad for The Lionfish Cookbook in my husband's scuba magazine describes this entree's role in the invasivore movement.   "Eat ‘em to beat ‘em": that's the slogan of those seeking to manage invasive species by consuming them, as this New York Times article explains.

Conservation magazine explores implications of this approach, and others warn that extreme caution must be exercised during the sea-to-sushi process.  Still, diners with open minds are in for a pleasant surprise: lionfish are allegedly delicious.    Freed from the guilt associated with fattening and non-nutritious foods, lionfish consumers may derive satisfaction from having joined NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, REEF, and other concerned groups in eradicating an aquatic predator currently threatening reef fish populations.

And just imagine the product possibilities as this delicacy is embraced by the masses:  Shake ‘n Bake for Lionfish, lionfish noodle casserole, the inevitable new artery-clogging taste sensation at the State Fair of Texas, perhaps a takeout run for some KFL.

Added to the obvious appeal of fork-as-weapon, the lionfish trend affords this attraction that we Americans seem to crave:  focus.   Blessed with hundreds of opportunities to use our powers for good, along with thousands of products up for purchase, we are inundated with choices.  When a new option incorporates meal selection and world-bettering action, who wouldn't consider it?

Based on checkout figures for home improvement and DIY resources, I suspect that most library patrons (like me) operate more comfortably with challenges involving limits--e.g., budget--anyway.   We embrace makeover projects on battered cabinetry or furnishings armed with only hand tools and paint.  How empowering it feels to achieve multiple goals: repurposing, cost-saving, aesthetic enhancement.

Books like Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have, along with HGTV (whose slogan should probably be "Spray Paint is Your Friend"), and the online resource Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center are proven successes here in Round Rock.  Perhaps lionfish will catch on, too.

To make your world (and city) a better place, cardholders can request purchase of The Lionfish Cookbook, recipe guides centered on non-venomous edibles, or many other resources to guide your current path of exploration.

A giant possum, hugelkulture, and the Ghost of Babe

The Spirit of Babe has haunted my house since last weekend, and I'm fine with that.  Given her valuable assistance in my latest DIY effort, the least we can do is play host for a while.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias entered the picture when I resolved to remedy the last traces of the Possum Who Ate Through Our Roof.  Structural repair issues were long since completed, but water stains blighted the ceiling of the smallest bedroom, which currently houses my elliptical machine.  Every time I exercised, the off-putting yellowy clouds presented themselves for contemplation. Someone needed to make them disappear.Umbrella shielding roof

Don Van Natta's Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias is assigned for an upcoming discussion, and, having acquired supplies for a ceiling re-paint, I'd run out of excuses for not executing that task, too.  The Playaway version came to the rescue:  once I'd stashed the little audio of Wonder Girl in my pocket and installed the earbuds, Babe and I were set to multitask.

I, however, am not a Wonder Girl, and thanks to artsy architectural features which add extra height, the endeavor proved to be a little scary.  Balancing on an upper rung of the ladder with the roll of painter's tape clamped in my teeth and wielding an upraised extended-handle paint roller, I was tempted more than once to climb down and just never look up again.  But by then, I'd already gleaned enough details about Babe's determination, grit, and dogged pursuit of her goals to be shamed into finishing the job.  Who would want to rank with the class of female she'd have pegged "sissies"?  

So now thoughts of Babe greet me on every approach to that room (you know, the one with the pristine ceiling)--and not just because of her Olympic medals, controversial approach to image-making, and astounding athletic versatility.

You might have encountered another  (less paranormal) example of just-in-time information delivery this week:   the library's Keyhole Gardens, Wicking Beds, Hugelkultur, and Beyond! program on Tuesday.  On that very evening, City of Round Rock Communications Director Will Hampton called to remind us of the new water rates, designed to encourage conservation.

Co-worker Eric, one of the program's presenters, reported that nearly fifty attendees engaged in a lively exploration of gardening practices and technologies for conserving water.   That represents a remarkable attendance figure for a weeknight event, but then water issues loom larger with each passing month.

Finally, my reference colleague Chris reminded me of an instance proving that the library can equip you for nearly any eventuality, including frivolous ones.  You should know that September 19 will be here before you know it--and that our Mango Languages online learning resource offers a course in Pirate!