Reader's Exchange

March 2014 - Posts

Would you like a film with that?

For someone who pokes fun at shallow social networking relationships (one click and you're a "friend") I am awfully quick to claim comradeship with noted authors.

Without demonstrating equal talent, one can still bask in the approbation of kindred opinions.

Masterfully expressing viewpoints I share this week:  Rebecca Mead and Annabelle Gurwitch.  Mead's My Life in Middlemarch is balm for the souls of George Eliot admirers who love the notably lengthy Middlemarch, often dismissed as dry and irrelevant.  Paralleling events and impressions from her own life with those of Eliot and her characters, New Yorker writer Mead conveys the novel's timeless appeal.  But then, I've always been a fan. 

Gurwitch's new essay collection on the perils of middle age-- I See You Made an Effort--has just fallen into my clutches, so I haven't spent quality time with it yet.  Reviewers deem the edgy commentaries "rollicking" and "hilarious".  In the library professions, aging is unfashionable these days, so I smiled to note Bob Odenkirk's assessment:  "a book about the worst thing a person can do in America: get older".  Book page art

Among Ms. Gurwitch's other writing and comedic accomplishments you may recall her stint as co-host of TBS' Dinner and a Movie a few years back--which represents a further opportunity for me to glom onto a proven concept:  why not suggest themed pairings featuring library stuff? 

Some of these resources will be new to your entertainment menu:

Try Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, based on Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher books, with high production values and authentic vintage costumes and settings.  You can sample foods trendy in the Twenties (see Food Timeline).  Or, search Los Angeles Public Library's Digital Menu Collection with date 192*.

Read Deborah Solomon's new American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell and enjoy (what else?) Apple Pie; here you'll find step-by-step instructions, each stage illustrated.

That's what Mango Languages calls its latest feature, classic films offered in conjunction with your language lessons. 

The Saving Mr. Banks soundtrack CD set includes previously unreleased pre-demo recordings by the Sherman brothers.  According to Richard Sherman, "Tuppence a Bag"/"Feed the Birds" was Walt Disney's favorite song.  You could pair a project with Walt's pick: listen, then search the library's Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center for "bird feeders".

Read The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff and savor some of Twain's favorite foods.  According to Menus from History by Janet Clarkson, there were many; Twain's list from A Tramp Abroad includes at least three iterations of bacon, fresh seafood, a spectrum of the bread/pone/biscuit family, and "all sorts of American pastry".

Explore (book or audio CD) Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds, "the ultimate guide to public speaking"; then view a TED Joy of Eating segment.

Input "steampunk" in the library's Catalog Quick Search for a Steampunk fiction read.  From there, consider the definition of  "Steampunk Cuisine", perhaps even entertaining with "Tips for a Retro-Industrial Steampunk Party".  And there's always RRPL's Small Engine Reference Repair Center...

Do you have a good reimagination?

Perhaps we should make TCM's Robert Osborne an honorary library staffer.  He enhanced a customer interaction this week.

The caller queried, "I don't owe any fines, right?"  Extra-busy recently, she'd lost track of time and required confirmation that nothing was overdue. 

Well, you know what can happen when a basketful of items are checked out and the date due sneaks by.   Little 20-cent late fees multiply--so she owed a few dollars.  (Any library insider will tell you that late fees exist only to incentivize returning so everyone can share
tax-funded materials equitably.  If all items came back on time, thus generating zero fines, we'd celebrate.  And so would everyone who's ever been obliged to wait longer than necessary for his/her turn...)

"Not what I wanted to hear," she admitted, "but then who could afford to buy all those things if the library didn't have them?"

Here's where Mr. Osborne comes in.  The customer brightened just then, remembering her brilliant acquisition from Friends of the Round Rock Public Library's Book Nook.   She had chanced upon Osborne's 75 Years of the Oscars: The Official History of the Academy Awards and snagged it for two dollars!  While that copy is outdated by library standards--we now offer Osborne's 85 Years of the Oscars --that once-costly trove of photos, trivia, and insider reportage is still "sooo entertaining" for the new owner and her friends.

Traffic to the Book Nook continues to increase, due to word-of-mouth testimonials like this.  For $2 (paperbacks, $1) savvy customers walk away with items in at least good condition; some Nook donations are brand-new.   Book lovers indulge in low-cost collecting; deserving volumes get new homes. 

One Book Nook customer transforms pages into eye-catching paper wreaths.

Vinyl record clockI believe it's correct to classify her inventive art as upcycling or repurposing rather than recycling. defines upcycle as "reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original".  And upcycling has its own sub-categories, e.g. ,trashion.

In the introduction to his Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have, Danny Seo advocates for eco-friendly concepts utilizing materials already on hand and salvaging from thrift stores and flea markets for this "higher form of recycling".  He should know:   his guide features tie-dye using Sharpies, robot figures made from pots and pans, and a potato chip bag mirror, for starters.

Delve into the library's Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center with keywords upcycl* or repurpose*, and you'll discover photos and how-to's for designs like shelves, tables, and chairs devised from vintage suitcases; a chair fabricated from old CDs; a designer-look necklace strung from broken jewelry; a mid-century-inspired clock born of a vinyl record; and loads of other outside-the-box notions. 

A sampling of more upcycling/repurposing brilliance online:

Upcycle That (founded on Earth Day 2012)
Ikea Hackers
Mother Earth News' Reusing Things: 100 Ideas of How to Reuse Commonly Thrown Away Items
Bob Vila's Repurposing for Creative Storage Solutions
HGTV's 25 Ways to Use Your Old Stuff
Blogger Gail Wilson's My Repurposed Life

Cashmere sweaters account for a surprising share of repurposing activity; cup holders, baby attire, pot holders, and bracelets represent the tip of the iceberg. 

Do you fret about possessing too much of this pricey knitwear, underutilized due to slight damage or un-trendiness?    Me neither.