Friday, June 27, 2008

Is it possible to read too much?

Yes, it is possible to read too much. I see it all the time here at the library. A patron will come in and plop a book down on the counter and exclaim, "I read two pages and realized I read it already!"

I always reply, "That's a sure sign that you read too much!"

Some of our readers come prepared, though. You always see them with a stack of books and a little notebook with every title they've ever read written down in it. This way, they'll know if they've read something already.

Of course, you could ask to have your reading history kept in our computer system. But beware, we have to warn you that the government can come in at any time and request to read your history. We always let people know this fact if they choose the reading history option on their library card application. One woman replied, "Oh, I'm sure if the government wants to see what I read they'll find a way to do it anyway!"

Still, with these two options--the journal and the reading history choice-- some people still choose to "wing it" when they come in and run the risk of taking home books they've already read.

Though it happens frequently. I'm still amazed every time I hear someone say that they didn't realize they'd already read a title. I start to wonder how many books a person would have to read to have this happen. Then, one day it happened to me. I was reading "The Twelfth Card" by Jeffery Deaver and, even when I finished it, I couldn't remember if I'd read it before because I couldn't remember the ending. Honestly, I still don't know. (It was a great book, though.)

So, if you find yourself reading a book and thinking, "My, this sounds familiar," maybe you've read it before...and, maybe you read too much. But, hey, I'm a librarian, so I'm always gonna think that reading too much is a good thing!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Was Chris McCandless crazy or simply seeking spiritual fulfillment?

Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild" stirred up a great discussion at the Titles & Tea Book Club this week.

This non-fiction account of the 24-year-old college graduate who donated his last $24,000 to charity and was found dead two years later in Alaska was recently made into a movie by director Sean Penn. As you can imagine, the 1996 book has been in demand again.

Krakauer's book developed out of a magazine article he wrote for "Outside" magazine. (read the article at The book reads like an investigative account into the mindset of a charismatic young man who set off on an adventure and attracted friends wherever he went.

After setting off to see the country by foot, he made his way to Alaska to live off the land. For 112 days, he killed small game and survived on the local fauna. Then, in September of 1992, his emaciated body was found in a bus by moose hunters.

Alaskans vilify him for being stupid and unprepared. Worse, they say that he has caused many more stupid and unprepared people to come to Alaska to fulfill a similar wanderlust.

Many say that he was just young. Some say he was suicidal. Others think that he just wanted to do what Henry David Thoreau did almost 150 years before him. Thoreau abandoned society to live alone in the woods by Walden Pond for two years. During this time, he wrote the book, "Walden, or Life in the Woods." A book loved by many and praised by all.

But what if Thoreau never walked out of the woods? Would people think of him as crazy or suicidal? If Chris McCandless had survived or written a beautiful account of his adventure, would he be hailed a hero today?

Chris McCandless could have survived if he had taken a map with him. He purposefully went "Into the Wild" with a meager amount of possessions. Yet he died fulfilled.

To offer a quote from Walden, "To be awake is to be alive." In my opinion, that is what McCandless was after. The movie "Into the Wild" reflects this attitude more than Krakauer's book. In the movie, we get to know Chris McCandless more intimately. In the movie, we get to see what McCandless meant by his last message that he wrote on a piece of cardboard and held up in a picture he took of himself before he died. "I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Good-bye and may God bless all!"

So what's your opinion? Read the book or watch the movie. You can find both at the Ligonier Valley Library.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hot Reads @ the checkout counter

Ever wonder what the rest of the Ligonier Valley is reading? Members of the staff see the names of many authors "cross the desk" while we check books out to people at the library. Some writers are so popular that we often recommend them to our patrons.

One of the names I often see while checking books out and in is Debbie Macomber. Known for creating memorable characters that live in great little towns, Macomber has been winning fans with her books for several years. Her latest, "Twenty Wishes" is about widows who meet on Valentine's Day and begin a list of twenty wishes of things they "always wanted to do but never did."

Whenever a patron checks out a Harlan Coben book, I always warn them not to start it unless they plan on staying up all night to finish it. His books are page-turners and, once started, can not be put down. "Hold Tight," his latest, tells the tale of paranoia in suburbia. When Adam Baye's parents attach a spyware program to his computer, they are terrified by what they find. Then, when he disappears, they become frightened.

Janet Evanovich is a perennial favorite at the checkout counter. People scramble to get the latest in her Stephanie Plum mystery series. "Fearless Fourteen" already has a waiting list. Numbers one through thirteen in her series, though, are also popular because the rest of the valley is trying to catch up with those already in the know about Evanovich.

Kathy Reichs has gain popularity in recent years. "Devil Bones," the next book in her Temperance Brennan series, comes out in August.

J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, is so popular people ask to be put on reserve for her books before they are even published! "Strangers in Death" is the 26th installment in her "Eve Dallas" mysteries.

The recent favorite in the Nicholas Sparks line is "The Choice." People are still clamoring for this one while waiting for "The Lucky One" to come out in September.

Whether you're in the mood for a funny mystery, a page-turning thriller, or a sweet romance, the above authors are names to look for the next time you're in the library.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let The Reading Fun Begin......

90 plus kids attended the 2008 opening day of Summer Reading Club! Little did they know that Mrs. Norris (our Children's librarian) had a special treat in store for them.

After registering and receiving their passes, the kids were led downstairs where they enjoyed a Catch the Reading Bug Carnival! Four stations were set up with activities - Bug Juice Ring Toss, Bug Bean Bag Toss, Design-a-Bug and Paint a Bug in a Box. Once they visited each of the stations, they could then relax and enjoy a buggy flick on the big screen TV.

Thank you to all our wonderful kids, who displayed some excellent manners and oodles of patience... to our wonderful helpers... and to Mrs. Norris and Miss Bobbi who worked hard to make it all possible!


Teen Summer Reading Club sign up is already under way. Stop by the library any time today (we're open until 8:30 pm) or after to register.

Summer Reading Club, for kids who've completed Kindergarten through 6th Grade, will begin registering participants at 2:30 pm. A special program for those registering today will follow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's in a Mystery?

Have you ever wondered why some mysteries can be found in the mystery section, while others are located among the regular fiction? Believe it or not, we actually have a system for making this decision. To qualify as a mystery, the novel generally needs to include two things: a professional or amateur detective and a solvable crime (usually murder).

Over the years, detectives of all styles have graced the pages of mystery novels, including: park rangers, socialites, police officers, busy-bodies, private investigators, book store owners, Moms, teachers, antiquarians, ministers, and even librarians! There are also a number of sub-genres within the world of mysteries, such as historical, cozies, hard-boiled, humorous, and classic; and they've taken place in anywhere from Egypt to London to U.S. National Parks to a 21st-Century New York City.

The library's Mystery Book Discussion Group has been around for a number of years, reading mysteries of all kinds. Visit its webpage to find suggestions, as well as to see what its members are currently reading.

Meanwhile here are a few of the novels that created some of the best conversations:

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

In 1896 New York, psychologist--or in period terminology, an alienist--Laszlo Kreizler joins forces with journalist John Schuyler Moore to track a vicious serial killer.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Eve Dallas, a New York police lieutenant, is in over her head when she breaks the rules and falls in love with Roarke, an Irish billionaire and a suspect in her most recent case.

Above Suspicion by Lynda la Plante (creator of the Prime Suspect TV drama)

Rookie homicide detective Anna Travis who, during her first case, tracks a serial killer who has transitioned from prostitute victims to innocent students, a murderer who may possibly be a famous actor.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Reading Club Starts June 19th

The count down is on and we're only days away from the start of Summer Reading Club!

There are some fun activities planned for both the younger and older crowd; and all the books are anxiously waiting to transport readers away to new places or return them to favorite spots.

Registration for Summer Reading Club and Teen Summer Reading Club begins on Thursday, June 19th.

For kids who have completed Kindergarten through 6th Grade, sign-up starts at 2:30 pm to be followed by a special treat. Among the various things you'll receive on Thursday, you will be given a schedule of events for the Summer and your sheet for keeping track of your minutes.

Registration for teens (ages 12 to 18) is an all day affair. When you sign-up, you will be given your packet which includes some fun prizes as well as your sheet for keeping track of reading minutes.

Stop in on the 19th or any day after to register for either Summer Reading Club.....

Then.... READ.... READ.... READ!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Many authors switch between teens and adults

The hottest teen author is now attracting adult fans. "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer is dominating the top of New York Times Best Seller List while her teen "Twilight" series has been hot with teens for awhile.

The attraction? Teens love horror, especially vampires, and one usually pops up in a Meyer novel. Her books have been flying off the shelves of the young adult section and some teens have had to place them on reserve just to get their hands on them.

Now adults are desperately trying to read "The Host," her first adult novel, which Amazon has christened a "paranormal romance." This popular book-oriented web site also hailed her as a brilliant writer who will attract legions of adult fans.

Many authors have been switching back and forth between these two age groups lately. James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" series is intended for teens, but adults have been asking for them, too. Walter Mosley, who's fan base is legion, is now attracting teens with his book, "47."

Carl Hiaasen's "Flush" and "Hoot" were hot a few years ago. Hiaasen also has loyal adult fans. Ridley Pierson's "The Kingdom Keepers" is also a hot teen read.

Another teen author who has ventured into the adult section is Meg Cabot. Her "Princess Diaries" series fills up a whole shelf in the teen section while her latest adult novel, "Queen of Babble in the Big City" is the second installment in her popular adult series.

So, next time you're in the library, don't be afraid to venture over to the teen section if you're an adult and the adult section if you're a teen. You just might find a few authors you already know.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

True and Fictional Tales About Man's Best Friends

Looking for a good book to read? Make sure you check out the display table at the library. Located next to our New Books bookshelf, the display table is always filled with books centering around a theme. This month's selections are "True and Fictional Tales about Man's Best Friends" in celebration of the library's 3rd Annual Pet Photo Contest.

Most of the books are about dogs and cats, which are a big hit right now due to the recent success of "Marley & Me" by John Grogan. A New York Times Best Seller, "Marley & Me" was so popular that it spawned two spin-offs: "Marley: a Dog Like No Other" is for teen readers and "Bad Dog Marley" is a picture book for kids.

Following on the heels, or tail, of "Marley and Me" is "Colter" by Rick Bass. Colter was adopted by Rick because no one else wanted him. This German Shorthair runt of the litter soon surprised Rick, however, with his amazing intelligence.

"A Good Dog: the Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life" by Jon Katz tells the tale of his "lifelong pet" Orson, who at times terrorized the neighborhood, and at other times, showed Jon just how life should be lived.

Of course, there are also fictional tales of our furry friends. Two notable fictional series featuring cats includes one that insists on listing the cat as a co-writer. Sneaky Pie Brown apparently helps her owner Rita Mae Brown with her Mrs. Murphy mysteries.

Lillian Jackson Braun chooses not to share the credit with her featured cats Koko and Yum Yum, who help Detective-journalist Jim Quilleran solve a few mysteries.

Whether it's fiction or true tales, cats or dogs, there's plenty of choices available at the display table. Stop by and pick up a few....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Audiobooks make driving a lot more fun

Going on a road trip? Instead of playing A is for Alabama, why not take along an audiobook to liven up the drive?

Many of our patrons regularly stop in for audiobooks because they commute to work. In the summer,however, we can spot those roadtrippers because they come up to the desk with a stack of audiobooks.

Any of the Harry Potter books on CD are popular. Read by actor Jim Dale, they can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Thrillers make for an exciting drive, as long as you don't listen to "Silence of the Lambs" by Thomas Harris at night by yourself. If you need something a little less scary, you can try David Baldacci or John Grisham.

A romance audiobook can help set the mood for a getaway for two. Try Nora Roberts or Fern Michaels. Just remember you might want to turn the volume down when you stop at the toll booth.

Make it a trip to another world by listening to a sci-fi or fantasy audiobook. Orson Scott Card or J.R.R. Tolkien fits the bill.

Or you can see who solves the mystery first by listening to an Agatha Christie or Anne Perry.

In the middle of nowhere when the radio is pure static, an audiobook can keep the white lines from getting blurry. They can liven up any road trip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The New York Times Best Sellers on display @ the library

Ever wonder what the rest of America is reading? Next time you’re in the library, check out the New York Times Best Seller Display in the magazine nook. The display shows the front covers of the top 10 fiction and nonfiction books on that week’s list. Updated every Monday, the list lets you see at a glance which books have just made the list and which ones have been on there “forever.”

Feel free to pick up the cover and turn it over to read the summary. Then, if you actually want to read the book, you can reserve it yourself through the library’s online catalog, or a staff member can do it for you.

The New York Times Book Display is just one more way the library tries to help its patrons figure out what to read next!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cool off with a good book

Hot weather days are perfect for reading cold weather books. There is nothing like reading a story set in the frozen tundra of the Arctic, Antarctic, Russia or even Alaska to cool you off. Here are a few suggestions:

Ice Limit by Preston Douglas & Lincoln Child - When a meteorite possessing secrets about human evolution is discovered in a desolate region of Chile, an expedition team sets out to recover it but finds increasing mysteries and dangerous challenges along the way.

The Rope Eater by Ben Jones - Fleeing the horrors of the Civil War by deserting, Brendan Kane joins the crew of the Narthex, an oddly shaped vessel, unaware that the ship's intended destination is a mythic temperate paradise in the heart of the Arctic ice.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London - The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch Shepherd, that was kidnapped and shipped off to Alaska to work on the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck the dog quickly learns how to survive in the wild and also learns the call of the wolf.

A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow - When a National Park ranger is reported missing and the man sent to find him disappears as well, former investigator Kate Shugak decides to brave the cold wilderness of north Alaska to crack the case.

The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin - When a young student from a wealthy family commits suicide in the Alexander Gardens, Erast Fandorin of the Moscow Police investigates the supposedly open-and-shut case and discovers that the student's suicide is not an isolated case.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Antique Bicycle and Bike Paraphernalia Exhibit

An Antique Bicycle and Bike Paraphernalia Exhibit opened on June 5 in the Pennsylvania Room. The exhibit will remain until July 12.

Items on display cover a time period from the 1890s through the mid-1900s. They include: a bike, pictures, literature, postcards, posters, and more. All of the items were provided by Ray Kinsey.

The Exhibit was inspired by the American Eagle Outfitters Tour of Pennsylvania coming through Ligonier over the LIGONIER 250 kickoff weekend.

Stop in during normal Pennsylvania Room hours to visit the display!

Summer Heat

Today is HOT, HOT, HOT and tomorrow is promising to be just as bad. After you visit the St. Michael's Fair, Ligonier Country Market or the Three Rivers Arts Festival stop in to the nice air conditioned library (ok, you'll probably want to visit Carnegie Library if you're in Pittsburgh) to read a book, magazine or newspaper! Bring an iced tea or lemonade with you.*

*Please remember to not have food or drinks near the computers.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

In the post "Hidden Treasures @ the library," Titles & Tea Book Discussion Group members recommended Sarah Addison Allen's book Garden Spells as a "treasure" to read. She now has a second book out, The Sugar Queen!

Josey is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she's a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet... until she finds her closet harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis -- and two parts fairy godmother. With Della's tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Request your copy from the library! (See the BLOG's Polaris Tip on how to request this title or more from the comfort of your home.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pet Contest Off to a Good Start

Billy here (he's the one in the middle) is just one of the pets featured in the library's 3rd annual Pet Photo Contest, sponsored by Dr. Henry Croft of Loyalhanna Veterinary Clinic. Many more will be appearing on the display board in the coming weeks so make sure to stop in the library to see them! Photos are placed on the board as soon as they come in so check back often.
We will also randomly post pet photos on this blog for our online patrons to enjoy. You have until July 19th to turn in your pet's photo before judging begins on July 21st. Remember, photos are not returned so make sure to keep a copy for yourself!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bugs and Moose Out on the Loose

Tom Sieling, widely acclaimed singer and songwriter from Newfield, New York, will perform a very participatory family program called “Bugs and Moose Out on the Loose” on Wednesday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m. This show consists of humorous songs about our natural world and more that are guaranteed to engage everyone. Tom accompanies himself on guitar, banjo, harmonica, and a drum machine, and all songs include parts for the whole family.

This program is free and everyone, of all ages, is invited to join us.

Hope to see you there!