Friday, November 21, 2008

Make the Library Part of Your Social Network

Wellesley Free Library now has a Facebook page featuring all our latest news including events, classes, programs and updates from this blog.

Recent research documents the educational benefits of social networking technology. A June 2008 study from the University of Minnesota found that students who use social networking sites demonstrate creativity, learn technology and communication skills, and come into contact with diverse viewpoints.

So become a fan of the WFL on Facebook... it's good for you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Book Award Winners

For those of you waiting impatiently for the announcement of the National Book Award winner for 2008, you wait no longer. They are just in time for your holiday list. The winners for each category are:


Peter Matthiessen.
Shadow Country: a new rendering of the Watson legend
Inspired by a near-mythic event of the wild Florida frontier at the turn of the twentieth century, Shadow Country reimagines the legend of the inspired Everglades sugar planter and notorious outlaw E. J. Watson, who drives himself relentlessly toward his own violent end at the hands of neighbors who mostly admired him, in a killing that obsessed his favorite son.


Annette Gordon-Reed. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Historian and legal scholar Gordon-Reed presents this epic work that tells the story of the Hemingses, an American slave family and their close blood ties to Thomas Jefferson.

Young People's Literature

Judy Blundell. What I saw and how I lived.In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.


Mark Doty. Fire to fire: new and collected poems.
Mark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of Mark Doty's seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. Doty's subjects-our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire's transformative power, and art's ability to give shape to human lives-echo and develop across twenty years of poems. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought; here one of contemporary American poetry's most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our times.

Posted by SH

What do these photos have in common?

And, for extra credit, Which photo is which: Meryl, Dewey and Vicki?

In order to have guessed right, you'd have to be up on your best sellers, actresses and inside movie scoop.
Yes, that's Meryl Streep (in the middle) cast to star in the coming movie version of the best selling Dewey the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, written by librarian Vicki Myron (yup, on the right).
Dewey is on the left. Here's the Booklist review of the book. Put your request in NOW for the next available copy in Minuteman.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Picture and Answer Session

Sometimes a picture is worth...

There are a lot of question-and-answer web sites around. They're so thick sometimes, you can trip over one on your way to your local library catalog. Here's one you won't want to miss, though. At you send in a photo and ask for an ID or explanation or a source or whatever. On a recent browse I found:
-- a flashy, fiery tattoo-looking design that someone was wondering about (someone ID'ed it as the logo of a metal band called Slipknot)
--an uncompleted painting of a dog and a man on a beach (the painter was looking for ideas on how to finish it)
--a photo of an American soldier cradling a wounded (Iraqi?) boy (a viewer sent in the photographer's name and web site)
--a screendump from a Nokia phone with unidentified icons on it

Other users were trying to find the value of collectibles, identify insects or plants, or locate individuals.

You can search by tags or categories or, of course, you can just browse the pictures chronologically and look for bizarro pix.

Monday, November 17, 2008

December Movie Releases Based on Books

The following movies are scheduled to open in theatres in December:

Frost/Nixon is based on the Tony Award winning 2007 play by British dramatist Peter Morgan and recreates the post-Watergate interviews between talk-show host David Frost and a disgraced Richard Nixon. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen.

Defiance is based on Nechama Tec's 1993 nonfiction book Defiance : The Bielski Partisans. This WWII drama chronicles the efforts of three Jewish brothers who fight back against the Nazis and stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell.

directed by John Patrick Shanley, is based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 play about a nun who accuses a priest of abusing a black student. Set in the Bronx in 1964, the film stars Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and others.

Revolutionary Road is based on Richard Yates' 1961 debut novel (a finalist for the National Book Award). Sam Mendes directs this romantic drama with Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates.

is based on the 1981 stage play by British playwright C.P. Taylor and directed by Vicente Amorim. The film tells the story of a professor whose ideas are mangled and turned into propaganda by the government. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong, Jason Isaacs, and Gemma Jones.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Love Paris in the Springtime, I Love Paris in the Fall....

Curl up and savor the charms of Paris during the dark days of November.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
Gopnik's "Paris Journal" column, a popular feature in the New Yorker, has won magazine reporting awards. Several of those columns are gathered here, with entries from his private journal serving as a sort of mortar holding the individual columns together. Lovers of the French capital will agree with Gopnik as he extols the virtues of Paris, where he and his wife and son moved in 1995, and where he had wanted to live since he was eight years of age. With no equivocation but certainly with occasional exasperation, he asserts that "a love for Paris came to be one of the strongest emotions I possess." The overarching theme of the book is France's ambivalent status in the world today and just how French self-attitude is different now from what it used to be--in other words, the "persistence of this civilization in the sideshow of postmodern culture." Falling under Gopnik's critical eye are such specific topics as Islamic terrorism, labor relations, French versus American versions of the health club, and "the French gift for social dramatization."

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull
Turnbull, an Australian journalist, made a life-changing decision at age 27, when she took a yearlong leave of absence to travel the world. While in Bulgaria, she met a Frenchman, whom she arranged to visit later in Paris. The visit went well (despite her doubts in the intervening months about the wisdom of her decision and her alarm at finding adult comic books upon arriving at his apartment)--so well that she moved in soon after and has been living in France ever since, ultimately marrying the man who on their first meeting described himself as "maniac." (She later understood that he meant "neat freak.") Turnbull's account of navigating another culture, learning a new language, and reinventing her professional self is a delight to read, filled with observational humor. We know she's truly integrated when she gets a small terrier (that she then spends obscene amounts of money taking to a chic dog-grooming salon) and is able to flip insults back in French to a rude customer in a patisserie.

I'll Always Have Paris by Art Buchwald
Those who believe themselves immune to envy should read this book. Like most of us, columnist Art Buchwald has endured some hard times: early years in an orphanage, the collapse of a 40-year marriage, his wife's death of cancer. But, oh, what a run he had in the middle part of his life: 14 years in Paris, 1948-62, writing for the Herald Tribune and hobnobbing with the rich, the famous, and the literary. Whether it was hanging out in the cafes of Montparnasse or St.-Germaine-des-Pres with other expatriate writers (Styron, Plimpton, et al.), downing champagne with the Rothschilds, or nightclubbing with Audrey Hepburn, Buchwald lived the Paris of your dreams--and usually someone else picked up the tab. As a restaurant reviewer and columnist-about-town, Buchwald had free access to Paris' many pleasures, and though he turns coy when the topic comes to sex, he appears to have enjoyed them all. And, of course, on those rare occasions when Paris lost its charm, there were always road trips: fox-hunting with John Huston in Ireland, attending Grace Kelly's wedding in Monaco, riding a Ferris wheel with Orson Welles in Vienna. Are we envious yet? If so, here's a thought: despite Buchwald's wealth of experience, this memoir never quite comes together. No movable feast, Buchwald's Paris is a long string of anecdotes. Doesn't help, does it? What's elegant prose against a free trip to Monaco?

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
"You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil." Begun in the autumn of 1957 and published posthumously in 1964, Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast captures what it meant to be young and poor and writing in Paris during the 1920s. A correspondent for the Toronto Star, Hemingway arrived in Paris in 1921, three years after the trauma of the Great War and at the beginning of the transformation of Europe's cultural landscape: Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubist forms; James Joyce, long living in self-imposed exile from his native Dublin, had just completed Ulysses; Gertude Stein held court at 27 rue de Fleurus, and deemed young Ernest a member of rue génération perdue; and T. S. Eliot was a bank clerk in London. It was during these years that the as-of-yet unpublished young writer gathered the material for his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, and the subsequent masterpieces that followed. Among these small, reflective sketches are unforgettable encounters with the members of Hemingway's slightly rag-tag circle of artists and writers, some also fated to achieve fame and glory, others to fall into obscurity. Here, too, is an evocation of the Paris that Hemingway knew as a young man -- a map drawn in his distinct prose of the streets and cafés and bookshops that comprised the city in which he, as a young writer, sometimes struggling against the cold and hunger of near poverty, honed the skills of his craft. A Moveable Feast is at once an elegy to the remarkable group of expatriates that gathered in Paris during the twenties and a testament to the risks and rewards of the writerly life.

Paris in the 50's by Stanley Karnow
To a one, writers familiar with the Paris of the 1920s wax nostalgic--those who still have the breath to do so, that is--about that time and place. But Karnow, Paris correspondent for Time during the 1950s, found that the seemingly less vibrant postwar period also offered no dearth of great memories. Of course, no etranger can correctly interpret or even comprehend all sides of the Parisian's psyche; even Karnow admits that "the longer I remained in France, the more its intricacies daunted me." Daunted or not, he had a glorious, eye-opening, consciousness-expanding time in the City of Lights, which he recollects in a rousing combination of voices: memoirist, traveler, and foreign correspondent. His anecdotally rich narrative begins in June 1947, when, fresh out of college, he inaugurated a summer visit that extended for 10 years. He was transformed from a wide-eyed kid into a seasoned appreciator of the nuances, ambiguities, ironies, and contradictions that are Parisians' staff of live. Not content with simply ensconcing himself in the Time bureau offices, which, however, "occupied the two floors above a bank in a magnificent eighteenth-century building on the Place de la Concorde, one of the splendors of Paris, if not the world," Karnow created a personal life for himself and took in all that Paris and the provinces had to offer. And now he offers this succulent book, which Francophiles will devour.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Are You Nosy? Too Much Time on Your Hands?

Here's A Delicious Site for You...
Now you can see what web sites other Internet users are bookmarking AS THEY ARE BOOKMARKING THEM! You don't need to wait until a site gets popular or limit yourself by your own search terms. If that seems exciting to you, let me explain. At you can watch the new additions as they are posted. Every few seconds (there are over 5 million users) a new bookmark, with screenshot, appears. Follow the link or save it to savor it later.
A little background, for those born too late to have absorbed the concept by osmosis: is a social bookmarking site which allows people around the world to store their favorite web sites, organize them and share them with five million friends. (Reddit and Digg are two other popular sites with similar concepts.)
So you submit a bookmark for a web site, and assign a "tag" (or subject) to it. This site is then added to the list of web sites under that particular tag. You, or anyone else, can search for all bookmarks given that tag.
I'm not saying this is a must-see or anything, but it is kind of fun.

The President-Elect on Libraries

Obama's Speech to the American Library Association (2005)
During the campaign last year, I was asked by a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times if she could interview me about the nature of my religious faith. It was an interesting proposition. I sat down with the reporter, who asked me some very pointed questions about the nature of my faith, how it had evolved. Then the reporter asked me a surprising question. She asked me, “Do you believe in heaven? And what’s your conception of it?”

I told her, you know, I don’t presume to know what lies beyond, but I do know that when I sit down with my six-year-old and my three-year-old at night and I’m reading a book to them and then I tuck them in to go to sleep, that’s a little piece of heaven that I hang onto.

That was about a year ago, and what’s interesting now is watching my six-soon-to-be-seven-year-old reading on her own now. My four-year old will still sit in my lap, but my seven year old, she lies on the table and on her own. She’s got the book in front of her. She’s kind of face down, propped up. And I say, “Do you want me to read to you?” “No, Daddy, I’m all right,” she says, and there’s a little heartbreak that takes place there.
In the speech the new prez displays his usual eloquence on such subjects as the importance of libraries, threats to libraries and the "need to read." Click here for the whole speech.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Explore Wellesley's Natural History

Wellesley’s Natural History Guides

Over the years the Wellesley Conservation Council, the Wellesley Historical Society and the Massachusetts Audubon Society have published guides to the natural history of Wellesley. Most of the guides include maps of localities mentioned in the text such as park land, open space, points of interest, and historic sites. The Wellesley Free Library has kept many of these guides and they are available at the library.

Walks in Wellesley; Exploring Wellesley’s Open Space by Margaret Klein Wilson -- A field guide and enjoyable armchair ramble through Wellesley’s open spaces.

Walks in Wellesley Supplement -- A booklet intended to be used in conjunction with the Map of Parks and Public Lands (included)

Geological Story of Wellesley by Katharine Fowler-Billings -- A guide to the geological sites of interest in Wellesley written by a geologist for the layman.

Birds of Wellesley by Clark Ewer – A booklet which provides an indication of the distribution, relative abundance and habitat preferences of the bird species found in Wellesley.

The Web of Life around Longfellow Pond; a Trail Guide

by Beverly

Morrison – A guide to the 62 acres of land

between Oakland St and Route 9 which includes several kettle holes, marshy areas, open fields, high ridges together with Longfellow Pond.

Four Tours of Historic Wellesley by Margaret S. Urann – A guide to four tours describing historic points of interest in Wellesley.


Massachusetts Book Awards

The Massachusetts Book Awards recognize significant achievements from the Massachusetts writing comunity in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, and children's literature. This year's awards ceremony will be held at the State House on November 20, 2008, in the Great Hall at 2 p.m. Below are a two of this year's Award Books. Click here for the complete list.

Fiction: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, written by MIT Writing Professor Junot Diaz (Cambridge). This wonderful novel of the immigrant experience is also a driving expose of the travails of the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship of Trujillo. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Oscar Wao helps us to understand the experiences brought to Massachusetts by our newest residents.

Nonfiction: Salem Witch Judge by Eve LaPlante (Brookline) depicts the career of Samuel Sewell, the only judge to repent publicly his involvement in the witch trials. Sewell, a distant relation to LaPlante, went on to argue for the rights of Native Americans, for the abolition of slavery and for equal rights for women … all of this in 1600s Massachusetts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where to Find FREE On-line Books

Hundreds of Sites Offering Free Books!
The University of Pennsylvania has compiled a huge list of on-line sources of free books. They've cleverly called it The Online Books Page. The book categories range from Catalan poetry to needlework pattern books with slave narratives, dime novels, sheet music and classical Hebrew texts in-between. The larger general book sites like Google, Gutenberg and Microsoft are there too. Take a look.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hear Toni Morrison

Listen to the Author Read from her New Book-- A Mercy
Listen to the NPR podcasts of Toni Morrison reading from A Mercy which NPR calls a "stunning return to form for Morrison... A Mercy deserves to be counted alongside some of her most acclaimed novels, such as Sula and Beloved." In a starred review Booklist uses words like "brilliant," "riveting," "poetic" and "deeply involving." (Sounds like those movie review blips on the dvd boxes, doesn't it? Well, follow the Booklist link for the whole review.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tony Hillerman Gone But Never Forgotten

Tony Hillerman was known not only for his 18 popular Southwest mysteries with Detectives Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee but also his books celebrating the natural wonders of the Southwest. His desire through his writing was to share his respect of Native American culture. He will be missed by his fans but will be remembered through his award winning prose. (See titles below.) He was the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1974 and the Grandmaster Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1991. Mr. Hillerman died in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 26, 2008.


Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman.
Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high lonely place -- a corpse with a mouth full of sand, abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn cannot help but suspect the hand of a supernatural killer. There is palpable evil in the air, and Leaphorn's pursuit of a Wolf-Witch is leading him where even the bravest men fear ... on a chilling trail that winds perilously between mysticism and murder.

Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman. [Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award]
Two young boys suddenly disappear. One of them, a Zuni, leaves a pool of blood behind. Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police tracks the brutal killer. Three things complicate the search: an archeological dig, a steel hypodermic needle, and the strange laws of the Zuni. Compelling, terrifying, and highly suspenseful, "Dance Hall of the Dead" never relents from first page til last.

Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman.
A noted anthropologist vanishes at a moonlit Indian ruin where "thieves of time" ravage sacred ground for profit. When two corpses appear amid stolen goods and bones at an ancient burial site, Navajo Tribal Policemen Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee must plunge into the past to unearth the astonishing truth behind a mystifying series of horrific murders.

Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman.
Since his retirement from the Navajo Tribal Police, Joe Leaphorn has been called on occasionally by his former colleagues to help them solve a puzzling crime. And Leaphorn, aided by Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito, always delivers. But this time, the problem is with an old case of Joe's ndash;ndash; his "last case," unsolved and haunting him. And with Chee and Bernie on their honeymoon, Leaphorn is on his own. The case involved a priceless Navajo rug gone missing. Now, years later, Leaphorn is picking up the threads of a crime he'd thought impossible to solve. Hillerman is at the top of his form in this atmospheric and stunning novel.

Hillerman Country: A Journey through the Southwest with Tony Hillerman by Tony Hillerman.
This... is a collaborative effort between the author and his brother, a professional photographer for 40 years. The text mixes popularized history and anthropology with personal observations and anecdotes. A thoughtful selection of excerpts from Hillerman's novels serve as captions to many of the 200 color photos. Barney Hillerman's camerawork exhibits an understated and straightforward honesty by avoiding over-studioization. (from Library Journal)