Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the Best of the Year

If it's the end of the year,
it's the the beginning of the "Best" season: Best books, best movies, best songs, best ads, best supporting role by a politician's spouse, best green and yellow toys with 2 USB ports for 4-year-olds, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love those lists. But what with the multitude of "Best Books of the Year," I always wait for the "Best of 'The Best Books of the Year.'" This year VQR (Virginia Quarterly Review) has combined the lists from 10 reputable sources, including the NY Times, Washington Post and Publisher's Weekly and ranked the books in order of most appearances. A nice touch, I think. Leading the list is Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, with 6 hits. (If you hurry, there's a rental copy available right now, or at least there was at 11:35 am...)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Your Wellesley Library & Web 2.0

We've been busy at the Library this year expanding our online presence, embracing new social networking venues, and integrating Web 2.0 tools into our repertoire. Here's some highlights of our efforts this year:

Staff Reads Blog - We're really working hard at putting quality reading, listening, and viewing suggestions out there for our patrons to enjoy. The blog covers a wide range of topics, from summer reads to classics, graphic novels to history, and includes movies, music, and books. With about 10 suggestions a month, you can keep current with what the librarians are reading and see what's catching our attention!

Twitter - Want to stay updated on events at the library, weather-related closings, and other cool things that catch our eye? Follow our tweets at

Facebook - For the many of you who are already on facebook, become a fan of the Wellesley Free Library and get a stream of information collected from our events, blog posts, tweets, hour updates, and more. - Helping us maintain a list of websites that we find useful in answering your questions is this innovative website that allows users to "tag" a website with words that helps us find it again when the need arises. Check out our list of websites that we've found useful and pick up some new tricks!

Reference Home Page - We've been hard at work redesigning our Reference Home Page on the Library's website. Check out some of the great highlights like a guide to business resources, a listing of online resources by subject, book lover's links, and more!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Social Networking for Cookbook Users

Andrew Gray, the developer of Cookbooker, began the site out of personal need : he owns over 100 cookbooks and food magazines and kept cooking the same few recipes. Cookbooker enables him to catalog, rate and review recipes and find out what other cooks think of them. Gray looked at Epicurious, Library Thing and Yelp for inspiration in his quest. Membership is free so join up today and share your favorite holiday recipe.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Guardian Digested Reads

Don't have time to read a book? Looking for some humorous reviews now that Kirkus is going out of business? Try the Digested Read column in The Guardian. They read the book so you don't have to! Yes, there are a lot of British titles covered here, but The Guardian is a British newspaper after all. If you can't keep up with all the current literature, try the Digested Classics column. Both columns are written by John Crace, a features writer for the newspaper. Last week the column covered Going Rogue by Sarah Palin. Sorry to all Sarah fans out there, but they don't seem to like her book very much.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Still Wild About Harry?

Are you missing Harry Potter a little? Then you should take advantage of Harry Potter: The Exhibition taking place at the Boston Museum of Science through Sunday, February 21. I was fortunate to experience this display of over 200 costumes and props actually used in the series of Harry Potter movies while I was in Chicago in June. It is amazing to stand next to the clothing worn by Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, and even Dumbledore. My, were the children little when they first began filming the series, and the size of Harry's broom for playing Quadditch reinforces the idea of how young they were. The settings and music put you right into the scenes in the Great Hall, Hagrid's hut, and the Gryffindor common room.

The exhibit in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry featured Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in their IMAX theatre. How wonderful it was to immerse myself in the World of Harry Potter by seeing the movie and then reminiscing about the first five with the Exhibit. It makes you want to have a Harry Potter movie marathon! Since Boston's Museum of Science isn't showing the movie, watch it at home on DVD OR actually reread some of the books, and then make your journey to Boston.

Word of Advice
: Rent the audio for the exhibit so you don't miss any of the interesting facts behind the costumes and props. It will be a wonderful way to bring in 2010! SH

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kirkus Reviews--not your typical book reviewer

Kirkus Reviews: Closing after 75 years
With its reputation for sharp-tongued (or penciled) book reviews, the magazine will be missed by librarians everywhere. In looking for ripe examples of their more colorful put-downs, I realized that those truly knife-twisting reviews were more the exception than the rule. Whether good, mixed or ugly KR's reviews rarely failed to deliver thoughtful, forthright and entertaining prose.
Here then are some (un)representative taglines I did find...
*Any author who loves Venice can't be all bad, no matter how lacking he is in subtlety or how clumsily he handles suspense. Never mind. Relax, have a cappuccino and enjoy the scenery.
*A questionable mishmash of cultural, scientific, literary, psychological and political material gives birth to an atmospheric but unnatural doppelganger to Shelley's classic.
*Not a single overweight, ill-dressed or remotely ordinary character disturbs the high gloss. The mystery , by the way, is settled before the big question: How will Nora's New Year's Eve party go?
*A novel of leaden purpose rather than spirit.
*Stylistically two-dimensional, with frozen surfaces that resist the reader.
*Manufactured suspense, along with pages of invented and hackneyed dialogue, vitiates this account of the varieties of heroism.
*Mawkish morass of gloom, lightly frothed with escapism.
*One constant is the dialogue: stilted and unnatural throughout, as are the characters' responses to their many mind-blowing adventures.
*Gingerbread characters, cookie-cutter plotting.
*About half a book, and pretty thin at that.
We'll miss Kirkus.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Online Book Clubs

Join our Online Book Clubs and keep up with your reading this holiday season. Daily, Monday through Friday, you'll receive a five-minute selection from a chapter of a book via email. By the end of the week, you'll have read 2-3 chapters. Every Monday a new book begins. Choices include fiction, non-fiction, business, mystery, and science fiction. Go to; click on Reference Services; choose Books and Reading; then Online Bookclubs. Happy reading!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Digital Overload!

Amazon's Kindle and Sony's eReaders may very well be all the rage among gift-givers this holiday season, but these ebook readers have a long ways to go before they can offer the bounty of digitized information available on the Internet. Digital projects like Google Books are among the best-known of these projects, which seek to make publicly available digitized editions of out-of-copyright books, maps, personal correspondence, sound and video recordings, and more.

In regards to books, some of the larger digital archiving projects are Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive (which goes way beyond books), and Project Gutenberg. A problem that exists with most digital projects, however, is that the efforts are spread out, and the methods of searching for books so diverse, that you're never quite sure what is truly available on the internet. Thankfully, John Mark Ockerbloom has come to the rescue with his digital books compilation site, The Online Books Page, which consolidates diverse resources from across the 'net (even diving into the Invisible Web) and brings them into an easily searchable format. Ockerbloom's project is really humming, and you can see the daily updates of what's being added to the plethora of ebooks daily.

For the food enthusiast, Michigan State University's Feeding America project will be of interest, with important cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century, such as Fannie Farmer's barn-burner of a cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.

Many, many more projects like these exist, so I'll try to keep you updated on any new and interesting digitization project sites I come across. I hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Books into Movies - Coming in December

Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, comes to theatres on December 11. Based on John Carlin's 2008 nonfiction book Playing the Enemy : Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, the movie is directed by Clint Eastwood.

A Single Man, based on the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, is directed by Gucci fashion designer turned filmaker Tom Ford and stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Ginnifer Goodwin. The film is due out on December 11.

Sherlock Holmes, due out December 25, is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic detective. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams,
and Jude Law and is directed by Guy Ritchie.

Up In the Air is based on Walter Kirn's 2001 novel about a career transition counselor who is also a very frequent flier. The film stars George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Jason Bateman and is directed by Jason Reitman.