Thursday, January 29, 2009

These Happenings are HOT!

Hello dear readers! Just an update - our Saturday evening Dolores Hydock event is almost sold out, we have less than ten tickets left. Please call us if you would like to attend!
Also, our February day trip to Florence (Alabama, people, not Italy) is about half full, so if you *think* you want to join us, hurry and get your check in so we can hold you spot.
Give us a call if you have questions about any programs :)


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Database service interruption

I just received an email from Ebsco, provider of great databases galore, letting us know that on Saturday January 31st and Sunday February 1st, visitors to the Jefferson County Library Cooperative's database page may experience problems accessing Ebsco products due to a planned system maintainence.  

The Cooperative apologizes for any inconvience but does expect service to resume on Monday February 2nd. 

Thank you for your patience!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Need primary sources? Got Footnote?

In perusing my copy of the November/December issue of Public Libraries, the publication of the Public Library Association, I discovered a v.v. cool website, Footnote!  

(from the site)Footnote is a place where original historical documents are combined with social networking in order to create a truly unique experience involving the stories of our past.  The Footnote collections feature documents, most never before availabe on the Internet, relating to the Revolutionalry War, Civil War, World War I and II, U.S. presidents, historical newspapers, natuarliazation documents and more.

Membership options include a basic free membership with some limitations on access to premium images and a monthly ($11.95) or yearly ($69.95) All-Access membership.  So, if historical research is one of your interests, Footnote might be of interest to you!

Happy Reading!

Genre Reading Group meets tomorrow Jan. 27th at 6:30pm

"The American Civil War took more American lives than any other war in history.  It so divided the people of the United States that in some families brother fought against brother and father against son.  The terrible bloodshed left a heritage of grief and bitterness that declined only slowly and, even today, has not fully disappeared.  About 620,000 soldiers died during the Civil War, almost as many as the combined American dead of all other wars from the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) through the Vietnam War (1957-1975).  More than half the deaths were caused by disease.  From 1861 to 1865 in the United States, the calm reason that is basic to democracy gave way to human passions, yet the outcome of the war paved the way for the rise of the United States as a major global power (World Book 2003 pgs. 614-634)."

"The Civil War gave historical novelists a subject of inexhaustible interest, tapping powerful and persistent regional loyalties as well as questions about national purpose, destiny, and identity.  Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895) is a canonical work of American literature; it is also an historical novel, and distinguished works about the Civil War continue to be written, for example, Charles Frazier's acclaimed Cold Mountian (1998) (Genreflecting 2006, pgs 48-49)."

Join us as the Genre Reading Group meets tomorrow January 27th at 6:30pm in the library's Conference Room to discuss Civil War fiction.  I love to see new members so please plan to join the discussion!  Talk about your favorite Civil War fiction title and get suggestions from other readers.  Refreshments provided.  For more information, contact Holley Wesley by phone: 205/445-1117 or email:!

February's genre will be presidential biographies!  Read a biography, autobiography, or memoir of any President of the United States and plan to join us on February 24th at 6:30pm in the library's Conference Room!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Presidential History

Yesterday the 44th President of the United States took the Executive Oath of Office and a new era of presidential authority begins.  President Obama's Inaugural Address was one of the shorter in the history of this tradition. Have a look at these resources to see how inaugural speeches have changed over time!  

Bartleby has conveniently assembled all the Inaugural Addresses of every president since George Washington for your reading convenience.  Visit their site and pick a favorite (or a few favorites...or all of them)!

You can also visit MetaFilter and see a century of Inaugural Address videos!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Here is book #3 of my quest to read at least 100 books this year!

I read Under the Tuscan Sun on the recommendation of a fellow librarian whose book suggestions I always consider very seriously.  She recommended the book very highly and also the film adaptation, which I watched before I read the book.  I was enchanted with the movie (very much a chick flick and I don't wholeheartedly enjoy those very often) and eager to read the book.  The fellow librarian did warn me beforehand that extensive "creative license" was exercised in adapting the book :P

Wow.  That's my first impression.  I admit that this book stirs in me the compulsion to liquidate all of my unconsiderable assets, move to Italy, and find some crumbling estate to buy, fix up, and languish in until the end of my days.  Ms. Mayes has me longing for olives, good wine, bruchetta, porcini, pears, gorgonzola, fresh pasta, pungent herbs, cleansing sunshine and every other fun adventure she relates.  She enjoys shopping more than I ever could, but on everything else we agree!

When I asked a friend if she had read the book, she said that she had tried to start the book but was put off by the author's "whiney tone."  I didn't get that impression but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you loved Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia then you will also enjoy Under the Tuscan Sun.  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true so don't get bogged down with it if you didn't enjoy Gilbert's book.

Mayes takes these long, rambling literary journeys aroundabout the country she has come to love, lovingly describing the actual long, rambling walks and explorations she and Ed take in and around the countryside surrounding her new, beloved estate, Bramasole (literally, "yearning for the sun," isn't that lovely?!).  Another warning, if you can't handle stream-of-consciousness, don't proceed any further.  Of course, I thought I hated it too but obviously I just don't like it when Faulkner trots it out. 

There are recipes for some of the mouthwatering dishes Mayes describes and I admit to wanting to make copies of things I will probably never make.  I also admit to having a supreme craving for bruchetta right now! :-) 

Anyway, Under the Tuscan Sun is a feast on so many levels...indulge yourself why don't you?!?!

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009

The American painter Andrew Wyeth, son of N.C. Wyeth, died this morning in Pennsylvania at age 91. He is perhaps most famous for his paintings of Helga Testorf and the painting "Christina's World."
For a list of books and other materials on or by Wyeth available in Jefferson County, take a look here. For Andrew Wyeth's own website, look here. For information on the entire Wyeth family, look at this list.

A Saga for Sunday

Book Club Girl posted this the other day:
Wuthering Heights on PBS!
For those of you in and around Birmingham, our local PBS affiliate will show this new version of Wuthering Heights at 9:00 p.m. as part of their Masterpiece Classic. Part 1 will show this Sunday, part 2 will be - surprise! - next Sunday!
This new series stars Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Cathy.
Let's see ... what will I be doing Sunday?
  • hot chocolate
  • kettle korn (yep, the kind with 2 ks)
  • Wuthering Heights!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Challenge for the New Year

So, I signed up over at J. Kaye's Book Blog for the 2009 100+ Reading Challenge!  What that boils down to is that I have vowed to read (and review!) at least 100 books this year and I will be sharing it with you along the way!  

1. The United States Constitution:  A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell
I personally would never have thought I could sit down and read a book about the Constitution but I read this one cover to cover in a relatively short period of time.  I learned several things I did not know, got a refresher on many others, and giggled a time or two as well.  VERY accessible and quite scholarly for a general overview.  

2. a mercy by Toni Morrison
This novel had a bit too much of a stream-of-consciousness feel to it for me to really love it. That being said, most parts of the story were very cohesive and very moving.  I liked getting the story from so many different perspectives, especially the perspectives of Florens and Lina. Heartbreaking, bitter, redemptive, and so horrifically indicative of what was to blossom from the first stirrings of indentured and slave labor.  I look forward to reading another of Morrison's books soon.

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's National Hobby Month!

I was reminded by the every friendly GovGab blog that January is National Hobby Month and Emmet O'Neal Library is ready to help out!

Whether you collect stamps, make bead jewelry, paint furniture, scrapbook, sew, knit, crochet, quilt, take photographs, collect dolls, or any of the myriads of hobbies out there, your local library can be one-stop-shopping for any how-to information! 

Happy Hobbying!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just A Little Something Fun

Check it out:

Great Crime Fiction Site!

Take a look at this site from Bantam/Dell. Solely dedicated to new, up and coming crime fiction, it's called Blood on the Page (aren't they clever?) Bantam's new site allows you to read chapters from their books, just to whet your appetite. In addition to sneak peaks of 1st chapters, you can share what you find with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and more.
In case you didn't know, Bantam Dell publishes BIG name authors like Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, and Dean Koontz. The first book they have featured on Blood on the Page is "Safer" by Sean Doolittle. Check it out - literally, hahahahaha!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Genre Reading Group

If you are looking for a fun and interesting book group to join, look no further than the Emmet O'Neal Library's Genre Reading Group! The GRG differs from a traditional book group in that we do not read and discuss one book, we read and discuss books on one topic. Discussions are wide-ranging and the major side effect of attending the meeting is a significantly larger to-be-read stack of books!

Our next meeting will be January 27th at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room and we will be discussing Civil War (American) fiction. There is a selection of books on reserve for interested participants at the 2nd floor Reference Desk so come by any time during regular library hours and browse. You are always free to use your home library (if it isn’t EOL!) or local bookstore to make your selection as long as it is a fiction novel set during the American Civil War.

The December meeting was a Salon Discussion of our Favorite Books of 2008! It did not matter if they were new, old, freshly read, or an old favorite re-enjoyed...just as long as it was a favorite of the year. You could find YOUR new favorite in the following list of titles and series we discussed:

The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
Fun fantasy as well as an ExCeLlEnT historical fiction title. I read that this series has been optioned by Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings movie fame!

The Miss Julia series by Ann Ross
Small town humor, lovable characters, hilarious hijinks!

Brings to mind the Southern Sisters mysteries by Anne George

and the Mitford Years series by Jan Karon
A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons (not yet published, due out October 27, 2009)
A particularly risqué version of Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, takes place in the fictional medieval country of Westeros. The author is not shy about disposing of characters so beware loving any one character too much. Compulsively readable and addictive. You will ignore things in your house and life to get these massive tomes read.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson is part of a crime/thriller trilogy (followed by The Girl Who Played With Fire [July 28, 2009] and Castles in the Sky[working title, may change]). Larsson lived to experience the first of his books become a phenomenon in his homeland (Sweden), but died of a heart attack at age 50 without seeing any of his international success.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond.
Collapse is the glass-half-empty follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. While Guns, Germs, and Steel explained the geographic and environmental reasons why some human populations have flourished, Collapse uses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart. Nonfiction and fiction readers alike will also enjoy The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dustbowl by Timothy Egan. Egan tells an extraordinary tale in this visceral account of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl. Heartbreaking, staggering, sobering, I can’t say enough good things about this title. National Book Award Winner!

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Also of interest, Larson’s Thunderstruck. Larson sticks to a formula that works: pairing the story of a progressive development, in this case, wireless communication, with an exciting murder mystery set in England. The murderer in this book is Hawley Harvey Crippen, a mild-mannered doctor and unlikely killer, who murdered his overbearing wife to be with his young lover. Crippen and Guglielmo Marconi take center stage in the book, and their stories gradually come together as Marconi's invention is integral in apprehending Crippen.

During our discussions we wandered into the topic of re-reading books and I admitted to having two books that I have read so many times that I had to repair them with tape and an empty cereal box. I was coerced into mentioning them here even though they are out of print, though available used at attractive prices. Dark Horse and Lighting’s Daughter by Mary Herbert. These two books relate the story of Gabria, a young woman orphaned when her entire clan is slaughtered by a rival clan through the use of outlawed magic. As a woman with no family, Gabria is now threatened with being an outcast. To claim revenge for her family’s murder, she must assume the identity of her slain twin brother and try to join another clan. Magical steeds, swordfights, sorcery and a little romance never hurt anyone.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson. Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. This is one of those love-it-or-hate-it titles. For some, Gilbert comes across as selfish and whiny while for others it is a journey taken with a dear friend. I fell into the latter group and this book has pride of place with a few other treasures on my living room coffee table.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. In Barry's captivating debut, Towner Whitney, a dazed young woman descended from a long line of mind readers and fortune tellers, has survived numerous traumas and returned to her hometown of Salem, Mass., to recover. Any tranquility in her life is short-lived when her beloved great-aunt Eva drowns under circumstances suggesting foul play. Towner's suspicions are taken with a grain of salt given her history of hallucinatory visions and self-harm. I REALLY love this book! Towner is one of the best characters living in my mind from all my years of reading. I start this book, each time, with clarity of mind but can never quite recall every exact detail of the beginning by the time I reach the end. Towner’s amorphous narration clouds what you think you know.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. At the start of Davidson's powerful debut, the unnamed narrator, a coke-addled pornographer, drives his car off a mountain road in a part of the country that's never specified. During his painful recovery from horrific burns suffered in the crash, the narrator plots to end his life after his release from the hospital. When a schizophrenic fellow patient, Marianne Engel, begins to visit him and describe her memories of their love affair in medieval Germany, the narrator is at first skeptical, but grows less so. Eventually, he abandons his elaborate suicide plan and envisions a life with Engel, a sculptress specializing in gargoyles. Davidson, in addition to making his flawed protagonist fully sympathetic, blends convincing historical detail with deeply felt emotion in both Engel's recollections of her past life with the narrator and her moving accounts of tragic love. Once launched into this intense tale of unconventional romance, few readers will want to put it down. My absolute FaVoRiTe book of the year! Word of warning though, the first 75-100 pages are not for the faint of heart as you will get a graphic description of the recovery of a burn victim. (For those at the meeting who were curious about general gargoyle history, from World Book: a decorated waterspout that projects from the upper part of a building or tower. To protect building walls from rain water running off the roof, ancient Greek architects often attached terra cotta or stone lion heads to building cornices. A hollow channel inside the heads directed the water safely clear of the building. During the Middle Ages, gargoyles became a familiar part of Gothic buildings. Gothic architects adopted the ancient Greek design and created fantastic, carved downspouts. The figures were part animal and part human. The largest ones extended as much as 3 feet (91 centimeters) from the walls of the building. The term gargoyle is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to all sculptures of grotesque beasts on medieval buildings. When they are not used for drains, such creatures are more properly called chimeras.)

One of my favorite new authors published a book in 2008, Sarah Addison Allen! The Sugar Queen chronicles the late-arrived coming of age of Ms. Josey Cirrini. Josey is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. A rollicking good time with a sweet, heart of gold heroine! Her other title, Garden Spells, has the same small town humor, sweet romance, and small touch of magic!

All reviews pulled from 

Contact Holley Wesley for more information about the Genre Reading Group!
205/445-1117 or

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This month at EOL!

Join the staff at EOL for one of these great programs in January!

Jan 6, 9am to 9pm - Friends of the Library Paperback Book Sale

Jan 7, 12:30pm - The Brown Bag Lunch crowd will watch a documentary on the lives of the real cowboys of the West

Jan 12, 6:30pm - Great Books Discussion Group will talk about Chekhov's Rothschild's Fiddle

Jan 13, 10am - The Bookies Book Group will talk about Nancy Horan's Loving Frank

Jan 14, 12:30pm - The Brown Bag Lunch crowd will watch a documentary on famous outlaws of the past

Jan 19 - The library will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Jan 20, 6:30 pm - Documentaries After Dark will feature a documentary about the New York art world in the 1960's

Jan 21, 12:30pm - The Brown Bag Lunch crowd will hear from representatives of H&R time is almost here again!

Jan 24, 10am - Learn how to use the Jefferson County Library Cooperative's online catalog! Easy one-hour class on how to get the most from the county's online resources. Basic computing skills required.

Jan 27, 6:30pm - The Genre Reading Group will be discussing Civil War fiction. Grab the book of your choice from the Civil War Fiction genre and come tell us about it!

Jan 28, 12:30pm - The Brown Bag Lunch crowd will hear from Page to Stage speaker Karla Stamps about the Birmingham Festival Theater's new production of Diane Samuel's play "Kindertransport."

Jan 31, 6pm to 8pm - Eglamore & Cristobel: A Medieval Love Story featuring Dolores Hydock and the Musicians of Panharmonium (Tickets are $20 and may be purchased from the 2nd floor Reference desk of the Emmet O'Neal Library, payment options include cash or checks made payable to "Friends of EOL")