Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Book Group Info!

Back in the fall I met with Hope Long, the director of the Botanical Gardens library. We wanted to start a book group combining Emmet O'Neal Library's patrons and those who frequent Hope's library.

Our new group met last night to discuss Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and to organize and plan for later meetings. Here’s what we decided:

We planned to meet on the first Tuesday of each month which means we will meet on Tuesday, March 2nd at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, April 6th at 6:30 p.m. All meetings will be at the Botanical Gardens library.

We picked two books for discussion. Our March book will be Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. For April we will be reading a book which Hope Long recommended highly called
The $64 Tomato by William Alexander. Both books are available through the Jefferson County Library Cooperative and may be requested and picked up at any branch.

We discussed that the group needs a name! Katie Moellering (Emmet O’Neal Library, Adult Services Department) stated that a prize will be given to the book group member who comes up with the best name for the group – this will be based on a vote at the March meeting – so bring your suggestions in March!

We talked about several possibilities for field trips – in particular we thought it would be fun to visit June Mays’ garden and take a peek at a “gardener’s garden”.

Hope Long (Botanical Gardens Librarian) mentioned that she keeps seed catalogs at the gardens for patrons to peruse at the library, use for ordering while placing orders online, or for checkout.

Some of the catalogs we talked about that were particular favorites of members were:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, The Seed Saver, Sand Mountain Seed Bank (not a seed catalog, but here in Alabama), Thompson & Morgan, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

We also discussed showing films of interest to our group – among them: Food Inc. (which will be shown on March 21st at Emmet O’Neal Library) as well as Fresh, The Real Dirt On Farmer John, King Corn, and more.

We need to choose at least four more books to carry our group through to the fall, so please bring the names of your top choices to our March book group. You can either use the list Hope handed out at the meeting, or bring your own. There were some additions to the list, among them: Passalong Plants, This Common Ground, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Wicked Plants, and Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Hope passed out two lists entitled “Alabama’s Guide to EAT LOCAL” which lists places to get locally grown/raised/produced meats, vegetable and fruits.

In all, we had a great meeting – this is going to be a fun new group!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Focus On Finances

Don't groan! The holidays are over, and it's the perfect time to get your personal finances back in gear! We've picked out a great selection of titles for display on the 2nd floor to help you focus on your finances. Come check it out!

Here are a few of the selections:

America's Cheapest Family: Gets You Right on the Money by Steve Economides

Can I Pay My Credit Card with a Credit Card: And Other Financial Questions We're Too
Embarrassed to Ask by Mary Hunt

Cash In a Flash: Fast Money in Slow Times by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen

The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times by Jean Chatzky

Financial Intimacy: How to Creat a Healthy Relationship with Money and Your Mate by Jaquette M. Timmons

Grow Your Money!: 101 Easy Tips to Plan, Save, and Invest by Jonathan D. Pond

Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity by Garrett B. Gunderson with Stephen Palmer

Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe & Sound by Suze Orman

The Wall Street Journal: The Guide to Starting Your Financial Life by Karen Blumenthal

Wealth Watchers: A Simple Program to Help You Spend Less and Save More by Alice Wood


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Genre Reading Group meets next Tuesday!

We'll be meeting next Tuesday January 26th at 6:30pm to discuss Pulitzer Prize winners!

Please make your plans to join in the fun! February's topic is short stories. I have pulled a selection of PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction-winning authors but of course you are welcome and encouraged to browse on your own.

Feel free to call or email if you have questions!

The Road finally arrives in Birmingham

Katie and I have waited SO patiently for this movie since its November 2009 release and it is FINALLY here!

Based upon Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same title, The Road is a post-apocalyptic dramatic thriller about a father and his son walking alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food -- and each other ( synopsis).

I doubt this movie will have a very long theater shelf life so if you're interested in seeing it on the big screen, better see it now!

Cormac McCarthy is the author of ten novels:
Outer Dark (in production)
Blood Meridian (in production)
Cities of the Plain (in production)
The Road - film adaptation is at the Rave Theater at Lee Branch now!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Help for Haiti

For those of you asking about ways to help the people of Haiti, please visit this website:

Here is some information directly from the website about this new fund and its purpose:

President Barack Obama asked President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush to raise funds for immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts to help those who are most in need of food, water, shelter, medical care, and support. In response, the two Presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) to identify and fulfill unmet needs in the region, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life of those affected over the long term, and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and country.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Remembrance Service Planned

A Remembrance Service has been planned for this Thursday, January 14th, in loving memory of our beloved friend and co-worker, Beverly Smathers. Beverly passed away last week after a long and valiant battle against lung cancer. Many of you knew Beverly and can attest to the wonderful person that she was and the legacy she left for us. Please join us for this service at the library at 4:00 p.m. this Thursday and share your memories.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Genre Reading Group Recap

The Genre Reading Group met Dec 29th for a Salon Discussion of good, favorite, and recently read books!

Our next meeting will be Tuesday January 26th at 6:30 p.m. to talk about Pulitzer Prize winners, either fiction or nonfiction. I have pulled a selection from the last 20 years of winners and a complete list is available at the Reference Desk. You still have time so make plans to join us!

All review information pulled from Amazon.

Lively and informed, Scroogenomics illustrates how our consumer spending generates vast amounts of economic waste--to the shocking tune of eighty-five billion dollars each winter. Economist Joel Waldfogel provides solid explanations to show us why it's time to stop the madness and think twice before buying gifts for the holidays.

Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is—good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.

(Related Discussion: Ayn Rand, author of the novels Anthem, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead. A new biography about her is out, Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller)

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi (not available in the library system)
The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. With the murderer on the loose, the police desperately look for any clues to lead to his identity. Meanwhile, a psychiatrist in a nearby hospital is also in a desperate search to find the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings's devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya's parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope. When these two situations converge, they set off an alarming chain of events. In this stunning psychological thriller, innocence gives way to evil, and trust lies forgotten in a web of deceit, fear, and murder.

(Related Discussion: possible read-a-like for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold -- On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey. Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. In theaters this coming Friday!)

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

(Related Discussion: Another very true-to-life biographical historical fiction novel is Loving Frank by Nancy Horan -- Horan's ambitious first novel is a fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage.)

James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence--X-rays, Carter's files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages--to arrive at their own account of King Tut's life and death. The result is an exhilarating true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all.

Larson's page-turner juxtaposes scientific intrigue with a notorious murder in London at the turn of the 20th century. It alternates the story of Marconi's quest for the first wireless transatlantic communication amid scientific jealousies and controversies with the tale of a mild-mannered murderer caught as a result of the invention.

(Related Discussion: Larson has another great book which uses the same method of juxtaposing an historical event with a murder that took place during the same time -- Devil in the White City: Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it. )

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Waters reflects on the collapse of the British class system after WWII in a stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Excellent audiobook!

(Related Discussion: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters -- In Victorian London, the orphaned Sue Trinder is raised by Mrs. Sucksby, den mother to a family of thieves, or "fingersmiths." To repay Mrs. Sucksby's kindness, Sue gets involved in a scam but soon regrets it.)

(Related Discussion: Feed by M.T. Anderson, also an excellent audiobook -- This brilliantly ironic satire is set in a future world where television and computers are connected directly into people's brains when they are babies. The result is a chillingly recognizable consumer society where empty-headed kids are driven by fashion and shopping and the avid pursuit of silly entertainment--even on trips to Mars and the moon--and by constant customized murmurs in their brains of encouragement to buy, buy, buy.)

School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Shutter Island is off Massachusetts's coast, an army facility turned hospital for the criminally insane. When a beautiful-and certifiably crazy-patient escapes, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, are called in to investigate. Embroiled in uncertainties and mystery, the two soon learn there's much more at stake than simply finding one missing woman.


You may be wondering how we manage to talk about so many books in one meeting and we'd love to show you! Read any Pulitzer Prize-winning book and make plans to join us on Tuesday, January 26th at 6:30p.m. Light refreshments served. For more information, contact Holley at 2-5/445-1117 or

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Library Closing Information

Afternoon everyone -

The library will close today at 12:30 p.m. due to the inclement winter weather. We will re-open tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. should the weather and roadways permit!

In addition, the library will close tomorrow afternoon, January 8th, at 1:00 p.m. for the memorial service for our co-worker and beloved friend, Beverly Smathers, who passed away yesterday afternoon after a lengthy illness. The service will be held at Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church at 2:00 p.m.

Please call us tomorrow at (205) 445-1100 or check the website at for more information on weather related closings.

Stay warm!