Friday, November 30, 2007

New Movie Tie-ins

Often movies are based on books - what better place to get a screenplay idea? If you would like to read the book before you see the movie (or after), place a hold on one of the titles listed below. Two of America's best living authors - Cormac McCarthy and Philip Roth - are included.

Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) - Two lovers must wait 50 years in early 20th-century South America to be reunited.

Atonement (Ian McKewan)- Haunting novel that spans pre-World War II England to contemporary times that addresses guilt and redemption.

Beowulf - Epic poem in which the mighty warrior Beowulf must slay Grendel, a murderous monster, and then the beast's vengeful mother.

Elegy (Based on the novel The Dying Animal) by Philip Roth) A professor becomes obsessively attracted to one of his students.

The Mist (Stephen King) Townspeople come under siege by mysterious creatures after a bizarre storm.

Starting Out in the Evening (Brian Morton) A graduate student becomes attached to an elderly writer she once idolized.

No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy) Dark tale of drugs and bloodshed in the wild present-day West.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Jean Dominque Bauby) Extraordinary memoir by a French magazine editor who had "locked in" syndrome after suffering a rare stroke to his brain stem.

Charlie Wilson's War (George Crile) A longtime Sixty Minutes producer investigates the expenditure of what eventually amounted to $1 billion a year to support Afghanistan's Mujahideen in their battle against the Soviets.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Electronic Books: Welcome to a New Era

When people talk about electronic books they might be thinking about those books that you can read with the use of a special portable device or those that can be read on your computer. In both cases, the text of the book will be read in a screen or monitor and it is not in printed format.

This month Amazon launched Kindle, a portable screen that connects to the Internet and displays newspapers, blogs, magazines and books. This isn’t, however, the first of its kind. Ebookwise has had a similar gadget where you can read and store your favorite books. The Portable Reader by Sony has the same purpose. There are other similar devices in the market that provide the same advantages: light screens, portable and versatile machines.

As mentioned before, the other type of e-books are those that you can read directly on your computer screen. It is not necessary to buy another piece of equipment to display these books. Organizations around the world have been working to provide as many free electronic books through the Internet as possible. An example is Project Gutenberg that offers a total of 100,000 electronic books online. Austin Public Library subscribes to NetLibrary, a database that contains 27,000 titles that you can access from the library or from home. To learn more about this particular database, just click here and enjoy your electronic reading!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finding a Good Book

Amazon customer reviews for the same book frequently range between one star and five stars. Award winning books can be great or unreadable. Your best friend's recommendation sits on the night table racking up overdue fines because you just can't get past the first page. In other words, sometimes it's hard to find a good book to read or to give someone.

A new website called shelfari may help you find a book that you will enjoy. It's a social networking site for book lovers that functions like an online book club. Users can post titles they own and make lists of books they want. Each entry is then placed on a virtual bookshelf that is publicly viewable. Users categorize their books and and can join groups. Shelfari makes it easy to see what your friends are reading, what others with similar tastes have enjoyed, and even get and give book recommendations.

For more ideas, check out the Library's Good Reads. For current book titles, see Best Fiction by Year. My personal favorite website under Reader's Tools is Overbooked which includes annotated lists of nonfiction, fiction, science fiction, and mystery books which received starred reviews.

If you want to slog thought 137 titles that have been nominated by libraries around the world for the year's best novel, see the 2008 International Impac Dublin Literary Award list.
For fiction and nonfiction, see the New York times best 100 books of the year.

Last but definitely not least, the Library offers the database, Fiction Connection, where you can browse titles by topic, genre, setting, character, location, and timeframe and read short plot summaries.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Shopping tips

It's the day after Thanksgiving so let the holiday shopping begin! In addition to the regular retail stores don't forget to visit the local artists' markets for unique gifts. The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and the Blue Genie Art Bazaar are two worth checking out.

If you need a little help choosing the best item for your money, Consumer Reports is available in the libraries and online through our Research Databases. Visit our E-journal Finder, type in Consumer Reports, and click Search. Click on Academic Search Complete (you will be asked to enter your library card number if you are access the database remotely). From here, you can either browse by clicking the year or click the Search within this publication link to do a keyword search. Enter your keywords on the second line. You can always Ask a Librarian if you have questions.

A few more consumer titles are listed below along with the history and psychology of shopping:

Shopping Online Safely

Savvy Online Shopping: Your Guide to Getting the Best Products--At the Best Prices--On Line!

The Bottom Line Bargain Book: How to Get the Best Deals on Anything and Everything

The Consumer Bible: 1001 Ways to Shop Smart

Going Shopping: Consumer Choices and Community Consequences

Spree: A Cultural History of Shopping

The Call of the Mall: A Walking Tour through the Crossroads of Our Shopping Culture

Why We Shop: Emotional Rewards and Retail Strategies

I Want That!: How We All Became Shoppers

Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! All Austin Public Library locations will close today at 6:00pm for Thanksgiving. We will be closed Thanksgiving Day as well as Friday and will re-open Saturday morning at 10:00. The Austin Public Library wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the food, family, and football.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fictional Biographies

Two novels about Henry James have been published within the last few years - Author, Author by David Lodge and Master by Colin Toibin. I had always heard that Henry James attended dinner parties as often as possible, giving his hosts dazzling conversation in return for the hospitality. But these books tell a different story. James actually withdrew quite a bit into himself in order to write his novels. An anecdote from a new book titled The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes illustrates this contradiction.

"He would occasionally say he was a hermit, and speak as if he lived a life remote from the world. I once heard him say this during a brilliant party at Stafford House, where he was the guest of Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland."

Other recent fictional biographies you may enjoy:

Arthur and George (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Becoming Madame Mao
Casanova in Bohemia
Dancing in the Dark (Bert Williams, first really famous black entertainer)
Fanny: a Fiction (Fanny Wright - Scottish gentlewoman, abolitionist)
True History of the Kelly Gang (Ned Kelly, Australian outlaw)
Loving Frank (Frank LLoyd Wright)
Oscar Wilde Discovers America
Wintering: a Novel of Sylvia Plath

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Build Your Vocabulary!

The editors of the American Heritage® dictionaries have compiled a list of 100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know.

"The words we suggest," says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, "are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language." If you need to look up the definition or pronunciation of a word, please see the Library's Oxford English Dictionary database.
The following are a few dozen from the 100 word list.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2007 National Book Awards

The National Book Awards will be announced tonight. Writers, publishers, agents, and librarians will descend upon midtown Manhattan for a black-tie gala to celebrate the best of American writing this year. Simply being nominated is a significant coup, but to win elevates a writer into the immortalized pantheon of National Book Award winners that includes the likes of Faulkner, Bellow, Roth, Updike, Proulx, and Welty. Awards are given in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature.
A list of finalists and corresponding interviews are available on the National Book Foundation’s website:

Check back for the results and head to the library to grab a winner or a finalist.

*Update: The 2007 National Book Award winners*

Fiction: Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson)

Nonfiction: Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Tim Weiner)

Young People’s Literature: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)

Poetry: Robert Hass’ Time and Materials

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

Today the Library is closed in observance of Veterans Day.

Although it is largely an American holiday, honoring and thanking veterans for their service, this holiday is celebrated on the same day as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other countries. In America, Woodrow Wilson declared in 1919:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

In 1954, the name of the holiday Wilson commemorated as Armistice Day, was officially changed to Veterans Day by President Eisenhower. You can read more about Veterans Day at the US Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Remember to thank a Veteran today!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Local theater

While Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World," we also have a very vibrant local theater community. In addition to the well-known Paramount Theater and State Theater Company and the Zachary Scott Theatre, there are several smaller theaters and theater companies that are definitely worth checking out. Take a look at the Austin Circle of Theaters web site for a listing of all the options available. You can find comedy, dance, musicals, outdoor theater, children's theater, and everything in between.

If you are in the theater biz, and are looking for funding sources, check out the Foundation Directory database at any library location to find grant opportunities. We also have several books about acting and producing for the theater:

At Play: Teaching Teenagers Theater

Career Opportunities in Theater and the Performing Arts

The Alchemy of Theatre: The Divine Science: Essays on Theatre & the Art of Collaboration

Stage Combat: Fisticuffs, Stunts, and Swordplay for Theater and Film

The Commercial Theater Institute Guide to Producing Plays and Musicals

Sculpting Space in the Theater: Conversations with the Top Set, Light and Costume Designers
Business and Legal Forms for Theater

How to Run a Theatre: A Witty, Practical and Fun Guide to Arts Management

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Modern African Fiction

Africa boasts an amazing collection of writers. From Dangarembga’s familial strife to Gordimer’s race relations, Africa offers a diverse and noteworthy literary canon. Some of Africa’s great works were written in exile, while others have been penned in African metropolises such as Lagos, Johannesburg, and Nairobi.

When Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island, one of the first people he sought out was his old friend, Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. African fiction helped bust apart colonialism and now addresses varied topics such as cultural isolation, disease epidemics, and poverty. It’s not all doom and gloom though. The writing is beautiful and affirms the wonders of the family and the community.

Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart

J.M. Coetzee Disgrace

Tsitsi Dangarembga Nervous Conditions

Nadine Gordimer July’s People

Nuruddin Farrah Secrets

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Half of a Yellow Sun

Charles Larson (ed.) Under African Skies: Modern African Stories

Ben Okri The Famished Road

Ngugi wa Thiong’o Wizard of the Crow

Bessie Head A Question of Power

Monday, November 05, 2007

Searching for Video Clips

Source:Gale Virtual Reference Library

This weekend I needed to learn how to tie a bow tie. I quickly found lots of videos with step-by-step instructions on how to tie a bow tie. But sometimes, searching for videos, the hottest content on the Web right now, isn’t easy. I found my bow tie videos on Google's popular YouTube site, but Youtube is not the only place to look for videos. You won't find videos from other sites, especially copyrighted clips that YouTube doesn't offer or has removed from its site.

When looking for a clips from your favorite TV show or for a recent news story, try these video-search engines, especially Truveo. Truveo seems to offer the most relevant clips, and includes a large selection of popular and high demand video that cannot be found in any other search engine. It looks beyond metadata attached to the video file itself and explores the content on the website around the video - resulting in more data to index and better search results. For example, using Truveo, you can find Daily Show clips on the Comedy Central website instead of just looking for them on Youtube.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Texas Book Festival

You should look through the list of the authors coming to the Texas Book Festival to find who you would like to hear speak. I have chosen my favorites – a mystery writer, a painter, a cartoonist, and a book critic. While you enjoy the festive air of book signings, music, and interviews, you are also helping Texas libraries. The 2006 Texas Book Festival awarded a total of $200,000 to 60 libraries throughout the state.

Michael Connelly Overlook is his latest mystery about an LA detective, but my favorite is The Concrete Blonde.
Melissa Miller – Her expressionistic animal paintings can be seen in a new UT Press book.
Tom Perotta – His entertaining books about suburban life are often made into movies – The Election, and Little Children. The Abstinence Teacher, his most recent, is on order for APL.
Roz Chast– Her cartoons of the neurotic and clueless appear in the New Yorker, and APL has one collection.
Alan Cheuse - You might have heard him on NPR reviewing a new book. Like Jorge Luis Borges, he says, "I am more proud of the books I've read than I am of the books I've written." Listening to the Page is a collection of his criticism.