Friday, March 28, 2008

Bibliophiles Unite!

Social networking sites are rampant these days, not only for meeting people but for finding and discussing books as well. The following sites allow you to create online catalogs of books you own, have read, or want to read. Then you can view your books in a list or on a virtual shelf, share them with friends, or add them to blogs. There are also book ratings, recommendations, discussions, and online book clubs. Each site has its pros and cons, so check them all out to see which features appeal to you:
  • LibraryThing – user-friendly cataloging and sharing; free up to 200 books, then small fee

  • Shelfari – a bit slicker than LibraryThing, but no option to edit cataloging details

  • GoodReads – more social networking features, less cataloging

  • Revish – focuses on quality reviews of books rather than cataloging

  • Listal – share lists of favorite books, movies, music, and games

Once you've found books you want to read, save some money and check them out from the library. If the titles you want are checked out, place a hold and you'll be notified when a book is ready to pick up. Start here by adding the following titles about reading to your list!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gardening Time!

When driving or walking around town you can see some of the early blooms of spring; Bearded Irises, Daffodils, Bluebonnets, and Mountain Laurel bushes are perfuming the air. Welcome Spring!

You might think that having a lawn is just easier and low maintenance, but if you change your mind or want to try something new, these are some plants you can sow now to get results for this Summer and Fall:

For a flower garden some perennials you can plant now are: Black-Eyed Susans, Asters, Daylilies, Hardy Hibiscus, Lantanas and Purple Coneflowers among others.

If you would like to add some color to your garden, nothing is better than annuals like: Geraniums, Zinnias, Verbenas, Marigolds, and Impatiens.

In case you are more inclined to start a vegetable garden here are some veggies you should plant this Spring: lettuce, radish, spinach and carrots. It might not be too late to start some tomatoes or you can buy the small tomato plants in nurseries.

Will this be your first year trying to start a garden? You might be feeling a little overwhelmed trying to learn gardening techniques, landscaping, and the best plants to choose for your type of soil. Do not get discouraged! Faulk Central Library has a vast collection of books on gardening you can check out! Some recommendations are:

Month-by-Month Gardening in Texas

Herb Gardening in Texas

Texas Home Landscaping

Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas

Texas gardening the natural way : the complete handbook

Garden guide for Austin & vicinity

Friday, March 21, 2008

An Appeal to Customers to Drop by the Library

The branches have been receiving lots of new books recently, and Central just got hundreds of new fiction titles this week. On your way home today, stop by a Library location to see all the new books – we look like Barnes & Noble! If you don’t find the new book that had a great review in the catalog, be aware that there seems to be small glitch with the catalog today. Some of the 2008 titles with holds on them are not showing up in the catalog, but the problem should be resolved soon, perhaps even by the time you read this.

While on vacation last week, I saw lots of people reading The Appeal
by John Grisham. Unfortunately, all our copies are checked out today, but to find other new books, go to FindIt’s Advanced Search and enter 2008 for publication year and select Recent Books – Adult under location.

For more reading ideas, please see the Library's Good Reads best fiction lists and nonfiction lists by year which have been updated for 2008.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March Madness is here!

March Madness has begun. The play-in game was last night and the opening round starts tomorrow. Schools like Austin Peay and Mount St. Mary’s hope to slip on Cinderella’s slipper and make a run deep into the tournament, while perennial big dogs like Kansas, UCLA, and North Carolina look to add championship rings to their heavily jeweled fingers. Over the next two and a half weeks, sixty-four teams will be whittled to one. Many get to play, but only one team gets to cut down the net. Basketball games will dominate many American TV screens for awhile and while we definitely recommend watching the games, take a gander at some of the excellent college basketball histories available at the Austin Public Library.

John Feinstein
Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four

A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers

Eddie Einhorn
How March Became Madness: How the NCAA Tournament Became the Greatest Sporting Event in America

Billy Packer
Fifty Years of the Final Four: Golden Moments of the NCAA Basketball Tournament

Pamela Grundy
Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable History of Women's Basketball

The following two titles are not histories per se, rather they are biographies from two of the game’s coaching pillars. Wooden and Smith recall their basketball lives and pepper their narratives with life lessons that seemingly only come from seasoned coaches.

John Wooden
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

Dean Smith
The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

Monday, March 17, 2008


I’m kind of into posters. For the last few years I have been heavily involved with music posters. I don’t make them, but I like to think I know a bit about them. Rock posters have come back into vogue, they’re not just collectibles anymore. They’re actual art pieces. Last weekend Flatstock was in town again for the 6th time. This is where poster artists and printers can get together and sell their wares. There were over 100 artists and so much eye candy your head would spin!

A little history…of course, we know that San Francisco is queen mother when it comes to rock art, but Austin has a rich poster tradition as well. The sixties spawned a plethora of poster art and artists and today the tradition is just as rich, if not more so. Clubs such as the Armadillo World Headquarters, Vulcan Gas Company, Austin Opera House, Liberty Lunch, the Ritz, Emo’s, Club 710, and Stubb’s all have benefited from fabulous poster art all due to poster artists such as Jim Franklin, Gilbert Shelton, Micael Priest, Guy Juke, Kerry Awn, Frank Kozik, Mike Nott, Ric Cruz, Control Rat X, the Art Maggots, Jason Austin, Lyman Hardy, Billy Perkins, Decoder Ring, Mexican Chocolate, and MANY others.

Posters are not only pieces of art, but have replaced the waning LP. (Although there’s been a huge resurgence of LPs in the last few years!) If you’re old enough, you can remember buying an LP and staring at the cover for hours upon hours…the double fold out ones were the best. Today, CDs and downloadable songs have taken over and music posters have taken the place of LP covers. Each artist renders their take on the band or a particular song in their poster. Although it may seem messy to some, I LOVE seeing flyers and posters plastered around town. I immediately look to see who did it and soak in the art.

Next SXSW, check out Flatstock, you will not be disappointed. In the mean time, check out some art on Gigposters or Expresso Beans or check out some books from the Library.

Art of Modern Rock: the Poster Explosion by Paul Grushkin and Dennis King

Swag 2: rock posters of the ‘90s and beyond by Spencer Drate

Swag: rock posters of the ‘90s by Spencer Drate

The Art of the Fillmore, 1966-1971 by Gayle Lemke

Electric Frankenstein: high-energy punk rock & roll poster art by Sal Canzonieri

[thanks to the great poster artist, Nels Jacobson, for poster history details]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Novel Artists

The lives of artists inspire not only fascinating biographies, but novels as well. Women artists in particular are intriguing because of their many obstacles to success, including exclusion from formal training and a lack of financial support and recognition for their work. The following novels blend a bit of historical fact with creativity to bring these artists to the forefront. Nonfiction books about the artists are also listed (if available) should you choose to explore further.

The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland
It was Emily Carr (1871-1945) - not Georgia O'Keeffe or Frida Kahlo - who first blazed a path for modern women artists. From illegal potlatches in tribal communities to prewar Paris, where her art was exhibited in the famed Salon d'Automne, Carr's story is as arresting as it is vibrant. The result is a glorious novel that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.

Keeping the World Away: A Novel by Margaret Forster
A classic Margaret Forster novel with the same satisfying appeal as her bestselling Diary of an Ordinary Woman - the story of an actual early 20th century painting [by Gwen John] and its fictional adventures through the century and of the women whose lives it touches.

Zoia's Gold: A Novel by Philip Sington
Madam Zoia [Korvin-Krukovsky], the enigmatic "painter on gold," is dead. The last surviving member of the Romanov court, she leaves behind a house full of paintings, a collection of private papers, and a mystery.

Holy Skirts by Rene Steinke
In 1917 no one had ever seen a woman like the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Before today's outsized celebrities, there was the Baroness—poet and artist, proto-punk rocker, sexual libertine, fashion avatar, and troublemaker. In a beautifully written novel, René Steinke paints an exquisite portrait of this woman and her time.


The Emily Carr Omnibus by Emily Carr

Gwen John: A Painter's Life by Sue Roe

Gwen John: An Interior Life by Cecily Langdale

Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity: A Cultural Biography by Irene Gammel

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jim Shepard wins the Story Prize

The Oscars and the Grammy’s don’t excite me. My cup of tea? The National Book Award, the Pulitzer, and the Story Prize. Jim Shepard won this year’s Story Prize for Like You’d Understand, Anyway. Shepard is often considered a writer’s writer due to his unique descriptions and interesting sentence structure. That’s fine and dandy, but what makes him truly great is his grace and humor. His stories vacillate between humor and depravation, sounding the extreme depths of his characters. Who else could have you empathizing with a Nazi anthropologist tracking yeti in Tibet?

Shepard’s protagonists run the gamut from Chernobyl nuclear engineers to Roman foot soldiers. These stories are weird—not weird in a “huh…that’s kind of cute” way, but weird in a “how in the world does he do that” way. He is a master of the short story. His sentences are incredible, playfully flowing into each other with unpredictable results. Yes he is a writer’s writer, but don’t let that scare you away. Shepard is creative and hilarious and fun to read.

Like You’d Understand, Anyway

Love and Hydrogen

Batting Against Castro

Past winners of the Story Prize

Monday, March 10, 2008

Terraplane Housing Blues

The real estate market is a real challenge for would be home buyers in Austin these days. According to a recent article in the Austin American Statesman the median price for a home is up 8 percent as compared to a year ago to $185,500. The purchase of a home is no minor expense. Why not educate yourself as to what pitfalls to avoid when buying a home and the current environment of the housing market in Austin via resources readily at your disposal through the Austin Public Library.

Buying a home

Home buying for dummies

Buyers are liars & sellers are too! : the truth about buying or selling your home

Tips and traps when buying a home


Friday, March 07, 2008

All the Money in the World

This week the 2008 Forbes list of the world's billionaires was published. The Forbes article congratulates the billionaires for their gifts and donations that are in the billions, but Peter Bernstein, in the book about the world's billionaires mentioned below, states that that 98% of their money remains in their own pockets.

All the Money in the World: How the Forbes 400 Make and Spend Their Fortunes
Peter Bernstein
The author describes the Forbes 400 whose combined net worth is $3.5 trillion, and 40% belongs to Americans, although that percentage is shrinking. An example is Steven Cohen, a hedge fund CEO, who has a 14 acre estate with a 7000 sq foot ice skating rink.

The Spare Wife
Alex Witchel (2007)
If you would like to read a new, sophisticated novel to see how the other 1% live, place a hold on this "coming soon" title that exposes the world of New York's super rich and media elite.

The Reserve
Russell Banks (2007)
For a new book about the upper class in earlier days, please place a hold on Russell Bank's newest novel. Part love story, part murder mystery, set on the cusp of the Second World War, this deeply engaging new novel about an upper class family that has a huge family compound in the Adirondacks raises dangerous questions about class, politics, art, love, and madness—and explores what happens when two powerful personalities, trapped at opposite ends of a social divide, begin to break the rules.

To find similar fiction titles, please search the Fiction Connection

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The love and demons of Gabo’s world

Gabriel García Márquez, also known as Gabo, published his first work in 1955. Since then, he has been inviting us to join his literary world where reality gets mixed with magical events, places, and characters in every one of his books. Love, hatred, deception, happiness, loneliness, hope, and sadness: they all coexist in Gabo’s work. Anytime you hold one of his books in your hands, you know something magical, something unexpected or supernatural is going to pop up at any moment.

Because of his unique style of writing he was awarded with the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1982. Gabo has not only written fiction works, during his prolific life he has also published several non fiction books and articles in newspapers and magazines around the world. So, if you want to celebrate Gabo’s birthday tomorrow, come to the library, grab one of his books and start dreaming.

Hundred Years of Solitude

Of love and other demons

Love in the time of cholera

The evil hour

Chronicle of a death foretold

If you want to read his works in Spanish, here are some titles:

General en su laberinto

El coronel no tiene quien le escriba

Los funerales de la Mama Grande

Todos los cuentos de Gabriel García Márquez

And, finally works about Gabo:

Critical essays on Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel García Márquez

Marquez: tales beyond solitude VHS

Picture taken from El País

Monday, March 03, 2008


So, I recently had a baby and I’ve been thinking about the last year of my life. I have read a LOT of books over the last year. They all range in topic but all have something to do with babies, of course. I’ll run down the list for you.

In the beginning, I started out with a book called Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weschler. GREAT BOOK. I’m convinced it got me pregnant. Ladies, if you’re looking for something that helps you tune into your body, this is the book for you. Give it a try.

After getting pregnant, I read a lot of pregnancy books. From the hips : a comprehensive, open-minded, uncensored, totally honest guide to pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent by Rebecca Odes, You & your baby pregnancy : the ultimate week-by-week pregnancy guide by Laura Riley and Pregnancy dos and don'ts : the smart woman's pocket companion for a safe and sound pregnancy by Elisabeth Aron are ones I looked at more than others. From the Hips is a bohemian kind of book written with the new mother of any age in mind, kind of hippie, kind of natural, very open and green. You & Your Baby Pregnancy answered a LOT of questions I had over the nine months. I carried it around with me and read it over and over. Pregnancy dos and don’ts is a nice list of things, foods, medicines one should and shouldn’t do or take while pregnant. A good reference source.

Another type of book that I really enjoyed reading was Baby Bargains by the Fields’. This book gives you the straight dope on whether or not you NEED those silly frivolities that come with having a baby. It tells you where to go and what things you need and things you don’t. I took it with me when I opened my baby registry. It reviews all types of baby products. If you’re pregnant and don’t have this book, what are you doing? Go get it! I bought my own copy as I have written all over it and dog-eared many pages. It will get you from diapers and formula through daycare and high chairs.

Once our little one arrived I found great help from Baby 411 by Denise Fields and Dr. Ari Brown (a local pediatrician). I refer to this resource time and time again. A few weeks ago baby vomited ala exorcist style and the book really helped us out! (However, when in doubt about ANYTHING regarding baby, call your pediatrician!)

And of course, I read to baby every night. We have a wide repertoire of books at home. Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, anything by Sandra Boynton, and Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes are our favorites right now. Reading to your baby is the best thing you can do to prepare him or her for school and life beyond.

Come into the Library or check the catalog; we’ll be glad to help you find everything above and more!