Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fairytale Wedding

Twenty seven years ago, on July 29th, Prince Charles of Wales married Diana Spencer. The wedding was followed on television by 700 million people from 58 different countries around the world. A crowd of 6,000 flooded the streets of London to see the prince and future princess on their way to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Prince Charles was wearing the full uniform of a naval commander but it was Diana’s wedding dress that people remember the most: an ivory silk dress, with a 25 foot-long train. The church, the decoration and glass coaches, everything resembled those weddings we all imagine when we were children where the fairytale ended: “… and they lived happily ever after!”

As we all know, things went differently after the wedding, but because of that, they were not less popular in United Kingdom or around the world. Charles and Diana’s relationship put the Royal family in the news and thousands of people read everything about them avidly. If you are still interested in the biography of these two famous members of the Royal family, here are some titles you might enjoy:

Charles and Diana's tour of North America

Invitation to a royal wedding

The housekeeper's diary: Charles and Diana before the breakup

The Prince of Wales : a biography

Diana Chronicles

Monday, July 28, 2008


Many recent blockbuster movies have been based on comic book super heroes. This is no coincidence. Hollywood has simply begun paying attention to a long ignored yet very influential demographic concerning popular culture. For the past few days the world’s largest concentration of comic book connoisseurs and devotees have been gathering in San Diego, California in celebration of one of this country’s most original and enduring facets of popular culture. The Austin Public Library has several titles readily available for the uninitiated. I’ve listed a small sampling of titles below.

Comic-Con Conference 2008

Austin Public Library Graphic Novels:

Batman : the Dark Knight returns

Batman. The Dark Knight strikes again

WWH - World War Hulk

The invincible Iron Man. Vol.2, Execute program

Superman, the man of steel. Vol. 3

Ultimate Spider-man, [Vol. 15], Silver Sable

Friday, July 25, 2008

We Have Literary Journals

Literary journals are the current feature of the Austin Public Library’s periodicals collection. The Library houses a variety of wonderful literary journals ranging from the grandfathers of the genre to celebrated up-and-comers. The next time you are downtown, swing by the Faulk Central Library, pick up a literary journal, and enjoy some great contemporary writing.

The Paris Review
The quintessential literary journal. Known for founding editor George Plimpton’s larger-than-life presence and the first spot to publish numerous titans of twentieth century literature. New editor Philip Gourevitch has steered the journal away from its traditional fiction-heavy approach, and now peppers the journal with beautiful photography, reportage, poetry, and memoir. Whatever form the art takes, The Paris Review is an exceptional historical and contemporary journal.

Virginia Quarterly Review
The self-professed “national journal of literature and discussion” has a storied pedigree. The Virginia Quarterly Review—founded in 1925—has published a wide-ranging stable of writers, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Aldous Huxley, Cormac McCarthy, and Joyce Carol Oates.

This Cambridge, England based journal offers thematic issues containing short stories from around the world. Issues such as “The View from Africa,” “War Zones,” and “The New Nature Writing” provide wonderfully linked and relevant stories. Whether initially written in English or translated from a myriad of languages, GRANTA contributes a uniquely global voice.

Oxford American
Oxford American is random, and I mean that in the most complimentary manner. This southern-bent quarterly jumps between stories, music essays, and over to topics like “ode to the South.” The journal benefits from beautiful art and a refined quirky approach.

Tin House
Tin House is the new kid on the block. Founded in 1998, this Portland, Oregon quarterly has quickly earned its reputation by publishing award-winning fiction from up-coming writers. In recent years, Tin House has begun publishing books. Whether through the journal or book publishing, Tin House never fails to publish good writing. Plus, the attention to detail is wonderful; each issue is wrapped in a beautiful cover.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Forget the Audiobooks!!

If you have the money for gas, we have the audiobooks to make that road trip enjoyable. Listed below are some of the Library’s newest recorded titles. The list includes MP3-CDs which need CD players that support MP3 files. Most new CD players and many DVD players have that capability, including CD players in newer cars. This new format holds up to 16 1/2 recording hours so most books will be entirely recorded onto one disc. Not all titles are available as an MP3-CD so we still order plenty of the other kind. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon contains 42 sound discs! The Library also has a large collection of books on audiocassette but we order very few new titles. And downloadable audiobooks? Due to budget constraints, the Library has no definite plans for subscribing to an audiobook service at this time.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
The Gathering by Anne Enright
Life Class by Pat Barker
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Three Girls and Their Brother by Theresa Rebeck

Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman
Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
The Ghost War by Alex Berenson
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline
A Mammoth Murder by Bill Crider
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdich
Rebel Island by Rick Riordan
7th Heaven by James Patterson
Winter Study by Nevada Barr

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
Whipping Star by Frank Herbert

Beautiul Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction
Your Inner Fish
Superclass: the Global Elite and the World They Are Making
The Ten-cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How it Changed America

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lily Allen Review

So, last Friday, I zoomed through the CDs at Central and found one that I’ve been meaning to listen to for awhile. Lily Allen’s Alright, Still. I checked it out and popped it into the CD player after I got off work. I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve only heard the single Smile, and I hoped the rest of the album, if not at least a couple of songs, was equally as upbeat. This CD is Brilliant. This is exactly what I needed to listen to when I got off work on a beautiful, bright Friday afternoon. I even rolled down the windows and turned it up, something I haven’t done since…well, since awhile!

Ms. Allen is a young gal from England with a great voice. What I love about this CD is that every song is a serious joy to listen to. It’s that good. Well, if you like gals who sing and I’m a big fan of Tori Amos, Esthero, Fiona Apple, and Imogen Heap. Of course, Smile, is a song where you can sit in your chair and dance, but it’s much better if you got up and dance, even if you look like a silly fool. It’s got a nice harmony and easy lyrics. Nan, You’re a Window Shopper exhibits Allen’s infectious English accent; you know she’s talking about her grandma, but Nan isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. LDN is the perfect song for listening to in the car with the windows rolled down. Actually, if you listened to it while riding your bike, it would be even better. Knock Em Out absolutely cracks me up, reminds me of times in undergrad school, being out and about.

I know I don’t speak for everyone, but I truly enjoyed this CD and would carefully recommend it to anyone…it’s not smart music, but it’s easy to dance to and sing along with. Check it out!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Novel Art

In most graphic novels, both words and art meld to tell a complete, novel-length story. The wordless graphic novel is a rarer breed, which must depend solely on the artist's work to depict a narrative and develop intriguing characters. One of the earliest is Passionate Journey: A Novel Told in 165 Woodcuts created by Frans Maserell in 1919. In the book's introduction, Thomas Mann applauds Maserell's ability to speak to the common man through his images:

These picture-novels, mute but eloquent creations….are all so strangely compelling, so deeply felt, so rich in ideas, that one never tires of looking at them. But the most personal, the most intimate, the warmest, the most human and most candid of them all is this Passionate Journey. It is such a popular work that it is quite natural and fitting for a publisher to want to take it out of the realm of the esoteric and make it available to the worker, the taxi driver, and the young telephone operator. It belongs much more to the common people than to the snobs; and I am happy to do my part in making it better known to the democratic-minded public.

Below are a few more "mute" graphic novels at your library:

Mad Man's Drum: A Novel in Woodcuts by Lynd Ward

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Blood Song: A Silent Ballad by Eric Drooker

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels by George Walker

Sticks and Stones by Peter Kuper

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Texas architecture ain't bad

The ever-prevalent view of Texas is that vast land of cattle, cactus, and cowboys. Texas is better known for its wide open spaces than its grand architecture. Sure, barbed-wire pastures and faded corrals still play a role in the Texas landscape, but so too do domes, stained glass, and gargoyles. We are blessed with an assortment of fine architecture throughout the state. Those cowboys out on the range had to go inside sometime, somewhere.

The courthouses, churches, and city halls do not rival the great masterpieces of world architecture, but they remain impressive and are uniquely Texan. They’re ours and they’re all over the state. The Austin Public Library offers several noteworthy books about Texas architecture. Check one out and enjoy the pictures, or pack one along on your next trip.

The Courthouses of Texas

Nineteenth Century Churches of Texas

Great Houses of Texas

Texas Towns and the Art of Architecture

The Art and Architecture of the Texas Missions

Early Texas Architecture

Architecture in Texas, 1895-1945

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gorilla Murders

About a year ago a family of majestic, regal, mountain gorillas was systematically executed in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The subsequent reporting of the tragedy as well as the stunning images photographed by Brent Stirton has ignited international outrage. I’ve listed some resources available through the Austin Public Library to aid individuals interested in learning more about these gentle, highly intelligent, and very closely related marvels of nature.


No one loved gorillas more : Dian Fossey, letters from the mist

Great ape odyssey

In the kingdom of gorillas : fragile species in a dangerous land

Gorillas in the mist

The great apes : between two worlds

The mountain gorilla

The year of the gorilla

Up among the mountain gorillas

The gentle giants : the gorilla story


Fresh Air interview with Brent Stirton

NPR report of the tragedy

National Geographic report of the murders

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First Novel Bestsellers

In the last dozen years there have been 5 first time authors with bestsellers, so you can see it’s a rare occurrence in the publishing world. And, as with most bestsellers, the five books are thrillers.

Last Templar (2006) by Raymond Khoury - battle over a lost relic

Rule of Four (2004) by Ian Caldwell - students solve an ancient mystery

Numbered Account (1998) by Christopher Reich - swiss bank account and terrorist

The Tenth Justice (1997) by Brad Meltzer - legal thriller set in Washington

Absolute Power (1996) by David Baldacci - president is an evil villain

The most recent debut novel that became a bestseller is this year’s
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. Below is the review for Child 44 from from Publisher’s Weekly:

"Set in the Soviet Union in 1953, this stellar debut from British author Smith offers appealing characters, a strong plot and authentic period detail. When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there's no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state. The evocation of the deadly cloud-cuckoo-land of Russia during Stalin's final days will remind many of Gorky Park and Darkness at Noon, but the novel remains Smith's alone, completely original and absolutely satisfying."

Other success stories that were not overnight are described by well-known mystery writers on the
Crime Fiction blog. The local author, Rick Riodan, writes about his "overnight" success on his blog.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to write an overnight bestseller, these new 2008 books might help you with that dream.

The Power of the Dark Side: Creating Great Villains, Dangerous Situations, & Dramatic Conflict

How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries: the Art & Adventure of Sleuthing Through the Past

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

61 years ago a flying saucer crashed in the desert…

Now, that’s only true if you believe it to be true. The US military says that it was a top secret research balloon. The story goes, that in the summer of 1947 a ranch hand came across some debris consisting of rubber, tinfoil, paper and sticks in the desert and told the local sheriff. The sheriff called the army base and they came out, swooped up the evidence and told the public that it was a weather research balloon. The story went away quietly, no one even put a second thought to it again until 30 years later when ufologist Stanton Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel. Marcel was involved in the “clean up” thirty years prior and he believed it was actually a UFO covered up by the military. Do the research, read the interviews and articles, what do you think it was?

Here’s some nonfiction books to get you started:

Roswell Incident


Sci Fi Declassified: the Roswell Dig Diaries

What really happened in Roswell?

Roswell: Inconvienient Facts and the will to believe

Little grey men

And if you're not in the mood for nonfiction, try this novel:

Operation Roswell

Check the databases for articles and photographs: For instance, American Decades Primary Sources has a great picture and article and you can even find a few articles in the Military & Government Collection.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Research Guides to the Rescue

The Library's Information Guides created by the Library's reference librarians have reliable websites to help you with business, work, school, and family. I have listed a half dozen of the guides with highlights. To find the Information Guides from the Library's homepage, click Research Tools, then scroll down.

Marketing Research
Local Demographics
Market Trends

Job Searching
Overseas Jobs
Work at Home
Career Assessment

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy 4th!

The library will be closed on Friday for the July 4th holiday, but will resume normal hours over the weekend. After the holiday, take a trip to the Yarborough branch to see the "Red, White, and Blue" exhibit of 12 patriotic quilts from the Austin Area Quilt Guild. The guild has donated nearly 300 quilts and afghans to wounded military personnel and to the families of deceased soldiers.

Quilting has been and continues to be a time honored tradition in the U.S.. Historians glean a better understanding of early American women's history by studying quilts and their creators. Look for one of our many titles that discuss the history and craft of quilting:


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nabokov and Hemingway

Two titans of twentieth century literature passed away on July 2: Ernest Hemingway (1961) and Vladimir Nabokov (1977). Both born in 1899, they lived quite different lives with perhaps only good writing as their shared outcome. Their works speckle any list of the twentieth century’s best books.

Good writing can take any shape, as is proven by these two disparate styles: Hemingway being the quintessential sparse and economical writer while Nabokov chose intricate descriptions. Neither style is better than the other, but one thing is certain: these writers will continue to be read, admired, and discussed. Of course the Austin Public Library owns their classics (The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Lolita, The Gift, etc.), so I would like to highlight a few lesser known titles by Hemingway and Nabokov.

The Good Life According to Hemingway
Conversations with Ernest Hemingway

Vladimir Nabokov
Nabokov’s Butterflies: Unpublished and Uncollected Writings
Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited