Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D. Salinger, 1919-2010

As I'm sure most of you know by now, Jerome David (J.D.) Salinger died of old age on January 27th at 91 years old. This notoriously reclusive author, who had not done an interview since 1974 and had not made a public appearance nor published anything since 1965, is most famous for his novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger was not particularly prolific, having only published a number of short stories, most of which appeared in The New Yorker. However, Salinger's infamous novel gave him far more fame than he desired and is still required reading for most American students.

The Catcher in the Rye was one of the first books I was ever assigned to read that I actually enjoyed. I read it when I was 14 or so and, like many, I identified with the angsty, unhappy Holden Caulfield. Within the biographical info I found on Salinger, one website called Catcher "an authoritative depiction of teenage angst." Caulfield thinks most people are "phonies" and has disdain for the majority he encounters. A New Yorker article pinpoints Holden's attitudes as Weltschmerz, meaning "the unhappiness of eternal disappointment in life as it is", or, as quite nicely put in this Wikipedia article, "the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind." It is interesting to me that we still get kids to read this book considering Caulfield's seemingly dismal outlook, but perhaps that's the point. While I wouldn't necessarily use the words "eternal disappointment" to describe my life attitude at age 14, I was certainly jaded and becoming fairly distrustful of the authority figures around me - not unlike many at this age. Maybe as adults we know teens should read this so they feel less alone in their angst-ridden adolescence? Perhaps it is just the literary merits of the book and/or Holden's precociousness that make it required reading? What do you think?

The library can provide you with everything you need to come to your own conclusions, or simply to learn a little bit more about this legendary author:

At Home in the World: A Memoir

The Catcher in the Rye

Dream Catcher: A Memoir

Franny and Zooey

In Search of J.D. Salinger

Letters to J.D. Salinger

Nine Stories

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters; and, Seymour: An Introduction

Salinger, A Biography

With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.D. Salinger

Biography Resource Center
The Resource Center is an excellent, authoritative source of biographical information that often include extensive bibliographies. You will need your APL card, if you'd like to access it from home.

Bunch of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger
From The Onion. A good sense of humor is key to enjoying this particular article.

Catching Salinger
"A search for the elusive writer." A few guys go on a road trip in search of Salinger. They video documented the journey on this blog.

Dead Caulfields
"A site dedicated to the life and work of J.D. Salinger"

Holden at Fifty: 'The Catcher in the Rye' and What it Spawned

J.D. Salinger Biography (with great bibliography!)

J.D. Salinger, Literary Recluse, Dies at 91

Salinger Biography, Jewish Virtual Library

Wes Anderson on J.D. Salinger

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2009 awards. I especially like these awards. While some of the finalists come from major publishers, the NBCC scours regional and university presses to highlight the truly great books of each year. Beyond discovering great new books, I like to use the finalists list as a barometer for how well the Austin Public Library is doing in providing a robust collection. We’re doing well this year. All but one nominee is already in the collection or on order. Me, on the other hand? I have only read one of the finalists: Eula Biss’ Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays. It is incredible. Bess examines the world in a manner that I admire and writes with a deftness that leaves me jealous.

Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards the End
Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love
Mary Karr’s Lit
Kati Marton’s Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America (on order)
Edmund White’s City Boy

Blake Bailey’s Cheever: a Life
Brad Gooch’s Flannery: a Life of Flannery O’Connor
Benjamin Moser’s Why This World: a Biography of Clarice Lispector
Stanislao G. Pugliese’s Bitter Spring: a Life of Ignazio Silone
Martha A. Sandweiss’ Passing Strange: a Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line

Eula Biss’ Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays
Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry
Morris Dickstein’s Dancing in the Dark: a Cultural History of the Great Depression (on order)
David Hajdu’s Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (on order)
Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever: an Aural History of Recorded Music


Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage
Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women
Michelle Huneven’s Blame
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips’ Lark and Termite

Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: an Alternative History
Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia: the Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City
Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains
William T. Vollman’s Imperial

Rae Armantrout’s Versed
Louise Gluck’s A Village Life (on order)
D.A. Powell’s Chronic
Eleanor Ross Taylor’s Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2008
Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents

Monday, January 25, 2010

Evil Unadorned

I read an article recently that I wished I hadn't. I happened upon it by chance at a local pharmacy while waiting for a prescription to be filled. The article is ultimately an interview with a man convicted of a crime who's horror and senselessness are beyond measure. In the aftermath, I find myself searching for ways to cope with the knowledge that these things happen with chilling frequency. Below I've listed some resources that attempt to explain this darkest side of humanity.

Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

Evil: Inside Human Cruelty and Violence

Speaking with the Devil: A Dialogue with Evil

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Romance in Every Style

Romance, in every flavor and style, is the hottest trend in books. Some argue that the sales of romance novels are up due to the recession - the numbers are up, but there's no real proof. Romance writers write of obstacles to love and love’s triumph in tales of the paranormal, the West, Victorian England, and today’s cutthroat corporate world in the following 2009 list.

Always Look Twice.
Geralyn Dawson
Mark and Annabelle are on the verge of divorce until someone goes after their former military unit.

Angels' Blood
Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires.

Basketball Jones
E Lynn Harris
Blackmail, intrigue and double-crosses heat up a love triangle involving an NBA player.

Bending the Rules
Susan Andersen
Sexy, feel-good contemporary romance starring down-to-earth Seattle artist Poppy Calloway and handsome but rigid police detective Jason de Sanges.

Linda Lael Miller
Lydia will do anything for her great-aunts, but does she really have to marry the town’s gross, greedy banker?

A Duke of Her Own (Avon Historical Romance)
Eloisa James
Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly.

Hot Flash
Kathy Carmichael
Delightful romantic comedy, sous-chef Jill is beset with troubles, from her husband’s desire to be a woman to family chaos, but her loyal friends help her navigate the twisting, turning road to love.

Immortal Outlaw (Immortal Brotherhood Novels)
Lisa Hendrix
Only her kiss can save this cursed Viking warrior.

Kiss Of A Demon King (Immortals After Dark, Book 7)
Kresley Cole
Spellbinding story of a demon king trapped by an enchantress.

Laced with Magic
Barbara Bretton
Chloe, owner of a popular knitting shop and mayor of the supernatural village of Sugar Maple, Vermont, continues to battle evil forces in Bretton’s poignant and magical story of love and sacrifice.

Practice Makes Perfect
Julie James
Two rivalrous attorneys at a prestigious Chicago law firm find romance in James’ sophisticated legal romance, rich in suspense and charmingly arrogant and ambitious characters.

So Enchanting
Connie Brockway
Victorian-era tale of a scandal-plagued widow, a young woman with strange powers, and a suspect lord in this sexy and bewitching battle of wits and wiles.

Straight from the Hip
Susan Mallery
Blinded in an explosion, Izzy is taken to Nick’s ranch to recuperate.

What Happens in London
Julia Quinn
When Olivia Bevelstoke is told that her new neighbor may have killed his fiancee, she doesn't believe it for a second, but, still, how can she help spying on him, just to be sure?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Computer Viruses for all Tastes

If you have a computer, you probably have already experienced what it is like to have a computer virus make your life miserable or to lose valuable information because of an electronic bug. Sorry for bringing back those bad memories you wanted to forget! But as long as we use computers, we are at risk of getting a virus anytime, which is something we need to always be aware of and be vigilant about.

Despite the headaches computer viruses can cause, there are some recent bugs that will make you chuckle and forget for a little while the problems they are creating in your system; here are some examples:

  • “Harry Potter” virus or Samal A: even though this virus doesn’t have any relation with Harry Potter in any way, once your computer is infected there is a pop up window that says “You haven’t said the magic word” after multiple attempts typing different words, another window will open saying something like “Samael has come, this is the end”

  • Ramsom K: who created this virus was a novice in the area of computer viruses but his idea was pretty interesting. This virus will block important files on your computer and it will ask you to pay $100 to unblock them. The problem for its creator is that this virus is very easy to clean. So it doesn’t represent a real threat.

  • Whizz.A: this virus pretty much transforms your computer into a discotheque. It decorates the background of your desktop with different colors while windows with advertising start popping up and some music from different radio stations plays in the background. Call that an entertainment center!

  • OSX.Loosemaque: this virus appears to be a simple computer game. Your goal is to kill some aliens in space. The problem: every alien is linked to a random folder on your computer, every time you kill an alien, that folder will be deleted. What is scary is that people play this “game” even when they know their risk of damaging their computer system. Yikes!!!

  • Newton virus for Macs: the company Troyka released a while ago a virus for Macs that will break the menu bar in half and all the icons in the desktop fall to the bottom of the screen as if they are affected by gravity. If you move your infected laptop and put it upside down, the pieces of menu bar and all the icons will fall to the bottom of the screen depending how are you holding your computer. It actually looks pretty neat! Some people on electronic forums wondered how to get the virus to see it in action.
If you want to stay up to date not only about viruses but computers in general, remember that the Faulk Central Library subscribes to the following magazines: Computerworld, Eweek, Geek Monthly, Government Technology, Macworld, PC World Mexico, and Wired.

Some titles about this topic that might interest you are:

Bug-free computing : stop viruses, squash worms, and smash Trojan horses

The art of computer virus research and defense

PC magazine fighting spyware, viruses, and malware

Buffer overflow attacks [electronic resource]: detect, exploit, prevent (To access it remotely, please have your library card number handy)

Finally, just a word of advice: keep your antivirus software up to date and go to your antivirus provider’s website to look for more information about virus threats periodically.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Love the Library

And you should too. If you read our blog, you're probably already a fan of libraries. But, do you know what the Austin Public Library can offer you? There is a long list of things the library provides other than just books, and here are just a few.

1. Well, obviously, other than books, we have magazines and journals too. Sometimes, you just want to sit down and look at a People magazine and zone out. Or, you're looking for that recipe your mother told you to find in Southern Living. There are also lots of crafty magazines, I, personally, love looking at them all. Maybe, to save some money, you canceled your subscriptions but still want to read your favorites, come to the Library. You can do a search for your favorite magazine or journal here. You'd be surprised at the selection of titles we have.

2. One of my go-to links on the Library's homepage is the "Research Tools", especially the "Research Guides". The reference librarians at Austin Public Library have worked tirelessly to put together some very special tools to help you in your research. There are guides for those who are trying to open up their own business, discover copyright issues, to guides on how to find reliable health information and literary criticism.

3. If you have a library card with us and know that UT or the San Antonio Public Library has a book you want to check out, you can get a Texshare card and go to those libraries, among many other hundreds of Texas libraries, and check it out! The Texshare program is a fabulous way to take advantage of the availability of materials that other libraries in Texas have. It's free and all you need is a library card with us.

4. Interlibrary loan. This program is older than I am and is still a great way to get very special items, or those not so special items. If you're looking for a small-town newspaper that isn't published anymore, but the library in Kalamazoo has it on microfilm, you can request that film through interlibrary loan (ILL). You can get anything you want through the ILL department, just ask.

5. Music. You won't believe what we've got at the library music department. We've got CDs and LPs you haven't seen or heard in years right along with all that new stuff. From Animal Collective and Lady Gaga to the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. If you know what you're looking for search our catalog and select "music on CD" or "vinyl record" in the material format drop down box. If you just want to browse, head to any Austin Public Library and check out the music section. CDs are everywhere, but the collection of LPs are the largest at Central.

6. My favorite part of the library: the databases. Our databases make the library a billion times bigger than what's in the brick-and-mortar buildings (maybe a slight exaggeration, but pretty close). Along with the typical newspaper and journal articles, you can find anything from your great aunt's phone number in Philly (ReferenceUSA) to a biography on the father of baseball, James Naismith (Biography Resource Center). You can get the repair diagrams for almost all makes and models of cars in the Chilton Library; look up family history from our list of genealogy databases; and get that final primary resource for your paper that's due tomorrow from our list of primary sources databases! And an always popular request for those who are needing a little help with tests, our test preparation databases. There are so many databases, it could make your head spin. So, browse through the subject guide and see what you can discover. You can look at almost all of these databases from home with your library card!

7. Finally, just ask. The reference librarians are just sitting and waiting for you to ask a question. Well, not really, we're doing lots of other things too, but our favorite is to help you find the answers. We can talk to you in person, over the phone, via email, we even chat! Don't be afraid, we're here to help you. If we don't know the answer, you can bet we can find out who does.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Lacuna and Frida Kahlo

I just finished The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and, despite some fairly minor issues, I really enjoyed it. It's a work of historical fiction whose main character, Harrison Shepherd, is a sort of observer among some extremely well-known people including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Lev "Leon" Trotsky. Like the meaning of the word lacuna, the book of Shepherd's journal entries, newspaper clippings, and letters has a few gaps, leaving the reader to his/her imagination to fill them.

The book has been a top seller since its release and, other than Kingsolver's reputation and the success of The Poisonwood Bible, I think part of the reason for that might be the inclusion of Frida Kahlo. In fact, Kahlo's appearances were my favorite parts of The Lacuna; Kingsolver characterizes and writes dialogue for Kahlo very closely to how I've imagined her. In the novel, Kahlo is strong-willed, defiant, and intelligent, but Kingsolver also manages to write in those more elusive Frida qualities that I've never been able to define or pinpoint. Perhaps it is these qualities that contribute to her being such a huge celebrity today. Her artwork is obviously revered, but, for me, it is her personality, so central to her paintings, that have kept me enamored with her.

Some of the best biographical sources on Frida can be found in books at the library or via our online databases accessible to anyone with a library card. Of course, there are a few good resources courtesy of Google too, vetted by this librarian and recommended for your reading and viewing pleasure.

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Portrait

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (DVD)

*Require an Austin Public Library card, if accessing from home

(With an internet connection and a library card, you can access JSTOR from the comfort of your own home. Use the titles to do a search for the two excellent articles below. Need assistance? Ask a Librarian!)
  • "Fashioning National Identity: Frida Kahlo in 'Gringolandia'" - Very interesting article on Frida's indigenous style of dress and national identity
  • "What Frida Kahlo Thought of the Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1939" - Frida's thoughts on Dorothy Hale's suicide and her painting of it
"I Made a Picture of My Life - A Life From the Picture: The Life of the Body in the Pictures and Writings of Frida Kahlo"

Frida Kahlo Bibliography
"The most complete Frida Kahlo bibliography on the web"

Frida Kahlo Corporation

Frida Kahlo: The Complete Works

All of her paintings on one website

Kahlo Fakes Flood Into Mexico
Over the past few months a number of articles have been written about a rise in Frida forgeries. This article addresses that as well as the new book, Finding Frida Kahlo by Barbara Levine, in which a newly discovered Kahlo archive is on display; however, a number of Frida experts question the authenticity of the archive. Check FindIt in a few weeks for Finding Frida Kahlo - it's on order for the library.

The Real Frida Kahlo
Excellent article from

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Miep Gies, R.I.P.

If we were to write a remembrance to every notable person who has passed on, this blog would quickly become a memorial section. We do not want that. However, for each one of us there are some folks’ passing that hit extra hard. For me, one of those folks passed away Monday. Her name was Miep Gies. She worked tirelessly to hide and provide for Anne Frank and the others sheltered in an Amsterdam canal warehouse. I wrote about Ms. Gies last August. That post can be found here.

Ms. Gies refused to be considered a hero. In recent years she told school children "I don't want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary." Her humility coupled with her bravery truly mark her a hero, even if that made her uncomfortable.

Miep Gies’ Anne Frank Remembered is a great companion to Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.

I would also like to highlight a World War II memoir I read over the weekend: Hans Erich Nossack’s The End: Hamburg 1943. Mr. Nossack fortuitously was in the countryside surrounding Hamburg during the nights it was destroyed by aerial bombings. The End is the incredible account of his emotions, fears, and thoughts upon entering his devastated city.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Mathematician's Lament

The Mathematician's Lament started out in 2002 as a 25-page document that circulated somewhat erratically within the mathematics education community. The author, Paul Lockhart , who teaches high school math in Brooklyn, challenged everyone with its subtitle: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art.

The document has now been published as a book: The Mathematician's Lament, 510.71 Lo. He opens the book with a musician waking from a nightmare, where students are taught music beginning with music notation, moving to fixed rules, harmony, scales , then competency tests. Not until college do the students actually hear or play music. Lockhart says this is exactly the way math is taught to students, and the only people who know something is wrong are the students, who are right when they complain that math class is stupid and boring.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Year's Resolution - Read the New Yorker

The January 4 New Yorker had three articles that directly related to me as an Austinite, and another one that was about the world's most popular artist, Van Gogh. You can read articles in the New Yorker online using the Library's databases, or read selected articles at the New Yorker website. You can also read the magazine at Faulk Central, which has a print subscription. You might have read about these topics elsewhere, but the New Yorker is known for its exacting standards for journalism, and the articles are a delight to read.

Articles I read in the January 4 issue:

Protest Studies - Students and faculty at the University of Caliornia at Berkely are angry at Mark Yudof, the school's president, who once was UT's president.

School of Rock - Vampire Weekend, which played at ACL in 2008, is a group of upper-middle-class boys channelling Third World musical traditions.

Food Fighter - Story of Whole foods and its founder John Mackey, who does not eat a lot of what Whole Foods sells.

Van Gogh's Ear - Maybe he really didn't cut it off.

To read New Yorker articles using the Library's databases:

-Go to the Austin Public Library homepage.
-Select Research Tools from the menu on the left hand side.
-Select ejournal finder; you will need to enter your Library card number.
-Enter new yorker in the search box, click search
-Select Literary Resources from Gale.
-You will see the articles in chronological order.
-Or search Factiva, which has the full-text of all the articles.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Boris Vian: a French Renaissance Man

Boris Vian was one of those interesting people that had the wonderful capacity to be brilliant in more than one field. He was an engineer, musician, poet, journalist, writer, translator, actor, singer and critic. As a musician, he was a trumpet jazz player and he put together his first jazz band when he was 14 years old. He also played a harp guitar for his compositions (click here for a short video). He is the author of the song “The D├ęserteur ” or “The Deserter” that has been translated in more than 40 languages and was interpreted by Joan Baez during the Vietnam War. But his musical work wasn’t limited only to jazz, he also wrote and interpreted rock and roll, opera and was the author of many music scores for films.

As a writer, Boris Vian signed his works using Vernon Sullivan as a pen name. His works have been also translated into many languages and made into movies and graphic novels. In the engineering field, he designed wonderful bridges that minimized the use of gas.

Sadly, Boris Vian’s life was very short. He died when he was only 39 years old but his work is considered by many as some of the most influential in French arts and culture.

Austin Public Library has some of his works for your enjoyment:


La hierba roja (in Spanish)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Defining moment

If you look back over the last decade, what one thing stands out among everything else to you? Many people have died, many people were born, natural disasters, historical political moments, technological advances, but those are insignificant when compared to the one defining moment of the history of the United States in the 2000-2009 decade. Of course, I'm talking about 9/11. Everyone who is old enough to remember, knows exactly what they were doing when they heard the horrific news. I, myself, was going to the dentist.

Eight years have passed since that fateful day and many words have been written, in books, magazines, newspapers and digitally. The event still strikes a chord in each and every one of us. We remember it vividly, as if it happened yesterday.

The library has many books on 9/11, from children's fiction to adult graphic novels. There are also many websites archiving the digital world of what happened on that day. Take the time to remember this historic moment.

Thoughtful websites:
The September 11 Digital Archive

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Library of Congress September 11, 2001 Documentary Project

Books available at the library:
Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

The Test of our Times: America Under Siege - and How we can be Safe Again by Thomas Ridge

Ground Zero: a Repairman Jack Novel by Paul Wilson

14 Cows for America by Carmen Deedy

The Commission: the Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon

Touching History: the Untold Story of the Drama that Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11 by Lynn Spencer

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer

The 9/11 Report: a Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson

Magazines and newspapers:
A variety of articles on September 11, 2001 are available at MasterFile Premier (you'll need your library card number handy)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Albums of 2009

Like Liblairian said in his previous post, this is the time of year to be bombarded with "best of" lists and I've got another one for you on this New Year's Day. Raised in this great music city, I love music and listen to it constantly. If the library didn't exist, I really don't know what I would do - I rely heavily on APL to buy the music by the bands I'm interested in, so I can give it a listen before committing to a purchase. True, I can just go to Waterloo and listen away anytime I want, but not for 3 weeks at a time like when I check out a CD from the library.

The below list is of albums the library owns that were released in 2009 that I really enjoyed (and am still enjoying). I'm going to go ahead and temper this list by mentioning that I have been accused of only listening to indie rock and having a feminine taste in music. In response to the first accusation, I'd say, yes, but that does not mean it is lacking in variety. In response to the second, if really enjoying a number of female artists makes one's taste "feminine", then so be it. Either way, I think there may be something in the list for everyone.

On a side note, feel free to Suggest a Title via FindIt, the library catalog, if we do not own the music you're looking for. And, if you don't know how to place a hold already, Ask a Librarian how you can get something sent to the branch of your choice and notified by email when it is available.

Around the Well - Iron & Wine

Samuel Beam, the man behind Iron & Wine, resides just outside of Austin, TX and only gets better each album he releases with his folky, lovely tunes. Read reviews and take a listen.

Blood Bank - Bon Iver
This is just a 4-song EP, not a full album, but the song "Woods" made it hard for me not to put on the list. Read reviews and take a listen.

Dark was the Night: A Red Hot Compilation - David Byrne
David Byrne is the man: lead singer of the Talking Heads, author of a new book, and the creator of this excellent compilation including music by artists such as Spoon, Arcade Fire, Blonde Readhead, Stuart Murdoch, and Conor Oberst. Read reviews and take a listen.

Hazards of Love - The Decemberists
Decemberists songs are like novellas set to music, and, considering Colin Meloy's (the lead singer) creative writing background, I guess this isn't surprising. This album is one long story complete with ghosts, a beast, a fair maiden, and an evil queen. Read reviews and take a listen.

I haven't dug a Doves album since The Last Broadcast released in 2002, but this new effort reminds me of why I like them so much and makes me wonder why more people aren't familiar with them. Read reviews and take a listen.
Zach Condon's previous work reflects a European influence, but this double EP is a bit different as it includes influences from Oaxaca, Mexico where Condon recently visited. It's still heavy with his Serge-Gainsbourg-like vocals and European riffs, but it all comes together into another great effort. Read reviews and take a listen.

I love this band and I'm not sure I would have really gotten into them if the library didn't have their albums. This one is their most accessible, but it is actually my least favorite; however, don't let that get in your way because it's still freakin' awesome. Read reviews and take a listen.

Neko Case has the clearest, most lovely voice and, for me, is singer-songwriting at its best. Read reviews and take a listen.

I love the style of pop Camera Obscura is so great at delivering. Their new album is no exception, though, my favorite is still their previous effort, Let's Get Out of this Country (watch a video of one of those tracks here). Read reviews and take a listen.

Andrew Bird writes and sings, plays violin, and whistles like it's nobody's business. Read reviews and take a listen.

Often referred to as part of the "freak folk" movement (and, indeed, they have done a lot of collaborating with Devendra Banhart), if you like Iron & Wine, you'll probably love Vetiver. Read reviews and take a listen.

More psychedellic folk-pop, this album is my favorite from the band so far. Read reviews and take a listen.

How could I leave you without some Austin bands? Here are 3 of my favorites from 2009 that you can find at the library:

The Century of Self - ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
If you haven't heard of Trail of Dead by now and you've been living in Austin for 5 years or longer, I'd say you've been living under a rock. Get with the times and check out their new album. Read reviews and take a listen.

Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away - Slaid Cleaves
I initially stumbled upon Slaid Cleaves via the jukebox at the Horeshoe Lounge (the album Broke Down). His 2009 album does not disappoint and Cleaves still proves to be an amazing songwriter. Read reviews and take a listen.

Have you seen Black Joe Lewis live yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Read a review and take a listen.