Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gay Pride Month Book Lists

June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. The first U.S. gay pride parade called “Christopher Street Liberation Day” took place on June 28, 1970 in New York. The parade covered fifty-one blocks. Since then, June has been considered Gay Pride Month, and in 2000, it was officially recognized by President Clinton, who named it “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” President Obama made the month’s name more inclusive on May 28th of this year, naming June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

The Publishing Triangle, whose mission is to promote discussion between all readers gay and straight, has posted the 100 best lesbian and gay novels. I have listed my favorite books by gay authors below. You can find more books by these authors and more gay authors on APL Recommend's Gay and Lesbian Fiction: Authors and Themes .

Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Maurice by E. M. Forster
Beauty of Men by Andrew Holleran
At Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

Graphic novels have become very popular, and below are three recommended gay graphic novels.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alsion Bechdel
Poignant memoir of growing up.

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse
Classic coming-out story embodies America’s tipping point, when the white supremacist patriarchy got knocked off its pedestal in the 1960s.

The Authority: Relentless by Warren Ellis
A group of superheros includes three women and a gay couple.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Politics and History

No doubt politics is a weird landscape. I would venture to say the same thing about the chronicling of history. I believe that a great deal of thought and research must go into deciphering the true motives behind the perpetrators of both to gain a more objective view. This inherent weakness is made obvious in three titles that I've been thinking about recently. The first work is entitled, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. In it, the author discusses some of the truer motives that served as the driving force behind the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. One of the biggest, fear of German and Irish immigrants, is unsurprisingly very similar to the anti-immigrant sentiment currently playing itself out in Congress. The next title is, Empire of the Summer Moon. Here, the author cites incidences of brutality that suggest, at least in the case of the Comanche Indians, they too were to blame for a great deal of the blood-letting and atrocities that occurred in much of the middle of the country during the settlement of the West. Lastly is the juggernaut, A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. It is easy to gain a sense of the author's bias and political leanings reading this work. However, it does introduce ideas and supporting evidence that at the very least help to form a well-rounded, plausible, and more likely view of political and historical events as opposed to the clear-cut, good against evil narrative I was accustomed to reading while in grade school.

Friday, June 25, 2010


In sports, a hat-trick is when a player scores three times during a game. The term originated with cricket in the late 1870s, and meant "taking three wickets on three bowls;" then later extended to other sports, including hockey and soccer. The Library’s online database Oxford Reference Premium’s definition is “three successes of the same kind within a limited period, in particular (in soccer) the scoring of three goals in a game by one player or (in cricket) the taking of three wickets by the same bowler with successive balls”. Last week, Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina scored the first hat-trick of the World Cup against South Korea. I am watching soccer for the first time, and when I heard the term “hat trick” I racked my brain trying to remember which song I used to listen to had that phrase. Then I remembered it was from Concrete Schoolyard, by Jurassic 5.

Playground tactics no rabbit in a hat tricks
just add classic rap **** from Jurassic

Jurassic 5 was an American alternative hip hop group formed in 1993 by rappers Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir, Mark 7even, and disc jockeys DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist. Jurassic 5 made their mark in resurrecting the old-school hip-hop style made famous by veterans such as Grand Master Flash, Melle Mel and Run DMC in the 1980s. The group broke up in 2007 after nearly 15 years together. Classic Jurassic 5 tunes include Concrete School Yard, Quality Control and The Thin Line.

Jurassic 5 albums at APL:

Power in Numbers
Quality Control

To find other hip hop cds at APL, type hip hop in the FindIt search box, and then choose music on cd in the drop down menu.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ooooooe oe oe oeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

OH YES!!! It’s here! It’s happening right now!!! The World Cup is finally here!!! The language shared by soccer fans around the world include the words - corner kick, free kick, fault, penalty, own goal, goal, and yellow and red cards. People from so many different countries speak the same language, the language of a great sport (I know a lot of you might disagree, but it’s ok.) Soccer, because of its simplicity, and the fact that it doesn’t require any special equipment to play, is one of the sports followed by millions of fans around the globe. You only need a ball of some sort (sometimes you can even make one with plastic bags if nothing else available) and another person who would like to play and you are all set. Of course there are more fancy camps and teams for training kids, teens and adults, but sometimes the best match is the one that you play with your friends in a park at the end of the afternoon.

But the culture of soccer goes beyond the sport itself. As the Roman poet Juvenal said: “bread and circuses,” a saying often linked to soccer because of the sport’s power to distract citizens from important governmental decisions that go on while the population is paying attention to big games.

Every four years, since 1930, the best teams in the world get together and for a month they fight to reach the finals and have a chance to win the tournament. The first World Cup was played in Uruguay, at the “Estadio Centenario,”  that carries the title of “Historic Monument of World Soccer.” Uruguay was also the country that won the first World Cup ever.

Many years have passed and currently the countries that have won this tournament more than once are:

Brazil: five times
Italy: four times
Germany: three times
Uruguay and Argentina: two times

Who do you think will win???
Here comes the wave!

„¸¸„ø¤º°¨Soccer¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤øº¤øSoccer„¸¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤øº¤øSoccer„¸¸„ø¤º°¨Soccer¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤Soccerº¤ø„¸¸„ø¤º°°º¤øº¤ø Soccer„¸¸„ø¤º°¨Soccer¸„ø¤º°¨ ¨°º¤øº¤øSoccer „¸¸„ø¤º°¨¨°º¤øº¤ø Pass it on!

Some books for your enjoyment are:

For more information and highlights about the games you can go to the FIFA website.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Backyard Birds of Texas

I spy on my neighbors with binoculars. I watch their most intimate behavior: eating, conversing, bathing, even (ahem) procreating. I spend some time each day at it, and I admit, I enjoy it. Right now there are two couples in particular I've got my eye on. They live in houses hanging from the branches of my oak trees. One is a pair of wrens and the other house sparrows.

The wrens are natives, but the sparrows are invaders from Europe that are overrunning native species. For years sparrows lived in a large colony under my neighbor's siding until he finally plugged the openings with foam. Now that the sparrows can't get into their condos, there are fewer of them and more native birds in my yard: more cardinals and jays and titmice and grackles. (Did you know a grackle is a songbird?)

Texas is the state for watching birds, and APL has the books to help you identify them. My favorite is this one:

(The author's name can't possibly be pronounced tweetin'... you think?)

Books for the birds in Texas:
Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail
Bird Witched
(by a long-time Austin Public Library patron)
Birding the Southwestern National Parks

Friday, June 18, 2010

An Inspired Move

Moving is often a long, exhausting process. What you hope to unpack in a week is still in boxes two weeks later. If you're like me, you get to a breaking point where all items must be deemed absolutely essential in order to make it into a box and not the dumpster. Moving is the perfect time to downsize.

Despite the exhaustion and heavy lifting, moving brings you to a new place with new possibilities (even if those possibilities are only decorative). You can pretend you will be cleaner and more organized in you new place. You can make big plans to paint, build furniture, get some nice plants for the patio. A new place is like a blank slate ready for you to put your mark on it.

The nonfiction section at your local public library is a dream for anyone looking for moving advice, downsizing and organizing tips, basic home upkeep, and, of course, a huge assortment of books on decorating your home, from DIY, crafty projects to landscape design. Ever browsed the Faulk Central Library's 3rd floor? The entire floor is nonfiction and our selection is huge. I can't think of a better place to get inspired and help you make your new (or old) home yours.

Can't find the books you're looking for? Ask a Librarian! We use FindIt, the online catalog, all the time and know the tips and tricks to get you what you need.


Downsizing Your Home With Style: Living Well in a Smaller Space

Home Décor Sewing Techniques Bible

Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love

The House Always Wins: Creating the Home You Love-- Without Bursting Your Budget

How to Survive a Move

Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home

Moving With Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family's Transition to a New Home

Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life

Wary Meyers' Tossed & Found: Unconventional Design From Cast-Offs

Stop by the 2nd floor of the Faulk Central Library to browse these and many other great magazines.


Home Power



Apartment Therapy


Design Sponge

Desire to Inspire

DIY Network

Oh Joy!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

500 YEARS!

That’s how long microfilm lasts. (You wouldn’t have read any farther if the title of this post had been MICROFICHE! now would you?) Of course that’s just an estimate; we've been storing information on film to save space only since the 1800s. Disks—including hard drives—degrade from use, temperature, and development of new storage technologies (How many floppies did you toss without checking to see what was on them once you’d learned how to burn disks? How many files did you leave on your hard drive when you handed your old computer over to Goodwill?), but microfilm is less delicate and stores information in language readable by anybody with a magnifying glass.

Work not typed into computers, that is, work done on paper, that is, almost everything written before 1985, is saved for space on microfilm, if it's been saved. (Although information manipulation companies are digitizing as fast as they can.) That’s why you’ll find extensive microfiche files and microfilm readers and printers on the second floor of the downtown library.

To see APL's holdings of periodicals--including microfilm holdings--from our home page, click

--> research tools
--> periodicals
--> Faulk Central Library Periodicals Search

then enter the title of a periodical, or use the browsing links. (Here's an example of an end result: New York Times Book Review.) Have your library card number handy; we've linked to our digitized holdings of the Book Review on that same page.

If you'd like to read more about long-term information storage, here's a link to a related APL post: The Future of the Book.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Birth (and Death) of the Cool

I was originally attracted to the title, The Birth (and Death) of the Cool, because the Miles Davis recording, "The Birth of the Cool", is truly one of my top ten favorite music recordings of all time. I believe that all great art transcends time and remains fresh and relevant irrespective of when it was made. That being said, the subject matter of this book traces the invention and subsequent iterations of what it has meant to be considered cool throughout the decades from a semi-sociological point of view. It examines the concept's origins and subsequent co-opting by marketing departments and advertising agencies who harnessed, and continue to harness, it's societal cache in the hopes of selling products to highly segmented and targeted consumers. Believe it or not, but there was once a time when being considered cool or hip was all in one's attitude. It wasn't until much later that coolness was artificially defined based upon on the objects one was surrounded by or the clothes one wore.

Similar titles:
Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore That Shaped Modern America
American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the Twentieth Century
Teenage Nervous Breakdown: Music and Politics in the Post-Elvis Age
Retro Hell: Life in the '70s and '80s, From Afros to Zotz

Friday, June 11, 2010


The very popular Outliers by Malcom Gladwell focuses on what makes some people become succesful, and one factor is how hard you parctice or work to develop your talent. A new art book at the Library illustrates this drive to create something perfect with one's talent. Exactitude, Hyperrealist Art Today is an imaginative and original book which presents a selection of contemporary artists, most of whom are represented by Plus One Gallery , working in a figurative, hyperrealist style. In the foreward, Clive Head, one of the artists, says:

"The paintings are made with remarkable care. To invest such care into the paining of an object. figure or landscape, is indicative of a compulsion to serve an ideal...We have moved on from mere picture making to a quest to reveal how the world should be through the meticulous rendering of a subject, irrespective of how arduous a task may be.

Talent is always rare and the conviction and dedication to nuture that talent will always make masterful works of art a very infrequent occurrence."

The works range from still lifes and extreme close-ups to large scale cityscapes and landscape paintings. All the work celebrates the meticulous fashion of photorealism. But in these paintings photorealism has moved from the slum and garbage dump - it can now be beautiful. The hyperealist art movement has moved one step from photorealism since the artist attempts to reinterpret or modify the photograph to create a false reality, an enhanced illusion, using brighter colors. Some artists digitize dozens of photographic images for each picture, composing, collaging, warping, and colourizing on the computer before returning to the canvas and paint. Some artists use photography alongside sketching and observation, to know the subject and to analyze it. But the result is the same - the paintings are breathtaking, and there are over 500 color images in the book.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Covered with Romance

I have to admit that romance is not my favorite genre. Not knowing what is at the end of the books I read is one of the things that interest me and this is not the case when we talk about romance. A book classified under this category HAS to have a happy ending; otherwise it would be considered general fiction. Something I consistently enjoy, though, is the cover art of romance books.

Longing, passion, doubt, desire, vulnerability are some of the feelings expressed to the max in these book covers. Women are usually conceived of as fragile and vulnerable while protected or seduced by a strong Alpha male. This is, I think, quite interesting since in a way it contrasts with the how women, men and relationships are conceived nowadays.

Because of the characteristics of these particular designs, the art of romance books covers is one of a kind. Most artists go through a similar creative process: they find a passage of the book they will illustrate to get inspired, then decide a time in history they will use to settle the mood of the picture and the corresponding outfits for the models depending on the historical moment, find models, a photographer, and after taking tons of pictures they can start recreating the scene that you see on the cover of your favorites romance novels.

So, next time you hold a romance novel in your hands, take your time and enjoy its cover. You might find it a little exaggerated, or you might end up identifying with the heroine or the valiant knight.  Who knows!?

Some new romance novels the library has available for you are:

Image by artist Jon Paul published with his permission

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Homeboy Industries

I always cringe whenever I hear middle class, suburban kids romanticize gang life. I don't understand the psychology behind glorifying a genuinely brutal, limited, and potentially short life. I'm certain that for these kids, whose lives are very comfortable, the sources from which they are informed present a very skewed version of reality. Fortunately, there exists a place and a person that can supply some very concrete examples of the violence and tragedy that plagues individuals who choose this path.

Father Greg Boyle has been working tirelessly in some of the roughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles for over twenty years. He started the pioneering program known as Homeboy Industries that has proven to be highly effective in transforming the lives of gang members by showing them a path to employability, education, and hope and breaking the cycle of generational membership.

You can listen to a very touching and powerful interview with Father Greg Boyle on the NPR program, Fresh Air or checkout these titles and read about this very humble man and his important work firsthand.

Related Titles:

Friday, June 04, 2010

Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire is a cartoonist I've recently started loving and following. His works include The Complete Essex County, The Nobody, and, more recently, Sweet Tooth (on order for the library - keep an eye out for it in FindIt!). I just finished the award-winning (an Alex award and an Eisner nomination), critically-acclaimed Essex County trilogy and it was wonderful! It is set in Essex County, Canada where Lemire himself grew up and portrays life in a rural, farm town. The sparse panels and small town characters leave an indelible impression of life in the countryside, which made me realize how rarely I come across graphic novels concerned with rural life. The first volume begins with an orphaned boy named Lester and his seemingly unlikely friendship with an outcast gas station attendant; the second focuses on the relationship between two hockey-playing brothers; and the third a charming nurse as well as the early 20th century tragedy that had an effect on most of the county's residents. The level of emotion Lemire is able to evoke from the silent panels he incorporates, the literary nature of his storylines and the way he constructs a story, and the intimacy with which you get to know Essex County's residents are just a few of the reasons you should check out either the volumes in this series or the collected edition. It has broad appeal and could easily be enjoyed by both teens and adults.

Essex County is the featured graphic novel in a *NEW* addition to APL's suggested graphic novels webpage. Every other Friday, I will be updating the webpage with a new graphic novel I've either personally read or can't stop hearing buzz about. I hope you'll take a look every few weeks, but, most importantly, I hope you find something you enjoy there!

The Complete Essex County
This is the entire collected series, but you can also read the three individual volumes, if you like.

Good Reads: Suggested Graphic Novels for Adults
Check here every other Friday for a new, featured graphic novel.

The Nobody
This is kind of a spin on The Invisible Man. A very enjoyable read with simple artwork that still manages to astound.


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Understanding Grief

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgandy is a touring exhibit that will open at the Dallas Art Museum in October. The mourners remind us that greiving is a collective experience, common to all people, and all moments in history. The Library has two books that offer new ways to understand grief.

The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression by Darian Leader