Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Book Gift Suggestions

No need to buy books when you have a great public library but if you want to give someone a holiday gift, try these.

New novels by Anna Quindlen and Jonathan Franzen.

Every Last One is a story of a woman, her family, and her community in New England. Quindlen develops the relationships of friends and family members moving them along as the children grow with activities and holidays. Tragedy strikes and a new life needs to be built. Quindlen is masterful at character development and domestic fiction.

Freedom is also domestic fiction. This one follows the arc of two people who become a couple and raise a family with a strong moral compass that goes awry. Franzen mocks middle class society's privileged attitudes with satire. Read it all to find out where their childhoods and mistakes brought them.

Both books end with hope.

For nonfiction fans, try these:

A favorite nonfiction writer of mine, Bill Bryson, has come up with another fascinating book. Like his earlier A Short History of Nearly Everything, he combines various spheres of knowledge to create a story that is hard to stop reading. An American living in Norfolk, England, Bryson ambles through his home, a rectory built in 1851, revealing the origins of dressers, plumbing, bricks, second floors, cookbooks, utensils and many more developments of domestic life we take for granted. Western European and American home life are juxtaposed.

I also learned a lot from Stuff: compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things by Randy O. Frost. Probably not the best topic as holiday gift giving explodes, it examines the psychology of people who collect and cannot let go of stuff. We all have belongings that have sentimental meaning for us but what about the extremes of having so much stuff you can't find important items or you endanger your safety or health because of it? The authors use case studies and provide readable psychological explanations and solutions.

Hot (broke) messes: how to have your latte and drink it too is written by a journalist so it reads very well. She volunteers her own indebtedness and embarassment at going to her parents for a handout as a high-wage-earning adult who has spent it all. The book has helpful websites and her own experience with a financial manager who helps her pull herself out of debt.

posted by mb

Friday, November 26, 2010

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month!

It's the day after Thanksgiving -- aka "Black Friday" -- where bargain hunters and shoppers wake up bright and early to brave the crowds, hunt for a good deal, and kick off the holiday shopping season. Before tackling the person in line in front of you because they are getting the very last one of this year's popular toy, follow these guidelines to be safe and smart this holiday season:
  • Keep the child’s age in mind when buying a gift. Use the ages on the box as a guide.
  • Avoid gifts with sharp edges.
  • If possible, examine gifts for loose parts and durability before giving them. If parts can come off easily, they could be a choking hazard for young kids.
  • Be sure that gifts for the youngest children have large enough pieces to prevent choking.
  • Give 0- to 2-year-olds books made of cardboard so that they can’t rip out, chew on, and swallow thinner paper pages.
  • Be sure that all gifts with art supplies (crayons, paint, chalk, etc.) are non-toxic.
  • Avoid giving gifts with parts that fly off, such as slingshots, Nerf guns, etc.
  • If giving sporting goods, also give protective gear. For example, give a new bike with a helmet, too!
  • Before giving a gift, check toy recalls online at
  • Teach kids how to use the toys they receive and observe playtime.

Would you like more information about safe toys and gifts? Ask a Youth Services Librarian!

“On the Path to Good Health” is supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends.

Posted by ws

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Celebrating by Fasting Would be a Lot Easier

A friend of mine is planning on hunting a wild turkey for his Thanksgiving celebration this year. Previous to this point, the only wild turkey he hunted was found in a liquor store. Yet despite the fact that he has more of a chance catching a cold than a bird, the idea of Thanksgiving compels him to become more engaged with his food. It seems to compel a lot of people. Compel them to care more about the food they are eating I mean, not shoot animals.

Thanksgiving is probably the most food centric of our holidays. It is also the one where "store bought convenience" is frowned upon. Or at least it was in my family. You work for a Thanksgiving meal. As a kid, I'd wake up at 8 AM to the smell of a turkey in the oven and the sound knives tapping on cutting boards. My parents' eyes were bloodshot and they looked anything but cheerful to have been up since five dealing with raw poultry (which isn't pleasant even at the best of times let alone before coffee), but the process of making the food was an important ritual that could not be ignored. No matter how much you didn't want to do it.

You didn't bring a tub of instant mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner. You'd peel, boil, and mash them yourself. The green bean casserole tastes the same year in, year out because it was someone's grandmother's recipe and it was not to be tinkered with. Yes, you could bring a can of cranberry sauce, but no one was going to eat that nasty stuff anyways, so it was irrelevant where it came from. As you can tell, the above fare, while traditional, is not all that inventive or, well, flavorful. That's what salt and pepper are for.

The turkey was the one place where tradition was thrown to the wind. Every year someone would do something different to try to make it better or more interesting. Roasted, smoked, deep fried, and bacon wrapped, we tried everything. Oddly enough, the deep fried turkey was probably the most successful. It was also the most dangerous if you weren't paying attention to water displacement or basic safety precautions.

So with all that in mind, I'm off to go out into the wild and bag my own 20 pounder tonight. But being a vegetarian, that just requires finding a really big pumpkin to turn into stew... and luckily my neighbor's been growing one I've had my eye on for a while. I suppose that makes me less of a hunter and more of a poacher.
posted by jw

Friday, November 19, 2010

Accio Newest Harry Potter Movie!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book and movie

Calling all muggle Harry Potter fans! Today's the day when Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows arrives in theatres. If you don't already know, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the title of the 7th and final book of the series. While it's not the longest in the series, there is so much action that Warner Bros. Entertainment decided to divide the movie version into two parts. This way, the movie will not have to leave out potentially important scenes with the hope that it can remain as faithful as possible to the book. Here's hoping it will be!

Have you already read the Harry Potter series, including book 7? If not, it's not too late to start. Have you already watched the previous 6 movies? If not, it's definitely best to read or watch all 6 before watching the 7th so that you know what's going on. And if you're good to go, grab your Gryffindor scarves and wands and head straight to the theatre! (Or wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray.)

scarf and wand

If you can't get enough of Harry Potter and have already read all of the books, we'd like to suggest some read-alike series that may also grab your attention:

Midnight for Charlie Bone
Charlie Bone (Midnight for Charlie Bone and others) by Jenny Nimmo

Children of the Lamp (The Akhenaten Adventure and others) by Philip Kerr

Inkheart (Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath) by Cornelia Funke

Pendragon (The Merchant of Death and others) by D.J. MacHale

The AlchemystSecrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (The Alchemyst and others) by Michael Dylan Scott

Septimus Heap (Magyk and others) by Angie Sage

The Spiderwick Chronicles (The Field Guide and others)  by Tony DiTerlizzi

Ask a Youth Services Librarian for help finding more books like Harry Potter.

Posted by ws

Monday, November 15, 2010

Santa Clara Historic Home Tour 2010

Sign up now for the 2010 Santa Clara Historic Home Tour. Friday, December 3rd from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 4th from noon to 5 p.m.
The Tour will feature five historic homes. Shown on the left is the walkway of the Adobe Lodge, one of the oldest structures (1822) on the Santa Clara University campus. Learn more about it on the tour. It will also be the location for restrooms, refreshments and an opportunity drawing which will benefit the Santa Clara Arts & Historical Consortium.

Four private residences will also be on the tour: The H. L. Warburton House (shown on the right), an 1889 Stripped Queen Anne Victorian; the Ravizza-Changras House, a 1927 California Bungalow; the Oldham House, a late nineteenth century Queen Anne Cottage built for William R. Oldham, the son of a 49er; and Dr. Paul's House, an 1892 late Victorian Eastlake.
Advance purchase ticket prices are $25.00 General Admission, $20.00 Seniors (60+) and Children (6-12). Read about options for purchasing tickets which are already on sale at the Santa Clara Historic Home Tour website or call the Harris Lass House (408) 249-7905. Tickets can also be purchased at City Lights Espresso, 1171 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara at Jackson Street across from the Post Office now through December 3rd at 6 p.m.
posted by mb

Did Libraries Save You?

"I am of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved," Barbara Kingsolver author of The Lacuna, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, The Bean Trees and more.

Authors for Libraries reminds us of the value of librarians and libraries. Visit the site to hear from more authors and get inspired about the power of libraries to improve the economy by helping turn peoples' lives around, start new businesses, help people improve educational skills and find their future.
Karin Slaughter, author of Broken, says that keeping libraries open and strong is a national security issue. Reading creates a better society. It is vital to a nation's sovereignty.
Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void, says, "It is no exaggeration to say that I could not do what I do without public libraries. I am a long-time abuser of interlibrary loan, which I think of as nothing less than a miracle. The internet is a tease: 'Yes, that old obscure book is out there! But nowhere you can get your hands on it!" Public libraries deliver. I love them strongly."
posted by mb

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keep Your Skin Safe

Apply Sunscreen
Visit our new health display in Youth Services in honor of the American Academy of Dermatology's National Healthy Skin Month and learn more about how to take good care of your skin.

Here are some tips:
  • Protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser each morning and night. If you wear make-up, be sure to remove it before sleeping.
  • Visit a dermatologist (skin doctor) once a year for a whole-body mole check.
  • Learn your ABCDs when looking at your freckles and moles:
    1. Asymmetry — when one half of a mole looks different from the other
    2. Border irregularity — if the edge of the mole has an odd shape
    3. Color — if the whole mole is not the same color everywhere
    4. Diameter — be cautious if the diameter is greater than 6 mm
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and protein will help keep your skin fresh and healthy.
  • If you have acne, do not pick, pop, or squeeze blemishes. This can cause a permanent scar!
Would you like more information about taking care of your skin? Ask a Youth Services Librarian!

“On the Path to Good Health” is supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends.

Posted by ws

Monday, November 8, 2010

Estate Planning and Writing Your Own Will Program

Local Estate Planning Attorney Eric Norris returns to present another informative seminar on estate planning and how to write your own will. Learn about the current state of the estate tax law, how to avoid probate, the advantages of living trusts, the importance of an Advance Health Care Directive, and more.

Eric can help you write your own simple will on the spot!

To reserve space at this free estate planning program, stop by the Reference Desk or call (408) 615-2900.

Monday, November 15, 2010
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Central Park Library Cedar Room

posted by mb for jb

Friday, November 5, 2010

What's Greg Up To Now?

diary of a wimpy kid cover
Wimp WS
It's November! Do you know what that means? The wait is almost over. The 5th Diary of a Wimpy Kid book by Jeff Kinney is almost available! It's going to be released on Tuesday, November 9th. We already have an entry for it in our catalog, so be sure to put your copy on hold and find out what Greg Heffley's up to now.

What is it about these books? Do kids love them because of their informal, journal-like quality? Do they like the cartoons? Whatever draws kids' attention, the books are a hit.

If the books are already checked out, try some of these books that are similar:

dork diaries
Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (and sequel) by Rachel Russell

How to Grow Up and Rule the World: Vordak the Incomprehensible by Scott Seegert

Let's Pretend this Never Happened (and other books in the Dear Dumb Diary series) by Jim Benton

Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully by James Roy

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow

Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius (and others) by Frank Asch (available through Link+)

Sweet Farts by Raymond Bean

And, just for fun: You can make yourself into a Wimpy Kid character! Try it out. Wimp Yourself. (Ahem, the one you see above is supposed to be Youth Services Librarian WS!)

As always, ask a Youth Services Librarian for help finding more books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Posted by ws.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Now that 2010 is Decided, Expect 2012 Campaign Ads to Begin Next Month

For those who voted, waking up the day after an election can feel like Christmas morning. The rolled up newspaper/darkened TV screen/booting up computer can bring forth the same queasy feelings of future happiness or crushing disappointment that a stack of wrapped presents could trigger in a child. It's a feeling of uneasy potential. A blissful state of ignorance in which everything is possible and maybe, just maybe, you got everything you asked for.

But of course you didn't. No one does. As soon as you see the results, you have to contend with feeling both good and bad (and probably a fair amount of indifferent). That's the terrible beauty of democracy... no one's ever really that happy. So, if for some reason you haven't seen the news yet, enjoy that momentary euphoria of mystery because below are the results of some of the larger elections that took place yesterday.

- Elected youngest Californian governor in 1974, Jerry Brown defeated Meg Whitman to get the title of oldest Californian governor in 2010. In related news, Gavin Newsom got the Lieutenant Governor position meaning that a hair care shop in Sacramento will now reap the benefits of his pomade addiction (seriously, even in high winds, I've never seen it disheveled).

- Barbara Boxer was reelected over Carly Fiorina for the U.S. Senate. Had the election tipped the other way, she could have fallen back on her career as a novelist.

- Disappointing marijuana advocates and national news channels dying to refer to all Californians as being high, it looks like it's still just for medicinal purposes.

- With the defeat of Proposition of 23, California reaffirms that we are a bunch of treehuggers. Though, with the defeat of Propostion 21, voters decided they don't care about hugging the trees in state parks so much. Not if it requires $18 extra dollars on their car registration at least.

- With the approval of Proposition 25, California has told the state congress that when it comes to passing a budget, just a good old fashioned majority will do the trick. No need to try to be overachievers and make it "super."

- Locally, it looks like you'll still see some familiar faces around city hall.

- Nationwide a "bunch of people I don't know were elected for a bunch of states I've never been to and probably never will." Most years this is the general reaction to the elections in other states. But this time around it does matter. Congress is now divided. If you've been annoyed by the Congressional bickering over the pass two years (or if you like that sort of thing), keep in mind that happened when one party was in power. Now the Democrats have the Senate and the Republicans/Tea Party have control of the House of Representatives. Hi-jinx ensue. Meanwhile, cable news channels are preparing to shout/talk themselves hoarse until they literally can only point fingers at one another for the next two years in response to this development.
posted by jw