Saturday, January 31, 2009


Moment by Moment
In Touching History: the Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11, Lynn Spencer offers a moment-by-moment narrative of what happened in the skies over our country on 9/11.

To write the book, Spencer spent three years interviewing commercial pilots, air crew, civilian and military air traffic controllers and military personnel, to recount the story in breathtaking detail. Spencer also quotes directly from Cockpit Voice Recorder transcripts; these capture the courage of real people confronting an unprecedented threat and the worst catastrophe in American aviation history.

Spencer's book is all but impossible to put down.

The Very Cool Neil Gaiman

Now a Newbery Award Winner
Last Monday, Neil Gaiman won the John Newbery Medal for his distinguished contribution to children's literature. Gaiman's award-winning title, The Graveyard Book, illustrated by Dave McKean, tells the story of a child named Nobody Owens ('Bod' for short) who is raised in a cemetary by ghosts, werewolves, and other creepy graveyard dwellers.

If the Newbery's not a big enough addition to Gaiman's impressive resume, the movie version of his acclaimed book, Coraline, opens this coming Friday, February 6. Watch the trailer.

Banishing the Winter Blahs...

Interior Decorating for Kids and Families
With money being so tight, interest in do-it-yourself projects is on the rise. If your kids are asking to remake their rooms, here’s a quick selection of books with useful makeover ideas, many of them low cost. Cool theme suggestions and intriguing patterns mix with tips on how to get started; help your children get organized, and make the most of what you already own.

It's Your Room by Janice Weaver & Frieda Wishinsky
Decorating Kids' Rooms by Anna Kasabian & Eugenia Santiesteban
Change Your Room by Jane Bull

Friday, January 30, 2009

John Updike (1932-2009)

John Updike died on Tuesday, leaving behind some of American literature's greatest fiction, essays, poetry, and literary criticism. In all of his works, most often picked and rarely panned, we heard the sturdy beat of our American pulse. Reading Updike was like being spied on; he seemed to know us, through and through.

Read or re-read anything Updike as a tribute. Better yet, let’s be confident that twenty, sixty, one-hundred years from now, all too many will still be searching for a way to bid their adieus to John Updike.

I Get No Kick From Champagne...

But the Widow Clicquot Sure Did!
Tilar J. Mazzeo's The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It is more than just a biography of Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (1777-1866); it is a tribute to one of Europe's first successful women entrepreneurs. As a young widow forced to earn a living in the Napoleonic era, Ponsardin decided to continue in her husband's business. Despite many obstacles and financial setbacks, her product, Veuve, became a best-selling wine and first 'modern' version of what we now know as champagne.

Details on the wine industry and Ponsardin's climb to success are sure to please wine lovers and armchair historians. The book may also appeal to readers who appreciate an "intoxicating" business read, albeit with some occasionally "dry" prose.

Also for Wine Afficianados: The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace; History in a Glass: 60 Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet, and Wine, Food & Friends by Karen MacNeil.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We've Got Game

Super Bowl Reads
Super Bowl Sunday is but a few days away. Based on the branded caps and jackets we most often see at the library – Giants, Jets, Patriots – some of you may be feeling left out. We certainly do; we’re fans of the Heimlich maneuver loving Giants.

One way to shed your sorrow -- and get in the mood for Sunday's game -- is to read two great football books:

The Glory Game tells the story of 1958’s major face-off between the New York Giants led by Frank Gifford and the Baltimore Colts, led by Johnny Unitas. Both Gifford and Unitas are Pro Football Hall of Famers. Gifford, with Peter Richmond, penned this book as a tribute to his late friend and renowned writer, David Halberstam.

In A Few Seconds of Panic, Stefan Fatsis, a sports beat reporter for NPR and the Wall Street Journal, decides to try out as a kicker for the Denver Broncos. Fatsis follows in the footsteps of George Plimpton's classic, Paper Tiger; Plimpton joined the Detroit Lion's training camp in 1963. Both books are "What were you thinking?" fun.

Shaping Your Own Destiny

Self-Published Hits
Aspiring writers may find solace within the covers of the latest issue of Time Magazine (Feburary 2). In an article by arts & media writer, Lev Grossman, we learn about changes in the publishing industry. It seems self-publishing, not to mention digital publishing, are causing more than few cases of hives in New York-based publishing circles.

Adieu print traditions? Not yet. Just a range of new and different ways to find and read more books...

Four self-published novels with "hit it big" credentials were mentioned in Grossman's article:

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Contagious by Scott Sigler
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Preaching to a Very Big Choir

On the Love of Books
Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize winner for Lonesome Dove, recently delivered his semi-autobiographical title, Books: a Memoir. Between the covers, the author reveals his life-long love affair with books and reading.

If you are asking yourself "What's different about this book?" -- as opposed to legions of others proclaiming a similar reverence -- we're here to say McMurtry's book is written with a holistic perspective. McMurtry not only writes books, he's navigated the publishing industry for over 50 years and also owns book stores that deal with collectible and hard-to-find titles. His experience makes for interesting opinions on book plates, audio books, popular book culture, and everything in between...

Click here for short list of other titles written by book-lover extraordinaire, Larry McMurtry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

World Travel

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo
In a quest to rediscover the route taken by Marco Polo, his father Niccolo and his Uncle Maffeo, on their famous journey to Medieval China, Denis Belliveau and Francis O'Donnell traveled by land for over two years. Air travel was not a consideration; mountains, seas, and deserts were all obstacles that had to be conquered in an effort to retrace Marco Polo's footsteps.

At first glance, lavish color photos give the book a coffee table look. Detailed descriptions of the people and places, however, present a more vivid chronicle of how customs and domestic life have changed in the regions first described by the adventurous Polo. Historic background information adds distinction to the stories of Kublai Khan, Ancient Cathy, and the Silk Road.

Denis Belliveau & Francis O'Donnell's In The Footsteps of Marco Polo is the companion book to the PBS film of the same title.

Further Reading: Travels of Marco Polo: the Venetian has been a best seller since it was first written by the intrepid adventurer himself in the 13th century. The book had a enormous impact on East-West relations and continues to inspire and inform would-be travelers and students of world history and politics.

Content developed by library staff member Bev Simmons

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love, Lawyers, Spies...

Tuesday's Fiction Picks
Get ready for the latest in fiction by John Grisham, Kristin Hannah, Jack Higgins, the almost too prolific James Patterson (here with Michael Ledwidge), and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Everything's covered in this crop of new books: compromised lawyers, struggling families, spy-tie players, serial killers, and Hollywood romancers. Enjoy!

Reagan Redux

The Debate Continues...
In two new books, Sean Wilentz (Princeton historian) and Will Bunch (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist) serve up competing viewpoints on our 4oth President, Ronald Reagan.

In The Age of Reagan: a History, Wilentz argues, "his [Reagan's] achievement looks much more substantial than anything the Reagan mythmakers have said in his honor."

In Tear Down This Myth, Bunch argues that Reagan's main talent was his ability to compromise; the rest of the myth came from a news media used "for purposes that were essentially partisan in nature..."

Plenty of meat on both of these bones; read both books and decide for yourself which con is pro or which pro is con.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spiritual Weight Lifting

Contemporary Seeker, Kathleen Norris
Kathleen Norris is an award-winning poet and editor at large at the Christian Century. In a trio of books, Cloister Walk (1996), Amazing Grace (1998) and her latest, Acedia & Me (2008), Norris shares her spiritual struggles and describes the winding paths she took toward embracing and living her faith.

All of these books are part meditation on the role of faith in modern life and part memoir; all are beautifully written in the voice of a poet. Relevant to people of all faiths…

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History Lessons

Rivals... From Different Teams
Books about history and politics, world and American, are popular locally. If you are a reader who regularly contributes to demand, we recommend two of our 2008 favorites.

Arthur Herman's Gandhi & Churchill: the Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age offers a balanced look at the views, leadership styles, and clash between Mohandas Gandhi and Winston Churchill, two of the 20th century's legendary leaders. Herman’s book defines their struggle over the future of India as long, often bitter, and a fierce contest of wills based on differences... and commonalities.

In Lincoln and Douglas: the Debates that Defined America Allen C. Guelzo pulls apart and reconstructs the 1858 senatorial debates between Abraham Lincoln and his opponent, Stephen A. Douglas. The book describes political campaigning which in Guelzo's words "hasn't changed all that much since 1858" and "democracy at its best." Any fan of Civil War era history, political cross-talk, or debating in well-crafted language will appreciate this book.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rachel Carson

"The Gentle Subversive"
Rachel Carson provided an early entry on the list of ecology-related books. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring, sounded an alarm about widespread use of pesticides and their negative impact on our environment. Carson's book is widely credited as providing the launch pad for the environmental movement and the first Earth Day in 1970.

A variety of other books by and about Rachel Carson are available for checkout; click here for a quick selection. Also try A Spring Without Bees or Where the Wild Things Were, two among many latest books with similar themes.

Content developed by library staff member Bev Simmons

Monday, January 19, 2009

Books Are...

Influential, Inspiring, Powerful...
Today's New York Times featured an article about the role books have played in shaping the life and views of our soon to be 44th President, Barack Obama. Here's a short list of books mentioned in the article:

Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

We’ve also included an AP photo that shows a father and his daughter; the daughter with a book in hand. Here in East Hampton, we’ve lost count of the photos we have snapped over the years; photos that show the same regard for books and reading as a family enterprise. Regardless of your political views, keep on passing that torch and know we’re here to support your efforts.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Martin Luther King Day

Much More Than a Day Off
The library will be closed on Monday, January 19th, in observance of a National Holiday that marks Reverend King's January 15th birthday. King’s life works were a ‘tipping point’ in U.S. history and his accomplishments continue to inspire.

To read more about Dr. King, we recommend a trilogy of books written by Taylor Branch. The series chronicles King's life by period, from 1954 to 1968. A range of other
great books about King's place in our country's larger history will appeal to both adults, teens, and children. For a quick list, click here.

Also check out the MLK Day of Service Project, which asks each of us to spend some time this Monday making it a day on instead of day off....

Dining Out With Better Books

If you are looking for 'nutritional' fiction reads, you won't find an empty calorie in any of the following:

Louise Erdrich's 13th novel, The Plague of Doves, revolves around an unsolved murder of a farm family in Pluto, North Dakota, a white town bordering an Ojibwa reservation. Years later, history and human relationships are still complex...

Pulitzer Prize* winner Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies*, The Namesake) offers her latest, Unaccustomed Earth. This collection of eight stories speaks to cultural identity (the author is a Bengali-American), cultural influences, and bridging the gap between parents and children with very different ideas and cultural attachments.

Annie Proulx (Pulitzer for The Shipping News and major fame for Brokeback Mountain) returns with the third volume in her 'Wyoming stories' series, Fine Just the Way It Is. All about life in the American West, Proulx's stories are historical and contemporary fiction at the same time.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tagging Along with William Least Heat-Moon

Always a Pleasure...
The author of Blue Highways (1982), PrairyErth (1991), and River Horse (1999) recently released his latest travelogue, Roads to Quoz. In all of these books – collectively a blend of short and longer trips to America'a small towns – the author sees wonder. His prose also makes us want to 'mosey around' a little bit bit more than we do...

Read a November 2008 interview with author courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle or an older interview (River Horse vintage) courtesy of PBS. Then, of course, cuddle up with any of Heat-Moon's very enjoyable books.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Titanic Tales

April 15, 1912
On April 14, 1912 the ship that had been labeled "unsinkable" hit an iceberg and sank less than three hours later in the early hours of April 15.

Brad Matsen and Richie Kohler's new book, Titanic's Last Secrets, adds to the volumes of knowledge about the Titanic. Using underwater archaeology methods and working with a marine forensic analyst, the authors attempt to explain why Titanic sank so quickly and sent over 1,500 people to a watery grave. Construction issues, compromises and their tragic consequences are discussed.

Further Reading and Viewing:
Click to review a quick list of books and films, fiction and non-fiction, all about the Titanic. Here's a few of our favorites...

A Night to Remember: Walter Lord's 1955 classic with new introduction by historian Nathaniel Philbrick.

Secrets of the Titanic: Produced by the National Geographic Society in 1986, this DVD recounts the first underwater looks at the Titanic's wreckage by Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and his team of researchers. The DVD includes "Last hours of the Titanic" and an interview with Dr. Ballard.

Titanic Voices: Includes oral histories, letters, and outstanding photographs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Depends on Who's Cooking...
Here's a few very popular books about cooking styles, 'road food', life style choices, and, of course, dieting.

Feasting on Asphalt is the companion book to Alton Brown's 2007 Food Network series. The book is part travelogue, photo journal, and cookbook.

Joy Bauer of Today Show fame offers up her four 'R' program (Release, Relearn, Reshape, Reveal) in Joy's Life Diet. Liz Vaccariello's Flat Belly Diet has been reprinted eight times since its October 2008 publication date.

Mario Batali's Italian Grill is pretty much a dream date cookbook for anyone who loves to grill and also loves the taste of Italian.

Try Joy Manning's Almost Meatless if you are exploring a 'baby step' approach to vegetarian or vegan lifestyles.

Something Old, Something New...

Our White House
As our country looks forward to the 56th quadrennial Presidential Inauguration, why not enjoy a look back at those who built or have lived in or been influenced by the White House?

The new book Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a compilation by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance; 108 children's authors and illustrators, as well as a few scholars and former White House employees and residents share stories, presidential letters, comics and more, that reflect on White House history. The book opens with an introduction by historian David McCullough.

Further Reading
The Story of the White House by Deborah Kent
The White House: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by Jon Wilson
The White House by Leonard Fisher or for the tad superstitious...
Ghosts of the White House by Cheryl Harness

Surf's Up
Explore the White House and West Wing via virtual tours
Learn more about Inaugural History using videos, podcasts, and photos

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scrapbooking Life and dah, dah, dah...

A Murder or Two...
Laura Childs' Death Swatch is the latest addition to her 'scrapbooking' mystery series. Amateur sleuth and scrapbook store owner, Carmela Bertrand must deal with a neighbor's ghastly murder in the excitement -- and wildness -- of Mardi Gras! Who dunnit? Was it a rival float builder or a mob hit? Nobody knows. Scraps of clues and theories weave the plot together.

Motif for Murder takes place after Hurricane Katrina in Carmela's store, Memory Mine. Even after a reconciliation with her ex-husband, Shamus, Carmela's family problems are not over. Shamus is kidnapped, Uncle Henry is shot, and her sister-in-law throws her out of the house. Is there a clue to the murder in Carmela's keepsake scrapbook dedicated to Uncle Henry?

Frill Kill features a Halloween celebration at Memory Mine, the scrapbooking store. A celebrated model is found murdered in back of a dumpster. Who did it and why? Plentiful clues are sprinkled throughout the story.

If reading about scrapbooking sparks your interest in the real-deal hobby, here's a few titles you might like to try.

Content developed by library staff member Bev Simmons

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chipping Away at the Big Numbers

Composting for Beginners
According to the U.S. EPA and as of 2006, Americans generated a whole bunch of trash.

One of the reasonably easy ways to reuse certain types of home-generated ‘trash’ -- as well as help your flowers and grass grow -- is to try composting. If you are interested in learning more, we recommend Easy Composting edited by Cynthia Putnam and Secrets to Great Soil by Elizabeth Stell. Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Organic Lawn Care by Paul Boardway Tukey add to the mix; organic care solutions and advice are also available locally.

Surf's Up
Check out the U.S. EPA's composting info site, Texas A&M's Composting for Kids, and the U.S.D.A.'s Backyard Conservation Tipsheet. Plow and Hearth, a commercial concern, also offers sturdy advice.

Caveat Emptor

Let the Buyer Beware
February 1st is Super Bowl XLIII Sunday and lets face it; the commercials will attract just as much attention as the game. Just as Super Bowl ads often lead to spikes in sales, the following titles provide examples of how the advertising industry can determine what we buy or as the authors contend, what we buy into.

Bottlemania by Elizabeth Royte explains how bottled water sales have come to surpass milk and beer sales in the U.S.; water sales now play second fiddle only to soda sales. The social aspects of why we buy water are fascinating as is the implied question -- "Is bottled water better than tap water?" Royte presents one point of view.

Mary Lisa Gavenas, a former Glamour, Mirabella and InStyle beauty editor, offers an insider's look at the beauty industry in Color Stories. Ladies... if you have wondered why you chose a dreadful shade of lipstick and somehow felt good about it, this book is both entertaining and humbling.

New York Time's journalist Melody Petersen chimes in with Our Daily Meds and takes on the pharmaceutical industry; its marketing techniques, and the role drug marketing has played and continues to play in patient care. Don't expect any pulled punches in this one...

Book to Film : The Lovely Bones

Horror and Hope
Alice Sebold's critically acclaimed, best-selling book, The Lovely Bones (2002), has been chosen for discussion by countless book clubs and is a regular on teen-read lists. The novel tells the story of a murdered girl who watches her family -- and her killer -- from heaven.

Sebold's novel was recently translated to the big screen; the film was directed by Oscar® winner Peter Jackson. The film also features a stellar cast : Oscar® nominee Mark Wahlberg; Oscar® winners Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon; along with Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli and Oscar® nominee Saoirse Ronan.

Since the big screen version is limited release (not to mention mixed reviews) we all have time to read or re-read The Lovely Bones...

Watch the Trailer

Friday, January 09, 2009

Calling All Local Writers!

Library Ready to Launch Literary Magazine
In the late 1990's the library sponsored and self-published East Hampton Voices, a local literary magazine. The magazine featured poetry and short prose authored by East Hampton and near-by town writers of all ages. We sustained our publishing effort for several years; our efforts were recognized by the Hartford Courant and Middletown Press.

Simply put, we’re ready to revive our earlier efforts. Our new magazine will be titled 898, a pointer to 1898, the year our library was founded.

898 Submissions Now Being Accepted
You may offer no more than (a) 2 poems or (b) 1 poem and 1 short prose entry (650 words or less) for consideration. Submit your poems and/or prose to the East Hampton Public Library in person or by mail to 105 Main Street, East Hampton CT 06424.

Local resident Hugo E. DeSarro, poet, point-of-view essayist and a former instructor in English at University of Hartford edits our magazine. Library Director Sue Berescik and staff member Phil Carr layout and publish the magazine. 898 is scheduled to debut in early March 2009 with promotion throughout April 2009, National Poetry Month.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

January Gems

Fiction and Memoir
If you don't ski, snow can still be a good thing. First, snow is pretty. Second, and while you are waiting for the 'pleasure' of shoveling the snow away, you have time to read! Here's a few books to add your snowy day reading list.

The Piano Teacher
: Former Elle magazine editor Janice Y.K. Lee's debut novel is part love story and part exploration of the decade-long aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during WWII.

Things I've Been Silent About: Azar Nafisi's memoir, a follow-up to her 2003 bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran.

The Mercy Papers: Robin Romm describes her deep rage and fierce love for her mother, who lost a long battle with breast cancer.

Mounting Fears: In Stuart Wood's sixth Will Lee thriller (Capital Crimes was fifth) we're told we should expect bad news, shady characters, an assassination plot and of course, an international incident!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Welcome to Connecticut

Hey, Kids... Fiction Rocks!
Come on down to the library to check out our collection of juvenile fiction stories that take place right here in Connecticut! Currently on display in the Children's Services area, you may choose from a variety of page-turners. We're sure you'll recognize the scenery, some town names, as well as important figures in history. There is nothing like a good story that takes place right at home!

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Hope's Crossing by Joan Goodman
Junebug by Alice Mead
26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola

Monday, January 05, 2009

Life Experience...

Reverse Gear...
F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not one of the author's more famous stories but it sure is interesting.

Written in 1922, the story asks us to contemplate what it would be like to be born an old man, age backwards, and effectively become a baby in an adult-sized body.
Seems we are more than willing to examine these questions and do it well...

A gently illustrated form of Benjamin Button has been a popular selection by local teens for a quite a while. Little wonder; the movie version starring Brad Pitt was promoted and released over the holiday weekend. A no pictures version of Fitzgerald's short story is also available for checkout or reserve.

Friday, January 02, 2009

American Civil War Stories

The Shenandoah Valley Campaign
Peter Cozzens' Shenandoah 1862 covers Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's successful efforts to thwart George B. McClellan's attempts to take Richmond and bring an early end to the Civil War. Cozzen's uses numerous primary sources to present a balanced view of the northern and southern leadership, individual talents and idiosyncrasies. Readers interested in the personalities and tactical aspects of the American Civil War are sure to enjoy this book.

For more detail on the life and times of Robert E. Lee's right-hand man, try John Bowers' Stonewall Jackson. Civil War re-enactors, collectors, and military history buffs may also find Jonathan Sutherland's Union Troops of the American Civil War and Confederate Troops of the American Civil War fascinating. Both books offer numerous photographs that examine uniforms, equipment, and battle formations in detail.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Poet of the Month

January's Featured Poet
Donald Justice (1925-2004) -- pictured in Middletown CT -- was born in Miami, Florida, and earned a BA at Miami University and a Ph.D. at Iowa University. At Iowa he taught in a highly successful MFA writers program which became a model across the nation. He has brought out 13 collections of poetry, many of them award-winning volumes. His Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for 1980. Poet and critic Tad Richards said, "Donald Justice is likely to be remembered as a poet who gave his age a quiet but compelling insight into loss and distance.”

A Map of Love
Your face more than others' faces
Maps the half remembered places
I have come to I while I slept—
Continents a dream had kept
Secret from all waking folk
Till to your face I awoke,
And remembered then the shore,
And the dark interior.

Further Reading: Collected Poems, 2006 and New & Selected Poems, 1997, both by Donald Rodney Justice.

Coming in February: Elizabeth Alexander, up-coming Presidential Inauguration Poet.

Content developed by local resident and poet Leland Jamieson