Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Librarian Secret #3

When people used to talk about Spam, they were referring to a meat product that came in a can at the local grocery store (it still does, if you're interested). As a young couple, my husband and I ate a lot of it. For those of you who aren't familiar with Spam, it is a cheap version of ham and goes well with Pork 'n Beans! Unfortunately, when you hear the word spam nowadays, it is most likely pertaining to the vast amounts of unwanted emails that show up in inboxes across the country every day. If you have ever wondered if there is a place to report these unwanted emails, the answer is YES.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a Web page dedicated to this purpose. They put all of the information they receive from reported spam into a database and use the knowledge to "generate cases against people who use spam to spread false or misleading information about their products or services" (FTC Web site).To access the FTC Spam page and learn how to report spam, click here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/spam/report.html

The only good spam, comes in a can. I hope you have enjoyed this Librarian Secret!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Review: Eat, Memory; Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of essays from the New York Times

Title: Eat, Memory; Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times
208 pages
W.W. Norton & Co
ISBN-10: 0393067637

I love food. I love hearing about it, looking at pictures of it, collecting recipes on how to prepare it, and reading about it. It is no wonder, then, that this book caught my attention when I saw it on the New Book Shelf at my library. I knew I had to read it and I'm glad I did. However, it really isn't a book about food. It's more about the events, experiences, and memories of life.

In 2004, the food editor of New York Times Magazine, Amanda Hessler, began a column called Eat, Memory. She asked writers to submit "essays about an important moment in their lives that involved food." The only stipulation was that the stories could not be "sentimental". This book, Eat, Memory, is a compilation of twenty-six of the best articles; written by a variety of authors, chefs, playwrights, and others.

Each essay is unique, evoking its own emotion as the writer reveals personal and sometimes intimate details of their food related memory. As I stated earlier, the essays really aren't about the food, but the events surrounding the "food moment". In "Paris Match," Ann Patchett writes about an argument she had with her boyfriend (now husband) over dinner at a very expensive restaurant in Paris (I empathized). In "Bean There," Tucker Carlson tells about an hilarious experience he had while working at a B&M Baked Beans factory during college (I laughed). In "Line of Sight," Gabriell Hamilton, a New York City chef, describes interviewing and working with a blind man for one horrible day in her restaurant (I cringed). I found all twenty-six compositions to be exceptional - each connected by the commonality of food, yet vastly different in terms of place, emotion, desire, and recollection.

For those of you who may be thinking you don't want to read a book about food that's really not about food, don't despair! Most of the essays are followed by a recipe that correlates in some way to the story. Recommended for food lovers, memory keepers, author fans, and those who enjoy essays. (FL)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Librarian Secret #2

If you are of a certain age, you may remember calling 411 when you needed to find a phone number. After all it was quick, easy, and best of all free. I guess you can still call 411, but it is no longer gratis. Which probably explains why librarians get so many calls at the reference desk requesting phone numbers (really). When this happens, the site this librarian turns to is AnyWho. AnyWho is basically an online phone book that is maintained by AT&T. As long as the person's number isn't unlisted, you should be able to find it. The site also contains yellow pages for business numbers, a link to international "phone books", area codes for the U.S. and Canada, and a reverse look up feature. If you have never used reverse look up, you might want to try it; just because it is that amazing. Well, maybe not amazing, but it is a cool feature. Let's say someone calls you and you see their number on your caller ID, but no name attached. To find out who this mystery caller is: log on to AnyWho, click on the reverse look up tab, type the number into the box provided, and click find. If that person has a listed phone number, their identity will be revealed!

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks Librarian Secret. The next time you need a number and don't want to pay the 411 fee, try AnyWho or call your local library. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: The One Hundred by Nina Garcia

Title: The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own
Nina Garcia
304 pages
Collins Living
ISBN-10: 0061664618

In The One Hundred, fashion expert, Nina Garcia outlines 100 accessories that she deems timeless and classic assets to any woman's wardrobe. The pieces are listed and described in alphabetical order; beginning with A for the A-line dress and ending with Z for the zippered hoodie. Along with explanations as to why the pieces are included in her 100 list, Garcia gives fun trivia and historical facts regarding some of the items. Did you know, for example, that Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses were first designed in 1936 or that the cardigan was named after the seventh Earl of Cardigan in 1874? Garcia also gives helpful advice on selecting items, where to find them, and how to wear them (not all 100 include this information). Another enjoyable addition to the book are quotes, interspersed throughout, such as this one by Helena Rubinstein: There are no ugly women, just lazy ones (for some reason, I find that comforting). For those who fancy "seeing" what the author is describing, The One Hundred includes illustrations of the various fashions mentioned. Personally, I would have preferred photographs. While I did not agree with all of the choices on Garcia's top 100 list, I did find useful information regarding classic pieces as well as practical fashion tips. Recommended for anyone interested in fashion and/or fashion trivia.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Librarian Secrets

Librarians do a lot of research. In the olden days, librarians had to search through reference books (yes, we still use them occasionally) to find answers to questions like:
  • What is Woody Allen's real name?
  • What are the symptoms of lupus?
  • What is the exact longitude for Petaluma, California?
  • Where can I find an old map of Little Rock, Arkansas?
We still get questions like these everyday and most libraries have subscriptions to wonderful online reference databases to help find the answers. However, there are also many good resources available on the Internet and librarians use these as well. I call these Internet sites "Librarian Secrets." Of course, they are not really secret. I plan to start recommending some of my favorite ones here, on this blog, as a regular feature.

The Librarian Secret for today is: Who2?

This Web site contains over 3,000 biographies of famous people, including real and fictional characters as well as some famous animals. The site is easy to use and provides a search box and alphabetical index. You can also search by birth year, categories (actor, chess player, political figure, etc.), birth place and various other features. Do a search for Woody Allen, and you will find out his real name is Allen Stewart Konigsberg!

I hope you will try this site the next time you need some quick facts about a famous person.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Title: The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
240 pages

Authors Joan Didion and John Dunne had been married for 40 years. They had just returned home from visiting their comatose daughter in a nearby hospital when John suddenly died of a heart attack. This moving memoir chronicles Didion's life the year following her husband's death (including her involvement in the care of her daughter, Quintana, who continued to struggle with illness). Didion candidly exposes her raw feelings of loss, discusses her stages of grief, and tries to grasp the terrible events that had befallen her. For me, some of her most poignant words are found on the first page: "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant." Anyone who has experienced the loss or severe illness of a loved one, whether expected or unexpected, knows there is a learned truth in those statements. Recommended for readers of Didion or Dunne and those who are exploring the subject of grief.

Note: After reading this book, I became curious as to what happened to Quintana. I found my answer in this New York Magazine article.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dewey by Vicki Myron

Title: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Author: Vicki Myron
Hardcover: 288 pages
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN-10: 0446407410

You don't have to be a cat lover to enjoy reading this heartwarming and endearing book. In the winter of 1988, in Spencer, Iowa, a small kitten was found in the book drop of the public library. The frightened, dirty, and freezing feline was taken in and adopted by the library staff (Myron was the director). Dewey soon became the official library cat and was named--Dewey Readmore Books. Dewey is the story of the impact this stray, lovable ball of orange fur had on the town, the library patrons, and on Myron. Intertwined with tales of Dewey, Myron reveals many of her own personal struggles and triumphs making this a truly inspirational read. Recommended for animal lovers and/or library lovers. Actually, recommended for anyone who likes to read! (FL)

If you would like to see video of the "real life" Dewey, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YILcRoYGvQ4#

Monday, March 2, 2009

Breakfast at Sally's by Richard LeMieux

Title: Breakfast at Sally's
Richard LeMieux
Hardcover: 432 pages
Skyhorse Publishing

Richard LeMieux had it all: a successful business. a loving family, luxury cars, and plenty of money in the bank. That is until his business went under, his mental health declined, and he lost everything. LeMieux found himself homeless; living out of a van with his faithful companion, Willow (the Wonder Dog), in Bremerton, Washington. Breakfast at Sally's (Sally's is what the homeless call the Salvation Army) chronicles LeMieux's life as a homeless man. This moving, heartfelt narrative gives the reader an intimate look at homelessness and challenges many of the stereotypes regarding who the homeless are and how they arrived there. LeMieux's story also testifies to how important institutions like the Salvation Army and local churches are to the well-being of the homeless in their communities. Recommended for readers who enjoy human interest stories and anyone who has ever wondered what it might be like to be homeless. (FL)