Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tango, Taxis, and Tasting the World

The bright yellow cover intrigued me on our new-books shelf months ago, and I knew I wanted to read this book. Driving Hungry by Layne Mosler is a traveling culinary memoir about a San Francisco 30-something who loved restaurants and worked in one, knew rather quickly that she could never be a line cook, uproots her life and goes on a gastronomic adventure.

Her first stop is Buenos Aires, where she takes her first tango lesson in flip flips, falls in love with a tango instructor, and also falls onto the idea for her popular food blog Taxi Gourmet. The formula for each adventure is that she gets into a taxi, asks the driver about their favorite restaurant and dish, and has them take her to try them out. Her blog starts to become more popular as she writes about food and the interesting people she meets along the way. After a few years, she decides to move on, back to the States in the land of taxis-New York City.

The section on NYC is decidedly a darker time for her, but it does have its highlights. She actually decides to get behind the wheel after so many taxi rides and becomes a taxi driver herself! Layne shares her driving adventures (and disasters), somehow still finding time to go on her own food field trips. She begins to feel the pull of wanderlust rather quickly in New York, so she makes her way to Berlin for a summer.

Layne falls in love with Berlin, with the people, its war torn history, and the food. She makes friends quickly, in particular with a taxi driver who writes his own taxi blog, Rumen. After her summer, she returns to New York, still feeling the pull of Berlin.

Overall, the book surprised me. I was expecting the bulk of the writing to be about the actual food, but instead it was more about Layne discovering herself and learning life lessons from the people that came and went so quickly in her travels. I truly enjoyed this book and hope that you will pick it up as well!

See, sometimes you can judge books by their covers ;)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

I came across this reading challenge just two days ago, but it sounded like so much fun I have to participate! This is called the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, and if you'd like to participate too, just click the link and sign up. All you have to do is read for any combination of time you'd like, for 24 hours, updating whatever form of social media of your choosing. I will try to update my reading progress every hour right here!

Since I'm potentially reading for 24 hours straight, I have a few different books from my TBR (to be read) pile at the ready, just in case I get tired of reading the same thing for so long.

Here's what I'm starting with:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams by Alvin Yudkoff

(I make no promises that those are the only books I'll read from)

...and we're off! Check back and see my reading updates every hour or so.

Update 1:  The 8 o'clock hour was slow for reading. I woke up a little late and so while I was getting breakfast together, I listened to a bit of Far from the Madding Crowd on audiobook. I've already been reading this book so I'm pretty far in, currently on chapter 41. (Recorded 9:21 am)

Update 2: Still listening to Far from the Madding Crowd. I started this morning at 67% and I'm currently at 83%, so percent read so far today: 13. I've also stopped listening to chat with a new neighbor and my mom. I think I'm going to switch over to the physical book (I have that sitting next to me too), because listening is slow going and I only have 100 pages left. (Recorded 11:11 am)

Update 3: I finished my first book of the day! Switching over to actually reading was a good idea. Mini-review time: I actually saw the movie with Carey Mulligan earlier this year, loved it, and then bought the book (I know, shame on me for seeing the movie first). Since I did, I knew where the story was going and how it was going to end, so that wasn't a surprise. I do have to say I really enjoyed the book, I like a good romance with lots of difficulties between the not-very-soon-to-be happy couple. I will say Bathsheba dissapointed me in the movie and again in the book by not just staying that strong independent farm lady and not falling into the arms of those men, but, we wouldn't have had a good love story that way. **Boring reading totals section** when I switched over to the physical book, I started on 319 and read from there, giving me a total of 95 pages read so far. The next book I'm going to read is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I've been waiting anxiously to get this one in at the library so I'll let you know what I think in the next update! (Recorded 12:17 pm)

Update 4: I finished Between the World and Me. For such a short book at 152 pages it is definitely a powerful one. Written in the form of a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates tells the story of his childhood growing up black, and how as a black man his life was effected by the history, past and present, of America. I thought it was wonderful. I believe that hate breeds hate, and understanding breeds compassion and the dissolution of hate. Many (not all, as I don't like to judge people as a whole) people don't realize the struggles of others, not just black people, but all groups of people, and this brings us a divide. By knowing the story of a group of people, and by knowing the backgrounds of others, people can begin to respect each other more and the hate can lessen a bit. There is a quote from Toni Morrison on the cover that says that this book is required reading, and I think that many people should take a look at this book. I think it is important and very timely. With the mini-review done, the book was 152 pages, so that brings my total pages up to 247 and counting. The next book in my pile is much much shorter, and lighter, and that is Audrey Niffenegger's The Night Bookmobile. (Recorded 2:12 pm)

Update 5: The Night Bookmobile was a beautiful story, told in the form of a graphic novel. Alexandra stumbles across a 70s Winnebago camper one night, and is introduced to Robert Openshaw, the Librarian of the Night Bookmobile for the Library. He invites her in, and the camper is much bigger on the inside (like the TARDIS), and she begins looking through the shelves, and notices that she's read all of these books. When she asks the Librarian, he tells her that yes, all of the books are her collection. Dusk arrives and Alexandra has to leave the camper. She then goes home and spends years reading and searching for the camper again, finally finding them 9 years later. This goes on for years, and each time she begs him to let her stay with him, and he says no. But he does encourage her to become a regular librarian, and so she does. This was a lovely story and the illustrations were gorgeous. Page wise, this book was 40 pages, so I'm now at 287 pages and 3 books done! My next book is A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern. (Recorded at 3:04 pm)

Update 6: I promise I haven't given up already, I've just been reading away in A Step Toward Falling (and there may have been another phone call break in there...and dinner). I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm pretty close. Currently on page 278 and the book has about 100 pages left. I really enjoy Cammie McGovern's writing, and the fact that she writes about characters with disabilities in her books from their perspective, so you feel like you understand them a little better. Her other YA book, Say What You Will, is similar in this, and equally as great. I'll write more about it after I finish the book! (Recorded at 7:09 pm)

Update 7:  I think this is going to be my final update. I've read from about 9 this morning until now (not continuously, but pretty consistently), and I can't concentrate anymore. It took me FOREVER to read the last 100 pages of A Step Toward Falling because my brain was wandering away from the book, and I'm getting tired. But, I did finish the book! Cammie McGovern wrote another great book. Belinda, a girl with developmental disabilities who loves the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, has to fight off a potentially horrible assault as two other high school students, Emily and Lucas, see that she's in trouble but do nothing to help. As a punishment for them, they have to go and volunteer in a developmental disabilities learning center to understand Belinda better and have more compassion towards her and other people with disabilities. The book is told from the viewpoints of Belinda and Emily, so you get the perspective of both of them. This has been a fun challenge, props to those who actually can read the entire 24 hours without falling asleep! I look forward to being able to read other people's updates tomorrow.

Total Reading: 
Percent: 13
Pages: 651
Books: 4
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffennegger
  • A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rajesh Koothrapali Finds His Voice

If you haven't been completely out of touch with the goings-on in tv land in the past 8 years, you've most likely stumbled across or at least heard of the show The Big Bang Theory....and if you've seen it, you know and probably love the character Raj, the selectively mute astrophysicist that can only talk to women when he has some liquid courage.

Yes, My  Accent is Real is the story of the funny man who plays Raj, Kunal Nayyar. He breaks his life down into little essays, so it's not quite a memoir, but more of a "Sit down and I'll tell you a few stories" book. I listened to the audiobook, read by Kunal, and that's exactly how it felt.
Within the pages (or as you listen to Kunal read) you will find out:
  • how he became a teenage badminton champion
  • why he felt like Robocop in his parents home
  • what his first year in America was like as a college freshman studying business
  • why Romeo and Juliet and Cabaret are still sore spots
  • how he met and fell in love with his wife Neha

...and of course, how he landed his spot as Raj on The Big Bang Theory.

Spoiler: Sadly, he isn't really an astrophysicist.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Want to Look and Feel Like a Spring Chicken?

Look no further, because this is the book for you!

Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) by Bill Gifford is an interesting look at how people all around the world are constantly in search for the secret elixir, or perhaps a magic spring (Tuck Everlasting anyone?). From the Suzanne Somers diet and extreme supplement regimens, to anti-aging clinics, caloric restriction, or even just subjecting yourself to cold showers for the rest of your life.

Cold showers every day wouldn’t be the way I’d like to live my last years…

Bill Gifford doesn’t just explore the fads of anti-aging, but also dives into medical research about how we can prevent the top four aging diseases: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. He also takes a look at people around the world who have lived past the age of 100, trying to figure out why some people make it to those extreme ages and what about their genetics prevents them from succumbing to the ailments seen in the vast majority of our older society.

If you are really hoping to find a way to stay young forever, this book won’t give you that answer. But, it will give you fascinating insights into the aging process, and anti-aging strategies that may help slow down the process and help you look and feel like a spring chicken.

Originally written for the Heights Matchmakers blog.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Rest is Still Unwritten

Now, we're not going to be talking about that Unwritten (you know you love that Natasha Bedingfield song!), but I have started a new-to-me graphic novel series called The Unwritten by Mike Carey, and I am hooked! Tommy Taylor is the book series that's all the rage with the world at large. It's all about magic spells, good versus evil, and child wizards, led by the fearless boy wizard Tommy Taylor who must defeat his arch nemesis, Count Ambrosio.

......Wait a minute....Doesn't that sound like a story we've all already read; a boy wizard destined to save wizard-kind from an evil doer? Harry Potter anyone?

Back to the review, the character Tommy Taylor is based off of the author's son Tom. This fact has made the real Tom, now an adult, a much praised public figure. The story begins with a press conference, at which Tom is accused by an audience member of not actually being the author's son, but an imposter riding on the coattails of his fame. This can't be verified by the author himself because he has been in hiding for the past few years. This means Tom has to run from the angry mobs, to his childhood home, where he starts to learn dark secrets. Fiction and reality begin to blend, and Tom finds out that he is actually a little closer to the character Tommy Taylor than he thought he was. 

Overall, I'm really enjoying the series so far. It's entertaining, while making a great statement about how the public can great caught up in a book series, blending their favorite characters into their daily lives and bringing them to life.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

“Your Body is a Lock. Death is the Key. “

Want to read something slightly creepy that will keep you on the edge of your seat? Look no further, I have the perfect graphic novel series for you!Locke & Key, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, tells the story of the Locke family, starting with a literal bang when the patriarch of the family is brutally murdered by a student at the school he worked in.

The Lockes then move from sunny California back to the old Locke home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts, Keyhouse. There, the three children, Bode, Kinsey, and Tyler, find themselves mixed up with the grief of the loss of their father, the mystery behind why he was killed, and the strange goings-on in Keyhouse and the town. The house contains many keys, all of which have different powers, powers only the kids can see. Some of the powers are fun, and certain keys unlock dangerous evil into Lovecraft. Read the battle between good and evil, kids and demons, in this fast paced series.

To read the whole series in order, click the links below:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Books About Librarians...Recommended by a Librarian!

A coworker and I were talking about how we had come across a lot of books with librarians as characters or as the main topic. Of course, this made me curious to find even more, so you’ll find below a list of books all about librarians, brought to you by librarians!
free for all dewey decimasl in the stacks
world's strongest librarian jade dragon mountaion ice queen
World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart
The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
open season this book is overdure the borrower
Open Season by Linda Howard
This Book Is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
the giant's house time traveler's wife quiet please
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
running the books book of speculation rex libria
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Rex Libris: I, Librarian by James Turner

This post originally posted on my library's Heights Matchmaker's blog.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Books on Display: Dying for a Good Mystery?

These books are from a mystery display I did earlier in the year. Our customers really like mystery books, so I made a display with books containing the words "die, dead, death, and dying" in the title, for a fun pun on words!

 Dead Head by Rosemary Harris

See Delphi and Die by Lindsey Davis

The Ways of the Dead by Neeley Tucker

The Last Dead Girl by Harry Dolan

Left for Dead by J.A. Jance

Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander

Dead Weight by Susan Rogers Cooper


A Pizza to Die For by Chris Cavendar

Who Buries the Dead by C. S. Harris

 Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon