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Friday, December 29, 2006

Bestsellers of 2006

As the year draws to a close, Publisher’s Weekly has published its annual 100 Best Books of the Year list. Here’s a sampling:

Fiction

End of Story by Peter Abrahams

The Alibi Club by Francine Mathews

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Night Gardener by John Pelecanos

Theft by Peter Carey

Non-Fiction

At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–1968 by Taylor Branch

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

Small Is the New Big and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas
by Seth Godin

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick


What were your favorite new books of the year?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Poor Richard’s Almanack

This week marks the anniversary of the first issue of Poor Richard's Almanack, published in 1732 by Richard Saunders (actually Benjamin Franklin). An advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette offered “many pleasant and witty verses, jests and sayings … new fashions, games for kisses … men and melons … breakfast in bed, etc.” The nation’s most famous almanac was published for 26 years until 1758.

Since then, there have been many imitators. Those of you who love to collect odd facts and figures can browse:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The World Almanac and Book of Facts

Guinness World Records 2007

The Top Ten of Everything 2007

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: Expect the Unexpected

Know a quirky fact or two? Share it with us.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

It’s the season for stress -– last-minute gifts to buy, rowdy kids to corral, out-of-town in-laws to entertain. One researcher has found that women who feel stressed get relief just by holding their husbands’ hands. The study by University of Virginia neuroscientist James Coan, “Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat” is published in the December 2006 issue of the journal Psychological Science.

For other practical tips, check out "Stress, Depression and the Holidays: 12 Tips for Coping" or "Holiday Depression and Stress". Advice includes: be realistic, do something for someone else, try something new, and save time for yourself.

What stress-busters get you through the season?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Babies

Ever wonder what celebs share (or shared) their birthdays with the holiday season?

Christina Aguilera
Steven Spielberg
Jennifer Beals
Cicely Tyson
Frank Zappa
Ray Ramano
Diane Sawyer
Mary Higgins Clark
Ava Gardner
Humphrey Bogart
Jimmy Buffett
Sissy Spacek
Dec. 18, 1980
Dec. 18, 1947
Dec. 19, 1963
Dec. 19, 1939
Dec. 21, 1940
Dec. 21, 1957
Dec. 23, 1946
Dec. 24, 1922
Dec. 24, 1931
Dec. 25, 1899
Dec. 25, 1946
Dec. 25, 1949

And that doesn’t include the post-Christmas crowd! Do you have a holiday birthday? Do you consider it a good thing, or a pain?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Underdog Day

Friday marks the 30th anniversary of Underdog Day. It has been celebrated annually since 1976 to honor unsung heroes such as Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson or Robinson Crusoe’s Man Friday. It also celebrates those who “came from behind” to make names for themselves.

The origin of the word “underdog” comes from the way ships were built. Planks of wood for the construction of a ship were placed over a pit on another set of planks called “dogs.” To saw the planks, a senior “sawsman” stood on top of the platform and a junior “sawsman” was assigned to go into the pit to saw from below, where he would be covered with sawdust. The man on top was called the “overdog” — the one on the bottom — the “underdog.”

Some famous underdogs include the Biblical David, who conquered Goliath; Robert the Bruce, whose victorious army was outnumbered three to one at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 (not to be confused with William Wallace of “Braveheart” fame); U.S. President Harry Truman; boxer James "Buster" Johnson, who defeated Mike Tyson in 1990; Rocky Balboa of the “Rocky” film franchise and the hapless cat in the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.

Who is your favorite underdog?

Friday, December 08, 2006

‘Tis the Season

Holiday shopping is a chore for many, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s great for the economy. Here are some stats on our holiday habits:

● Retail sales in department stores totaled $31.7 billion last year.

E-shopping jumped 33 percent between 2004 and 2005. Toys and video games accounted for the largest increase, with flowers, gifts and electronics coming in next. Last year online holiday sales totaled $27.1 billion.

● 1.9 billion holiday cards are sent out each year, making the season the largest card-sending occasion of the year. Valentine’s Day comes in second with only 192 million cards exchanged.

● The U.S. Post Office delivers 20 billion letters, packages and cards between Thanksgiving and December 25. The busiest day is expected to be December 18 when the volume of daily mail handled doubles.

● More than 20 million Christmas trees are cut each year, located on more than 21,000 farms on almost half a million acres.

● Half of the potatoes produced in the U.S. (many used in potato latkes during Hanukkah) come from Idaho and Washington.

● It’s an urban myth that Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is the busiest shopping day of the season. Actually it is usually the Saturday before Christmas, or December 23 if Christmas falls on a weekend.

So, are you an early or last-minute shopper? Let us know by taking a moment to fill out the “What Kind of Shopper Are You?” survey on the library’s Web site.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

“A Date That Will Live in Infamy”

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, almost 200 Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The raid lasted only an hour, but nearly 3,000 people died. Almost the entire Pacific fleet was stationed there, and few ships escaped damage. Two hundred U.S. aircraft were destroyed. The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war and the U.S. entered World War II.

An array of activities has been scheduled to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor at the USS Arizona National Memorial, including a gathering of the National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and a keynote address by former NBC anchor, Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation. The USS Arizona is the resting place of 1,177 of the ship’s crew members who died in the attack. Today, internments take place on the ship for some of the surviving 337 crew members who, at their death, wish to be buried with the rest of their crew. To date, there have been 28 such internments.

Check out:

Days of Infamy by Harry Turtledove.

A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory by Emily Rosenberg.

USS Arizona to USS Missouri: From Tragedy to Victory (DVD) On Deck Home Entertainment.

Lightning Strike: The Secret Mission to Kill Admiral Yamamoto and Avenge Pearl Harbor by Donald A. Davis.

Hawaii Goes to War: The Aftermath of Pearl Harbor by Wilbur Jones.

The USS Arizona: The Ship, the Men, the Pearl Harbor Attack, and the Symbol That Aroused America by Joy Waldron Jasper.

Friday, December 01, 2006

DOULA OR DON’T?

Belly mask? Colostrum? Doula? Expectant parents are confronted by a whole new vocabulary and a world of choices. If you’re adding to your family soon, you join parents-to-be Louise Brown (who was the world’s first “test-tube baby”), Eddie Murphy, Tori Spelling, Marcia Cross, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Jaime Pressly, Donald Trump, Jr., Flavor Flav, Sofia Coppola and Stella McCartney. Check out:

The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth” by Marshall H. Klaus.

The Guy's Guide to Surviving Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the First Year of Fatherhood” by Michael R. Crider.

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife” by Peggy Vincent.

Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond” by Hilary Flower.

Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence, and How They Made the Biggest Decisions of Their Lives” by Lori Leibovich.

The Disabled Woman's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth” by Judi Rogers.

Dr. Ruth's Pregnancy Guide for Couples: Love, Sex, and Medical Facts” by Ruth K. Westheimer.

Find other books to help you make pre-and-post-natal decisions in our online catalog.

Feel free to write about your childbirth experiences in a comment.