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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Ahead

It’s that time of year again. The Economist, not deterred by its 2008 forecast that Hilary Clinton would be president, recently published The World in 2009. The World Future Society lists "Ten Forecasts for 2009 and Beyond" on its Web site. Among some of the more interesting forecasts:

● While 2009 will still be difficult for many sectors of the world economy, the construction and financial sectors may have seen the worst. The world is not heading for another Great Depression, as governments signal their willingness to help;

● The automobile’s dominance may be ending as more advanced wireless communication reduces the need for travel, flying drones replace freight trucks and governments restrict the number of vehicles owned by each household;

● The English language will reach one million words on or about April 29, 2009;

● By 2030, every person will have nanoimplants and a unique IP address connected to a network. Everything a person does or says will be recorded;

● The median age in the seven wealthiest democracies (G7) reaches 40 in 2009. “The rich world is graying,” writes futurist Adam Roberts. The results — a shrinking workforce and postponed retirement. Also, lots of conferences on aging.

Got any predictions for 2009?

Did You Know . . .

You can now book a meeting room or sign up for library events and activities online. Go to the library’s Web site and click on Book a Meeting Room or Register for a Library Event under “How To …”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inaugural Poets

Last week the President-elect announced that poet Elizabeth Alexander would read at the Inauguration on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2009. Alexander joins an illustrious, but small number of poets who have stood near presidents on their first day in office, including Robert Frost who composed “Dedication” for John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration in 1961, but when the sun made it hard for him to read it and a space heater ignited near the podium, he recited “A Gift Outright,” which he knew by heart.

Maya Angelou read “On the Pulse of the Morning” at Bill Clinton’s swearing-in ceremony in 1993. At Clinton’s second Inauguration, Arkansas poet Miller Williams, the father of Grammy-award winner Lucinda Williams, read “Of History and Hope.”

Alexander, a Yale professor and Pulitzer-Prize finalist, is the author of four books of poetry as well as a book of essays. She is also a scholar of African-American literature and culture and has read her poetry and essays in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean and South America and published them in numerous journals.

To sample her work, check out these collections of Alexander’s poetry:

Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color
American Sublime
Antebellum Dream Book

If you were to choose a poet to read at the Inauguration, who would it be?

Library Closings

All Fairfax County Public Library branches will be closed from 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24 through Friday Dec. 26, 2008, and from 5 p.m. Wednesday Dec. 31, 2009, through Friday Jan. 2, 2009 for the New Year’s holiday and the furlough day for county employees.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On Dogs and Cats

The Dallas Morning News recently published a list of good books for those crazy about dogs and cats ("Dog and Cat Lovers Pant for These Holiday Books," Dec. 17, 2008). Here are a few books on the subject you can sample at the library:

Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life by Trixie Koonz as told to Dean Koontz

Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs by Gene Weingarten

Dogology: What Your Relationship With Your Dog Reveals About You
by Vicki Croke and Sarah Wilson

On Cats by Doris Lessing

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

Sleeping With Cats: A Memoir by Marge Piercy

So – are you a dog or cat fancier?

Note: Library ClosingThe Martha Washington Library will close at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, for renovation. The library will open in temporary quarters in mid-February at 6328 Richmond Highway, Unit F, Alexandria. Renovations to the branch are expected to take a minimum of 18 months. While the Martha Washington Library is closed, customers can visit any of the nearby branches including Sherwood Regional Library, John Marshall Library and Kingstowne Library.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Making an Impression

A recent article in the London Telegraph lists both the top ten reads to impress a man on a first date and the top ten reads to impress a woman. The selections are based on a survey of 1,523 people as part of Great Britain’s National Year of Reading. Apparently men are twice as likely as women to fudge on what they have actually read. Here’s the lists:

Top Reads to Impress a Man: current affairs Web sites, Shakespeare,
song lyrics, cook books, poetry, Nelson Mandela autobiography’s Long Walk to Freedom, Jane Austen, Facebook/Myspace, religious texts and the Financial Times.

Top Reads to Impress a Woman: Nelson Mandela autobiography’s Long Walk to Freedom, Shakespeare, cook books, poetry, song lyrics, current affairs Web sites, text messages, e-mails, the Financial Times and Facebook.

So how would Americans fare on such a survey? What are your top ten reads to impress the opposite sex?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Based on the Book reports there’s an array of soon-to-be released films this season that made their first appearance as literary works. If you want to take a break from the hectic holiday season, try these titles and then see the films.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.
Film release date: Dec. 19

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Film release date: Dec. 25

Marley and Me by John Grogan.
Film release date: Dec. 25

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.
Film release date: Dec. 26

Do you have a favorite film version of a book? Let us know.

Don’t Miss . . .
Dec. 14, 1 p.m. George Mason Regional Library
Hollywood’s History. How accurate are Hollywood’s images of historical events? Film followed by discussion. Call 703-256-3800 or visit the branch for film title.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Audiobooks – Grammy Hopefuls

When the Grammy Awards take place on Feb. 8 in Los Angeles, one of the nominees below may win in a more obscure category: Best Spoken Word. Here are the contenders owned by the library:

Best Spoken Word
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert (and Various Artists)

Life Beyond Measure by Sidney Poitier

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Are you an audiobook fan? Let us know where you listen to them. On your commute? An exercise bike? Any unusual spots?

Library Closings
The Martha Washington Library will close for renovations at 5 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2008. It will open in mid-February in a temporary site at the Krispy Korner Center, 6328 Richmond Highway, Unit F, Alexandria, VA 22306. Call 703-768-6700 for details.

The Thomas Jefferson Library will close for renovations at 5 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2009. It will open in early March in a temporary site on the grounds of St. Philip Catholic Church, 7500 St. Philips Ct., Falls Church, VA 22042. Call 703-573-1060 for details.

The renovations for both library branches are expected to take a minimum of 18 months.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Celebrate the Holidays

You're invited to celebrate the holidays at Fairfax County Public Library open houses. Enjoy music and other activities. For details or directions visit

Dec. 6, Centreville Regional Library, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Musical performances, crafts and refreshments for the Centreville community. Cosponsored by the Friends of the Centreville Regional Library.

Dec. 6, Lorton Library, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Music, light refreshments and activities. Cosponsored by the Friends of the Lorton Library.

Dec. 6, Herndon Fortnightly Library, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Live music, holiday treats and crafts provided by the Council for the Arts of Herndon. Cosponsored by the Friends of the Herndon Fortnightly Library.

Dec. 7, George Mason Regional Library, Noon - 3 p.m. A holiday open house featuring music and activities.

Dec. 7, Reston Regional Library, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Music, refreshments and a holiday book sale.

Dec. 14, Sherwood Regional Library, Noon - 2 p.m. Performance by the Harmony Heritage Singers. Refreshments.

Dec. 13, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m., Music, dancers and light refreshments.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Notable Books of 2008

The New York Times recently published a list of its 100 Notable Books of 2008.
Here are a few you might want to sample:

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield

Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham

Condoleezza Rice: An American Life: A Biography by Elisabeth Bumiller

Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason by Russell Shorto

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed

Don’t Miss . . .
Looking for a gift for readers on your holiday list? Here are a few new and used book sales to visit this week.

Wednesday, Dec. 3 – Monday, Dec. 8. Reston Regional Library
Holiday Mini-Book Sale.

Saturday, Dec. 6, 10:00-4:00. Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library Used Book Sale.

Sunday, Dec. 7, 2 p.m. Virginia Room, City of Fairfax Regional Library
Holiday Book Mart. New and gently used books on history and Virginia-related topics. Authors will be here to sign their books. Cosponsored by the Virginia Room and the Friends of City of Fairfax Regional Library. All ages.

Saturday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. Kingstowne Library
Friends Book Sale. Gems and finds for readers of all ages.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving in the Virginia Colony

While the annual Thanksgiving holiday commemorates a meal celebrated by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1621, there actually was a Thanksgiving in Virginia’s own backyard two years earlier.

In December 1619, 38 settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundreds, on the north bank of the James River about 20 miles away from Jamestown. According to their charter, the day of their arrival was to be celebrated annually as a day of thanksgiving to God.

The site eventually became Berkeley Plantation, the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of Virginia’s first families. It continues to celebrate an annual Thanksgiving and welcomed President George W. Bush to the festivities in 2007.

Our gratitude to all who love and support libraries. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun Books

Robert Gray, a contributing editor to Shelf Awareness, an online newsletter for independent book sellers, recently asked his readers what some of their “fun books” were. Here are some of their suggestions:

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman

Texasville by Larry McMurtry

Dear James by Jon Hassler

What makes a book “fun” for you? Share your favorites.

Don’t Miss . . .

Sat., Nov. 22, 11 a.m. City of Fairfax Regional Library
Care with Dignity. Frank Fuerst, author of Alzheimer's Care with Dignity, will talk about his personal experiences as his wife's caregiver and offer practical tips. Call 703-293-6227 to sign up.

Sat., Nov. 22, 3 p.m. Kingstowne Library
Fairfax County African American Stories and the Jamestown 400 Legacy. Supervisor Jeff McKay of the Lee District will moderate a discussion on Fairfax County African-American Stories with some of the authors of Fairfax County Stories 1607-2007. Phyllis Walker Ford will also talk about the Laurel Grove School Call 703-339-4610 to sign up.

Tues., Nov. 25, 2 p.m. Patrick Henry Library
Great Decisions 2008 - Russia. This Foreign Policy Association seminar, presented in partnership with Shepherd's Center of Oakton-Vienna, provides a forum for discussing and learning about foreign policy issues. Call 703-938-0405 to sign up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Long-Term Plans

Whether retirement is 20 years away or around the corner, saving one’s assets has become a number one priority in the current financial climate. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article ("Five Books to Retire By," Nov. 17, 2008), the most popular personal finance books published this year “are about preserving, rather than increasing one’s capital.”

Here’s a few you can get at the library:

The Little Book That Saves Your Assets by David Darst

Retire and Start Your Own Business by Dennis and Martha Sargent

Fast Profits in Hard Times: 10 Secret Strategies to Make You Rich in an Up or Down Economy by Jordan Goodman

The Gone Fishin’ Portfolio: Get Wise, Get Wealthy -- And Get On With Your Life by Alexander Green

How have your financial planning strategies changed? Let us know.

Don’t Miss . . .
Sat., Nov. 22, 11 a.m. City of Fairfax Regional Library
Care with Dignity. Author talks about the secrets of being a successful caregiver, what others may do to help a caregiver, and debunks some of the myths surrounding a person with brain disease. Adults.

Sat., Nov. 22, 3 p.m. Kingstowne Library
Fairfax County African American Stories and the Jamestown 400 Legacy. With Houston Summers, Keith Mann (for Dr. Dorothy Holland Mann) and other authors; Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay moderates the discussion. Phyllis Walker Ford will speak on the Laurel Grove School. Adults.

Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2 p.m. Patrick Henry Library
Great Decisions 2008 - Russia. This Foreign Policy Association seminar, presented in partnership with Shepherd's Center of Oakton-Vienna, provides a forum for discussing and learning about foreign policy issues. Adults.

Friday, November 14, 2008


If the current economic climate puts a crimp in your plans for future travel, seek comfort in a recent Associated Press article published in the San Jose Mercury News ("Books That Make You Feel Better About Staying at Home",” Nov. 10, 2008). Enjoy a staycation with these books:

Don’t Go There!: The Travel Detective’s Essential Guide to the Must-Miss Places of the World by Peter Greenberg

Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World’s Worst Places and Asks “What’s Funny About This?” by P.J. O’Rourke

Do you have a travel horror story? Let us know.

Couch Voyages

Or, if you enjoy armchair traveling, browse these photographic collections:

Wide Angle: National Geographic Greatest Places by Ferdinand Protzman

The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country of the World by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Adventure: National Geographic Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook by Paul McMenamin

Don’t Miss . . .
Sat., Nov. 15, 1 p.m. Patrick Henry Library
Sisters in Crime Panel Discussion. Writers from the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime discuss their books and writing lives. Adults.

Sat., Nov. 15, 10:30 a.m. Sherwood Regional Library
Harambee Readers. Maddening Behaviors: Some I Hear, A Lot I See: Stories by Tahara Nichols and Nicole Shivers. Author presentations and book signings. Adults.

Sun. Nov. 16, 3 p.m. Pohick Regional Library
Meet the Author. Swimming Up the Sun: A Memoir of Adoption by Nicole J. Burton. Author reading and signing. Books available for purchase. Adults.

Tues., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. George Mason Regional Library
College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family. Authors Steven Goodman and Andrea Leiman share insights on this stressful process, plus answer your questions. Books available for sale and signing courtesy of Borders. Age 15 and up.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Michael Crichton

Fans said goodbye to Michael Crichton this week; he died of cancer at 66 on Nov. 4. He was a prolific novelist and many of his books have been made into movies including one of the top-grossing movies of all time, Jurassic Park. He is also the creator of the television series ER. Crichton's first brush with literary success occurred during medical school. To help pay for tuition and living expenses, he wrote paperback thrillers on the weekends and during vacations. The Andromeda Strain was also written while Crichton was in med school. A note on his official Web site says “He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world.” Messages of condolence are being left on the Message Board of his Web site.

Are you a Michael Crichton Fan? What book or movie is your favorite?

Don’t Miss …
Wed., Nov. 12, City of Fairfax Regional Library
Stefan Fatsis, a sports reporter and the author of A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL. A Few Seconds of Panic is the author’s story of his summer as a training camp placekicker for the Denver Broncos. Registration is required; call 703-293-6227. Listen to Library Director Sam Clay’s interview with Fatsis. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Friday, Nov. 14, Fairfax County Government Center, Board Auditorium
Newbery-Award winner Christopher Paul Curtis author of Bud, not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. Bud, Not Buddy is the only book to win both the American Library Association’s annual Newbery Medal for outstanding children’s fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award honoring an outstanding African-American author. No registration is required.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Trivia

It has been a long time coming, but the 2008 campaign for President of the United States finally ends today. Here are some interesting facts about this season’s electoral process:

● The 2008 election is the first election since 1928 when neither an incumbent president nor an incumbent vice president ran for the party’s nomination.

● It is the first election since 1952 when neither an incumbent president nor an incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election.

● The new president will be the first in 184 years to take office after multiple, consecutive two-term presidential administrations. George W. Bush as well as his predecessor Bill Clinton both served two terms. The last time there were a series of consecutive two-term presidencies was 1800-1825. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe were all two-term presidents.

● Whichever candidate wins, he will be the first president born outside the continental U.S. Barak Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and John McCain’s birthplace is Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone.

For more on elections, browse these books:

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do by Andrew Gelman

The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation
by Drew Westen

Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics
by Morley Winograd

American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction
by Louis Maisel

Don’t Miss …
Saturday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Patrick Henry Library
Patrick Henry Library Customer Appreciation Day. Celebrate the new look of the library and participate in activities such as free Starbucks coffee, donuts and juice, a children's treasure hunt, free books and a family puppet show. All ages. No registration is required.

Friday, October 31, 2008

National Authors Day

November 1 is the 79th anniversary of National Authors Day. The General Federation of Women's Clubs, responsible for creating 75 percent of the nation’s libraries during the early 20th century, passed a resolution that formalized the observance in 1929.

It seems appropriate that these events also occurred on Nov. 1:

Stephen Crane, the author of The Red Badge of Courage born in 1871

William Shakespeare's "Othello" premiers in London in 1604

● William Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" premiers in London in 1611

● The first Library of Congress building opens to the public in 1897

Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" premiers in N.Y. in 1920

Don’t Miss . . .

Monday, Nov. 3, 12:30 p.m. at Kingstowne Library
Wii Games: Bowling. Join us for Wii Bowling cosponsored by the Kingstowne Center for Active Adults. Age 8 and up.

Thursday, Nov. 6, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. at Oakton Library
Surviving the Holidays with Humor: Humor for the Caregiver's Soul. The holiday season can be stressful and challenging for families. Learn strategies for reducing stress and keeping the holidays a happy time for all. Presented by the Fairfax Caregiver Seminar Consortium. To register call 703-324-5205. Adults.

Thursday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m. at Sherwood Regional Library
Historical Perspectives: Special Pre-Veterans Day Program. Historian Carroll Gibbs presents a lecture and slideshow illuminating the role of the African-American soldier in World War I. Adults.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blogs on Books

If you are looking for some reading suggestions, you might want to bookmark these literary criticism blogs highlighted on the Internet Public Library Web site.

Collected Miscellany

NewPages Web log

the litblog co-op

Test Your Knowledge
Each week, FCPLease, the Fairfax County Public Library’s weekly events, activities and services e-newsletter awards a free book to the winner of its Bookish Birthday quiz. If you want to join the fun, sign-up at our Web site.

Don’t Miss …
Wed., Oct. 29, 7 p.m., Burke Centre Library
Spies in Our Midst. Carol Bessette, retired Air Force intelligence officer and developer of the Spies of Washington Tour, will share stories of local spies, spy catching, and tradecraft. Adults.

A Reminder
The Richard Byrd Library will close for renovations at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1. It will open at a temporary site in mid-January at 6315 Backlick Rd. Springfield, VA 22150 (second floor of the Bank of America Building). While the Richard Byrd Library is closed customers can visit nearby branches, including George Mason Regional Library or John Marshall Library.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Street Lit

According to a recent New York Times article ("From the Streets to the Library," Oct. 22, 2008), the gritty and sometimes controversial genre known as urban fiction, street lit or gangsta lit is gaining popularity in some urban libraries. Mirroring the often violent street life in city neighborhoods, some libraries feel the fast-growing genre is bringing new people into libraries and encouraging literacy. Critics, however, have complained the genre perpetuates stereotypes.

The Times quotes one reader who grew up in Rockaway, Queens: “I read what I can relate to,” she said. “They’re writing about what I’ve experienced. It’s easier than reading about Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.” Another enthusiast said, “It actually helps you understand what’s going on around you, instead of walking around blind.”

If you wish to sample life on the mean streets, try these books:

Dirty Red and Still Dirty by Vicki Stringer

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

Reasonable Doubt by Mark Anthony

Black Gangster by Donald Goines

Is street lit for you? Let us know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ghosts of Virginia

As All Hallows Eve approaches, Virginians can explore the state’s apparitions at a variety of ghost walks, from Ghost Tours of Avenel in Bedford on Oct. 23 to the Olde Towne Ghost Walk in Portsmouth on Oct. 24. Closer to home you can visit haunted places in Alexandria at the Ghost and Graveyard Tour Oct. 24-25 and Oct. 31-Nov 1.

Looking for more info on ghostly spirits in the Old Dominion? Browse these books:

The Ghosts of Virginia by L.B. Taylor. A multi-volume series.

The Ghosts of Williamsburg . . . and Environs by L.B. Taylor

The Ghosts of Charlottesville and Lynchburg . . . and Nearby Environs
by L.B. Taylor

The Hauntings of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown by Jackie Behrend

Virginia Ghosts by Marguerite du Pont Lee

Civil War Ghosts of Virginia by L.B. Taylor

Ghost Stories of Woodlawn Plantation by Judy McElhaney

Got any personal ghost stories? Let us know.

Don’t Miss . . .

Saturday, Oct. 25, 3 p.m. Reston Regional Library
Fairfax County Stories 1607-2007 & the Jamestown 400 Legacy Book.
Honoring Fairfax County Women with Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Irma Clifton. Mayo Stuntz will discuss the first women of Hunter Mill. Sherry Zachry, President of the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, will speak on the Suffragists. No registration is required.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Indian Author Wins Man Booker

Aravind Adiga, who lives in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India has won the Man Booker Prize for his first novel The White Tiger. The novel is an angry, dark and comic look at one man’s journey from village life to entrepreneurial success.

The prize is awarded each year to the best fiction written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Adiga is the fifth Indian author to win the prize, joining V.S. Naipal, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai, who won in 1971, 1981, 1997 and 2006 respectively.

The author, who attended Columbia and Oxford, is a former Time correspondent for India. His articles have also appeared in publications such as The Financial Times, Independent and Sunday Times.

The shortlist of other books owned by the library that were considered for the award includes:

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Gosh

The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

You can download a teaser section of each of the shortlisted titles to a mobile phone by following the directions on the Man Booker Web site.

Don’t Miss . . .
Wed., Oct. 22, 1 p.m. Patrick Henry Library
The Airmen and the Headhunters. Judith Heimann discusses her book The Airmen and the Headhunters: a True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesmen and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II. Adults.

Sat., Oct. 18, 10:30 a.m. Sherwood Regional Library
Harambee Readers. Are You Raising the Next Generation of Hoodlums? by Dr. Joyce Willard-Teal. Lecture, book discussion and signing. Adults.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Virginia State Novel?

According to a recent USA Today article, the Massachusetts House of Representatives just named Moby Dick, the state’s official “epic” novel “'Moby Dick' Sparks Massachusets Legislative Battle.” While Virginia has a state boat, and a state dance, it hasn’t matched Massachusetts with the proposal of a state book.

Got any suggestions for a Virginia state book – or author?

Here are some Virginia authors:

Rita Mae Brown

George Garrett

Ellen Glasgow

Sharyn McCrumb

Lee Smith

William Styron

Peter Taylor

Others who resided in Virginia at various times of their lives:

Sherwood Anderson

Willa Cather

John Dos Passos

Don’t Miss . . .

Tues., Oct. 21, 11 a.m. George Mason Regional Library
Yoga for Seniors. Author/yoga instructor Shakta Khalsa leads breathing exercises and gentle, rejuvenating movements, which can be done in a chair. Her books and CDs will be available for sale. Cosponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library. Adults.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Book Bubble

According to The Economist ("Read It and Weep," Oct. 9, 2008), the global banking crisis has actually caused a mini-boom in book publishing. The magazine counts 18 books on the crisis either already published or in the works.

Here’s a few books owned by the library that might interest you:

The Subprime Solution: How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened and What to Do About It by Robert Shiller

Financial Shock: A 360° Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis by Mark Zandi

The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy by David Smick

The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade That Transformed Wall Street by Jonathan Knee

Blue Blood and Mutiny: The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley by Patricia Beard

How are you handling the onslaught of bad financial news in our 24/7 media culture?

Don’t Miss . . .
Take a break from the discouraging financial news and enjoy an evening with spy novelist Daniel Silva. Silva will discuss "The Undercover Life of an Espionage Writer" at 7:30 p.m. on October 14 in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center.

The event is sponsored by the Fairfax County Public Library Center for the Book. Books will be available for sale and signing. No registration is required; first come, first served. For more information, call 703-324-8428. The Government Center is located at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035.

Silva is the author of 11 suspense novels, including The Kill Artist, The Secret Servant and his most recent, the New York Times bestseller, Moscow Rules.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Local History

About 50 sites in Fairfax County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These range from nationally known landmarks such as Mt. Vernon to lesser known sites, such as Oak Hill in Annandale, the 29 Diner in Fairfax and Pohick Church in Lorton.

To learn more about our local heritage, history buffs can find a wealth of information in the library’s Virginia Room located on the 2nd floor of the City of Fairfax Regional Library, 10360 North Street, Fairfax 22030-2514. In addition to a special collection of books on local history topics, there are old telephone books, city directories, a History Index, as well as documents such as the 1930 Census of Virginia and Washington, D.C., maps, a photography collection, military history sources and much, much more.

Also, Fairfax County recently published Fairfax Stories: 1607-2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. You can hear some of the contributors share their stories at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11 at the Woodrow Wilson Library 6101 Knollwood Drive, Falls Church, VA 22041-1798:

Fairfax County African-American Stories. Conversation Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross and authors Houston Summers, Keith Mann and Deborah Nagy. Adults.

Are you a local history buff? Do you have an interesting bit of local lore to share?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Countdown to Election Day

With just a month to go, it’s clear the 2008 Presidential Election has garnered
more interest than previous presidential contests. Whatever your political leanings, it’s easy to stay informed in our 24/7 media culture. Here’s a few non-partisan Web sites to help:

Presidential Non-partisan Presidential Election information and directory including government, state and local election information.

United States Electoral College. National Archives. Office of the Federal Registrar. A comprehensive guide to the workings of the Electoral College.

Election 2008. Department of State Foreign Press Office. Comprehensive Web links and articles on the election process: primaries, caucuses, issues, electoral college, public opinion polls.

What do you consider your best source for election information?

Don’t Miss . . .

Voter 101. Learn about voters’ rights, registration, absentee ballots and all the ins and outs of the voting process. Cosponsored by the League of Woman Voters of the Fairfax Area. Adults.

Sunday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m. City of Fairfax Regional Library

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m. Chantilly Regional Library

Sunday, Oct. 12, 2 p.m. Sherwood Regional Library

Wednesday, Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. Reston Regional Library

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Science of Storytelling

Researchers are intrigued by the fact that the human brain seems to be wired to enjoy stories according to Scientific American Mind ("The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn," September 18, 2008). Various studies have found that those with empathy — the ability to perceive other people’s emotions — are more easily involved in a story; that stories may act as “life simulators” similar to “flight simulators” for pilots — practice for social relationships; or that story themes, such as romantic love, are the same across cultures because of underlying biology — the concept of “literary Darwinists.”

What makes a good story for you? Humor, intrigue, romance?

Don’t Miss . . .
One of this generation’s great storytellers — spy novelist Daniel Silva will discuss “The Undercover Life of an Espionage Writer” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035. Books will be available for sale and signing. No registration is required; first come, first served.

Silva has written 11 novels since 1997, including his most recent New York Times bestseller, Moscow Rules.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Forget “Chanel No. 5,” Try “In the Library”

New York perfumer Christopher Brosius has created a fragrance he calls “In the Library,” according to the Intelligent Life blog ("He Hates Perfume: Swearing Off the Bottle," Sept. 18, 2008). Brosius, who owns CB I Hate Perfume, a perfumery in the Williamsburg section of New York City, has a unique philosophy that “great fragrances are unimposing and genderless, and they should harmonize with a person's natural odor.”

On the shelves of his shop there are 350 vials with names such as “Rhubarb Leaf,” or “Crayon,” which Brosius uses to help his customers create specialty scents. The “In the Library” fragrance includes a blend that Brosius describes as "First Edition, Russian and Moroccan Leather, Binding Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish."

Curious how more traditional scents are made or how to make your own? You can browse these books:

Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin

The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York
by Chandler Burr

The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell
by Luca Turin

Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume by Mandy Aftel

A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer
by Elisabeth de Feydeau

Do you have a favorite scent? Would “In the Library” appeal to you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The End

The library’s 2008 All Fairfax Reads season officially ends this week. We hope many Fairfax County and City of Fairfax readers had a chance to pick up Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, a satiric novella with some serious messages.

If, as Bennett suggests, reading can transform a Queen and her reign, perhaps to paraphrase Mark Twain, “the rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.”

In a cover story in the Columbia Journalism Review, "The Future of Reading," (May-June 2008), author Ezra Klein decided to walk around for a month with a Kindle, the electronic reader from Amazon, to see if the art of reading was really being transformed. His conclusion — perhaps not. He writes:

“Put another way, content is king. It will seek out the vehicle best suited to its absorption or enjoyment. Sometimes, it will occupy multiple mediums at the same time, in order to appeal to the largest audience (think of how books live happily alongside audio books, and then are turned into movies). But the endless discussion as to whether books are dead tends to conflate “books” with “text,” and thereby obscures far more than it illuminates. Books will not die, after all, unless we want them dead. They have survived the advent of radio, television, the Internet, and Nintendo. Rather, they will be challenged once again, and books’ content will find new ways to express itself more effectively.”

And for perspective, a Scribner’s Magazine writer in 1894 lamented the threat to the book from Thomas Edison’s new audio inventions.

“. . .printing, which since 1436 has reigned despotically over the mind of man, is, in my opinion, threatened with death by the various devices for registering sound which have lately been invented, and which little by little will go on to perfection.”

So – any thoughts? What is the fate of reading in the decades to come?

Don’t Miss . . .
George Mason University, the Fairfax County Public Library and others are sponsoring Fall for the Book, September 21-26. Visit their Web site to see the entire list of authors participating in this year's festival.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Book Proverbs

David Crystal, who has authored a number of books on language, has just published a new book of proverbs he has gathered from around the world, reports the daily blog published for independent book store owners.
Here’s a few on books and reading.

● If you want to be acquainted with the past and the present, you must read five cartloads of books (China)
● There is no worse robber than a bad book (Italy)
● It is not healthy to swallow books without chewing (Germany)
● Those who can read and write have four eyes (Albania)
● Poets and pigs are appreciated only after their death (Italy)

Know any other book-related proverbs from other cultures? Please share.

Don’t Miss …
Fall for the BookGeorge Mason University, Fairfax County Public Library and others are sponsoring Fall for the Book, September 21-26. Visit the Web site to see the entire list of authors participating in this year’s festival.

As part of the festival, City of Fairfax Regional Library will host former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. He will be discussing his memoir “Opportunity Time.” To register for this event, call the library at 703-293-6227. City of Fairfax Regional Library is located at 10360 North Street, Fairfax, VA 22030-2514.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Books About Books

In the final pages of The Uncommon Reader, the Queen announces that she has decided to write a book. “It will, I trust be a tangential history of the times,” the Queen tells a surprised gathering of her advisors. “. . .I’d like to talk about books, too and people.”

She is certainly not unique in wanting to pen a book about books and reading. For inspiration, she could certainly browse such as The Jane Austen Book Club, People of the Book, The Reader, and Fahrenheit 451 or lesser known works such as:

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Lord of the Libraries by Mel Odum

The Everlasting by Tim Lebbon

Do you have a favorite book about books and reading?

A Reminder

All Fairfax Reads winds down with a series of events this week and next. Here is the schedule:

Sept. 16, 10:30 a.m. at the George Mason Regional Library
All Fairfax Reads Movie. A screening of the 2006 movie featuring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and the events immediately after the death of Princess Diana.

Sept. 17, 7:15 p.m. Oakton Library Book Discussion.
The Uncommon Reader

September 23, 7:30 p.m. Old Town Village Gallery, North Street at Rt. 123 in Fairfax. Theater of the First Amendment.
George Mason University’s professional theater in residence will highlight Alan Bennett’s half-century of plays with a reading of his works. Alan Bennett is the author of The Uncommon Reader, the library’s 2008 All Fairfax Reads selection. Visit Fall for the Book for information.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happiness and Hard Science

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times notes there has been a flurry of books on happiness published in the last few months. The article quotes Margot Schupf, associate publisher for Collins Publishing Group, who attributes the trend to new hard data on happiness. "Authors are beginning to report real science and aren't just talking about a warm, fuzzy feeling,” she says.

Here’s a few from the list you can find at the library.

What Happy Women Know by Dan Baker

The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonya Lyubomirsky

Happiness for Two by Alexandra Stoddard

Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life by Sylvia Boorstein

Any other good reading suggestions on happiness?

Don’t Miss . . .
September 23
, 7:30 p.m.
Old Town Village Gallery, North Street at Rt. 123 in Fairfax. Theater of the First Amendment. George Mason University’s professional theater in residence will highlight Alan Bennett’s half-century of plays with a reading of his works. Alan Bennett is the author of The Uncommon Reader, the library’s 2008 All Fairfax Reads selection. Visit Fall for the Book for information.

September 24, 7 p.m. at Oakton Library
Meet Alison Larkin, comedian and author of The English American, as part of the Fall for the Book program. Larkin based the novel on her own experiences as an adopted English woman who finds her birth parents in the United States. For library programs, call the branch to register two weeks in advance.

September 24, 7:30 p.m. at the City of Fairfax Regional Library
Former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton shares excerpts from his memoir Opportunity Time. In 1969, Holton put together a coalition of business, labor and African-American voters to become the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Twists and Turns

For those who have yet to read The Uncommon Reader, we won’t spoil the surprise ending. But, author Alan Bennett is certainly not the first to enjoy startling his readers. Here are a few titles of books with twisted endings from a list compiled by the subscribers of the Fiction_L mailing list that includes many librarians and other information professionals.

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken

The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter by Sharon McCrumb

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve

Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

Do you have a favorite book that took you by surprise?

All Fairfax Reads Book Discussions and Activities

If you would like to discuss The Uncommon Reader this week, you can participate in a discussion led by facilitator Wendi Kaufman of John Hopkins University on:
Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m. Sherwood Regional Library
Sept. 11
, 7:30 p.m. Reston Regional Library

Other discussions and All Fairfax Reads activities in the next week include:
Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Pohick Regional Library
The Art of Flower Arranging, UK Style. The art of flower arranging and the features of an English garden, presented by floral designer and horticulturist Bruce Nash.

Sept. 16, 10:30 a.m. at the George Mason Regional LibraryAll Fairfax Reads Movie. A screening of the 2006 movie featuring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and the events immediately after the death of Princess Diana.

Sept. 17, 7:15 p.m Oakton Library
Book Discussion. The Uncommon Reader.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Digital Bookmobile Coming To Centreville

Attention e-book fans! A digital bookmobile will be in the parking lot of the Centreville Regional Library from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13 (rain or shine). The bookmobile, sponsored by Overdrive, one of the providers of the library’s e-book collection, is a great opportunity for people to learn more about downloading audiobooks, eBooks and other digital media. There will be instructional videos and interactive computer stations so readers of all ages can experience new ways to enjoy digital books and more from the library. For more information visit the library's Web site.

Are you a digital reader? How do you use eBooks, audiobooks and more? Let us know.

Upcoming All Fairfax Reads Events
September 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Pohick Regional Library
The Art of Flower Arranging, UK Style. The art of flower arranging and the features of an English garden, presented by floral designer and horticulturist Bruce Nash.

September 16, 10:30 a.m. at the George Mason Regional Library
All Fairfax Reads Movie. A screening of the 2006 movie featuring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and the events immediately after the death of Princess Diana.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Endless Books

In the early pages of The Uncommon Reader, the Queen begins to feel overwhelmed by her new passion for reading:

“The sheer endlessness of books outfaced her and she had no idea how to go on; there was no system to her reading, with one book leading to another, and often she had two or three on the go at the same time. . . ‘I have started too late. I will never keep up.’” (p. 47)

It is no wonder. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) figures published by Wikipedia, in 2006, the United Kingdom published 206,000 new titles compared to only 172,000 in the U.S. It was the second time Great Britain had overtaken the U.S. in the past 20 years. Book production in the United Kingdom rose 28 percent in 2005-2006, but dropped 18 percent in the U.S. Apparently Great Britain leads the world in number of new titles published per capita per year.

The Queen faced quite a challenge. Do you have more than one book going at the same time? What’s on your bedside table? Let us know.

A Reminder
There is a variety of All Fairfax Reads events scheduled in September. Here’s a list of book discussions:

Facilitated All Fairfax Reads Discussions
Participate in a discussion of The Uncommon Reader led by facilitator Wendi Kaufman of John Hopkins University. Adults.
Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m. Sherwood Regional Library
Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m. Reston Regional Library

More All Fairfax Reads Discussions
All Fairfax Reads Book Discussion. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Adults.
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 7:15 p.m. Oakton Library
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2 p.m. George Mason Regional Library
Monday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. Centreville Regional Library
Tuesday, Sept. 23, 7 p.m. Burke Centre Library
Thursday, Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. Centreville Regional Library

Friday, August 29, 2008

Six-Word Memoirs

A bookstore in Blytheville, Ark., is celebrating its anniversary by soliciting six-word memoirs of customers’ experiences in the store. The owner based the idea on Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-word short story “For sale: Baby shoes, Never worn.”

It is a common belief among professional writers that the shorter a piece is, the harder it is to write.

So, since there is a long week-end coming up, let’s borrow the concept and see what those who love libraries can compose about their experiences. Here is my attempt: “Will never know all it holds.”

Share your six-word library memoirs here.

Have a good Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What We Read

In The Uncommon Reader, the Queen dubs Norman Seakins, who works in the palace kitchens, her “amanuensis” or “literary assistant” as he steers her toward books that feed her new-found passion for reading.

While many of us have our own literary mentors – friends, colleagues, book discussion members and others who offer reading suggestions, another source is best seller lists. The New York Times Best Seller List and The Washington Post Best Seller List are among the most well-known.

The Times list appears each Sunday in the “New York Times Book Review,” but is actually prepared by the editors of the News Survey department rather than the Book Review staff. The list is based on the weekly sales record of selected independent, chain book stores and retailers, but the specific methodology is considered a classified trade secret. One study found that making it to the Times best seller list actually helps the sales of lesser known writers more than the stars, who are on it regularly.

Last Sunday’s Times included bestselling authors Sandra Brown (Smoke Screen), Eric Van Lustbader (The Bourne Sanction) and Daniel Silva (Moscow Rules) among the top five on the hardback fiction list. Lesser known authors in the top five included Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Sherrilyn Kenyon for Acheron. Last Sunday’s Post includes Brown, Van Lustbader and Silva among the top five, but adds The Turnaround by local writer George Pelacanos and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

Do the bestseller lists influence your reading choices? What are your sources for good reading? Let us know.

Friday, August 22, 2008

James Thurber’s Legacy

For those of a certain age, James Thurber defined American humor during the first 50 years of the 20th century. Each year Thurber House, a literary center and museum located in the Cleveland, Ohio home Thurber lived in from 1913 to 1917 awards a $5,000 Thurber Prize to a contemporary humorist. The 2008 prize will be announced October 6 at the Algonquin Hotel, Thurber’s New York haunt. The short list includes these books owned by the library:

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

Him Her Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx

Some previous winners include:

Coyote verses Acme by Ian Frazier

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley

My Lucky Star by Joe Keenan

So, what’s the funniest book you have read recently? Let us know.

Don’t Miss . . .
Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11

On a more serious note, Patrick Creed and Rick Newman, authors of Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11, will appear at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center. The event is sponsored by the library’s Center for the Book.

Creed, a volunteer firefighter and Army officer, spent over five years scouring public records and conducting 150 interviews to compile this account, including the stories of Fairfax County firefighters. Newman has written for U.S. News & World Report for more than 15 years. From 1995 through 2001, Newman was the magazine’s chief Pentagon correspondent.

No registration required; first come, first served. Books will be available for sale and signing. The Government Center is located at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035. For more information, call 703-324-8428.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

English Tea – High and Low

At several points in The Uncommon Reader, the queen is interrupted for her daily tea and pastries. According to Linda Stradley in an article on the History of English Afternoon Tea, before tea was introduced in Great Britain, its citizens had only two meals – breakfast and dinner. Breakfast consisted of ale, bread and beef. During the mid-18th-century, dinner for the middle and upper classes shifted from lunch time to later in the day.

While tea was common in British coffee houses by 1700, legend has it that afternoon tea was created by one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in waiting in the 19th-century. Supposedly, Anna Maria Stanhope was finding lunch to be less and less satisfying and started to sneak in tea and pastries around five in the afternoon. Soon she was inviting her friends to join her.

Afternoon tea is also called "low tea" because it was usually taken in a sitting room where there were low tables, such as coffee tables. In Great Britain it is served at 5 p.m. and does not go longer than 7 p.m. In the U.S., where it is mistakenly referred to as “high tea,” it is usually served in teahouses between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. High tea is normally a heavier meal, sometimes called “meat tea” and does not involve the pastries associated with afternoon tea.

If you are a tea drinker, here’s a few books that might interest you:

The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide by Mary Lou Heiss

Steeped in the World of Tea by Sharon Bard

Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea From East to West by Beatrice Hohenegger

If you are a tea lover, how do you drink yours? With biscuits and scones like the British? Or do you nibble on more American fare?

Let us know.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Summer Romance

You’ve still got a few weeks left for some relaxed summer reading, so the recent announcement of the 2008 RITA Awards arrives just in time. Here’s some of this year’s winners chosen by Romance Writers of America.

Best Contemporary Single-Title Romance
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins

Best Historical Romance
Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter

Best Inspirational Romance
A Touch of Grace by Linda Goodnight

Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Best Regency Historical Romance
The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Best Romantic Suspense
Ice Blue by Anne Stuart

Are you a romance novel fan? Got any good suggestions? Let us know.