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Friday, February 29, 2008

Culinary Arts

The Fairfax County Public Library owns at least 500 cookbook titles, including more than 25 new additions in 2007. No matter what your tastes or interests, you can sample the latest recipes in the books below:

You’ve Got It Made: Deliciously Easy Meals to Make Now and Bake Later
by Diane Phillips

The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger

The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every KitchenBy Michael Ruhlman

The Flexitarian Table: Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat-Lovers and Everyone In Between by Peter Berley

What Can I Bring? by Anne Byrn

Southern Living Secrets of the South’s Best Barbecue by Jane E. Gentry

Got a favorite cookbook? Let us know.

Don’t Miss …
Dolley Madison Library, March 1, 2 p.m.
Iraqi Cooking Demonstration and TastingCookbook author Kay Karim will present Iraqi cuisine with a cooking demonstration and tasting. Books will be available for purchase. Call to register, for more information and for reasonable ADA accommodations, 703-356-0770 (TTY 711).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Leap Year Capital of the World

Tiny Anthony, Tex., which hugs the Texas-New Mexico border will hold its sixth annual Leap Year Festival Feb. 29-March 2. Each year, the town’s 4,000 residents hold an event to celebrate people who were born on Feb. 29, known as “leap day.” The festivities include a parade, a birthday dinner, hot air balloon lifts and other events.

It’s estimated that four million people worldwide have been born on Feb. 29 with 200,000 living in the U.S.

And at one time, two nations, at least, observed Feb. 30 in their calendars. Sweden and the former Soviet Union. Sweden’s Feb. 30 resulted in an error when the country converted to the Julian calendar in the 18th century. Feb. 30 was observed in the former Soviet Union in 1930-31 and the nation adopted a revolutionary calendar in 1929 which featured five-day weeks, 30-day months for every working month and the remaining five or six days were “monthless” holidays.

Are you a “leap day” celebrant? Know anyone who is?

Don’t Miss …

March 2 is Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association. This year’s theme is “Grab Your Hat and Read With the Cat.” You can join in the special celebration which coincides with Dr. Seuss's birthday at the following branches:

George Mason Regional LibrarySaturday, March 1, 10:30
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Games, activities and a surprise guest! Cosponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library. All ages.

Oakton LibrarySaturday, March 1, 2:00
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Help us celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with stories, activities and a birthday cake. All ages.

Kings Park LibraryMonday, March 3, 10:30
Welcome to Seussville. Celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday. Age 3-5 with adult.

Lorton LibraryTuesday, March 4, 10:30
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Stories, activities and a birthday celebration. Age 2-5 with adult.

Centreville Regional Library
Thursday, March 6, 11 a.m.
Dr. Seuss Surprise. Stories and activities. Age 3-5 with adult.

Thursday, March 6, 3:30 p.m.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss. Stories, a craft and a special surprise. Age 5-8.

Friday, February 22, 2008

All About Homework

Students of all ages may be surprised to discover that homework is a relatively recent phenomenon. In rural America of the late 19th-century, homework was discouraged because it kept youngsters from their chores. In fact, in 1901 the U.S. Congress passed an act that abolished homework for students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

It was not until the 1950s that homework enjoyed a resurgence due to Cold War fears that Russian students were outperforming their American counterparts. By the time the Cold War ended in the 1990s, homework was an entrenched institution. In fact, a 2007 University of Michigan study found that it had increased over time. According to the study, sample of students between the ages of six and nine were spending two hours a week on homework, as opposed to 44 minutes in 1981. (Wikipedia -- History of Homework in the United States)

The Fairfax County Public Library offers an array of homework resources for students from kindergarten through college. See the Homework and Student Support page on the library’s Web site to learn about Live Homework Help, Web sites on school subjects and more.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Home Repair Is Homicide

For those of you who like your mysteries in a series and haven’t discovered Sarah Graves, try her Home Repair is Homicide series. Graves’ sleuth, Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree, is remodeling a house in Eastport, Maine and finds all types of memorabilia that lead her into peril. Here are some of the author’s more recent titles available at the Fairfax County Public Library.

The Book of Old Houses

Trap Door

Nail Biter

Tool & Die

Mallets Aforethought


So, while waiting for Sue Grafton to get to “U” in her series, try some Graves.
Or, have you got a favorite whodunit series? Share your secret vice.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cover Art

When browsing the shelves at your local library branch, do you ever select a book for its cover? Is the old adage true? Maybe you can tell a book by its cover art. Last fall The Book Design Review listed its favorite cover designs. The Fairfax County Public Library owns a few of the selections.

Words Without Borders by Alane Salierno Mason

Like You’d Understand, Anyway by Jim Shepard

Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance by Matthew Kneale

Strawberry Fields by Marina Lewycka

One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead

Wish I Could Be There by Allen Shawn

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

Check out the designs on The Book Design Review's blog. Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Defending the Book

In a column on PBS’ MediaShift Web page, Jennifer Woodard Maderazo lists five reasons she won’t give up books:

1. She hates e-books
2. She can’t curl up with an eBook
3. Sensory stuff
4. Emotional connection
5. (and we might add “your library”)

Maderazo is responding to recent pronouncement by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that “people don’t read anymore,” predicting that Amazon’s Kindle eReader had no future. Maderazo disputes this notion, saying in part:

“With all their shininess and interactivity, gadgets like the Kindle are inevitably trying to emulate something many of us fell in love with when we were children: the reading experience and the comfort of books. Like with other relationships formed in our early lives, sometimes a substitute just won’t do. I don’t want an electronic mom, I want my real mom. And I still want real books.”

So what are your thoughts? Let us know.

And, if you would like to try an eBook, check out the library's collection.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Feb. 8-14 is Love May Make the World Go ‘Round but Laughter Keeps us From Getting Dizzy Week! According to The Humor Project the week is dedicated to Victor Borge’s notion that “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Research has also shown that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones while increasing health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. If you need a laugh today, visit your local library branch and pick up a book from one of these well known humor writers or one of your favorites: Dave Barry, Patrick McManus, David Sedaris, Steve Martin, Calvin Trillin, Erma Bombeck, Nora Ephron.

“Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety--all this rust of life--ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Share with us your best methods for going from stressful to mirthful, perhaps a favorite cartoon or saying or phone call to a friend? Let us know.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lunar New Year

In two days, several East Asian countries, including China, Korea and Vietnam, will celebrate the lunar New Year. In China, the celebration traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month (which is Feb. 7 this year) and lasts until Feb. 15. In Korea, the celebration begins on the same day, but lasts only three days. The Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, is also usually celebrated for three days.

In China, the informal celebration can begin weeks before the lunar New Year and it is a time when Chinese migrant workers travel home for reunion dinners with their families on the eve of the New Year. This is why extreme snow storms this year caused havoc for the New Year’s celebrants trying to get home.

In China and other countries, the celebration includes cleaning house in the days before the holiday, buying new clothes, wearing red and giving red packets with money to children.

According to ancient Chinese legend, a man-eating beast called the Nian came out of the mountains (or in some versions – the sea), to feast every 12 months during winter. The Chinese believed the monster was sensitive to loud noises and the color red so they scared it away with fireworks and using as much red as possible. The Chinese characters for “to celebrate the new year” also means “the passover of the Nian.”

You can celebrate several lunar New Year’s events at these library branches:

George Mason Regional Library
Saturday, Feb. 9, noon
Korean New Year Celebration. A celebration of Korean culture through traditional dance, accompanied by traditional instruments that evoke the mood of a very dramatic and moving history of the country. All ages. To sign up, call 703-256-3800.

Kingstowne Library
Saturday, Feb. 9, 10:30 a.m.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year! Celebrate the Chinese New Year with stories, activities and snacks. Learn simple calligraphy with author Andy Zhang. Age 6-12. To sign up, call 703-339-4610.

Saturday, Feb. 9, noon
Meet the Author: Andy Zhang.* Zhang will discuss and read selections from his novel, Memories of An Eastern Sky. Refreshments offered. Cosponsored by the Friends of Kingstowne Library. Adults. To sign up, call 703-339-4610.
*Listen to a podcast interview with the author.

Friday, February 01, 2008

February Is Library Lovers’ Month!

Many of us started our love affairs with our libraries at a young age as
we met Curious George or Peter Rabbit through a library book. If we're avid book readers or curious by nature, our libraries offer cost-effective ways to indulge our interests whatever they are. It might be cooking one week and traveling the next, as well as a home improvement or self-improvement project.

We may enjoy a good mystery or biography to keep us engaged, a book on current events or history to keep us educated, or a book on tape or CD to keep us awake on long drives.

If you are grateful for your library, then February is the month to celebrate! There are numerous ways to celebrate Library Lovers’ Month including checking out a book (probably more than one), visiting us on the Web, attending a library program (hundreds of programs are offered each month - find out about them through the Web or grab a copy of our monthly newsletter "This Month" at your local branch), joining your branch's Friends group (if you haven't already), or contributing money to a Friends group or the Fairfax Library Foundation (you can even buy a book for the library through our Wish List. See the list on the foundation's Web site).

Send Us a Valentine
The Fairfax Library Foundation is sponsoring a LoveMyLibrary valentine program in celebration of Library Lovers' Month.

How do you love your library? Let us know.