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Friday, October 30, 2009

War of the Worlds – October 20, 1938

To celebrate Halloween seventy-one years ago, the “Mercury Theater of the Air” broadcast a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, the tale of a Martian invasion of the nation. Orson Welles narrated and directed the drama. Because the show ran without commercial breaks and the first part of the broadcast consisted of realistic radio news bulletins, some in the audience believed the invasion was real. The town of Grover’s Park, N.J., where the Martians supposedly landed, even erected a monument in 1998 to celebrate the fictional event.

On air radio announcers, such as Jack Parr at Cleveland’s WGAR, had trouble calming panicked listeners. To this day there are some conspiracy theorists who believe the broadcast was a psychological warfare experiment or broadcast to cover up UFO activity. Welles, who was catapulted to fame because of the broadcast, debunked those ideas.

If you want to learn more about the famous broadcast, Orson Welles, or H.G. Wells, try these books:

The Complete War of the Worlds: Mars Invasion of Earth From H.G. Wells to Orson Welles by Brian Holmsten

This Is Orson Welles by Orson Welles

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

H.G. : The History of Mr. Wells by Michael Foot

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


You may embrace your birthday each year with grand parties and paper hats or you may dread its approach because it’s a reminder that there’s a limit to the number we get in a lifetime. One thing we can all celebrate is our lifespans, for Americans the average is 77.7 years. It’s a long life compared to other mammals: mice live an average of 2 years; rabbits about five years; deer live 10; cats and dogs live about 12 ; black bears live 19; and elephants live 40. (These are average lifespans, not how long the animals could live.)

If you’d like to try to beat the average lifespan, the library has more than 66 books you can consult. Here’s a sampling of titles:

Superhealth: 6 Simple Steps, 6 Easy Weeks, 1 Longer, healthier Life by Steven Pratt.

The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner

The Longevity Bible: 8 Essential Strategies for Keeping Your Mind Sharp and Your Body Young by Gary W. Small

Dr. Perricone’s 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health and Longevity: The Miracle of Cellular Rejuvenation by Nicholas Perricone

Healthy at 100: the Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You’re 80 and Beyond
By Chris Crowley

Ageless: Take Control of Your Age and Stay Youthful for Life by Edward l. Schneider

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Future of the Magazine

When I heard last week that Condé Nast would no longer publish Gourmet, I began to think more seriously about the fate of print magazines in general. Nast also counts Vogue, Wired, The New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair among its 25-plus publications. While newsstands seem to be rich with print magazines, I wondered what the landscape would look like in a few years. Former magazine staffer Jeff Jarvis weighed in on his Buzz Machine blog. According to Jarvis:

Packaging used to be a key value of magazines: the great editor selecting the interesting topics and good writers and cooking a meal out of it. But in the era of media unbundling, the magazine becomes an instant anachronism. Reading the New Yorker or Economist or Vanity Fair becomes an act of living nostalgia, at least for those who can remember them. For the next generation reading magazines and newspapers and buying albums is – haven’t we learned this yet? – an alien experience, a media oddity.
A more conservative blog, Rod Dreher’s CrunchyCon, is less happy about the demise of Gourmet. He encourages readers to subscribe or re-subscribe to favorite magazines to help them survive in print format. He concludes in his Oct. 6 post: “I have reclined in bed at the end of the day, and read stories from my laptop, and I have reclined in bed at the end of the day and read stories in conventional magazines. There's no comparison. I'm so old-school it hurts.”

Digital Magazines at the Library
For those who don’t mind reading magazine articles online, our library offers millions of articles for free in our periodical databases. If you want access to the complete text of articles in your favorite magazines all you have to do is access our Web site.

If you click on Databases and then Magazines, you will see more than 20 electronic magazine resources listed and that is just the tip of the iceberg. For general interest magazines your best bet is EBSCOhost General Reference Center Gold and MasterFILE Premier. For example, you can find the complete text of articles in issues of Time and Rolling Stone from 1990 forward or Parenting from 1997. There’s lesser-known and more specialized journals and newspapers as well. Explore online or stop by your nearest branch for a quick intro to our electronic periodical resources. All you need is a library card!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


There are many ways that library lovers can support the library, but one of the efforts that would go a long way to helping branches keep their shelves straightened is the Adopt-a-Shelf program. Businesses, organizations or individuals agree to come in to a branch on a regular basis and keep the shelved books in order. You can even select a certain shelf to “adopt” if you want to be well informed about the collection in a certain area such as biography, travel or finance. Here are the tasks involved with Adopt-A-Shelf:

read spine labels and reshelve books that are not in proper order;
shift books between shelves as necessary to assure easy access;
remove bookmarks, paper and litter from books and shelves;
identify books belonging to other branches, return them to the circulation desk for rerouting; and,
identify books requiring mending and places them in mending area with note attached.

Not all branches need adopt-a-shelf volunteers; to find out if your branch needs them, contact the volunteer coordinator at your branch.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Not for Kids Only

Today’s release of the intriguing film version of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak reminded me that some picture books are for all ages. Published in 1963, the book has only 10 sentences. It tells the story of a boy named Max, who is punished for “making mischief” and sent to his room without his supper. There, Max imagines a wild forest and sea and sails to the Land of the Wild Things. He conquers these fearsome monsters and becomes their king. However, he soon becomes homesick and returns home where his supper is waiting.

It is Sendak’s memorable illustrations that have made the book a classic. Apparently the wild things originally were going to be horses until Sendak’s editor suggested a switch when she realized he couldn’t draw them. Instead, he used caricatures of his aunts and uncles which he remembered from their visits to his childhood home in Brooklyn.

Why does the book also appeal to adults? One critic believes the book makes “an entirely deliberate, and beautiful, use of the psychoanalytic story of anger.” In the book, The Art of Maurice Sendak, the author says that Where the Wild Things Are, as well as his two other books, In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There form a trilogy on “how children master various feelings.”

Here’s a few more picture books that appeal to the kid in all of us:

The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Happenings at the Library

The library has plenty of Halloween activities for little ones, all ages and even one for dogs! For addresses or directions for the following programs visit the library’s Web site. Registration is required for most programs. Register online or call the host branch.

All ages

Dog Costume Parade, Oct. 31, 11 a.m. at Herndon Fortnightly. Trick or treat with your dog in a costume parade on the Town Green. Show off your dog in the silly tricks contest. Cosponsored by Bark ’N Bubbles and Council for the Arts of Herndon.

Pumpkin Friends, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. Celebrate Halloween with stories and activities. Costumes encouraged.

Age 12 and up
Midnight at Bunnyman Bridge, Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m. at Burke Centre Library. Storyteller Margaret Chatham will tell the chilling local legend of the Bunnyman murders and other creepy tales.

Age 8 and up
Seriously Scary Tales in the Night, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. Enjoy seriously scary stories. Costumes encouraged.

Age 6 to 12
Paint a Fun Halloween Figure, Oct. 17, 11 a.m. at Reston Regional Library. Presented by Clay Café Studios of Chantilly. Fired and glazed figurines will be returned to the library one week later. Cosponsored by the Friends of the Reston Regional Library.

Age 4 – 5 with adult
Halloween Happenings, Oct. 29 at 10:30 a.m. at Sherwood Regional Library. Stories and activities.

Age 3 – 6 with adult
Boo to You! Oct. 31, 10:30 a.m. at Pohick Regional Library. Halloween storytime and parade. Stories about Halloween followed by a parade through the library. Come dressed in your Halloween best.

Age 3 – 5 with adult
Slightly Scary Stories. Stories and activities, Oct. 22, 10:30 a.m. at City of Fairfax Regional Library.

Halloween Storytime, Oct. 28 at 10:30 a.m. at Kings Park Library. Come in your costume for Halloween stories and fun.

Scary – Not Very! Oct. 29, 11 a.m. at Oakton Library. Suspenseful stories and activities to celebrate the season. Come in costume if you’d like.

Age 2 – 5 with adult
Halloween on Parade, Oct. 19, 10:30 a.m. at Kingstowne Library. Wear your costume and come for Halloween stories and fun.

Monster Bash, Oct. 28, 10:30 a.m. at Dolley Madison Library. Come in costume for Halloween stories and activities.

Halloween Parade Oct. 29, 11 a.m. at Centreville Regional Library. Stories and activities. Children are encouraged to come in costume to parade around the library.

Birth to Five with Adult
Halloween Lunch Bunch, Oct. 30, noon at John Marshall Library. Bring your lunch and join us for Halloween stories. Costumes encouraged.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Slow Movement

Arianna Huffington has chosen In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré as the first selection in the Huffington Post Book Club. The author published the book in 2004 after catching himself rushing through the fairy tales he read to his kids. “My version of Snow White had just three dwarves in it. ‘What happened to Grumpy?’ my four-year-old son would ask,” Honoré explained on Arianna’s blog. When he found himself eyeing a book of one-minute fairy tales in a book store, he decided it was time to slow down.

In the past five years since his book was published, Honoré has seen the Slow Movement grow. Of course there is Slow Food. But according to the author there are now 120 Slow Cities in the world and Slow Travel is taking off. There is even a Slow Books Movement.

If you are interested in other books on slow living, try these:

Slow is Beautiful: New Visions of Community, Leisure and Joie de Vivre by Cecile Andrews

Don’t Hurry, Be Happy: 650 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy Life
by Ernie Zelinski

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential – in Business and in Life by Leo Babauto

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Scot Turow Comes to Fairfax

Have you read A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines yet?

That’s The Big Read/All Fairfax Reads book selection for 2009. Whether or not you’ve read it yet, don’t miss Scott Turow this Friday, Oct. 9 in the Board Auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center. He will present “Confessions of a Death Penalty Agnostic” as part of The Big Read/All Fairfax Reads. Turow, the best-selling author of many novels including Presumed Innocent and Ordinary Heroes, is also the author of Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty. There’s no registration required for this event and books will be available for sale and signing. For more information visit the Web site. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.

“I always say that I don't criticize anybody's position on the death penalty because I've held all of them.” ~ Scott Turow

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tweeting at the Book Festival

There was a 10-day period last week when I was in seventh heaven. First there was Fall for the Book, a literary festival that the library cosponsors with George Mason University and many other organizations. Among the authors I got to see was one of my favorites E.L. Doctorow, best known for his novel Ragtime, which became a film and more recently a musical. The 78-year-old author was as playful with the audience as he is in his novels which always mix history and fiction in delightful ways. He read from his newest work, Homer and Langley, based in part on the legendary, reclusive Collyer brothers who as Doctorow explained “were aggregators like Google.” Today we would call them hoarders.

Then, last Saturday I took the Metro down to the Mall for Library of Congress' National Book Festival. Any bibliophile who has never visited the festival – in its ninth year and always on the last Saturday in September – is missing a real treat. Despite rain, the festival was packed. There was something for everyone from John Grisham and John Irving to Paula Deen, Judy Blume and Ken Burns.

Seeking shelter from the weather in the Library of Congress tent, I had an opportunity to experience the Festival’s Tweet-in, which reproduced a Tweet feed on a large monitor. There I learned that John Irving had just told the audience he never liked Hemingway and that Azar Nafisi was rousing those in her tent to fight the closing of book stores.

As I writer, I’ve always been skeptical that great things can be talked about in 140 characters, but the Tweet-In at the National Book Festival convinced me otherwise. Maybe there is room in the world for both old and new literary technologies!

Whatever you do, look out for Fall for the Book and the National Book Festival in the fall of 2010.