Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association
Quick! Take this quiz. What do Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and Looking for Alaska (by John Green, author of the blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars) all have in common?
  1. They were penned by best-selling authors.
  2. They were turned into or optioned for movies.
  3. Each one has been the subject of banning requests.
  4. All of the above.
The correct answer is D.

Every year, there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries. Celebrate YOUR freedom to read and right to choose books during Banned Books Week, September 21 to 27. Read more on the Banned Books Week website.

Here are the ten most challenged books of 2013, as reported by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
            The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
            Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

-Ginger Hawkins, Centreville Regional Library


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

12 Reasons to Love Your Library Card

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, and we’re reminding everyone why a Fairfax County Public Library card really is the smartest card in your wallet. You already know it’s your gateway to books, audiobooks, magazines and movies. But we bet you don’t know about everything the library has to offer. So, put down that bestseller for a minute and check out just a few of the many ways a library card can add value to your life.

Rake in the Savings. Use the American Library Association’s handy Library Value Calculator to see how much money you save every month visiting the library. If you check out all 18 books mentioned in our Fractured Fairy Tales post from August 27th instead of purchasing them, you would save around $218! Hint: use the tab key to move between entries.

Find a Job. We can’t find a job for you, but we have the tools you need from preparing a resume to acing the interview and negotiating a salary. Ask a librarian about our online career center and Learning Express Library to get started, whether you are searching for a new job or starting a new career. Find more online career resources.

Help Your Child Get Ready to Read. Our storytime programs are designed to introduce the skills your child needs to be ready to read. Log on to our event calendar and select Event Type: Storytime to register your child in a program. Read more about the six crucial skills every preschooler should practice on our Early Literacy Outreach page.

Book a Free Meeting Room. If you need a meeting room for a nonprofit organization or educational, cultural or informational community meetings and programs, you don’t even need a library card to snag a space. Be sure to read through the meeting room guidelines before submitting your request.

Read to the Dog. A dog never judges! Let your child practice reading aloud in a stress-free and fun environment. Log on to our event calendar and select Event Type: Read to the Dog to schedule a session. You’ll find the library has lots of other great programs for kids as well.

Learn a Language. Log on to Mango Languages and finally get started on that language you always wanted to learn. Mango offers instruction in 63 languages, from Tagalog to English. Download the Mango app to take your language learning on the road.

Hop on the Internet. You don’t even need a library card to access Wi-Fi on your own device at library branches. No device? No worries. Use your library card to log on a public computer. We have more than 400 public computers.

Research Your Next Big Buy. Use our online Consumer Report search portal to find expert product reviews and ratings from the comfort of your own home. Need a new doctor or thinking about remodeling your house? Use a public computer at any branch to find ratings and reviews of local businesses from Consumers' Checkbook.

Make Homework a lot Less Stressful. Have a big assignment due? Come in early and let a librarian help you or your child find the books, articles and information they need to ace that assignment. In addition to books, we have a large number of online research resources available for searching from home.

Protect Your Retirement. Get the investment and business advice you need to safeguard your retirement nest egg. Log on to one of our many business and finance databases from home, including Morningstar and Valueline.

Download a Book from Home. Get all the information you need to start downloading library eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines and more in our July 9th blog post!

Figure Out What to Read Next. Our librarians can help you find the perfect book for you, whether your tastes lean to quirky biographies or fast-paced bestsellers. We have the knowledge and tools to help you select a great read. Readers at home can use resources from the ReadersLink page, including Novelist, an online reading recommendation tool that lets you pinpoint why you enjoy a book and find similar books and authors.

-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library & Rebecca Molineaux, George Mason Regional Library

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Books for the Beginning Runner{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVER
With cooler air and colorful scenery, autumn is the perfect season to begin running outdoors. Before you hit the trail or the pavement, take your first step at the public library where there are dozens of titles to jump-start your journey.

The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners: Winning Strategies, Inspiring Stories, and the Ultimate Training Tools for Beginning Runners by Jennifer Van Allen is a good starting point for novices. This 2014 guide includes all the basics such as where and when to run, what to eat before and after to maximize performance and how to avoid injuries. Inspiring first-person stories of “how running changed my life” are interspersed throughout the book. Many of these personal essays are by people who began with challenges such as a medical condition or weight problem and yet went on to complete marathons or half-marathons, demonstrating how running can benefit all kinds of people. 
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Running is even more comprehensive.  Author Bill Rodgers is an accomplished athlete, four-time winner of both the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon, but he starts off with the basics before delving into more advanced topics. So, it can be read over a series of months as the reader becomes more adept. There is also a simple beginner’s program for walkers with a day-by-day running chart. Basically, you add spurts of running to your walking that become gradually longer until after a month or so you are running instead of walking the whole route. Topics covered include: selecting the right shoes and clothing, gadgets you may or may not need and starting to race, from 5ks to marathons. It also includes chapters on running for women, older adults and parents of small children.{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVER 

For pure beginner’s inspiration, it is hard to beat The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life by John “The Penguin” Bingham. Bingham wrote “The Penguin Chronicles” column in Runner’s World magazine from his perspective as a couch-potato-turned-avid-runner. Bingham’s book has a reassuring “if I can do it you can do it” message. He writes with self-deprecating humor about his determination to take up running when he could barely huff his way to the end of his own driveway and is a firm believer that running can enrich almost anyone’s life, including those who are not bound for greatness in the sport. Bingham has an enthusiastic following among his fellow “penguin runners” who are less concerned with speed than personal fulfillment and general fitness.  

Runners of any level who are also readers may be interested in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami. The renowned Japanese author wrote this memoir in his late fifties about returning to running after a long absence and a tackling a long distance running regime at a mature age. He writes about his career in literature and how his daily hour-long runs balance out his life as a writer. Murakami’s acclaimed magical realism novels include The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore.  

Whether you are psyching yourself up to begin or are already a seasoned runner, Fairfax County Public Library has a wealth of books available to provide encouragement and practical advice.
-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, Kings Park Library

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Great Book Club Picks: Anne Perry

You know the scene. It’s your book club meeting, and you helped pick the book. You arrive at the meeting and find a handful of members couldn’t get past the first few chapters. A few were too busy to read it. And hardly anyone who did read the book really liked it all that much. You cringe. But it turns out to be a great night, leads to lots of lively discussion and makes you realize why reading together as a group is such a pleasurable experience.

This happened to me recently. The book was one of Anne Perry’s historical detective novels featuring the recurring character William Monk. Don’t get me wrong: Anne Perry’s books are extremely popular, get good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and nearly always land on the New York Times bestseller list. But midway through the discussion, my book club realized the book we really wanted to read was Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham (originally published as So Brilliantly Clever: Parker, Hulme and the Murder that Shocked the World).

Long before Anne Perry embarked on a successful career writing about murder, she spent time in prison for committing one. Perry (born Juliet Hulme) was 15 when she conspired with her best friend Pauline Parker to kill Parker’s mother. The girls were incensed that Honora Parker would not let Pauline leave New Zealand with Hulme after the latter’s parents separated and planned to return to England. The girls lured Mrs. Parker to a park and bludgeoned her with half of a brick, placed in a stocking. Their cover story easily picked apart, both girls spent time in prison. Hulme eventually moved to the United States, changed her name and began writing. Her identity was largely unknown until the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures brought new attention to the case. (An interesting side-note: Peter Jackson directed the film, which launched his successful, international directing career. The film starred a pre-Titanic Kate Winslet as Hulme.)

My book club normally begins its discussions with a consideration of the author’s biography. This night, no one wanted to move on to the actual book we were supposed to read. So, if provoking good discussion is what makes a book a good choice for book clubs, any of Anne Perry’s mysteries will do. Just make sure you check out Murder of the Century, too, because that’s the selection that will leave everyone talking.  

-Ginger Hawkins, Centreville Regional Library