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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do Something New This Year

It’s a new year, so why don’t you try something new? The library has many books for those  who would like to explore new hobbies. Painting, yoga, baking, running, take your pick. Here at Patrick Henry Library, several staff members are avid knitters. If you’d like to get started on this fun hobby, we offer the following suggestions to get you started:

June Hiatt, The Principles of Knitting

Wendy Bernard, Custom Knits

Vogue's Stitchionary series

Sally Melville, The Knitting Experience series

With a little practice, you'll have all the skills you need to create some amazing projects. Browsing in the knitting section at any library branch will give you lots of fun and creative ideas to try.

Cathy Carron, Happy Feet: Unique Knits to Knock Your Socks Off

Sally Muir, Knit Your Own Zoo: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 24 Animals

Laura Nelkin, Knockout Knits: New Tricks for Scarves, Hats, Jewelry, and Other Accessories
Additionally, the library owns many instructional DVDs on knitting. Some branches subscribe to Threads magazine and Craft Ideas magazine. And many branches host knitting groups in their meeting rooms. These meetings are free and open to the public. Call your local branch to see if they host a knitting group near you.

- Patrick Henry Library Staff

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Debut Authors, Fresh Voices

For readers and publishers alike, 2014 was the year of the breakout, first-time author. In an increasingly tight marketplace, publishers rely on well-known and sure-to-sell authors to help them make the bottom line. Debut authors, who come with little name recognition, are a risk. However, in 2014, bets paid off big time as new authors made many “best of” lists.

See this Buzzfeed article for a list of not-to-miss first-time authors. Highlights, both owned by Fairfax County Public Library, include:

Phil Klay, RedeploymentThis book of short stories informed by Klay’s experience as a solider in Iraq, dazzled critics and won the National Book Award.

Smith Henderson, Fourth of July Creek – Henderson made the Washington Post’s “Best Books of 2014” for his first title, a gritty, dark tale set in rural Montana.

Hopefully this bumper crop of newbie success will set a trend and continue to bring a fresh voice to library shelves near you.

-Ginger Hawkins, Patrick Henry Library

Friday, January 09, 2015

What YOU'VE Been Reading: 2014

Thank you to all the great readers in Fairfax County for keeping library staff so busy this year. The Fairfax County Public Library circulates over a million items per month on average. Here are the most popular checkouts from 2014.

Adult Fiction

1.      Sycamore Row by John Grisham
2.      Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
3.      King and Maxwell by David Baldacci
4.      The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
5.      The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Adult Nonfiction



1.      Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
2.      Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis 
3.      Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates 
4.      Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain 
5.      I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by theTaliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

Children's Fiction




1.      Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
2.      Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborn
3.      Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
4.      Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
5.      Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Teen Fiction


1.      Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
2.      The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3.      Divergent series by Veronica Roth
4.      The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
5.      The Giver by Lois Lowry 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Hot Zones and Cold Wars

It was hard to get spies off my mind as 2014 wound down. Hacking scandals and terrorist threats kept the spy comedy The Interview squarely in the public eye this holiday season. Difficult as it is to imagine a movie starring Seth Rogan and James Franco at the center of a serious international squabble, it is clear that diplomatic discord is good for business. Despite not being released in mainstream cinemas, The Interview brought in $1 million dollars in revenue and was downloaded 750,000 times on Christmas Day alone. The controversy reminded me that 2014 was a very good year for literary spy stories as well. While the library offers many popular spy thrillers and stories, these three books should appeal even to those who don’t normally read this genre.

At first glance, the buddy farce The Interview doesn’t seem to have much in common with the Nobel-prize winning Soviet classic Dr. Zhivago. The leaders of the Soviet Union, however, also went to great lengths to suppress Boris Pasternak’s 1957 portrayal of life and love in the Soviet Union. Peter Finn tells the story of how the novel was smuggled abroad for publication in The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book. While Pasternak’s story alone is fascinating, the efforts of the CIA to smuggle copies back into the USSR is just as intriguing. It’s thought-provoking to consider both nations gave so much credence to the power of literature to challenge the Soviet system.

There are very few ideals to be found in the pair of agents featured in Denis Johnson’s literary spy novel The Laughing Monsters. Roland Nair and Michael Adriko, two post-9/11 intelligence agents with a history of illicit enterprise, plan to peddle phony enriched uranium in West Africa. Adriko, an orphan, brings along his naïve American fiancé hoping to find the remnants of his extended family. Like many spy novels, secrets and subterfuge abound. What makes Johnson’s effort stand out is his caustic yet perfectly descriptive voice - you’ll want to savor each sentence as you journey alongside his seedy allies in intrigue.

Ben MacIntyre is known for his riveting true accounts of spy operations with unlikely agents and improbable plots. His latest work, A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, takes on the Soviet spy group known as the Cambridge Five. There have been many notable biographies of Britain’s infamous double agents. Macintyre’s work gives a fresh perspective. He examines how class and friendship, within MI6 and with the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence, shielded Philby from discovery. It’s an extremely readable account of Philby’s motivation for his deceit and betrayal.

-- Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library