Today in The Library began when we couldn’t turn the computers on. Circulation and Reference Staff alike looked at each other in bewilderment, and began wringing hands and chanting ancient chants in the hopes of dispelling the curse of Friday the 13th.
Then we realized that the main power switch had been flipped off. So we flipped it on and got back to work.
Which got me to wondering…why is it that we fear Friday the 13th so much? Fans of The DaVinci Code it’s the day that the Knights Templar were put to death by Philip IV of France, but it doesn’t look like anyone figured that out until the 20th century…others say it’s because Jesus was crucified on a Friday the 13th, but since they were using a different calendar at the time, I’m not quite sure how that idea works…some say it’s an old Italian belief, and another theory holds that a 1907 novel called Friday the Thirteenth by a gentleman named Thomas Lawson reinforced the idea for a new generation (the story is about a banker who takes advantage of the superstitious day to start a panic).
Ultimately, this seems to be One Of Those Things that we believe without good reason, but that our belief, ultimately, makes self-fulfilling…see the last book on today’s list for more of this sort of thing. Better yet, come in and check out all of these books today. It’s a fact that visiting the Library on a Friday the 13th dispels all bad luck. At least it is now….
Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Any time Stephen King gets a new book, I will always put it at the top of my list. This collection of short stories is a bit of a mix of vintage and new stories, with “Ur” at the top of my list. Back in the day when Kindles were The New Thing that everyone was poking with a bit of trepidation, Stephen King wrote a story “for Kindle only” story (which was really quite novel at the time) about a man who received a pink Kindle, with some pretty interesting extra features….this story has been “extensively re-written”, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what precisely that means…
War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation: Alexander Hamilton is enjoying quite the renaissance, especially with the release of the new hip-hop musical Hamilton (if you haven’t heard it, go listen right now. We’ll wait.). John Sedgewick is the many-times-great grandson of Theodore Sedgewick, who was speaker of the house in 1804, and the recipient of Hamilton’s one of Hamilton’s final letters. While this gives Sedgewick a personal stake in things, which is good, it also makes him a smidgen biased against Burr, which might not make for the most accurate of histories, but it makes for some very, very good reading (while you’re listening to Hamilton!)
Quicksand: Steve Toltz’s first book, A Fraction of the Whole, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and that same mad-cap humor and profound insight is on display in this new release, which features a failed cop and failing writer, Liam, who is basing his newest work on his best friend, Aldo’s spectacular failures in reclaiming his lost love. Peter Carey, a two-time Man Booker Winner whose word is love and law, says of this book: “The energy, the hairpin turns, the narrative crashes, the stomach churning ascents and trashed taboos: what a joy to surrender oneself to a writer of such prodigious talent.” And that’s good enough for me.
Numero Zero: I have to be honest, having grown up with The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, when I first heard that this book was a political thriller, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. However, it would appear that Eco brings the same intellectual depth and creativity to this genre that he brings to any other. Set in 1992, this story features an editor at a gossip rag who uncovers a plot generations in the making, that sheds new light on a lifetime of political scandals–and puts everyone who knows the truth in very grave danger. Booklist calls it a “brainy, funny, neatly lacerating thriller…. Eco’s caustically clever, darkly hilarious, dagger-quick tale of lies, crimes, and collusions condemns the shameless corruption and greed undermining journalism and governments everywhere. A satisfyingly scathing indictment brightened by resolute love.”
Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpower: A patron referred to Matt Kaplan’s newest book as “a armchair guide to the supernatural”, which seems like a wonderfully appropriate description. A respected science journalist, who last wrote on monsters, Kaplan explores the rituals, myths, fables and legends that have made their way into our lexicon of beliefs, and what powers they can–and do–hold over us. Library Journal raves, “Absorbing and intellectually stimulating, this book is a joy to read and is highly recommended.”