Tag Archives: Saturdays@South

Saturdays @ the South: Fun with Time Travel (and also Murder)

Time after Time on ABC. Image from tvguide.com

I’m not sure how I nearly missed the memo that there was a new show starting last week that I can easily see fulfilling my need for campy fun with a somewhat-literary twist. I found out only just in time to set my DVR to a season pass for Time after Time an ABC drama that, while I don’t think it’s intention is to be funny, seems to be cracking some viewers up all the same.

The premise for the series is this: Legendary and groundbreaking sci-fi author H.G. Wells built a time machine prior to his authorial turn and while bandying about in Victorian times, manages to have said time machine stolen by Jack the Ripper. Both travel to modern-day New York City. Murder & mayhem ensue, Wells feels guilty and tries to track Jack the Ripper down and stop him. The series is also apparently very meta as it is based on a movie which was based on a 1979 novel by Karl Alexander (sadly, unavailable in NOBLE at this time).

For those of you looking for a more reality-based primer prior to watching (or completely ignoring) this show, here’s some brief info. H.G. Wells (1866-1946) was a British author most well known for writing The Time Machine and War of the Worlds but was also a sociologist, journalist and historian. His first book was, surprisingly, given his reputation for fantastical fiction in later life, a biology textbook. Jack the Ripper‘s true identity has never been officially proven , but numerous theories and obsessions abound about the pseudonymous murderer who struck in London’s Whitechapel district between August and November of 1888. It is also possible that the killer committed murders prior to and after those dates, depending upon how certain crimes of that time are viewed. Jack the Ripper has captured the imagination of many true-crime aficionados who still speculate who he was.

I’m not going to lie, I’m surprised to see these two figures in a television show together, given that the only link between them is that they were both alive in England in 1888. But I suppose that when one writes speculative fiction, it leaves those of us who read that work scads of leeway to speculate on our own.  If you’re interested in this show, or if aspects of time travel or Jack the Ripper appeal to you, you’re in luck. Here are some options for your reading and viewing pleasure:

Ripper by Isabel Allende

This is a fast-paced thriller in which true-crime aficionados around the world convene in an online role-playing game called Ripper. Most of these players are teenagers solving real-life mysteries on the game based on information fed by a game master, who gets her information from her dad, the Chief Inspector of the San Francisco police. This book is ideal for those who perhaps have some of their own theories about Jack the Ripper or who like Time after Time‘s modern caper appeal.

I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter

This is a historical thriller set in Victorian London. The main protagonist is none other than Jack the Ripper and Hunter goes to great lengths to get deep inside the mind of a killer, re-imagining how and why he might have done what he did. This is a natural pick for those intrigued by Jack the Ripper but would also appeal to those fascinated by the likes of Hannibal Lecter .

Ripper Street

This TV series, already discussed here on the blog is just fantastic. It follows the capers of the H Division detectives in London’s police force just after the Ripper murders as it delves into a re-imagined Whitechapel with several characters based on real-life investigators who were involved in (and somewhat undone by) the Ripper investigation. It is stunning, visually, in character development and in plot twists and is well worth watching.

Just One Damned Thing after Another by Jodi Taylor

This is the first book in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s series in which Madeline “Max” Maxwell is a time-traveling historian (quite possibly the coolest job description ever). There’s one major rule that all in that profession must follow: no interaction with the locals; observation only when time-traveling. Naturally, this doesn’t work out particularly well and Max realizes that being a historian who time-travels is a pretty dangerous activity.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Tom Barren’s 2016 is not the same as our 2016. It is the 2016 imagined by those living in the 1950s, complete with flying cars and moving sidewalks. Then, through a time-traveling mishap, he winds up in our version of 2016, complete with punk-music (which never needed to exist in his world) in what seems to him like a dystopian wasteland. His ultimate question is whether he fixes the tear in reality that occurred during the mishap and get back to his idealistic world, or learns to live and survive and possibly change for the better, the horrors of the time we live in.


This Showtime show is a perennial favorite at the South Branch and involves a nurse in 1946 who time-travels back to 1743 Scotland. Her heart is torn between the husband she loves and left behind in her own time and the man who she is forced to marry in the past in order to save her own life.

Till next week, dear readers, I’m going to try to get the Cyndi Lauper song out of my head…

Saturdays @ the South: Book Slump

Readers have an extraordinary internal life associated with books. There are so many emotions a reader goes through, during the course of reading a book, talking about books, finding out about books and even the space in between books. We’ve talked about book hangovers, Hermitage Week (or month), what happens when you just can’t and I’m sure there are many other thoughts on the spectrum of being a reader. I’ve been experiencing one of them lately: a book slump.

My experience with the book slump is somewhat different from not being able to focus on a book. I’m able to finish books with a reasonable amount of attention. I haven’t started and stopped more books that I normally do in my reading life. And yet, I’m facing a Goodreads feed filled with 3-star books and only a vague recollection of what I’ve read. The books haven’t been bad; they just haven’t wowed me.  I’ve been book-ambivalent lately and I’ve a sneaking suspicion it happens to all readers at some point (or perhaps at several points).

Sometimes you’re still enjoying the reading process, the ritual of whatever it is you do to read, whether it’s blocking out everyone else on the commuter train, listening to an audiobook in the bath (no wrinkly pages that way!) or settling into bed with a book. Whatever your ritual, you’re still into it; the focus and the will is there, but sometimes, the books just… aren’t.

With more and more books getting published and finding outlets to be published, there’s bound to be something for every taste, but let’s face it, not all of those books can be Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or The Gentleman or (insert your amazing, gush-worthy read here). Getting out of your book slump might be as simple as revisiting a favorite and remembering what it is about that book that made you love it. Maybe after reading it you recognize you’re in the mood for more like that and suddenly, books seem exciting again. Or it might be a matter of sampling something different to pique your interest and keep your brain from getting bored. Or maybe you need to read in a different format (go electronic or audio for a change). Or maybe you don’t need to change anything and these books that are somehow smack dab in the middle of your bad—good scale are an essential part of what makes you appreciate a good book when it does come around for your.

During these times, remember that the library is here for you. We’re here to offer books to borrow for free so that your hard-earned money isn’t wasted on a book you may have enjoyed but don’t want to hold onto (maybe not even in memory) for very long. We’re here to make suggestions about books we love that hopefully you will love, too. And we’re also here to help you ride those times out. Even if you’re feeling that, somehow, your story-loving sense is askew, know that your next favorite read may be just around the corner and you can sample as many of our books as you want until you find it, and your book groove, again.

Till next week, dear readers, know that when it comes to reading, all feelings are valid and wallowing in a slump is OK. We’re here for you and the books are here for you however you want to ride it out.

Saturdays @ the South: Take Me to the Tropics

I’m not a particular fan of the snow, largely because I don’t enjoy being cold and wet and snow provides both of those sensations simultaneously. After 11 inches of snow in one day, my window has almost as much snow stuck to the outside screen:

My cat is not happy that she can’t keep up her window-vigil with her usual diligence.

Because of this, I’m pretty much planning to re-erect my blanket fort from hermitage month and seriously considering making winter hermitage season. In the meantime, I’m looking for books that take me away, bonus if they can make me laugh. So here are books designed to do just that:

Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore

Tucker Case is a  “cool guy,” who discovers he’s a lot more hapless and clueless than he realized when he crashes his employer’s plane into a tiny island in Micronesia. Because it’s Christopher Moore, hilarity and intrigue ensue. Also, because it’s Christopher Moore, there’s a talking fruit bat named Roberto.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is a master of deadpan comedy and this classic, oddball book possibly his most well-known work after Slaughterhouse-Five. Dr. Felix Hoenikker has left the world a deadly legacy in the form of ice-nine which could bring about global destruction. One of Hoenikker’s children try to keep their family legacy under wraps by following a trail down to the Caribbean where they encounter a dictator and a religion called Bokonon. This book is for those who like a thought-provoking Armageddon with their tropical humor.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

For a little non-fiction in the mist, Troost follows his then-girlfriend (now his wife) to a tiny island in the South Pacific called Tarawa, where they encounter incompetent government officials, a self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (who has never written a poem in his life), and an endless loop of La Macarena playing everywhere. If you’re looking for something that will take you away, make you laugh out loud and make you thankful for indoor plumbing, coffee and regular news feeds, this book will do just that.

I hope I’ve offered you a few options for one of the best reasons for reading: escape. Till next week, dear readers, stay warm and safe!

Saturdays @ the South: Mexican Literature

Image discovered on LitHub

I fully admit that my reading list isn’t as diverse as it could be, partly because the bookternet (bookish + Internet) makes it so easy to reach for books already in my wheelhouse. Favorite authors mention other authors they enjoy, Goodreads points me to books I might like based on what I’ve already read and my wonderful bookish friends and fellow colleagues at the library are constantly dropping book references. This is one of my favorite parts of the bookternet (and the bookish community in general) because I know that I will never run out of great reading material in my to-be-read pile. But it also means that, if I’m reading books like what I’ve already read, I’m not reading books that aren’t like anything I’ve ever read before.

We’ve talked a fair amount about diversity in literature here on the Free For All, but mentioning it occasionally isn’t quite enough. It’s important to continue to talk about diversity, particularly in literature, on a regular basis lest it become relegated to shadows, ensuring that nothing ever changes. In an effort to talk more about diverse literature, I’m starting a regular feature for Saturdays @ the South where I talk about books from a particular area of the world in an effort not only to introduce you to diverse voices, but to also introduce myself to new voices and ideas that I haven’t been exposed to previously. It won’t be every week; there will still be the weird bookish ramblings and musings you’ve come to expect on a Saturday, but I’d like to feature a new country or region every month to ensure that the conversation continues.

Today, we’re talking about our neighbors to the south, Mexico. Mexican literature has a rich heritage and many of it’s classic works, as well as new contemporary authors, are beginning to become more widely available in translation. My high school and college Spanish is very sadly rusty, so I’m grateful for the efforts of organizations like Deep Vellum and UNESCO and resources like Three Percent who promote translations of works into English. While there are always issues with reading any work that has been translated from the author’s original language, the best will try to keep the lyricism and ideas of the author in tact to ensure a reading experience that is still rich. Here are some books by Mexican and Mexican-American authors that can expand our reading experiences together:

Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

Will Evans wrote on LitHub  he “believe[s] the greatest Mexican novel ever written is Pedro Paramo…” because it “changed the way that literature is written, read, processed and remembered when it was published in 1955.” Wow. That’s a bold statement to make for any novel, but it’s enough to make me want to read this one sooner rather than later.

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

The Culture Trip mentioned that Valeria Luiselli, a Mexico City native, is “described as one of the brightest literary talents in the entire world right now.” Again, wow. How have I missed this on my reading radar? This book is her latest novel (published in 2015) follows the adventures of Highway, a world-traveler, auctioneer and general bon-vivant, whose most precious possessions are the teeth of the “notorious infamous” like Virginal Woolf, Plato and more.

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

This is a book about borderlands that takes a great deal from Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. The narrator is trying to bring her brother back to Mexico from across the US border, but the book tackles much more than immigration as it is steeped in mythology as well. A quick note here: Yuri Herrera has at least three books mentioned on the Best-of-Mexican-Literature lists I found, so I’m guessing that any of his books would be a good place to start.

Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue

LitHub voted this one of the best books of 2016, period. No ethnic qualifier or best of Chicano/a literature. They just thought this book was awesome, and boy, does it sound cool. This book is quasi-historical, mostly meta-fictional about “a 16th-century tennis match between Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo and Italian painter Caravaggio, playing with a ball stuffed with the hair of Anne Boleyn.” Seriously, how quickly can I get this book?

What You See in the Dark by Manuel Munoz

This book is set in the 1950s in an Alfred Hitchcock-style narrative. This tale of a doomed love affair set against the backdrop of a filmmaker who comes to Bakersfield, CA to scout locations for a film about murder at a motel peeks into character’s private thoughts, jealousies and dreams. Mexican-American author Munoz has received high praise for both this book (his first novel) and his previous short story collections.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Alire Aaenz is another Mexican-American author who has managed to pull together a novel that is both about two teenagers falling in love, but also a sweeping character study of teenagers, their parents, Mexican-American identity in the modern age and LGBTQ perspectives that shatters stereotypes. His characters are undeniably real, his writing is gorgeous and the range of emotions through which he guides both the characters and the readers is nothing short of an astounding accomplishment. The audiobook,is narrated by pre-Hamilton, post- In the Heights, Lin Manuel Miranda and is perfectly executed. This book is a favorite of mine and was recommended to me by more than one librarian here in the library. It’s a great example of a book that I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to because it’s not like what I usually read, but was an incredibly rich and rewarding reading experience that I’m so glad to have had.

Hopefully one of these books will pique your interest in reading a little more internationally. As Japanese author Haruki Murakami once wrote: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” It’s good to get into someone else’s head for a while. If you’re intrigued and would like more suggestions, feel free to mention that in the comments or stop by the library and ask! Till next week, dear readers, do your best to read a little out of your usual sphere of influence. You never know what next great read you’ll discover just beyond our backyards.

Saturdays @ the South: Celebrating Rabbie Burns Night*

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

(From: “A Man’s a Man for a’ That” by Robert Burns)

Sign for Alloway Village depicting the features of it’s favorite son.

This is a slightly belated birthday post for Robert Burns, the beloved National Poet of Scotland. Born in Alloway on January 25, 1759, the Bard of Ayrshire, affectionately known as Rabbie started his career as a tenant farmer like his father and later in life became an excise collector in Dumfries. Throughout most of his life, however, whatever job he held, Burns was a poet and a poet in a particularly interesting time in Scotland (and Europe in general).


The Scotland of Burns’s time was that of a national identity crisis. After merging Scotland’s crown into Great Britian with James I in 1603, the British and Scottish Parliaments merged in 1707, resulting in a period in which the Scots were facing an identity crisis. How do they retain their distinctive culture amidst the English hegemony overtaking the nation? The Scots language was fading, morphing into strongly-accented English, traditional dress was increasingly frowned upon in polite society and many of the cultural songs, poems and folk traditions were fading, giving way to English traditions. Burns became a man in a time when what it meant to be a Scotsman was in question.

Quote on the wall inside the Burns cottage in Alloway

Burn’s poetry started off commonly enough. When he was 15, he fell in love and began writing love poetry, but his repertoire soon expanded into pastorals about the farm life he grew up in and nature in general (noted particularly in his famous “Ode to a Mouse”)

This mouse stands over 6′ tall on the path to the birthplace museum, commemorating “Ode to a Mouse.” It is either supremely cool or oddly creepy, depending on your view. I have the first line of the poem on a magnet on my fridge, so you can guess where I stand on this one…

and in doing so became a pioneer of the Romantic movement. Burns is now often studied among the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats. Burns was more than a prolific Romantic poet, however. He was also a champion of Scottish culture, eschewing more widely-read English and writing most of his poems in the Scots language or a Scottish dialect. In 1786 Burns published Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect to a first edition of 612 copies, but it became popular and was run in a section edition in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

The Tam o’ Shanter pathway in Alloway is lined with with signs like this depicting scenes from the narrative poem.

This success allowed him to travel throughout Scotland (though his travels were, at least in part, to gather information about crops) and he increasingly saw himself as “Scotia’s bard.” He published his narrative masterpiece Tam o’ Shanter in 1788, but after that he spent the rest of his poetic career using his travels to collect Scottish folk songs and poems that were quickly becoming lost.  He contributed two more large collections of traditional songs and poetry in his lifetime: the Scots Musical Museum and A Select Collection of Scottish Airs.

The Writers Museum in Edinburgh celebrates some of Scotland’s greatest writers, including Burns, and continues to support emerging Scottish writers today.

Burns was charismatic and extremely popular during his lifetime, both in literary circles, particularly in Edinburgh, and also throughout the country, hailed as a champion of traditional Scottish culture, including traditional dress (i.e. kilts; though it is often argued that Burns himself is unlikely to have worn one because he was from the Lowlands and kilts are more a tradition of the Highland clans). Five years after his early death in 1796 (he was 37), a group of friends gathered to celebrate his life and accomplishments, calling it the Burns Supper. The tradition continued among the friends for many years, but Burns’ popularity in Scotland, Great Britain and throughout the world grew, morphing from a group of friends gathering to an international celebration. The date changed from July 21st (the date of Burns’ death) to his birthday, January 25th, presumably to make it more a celebration of his life (though also, possibly, because the traditional Burns Supper is full of heavy, warm, rich foods that are much more palatable on a winter’s night). Burns is a highly respected cultural and literary figure and his influence on groups and individuals worldwide (he has the 3rd highest number of statues across the glob of any non-religious figure after Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus) is quite possibly unparalleled.

Burns’ desk in the Birthplace museum. This display is one of the many original, entrancing setups in this fantastic museum.

Should you like to commemorate the poetry and life of Rabbie Burns with your own (albeit belated) Burns Night, you can do so in any number of ways. Bagpipe music would be a delightful, traditional accompaniment. You can also settle in with a warming glass of whisky (in Scotland, it’s just referred to as whisky, without the “e”, though we call it Scotch, stateside). You can also read a collection of Burns’ work (ideally out loud to others). There are many delicious options for hosting a Burns Supper delineated here (even if haggis isn’t your particular bag). But if you’d prefer to settle in for a Burns Night of reading books that take place in Scotland and celebrate a modern version of  the culture that Burns sought to preserve, here is a selection of Scottish series to help you out:

Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin

Multiple Edgar Award winning Edinburgh native Rankin has written John Rebus to be a complex, flawed character who is immediately intriguing, but the city of Edinburgh is almost as much a character as Rebus. Rankin’s mysteries are taught and fast paced, but you’ll also get a little literary tour in his prose as well. My favorite is The Falls, but you can also start with his first book, Knots and Crosses.

Hamish Macbeth series by M. C. Beaton

The beloved bachelor “bobby” (police officer) is the star of the long-running Hamish Macbeth series, sharing a name with a famed Scottish King and “The Scottish Play.” Beaton reportedly spent some time in the north of Scotland and found the Highlands captivating, so she decided to set a classic mystery series in that beautiful setting. The series titles are usual ripe with wonderful puns, like Death of a Bore, so feel free to pick one you like and tuck in.

Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith

Though he was born in what is now Zimbabwe, McCall Smith has several ties to Scotland where he earned his Ph.D in Law and serves as a Medical Law Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh where his expertise lies in bioethics. We know him better as the prolific author of several well-loved series including the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street and the Isabel Dalhousie (also known as the Sunday Philosophy Club) mysteries. This series often has delightfully philosophical titles like The Forgotten Affairs of Youth and promise a classic cozy with a strong Scottish flair.

Kilts and Quilts series by Patience Griffin

While there are many classic romance “bodice rippers” (for which you can get great reviews from Kelley in The Romance Garden features here on the Free For All) that take place in Scotland with tartan-strewn covers, this is a less intense series that is more about second chances and healing hearts in a tiny, rural Scotland town. This RITA award-winning series full of charm and hope, starts with To Scotland with Love, but the series is linked by the town and not necessarily by the main characters, so you can start anywhere and still enjoy them.

Till next week, dear readers, let’s all “take a cup o’ kindness yet, for days of auld lang syne.”

Bust of Robert Burns at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

*All photos in this post (except the book covers) were taken in 2011 during your friendly Saturday blogger’s trip to Scotland. 

Saturdays @ the South: How the library can get you through winter

16a4073790413d665ef956a7f1e41c5bIt’s January, and while Charles Schulz’s Lucy van Pelt might be relishing in catching snowflakes that are finally ripe, for many of us, this is a month for bunkering down. Last year I expanded upon our blogger-in-residence Arabella’s hermitage week, calling January hermitage month and I stand by that. This is also a perfect month for building (and hiding in) your blanket fort surrounded by books and/or viewing material that will last you the the majority of hermitage month (our initial loan periods might not allow you to keep a book for more than 2 or 3 weeks, but renewals are an option that can make your loan last you the whole month!).

January is also a common time for resolutions, but several of us here on the Free For All have already eschewed the tradition. Let’s face it, when the temperature drops into the single digits, many of us are simply focused on keeping warm and staying sane; never mind starting lofty goals or making big changes. So to help our patrons weather the weather, I was inspired by blog favorite Book Riot which posted “30 ideas For A More Bookish Winter” list. I created a similar list of 5 things you can do to get the most out of hermitage month, all of which can be achieved by going to or getting help from your friendly local library. Here goes:

1) Put a hold on a book that isn’t out yet

ced36bf3420e6a53823be337ecaa9c1aGive yourself something to look forward to with a finite date, rather than anticipating the squishy deadline of spring (March? April? June? When does spring weather start these days….?) Libraries often put orders for books they believe will be popular months in advance and the moment they do, you can put a hold on the book! This gets you higher up in the queue for the book (meaning less time waiting for it). Also, putting a hold on a book that is only on order gives libraries a sense of what out patrons are excited about, which allows us to order quantities that are appropriate for the hold list. After all, we don’t want only 3 or 4 copies circulating of a book that has 80 holds on it.

There are lots of ways to see books that are coming out in the future. Goodreads has lists for books coming in 2017 that are popular with members and books coming out in 2017 that are continuations of series. Searching the Internet for “most-anticipated 2017 books” will collate dozens of lists including ones from Vulture, Bustle, The Millions and, of course, Book Riot. Find your favorite author’s website (this blog favorite is a good example with it’s nifty countdown); you can always be sure that authors want their readers to know when to keep an eye out for their next books. You can also check out the Library’s Pinterest Boards for new items from each location that we’ve just ordered. Often these books haven’t come in yet, but if they’re on Pinterest, they’re in the catalog and that means they’re holdable. Give it a try and be one of the first in your community to read something new!

2) Read a book and watch the movie it was based on. Compare and contrast.

read_or_watchThe order in which you do this is entirely up to you (as discussed here), but many of the books we have at the library, also have movie companions in our DVD collection. (What would Hollywood do without books?) If you’re the going-to-the-theater type, a small selection of upcoming movie adaptations being released in 2017 are listed here. Another, slightly larger list is available here or you could check out our Pinterest board specifically designed for comparisons of books and movies that are simultaneously in the library. Is there a better way to spend a wintry night (or day? or week?). I don’t think there is….

3) Ask a library staff member for a recommendation

book-questionsOne of the best things about working at a library is that there’s no dearth of things to read and watch. Because we already know the secret about putting books that aren’t out yet on hold, library workers are often among the first to read new books. We’re also irrepressibly eager to talk about books and movies we love, whether they’re new or they’re old favorites and we can help you get reading again after those moments when you just can’t. If you’re not sure what to read or watch next, ask one of us! We’ll be all too happy to help.

4) Attend a library program

Despite my introverted preference for bunkering down during the bleakest winter months, sometimes the best thing to do to get out of the winter doldrums is to get some social interaction. One of the best ways to meet people who share similar values, to learn something new from people presenting different ideas or to create something that will connect you with other people is to go to the library! Despite tending to offer a light amount of programming during the winter (weather unpredictability is a large factor here), the Library still offers quite the array of programs for all ages. Whether you’d like to learn a new skill, listen to a lecture or get in touch with your creative side, there’s something for all and it’s accessible to all because everything here at the Peabody Library is completely free.

5) Let NoveList help you find what you didn’t know you were looking for

logonovplgAs much as we love chatting books with our patrons, we do understand that it’s not always easy to ask someone for a book recommendation. Whether you’re unsure about your own preferences, have been unhappy with what you’ve been reading lately or just don’t know what you’re in the mood for, sometimes it’s difficult to come up with the words to ask for what you want. While sometimes a conversation can tease the words out, other times, it doesn’t. That’s why we have tools for patrons who just can’t find the words (and that’s all of us at some point). NoveList is great, free resource we offer that has tons of ways that you can find your next read. The home page offers suggestions based on the tone of the book like “whimsical and offbeat” or “sweeping and dramatic.” If none of their particular combinations make your heart flutter, you can create your own combo using the appeals mixer to find some surprising titles that you may not have considered.

Till next week, dear readers, if you try one or all of these ways the library can help you pass the winter with at least some of your sanity in tact, we’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, stay warm!

Saturdays @ the South: 2016 in Review


It is entirely possible that Lady Pole,  your friendly South Branch Librarian missed the memo that year-in-review posts are to come before the year ends. Despite being bombarded with year-end lists throughout the month of December, and despite having created a similar post last year in December, I somehow still managed to think that a look back at 2016 belongs at the beginning of 2017. Thus, the first Saturdays @ the South post of the New Year is a retrospect of the South Branch of the old year.

While I mentioned already that I’m eager to leave 2016 in the rear-view mirror, one thing I never have trouble looking back on is the year in book and media that have gone out from the South Branch.
It’s fun for me to see what has been the most popular and that information, in turn, helps me decide what to purchase during the coming year. Thanks to the very helpful folks at NOBLE who were kind enough to pull the data for me, I have a few “top 10” lists on what has been the most popular at the South Branch. And, because (as I’ve mentioned a few times before) I love infographics, I’ve put together those lists in infographic form. (Also, if you’re not as into infographics as I am, I’ve collected them on a Pinterest board.) So for your edification and enjoyment, here are the greatest hits from the South Branch from 2016:




Did your favorites make the list? Are you surprised by what you found here? There were a couple of surprises for me, including the fact that 2 of the non-fiction books that were the most popular this year can only be found at the South Branch and are not available anywhere else in the NOBLE catalog.

Till next week, dear readers, I’ll continue to review what’s going on at the South Branch to ensure that it serves the needs of our community the best it possibly can and so we can make it an even better library in 2017.