Weekly update from Pocahontas County Free Libraries
I think I’ve mentioned before that, while I love reading mysteries, so many of them are part of a series—and I hate reading a series out of order! It may not bother some of you, but I can’t help but have a running dialogue in the back of my mind: “Am I missing something? What did that remark mean? Was it explained earlier in the series?” If you also want—no, make that need to read a series in order, I have two great websites that will help you keep track of the order of your favorite books.
One of my favorite webpages is called Fantastic Fiction. It’s a British web page, which is very handy because some books are published under different titles between the UK and the U.S. (Why? I don’t know!)
Fantastic Fiction does a good job of listing both British and American titles, so that you know exactly what you have, and what you’re looking for. You can search by author or by title. Author searches are the best, because the result page will give you a brief biography of the author, and then a comprehensive list of all the books they’re written, when they were written, and if the book is part of a series, that is also listed. All series are listed in order, too!
My other favorite webpage is called FictFact. This page allows you to keep track of the books you read. All you have to do is sign up for your own account (your email and a password) and you can begin searching for series. Once you find a series, there is a button to click that says “Follow series.” If you click that button, the series is added to your personal list. You can mark books as” to be read; currently reading; read or skipped. Add all the series you like; it’s so easy to see what series you are following, and how many of the books you’ve read to date.
The other really nice feature is that FictFact will announce the next book in the series for you, along with a release date! No more wondering when the new Janet Evanovich is coming out—FictFact will tell you. Notorious Nineteen is due out November 20, by the way.
Your home page lists all the series you are following. It will indicate “Not started” or “Current” or tell you the percentage of the way through the series you happen to be. It will also list the next book you should read. It’s a great way to keep track of the series you are reading, or the series you would like to read. And don’t delete a series once you are current—you never know when another volume could be added! FictFact will tell you as soon as a release date is announced.
Links to both of these sites (and many more great web pages) can be found on our library web page at www.pocahontaslibrary.org under the tab “Links” and then “Books.” Even though I started out discussing mysteries, both these sites list all genres of fiction, not just mysteries.
Now, go get organized!
My last Library Lines article was about a website for mystery readers called Stop, You’re Killing Me! (Pocahontas Times, September 6 edition.) What I forgot to tell you is that, if you go to our newly designed webpage at www.pocahontaslibrary.org, you can find a handy link to SYKM and several other interesting websites by clicking on the tab at the top of the page that says “Links” and then, in the drop down menu, by clicking “Books.”
I thought it might be fun over the next few weeks to highlight a different web page that we’ve linked to from our page. So, since I’ve already talked about the mystery site, I think it’s only fair to give historical fiction readers some equal time, and recommend the site Historical Novels Info.
I love historical fiction—the farther back in time, the better! This web page lists more than 5,000 novels from prehistoric times through the 20th century. If you can’t find something great to read from this selection, then I can’t help you!
In addition to being able to search by time period, you can also search for novels set in different parts of the world. The best feature for me is that this site is very easy to browse.
Interested in Medieval Europe? Click the link on the left side of the page, and you will bring up a new page with various subdivisions for you to explore: Medieval Celts, Anglo-Saxon England, Norman England, the Crusades, the Byzantine Empire, and Scandinavia and the Vikings.
Clicking on any one of those topics will give you a nice bit of history about the time period, and then a good annotated list of novels set in that time frame. Many of the books also have reviews for you to read, as well.
Another useful page is the Author page. You can click a letter of the alphabet, and find your favorite author. If possible, they will provide a link to the author’s own web page, which is a handy place to get a complete list of that author’s works, and a heads-up for any new books that might be on the horizon.
If you click on “Articles” you will see quite an impressive list of links to articles about historic figures, such as Boudicca and Sacagawea. They also have links to author interviews, which is an excellent way to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon. Author interviews are a great way to get to know these writers who bring so much enjoyment into one’s reading life. I highly recommend taking some time and browsing through the list.
So, the next time you’re in the mood to read a novel set in 1066 or a novel about ranchers in the Old West, you will know exactly where to go! And please, any feedback about our new web page is welcome.
I can’t read fast enough.
“So many books, so little time” is the story of my life, in a nutshell. I think part of my problem is that I like too many things. I like mysteries because I want to see if I am more clever than the detective (or the killer). I like historical fiction because I feel it’s an interesting way to learn about the past, especially how people lived in the past. I like science, and biographies, and history and the list goes on. Sometimes I envy people who only read one genre, but I just can’t hold myself to one type of book or genre or, heaven forbid, just one author!
I just said I liked mysteries, but here’s a mild pet peeve: so many mysteries are part of a series. I will pick up a book that looks great, only to find out it’s the 20th book in the series! Suddenly, I haven’t added one book to my “Gee I’d love to read this” list, I’ve added 20. You can see how this can lead to feeling overwhelmed. I have a hard time reading books out of order, too. I can do it, I just don’t like it.
When it comes to mystery series, one of my favorite websites is “Stop, You’re Killing Me”! The web address is www.stopyourekillingme.com and it’s a great place to research a book or series, or to find your next book to read.
Across the top of the page is an alphabetical search, allowing you to search either by author or by character. This is very handy. You may remember that you love Kinsey Millhone, but you may not recall that Sue Grafton is the author. But then, to the left, are more great ways to search. Say you want to read books that take place in West Virginia; go to the Location Index. Or you want to read mysteries involving newspaper editors; there’s a Job Index. What about mysteries set during World War II? Try the Historical Index. Or let’s get more detailed—with the Diversity Index, you can find mysteries about the Amish or Gypsies or the disabled. We can even break the mystery genre down into sub-genres, such as cozy mysteries or humorous mysteries. You can find mysteries that feature real people, or spies or pets. If you can think of a topic, SYKM can help you find a book about it!
Finally, the body of the page is full of links to various mystery awards. If you want to read the winners of the Agatha Award or the Edgar Award, it’s all right there for you to easily access.
They also offer a listing of Read-Alikes, either by author or by category. So, if you like P.D. James, you may like Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes or Laurie R. King. If you like female sleuths, try Sara Paretsky or J.A. Jance. If you like Tough Crime, look for Randy Wayne White or Michael McGarrity.
The only downside to all this is that your To Be Read pile is going to grow to incredible heights as you browse this site. You have been warned!
The Linwood Community Library at Snowshoe would like to acknowledge those who have financially contributed to the library from January through August. These contributions are essential for allowing Linwood to continue to provide quality service in the community.
Linwood has received several grants this year. The USDA and The Snowshoe Foundation provided grants toward new equipment, and the Pocahontas County Commission continues support of the library, as well.
Sponsors in the first annual Book-It 5K are: Citizens Bank of WV, Big Springs Clinic, Mountain Valley Properties, The Fiddlehead, Henley Home Services, Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Par Mar, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Mountaineer Insurance, Mountain Springs Spas, First Tracks Realty, The Clean Machine, The Why Not Shop, Foxfire Grille, and The Ski Barn. The Ski Barn, South Mountain Grille and Elk River Snowboard and Ski donated wonderful race prizes.
The following individuals and businesses also contributed during this time period and are listed in alphabetical order.
Tom and Marianne Alsop; Thomas Anderson Jr.; Leslie and Sonia Badillo; Charles Ballou; Charles Ballou; Blue Ridge Dental Group; Sean Brain; George Brauburger, Jr.; James and Elizabeth Bullard; Annabel Burns; Julia and Virginia Cassells; Michael and Kris Cassis; Steve and Linda Chapman; Virginia and Mac Coupland; Aaron Cumashot; Bruce and Bonnie Cunningham; Tom and Carol Dalton; Billy Davis (in honor of Jami Davis); Henry and Chris Dietzel; Richard and Linda Donnelly; Elk River Touring Inc.; John and Nancy Elliott; Joe and Penny Ferretti; Lee and Dorothea Fuqua; George Construction Inc.; Tom and Joan Gibson; Ray and Carole Gibson (in honor of Raymond Gibson, Sr.); Chris and Kristi Goode; Mr. and Mrs. William Gouckenour; Calvin and Rhodanna Hall (in honor of children who love to read); Renee and John Herlong; Richard Hess; Elizabeth Hoag; Jody Lee Houck; Dave and Lauren Huber; “Radio” Rob Humphris; Sidney Jack; Lois Jarvi and David Roach; Kathy’s Custom Hair Care; Michael and Cindy Kelley; James Lanter; Amy Legare; Sandra Lessig; Janet Livengood; Creola Loyd (in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Schumaker); David and Amy Maher; Gail Marshall; John and Rebecca McDonald; Norman and Margaret Melton; Frank and Jane Murden (in honor of Linda Montgomery); Mike Owen and MaryDell Joyner; Dan and Janice Philippi; Fred and Cindy Proctor (in memory of Linda Sheets); Premkumar and Jessica Raja; Jack Ramey (in honor of Frances Ramey); Dale Read; Re/Max Old Spruce Properties; James and Maryellen Remich; David Rockwell; Joseph Romano; David and Bobbi Rush; Shane O Mac Inc; Barbara Sharp Smith (in memory of Lowell Gibson); Mollie Silver; Richard and Katherine Slavic; Barbara Smith (in memory of Vonda Sharp); Donna Smith and Fred Earley II; Snowshoe Foundation Inc.; Snowshoe Resort Rentals (in memory of Mary Frances Kirk Stump); Debbie Sorenson; David Spitzer; Jan Starr; Amy Sutton; Richard and Teresa Swift; Dr. Michael and Laura Elliott Taylor (in memory of Allison Rachel Taylor); Chad and Christie Thompson; Tracey Valach; Karen Vanover; Steve and Tammy Vincent (in memory of Marge Vincent); Mark Walters; Tim and Susie Walters (in memory of Jackie Butler); Jonathan Wasko; Teresa White; Terry and Sheree Williams; Gil and Mary Willis; Chuck and Rita Wilson; Carol Woody; and Tom Yanko (in honor of Bentley).
You would be amazed at the number of people who ask me if I read every book before it goes on the shelf.
But with roughly 30,000 books at McClintic alone, it’s just not possible. So I depend on others to help out, by reading books and then sharing their thoughts and opinions. This week, I’d like to share a review with you, written by Dick Evans of Hillsboro. Mr. Evans read the book “Bambi and the Supremes” by Joel Rosenthal, another Hillsboro resident. Here is his review.
“Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors.”—Ernest Hemingway.
“With the caveat clearly in mind, I nonetheless risk reviewing this cautionary tale knowing full well there always may be unanticipated consequences of any action.
This book is not about a Hollywood fawn or an aging rock group. It is about the hubris of a West Virginia state agency (i.e. Division of Natural Resources) in its attempted legal vendetta against Joel Rosenthal and his Point of View Farm animal rescue facility near Hillsboro in Pocahontas County.
The incident which culminated in the writing of this book occurred in 2005 when a young fawn was brought to Point of View Farm by two men from Raleigh County. What followed for the next four years through the judicial system is the subject of this amazing book. Rosenthal was charged with criminal possession of wildlife by this state agency. Rosenthal decided to challenge the intransigence of this agency which spent hundreds of hours and thousands of taxpayer dollars defending an erroneous magistrate court decision and fine of $50 which would be outrageous enough, but to then be so incompetent as to lose the case at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals only adds insult to injury. That Rosenthal, a lay person untrained in the law, was able to educate himself sufficiently to argue successfully before the state’s highest court is Herculean testament to human determination in the face of judicial error and duplicity.
So, why should you read this book? Because—even if you don’t like the author’s personal style—the story he tells is a reminder of the occasional, vindictive abuse of power by some public officials. And that it is still possible in a democracy to win against such odds.”
Many thanks to Dick Evans for this review. You can purchase “Bambi and the Supremes” online from Amazon.com or at the City National Bank in Marlinton. You may also check the book out from the McClintic Library as soon as I get a copy cataloged.
Well, summer vacation is fast approaching its end, with the kids going back to school in a little less than two weeks. Are you worried about what to do with yourself once the kids are gone? Never fear! Your local library has the answer! Come check out something new to read while you wait for 3:30 to roll around.
“Close Your Eyes” is the new thriller from Iris and Roy Johansen. Meet Kendra Michael: blind for the first 20 years of her life, she has developed an extraordinary talent at tracking down serial killers. When FBI agent Robert Stedler goes missing, Kendra is asked to help find him. Would you track down your ex?
Mary Higgins Clark has a new book out, “The Lost Years.” It’s up to Mariah to figure out who killed her father, Biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons. Her mother Kathleen, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found clutching the murder weapon, but Mariah is certain her mother is innocent. The fact that Lyons had found a letter that may have been written by Jesus himself certainly puts a new slant on his murder!
If you want a non-stop action thriller, look no further than James Rollins and his new book, “Bloodlines.” Somali pirates kidnap the pregnant daughter of the President of the United States, and that’s just the beginning!
Danielle Steel offers up yet another moving story in her book “Betrayal.” Tallie Jones is a respected Hollywood director who suddenly discovers that her ordered, happy world isn’t all that it seems. Who has been embezzling money from her, and can she catch the thief before it’s too late?
Catherine Coulter has just released another installment in her popular FBI series called “Backfire.” Agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich are in the thick of things when a federal judge is shot in the back during a high profile trial of two accused murderers.
These are just a few of the new books arriving soon at McClintic, Hillsboro and Green Bank libraries. Check out our other new titles by James Patterson, Andrew Gross, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, Dean Koontz and Nora Roberts. Kick back with a great book and enjoy the peace and quiet of those first back-to-school days!
I spent the better part of my Sunday afternoon selecting new books to purchase for the library. This is-by far-the best part of my job. I love reading reviews, reading blurbs about new books, finding a book that I know certain patrons will want to read. We have a limited book budget, and so I try to make my money stretch as far as possible. I want to purchase books that will be read, and recommended to others. I don't want to waste my precious book budget on books that won't be checked out, or that no one is really interested in reading.
So that brings me to "50 Shades of Gray" which is my current headache. For those of you who have not heard of this book, let me briefly fill you in: a huge Twilight fan writes a novel (actually she wrote a trilogy) based on the Twilight characters and setting, except she took out the vampires and inserted sex.ﾠKinky sex, by some standards. It becomes a publishing sensation, hitting the top seller spot on Amazon, and probably breaking selling records right and left.
Why does this give me a headache? Well, I don't want to spend money on it. But I have patrons who have requested it; they want to read it, and as a public library, we try to provide books that people want to read. So I should spend money on it. And in fact, it's included in my recently assembled book order. I've put off buying it for a while, but I feel as though I'm being a censor, which I abhor. And yet...
Don't get me wrong: I don't care about the kinky sex subject matter. It's none of my business, nor anyone else's, what people like to read. And frankly, we already have novels in the library that contain kinky sex scenes. My problem is the writing. It's terrible. The author knows next to nothing about the craft and the art of writing. I can't imagine an editor ever saw this work before publication-but if the book was edited, I have grave doubts about both the author and the editor.
Here then is my headache: Do I have an obligation to provide quality literature? Or do I just provide whatever people want to read? There are so many wonderful, well-written books out there; do I pass those by and choose sub-quality work, and thereby validate poorly written novels? If I don't buy 50 Shades, does that qualify as censorship? Or snobbery?
There are standards, which I follow, when it comes to collection development. I read reviews, but too many bad reviews? I don't purchase the book in question. However when demand outnumbers the bad reviews...it's time for Tylenol. I will click the "Proceed to Checkout" button with great reluctance, but I will click it. If you've been waiting to read "50 Shades of Gray," it will be at the McClintic Library soon. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
The Hillsboro Library Friends are co-sponsoring an event with the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace on Friday, August 3, at 7 p.m. at the Sydenstricker House on the birthplace property. Historian Dr. Kenneth R. Bailey will present "Scratch ﾑEm and Sue ﾑEm - Post Civil War Legal Issues."
In addition to being a Dean and Professor Emeritus at West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Dr. Bailey is also the author of four books.
Bailey's books include Mountaineers are Free, A History of the West Virginia National Guard, first published in 1978 and updated in a second edition published in 2008. The book traces the history of the WVNG from its beginning as a militia unit organized by Morgan Morgan though its use as a peace keeping force in numerous coal mine strikes to its activation for service in World Wars I and II and service in conflicts up to and including Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2004, Bailey published Kanawha County Public Library, a History. The book details the history of the Kanawha County library system through nearly 100 years of service and the system's struggles with integration and public funding. The book includes biographical sketches of board members and library directors.
Alleged Evil Genius, the Life and Times of Judge James H. Ferguson appeared in 2006. This book details the life of one of the most prominent attorneys to practice in West Virginia in the 1800s. Ferguson was a member of the Virginia Legislature from 1848 to 1851 and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1850. He mysteriously disappeared from West Virginia for the period 1855 to 1864 but returned and resumed his law practice. He served in the West Virginia Legislature several times from 1865 to 1881 and was a circuit judge for a short period of time. He was an influential member of the Democratic Party and much sought after to represent businessmen including Johnson Newlon Camden and C. P. Huntington.
Bailey's fourth book is Raising the Bar, a History of the West Virginia Bar Association. This book, published in 2007, details the history of the West Virginia Bar Association (WVBA) from its beginnings in 1886 to 2007. The bar association was the only formal organization of lawyers in 1886 and had a role in creating the West Virginia State Bar in the 1940s. The WVBA worked to raise the standards for admission to the bar and was and continues to be a strong supporter of the West Virginia University School of Law.
Bailey is a frequent contributor to West Virginia History and his most recent articles were "The Other Brown vs. the Board of Education," (Fall 2009) and "The Scioto Disaster," (Spring 2012).
"Scratch ﾑEm and Sue ﾑEm" is made possible by the West Virginia Humanities Council's Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau. The event is free and open to the public. For more information call 304-653-4430.
Anyone know what Friday, July 20, is? Let me give you a hint: Neil Armstrong. Yes, that's right-the 43rd anniversary of the first landing of a man on the moon.
I know I'm going to reveal my advanced age here, but when I was in elementary school during the mid-1960s, every time there was a space launch, the entire school met in the auditorium to watch it. We would sit cross-legged, in rows on the floor, and the principal Mr. West would roll in a black and white television on a stand into the center of the room. We would all watch these launches with great excitement. First, holding our breaths during the countdown and blastoff...and then spellbound as the astronauts flew into outer space.
We would go back to our classrooms, where the teachers inevitably asked, "Who wants to be an astronaut when they grow up?" Every boy in the class, and even a few advanced-for-the-times girls would raise their hands. Astronauts were the perfect heroes: they exhibited quiet confidence, always smiling and waving, but you could tell they were strong and capable and brave. Plus, Walter Cronkite seemed to respect them very much, so we did too.
Who wouldn't want to be an astronaut?
I think it would be interesting to go into a third or fourth grade classroom, and see how many children aspire to be astronauts today. My guess is not very many. It seems to me as though the space program is fading away. The men who made history, not just American history, but world history...no, make that human history, are now (except for a handful) dying off, their names forgotten by younger generations. We remember Neil Armstrong, and the tragedies of the space shuttle flights Challenger and Columbia, but not too much more. And I think that's a shame. No, make that a crime!
I was so pleased to find the book "In the Shadow of the Moon: a challenging journey to Tranquility, 1965-1969" by Francis French and Colin Burgess. It is a beautifully written history of a very exciting phase of our space program. The authors detail the beginnings of our space program, the Mercury missions and our competition with Russia in an earlier volume called "Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965."
However, this book, In the Shadow of the Moon begins with the Gemini program. The authors detail every Gemini and Apollo flight: we get to know the individual astronauts, the objectives of each mission, the challenges faced, and all the triumphs and tragedies.
The Gemini program was seen as a necessary bridge between the Mercury flights which tested the adaptability of humans to space flight, and the Apollo program, which was designed to send astronauts to the moon, and bring them home again. Mercury flights proved we could send a man into orbit around the Earth. The Gemini project would focus on sending two astronauts on long-duration missions, and would experiment with the complex techniques of a rendezvous in space, and with docking maneuvers while in Earth's orbit. In perfecting this, the participants would open a doorway to the Apollo missions and a moon landing by the end of the decade.
French and Burgess have done extensive research, and present a timeline that reads like an adventure novel. They bring back that era of true heroes, men who were real pioneers, and make it exciting and fresh, and most importantly, accessible.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
That is exactly what these men, both American and Russian, did. Wouldn't it be a shame if the trail they left were to just disappear? French and Burgess are trying to make sure that doesn't happen. We should too. I suggest a Moon Party for Friday, to celebrate an astounding milestone in human history.
Share your memories of watching Armstrong step onto the lunar surface with your children or grandchildren. You never know, you might inspire one of them to reach for the stars!
What a week! I'm hoping that by the time you read this, you will have electricity, running water, Internet and phone service, and a full tank of gas. It's amazing the things we take for granted, and equally amazing how quickly life changes after a storm. People pulled together, helped each other, and generally did good things without expecting publicity or a pat on the back. That's what our communities are like here in Pocahontas County, and I'm so proud of all of us.
I would especially like to thank all the people who came into the McClintic Library to use the Internet this past week. Everyone was considerate; no one tried to stay online for hours, but rather did what they needed to do, and then let someone else take a turn. Kind folks make our job so much easier.
I also would like to announce the winner of our Improbable Headlines contest. Congratulations to Carolyn Knight. Not only did she come up with the answer to each clue, but she was lucky enough to have her name picked from the other contestants with perfect scores. Your prize is at McClintic Library, Carolyn.
So life is slowly getting back to normal for most of Pocahontas County. I'm certain more books than normal were read since June 30 as people made do without other forms of entertainment. I couldn't help but think of all those post-apocalyptic novels that are so much fun to read. It felt as though we had been dropped into a futuristic landscape, where gasoline and ice were precious, valuable commodities, and money was just paper. If you want to compare our recent experiences with how bad it could be, let me suggest the following great reads:
"I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson. Even if you saw the movie starring Will Smith, take an evening or two and read this short novel by one of the masters of the science fiction genre. It's the story of Robert Neville, who has somehow managed to survive a plague that has turned the rest of humanity (as far as he knows) into cunning vampires. He goes out during the day to find supplies, but at night, he must defend his home from these creatures who used to be his neighbors, his family...his wife. The book is so well-written; it has a timeless feel and has survived to become a classic since it was first published in 1954.
Stephen King has written a novel about everything, really, including the collapse of civilization. "The Stand" is rated by King's fans as his masterpiece, and rightfully so, in my opinion. A flu virus is accidentally set loose on the world from a biological testing facility; it kills of 99% of the human population. Those left are out to find someone to lead them through this crisis. This book is huge, and has been reprinted with lots of edited parts restored. You could spend the rest of the summer reading "The Stand," but King has this wonderful ability to make you remember that which has been forgotten, and yearn for the things we've left behind. It's worth your time to settle down with this novel.
Cormac McCarthy's grim, dark novel "The Road" envisions a near future with an America destroyed by some unnamed catastrophe. A man and his son set out on a journey, to find food, shelter, other people, and hope. McCarthy's writing is so elegant, it made my chest hurt to read this one. He pulls no punches as he outlines the human condition. In the end, it's a story about love, and how love will sustain us when everything else, even hope, is lost.
Stay cool, and remember-we really have it pretty good. I haven't seen one crazed vampire.