APL Recommends Blog

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Biography at its best is a good read, it appeals to a natural human instinct for gossip, and it answers a real need within us to understand each other better. And it is a noticeable achievement of the new biographies on our catalog list - Recommended Biographies -  that they all begin with the premise that human nature is complex, and as is true with everything else in the world, you have to take the good with the bad. Biographies include cyclist Lance Armstrong, labor organizer Cesar Chavez, General Douglas MacArthur, and poet Marianne Moore.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

JazzIt's a busy time with lots of events to observe and celebrate. It's National Poetry Month, Earth Month, Passover, Easter, National Library Week, and the upcoming National Day of Puppetry. But did you know that it's Jazz Appreciation Month? Whether you're an aficionado or getting started with jazz, the Austin Public Library has over 3,000 CDs and hundreds of books that you can absorb and pore over. You can also stream jazz tracks and albums from our Virtual Library with Freegal Music and American Song.

Not sure where to start? Throw on some timeless Louis Armstrong and check out his collaborations with chanteuse Ella Fitzgerald. Explore the stylings of Duke Ellington, the originality of Miles Davis, the inventiveness of Thelonious Monk, and the ingenuity of Charles Mingus. You can head into your local branch and browse through the selection, and check out whichever titles and covers grab you. We also have plenty of movies about jazz, including documentaries, biographies, and concerts.

So come check out some Jazz through the Austin Public Library, and have something else to celebrate this month!

Jazz Sax photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, April 11, 2014

With the arrival of spring, I think I’m ready for a change of scenery. After all, the planet is re-decorating too: have you seen the bluebonnets and other wildflowers putting a pop of color around our highways and byways?

I’m out of ideas, though, so I thought I’d turn to my branch’s home decorating section (Dewey call number starting in the 747's). Not only do we have idea books, we’ve got books covering specific styles and lifestyles (green and eco-friendly, for example). If maybe just a fresh coat of paint will get you going in the right direction, we’ve got color palette theme books; if new pillows or a slipcover for your worn-out couch is more your thing, check out our fabric swatch books (only pictures, not ACTUAL fabrics) and our books on recovering upholstery. (These last are not for the faint of heart: have you ever seen a couch frame taken down to the skeleton? Gracious, but that’s ambitious!)

For more up to the minute home fashion choices than book publishing can offer, check out our Zinio magazine subscription database. With your APL Card, you can get access to the current issues of House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Country Living, and Dwell. Flip through the pages on your mobile device or tablet, just like the print version!

With all the money you save NOT buying books and magazines, you’ll have some dough left over for accent pieces!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Parks and Recreation is not just a goofy workplace TV comedy starring Amy Poehler, it’s an argument for faith in government. In Parks and Recreation, the Parks Department contrasts sharply with the incompetent Pawnee City Council and the dilapidated other city agencies, including the library. What I enjoy most about the TV show, which is very funny, is how dedicated Poehler’s Leslie Knope is to her job. Recently, Amy Poehler was tapped to serve as honorary chairwoman for World Book Night, an April 23 event sponsored by a coalition of booksellers, publishers, and librarians. Thousands of volunteers worldwide will be giving away half a million books in areas where books aren't readily available. Poehler, who grew up in Burlington and graduated from Boston College, recalls loving books as a child. "In today's digital world," she notes, "it's more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands." Among the paperback books chosen for this year's giveaway are Malcolm Gladwell's  The Tipping Point, Carl Hiaasen's Hoot, Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette

Thursday, April 10, 2014

There’s nothing new about fans creating stories in a series they love that has ended for one reason or another. Sherlock Holmes, for example: Arthur Conan Doyle is no more, but Sherlock lives on, arguably in his best incarnation since the publication of the original stories: the BBC’s Sherlock.

Star Trek hasn’t been around as long as Sherlock Holmes, but its fans are as prolific. There are the spin-off TV series (“Make it So”) that continue the story beyond the original series (TOS to the hip), and those are… nice… new aliens, new gadgets, a few memorable characters. But there are those of us who long for the original cast to be made young again (time warp?), we wish for another look at those velour shirts and mini dresses, for those unmistakable Enterprise sounds, the bleeps of the computer, the whoosh of the doors, the musical licks: the romance theme, the whimsy tune, and for those simple unambiguous morals at the ends of the stories (diversity, perseverance, freedom to cavort with otherworlders).

People create new stories and art out of TOS, too. The library has some of it. One of the best works is a book of posters, one for each of the episodes of the original three years of the show: Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz. Another is one that we don’t have (and the real reason for this blog; I’m trying to find a way to link to something truly fabulous that the library doesn’t own), a new series called Star Trek Continues, a fan creation that takes up with the original characters where the series left off in 1969. There were two more years left on that five-year mission. The cast of Star Trek Continues intends to complete them.

Enjoy TOS aficionados. Live long and prosper.

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APL Recommends

Cover of the book The bastard of Istanbul
By Elif Shafak.
In a novel overflows with a kitchen sink's worth of zany characters, women are front and center: Asya Kazanci, an angst-ridden 19-year-old Istanbulite is the bastard of the title; her beautiful, rebellious mother, Zeliha (who intended to have an abortion), has raised Asya among three generations of complicated and colorful female relations (including religious clairvoyant Auntie Banu and bar-brawl widow, Auntie Cevriye). The Kazanci men either die young or take a permanent hike like Mustafa, Zeliha's beloved brother who immigrated to America years ago. Mustafa's Armenian-American stepdaughter, Armanoush, who grew up on her family's stories of the 1915 genocide, shows up in Istanbul looking for her roots and for vindication from her new Turkish family. The Kazanci women lament Armanoush's family's suffering, but have no sense of Turkish responsibility for it; Asya's boho cohorts insist there was no genocide at all. As the debate escalates, Mustafa arrives in Istanbul, and a long-hidden secret connecting the histories of the two families is revealed.