Pie Season

Book cover for A Year of PiesCrisp weather and turning the calendar’s page to November means it’s pie season. This time of year my extended family begins discussions about who will bring what dish to our Thanksgiving meal, but the question of who should bake the pies is never up for debate. My mother will bake one pumpkin and one pecan pie, and the crust will be made with lard – no butter or (shudder) shortening. The pastry will be flaky and perfect, and I, unable to decide between the two flavors, will end up having a slice of each. And then I’ll ask for another piece of pumpkin to take home and have the next morning for breakfast.

I love pie. “Pie or cake?” is something my husband might ask a new acquaintance, trying to suss out his or her character. He’s a skilled baker himself, and I often request his coconut cream pie on my birthday. After a lot of trial and error, he now prefers to make his crusts using a combination of lard and butter (don’t tell my mother).

If the scent of cinnamon and sugar in the air has you hungry for warm fruit tucked between blankets of flaky pastry, check out one of these books from the library.

A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” by Ashley English
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables taste better when they are in season, so fall is the perfect time for rosemary bourbon sweet potato pie or gingersnap pumpkin pie. This cookbook is organized into spring, summer, fall and winter pies and serves up both traditional recipes and some uniquely mouth-watering flavor combinations.
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New DVD List: An Honest Liar & More

honest liar poster 3Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.

an honest liarAn Honest Liar
Playing at last year’s Boone Dawdle, this film tells the story of the world-famous magician, escape artist and enemy of deception, James ‘The Amazing’ Randi. He devised intricate investigations exposing the ‘miracles’ of psychics, faith healers and con-artists. When a shocking revelation is discovered, is Randi is still the deceiver — or the deceived?

penny dreadful s3Penny Dreadful
Season 2
Website / Reviews
Vanessa Ives and Ethan Chandler are forming a deeper bond as the group, including Sir Malcolm, Dr. Frankenstein and Sembene, unite to banish the evil forces that threaten to destroy them. Meanwhile, Dorian Gray, the Creature and Brona are all waging battles of their own.
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Kindness Makes the World Go Around and Improves Your Health

Photo of a kindness mosaicYou’ve probably realized from your own experience that being kind brings you positive effect. We all know that warm, fuzzy feeling (known as “helper’s high” or “giver’s glow”) evoked from selfless acts of kindness and generosity extended to others. Well, it turns out that the benefits of being kind go way beyond that “feel good” feeling. Scientific research indicates significant physical and mental health benefits come from offering kindness to others. And interestingly, the bundle of benefits comes not only to those offering the kindness, but also to those receiving it and even to third party witnesses of kind acts.

The documented benefits of being involved in a circuit of kindness are many. They include: reductions in stress levels (and conditions associated with stress such as high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma); a decrease in feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation and/or hostility; a decrease in physical pain; an increase in feelings of contentment and/or joy; and emotional calm, stability and resilience.

Photograph of man giving a warm drink to a homeless personBiochemically, there is a lot going on inside us during exchanges of kindness. During these exchanges, emotional warmth is created and this causes the hormone oxytocin to be released. Oxytocin causes blood vessels to dilate and relax which results in lowered blood pressure. Oxytocin also acts to slow the aging process by counteracting the effect of free radicals and inflammation, which are also major contributors to heart disease and cancer.
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Reader Review: In the Shadow of the Cypress

Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2015 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.

in the shadow of the cypressThe son of John Steinbeck delivers a captivating novel similarly set in Montgomery, California (same as “Cannery Row“). “In the Shadow of the Cypress” explores the roles and culture of the Chinese throughout the history of the American West Coast. A potentially mind blowing archeological discovery is found pertaining to Chinese American history in the 1900’s. Narrators change in the story as the setting shifts from early 20th century to present day while the facts continue to unfold. Thomas Steinbeck’s voice has traces of his father but maintains a distinct difference. Almost a mystery novel, but not quite, it walks an interesting line of suspense, being gripping without any threat of mortal peril to any characters. It can be read and enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the former Steinbeck’s work.

Three words that describe this book: Intriguing, captivating, interesting.

You might want to pick this book up if:


Best Books of 2015: Early Bird Edition

I know, I know. We just turned the calendar page to November, and bookish types are already making pronouncements about the best books of 2015. We can’t help it. As a book person and a list-maker, this time of year makes me positively giddy.

Before sharing some of the year’s best titles, we want to hear what you think was the best book of 2015. Specifically, what book did you read this past year that you think would make an excellent selection for next year’s One READ program? Our reading panel is looking for books that will appeal to adults of different ages and backgrounds and that have numerous topics for discussion. Pop on over to oneread.org, nominate a book, and then come on back to this list. I’ll wait.

Back? Okay. Here we go.

Book cover for Barbarian Days: A Surfing LifePublisher’s Weekly is one of the first out of the gate with its best books of 2015 list. The lyrical and important “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coats, previously reviewed here on the blog, tops their list. Other stand-outs (and their publishers’ descriptions):

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan
This memoir describes the author’s experiences as a lifelong surfer, from his early years in Honolulu through his culturally sophisticated pursuits of perfect waves in some of the world’s most exotic locales.
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We Never Outgrow the Need for Family

National Adoption Month logoMore than 100,000 children in the U.S. are waiting for permanent homes and families.* November is National Adoption Month, and the motto for 2015 is “We never outgrow the need for family.” The focus this year is on older youth in foster care.

In keeping with this theme, here is a list of resources for those interested in expanding their families by adding some big kids:

  • AdoptUSKids provides information on almost every conceivable topic related to domestic adoption and foster care. They link to resources for families and professionals.
  • The DBRL adoption subject guide links to informational sites and support groups for families hoping to adopt, those who already have adopted and for birth parents.
  • In the book “Adopting Older Children,” Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero writes about the logistics and needs involved in adopting school-aged children – ages four and older. She includes stories of real-life families and adds an appendix of resources at the end of the book.
  • Parenting Adopted Adolescents” by Gregory C. Keck addresses concerns of parents and kids. Some issues are typical of most teens and some are specific to adoption.
  • Michael Orlans’ book, “Healing Parents,” is subtitled “Helping Wounded Children Learn to Trust and Love.” Though this is for any family with a child who has experienced trauma, there are chapters about adoption and foster care.
  • The Foster Parenting Manual” is a guide for those who provide interim care to children in transition, whether those kids are only temporarily unable to be with their birth parents or are awaiting adoption.

For those who need any of the above resources, I have one word: congratulations!