I recently found myself in a little bit of a fix. I needed to get my brother a gift for his wedding. As an artist, I felt obligated to make him something because, well, making things is what I do. I love to sew, and this grand idea of making a quilt took over me. Now, eighty percent of a quilt later, I’m thrilled to be close to finishing but also sick of sewing.
This is my quilt. It has yet to have edging, needs to be trimmed down and still requires a few more feet of quilting. Before I decided on this pattern, I spent hours flipping through quilting books from the library’s collection.
I started by looking at various patterns. “Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in the Sun” by Kaffe Fassett, was one of my favorite books. The way she mixes floral prints is breathtaking. I was very inspired by her work and plan to, one day very far from when I finish this project, make one of her diamond quilts.
We have a bit of a One Read hangover around here. After spending an intense month exploring Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat” through numerous programs celebrating Olympic sport and the American spirit, we find ourselves feeling a little bit down and a little adrift. What next? If you are in the same boat (ha, ha), here are some reading suggestions to fill that One Read-shaped hole in your life.
A no-brainer read-alike for this year’s community read is “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand. Also set during the depression, this work of nonfiction is another inspiring look at an unlikely winner, a racehorse that made history despite his short legs and knobby knees.
Many of our readers surprised themselves by not only enjoying the moving story of Joe Rantz but also becoming deeply curious about the sport of rowing. In “The Amateurs,” David Halberstam profiles the struggles of four unknown young men who compete to represent the U.S. as its lone single sculler in the 1984 Olympics. Like in Brown’s book, the athletes’ stories and descriptions of their singular dedication make for compelling reading, as do richly described rowing competitions. While not rowing-related, Halberstam’s “The Teammates” – which follows the friendship of Boston Red Sox teammates Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky from their playing days in the 1940s to Ted Williams’ death in 2002 – would also be a great choice for sports fans.
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2014 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
Maisie Dobbs is a female detective living in London after WWI. Maisie was born in a working class family, but through her grace and extreme intelligence she has gone beyond the standard social and gender barriers to earn her education and establish her own detective agency. This book is the tenth in the Maisie Dobbs series, and the mystery centers around a murder committed due to class barriers and prejudice. All the mysteries in the series merge with England during the historic time frame, so not only are you reading about a good mystery story, but you are also exposed to social issues that are occurring in England.
Three words that describe this book: engaging, strong, female
You might want to pick this book up if: If you love reading a good mystery story over a hot cup of tea.
Who doesn’t love a good hot sauce? Tabasco, Frank’s and Cholula are just some of the many different ways to liven up a meal. Beyond adding some heat to your dish, capsaicin, the spicy chemical in peppers, causes the brain to release endorphins, which are strong natural painkillers. I recently checked out The Hot Sauce Cookbook, which contains recipes for spicy foods and hot sauces from all over the world, paired with historical and cultural backgrounds of the dishes. Some of the recipes include the Ethiopian berbere, nuoc mam cham (of Vietnam), a Yucatan salsa called xnipec, and piri-piri, a Portuguese-African sauce. Learning about these condiments was really interesting, and I was excited to find a recipe for one of my favorites, Sriracha.
Sriracha is originally a Thai sauce, which traveled to America and carved a distinct place in our culture. The “rooster sauce” was created by a housewife named Thanom Chakkapak in Thailand in the 1930s. Her friends loved her recipe so much they encouraged her to sell it commercially, and when she did, it became the best selling hot sauce in Thailand. The US incarnation of Sriracha has been around since 1980, when it was popularized by the brand Huy Fong (the one with a green lid and picture of a rooster on the bottle). Recently the company was in the news when they were accused of making the entire town of Irwindale, California cry with their factory’s spicy fumes. As one of America’s most popular condiments, sriracha also holds a place in our popular culture. The sauce is used in many major corporate restaurants, including Subway and White Castle, and there are even Sriracha-flavored potato chips and candy canes. Earlier this summer the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles held an art show exploring the impact of Sriracha and Tapatio, another popular hot sauce, on that part of our country.
Cookbook in hand, I decided to try my hand at making Sriracha. Making it took longer than I’d anticipated (you have to ferment it for 1-2 weeks), but the end result was good, and tasted similar to the store-bought product, with a few differences. I couldn’t find red jalapenos, so I used green ones instead (which made the end product green as well). My Sriracha also turned out slightly chunkier in texture than the popular Huy Fong brand’s sauce, and it seemed to be more spicy (probably because I didn’t take all of the seeds out. Here is the recipe I followed (from The Hot Sauce Cookbook).
It’s nearly October. The days grow shorter and the temperatures colder. Halloween is on the horizon. So it seems appropriate that a ghost story of sorts tops this month’s LibraryReads list, the top 10 books publishing this month that librarians love. Make a cup of hot tea, curl up under your favorite blanket and lose yourself in one of these titles.
“A Sudden Light“
by Garth Stein
“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.”
- Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
by Jodi Picoult
“Leaving Time is a love story – love between mother and child, love between soulmates and love between elephants. The story is told from a variety of narrators, all of whom are broken and lost. Jenna is searching for answers to the disappearance of her mother and seeks the help of a retired police detective and a psychic. Alice, Jenna’s mom, disappeared after a tragic accident at the elephant sanctuary, and her work with the elephants is fascinating and touching. The book is an ode to motherhood in all its forms – the good, bad and the ugly – and it is brilliant.”
- Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
“As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride“
by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden
“Even if you don’t have a crush on Cary Elwes, you’ll enjoy this vivid behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Princess Bride. His stories, especially those involving Andre the Giant, will leave you in stitches. Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal and others also recount their experiences. An amusing account of a group of performers who came together to make a heartfelt film that is loved by many.”
- Emily Weiss, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH
It’s Roots N Blues N BBQ time in mid-Missouri, which has us all hankering for good music and good food. If this festival leaves you hungry for more music from this year’s featured artists or inspired to fire up your own grill, your library has plenty of materials to satisfy your cravings!
New since last year’s festival is Hoopla, a service that allows you to stream and download music (and audiobooks, movies and television shows) to your smartphone, tablet or computer. You never have to wait to listen to music through Hoopla, because more than one person can access the same album at the same time. Want to listen to Roots N Blues artists Avett Brothers or Amos Lee right now? You can, through Hoopla.
If you like traditional formats, we also have plenty of CDs for check out from David Wax Museum, Rosanne Cash, Los Lobos, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and other festival headliners.
Finally, if you haven’t gotten your fill of grilled meats, we have a whole slew of cookbooks for you to drool over. Enjoy!