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John Grisham Read-a-Likes

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

We all know the feeling.  You just finished a book you really liked and now you want to read a book just like it or at least comparable.  I know from experience that I am always so happy when there is another book in the series, and I can read something that feels the same.  But what do you do when the book is not part of a series??  How do you find something new to read??

Books Are Magic

Nancy Pearl (Big Library Guru)’s says that we like read-a-likes because we want a book just like the one we finished reading.  We want to recreate the pleasure and thrill of reading, the page-turning, the headlong rush to the end.  Perhaps it was the setting or what we learned.  Sometimes we can’t put a finger on it, but we know we want that feeling again.

Pearl goes on to say that most fiction is made up of four parts: story, character, setting and language.  She refers to these parts as doorways, and these doorways are larger or smaller, depending on the book and author.  So, when the story is the biggest part, readers call these page-turners, because they can’t put the book down.  When character is the biggest doorway, readers connect with the characters so much, they often feel like they’ve lost a good friend when they finish the book.  When the setting is the largest doorway, readers comment on how they felt as if they were there.  And most readers talk about how they savored the words when language is the largest doorway. Whatever it is, we want that experience again.

But let’s say you want to read more books similar to what John Grisham writes.  What’s the next step?  Libraries have many tricks when it comes to finding read-a-likes for our patrons.  We do have in-house bookmarks for broad categories, like mystery, romance and science fiction for additional suggestions of authors. We also have a database called Books & Authors, which gives you similar titles and authors based on what book you have just finished.

Book Browse, a for profit book review site, has people who actually read the books and suggest what books are similar to what author’s works.  Amazon may have an algorithm; Good Reads seems to rely on reviews and reviewers, but since they were acquired by Amazon, they might use the same algorithm.  But when you search Google for Grisham read-a-likes there are many possibilities.  Here are a few.

According to BookBub.com, here are some read-a-like authors:

  • Scott Turow
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Michael Connelly
  • William Diehl
  • William Landay
  • Robert Dugoni
  • Robert Bailey
  • Adam Mitzner
  • Greg, Iles
  • John Lescroat,
  • Phillip Margolin
  • James Grippando

BookBrowse has these authors that they think write like John Grisham:

  • David Baldacci
  • Carnes
  • John Berendt
  • Robert Harris
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Phillip Margolin
  • Steve Martini
  • Kyle Mills
  • Michael Palmer

In this list from Williamsburg Public Library (in Virginia), women writers are also listed:

  • Scott Turow
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Richard North Patterson
  • Phillip Margolin
  • Steve Martini
  • Greg Iles
  • Robert K. Tanenbaum
  • Dudley W. Buffa
  • John S. Martel
  • Jay Brandon
  • Kate Wilhelm
  • Peri O’Shaugnessy
  • Andrew Pyper
  • William Diehl
  • John T. Lescroart
  • William Coughlin
  • William Bernhardt

In case you are new to reading Grisham, here is a brief bio.  He was born in Arkansas in 1955, and like so many boys growing up, he wanted to be a baseball player.  He majored in accounting at Mississippi State and then went on to law school at Ole Miss.  After graduating in 1981, he practiced law until he was elected to the state House of Representatives.  He developed an interest in writing, taking three years to write his first novel – A Time to Kill, which was published in 1988. The Firm was his next book, which stayed on the “NYT Bestseller List” for over 40 weeks.  He sold the film rights, his career took off and he’s never looked back.  He generally writes a book a year but since he has written over 60 books, perhaps he published more often than once a year.  He also has a teen series featuring Theodore Boone, kid lawyer.

In an informative article from New York Times, here is his list of do’s and don’ts for writing fiction.

  1. DO WRITE A PAGE EVERY DAY

That’s about 200 words, or 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years and you’ll have a novel that’s long enough.

Nothing will happen until you are producing at least one page per day.

  1. DON’T WRITE THE FIRST SCENE UNTIL YOU KNOW THE LAST

This necessitates the use of a dreaded device commonly called an outline. Virtually all writers hate that word. I have yet to meet one
who admits to using an outline.

Plotting takes careful planning. Writers waste years pursuing stories that eventually don’t work.

  1. DO WRITE YOUR ONE PAGE EACH DAY AT THE SAME PLACE AND TIME

Early morning, lunch break, on the train, late at night — it doesn’t matter. Find the extra hour, go to the same place, shut the door.

No exceptions, no excuses.

  1. DON’T WRITE A PROLOGUE

Prologues are usually gimmicks to hook the reader. Avoid them. Plan your story (see No. 2) and start with Chapter 1.

  1. DO USE QUOTATION MARKS WITH DIALOGUE

Please do this. It’s rather basic.

  1. DON’T — KEEP A THESAURUS WITHIN REACHING DISTANCE

There are three types of words: (1) words we know; (2) words we should know; (3) words nobody knows. Forget those in the third category
and use restraint with those in the second.

A common mistake by fledgling authors is using jaw-breaking vocabulary. It’s frustrating and phony.

  1. DO READ EACH SENTENCE AT LEAST THREE TIMES IN SEARCH OF WORDS TO CUT

Most writers use too many words, and why not? We have unlimited space and few constraints.

  1. DON’T — INTRODUCE 20 CHARACTERS IN THE FIRST CHAPTER

Another rookie mistake. Your readers are eager to get started. Don’t bombard them with a barrage of names from four generations of the same family. Five names are enough to get started.


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Happy Groundhog Day!

Home: Where the Heart Is – A Thelma Battle Photographic Exhibit

Home: Williamson County, Tennessee – “Where the Heart is.”
A Thelma Battle Photographic Exhibit
featuring African-American history in Williamson County
Hosted by the Special Collections Department
of Williamson County Public Library.
February 1-28, 2019

Exhibit Hours:
Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m.
Closing Times: Monday – Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

Special Collections will once again, and sadly, for the last time, host Thelma Battle’s highly anticipated African-American/Black History Month Exhibit. Ms. Battle, a local grass-roots historian, once delved into the history of Williamson County African-American communities as a hobby and passionate interest, and in the process became a trailblazer and an able ambassador for African-American would-be historians in other parts of the country, as well as in our own local historical and preservation circles, black or white.

During this time, she has collected thousands of photographs from local families, and along with the photographs came stories of families, places, and events. She has written local histories, church histories, family histories, and compiled countless genealogies and data-sheets on local families. Fortunately for us, Ms. Battle isn’t going away, she’s simply making time to put her skills and expertise to work in pursuing other interests.

“Home: Where the Heart Is,” is an all-new exhibit with 103 new photographs. You don’t have to be African-American to enjoy this event, for it is everyone’s history. It is American History. We hope you’ll come and find out for yourself what a treasure it is. You may even meet a friend or ancestor in one of these photographs!

When the exhibition is over, as in previous years, all photographs will remain in the Special Collections Department and will be available for anyone to view or search a photo of particular interest.

In her own words, Thelma writes her summation of this year’s exhibit:

“This year’s Williamson County Public Library’s Thelma Battle Photographic Exhibit marks the final stage of a heart felt exploratory journey. This presentation concerns the past life and times of local African American individuals, families, and places. Significant African history has been gathered and successfully presented, in order to tell the stories. The knowledge that Williamson County, Tennessee was the home of African Americans whose life and times were of significance warranted their inclusion into the pages of local history for future references.

“This year’s Thelma Battle Exhibit is entitled Home: Williamson County, Tennessee – “Where the Heart is.” It recognizes the many African American individuals, and families who carried Williamson County, Tennessee, their home, within their hearts wherever they ventured. 

“You the viewer will see among the sometimes old, faded and cracked photographs: local babies and small children with smiles of delight, pleased with the joy of home and loved ones; Teenagers enjoying life and the everyday grind of school, yet looking forward to going home; Soldiers whom have left their homes for faraway lands, embraced by memories of home; Individuals and families whom once called Williamson County, Tennessee home, but have migrated to others cities and states; Places once significant to local African American Heritage within this home county, though no longer in existence are recognized within these pages.    

These heart-felt collected photographs are directed as windows to, Home: Williamson County, Tennessee “Where the Heart is”. A note of sadness is shared here as I say goodbye and thank you to my friends at the Williamson County Public Library, and to you, the viewers, for your support in my photographic program.”

 

 

We’re The Other Guys or Superheroes That Don’t Come from DC or Marvel

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

Thirty years ago reading a comic book in the presence of your classmates in a middle school was a surefire plan to get picked on relentlessly. Now, every third movie and new television show is about one superhero or another or a team of them combined. The world has changed and now the geeks rule pop culture. So what do you read if you like being on the cutting edge of graphic novels? How do you boost your geek cred in a world where the popular people know the significance of Bobbi Morse and who Caitlin Snow really is? There are only two places left and I’m going to tell you where to find them (if you don’t already know).

Before I delve into the mines of alternative superheroes, I want to quickly mention other options. There are plenty of great graphic novels out there that don’t have anything to do with super heroes. You can find everything from mystery to fantasy to history to horror and even physics covered in books of sequential art. Our blog titled Little Known (but Amazing) Graphic Novels  covers some great options that are not as well known. By that same token, Superhero 101: Foundations in Superhero History can give you some great reading suggestions from the heroes of the distant past. In fact there are a lot of great books out there that might even be considered superhero books if I weren’t sticking with the cape and cowl set. So while Buffy and Harry Dresden and the New Types of the Gundam universe might be super powered they’ll have to stay on the shelf today.

The most common place to look for new super heroes for your reading enjoyment is …the other publishers. There are dozens of small imprints and local publishers but you don’t even have to look that hard. If you are a fan of the super hero books from Marvel and DC, but just want something new try looking at Image, Valiant, and Dark Horse. While these guys are outside of the big corporations, they’ve been around for a while and many of their books have the history and depth you are used to.

Dark Horse is the oldest, dating back to 1986, and has specialized in the types of characters that don’t fit the traditional mold of a superhero, but they do have a few exceptions in their history.

  • They had a revival of Doc Savage, a physician trained mentally and physically to superhuman levels (think Batman). There are many claims that he is the first superhero, predating certain Kryptonians by five years.
  • Ghost was another more traditional hero, she was an undead spirit who spent her afterlife righting wrongs.
  • The American was a cynical take on the patriotic type superhero.

Valiant is more traditional in its character creation. While they did some revivals back in the early nineties, like Turok and Doctor Solar, they had their own stable of superheroes.

  • X-O Manowar is a Dark Age European warrior kidnapped by aliens who stole their greatest weapon and turned it on them only to return to earth and discover that, due to time dilation, 1600 years had passed.
  • Ninjak is a superspy meets techno ninja. It sounds like cool overload, but this Joe Quesada created hero manages to pull it off.
  • Bloodshot was a nanite infected assassin who was trying to rediscover the past that was stolen from him.

Image is possibly the best known of the alternative publishers. In actuality it was a collection of creator owned studios trying to start a company where the idea men actually remained in control of their characters.  The initial line up of talent with image was legendary. Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Todd McFarland, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri all had their own studios producing new characters and new stories like we’d never seen before.  Liefeld eventually left somewhat acrimoniously, Lee sold his Wildstorm Productions to DC and the modern day has seen a shift to a more diversified field of titles with things like Saga and Walking Dead (which we have at the library). While the company has seen changes to its direction since 1992, the list of superheroes they created is lengthy and many are worth a read.

  • The Savage Dragon was Erik Larsen’s childhood creation brought to the page in form he wanted. A green, scaly, fin headed humanoid with invulnerability and super strength.
  • Spawn took a deal with the devil and turned it into one of the most popular anti-heroes of the era.
  • Witchblade is a series detailing the stories of a mystical gauntlet that bonds with women and gives them the ability to fight evil.

One other place to look for stories you’ve never read is the past. Golden age comics are where it all began and while there are decades of stories out there about the heroes you already know, there are other great heroes you may not be quite so familiar with. Marvel predecessor, Timely Comics, gave the world Captain America and Namor, but they also created the original versions of the Angel, Vision, and Human Torch as well as the speedster known as the Whizzer (the Nazi-fighting Destroyer), and the Blazing Skull (the champion of Freedom). DC’s history is even deeper. Not only do they have a host of golden age superheroes you’ve never heard of, they have added those of other now defunct companies to their in-house universe. Fawcett comics gave the line Captain Marvel and the Marvel family, probably better known as Shazam.  Quality Comics published the early adventures of the hero Plastic Man as well as Will Eisner’s original Spirit.  Fox Comics (and later Charlton Comics and Americomics) created the Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and the Question. These are just a few of the many options from golden age.

If you’re bored with the current run of comics and tired of seeing the same old stories retold, look into the corners of the other heroes and the past and find new books to rekindle your love of heroes.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

WCPLtn Celebrates National Winnie the Pooh Day!

By Stephanie Wycihowski, Youth Services Manager and Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

Do we ever need an excuse to recognize an author birthday or seize a chance to share with our reading friends all about one of our favorite, beloved book characters? So, gather up some balloons, grab your party hat, and blow out the candles on a birthday cake as we celebrate National Winnie the Pooh Day! This day is dedicated to the celebration of author A.A. Milne, who brought to life the endearing honey-loving bear in his beloved stories, which also featured his son Christopher Robin. It’s annually observed on January 18th and commemorates Milne’s 1882 birth.

Milne’s adorable Pooh Bear was inspired by Christopher Robin’s little teddy bear, initially named Edward the Bear. The name Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a black bear named Winnie and a swan named Pooh. Christopher Robin would visit the bear at the London Zoo during World War I, and the bear was so gentle that the zoo allowed children to enter the bear pit and feed Winnie from their hands.  Eventually, Christopher Robin renamed his teddy after the bear. As for Pooh, Milne explained in the intro to his book of poetry, When We Were Very Young,

“Christopher Robin, who feeds this swan in the mornings, has given him the name of ‘Pooh’. This is a very fine name for a swan, because, if you call him and he doesn’t come (which is a thing swans are good at), then you can pretend that you were just saying ‘Pooh!’ to show how little you wanted him.”

The friendship between a boy and his teddy bear (as well as his other stuffed animals) inspired

 

a collection of books, illustrated by E.H. Shepar

d, starting with Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926. A couple example titles that come to my mind  and can be found at WCPLtn, along with many other adventures both in print, and audio-book format.

  • Winnie-the-Pooh By A.A. Milne in (J F MIL)
  • The House At Pooh Corner By A.A. Milne (J F MIL)
  • Now We Are Six By A.A. Milne (J F MIL)
  • The Original Pooh Treasury Series By A.A. Milne (J E MIL)
  • When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne  (J F MIL)

©The New York Public Library

This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate by visiting us at WCPLtn or your own local library to gather up and check out a collection of Winnie the Pooh stories. Our librarian’s here at WCPLtn have been busy pulling together a special display of many of the classic books ready to check out in celebration of Winnie the Pooh Day ! So gather up the family and snuggle up in your favorite cozy reading spot to share for the first time (or re-read) these beloved classic adventures of Winnie the Pooh and all his friends Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet, Kanga and baby Roo, Rabbit and Owl too from the One Hundred Acre Woods.

If you cannot make it in to your local library and still want to share together a Winnie the Pooh adventure check out a e-book story or listen to a e-audio book from home by downloading our NEW streaming app service called Hoopla. You can set up an account remotely using your WCPLtn library card and an email address.  We would love to be a part of your family reading celebration. Feel free to tag us with @wcpltn on social media and use #WinnieThePoohDay to spread the joy! Happy National Winnie the Pooh Day!

 


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Quiet Heroism: the Legacy of Miep Gies, World War II Resister

By Shannon Owens, Reference Department

What constitutes a hero? Slaying dragons? Pulling children from burning buildings? Wheeling and dealing like James Bond to save the world from certain disaster? Certainly such dynamic situations come to mind immediately. There’s a particular brand of heroism, though, that is far less talked about and sadly, nearly always underrated: The quiet kind. The type of heroism that involves doing the right thing when nobody is watching. The type of heroism that may never be recognized and rarely offers the hero any personal benefit. The type of heroism that, if discovered, would spell certain death for the perpetrator.

Miep Gies, October 1980

Eight years ago on this day, we saw the final light extinguished from one such individual. At 100 years old, Miep Gies, the last living member of a small group that hid Anne Frank, passed away in the Netherlands. It’s difficult to overstate the courage it took this group (including Johannes Kleinman, Victor Kugler, Bep Voskuijl, Jan Gies and Johan Voskuijl) who risked their lives every day for over two years while the Franks were in hiding. The Frank family, along with Otto Frank’s business associate and his wife and son, and Gies’ dentist, were hidden in the Secret Annex.

Miep Gies was born on February 15, 1909 in Vienna, Austria to a working-class, Catholic family. At the age of eleven, several factors (recovery from tuberculosis, poor nutrition, rising costs of food due to shortages related to the fallout of World War I) led to Gies being sent to live in Amsterdam with a foster family. Despite the family’s modest income, coupled with five other children, Gies was loved and treated with unending compassion. In fact, she loved the Netherlands with absolute ferocity; she vowed to make Holland her permanent home.  In 1933, Miep went to work as secretary for Otto Frank, who ran a company that produced a substance used to make jam.

In May 1940, German forces invaded the Netherlands, making daily life exceedingly dangerous for the Jewish population.  In early July, the Frank family went into hiding in the attic apartment behind Otto’s business (accessible by a stairway hidden behind a bookcase). Miep’s moral integrity was the reason, when asked by Otto Frank if she was prepared to be responsible for a family in hiding, she was able to respond with a resounding affirmative. At a lecture in 1994, Gies addressed the audience: “I myself am just an ordinary woman. I simply had no choice…it is our human duty to help those who are in trouble…I could foresee many, many sleepless nights and a miserable life if I had refused to help the Franks. Yes, I have wept countless times when I thought of my dear friends. But still, I am happy that these are not tears of remorse for refusing to assist those in trouble.”

Floor Plans for the Secret Annex

Over two years, Miep provided food, clothing, books, supplies, and news from the outside world to the Frank family (this included procuring additional ration cards, at great personal risk). On August 4, 1944, Miep Gies was working at her desk, and looked up to suddenly find a Gestapo officer in front of her, with information verifying the hideout. Gies realized the arresting officer was Austrian, like herself, and she pointed this out, which very likely saved her life. The officer arrested the Franks, the Van Pels, Dr. Pfeffer, Johannes Kleinman, and Victor Kugler. After a time, Miep and Bep returned to the Annex to collect the loose papers and the contents of Anne’s diary (they hid these away for safekeeping without reading them).

Acting with surefire moxie, Miep hatched a plan to negotiate for the release of the Franks. She collected money from the employees of the company and went to the headquarters of Security Service to offer a bribe. At the office, she met the Austrian who had arrested those at the Annex and he waved her upstairs. She reached the landing, found a half open door, and walked in to a startling sight: a group of high ranking Nazi officers were surrounding a radio, listening to a BBC broadcast. Likely, they were too shocked to see her standing there to react, giving her time to hightail it out of Dodge before they could arrest her (and likely execute her as well).

After the war, Miep was devastated to learn that all of her friends, excepting Otto, had perished. She gave Anne’s diary to her father, telling him that it was the lasting legacy of his youngest daughter. To this point, Miep had not read the contents of the diary, and was relieved. If she had read the diary, she surely would have had to destroy it since it implicated all of the conspirators who safeguarded the Franks and their friends for years. Miep received several awards late in life, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Yad Vashem Medal and the Wallenberg Medal. In 1987, Gies published her memoir: “Anne Frank Remembered”. Here, she makes several comments referencing her legacy as a hero, maintaining that she only did what any decent human would: “I am not a hero. I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did and more- much more- during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the heart of those who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.”

Many of us believe that if we found ourselves in a similar situation, we would act as Miep did. The reality is probably a little more complicated than that. Miep Gies stated over and over that she was no hero. I disagree emphatically: her actions gave hope where there was little, showed humanity in a time when humanity was utterly depleted, and showed strength, will, and belief in all that is good and that connects us to others. It is hard to find more heroism than that.

 


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2019 New Year’s Reading Challenge

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

It’s the start of a new year. A blank slate for new beginnings and refreshing our resolutions and to do lists. That means it is also time for our 3rd annual New Year’s Reading Challenge! (Please make sure your read that in your head with the appropriate cheesy deep toned echo sound effect).

Last year, I tried to theme the options to the month or season they were in. I’m not doing that for 2019. There’s no order, very few rules and will be a challenge the whole family can participate in. There will be three challenge levels; Novice, Reader, and Book Wyrm.

The Novice Level is the simplest level with the easiest qualifications. Read twelve books and twelve periodicals at your reading level. That’s it. Just one book and one magazine or newspaper per month at the level you read comfortably. So if you’re in third grade you don’t have to try to read outside the level your teacher thinks is appropriate, but if you’re 43 let’s leave the Beverly Cleary to the youngsters. The only rule is read the whole book and the whole magazine or newspaper.

The Reader Level is more complicated it’s still 24 books and periodicals but instead of having free reign to read everything you want, this one guides you a bit. With this level you will choose twelve of the options from the list for the Book Wyrms and twelve books or periodicals of your choice. The rules are the same as the novice, read it all the way through, and it has to be at your reading level. The only new regulation here is that you can’t have more than 12 periodicals. If you want to read all books, and no periodicals, that’s fine.

Finally, it is The Book Wyrm Level (devour those books in your literary hoard!). If you’ve made it this far, you probably already planned to read at least two books a month and now you want someone to make it a little difficult.  Well, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a list of twenty-four challenges (with two bonus challenges for those of you who want to do a book every two weeks rather than two a month). These are some of my favorite selections from lists from the past, mine and otherwise. All the rules from above apply.

  1. A book that was published in 2019
  2. A book that has won a major award[i]
  3. A banned book
  4. A book that was given to you as a gift (even if you have to give it to yourself)
  5. Read a single issue of a comic book
  6. A book with a song lyric for a title
  7. A book from an author you’ve never heard of before
  8. A collection of Short stories from a single author
  9. A graphic novel that has nothing to do with superheroes or zombies
  10. A book you were supposed to read in high school or college, but didn’t
  11. The next book in a series you’ve started
  12. A collection of poetry
  13. A Classic of Genre fiction[ii]
  14. A book with a terrible cover
  15. A book set in a country that fascinates you
  16. A book you meant to read last year
  17. A collection of poetry
  18. Listen to an audio book
  19. A book you’ve checked out or bought but never read
  20. Something from a book club list, either online, on TV or in your community
  21. A book that was translated from another language
  22. Something from an author that writes in English but is not American
  23. A magazine on a subject you’ve always been interested in
  24. Read a book with somone, or a group of people

Bonus 1: Reading builds a person’s ability to empathize, read a book that tells the story from a point of view you are unfamiliar with.

Bonus 2: Do all of these challenges using making sure that each title you read starts with a different letter in the alphabet. Use this one for any book with that last letter you need.

Read and enjoy and watch this blog for potential opportunities to interact with other people in the challenge.


[i] National Book Award, Man Booker, PEN/Faulkner, Hugo, Nebula, Eisner, Rita, Edgar, Newberry, Caldecott to name a few.

[ii] Mystery, Scisnce Fiction, Romance, Adventure, Western, etc.

Happy New Year!

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