Botanical Reads for Spring

By - May 12th, 2017

The last traces of winter are finally behind us, and SPS is in full bloom! This month, you can grow your garden of knowledge through these plant-centered reads.

 

A comprehensive and visually appealing botanical compendium:

 

Plant: Exploring the Botanical World

Phaidon Press Editors

Phaidon Press 2016

704.9 C55P (shelved with the dictionaries on the main floor)

 

“Following in the footsteps of the international bestseller Map: Exploring the World, this fresh and visually stunning survey celebrates the extraordinary beauty and diversity of plants. It combines photographs and cutting-edge micrograph scans with watercolours, drawings, and prints to bring this universally popular and captivating subject vividly to life. Carefully selected by an international panel of experts and arranged in a uniquely structured sequence to highlight thought-provoking contrasts and similarities, this stunning compilation of botanically themed images includes iconic work by celebrated artists, photographers, scientists, and botanical illustrators, as well as rare and previously unpublished images.” (Amazon Description)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A practical guide to the plants around us:

 

Wildflowers of New England

Ted Elliman and the New England Wildflower Society

Timber Press 2016

582 EL5W

 

“Wildflowers of New England is for hikers, naturalists, gardeners, and anyone wishing to learn more about the region’s diverse wildflowers, or just wanting to know the answer to “What’s that plant?” Ted Elliman, a plant ecologist for the New England Wild Flower Society, describes and illustrates more than 1,000 species commonly found in all six New England states, including annuals, perennials, and biennials, both native and naturalized. This helpful field guide uses a logical and convenient identification key based on flower color, petal arrangement, and leaf characteristics. One thousand color photographs help to confirm that you’ve got the right plant. The introduction includes an explanation of plant parts and information on plant names.” (Amazon Description)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A look at gardens as literary inspiration:

 

The Writer’s Garden

Jackie Bennett

Frances Lincoln 2016

820.9 B43W

 

“Great things happen in gardens. No one can doubt the importance of the garden in Roald Dahl’s life as it was here where he worked, and here that he created James and the Giant Peach. And where would Jane Austen have been if she had never seen a ‘walk’, an ornamental lake, or a wilderness?

Gardens hold a special place in many author’s lives. For Beatrix Potter, Hill Top house was made possible by the new found freedom and wealth that a literary career can bring; for Sir Walter Scott, laying out his garden at Abbotsford was a way of distracting himself from mounting debts.

In this book of 18 gardens and 20 writers, the author examines how the poet, writer, novelist derived a creative spirit from their private garden, how they tended and enjoyed their gardens, and how they managed their outdoor space.” (Amazon Description)

Fun Fiction Reads with McNaughton

By - April 28th, 2017

When you’re looking for your next fiction book, be sure to stop by our new collection in the Baker Reading Room! The library now receives the latest popular fiction releases through McNaughton subscription services. Here are a few titles to check out on your next visit to Ohrstrom!

 

If you’re a fan of not-so-far-fetched sci-fi…

 

New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Orbit 2017

MCN R

 

“A new vision of the future from Kim Stanley Robinson, the New York Times bestselling author of science fiction masterworks such as the Mars trilogy, 2312, and Aurora.

The waters rose, submerging New York City.

But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever.

Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island.

Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides.

And how we too will change.” (Barnes & Noble Description)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re in the mood for an international and intergenerational tale…

 

The Last Days of Café Leila, by Donia Bijan

Algonquin 2017

MCN B

 

“Set against the backdrop of Iran’s rich, turbulent history, this exquisite debut novel is a powerful story of food, family, and a bittersweet homecoming. When we first meet Noor, she is living in San Francisco, missing her beloved father, Zod, in Iran. Now, dragging her stubborn teenage daughter, Lily, with her, she returns to Tehran and to Café Leila, the restaurant her family has been running for three generations. Iran may have changed, but Café Leila, still run by Zod, has stayed blessedly the same—it is a refuge of laughter and solace for its makeshift family of staff and regulars.

As Noor revisits her Persian childhood, she must rethink who she is—a mother, a daughter, a woman estranged from her marriage and from her life in California. And together, she and Lily get swept up in the beauty and brutality of Tehran.

Bijan’s vivid, layered story, at once tender and elegant, funny and sad, weaves together the complexities of history, domesticity, and loyalty and, best of all, transports readers to another culture, another time, and another emotional landscape.” (Publisher’s Website)

 

 

 

 

If you adore Hamilton, historical fiction and love stories…

 

Alex & Eliza, by Melissa De La Cruz

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers 2017

MCN D

 

“1777. Albany, New York.
As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival those of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.
Still, Eliza can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.” (Publisher’s Website)

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Mind Matters

By - April 14th, 2017

All of Ohrstrom’s titles will help you expand your mind, but some of our new arrivals focus on the mind itself.  From evolutionary history of consciousness to practical mindfulness tips, these three books will have you thinking about how you think!

 

On Being Human: Why Mind Matters, by Jerome Kagan

 

Yale University Press 2016
150.1 K11ON

 

“A revered psychologist invites us to re-examine our thinking about controversial contemporary issues, from the genetic basis for behaviors to the functions of education.

In this thought-provoking book, psychologist Jerome Kagan urges readers to sally forth from their usual comfort zones. He ponders a series of important nodes of debate while challenging us to examine what we know and why we know it. Most critically he presents an elegant argument for functions of mind that cannot be replaced with sentences about brains while acknowledging that mind emerges from brain activity.

Kagan relies on the evidence to argue that thoughts and emotions are distinct from their biological and genetic bases. In separate chapters he deals with the meaning of words, kinds of knowing, the powerful influence of social class, the functions of education, emotion, morality, and other issues. And without fail he sheds light on these ideas while remaining honest to their complexity…” (Barnes & Noble description)

 

 

 

 

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, by Daniel C. Dennett

 

W.W. Norton 2017
128.2 D41F

 

“One of America’s foremost philosophers offers a major new account of the origins of the conscious mind.

How did we come to have minds? For centuries, this question has intrigued psychologists, physicists, poets, and philosophers, who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create, imagine, and explain. Disciples of Darwin have long aspired to explain how consciousness, language, and culture could have appeared through natural selection, blazing promising trails that tend, however, to end in confusion and controversy. Even though our understanding of the inner workings of proteins, neurons, and DNA is deeper than ever before, the matter of how our minds came to be has largely remained a mystery.

That is now changing, says Daniel C. Dennett. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, his most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet, he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought…” (Publisher’s website)

 

 

Living Zen Remindfully: Retraining Subconscious Awareness, by James H. Austin

 

MIT Press 2016
294.3 AU7L

 

“This is a book for readers who want to probe more deeply into mindfulness. It goes beyond the casual, once-in-awhile meditation in popular culture, grounding mindfulness in daily practice, Zen teachings, and recent research in neuroscience. In Living Zen Remindfully, James Austin, author of the groundbreaking Zen and the Brain, describes authentic Zen training—the commitment to a process of regular, ongoing daily life practice. This training process enables us to unlearn unfruitful habits, develop more wholesome ones, and lead a more genuinely creative life.

Austin shows that mindfulness can mean more than our being conscious of the immediate “now.” It can extend into the subconscious, where most of our brain’s activities take place, invisibly. Austin suggests ways that long-term meditative training helps cultivate the hidden, affirmative resource of our unconscious memory. Remindfulness, as Austin terms it, can help us to adapt more effectively and to live more authentic lives…” (Publisher’s website)

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Book Spine Poetry

By - April 7th, 2017

Welcome back! Looking for a creative outlet to get your brain power flowing again? Celebrate National Poetry Month by making book spine poetry at the library. Stack books so that their titles, from top to bottom, create a poem.

On the main floor, Mrs. Kittler has set up an interactive display where you can view and contribute to our spine poetry collection – check it out!

Here’s my rather free-verse example, which features some of our shiny new arrivals:

 

History is all you left me 

In the country we love

Carry this book

To capture what we cannot keep.

(Click on the lines above to visit each book’s website.)

 

5 Tips for Spine Poetry Success:
  1. Look online for inspiration. School Library Journal’s website has galleries to get you started.
  2. Flip through our poetry collection. See this previous blog post for a few noteworthy anthologies.
  3. Stop by the children’s section on the main floor for fun and quirky titles.
  4. No time to roam the stacks? Use Ohrstrom’s online catalog to narrow down lines for your poem by subject, title, or author.
  5. Head over to the display to see what others came up with. Then add your own creation!

Happy browsing!

Taking a Break

By - March 1st, 2017

Spring Break is almost here, and there’s no better time to check out a book! Get lost in a novel, or learn something new from a nonfiction title. Copies are available in the library or online through the OverDrive website and OverDrive app.

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon

Delacorte Press 2015
Fiction Y7
Movie coming May 2017

“Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. She is content enough—until a boy with eyes the color of the Atlantic Ocean moves in next door. Their complicated romance begins over IM and grows through a wunderkammer of vignettes, illustrations, charts, and more.

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.” (Author’s website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nix, by Nathan Hill

Vintage 2016
Fiction H55
TV series in development

“It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother Faye in decades—not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.

To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye’s losses but also his own lost love, and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.” (Publisher’s website)

 

 

Scythe, by Neil Shusterman

Simon & Schuster 2016
Fiction Sh9

“Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.” (Publisher’s website)

 

 

 

 

Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thomas, and Ella Morton

Workman Publishing 2016
910.41 F68A

“…Talk about a bucket list: here are natural wonders—the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher-like stepwells in India. Mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils literally vault over rows of squirming infants. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia, Turkmenistan’s 40-year hole of fire called the Gates of Hell, a graveyard for decommissioned ships on the coast of Bangladesh, eccentric bone museums in Italy, or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England.

Created by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, ATLAS OBSCURA revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer. Anyone can be a tourist. ATLAS OBSCURA is for the explorer.” (Amazon Description)

 

 

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach

Norton 2016
355.07 R53G

“Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries―panic, exhaustion, heat, noise―and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.” (Amazon description)

 

 

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

William Morrow Publishing 2016
510.92 SH5H
2016 Oscar-nominated movie

“Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens…” (Amazon description)

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