My Night with Greg Kinnear

“There is a story about the Greek Gods; they were bored so they invented human beings, but they were still bored so they invented love, then they weren’t bored any longer. So they decided to try love for themselves. And finally, they invented laughter, so they could stand it.”

I put two promising titles on hold. One that would make me think and the other to make me laugh…without realizing it they both starred Greg Kinnear!

Love gives us promise, but it can be a promise so easily broken whether it’s a parent for a child, a woman for her lover, or something as pure and innocent as a first love. Although still grieving from his son’s death Professor Harry Stevenson, played by Morgan Freeman, is the outsider seeing love the way others whom are in it can’t. He sees Bradley, played by Greg Kinnear, oblivious to his wife falling in love with a woman right in front of his eyes; he sees Chloe and Oscar start on the precarious path of young love. Behind closed doors everyone has a story…some give too much of themselves, but others don’t give enough. In the movie Feast of Love, which is based on the novel The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter, one thing is for sure love always comes when you least expect it in varying ways and situations and can just as easily leave in the same way.

In the movie Baby Mama Kate Holbrook’s career has been her life. Concentrating on the demands of the job while ignoring thebabymoma ticking baby clock until she decides to ignore it no longer, but it seems a little too late for her to start on the path of motherhood. Seeking a surrogate she meets the eccentric Angie who not long after being chosen is pregnant, but its not all nesting and patiently waiting when Angie shows up on Kate’s doorstep with no place to live. Angie’s frazzled world and Kate’s over organized life aren’t too picture perfect. How does this odd couple come out on top despite the power struggle? Just add Rob Ackerman smoothie guy, played by Greg Kinnear, a fake pregnancy, and a T-shaped uterus.

Researching names for babies, characters and all kinds of cats

Earlier this year a group of librarians offered to help one of our pregnant coworkers name her babies (yes, babies—as in two!). Although she graciously declined our assistance, the conversation continued and headed, as it so often does when librarians confab, to research—in this case hansresearching names for babies, pets and characters in novels.

We  quickly went to Name Voyager on the Baby Name Wizard site. You can easily research the popularity of names in the U.S. during the past 120 years and use the graphing tool to show trends by decade (see “Hans” and “Stella,” left). Of course I immediately typed in my own stellachild’s name (Theo) and saw that it peaked in popularity in the early 1900s (perhaps a salute to Theodore Roosevelt?). “Angelina” has had a recent spike in popularity (think Angelina Jolie), and once I noticed that I couldn’t resist testing out  celebrity names.

Baby name books are plentiful, but some are standouts. I asked our genealogy librarians Darlene and John for their suggestions of where parents, pet owners, writers, family historians and the eternally curious can go to research names. Here are the books they recommend (and their comments):

Dictionary of American Family Names by Patrick Hanks. A three-volume masterpiece. This is the place to start if you want to know what your last name means. It also gives ethnic origin. Amazing how many names can come from several different national backgrounds.
penguin-classic-baby-nameThe Melting Pot Book of Baby Names by Connie Lockart Ellefson. Older, but a fabulous resource for names from other cultural backgrounds.
The Penguin Classic Baby Name Book: 2,000 Names from the World’s Great Literature by Grace Hamlin. Hankering to name your daughter after a Shakespeare character or perhaps a character from Chinese Opera? This is the book to use when you have only a category of name selected.
100,000+ Baby Names by Bruce Lansky. An overwhelming number of names — but perhaps not enough detailed information to help you make a choice.

Magnolia’s Favorite Audiobooks

“If I don’t like the [narrator’s] voice, I can’t listen. If I like the voice, I can listen to almost anything!”  — Magnolia Library Patron

image-of-da-vinci-code-audiobook-courtesy-of-incurable-hWhile there’s nothing like sitting down with a good book and thumbing through the pages, sometimes listening to a book read by a really talented narrator can be an even more captivating experience – and it’s a much safer way to read in the car! We recently asked patrons of the Magnolia library to tell us about some of their favorite narrators and the audio books where they feel these narrators have done their best work. If you’d like to listen to a good book but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a list that will get you on your way.

Tip of the Day: Once you find a narrator you like, you can always search for more audio books with the same voice by entering the his or her name as a keyword in the “author” search box of the Seattle Public Library catalog. Not sure what I mean? Just Ask a Librarian!

Alyssa Bresnahan – This prolific narrator of books for children, teens, and adults received AudioFile Magazine’s award for Continue reading “Magnolia’s Favorite Audiobooks”

Viewing history with a tightly focused lens

I think I’ve spotted a trend in the History publishing world.  The days of sweeping, sprawling sagas that cover a vast canvas appear to be over.  This is the day of the mono-history (to coin a term), the history of a single invention, food, natural resource or other singular item.  The titles below are in no particular order.

Salt: a world history, by Mark Kurlansky – Published in 2002, saltKurlansky’s history of the world’s most important commodity is probably the best known mono-history and the only one to appear on the best-seller lists.  I found it fascinating and inspiring. Kurlansky seems to enjoy mono-history because  Salt followed another monohistory on a critical food commodity Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and he followed up with The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell.

A Splintered History of Wood: belt sander races, blind woodworkers and baseball bats, by Spike Carlsen – The title alone intrigues.  The book is obviously  the result of a passionate involvement with wood.  It was incredibly informational, just a bit scary in spots (the story of  Ludgar the War Wolf, an enourmous catapult that took 55 Continue reading “Viewing history with a tightly focused lens”

A New Craze in Memoir Writing

cover-of-six-word-memoirs1Writing your life in six words

Is it too hard a challenge

or just the kind you like?

Here’s a book with others’ examples

(sequel to this timeless tiny tome):

inspiring, hilarious, meditative, poignant, regretful, triumphant.

Try it next time you’re free!

             ~ Ann G