Dishing Up Romance

Welcome to SPL’s Romance Restaurant!  On our menu you’ll find many different flavors of romance: historical, contemporary, urban, inspirational, suspenseful, paranormal, and more.  For this month’s special, we’re serving up romance in three levels of spiciness.  Here’s a preview of our tasty offerings.

  Mild and Romantic
Whether sweet, inspirational, or humorous, these romances have one thing in common: they focus on love and relationships rather than sexuality. 

If you enjoy your romances mild, you may like the flavor of Betty Neels, Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland or Christian fiction author  Jacquelin Thomas.

 Sensual and Saucy
These stories may include some explicit sex and sensuality as the characters’ romance unfolds. 

Jayne Ann Krentz (who also writes historical romances as Amanda Quick and science fiction romances as Jayne Castle) may be to your taste.  For humor, try Jennifer Crusie or MaryJanice Davidson (who also writes paranormal romance.)  If you like your romance seasoned with cowboys and open skies, Diana Palmer  might appeal. 

  Hot and Spicy!
These scorching-hot stories are sure to keep away the cold on a chilly evening.   

Jaci Burton, Zane, Noire, Jacqueline Carey and Thea Devine are just some of the sizzlers on our menu.  Still craving more spice?  Check out our full list of erotic fiction.  And don’t forget about our selection of erotic graphic novels.

During January, you can come place your order at the 3rd floor display case at Central. 


Craving something you don’t see on display, or can’t make it to Central?  Your friendly neighborhood librarians at any branch are happy to be your servers.

Book Groups for Busy People

Did you get a chance to make the lastest meeting of the Central library’s book discussion group “Let’s Talk About Books”?  I missed it, and it’s too bad, because LTAB is a wonderful opportunity for book lovers like us to share our thoughts on whatever we’re reading now and get ideas for what to read next.  Plus there’s no advance preparation: just bring what you’re reading and come ready to share. Brilliant!

image of Rules of Book Club shirt courtesy of Bob Boyetche via FlickrI’d like to try the book group at my local branch, or some of the fantastic options at other branches.  They’re offered  in many languages, for all age groups, on various topics, and even for the visually impaired.  Check them out!  (Select “Book Group” from the Event Type drop-down menu.)  I’m definitely going to one of them – right after I finish class, work, errands, and making sure my husband sees me often enough that he doesn’t think I’ve left him and moved to Uzbekistan. 

Okay, so despite our best intentions to make it to that book group, sometimes life just gets in the way.  But what if you could join one without having to make a major time commitment or even leave your home?  You can – by joining an online book group.  They’re usually message boards or email discussions, so you can post and read comments at your own convenience. 

You can also find one that fits your style, no matter what your age and interests may be.  Book Clubs Resource  is a great place for finding online book groups of all shapes and sizes.  The section “Special Interest Book Clubs” lists groups designed for African-Americans, mystery lovers, teens and children, and women, among others.  Booktalk  is a nice classic book group with an attractive interface. 

Of course, with the web becoming ever-more interactive, you might be inspired to start your own online book group.  You can get lots of great tips on how to set up and run your own online book group here, or on the library’s website

So there go all our excuses about being too busy or not being able to get away from the house.  If you have time to read a book, you have time to join an online book group.  Of course, we’d still love to see you at the library’s in-person discussions!

Have you participated in an online book group, or found one that looks particularly interesting?  Tell us about your experience!

A Feast of Words

2009-10-16-gourmet_coverNext month, you may have trouble finding Gourmet magazine on the library shelves. This time, though, it’s not just that somebody else is already flipping through page after deliciously glossy page.  After nearly 70 years of publication, Gourmet will release its final issue this November.  It’s collateral damage in publisher Condé Nast’s desperate bid to turn a profit in a market which is increasingly unfriendly to traditional print.  After all, why spend the big bucks to advertise in a monthly magazine with a million subscribers when that many people may view an Internet ad in a week? 

The cut was sudden and final, leaving even editor Ruth Reichl “stunned.”  Over the past ten years, she has breathed new life into Gourmet.  Whether you loved or hated her (and most people seem to feel strongly one way or the other), she brought a new vision and passion to the iconic magazine. Read more about her here, and keep an eye out for her upcoming cookbook. 

Have a Gourmet subscription?  You’ll receive Bon Appétit instead.  The newly launched will also disappear, but old Gourmet recipes will continue to be accessible through   (To me, this one is no great loss — I adore the beautiful and easy-to-browse Epicurious, but have not been particularly captivated by

Vintage Gourmet Magazine CoverNothing can completely replace the country’s oldest food magazine.  But if you’re starving for a good read, you may want to consider Saveur, which carries on Gourmet’s tradition of long-form food journalism.  Fine Cooking and Cook’s Illustrated offer sophisticated techniques and recipes not often found in their checkout-aisle counterparts, but lack visual appeal.  

At the feast of words, there is one less delicious dish on the table.  But rather than mourn the empty plate, I’d like to take a moment to reminisce and digest.  How has Gourmet enriched our homes, our kitchens, and our family gatherings over the years?  Personally, I will never get over the vegetarian cassoulet — I have honestly never smelled anything so divine in my life. 

Do you have any favorite issues, articles or recipes to share?

Are e-Books Really More Eco-friendly?


What do cars, dishwashing detergent, and Kindles have in common?  Like nearly every other product and service on the market, they are clamoring to convince you that they are eco-friendly.  They claim to save gas, save trees, reduce carbon emissions, reduce shipping distances, and probably cook you dinner and clean your apartment, too. 

As you may have noticed, I’m more than a little skeptical when a for-profit company alleges that its product is “green.”  Mostly, it’s bunk.  So I have paid little heed to the claims of providers of digital content and readers that e-books are eco-friendly alternatives to their paper cousins.  Perhaps they consume less paper – assuming that people aren’t printing them out – but what about the environmental costs of producing, maintaining, powering, and replacing the readers and the servers that provide them with content?  

Apparently, I was not the only one with doubts.  Cleantech Group recently released the results of a study of the environmental impact of the Kindle, Amazon’s much-publicized e-book reader.  And, much to my surprise:

E-books really might be good for the environment. 

According to the study, the Kindle usually offsets the carbon emitted in its creation within the first year.  Emma Ritch, the author of the report, writes that “Any additional years of use result in net carbon savings, equivalent to an average of 168 kg of CO2 per year (the emissions produced in the manufacture and distribution of 22.5 books).”  The impact is only expected to improve as sales of the Kindle increase.


While the report focuses on Amazon’s Kindle, not ebooks provided by libraries, I can’t help think that SPL’s downloadable ebooks and audiobooks must be even more eco-friendly; after all, you can access them right from your own computer or MP3 player, without the environmental cost of creating a special reading tool. 

Do you think e-books are a “green” alternative?  Will this report affect how likely you are to use them?

Cool Enough to Craft?

pirate gloves from melynda.huskey via flickr

In (yet another) desperate attempt to convince my fiancé that my crafting habit does not make me a grandma stuck in the body of a 24-year-old, I dragged him to the Urban Craft Uprising  a couple weekends back.  After several bouts of whining about my obsession with craft fairs and his thereby compromised masculinity, he shocked both of us by deciding that some of the stalls were, in fact, freaking awesome.  Messenger bags made out of recycled bike tubes?  Sweet.  Hand-spun local-fiber yarn sold by hot women with tattoo sleeves?  Rocking.  Clothes, housewares, toys, jewelry, and art made from just about every recycled substance you can imagine?  This is why I have to leave my credit card at home.  Forget about your age, gender, or mortal fear of pink maribou – crafting isn’t just for little old needlepointing ladies with pince-nez glasses anymore.  Are you cool enough for these crafts?    

AntiCraft: Knitting, Beading, and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister
By Reneé Rigdon

anticraftSick of patterns dotted with hearts, puppies and rainbows?  This book is more about skulls and crossbones.  I bet the duct-tape corset was NOT in your grandmother’s repertoire.   For more naughty, disturbing, and just plain weird anticrafts, check out the website as well. 

Backcountry Betty Crafting with Style: 50 Nature Inspired Projects
By Jennifer Worick

backcountry bettyIf I give you a needle, are you more likely to end up making a trip to the hospital than a quilt?   Don’t worry – these crafts are generally of the non-pointy variety.  (Except for pinecones, that is.)  With clear, retro-styling pictures, this book has some great ideas whether you’re a dedicated backpacker or your idea of wilderness is your neighbor’s overgrown potted plant.  

The Complete Book of Retro Crafts: Collecting, Displaying & Making Crafts of the Past
by Suzie Millions

retro craftsFrom nostalgically sweet to retro-chic to just plain hilariously out-of-date, these crafts are as much about cracking a smile as cracking out the glue gun.  More than just a list of patterns, this book also celebrates the history and personal stories of these crafts in all their kitschy glory.  Plastic Flower Pixies, anyone?