Thursday, June 23, 2016

Superfoods, Super You! Summer Recipe Series: Banana Ice Cream

In conjunction with our summer reading theme, Wellness, Fitness, and Sports, we will be blogging weekly about our SuperFoods, Super You! recipes that were featured at our Summer Reading Kick-Off event this past Saturday, June 18th. Samples of plant-based superfoods were offered to patrons and staff showcasing easy, healthy alternatives to our everyday meals and snacks.


This week’s blog focus is dessert. Banana Ice Cream is a healthier alternative to ice cream or even frozen yogurt. Ask anyone who attended WPL’s Summer Reading Kick-Off event this past Saturday and they will tell you the Banana Ice Cream was a huge hit! It is cheap, easy, and fun to make.


Take those ripe bananas from your counter, peel them, cut them, freeze them, and the next day throw them in your food processor. That’s it. You can experiment with all different kinds of flavors as well.


At the Summer Reading Kick-Off event, patrons and staff enjoyed vanilla, chocolate, and plain banana. But the sky's the limit! Try ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, peanut butter, nutella, mint, cardamom, frozen berries...I could do this all day long! As for toppings, go nuts! Try chia seeds, slivered almonds, walnuts, fresh berries, or have the ice cream as is. This is a low-calorie, dairy-free treat that you need to try today. See the recipe below.


Healthy Banana
Ice Cream Recipe
banana.jpg


Ingredients:
 4-5 ripe bananas
 Flavors such as vanilla extract, cocoa powder,
cinnamon
 Toppings such as chia seeds, berries, nuts,
granola
Equipment: freezer bag, spatula, food processor
Peel and cut bananas into 1 inch pieces and freeze in
plastic freezer bag over night.

Take frozen banana pieces and place them in
food processor.

Add flavor to taste and process for 1 to 2 minutes, until
smooth and creamy (don’t over process!)
Sprinkle with preferred toppings, such as nuts or berries
and enjoy a healthy dessert.
Or, place ice cream in freezer safe container for later!
(will hold for up to two days in the freezer).


Have a healthy recipe you enjoy and would like to recommend? Email me at jmarien@mywpl.org and perhaps your recipe will be featured on this blog!

June 2016 Staff Book Recommendations

The Rook
By Daniel O’Malley 


The Rook starts with a compelling hook: A young woman wakes up in a park with no memory of her identity, surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. In her pocket she finds a letter telling her that her name is Myfanwy Thomas, that she is a high-ranking member of a secret organization dedicated to protecting the United Kingdom from supernatural threats, and that she was betrayed by someone she trusted. Now, informed only by letters written by herself to herself, she has to work at a high stakes job she has no memory of having, deal with supernatural coworkers who might literally stab her in the back to get ahead, and solve the mystery of who betrayed her and stole her memory, all while protecting London from an ancient evil. 

O’Malley’s use of the memory loss plot and the letters allows The Rook to adroitly weave in the large amount of exposition that is necessary in this kind of book. I also appreciated the fact that the pre-memory loss Myfanwy is presented as a completely distinct character from post-memory loss Myfanwy, and that both characters are equally compelling despite one only appearing in flashback letters. O’Malley also does a great job mixing humor in with the action, and his world-building is top-notch. 

While many elements of this book are familiar for regular fantasy readers, what really makes it stand out from the pack is its compelling protagonist. So many urban fantasy novels tend to be about a supernatural private detective, or a supernatural police officer, or a supernatural warrior of some kind. It’s refreshing to read about a heroine who, while able to defeat monsters with supernatural powers, solves many of her problems by being really good at bureaucracy and diplomacy. The Rook is also less “bro-y” and more British than many typical urban fantasy novels. 

I highly recommend this book. It’s incredibly fast-paced, and once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it back down. And if you like it, a sequel comes out this month.

--Alex


Miller’s Valley
By Anna Quindlen 

Anna Quindlen is one of those writers who possesses a knack for exposing the kernel of truth in every situation, every scene. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a bestselling author in the self-help genre, but her forte is rendering real the domestic front, as her novels Object Lessons and One True Thing demonstrate. And she knows how to build suspense—this reviewer read Black and Blue in one night! 

Miller’s Valley tells the coming-of-age story of Mimi, daughter of hardworking Buddy and stoic Miriam. It is also a tale of change for Miller’s Valley itself, the long-established town named after Mimi’s family, which is on the brink of literally being flooded in the name of civic progress. Long-time residents can accept this development “the easy way or the hard way.” The easy way is to take the government’s relocation pittance, sell and move elsewhere. The hard way? You’ll have to read the book to find out. 

Set against this small town tumult, family secrets play out. Mimi’s older brothers both leave her behind on the farm-- Eddie, off to college, and Tommy, to Vietnam. While Eddie makes good on his escape, Tommy returns from the war as a ghost of his former self. Plus, Aunt Ruth is agoraphobic, best friend LaRhonda is wild turned religious, and older boyfriend Steven is too clever by half. The plot is remarkable in its ordinariness, in that it is the story of many American families, and towns, in the 1960s and 70s, yet the novel is so readable, you will find yourself immediately invested, needing to find out the source and resolution of each character’s conflict. 

For readers who enjoy novels about families, relationships and small town history. 

--Christina

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens
By Brooke Hauser 


As I have been getting to know and care for the students with whom I spend my time in my American English Made Easy program, I have wanted to learn more about what it is like to come and live in the United States from a non-English speaking country. This book was an automatic must-read for me.

Told by journalist Brooke Hauser, The New Kids is an amazing story about an international high school in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, New York. Hauser paints a portrait of several dedicated educators from International High and their incredible students, many who have survived countless dangers and hardships before they have even arrived at the school. Hauser introduces the reader to the students, including Jessica from China, who was invited to move to the United States permanently by her stepmother in order to live with her father and her two little half- brothers. However, shortly after Jessica arrived, her stepmother changed her mind and refused to let her live with her and her husband (Jessica’s father), leaving Jessica all on her own. 

The reader also meets Ngawang from Tibet, who was forced to risk his life and hide inside a suitcase as a family friend helped him escape to the United States. Other students in the school had to cross deserts barefoot or watch family members being held at gunpoint by corrupt officials in wartorn countries. Not all students in this book experienced such dangerous conditions, but they still had to face daunting barriers to their success, such as legal issues, poverty, and the difficulty of learning a new language. However, despite all of their struggles, Hauser highlights how these students have continuously shown remarkable courage, determination, and heart to follow their own dreams and chart their own courses. 

Even though there are countless stories to tell and many facets of what it is like to be a new American, Hauser composes and chronicles The New Kids with such warmth and insight that it is as if the reader is journeying alongside each of the people featured in the book. Check out it and be inspired! 

--Cara

Red Queen 
By Victoria Aveyard 

Upon first glance, Red Queen is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, but the similarities are truly few and far between. This story is set in the most unlikely places, post-apocalyptic Earth. There are only a few maps of the world before its destruction, and only the privileged eyes of the Silvers can see them.

The book starts off roughly, as the author throws out lots of names, rules, and places making it hard to follow, but hang in there because it all begins to make sense as the plot thickens. We learn that the world consists of two classes of people, the Silvers and the Reds. The Silvers (those with silver blood) rule over the Reds (those with red blood) because unlike the Reds, the Silvers have extraordinary powers, such as the control of water, fire, wind, light, and minds. The Reds are repressed by the Silvers, so much so that they live in the slums, need vouchers for electricity, food, and water, work all day and night, and are drafted into war as soon as they reach the age of eighteen unless they are apprenticing. For many, the draft means death since the only way to be discharged is old age or serious injury. 

In this repressed environment, there is one person who refuses to follow the rules (actually she is impressively good at breaking the rules), Mare Barrow. The star of this book is anything but a normal Red. Mare would do anything for the people surrounding her--family, her friend Kilorn--and she pickpockets to put food on the table. When Kilorn’s apprentice dies, Mare seeks the local black market tradesmen to ask him to smuggle Kilorn out of town, and he happily agrees to help for an absurd amount of money. Mare sets out pickpocketing only to pick the wrong (or right?) person’s pocket, which lands her a new job and a whole new life...


Read Red Queen to see where Mare ends up... 

--Jess

By Cecilia Ekbäck 

As you start to plan your summer reading list, I would like to suggest a title which might seem a bit out of place for summer--Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck. The title tells you a bit about the setting - yes, it is set in the winter, specifically during the winter of 1717 in Swedish Lapland, and yes, winter is the opposite of summer, but hear me out.

Maija and Paavo reluctantly leave their home (and their past) in Finland where they made a living fishing on the ocean to start a new life in the Swedish Lapland with their daughters, Frederika and Dorotea. They attempt to make a new start at the base of Blackåsen, the ominous mountain where the indigenous Lapps live, along with a priest and a small group of settlers. All have sordid pasts.

As the family tries to adjust to their new life herding goats around the harsh and unforgiving terrain of Blackåsen, the two daughters find one of their neighbors, Eriksson, dead on the mountain. The settlers brush it off as a wolf attack but once Maija sees Eriksson’s wound, she is convinced it was done by a weapon and not by a wolf. When Paavo leaves the new homestead in hopes of finding work, both Maija and Frederika are determined to uncover the truth about Eriksson’s death. While Maija uncovers human pasts and motives, Frederika uncovers spirits and Blackåsen all the while the wolf winter rages on and Blackåsen shows little mercy.

Ekbäck’s debut novel offers readers a domestic noir (a crime genre usually from the point-of-view of the female experience) and a bit of historical fiction all wrapped in one. As the mystery surrounding Eriksson’s death evolves, the Swedish king is losing his grip on his northern empire. Ruling by divine right and using the local priests to collect taxes and send townspeople to fight on behalf of the king, the local priest is pressured to follow suit. Ekbäck offers us the story through three points of view, Maija, Frederika, and their priest. We see this part of history play out through the priest who is new to Blackåsen and is struggling to deal with the politics of the settlers and the politics of the king. This novel offers the reader a chilling story to ice the veins during the hot and humid summer months.

-Jen 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Updates to the Health Reference Center!

The public library is a trusted resource for your health needs. This article from the Portland Press Herald makes an excellent case why you NEED to be critical of online resources and why conducting your health research using public library resources is a no-brainer. Come and explore the new editions to WPL’s Health Reference Center! We have more community health information and pamphlets, the latest editions for our reference titles, and free recipes to keep you informed and healthy!
Community Health Information and
Consumer Health Pamphlets

Need to see a doctor or a dentist? Need help getting insurance? The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is here to assist you. The schedule is posted in the Health Reference Center along with Worcester Free Clinic Coalition's schedule and information. New pamphlets include topics on cervical cancer, work-related asthma, the stigma attached to addiction, substance abuse material, and a drug discount card from NeedyMeds.

The drug discount card is useful, free, and does not require registration. Cards can be used for any prescription written by a doctor or a veterinarian and can also be used for over-the-counter medications as well. It cannot be used together with a copay or any Medicare/medical type plans. Savings could be as much as 80%. You can find out more information online or on the 2nd floor of the library in the Health Reference Center where you can grab your card today.

Updated Reference Titles


These reference titles offer comprehensive and valuable information. For example, are you thinking of attending nursing school? Peterson’s Nursing Programs offers detailed information from baccalaureate programs to doctoral programs listed by school and include a snapshot of each program’s degrees, requirements, study options, contacts, and more. Or perhaps you have a planned medical test or upcoming surgery. The Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery and Medical Tests offers patients and caregivers an in-depth comprehensive guide for these procedures with easy-to-understand definitions, descriptions, preparation, aftercare, risks, results, alternatives, and questions to ask your doctor. All of these titles are always available on the reference shelf!

Healthy Recipes

We now offer printouts of delicious and healthy recipes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The recipes boast simple ingredients with easy instructions along with some kid-friendly options as well! Some examples include healthier versions of Shepherd’s Pie filled with roasted chicken and mixed veggies or Crunchy Chicken Fingers with Tangy Dipping Sauce made with chicken breast and cornflakes for that nice crunch. Eating well plays a large role in your overall health and we are here to help you make healthy choices!

WPL is here to serve your health information needs!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Historical Treasures from Worcester Room: Volapük Menu






Do you recognize this language?  Is it perhaps Swedish, or Russian?  It's actually Volapük!

Volapük was created in 1879 in Germany by Johann Schleyer and was intended to be used as a universal language. While largely forgotten now, during the late 1800s, Volapük had a large, international community of speakers and featured Volapük conferences held across the globe.




Volapük proved quite popular in Worcester, and the city boasted its own Volapük speakers' group. The group hosted many events to promote the use of Volapük across the city.  Some of Worcester's more prominent citizens were Volapük speakers, and a column regarding the Volapük language was regularly published during the 1890s in the Worcester society newspaper Light, as shown above.





In 1892, Worcester hosted the 3rd annual conference of the North American Volapük Association. Conference attendees dined at a banquet featuring the menu shown above. The guests sampled food such as Legot Melopik (turkey) and Pods in Meilavat (apple fritters).  The menu was added to the library's collection in 1892 and has been on our shelves for 124 years.  This is just one small example of how our Worcester Room and local history collection preserves Worcester's rich and diverse history.  If you're interested in the history of the city, stop by the library and see what we have to offer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Exercise Your Mind with Mango Languages

Are you one of those people who has been meaning to pick up another language? WPL offers you the perfect place to start--and all you need is a library card! 

Mango Languages offers free online instruction in 65 languages, including those as obscure as Cherokee, Pirate and Ancient Greek, as well as ESL teaching for native Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Chinese, French, German,Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese speakers. Mango keeps track of completed lessons and labs and provides a detailed record of the user’s progress. Pronunciation and examples of context are always provided. 

While competitors Rosetta Stone can boast lush photographic images and Powerspeak offers a non-nonsense digital classroom, Mango projects a sense of fun through its branding yet remains focused on practical application. For example, specialty courses cover such lively conversational topics as Text Talk in Latin American Spanish, Oktoberfest German, Wine and Cheese French and Endangered Languages.  

Linked to the Online Databases page at www.mywpl.org, Worcester library cardholders can access Mango remotely with the library barcode number and PIN to set up a Mango account, and even download the free app for IPhone or Android device. So sign up for Mango Languages and you're on your way!

Audiobooks Always Available at the Library

According to this year’s Audio Publishers Association sales survey, there was a 24% increase in audiobooks sold in the last year--business is booming! But did you know you can get them for free at the library? Whether you like to listen to books while gardening, cooking, working out,or commuting, we have something of interest to you. Check out http://www.tryaudiobooks.com/ for title suggestions and then let us know what you’re looking for, or search for it in our catalog. WPL—the best bargain in town!

Friday, May 27, 2016

May 2016 Staff Book Recommendations

All the Birds in the Sky 
by Charlie Jane Anders 

Despite the two frequently being conflated, science-fiction and fantasy are two different genres of books. Often, the genres have completely different themes and perspectives on storytelling. However, many authors attempt to write books merging the two genres. While not every effort is successful, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders succeeds brilliantly. 

All the Birds in the Sky tells the story of Patricia and Laurence, a young witch and genius inventor, respectively. The book follows the two over a period of years from childhood to adulthood as their lives intersect multiple times. The two also must contend with a world-changing threat and a mysterious assassin, but much of the conflict of the novel comes simply from the two character’s clashing world-views and ideals. Anders has clearly thought a lot about the interplay between science-fiction and fantasy, and in many ways, Laurence and Patricia’s relationship is a mirror to that. The two main characters are very well-defined, as well as the supporting cast. Anders has also clearly put a lot of thought into her world-building, and while I’m not sure if a sequel is planned, I would love to see her return to this setting for future books. 

As the former editor-in-chief of the nerd culture website io9, Anders clearly understands the conventions and tropes of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, but puts her own spin on them.  If you’ve read science fiction and fantasy before, you’ve likely seen many of the elements of the book before, but never mixed together quite like this. As a result, the book feels both familiar and extremely unique at the same time. All the Birds in the Sky is funny, heartfelt, and above all else, a celebration of both science-fiction and fantasy. I would highly recommend this one. 

--Alex


What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

by Anne Bernays & Pamela Painter 


The Lie That Tells a Truth
by John Dufresne 


Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True
by Elizabeth Berg 


Survival Writing by Claire Scrivener
 
If there’s one thing that Worcester does well, it’s produce writers. Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, John Dufresne...just to name a few. If that's your destiny too, here are a few books to consider for those days when focus and motivation are in short supply. 

What If? is full of exercises designed to prepare you for writing fabulous fiction, heavily interspersed with inspiring quotes and examples of work from well-known writers. This book could be used as a textbook for writing class, a writer needing a fresh perspective, or any fan of fiction writing, as it's a fascinating compilation of the best in the business. Exercises range from “Create an intriguing first sentence” to “You’re in the shower and you hear the front door (which you thought was locked), open. Write two pages.” 

John Dufresne’s The Lie that Tells a Truth also includes rousing quotes from famous writers and suggests helpful exercises, but his story is also very personal. Part memoir, part instruction manual, Dufresne generously shares his unique and humorous worldview, as well as  his writing history and habits with the reader. Having grown up on Grafton Hill in Worcester as a French Canadian Catholic, parts of his account will be very familiar to some locals, not to mention parts of the city. (If you’ve never read Dufresne before, do yourself a favor and read Requiem, Mass. for a real homegrown treat.) His book also contains also kinds of tricks to stimulate the imagination and unleash the emotions, i.e. "List all the pets you've ever had.  List all the things you are ashamed of."


Similarly, Elizabeth Berg provides her thoughts on writing in Escaping into the Open. She is well-known for her character-driven novels, but this book explains more about the nuts-and-bolts of accomplishing the act of writing and then getting published. For example, she provides a list of ideas for submissions to magazines for those wishing to break into the freelance biz, which was how she started her career. Berg concludes her book with recipes because “it’s important to nourish yourself when you’re working.”



And finally, a word on practical matters: to learn how to write letters, resumes, pitches, invoices, emails, articles, or reports, try Survival Writing by Claire Scrivener, a handbook designed to help readers navigate the business side of life successfully. She covers it all with the simple goal of transferring one's thoughts onto the page. Her tone is informal and light-hearted while being direct and informative.  Perfect for readers embarking on a new career and ESL students. 

--Christina






Do you have a bully living inside of you?

Is she relentless in her demands that you be more, do more, or give more? Does she taunt you with lies that you’ll never reach your goals or be successful? If so, you may be dealing with a nasty little pest in the form of an Inner Mean Girl (IMG).

In their thought-provoking book Reform Your Inner Mean Girl:7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself, authors Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo discuss the painful aspect of self-bullying, a hardship from which many women suffer. In ReformYour Inner Mean Girl Ahlers and Arylo introduce readers to thirteen different Inner Mean Girls including: The Achievement Junkie, The Comparison Queen, The Doing Addict, The Drama Queen, The Fixer and Rescuer, The Good Girl, The Head Tripper, The Invincible Superwoman, The Martyr, The Overly Optimistic Partying Cheerleader, The Perfectionist, The Rejection Queen, and The Worrywart. Along with each of these IMG profiles, Ahlers and Arylo discuss the “weapons,” “toxic habits,” and “big fat lies” of each Inner Mean Girl to help readers get to know these powerful pests. Ahlers and Arylo also include a detailed assessment so readers can identify the kind of IMG that resides inside themselves, as well as a chapter on understanding each kind of IMG’s motivations and triggers.

In the second part of ReformYour Inner Mean Girl, Ahlers and Arylo encourage readers to overcome self-bullying for good in their chapter “Meet Your Inner Wisdom.” Ahlers and Arylo define Inner Wisdom as a “voice more powerful than even the most lethal of Inner Mean Girls” and “the part of you that knows who you really are. The loving presence that loves you unconditionally and as a result can offer compassion and care to you no matter what” (p. 119). Some features of this part of the book include: “Telling the difference between your Inner Mean Girl and Your Inner Wisdom,” “Love Mantras,” and “How to Strengthen Your Inner Wisdom.”

This book is chock full of revelations and inspiration that will help readers strengthen their own self-worth and take the power back from their inner critic so that they can redefine their own lives. 


--Cara