Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 2013 Book Recommendations by Staff

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A woman on the verge, a writer in command

The Flamethrowers
By Rachel Kushner

I lovvved this book! Why? So many reasons. There’s the protagonist, Reno. If you’ve ever been in love in vain, found yourself ensconced in a much more glamorous and foreign place than where you’re from, or simply in over your head, you will recognize her. As the observer and conscience of the plot, her naivete is heartbreaking but her insights are spot on.

Speaking of plot, you can read this book just for the story, which is reason enough; Kushner is encyclopedic in tackling subjects are diverse as the political climate of 1970s Italy, the history of motorcycle making, land speed records, the dynamics of the New York art world. Or, you can savor it for the abundant layers of symbolism spilling out from the many stories within stories her entertaining characters provide.

As WPL’s Joy Hennig defined, “Literary fiction is when the prose is so good you want to raise blocks of text out of the story and study them independently.” This work of literary fiction is brimming over with gorgeous language, both precise and lush, and universal truths about human identity,” the uselessness of truth”, the sometimes blurry distinction between creating art and creating a life, and what attracts one soul to another. This is one of those books that will leave you with questions, but won’t leave you even after you’ve read the final pages.

To locate this book in the library or place a hold, click here.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

What would you do if you suddenly couldn't see?
Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic
By Nora Gallagher

Renowned author and memoirist Nora Gallagher (Things Seen and Unseen, Changing Light) comes down with a confounding set of symptoms: headaches, extreme fatigue, and most troubling of all, disappearing peripheral vision. Unfortunately, visiting a whole bevy of doctors does nothing to alleviate her symptoms or illuminate their cause…at first.

Thus begins Gallagher‘s thoughtful chronicle of a year of “being a patient”, which includes so much more than enduring physical symptoms: uncertainty, fear, anxiety of becoming a burden to caregivers, frustration at navigating the labyrinth that is the American healthcare system. Gallagher’s prose rings true when describing the feeling of otherness that descends as soon as mortality become one’s main priority: “Then I had an uncanny feeling of being behind a glass wall that had slid down out of the sky and separated me from the rest of the people on the street. “

Her journey spans from her primary care doc in Santa Barbara all the way to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. If this sounds like a depressing read (spoiler alert!), be advised it’s a happy ending: a diagnosis, and the author learning to live joyfully while managing extended illness. If you grapple with the big questions, and enjoy House, give this insightful account a try.

To locate this book in the library or place a hold, click here.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Online Genealogy Resources for Kids and Teens

Genealogy, the study of one’s family line, is a rewarding and sometimes consuming hobby. The dedicated researchers who commit themselves to this study have a fascination with the past and a desire to feel connected with their ancestors. Most genealogists are middle-aged or older. Creating a family tree for posterity is a noble aspiration, but if new generations fail to continue that research then the tree dies. It’s important to get our kids interested in genealogy, not only for the sake of our own research, but to instill a love of learning and an appreciation for history in children and teens.

This summer Joy Hennig, our Local History and Genealogy Librarian, will be leading two sessions of Genealogy for Kids, a program for children aged 12 and up accompanied by an adult. The program will be held at the Francis Perkins Branch Library on July 12 from 2-3pm and at the Main Branch on July 30th from 2:30-3:30pm.

To expand on these programs we have identified some useful genealogical resources for kids:

Boy Scout Merit Badge in Genealogy
This webpage describes the requirements for the merit badge in genealogy and includes a listing of very helpful web resources to help introduce young people to this study. An invaluable resource for young people first learning about genealogy, regardless of whether or not they are associated with the Boy Scouts.

FamilySearch – Time Lines
FamilySearch, a giant in the genealogical field, provides instructions for creating a timeline for one’s family history.

Family Tree Kids
A great site for kids to learn about genealogy. Includes a family tree download, forms and how-tos.

Pinterest- Genealogy for Kids
This Pinterest board features fun genealogy-themed activities for children.

For more information:
WPL Program Calendar
WPL Local History and Genealogy Resources

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Summer's Here! Powerspeak Can Help!

Whether you are traveling to Cancun, or applying for a job, it sure would help to know a bit about another language, right?

Even if it's not for a vacation overseas, one thing about learning a language, is that it is so useful. 

Say you are looking for a job. Think about how many positions would be available to you if you just spoke Spanish.

On the flip side, if you speak Spanish, and learned English as a Second Language, you too would have more opportunity to work. But also, you would be able to access so much more from American culture by learning English!

The library subscribes to the database called Powerspeak. The library has bought it so you don't have to!!!

All you do is sign up with an email and create a password, choose the language you want to learn, and you're in!

You can choose to learn:
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Mandarin, or 
  • Ingl├ęs (ESL)
Here is the introduction to an exercise in ESL:

The modules are welcoming and easy to try. The interface is interactive and keeps you engaged throughout the entire learning process.

To find this database:
  1. Log on to, the WPL website.
  2. Click on the link, Online Databases on the left of the screen.
  3. Go to BY SUBJECT and scroll down to Language Learning.
  4. Click on Powerspeak.
  5. One the right there are two icons. One is of a House, and one is of the Library. If you are in the Library, click on that icon. Otherwise, click on the house icon.
  6. Sign up, and start learning!