Tag Archives: reading

Do you know the (book)score?

Here’s a (to my knowledge) unique website for book lovers:  The Bookscore.

It’s a review aggregator site, which is a fancy way to say that they compile a whole bunch of reviews for a book.  They give each book a score (here’s how they do it), but that’s not what I like best about the site.  The useful part, to me, is that a whole group of well-written reviews are gathered in one place for easy perusal.  So if you’re considering reading a particular book, or looking for something good to read, Bookscore is a great place to learn more about it.

At the end of each book’s page, they include links to “Further Reading,” which might be an interview with the author, an excerpt, or other goodies.  They also feature interesting articles and “book news.”   Browse away!



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Filed under Books, Internet, Reading

New Resource for Readers

We’ve just added a new online reference for popular book club selections called “Twenty First Century Novels.”   It’s an encyclopedia of background information and analysis for better understanding new “literary” titles from the past ten years.

Examples of titles discussed include “Empire Falls,” “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” “The Kite Runner,” “Prodigal Summer,” and the Harry Potter series, among dozens of others.

If you’ve enjoyed these books and would like to learn a little more about the book’s themes, writing style, what the critics thought, and more, you’ll enjoy this database.  If you’re looking for a good book to suggest for your book group, or want to prepare for a discussion, you can really impress everyone with your knowledge of the book!

Also handy for school reports, so let the students in your life know about this.

Click here for the link to all of our literature and reading resources.

Other books included:


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Filed under Books, Databases, Reading

Privacy and reading

Privacy is a hot topic these days.  There’s much ado and furor, but not a lot of clarity.  And now, even what you read is being tracked!

Your e-Book is Reading You details how the Amazon, Nook, Kobo and other e-readers are reaping huge amounts of data from their customers.  It’s starting to ask a question publishers and authors have long hypothesized about:  what do readers want?

Now these companies are able to tell who is reading what, and how fast they read it.  They can tell if you’ve finished the book, or dropped it.  If you highlight, annotate, make notes, or bookmark,’ they can even tell what quotes you wanted to remember or what pages caught your attention.

Some of these numbers are fun.  Average speed of reading George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons?  About 50 pages an hour.   But there is a concern that learning the exact tastes and habits of e-readers will start to impact what writers write and publishers publish.

Not to brag or anything, but contrast this controversial data collecting with libraries.  Once you’ve turned in a book, we don’t keep records on what you’ve checked out.  This protects your privacy against anyone who comes to the library wanting that data.  Some people want us to keep those records — “I don’t remember if I read that or not!” — and that’s actually a feature we intend to incorporate in the future.  But we want that to be your decision, not ours.

What do you think?  Do you want your consumer habits to be private, and if so, why do you care?

P.S.  Same thing with Netflix!  Click here to read what’s happening there.


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Filed under Authors, Books, Intellectual freedom, Internet

The Art of Browsing









The other evening, I was helping an enthusiastic young reader look for a particular book.  To her chagrin, it was checked out.  We put it on hold for her, and I suggested we browse for a different book she might like.  “Browse?” she repeated, as if she were feeling the word in her mouth for the first time.

I’m afraid that browsing is becoming a lost art.  Is cyberspeed changing our brains?  Does no one have the time to meander the shelves without aim, open to surprise, an open space within ready be filled with something of which we know not?

As Pam Kessinger, a librarian at Portland Community College, writes, “’No thanks, I’m just browsing’ is the phrase I love to imagine hearing library users say, as if they were perusing the books like they would the newest fashions, for their cachet and allure of uniqueness. Just looking, the implication would be, idly picking up visual cues and letting their minds wander, taking in ideas and forming juxtapositions.”

Your library: one place in which you can take your time and follow your nose, in public, for free.  And who knows where your nose might take you?  I know of one person who took home a book about Spain.  Her husband saw it and surprised her later that year with a trip to Madrid!

Your mileage may vary.  Come in and browse anyway: it’s good for your brain.

–Mary Beth








Filed under Books, Libraries, Reading

Have you always wanted…

…to try belonging to a book group?

Well, now’s your chance.  Join us!  And please, help spread the word to your friends and family.


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Filed under Adult programs, Books, Library events, Reading

Are you a LitLover?

The web is soooooo full of book-loving resources.  Here’s one you might like to visit: LitLovers.  You can find a book and read a review. There’s great information about starting a book group, for adults or kids.  There are book club discussion guides for specific books.

And there are “LitCourses.”  If you want to get “more” out of your reading — if you’re nagged by all that talk in English classes from long ago, about themes and metaphors and symbolism and whatnot — or if you just enjoy some extra education, take a look at these offerings.

There are ten of them, from how to read “deeply” to deepening your awareness of plot, characters, and point of view (as well as, naturally, theme and symbolism).  They’re self-guided and contain a piece of work to read that pertains to that unit’s focus.

It’s fall!  I always feel a tug towards going back to school, this time of year.  Indulge yourself with a bit of literature-loving, and let us know if it expands your reading horizons.
                               —Mary Beth


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“Have I Read This?”

Often, patrons come to the Information Desk and ask if we can bring up the history of what they’ve checked out in the past.   We don’t keep that information, partly to protect your privacy; but there are lots of neat ways for you to do so. 

For the low-tech folks, don’t discount a simple notebook or collection of index cards to keep track of books you’ve read or want to read.   And for the online crew, there are several great sites for you to consider.  They are social networking websites for book lovers (although you don’t have to share your lists; you can use these sites and stay private if you choose). 

All these sites are free or have free options.  Once you’ve created an account, you can start adding titles you are currently reading, books you’ve read, and what you’d like to read.  You can add tags to your books — any word or phrase that helps you describe a book.  A tag might be “mystery,”  “want to read,”  “five star,” or whatever is useful to you in categorizing.

Each of these sites have different features, but all encourage you to share your love of books with others on the site.  You can rate books, write reviews, comment on others’ reviews; you can see who else likes your favorites, and what else those people enjoy.  There’s lots of ways to get suggestions for good reads.

So here they are.  Explore a little and see if you’d like to be an online book-lover.

LibraryThing                 Shelfari                      Goodreads                   WorldCat

                   —Mary Beth


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Warming the cockles of my heart

I met a young man in the library last night.  Let’s call him Miguel.  He came up to the Information Desk with a shy smile, and asked if we might have any books about soccer.  “Books about how to play soccer, or stories with soccer in them?”  I asked.  “Stories,” he said.  “I need to practice my reading.”

Boy comes to library to practice his reading.  In the summertime.  Words to engage this reader’s heart.  I smiled beautifically.  “What grade at you going into, Miguel?”  I asked as I looked through the library catalogue.  “Seventh,” he said, “but I don’t read good.  My teacher says I read like third grade.”

I found him a few chapter books and had him read a paragraph.  “How many words are hard for you in that paragraph?”    “Three or four,” he said, slowly sounding them out.  “That’s just right,” I told him, “hard enough to make you learn new words.”   He grinned again and thanked me, looking at the boy playing soccer on the cover.

“Shall we get you a couple of books that will be easy for you, too?” I asked, thinking that maybe some confidence-building would also be useful, even if the content was a little babyish for him.  Miguel thought that was a great idea, so we found a couple more and he checked them out.

A couple of things struck me about  Miguel.  First, he might be a total mischief-maker elsewhere, but he has a grin that will get him far in this life.  Second, he has a presence unusual for his age;  if he was a bit shy, he didn’t appear to be ashamed of his current proficiency, or hesitant to ask for help. 

A lot has been written in the last years about helping boys become readers.  If you’re interested, one place to look is http://www.guysread.com/about/.   The popular blog “The Huffington Post” just this week had a post entitled Can fart jokes get boys reading? 

I guess meeting Miguel made me aware that for every motivated, vibrant brown-eyed cutie asking for help finding soccer books, there must be many others who need encouragement and coaxing and sustained attention to get a sense of the magic of books.  Maybe it takes a village to help a boy learn to read.  That’s a village I’d like to live in.
—– Mary Beth


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Filed under Early literacy, Reading

Find what you want @ your library

This morning, I helped a gentleman check out a good-sized stack of books, and asked if he had found everything he was looking for.  “Yes! ” he said enthusiastically.  “This is the most new books I’ve been able to find for ages!”  He went on to say that sometimes, he comes in and whole shelves full of new books are available, and other times, there are very few.  Today, he had a good library day.

In an ideal world, we’d have those shelves so full, you’d always have more choices every time you visited us.  We’d be able to afford all the best-sellers, and even get multiple copies of the really popular ones.  We could update our non-fiction collection to reflect the most recent works in the fields of history, health, law, and popular areas like hobbies and movies.

But in this world, this year, we can only buy a fraction of what we’d like to have available for our patrons.  So here is a bit of a secret — at least to many people — you can ask us what to read!   If there isn’t anything for you on the ‘new’ shelf, and browsing through the shelves is overwhelming, just ask one of us for some help.  This is actually an art/science of librarianship; it’s called “reader’s advisory,” and just refers to the ability to help people find a book they might like.  It makes for some really fun conversations, and it might introduce you to some jewels you didn’t know we have. 

This is one of the most fun things I get to do.  So ask for me if I’m around! 
                                       –Mary Beth


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Filed under Books, BPL services, Reading

Heard any good books lately?

Now that summer’s here (or soon will be) our lives should be taking on a slower pace, right?  I don’t know about you, but that’s not happening for me. But I’ve managed to find a new way to make time for one of my favorite pastimes: reading! 

I asked for an iPod for Christmas (my kids got me a purple one), and I’ve been downloading audiobooks from the library’s new database: NetLibrary. NetLibrary has over 3,000 audiobooks, with choices from current suspense and romance to children’s classics; something for just about everyone.

Now when I take my daily walks I can “read” a book at the same time. That’s a winning combination—I can listen to a good book, while I’m doing something that’s good for me.

I ventured outside my normal reading range by choosing Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris – a vampire book!  Who knew blood-sucking vampires could be so fun?

The NetLibrary process starts at your library where you set up an account on the NetLibrary website. Then you can download books from any computer with internet access. So come on in and get started–it’s a new, free service at your local public library.

To find out more about NetLibrary click on "Download Media" under Quick Links on our library homepage.

And if you’re participating in the adult summer reading program (see post below), which starts Monday, you can write reviews of your audiobooks too!


PS Do you ever read in the bathtub to unwind at night? With downloadable audiobooks you don’t have to worry about dropping the book in the water–that’s a big plus!


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