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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Random Reviews: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Book Title: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Author: Connie Willis

Reviewed By: Stephanie F.

In the year 2057, a domineering aristocrat has financed the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral to its prior glory (it was decimated in a Nazi blitz in 1940). To make the cathedral historically accurate, she's pulled every historian in the UK to search out the artifacts. As historians, each is prepped in his or her scholarly field, then sent through time to observe history in the making. Unfortunately, the safeguards fail and a historian accidentally brings something back from the Victorian era, potentially altering the space-time continuum and putting the threads of reality dangerously close to paradox.

Enter Ned, a time-lapse sufferer, who, under Lady Shrapnell's insistence, has made far too many time jumps in too short a time frame and come close to a nervous collapse. He disappears into the Victorian era to hide from the shrill matron and try to set right the fabric of time. On the way, he meets an affectionate bulldog, a bumbling Oxford don, a proprietary pussycat, and prevents a Classics major from meeting his One True Love. The historians try to fix time and find the lost artifact (the bishop's bird stump) before the universe implodes.

That, and there's a lot of adjustment to Spiritualism, Victorian manners, and jokes about Jeeves, Lord Peter Wimsey, discussion on the nature of a good mystery (Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Wilkie Collins, et. al), and a few church bazaars with the dreaded jumble sales.

The writing is phenomenal. This book had me laughing aloud and wishing there was more so that I wouldn't be done yet. I figured out the twists partway through, but that's mainly because I've read a lot of mysteries. It didn't hamper my enjoyment at all. In fact, I liked knowing more than the heroes (though, to be fair, I am not time-lagged and hallucinating. I am merely an insomniac). To say nothing of the cats (or the dog, who was quite lovable) and the time-traveling historians. TIME TRAVELING HISTORIANS!

Although this book is only available as an eBook, we have several of Connie Willis' books in print versions, including the novella Inside Job and Blackout/All Clear sequence, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2011.

Find To Say Nothing of the Dog in our catalog.

Did you just read a great book that you can't wait to share? Write a #Random Review! We may publish it in the blog; people may respond; it might start a conversation.
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

What are you reading?

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Holiday Reading! (and listening)

Looking for some inspirational reads to get you in the holiday spirit? We've got you covered!
Your favorite authors, artists and actors are waiting for you to come in and take them home!
Stop by and select from our Holiday Items display.

 In the Library catalog, click on the
'Tis the Season To Read 2016"
tab to see staff-selected holiday reads!

Are you more of an "instant gratification" kind of person?

Holiday eBooks and eAudiobooks are available for download in our digital collections.
See Staff Picks in eRead Illinois and "'Tis the Season to Read 2016" in eMediaLibrary.


Happy reading! (and listening!)

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

December at the Roselle Public Library District

December's greeted us with frosty breath and early darkness, but we have dreams of sugar plums, comfy sweaters, and plenty of heat and holiday activities too!

Start with Christmas in Chicago, December 4, 1:30-2:30P. Stroll down Chicago's streets (and memory lane) with historian Dave Clark as he takes you to the State Street Christmas Parade, caroling to the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo, lunch under the Walnut Room's tree, and more. Registration is required through our online calendar or by phone at 630.529.1641, ext. *222.

The following weekend, join us for a matinee Family Movie, December 10, 2-4P in the meeting rooms. This month's selection is The Secret Life of Pets. No registration required.

Then return the next day for Musical Sunday, December 11, 1:30-3P! Singer-songwriter Rick Pickren presents A Prairie Holiday for an afternoon of mood-lifting music. Pickren has shared the stage with George Strait, Merle Haggard, Alabama, the Judds, Dolly Parton, and more, and he'll bring his cowboy style to the atrium. Did you know he's a direct descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody?

No registration required. Enjoy a cup of coffee and cookies, too!

Everyone loves to receive holiday cards, but they can be impersonal and expensive. Why not express yourself and make your own this time? With Make Your Own Holiday Card, December 13, 4-5P, you can! We'll provide the art supplies; you create your masterpiece in pen, ink, and watercolor. Open to grades six through twelve. Registration is required through our online calendar or by phone at 630.529.1641, ext. *222.

Christmas week is home to something else creative: Teen Film Club, December 21, 4-5P! Discuss your favorite movies, experiment with real filmmaker techniques, and explore digital cameras, apps, editing tools, and more, plus help us build our YouTube channel! Open to grades six through twelve. No registration required.

In observance of Christmas, the library is closed December 24 and 25 to reopen December 26, 9:30A. The library is also closed December 31 in observance of New Year's Eve.

After you've celebrated the season, drop by Lego My LEGO! on December 26, 10A-3P and build never-before-seen structures, palaces, vehicles, and anything else that excites your imagination. We'll supply the LEGOs and you supply the finished creations for our displays. Open to kindergarten through sixth grade. An adult must accompany children under eight. No registration required.

Two days later, grandparents, grand-friends, and grandchildren can take on a special holiday activity, craft, snack, and board games at Grandparents Got *Holiday* Game, December 28, 1:30-3P. No registration required.

From everyone at the library, we sincerely hope your holidays are cheery, merry, and bright. Keep dreaming of sugar plums, don your comfy sweaters, and find a tale on our shelves or attend an event in our spaces that'll introduce you to the holiday spirit as if it were the first time. See you next year!

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Inspiration for your holiday table

Is holiday baking on your mind?
Get inspired by the specially hand-picked collection, From Page to Plate, highlighted in the Library's catalog. Click on any book jacket to find out if it is available to borrow.

If you prefer ebooks in the kitchen, check out From Page to Plate in eRead Illinois. The titles in this collection are currently available to download so you can get started on those holiday goodies!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

#RPLDiscover: "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren

Review by Brett Peto
Public Services Assistant
Reference & Adult Services Department

You know the special lines when you see them. They move the plot, yes. They describe something, sure. They provoke thought, of course.

But they move the plot in an unpredictable direction, or link certain things together in an unforgettable way, or provoke thoughts that seem obvious once you have them in mind.

There are lots of special lines in Lab Girl, a memoir of renowned geobiologist Hope Jahren's long career in a scientific field I didn't know much about.

"Each beginning is the end of a waiting," Jahren says. "We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited."

Jahren knows a little about waiting. Growing up in Minnesota, her childhood was full of snow, cold, gardening with her mother, "noting each instance of symbolism within Pilgrim's Progress on separate recipe cards," and visiting her father's lab at the community college almost every evening. To her, "there is nothing in the world more perfect than a slide rule."

There's also nothing more perfect than building a lab from scratch. Jahren has "given warmth and life to three empty rooms, each one bigger and better than the last."

Her latest is in Honolulu with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. It's her church, where she figures out what she believes. It's the place where the guilt "over what I haven't done is supplanted by all of the things that I am getting done." It's full of thought, contemplation, experimentation.

Which Jahren has done plenty of over her career, publishing 70 studies in 40 journals so far, with more on the way.

She's not only a successful scientist. She's a successful writer, too, blending scientific precision with poetic sensibilities, taking the long view, seeing the big picture, as when she delves into poignant, brief, thoughtful examinations of leaves, trees, roots, cacti, evolution, and more.

"A vine makes it up as it goes along."

"A cactus doesn't live in the desert because it likes the desert; it lives there because the desert hasn't killed it yet."

"Soil is the naturally produced graffiti that results from tensions between the biological and geological realms."

"A tree's wood is also its memoir."

"A leaf is a platter of pigment strung with vascular lace."

In some works, language like this can be distracting, but Jahren anchors it in knowledge you know she's developed over decades.

Like how leaves are stacked to maximize photosynthesis, with small, pale ones at the top and large, deeply green ones at the bottom, which catch the sun when wind parts the upper branches.

Or how "a vine can grow an entire foot in length on just one sunny day."

Or how tree siblings remember whether their childhood was warm or cold, so much so they stop growing to prepare for winter at the same time every year, regardless of whether it fits where they actually live.

Or how just $7.3 billion is awarded to the National Science Foundation each year, which covers all curiosity-driven science: "not just biology, but also geology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, psychology, sociology, and the more esoteric forms of engineering and computer science as well."

Jahren fights for funding every day, week, month, and year, stringing together private and public sources as she "tortures spreadsheets" to make ends meet. As a professor, she has tenure, but her lab could still fold at any time.

This also means she can't pay the most important person in her life—Bill, her lab assistant—much more than $35,000 per year, including benefits, even though he has 20 years of experience.

"It is maddening to me that the best and hardest-working scientist I've ever known has no long-term job security," Jahren says. "The only thing that I can think to do if I lose funding is to threaten to quit, which would probably just leave both of us out on the street. As research scientists, we will never, ever be secure."

The core of the book is Jahren's relationship with Bill, whom she met as a graduate student assistant instructor on a field trip through the Central Valley of California. Bill, a student, "looked like a young Johnny Cash and was perennially clad in jeans and a leather jacket even in 105-degree heat."

He liked to dig holes away from the class, studying their parts and layers with the Keys to Soil Taxonomy. They talked. Jahren realized the other students didn't exclude him; Bill separated himself.

And when she left for Georgia Tech, she took him with her.

So much happens between them—one particularly memorable episode is an incident involving late-night glass-blowing—it's not unexpected when Jahren tries to explain how her relationship with Bill complements her relationship with her husband, Clint.

"People still puzzle over the two of us, Bill and me," Jahren says. "Are we siblings? Soul mates? Comrades? Novitiates? Accomplices? We eat almost every meal together, our finances are mixed, and we tell each other everything. We travel together, work together, finish each other's sentences, and have risked our lives for each other."

Labels don't fit.

"But people that I meet still seem to want a label for what is between us...I don't have an answer for that one," says Jahren. "I do us because us is what I know how to do."

Perhaps Lab Girl's most special lines arrive on page 277.

"I'm good at science because I'm not good at listening," she writes. "I have been told that I am intelligent, and I have been told that I am simple-minded. I have been told that I am trying to do too much, and I have been told that what I have done amounts to very little. I have been told that I can't do what I want to do because I am a woman, and I have been told that I have only been allowed to do what I have done because I am a woman. I have been told that I can have eternal life, and I have been told that I will burn myself out into an early death. I have been admonished for being too feminine and I have been distrusted for being too masculine. I have been warned that I am far too sensitive and I have been accused of being heartlessly callous. But I was told all of these things by people who can't understand the present or see the future any better than I can."

These contradictory messages haven't stopped Jahren from practicing the science she loves.

"Such recurrent pronouncements have forced me to accept that because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along," she says. "I don't take advice from my colleagues, and I try not to give it. When I am pressed, I resort to these two sentences: You shouldn't take this job too seriously. Except for when you should."

You can find Lab Girl in Adult Nonfiction, 580.92 JAH.

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Random Reviews: Truly, Madly, Guilty

Book Title: Truly Madly Guilty

Author: Liane Moriarty

Reviewed By: Lynn D.

It was interesting how Liane Moriarty spun out this story.
Something dramatic happened at a neighborhood barbecue - something that effected each of the characters' lives. It was both frustrating and tantalizing as the chapters jump from tidbits about how each of the characters was reacting to the "something" that happened, to the "Day of the Barbecue," and back. It was not until halfway through the story that the author revealed what actually happened at the barbecue - frustrating and tantalizing.

Why I picked it up: I read The Husband's Secret by Moriarty and enjoyed that so I thought I would give her another try.

Why I finished it: You had to keep reading to find out what happened at the barbecue - why they were all falling apart in so many different ways. Once you knew, the rest was anti-climactic, but you still wanted to see how they turned out.

Who would you recommend it to: I hesitate to say "anyone who likes chick lit" because I didn't think it was chick lit, but apparently Goodreads did. So, anyone who likes chick lit or contemporary stories set in Australia.

Find Truly Madly Guilty in our catalog.

Did you just read a great book that you can't wait to share? Write a #Random Review! We may publish it in the blog; people may respond; it might start a conversation.
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

What are you reading?

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

20s & 30s Book Group meets next Thursday

Join fellow 20 & 30-somethings once a month for good food, good fun, and a great discussion on the books you want to read! At the November meeting, we'll discuss The Shootout Solution by Michael R. Underwood. As always we'll meet at a local restaurant. Come join us on Thursday, November 17, 6:30 pm - ??? For more info (and the name of the local restaurant) contact Matt Wieck, or call 630.529.1641 ext.*211. Whether or not you can attend our next meeting (especially if you cannot attend), join our Goodreads Group and share your comments in the online discussion.

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