Archive | September, 2008

Great Books

We’ve set up a new display in the fiction section of the library! For the time being, we’ve devoted a shelf to spotlighting the work of classic or renown authors. Maybe the shelf will remind you of someone whose work you loved, or maybe you’ll discover new favorite authors on the display. We hope that you’ll keep these writers in mind when you’re browsing through the many offerings in our fiction collection.

First up in our Classic Authors spotlight is W. Somerset Maugham…

This picture was taken in 1933 at Maugham’s home on the French Riviera (and was retrieved from our AP Images database). Maugham looks a bit cranky in this photo — and by some accounts, cranky was his natural state. According to Contemporary Authors Online, (accessible through our Biography Resource Center subscription), Maugham was often called “cynical, cold, uncharitable.”

But if he was hard on friends and colleagues, Maugham was arguably much kinder to his readers. Described by one contemporary as “the most continuously readable storyteller of our lifetime,” Maugham’s books are engaging, with memorable characters and clear plots, and few unnecessary literary flourishes. In his A Writer’s Notebook, Maugham  described his theory of literature this way:

The fact remains that the four greatest novelists the world has ever known–Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoi and Dostoyevski–wrote their respective languages very badly. It proves that if you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write. All the same it’s better to write well than ill.

He achieved great financial success in his lifetime, making his mark with both novels and plays. Stop by our display and peruse his work for yourself — or ask a librarian to help you find a title.

(Have a suggestion for our next author spotlight? Leave us a comment here, or stop by the reference desk and let us know.)

Click here for a catalog search of works by W. Somerset Maugham.

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Under the Helmet – A Few Seconds of Panic

If you watch television, read the newspaper, or browse the internet at all (we’ll go out on a limb and assume that most of you blog readers at least do the latter) you are probably aware that football season has begun. Although based on the length and depth of the preseason media coverage this offseason, you would not have been far off in guessing that the season began three months ago.

A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis

A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis

Preseason with the 2006 Denver Broncos is where Stefan Fatsis finds himself in his book A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL.  As the title suggests, Fatsis, who in his previous bestseller Word Freak infiltrated the odd world of competitive Scrabble players, this time joins the Broncos at training camp as a placekicker.  Naturally, players and coaches are at first skeptical, but Fatsis works hard enough to earn the respect and honesty of his fellow teammates, both on-the-field and off.

A Few Seconds of Panic provides an unusual perspective into the life of a professional football team, from the cool confidence of seasoned veterans to the nail-biting tension of fourth-stringers fighting every day for their livelihoods.  Anyone who has ever entertained the thought of stepping onto any sporting field will be entertained by Fatsis’ struggles.  Football fans will devour this book and may never view the game on the field quite the same, but even the casual observer will be intrigued by the all-too-human side displayed by these gridiron giants.

You will find A Few Seconds of Panic in the New Books section at 070.4497 F.  Other books on football can be found at 796.332.

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September is National Preparedness Month

Even though we are not faced with hurricanes like other parts of this country, we Californians do live in “Earthquake Country”. While we once again watch tragedy wrought by the latest hurricanes, it is a good time to reflect on our own vulnerabilities – not just to earthquakes but fires, floods and other disasters.Through their Ready campaign, the Department of Homeland Security and Citizens Corps are sponsoring National Preparedness Month during September. The site offers information about creating an emergency preparedness kit, creating emergency plans for both individuals and businesses and also daily tips for preparedness. This site also includes brochures and lists that can be downloaded as well as videos on various aspects of preparedness.

There are also other sites that provide detailed information about emergency preparedness such as the American Red Cross’ Get Prepared guide; the Humane Society of the United States’ Disaster Preparedness Resources for our animal companions; FEMA’s extensive Are You Ready? guide and a version of the  U. S. Geological Services’ Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country that was created for the San Francisco Bay area.

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