Love is in the air (and books)!

You have to admit that other than being only 28 days long, February doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. It’s often cold, wet and wearisome. The rush of those hopeful January New Year’s expectations has faded with the realization that this year is going to be pretty much like the last one. Punxsutawney Phil has predicted another six weeks of winter for us to slog through and there are no more Patriots’ games to watch on Sunday afternoons. There is, however, one bright spot in this month of sharp winds and gray skies; it’s February 14, Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day has a long and interesting history. Once a religious feast day honoring Saint Valentinus, martyred during the Roman Empire for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, today it is a popular celebration of romantic love with heart-shaped cards, colorful flowers and chocolate candies. It’s a day that reminds us of the joy found in loving and being loved, and the power of love to transform and endure.

You don’t, however, have to wait for February 14 every year, to be reminded of love. The library offers you thousands of love stories to brighten your days year round. The romance novel is one of the most popular genres in the library’s collection. Some estimate that more than 70 million Americans read at least one romance novel a year. What’s the attraction? (Pun intended.) There are several. The main plot centers on individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. The heroine is intelligent, good-looking, lives a fulfilling life and gets to be loved for who she is. The hero is ruggedly handsome, darkly mysterious, and struggles with some impediment that prevents him from professing his love until the final pages. There are always obstacles to overcome before the two lovers can unite, and there is typically a Happily Ever After Ending. In other words, romance novels are very emotionally satisfying reads.

The romance novel genre is so large that there are sub-genres – contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, fantasy romance, time-travel romance, inspirational romance and even paranormal romance. You may have suspected this, but some of your favorite literature classics are essentially romance novels, focusing as they do on strong romantic relationships between the central characters – think Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights.

Love is splendid. It is a rich, important element of the human experience, and there’s no reason not to enjoy, and celebrate it through reading all year long.

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Posted in Readers

Raynham Reads 2018

It exploded like a bomb or a bombo-genesis, as meteorologists would later describe it. It slipped into a New England February with winds that would go from strong to hurricane force in a few hours, catching everyone by surprise. Snow was expected, but no one expected that the system would move so quickly through New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island only to stall off the coast of Nantucket, allowing it to concentrate its full strength along the Massachusetts coast. It dumped more than three feet of snow over a thirty-three hour period before finally heading out to sea, leaving massive destruction, thousands of motorists stranded in their cars and conditions that would eventually claim ninety-nine lives in its wake. The intensity of the storm broke sea walls and created tide surges that inundated coastal communities and left thousands homeless. It was the Blizzard of 1978, and there are many who remember its terrifying might.

The Friends of the Raynham Public Library mark the 40th anniversary of the Blizzard of ‘78 with the selection of Ten Hours Until Dawn, The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do, by Michael Tougias, as the Raynham Reads 2018, One Book, One Community.

As disastrous as blizzard conditions were on land, the storm’s menace also placed in peril those at sea. Ten Hours Until Dawn recounts the tragic effort of the crew of the pilot boat, the Can Do, to rescue a tanker run aground and floundering off the Salem coast. It’s a devastating and true account of bravery and death at sea, and although we know the outcome from the beginning, the story still holds us in its grip. Tougias has written a masterful tale, a fitting selection for this year’s Raynham Reads.

Raynham Reads: One Book, One Community is designed to encourage a conversation in the community. It’s intended to bring people together through reading and discussion. When we all read the same book, we have something in common to talk about – a shared experience. We become a community of readers who share ideas, opinions, likes and dislikes. In today’s world, where there is so much that divides us, the shared experience of reading the same book is an appealing way to bring us together.

Books are available at the library beginning Monday, February 5. Book discussion, a documentary film and an eye-witness account are scheduled for March and April. Michael Tougias, the author, joins us on Sunday afternoon, April 29. The public is invited to share their photographs and memories of the Blizzard of ’78 on the library’s Blizzard Board. For a full schedule of Raynham Reads 2018 events, visit the library’s website, raynhampubliclibrary.org, or pick-up a schedule of events at the library.

Posted in Readers

Reading in Series

One of the most frequent questions we are asked by our readers is “What’s next?” We hear the question so often that we know immediately what they are asking. They are not asking us to predict their future, foretell their fortune or forecast the weather.  They want to know the title of the next book in a series.

A book series is a sequence of books having certain characteristics in common that connect them as a group. They typically share a common setting, locale, cast of characters or timeline.  Series are especially common in fiction, fantasy, adventure, mystery and science fiction.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of book series. Think of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, theAlex Cross series by James Patterson or the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Series are especially popular and recurrent in children’s literature – The Wimpy Kid, Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, the Boxcar Children – to name a few. The books may be written by the same author or a collaboration of authors and marketed as a series – 39 Clues is an example.

When deciding to read a series, the reader has three options. You can start at the beginning and read straight though. This is the most obvious and logical approach to reading a series, but it may demand patience as you wait for the next book to become available. The upside is that there’s no chance of being confused or feeling lost as you’re reading since you know the characters and the backstory.

You can begin at the end and read backwards. That way you’re sure to find books on the shelf since everyone else is reading the newest release. The downside is, of course, you’ll have read “spoilers”; you’ll always know what’s going to happen. You may also find that the later books are not as engaging as the first books in the series.

The third alternative to reading a series is that you can randomly select a book in the series without any thought to the order, and hope the author sprinkles in enough background to put you somewhat in the picture. There’s no hard and fast rule about which of these methods to employ. For some people reading a series from the beginning and in order is the only option. I think that it depends on the series.  You can certainly read M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth in any order, or the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse. You’ll enjoy Precious Ramatswe’s adventures in the No. I Ladies’ Detective Agency in any sequence, but you’ll get lost in the Outlander series if you don’t start at the beginning.

Enjoy reading series? We’ve pulled together dozens of the first book in popular series and placed them on display. Browse the display, make a selection and start at the beginning of a new and enthralling reading adventure.

Posted in Readers

New Year – New You

At this time of year we are bombarded with ideas for self-improvement. You can’t avoid the constant reminder that the new year brings new opportunities to improve the old you. It’s New Year, new you, right? – new body, new face, new interests, new friends, new everything. If only it were true. Sadly, most of us are stuck with the same old body, face, interests and friends. Not that we can’t change; not that we don’t want to change. It’s just so hard to break away from that comfort zone we all inhabit – no matter how resolute we are.

We make our New Year’s resolutions with great sincerity and good intentions, but it’s easy to lose enthusiasm as daily life chugs on. Those resolutions from Monday may already be a distant memory. However, if you’ve holding fast and are determined to succeed, the library can help. Publishers know that the New Year brings an itch for change and release a multitude of books to motivate, inspire and transform us into our ideal selves. So, if you are determined to turn over a new leaf in 2018 – lose those pounds, start exercising, be nicer to your family and kinder to work colleagues, be more confident, spend less, save more, be happier –  there’s a book for that and you can find it at the library. There are hundreds of self-help books in our collection to guide, support and motivate you toward whatever personal transformation you hope to achieve.

Want to shed weight, improve your looks and increase your self-esteem? Choose from an array of diet and exercise books. Manuel Villacorte offers advice on how to shed pounds, fight inflammation and feel great all year long in his book, Flat Belly 365.  Mark Hyman promises that you’ll have sustained weight loss and vibrant good health in his book, The Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook and David Lieberman tells you how to stay calm and in control in any conversation or situation in Never Get Angry Again.

Looking for ways to simply your life, reduce the stress and rid yourself of the clutter? The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, offers advice on organizing your home and simplifying your life. For the ultimate guide to reducing stress, checkout Pico Iyer’s book, The Art of Stillness. In it he explores the value of staying put, tuning out and contemplating the quiet.

No matter what your resolutions for the New Year, January is the ideal time for a fresh start–a time to embrace change. You need only a library card to begin the journey to a new you. Don’t have a library card? That’s the resolution that should be at the top of your list. And it’s the one you’ll be sure to keep.

Posted in Services

Reduce Stress by Reading

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – the world is full of glittering holiday lights, and the joyful sounds of holiday music. We look forward with eager anticipation to sharing evenings with family and friends, and to watching their delight and surprise as they open their holiday gifts. But as December days fly by, a rising sense of panic begins to take hold. If only we had more time for the gift buying, cooking, decorating, sending of cards and mailing of packages. Our lovely feelings of holiday cheer begin to morph into feelings of anxiety and stress. In fact, according to a recent poll, more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful. If you’re beginning to feel more stress than cheer, here are some suggestions that may get you back in the holiday spirit.

Take a breather and curl-up with a good book. Reading is a great way to unwind and forget the stress that often accompanies the holidays.  According to recent research, reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds. And it works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as taking a walk or drinking a hot cup of tea. Reading clears your mind, slows your breathing and helps to restore inner calm. Pick a book that is light and entertaining or a good escape; or take time to catch up on a favorite author or series. It’s a sure way to take your mind off that holiday to-do list.

Read to a child. We all have a special memory of being read a holiday favorite. Everyone loves the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol or the charming ‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” by Clement Moore. There are dozens of other enchanting holiday books in the library’s collection. Take time to browse and find that special book to share.  A quiet moment reading with a child will remind you why the holidays are a special time for you and your family.

Listen to music. The soothing power of music is well known. Listening to music you enjoy can relax and calm you, whether it’s Jingle Bells or the latest from Jay-Z. Borrow one of the library’s holiday CDs, download a classic from our Freegal music service or listen to the latest pop album with Hoopla. Singing along with your holiday favorite can also help to release tension and reduce stress.

Come-in to the quiet and take a holiday from the holiday. Get out of the house and all that reminds you of what remains to be done. The library offers a peaceful space to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the season. Browse our shelves, pick-up a book, get comfy in a chair and read. You’ll soon find yourself transported away from any anxiety and frustration the season may bring. Enjoy the season and include reading in your holiday plans this year!

Posted in Readers

Reading Historical Fiction

I will confess that I have not always been a fan of historical fiction. I agreed with Antonia Fraser’s comment, “I can’t read historical fiction because I find the real thing so much more interesting.” Why, I reasoned would anyone want to read fictional stories about people and events, when they could, just as easily, pick-up a non-fiction book and read the real thing? I’m not alone in my former disregard of historical fiction. Many people still hold an almost arrogant contempt for what they view as “history lite.” However, I’ve recently come to an understanding and appreciation of this hugely popular reading genre.

A novel is considered historical fiction when the plot takes place in a setting located in the past, and portrays the manners, social conditions and other details of the period. The story often focuses on a specific event in the period and presents some of the actual events at the time through the presumed voices of actual or invented people. Examples of historical fiction can be found throughout literature – think Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind, Umberto Eco,The Name of the Rose, or Hilary Mantel, Wolf-Hall. The genre is so large that there are subgenres – documentary fiction, historical romance, fictional biographies, historical mysteries, alternate history and historical fantasy, such as the popular Diana Gabaldon Outlander series.

Why read historical fiction? Here are a few reasons to consider. Historical fiction helps the reader to re-image history. It illuminates the past and enriches our understanding of people and events. It offers an interpretation of human character within a specific set of circumstances, helping us to experience the social and human motives when led men and women to act as they did. It gives us insight into the mind of past society and helps us to connect the present with the past.

Historical fiction speaks to us, especially in times of political turmoil. Reading historical fiction not only puts our current events into a historical context, but also helps us understand, imagine and empathize with what people lived through in other times and places. Read Dickens’ famous opening to A Tale of Two Cities written in1859 about 18th century France –

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Can we be sure that we are reading about the French Revolution, mid-nineteenth century England, or twenty-first century America?

The library is featuring the historical fiction genre during November and December. If you’re a fan, stop-in and browse the display.

Posted in Readers

Discover the Virtual Library

We’re all familiar with the expression What you see is what you get – meaning that nothing is hidden. There is nothing more to see than what you see at the surface. It’s also an acronym used in computing and web building, pronounced wizi-wig, which refers to the situation in which the display screen portrays an accurate visual rendition of the web page. This, however, is not an expression that applies to today’s public library. What you don’t see is just as important as what you do see.

When you walk into our library today, you’ll see shelf signs for Fiction, Non-Fiction, New Books, DVDs, Audiobooks, Large Print Books and a dozen more materials. What you won’t see are shelf signs for Downloadable Books, Streaming Videos, Electronic Databases or Online Encyclopedias. You won’t see shelf signs, because no shelves are needed. These resources are only available online, and online resources are invisible to anyone browsing through the library shelves. In the public library, what is not visible is just as important as what is visible.

Today’s library user needs to be aware that there are two libraries existing side-by-side – one in physical space and one in virtual (online) space. Each space offers unique and valuable resources.

We invite you to browse the online virtual library and to become as comfortable in that space as you are in the physical library. Explore the OverDrive service for e-books and downloadable audiobooks. Download the OverDrive Libby app to access this unique resource on your smartphone or tablet. Login to Hoopla for streaming video, audiobooks, ebooks, music, comics and television shows. Use the hoopla app to cast a hoopla video to your television. Create an account in Freegal to download and keep your favorite music – from the most recent pop hits to classical. Browse through the RBdigital collection of popular magazines – including Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, ESPN, Country Living and dozens more. Read the magazine online or download and keep it as long as you like; or use the Flipster app to consult our online edition of Consumer Reports. You’ll find all of these resources in our eLibrary. They are available to you at any time – day or night – on the library’s website, raynhampubliclibrary.org. They’re not on our shelves, but they are waiting for you online. You can access them through your computer workstation, smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Need help in discovering these wonderful resources? We’ve prepared brochures on each of the services to help you get started. We also offer one-on-one assistance very Thursday morning at 11:00. Just drop-in to get your questions answered. You can also schedule an appointment at a time convenient for you. Experience the library is a totally new way; join us in the eLibrary.

 

Posted in Services