Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Abysmal Addictions

Cover image for Appointment in Samarra
There’s no shortage of reading material on addiction and recovery. Alcohol and drug abuse figure prominently in classics like Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the mother of all family-derailed-by-addiction works, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. Less well known is Appointment in Samarra, John O’Hara’s brilliant novel about a businessman’s senseless descent into drinking and ruin, which has been described as a counterpart to The Great Gatsby. Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver and John Cheever are other American authors whose writing (and personal lives) often incorporated hard drinking.
Cover image for A Drinking Life
Memoirs provide an effective way for authors to navigate the terrain of becoming sober. Some notable ones are Augusten Burroughs’s Dry, Pete Hamill’s A Drinking Life, Mary Karr’s Lit, and Sarah Hepola’s Blackout. My personal favorite, for its moving portrayal of a woman coming to terms with her alcoholism, is Carolyn Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story. Finally, in Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol, Ann Dowsett Johnston blends her own recovery story with recent research about the health risks and current trends of women’s alcohol abuse.

Memoirs about drug addiction are also abundant. Joshua Lyons’s Pill Head explores the dangers of prescription medication addiction, and William Cope Moyers’s Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption describes how the son of broadcaster Bill Moyers disrupted his life and relationships with repeated relapses into cocaine use.

Addictions need not take the form of substance abuse. Lawrence Osborne’s Ballad of a Small Player addresses the author’s gambling compulsion. Internet Addiction, by Laura Perdew, deals with the problem of compulsive connectivity.

Beneath a Meth MoonYoung people may be particularly susceptible to drug and alcohol problems, and there are many cautionary tales involving youth. Go Ask Alice has been the standard bearer of teen drug addiction for decades, while Koren Zailickas’s Smashed follows the author’s early descent into excessive drinking. Nic Sheff’s, Tweak and his father David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy give two heartbreaking perspectives on Nic’s methamphetamine dependence.

Finally, for fictional portrayals of addiction, there’s Jane Green’s Summer Secrets, about a woman’s struggle with drinking, Dopefiend by JaQuavis, which explores heroin addiction, and Jacqueline Woodson’s Beneath a Meth Moon, about a grieving Hurricane Katrina survivor who escapes her pain with crystal meth.

Laura S.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Little Falls Refresh Project

Our Little Falls branch is being refreshed! What does it mean for a library to be refreshed? Are we opening the windows and airing the place out? No, it's a bit more involved than that.
Little Falls Library
Little Falls Library

refresh project is a new Capital Improvement Program process approved by County Council and the County Executive to allow library buildings to get significant and timely updates without having
to close for the lengthy time it takes for a full renovation. The Library Refurbishment CIP funds programmatic, cosmetic, and service impact updates to two to three libraries every year.

What will be done to Little Falls during the refresh?

The Little Falls branch will get a new roof, new carpet, paint, totally renovated bathrooms, a re-organization of the children’s area with new furniture and exciting colors, a user friendly re-arrangement of some of the collection, new comfortable seating, many more areas of powered seating, improved Wi-Fi accessibility, a digital display screen, and more

What will happen to the Little Falls staff when the library is closed?
Little Falls Refresh Plans
Branch Manager Ken Lewis and coworker review the refresh plans

Most of the Little Falls staff will be assigned, temporarily, to other libraries in the area, which are considered “impacted” branches, since Little Falls customers will go to these locations as alternatives.

What are the other available libraries in the area?

The libraries nearest Little Falls include Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Potomac. As an added treat, the Rockville Memorial Library is open from 9:00 AM– 9:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays through September 3, 2016. You may see one of the Little Falls staff members at any of these locations.

What will happen to my holds?

Customers can go to the orange My Account button near the top of the MCPL homepage to change the holds pickup to any other available MCPL branch. Customers can also visit a branch and ask the library staff to do this for them. In cases where the customer forgets to do change their holds pick up location, the customer will be called by a staff member who will inform the customer that a hold is now available, and that the customer should assign a new location for pick-up.

Empty Little Falls Library
Empty of shelves but full of memories
Now that the Little Falls is closed, Where can we go for library programs?

Children who registered for the Summer Read and Learn program at the Little Falls Library can complete it, and pick up their badges and prizes, at any other MCPL branch.

The Literary Salon, the adult book discussion group which meets at the Little Falls Library in the fall and spring, has decided to meet at the Chevy Chase branch for the upcoming fall book discussions. 

The English Conversation Club, which met on Friday mornings at the Little Falls Library, will now meet at the Fourth Presbyterian Church which is located on 5500 River Road, Bethesda, Maryland.

Parents who are looking for storytime programs for their children in the fall can check the upcoming events for Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Potomac or other branches.

We anticipate reopening the Little Falls branch in January. We'll see you then, refreshed and rejuvenated!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reading Beyond the Gold

Writing Letters Long Branch
Customers at Long Branch write
to Montgomery County's Olympians
As the 2016 Summer Olympic Games take place in Rio this month, we're just as caught up in the excitement as everyone else. We're especially pleased to support our four Montgomery County Olympians: Jack Conger (swimming), Katie Ledecky (swimming), Helen Maroulis (freestyle wrestling), and Ashley Nee (single slalom kayak). In fact, you can stop by any branch to write letters to the County's Olympians or drop off pre-written letters.

But what if you want to go beyond the events happening right now in Rio? Well, in that case, we've got a few reading suggestions that take you back in time, across the sea, or help you experience a moment in history.

Olympian Mailbox Aspen Hill
Mailbox for letters at Aspen Hill
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown tells the story of the 1936 US rowing team who won Gold in Berlin. It is the story both of men who overcame early obstacles and of the brutal regime that was rising to power in Germany and would soon engulf the world in war.

Flight from Berlin by David John is set during the same Olympic games. This thriller pairs two journalists who find themselves on the run from Nazi forces.

Grace, Gold & Glory My Leap of Faith by Gabrielle Douglas is the autobiography of the gymnast who won two Gold medals in London in 2012 and is making her second Olympic appearance in Rio.

Olympic Display Chevy Chase
Olympic Display Chevy Chase
Brazil's Dance with the Devil by Dave Zirin examines the social unrest in Brazil during the preparations to host both the World Cup and the Olympics.

Dream Team by Jack McCallum examines how the US's basketball Dream Team changed the sport.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and the movie based on the book, tell the story of former-Olympian Louis Zamperini who joined the military during World War II and later crashed at sea.

For younger readers, The Original Olympics by Stewart Ross explores the history of the Olympics in Ancient Greece.

I couldn't close this blogpost without mentioning Cool Runnings, the 1998 movie about a team of Jamaican sprinters-turned-bobsledders. It may not be exactly summery, but it's definitely an inspiring story.

See more photos of our Olympic displays:
2016 Olympic Displays

Want another suggestion? Submit a request to our online What Do I Check Out Next? service, and one of our Book Matchmakers will set you up with great titles to try!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Matchmakers

What Do I Check Out Next? service icon.Are you looking for a good book, but having trouble meeting just the right one? Do you feel that you’ve been searching the stacks but still not getting the right read?  Maybe you’ve looked at other websites or blogs in the hopes that a new author or title will meet your needs, but sometimes it just isn't happening.

Don’t give up hope. MCPL can help!  We offer a service called What Do I Check Out Next? that will suggest books just for you, based on your answers to a very short questionnaire.  This service has been operating for about a year. So far we've answered more than 350 requests for help finding that perfect book.

Cover image for The beauty queen of Jerusalem / Sarit Yishai-Levi ; translated from the Hebrew by Anthony Berris.I’ve been fortunate to be part of the team of dedicated librarians who serve as your book matchmakers, and it’s one of my favorite jobs at the library.  It’s a terrific opportunity to think about great books that I’ve read and to share them with new people.  Sometimes when I read a request for books, the suggestions just spring to mind immediately, and I can recommend some of my own favorite books and authors, like two terrific new historical fiction books, Shadows Over Paradise by Isabel Wolff and The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi.

No matter what the request, we are determined to find books for everyone. We have lots of ways to track down a great book match for you.  A few weeks ago we had a reader looking for teen horror books.  Though this is not my usual cup of tea, I matched her with Unwind by Neal Shusterman, a story of teens who face a future world where their lives might be "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others. Scary, right??

Cover image for Wife 22 : a novel / Melanie Gideon.Often people have a really detailed idea of what they want to read.  One of our customers said that she wanted to read something that didn't have "too many words."  So I suggested she try Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon, a novel composed of emails, texts and other concise communications.

Another person wanted inspirational audio books and we found the perfect match with Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott.  And there was a recent request for thrillers.  Sounds easy, because there are so many great adventure, mystery and suspense novels.  But when this man listed his favorite authors, it seemed like he'd read almost everything in the genre!  Not to worry, I came up with Michael Robotham, a British author whose psychological thrillers are not that well known, though they deserve to be.

So if you've been searching for some good summer reads, let us help.  If you want mysteries or memoirs, romances or religious, or any other category, there are so many choices for you at MCPL.  Just fill out the What Do I Check Out Next? form and let us match you up with some great new books!

Barbara S.