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Podcast: Not the Same Old Radio Show

podcast-iconAudio blogging, or podcasting, began in the 1980s. It wasn’t until the advent of broadband, mobile applications, and wide use of the Internet, though, that audiobloggers found a niche. Today there are 250,000 podcasts with one billion subscribers on iTunes. In 2004 the word podcast was invented – the word is a blend of the words iPod and broadcast. Podcast is both a noun and a verb. Defined, it is a digital audio file uploaded to the Internet.

I became a podcaster in 2006 after taking a class and uploading my first podcast to Podbean, a free podcast hosting site. My first podcast was a simply a one-episode thing and it was merely an assignment for a workshop I took through our regional library system. A few years later, I began reading and uploading audio versions of our library columns to another hosting service, SoundCloud. It became far too time-consuming and I abandoned the practice, leaving the digital files somewhere in the digital heavens.

So what’s this column about podcasts have to do with the library? While podcasts are free just like public libraries, you don’t need a library card to listen to them. You also don’t listen to them through any library apps. Podcasts aren’t available through our library catalog or digital subscriptions such as Hoopla and Flipster, and you don’t download them through OverDrive.

As a librarian, and as an enthusiastic podcast subscriber, I simply want you to know (if you don’t already) that a podcast is a beautiful thing. It’s free (mostly). Anyone can create one and upload one with very little equipment (depending on quality). And anyone can listen as long as they have a computer or device that is capable of listening to an audio file.

Podcasts are very much like the radio that some of us grew up with… or some of us didn’t. Beginning in the 1920s and through the 1930s and 1940s, my mother and father and grandparents gathered around the radio to listen to the news, plays, quiz shows and serial episodes. It was the heyday of the radio show. Commercially-sponsored shows, like the Voice of Firestone and Bell Telephone Hour, were weekly addictions. The C.E. Hooper Company measured the ratings of radio during this Golden Age and found that 82 out of 100 Americans listened to radio shows on a regular basis.

During my childhood, we only listened to the radio for the top 100, buying 78s and 45s to play on our record players. Our parents listened to Paul Harvey’s Rest of the Story and Golden Oldies before television took over in popularity through the 50s and 60s. In the 80s and 90s, however, many of us turned to public radio and were hooked on Prairie Home Companion (first aired in 1974 and now called Live from Here without association with Garrison Keillor), Car Talk (first aired in 1977),  and This American Life (first aired in 1995). Most radio shows today can be subscribed to as podcasts – downloaded episodes to listen to at our leisure – or listened to in weekly radio broadcasts.

The main difference between a podcast and a radio show is that mainly radio is aired live, unlike podcasts which are recorded and are editable. Just like popular radio shows, successful podcasters have corporate sponsors or are part of the public radio family like National Public Media or local outlets. Some podcasters ask for donations on a website. One of my favorite podcasts asks for memberships, where members only can email questions or get first dibs on listening before the podcast is released.

I was subscribed to a few podcasts in 2014, and listened sporadically, but when the first season of Serial was released in October of that year, I became hooked. Serial was an offshoot of This American Life, a story that morphed into a 12-episode series and totally captured a host of fascinated listeners. The last episode aired in January 2015 when Serial had become a cultural phenomenon and now has been downloaded over one hundred and fifty million times.

Several years after Serial Season One ended, another amazing podcast, S-Town was released. There was no waiting for those of us who binge-listen because it hit the Internet in seven chapters, all at once on March 28, 2017 and within four days it was downloaded 10 million times. It was shocking, sad, poignant and addictive, and it ended far too soon.

As a regular podcast listener and subscriber, I listen to podcasts for education, entertainment and even relaxation. When having difficulty sleeping at night a few years ago, I often listened to Sleep with Me, a boring, monotonous hour-long podcast guaranteed to at least GET you to sleep. Host Scooter (Drew) Ackerman used late-night comedy radio to get to sleep every night. In 2013, he started podcasting “bedtime stories to help grown-ups fall asleep in the deep, dark night.” I can attest to the efficacy of Sleep with Me. However I find his voice maddening sometimes and have given up the habit of sleeping with Scooter Ackerman.

One of my favorite podcasts is Modern Love, produced in collaboration by NPR’s WBUR Boston and the New York Times and released every Thursday. (Host and journalist Meghna Chakrabarti is now also the host of NPR’s On Point, replacing host Tom Ashbrook.)  Modern Love essays (from the column in the New York Times and written by professionals and amateurs) are read aloud by amazing actors like Jason Alexander or Sarah Oh. Everyone – writer, actor, Chakrabarti and Daniel Jones, NY Times editor, briefly discuss the essay’s impact and the podcasts typically last 15-20 minutes.

My latest podcast crush is Oligies (first taped in 2017) with actress Alie Ward. In her weekly podcast, Alie Ward discusses another “ology” with an expert in the field. Ferroequinology (study of trains), thanology (death and dying), selachimorphology (sharks) or malacology (snails and slugs are a few of her fascinating subjects. I am constantly amazed at how much I learn about things I never thought I had any interest in.

If you need help figuring out how to listen or subscribe to podcasts on your computers or devices using iTunes, Stitcher or other podcast aggregators, please call the library and make an appointment with one of the librarians who can help you.

Charlotte Canelli is the Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the September 6, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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Cook the Book: Falling Back in Love with Cookbooks

Plenty-cookbook-book-coverOnce upon a time, I was an organized home cook. I planned our weekly menus for our meals at home, shopped for only fresh ingredients weekly, and did all my prep work in the mornings before work. Then I had a baby and all of my careful, well-honed organization went out the window. Gone were the days when I had time to flip through my cookbooks at a leisurely pace. I tried to make meal plans but then a baby wouldn’t stop crying and something would burn or a toddler interrupted me a thousand times before I could dice a shallot. Food shopping became a marathon exercise of half-remembered lists and saying “No, put that down; we don’t need that!”

Like every aspect of motherhood, there was a learning curve. Feeding my family was essential but I had to figure out how I could get back to my love of cooking instead of just throwing something (rather unhealthy) together while feeling exhausted and underappreciated. One simple change has made a difference: time has passed. I no longer have a baby or a toddler but a nearly self sufficient elementary school aged child who loves to cook herself. My husband arrives home on the later side, so I feed my daughter earlier in the evening and he and I eat after bedtime, leaving me a little time to put something decent together.

I’ve tried several strategies. My first attempt to reawaken the love of cooking was signing up for Blue Apron, a delivery service that provided meal kits to be prepared at home. The recipes looked delicious and the ingredients were extremely fresh but I soon experienced a few downfalls. First of all, I couldn’t choose what meals would arrive in a given week. Some people like that type of variety, but I suppose I’m more of a creature of habit than I realized. I like to look forward to things, even meals. Secondly, many of the recipes had steps I deemed unnecessary. I remember angrily shelling edamame and thinking, “But I could have bought shelled edamame to begin with and saved time!” I have a decent amount of experience in the kitchen, and I automatically scan recipes to see how I can streamline steps to maximize my time. One of my key time savers is buying produce already prepared and ready to use.

Blue Apron didn’t last long and I had already set my sights on switching to Plated, another meal kit delivery service that allowed us to pick from thirteen recipes each week. I solved my first problem by giving myself more control over what we received each week. I also found that Plated recipes required less fuss with ingredient preparation. We had a few issues with the actual delivery that led us to cancel the service so I was back at square one with meal planning.

Now that my daughter is a little older, I’m feeling the tug towards my long-neglected cookbook collection. Since discovering a new delivery service through Amazon called Prime Now, I’m starting to entertain the idea of going back to traditional meal planning with an updated food shopping service. Simply create a shopping list on your Prime Now app and someone will shop FOR you at Whole Foods and then deliver the grocery order to your house. No more wrangling a cranky child and an unwieldy shopping cart. That freedom has helped me rediscover some of my old favorite recipes from the dusty cookbooks on my shelves.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi was my first foray into non-traditional vegetarian cooking. Ottolenghi is a well-regarded British chef, restaurateur, and column writer for The Guardian. His philosophy about cooking vegetables made complete sense to me after I read an interview where he described the importance of recipes highlighting the flavor and properties of a vegetable, not trying to sell it as a meat substitute. Plenty takes this approach and does not pretend to try and turn hardcore meat eaters to veganism. It’s simply a great cookbook if you want interesting vegetable dishes that shine. My personal favorite recipes include Very Full Tart, Smoky Frittata, and Caramelized Fennel with Goat Cheese. My one recommendation with this cookbook is to watch cooking temperatures and time. I suspect Ottolenghi used his commercial grade kitchen when perfecting his recipes rather than a residential one and often food takes longer than he says it should.

On the opposite end of the cooking spectrum is Ina Garten, who probably needs no introduction. In case you have been living under a rock, Ina is a world famous Food Network host, chef, and former owner of the Barefoot Contessa shop in the Hamptons of Long Island. While some find her New York charm and insistence on “good” ingredients a little grating, I love that Ina never compromises on what’s important to her. The Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics is filled with simple, tasty recipes and easy instructions. Ina is a home cook, so all of her recipes are usually very accurate and easy to make. Favorites like her Chicken Bouillabaisse take me back to a time before motherhood when I could spend several hours cooking every night and still remains my “date night in” specialty.

Now that fall is on the horizon, I find myself flipping through Molly Stevens’ classic Roasting. The oven is my secret weapon for mom-friendly recipes. I can quickly marinate or season a piece of meat with pre-chopped veggies while it preheats, and then walk away while everything roasts for 40 minutes. The house fills up with a delicious scent and I really feel as if I’ve made a good effort in the kitchen. Roasting is a master class in this, and Stevens’ chatty and detailed chapter introductions really help you master a technique rather than just one dish. When the cooler weather arrives, I love the comfort food appeal of Roasted Chicken Pieces Dijonnaise.

These three are only a few of my treasured collection! I’ve downsized a bit after several moves and have really only kept the cookbooks that contain recipes and techniques I truly love and use. I’m always on the hunt for new, tasty looking and well-written recipes, and frequently rifle through the library’s new nonfiction to see the latest cookbooks. I also love to wander in the library’s infamous “cookbook aisle” in the 600s on the mezzanine level. We have an unbelievable collection that could pull any home cook out of a slump.

Kate Tigue is the Head of Youth Services at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Read Kate’s column in the August 30, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

 

 

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Binging on Great British Baking and Russian Pastry

a-taste-of-russia-book-coverGerry and I binge-watched at least four seasons of the Great British Baking Show this summer. It had been recommended and once I started binging and proselytizing about my new-found crush, I realized that, as with most other hit series, I was years late to the party. Especially this British one.

During one particular B-A-A-A-A-K-E which happened to be pastries, I thought of the favorite savory pastry that had captured my fancy over 25 years ago. It was the kulebiaka (or coulibiac) – a time-consuming Russian first course. The kulebiaka boasts a flaky, buttery pastry that envelopes a filling of either cabbage and chopped hardboiled eggs or salmon, rice and dill. My finished kulebiaka’s crust is garnished with leaves and a rope closure and rises and bakes to golden perfection.

Once sliced and served with sour cream, it is always met with ooohs and aaaahs across the room. Anton Chekhov wrote in his short story The Siren that “the kulebiaka must make your mouth water; it must lie there before you, a shameless temptation! You cut off a sizable slice and let your fingers play over it. When you bite into it, the butter drips from it like tears.”

I fantasized, recently of course, that Paul Hollywood would have swooned over one of my masterpieces, the kulebiaka. I might have had a handshake.

Long before I was awarded my master’s degree in library science (or MLS) from Boston’s Simmons College, I had returned to college in the late 1980s as an undergraduate. Years earlier I had left behind three years of academic work in History and Political Science at a California university to begin raising my family. A requirement for completing my degree with distinction from a Massachusetts state college was that I must complete more than half of the total required credits (120) at a Massachusetts school. Doing the easy math, I need to complete 150 total credits instead of the normal 120 for a bachelor’s degree. Lucky for me, I had more curiosity than 120 credits anyway.

My favorite courses that second time around were in Russian Studies, which of course fell right smack within my favorite academic areas of interest: history, literature and political science. For a minor in Russian Studies I was also required to take at least a year of Russian language and I memorized the Cyrillic alphabet forwards and backwards. My studies included a tour to the Soviet Union in 1990, a year before my hero USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika helped to dismantle the Soviet Union and communism.

My interest in Russia started many years before… as a very young child. Moving to Berkeley, California at the age of six, my family rented an apartment in a big house just three houses from my new elementary school. Our absent landlady was a large, hardy and hearty block of a Russian woman who was missing most of her right arm. Her infrequent visits, her Russian accent, and her exotic right arm fascinated me. That curiosity led me to other things Russian in my youth, including a book I read my senior year in high school, We the Living by Ayn Rand. It is one I credit with many influences in my life. The young, female protagonist in the book is named Kira. It was years later, after naming my youngest daughter with the Irish version of that name (Ciara and pronounced exactly the same), when I realized just how influential the book had been.

Returning from the study tour in the Soviet Union in 1990, I took up Russian cooking with an energetic passion. My graduation party from college in 1991 was a huge affair with over a hundred friends and family feasting on Russian food and drink. I enlisted the help of some of those friends who cooked and baked with me all week. I rented tables for the backyard and placed centerpieces of pitchers of lilacs, all donated from another friend’s garden. I hired a young Russian man named Sasha who appeared dressed in traditional Slavic costume. He spent the afternoon roaming the yard with his balalaika and entertaining the crowd with lovely Russian folk music. In addition, I contracted a slick-suited pianist named Vladimir who played music by Russian composers on the piano in my living room. It was a tremendously wonderful party and I smile again remembering it nearly three decades later.

So, following that pastry episode on the GBBS, I searched for my recipe books and came across some of my old favorites on my bookshelves, A La Russe: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality by Darra Goldstein and the Art of Russian Cuisine by Anne Volokh. The copy of my favorite book, Russian Cooking, part of the Time-Life Cooking of the World Series I had collected in the 70s as a young wife, was missing. That book was the one from which I’d learned exactly how to assemble the kulebiaka, using the photographs over a two-page spread.  To my surprise, not one of the Minuteman Libraries had a copy. Thankfully, I found over a dozen copies of Russian Cooking listed in the Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Catalog (or ComCat.) Although I could have requested one through Massachusetts library delivery, I eventually unearthed my own copy.  I discovered the very worn and stained spiral-bound book of recipes and the accompanying hardcover in my basement, mixed in with a few other castaways.

Searching the library catalog, I found a more recent copy of Darra Goldstein’s book (published in 2013 as A Taste of Russia and I’ve added to our collection.) Her book is rich with recipes for Marinated Mushrooms, Baked Apple Charlotte, Baba au Rhum, and Siberian Dumplings. The recipe for Apricot Tart is one I memorized 25 years ago and use over and over again. Anne Volikh’s Art of Russian Cuisine is no longer in print, but several libraries have it on their shelves. She also includes a page of drawings illustrating assembly of the Kulebiaka and recipes from across the huge Russian and Soviet empires. Our library has a copy of Please to the Table by Anya von Kremen that includes recipes across the fifteen former republics of the Soviet Union.

If you’d like to learn the art and passion of Russian cooking, like the famed kulebiaka, there are many books in the Minuteman Library Network and across Massachusetts through ComCat. Or watch every episode of the Great British Baking Show and save those calories.

Charlotte Canelli is the Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the August 23, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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Anne of Green Gables: A Short Bit About Adopting an Older Child

Anne-of-green-gables-book-coverI fell in love with Anne of Green Gables while in college. I never read the books in high school, dismissing them because of the romance-y looking covers. I quickly realized my mistake and have read the series several times. I have visited Anne’s beloved Prince Edward Island, Canada.  I attended the Anne play in Charlottetown, and was in heaven as I sat with my fellow Anne-fans, finishing up with a raspberry cordial at a nearby restaurant.

A mother and daughter were seated next to us, and the girl, probably about 14, was making it quite obvious that she didn’t want to be there and that the whole thing was “stupid.” Her poor mother finally had her moment when Anne’s beloved adopted guardian Matthew died suddenly of a heart attack. Soon, there were sniffles all around, and the young girl, ready to roast her mother, looked around, and sat back, quietly. I think she must have finally realized that hey, my mom’s not crazy. This is a thing; this Anne of Green Gables.

I relate this story because I remember thinking at the time, “of course my daughter will love all things Anne, especially if she’s adopted.” My husband and I had always toyed with the idea of adopting, knowing that there are so many children out there waiting for families. After having struggled with fertility issues for many years, we decided to adopt. If the child was a girl, she would probably be a lot like Anne; love books, have a great imagination, maybe get into a few scrapes here and there, but have a good heart and a great capacity to give and receive love.

Fast forward about 5 years… my husband receives a call from his great-aunt… “I know someone who has a little girl who is looking for a family.” This girl, who was just 6 years old, had been left by her birth mother at 2 years with a man who wasn’t her bio-dad and was now dying of Parkinson’s. It was an emergency situation; the man’s ex-sister-in-law (our introduction to the complex relationships involved with adoption) was anxious to find a place for her; the child was currently living with them. We hired a social worker and a lawyer, and began preparing for a child to move in with us.

We had just moved from a studio apartment to our first home, a 2 bedroom townhouse. In addition, this sister-in-law happened to live in the same town, so the little girl, who was attending Kindergarten, wouldn’t have to change schools. It seemed like an ideal situation: a couple desperately wanting to be parents, and a child who desperately needed a family. We began visiting with her and having her visit us. A pixie of a child, with huge blue eyes and close-cropped hair, she was adorable. She had a huge, toothy smile. She wanted to call us “Mom and Dad” right away. After a few months of visits and overnights, we took the big step and had her move in with us.

As we dealt with the lawyer, social worker, and adoption agency, we had to deal with something which, for me, was even bigger… my preconceived notions of adoption and parenting. The little girl was welcomed into our home and she seemed to feel comfortable there immediately, claiming this and that as “hers,” and generally making herself at home. My expectations of my adopted child being like Anne Shirley… an avid reader (like myself), a great imagination, a propensity for getting into scrapes, with a good heart and a great capacity to give and receive love, like the orphan starved for love that she was, were about to be challenged.

In Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley also made herself very comfortable when she first met Matthew and subsequently Marilla. She had her own gable room. Anne Shirley came with her own last name, as did Our Anne. She loathed and hated her red, red hair… hair that was to torment her throughout adolescence. Our Anne had extremely thick, curly hair which continues to torment her to this day, but which I personally think is beautiful. Like Anne Shirley, Our Anne had a vivid imagination… and like Anne Shirley in the scene where she is “confessing” to Marilla that she has lost Marilla’s precious brooch, Our Anne caused herself (and her parents) a lot of trouble with half-truths, fantasies, and outright fabrications. Our Anne’s “confessions” always seemed to be heard by someone in power (teacher, principal, etc.) and were always duly investigated. We had a rather strained but working relationship with the elementary school Our Anne was attending.

Our Anne had as much a capacity for getting into trouble as Anne Shirley did. The only difference is, Our Anne’s “scrapes” tended to be more like lesions… whatever she did was done wholeheartedly. There were bullying incidents, stealing incidents, and lots of behavioral incidents as this child tried to make her way in her new life. As an educator for over 20 years, I developed a very healthy respect for parents and the job of parenting. After some time, I also realized that I was being gifted with a unique perspective. Going through my daughter’s struggles with her gave me more understanding for the plight of adopted children in both their families and in classroom settings.

As much as Anne Shirley loved reading, our daughter despised it. We read to her every night (which she liked well enough) but our attempts to interest her in reading for its own sake were futile. I tried to convince her that reading would open up a whole new world for her… but, like Anne Shirley, Our Anne has her own mind and that mind was made up… books were “dust.” Sigh!

Anne Shirley was a love-starved child, as was Our Anne. However, their reactions to this issue were quite different. Anne Shirley was friendly, open and ready to love and be loved. Our daughter struggled to touch or be touched in any way, and didn’t know how to receive our love. This was such a tough thing to deal with, as I am an affectionate person. I had to satisfy my urge for affection with a pat on the shoulder or, most often, words of approbation.

Ten years later, our girl still struggles with some of these issues, and some new ones that keep cropping up. In the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne Shirley had some traumatic experiences that we know about, and probably some that we don’t. Our daughter had a truly traumatic early childhood and, to be expected, bears the scars to this day.

Adopting an older child taught me many valuable things: differences don’t have to sever us, we can both accept each other and celebrate our strengths, love is an action word… and it is not always easy to carry out, especially when it falls on deaf ears, the change in myself is as remarkable as the change in my daughter… I am much lighter on the preconceived notions and far more accepting of things as they come. And I have her to thank for that!

Recommended Reading:

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge

The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoptionby Karen J. Foli Ph.D. and John R. Thompson M.D.

Carla Howard is the Senior Circulation Assistant/Marketing and Media Assistant at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Read Carla’s column in the August 16th issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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It Takes a Stretch

woman-stretchingYou must have a favorite author. Someone you turn to when the rest of the world seems in chaos. Someone who is as comfortable to be with as your warm fuzzy slippers and a chair beside the fireplace. Perhaps it is Jamie Ford or Susan Meissner (two of my favorites) whose lyrical stories carry you back in time and make you fall in love with their characters. Or maybe you are addicted to Mary Higgins Clark or Louise Penny, and you cannot wait to settle down with their latest creations in your hands.

While there is something magical and wonderful about those treasured authors, there is also something to be said for those books that you never ever thought you would read, and suddenly you do. Perhaps you’ve been astonished when your world expands after being stretched by a story or concept that greeted you when you dared to open a book that wasn’t part of your regular repertoire.

Every month I lead between four or five book clubs. I know! I should have my head examined. Still, I enjoy each and every one of them. When I started these groups, I surveyed my readers to see what type of books they loved to read. Many of them preferred mysteries. Hands down! Ironically, it is a rare month now when I select a mystery for a book club read. When it comes to this genre, I find there isn’t a lot to talk about in a group. Trust me, I’ve tried. Once you know “who done it,” the conversation tends to be a bit sparse. So I decided to choose a wide range of books and topics instead. And yes, I like to stretch my readers. Actually, I like to stretch myself, too. Sometimes this means I pick a total flop. This doesn’t bother me, though. We’ve had the most engaging conversations even when the book choice is a bust.

An example of this happened recently. The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of the Romanones was a big hit with my book clubs. Everyone loved the suspense in this true life story of a World War II spy. With this success behind me, I decided a similar read entitled A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre was appropriate. Boy, was I wrong. This was the story of a friendship between two spies, Kim Philby and Nicholas Elliott, and the years that Philby deceived both MI6 and the CIA. While we had a lot to discuss, the style of writing was rather dry for most of my readers. Nevertheless, we learned a lot about the circle of Cambridge University friends that the British intelligence recruited. Certainly, our minds were stretched.

Over the years my book clubbers have read a variety of genres that they might not have tried on their own. While we covered classics like Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Margaret Smith, we have also tried a western or two like True Grit by Charles Portis and post-apocalyptic science fiction like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. On occasion we jumped into young readers like Skating With the Statue of Liberty by Susan Lynn Meyer or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Why? Why not! Challenge accepted.

If you’re willing to stretch your definition of “good reads,” you might be drawn into another reader’s obsessions as well. I have a coworker who loves books about cats, any and all cats. Who am I kidding? I’m surrounded by coworkers who read cat books. To be honest, felines don’t always tickle my fancy as characters but, lo and behold, I found myself swept into a picture book called Caramba by Marie-Louise Gay when I saw it on my coworker’s desk. Now I’m addicted. I’m hoping Caramba, the cat who can’t fly, has many more stories to discover.

Likewise my husband has certain topics that fascinate him and I’m not sure if there’s any rhyme or reason for them. For a while Appalachian history captured his interest. For several nights in a row I fell asleep as he read out loud Night Comes to the Cumberlands by Harry M. Caudill. Soon I became intrigued by Appalachia as well. When Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance was hot off the press, I raced to get a copy. Later, when my husband’s curiosity shifted to the topic of North Korea, I followed suit. A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsun Kim and North Korea Undercover by John Sweeney are two books I would never have touched without my husband’s influence. It seems that other people’s obsessions are catchy.

Truth be told, I enjoy being stretched. I bet you do too! In the words of Charles Scribner, “Reading is a means of thinking with another person’s mind; it forces you to stretch your own.” The only problem is finding enough time to fit it all in. I’d highly recommend trying something completely new. You might even win a prize if you take the opportunity to fill out our Summer Reader’s Bingo in the process. Consider some of the categories: “A Book With a Beach Setting,” “A Book Set in Winter,” or “A Book With a Food Theme.” Go ahead… give it a chance. What have you got to lose?

Nancy Ling is the Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Nancy’s column in the August 9th issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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