Embracing Earth Day

In January 1969, off the shores of Santa Barbara, California, on oil rig received a waiver to use a protective casing 61 feet shorter than Federal regulation allowed. The rig exploded with such force the sea floor cracked in 5 places. Three million gallons of crude left a 35-mile oil slick on California’s shores, and television brought images of ruined beaches and dying, oil-soaked animals into every home.

It was the flashpoint of the modern environmental movement.

So horrified were people that politicians banded together to pass the Environmental Protection Act (1970), the Clean Air and Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973) as they realized the impact pollution was having on the country. And spearheading that, as a result of that oil spill, Earth Day was born on April 22, 1970, to raise awareness and bring people together to discuss environmental issues.

The Troubling Truth

Earth in 1970 was a very sorry place. We knew we were in trouble since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought toxic issues to the forefront in 1962, but we did little. Air pollution killed scores of people through respiratory disease (a 1952 smog inversion killed 12,000 people in London. A 1966 attack in New York City killed 168 people in just 3 days. Smog.) Factories, farms, and mines dumped waste everywhere. Love Canal was killing children with 30-year old toxic waste. The Bald Eagle, symbol of our country, was hovering at less than 500 nesting pairs remaining, and (by 1987) the California Condor would drop to 27 remaining individuals, due to DDT (which made eggs fragile) and lead poisoning. The dropping rates of biodiversity were becoming obvious.

Environmental Victories

And with all the discussion and science, changes began to happen. DDT was banned in 1972. Leaded gasoline was phased out in 1973. Lead-based household paint was banned in 1978. Flame retardants were phased out of infant clothing (because babies have such capacity to spontaneously combust after sunset). Pesticides were examined, and many were quickly banned from use. And amazingly, the Earth began to recover. Today the Bald Eagle is off the endangered species list, with more than 5,000 nesting pairs noted – I almost drove off the highway when I saw one sitting on a light post in the Catskills. A living, wild, Bald Eagle. A few California Condors have been re-released into the wild, with more than 400 individuals now living wild or in captivity. New trucks and buses have 99% fewer emissions than those in 1970. The Hudson River now has fish again.

A Long Way Still to Go

While Earth Day and a commitment to protecting our environment – and thus ourselves – has spread around the world, the world remains a very, very polluted place. Toxins from the 70’s still lurk in the oceans. Oil spills remain in beach sand and marshes. The US boasts more than 1300 Superfund sites for government clean-up – 26 in Connecticut, and a former one here in Cheshire. Around the world, developing countries lack regulations and power to deal with toxic waste – China’s air quality is deadly due to coal-fired factories belching out pollution. Africa is poisoned by heavy metal mining. India suffers from toxic manufacturing chemicals. Lake Karachay in Russia is the most polluted place on Earth: an old dumping ground for nuclear waste, standing on the shores of the lake will kill a human in no more than an hour – far more deadly than the radioactive Chernobyl or Fukushima disasters, which will haunt us for thousands of years to come. Microbeads are choking animal life. Pesticides believed to be linked to some forms of autism still hide in lakes, and toys, furniture, and clothing manufactured in Asia can still contain lead and chemicals long-banned elsewhere.

The Importance of Individuals

While we may blow off our green recycling bins and never return our bottles, those little things, combined, make a big impact. Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new ones from ore. One ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, lessening the greenhouse effect. One ton of recycled plastic saves 16 barrels of oil – $1,000 per ton. Multiply that by all the people in your town, your state, your region – and think how that snowballs. So celebrate your cleaner environment on April 22. Plant a tree. Pick up garbage on the side of the road. Recycle your bottles. Take a walk and look at all the diversity of trees and flowers and birds around you, and breathe deep of air that doesn’t burn your nose and eyes and make you cough (does anyone else remember the stink of the Uniroyal plant when the wind would shift in 1970’s summers?) Marvel at the sight of fish in the Naugatuck River, where nothing survived before. A clean planet is in our grasp. Give a hoot, don’t pollute, and save paper by checking these books out from the library!

            

                                  

                                  

 

Read-alikes of Your Favorite Books

“I just finished Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, and it blew me away! What’s another book like that?”

We get questions like this every day at CPL. And while no two books are going to give you exactly the same reading experience, we know of plenty that are pretty similar to  that great book you just read.  For example, here are four titles that got a lot of Checkout time last year, and four others you might like just as much.

infographic illustrating the book selections mentioned in this article.

If you’d like to find more books to love, check out our reader’s advisory database NoveList (available on the eResources page of our website.) NoveList is the premier database of reading recommendations, available through libraries around the world, and makes it easy to match the right book with the right person.

Staff Picks are everywhere!

If there’s one thing we love, it’s recommending books. A walk through our main & lower levels will reveal a dozen or more themed book displays featured throughout, which we change and update frequently. There’s also our “Reader’s Depot” on the main level, which features the current NYT Bestsellers Lists, release dates for upcoming titles, read-alike lists, and more.

Anyone going through the Checkout area has seen our Staff Picks wall. This wall is filled in daily with books our staff members have read and enjoyed. There’s ALWAYS something good to read there!

You may not know that there is also a “Staff Picks” page in our catalog. Staff members have put together some themed book lists there for you to peruse. You can browse these Staff Picks right from home, and if you see something you like, reserve a copy online!

 

If you’re reading this blog, you already know there are a ton of reading suggestions here. Elsewhere on social media, our Tumblr is full of book lists & book news, too.  And of course, you can always come right out and ask us for reading suggestions. Or let us know about a book you enjoyed. We love getting book recommendations almost as much as giving them!

What If…? 10 Books about Alternate Histories

I love alternate history stories. That infinite “what if?” tantalizes me. What if Abraham Lincoln was not assassinated? What if Germany won World War II? What if London was a city populated by humans with extraordinary powers? What if, what if, what if?

Speculative fiction that delves into alternate time streams or alternate histories can take many forms. Some veers off into the paranormal, some follows the “what if the other side won” theme, some just imagines a new world that sits parallel to our own world.

Whichever way you like your alternative history, we have a great selection of titles. Here are ten to get you started.

 The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln  by Stephen L. Carter (Available as a Book and Audiobook on CD)
What if Abraham Lincoln escaped assassination by John Wilkes Booth?
This novel imagines what might have happened if Lincoln had lived to face the tumultuous post-war politics of 1865 Washington, D.C., including an impeachment trial for overstepping his Constitutional authority during the Civil War. At the novel’s center is Abigail Canner, a young black woman recently graduated from Oberlin, who is hired by the D.C. law firm that is working on Lincoln’s defense.

 Bombs Away : The Hot War by Harry Turtledove (Hardcover)
What if the Cold War had suddenly turned hot?
President Harry Truman in desperate consultation with General Douglas MacArthur, whose control of the ground war in Korea has slipped disastrously away. The only way to stop the Communist surge into the Korean Peninsula and save thousands of American lives is through a nuclear attack. MacArthur advocates a strike on Chinese targets in Manchuria. In actual history, Truman rejected his general’s advice; here, he does not. The miscalculation turns into a disaster when Truman fails to foresee Russia’s reaction.

 The Madagaskar Plan  by Guy Saville (Hardcover)
What if Germany had won World War II?
The year is 1952. There is peace in Europe, but a victorious Germany continues to consolidate power in Afrika, and Hitler has approved the resettlement of European Jews to the remote island of Madagaskar. In Mozambique, British forces plan to free Madagaskar, relying on the expertise of Jacques Salois, an escaped leader of Jewish resistance, they plot to incite a colony-wide revolt. Into this roiling landscape arrives ex-mercenary Burton Cole, who scours shanty towns and work camps for his beloved Madeleine and their child.

 Smoke : a novel by Dan Vyleta (Hardcover)
What if people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours from their bodies?
In an alternate England, Thomas, Charlie, and Livia notice that some people appear to be able to lie without triggering Smoke. As they dig deeper, they discover revolutionaries who are fighting against a secret police force. They begin to suspect that everything they have been taught about Smoke is a lie; but if that is a lie, what else about their world is lies?

 Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente (Available as a Book, Downloadable Audiobook, and Audiobook on CD)
What if there was life on other planets in our solar system?
In an alternate 1986, where talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family., Severin Unck starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets.

 Crooked by Austin Grossman (Hardcover)
What if Richard Nixon was a pivotal figure  in a struggle between ordinary life and horrors from another reality?
In this novel, Richard Milhous Nixon faces down the Russians, the Chinese, and ultimately his own government. Here for the first time– in his own words– are the terrifying supernatural secret he stumbled upon as a young man, the truth behind the Cold War, and the truth behind the Watergate cover-up.

 Bring the Jubilee: What if the South Had Won the Civil War? by Ward Moore (E-Book)
What if the South won the Civil War?
What is left of the United States has been drained of its resources and is trapped in a depression. Hodge, a young man living in a village in rural New York with his parents, decides to head to the city to escape his otherwise inevitable future of poverty and indentured servitude. But the specter of war between the Confederacy and the other great global power, the German Union, haunts the entire region, and a nationalist terrorist group has other plans for Hodge.

 Hystopia by David Means (Hardcover)
What if John F. Kennedy survived his assassination?
At the bitter end of 1960’s President John F. Kennedy is entering his third term in office. The Vietnam War rages on, and the president has created a vast federal agency, the Psych Corps, dedicated to maintaining the nation’s mental hygiene by any means necessary. Soldiers returning home from the war have their battlefield traumas “enfolded”—wiped from their memories through drugs and therapy—while veterans too damaged to be enfolded roam at will in Michigan, evading the government and reenacting atrocities on civilians.

 Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (Available as an Audiobook on CD, Book, and Downloadable Audiobook))
What if there had never been a Civil War?
It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smart phones, social networking, and happy meals–save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred. A gifted young black man calling himself Victor is working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service.  In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right–with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.  Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines.

 The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (Hardcover)
What if robots had been invented in the 17th century?
Soon after a Dutch scientist invented the very first Clakker (a mechanical man, endowed with great strength and boundless stamina — but beholden to the wishes of its human masters) in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn’t long before a legion of clockwork soldiers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world’s sole superpower. Three centuries later, it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men — flesh and brass alike. But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences  will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in April

April showers? Head into Cheshire Library, we’ve got something fun and interesting going on every day, rain or shine! Here are a few of our programs scheduled for April:

Your Edible Landscape

Tuesday Apr 3, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

Join the 3 Foragers – a family from southeastern Connecticut who have been identifying, photographing and cooking with the edible plants and fungi of New England for more than 10 years. Things like the edible fruits of Kousa (Japanese) dogwood and nuts like acorns, as well as roses and many edible flowers, and even the weeds between your garden veggies! Registration is required.

Thru Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Tuesday Apr 10, 2018, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Those who attend this program will be treated to a modern day adventure. Sam Ducharme set out on a 2180 mile, 14 state backpacking trip from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine. During his six month journey he documented the rugged beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, the wildlife, the hardships encountered on the trail, as well as the people, culture and humanity at its finest. Come join him as he takes you through the trail towns, over the mountaintops and through the backcountry. Registration is required.

Strategies for a Sustainable Income in Retirement

Wednesday Apr 11, 2018, 6:30 PM

Come and  learn some of the considerations to make when addressing retirement planning including strategies to help maximize their social security benefits, how to avoid some of the common filing mistakes, and an overview of tax-advantaged savings vehicles. Registration is required.

Library After Hours Dance Party

Friday Apr 13, 2018, 5:00  –  7:30 PM

Enjoy Zumba, dancing, instrument play and more with Cheshire Public Library’s staff in program room.  We’ll have crafts and our play area open in the Children’s Room. Pizza from Cheshire Pizza and drinks will be available for sale from the Friends of the Library.  There is no admission fee, but there is a suggested donation of $5 per family to help offset costs.  Please note that the Lower Level of the Library will not be open to the public.  

Ask a Veterinary Technician

Saturday Apr 14, 2018, 2:00  –  4:00 PM

VCA Cheshire Animal Hospital will have a Certified Veterinary Technician on hand to answer your dog and cat questions. VCA offers general practice, emergency, specialty care and is open 24 hours a day. (Please leave your pet at home and if this is a emergency please bring your animal to the hospital). Register online.

Financial Fitness Checkup

Tuesday Apr 17, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

This workshop will help you review your current status and identify actions you can take to improve your financial situation. Participants will have an opportunity to take a quiz about their current financial practices in areas such as general money management, saving, credit, debt, and other topics. This workshop is provided by UConn Extension and the Connecticut Saves Campaign. Registration is required.

Rock Science Workshop

Wednesday Apr 18, 2018, 4:00  –  5:00 PM

Explore the physical and optical properties of rocks and minerals with local naturalist, Eric Nelson.  Observe their crystal structure and find out how to make certain rocks and minerals glow in the dark. Registration required starting March 15 for Cheshire residents and April 1 for all others.

Investment Concerns in a Fragile Market

Wednesday Apr 18, 2018, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Come and learn why “down” down markets create investment “opportunities” for the wise investor.  Additionally, several options that may help to lessen the impact of your tax burden will be reviewed along with some tips for tax-smart investing strategies. The informational workshop will be presented by the Society for Financial Awareness. Registration is required.

Friends of Cheshire Public Library – Spring Book Sale

Thursday Apr 26 – Sunday Apr 29, 2018.

Thousands of gently used books, audiobooks, dvds, and more – it’s a bargain hunter’s paradise! Proceeds go to supporting programs and events at CPL. Special Preview Night for Friends Members only on Wednesday Apr 25, 6:30 – 8:00 PM – memberships may be purchased at the door.

Outdoor Storytime @ Bartlem Park

Saturday Apr 28, 2018, 11:00 AM

A spring-themed outdoor storytime full of books, rhymes, music, and movement. Enjoy the Kids in Motion Playground before or after the program. Best suited for ages 2-6. Registration required starting April 1 for Cheshire residents and April 15 for nonresidents.