What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in May

MAY we interest you in some programs this month? When you’re done groaning over that terrible pun, check out some of the highlights from May’s event calendar:

Friends of Cheshire Public Library Spring Book Sale

  • Thursday May 4, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  8:00 PM
  • Friday May 5, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  4:30 PM
  • Saturday May 6, 2017, 9:00 AM  –  4:30 PM
  • Sunday May 7, 2017, 12:00 PM  –  3:00 PM

Bargains! More Bargains! And don’t forget Sunday is Bag of Books Day – fill up a bag of books for one low price (bags provided) – $10 for one bag, $15 for two!

Tuesday Movie Matinees

Tuesdays, May 9, 16, 23, 30 at 1:00 PM

A different movie each week! No registration required.

Mark Twain in Connecticut

Tuesday May 16, 2017, 6:30 PM

Dr. James Golden of the Mark Twain House and Museum  explains the importance of Connecticut and Hartford to Twain’s life and work, including his famous neighbors, such as novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, travel writer and journalist Charles Dudley Warner, Civil War hero and senator Joseph Hawley, and female suffrage campaigner Isabella Beecher Hooker. Registration is required.

Writing Workshop: Story First (Plotting your novel)

Wednesday May 17, 2017, 6:00 PM

This workshop takes participants through the process of developing an idea into a workable premise that can generate a full story. From there writers will examine how to build a plot that will keep readers asking questions and turning pages until they reach a powerful and satisfying ending.  Presented by author Steve Liskow.  Registration required for this adult program.

Pet First Aid with VCA

Thursday May 18, 2017, 6:30 PM

Pet First Aid will teach participants emergency care procedures for your fur babies and provide tips for keeping your pet healthy too. Join us as Doctor Deborah Goul, Director of General Practice at VCA Cheshire Animal Hospital, and other VCA ER doctors,  Please be so kind as to leave your fur family at home. Registration required.

 Introduction to Microsoft Word

Wednesdays,  May 24 & 31,  2017, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

This class will provide an introduction to Microsoft Word and is divided into two sessions.You will learn basic navigation skills to effectively use the Microsoft Word program:

  • Create a simple document.
  • Edit text and check spelling errors.
  • Format the document.
  • Insert a picture; change font formatting and much more.

Please register separately for May 24 and May 31 sessions.

STEM Coffee Hour: Virtual Reality

Thursday May 25, 2017, 7:00  –  8:00 PM

STEM Coffee Hours are designed for adults who are interested in learning more about a particular science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topic. The general format is an informative presentation followed by group discussion. Facilitator: Dr. Tracie Addy, Center for Teaching and Learning, STEM Educator, Yale University. Please be aware that Coffee Hours are first come, first served. Please arrive 10 minutes in advance. If for any reason you are unable to attend, please cancel your reservation to open your space.  Register here (required).

Above and Beyond

Thursday May 25, 2017, 6:30  –  7:45 PM

Join us for the incredible documentary film of the escape from Nazi-occupied Europe by Jewish-American Pilot Bruce Sundlun and his subsequent return to support the French Resistance. Registration required.

Soccer Shots Mini Demo Class (ages 2-3)

Tuesday May 30, 2017  – Two sessions: 10:30 AM  &  11:15 AM

Soccer Shots of Central CT will be hosting a demonstration class for kids ages 2-3 years old. Soccer Shots Mini is a high-energy program introducing young children to fundamental soccer principles, such as using your feet, dribbling and the basic rules of the game. Through fun games, songs and positive reinforcement, children will begin to experience the joy of playing soccer and being active. This program is presented by Soccer Shots of Central CT. For ages 2-3 years old with caregiver.  Registration begins May 9.

Look It up on lynda.com

lyndatutorIf you don’t have time to take a full class or just need a quick answer, lynda.com can help. For those who have never used lynda.com, it is a site of over 3,000 online courses available on the cheshirelibrary.com/elearning page of our website for anyone who holds a current Cheshire Public Library Card.

I frequently use the lynda online classes as a place to find answers to software questions. Need to know how to display all worksheet formulas in Excel? lynda’s Excel 2016 Tips and Tricks course has the answer. Simply scan the table of contents on the left side of the page and click on Display all worksheet formulas instantly. Three minutes and thirty seconds later you will have the answer.

That’s one of the things that is so wonderful about lynda.com. All courses are divided into short videos that are easily searchable. Word 2016 got you down? lynda has a course titled Word 2016 Essential Training. From getting started to formatting text, to using style and themes and many more complicated endeavors, this course has the answers you’re looking for. The entire course is five hours and forty-one minutes, but the average video chapter is only two to three minutes. Videos like Adding pizzazz with special text effects, Illustrating with WordArt, and Getting documents ready for sharing, can save you loads of time.

The number of topics covered in the lynda.com courses is truly astonishing. Photography. Game Design. Microsoft Office. Music. Test Prep. Business Topics. Educator Tools. And on and on.

You can access lynda.com from our website at cheshirelibrary.com/elearning. You must have a Cheshire Library card to login. Once you do, all the answers you need  are only a few minutes away.

Note: lynda.com charges libraries based on the population served by the library.  So when a library subscribes, lynda.com restricts access to those who have cards from that library. If you are not a Cheshire resident, check with your hometown library. More and more libraries are offering lynda.com to their patrons. If you are a Cheshire resident and do not have a card, you can apply for a card online or in person at the library.

Amadeus: Revisiting a Classic

“Are we going to appall you with something confidential and disgusting? Let’s hope so.”

So begins the trailer for the movie Amadeus, which you can watch here.

Amadeus tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s professional life from the point of view of his rival, composer Antonio Salieri. Salieri narrates a tale that takes you through the different beginnings each man had, and how they wound up at the same palace in competing positions. This film also addresses the question of whether or not Salieri murdered Mozart.

This film is absolutely wonderful. The acting is superb, the settings are elaborate, the costumes are beautiful, and the music is, of course, top-notch. The only drawback to this film is the lack of historical accuracy. However, while this may not be anyone’s biography, it is still one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Did you know that F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) and Tom Hulce (Mozart) took lessons while filming so they could learn how to conduct and play the piano?

Also, the director chose relatively unknown actors (at the time) to play the roles because he wanted viewers to be able to think of the characters as actual people, not famous actors pretending to be characters.

Setting: The second-half of 18th-century Vienna.

Was this movie based on something?  It was based on a play, also called Amadeus. The plots of both are very similar.

What is this movie rated? R for brief nudity.

Is there any objectionable content? Yes, including, but not limited to, sexual content, crude jokes, on-screen deaths, and some violence. There are also scenes involving Salieri questioning and rejecting his religion.

Can children watch this? Not recommended for anyone younger than a teenager.

What themes are found in the movie? Religious devotion, music, rivalries, and the line between madness and genius.

Who would like this? Anyone who enjoys watching historical fiction, or who enjoys Mozart’s music. It is also great for people who love movies that have a lot of depth to them.

Rating: Five stars.

This movie is available as both a DVD and Blu-ray.  And don’t forget to check out the soundtrack!

If you’d like to know more about Mozart, click here. We have many books about the legendary composer and, of course, many CDs featuring his music.

Tossing and Turning? Try an Audiobook!

I think we all have nights when sleep eludes us. Our brains start whirling and it’s hard to quiet our thoughts enough to fall asleep. Some people take a pill. I take a book, an audiobook, that is.

I have found that listening to audiobooks in bed at night is the best way to redirect my thoughts away from all the stuff that’s keeping me awake. I discovered this by accident when my children were young and would wake up from a nightmare. They would inevitably be too keyed up to fall back to sleep, and I would stay up with them, usually telling them a story to get their mind off the bad dream until they could drift back off to sleep.

Years later, I had trouble sleeping myself and decided to adapt the storytelling method that had worked with my kids. I started listening to audiobooks at bedtime. What a help they were! I would inevitably fall asleep faster with the audiobook than without, and I found a way to squeeze a little extra “reading” time in!

Now, not all audiobooks are suitable for relaxing bedtime listening. A gruesome crime novel or horror story kind of defeats the purpose – I reserve grittier fare for print reading. Likewise, I find most mysteries require too much attention to detail, so are not the best for my “bedtime stories”. Romance, humor, fantasy, and classics have become my nighttime listening go-tos.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to give my insomnia-cure a try (great for daytime listening, too!):

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, read by Dan O’Grady. A perfect match of book and narrator, this quirky Aussie love story is a delight.

The Martian by Andy Weir, read by R.C. Bray. Terrific narration by Bray gets character Mark Watney’s nerdy genius and dry humor just right.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachman, read by George Newbern. You’ll quickly embrace the prickly Ove, and the neighbors who invade his formerly well-ordered life.

The Harry Potter audiobooks by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale is a perfect example of how the right narrator can elevate even the best books. He’s won many awards for his narration of the Harry Potter series, and all the accolades are deserved.

The His Dark Materials audiobooks by Philip Pullman, performed by a full cast. Another series that absolutely blooms to life in audio, with this full cast performance pulled together by Pullman’s narration. It’s stunning.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Rob Inglis. Even if you’ve read the book, you’ll get something new out of the audiobook. If you like Inglis’s narration of The Hobbit, you can listen to him read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.

The Outlander audiobooks by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter. Again, even if you’ve read the Outlander series before, you will find new things to love about it in Davina Porter’s skilled narration. And it’s nice to hear all the Gaelic words pronounced correctly!

Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author. This book is, quite frankly, hysterical, and Tina Fey’s narration will have you chuckling into your pillow.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, read by Jeremy Irons. Sure, it’s the story of a middle-aged man’s unhealthy obsession with a teenager, but the prose is practically poetry and Jeremy Iron’s narration is mesmerizing.

Mysteries: Around the World in 80 Sleuths

I love mysteries that immerse the reader in another culture, so here is a short (won’t burden you with 80!) list of some of my favorites, all written by authors with a gift for conveying a strong sense of place. There is no Nordic noir on my list.  A dead body or two and a certain amount of violence are inevitable in all but the coziest of mysteries, but the Scandinavians tend to take it a little far for my taste. Plus I prefer that the majority of the characters in the books I read be people I would enjoy spending time with!  So make yourself a nice cup of tea and curl up with any one of these for a satisfying few hours of reading.

Tannie Maria mysteries by Sally Andrews.
Set in rural South Africa, Recipe for Love and Murder is the first in a series featuring Tannie Maria, a middle-aged widow who loves both to cook and eat and also writes a recipe and advice column for the Klein Karoo Gazette.  While assisting other people with their problems, Tannie Maria is forced to deal with her own–and with a murder to boot. Recipes included! The second novel in the series, The Satanic Mechanic, is due out at the end of March 2017.

Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator mysteries by Tarquin Hall.
Set in the colorful, crowded  metropolis of Delhi, this humorous series features the endearingly idiosyncratic detective Vish Puri (aka Chubby for reasons that will be obvious), India’s Most Private Investigator, and a boisterous cast of supporting characters including Puri’s irrepressible Mummi-ji and his operatives Tubelight, Facecream and Handbrake. Warning:  Do not read these books on an empty stomach, the descriptions of food are positively mouth-watering. No need to read in order.

Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon. 
Venice is the setting for this best-selling series, which has been running for 25 years and captures the beauty, character and seamy underbelly of  life in this glorious city.  Brunetti is a good and intelligent man working to keep crime and injustice at bay in his beloved Venice.  You read these books as much for his musings and observations about daily life, his beloved family, politics and government as you do for the mysteries. The books are also celebrated for their mouth-watering descriptions of the food,  so much so that Donna Leon co-wrote a cookbook featuring some of the fabulous Venetian recipes referenced in her novels.  For long-time fans, reading the latest Donna Leon book is like a visit with old friends. Pick up any one in the series and start reading!

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny.
Set in Quebec, these books feature one of the most admirable men to ever command a police force. Or pretty much anything else.  Multilayered plots, a large and richly described cast of characters and lyrical writing characterize this series which is made even stronger by its incorporation of the complexities of bi-lingual and bi-cultural Quebec.  As one reviewer said, “few writers in any genre can match Penny’s ability to combine heartbreak and hope in the same scene.” Still Life is the first in the series of 12 books, which is best read in order.

The Highland Gazette Mystery Series by A. D. Scott.
Set in the northern Scottish Highlands in the 1950s, this series about a mystery-solving newspaper staff in a small town captures the changing world of post-war Scotland.  This series has everything I like–richly drawn characters, complicated relationships and well-developed backstories in a setting both beautiful and bleak.  Read this fine series in order–the first one is A Small Death in the Great Glen.  There are 6 books in all and the author is working on the seventh.  As a bonus, you will meet members of the Highland Travelers, an indigenous group similar to the Romani in Europe.

Bruno, Chief of Police mysteries by Martin Walker.
A small village in the Dordogne region of south-central France is the setting for this series, featuring Benoit “Bruno” Courreges, a soldier-turned-policeman who would rather tend his garden or whip up a gourmet meal than use his gun or arrest a suspect.  Part of the pleasure of these richly satisfying mysteries is the contrast between the traditional rhythms of life in a French village and the terrors of the modern world.  You may miss a few details if you read this series out of order, but it will not dampen your pleasure in the slightest.

Emily Dickinson said it best:  “There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away…”