Hiking Cheshire and Beyond

Cheshire residents have the good fortune to live in a town that is home to 2,000 acres of open space, much of which is accessible to the public. The Town maintains 10 properties where hiking is allowed. Trail maps of these properties are available at the library, on both the main and lower levels – as well as online at the Cheshire Planning Department web page . The non-profit Cheshire Land Trust also maintains properties in town with hiking trails.

Additionally, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website features trail maps to state parks and forests, while on the national level, the National Park Service website offers hiking opportunities throughout the country.

Trail maps are available at the library for the following properties: Boulder Knoll, Casertano, Cheshire Park, DeDominicis, Dime Savings, Farmington Canal, Mixville Hills, Quinnipiac Park River Walk, Roaring Brook, and Ten Mile Lowlands. These maps are also available at the Town Hall Lobby.

Cheshire Public Library does offer many trail books about hiking in Connecticut, New England and across the U.S. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors, and here is a sampling of the books available at CPL.

The green guide to low-impact hiking and camping

America’s great hiking trails

Hiking through history : New England : exploring the region’s past by trail

AMC’s best day hikes in Connecticut : four-season guide to 50 of the best day hikes from the Highlands to the coast

Best hikes of the Appalachian Trail : New England

The National Parks Coast to Coast : 100 Best Hikes

Hiking Connecticut and Rhode Island

Happy trails!

Audiobooks for a Family Roadtrip

Audiobooks can be a great way to pass the miles on a road trip, but finding something that everyone can enjoy together can be challenging. Too complex and you’ll lose the younger listeners, too childish and older listeners will quickly tune out. Here’s my attempt at finding that happy medium that everyone can get something out of. Some are on CD, some are downloadable, many are both. Start your engines!

A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry.  Holy Cow, are these books entertaining. While ostensibly written for children, I devoured them as an adult. Tim Curry’s narration will keep everyone rapt for miles. And there are 13 books in the series!

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Some of these might be too lengthy for the very youngest listeners, but school-age and up will be swiftly caught up in the adventures of Harry and friends. Jim Dale’s award-winning narration is amazing.

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, read by Mark Hamill. Yes, that Mark Hamill. Turns out he’s an excellent narrator in addition as well as the greatest Jedi the galaxy has ever known. The series tells the story of the Grace children, who move into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate with their mother, only to find it full of faerie problems.

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, read by David Tennant. Another narrator that parents will know more than kids, Tennant’s narration of this fictional Viking world and the experiences of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III on his journey to Becoming a Hero the Hard Way will entertain one and all.

For a slightly older crowd (middle school & up):

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, BBC Radio plays, from the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, performed by a full cast. Bilbo, Frodo, and friends keep the action going for 13+ hours, and the full cast keeps things lively.

Hatchet and Brian’s Return by Gary Paulsen, read by Peter Coyote. This wilderness survival story about a 13-year-old boy who’s the sole survivor of a plane crash in the wilds of Canada is a longtime favorite with boys and reluctant readers. A fast moving story with plenty of drama.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry. A perfect marriage of material and narrator. Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Hilarity ensues.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton. Futuristic gaming, 80’s nostalgia, and codes to crack – there is something to appeal to a broad age range here and a terrific fast-paced story to boot.

 

What are some audiobooks you’ve enjoyed as a family? Let us know in the comments!

Quick Read: Mozart: A Life

Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson is a short and simple biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is only five chapters long! However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that it doesn’t provide a decent account of his life and music. It describes Mozart in a way that is easy to understand by all. The author also gives the reader new insights into information about his life, and a good understanding both of what his music is about and just how prolific a writer he was. I would have preferred it if this book had been longer and more detailed, but it works well with its simple approach.

Did you know that Mozart wrote over 600 pieces of music in his lifetime? This is especially impressive since he only lived for 35 years.

Did you know that Mozart had a brief a relationship with his wife’s sister?

Did you know that Mozart was literally kicked in the rear by one of his employers when he was fired?

Genre: Biography

Setting: Different parts of Europe from 1756-1791

Is this good for a book club? Yes, if the book club is interested in biographies, music, or just a quick read.

Objectionable content? Yes, but it is not detailed. Religion, sex, violence, incest, and death are referenced, but nothing is explicitly described.

Can children read this? Yes, if they have interest in Mozart and a good vocabulary regarding history and music. Teenagers would be the most likely to be interested.

Who would like this? Anyone who is interested in Mozart and his music. It is also good for people who like quick and interesting reads.

Number of pages: 164

Rating: Four stars

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Classic Read: The Ladies of Missalonghi

ladies2I recently revisited an old favorite, a  short novel set in Australia in the early 1900’s. The Ladies of Missalonghi, a tale by Australian author Colleen McCullough, has a rather dismal start. Missy Wright, a thirty-three year old spinster, lives in the town of Byron with her widowed mother and crippled aunt. The three women scrape along in genteel poverty, the victims of manipulative and greedy richer relatives. Their days are always the same: meager meals, chores, and the endless handicrafts that they create to fill the empty hours.

Missy, who believes her lack of beauty and lack of money have doomed her to never marry, has one escape from the dreariness of her life. She borrows novels from the local lending library and imagines the most spectacular adventures in her mind. The librarian, a distant relation named Una, is bright and vivacious and very interested in Missy, who is generally considered a non-entity by her other relatives.

Slowly, as Missy interacts with Una, she begins to change. She stops letting local shopkeepers push her around. She stands up against a rude and condescending cousin. She takes walks alone in the bush, experiencing the beauty of her natural environment, an experience that has always been denied her in the interest of keeping her “safe”.

Missy’s evolution is an unconventional fairy tale. No one rescues her; she saves herself. Una is an example for Missy to follow rather than a fairy godmother who grants requests. There is a prince of sorts–John Smith, a mysterious newcomer to the town of Byron who is not searching for a princess but running from his past.

This short tale can be read in one sitting. Through-out the story, I kept  wondering if Missy’s newfound strength would backfire. Could she possibly stand up to an entire town, not to mention a tradition of systematic discrimination against the poor widows and spinsters in her family? Would those richer relations turn and crush her? Would her mother and aunt, who are so steeped in family tradition, even support her in her quest for freedom? There were a few surprises before I discovered the answers to these questions.

This light yet lovely tale is enjoyable.  A recommended read for those who like light romance with descriptive settings.

Like Romance Novels but Hate the Covers? Here’s one solution.

I’m going to come clean – I’m a romance reader. There, I’ve said it. There can be some  stigma about the genre, though. Smart women don’t read romance. Romance is poorly-written schlock. It’s paperback porn. And the covers – oh the covers! – don’t exactly help overcome these assumptions about the quality of romance books.

Well, I’m a smart woman. I’m not a fan of bad writing. And the porn argument is pretty sexist. One thing I can’t argue with, though, are the covers; so many of them are just awful.

Like every genre, they’re not ALL gems, but these cheesy covers dumb the books down considerably. So what’s a romance-loving, cover-cringing reader to do?

E-books! We can read the books we like without flashing the eyebrow-raising covers around. Until the publishers figure out that romance readers don’t need a disembodied torso on the cover to sell copies, I will do most of my reading with a digital book.

These are just a few books I’ve loved in which the cover (and sometimes even the title!) had little or nothing to do with the actual story. If I were going by the covers, I probably wouldn’t have picked up these books, and would have missed some great reads:

 

 

 

Lucky for me, the library has digital copies of these titles, plus a LOT more. Cheshire Library has a large collection of all types of ebooks (including romance) available to download with your CPL card to your device of choice.  Our OverDrive platform has over 1500 romance ebooks available to check out, while our hoopla platform has over 1000. Enough to keep the most voracious reader supplied with happy endings.