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CORINTHIANS, RAKES, AND INCOMPARABLES, OH MY!

This month, I'm continuing the historical romance theme and tackling... Regencies! 

Why is the Regency such a popular setting?  Lots of reasons-- just take a look at what was going on in those days: the Napoleonic Wars, the peak of the Industrial Revolution, the women's rights movement, the birth of Gothic literature, and the Romantic poets, just to name a few.  It was the day of Beau Brummel, the Elgin Marbles, Byron, Keats, Shelley (both of them), Ann Radcliffe, and of course, Miss Jane Austen.  And at the heart of it all, the Ton: the glittering, fascinating, hothouse environment of Britain's upper crust.  Wealth, privilege, education, and refined manners, all held together by a rigid code of conduct for the space of a London Season.  I like to think of the Regency period as romance's answer to the sonnet: the rules might seem oppressive and needlessly complicated, designed to strangle creativity, but think what marvellously subtle and nuanced work can result!  Is it any wonder that the Regency is the most popular type of historical romance in our library?

What's in a Name?

Some things really happen by coincidence but I’m beginning to wonder if something else is afoot.    The last six books I read all have an important character named Henry.   The titles include Breathless (Dean Koontz), Edgar Sawtelle (Wroblewski) and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ford).  Then I started Olive Kitteridge (Strout) and in the very first section there are two Henrys!  It’s a great name, the name of kings, synonymous with power and strength.  Its popularity is on the rise here and in Europe, but 7 books in a row?   So far no Henrys in my current book, Safe from the Neighbors.

Mystery Monday

"I can't believe this library!  You have no copies  of James Patterson, John Grisham, and Nelson DeMille!  What kind of library is this?"  These words came from an extremely upset woman who came to the reference desk understandably dismayed that we did not carry her favorite authors.  Where had she looked?  In the mystery section, of course.  Isn't that where these authors would be?  Well, actually, no.  We do, indeed, collect books by these authors, but they are found in regular fiction, not mystery, because they are considered thrillers or suspense.  What is the difference between a mystery and a thriller/suspense title?  Basically, a mystery is a puzzle, a game of whodunit.  A crime has occurred, which we usually don't see happen, and the protoganist (police detective, amateur sleuth, etc.) must uncover the truth and bring the perpetrator to justice.  On the other hand, a suspense/thriller novel works with an imminent fear of danger.  A roller coaster of heart pounding thrills ensues and we hang on for the death defying ride. 

SWORDS AND SORCERY: HEROIC FANTASY

In 1932, a sword-wielding barbarian, "black-haired, sullen-eyed," strode out of the pages of Weird Tales magazine and straight into the hearts of young men everywhere.  His name was Conan, and he and his savage homeland of Cimmeria were the creation of American writer Robert E. Howard.  Howard only wrote four years' worth of Conan stories-- he committed suicide in 1936-- but his creation outlived him in the pens of such authors as L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, and in the face of a certain governor of California.  Thanks to Conan and other characters like him, Howard is generally credited with the invention of the heroic fantasy subgenre.  (To that, I have three words: Gilgamesh, Odysseus, and Beowulf.  But I'd happily grant him "popularization of the genre.")  Nearly 30 years later, Fritz Lieber (of "Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser" fame) coined the phrase it's best known by today-- "sword and sorcery."

Playing and Planning with Words

The New City Library is beginning the process of writing a five- year plan of service.   One important element is to look at the Library’s Mission and Vision Statements.   The Library’s current mission statement is five paragraphs long and contrary to current business practice of having something concise and easily known. In working with the staff of the New City Library, the new mission statement being proposed is:   ”The mission of the New City Library is to inspire ideas, enrich lives and create community”.   I would like to hear from you on this matter and would be interested in your opinion.

THE FLOWER OF CHIVALRY: MEDIEVAL ROMANCES

Codex Manesse, Bergner von HorheimIf a lover of romantic historical fiction were to search our catalog for "medieval romance," she might get a bit confused.  You see, she'd find medieval romance... but she'd also find medieval romance!  (See what I mean by "confused"?)  The same term-- "medieval romance"-- gets used to describe two very different bodies of literature.  

NEW SERVICES - SUCCESS!

We are amazed and gratified at the resounding acceptance of our new circulation desk and new hold system, the self- checkout machines and in-house book return.  Staff has been available to introduce the new features and will continue to work with you.  Now that you've gotten the hang of checking out there are other features on the self checkout, including renewing and the ability to review your account.  The next time you visit take note of the video display that was installed today. 

Library usage is increasing and staff members are busier than ever working to meet your needs.  Thanks for your patience and support.

Teens --- Come and Play Xbox360

In our Teen Room, we have an Xbox360 and two controls.  Just bring your library card with you and check out an Xbox360 game downstairs in our AV department.  Then take your card to the Adult Reference Desk and the librarian will unlock our game cabinet. You have an hour of play time. Since we have two controls, depending on the game, you can play with a friend.  When you are done, go to Adult Reference to pick up your library card and return the game to the AV department. The game console is limited to teens and one friend or family member.

 

HAULING OUT THE BIG GUNS: HARD-HITTING SF

I received a request in last month's comments for some reading suggestions in military science fiction.  As I was putting a list together, I thought it likely that more than one person would be interested in this subgenre, and that it would be a shame to bury my answer in the depths of the archives.  So without further ado, here's the question and my response....

Mystery Monday

Who doesn't enjoy award shows?  Whether its the Oscars, the Grammys, or the Emmys, they all generate their own brand of excitement and glamour. While lacking in the celebrity quotient,the mystery writers have their own prestigious awards, too.  So all of you award junkies, don't despair, because there are plenty of award winners to celebrate.  Mysteries are so varied that they are categorized into their own sub-genres. For example, there are awards for most humorous mysteries, for best LA noir, best historical and any other kind of mysteries you can imagine.  I have listed below some of the latest award winners. See if some of your favorites have been nominated, or better yet, pick up a new favorite.

Left Coast Crime Awards presents the Lefty for most humorous mystery.
 The nominees are:
Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews
Living With Your Kids is Murder by Mike Befeler
Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread by Denise Dietz
High Crimes on the Magical Plane by Kris Neri
And the winner is:
Getting Old is a Disaster by Rita Lakin

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