Halloween Reads from Classic American Authors

Happy Hallowreading!  One of our library customers asked me if I read things seasonally or certain things during the different seasons, but the only answer I could come up with is for Halloween.   Having a background in American History and Literature, a few American classic writers come to mind.

My personal tradition is to read Edgar Allan Poe short stories a few nights before and on Halloween.  They’re beautifully and lyrically written and some of them are spine-tingling scary.  I suggest The Tale-Tell Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, both available in some anthologies we have here at the library and on numerous places online.  For lovers of suspense, The Pit and the Pendulum, is a great choice.  The reader feels the despair and the pain of the victim of the prisoner.  These stories all lead up to a scary, horrible climax with grace and great prose.

 

Another classic American writer whose works are fun to read this time of year is Nathanial Hawthorne.  Young Goodman Brown is set on Halloween night in chilly New England.  The story has the classic plot of good versus evil, but it is fun to try to figure out the symbolism throughout the story.  It’s a perfect Halloween read!  Other Hawthorne stories that are frightening include Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment and Rappacini’s Daughter.  We actually have the film version of these two stories on DVD, starring Vincent Price and a very young Beverly Garland.  The House of Seven Gables, also by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a pretty creepy story about family turmoil, struggle, and a murder.  We have this book in electronic format and on DVD, also starring Vincent Price.

And lastly, we have Washington Irving’s Tales of the Supernatural, an anthology that includes several spooky stories involving ghosts, the Devil himself, and pirate treasure.  What a combination!  Tales of the Supernatural includes The Spectre Bridegroom, The Devil and Tom Walker, and The Legend of the Enchanted Soldier.  It also includes the all-time classic Halloween story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 

 Many of these stories are now in the public domain, so you can find them online in full text.  You can find many of them in the Guttenberg Project collection online here:  https://uppl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/default/?rm=OPEN+SOURCE+DA0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7Ctrue.  Type in the name of the story or author you are looking for in the search bar.  We also have anthologies, in print and in electronic format, containing some of these stories, in the library.  If you need help finding them on the Libby app, please give us a call at 214-363-9095 or email me at sperry@uptexas.org.

I will also be talking about some more contemporary Halloween Reading on Wednesday, October 21st at 2pm on Facebook live.  I hope you join me there!

Mindfulness for Kids

Returning to school can be a stressful experience for kids, especially while wearing a mask and worrying about Covid-19. Mindfulness, a practice centered on self-awareness and focusing on the present moment, has been scientifically proven to improve kids’ ability to respond to stressors. By identifying and accepting their thoughts and emotions, children increase their well-being and gain the tools they need to deal with difficult situations. These resources, available from UP Library, help to teach kids mindfulness in a variety of ways.

Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anywhere, Anytime (DVD) 

A collection of 30 exercises that teach children how to regulate their emotions through breathing and mindfulness. Children can learn to control their emotions and body as they practice these exercises in the car, on the soccer field, or before a test at school. Short and easy to memorize, these methods can also help families develop their own mindfulness practices at home. 

Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids by Whitney Stewart 

If you would like to practice mindfulness using a book rather than a DVD, this book helps children grow in awareness of their thoughts and emotions. An elephant and monkey serve as meditation guides and the gentle illustrations lead kids through nine different mindfulness exercises for gaining focus, relaxation, and clarity. Included is a list of frequently asked questions about meditation, and the encouragement that each person moves through these exercises differently and at their own pace. 

Breathing Makes It Better: A Book for Sad Days, Mad Days, Glad Days, and All the Days In-Between by Christopher Willard 

Colorful illustrations and simple language take kids through the different feelings they may experience each day, and teaches them to apply mindfulness in each situation. Families might read the book from start to finish, or may choose to work through a relevant emotion as needed. Tips for parents are also included at the end for leading children through additional mindfulness practices. 

My Magic Breath by Nick Ortner

This interactive picture book invites children into a simple breathing pattern as they read. As they do, they learn to calm their frustration and anger, replace sadness with happiness, and release tension. The beautiful illustrations make this an inviting mindfulness tool for preschoolers and elementary kids, who will love using their own magic breath to make worries disappear! 

Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This miniature picture book is a simple tool for teaching even the youngest children the importance of mindfulness. Carle’s beloved caterpillar guides readers through deep breaths and relaxation techniques, showing them to soothe themselves when sad, frightened, or worried.

New Fiction and A lot of Nonfiction

I hope you’re all enjoying the  pretty weather and getting some good reading time in.  We have a few new fiction titles, not by high-demand authors, but really good nonetheless.  The Queen of Tuesday by Darin Strauss offers a glimpse of mid-century American culture and establishes Lucille Ball as the main influencer of her time.  The story revolves around a romance – an affair that the author’s grandfather had may have had with Lucille Ball – but mixes the fiction of the romance with some of the facts of Ball’s life.  Be prepared to be surprised to learn that there was much more to Lucille Ball’s life than what we saw on television.

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman is set in a book store in Paris during World War II.  It looks at the toll that living in France during the War and Occupation took on many.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind by Rachel Gibson is a mother and daughter relationship story that is told with humor and compassion that will resonate with the reader as they contemplate their relationships with their own mothers.

Monogamy by Sue Miller will probably be my favorite book of 2020.  It’s the story of the complications of marriage and blended families with one big secret that tears down everything a woman believed about her life.  The relationships in the book are messy, but the book is engrossing.  I couldn’t put it down.

I received an early copy of The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh earlier this year and have been impatient for it to be published so I could share it with you all!  In a small Louisiana town, a machine appears in the local grocery store that changes quite a bit for this small Southern town.  For two dollars and a swab of a person’s cheek, it can tell them what their life’s potential is.  And the revelations that the machine offers challenges people’s relationships, self-esteem and satisfaction levels.  This book is magical realism at its best, and the graceful writing will have the readers enthralled.

Just a few other new fiction titles to mention are The Geometry of Holding Hands, the newest installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series; The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is a work of historical fiction with modern and real-life influences.  It’s a survival story set against the back drop of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling) adds another title to her Cormoran Strike novels in Troubled Blood.

And lastly in my discussion about new fiction titles is Dear Ann by Bobbie Ann Mason.  Her first novel, In Country, is now considered a post-modern classic, and this latest title probably will be as well.  Dear Ann leads the reader down the path of a re-examination of a first love and all the living that the main character either did or didn’t do in her life.  It’s as gritty and real as In Country.

 New non-fiction titles on our shelves include The Hard Things about Hard Things by entrepreneur Ben Horowitz, His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and His Power of Hope by Jon Meacham, and Everything Beautiful In Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager.  If you want to understand more about Netflix and how it has reinvented itself over and over, then read No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings.  In A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom   by Brittany K Barnett takes readers on her journey to understand the American justice system when, as a young law student, she comes across a case that will change her life forever.  We have Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ memoir, titled Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House and we now have Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America by Bill O’Reilly.

Stayed tuned for the next post, which is all about some great Halloween reads you may or may not have thought about for the spooky time of year.

So Many Great Books!

Hello!  Early October is traditionally a hot time in Amercan publishing, and this year is no different.  Many of your favorite authors have books that were either released yesterday (October 6th) or will be next week (October 13th).  Some of them include 1st Case by James Patterson, a murder mystery that involves college students and computer hacking; The Bourne Evolution, by Brian Freeman; Near Dark by Brad Thor; and Deadlock by Catherine Coulter.  Father-and-son team Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman have written another title in the Clay Edison series, Half Moon Bay.   Wow!  How talented is that family? Father, son and mother all write best-selling books!  Carl Hiaasen’s new book is Squeeze Me, and it is just as fun and offers as great an escape as his previous titles.  J.D. Robb continues her Eve Dallas stories with Shadows in Death, which is the fifty-first in that series.  Vince Flynn continues the Mitch Rapp series with Total Power.

For romance readers, we have some new titles by a few of your favorite authors.  Bitter Pill by Fern Michaels is the latest in her Sisterhood series.  Janet Dailey has launched a new series that combines romance, handsome rodeo cowboys, empowered women, and suspense.  Whirlwind: A Thrilling Novel of Western Romantic Suspense will be the first in that series.  Meg Cabot returns to Little Bridge Island with No Offense.  Sandra Brown also combines suspense with romance in Thick as Thieves.  This book kept me on my toes all throughout and to the very end!  It involves a high-stakes heist, a missing father, and a daughter who wants to find answers.  The characters are rich, and the story clips along at an extremely readable pace.  The end surprises a bit but does not disappoint.

 A few other titles by popular authors include The End of Her by Shari Lapena.  As in all of Lapena’s books, this book will keep you in suspense.  Toward the end, it will have you wondering about your partner’s or past.  Iris Johansen returns with Chaos and introduces a new female character, Alisa Flynn.  Flynn is a CIA agent who goes to extreme measures to rescue several school girls in Africa who are kidnapped.  This story is action-packed, intelligent, and has a lot of heart.  While I’d never read anything by Johansen before, this book has made a fan out of me.  Tying in with a few real-life events of the past few years, this book would make a great book club pick.  Ruth Ware’s newest title, One By One, is set in a luxurious ski chalet in the French Alps.  Tensions run high between the guests and staff of the chalet when an avalanche occurs and causes panic while the number of guests dwindles, one by one.

Jude Devereaux brings some of her beloved characters back to Providence Falls, North Carolina in Chance of a Lifetime, a story filled with magical realismChristina Baker Kline, the author who made us all aware of and fascinated by that unique piece of America history in The Orphan Train, shows us the harsh realities of life in Australia when it was a penal colony in The Exiles.  This book has already been optioned for a miniseries by HBO, so you’ll want to read it before you watch it!

If you enjoyed the magical realism and poignancy of Aimee Bender’s first novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, then you’ll enjoy her newest novel, The Butterfly Lampshade.  As in Lemon Cake, this story features Francie, a precocious young girl, who despite struggling with a troubled mother, teaches us how to navigate life’s difficulties.  This book is magical and readers will be enchanted with Francie just as they were with Rose in Lemon Cake.

Tomorrow I’ll post about some unique new fiction titles we have in, along with a plethora of timely nonfiction titles and biographies.  The library has all of the books mentioned above, so place your requests for them, and we’ll either have them ready for you in the library or take them down to your car via curbside service.  If you need help placing requests for your books, give us a call at 214-363-9095.