Warm Up With a Cookbook

Last month we discussed winter themed reads including a historical novel set within the colder seasonal months, a lengthy fantasy novel, and a chilling thriller.  (You can read more about them here.) This month, we are going to focus on books that will warm you (and your home) on cold winter evenings.

Here are some awesome selections for winter time comfort food:

comfort in an instantComfort in an Instant: 75 Comfort Food Favorites For Your Pressure Cooker, Multi Cooker, & InstaPot by Melissa Clark – This  book is full of cozy weekend recipes and soups.  Just perfect to make while it’s snowing outside. With these “set it and forget it” recipes, you can even read by the fire while dinner is cooking!

From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from the Boss Dogg’s Kitchen from crook to cookby Snoop Dogg– Not only is this book fun to read, but it also has a recipe for the ultimate winter comfort food…. baked mac and cheese. Yum!     

american cookieAmerican Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars, and Brownies We Have Loved For Generations by Anne Byrn There is absolutely nothing better than the smell of fresh baked cookies in the oven.  Does anyone disagree? Pick up this book and find your favorite recipe!

 

See you soon!

—Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian

2019 A Year of Reading

A New Year is a fresh start.  It’s the time to make those good old New Year’s resolutions, the time to pick up some new habits (and maybe even get rid of some old ones), and most excitingly, the time to start a brand new reading challenge full of possibilities!  This year, why not make your reading challenge the best one ever?

The first step in any well planned reading challenge is to set your reading goal.  How many books do you plan on reading in 2019?…25? 45? 105? This is your basis. There are many free apps that can help you keep track of what you read and even keep your reading stats from year to year.  One popular app is GoodReads, but you can read more about others here.  

The next step in any well thought out reading challenge is deciding what you want to spend your year reading.  Do you want to read more of those classics that everyone “should read?” Do you want to expand your reading tastes to other genres?  Or do you want to spend a relaxing year of only reading genres and books that you love?

Here’s some reading challenges that might inspire you:

Other Ideas:

  • A-Z Book Titles
  • A-Z Author Names

The possibilities are endless.  Comment below and tell us what you are looking forward to reading in 2019!

-Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian

Livi Lit

Have you checked out what the Livingston Public Library librarians are reading? Our Livi Lit videos are posted on the library’s Instagram account @LivingstonLibrary and offer readers a quick insight into what they are reading!  

In case you missed it, in the previous Livi Lit video, Librarians Gina and Jessica discussed To Make Monsters Out of Girls, a collection of poetry by Amanda Lovelace, and The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, which was our Xtreme Readers book club choice for grades 4-5!

In the most recent Livi Lit video, librarians Gina and Jessica talked what they are Adultscurrently reading.  Jessica told us about The Adults by Caroline Hulse. This book opens with an emergency call because someone has been shot with a bow and arrow.  But who? And why? In this novel, Claire and Matt are divorced and they have a daughter. The ex-couple decides to go on a holiday with their daughter, her imaginary (and really tall) rabbit, and their new significant others.

the immortalistsGina discussed The Immortalists by Chole Benjamin.  In this novel, four siblings see a fortune teller who tells them each when they are going to die.  This prediction shapes the choices that they make and the way that they live their lives.

So, travel on over to the library’s Instagram, check out what we’re reading, and comment below with what’s in your to-read pile!

-Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian

December Reading Picks: Books For Chilly Nights

When we think of December reads, we often think of the fluffy holiday novel. They’re grab & go, and you can read them in about a day because they all pretty much have the same story line to a degree. But what if you’re looking for something chilly with a little more substance?

Here are a few handpicked reads for the upcoming winter months:

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah –  Although it might be argued that Kristin Hannah recently grew to literary fame with her two most recent novels, The Great Alone and Twinter gardenhe Nightingale, her older novels are spectacular.  Curling up with this read during the winter months is fitting because of the title, but also because of the story line.  In Winter Garden, you will meet Meredith and Nina Whitson, two sisters who are quite different.  When their father falls ill, their mother, often cold and standoffish, offers  them little comfort. The sister’s find themselves making a promise to retell a Russian  fairy tale they used to love to hear as children.  This then begins to unravel a story of family relationships, of the past, and of a historical setting during the Cold War which may give the sister’s insight into the life of their mother.

220px-Mists_of_Avalon-1st_edThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – While not primarily set in winter, fantasy fiction fans will devour this novel.  When you crack open the hefty pages of The Mists of Avalon, you will be transported into the world of the legend of King Arthur, but told from the perspective of Arthur’s sister Morgana Le Fey (Morgaine in the novel).  Something about the chilly months just makes it the perfect time to visit a mythical world.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware –  You may have recently read The Woman in Cabin 10, but have you read Ware’s earlier novel in a Dark, Dark Wood? Claire hasn’t spoken to her one friend in years.  So it’s surprising when she gets an invitation for a weekend away at an old friend’s house in the woods.  For some reason, Claire decides to go and wakes up 48 hours later in a hospital bed knowing that someone is dark dark wooddead. Here’s some advice: If someone you haven’t spoken to in years asks you to go in the woods, you probably shouldn’t.  What you should do is stop by the library and pick up this read.

So stop on by the library and pick up one of these reads to cozy up with, and don’t forget to let us know what you’re reading this winter!

 

-Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian

Where Will Reading Take You?

Are you ever stumped on what to read next?

When you walk into the library the choices can seem both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  Fiction? Non-fiction? How about an audio book or three? Thankfully, the Livingston Public Library’s book jar is here to help make deciding what to read easier than ever! Book Jar Display (2)

Prospective readers can visit our display located between the fiction collection and cafe to have their next read magically selected.  Genres are color coded as follows: Purple– Fiction, Blue– Non-fiction, Yellow– Graphic NovelGreenYoung Adult, Pink– Audio Book, and Orange– Biography. So whether you’re looking for a suggestion in a specific genre or two, or prefer to close your eyes and dive right in, deciding what to read has never been easier.

Not interested in the book jar?  If you’re more of a browse and choose reader, we have many of other book displays that might pique your interest such as: No Shave November, Aviation History, Books About Book Lovers, and Fall Themed Reads!  Check out some of our display photos below.

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So come on down to the Livingston Public Library, and check out our displays.  You may just walk home with your new favorite read! 

P.S. Don’t forget to tell us what you thought of your book the next time you stop into the library!

-Jessica Bielen, Adult Services Librarian 

Highlights of the Week: Livingston Listens Lecture, Collage Workshop, Book Clubs and More!

1/16 |  Healing Hands Collage Workshop

Artist and art instructor Mansa Mussa led a group of fifteen adults in a colorful and fun “Healing Hands” collage workshop in which they learned to create vibrant 8×10 inch collages using a variety of wallpaper samples and traced images of their hands.

For the collages, Mansa instructed the participants to use techniques found in  collage painter, Romare Bearden’s, works: these techniques included adding various cut geometric pieces, colorful hearts, flowers, word stickers, and various textures and layers to create a dynamic composition.  Calling collage the “most democratic” art form, Mansa urged the attendees to create a narrative through their collages and to “break at least one rule” in the process.
A couple of participants took up the option of using digital pictures in their collage –Mansa took a picture from their phone and used a photo printer to make a copy– which made the collages more “personalized.” Students walked away with beautiful, unique collages and expressed how much they not only enjoyed the program, but that they would like to have Mansa come back.

 


1/16 |  Get Lit Adult Book Club

This week’s group read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. In this chilling, dystopian narrative, women have lost all of their rights and must live under the extreme religious society’s patriarchal rule.  In the fictional world of Gilead, it is illegal for women to work, have money and read.  The women are also expected to eat what they are given and do whatever they are told, or pay dire consequences.  As expected, our lively group had a lot to say about this!

Group members were interested to learn that Margaret Atwood was quoted to say that she had “invented nothing” in Gilead.  All of the extreme acts of violence and oppression against women were indeed happening in parts of the world when she wrote the book in the 1980’s.  The group was also fascinated to learn that the popular quote from the book, “Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum,” a phrase that has been loosely translated to mean “Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” is actually a joke from Atwood’s Latin classes!

Now that they have read the book, the group is excited to watch the highly acclaimed award winning series.

 


1/23 |  Understanding Race in America with Dr. Khyati Joshi

Dr. Khyati Joshi presented a historical narrative that helped to provide and understanding of how Supreme Court decisions and immigration laws have contributed to our society as we know it today.  Dr. Joshi entertained questions and comments from the audience regarding these issues.

This program was the first lecture of the Livingston Public Library’s Livingston Listens Series: A Series of Programs on Inclusion, Representation, and Social Justice.  Livingston Listens is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Livingston Library.

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Joshi back on Tuesday, February 27th for the second lecture in our series, Understanding Your Child’s Racial Identity.


1/23 & 1/25 |  Coffee and Crime

Our first set of Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Club meetings for 2018 started off with a bang.  Thirty-one members in total (nineteen in the daytime and twelve in the evening) came to the local history room to talk about Keigo Higashino’s literary thriller, Malice. Reference librarian Ariel Zeitlin, the group’s facilitator, served dry roasted edamame to go with the Japanese setting, but they were eclipsed at the evening meeting by member Nancy Pearl’s amazing home-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Because of the novel’s “unreliable narrator,” the group listened to an audio clip about how to construct the perfect lie. A few members resented the author’s skillful manipulation of the reader, while others were spellbound by his mastery, but as usual, everyone had a great discussion.

 


1/25  |  “Nutty by Nature” Improv Comedy Troupe

Sponsored by the Friends of the LibraryThink Theater” series, eleven actors arrived to perform hilarious improv skits for a crowd of fifty-two people, including three children.

While Livingston resident and professional actor Robert Sapoff is the founder of the troupe, it was Elaine Brodie of Caldwell that led the show.  The other actors joining them were Michael J. Foy, Christina Mastroeni, Alex Bernstein, Tarek Salib and Charles (Chuck) Tsocanos of Bloomfield, Ray Brandess, Bruce Mejia, Tiffany Bizub, Nat Gennace, and Doug Pinkowsky.

In one of the skits, a “husband and wife” were pantomiming barbecuing a steak on a grill and were told to do it in various emotional states, such as anger, depression, love, etc. The audience couldn’t stop laughing when the fuming wife slathered BBQ sauce over the steak while the furious husband shouted out that she very well knew he only liked salt and pepper and the “argument” escalated. It was so funny to see how quickly they could jump from one emotion to another and had the audience in stitches.

In another skit, they asked the public to call out names of various professions and two actors had to perform how those occupations would work together. When the actors chose how a leprechaun (not actually a profession, but let’s pretend it is) was paired off with an astronaut in an office on the moon, some people were left in literal tears from laughing so hard. All in all, it was a wonderfully entertaining evening in which winter doldrums were set aside and good times were had by all.

Highlights of the Week: Charcoal Sketch Workshop, Live Guitar Story Time, Garden State Children Book Awards & more!

1/4 | Garden State Children Book Awards

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Every Fall, a list of nominated books (published three years before the award) is created by a committee that is part of NJLA’s Children Services Section. According to the GSCBA’s page, members of the committee select these books based on their “literary merit and appeal to readers.”  The four award categories for author and illustrator are: “Easy to Read”, “Fiction Series”, “Fiction”, and “Nonfiction.”

The winning books are announced at the NJLA conference in late spring where children then have an opportunity to vote at the Livingston Library– or at their public school in Livingston– for their favorite nominated book. Children who vote at the library are entered into a random drawing for a prize, with this Fall’s winner being Samay Malde!

The Livingston votes have been counted!  Here are the top three titles for each category:

Easy Readers

Prince Fly Guy by Ted Arnold

I will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems

Hot Rod Hamster and the Awesome ATV Adventure by Cynthia Lord

 

Fiction Series

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney

Babymouse: Bad Babysitter by Jennifer Holm

Captain Underpants and the sensational saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot : the twelfth epic novel by Dav Pilkey

 

Fiction

The Rat with the Human Face by Tom Angleberger

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Eva Sees a Ghost by Rebecca Elliott

 

Nonfiction

The Founding Fathers! : those horse-ridin’, fiddle-playin’, book-readin’, gun-totin’ gentlemen who started America by Jonah Winter

Hippos are Huge! by Jonathan London

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

 


 

1/6 & 1/11 | Story Coders

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Second and third graders, along with their parents, enjoyed learning some coding basics using the Finch Bot and ScratchJr.  The well-attended program was divided into three parts and the children and parents played tic-tac-toe as an icebreaker activity.  

After introductions, Amanda and Joseph invited the group onto the story mat for the Finch Bot activity.  The story mat was set up for the story If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff.  The Finch Bot acted as the mouse in the story and the children had to direct the “mouse” from picture to picture following the sequence of the story.  For this activity, the Finch Bot was only capable of moving straight.  

Joseph explained that sensors on the front of the bot acted as the bot’s eyes.  The children could direct the bot to turn left or right by placing special cards in front of the bot. Children took turns figuring out how many space the bot should move straight and which direction it needed to turn in order to reach the next picture.

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For the second activity, Joseph demonstrated how to make a simple story following the If You Give a Mouse a Brownie pattern.  The children and parents worked on  creating their own versions of the story while Amanda and Joseph answered questions as needed.  At the end of the class, the children had an opportunity to share their stories.  

 


 

1/8 | Charcoal Sketch Workshop

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 A cold, snowy day didn’t discourage this group of eager artists to show up for our Charcoal Sketch Workshop led by Livingston Art Teacher extraordinaire, Christine Wittlinger.

 

Many of the students were using charcoal for the first time; they followed the teacher’s detailed instructions on how to hold the charcoal, where to draw the lines, how dark to make each line, and how to use the blending tool to create the desired effect.

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1/9 | Yakety Yak

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The well-attended book club for second and third graders discussed Asia Citro’s Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows.  One of the reasons the children gave for liking the story was that it mixed fantasy and science. They liked that the story was both fun and educational.

During the story, Zoey made and tested hypotheses to figure out what the dragon liked to eat and how to make him better. For the activity, children used modeling clay to create their own dragon eggs and decorated them using food dye and beads.  

 


 

1/11 | Story Time with Live Guitar Music

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Guitar Joe sang songs and told musically-based stories, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and a small bongo-like drum. Anna helped by showing picture books & puppets based on some of the songs.

The kids were encouraged to participate, such as helping with the distribution of maracas during the reading of “Drum Dream Girl,” which describes different forms of percussion, and encouraging the children to match the various rhythms in the story.  The children responded enthusiastically (though, thankfully, not too rambunctiously) to both the music and the stories, all while receiving lessons in subjects like counting, spelling, and gender equality.

Watch a video of the performance of Guitar Joe’s version of We’re Going To Be Friends.

 

 

 

Highlights of the Week: Ellen LaFurn Trio, Paws to Read, Coffee and Crime, & more!

12/10 | ELLEN LAFURN TRIO

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Vocalist Ellen LaFurn, accompanied by Ron Naspo on bass and Vic Cenicola on guitar, added a jazz vibe to selections from The Great American Songbook. They played their own take of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” and treated the audience to songs from the 1930s to the 1950s. Other artists they played songs from included Cab Calloway, Judy Garland, Jo Stafford, Fred Astaire, and many others.

LaFurn also included two of America’s most popular holiday songs, “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” where she then told a touching anecdote about the latter:

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1943, held a special place for families with loved ones serving in the armed services. In December of 1965, astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program. As they returned to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft, NASA asked if they wanted any particular music piped up to them. The crew requested Bing Crosby’s recording of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” making it the first song broadcast into space.


12/12 | PAWS TO READ

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Back for another great session, kids grades K-2 had the opportunity to practice their reading with trained therapy dogs. Each child was given a fifteen minute time slot, picking their own book and reading aloud to the patient dog sitting next to them.

With a furry friend that doesn’t judge the children for any mistakes, but rather quietly sits or lays next to them while they read, it encourages them to continue practicing. And of course, getting to pet a cute, fluffy pup is a plus too.


12/13 | MUSIC OPEN PLAY  | 3 to 23 month olds

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The babies came out in the dozens to play! Youth Services Librarian Gina Vaccaro and Library Assistant Diane Choi organized the new furniture in the Children’s Room to accommodate the droves of families that were in attendance for our December Music Open Play session.

Babies from age 3 to 23 months were treated to an open play session where they were introduced to various musical instruments– including a giant sized keyboard for the babies to crawl on– drums, maracas, bells, a triangle, a xylophone, and other percussion toys.In addition to the music, families were also reading books to their little ones, enjoying educational computer games, building with blocks, and having a fun time together.

The library welcomed a few families to the library for the first time and all in attendance were happy to have an indoor event to share with their babies together.


12/7 & 12/14 | COFFEE & CRIME

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Despite the cold weather and overlap of dates with Hanukkah, the Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Group had a great turnout on both days: fifteen people on Tuesday in the daytime and sixteen on Thursday in the evening. This month, the group discussed Daniel Friedman’s Don’t Ever Get Old, about a cranky old Jewish ex-detective (and WWII vet) and his yuppie grandson Tequila (“It’s a fraternity thing”) who chase down a treasure hoard of Nazi gold.
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Both days were full of lively discussions with passages from the book, such as this one: “’I never thought I would hear you expound the virtues of caring about people.’ I frowned. ‘I care about people. I just don’t like them.’” 

Ariel Zeitlin, the reference librarian who facilitates the group, played an audio version of the author describing his own grandfather who inspired the book, as well as audio clips from GI JEWS, a forthcoming documentary film about Jewish American soldiers in WWII. The group also enjoyed delicious Hanukkah gelt in honor of the book’s treasure theme.