Books I have read . . .

The Sea by John Banville ~ Main & NHC PR6052.A57S43

After reading Banville’s Ancient Light and Mrs. Osmond, I immediately went searching for all his other books. Banville is magic. He captivates and enlightens. I love his vocabulary, which teaches me new words to describe the world. But by the time I almost reached the end of this tome, I was tired of the details of emotional and psychological poetic analysis. I yearned for some action that the characters could clamor through without reminiscing about it later in the book.
“While the novel dwells meditatively on the childhood pursuits that dominated his summer, Max’s memories of the Graces also act as a springboard for more wide-ranging recollections about the ups and downs of his married life, the doomed relationship of his parents, and the tortuous death of his wife, Anna. Yet it is not the events themselves which are particularly noteworthy but Banville’s ability to tease out, in a prose that is never less than exquisitely wrought, the resonances in the commonplace which echo with amplified significance throughout an individual’s life” review by John Tague, Independent, 9/4/2005
Read an excerpt of The Sea here.

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Books I have read . . .

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders
~Main & NHC Libraries PS3569.A7897L56“Bardo” is the Tibetan Buddhist name for a transition period between death and rebirth. Abraham Lincoln visits the graveyard where his boy Willie, who died of typhoid fever at age 11, is buried yet lives on in the bardo. Willie’s neighbors all have something to say. A little tedious. But the assortment of characters reminds me of the characters in Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. The best dialogue and thoughts are Lincoln’s. His mourning for his son and the devastation of the Civil War become inseparable. Saunders gives insight into the depression the President could not escape. While I liked this book, I much more enjoyed Saunders short stories, some of which are found in Tenth of December. Read an excerpt of Lincoln in the Bardo here.

The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

I struggled through this… several times thinking of giving up. But because it won the Pulitzer Prize, I felt I would eventually be drawn into Whitehead’s writing. But I never really got engaged, by the characters or the plot.  The twist of the railroad being a physical train line with stations was under developed. Jay Norlinger states, “Whitehead’s book is most successful when it tells its story. It is least successful, I think, when it teaches and preaches … [like a] social-studies teacher, with one didactic paragraph after another… As a rule, teaching in a novel should be accidental, I think, not bluntly striven for.” (National Review). But you decide. Read an excerpt here.

Half Empty by David Rackoff ~NHC Library PN6165.R35

Funny, dry, dead-on, and keenly observant, Rackoff managed to write about things that were ordinary but made seem uncommon. Rackoff was known for his life’s philosophy: always assume the worst; you’ll never be disappointed. When an author can spin that with laugh-out-loud honest descriptions and wit, I’m so there for the read. This collection of essays contains not only the warning “No Inspirational Life Lessons Will Be Found in These Pages,” but the guarantee that the author will have you “positively reveling in the power of negativity” (NYT Book Review). Read an excerpt here.

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HCCC Library Winners @NJLA Conference

On June 1st, two of our staff were presented with awards at the recent NJLA Conference in Atlantic City. Mei Xie won for her achievements in Technical Services, and Devlyn Courtier won the Technology Award.

Leading the Library catalog migration from SirsiDynix to open-source Koha, Mei updated library catalog records to RDA standards, modernized the library’s authority file and subject headings, improved access to electronic resources for all users, and added support for emerging technologies such as linked data.

Devlyn, along with Johnathan Cintron (a former HCCC employee), won the NJLA Technology Award for their application of Raspberry Pi technology to advance the current manual door count to an automated system. By building three different prototypes using lasers, PIR (passive infrared sensor), and ultrasonic technology, they created devices which can collect and transmit door counts to a database, making record keeping much easier.

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