Sullivan Free Library's Blog

May 25, 2010

Vacation Reading Styles

A recent discussion on a library listserv got me thinking about the subject of summer and vacation reading. What do YOU like to read in the summer?

Some people prefer light or “beach” reads in the summer months–books that can be easily set aside when there is something else to do. For this reason, paperbacks are especially popular in summer months, because they are portable and expendible if they get wet or damaged. One woman I know goes fishing with her husband–he fishes, she reads–and saves a pile of “disposable” books throughout the year for going in the boat.

Others prefer to devote the summer months to tackling longer books that are too time consuming during the rest of the year. I fall into the latter category, probably a carryover from my years in college, when coursework never left enough time to read the fiction books I wanted to read. Summer was a time to catch up on all I missed during the rest of the year.

Reading while traveling is a whole other category. Audio books are popular for long car drives, and electronic books are perfect for traveling light. Every biblioholic knows the angst of packing for a long trip–how do you make room for clothing when there are essentials like books that can’t be left behind? There is nothing worse than running out of reading material on a long trip, so we always pack more than we could possibly read “just in case”. E-books make it possible to travel light and have enough books to read because you can load multiple titles on one device.

I recently heard about this “Vacation Reading Plan” that makes perfect sense to me:

1) A book for the trip there–something light and plot driven that can be left behind when finished.
2) A book you’ve been meaning to read–something you can leave behind at the hotel
3) A book that’s a keeper–something you can start on the trip back and finish after you are home.

Leaving books behind has become popular. is a site devoted to “releasing” books. You can sign up with the site, enter a book and receive an ID #, place it in the book along with information about the site and leave it somewhere–an airport, bus station, restaurant–any public place. The person who finds it logs on to the site and enters the ID #. A book can be tracked for a number of “crossings”. It’s an interesting social experiment and a great way to recyle books.

Recommended LONG Summer Reads:

War & Peace by Tolstoy
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Middlemarch by George Eliot
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
The Stand by Stephen King
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo


May 23, 2010

“The Wonderful World of Oz” Trivia Contest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 7:46 pm
Tags: , ,

To coincide with the upcoming Oz-stravaganza celebration (June 4-6), both branches of the Sullivan Free Library will be offering a trivia contest based on the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. Beginning on Monday, May 24, participants may pick up a booklet of 15 questions. Entries must be submitted by June 8th at 4:00 pm.

Many people learn the Oz story from watching the 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland, but there are some significant differences between the two. Contestants may answer the questions using library resources or the internet.

All correct entries will be entered in a drawing to be held on Tuesday, June 8th at 4:30 pm. The prize will be a Sullivan Free Library tote bag, filled with Oz memorabilia: a copy of the 100th anniversary edition of the book, a set of 2010 commemorative pins, a set of magnets and more.

For more information about Oz-stravaganza, visit:

May 21, 2010

Madison County Literacy Coalition

Today I attended a luncheon held at Colgate University to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the founding of the Madison County Literacy Coalition.

Carolyn Gerakopolous, Director of the Oneida Public Library and Morris Atwood, Coordinator for the Madison County Reads Ahead program have done a tremendous job of pulling together all of the groups who should be involved with adult literacy in Madison County and motivating them to pool resources to tackle this very significant problem.

Of the over 70,000 people living in Madison County, more than 5500 have below basic literacy literacy skills and 16.7% have not completed a high school diploma or its equivalent. These are disturbing facts. In our society, it is impossible to get by without literacy skills, not only for reading and writing, but for computers and health care.

Senator David Valesky was the keynote speaker at today’s event. He made the point that 73 billion dollars is spent each year on unnecessary health care expenses that are attributable to poor literacy. It is not hard to imagine the countless better ways that money could be utilized.

Both branches of the Sullivan Free Library have been partners with the Madison County Reads Ahead program since it’s inception, providing space for one-to-one tutoring, the storage of tutoring materials and the training of literacy volunteers. At the beginning of 2010, the library was pleased to hire Donna Bocketti as the first Adult Literacy Coordinator for the Town of Sullivan. Ms. Bocketti works with Madison County Reads Ahead to pair up tutors and students, and to promote the program in the Town of Sullivan.

For more information about the Madison County Literacy Coalition, visit their website (unveiled today!) at:

May 20, 2010

Audio Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 8:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Now that the weather is (finally!) warmer, it can be a challenge to find time to read when there are so many choices of things to do outside–gardening, lawn mowing, dog walking, attending sports games, traveling.

One way to increase reading time is with books in audio formats. Some people say that they find it difficult to listen to a book; that it is too easy to become distracted and lose one’s place. The good news is that every type of listening device has a rewind option! Like any other skill, it takes practice, but learning to attend to audiobooks is a great way to expand your reading options.

One of the advantages of audio formats is portability. With headphones or speakers you can listen to a book while engaging in almost any activity–and if the book is good, you might be motivated to continue gardening or walking or running longer than ordinarily might!

Listening to books is a great way to stay entertained on long road trips. It’s easy to find a book that will keep the whole family engaged and entertained.

Audios are a great way to learn a new language or refresh existing skills.

On some level, we all enjoy listening to stories. A good narrator can make listening to a book a great experience, and often adds to the story with the use of regional accents or dramatic emphasis.

The library has books in a variety of audio formats. The majority of our books are on CD and cassettes and which can be played on portable, car or home stereo players. We also have some books on Playaways, small mp3 devices (about the size of a small cell phone) that holds one book. You can listen to the book with headphones or by attaching it to speakers for mp3 players. Many newer cars allow you to play an mp3 through the car stereo–you can also purchase adapters to let you use your car CD or cassette player. Playaways are very portable and easy to use without needing to know how to download books. For more information, visit: www.

To find books are available in Playaway format, visit and search the catalog using the key word “playaway”.

If you already use an mp3 player or Ipod, you can also download books directly to your device using the MYaudio2go database, also available at Select the MYaudio2go box on the left side of the screen. You can log in using your library card number and pin (usually the last four digits of your phone number) and browse the selection of books available. After a one-time download of the software to your computer (fast and easy, you can check out books, download them to your computer and transfer them to your player. Once you have listened to the book, you can delete it from your player.

Recommended audio books:

Children/Family Titles

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pierson
The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Holes by Louis Sachar

Adult Titles

The No.1 Detective Agency series by JK Rowling
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer
The Green Mile by Stephen King
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Plan B by Anne Lamott
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sara-Kate Lynch
The ScrewTape Letters by C.S. Lewis

May 18, 2010

Fun Reading-Related websites

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 9:58 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Here are some sites that have some fun reading related items:

This site is worth visiting just for the slideshow of images of people reading when you first connect, but be sure to also click on “shop” and look at all of the t-shirts you can buy with covers of classic books like “The Catcher in the Rye”.

Just for fun, female readers can check out:

This is a site where members send in pictures of good-looking men caught in the act of reading books.  Don’t be put off by the name–there’s nothing objectionable on the site.     You can snap a pic of the man in your life reading and send it in as well.

If you like your clothing to reflect your love of reading, check out:

Go to the site and enter “book t-shirts” in the search box in the upper right of the screen.   You can find many styles and sayings to show the world how you feel about reading.

Another site with an array of t-shirts, mugs, magnets and tote bags with reading-related themes.  My personal favorite is:  “I like big books and I cannot lie”.

And of course, there is always the store of the American Library Association:

Here you can find Celebrity Read posters–posters showing a variety of famous people reading their favorite book. The Jonas Brothers, Colin Farrell and Hugh Laurie are just a few examples.

Take a tour of some of the most stunning library buildings in the world.   It’s impressive to see and reminds us of the value that has traditionally been placed on literature and learning by the way in which books are housed.

Looking to get creative with older books? Check out the way this has turned books into functional art. Be sure to look at the gallery labeled “Funniest”.

What are your favorite reading-related websites?  Feel free to share in the comment section below.

May 14, 2010

Like mystery?

For the fans of the mystery genre who prefer plot and style to gore and sex,  a new series by Canadian author Alan Bradley  is sure to please. His protagonist/detective is a character that readers won’t soon forget–Flavia Deluce, a precocious eleven-year old with a penchant for chemistry (speciality: poisons!) and deductive reasoning.

Flavia lives with her preoccupied father and two sisters in a dilapidated country  estate outside of London.   Her mother died when Flavia was a year old and her father’s  solace is his rare stamp collection, leaving Flavia to wander about the countryside with little supervision.

In the first mystery “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”, Flavia tries out her detective skills when a red-haired stranger show up dead in the family cucumber patch.  Her father appears to be a the mostly likely suspect, and Flavia sets out to solve the case herself before he is locked away forever and she has to live at the mercy of her two older sisters.  Published in 2009, “Sweetness” has already won a score of prestigious awards, including the 2009 Agatha Award for best novel.

The second book in the series is  “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag”  and once again, Flavia is putting her resources to work to solve a murder when a travelling puppet performer is electrocuted under suspicious circumstances during a performance.

Bradley has four more books planned in the series, all with equally intriguing titles.  He writes with humor and attention to detail.

If you like to listen to books, the audio versions are delightful; narrator Jayne Entwistle brings Flavia to life perfectly.

I fell in love with Flavia when she exclaimed, in the first book: “Heaven must be a place where the  library  is open seven…no! eight days a week.”

The books are available in large-type, hardcover and CD format through the Mid-York Library System.

For more information about the books and characters, visit:

KFT 5/14/10

May 13, 2010

The Wonderful Author of Oz: L. Frank Baum

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 6:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The  village of Chittenango, NY is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum,  author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.  The book  was made into one of the most famous movies of all time in 1939 by MGM Studios  and has been adapted into a number of stage and film versions, including the musical “Wicked” based on the novel by Gregory Maguire.

Chittenango has long celebrated Oz, not only with an annual parade and festival, but with year round tributes: the yellow brick sidewalks downtown, poppies planted all over the village and the many businesses and organizations  with related names. The Children’s Room of our library has an Oz theme, complete with yellow brick road, Emerald City mural, a Munchkin Door and a Flying Monkey playroom.

The movie is what most people associate with Baum, but he was also a  prolific author who has entertained generations of children with his work;  he wrote over 55 novels, 82 short stories, 200 poems and assorted scripts. In addition to books published in his name, he wrote under several pseudonyms, most notably Edith Van Dyne and Floyd Akers.

His first work of fiction was “Mother Goose in Prose”, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish and published in 1897 when Baum was 41.  The success of this and the sequel “Father Goose, His Book”, illustrated by W. W.  Denslow, allowed him to give up the various (and mostly unsuccessful) business ventures with which he had been experimenting for all of his adult life.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” , illustrated by W.W. Denslow, was published in 1900 and became the best-selling children’s book for the next two years.  Baum went on to write thirteen additional “Oz” novels.  After his death in 1919, other authors continued the series. For a bibliography of his works see:

Baum is purported to have come up with the story line while telling his children a bedtime story, and received the inspiration for the name of the magical land in which the story took place by glancing at the drawer of his file cabinet, which was labeled “O-Z”.  His original working title for the book was “The Emerald City of Oz”, but his publishers, the Hill Company, were superstitious about publishing a book with a jewel in title, forcing Baum to come up with an alternate title.

Over the years, various scholars have speculated the Baum’s novel for children contained cleverly disguised political satire and social commentary of his time.  Baum himself said only that his books were written to entertain children and support his family.

From the perspective of a librarian, I find it ironic that, in early years, Baum’s books were often banned or restricted in public libraries because they were considered too “fantastical” for children and not serious literature.

As we approach the  anniversary of his birth–May 15, 1856 and the upcoming Ozstravaganza (Friday, June 4th through Sunday, June 6th) lets remember to commemorate the man not only for the movie, but for being one of the forerunners of fantasy fiction for children and for inspiring us all to use our imaginations and believe in faraway lands and magical places.

“I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp, which when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one’s heart and brings its own reward.” L. Frank Baum, inscription in a book to his sister


KFT 5/13/10

May 11, 2010

Facebook Clinic Scheduled

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 5:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

Last week’s session on “Facebook for Grown-Ups” generated a lot of interest.  People who weren’t able to attend asked if we’d be scheduling another session, and people who did attend asked “When can we do this again?”

In response, we have scheduled a “Facebook Clinic” for Tuesday, June 29th at 6:30 pm.  People can bring their laptops to the Community Room of the library in Chittenango and get assistance with using Facebook from library staff and each other.  This will be a more informal session than the program on 5/4.

There will be a limited number of library laptops available for use; if you are interested in using one, please call Karen at 687-6331 ext 302  IN ADVANCE to reserve one.

Some people have expressed an interest in learning how to use a Facebook page to promote their business or non-profit.   I will be attending  the “Syracuse BizBuzz Social Networking Conference” ( will be held at the Oncenter on May 27th. and hope to have some tips to share on that subject.

May 5, 2010

Upcoming Book Discussions

Book Discussion Groups are a great way for avid readers to share their passions with people with similar interests. The Sullivan Free Library has three book discussion groups for adults that meet monthly.  New members are always welcome!  Discussions are friendly and informal; refreshments are served.   To see schedules for each group for the year, visit our web site at:

The Bridgeport “Attic Salt” Discussion Group will meet on Tuesday, May 25th at 7:00 pm to discuss “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria.  From

“This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the “rise of the rest”—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.

The Chittenango Book Discussion Group will meet on Wednesday, May 26th at 7:00 pm to discuss “Stones From the River” by Ursula Hegi.   From Library Journal:

“At the beginning of World War I, Trudi Montag, a dwarf, is born to an unstable mother and a gentle father in a small Rheinish town. Through the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich into the era following World War II she first struggles with–and later draws strength and wisdom from–her inability to fit into a conformist and repressive society. As the town’s librarian and historian, Trudi keeps track of many secrets, revealing the universality of her experience. While Hegi’s ( Floating in My Mother’s Palm , LJ 5/15/90) treatment of history and politics is engaging, her novel’s appeal lies in the humanity of its characters. Particularly strong is her portrayal of, and insight into, the community of women and children as they react to changing conditions in the town. A sensitive and rewarding book.”

On Thursday, May 27th, the Chittenango Classics Book Discussion group will meet at 7:00 pm to discuss “Tess of the D’Ubervilles” by Thomas Hardy.   From the cover of the book:

“Etched against the background of a dying rural society, Tess of the d’Urbervilles was Thomas Hardy’s “bestseller,” and Tess Durbeyfield remains his most striking and tragic heroine. Of all the characters he created, she meant the most to him. Hopelessly torn between two men–Alec d’Urberville, a wealthy, dissolute young man who seduces her in a lonely wood, and Angel Clare, her provincial, moralistic, and unforgiving husband–Tess escapes from her vise of passion through a horrible, desperate act.”

May 1, 2010

Great sites for readers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sullivan Free Library @ 7:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Have you ever forgotten the title of a book you’ve read and want to recommend to someone else?  Picked up a book and can’t remember if you’ve read it before?  Or just like to keep track of how many books you’ve read in year?

There are many online sites now that let you do all of these things for free.

This site lets you list all of the books you have read, what you are currently reading, and save lists of what books you’d like to read in the future.  You can rate the books you’ve read, write a review and read the reviews that others have written. You can develop a network of friends and see what books they are reading and recommend.  You can join a variety of discussion groups or enter drawing for free copies of books.  If you have a Facebook account, you can automatically post the reviews of the books you’ve read so your friends can see them.

Shelfari allows you to build a virtual bookshelf where you can actually see the covers of books you have read or want to read.  Like Good Reads, you can develop a community of friends to compare reading tastes or join a book discussion club.  Shelfari will also compare your reading “rate” to previous years so you can see your progress (or lack of!).

This site also allows you to build lists of books you’ve read or want to read.  You can join discussion groups or be put into drawings for early copies of books to read and review.

Are there classic titles that you’ve always meant to read but never found the time?  On Daily Lit, you can sign up for daily installments of books–usually a chapter.  You can have it sent to you by email or mobile device.

Paperback Swap is an online community that allows you to trade books with other members for the cost of postage.  The name is misleading; books do not have to be paperback to be eligible.    You earn credits by listing a minimum of books that you own.  If  a member requests a book from you, you print out a mailing label and send the book at media rate postage (usually $2-3 per book).   When the member receives the book, you get a credit.  For each credit you have, you can request a book, which will be mailed to you at the owner’s expense.

Create a free website or blog at