Category Archives: favorites

Orchids @ your library!

For over a year now, we have all be enjoying flowering orchids next to the reference desk on the second floor. A patron and good friend to the library has been bringing them in when they are in bloom and taking good care of them. Modest man that he is, he always says it’s easy to get them to bloom, but we are not so sure about that. We are very grateful to him and know that many other patrons of the library have enjoyed them as well.

Currently, we have two orchids blooming, a giant purple orchid (a Cattleya) and a lovely white Bucket orchid or Coryanthes (similar to the one in the picture above). The both have a lovely smell (although their fragrance is different from each other. Bucket orchids have an amazing relationship with orchid bees that involves perfume, sex and glue (from more information visit this site).

Next time you are in the library, make sure you stop by the reference desk and check out the orchids!

Library Orchids resources:

The New Encyclopedia of Orchids by Isobyl la Croix.

All About Orchids by Elvin McDonald.

The Cloud Garden: a true story of adventure, survival and extreme horticulture by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder.



Books for all seasons

As the nights start to get chilly and the leaves begin to fall, I always think of one of my favorite books Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Maybe I first read it in the autumn or maybe the tone of the book just fits so nicely with the fading light or maybe  the morning fog reminds me of the man with the thistle-down hair. Similarly, I associate Pride and Prejudice with summer and Wuthering Heights with winter. But, I have read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell at least three times, so I must search for another book to suit the season.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields . “ Bittersweet, beautifully written . . . deliciously unclassifiable, blatantly intelligent and subtly subversive . . . The Stone Diaries chips away at our most cherished, comforting beliefs about the immutability of facts and fate.”
San Francisco Chronicle

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. “A page turner in the most expansive sense of the word: its gripping plot pushes readers forward…Chabon is a reader’s writer; with sentences so cozy they’ll wrap you up and kiss you goodnight.”—Chicago Tribune

The Seance by John Harwood. “Harwood’s spellbinding second novel…pays homage to such nineteenth-century suspense masters as Wilkie Collins and Sheridan Le Fanu…Harwood invokes the hoariest cliches of supernatural suspense, from stormy nights to haunted houses, and effortlessly makes them his own.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review )

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. “A compelling modern-day ghost story set in and around London’s atmospheric Highgate cemetery…An engrossing love story that crosses to the ‘other side,’ Symmetry offers an inventive take on sibling rivalry, personal identity and what it’s like to be dead.”– People (3 1/2 stars)

Poe’s Children: the new horror: an anthology edited by Peter Straub. “Revelatory. . . . A remarkably consistent, frequently unsettling book.” —The Washington Post

Happy autumnal reading!

~ Diane

Summer is for reading

Ah, summer: swimming, s’mores and… lots of reading.  It does not come as a great surprise to me that I find myself telling my 8 year old daughter  “At least go outside and read.” In fact, I felt a bit of a time warp, as her grandmothers had said the same thing to her Dad and I.  One of the great pleasures of summer vacation is time- time to play, time to read , even time to get bored.

It’s an odd assemblage, but here is our family’s current reading list:

After reading an essay by Nancy Bachrach, I decided that Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann would be my oddball read for this summer (last year it was Casino Royal by Ian Fleming). Valley of the Dolls fits the bill for good pool side reading: glamorous, gritty and not too taxing on the brain. I’m finding the book oddly compelling- like a slightly dirty window into a slice of showbiz cultural history.

Thanks to my sister, I am also reading The Mitfords: letters between six sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley. Covering their whole life, the book explores that colorful existence of the Mitford sisters through their correspondence to each other. From Nancy (an author of several books such as In Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate – favorites of mine) to Diana ( a lifelong fascist who spent most of World War Two interned in prison) to Deborah (who married the Duke of Devonshire), the sisters’ letters show complex and intelligent  personalities.

Recommended by a friend, hubby is reading Wine and War: the French, the Nazis and the battle for France’s greatest treasure by Don and Petie Kladstrup. While Adolf Hitler may have had no taste for wine, others in the Third Reich must have because when Germany occupied France during World War Two they appropriated vast amounts of the countries wines. Some vintners in subtle and daring ways committed acts of resistance to save the grape and part of the essence of what it is to be French.

Having recently finished reading the final Harry Potter, my daughter was mopping around about not having anything good to read. Suddenly, books were “too short”.  We just started reading The Amulet of  Samarkand book one in the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud and are loving it. It’s witty, smart and presents a strangely compelling magical world (it reminds me of one of my favorite books Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell ).

Happy reading!


Diane’s 2008 Favorites

Books that made me neglect housework:


Stealing Athena by Karen Essex


The Building of Jalna by Mazo De La Roche

Favorite Read-a-Louds to my kiddos:


Juniper/Wise Child/Colman by Monica Furlong- A wonderful fantasy trilogy by a fascinating woman (mostly known for the religious biographies she wrote).


Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder- an old favorite that we love to read every winter. The descriptions of Almanzo’s love of food rival Babette’s Feast.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik- Words and drawings tell the tale of an orphan boy in Paris living in the walls of a train station. A giant book, but easily read in a day or two.



Snack Time by the Bare Naked Ladies- Extremely catchy and witty kids’ music.

Latin Playground by various artists

More later, when I remember them. 🙂