Reading by sunset

Binging with Books

binge-read [binj-rēd]

verb

  1. The act of reading large amounts of text in a short amount of time
  2. The reason you haven’t eaten, bathed, slept, or absorbed sunlight in the twenty-four hours following the release of the conclusion to your favorite series[i]

[i] “binge-read.” the EpicReads.com [glos-uh-ree]. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.epicreads.com/blog/epic-reads-glossary/

Used in a sentence: I stayed up through the night to binge-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after buying it at the midnight release party because I didn’t want to encounter any spoilers out in the world.

My joy of reading was first established as a child, racing through books after lights out with a flashlight under the bedcovers (I soon tired of the ever-present crick in my neck and convinced my parents to put a nightlight in my room that was bright enough to read by). Books that I refused to put down for breakfast as a child included Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, and Bridge to Terabithia.

As an adult, there have been plenty of books over the years that I did not want to put down to eat, sleep, shower, or work – whose characters stuck in my head to the point of distraction. I admit to having binge-read every HP title the moment they were released, I raced through The Hunger Games trilogy, and every new Sookie Stackhouse book (guilty indulgence, indeed), but these days, I rarely find myself sitting for hours by the nightlight in my room reading with that same kind of joy. Probably because I no longer have a nightlight. When I have taken hours out of my day to finish a book, it has been because I had to meet a deadline, but in those forced reading sessions, I discovered that same joy, quiet, comfort, and focus that reading, and binge-reading, has provided since I first picked up a book.

If you’re like me, you may have supplanted your binge-reading for binge-watching. I will admit that I have burned through the likes of Friday Night Lights, Weeds, and most recently, Amazon Prime’s Fleabag, so I’m not arguing against binge-watching, but I am making an argument to replace a television show binge with a book binge, at least once a month. Although it might be an indulgence, I think it would bring great joy to readers to carve out one afternoon a month to lose themselves in a book. Forget the dishes, the vacuuming, and the loads of laundry, just for one day, curl up in a cozy chair, and tackle that tsundoku. It is an indulgence I don’t think you’ll regret.

To get you started, here are five page-turners I could not put down this past year:

Cover of Rebecca Makkai's "The Great Believers"

The Great Believers

Author: Rebecca Makkai

One of the library’s Tough Topics Book Club titles in 2019, Makkai’s hard-hitting story about the AIDS epidemic’s devastating effect on a group of young friends in Chicago in the 1980’s has characters that will never leave me.

Cover of Ruth Ware's "The Turn of the Key"

The Turn of the Key

Author: Ruth Ware

Ware is an author whose books I’ve been binge-reading since her first title was released in 2015. She has been releasing a dark mystery every year since, and this 2019 title gave me physical goose-flesh.

Cover of Hank Green's "An Absolutely Remarkable True Thing"

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

This was a title recommendation from a fellow staff member, (thank you, Michaela!), that traces the story of a young woman who becomes an overnight media sensation. The circumstances surrounding her trappings were mind-blowing enough that I drained the battery on my device and gladly lost a bit of sleep reading it through the night.

Cover of Amor Towle's "A Gentleman in Moscow"

A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles

Every sentence and every scene in Towles’ 2016 is crafted with such beauty and grace, I was swept off my feet emotionally. The character development is rich and layered and it is a truly unique story that unfolds during a very turbulent period in Russian history.

Cover of Ann Rule's "The Stranger Beside Me"

The Stranger Beside Me

Author: Ann Rule

As a Murderino whose first foray into true crime was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, I knew I had to read Rule’s story about her personal connection to Ted Bundy after episode 61 (I am binge-listening to the podcast, and am catching up as quickly as possible). If you have the opportunity, listen to Ann Rule narrate the book on Libby or Overdrive.

Sawdust City Sounds logo

More Sweet Local Music!

Back in the spring of 2019, the library launched Sawdust City Sounds, an online platform to showcase amazing current local music to new audiences for FREE. We again called out to local artists to submit more of their music for the platform, and as of last month their music is now available for streaming!

While all these new albums have the fact that they’re local in common, you’ll be surprised at how diverse the sounds of each one is. If you’re looking to rock out, check out Stumpt’s Um, What? or Drunk Drivers’ It’s Always Weekend.  For more acoustic heavy sets, AncientMelody by Past & Present, Phase 1 by Jim Phillips Project, Exile Station by Adrian Klenz, and Dead Man Pickin’ by Rock Cree Song Dogs will fulfil that niche perfectly. Love Americana? Ben Shaw and The JahnyD Occurrence have you covered with their albums, Feet to the Fire and Agouti Groove, respectively.

Leading off with some more experimental music, the Nunnery’s We are the Stars is an awesome entry into music made with loops, if you’ve never heard that before (and go see here live if you ever get the chance). For some synth heavy sounds, check out Xavly’s Exit or Oddity’s Oddities Oddyssey.

Whatever you choose to listen to, you’re going to be blown away by the fact that these are all local musicians you might pass by grocery shopping. Maybe it’ll inspire you to make your own music, or maybe you already have music that you’d love to see on this site. In the coming year there will be at least one more call for local musicians to submit entries for Sawdust City Sounds, so stay tuned!

Image of library patron staring at book of shelves trying to figure out what to read next.

What to Read Next?

Have you ever been stuck, not knowing what you feel like reading next?  Tired of the same genres and authors?  Looking for something new?

Since all staff members in this library are here to serve, then yes, we can help!

First, ask at the reference desk upstairs for a Diversity Challenge reading journal.  Each month has a different subject, so you may pick and choose what interests you.  Each month will then give you 15-20 titles in that subject that are great suggestions.  You need not follow this month to month; just pick what peeks your imagination, and go from there.

Your library staff has created 28 different Book Links for ideas and suggestions by genre. These Book Links are for Mystery & Thriller, Horror, Romance, Historical Fiction, Self-Help, and Women’s Fiction, just to name a few.  Each of these has the latest best sellers, best- selling authors, and also classic books in each genre. These are located just behind the customer service desk on the first floor of the library, or on our public website under services, then Discover New Books.

Also on our MORE public website we list new items, plus the latest New York Times Best-Sellers. Just above the Book Links on our website, there are lists of the best books of 2018. Want someone to guide you? Fill out the Personalized Reading Suggestions, as we can suggest authors and titles based on your reading preferences.

Fantasticfiction.com is a super resource we often use at the reference desk.  They list new fiction books by genre and format.  If you want to know the sequence of books in a series, type in the author, and all books written by this author will appear.  This shows the date of when each were released, plus new titles coming out soon. Also, if you like the author John Grisham, as an example, there will be a list of several titles and authors that he recommends

Goodreads.com is another wonderful tool to hunt for new books. Here you can also search by genre, or author.  Also listed are their Choice Awards; best sellers by genre for each of the last several years.  I suggest you create your own Goodreads account, as this allows you to rate books you like, or dislike, gives you the opportunity to discuss books with others, and then keeps track of the books you have read.  Bonus!  Rate a book or author with 5 stars, and you often will receive in depth interviews and ideas from the author.  A number of these have been extremely interesting on how the author gets ideas for books, and how they develop their characters.

When searching the MORE catalog, once you select a book to view or request, scroll down.  Here we list other books in that series, other books by that author, and also similar titles, similar authors, and similar series. This is what it will look like.

Still stuck?  Cannot decide?  Well, since everything is free at the library, check out several different books.  All you are out is your time if you cannot get into a book.  We have more!

Last resort? Just ask any of the dedicated library staff members. The reason we are here is to help you!

Who Loves Miscellaneous Information?

Who loves miscellaneous information?

Brad loves miscellaneous information.

Is it true?

Mm-hmm! I do, I do, I do, I do-oooh!

And what better place to find such miscellaneous information than in the library’s 000s section of non-fiction? The 000s are arguably the oddest and most diverse collection of materials throughout all of the non-fiction collection. Some credit must be given to the 700s which contend for quite a variety as well with “Arts and Recreation” (Pst, it might be my other favorite section). The 000s originally held the classification as simply “General Works,” but have since been extended to “Computer Science, Information & General Works.” Now, the 000s have potentially thousands of subcategories as Dewey intended, so I will refrain from spending a novel’s worth of explanation and will focus on the beefiest areas we have available in our collection.

001.9:
Ah, yes. Quite a specific number after declaring my intent to be broad, and it even has a decimal point! I promise this will be the only one. 001.9 could be considered fascinating be you believer or skeptic. No, not a religious believer. That’s mostly reserved for the 200s. 001.9 focuses on a variety of material including UFOs, conspiracies, cryptids (Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, etc.), and anything similar that isn’t classified as “Paranormal,” which is located a skip or two down the aisle in the 130s. 

002-006:
Now here’s a nice clump of numbers. 002 through 006 blankets the tech stuff. If you just bought your first smartphone, are trying your hand at photo editing, need to brush up on entering data into spreadsheets, or anything between, then this area contains the information you might be seeking. If it’s tech, it’s probably here. Conspiracy theories and technology located so near each other. Hmmm.

020s:
Okay, this isn’t the section for the average browser. But it’s important nonetheless. This is where we keep the actual library topic material. We library staff need a place for our information as well! This is it. If you’re ever curious why a library does something a certain way or is changing to some new norm, you might find the answer here.

030s:
We honestly do not have much material in this category, but the material that is there is quite popular. This is where the random facts are located like Guinness World Records or Ripley’s Believe It or Not. This is considered the area for “Encyclopedias & Books of Facts.”

070s:
This is another diverse area that includes content for “News Media, Journalism, and Publishing.” Journalism covers work, theory, ethics, etc. You can also find materials for the field of publishing. If you work in the field or you are a writer looking to get published, there are some essential materials like Writer’s Market as well as various Dummies guides on the industry. Writer’s Market, in particular, is quite useful for finding contact information for agents, publishers, and magazines, in addition to workshops and contests.

Beautiful beadwork wire art

“Let’s Get Crafty”

Did you know that the month of March proffers such fun-filled days to celebrate as National Peanut Lover Day (March 1), National Panic Day (March 9), and Everything You Do Is Right Day (March 16)? If you have ever checked out in Greg’s lane at the circulation desk, you probably already know the special celebration associated with a given day. There are over 1,500 national days, and I think that Greg might know almost every one.

However, March is not just a month filled with random days to celebrate. It is also “National Craft Month.” That is right. A month-long celebration of all things crafty, and if you are looking to learn a new skill, then the library is the place for you! From Saturday morning Make and Takes for adults, to open labs in our Dabble Box makerspace (where you are welcome to come in and use any of our supplies for FREE), to myriad craft kits that circulate for 4 weeks, we offer something for everyone at every skill level, and practically every interest.

We also have a robust collection of crafting books, from paper, to wood, to fabric, painting to metal crafts located in the 700s on the second floor, and even more craft books in the Dabble Box circulating collection, which can be located on the grey rolling cart outside the makerspace and is accessible whenever the library is open. To get you started on your month-long crafting journey (well, 19 day-long), here are some recommendations from our crafting collection.

UPCYCLE: 24 Sustainable DIY Projects

Rebecca Proctor offers creative ways to makeover discarded objects into something that’ll make your friends ooh & aah. From copper clothing lamps, to a strawberry box bench, and a way to turn those discarded plastic crates you have been using to hold your record collection into a stylish piece of furniture using cord rope, the designs are creative, the steps are few, and if you are looking to create a hanging light using fresh seaweed and bio-resin, then this is the book for you!

BIBLIOCraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects

Not only does this book offer some really decent library themed crafting projects – it opens with a handy library user guide on locating physical materials on library shelves, locating quality crafting digital resources, and offers noteworthy library collections, all prepared by the author, who works as a rare book librarian at the New York Public Library.

DIY Mason Jars: Thirty-five Creative Crafts & Projects for the Classic Container

I might be checking this one out, because I just love the versatility of Mason Jars. They can house a healthy salad, make clever vessels for presents for co-workers, or can be turned into a soap dispenser! But Melissa Averinos has way better ideas. If I beat you to it, I promise to return it on time!

Worth Reading from the Beginning

I’m not sure what it is about series, but it seems like every time I pick up a book it is part of one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not automatically against a book if I see that it is the beginning of a series. BUT! If you are like me, you may hesitate before checking it out because you know that a series means more time devoted to a single storyline and a future of excruciatingly long wait times for each new book. In order to help you navigate the treacherous world of series, I have compiled a list of books that I have enjoyed and believe you might too.

Story of Arthur Truluv (Book 2)

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg was a suggestion I received from a co-worker who really enjoyed the story. I was hooked right from the beginning. It follows the friendship of three people who you think would never make a connection. Arthur (a lonely, elderly man) and Maddy (an angry, friendless teenager) meet in the cemetery while he is visiting his dead wife’s grave. It seems like a strange place to connect with someone but they strike up a friendship straightaway. Arthur’s nosy neighbor, Lucille, quickly becomes a member of the close trio. This is a heartwarming story about how those who have lost in the past can make new friendships and be less alone in the world. When I finished this book, I didn’t realize it was the first in a series but when I saw that there was a continuation story, I knew I would be looking to read it. The Night of Miracles delves deeper into the character of Lucille and introduces us to new characters as well. The story was engaging, made you care for each character, and made me cry actual tears. Any novel that can cause a physical reaction is worth reading and recommending.

Charley Davidson (Book 13)

Darynda Jones is the mastermind behind the Charley Davidson series. This is a good one to start with because her thirteenth book conclusion, Summoned to Thirteenth Grave, was just published last month. This series had me wrapped around its figure from the first time I listened to First Grave on the Right. The narrator, Lorelei King, gives life to the main character, Charley Davidson, in this action-packed paranormal romantic suspense series. Charley is a fast-talking, independent, sarcastic woman who works as a private investigator while trying to fulfill her duties as the Grim Reaper. I just finished the last book and absolutely loved my journey with Charley and the gang but do I have very mixed feelings about how it ended. What I’m thinking is going to happen is there will be a spin-off series featuring a different set of characters in the same Charley Davidson universe.

Casey Duncan (Book 4)

When I discovered City of the Lost, I was in that awful spot between books. I had just finished something and items I had on hold were not quite ready yet. In order to pass the time (and hopefully find something to read), I decided to browse the new audiobooks section of Wisconsin’s Digital Library. That’s when City of the Lost caught my attention. At first, it was the cover the made me stop scrolling but then I noticed the author’s name. Kelley Armstrong was an author that I enjoyed as a teenager. Her books are usually urban fantasy but the Casey Duncan novels are rural police mysteries.

Casey Duncan, a big-city homicide detective, and her best friend Diana, are two people who have repeatedly tried to run from their pasts. The two of them move from town to town but they finally decide enough is enough and start seeking out a town that Diana heard was made for people who are on the run and want a new start. They soon find out it is not full of the promises they thought but instead is home to its own particular set of problems, including a designer drug and a murderer. As the town’s new detective, Casey is soon put on the case to hunt down the killer. This novel will keep you guessing and you will not want to put it down. Watcher in the Woods was published at the beginning of this month and I’m not so patiently waiting my turn in the holds list.

Chronicles of the One (Book 2)

Nora Roberts is one of the most popular authors of today and she mainly writes contemporary romances. I haven’t read all of her books but I have really enjoyed the ones that I have read. She has a way of bringing characters to life that makes you feel like you are experiencing what they are experiencing. The Chronicles of the One series takes readers down a new road into apocalyptic fantasy fiction. It follows a cast of characters who have to band together to survive the new world of chaos and the return of magic. Don’t expect to read these ones without getting emotionally invested in the lives of each and every character.

Ubiquitous & Marvelous Media

Media America Pageant

I commute 45 minutes to work and 45 minutes back home in good driving conditions. If I did not have audiobooks downloaded to my phone, I’d go crazy. If I did not have a library card, I’d go broke.

If you own a portable electronic device or personal computer, you really should look into the digital media services you can get for free with your library card. Each service offers different types of media: audiobooks, e-books, graphic novels, magazines, music, and/or video. All of the services can be accessed with both personal computers and downloadable apps.

Here’s a quick introduction to what service offers what, and what each one is especially good for. Or, if you like, you can skip to the chase and go directly to our Digital Media page for details.

Wisconsin's Digital LibaryWisconsin’s Digital Library (OverDrive/Libby)—I work at a library, but I can’t explain why so many library services have between two and five names people use to refer to them. In this case, “OverDrive” is the name of the business that provides this digital collection. “Libby” is the app used to access it on mobile devices. “Wisconsin’s Digital Library” is the specific set of collections you are entitled to use as one of our cardholders. Clear as mud? Never mind. It doesn’t really matter.

I asked my coworkers to send me information on which services they use, how they use them, and why. In my head, I named the survey the Media America Pageant. The service that will be known as “OverDrive” for the duration of this article is the hands-down staff favorite for e-books and audiobooks. OverDrive offers a massive catalog of materials. Both the app and web interface offer advanced but easy to use searching, filtering, and sorting. You can use it to download books to your non-Fire Kindle. (Kindle Fire functions pretty much like any tablet with the other services. OverDrive is the only one that works with the Kindle e-reader.) It’s the go-to service for all things “book.” That said, if you are looking for a specific and popular title, there’s an excellent chance you will have to wait on a hold list for it.

FreadingFreading—Freading lets you download nine e-books a week. Nine! It is also the best of the services for travel guides (including the Lonely Planet series) and general non-fiction. Because everything on Freading is always available, and e-books are pretty much made for linking and bookmarking things to navigate a book easily, Freading excels as an app for travel and study. Of course it also offers a big library of fiction titles, but don’t expect to find too many best-sellers on the service.

freegalfreegal—You want free, unlimited music streaming? You want free downloads of music and music videos you can keep? You want freegal. Once upon a time this service offered only the Sony music catalog, but this is no longer the case. New music is released on freegal the same day it’s released online or in the store. Downside: if you maintain a music library in iTunes, you’re going to want to use freegal on your computer when you download. The freegal app doesn’t play nicely with iTunes.

hooplahoopla—Meet the runner-up in the Media America Pagent: hoopla. Just like the runner-up in a beauty pageant, hoopla fulfills the duties of the winner if OverDrive is unable perform them. Its e-book and audiobook catalog is smaller than OverDrive’s, but it usually has the most popular titles, and it has them now: no waiting lists. If you’re in a long OverDrive hold list, check hoopla. It also shines in it’s own right with a wide selection of current popular movies and TV shows. In my opinion, the only real downside to hoopla is that users are limited to three loans a month because the cost to the library per download is relatively expensive.

FlipsterFlipster—This is the only service that offers magazines, and it only offers magazines. You’ll find the most popular newsstand titles on Flipster with no waiting and unlimited access. It’s pretty awesome. One caveat. Prepare to be frustrated if you’re trying to use the app on a tiny screen like a phone. It’s not the relaxed, browsing experience I enjoy on a bigger screen or paper.

BiblioBoardBiblioBoard—BiblioBoard is a new service here at the library, so it’s still a bit of a dark horse. I can say that it appears to have high-quality content, including a cool collection of local writers in its Indie Wisconsin anthology. It also offers a self-publishing platform. Moreover, you don’t even need a library card to access it. I found the web interface a little overwhelming, but I suspect it may just have a steeper learning curve than I’m used to. 

In summary, if you are looking for a particular media type, these are your options (in alphabetical order):

  • Audiobooks—BiblioBoard, Hoopla, Wisconsin’s Digital Library (OverDrive/Libby)
  • E-Books—BiblioBoard, Freading, Hoopla, Wisconsin’s Digital Library (OverDrive/Libby)
  • Graphic Novels—BiblioBoard, Freading, Hoopla, Wisconsin’s Digital Library (OverDrive/Libby)
  • Magazines—Flipster
  • Music—BiblioBoard, Freegal
  • Video—BiblioBoard, Freegal, Hoopla, Wisconsin’s Digital Library (OverDrive/Libby)

If you’re feeling like all this bounty is out of your reach because you’ve encountered frustration setting up your device, never fear. Drop by the library on the second Tuesday of each month between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. for assistance at one of our Tame Your Tech events. The Tech Tamers also offer one-on-one appointments to accommodate your schedule. Schedule your appointment today.

What’s In A Name?

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But would it really? I understand what Shakespeare meant; Romeo would be into Juliet whether she was a Montague. In real world situations, I wholeheartedly agree that a person shouldn’t be judged by their name, but for who they are. In literature, however, names can be important.

Iconic characters have names that stick with us. Can you imagine Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hyper-logical sleuth answering to any name but Sherlock Holmes? Jay Gatsby is certainly not the name of a boring middle class homebody. Just hearing the name Holden Caulfield evokes feelings of teenage angst and rebellion.

How do authors choose the right names? If you’re a writer, you’ve probably struggled with this task. There’s plenty of advice on the internet regarding the subject. Not everyone agrees, but there are a few basic guidelines. Obviously, a writer should choose names that fit their setting. Jane Eyre belongs to Victorian England; Lady 3Jane belongs to the Matrix. Don’t name your character after another famous character unless their parents were the type to call their kid Ichabod or Katniss. If you’re going to create a name for a science fiction or fantasy world, make sure it’s something people can pronounce. Beyond these basics, though? There are a lot of options for identifying the people you create.

Some characters have extraordinary names to match their extraordinary impact. Literature is full of characters who eschew their common names for something more memorable. Scarlett O’Hara never goes by her given first name, Katie. Scout Finch doesn’t like to be called Jean Louise. Other characters are blessed with given names that proclaim their importance.  Readers would never take a great wizard like Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore seriously if he had a mundane name like Peter.

Then again, Peter Parker and Peter Pan are both exceptional characters (though the alliteration definitely helps them roll off the tongue). Elizabeth Bennett isn’t an odd name at all, and J.K. Rowling (through Aunt Petunia) calls Harry Potter a “nasty, common name.” These characters don’t need remarkable names to be special.

Some authors distinguish their characters by giving them uncommon variations of names. Neil Gaiman created his eponymous character Coraline when he mistyped Caroline. An old Scottish variation of Jeffrey replaces the first ‘e’ with an ‘o,’ giving us a Game of Thrones character we love to hate. Humbert Humbert has the same forename and surname.

Whether a character has a one-of-a-kind moniker, or something their fictional parents picked out of a baby names book, I guess the most important thing is that the name fits the personality. Maybe your character needs a name created from Old English (Frodo means “wise”) or a cool nickname (Pi), or to prefer their full name (Ramona Quimby, age 8). Choose wisely, though, writers. Your characters are stuck with their names forever.

Hand drawn lettering greeting card with calligraphy for 2018 Happy New Year

2018: A Media Year in Review

As 2018 comes to close, I decided to unoriginally review the year to make sure you don’t miss out on something exciting. I’ll spare you the talks of politics and world news, as I’m sure you’ve seen enough of that on Facebook already (and let’s not get started on Facebook itself…). Despite what happens around the world, we can always rely on there being a lot of great media to consume, whether that be books, movies, or video games. I decided to help you all out by scouring the internet for the best of the best from this year that you can check out from the library!

My research for best fiction books of 2018 to recommend has me second guessing my blog topic as there’s a lot of favorites for many different genres. However, there are some definite standouts. There There by Tommy Orange is one of these standouts. It is a novel about the struggles found within Native American communities. A unique tale of slavery, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan also headlines some of the best fiction in 2018. Broken into three distinct sections, Asymmetry is a powerful psychological fiction title that was found in lists like The New York Times. For a little bit of lighter reading, check out the fantasy book Circe by Madeline Miller or Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli for your Young Adult fix. Stephen King keeps churning out the horror all these years later with the proclaimed best horror fiction Elevation and The Outsider won Best Mystery & Thriller in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Non-fiction in 2018 ran the gamut of interesting topics. From what I gathered, Educated by Tara Westover is a must read memoir! Another great memoir called Heavy by Kiese Laymon is a devastatingly honest book about a black man in America. The most lauded biography of 2018 easily has to go to David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential people in the 19th century. For insight into the darker side of Silicon Valley, look no further than Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. This critically acclaimed book is an account of the startup Theranos. Published posthumously, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara is a true crime masterpiece which may have even helped lead to the arrest of the previously unfound Golden State Killer. If you’re feeling hungry, Chrissy Teigen is back with Cravings: Hungry for More with tasty recipes like Pad Thai Carbonara.

When it comes to movies, often times the movies hitting the top lists for the year don’t match what was the popular releases, which means you can probably find something really good that you didn’t know about. The Rider is a story about an injured cowboy who has to find a new purpose in life. If you’re into science fiction, Annihilation is high on a ton of lists not just for its genre, but for all movies. Grindhouse movies are not something you often see in people’s lists for top movie of the year, but Mandy starring Nicholas Cage is found all over, and even tops Esquire magazine’s list! First Reformed follows the unraveling of a small church in upstate New York and stars Ethan Hawke who is lauded for his performance. If you’re looking for something the whole family can watch, Paddington 2 was by far the highest reviewed kids movie of the year. Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War were definitely the blockbusters of the year and best superhero movies. You Were Never Really Here, with an amazing performance from Joaquin Phoenix, takes a different perspective to the action film genre.

My coworkers often tease me for a lot of my previous blog posts being about video games, but I can’t avoid talking about them in a blog post like this because there were so many great titles that came out this year. The Nintendo Switch kept on rolling with hits like Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee. The newly released Super Smash Bros: Ultimate and God of War for the PS4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4/XB1) have been duking it out for the top spot of everyone’s top game of 2018. Fortnite is neither something you can check out (it’s free to download) nor a 2018 release, but it has definitely been the biggest game of the year and has taken the world by storm. The PS4 exclusives kept coming with critically acclaimed Spider-Man that seems to finally let you feel like a webslinger. Other great titles include Monster Hunter: World, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Call of Duty: Block Ops 4, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

I tried my best to include as many great titles as I possibly could but I sadly don’t have the time to inform you of all the great media out there. Definitely stop into the library and check out our awesome blog post bookshelf where I’ll try to pull some great titles from the past year I didn’t get to mention. Also let me know in the comments your favorites from 2018!

Evergreen tree wrapped in movie strip

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Movies)

During this time of the year I enjoy watching Christmas movies. My absolute favorites are Holiday Inn and White Christmas. I used to love It’s a Wonderful Life, but then it played 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on a certain channel – way too much for me!  Miracle on 34th Street with Natalie George, Mary and Zuzu Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life"Wood and Maureen O’Hara; the remake with Richard Attenborough taking the Edmund Gwenn role of Kris Kringle is also good.

Anyway, I am betting that you too have a favorite holiday movie you enjoy watching. I know that Elf is very popular here. I like Grinch movies as well, (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), both the original cartoon version and the Jim Carrey version. I am interested to see if the new one is as cute as the older ones.  My dog Wiley had his picture taken with antlers like Max next to the book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for our library calendar, which worked out well as he was such a scruffy guy.

I always liked A Christmas Carol as well. To me the Alistair Sims’ version is the best, but I also like Patrick Stewart and even George C. Scott’s version. Scrooged with Bill Murray is always good for a laugh. The Muppet Christmas Carol and Mickey’s Christmas Carol with all the usual characters appearing in the story are entertaining too.Michael Caine with The Muppets in "The Muppet Christmas Carol"

Many people,  like one of my nieces, loved to watch A Christmas Story, wanting to see if Ralphie would get his BB gun or not. Others love the Hallmark holiday movies, and I do too. We have several at the library for everyone to enjoy. Mrs. Miracle with Doris Roberts, The Christmas Secret, A Christmas Detour, Ice Sculpture Christmas, and many more.

A Charlie Brown Christmas was always sad for me; I always felt bad for not only Charlie Brown but his tree as well.  Home Alone has become a modern classic – when Kevin is accidentally left home alone, he wreaks havoc on two burglars.

Claymation classics show up this year as well; Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy and the modern The Nightmare before Christmas.

There are many more holiday movies out there – pick one and see if it will become your new favorite. No matter your beliefs, I think Christmas movies can be enjoyed by everyone, as they convey the idea of home, family and caring, and some foolish whimsy as well. This Holiday Season I wish you and yours happy viewing.