Adriana Puckett

The Family Dinner by Laurie David

In The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, Laurie David offers some startling statistics about the importance – and scarcity – of the family dinner. Only “half of modern families eat together more than three to five times a week” and that time is usually spent in front of the television. The six o’clock family dinner of healthy, homecooked food enjoyed together over leisurely conversation seems to be a swiftly vanishing occurrence…and yet statistics have proven that the family dinner is a vital tool for improving grades and helping to fight obesity and drug abuse. Luckily, this book offers you a roadmap to family-dinner bliss, providing all the recipes and conversation topics you need to get started or enhance your current routine.

Recipes, authored by Kirstin Uhrenholdt, are grouped into “Fast Recipes,” “Cook it Together at the Table,” “Souper Dinners,” “Take it Slow,” “Meatless Mondays,” and “Kids in the Kitchen.” There are recipes here to appeal to all palates. I can’t wait to try “Soy Good Maple-Glazed Salmon with Edamame Succotash” and “Savory Sausage and White Bean Stew.” I can imagine the kids gobbling up the homemade “Mac n’ Cheese Please” or the “Thai Chicken Wraps.” Helpful recipes for vinaigrettes to dress your salad will have you eschewing bottled sauce forever. And don't forget to try one of the simple sweets in "Play with Your Dessert."

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts

It's 1933 and President Roosevelt is having a devil of a time finding someone to appoint to the post of ambassador to Germany in Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. All of the usual picks politely decline the post, as news of Germany’s foreboding political atmosphere drifts to America. Roosevelt eventually settles on William E. Dodd, a historian at the University of Chicago whose primary goal is to finish his multi-volume historical treatise on the antebellum South before he dies. By most accounts, Dodd is an odd pick for ambassador, being neither rich nor well-connected. Most ambassadors entertain lavishly during their appointments, and it is expected that the costs will come from their own coffers. Frugal Dodd immediately made waves by pledging to live solely on his meager income, almost unheard of in cosmopolitan Berlin.

Dodd naively sees the appointment as a respite from the trials of University department chairmanship and a boon of time to work on his project. He, like most Americans, is grossly uninformed about the political machinations happening in Germany, as Hitler, Göring, and Goebbels vie for power and German Jews are increasingly menaced. The entire Dodd family decides to come along to Berlin, ready for a new lark: the professor and his wife, Mattie, their son, William Jr., and their beautiful, flirtatious, 24-year-old daughter, Martha (who happens to also be fleeing the wreckage of a precipitous marriage to a banker).

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

In Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, 23-year-old veterinary student, Jacob Jankowski, is looking forward to graduating with a degree from Cornell University and joining his father’s veterinary practice. Unfortunately, fate intervenes and Jacob’s parents are killed in an automobile accident. Jacob learns that his parents have no savings and plenty of debt, having bartered for veterinary payments from cash-poor farmers (it is the Depression, after all) and mortgaged their house to the teeth in order to pay his tuition.

Bereft of both parents and financial future, Jacob despairs and jumps a train moving through the town. It happens to belong to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a poor cousin to Ringling Brothers. Once it’s discovered that he has veterinary experience, he is put in charge of the animals, a task that is at once heartwarming, thankless, and distressing. The circus is run by the greedy Uncle Al and the brilliant but mercurial August, the animal trainer who keeps the circus afloat. August, a paranoid schizophrenic, alters between warmly welcoming Jacob and trying to kill him.

Celebrate the Summer Reading Club at one of our events!

Summer is drawing to a close, and we are celebrating another wonderful summer reading club experience with free and fun events at many of our branches.

Headquarters
Summer Reading Club Party
Popsicles! Crafts! Buckets of fun! Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Activities sponsored by local community groups. Preschool-Grade 6. Drop in. Wednesday, August 17, 2:30 - 4:30.

England Run
Fun Fest
Bring the whole family to celebrate the 2011 Summer Reading Club at our neighborhood carnival with games, activities, and lots of fun-don't miss it! Drop in. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Porter
Popsicle Party!
Bring the whole family to celebrate the 2011 Summer Reading Club at our neighborhood carnival! Friday, August 12, 10:00-12:00. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Salem Church
Library Kids' Fest
Join us for our end of the Summer Reading Club party and community festival! Frozen treats, games, prizes, and more! For children up to age 12 and their families. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Saturday, August 6, 10:00-12:00.

Snow
Summer Reading Celebration
Activities, crafts, games, fun and prizes for readers of all ages! Sign-up begins July 1st. Friday, August 5, 11:00 - 12:00.

Montross
End of Tales Summer Reading Club Party
Party with ice cream and hot dogs. Music provided by guitarist David Smith. Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm

 

New database: Natural Standard

The newest addition to the CRRL family of databases, Natural Standard is a powerful tool for researching topics pertaining to integrative medicine. It was "founded by healthcare providers and researchers to provide high-quality, evidence-based information about complementary and alternative therapies."

Database selections include "Food, Herbs, & Supplements;" "Brand Names," "Animal Health" and much more. A grading system is provided that ranks available data about the use of a therapy for a specific condition. The tool section gives you access to a respository of calculaters, patient handouts, and nutrition labels, among other things. In the "Checkers" section, you can examine interactions between herbs, supplements, vitamins, and minerals. Under "News & Events" you can access Natural Standard's newsletter, blog, and information audio/video podcasts/webinars. 

Natural Standard is a powerful database with vital health research, which can be accessed for free by CRRL patrons with just your library card.

Virginia Tax Holiday Helps Back-to-School Shopping

During the first weekend in August each year, back-to-school shoppers in Virginia get a break from paying sales tax on qualifying school supplies, clothing, and footwear. This year the tax holiday is Friday, August 5 - Sunday, August 7th. According to the Virginia Department of Taxation, "during this three-day period, purchases of qualifying school supplies selling for $20 or less per item, and purchases of qualifying clothing and footwear selling for $100 or less per item will be exempt from sales tax." The list of school supplies can be found here

New in the catalog: Virtual Shelf Browser

Virtual Shelf Browser

One of the things I love about getting lost in the stacks at my local library branch is that serendipitous experience of happily looking through the books on each shelf and finding my next great read. Now you can duplicate that experience at home using the new Virtual Shelf Browser feature in the online catalog.

Under the book's (or movie's, etc.) title and publishing information, you will see a snapshot of a "shelf," with your book right in the middle and selections to each side. These are books that theoretically would physically be next to one another on the shelf at your library. You can click on the arrows to the right or left to advance through the shelf. If you click on a book's cover, you go to that book's record in the catalog, where you can read more about the book or place it on hold. 

Don't Miss This Talented Performer

Starting this weekend, the talented storyteller Gary Lloyd will be visiting CRRL library branches and bringing to life familiar (and new) tales of spiders, the creepy critters we love to hate. The program "Come Into My Parlor, Please?" will share fun stories & fantastic facts about our 8-legged friends. Learn the truth about Little Miss Muffett and see storyteller, Gary Lloyd, transform into Anansi, the African spider trickster before your very eyes! Celebrate the 2011 Summer Reading Club, Amazing Tales at Your Library! Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Grades K-6.

Saturday, July 9, 11 at Newton Branch and 1 at Montross Branch

Wednesday, July 13, 1 at Headquarters Library and 4 at Cooper Branch

Thursday, July 14, 1 at Snow Branch and 3 at Salem Church Branch

Wednesday, July 20, 10 at Porter Branch and 2 at England Run Branch

Friday Book Flick: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Lisa See's Shanghai Girls is a riveting book about two sisters who are "beautiful girl" models in pre-war 1930s Shanghai. When the Japanese invade, the sisters' lives are turned upside down and they are forced into arranged marriages and flee their homeland for America. 

Watch Lisa See talk about the inspiration for her novel in this interview. The sequel to Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, is recently published and on the bestseller list.