May 14th, 2013

Transporting the Library in My Carry-On

hawaii

I’m not trying to rub it in or anything, but I just returned from a faah-bulous Hawaiian vacation. And while I fantasized about being technology-free while there, I realized that my tablet would sure come in handy for entertainment during my 12-hour (translation: forever) flight.

And handy it was. Surprisingly, my complimentary 8 peanut halves didn’t hold my attention longer than the 2.4 seconds it took to consume them, and the in-flight movie came at a rather steep price that I refused on principle. Stubborn, I know. But I learned quickly that you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl, and my tablet connected me to everything I needed to have a pleasant travel experience. Books! Free books! At my beck and call! This concept is almost as mind-blowing as flying over an ocean whilst reading said books.

Thanks to my beloved CCPL, I had access to a great collection of digital ebooks provided by OverDrive. Browsing was a breeze. I love learning new things, so I chose to view all nonfiction titles, refining my results by availability, subject (history), and device compatibility. I “discovered” two promising titles: Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander. I decided that they were perfect for me – just not on my vacation. So I made use of the convenient “Wish List” feature by clicking on the little ribbon that sticks out of the book cover image.

Then I found “the one,” a book that blends cheeky humor, personal experience, and well-researched history: The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. She makes seemingly dull history – in this case, the Puritans of New England in the 1600s – very lively. A great vacation pick.

No beach vacation is complete without a beach read, of course, so I did a search for the first Sookie Stackhouse mystery by Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark. It was checked out, but CCPL often purchases extra copies of popular titles for only Cecil County folks, so after placing a hold, I received it in only a day or two. Talk about great timing!

I completed my mobile library experience with a search for travel and digital photography books. Much to my delight, OverDrive has both Fodor’s and Frommer’s travel guides to Hawaii and several books on photography, including the popular “Dummies” series.  What better way to spend a flight than coming up with fun things to do, see, and photograph when you land?

The library delivered knowledge, entertainment, and instruction, all from the discomfort of my pitifully “reclined” plane seat – for free!

Have a Kindle, iPad, Nook, or other device? Want help using OverDrive, our digital eLibrary? Visit or call your local branch for friendly, helpful instruction.

And tell us, how do you take your favorite reads on vacation?

Photo credit: “Hawaii” by Ricymar Photography


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March 27th, 2013

The Real Housewives of History

Being a housewife has never come easily to the women in my family. Whether it’s an issue with the soil or some undiscovered mutation, our family tree seems to propagate only non-conformist women. From my flapper great-grandmother who came north to work in the factories, leaving her husband and son behind, to my farm wife grandmother who never milked a cow, but taught school instead, our genetic disposition might kindly be called strong willed, but at other times obstinate and “unwomanly.”

Nowadays, thanks to “The Real Housewives of (Fill in the Blank),” my headstrong, sometimes shrewish self, could easily be camouflaged in sequins and heels, continue to do no housework and still be considered a model of femininity. Somehow I think the real housewives of history, revealed in the books below, would be appalled.

womens history books bar

The Aviator’s Wife—Melanie Benjamin
Anne Morrow, the first female glider pilot to be licensed in the U.S., marries the overbearing aviator Charles Lindbergh and finds herself at odds with his beliefs and her inability to assert her independence.

Eight Girls Taking Pictures—Whitney Otto
Is it possible to balance ambition and the needs of a husband and children? For many of the pioneering women photographers in this novel, self-sacrifice proves their undoing.

The Raven’s Bride—Lenore Hart
Engaged at thirteen, Sally Clemm puts aside her dreams of being a singer to support and ultimately inspire her self-destructive fiancé, Edgar Allan Poe.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb—Melanie Benjamin
With ambitions that outsize her height, “Vinnie” Bump joins P.T. Barnum’s “freak” revue, finds love and fame and inspires Victorian women to new heights.

Claude and Camille—Stephanie Cowell
Troubled by poverty, her husband’s affairs and loneliness, the first wife of Claude Monet appeared to have suffered greatly for love, but, in reality, harbored secrets of her own.

Wintering—Kate Moses
Was Sylvia Plath’s suicide caused by bitterness over her husband’s betrayal or the inability to balance being a muse, mother and creative poet in her own right?

I also find housewifely duties uninspiring. Oh, I do what needs to be done and thoroughly enjoy the company of my children, but the joys of cooking, gardening, sewing, baking and so on are lost on me.  I fear the day one of my sons brings home a wife. Will it be a Martha Stewart clone chosen to make up for my past deficiencies or an equally opinionated woman? I better figure out how that biting your tongue thing works…

Who’s your favorite headstrong woman from the past?


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