July 15th, 2013

Win Free Tickets to “The Tempest”

the tempest cecil collegeHow does reading cause or calm the tempest in your life?  Comment about your favorite “tempest” reads at the end of this post and you could win free tickets to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Cecil College, opening this weekend!

I believe that books hold a powerful sway over our lives, especially for those of us with a serious reading addiction. A good book can be a powerful and cheap form of therapy, providing escape from the woes of life or lending a deeper perspective on a difficult issue.  At the same time, there are a few books that have left me a little unhinged… provoking stormy thoughts and visions I never knew existed.  Here are a few of my favorites from over the years…


The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The biography of a young Dutch woman and her family who risk their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis.  They are caught and the family is sent to a concentration camp.  Though this read has many tragic scenes, Corrie’s faith and purposed choice to love and forgive makes this my top read when life gets hard.

Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty
A surprisingly deep read, this book details a marriage on the brink.  Tressa is almost forty, a successful food writer, but so lonely that she jumps into marriage with a man she doesn’t know that well.  When the relationship starts to require compromise, Tressa is ready to bolt.  Through looking back on her family history, she slowly discovers that like any good recipe, a good marriage requires hard work, revision, and willingness to change the ingredients.  This is a great read to make you appreciate the relationships in your life.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
After a massive stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby awakens from a coma to find he can only blink his left eye. The former editor-in-chief of a famous French magazine is left with an active, alert mind, but a useless body. By blinking that one eyelid, Bauby wrote, edited and dictated an entire book to his assistant, distilling words down to their absolute essence because the task was so hard.  While the book may sound depressing, it’s actually incredibly beautiful and affirming of the power of the human spirit to keep going when all seems lost.


The Psychopath Test
Experts estimate that approximately 3% of the population is made up of psychopaths, people with no moral compass.  Investigative journalist Jon Ronson manages to make this topic entertaining with his witty and quirky investigations of mental health in our modern world, but the book also left me wondering about the gray nature of insanity and sanity.

The Sky is Everywhere
Lennie is 17 and trying to heal from the tragic death of her older sister.  Though this book is intensely sad, it’s also lyrical, moving and ultimately hopeful, taking the reader through Lennie’s journey of healing.  I sobbed my way through this book because the author’s depiction of deep grief was so accurate.

The Likeness by Tana French
Detective Cassie Maddox is called to a murder scene to find that the victim looks just like her and has stolen her identity.  The squad hatches a crazy and dangerous plan for Cassie to go undercover as the dead girl, pretending to her friends that she was only in a coma.  When Cassie takes up the dead girl’s life, what ensues is a twisting psychological thriller of constant suspicion and surprise.  French’s books often tackle the theme of identity and if we truly know who our friends and family are, and this book doesn’t disappoint.  It certainly left my mind swirling.

Leave a comment about a favorite read that causes or calms the tempest in your life and you could win! We will pick a winner at random.

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May 14th, 2013

Transporting the Library in My Carry-On


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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