August 19th, 2011

Steampunk Mania

twenty thousandDear Librarian: What in the world is a Steampunk book?

Dear Reader,
Oh, I am so glad you asked that question. I love Steampunk! Excessive amounts of coffee and Steampunk books are my two favorite guilty pleasures. According to Dictionary.com, Steampunk is “a genre of science fiction set in Victorian times when steam was the main source of machine power.” Technically, that definition is right on, but it sounds a bit too boring for me. Personally, I like this definition from Steampunk.com: “To me, Steampunk has always been first and foremost a literary genre, or at least a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century (the steam) usually with some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against parts of it (the punk).”

Dear reader, keep in mind that there is no strict, absolute or final definition for this imaginative fiction genre, so you may find some disagreements out there. Classic Steampunk titles include Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Some current popular Steampunk titles are The Map of Time by Felix Palma, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld & Keith Thompson, Clockwork Angel (Book One of the Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare and my personal favorite Soulless (Book One of the Parasol Protectorate Series) by Gail Carriger. For even more titles, try out this list of favorites from our staff, Steampunk: Gears, Goggles and Great Adventure. Cecil County Public Library carries all the titles mentioned here, plus lots more!

Steampunk has even influenced fashion, decor and movies in recent years.  To see interesting pics of Steampunk styles and read more about the trend, check out this New York Times article.

What do you think of the Steampunk movement? Are you a fan?

This article is an excerpt from a recent “People Are Asking” column, published each Tuesday in the Cecil Whig.


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August 3rd, 2011

eBook Envy

My sister is gloating. Last week, she won the big prize at her company’s annual picnic—an IPad. I tried to be appropriately jealous, but “device delirium” is not in my combination of our DNA. Growing up in a time when cutting-edge technology was Atari Pong and the Swatch watch, my appreciation for laptops and Skype knows no bounds, but it seems to stop there. Just ask my non-texting, camera-lacking phone.

Not so my sister, who giggles every time she pulls out her new toy.   So when our discussion came around to “beside Angry Birds, what can I do with this thing,” I mentioned the new IPad app for downloading eBooks through the library.  Having offered eBooks through a state consortium for years, the library has now joined a program where extra copies are available strictly for local users.  Simply visit the Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium website and login using your Cecil County library card number.  Logging in before you search means you won’t miss out on titles only we have available.  Look for the orange Advantage logo on these recently added titles:

Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva
Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

My summer reading is still stacked on theNikkiBookStack kitchen counter six books deep—a perfect eye level perch for reading a recipe on my laptop.  My technological ambivalence means I’ll continue to make space for books in my suitcase and purse, but it’s reassuring to know I can get eBooks for free from the library just in case my sister gets the urge to share that iPad…

Are you downloading eBooks?


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