Staff Picks – Amanda – The Bookman’s Tale, DB 76839

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession, by Charlie Lovett opens in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, where an antiquarian book dealer stumbles upon a Victorian painting that looks exactly like his recently deceased wife. Peter Byerly is not dealing well with his grief and the loss of his wife, and this picture lights a fire inside of him, urging him to figure out where it came from, who painted it, and who is pictured. His quest leads him into a mystery surrounding a potentially history-making rare manuscript, a centuries-old family feud, a blackmail scheme, and murder.

As Peter’s present-day story unfolds, the author uses alternating chapters to also tell us the story of the manuscript and more of Peter and Amanda’s story. The mystery unfolds slowly, and brought to mind chilly, rainy days, crackling fires, musty libraries, and good, strong cups of tea. The Bookman’s Tale is also as much a story about books and the love of books (the older the better) as it is about the characters and plot. It’s a book for booklovers.

Staff Picks – Laura – Warm Bodies, DB 76132

From the popular AMC television series, The Walking Dead, to Brad Pitt’s latest blockbuster movie, World War Z, it seems like zombies are everywhere!  Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion presents a refreshing twist on the zombie genre.  Unlike most zombie novels, this one is told from the zombie’s perspective.  R, our protagonist, is a zombie with more than just eating brains on his mind.  He stumbles through his post-apocalyptic world until he eats a teenage boy and absorbs the boy’s memories and love for his girlfriend Julie.  That’s when R’s transformation begins.  He and Julie start an adventure to save themselves and the world and manage to fall in love along the way.  Warm Bodies is a darkly-comedic love story that poses some big questions (like what it really means to be human).  It gets a little grim at times, but is ultimately a very funny and touching book.

From the NLS annotation:

Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion – DB 76132

After the zombie apocalypse, R lives in an airport with his fellow undead.  During a search for fresh meat, R snacks on the brains of a teenage boy–and takes on his victim’s memories and feelings, including his love for his girlfriend Julie. Violence and some strong language. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2011.

This Halloween, get your monster on!

Do you adore scary stories? Are you addicted to Horror novels or alien-monster films? Do your friends look at you sideways when they catch you reading yet another paperback that features a serial killer or a case of demonic possession?
Actually, your spooky predilection is mostly normal. Mostly. The magazine Psychology Today once asked Horror film director Clive Barker why people love to get scared. His answer: “It empowers them… One of the ways you take hold of the things that frighten you is to grasp the nettle very tightly, so it doesn’t sting.” That explains a lot.
So; now you have Clive Barker’s blessing to read scary things to your cob-webby heart’s content. And while you’re at it, find out more about why you love dark tales so much. Spend this Halloween reading some of the following titles.

  • ON MONSTERS: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY OF OUR WORST FEARS by Stephen Asma.  DB 72161 / BR 19224.
  • MEDUSA’S GAZE AND VAMPIRE’S BITE: THE SCIENCE OF MONSTERS by Matt Kaplan.  DB 75865.
  • POE’S CHILDREN: THE NEW HORROR, AN ANTHOLOGY.  DB 68446.
  • BIG BOOK OF GHOST STORIES. DB 76004.
  • MONSTER’S CORNER: STORIES THROUGH INHUMAN EYES. DB 75497.

Origin of the Football Huddle

Each weekday during the month of October, which is Disability Awareness Month, the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities provides anecdotes about famous people with disabilities, or little-known facts about the history of disability in America.

Did you know that the football huddle was invented by someone who was deaf? In the late 1800’s, Paul Hubbard played quarterback for the football team at Gallaudet University, a college for deaf individuals. Deaf schools used hand signals to communicate plays among players on the field. But the opposing team was often able to decipher the hand gestures. So in 1894, Mr. Hubbard thought of the huddle as a way to conceal the upcoming plays.

Soon the huddle was being used by mainstream colleges and universities. In 1896, Amos Alonzo Stagg, who played for the University of Chicago and is credited for helping to make football the intensely popular sport that it is today, used the huddle for more than just hiding game plans. He viewed the huddle as a vehicle to promote teamwork, good sportsmanship, and working together to make every play a success.

Q & A with New State Librarian and Director Mark Smith

Last month the seven-member Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) selected Mark Smith for the position of Director and Librarian, the agency’s chief executive also known as the Texas State Librarian. Though Mr. Smith’s tenure begins November 1, we reached out to him recently with 10 questions that address his background, perspective, priorities, and even his knowledge of Texas history. We look forward to getting to know more about Mr. Smith in the months and years to come.

Read the interview online at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/news/2013/get-to-know-mark-smith.

Mark Smith talks with Texas State Library staff during public reception.