Cool Summer Drinks

When you think of a cool, refreshing drink that you'd like to have on a hot, summer day you think of lemonade, right? Or maybe iced tea.

But there is a lesser known, fizzy drink great for summer known as kombucha. It sort of tastes like a cross between carbonated water and tea. You can even add juice to it. There is another side benefit to drinking kombucha: It's fermented! You make it be starting with some tea that has loads of sugar in it. After adding a probiotic yeast and bacterial colony (known as a SCOBY mother) and letting it sit for several days to weeks, the probiotics break down the sugar into acids so that by the time you drink it, it's very low in sugar. With every cup you get loads of healthy bacteria and B-complex vitamins. Talk about healthy! There is a book that shows you how to make it at home here and here.

It’s summer so a lot of Ann Arborites are growing a vegetable garden. I know I am! But what if your garden is doing so well that you have armfuls of veggies that you don't know what to do with? A great way to get some awesome nutrition or to use up extra veggies and dark leafy greens is to make smoothies or juices. For a great smoothie all you need is a blender and a knife to cut up the toughest pieces. "But won't that taste icky?" I can hear you say. Fear not! The sweet fruit you add makes the bitter taste of vegetables like kale hardly detectable. Try it and I bet you'll be a smoothie addict in no time.

The End of Night

"To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark.
Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
" Wendell Berry

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light by Paul Bogard reminds us of the primal experience we are mostly living without these days: a dark night. Complete darkness enhances the health and vitality of humans through hormonal balance, improved sleep, reduced incidence of cancer and, most importantly to Bogard, by the wondrous, magical connection it enables to stars and the night sky. When was the last time you saw the Milky Way, shooting stars, or a constellation besides Orion? Think of the relationship our ancestors had with stars and darkness and you can sense what we are missing. Bogard’s book is enthralling and passionate.

Did you know that here in Michigan we have a rare and beautiful park where a completely dark night sky is protected, a sanctuary for darkness, where your eyes can actually switch to night vision? You can visit the Headlands International Dark Sky Park on the shores of Lake Michigan 365 days a year for free. The sixth park of its kind to be established in this country and the ninth in the world, you can find programs, trails and….stars.

Here’s a little test. When looking from space, where do you think is the brightest, most illuminated spot on the planet? Check here for the answer.

Running Like a Girl and other great books for runners of all types

Finally, a book that deals honestly with both the gains AND the pains that being a runner entails! Running Like a Girl: notes on learning to run, by Alexandra Heminsley, is a refreshing take on starting to run later in life, and on a runner’s life in general. For many of us—even those who are dedicated runners—the perspectives that we were “born to run” or that “running is a wonderful way to reconnect with the world and our bodies” don’t always ring true. Sometimes it feels like, more often than not, running can be painful, boring, difficult, or lonely, and frequently a combination of all four. This is why Heminsley’s story of taking up running in her thirties is so great. It doesn’t come easily to her, and she doesn’t love it. She doesn’t experience immediate gratifcation from a “runners high,” nor does she immediately lose twenty pounds. Her relationship with running is complex, and only becomes ultimately positive over time, and in ways that she did not anticipate. This book is great for runners of all sorts: those who have been running for decades, those who have just taken up the sport, and those who don’t run at all and therefore don’t even know yet that they can be runners!

If you’re interested in other books about running, try What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: a memoir, Running Away and the famous Once a Runner, about one runner’s quest to run a sub-4:00 minute mile. Finally, if you’re looking for scenic local places to run, check out Five-star Trails, Ann Arbor and Detroit, where you can find suggestions for trails to check out nearby. Happy running!

Summer Reading Lists

Instead of the lists and lists that the NPR staff put together each year to launch your summer reading, this year they tried something utterly ingenious. They focused on literary travel - by train, plane, car, bike, boat, foot, city transit, horse, balloon, rocketship, time machine and even a giant peach. It is called Book Your Trip. Try it out.

Librarian Extraordinaire Nancy Pearl shared her favorites in Maps Out A Plan For Your Summer Reading.

LA Times Summer Books Preview 2014 has just about everything to tickle your reading fancy - from Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, SF & Fantasy, Biography & Memoir, Sports, Pop Culture, to Science and Lifestyle. There are lists for the young readers in your life.

Publishers Weekly's Best Summer Books.

Confounded by too many choices? Glamour Magazine has The 10 Best Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List.

Looking ahead, you could get a jump on the Fall movie tie-ins.

Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association offers lists of book titles to keep children engaged in reading all summer. BONUS : Each list is available to download for free in color and black and white. Bring them on your next trip to the library.

Badge Drop! Badge Drop! Badge Drop!

You guys are BLOWING US AWAY! The numbers are ASTOUNDING! STAGGERING! WE'RE A LITTLE BIT SCARED! 16,430,863 points earned this year. 63,918 game codes entered. 11,764 badges earned. And 2,789 players. The game started two weeks ago. Scaring us, guys...BUT IN THE BEST WAY!

Since we're so frightened by you and your INCREDIBLE SUMMER GAME PLAYING SKILLS...here's a badge drop! Don't hurt us!

2014 Badge Drop #3



We already KNOW you are going to find all of those codes and get all of those badges. So what are you going to do after you've done that? How about coming to some amazing concerts? This Sunday is the final concert in AADL's Kids Rock @ TOP concert series featuring the awesomely dance-to-able music of Aaron Nigel Smith! And next Thursday at the Downtown Library, the wizard/bookish/nerdy/GREAT music of Tonks & the Aurors!

So get hunting for those badge codes and get on your dancing shoes, Summer Gamers! AND THANKS FOR PLAYING!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #466

"A suspenseful, gloriously atmospheric first novel, and a feast of gothic storytelling that is impossible to resist.” ~ Kate Atkinson.

"Ambitious, elegant, atmospheric, and often deeply poignant, The Quick is a seamless blend of Victorian London and rich imagination. This is a book to savor.” ~ Tana French.

"A sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre . . ." ~ Hilary Mantel.

The Quick * by Lauren Owen has been named Top 10 Literary Fiction Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly. An early draft of the novel won the Curtis Brown Prize for the best fiction dissertation. Fans of Anne Rice; Elizabeth Kostova; and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) would not want to miss this.

1892: New Oxford grad. James Norbury finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat in London. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling Yorkshire home determined to find him. After navigating alone in sinister, labyrinthine London, Charlotte discovers that her brother's disappearance can be traced to a secret organization of gentlemen - the terrifying and powerful inner circle of The Aegolius Club that include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

"(C)reepy . . . thrilling... This book will give you chills even on a hot day". **Spoiler Alert** Skip this one if you have issues with vampires.

Readalikes : "Owen's debut is an intriguing blend of historical, gothic, and supernatural fiction, this will appeal to devotees of the macabre and gothic set in the Victorian period, especially those who enjoy Charles Palliser's Rustication, and David Morrell's Murder as a Fine Art."

* = starred review

Parent’s Corner: Just Playin'

School’s out for summer! Okay, now how to keep the kids occupied all summer?! There are many books on play and engaging children, and several are located on the Parent Shelf. The Parent Shelf is located in the downtown youth area, and on this shelf you’ll find a variety of parent-child related books on a multitude of topics- including everything from language to potty training to safety to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.” Here are a few on children and playtime.

* The unplugged play book: No batteries, no plugs, pure fun
* Fifty dangerous things (you should let your children do)
* The art of roughhousing: Good old-fashioned horseplay and why every kid needs it
* The preschooler's busy book

For more, check these items out.

Hogwarts for Fairy Tales

School may be out for the summer, but this summer is the perfect time to discover The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

At this school, students learn how to be fairy-tale heroes and villains, with good students (known as Evers) attending classes like princess etiquette and animal communication and evil students (known as Nevers) tackling subjects like uglification and henchman training. The story focuses on two new students, best friends Sophie and Agatha, who seem to have been mixed up in the wrong schools. As golden-haired Sophie struggles in the School for Evil, trying to convince everyone she really belongs in the School for Good, foul-tempered Agatha just wants to escape the School for Good and return home.

Fans of the Harry Potter series will enjoy this new twist on a magical boarding school, complete with its own annual traditions, mythical creatures and unusual headmaster, while fans of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm will appreciate its exploration of the darker side of fairy tales.

Treasures of the British Library

I am recently back from London where I visited the British Library's Sir John Ritblat Gallery. Among its treasures are the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare's First Folio, and the only remaining medieval manuscript of Beowulf.

There's nothing like seeing rare books in person but you can't browse through them. Now, for selected items, the British Library allows you to do that online at their virtual books page. Here you can read handwritten books by Lewis Carroll and Jane Austen, examine William Blake's, Mozart's and Leonardo's notebooks, and study the drawings in The Birds of America and the Medieval Bestiary. A "Read" option brings up the text of or commentary for the work (Carroll's handwriting is neatly legible but Jane Austen's is not). A "Listen" option reads the text or commentary to you.

I didn't learn about the treasures on the British Library website from my British Library visit. I learned by looking at the Books and Reading page at aadl.org. You can also find the Complete Works of Shakespeare, the New York Review of Books and dozens of other options there.

Girls In Charge - Sizzling Summer Reads #2 (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #465)

Cure for the Common Breakup * by Beth Kendrick.
Suddenly-single flight attendant Summer Benson sees a new beginning in Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware, known as the best place in America to bounce back from heartbreak. The locals are friendly. Even the oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Well, all except for Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor,

"Kendrick's impeccable sense of comic timing and flair for creating unforgettable characters make this effervescent novel a smart bet for romance readers everywhere while the novel's deft integration of the topics of family, friendship, and community ensure it can easily attract a broader readership, as well."

The From-Aways by C.J. Hauser, (a Fabulous Fiction Firsts) is "an irreverent story of family, love, friendship, and lobsters, in the tradition of J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine ".

Two 24 year-old transplants ("from-aways") become unlikely allies on a small-town newspaper. NYC reporter Leah leaps at the chance to marry down-to-earth Henry Lynch and moves into his family home in Menamon, a small fishing community in Maine, only to find she does not know a thing about Henry. Quinn Winters, wisecracking and tough, comes to town in search of a father who abandons her as a infant. When the two stumble onto a earth-shattering scandal that would affect the future of the community, these drinking buddies find themselves collaborators and trusted friends.

"Hauser's style is expressive, clever and compelling, and she offers readers a thoughtful and engaging debut. "

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee
Broke and divorced, Portia Cuthcart leaves Texas for New York City and takes up residence at the dilapidated brownstone she and her two sisters inherited. Devastated by the loss of The Glass Kitchen, her grandmother's restaurant, she resolves never to cook again, that is, until she meets 12 year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel Kane.

"(A) delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman... who discovers that a kitchen, like an island, can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family."

"Sweet and intense, with delightful magical accents, a delectable romance—and yummy recipes."

The Vacationers * * by Emma Straub is an irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family's two-week stay in Mallorca.

Franny and Jim Post are about to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia is leaving for college. Their son Bobby, a Miami real estate broker will be joining them, girlfriend in tow. As will Franny's best friend Charles, and his husband, Lawrence. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

"With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole."

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Syndicate content