Ready Player One

Ready PlayerReady Player One One by Ernest Cline is a fast paced action-adventure story set in a future dystopic America, complete with shanty-town-skyscrapers made from mobile homes and armored bus service between cities to guard against roving bands of highwaymen and thieves. Good stuff in and of itself to be sure.

But what really made this premier novel so much fun was the setting within the setting. Turns out that in Cline’s vision of the future, people are positively obsessed with ’80s pop culture and frequently retreat into an immersive computer simulation allowing them to escape the drudgery of living in a shanty-town-skyscraper while also indulging in movies by John Hughes, Atari video games, the music of Rush, and Cold War paranoia. Don’t you just miss those days?

There’s nothing terribly ground breaking in Ready Player One; I’m not disclosing classified information to say that the hero saves the day and gets the girl in the end. (Don’t be mad; you’d have figured out the ending after the first 50 pages anyway.) The journey though ’80s pop culture (which incidentally includes Journey) is a real treat and brought back – at least for this child of the ’80s – a flood of nostalgia. Ok, time to play some Pitfall!

Mars on my mind

If you’ve never visited the campus of Butler University and enjoyed an evening at the Holcomb Observatory, you really should! It’s free (though they do suggest a donation) and fun, and on a clear night, the observatory’s telescope will be directed at Venus, IDL TIFF fileSaturn, Jupiter or Mars (and some non-planetary objects too). You’ll be surprised at the level of detail you can see with a (relatively) small telescope in the middle of a light-polluted city.

One of my favorite experiences at Holcomb was seeing the polar caps of Mars, which got me thinking about the place of this red planet in our imaginations. Lots of authors have used our closest planetary neighbor as a setting for some great fiction.

The movie may have bombed at the box office last summer but you’ll still want to read Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter series starting with The Princess of Mars. Of course after reading the source material, you should also see the movie (since you, like most of America, didn’t see it in theatres). The library has it on DVD.

A recent homage to Burroughs’ iconic series comes from fantasy writer S.M. Stirling’s The Lords of Creation. Set against the background of the Cold War, this series journeys to both Venus and Mars, playing up the Soviet-American rivalry with all kinds of nostalgia.

For a futuristic look at the Red Planet, I highly recommend Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (the first in the series is called Red Mars.)

Ray Bradbury also speculated about Mars colonization with The Martian Chronicles.

Dan Simmons combines the mythology of the Trojan War in an epic set on the Red Planet in two books – Ilium and Olympos.

Organize your reading with LibraryThing

librarything example

An example of LibraryThing’s cover display – a fun way to look at your collection!

Ever browse the library’s shelves, find a book and wonder if you’ve already read the book? LibraryThing is a great service to organize your personal library, keep track of what you’ve read, review your favorite (or not so favorite books), find and offer suggested next reads, or connect with other like minded bibliophiles. You can share as much or as little as you like. I’ve found LibraryThing to be a great resource for information on read-a-likes, series, and favorite authors.

Watch for these New Books this Season

If you have “cabin fever” you will enjoy the new books coming out. Books by Lisa Kleypas and J.D. Robb should please their readers. Kleypas’s book Crystal Cove continues the Friday Harbor series and Robb’s book Calculated In Death continues the In Death series. So both romance readers and mystery readers should enjoy these. Other new books are The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult once again Picoult writes about a dilemma when an old man asks Sage Singer to kill him and tells her of the heinous crime he has committed. Sage is faced with the decision of whether someone can ever redeem themselves or do they deserve to die. This will be a fascinating can’t-put-down read.

Other new books include The First Prophet by Kay Hooper, The Black Box by Michael Connelly, and Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner. So make some hot chocolate and light the fire and settle down with a good book. Enjoy the “wintery” evenings.

Check our catalog for these new and soon-to-be published books to ensure you’re the first to get a copy!

Jo’s January Picks

If you’re in the mood for a little western fun then Linda Lael Miller is a “must read” author. Her contemporary western fiction includes some of the best romance series that can be found. Known as “The First Lady of the West,” she is a New York Times bestselling author.  
If you haven’t read any of Linda Lael Miller’s books I am recommending her Montana Creed series about four brothers who find the women who can lasso their hearts. The first book in the series is Logan followed by Dylan, Tyler and Lincoln. Each story is a fun read and will have you turning the pages and staying up late to finish them. If you like this series you should also read her newest series titled Parable, Montana. The first book in the series is titled Big Sky Country followed by Big Sky Mountain and Big Sky River.   
Checkout Linda Lael Miller and enjoy an evening of western fun!

Little Free Library

Photo taken by John Phelan

Little Free Libraries is a non-profit movement throughout the world that offers free books housed in small containers to members of a local community. The idea for Little Free Libraies began with a gentleman named Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin as a tribute to his mother, avid book lover and teacher. Todd built a small wooden house mounted on a post, filled it with books and placed it near the sidewalk in his yard. A sign on the library read, “Take a book, leave a book” – and people did. The word spread quickly of this amazing little library, and there are over 200 LFL in 34 states and 17 countries.

Plainfield, IN will be adding its name to that growing list of Little Free Libraries in the spring of 2013. The Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library received a grant as well as memorial donations to purchase 4 Little Free Libraries for the town of Plainfield. The purpose behind providing these libraries is to help promote the love of reading throughout the Plainfield community. Locations for the libraries are still to be determined, but the hope is to locate them along the Plainfield trail system, near parks and residential areas. Inside the libraries will be books donated by the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library, Friends of the Library, Barnes & Noble, memorial donations and of course, local residents who take a book and leave a book.

The library will host programs for residents to help decorate the Little Free Libraries in early 2013. One of the libraries will be a memorial library to honor Susan Miller Carter, who worked at the Plainfield library for over 30 years as the manager of the Local History department. Susan loved the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library, as well as the town itself, and made a lasting impression while she was here. When she passed away in 2009 a memorial fund was created to honor her. Susan’s family feels she would have loved the Little Free Libraries concept, and so at this time the funds will be used to help support the program. Susan loved Plainfield, reading, and sharing, and the library’s new Little Free Library system expresses those things appropriately.

Take a look at the slideshow below to see our first Little Free Library, constructed by our very own Tim McClelland and his brother Scott. Stay tuned for more information on how you can take part in the Little Free Library movement this spring.

Holiday Books for Family Reading

What’s your favorite holiday book to read as a family? Need some ideas for holiday books to read together?

Three of everyone’s favorite children’s room staff members have compiled their five favorite holiday books to read with families or children. Check out Laura’s, Jan’s, and Brenda’s lists below:

The Night Before Christmas
Silent Night: A Mouse Tale
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Small One
Who is Coming to Our House?

Helping Santa: My First Christmas Adventure with Grandma
The After-Christmas Tree
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus!
The Money We’ll Save

Polar Express
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Santa’s Crash-Bang Christmas

 Have you ready any of these books? Add your favorites in the comments below!

Follow us on Pinterest

Pinterest! It’s all the rage lately, and we’re happy to finally be joining in the fun!

If you haven’t already  stumbled into the Pinterest craze, let me fill you in: Pinterest is basically an online set of your own, personalized and organized bulletin boards. Think of it this way: do you tend to clip pictures and articles out of magazines, or recipes, or newspaper articles then save them to be lost forever in a drawer? Pinterest is a way to organize these things for yourself and to browse what others are clipping, or pinning.

The vast array of ideas people are finding are evident everywhere! Just this week someone asked me about some garlic monkey bread I brought to a potluck dinner. When asked where I found the recipe, I responded simply, “Pinterest.”

Now your favorite library (that’s us!) is on Pinterest, too! Find us at We’ve got pin boards for movies, music, and books we love, as well as boards for money saving, John Green stuff, tech tips & tricks… the list goes on, and just keeps growing! We invite you to follow us and enjoy our pins, and we’ll follow you back so we can enjoy your favorite things, too 🙂

Check out a few of our pinteresting Pinterest boards…

Wolves, Hot Air Balloons and Gunpowder

Fifty years ago, long before the Lemony Snicket books were written, Joan Aiken published the first in her Wolves Chronicles series. Set in an alternate England where James III rules and wolves roam the countryside, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase has a wonderful combination of brave kids in danger, truly unpleasant adults, and slightly grim humor.

Although there are a few jokes that are funnier if you know something about English history, Aiken has really made a world that stands on its own. The main characters of the series, Simon, Sophie, and Dido, have to make their way through a dangerous world full of Hanoverian plots to overthrow the king, relatives plotting to steal fortunes, and even a few magical misunderstandings.

I first encountered the series when my grandparents gave me a copy of the third book, Nightbirds on Nantucket. It was one of the weirdest things I had ever read, and I loved it. Dido is not always perfect, but she is brave and always has a keen sense for when things are not right. I gradually read the whole series and they became some of my favorites.

I mentioned Lemony Snicket at the beginning of this post because I think that readers who like the Series of Unfortunate Events would like Joan Aiken’s books as well. They have a similar mix of plucky kids, villains and a wacky but wonderful world. Although they were written fifty years ago, the Wolves Chronicles have a timeless appeal, not just for kids but for readers of all ages.