Lit Pairings – My Life in France

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme

The bestselling story of Julia’s years in France—and the basis for Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams—in her own words.
Although she would later singlehandedly create a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, Julia Child was not always a master chef. Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia’s unforgettable story—struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took the Childs across the globe—unfolds with the spirit so key to Julia’s success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of America’s most endearing personalities.

One night a few weeks ago I decided to snuggle up and re-watch “Julie and Julia”, and I realized although I had thoroughly read Julia Child’s cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” I had never read “My Life in Paris”. Luckily I work at a library and we had a copy available. I’ve never been much of a nonfiction reader and thought I’d probably just skim through it but after the first chapter I was hooked! What an amazing life Julia and her husband Paul had! Not only did they have the opportunity to travel and live in several amazing spots, but they were both incredibly intellectual and artistic people.

As you can imagine this book is FILLED with amazing food. Not just Julia’s recipes but also a vivid account of all the amazing meals she and Paul ate during their travels. As in the movie one of Julia’s first meals she has in Paris is Sole Meuniere.I’ve had this dish in a restaurant, and I’ve made it at home and it’s so delicious. I don’t think you can talk about Julia’s recipes without including her Boeuf Bourguignon. I think this dish would be perfect to make during these cold winter months. To end your meal I think you should do what Julia says they do in France and finish with a Cheese Plate.

As Julia would say – Bon Appetit!

Lit Pairings – The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

Thirty-something Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of newly bustling Atlanta, Georgia. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they’d believed would always remain undeveloped. Disappointed by their diminished privacy, Colquitt and Walter soon realize something more is wrong with the house next door. Surely the house can’t be haunted, yet it seems to destroy the goodness of every person who comes to live in it, until the entire heart of this friendly neighborhood threatens to be torn apart.

Let me start by saying I absolutely LOVED this book. I stumbled upon it while obsessively scouring the interwebs for haunted house fiction, you know like one does around Halloween. This gem of a book was written in 1978 and is now one of my top 10 favorite books. But, before you run right out and find a copy of this to read, just know I’m an odd bird and this book isn’t for everyone.

My favorite things about this book besides the obvious scary bits was all the cocktail time Colquitt, Walter and their friends enjoyed! There weren’t cell phones, computers or a bazillion channels to watch so everyone did something almost foreign to us today – they got together and enjoyed each other’s company!! At the start of the book Colquitt invites a neighbor lady over for a pitcher of Bull Shots. Having never heard of this particular drink I immediately googled it and found out that like this book it might not be for everyone, but I plan to bring it back! I could go on and on about all the wonderful cocktails in this story but I should probably include a food one as well. After an abnormal cold spurt hits the south Coquitt makes Split Pea Soup for them both and then curls up on the couch with Walter in the den for a lazy, cozy day. How amazing does that sound?

If you do find a copy of The House Next Door please drop me a line and let me know what you thought.

Lit Pairings – The Lady in the Lake

The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young black woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie—and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life—a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people—including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.

I REALLY enjoyed this book, and I gave it 5 starts on goodreads! A lot of reviews weren’t great saying the story had too many POV’s, but that’s what I ended up liking most about the story. I think the multiple POV’s might make it hard to listen to as an audio so make sure you read this one.

Since The Lake in the Lake takes place in 1966 I thought it would be fun to check out some of the popular and timeless recipes from the 60’s. One of my favorites is Chicken à la King. After looking at this recipe I think I’ll be adding it back into my rotation this fall! Another full on comfort food recipe that would be amazing to make this winter is Beef Bourguignon.This is of course Julia Child’s recipe because that should be the only one you ever use. After you enjoy either of these dinners you have to make this recipe, that won the Pillsbury Bake Off in 1966, Tunnel of Fudge Cake for desert.

I hope you enjoy The Lady in the Lake as much as I did. Hopefully the retro vibe will inspire you to make one of the recipes. If you do, drop me a line and let me know how it went.

New Catalog Tutorial

Have you noticed that we have a new catalog? We have recently started a consortium with Park City Public Library and Andover Public Library. With this change we are able to bring you a wider selection of items for your use. Items can be placed on hold, picked up or returned to any of these three libraries.

With the consortium we changed to a new catalog system. We are still learning how to use it but we will definitely try to help you find what you are looking for. Below I will show you how to search and see what new items have been added to the catalog.

Step One:

Visit our website, www.derbylibrary.com. Under the Books & Media tab look for Catalog. Click on this to take you to our online card catalog.

Step Two:

Click on Advanced search.

Step Three:

Select Collection. If you are looking for new items select New Book or New DVD. But there are many other categories if you want to narrow down your options to Juvenile Book on CD or Blu-ray. After you select the categories you want then click on Search.

Step Four:

To find the most recent additions find the drop down menu and select Acquisition date: Newest to oldest. This will show the items in the order they were added to the system.

Step Five:

You can (but it is not necessary) narrow this down to items that are only at the Derby Public Library or whichever library in the consortium you prefer.

Step Six:

If you would like to place the item on hold click on Place Hold. It will then have you login to your online account.

The login is your library card number and your password is the last four digits of your phone number.

Make sure that you confirm your hold. If the item is available here in Derby we should have it ready with 2-4 hours. However, if you place an item on hold from one of the other libraries it takes between 3-5 days for it to be delivered here. We will either email, text or call about holds that are ready to be picked up based on your account preference.

I hope this has helped but if you have any more questions or cannot find what you are looking for then feel free to call us at 316-788-0760 or visit our circulation desk for more assistance.

Librarians in The Forbidden Forest

The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is in full swing and some of your librarians have decided to join you in the journey! Reading twelve books in one month is quite a feat even for librarians, but we’ve armed ourselves with pretty awesome to-be read lists in hopes of conquering every obstacle in the forest. Check out our read-a-thon plans below to get some ideas for your own challenge, and feel free to share your to-be-read list with us!

Hannah’s Forbidden Forest Challenge:

Hannah and her dog Merry!
  • Talking Trees – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Witch’s House – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Fiery Fire Pit – Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  • Cursed Pond – The Ruins by Scott Smith
  • Shadow’s Shortcut – Elevation by Stephen King
  • Wolf Den – Winterhouse by Ben Guterson or a book in the Johnny Dixon series by John Bellairs
  • Mushroom Isle – The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • Poison Berry Bush – Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
  • Unicorn Grove – Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
  • Will O the Wisps – Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
  • The Wish Well – The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
  • Carnivorous Plants – Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Ashley’s Forbidden Forest Challenge:

Check out Ashley’s reviews for other awesome book recommendations!
  • Talking Trees – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Witch’s House – A Curse So Dark and Lovely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Fiery Fire Pit – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Cursed Pond – Carrie by Stephen King
  • Shadow’s Shortcut – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Wolf Den – Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Mushroom Isle – Star Wars: Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
  • Poison Berry Bush – Me by Elton John
  • Unicorn Grove – Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way
  • Will O the Wisps – The Loving Cup by Winston Graham
  • The Wishing Well – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling
  • Carnivorous Plants – Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory

Trisha’s Forbidden Forest Challenge

Barbara Kingsolver is one of Trisha’s favorite authors!
  • Talking Trees: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • The Witch’s House: A Discovery of Witches by Derborah Harkness
  • Fiery Fire Pit: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
  • Cursed Pond: We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  • Shadow’s Shortcut: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Wolf Den: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Mushroom Isle: The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
  • Poison Berry Bush: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Unicorn Grove: Lumberjanes by Mariko Tamaki
  • Will O the Wisps: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  • The Wishing Well: Educated by Tara Westover
  • Carnivorous Plants: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Rachel’s Forbidden Forest Challenge

Rachel is also an amazing photographer!
  • Talking Trees: Jaws by Peter Benchly
  • The Witch’s House: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Fiery Fire Pit: Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Cursed Pond: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
  • Shadow’s Shortcut: Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Wolf Den: George by Alex Gino
  • Mushroom Isle: Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • Poison Berry Bush: Between, Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
  • Unicorn Grove: Fragments of Horror by Junji Ifo
  • Will O the Wisps: Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  • The Wishing Well: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Carnivorous Plants: The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

Alyssa’s Forbidden Forest Challenge

I’m ready to face the challenges of The Forbidden Forest!
  • Talking Trees: Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
  • The Witch’s House: Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
  • Fiery Fire Pit: Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Cursed Pond: Rogue Angel: Labyrinth by Alex Archer
  • Shadow’s Shortcut: Violet and the Pearl of the Orient by Harriet Whitehorn
  • Wolf Den: Valkyrie by Kate O’Hearn
  • Mushroom Isle: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Poison Berry Bush: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
  • Unicorn Grove: Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.
  • Will O the Wisps: Cucumber Quest #2 The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G.
  • The Wishing Well: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
  • Carnivorous Plants: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The librarians even have our own little competition of sorts among the staff so we are ready to make it through this challenge! Feel free to share the books you plan on reading for this month, and let us know if you need any help!

Welcome to the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon!

I dare you to read twelve books in one month. I dare you to enter the Forbidden Forest, face cursed ponds, trickster fairies, and a witch’s spells. I dare you to follow the path through the forest, forgoing that hour of Facebook scrolling or Netflix binging to brave the treacheries of the woods. Only you can answer the call, and only you can make it through unscathed. I dare you to try!

Now I know that for most of us, it seems impossible to read that much in a single month, but I can assure you that if you choose your books well and prioritize your time, you can make it through this challenge. Welcome to the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon!

What is the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon?

In honor of this year’s NEA Wichita Big Read, the library is hosting its first read-a-thon. Here’s a link to a previous blog post that may answer any questions you have about what a read-a-thon is.

The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon will take place during the entire month of October and is open to both adults and teens in sixth grade or higher. Each of the twelve reading challenges are themed around obstacles you would find in a forbidden forest.

Who can participate?

This challenge is for both teens in 6th-12th grade and adults over the age of eighteen!

How do I participate?  

Step One: Pick up a tracking log at either the front desk or youth services desk OR print out the log yourself at the link here.

Step Two: Choose twelve books to read for the month by following the prompts. E-books and audiobooks count as do children’s books, middle grade books, and graphic novels/manga. A good rule of thumb is if the book can be found in the Goodreads database, it counts towards your read-a-thon!

Step Three: Read! You have until October 31st to complete all twelve challenges.

Step Four: Write down the twelve books you read on the submission form and turn it in to either the front desk or youth services desk at the library by October 31st. You will be entered to win one of two $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Cards!

We are so excited to be hosting a read-a-thon this year and hope you join us on this adventure!

Random Reading Thoughts: How do you get out of a reading slump?

Drawing of book wity images coming out of it representing a story narative
Tell us in the comments how you get out of a reading slump.

If you’re a reader, you’ve experienced it: a reading slump. You know, that week, or month, or longer, when no matter what book you pick up, you just can’t seem to get interested in it.

If you’re in a slump now, here are 10 tips to help get your reading back on track. If you’re not in a slump, save this for later, because you know one will hit sooner or later.

1. Reread one of your favorite books. Not a re-reader? Give it a shot. There’s a reason we love our favorite stories and revisiting them can rekindle the feeling we had when we first read them.

2. Read a book completely out of your comfort zone. Normally read romantic comedies? Try a thriller. Love mysteries? Give a fantasy novel a shot. Picking up something completely unusual for you can pique your interest.

3. Judge a book by its cover. Go ahead. Do it! That cover that just grabs your attention? The book inside might just do the same and help break you out of a rut.

4. Pick up a nice short, easy to read book. If you’re in a slump, picking up that giant doorstop of a book might feel like too much. Give yourself permission to read a short, fluffy, brain candy kind of book.

Sometimes a new format can kick your reading back into gear.

5. “Read” in a different format. Do you usually read on an e-reader or mobile device? Try print. Always read print books? Listen to an audiobook. Consuming that story in a new way may prod your brain to respond more actively to the story.

6. Visit the library or a bookstore. Just browsing the shelves and being around books might get your brain back into a reading mode.

7. Participate in a reading challenge. Reading challenges abound on the internet, challenges with a few books or a lot of books. Locally, check out the Wichita Eagle #READICT Challenge group on Facebook. The Eagle’s annual challenge is to read 12 books from 12 categories.

8. Or, participate in a read-a-thon. The library has a month-long read-a-thon coming up Oct. 1-31, where you can journey through the Forbidden Forest as you read.

9. Join a book club. It can be motivating to have a deadline to finish and then meet and discuss what you loved — and didn’t — about the book. The library has three active book clubs, all open to everyone.

10. Take yourself on a reading date. Set aside some time for just you and your book. Find a comfortable place and have a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Take a couple of hours and surrender yourself to the words on the page. Have a few books to choose from, in case the first “date” doesn’t quite work out.

Lit Pairings – Vintage 1954

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

When Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no idea of its special properties.

The following morning, Hubert finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who’s on his first trip to Europe. After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. The four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel allows.

But, ultimately, they need to work out how to get back to 2017, and time is of the essence.

Every once in a great while I just want a sweet little read to put me in a good mood. When I’m over the thrillers and the horror that usually occupy my reading lists, Antoine Laurain seems to always be there for me. His books are short, sweet and most importantly French!

Of course a book set in 1954 Paris gives me unlimited amounts of food inspiration. If I were to recreate a day from this story I would start out the morning with a Bloody Mary at Harry’s Bar. This recipe includes celery salt which I understand the original from Harry’s didn’t, so you’ll need to make your own judgement call there. Around mid day I’d pack a Traditional French Picnic and head to a cozy spot with a good book. Then after what I’m sure would be a wonderful afternoon of snacking, reading and lazing about I’d stop by the fish market on my way home and pick up a Whole Trout to roast and perhaps a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to go with it.

Unfortunately I can’t travel back in time to Paris in 1954, but I think I can still recreate this food day right here in the present. I’m going to give it a go before fall sets in. Let me know if you do the same!

Lit Pairings – Into the Jungle

Into the Jungle by Erica Ferencik

Lily Bushwold thought she’d found the antidote to endless foster care and group homes: a teaching job in Cochabamba, Bolivia. As soon as she could steal enough cash for the plane, she was on it.

When the gig falls through and Lily stays in Bolivia, she finds bonding with other broke, rudderless girls at the local hostel isn’t the life she wants either. Tired of hustling and already world-weary, crazy love finds her in the form she least expected: Omar, a savvy, handsome local man who’d abandoned his life as a hunter in Ayachero—a remote jungle village—to try his hand at city life.

When Omar learns that a jaguar has killed his four-year-old nephew in Ayachero, he gives Lily a choice: Stay alone in the unforgiving city, or travel to the last in a string of ever-more-isolated river towns in the jungles of Bolivia. Thirty-foot anaconda? Puppy-sized spiders? Vengeful shamans with unspeakable powers? Love-struck Lily is oblivious. She follows Omar to this ruthless new world of lawless poachers, bullheaded missionaries, and desperate indigenous tribes driven to the brink of extinction. To survive, Lily must navigate the jungle–its wonders as well as its terrors—using only her wits and resilience.

Into the Jungle is an atmospheric thriller I couldn’t put down! But be warned this isn’t your ever day run of the mill thriller. This book will definitely take you out of your comfort zone and drop you head first into the horrible reality of the Amazon jungle.

This book poses some challenges as far as recipes are concerned! Although, I do know someone who has roasted a whole pig in their backyard, I don’t think that is something most of us will ever find ourselves doing. Instead how about this delicious recipe for slow roasted pork carnitas. Once you crisp up the pork you can just pretend you spit roasted a whole pig. Another ingredient that plays a key roll in the story is yuca. I don’t know about you but I’ve never made yuca??? After some serious internet searching I think this recipe for Cuban-Style Yuca would be a tasty side dish to serve with the carnitas. All you need to round this meal off is a few cold cervezas. Pile up your plate and head out into this ridiculously muggy Kansas heat and you’ll feel just like you stepped Into the Jungle.

From Reader to Writer: It’s All About the Questions

It’s so easy to make excuses to not write. Besides the traditional reasons like lack of time, inspiration, or endurance, using the excuse of “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “I don’t know where to start” are great ways of letting those unfinished ideas drift into the abyss. Even though I have a fancy piece of paper from a fancy university that says I should know how to write, it’s still one of the hardest things to do. From character development to subplots to the type of language you choose, the technicalities of writing can lead even the most motivated writer to giving up the whole thing. To yank me out of this mentality and really get this ball rolling, I’ve recently found an awesome resource on Daily Om called How to Write Your First Book.

This blog-style course is really helpful in just getting down to it. You want to write? Well…then you have to write, and not just scribbles of ideas and hopeful dreams. You have to get into the trenches and answer those questions. What is the story? Who are the characters? How will you make the audience care about them? This course does a great job of literally giving you the questions and saying “okay, it’s up to you. Answer them.” As I’ve gone through the course, I realize so much of gearing up to write is about taking it one question at a time. I’ve spent an entire week mulling over one question until the answer showed up. When it did, I felt more confident in how much stronger my story’s foundation was.

Even when writing plot, the best way to tackle such a gargantuan task is to simply ask what could happen.

When you answer that question, ask it again. Then again. Then asks things like “who is my main character at the end of all of this? Why did I just take my audience on this journey?” By the end of those questions, the answers will be the skeleton of your work.

I think right now my biggest struggle with writing is relying on my own brain power to answer all of these questions. Being a writer means being decisive. You are the ruler of this kingdom, the god of this world, and it’s a lot of pressure to make so many decisions! But with each choice you make, it gets a little easier, and your writing gets clearer.

Good luck, writers, and keep moving forward!