Janet G's blog


Memorable fiction may be different things to different people, but one thing that can make any book striking is the writer's ability to connect with his reader on an emotional level.  Because of this, stories which take place during times of war are often some of the most extraordinary and unforgettable.  Characters in war stories are faced with extreme circumstances, cruel challenges, staggering odds.  Settings are exotic, dangerous, harsh.  Plots contain nail-biting tension, evil, heartbreak.  Sometimes there is a happy ending, sometimes not, and a talented writer keeps his readers in suspense, just as war's outcomes are unpredictable until the last battle.


Every once in awhile, people seem to get an unexplainable urge to hit the highway.  In 1271, Marco Polo embarked on his journey to China, taking three and a half years to reach his destination.  Probably the phrase, "Are we there yet?" originated at this time.  Polo's strange and fantastic tales of his travels inspired many explorers, including Christopher Columbus.  There's something about the open road that still appeals to young and old today.  It's no wonder that in summertime, many Americans pack up cars and vans, RVs and campers, and set out on road trips.  



Summer is here!*  It's the season for school vacations and the serious pursuit of leisure.  What could be better than, say, lounging by the pool on a lazy summer afternoon with a good book?  How about receiving a prize for lounging by the pool on a lazy summer afternoon with a good book?


If that notion floats your boat, then the HCPL 2010 Adult Summer Reading Program is for you.  Participants who read four books between June 4th and August 7th are automatically entered in a random drawing for a bookstore gift card, generously provided by the Harris County Public Library Friends Counsel.  You might win...



This month marks the 446th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, undoubtedly the most influential writer in English literature.  Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564.  His actual birthday is not known; it is usually celebrated on April 23rd.  Over four centuries after his death, the artistry with which Shakespeare employed language to write his 154 sonnets and 37 plays is still considered exceptional.  Shakespeare's command of English is even more remarkable when one considers that he had little formal education, and in his day there were no dictionaries or organized grammatical texts.  According to Louis Marder"Shakespeare was so facile in employing words that he was able to use over 7,000 of them—more than occur in the whole King James version of the Bible—only once and never again."  The Oxford English dictionary credits Shakespeare with the introduction of over 3,000 words into the language.   


When the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the 1500s, many people did not immediately receive word that New Year's Day had been moved to January 1st.  They continued to celebrate as usual, at the end of March, for 8 days.  Eventually, most accepted the reformed calendar, but there were a few stragglers who either lived in relative isolation or else held stubbornly to past practice and continued celebrating New Year's in Spring.  These anomalous curiosities and stodgy holdouts were labeled fools by everyone else, were subject to ridicule and practical jokes, and hence the April Fool's tradition was born. 


The National Women's History Project began in 1980 to teach as many people as possible about the role women have played in history, and to promote the achievements of outstanding women.  The group's members campaigned to have March designated National Women's History Month, and were successful in 1987.  This month is a great time to recognize the many extraordinary women whose contributions to literature have been invaluable.  




image courtesy of captain ambiance





Aaah, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.  Has NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics had you glued to the television all week?  On Wednesday night, the broadcast from Vancouver was seen by 30.1 million people.  It was incredible watching Lindsey Vonn's perilous downhill race, and snowboarder Shaun White, the awesome Flying Tomato, was tres magnifique!  Then there was the nail biting upset in men's figure skating, with medal hungry Evan Lysacek masterfully attaining the gold.  Amazing feats, inspiring courage, and driven, determined athletes were everywhere.  Even Bob Costas has been fearless in the face of much critical jibber jabber about the authenticity of his hair.  When American Olympians (and announcers) are strong, they win!  When they win, we win!  And you have to admit there's something pretty terrific about winning while never getting up off the couch.  


In honor of the USA's remarkable athletes, you might enjoy reading:



Black Americans have played an essential role in shaping who we are as a nation, and continue to make important contributions in many ways.  February is recognized as Black History Month in order to bring to the public's attention these achievements.  Harris County Public Library is pleased to celebrate Black History Month with a variety of events for all ages; for example, this month many branches will be reading and discussing titles which were written by and/or about African Americans, during their Book Club meetings.  Some of the selections include: 



Because of a bone-chilling arctic cold front that will reach us Thursday, the National Weather Service has issued a hard freeze warning for the Houston area.  Temperatures are expected to drop throughout the day to a low of 28 degrees, and meteorologists predict it will remain very cold through 9 a.m. Sunday.  It's been over 20 years since temperatures have been this low, for this long.  Are you ready for the cold snap?  Have you prepared your car, wrapped exposed pipes, and protected fragile plants?   


This past weekend I had the most unusual experience of enjoying a backstage pass to the Toyota Center, and while I was in Catering, Gene Simmons appeared and sat down at the next table.   If you've listened to NPR's Terry Gross interview Simmons, from the rock band Kiss, you're probably aware of the fact that this egocentric (and enormously successful) entertainer is not exactly the romantic type.  He might even be the antithesis of romance

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