Music review: AWOLNation

By , December 31, 2013

Megalithic Symphony
By AWOLNation

I’m a sucker for a catchy title, and this one was definitely intriguing. Being a student of music, the word symphony has always had an enjoyable connotation and megalithic to me just means big and bombastic. Loud. Awesome. Which is honestly not too far from the truth.

I didn’t realize how much my music listening habits had changed until I started listening to this album. I used to listen to albums from beginning to end, repeatedly. Now, instead, I listen to playlists made up of favorite single songs. It’s hard to get a good, overall picture of what the artists are trying to say- kinda like reading only one chapter of a book.

I first heard “Sail” on the radio and immediately fell in love. What was this industrial blues thing that DJs actually played? So I did a little research, having never heard of this AWOLNation group, hoping – nay praying, for there to be one more song on the album as cool as “Sail.” But I find myself continually turning up the volume as I’m listening (to the detriment of my desk neighbors – sorry guys), each song better than it’s predecessor – even before I get to “Sail.”

I think Icky Thump from The White Stripes was the last album I enjoyed as much as a whole.  “Sail” is still inexplicably my AWOL favorite, but I’m becoming a pretty big fan of it’s brother and sister songs, especially “Soul Wars” and “Jump on my Shoulders,” and it was interesting to see how they all fit into the artist’s vision.

So for the last post of the new year, check out AWOLNation. This symphony’s not bittersweet – it’s MEGALITHIC! If you can’t find me, it’s probably because I’m listening to this album somewhere.

Happy listening and Happy 2014…

:) Amanda

Legends of Film: Robert Shaye

By , December 29, 2013

Legends of Film is proud to present an interview with Robert Shaye,  Founder and CEO of New Line Cinema.  Mr. Shaye also directed The Last Mimzy, which will be shown Saturday January 11, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at the downtown Public Library.

New Year’s Images of Old

By , December 27, 2013

While digging for some articles about New Year’s Day in the Main library’s periodicals collection, I came across some wonderful New Year’s Saturday Evening Post covers by American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker.

Baby New Year and Crystal Ball
January 4, 1936

Baby New Year Celebrates
January 2, 1937













Leyendecker’s work pre-dated and was a major influence on the art of Norman Rockwell; he actually created over 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post in addition to covers for other popular magazines, advertisements for well-known products (like Arrow shirts, Ivory soap, and Kellogg’s), and military recruitment posters supporting our country’s war efforts.

Baby New Year at Forge
January 1, 1938

New Year and Warring Fist
January 4, 1941













Leyendecker has been credited with creating the iconic images we now associate with many of our holidays including the New Year’s baby, designed for a series of Saturday Evening Post covers beginning in the 1920s.  His final New Year’s baby cover (pictured below) – from the January 2, 1943 issue –  was also his last cover for the Saturday Evening Post, ending many years of association with the magazine.  You can learn more about J.C. Leyendecker and see a gallery of his Saturday Evening Post cover illustrations here.

No Trespassing
January 3, 1942

Baby New Year at War
January 2, 1943













Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look back at some images from New Years of old.  Check out these books for more information on The Saturday Evening Post and its illustrators, like J.C. Leyendecker:

When you’re finished with the old New Year, check out this list of Non-Fiction titles that may interest you in the coming New Year of 2014:

What is Book Club-in-a-Bag?

By , December 26, 2013

Did you know that the library has over 100 Book Clubs-in-a-Bag that you can borrow with your library card?

If you would like to take a look at our fabulous selection of fiction and nonfiction  adult, children’s and young adult titles, simply type

book club in a bag  into the search box of the library’s catalog to view the complete collection.

Book Club-in-a-Bag may be placed on hold and delivered to your closest library location for pickup.

Each Book Club-in-a-Bag comes with 10 copies of the book, discussion questions for the book, biographical information about the author and a handout with tips on how to host a book club.

Book Club-in-a-Bag has a 6 week loan period.


If you are hosting a book group….we have everything you need with Book Club-in-a-Bag!



-  Karen




Amanda’s Best Books of 2013

By , December 24, 2013

So last year I posted about all these books I read and challenged Nashvillians to step up their game for 2013. Why can’t we all read 150 books in 2013? Easy, right?

Then I decided to get married. And…um…yeah…that took away some (or most) of my reading time.

To that end, I must apologize and admit that I did not hold up my end of the bargain. I’ll be lucky if I hit 100 by January 1. Sigh.

That does not mean, however, that I did not read some good books this year. Here are some of my favorites that you may have missed…

Best Book I Didn’t Want to Read but Did Because Everyone Else Was

Gone Girl (also in ebook)
by Gillian Flynn

Initially I stayed away from this one because I was told it was probably too scary. But it wasn’t and I liked it, and if you are one of the two people who haven’t read it yet, you should. Here’s what our Popmatic Podcasters thought about it last year…

Best Book I “Read” Even Though It Didn’t Really “Have Words” in It

Dancers Among Us
by Jordan Matter

Pictures of dancers doing incredible poses in everyday situations. I just want to check this one out and stare at it for hours…

Best Book That’s Not About Disney

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices
 By Lisa Abend

This book made me want to travel to Spain and eat weird, foamy food. I’m scared and intrigued at the same time. An interesting look behind the scenes at one of the world’s modern culinary masters.

Best Book That was Really Long but Really Worth It

Dearie (also in ebook)
By Bob Spitz

I liked Julia Child before; I loved her after. This book is long, but trust me you’ll be sad when it ends (and not just because it’s a biography and everyone dies. Oh…sorry…spoiler alert).

Best Book That was 942% Better in Audio Form

Beauty Queens
By Libba Bray

I want to write a book and then I want to read it and make it as fun as Libba Bray did here. Some of her beauty queen voices are priceless. In fact, I liked this one so much that I want to listen to it again…I’ll race you!

So those are probably my top five for the year. If you have a little extra time over the holidays, feel free to pick one of these up. You won’t be led astray. For 2014, my New Year’s Resolution is to read more books! And clean my attic…sigh. Who’s with me?

Merry Christmas and Happy Reading…

:) Amanda


Book review: Norman Rockwell

By , December 20, 2013

Here are three books that focus on the life and work of Norman Rockwell. These titles are perfect companions to the Norman Rockwell exhibit currently on display at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

American mirror : the life and art of Norman Rockwell by  Deborah Solomon provides a controversial look at Americas most famous  “illustrator”.  The small town, folksy America depicted in his work was far from his reality.  The fact is that Rockwell was married twice and divorced three times. He largely ignored his family and chose a life of isolation focused on his work.

Rockwell sought therapy throughout his life and was once a patient of celebrated psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Although Rockwell was a technically gifted painter he remained largely underappreciated in the art world during his lifetime.

Norman Rockwell: 332 magazine covers by Christopher Finch focuses solely on the commercial work of Norman Rockwell. All of Rockwell’s iconic Saturday Evening Post covers are included in this collection as well as early selections from Country Gentleman, Literary Digest and Ladies Home Journal.

For a look at the more technical approach Norman Rockwell took in preparing his work, check out  Norman Rockwell: behind the camera by Ron Schick. Readers are given a behind the canvas look at the intricate staging, casting and composition the painter took pains to perfect before he ever took brush in hand. This book includes the black & white preparatory photographs along with the finished paintings.

Enjoy these titles and then treat yourself to a trip to the Frist.  American Chronicles: the art of Norman Rockwell is on exhibit now through February 9th, 2014.

“Everyone in those days expected that art students were wild, licentious characters. We didn’t know how to be, but we sure were anxious to learn.” Norman Rockwell



Book list: Adult Books with Teen Appeal

By , December 19, 2013

The crossroads of youth and adulthood is a great place to set a novel. Here are some of this year’s best coming-of-age stories.

Lexicon by Max Barry

by Max Barry

Emily’s life is completely transformed when she is selected to attend an elite school for “poets,” masters of word strings that can exert an affect on the human mind. Smart, madcap, and tragic, the plot thickens and twists in this ingenious story about a misguided group of wordsmiths who kill easily and frequently in their quest to retrieve an elusive magical word.




NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

by Joe Hill

Something incredible happens when young Vic McQueen (aka “The Brat”) takes off on her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike. She rides over a nonexistent bridge to a place of lost things – a good luck corduroy penguin, a wallet, a cat…well, the cat turned out to be dead. This terrible magic followed Vic across the brink of adulthood, although now her vehicle is a motorcycle, and the lost “things” are children.



Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace 
by William Kent Krueger

The first death was that of a simple-minded boy, crushed under the wheels of a train. In the summer of 1961, in the small town of New Bremen, Minnesota, thirteen year-old Frank would regret that he had not know the boy well. But the tragic cast of the summer was thus set. When Frank’s beautiful older sister Ariel disappears, the small town boils in a mixture of dread, suspicion, and hate. When buried secrets come to light, Frank knows that both he and New Bremen are changed forever.



Long Division by Keise Laymon

Long Division  
by Keise Laymon

How about a book set in 2013 Mississippi that includes another book set in 1985 with time travel to 1964? Fourteen year-old City Coldson’s adventure is surely one of the funniest books of the year. This debut novel is bursting with colloquial language from three generations of Mississippi African Americans, mixed with gut-piercing truths about a long racial divide that persists to this day. City himself recommends Long Division, explaining that it’s short and more of a young adult book for adults.



Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Reconstructing Amelia 
by Kimberly McCreight

Kate arrives at her daughter Amelia’s high school and is told that Amelia is dead, killed after leaping from the roof of a school building. It was suicide, they tell Kate. Everyone agrees on this; the police, the school administration, Amelia’s classmates. Everyone except Kate, who is desperate to find a truth that makes sense. As Kate wades through Amelia’s text messages, Facebook posts and blog entries, she pieces together s a very different version of her Amelia, one that someone may have wanted dead.



Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film  
by Marisha Pessl

Twenty-four-year-old Ashley Cordova appears to have committed suicide by diving down the elevator shaft in an abandoned warehouse. It’s a scene that her father, reclusive film director Stanislas Cordova, could have staged; a beautiful girl, a stark setting, inexplicable violence. Former investigative reporter Scott McGrath, whose career was ruined when he accused the elder Cordova of criminal activity, finds his obsession with the family rekindling after Ashley’s death. Each piece of information he discovers proves to be confounding, equally likely to be part of an unimaginable evil as an elaborate hoax. Teens will be sucked into this mind-bending story, especially accessing extras by using the “Night Film Decoder” app.


Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Help for the Haunted 
by John Searles

With knife-sharp clarity, Sylvie remembers the night she went with her parents to pick up her runaway sister, Rose. From her waiting place in the car, Sylvie heard the gunshots that killed her parents. Now Sylvie, neglected by her official guardian, Rose, must figure how to maintain her lies to the police, because the truth is too terrible to be believed.




The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch  
by Donna Tartt

Before the explosion, Theo and his mother were drifting through the museum, sharing their love for the paintings. Just before the explosion, Theo sees a girl, and he knows that she sees him. After the explosion, all that remains of Theo’s life is The Goldfinch, and the girl. This visceral, intelligent novel captures the tumultuous emotions Theo experiences as he tries to make his life right despite the burden of a tremendous secret.




Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Golden Boy  
by Abigail Tarttelin

Attractive, charismatic Max is intersex, born with both male and female organs. He’s able to keep it a non-issue until he hits puberty. But after suffering a violent rape, the young man realizes that he must be the one to claim his own sexuality. Teens will love kindhearted Max, whose journey through adolescence is a nightmare few will experience.




Each year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) names 10 books as prestigious Alex Award winners. These are books that are marketed for adults but would be of interest to teen readers. School Library Journal’s blog, Adult4Teens, reviews dozens of such books each year. The books above are but a tiny sample of those published in 2013. Please add your favorites in the comments below!


Book list: What I Wanted to Read in 2013

By , December 17, 2013

A Naked Singularity
by Sergio de la Pava

Tag on the back says, “Sergio de la Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn,” and I mean really do need anything else to give this book a chance? Self-published in 2008 and slowly building steam until winning the PEN/Robert W. Bingham for debut fiction in 2013, A Naked Singularity is a Gaddis-esque harangue of the criminal justice system. I started it and loved it, but could never finish because I always had to stop and flip through books with pictures so I’d have something write about on here. I’m not complaining. It’s just how it is. My interest spiked again when The Millions (one of best book sites going by the way) published De la Pava’s year end reading list. He used the free space to plug a single book: Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. So De la Pava is hitting all right notes with me, but will I ever have time to find out if it is the next Recognitions? I’m not sure but I probably can get book club to read The New Jim Crow.


Red Plenty
by Francis Spufford

Chronicling the rise and fall of planned economies in the Soviet Union, Red Plenty is historical fiction that reads like science fiction because Soviet scientists’ claims were quite, ummm, lofty. Or so I’ve heard as I haven’t actually read this yet. There has to be fiction to be mined from the society that built this stuff. For further evidence you should check out CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed. With most of characters being historical persons, what I am hoping for is Europe Central part two. Vollmann‘s accomplishment there was so thunderous that maybe if I wait long enough to read Red Plenty I will have forgotten how heart cleaving Europe Central was and be satisfied with the next best thing. Anything from Graywolf Press is worth my time regardless.


by Tao Lin

Lin’s Richard Yates was like a Brett Easton Ellis novel but written by someone that actually knows how to write. Add a dash of Gertrude Stein and I was left with a feeling that someone might be doing something a little new and different. Considering Lin can be so nonchalant about his success and controversial subject matter, I was fascinated by possibility of an autobiographical novel. I was so excited when my hold came in! Then I never read it. This time around I really have no excuse because this one is short. And look at that fancy cover. I don’t know if you tell but those are sparkles. How can you resist that? Richard Yates has an amazing cover too. I’m not sure how you judge your books, but this whole list has great covers. Just sayin’.

If you have read any of these please leave a comment, or tell us what you wanted to read this year and didn’t get a chance to.

- Bryan

Book list: Lindsey’s Favorite Funny Picture Books of 2013

By , December 14, 2013

The Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

In this hilarious picture book, Duncan’s crayons go on strike and each writes a letter as to why they have done so. Among the reasons, red crayon feels overworked, yellow and orange can’t agree on which of the two is the real color of the sun, peach feels betrayed because Duncan peeled off his wrapper and left him naked and exposed, and pink feels woefully underused. This is an excellent book for teaching the almost lost arts of letter and creative writing. Best read aloud for kids age 3 and older (and independently read by K-2) as they will appreciate the humor and be able to sit for the length of the book.



Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
by Peter Brown

This little gem is probably my favorite book of the year. The crisp, stylized illustrations are both expressive and subtle. In the story, Mr. Tiger is tired of his buttoned-up bipedal life and begins to give in to his more base nature to the shock and horror of his prim friends. An escape to the wilderness proves cathartic for Mr. Tiger, but he soon misses home and returns to find that things have changed. A short, simple story with enough whimsy to appeal to kids’ (and adults’) sillier side, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is an oft-asked-for read-aloud in this librarian’s house. A must read for fans of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat.



Nelly May Has Her Say
by Cynthia DeFelice, illustrated by Henry Cole

For those traditionalists looking for a good folksy story, this book will tickle your fancy. Nelly May goes to work for Lord Ignatius Pinkwinkle and must learn his special names for common things:dog=fur-faced fluffenbarker, trousers=long-legged limberjohns, boots=stompinwhackers…you get the idea. When an emergency arises and she must employ all of these nonsensical words at once, Nelly May and her patience is put to the test. Fun, expressive illustrations complete this tale and make it a hidden gem of this year.  Professional tip: incorporating the use of those Downton Abbey accents you have secretly been working on when reading this story aloud really brings out the giggles for the preschool crowd. Additionally, ask the children to come up with their own versions of Lord Ignatius Pinkwinkle’s words to add to the fun.


- Lindsey

TV series review: Family Tree

By , December 13, 2013

Family Tree. The complete first season.
Created by Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock.

Yikes!  We’re right in the midst of Holiday Season 2013.  If you’re looking for something to pass the time during those more awkward family gatherings, I highly recommend a group viewing of the mockumentary series Family Tree. (The family that laughs together, stays together, am I right?)

The plot revolves around Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd), a 30 year old Englishman who’s hit a bit of bad luck.  Not only has Tom lost his job, his girlfriend unceremoniously dumped him.  When he inherits a box of family heirlooms from a recently departed great aunt, Tom decides to research his family tree.

That’s all you really need to know to start watching the series.  But let me gush a bit about the outstanding cast!  Michael McKean sports a great Cockney accent as Tom’s father, Nina Conti incorporates her deadpan ventriloquist skills as Tom’s eccentric sister, actor Tom Bennett provides a little Mighty Boosh-inspired humor as character Tom’s best friend Pete the zookeeper, and series creators Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock both appear in hilarious supporting roles; Guest as an American cousin, and Piddock as a London antiques dealer.  Guest project regulars Ed Begley Jr. and Fred Willard enter the action when Tom travels to Los Angeles to meet his American cousins.

While watching Family Tree it occurred to me the series tickles the same funny bone that both  Modern Family and perennial holiday favorite  National Lampoon’ s Christmas Vacation hit every time I watch them.  Everyone’s family ranks on the offbeat scale, and that’s why movies and TV series featuring families can be so entertaining.

Enjoy the rest of Holiday Season 2013.  Have fun, be safe, and above all, be good to one another.  May 2014 be our best year yet!




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