Book review: The Haunting of Hill House

By , October 30, 2014

hauntingThe Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

If you haven’t already indulged in some literary eeriness this October, there’s still time. And if you like your seasonal reading both creepy and critically loved, why not step this way?

Widely hailed as one of the best haunted house tales of all time, Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House is an excellent example of supernatural fiction that incorporates a healthy dose of psychological terror. In fact, there are several distinct opinions held by fans and critics regarding the nature of the story’s frightening elements. Thankfully, we won’t go into that minor debate here.

The story itself concerns four individuals coming together to spend a summer in Hill House, an old country estate with a less than happy history. Managing the proceedings is a doctor who aims to document paranormal activity in the house and who has invited individuals with past unexplained phenomena to join him in the experiment. Only two show up, while a third person – the eventual heir to the house – joins the group to represent the family interests.

The author gives each character a distinct personality, but events in the week that follows are primarily seen through the eyes of Eleanor, one of the two respondents who accept the doctor’s invitation. Our peek into Eleanor’s emotional and mental landscape reveals a complex inner life, putting Jackson’s literary talent on full display. A far cry from blunt, gory, or hardcore horror, this classy ghost story can still deliver a memorably chilling experience.


Also, be sure not to miss the superb 1963 film adaptation!… haunting-dvd






…without confusing it with this other film, of course…which is fun in its own, Vincent-Price-ish way…





houseonhauntedhill-2…and has its own remake, unsurprisingly.






Plenty to enjoy with a day left in October!

- Ben

Popmatic Podcast October 29th, 2014: Goth

By , October 29, 2014

Only Lovers Left AliveWe go goth in celebration of All Hallow’s Eve. Clearly, some members of Popmatic crew are goths in denial.


Only Lovers Left Alive

The World of Chas Addams by Charles “Chas” Addams

Chas Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life by Linda H. Davis

Addams Family: A New Musical


Michael McDowell

An Overture by Youth Code

A Place to Stand by Youth Code

Alliance of Sound Tour


Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

Serial podcast

Lights Out


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book review: Garlic and Sapphires

By , October 28, 2014

Garlic and Sapphires
By Ruth Reichl

Earlier in the year I read Reich’s first novel Delicious! and really enjoyed it. So on a whim, I decided to pick up the audio version of this book to see what her nonfiction is like. (Please insert happy dance here.) It was amazing. Not to go overboard, but this may be the best book I read all year. I wish I could read it all over again for the first time.

The premise: Reichl gets hired to be The New York Times food critic, but she can’t go to restaurants as herself because the experience wouldn’t be a good reflection of the restaurant. Of course, they are going to give her the best of everything – service, menu options, raspberries (it really happened). So to get around this little problem, Reichl begins to invent characters and disguise herself. One time she goes as her mother. Another she takes on the persona of an older lady she saw on the street. Each character embarks on a different adventure – sometimes amusing, sometimes horrendous.

I enjoyed how inspired Reichl was by her new identities. She really committed to each new character – probably because I can’t even imagine how embarrassing it would be to have been discovered in disguise. It was also eye-opening to see how differently people are treated at fancy establishments. Being a solid member of the proletariat, I am familiar with the snobbiness of waitstaff, but it was nice to experience being pampered – even if only vicariously through Reichl.

Honestly, it made me want to start being a food writer, but then I remembered she has to eat things like pig’s feet and jellyfish.  So I guess I’ll stick to my day job, reviewing books for you here at NPL. Maybe I can at least dress in disguise for my next review? Hmmm…I think I see a down-on-her-luck motorcycle chick who has a secret love of Lucy Maud Montgomery in my future.

Happy eating reading,

:) Amanda (or should I say Kimberly of Green Gables?)

PS There are recipes in this book that are easy and enjoyable, but I would recommend getting a print copy of the book to better facilitate this – unless you can write down notes really quickly. I’ve made the roast chicken and am so looking forward to trying her New York cheesecake recipe.


Something Wicked from the Wilson Collection

By , October 27, 2014
Start of Mina's Journal

Chapter 27 from Dracula – Mina Harker’s Journal. In pursuit of Dracula, Van Helsing’s journey to Transylvania to kill Dracula begins, with Mina guiding the way.

“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” -Bram Stoker, Dracula


It’s that time of year again – Fall. The sun is starting to set sooner. The leaves are changing colors and falling rapidly. Pumpkins are ripe for the picking and for sale at many road-side stands. Along with these seasonal traits, it is also the time of year when the words “ghosts”, “goblins”, and “monsters” are used more frequently as we approach the spooky celebration of Halloween.

It’s also important to recognize some of the most notorious and terrifying characters from literature that have fueled the terror in Halloween. Characters such as “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” were created over 100 years ago, and they are still seen in many movies and in costumes on Halloween night.

In honor of these horror icons (and many others), here are a few of the Wilson Collection’s most eerie and unearthly books:

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

  • Originally published in 1818, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1934.
  • Though the character “Frankenstein” is commonly portrayed as a green-faced monster with many stitches on his face, the original character is actually Dr. Victor Frankenstein. He is the creator of the man-monster.
  • The story idea was created during a friendly competition between her husband and a friend, to see who could write the best ghost story. 
  • The illustrations by artist, Everett Henry, purposefully exclude the man-monster. Every scene, however, implies that he is there. 
  • Though the book received a mixture of praise and criticism from LEC members when it was mailed out, the founding director (George Macy) believed the drawings were the most perfect set of illustrations for a book ever seen.


Cover page of Frankenstein

Frankenstein is considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction.

There are many beautifully drawn photos by Everett Henry, none of which show the actual monster

There are many beautifully drawn photos by Everett Henry, none of which show the actual man-monster.














Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Originally Published approximately 1902, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1941.
  • This novel was the first complete collection of his stories specifically focusing on suspense and related tales.
  • 16 aquatints (an intaglio printmaking technique similar to etching) were illustrated by artist, William Sharp.
  • Published posthumously, Poe’s work gained most of its popularity after he died.
    Title Page

    Illustration from A Descent into the Maelstrom, a story recounting how a man survived a shipwreck and a whirlpool.

    The graphic and disturbing etchings were created by artist, William Sharp. He illustrated 16 aquatint etchings; a form of intaglio printmaking.

    The graphic and disturbing etchings were created by artist, William Sharp. He illustrated 16 aquatint etchings; a form of intaglio printmaking.















The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (2 vols)

  • Originally Published in 1872, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1959.
  • Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett, and includes the originally suppressed chapter, “Stavrogin’s Confession.”
  • The engravings were illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
  • The Possessed was the initial English-translated title. The title now that is preferred is Demons or The Devils.
  • Despite the wicked title, the novel actually is politically controversial. It is a testimonial of life in Imperial Russia in the late 19th century.
    Engraving 1

    Eichenberg also created engravings for the LEC’s The House of the Dead. All images mirror the dark and controversial context of each book by Dostoevsky.

    The Possessed is a 2-volume set.

    Book 1 of 2 - The Possessed. The engravings were created by Fritz Eichenberg.















Dracula by Bram Stoker

  • Originally published in 1897, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1965.
  • The original final chapter was removed, in which Dracula’s castle falls apart as he dies, hiding the fact that vampires were ever there.
  • Stoker’s enthusiasm for theater, writing, and fantasy began when he was young, inspired by his father, Abraham Stoker. At an early age, Bram often spoke of a vampire story that he would someday write.
  • An article by Maurice Richardson in The Observer in December, 1957, broke the success of the book down to 3 key elements – the singular fascination of the vampire superstition, the inclusive nature of the plot (which deploys a powerful psychological situation), and the furiously-active narrative.
    Mina meets with Dr. Van Helsing

    Dr. Van Helsing meets with Mina, inquiring her about her recently deceased friend, Lucy Westenra.

    Dog howling outside window in Dracula

    The wood engravings were illustrated by Felix Hoffmann. From the chapter Memorandum left by Lucy Westenra - after a loud howl outside the window, a gray wolf breaks through the glass of Lucy’s window.  
















The Book of the Dead (2 vols)

  • Originally published and used approximately 1550 BCE to around 50 BCE, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1972.
  • The Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian funerary text containing a number of magical spells, with the intention of assisting the dead’s journey through the underworld.
  • Because there is not an actual book, the LEC arranged to photograph the paintings housed in the British Museum. Expert Peter Parkinson photographed the sections of the paintings and created color transparencies from the Egyptian papyrus.
  • The renowned Egyptologist Raymond O. Faulkner was commissioned to give a fresh translation of the ancient spells in the book.


Spell 23 of The Book of the Dead

Spell 83 – Spell for Being Transformed into a Phoenix from The Book of the Dead.

Title page
Peter Parkinson created color transparencies from the Egyptian papyri in the British Museum.














The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • Originally published in 1861, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1982.
  • Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett.
  • The engravings were illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
  • Also known as Memoirs from the House of the Dead and Notes from the Dead House, the story portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp.
  • The story is semi-autobiographical from the time that Dostoevsky spent 4 years in exile in a similar camp.
    Wood engravings - "I must have got into Hell by mistake," and "Hell must have been not unlike our bathroom" in The House of the Dead.

    Wood engravings – “I must have got into Hell by mistake,” and “Hell must have been not unlike our bathroom” in The House of the Dead.

    Wood engraving - "He ate alone, voraciously, like a wild beast" from The House of the Dead.

    Wood engraving – “He ate alone, voraciously, like a wild beast” from The House of the Dead.














Want to see these books, or would you like to view more works from the Wilson Collection? The Wilson Collection is housed on the 3rd floor of the Main Downtown Library, next to the Fine Arts book section. To make an appointment to view the collection, please call (615) 862-5804 ext. 6092.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Page

By , October 24, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt steps off an airplane at Berry Field for a brief stop in Nashville.  Photo from the NPL Special Collections Division digital collection.

Eleanor Roosevelt was a prolific writer and published many newspaper and magazine articles throughout her life – before, during, and after her time as first lady.  Starting in August of 1933 – having been the first lady of the state of New York, and just after entering the White House as first lady of the United States – Eleanor Roosevelt began writing her first regular column for a popular magazine, Woman’s Home Companion. 

According to a statement by the editors in the August 1933 issue, the objective of the column, which ran for two years, through July of 1935, was “strengthening further the bond between the White House and women citizens everywhere.”  All these columns can be read in the Woman’s Home Companion, located in the Periodicals area on the 3rd floor at the Main library.


Eleanor began this series with an invitation to readers – the title of her August 1933 entry was “I Want You to Write to Me.”  Sometimes the column addressed personal issues that she received in letters, but more often, Eleanor addressed social issues, usually explaining why they would be of interest to women or what women could do about them.

Some examples with quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt:

photoFrom October 1933, “Setting Our House in Order” – Discusses how women can use their power as consumers to influence manufacturers to offer fair wages and adequate working conditions to their employees.  “Therefore, if groups of women will get together and agree that in shopping they will go to their local stores and ask under what conditions the things they are buying are produced, telling their shopkeepers that they would far prefer to buy goods that carried a label assuring them that these goods were made under conditions which precluded any sweat-shop work, that will help the manufacturers.  If this happens frequently enough in all communities, the storekeepers and manufacturers will listen to public opinion . . . We may sit at home and pathetically ask what we can do, but if we do nothing about the present conditions we shall be to blame.  Only as we take up our responsibilities can conditions improve.”

too oldFrom February 1934, “Too Old for the Job” – Addresses the difficulties of older people in the work force, women in particular.  “It is not because we are sorry for the people who are thrown out of a job at forty or forty-five that we are writing this article.  It is because we feel that industry, business and the professions are going to suffer a serious loss when they begin to deny themselves the valuable work which people can and should do at least up to the age of sixty, if their health is good.”


photo 1From November 1934, “Let Us Be Thankful” – “I often wonder if some of the things which we ought to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time are the possibilities which open up before us to help our fellow human beings.   We may feel that we ourselves are badly off, but when we discover that someone is in need of something that we have taken for granted, then our eyes are opened.  We realize that we have a new thing to be thankful for, that we can be of help in our community . . . Let each of us this Thanksgiving Day count over our unusual blessings wherever we may be living.”


photo 4From April 1935, “Woman’s Work is Never Done” – Offers some solutions for the problems encountered in domestic service, for employers and employees.  “I hope increased leisure and constantly new inventions are going to make housework for women as easy and as rapidly done as possible, but we shall still have to face the fact that a great many women do run establishments in which they employ a number of domestic servants and that many more are going to employ one maid or a part-time maid. the more we can educate ourselves to the point where we shall recognize the dignity of this labor and go into it from choice rather than from necessity, the easier it will be to raise it from the type of unsatisfactory work which it is now, where nobody knows exactly what her job is, either as employer or employee.”


treeFrom July 1935, “Tree Worship” - “Tree worship is as old as civilization itself and perhaps there was a good reason for this, for it you worship a thing you preserve it and the ancients knew well that trees were necessary to the lives of human beings . . . If we want to keep our water supply, prevent soil erosion and still have fertile land to cultivate, we shall have to reforest much of the land which we have denuded.  Every village will have to inculcate into its children a lot of the ancient tree worship in order that we may be wise husbandmen of one of the greatest assets of the future prosperity of our nation.”




Eleanor Roosevelt named honorary citizen of Nashville by Mayor Ben West. Photo belongs to the NPL Metro Archives digital collection.

Eleanor Roosevelt later went on to write a daily newspaper column called, “My Day,” that ran in papers across the country for many years.  She also contributed another monthly magazine column to Ladies’ Home Journal called “If You Ask Me.” To read more of Eleanor Roosevelt’s writing or learn more about her, check out these titles:

Eleanor Roosevelt’s My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt (a collection of her newspaper columns)

You Learn By Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

Tomorrow is Now by Eleanor Roosevelt

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt

CD review: Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording

By , October 23, 2014

 Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording

When the Coen Brothers write and direct a film you know two things, you’re going to see a really good movie and you’re going to hear a really fabulous soundtrack. The Coen’s latest film Inside Llewyn Davis does not disappoint.

The film, loosely inspired by the life of American folk singer Dave Van Ronk, “follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.” Oscar Isaac plays the lead character of Llewyn. Not only does Isaac’s do a great job acting he also does an amazing job singing. His voice is soulful and impressive.


Inside Llewyn Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.


The moment I finished watching the movie, I ran to the computer to see if the library had the soundtrack….they did … was it worth the wait? Absolutely.




- Karen



The Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack is available as a CD and digitally through Hoopla on the library’s website.


You may also like:

Inside Llewyn Davis DVD


Inside Llewyn Davis: the screenplay

By Joel Coen


Inside Llewyn Davis Movie Website





Popmatic Podcast October 22nd, 2014: Library Besties

By , October 22, 2014

GhostbustersGovernor Haslam has declared October 19-25, 2014 Friends of Libraries Week. Everyone on Popmatic is BFF with libraries so we go deep with the best BMM (book, movies, music) featuring bibliotecas, or at least as deep as Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and sugary cereal. Bryan laments silently the absence of Borges.


Friends of Nashville Public Library

Doctor Who Season 4 Episode 8 “Silence in the Library” starring the “Tenth Doctor” David Tennant

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Men can be librarians?



Ghostbusters 2

“Real” ghostbusters at New York Public Library

The Information by James Gleick

Wikipedia on Wikipedia


Walking Dead Season 5 “No Sanctuary”

Shia LaBeouf on Jimmy Kimmel

Interlibrary Loan back on the 3rd Floor of the Main Library

Anna Nicole

Franken Berry cereal


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book List: Free Verse Novels for Teens

By , October 21, 2014


Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover 
by Kwame Alexander

Twins Josh (aka Filthy McNasty) and Jordan Bell play basketball. As Josh says:
See, when I play ball,
I’m on fire.
When I shoot,
I inspire.
The hoops for sale,
and I’m the buyer.

But things are about to change for the Bell family in major ways.


Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal 
by Margarita Engle

They came from the Caribbean, from Europe, and from all over the Americas. Their jobs were dangerous in the attempt to dig a canal out of the mud. And politics played its own role, as demonstrated by this moving account.



And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

 And We Stay
by Jenny Hubbard

After Emily breaks up with him, her boyfriend steals a gun and tracks her down in the school library. When it’s all over, the only death is his, but it sends Emily in such an emotional tailspin that her parents send her away to boarding school in Amherst. There, in Emily Dickinson’s hometown, Emily reaches for the beauty of poetry to express her grief.




Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

by Ellen Hopkins

Popular author Hopkins turns out another gripping story in her trademark free verse style. After his brother committed suicide,  Matthew angrily turns away from God and the comfort of religion.





Yellow Mini by Lori Weber

Yellow Mini 
by Lori Weber

Five teens – one car. Everybody’s best buddy, Mark, is the owner, but he’s not always about hanging with a crowd. His girlfriend, Stacey, uses Mark’s cool car as her entry into the cool crowd, while her friend Annabelle, feels left behind. Christopher likes Annabelle, but he’s not going to remake himself for her. All these voices, and more, seek a place in the world (if not the car.)




HiHideous Love by Stephanie deous Love  
by Stephanie Hemphill

Nineteen year-old Mary Shelley wrote of a terrible monster, formed from pieces of dead bodies by the evil Dr. Frankenstein. How was this young woman inspired to composed such a terrible story? The answer may be gleaned from her life, presented here in short, poetic glimpses.





Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses 
by Ron Koertge

Dark. Disturbing. The tales you remember from childhood, except a bit more…twisted. Reads more like a picture book, with illustrations by Andrea Dezso, but don’t plan to read it at bedtime!





Compiled by Diane

Family Folk Tales: The Glass Axe

By , October 18, 2014

The Glass Axe – A prince is taken by an evil fairy. After facing impossible tasks, will he be able to escape?

Subscribe to Family Folk Tales

Book review: Taxidermy

By , October 17, 2014

Crap Taxidermy
by Kat Su
Twice I have considered utilizing the services of a taxidermist. Once I even called for a quote. Our house cat had delivered a pristine ruby-throated hummingbird to our Welcome mat. The taxidermist informed me that ruby-throated humming birds were a protected species and were not taxidermy eligible, no matter how they met their demise. The second time involved an ottoman shaped family dog getting along in years. Family members persuaded me to agree to a back yard burial.

Unfortunately, others HAVE decided to seek the services of taxidermists and still others have taken up the call to engage in taxidermy practices. Here are two titles that provide examples of their results. Both are fully illustrated in full semi-natural color. Both titles are equally frightening each in their own unique way.

The cover of Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su lets the reader know what is in store…to a point. Who could imagine what creatures lurk within these pages? What self-respecting taxidermist came up with “creative beer bottles” or “elongated baby penguin”? These are the creations of folks who contribute to a taxidermy blog. The book includes how to section called, Get Stuffed. Included are tidbits such as the proper use of borax (as opposed to arsenic) and the creation of a “mouse purse” once tissues are removed. Finally, tips like using clear nail polish on the ears to give structure as well as a “perkier” look are included in the finishing touches section. Did you know that turning a “specimen” inside out offers the cleanest, least disruptive way to ensure a natural look?

For the more genteel taxidermy fan, may I suggest Walter Potter’s Curious world of Taxidermy by Dr. Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein. Lots of stuffed cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, toads and squirrels set in “anthropomorphic tableaux – cases of animals set in human scenes”. The Kitten’s wedding includes twenty attendees in full formal dress and complete with all wedding accessories. Forty eight baby rabbits attend the Rabbit’s Village school, pen, paper and books in hand, I mean paw.

Regardless of you taxidermy preferences, crude or cultivated, we’ve got a book for you!

“I have alway wanted a bunny and I’ll always have a rabbit the rest of my life.” –Amy Sedaris



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