Record review: Ryan Adams

By , January 30, 2015

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams, formerly of Whiskeytown and formerly known for his wantonly reckless behavior, has a new album. This is his first recording in 3 years, self titled, Ryan Adams.

Ryan Adams was once regarded as the Joyce Carol Oates of American singer songwriters. Three years is a long time for fans  of his sloppily compiled, pitch perfect songwriting to wait. Hallelujah, it was worth the wait and heck, it is winter and listening to Ryan Adams requires a climate that cleanses the soul.

The new album is full of instantly familiar songs that echo back to days of Ryan Adams stomping and stumbling through western North Carolina. There are slight hints of Lindsey Buckingham guitar chords and just when you think you recognize a riff, the lyrics call you back and require you to pay attention. You should always pay attention to Ryan Adams.

This one is available through HOOPLA.

“They don’t make coats for this kind of cold” – Ryan Adams




Popmatic Podcast January 28, 2015: Seedy

By , January 28, 2015

Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of DesireNPL Seed Exchange is in full bloom so Popmatic decides to veg out. Plant puns abound. And what is tickling our fancy this week.


NPL Seed Exchange


Indoor Kitchen Gardening

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Cornbread Mafia by James Higdon

The Saga of Swamp Thing Book Two by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Totleben


12 Monkeys original version

Le jetée

Considering Kate (sixth in the Stanislavskis series) by Nora Roberts

The Guest

The Guest Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Future Islands on Austin City Limits

Black Messiah by D’Angelo and the Vanguard

D’Angelo and the Vanguard will be on Saturday Night Live 01/31

Nick Lowe CD | Freegal



Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Movie Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West

By , January 27, 2015

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Sometimes you just need a movie that will make you laugh. Sometimes you want to see Adam Sandler get in a fist fight with Bob Barker or Will Ferrell run around a Nascar track in his underwear. If you wholeheartedly agreed and want go watch one of these right now - you definitely need to see this movie. (If you ran screaming from the room at the mere mention of Adam Sandler – you might want to skip this one. But you don’t know what you’re missing…)

Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane – the guy who brought us Family Guy and TedA Million Ways to Die in the West takes MacFarlane’s trademark irreverence and moves it to where it belongs: The Wild West. The West was a rough place to live. If the Indians didn’t get you, the wild animals would. So many ways to die, so little time.

Seth MacFarlane plays Albert – a local sheep farmer who’s in love with Amanda Seyfried’s Louise. Unfortunately, she’s in love with the local mustache purveyor Foy (NPH himself). Will he get her back or will Charlize Theron have to climb down from her gold Dior tower to save the day? There were parts that were laugh out loud funny and parts that were scream out loud shocking. This movie is not for the faint of heart. My favorite character was Sarah Silverman’s “Lady of the Evening.”

Two notes of caution:

1) Even if he begs for it, DO NOT lend Neil Patrick Harris your hat. You won’t want it back when he’s done.
2) People die at the fair.

Happy watching…

:) Amanda

PS Does anyone else think Seth MacFarlane looks like Peter Brady? Just wondering…


Wilson Collection honors the best of African American Literature

By , January 26, 2015
Letter from Birmingham City Jail

One of the 8 serigraph prints, created by Faith Ringgold for Letters from Birmingham City Jail

“When you learn, teach. When you get, give. As for me, I shall not be moved.”
- Our Grandmothers, Maya Angelou

As we just celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and are about to celebrate African American History month (in February), I thought that it was a perfect time to honor both with some of the best work by African American authors and artists from the Wilson Collection.

As I mentioned in a previous post about the Limited Edition Collection, the club began including work by African American authors and artists in 1983. Beginning with Nobel Prize winner, Derek Walcott, the Limited Edition Club published Poems of the Caribbean. A poet and playwright, Walcott is better known for the 1990 poem, Omeros. Walcott is a winner of many literary awards, including an Obie Award in 1971, for the play Dream on Monkey Mountain.

Jacob Lawrence, artist 

Also published in 1983 by the LEC, Hiroshima is a book by Pulitzer-Prize winning author, John Hersey. The LEC version includes a poem and signature by Kentucky (Kentucky-Tennessee Border) native, Robert Penn Warren. The book is a detailed account of Hiroshima from 6 survivors, after the atomic bombs were dropped in August, 1945.

A cover photo for Time magazine done in 1970, by artist Jacob Lawrence. (Photo courtesy of - Society of Publication Designers)

A cover photo of Jesse Jackson for Time magazine. Created by artist, Jacob Lawrence, in 1970. (Photo courtesy of – Society of Publication Designers)

In order to provide the adequate detail that the story calls for, artist Jacob Lawrence was chosen to create the 8, multi-color silk screens for the book. Lawrence’s achievements range from studying at the Harlem Art Workshop for 6 years, obtaining Rosenwald Fellowships for 3 successive years and a Guggenheim in 1946.

That same year, he also painted a cover for Fortune magazine. In 1970, he did a cover portrait of Jesse Jackson for Time magazine.

Lawrence is also known for several one-man exhibitions, the first one starting at the Harlem YMCA in 1938, and eventually had many traveling exhibits of art. In his later years (around the time when he created the art for Hiroshima), Lawrence was a professor of art at several institutions including Pratt Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle.

Lawrence’s feelings toward John Hersey’s book were beautifully translated into illustrations – “I read and reread Hiroshima several times. And I began to see the extent of the devastation in the twisted and mutilated bodies of humans, birds, fishes, and all the other animals and living things that inherit our Earth. The flora and fauna and the land that were at one time alive were now seared, mangled, deformed, and devoid of life. And I thought, what have we accomplished over these many centuries?”

Other great authors of the 20th century (that are included in the LEC) include Margaret Walker (For My People), Maya Angelou (Our Grandmothers), Langston Hughes (Sunrise is Coming After While), and Zora Neale Hurston (Bookmarks in the Pages of Life).

Margaret Walker

The year that the LEC published Margaret Walker’s For My People marked the 50th anniversary of its original publication (originally published in 1942). Though it was Walker’s first published work, she’d been writing for years. Walker attributes her inspiration for writing to her parents, starting from around the age of 11 or 12 when her father gave her a datebook as a Christmas present.

Maya Angelou

And Maya Angelou…where do I begin? Well known for many more reasons than being an award-winning author; Maya Angelou was also a dancer, actress, singer, activist and professor. She was the first poet since Robert Frost to make an inaugural recitation at a Presidential inauguration, reciting “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Clinton’s inauguration.

Maya took her acting, literary, and dance talents around the world, always ensuring that her son, Guy, was in good hands. She became involved with social causes as well, serving as the Northern Coordinator of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). When she worked for a school in Accra, Ghana, she wrote for periodicals there, and in Egypt.

Upon her return back to the States, Angelou began publishing the first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (a book that is also on many school’s banned and challenged lists). Our Grandmothers, Angelou’s favorite poem from the book of poetry I Shall Not Be Moved, was chosen by her for the Limited Edition Collection. Though a short poem, Our Grandmothers is every bit as strong as her autobiographies and her books of poetry.

First Edition of Maya Angelou's Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul

First Edition of Maya Angelou’s Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul. This book was published specially for the members of the Limited Edition Club.

Another treasure by Angelou published by the Limited Edition Club is Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul. It is a treasure not only for its content, but also because it is a first edition book that was written specifically for the members of the LEC. This is a first for the LEC to publish a first edition book. It was published in 2003, with color etchings by artist Dean Mitchell (chosen by Angelou) and an original jazz composition by Wynton Marsalis. Truly unique, indeed.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes’ biographer described him in these words: “to many readers of African descent he is their poet laureate, the beloved author of poems steeped in the richness of African-American culture. To many readers who love verse and are also committed to the ideal of social and political justice, he is among the most eloquent of American Poets. For still other admirers he is, above all, the author of poems of often touching lyric beauty beyond issues such as race and justice.”

Hughes was revolutionary in his work, whether it be poetry, play-writing, activist work, or a novel. He was one of the earliest pioneers of the writing form, jazz poetry. He was also a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

Hughes passed away in 1967, many years prior to the LEC’s publication of Sunrise is Coming After While. The LEC received help from Maya Angelou in selecting the poems for the volume. The artist chosen to illustrate the publication was Phoebe Beasley, the only artist whose work has been chosen twice for the Presidential Seal.

Zora Neale Hurston

There are not too many artists out there with an annual festival in their honor, but Zora Neale Hurston has one. In Eatonville, Florida, a town made famous thanks to Hurston’s numerous fictional stories. The year before the LEC published her collection of stories (2000), the festival drew about 85,000 enthusiasts (a small town that’s not too far from Orlando).

It almost goes without saying that she was and is still a popular author. Like Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston was well known for being a prominent writer during the Harlem Renaissance, and for writing Their Eyes Were Watching God. She has influenced many contemporary authors such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Ralph Ellison. The collection of stories chosen for the Limited Edition Collection range from tragic to laugh-out-loud, from the time of slavery to the Harlem Renaissance.

Betye Saar, one of America’s most important artists, illustrated the book with six multi-colored serigraphs. The paper that Saar chose is handmade of cotton and cinnamon, and the afterword was also written by her.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the publications recently published by the LEC, Letter from Birmingham City Jail is an open letter that was written by Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 16, 1963, after his arrest during the Birmingham Campaign. While in jail, King received a newspaper that was smuggled in. It contained a statement from 8 white Alabama clergymen going against King’s methods, and he proceeded to write a response on the same newspaper.

King believed in the power of nonviolent resistance, and defended the strategy strongly in the letter stating that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws.

In honor of all of these notable authors, artists, and activists, the Wilson Collection currently has the following books (and a few news articles) on display:

  • Poems of the Caribbean by Derek Walcott. Published by the LEC in 1983.

Poems of the Caribbean

  • Hiroshima by John Hersey. Illustrated by artist, Jacob Lawrence. Published by the LEC in 1983.

Hiroshima          Hiroshima

  • For My People by Margaret Walker. Published by the LEC in 1992.

For My People          For My People

  • Our Grandmothers by Maya Angelou. Published by the LEC in 1994.

Our Grandmothers          Our Grandmothers

  • Sunrise is Coming After While by Langston Hughes. Published by the LEC in 1998.

Sunrise is Coming After While          Sunrise is Coming After While

  • Bookmarks in the Pages of Life by Zora Neale Hurston. Published by the LEC in 2001.

Bookmarks in the Pages of Life          Bookmarks in the Pages of Life


  • Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul by Maya Angelou. First Edition Published in 2003.

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul          Music, Deep Rivers in my Soul

  • Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. Published by the LEC in 2008.

MLK_3          MLK_2

All of these books and several old news articles are currently on display in the Wilson Room, on the 3rd floor of the Main Downtown Library (next to the Fine Arts area). They will remain on display throughout the month of February. The Wilson Room is open to all visitors during regular Library hours.

If you are interested in viewing more books from the Wilson Collection, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Stay tuned for more from the Wilson Collection!

Book review: Living with Books

By , January 22, 2015

Living with Books

By Alan Powers


Books! We love them, we can’t live without them and this decorating book will show you fabulous and innovative ways to display them in your home!

Alan Powers’ Living with Books features page after page of rooms filled with character and personality and clever arrangements of books.

Living with Books offers decorating ideas for home libraries, home offices, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms and my favorite chapter hallways and odd spaces. You’ll learn how to use books to add warmth and color to your home as well as how to use books as art.

The author also provides information about the care and maintenance of books and DIY instructions on how to build six different styles of bookshelves.

If you enjoy Living with Books you might also want to take a look at House Beautiful Decorating with Books by Marie Proeller Hueston and At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries by Estelle Ellis.


You’ll never look at your books the same way again………

- Karen

Popmatic Podcast January 21, 2015: Dr. King! Dr. King!

By , January 21, 2015

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning MarableIn celebration of MLK Day and release of Selma, we tell you about favorite books, movies, and music about the Civil Rights era. Bryan sings. For real.


The Civil Rights Collection

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Shock Corridor

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills by Chris Claremont, Brent Anderson, and Steve Oliff

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird film

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and Kill a Mockingbird

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills

Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom

Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Soundtrack for a Revolution

Soundtrack for a Revolution soundtrack


Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett

The Making of a President: 1964 by Theodore H. White

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

Fixer Upper

Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule

Great Train Robbery

Popmatic Podcast on Stitcher


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

The Newbery Awards

By , January 19, 2015

Every year, the American Library Association bestows awards on deserving (or not so deserving, depending on your reading preferences) books published the previous year. That makes this a perfect time to recap our favorites! In anticipation of the Newbery Awards (among many many others) being announced February 2, here are some 2014 favorite chapter books from librarians around the system:

Brown Girl Dreaming



By far, the favorite book (and Newbery prediction) of many, including Ms. Elaine, Ms. Tori, Ms. Phyllis and others is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.



At Main, we’re all over the place with our favorites:

Miss Shain loved the Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, by Holly Schindler.

Miss Lindsay loved Rain Reign, too, and also wholeheartedly recommends Revolution, by Deborah Wiles.

Miss Jane’s favorites include My Brother’s Shadow, by Tom Avery and The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea: the Story of Annaliese Easterling & Throckmorton, Her Simply Remarkable Sock Monkey, by Eileen Beha.

Other favorites by librarians around NPL are Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana and Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill.

Phew! There were a lot of great chapter books published in 2014.

What did we miss? What did we get wrong? What did you love?

Sound City

By , January 18, 2015

SoundCityThis gem can be found on Hoopla and is certainly worth watching. If you read the recent Rolling Stone cover story  (December 4, 2014 – available via Zinio!) on Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (and of course, former Nirvana member) you know he’s an intensely busy guy and that he loves the history and uniqueness of American recording studios.

Grohl produced and directed this full length documentary on the Van Nuys, California landmark, Sound City in 2013. It will have to hold me over until I can view, somehow, Sonic Highways, the eight part HBO music studio/city travelogue series he recently completed.

Sound City Studios and its legendary Neve sound mixing console saw numerous excellent bands and recordings throughout the seventies and into the nineties (a modern highpoint being Nirvana’s Nevermind) and beyond until the digital age/Pro Tools and other changes affected it’s ultimate demise in 2011. From Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedos, Hard Promises (and others) to  recordings by Rick Springfield (you’ll learn more about his famous dog too), War, Cheap Trick, Johnny Cash and many others this place reveled in a no frills / do it live ethos that resulted in some truly solid recordings. Was it the room dynamics that lead to the terrific and much sought after drum sound? Or a combination of magic and luck…

The film is a flowing trip of first hand recollections, great footage, interviews with musicians and those that worked there or helped make the recordings – Butch Vig, Ric Reuben among them along with Grohl’s own animated appearances. Find out what eventually happened to the legendary sound board, see Stevie Nicks laying down vocals with the Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney jamming on what appears to be an electric cigar box guitar! Great stuff.


Sound City

Book List: The 2015 Reading Challenge

By , January 17, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge


Since New Year’s is all about making resolutions, I think one of the best resolutions a reader can make is to diversify what they read throughout the year.

That being said, POPSUGAR has created a 2015 Reading Challenge, check out their post and see the POPSUGAR list. They even offer a handy printable version, which you can hang up on your desk or near your favorite reading spot to keep track of the books that you have already read.

Here are a few highlights of the list, plus a few suggestions (from my list) about what to read for them:

A book with more than 500 pages -

Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance

The second book in the Stormlight Archives, Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, doubles this page count! I’m really hoping to getting around to reading it this year, before the third one comes out.













A book your mom loves -

The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl

My mom is a huge fan of historical fiction, so for this one, I’ve picked The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I know this is one of her favorites!














A book that made you cry -

Imajica, by Clive Barker


Clive Barker has always had such beautiful imagery in his works, and Imajica has several moments throughout that usually have me reaching for a tissue or three.













A memoir -

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes

As You Wish

I think this counts, right? It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and Cary Elwes sits down to tell us behind-the-scenes stories you haven’t heard before in As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.













A book with antonyms in the title -

Memory and Dream, by Charles de Lint

Memory and Dream

Trying to figure out what to read for this one was a bit of a tough choice, but I’ve been putting off reading Charles de Lint for a while. For this one, I’m going with Memory and Dream. Don’t worry! There are a ton of possibilities for this challenge.



Check Out the List

If you want to find a more complete list of my suggestions, check out the list on the library website here: 2015 Reading Challenge

Book review: My sunshine away

By , January 16, 2015

My sunshine away
by M.O. Walsh

To every Read, there is a season. A time to sneak an hour beside an open window in early April, a time to risk sand filled pages in late July and a purpose to every plot conceived by any self-respecting author.

My sunshine away is such a read. It begs to be read in early summer. Do not, I repeat, do not succumb to the glowing reviews of this title set for release in February. If you worship at the altar of contemporary Southern fiction, and I mean the good stuff…not the whiny, cheap, “it’s a hoot” junk that tries to pass itself off as the real deal, this one is worth the wait.

Milton O’Neal Walsh has crafted a treasure. It has all the right bits and pieces that would fall into a pile of worthless clutter with a lesser author. Set in Baton Rouge 1989, featuring golden girl Lindy Simpson, a neighborhood crime, a cast of suspects….all the elements needed to create a new Southern classic. And you know the good stuff is worth waiting for.


“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”            – Oscar Wilde

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