Category: Nonfiction

Book review: Mad World

By , November 14, 2014

madworld-608x812Mad World: an Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s
by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

As a former writer of Duran Duran fan fiction, it’s pretty much a given I’d appreciate this book, which features not only the fab five, but many of my favorite bands from the 80′s.  But even if you enter a rage when Take On Me comes out of your speakers, Mad World will help you understand the events that led up to and influenced the sounds of that decade.

Music fans and journalists Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein interviewed (I’m so jealous!) some of the most notable new wave artists, getting them each to talk about the genesis and recording of their most popular songs. You’ll also read in the artists’ own words tales of the scene, and how some had strong friendships with their fellow new wave bands.   And while we’re on the topic, the authors talk about what new wave actually means.  The band photos provide an instant step back into the 80′s hairstyles and unique fashion sense often parodied and misunderstood.  You’re a fan of mixtapes, right?  Majewski and Bernstein recommend some excellent themed mixtapes: bands with interesting names, songs about science, songs from new groups that grew out of old groups…

I’ve already mentioned Duran Duran is represented; other participants include members of New Order, The Smiths (Morrissey and Johnny Marr were obviously interviewed separately), Tears for Fears, Adam Ant, Devo,  A Flock of Seagulls, and INXS to name a few.  And don’t forget to check our catalog, Hoopla, and freegal when you’re inspired to listen to these bands.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs you may know from the cover versions by Grace Jones, or Trent Reznor and friends, that would be The Normal‘s Warm Leatherette.


Book review: Elegantissima: the Design &Typography of Louise Fili

By , November 13, 2014

louiseElegantissima: the Design &Typography of Louise Fili

By Louise Fili


Elegantissima which means elegant in Italian is the title of Louise Fili’s new design book.

Chances are you are familiar with the work of award winning designer Louise Fili and you didn’t even know it …… like the Love Stamp she created for the United States Postal Service or her many book covers and business logos……

elegantissima image


As the art director for Pantheon Books, Louise designed over two thousand book jackets during her eleven year tenure. She “introduced changes to the status quo by using softer palettes, unusual papers stocks, unconventional illustration, and custom typography.” Louise left Pantheon in 1989 to start her own design firm, Louise Fili Ltd, where she specializes in freelance book jacket design and creating logos and menu designs for restaurants.


Elegantissima: the Design &Typography of Louise Filiis a celebration of an amazing career that has spanned nearly 40 years. Louise Fili is a gifted designer and she has written a book that is a pleasure to read and to look at!







National Day of Listening – November 28

By , November 10, 2014
Four individuals at table

Library staff and community members gather for an oral history

When I mention the day after Thanksgiving what do you think of? Leftover turkey? Black Friday shopping? Football games? These are all great things about the last Friday in November but did you know that this day is also National Day of Listening? In 2008, StoryCorps launched an unofficial campaign to encourage Americans to take some time during this holiday weekend to talk to each other. The premise is simple: sit down with a friend or relative, ask them some questions, have a conversation, and record it to share with your family or the nation. It’s as easy as that.

Stories have so much power. Each of us has lived an incredible life but all too often, our personal story doesn’t sound that amazing to us. However, these stories can personalize history in a way that nothing else can. The Special Collections Department has multiple oral history collections that include stories from veterans, civil rights activists, business leaders, immigrants, and everyday people. These collections are some of our most used resources because of the connection they give to historical events.

First Day of Integration

Grace McKinley walking her daughter to Fehr Elementary School, Nashville, Tennessee, 1957 September 09, the same day Mrs. Risby discusses.

Take Alice Smith Risby, for example. In her interview from 2007, she talks about her daughter being one of the first graders that integrated Nashville schools in YEAR. She specifically mentions that her daughter’s name was not in the papers because they missed registration so this event would not have been recorded if she hadn’t shared her story. But the part I love about oral histories comes toward the end of the clip. One of the parents of another student walks up to her and tells her they are there to make sure nothing happens to her daughter. That human interaction happened over 50 years ago but it still stays in Mrs. Risby’s memory because it meant so much to her.


What stories does your family have to tell? Find out this month by following these easy steps!

  1. Decide who you want to interview. A grandparent, sibling, parent, cousin, friend, anyone you like!
  2. Create a list of questions. Here is a list of Great Questions from StoryCorps but feel free to come up with your own. Is there a specific story you want to hear more about? Think about what you already know about the person and go from there!
  3. Find some recording equipment. If you have a tape recorder or video camera, great! If not, you can use a smartphone or even a computer. Get creative.
  4. Pick a place to record. It’s always best to find a quiet spot to record this story but others may want to hear. If you can’t find a spot for the two of you, ask others to try to keep quiet so that the story can be captured as best as possible.
  5. Begin!! State your names, the date, the location, and your relationship. Remember this story may live on past the two of you so you want people to know who you are!
  6. We recommend 40 minutes as a good length for interviews but you can do as long or short as you like. 40 minutes makes the files small enough that they are easy to manage.
  7. Share it! Send it to your family, post it on the Internet, share it on StoryCorps Wall of Listening.

That’s it! You have conducted an oral history.

Learn more about our Oral History Collections here!

For more resources and more oral histories, check out StoryCorps

Drawing of family interview

Image from StoryCorps, used with permission.

And don’t forget to join us November 19 at 11:30 AM for our Film for Thought series. We will be screening “Listening is an Act of Love,” a production by StoryCorps, in honor of National Day of Listening.


Happy Listening!

- Amber

Book review: British Cookbooks

By , November 3, 2014

River Cottage Veg

River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes

By Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall


The joy of this cookbook is its inspired combinations, unlike anything you’ve seen in American cookbooks.  Case in point: red cabbage, parsnip, orange, and date salad.  Really!  Another standout is the warm salad of mushrooms, roasted squash, arugula, and blue cheese.  If that doesn’t say autumn, I don’t know what does.

Two of my other favorites are also amongst the simplest recipes in the book: the leek and cheese toastie (much more than the sum of its parts), and the salad of raw brussels sprouts, apple, and cheddar, which gave a twist to my Thanksgiving table last year.



Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food: The Ultimate Weekend CooJamie Oliver's Comfort Foodkbook

By Jamie Oliver


I know Jamie Oliver has his detractors, but it really can’t be argued that many of his recipes are amazingly good.  The Super Schnitzel on page 34, which includes blackcurrant jam and a caper/anchovy topping, is—no exaggeration—one of the best meals I’ve ever made at home.


Happy cooking!



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





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



Book review: Extreme Couponing

By , October 14, 2014

Extreme Couponing
By Joni Meyer-Crothers

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to get stuff on sale. And if it’s free that’s even better. I can’t even comprehend the amount of money the library has saved me when it comes to borrowing books, movies, and music. Thanks NPL! Why, oh why, have I not tried couponing before?

Recently I turned on my TV and since it was already set to TLC from the night before (Say Yes to the Dress! Woohoo!) I got to watch this show called Extreme Couponing. The premise? Women (and some guys) regularly save 95%-100% on their grocery bill. Who couldn’t use more money in their food budget? I was intrigued, so when the show flashed the book across the bottom I wanted to check it out. Author Joni Meyer-Crothers was featured on the show several times and she loves to teach everyone how to save money. I really like Joni as an author – she is a big advocate for giving away a lot of free (or nearly free) groceries to charities and churches, in addition to saving money for her family. You can check out more at her blog,

If you want a different viewpoint, you can check out Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey by Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler. These ladies save just as much, but they are more business like and slightly less altruistic about their coupon practices. I will admit that I did not agree with all of their methods, but they know their stuff and you can decide what works for you and what doesn’t. The inclusion of many store coupon policies in the back of the book was helpful and their blog is very useful to find the best deals.

We also have two downloadable ebooks that might help:
Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family by Steve Economides
The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half by Stephanie Nelson from

Interested? Then pickup one of these and dive in. Other websites that might be helpful include or (a local blog for the Southeast that better delineates local savings). I will caution you that this can be addicting and overwhelming. Some of the ladies on Extreme Couponing have admitted that they’d seriously consider saving their coupon binder before a family member if their house caught fire. That’s a little extreme for me. I just want to be a responsible shopper who is able to help my family be more financially responsible. You can decide for yourself how far you want go down the rabbit hole.

In the meantime, if you have any coupons you’re not using…could I have them? (Just kidding…no really…)

Happy couponing,

:) Amanda


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