Thursday, January 30, 2014

RESOLVE TO BE A BETTER MONEY MANAGER



By the time February rolls around, New Year’s resolutions are often forgotten. The promises to stick to diets and regular exercise may be waning. Before you give up resolutions, though, consider something else that’s healthy and positive - better money management. The Library has a terrific collection of books on personal finance to help get you started.  Here are some of the newest titles:

A Beginners Guide to Investing by Alex Frey is an introduction to how investing works and shows how to get started in making an investment plan.

J.K Lasser’s Your Income Tax by J.K. Lasser is absolutely one of the best how-to tax books.  Its excellent index, easy-to-follow explanation of tax rules and simple layout will help guide you through income tax season.

Personal Finances for Dummies by Eric Tysons recommends smart and easy ways to evaluate your financial status and then take steps to achieve financial fitness.  Recognizing the current economic atmosphere, the author takes a realistic view at how to improve your money management.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  Ramsey is one of the most popular and prolific financial writers.  His book presents to-the-point easy-to-follow methods of how to get out and stay out of debt.

The Ultimate Money Guide for Bubbles, Bust, Recession and Depression by Martin Weiss also concentrates on making positive financial decisions during difficult financial times. 

 Why Didn’t They Teach Me That in School: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cary Siegel is a list of common sense tips about everyday money issues.

Monday, January 27, 2014

LOOKING FOR LOVE AND LAUGHTER



Individual readers and book groups are frequently looking for cheerful books.  Although it seems like an easy request, it’s actually quite difficult.  So much of modern fiction is serious and some of it is quite dark.  So it’s a pleasure that two recent books answer the call for some much needed laughs…and some love. 

Helen Fielding, who wrote the Diary of Bridget Jones, about the irrepressible and sometimes un-ironed British single woman, made us smile with an updating of Jane Austen’s exploration of feminine charm.  That character returns in Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy.  Bridget is now 51-years-old, her beloved Mark Darcy has died, she’s a widow with two children and she’s looking for love again.  But now she is living in the digital age where online dating, twitter accounts and texting have replaced pursuing suitors and meeting face to face.  Even in middle age Bridget is meeting the challenges of life in the most hilarious ways.  If you’re looking for a good giggle, a character you can care about and you enjoy some really well-written modern romance, Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy is for you.

The Rosie Project is also about looking for love, but with a real twist. This time a man is looking.  Professor Don Tillman is a socially inept geneticist who uses scientific principles to formulate The Wife Project, a many-paged survey that will help him ferret out bad candidates and find the perfect mate.  When he meets Rosie, a smoking and swearing non-conformist, he knows she’s all wrong, but somehow can’t resist her charms.  He definitely learns what readers, particularly romance readers, know-- you can’t judge a book by its cover. Get ready for an entertaining and page-turning novel with some laugh out loud moments.

Friday, January 24, 2014

EXPLORING ART BOOKS




Two current exhibits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Blvd, Calder: From Avant-Garde to Iconic and David Hockney: Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos inspired a visit to the  library to find books on the artists. The library has a terrific art book collection. 

The important thing to know about Alexander Calder is that he invented the mobile.  Every time you look at a baby’s crib and see a mobile sailing in the air, think about the American sculptor. If you want a snapshot of his work, check out The Essential Alexander Calder by Alexander Greenfield.  Compact in size and length, it includes biographical information and color reproductions.  Calder: Mobilist, Ringmaster, Innovator by David Bourdon places the artist in the context of other modern artists and has illustrations of his animated wire circus sculptures.  And, if you are looking for a more lavish and detailed book with beautiful illustrations, take a look at Alexander Calder: the Paris Years: 1926-1933 by Joan Simon, which traces how the artist was inspired to create his famous work. 
 
David Hockney came from England to Los Angeles in the 1960’s and discovered the joy of living in the Southern California sunshine, something that influenced much of his work. The current exhibit shows his return to England. Hockney is an approachable artist whose bright colors and familiar subjects always have visual appeal. David Hockney: A Retrospective is a glorious book full of reproductions of painting, drawings and photos. That’s the Way I See It is an autobiographical work that explains his motivation.



Whether an art aficionado or not, you’ll enjoy browsing the art books to discover these two artists, as well as many others.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

THE KITTEN AND THE KABOODLE: DEWEY THE LIBRARY CAT



Sometimes the world seems divided into cat people and dog people. One other observation is that cats and libraries seem to go together just like Dalmatians go together with fire stations. One cat book that became a huge bestseller and remains a favorite of readers and book group members who are looking for not just a feline story, but a cheerful story is Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.

There are two surprising elements of this book. It doesn't just appeal to cat fanciers and it's not just a just a story about an orange tabby who lived at a library for 19 years. Yes, Dewey was a wonderfully idiosyncratic pussycat with a great disposition who sat in the laps of the staff and patrons at the Spencer Public Library in the farm town of Spencer, Iowa.  Yes, Dewey was incredibly photogenic and talented and attracted news crews from as far away as Japan and journalists from throughout the United States and Europe. And, yes one of the things the book does really well is capture Dewey’s sparkling personality and how his presence helped bring together the people of a town.

The book is also a very realistic portrayal of small town life and particularly of farm life and how the rise and fall of the economy affects small farms and farm families. Additionally, Dewey is the story of the librarian who finds the tiny kitty in the book drop and how she helped save herself from personal issues and how she helped save her library. As one reader said, Dewey and the librarian just needed each other. And, the town needed Dewey.

The Monrovia Library owns Dewey and also the sequels.  Dewey’s Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions, like the original, is for adult readers.  Children will enjoy Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story.


Friday, January 17, 2014

NARRATING AMERICAN HISTORY: DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN



Doris Kearns Goodwin is a historian, Pulitzer Prize winning author, journalist and frequent commentator on the news. With a Ph.D. from Harvard and experience working in government, Goodwin has not devoted herself to writing academic tomes, but to writing well-researched popular histories—page-turning books that people want to talk about. Her titles, many of which are about American presidents, are bestsellers that show up on book group lists. 

Goodwin’s newest is The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  Jam-packed with the twists and turns of history and the story of two great personalities, The Bully Pulpit is the story of the turn-of –the-century Progressive Era in the United States and two great friends who became foes when they disagreed about presidential politics.

Her best known book is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln. Telling the story of Lincoln and his cabinet, composed of men who were political enemies, Team of Rivals is often cited as a blueprint of how legislators can work together, even when they disagree. The book is so engaging and readable and just captures Lincoln’s personality in a totally original way. 

Other Doris Kearns Goodwin books owned by the Monrovia Library are Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.