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Engaging Methuen Readers

True Stories on the Big Screen!

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You’ve seen it on the big screen,

now read the book it was based on!

 

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One Minute Book Review: 84, Charing Cross Road

 One Minute Book Review:   84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff  (Non-fiction) c. 1970  

Image of itemHelene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City and searching for rare classics, strikes up a correspondence with a used book dealer in London during the 1950’s.  What results is an utterly charming and hilarious correspondence, lasting over two decades and spanning two countries.  Even though Helene and bookseller Frank Doel never meet in person, their exchanges create an enduring friendship based on their mutual love of books — one that soon blossoms out to other members of the bookshop and their extended families.

Hanff is a what I would call a real “fire cracker”; she’s a colorful character — brash, kind and teasing — and it all comes out in her letters to the more staid, unfailingly polite Englishman, Doel. Their banter is fun and warm-hearted, making the reader wish to be part of their delightful round robin.

Peeping through the upbeat correspondence, we get a glimpse of how London in the 1950’s was struggling to regain its footing after the horrendous bombings of WWII.  I was surprised to learn that many years after the end of the war, Londoners still had strict rations for food and other items.   I wonder if the family-like atmosphere at the Marks & Co. book dealership was in part due to the collective ‘stick-togetherness’ of war’s aftermath?

If you need a little kindness in your life, or revere the lost art of letter writing, or simply remember the joy of mailing/receiving a personal letter, this little gem of a book may just be what you were waiting for…

There’s even a follow-up book, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, in which Helene is finally able to travel to England!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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New from Nevins: The Internet in a Box

So you know about the telescope. And the Binge Boxes. And the charging cables. What, you may be asking, will the library lend next? How will they top a telescope? Cake decorating supplies? Puppies? Actual money?

That’s small potatoes. Any library can do that stuff. We here at Methuen have our eyes on the prize. Fellow humans, I humbly present…the Internet!

 

Yup, that’s what it looks like. The whole entire Internet. Cute, right?

Actually, that’s not the whole Internet. I was just kidding! That’s just free, unfettered wifi access to the whole Internet that you can use without additional charges to your data plan or account. It has a range of about 50 feet and a battery life of several days.

If you have a Methuen library card, you can borrow this piece of sliced gold for three weeks. Yes, three. Whole. Weeks. If you’re not sure what to do with this modern phenomenon, then we have just a few ideas for you.

Go on a picnic

389286No longer are your World of Wizardcraft tournaments limited to the indoors. Get your geek on out in the real world! Whether you’re working, playing, or just don’t want to burn up your data plan out in nature, your solution is borrow a hotspot.

Just don’t forget that Interneting with the birds and the sunshine is hard work. You’ll work up an appetite for sure! While you’re in getting your hotspot, grab a copy of John Madden’s classic tailgating cookbook to help you prepare.

See the world country

From sea to shining sea, the hotspot will transport you to the world of the Internet. Take it1649533
to the Wild West or Las Vegas! Take it on the road and run your streaming music app on it. Or carry it in your pocket and check your map data-free as you explore your vacation destination.

There is, alas, one caveat: the hotspot will only work within the U.S. where there is T-Mobile coverage. Don’t worry. There are other ways to have fun while you see the world.

Make a statement

1588286Whether you’re selling Girl Scout cookies or peacefully presenting your opinion in the company of a thousand of your closest friends, a little wifi goes a long way. At Town Hall meetings, at farmshare coops, and at popup art demonstrations, our hotspot will be your buddy. Go ahead and livetweet that event!

While you’re at it, take inspiration from our online collection. You can download I am Malala through OverDrive, our digital book downloading service.

Be the life of the party

Ever host an event at a venue that doesn’t have wifi? If you have, then you know the misery that can ensue. You also may know the pain of hosting a neighborhood get-together and handing your home wifi password out to just one person who really, really 396450needs it. The next thing you know, you’re sharing your wifi with everyone.

Don’t just borrow a wifi hotspot for situations like these. Present it with etiquette fit for the 21st century. This is one situation where using the Internet to read up on something probably won’t work. Because, y’know, it’s the Internet. (If you disagree, by all means, please comment below. Don’t hold back!) If manners maketh man, then Miss Manners maketh a successful party.


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Tales from the Home of the World’s Worst Weather!

The Nevins Library presents:

Tales from the Home of the World’s Worst Weather!

Thursday,  March 30, 2017   7:00 PM  –  8:30 PM

While many places on Earth experience severe weather, few are inhabited by humans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Mount Washington Observatory has been operating a continuously-staffed scientific outpost on this remote peak since 1932, providing the Observatory many remarkable stories and an intimate knowledge of the mountain.   They have amassed one of North America’s longest continuous climate records, and developed an intimate understanding of the place known as the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.”

Click here to register for this interesting program or call 978-686-4080 x 16.

For more information on what it’s like at the Mount Washington Observatory, check out

Among the clouds: work, wit & wild weather at the Mount Washington Observatory  by Eric Pinder; [foreword by Mish Michaels]


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Eyes on the Sky

Did you know that Nevins Library is now loaning a telescope kit? It’s true! We’re loaning a giant box of optical wonder complete with a real live telescope, an instruction book, a pair of binoculars, and a couple of pillows in case you get tired. Stargazing does tend to happen quite late at night.

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The telescope, snugly nestled in its bin, waiting for you to borrow it

There’s a wait list right now, but the sooner you get on it, the sooner you can get your star

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The telescope, ready to stargaze

fix. Contact us about that. Meanwhile, here are a few things you can look for when you turn your gaze to the heavens above us. Or, since we’re really just riding a tiny sphere that is screaming pell mell through the endless void of space, the heavens that are all around us. All the time. Even when we can’t see them through the comforting blue illusion that is our sky.

Enjoy!

Constellations

In the olden days, before TV, people still wanted to watch “Adventure Time” all night. That’s when we first cast our eyes starward and made up awesome stories about all the rad dudes and dudettes who lived in the sky. This was, like, the nineties. We didn’t know any better.

1068424Today, we still look at constellations because sometimes Netflix is slow. Start with Robin Scagell and David Frydman’s Stargazing with Binoculars, your all-in-one guide to observing the universe from an ocularly enhanced perspective. Of course, for more lore about the stars themselves, you might want to check out Mike Lynch’s Minnesota Star Watch, a vividly colorful book that will give you a thing or two to look at in the night sky.

Planets

The word “planet” originally meant “wanderer.” That’s because, while stars always appear to be in the same positions relative to one another night after night, the planets zip around the sky in predictable, but more dramatic, patterns. They’re also impossibly beautiful and pristine otherworlds, powerful testaments to the grandeur of nature. And humans might live there someday. Think about that. Someday, 966360the majestic desolation of Mars could have dog parks and McDonalds and registries of motor vehicles and smog.

But until you can drive through Olympus Mons for a spaceburger, learn about the planets with Dava Sobol’s The Planets, a journey through the solar system that doesn’t even require you to leave your chair. Sobol is also a fantastic writer who will keep you gazing at the page for as long as you’ll gaze at the planets.

The Past and Future of our Universe

Did you know that when you look at the stars, you’re looking into the past? It’s true! Light itself takes a long time to travel from the far-flung reaches of the universe, meaning that when it reaches your eyes it’s been on the road for long enough that it’s definitely run out of car games and music. (Our closest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is four years away if you’re traveling at the speed of light. We estimate that light from this star listens to Dizzy Up the Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls over 94 million times over the course of its trip to your 667725eyeball. Do not judge its musical tastes. It’s been out of the loop for a while.)

And if that blows your mind, think about this: when does that light ever stop? And what happens when it does?

The universe is a wild and wooly place, and a telescope is only the key to its box of wonders. Stephen Hawking is on hand to explain it to you in The Universe in a Nutshell, and if you want more of the crazy awesomeness that is reality, check out Simon Singh’s The Big Bang: the origin of the universe, too.

Aliens

Yes, aliens! Statistically speaking, they’re out there somewhere, but why the big hush? Where are our interstellar neighbors? Are we not forthcoming enough with the welcome 1220933cookies?

Maybe not. According to Paul Davies, chairman of the SETI Post-Detection Task Group, the lack of contact with alien life could mean any number of things. He lays it all out in his book, The Eerie Silence. In it, he does not suggest cookies. However, in my humble experience, a little thoughtfulness goes a long way. If you happen to see any interstellar visitors while gazing into the night sky, remember that. Aliens deserve a welcome wagon, too.

 

 

Contact the Nevins Memorial Library to reserve the telescope today!


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8 Books About Chicken Coops

Did you know that there’s solid evidence suggesting that the common domestic chicken is the closest living relative to the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex? It’s true! No wonder they’re such jerks! Let’s invite a whole bunch of them into our lives.

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Backyard projects for today’s homestead

by Chris Gleason

Don’t move: improve! Chicken coops are among the projects here, but you’ll find yourself embarking upon a complete DIY-a-thon if you dare crack its cover. Be warned.

Art of the chicken coop

by Chris Gleason

Yup, this guy again. Turns out that he really knows his stuff. If you and your chickens really want a beautiful coop, this is your first stop. Think of your chickens and their yearning for beauty.

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DIY chicken coops : the complete guide to building your own chicken coop

by John White

This book claims that even a novice woodworker can build a chicken coop. I personally dare you to try.

How to build chicken coops: everything you need to know

by Samantha Johnson and Daniel Johnson

You know that this one’s legit because it’s backed by the Future Farmers of America, an educational group that helps young people enter the rewarding profession of farming. See that kid on the cover? She has literally forgotten more about chicken coops than you know right now. Not after you read this book, though!

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Building chicken coops for dummies

by Todd Brock, Dave Zook, and Rob Ludlow

Yup, there’s a For Dummies about this. Come on, it’s a chicken coop! How hard can it be? (She says, ignorantly.)

Chicken coops: 45 building plans for housing your flock

by Judy Pangman

No two coops should be alike. If you and your neighbors all get in on this, you might be able to build every one of these cute and innovative designs. Your only other alternative is to go into business. Sorry, you now know too much about chicken coops to back out.

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Reinventing the chicken coop : 14 original designs with step-by-step building instructions

by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe

Fourteen? Just fourteen? Before you scoff, consider how badly you want a modern art version of a chicken coop. For the conceptual performance artist who also likes breakfast.

Backyard chickens’ guide to coops and tractors

from BackYardChickens.com

At this point, if you don’t know how to build a chicken coop, then there’s nothing more I can do for you. Godspeed, and may free-range options present themselves to you in droves.

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History’s Mysteries @ your library!

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