Saturday, June 1, 2013

Teens Only | Half Dome Here I Come

Ok, I'm done procrastinating. It's time I made one of my life goals a reality. I'm going to climb Half Dome in Yosemite. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But this summer I'm going to get serious about training for this awesome adventure.
Half Dome? In case you don't know, Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park which rises more thant 4,737 feet above the valley floor. That's about 394 times the height of my stairs at home. Whew.

Why Half Dome? I've heard from several people that when you make it to the top, you are treated (rewarded?) to some of the most breathtaking views you'll ever see. And I think it would be fun. But I'm not insane. I know it's going to take a lot of training. A lot. So I'm going to take up a friend's offer to help me train for this huge undertaking. He's climbed it several times already.

Being that this is a library blog, I do want to mention a couple of books that feature mountain climbing -- climbing Mt. Everest to be exact. And by the way, Mt. Everest is the earth's highest mountain at 29,029 feet. Maybe someday I'll try that. For now, it's Half Dome.

But back to books. Check out these thrilling books about climbing Mt. Everest.  

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: This book tells of the author's 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers....but it also tells how the author survived! 

And I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention Peak by Roland Smith. Here's the blurb for this great book (by a great author that I happen to have met): After 14 year old Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he’s left with a choice: wither away in juvenile detention or fly to Kathmandu with his long-lost father. Peak quickly learns that his father’s renewed interest in him has strings attached. As owner of Peak Expeditions, he wants his son to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit. The story of Peak’s dangerous ascent -- told in his own words -- is suspenseful, immediate, and impossible to put down. 

It's kind of cool to set a really incredible goal for yourself. And I'm really going to do this. 

In the meantime, check out these great books at a library near you.

See you next Saturday!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Bucket List | San Francisco

I've been feeling antsy lately, so I've decided to take a day trip.  Luckily, I'm only a short drive away from the Bay Area, where I know I can find something interesting to take up my time.  So this week I'll be featuring some of our SF area travel guides and maybe I'll find something to go do this weekend.

Hidden San Francisco & Northern California features a lot of places that wouldn't be considered "touristy".  Ray Reigert focuses on restaurants, hotels, and places that are frequented by locals and are not as well known.  He highlights a lot of walking tours that features places full of local interest and history.  This would be perfect for someone, like me, who is familiar with the area but is looking for something new.

San Francisco : America's guide for architecture and history travelers really focuses on the major cultural and historical landmarks of the city.  Coit Tower, the De Young Museum, and obviously the Golden Gate Bridge are all featured with the other "must see" landmarks in the city.

If you're into gardening, pick up The garden lover's guide : San Francisco bay Area.  Everything from parks and gardens are featured, along with the best nurseries, supply stores, and even gardening bookstores in the area.  It also gives information about joining gardening clubs,  contests, and gardening shows.

Though I'm tempted to catch a ballgame, I'll be using some of these to find something new to do in the city.  We also have a ton of other travel books about local and more exotic locations that will help you plan your next trip.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learning | Trebuchets

Guys in armor ready to launch a soccer/foot ball with a trebuchet in Orléans, France. Photo from Charles Hutchins' photostream on Some rights reserved.
One of the great benefits of reading extensively is the chance to encounter new words, and new contexts for words we have already heard.  For example, take the word "trebuchet." I think the only use I remember seeing for the word is as the name of a font. In fact, it is this font. Our standard font for this blog is called "Trebuchet." Our blogging team chose it because it looks clean and it's easy to read. I wondered about the origin of the name, but never really pursued the matter. 

Then I happened upon the term during an exciting chapter in Jeff Hirsch's Magisterium.  

I should back up and tell you about this book, which is a science fiction story that takes place in the twenty-second century.  A customer told me he thought I would like the book, so I checked it out. I was immediately drawn to the main character, sixteen year old genius  Glennora ("Glenn") Morgan.  Her mother left when she was six. She leads a lonely existence with a father who tinkers obsessively on a project in his workshop. Her main sources of comfort come from her studies (she does extremely well in school, and dreams of traveling to a distant planet,) her devoted cat, and her best friend Kevin. But Kevin's been acting different lately; he seems to think that the authorities are lying to the public about what's on the other side of the Rift, a forest border that protects them from a wasteland. 

I don't want to give too much of the story away, but Glenn and Kevin must flee across the Rift. They are pursued; at one point, the enemy sets up a framework with a thing that looks similar to a catapult--which turns out to be a trebuchet. 
So, I won't spoil the story, but I will tell you that reading the book only made me want to read more books by Jeff Hirsch. I hope Magisterium turns out to be part of a series.

I told my son I had just learned the meaning of "trebuchet." He was quite surprised that I didn't know it was an ancient weapon. If it had been short enough to be a Scrabble word, I might have looked it up sooner. If only I had bothered to ask him, he could have told me. 

I don't yet understand why this font is called Trebuchet. I don't see a visual resemblance to the weapon.  Maybe the inventor of the font just liked the name, or liked ancient weapons. Or maybe it is named after a person with the surname Trebuchet.  If I find out, I'll let you know.

If you would like to learn more about trebuchets and catapults than I could possibly tell you, you might like to read William Gurstelle's The art of the catapult : build Greek ballistae, Roman onagers, English trebuchets, and more ancient artillery.

Hmm..."onagers?" Those are weapons? I thought they were animals in the horse family....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

4 Kids | Gods and Goddesses

Thanks to my good friend, Kathleen...I learned about a great series of books by Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne: Tales from the Odyssey. For all of you Greek mythology fans -- and of course that means Percy Jackson -- this series is a must read.

In the first book, The One-Eyed Giant, we learn about Odysseus, the King of Ithaca who battles the cyclops. It's a thrilling story you can finish pretty quickly. And when you're finished, you have a much better sense of all those Greek gods and goddesses. It's fun. It's fast. And I highly recommend it!

There are six titles in this series, and I can't wait to continue my journey of Greek mythology! Read them and let me know what you think!

Here's a little Greek trivia for you:

1. What son of Zeus is known as the trickster god?
2. Who is the god of seas and rivers?
3. Who is the god of the sun, music and poetry?
4. Who is Zeus' wife?

Do you know all the answers? Really?

Ok, instead of waiting until next week, I'll list the answers here. But seriously, visit the library nearest you and check these books out! If you don't see them on the shelf, ask library staff to help you place a hold. You won't be disappointed.

1. Hermes
2. Poseidon
3. Apollo
4. Hera

Until next week, happy reading!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Just Life | My Favorite Chairs At Home

My totally staged reading corner

Do you have a favorite chair at home who calls your name as soon as you get home?

I have two of those chairs at home.

Years ago, when we bought our house, I had this fantasy about turning one of the spare bedrooms into a library. 

In my mind, I imagined a wall to wall library with a fancy-nancy dark green leather couch right in the middle of the room.

But the reality turned out to be a totally different story. I now proudly call a corner wall on the second floor hallway as my private library. 

Welcome to the hallway library. 

This library consists of a pink lazy chair with a small side table. The table contains a variety of books and magazines at all times. The chair was a baby shower present from my old co-workers from McGeorge Law Library.

This hallway is the perfect location for reading. It has plenty of natural light and it is blessed with beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

I should, however, at least decorate my corner library.

Don't you think so?

My other favorite piece of furniture is our living room couch. 

It is perfect for taking a nap or watching television. This couch is magical. It is fluffy and comfy and impossible for reading. 

Everytime I try to read while sitting on this couch, the book ends up taking a nap on my tummy after a short period of time. I avoid this couch at all cost whenever I have important things to do around the house.

So where is your favorite chair/couch at home?

Here are a few library books if you need to spruce up your living space.

750 great ideas for decorating on a budget

Mary Gilliatt's home comforts with style 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha