Death & Dessert

How do you choose the books you read? Is it the characters? Cover art? Setting? I bet it’s the latest offering from your favorite author. The past 9 years I have hosted a mystery book club called “Death & Dessert” at the Denton Public Library. We have been as many as 17 and as few as four. In our book club, we read mysteries. To narrow that down, we choose a type of mystery each month and each person is free to choose whatever book they like that fits into the chosen type. We might read mysteries from Scandinavia one month, and books that feature cooking the next. At each meeting, each member shares a little about the book they chose. In this way, we get exposure to many, many authors, a great benefit for voracious readers always on the lookout for a new favorite.

I am particularly interested in why we read what we do. For instance, mystery readers are drawn to tidy endings. Mystery solved, bad guy caught. Heaven. What happens in between varies wildly. My current obsession is with The Detection Club, an English club made up of mystery writers, established somewhere along 1931. Every so often the Club will write a compilation work created by several of the members. Each book is written according to a unique method, and although the subject is grim, (murder!) the fun that these writers had creating their contributions leaks out around the pages.

I have learned about all the Detection Club members, but my favorites are alas, no longer with us, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and others from those early years. The club persists today however, and are still inviting curious readers to share the fun. The most recent offering is “The Sinking Admiral” edited by current club president, Simon Brett. It is worth noting the very first book the Detection Club published eighty-five years ago was titled “The Floating Admiral” and yes, I have read it.

The Sinking Admiral

You can find the Sinking Admiral now at Emily Fowler Central Library. Take a moment to think about the titles you choose. What appeals to you? If you think you would like to hear more about the mysteries of life, consider this your invitation to come visit the Death & Dessert book club the first Thursday of each month at the Fowler library, 7 p.m. We have dessert too, but it’s the books that are delicious.

Terri Gibbs

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Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

Could it be that fans of spooky fiction are tiring of vampires and zombies? Probably not, but I have been struck by the number of recent young adult novels based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. One  example of this is Bethany Griffith’s 2014 novel, The Fall, which reimagines Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ through the eyes of Roderick Usher’s sickly twin sister Madeline. This isn’t Griffin’s first expansion of Poe’s work. Prior to The Fall, Griffin turned to Poe’s short story ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ to create two dystopian novels, Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death. Other authors have also jumped on the Poe train. ‘Annabel Lee’, Poe’s spooky poem describing the death of a beautiful woman in “a kingdom by the sea”, is the basis for two recent novels, Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey and Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday.House of Usher

Of course, filmmakers have been turning to Poe for inspiration long before this mini-trend in young adult novels and there have been quite a few film adaptations of his short stories and narrative poetry. To describe most of these movies as “loosely based” on his work is an understatement. (Certainly, the version of ‘Murders in Rue Morgue’ I watched in my high school English class didn’t have much to do with the short story.) Of the many Poe-inspired movies, Roger Corman’s film adaptations with Vincent Price are the ones a lot of people remember and they are a lot of fun to watch. If you would like a taste of the Corman/Price movies, the library has a DVD double feature of Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum  that is available for checkout .

Oddly enbart as ravenough, one of the most faithful film adaptations of Poe’s work is the version of ‘The Raven’ from the first Treehouse of Horror episode of the Simpsons. In this episode, the poem is read by James Earl Jones with Homer as the narrator and Bart as the Raven. While quite funny, the text of the poem is not changed and Homer’s descent into madness closely follows the narrative of the poem (or, at least, close enough that the episode is used by some high school teachers to introduce the poem to their students.) The second season of the Simpsons (which contains the inaugural Treehouse of Horror episode) is available at the library, but, if you can’t wait, the Raven segment can be easily found online.

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Corben draws Poe

‘The Raven’ has also been adapted in comics form by cartoonist Richard Corben, who is known for creating unsettling images using a combination of pen & ink and airbrush. Since the 1970s, Corben has drawn quite a few adaptations of Poe’s works. Many of these have been collected in two volumes owned by the library (in both print and electronic formats) – Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead and Creepy Presents Richard Corben (although I wouldn’t recommend them to those with a low tolerance for gore and nudity.)

On a less gruesome note,  musicians have likewise turned to Poe for inspiration. Sarah Jarosz’s  adaptation of the aforementioned ‘Anabel Lee’ (from the 2011 album Follow Me Down) is a great example of this. Playing clawhammer banjo (and changing the spelling of the title character’s name), she recasts the poem to resemble an Appalachian murder ballad in the spirit of ‘Knoxville Girl’ or ‘The Banks of the Ohio.’

In the end, of course, the best way to experience Edgar Allan Poe is to read his original work. Collections of Poe’s stories and poetry are available at all Denton Public Library locations. In addition, Denton Public Library cardholders can download electronic versions of Poe’s work using the library’s Overdrive and Hoopla services.

Stacy
South Branch Library

Denton Public Library Alphabet

A is for Accounts

Of course, we would start with your library account!  It is the best way to take advantage of all the library has to offer.  You can check out books, DVDs, music CDs, magazines and kits.  Your library account also gives you access to downloadable services, online learning services, and database searching 24/7 from anywhere you have internet connection.  Stop by any of the three library branches to get your library card.

B is for Book-A-Librarian service

Need help setting up your tablet, accessing downloadable eBooks, writing your resume, or marketing your business?  Schedule a 30-minute appointment to meet with one of our knowledgeable staff members.  The service is free!

C is for the Library Catalog

We would not be able to find anything without the library catalog .  Search for a title, author, subject or keyword.  You can also check your account, place holds on items, and create reading lists through the catalog.  If you are interested in finding the newest releases and preorders, go to the “Featured Lists”  page and see what is new.  Expert tip: Use the “Featured Lists” section to place holds on new materials before they are even released.

D is for dpl2go

Did you know that the library has a mobile unit that visits local neighborhoods, schools, senior living facilities, and more?  Keep your eye out for our dpl2go van.  Be sure to stop by if you see us in your neighborhood.  Chances are you will walk away with a free book to keep!

E is for eBooks & eAudiobooks

The library’s Overdrive and hoopla digital services allow cardholders to access downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks.  Download to your computer, tablet, eReader or smartphone.  If you are not familiar with the services, you can always schedule a Book-A-Librarian appointment to have a friendly staff member help you get the services set up on your device.

F is for Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Denton Public Libraries is a fantastic organization that helps raise funds to support the library.  The Friends group hosts quarterly book sales and operates the Secondhand Prose Used Bookstore, located at the North Branch Library.  The bookstore is open Saturdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m., and Mondays 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.  The funds raised by the Friends have helped purchase furniture, equipment, and summer reading club prize books.  When you become a Friends of the Library member or purchase from their bookstore, you help support the library.

G is for Genealogy

Have you been intrigued by those Ancestry.com commercials?  Maybe you were bitten by the genealogy bug long ago and want to break down some of those research brick walls.  In either case, the Denton Public Library has the resources and support to help you find your family history.  Stop by the Special Collections Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library to learn how to start building your family tree.  Access Ancestry, Fold3, Heritage Quest,  or any of the other genealogy databases.  Attend one of the many genealogy classes to learn new resources and research tips.

H is for Homebound

The Denton Public Library provides library materials to individuals who are homebound due to illness, disability, or age and are physically unable to visit the library.  The library can mail materials to your home.  Each package includes a prepaid envelope to return the item via mail.  Ask for more information or an application at the reference desk.

I is for Interlibrary Loan

Looking for an item that is not in the library’s collection?  Request an Interlibrary Loan.  We will contact other libraries and ask them to send their copy for you to check out.  Return the item back to your closest DPL branch and we will ship it back to its home library.

J is for Job Search and Job Skills Support

Use the library computers to type and print your resume or fill out online job applications.  Access Brainfuse’s Adult Learning Center for resume writing and job searching help.  Take one of the 4,000+ courses on Lynda.com to learn a new skill.  Visit Learning Express Career Center to find vocational guidance and job related tests.

K is for Knowledgeable staff

Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is available to help you find the materials you need, share information about library services, and help you learn new things.  We have experts in children’s literacy, teen services, marketing, genealogy and local history, small business, technology, and more.

L is for Local History

The library has a treasure trove of local history within our Special Collections Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library.  Look at old yearbooks, access local newspaper archives, read transcripts of oral histories from longtime Dentonites, access local cemetery or funeral home records, or take a look at the 1956 items that the Denton Public Library has made available on the UNT Portal to Texas History site.

M is for Makerspace: the Forge

Visit the Forge at the North Branch Library to learn about technology, design digital creations, create music, print 3D items with the 3D printer, or solder electronics.  If you are curious, but new to these topics, come to any of the free classes in the Forge to learn how to use them.

N is for New materials

The library orders books, DVDs, and music months in advance of their release dates.  Once an item is ordered, it appears in the library collection as “On Order”.  Be one of the first to check out new materials by placing holds on “On Order” materials.  You can also request items for purchase by clicking on the “My Library” link on the online catalog and selecting “Purchase Suggestions.

O is for O’Neil Ford

O’Neil Ford is the renowned Texas architect who designed the Emily Fowler Central Library.  In 2009, a historical marker was dedicated at the Emily Fowler Central Library in Ford’s honor.  O’Neil Ford also designed the Denton Civic Center, Denton City Hall, and The Little Chapel in the Woods at TWU.  Read more about O’Neil Ford on the Humanities Texas: Texas Originals site.

P is for Pronunciator

Learn a new language with Pronunciator.  Select from over 80 languages.  Each language features learning courses for children, adults, and travelers.  You can also take part in live courses with a real instructor or participate in online conversation classes.

Q is for Quiet Room @ South Branch

The South Branch unveiled its new Quiet Room earlier this year.  Enjoy relaxing in comfortable lounge seating or working at study tables in this quiet environment.

R is for Reading

One of our favorite ways to promote reading, aside from providing all those books, is through our Summer Reading Club.  This year, the Summer Reading Club will become the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge.  The challenge is for all of Denton to read 1 million minutes.  The Summer Reading Challenge is for ALL ages.  The Summer Reading Challenge is a great way to encourage students to read during the summer months, for parents to model reading behavior, and for adults to keep up their reading skills too.

S is for StoryTime

All three branches offer StoryTime programs throughout the week.  Bring children, birth through 18 months, to Mother Goose Time and build infant and caregiver bonding through stories, songs, and activities.  The Baby & Toddler StoryTime is perfect for children ages 3 and younger.  It promotes literacy and caregiver bonding through books, songs, and fingerplays.  Toddler Time is a great way to promote literacy and social interaction using stories, songs, and toddler-appropriate activities.  StoryTime is an interactive class where children ages 1-5 use stories, songs, and puppets to build the early literacy skills that help them learn to read.

T is for Teens and Tweens

Each branch of the library has a collection of Teen Fiction, Teen Non-fiction, Teen Graphic Novels, Teen Audiobooks, and magazines for teens.  In addition, we have a variety of classes and events specifically for teens and tweens, ages 12-17, from gaming to crafts to anime to volunteering.

U is for USB & earbuds

The library sells USB drives and earbuds.  If you are working on a project and realize you need to save, visit the circulation desk where you can purchase a USB drive for $5.00 + tax.  If you need to watch a video, but forgot your earbuds, you can purchase a new set for $1.00 + tax.

V is for VHS/DVD converter

Do you have a stack of old VHS videotapes holding precious memories?  Now you can bring them to the Emily Fowler Central Library and convert them to DVDs.  The VHS/DVD conversion machine is available in the Special Collections Department.  Bring your blank writeable DVD and start moving those memories to a more current format.

W is for Wi-Fi

All three branches of the Denton Public Library provide free Wi-Fi access.  No password is needed.  Simply select the Denton Library Public Wi-Fi option in your network settings, read and accept the terms on the web page that pops up, and you are ready to conduct business, stream TV or movies, or surf the web.

X is for Xeriscape garden

You are invited to stroll through the North Branch xeriscape garden.  The garden features native plants that help conserve water.  Enjoy a family picnic on one of the stone benches.  If you find a plant you especially like, you can use the xeriscape plant guide hanging just inside the North Branch lobby.

Y is for You!!!

The library would not exist without you!  In the last year, you visited the library 522,592 times.  49,530 people attended classes and events at the library.  You checked out 1,201,378 items.  You asked 37,406 questions.  You volunteered 9,247 hours.  We thank you for your patronage and look forward to continuing to serve you and the Denton community.

Z is for Zinio

Access your favorite magazines online with Zinio.  You can download magazine issues to your PC, tablet or smartphone.  Download the Zinio for Libraries app from your app store.  Use your library card number to sign in and start downloading magazine issues.

Jennifer Bekker
North Branch Library

Wandering About Oakwood Cemetery

Gate

A few weeks ago I stopped at Oakwood Cemetery to take a few photographs. The sky was overcast, the weather balmy, (yes in February) and it just felt like a fitting day to visit a Cemetery. But Oakwood is more than just a place where people are buried. If there is any spot in Denton where one can get a feel for the breadth of the City’s history, it is this small cemetery tucked between a park, a neighborhood and an industrial area in Southeast Denton.

The cemetery was established in 1857 around the same time Denton was founded as the county seat. (There are a few burials that date before that time.) It was known for many years as the City Cemetery but in 1931 the name was changed to the Oakwood Cemetery.  Ann Cope provides a little history and some of the local lore surrounding the cemetery in the “Last Resting Place of Denton’s Pioneer Ancestry; Once Neglected, Now Beauty Spot of Grass, Flowers.” (DRC 3 OCT 1930)

In another article, “The Silent City and the Sleepers There” (DRC 10 July 1915) the author provides a well-written, if not sentimental, biography of a few of the many of pioneer settlers and early citizens of Denton buried in the cemetery. The State of Texas designated it a historical site with the placement of a marker in 1982. (Oakwood Marker Ded)

As I wandered the old part of cemetery I was looking for members of some of the African American families who are interred there. For many years this cemetery was their only option for a burial place in the City.  I found the headstone for Henry Maddox and his wife Charlotte, proprietors of the boarding house in Quakertown, and next to that a marker inscribed with the names of Mr. Maddox’s mother and sister. (Providing his mother’s name after she remarried and his sister’s married name, a gold mine for a genealogist!)

I was surprised to see how few headstones are still standing in the old part of the cemetery. The remaining headstones range from unreadable weathered wood markers to elaborate granite monuments. Headstones are easy prey for vandals and the ravages of time. It’s possible that some graves never had a marker. The DRC published an article by Keith Shelton, “Old Graveyard Tells Denton County History”  about the vandalism and decay of the headstones.(DRC 14 May 1967 1 1, DRC 14 May 1967 2)

There are over 4500 people interred at Oakwood Cemetery. If you would like to find out more about Oakwood Cemetery, and other cemeteries in Denton, visit the Genealogy and Local History Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library.

Sandstones

Laura Douglas
Emily Fowler Central Library

True Crime under the Magnifying Glass

ladykillerGreat “True Crime” books bring together a compelling story and a talented author. I have been a fan of this genre since my teens. Unfortunately, there are a lot of badly written “ripped from the headlines” true crime titles that are produced simply to make as much money as you can as quickly as possible. This has given some people a negative impression of these books. However, there are a lot of great true crime writers whose stories rival bestselling mystery and thriller novels. Only in these cases, every crazy detail is true. These are some of my favorites.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood is considered by many to be the grandfather of the “True Crime” genre. Novelist Truman Capote wrote about the true shocking murder of  four members of a Kansas farm family in 1959. The book retells the brutal death of the family and follows the investigation, the trial and execution of the perpetrators. In addition to Capote’s haunting prose, it is fascinating to watch the detectives follow clues in an era where forensic investigation was still in its infancy.

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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

If you want your true crime to also give you a history lesson Erik Larson’s stories are never a disappointment. The Devil in the White City, tells two parallel and very different stories that rotate from chapter to chapter. One is about the notorious and some would say “first” serial killer, H.H. Holmes and the other follows the completion of the 1893 World’s Fair. It was surprising and a testament to the skill of the author to find how well the two narratives work together.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kake Summersale.

In 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent is found murdered at his family manor in England. The country is scandalized and demands answers. Scotland Yard sends one of its best, Inspector Jonathan Whicher. Filled with twists and turns, this case would almost destroy him. This is a great read for those that like their mysteries deeply and thoroughly researched. The author looks at the crime from a number of different angles, explores the background of witnesses, discusses numerous newspaper accounts and considers other crimes in England that might have some relevance. If you like every detail explored, this book will work for you.

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Columbine by Dave Cullen

Ten years after the tragedy at Columbine High School, journalist Dave Cullen wrote what many considered the definitive book about what actually happened. Cullen takes a close look at many of the rumors that sprang up in the days after the shooting. Many of those rumors have been repeated for years as facts when the truth, which takes much longer to discover,  is much different. This award winning book is full of interviews and documents that shed new light on that dark day in April 1999. If you are interesting in looking for answers about Columbine that might give you a new perspective try A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold. This memoir looks at these tragic events through the eyes of one of the killer’s mother. She discusses her struggle to reconcile the monster that killed his classmates with the child she loved.

Mindhunter (1995) and Law and Disorder (2013) by John E. Douglas

John E. Douglas was one of the first criminal profilers for the FBI. He has written a number of books about the numerous investigations he participated in and has used his expertise to look at notorious cases (solved and unsolved). Douglas does not pull his punches when discussing the brutal and violent details of these crimes. His books are not for the faint of heart. He discusses what investigators look for when profiling a crime and compares what they were looking for to what was eventually found. John E. Douglas is a great read if you are a fan of Criminal Minds, Discovery ID or CSI.

83 Minutes: The Doctor, The Damage and the Shocking Death of Michael Jackson by Matt Richards

In late June 2009, the 24 hours news networks broke in with the shocking news about the death of Michael Jackson. In the months that followed an investigation would culminate with the arrest and later conviction of Jackson’s personal doctor for manslaughter. The story of his death is almost as strange and unconventional as his life. The author takes a look at the winding path that lead to this superstar’s death and if it was a crime or accident. Different readers may come to different conclusions about who was responsible for the singer’s death.

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The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule

Ann Rule is the queen of True Crime. All of her titles are worth reading. She writes with the skill of an investigative reporter but has a unique ability to humanize the victims who cannot speak for themselves. She is as focused on them as much as she is on the killers. I believe the most interesting of her titles is her first. In The Stranger Beside Me, she talks about the crimes of the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. In a shocking twist, Ann Rule worked with Bundy at a suicide hotline in Washington. As she was following the disappearances of young women across the state and considered writing about the case, she was sitting right next to their murderer, and she liked him.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter is another True Crime classic. It was written by the lead prosecutor of Charles Manson and his accomplices. Bugliosi has a great voice and obviously is writing about a case that he lived. If you are interested in courtroom drama of one of the “crimes of the century” this will give you a little bit of everything. This is a great read for fans of the Law and Order TV series.

Ladykiller by Donna Fielder

If you like to explore the dark side of your own hometown then Ladykiller is a must read. When Viki Lozano is found shot in her Denton County home, friends and authorities have a number of questions. Is it suicide or murder? Suspicious eyes fall on her husband, Denton police officer Bobby Lozano. An arrest does not come quickly. This story is full of local color, including a tenacious reporter that helped shine a light on this case when it was going cold. Plot twist: she ended up writing this book. Donna Fielder also wrote about another fascinating local crime in Let’s Kill Mom: Four Texas Teens and a Horrifying Murder Pact.

These are a few of my favorites.  Do you have a recommendations? Let us know in the comments.

~Kimberly – Emily Fowler Central Library