Weird Science

I have very little background in science.  I am, however, curious about the world.  Most of my questions arise as I’m doing simple, everyday tasks.  I wonder how air neutralizers work as I spray air freshener in a musty room.  I question why hair turns gray as we age when I look in the mirror.  I’m curious how batteries were invented—and why are the batteries at my house always dead?

Several years ago, I stumbled across the book Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.  Mary Roach is a science writer who is very upfront about the fact that she is not a scientist.  I loved how she addresses questions about how things work, why things are developed, and  how they are studied.  Her explanations are clear easy to understand.  She is willing to ask those “dumb” questions that we all have, like “What happens if an astronaut is sick while wearing a spacesuit?”  I find her books insightful and hilarious.

One of my favorite aspects of her research is that she is hands-on.  She backs everything up with plenty of research from science journals and scholarly articles. Ms. Roach actually goes to visit labs, training grounds, and other areas that are off-limits to most people.  Her interviews with scientists, researchers, businesses, and politicians are candid and she is willing to ask the uncomfortable questions.  She asked Jim Lovell, the Apollo 13 astronaut, if the dandruff and dead skin cells that shed, but have nowhere to go during space flight made it feel like a “snow globe” inside the space capsule.

She observes and often participates in testing and experiments.  In her latest book, Grunt: the Curious Science of Humans at War, she describes smelling the World War II nonlethal malodorant “Who me?” in great detail, giving detailed accounts of not only the physical outcome, but also her thoughts and emotions as she smelled the stink bomb.

If you have a curious mind, like to laugh, and don’t mind a few squeamish descriptions here and there, give Mary Roach’s books a try.

Jennifer Bekker
North Branch Library
gruntbonk gulp my-planet packing-for-marsspookstiff


David Bowie 1947 – 2016


David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

  1. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
  2. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
  3. Room At The Top by John Braine
  4. On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
  5. Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  7. City Of Night by John Rechy
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  10. Iliad by Homer
  11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  12. Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
  13. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
  14. Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
  15. Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  16. Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
  17. David Bomberg by Richard Cork
  18. Blast by Wyndham Lewis
  19. Passing by Nella Larson
  20. Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
  21. The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind
    by Julian Jaynes
  22. In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
  23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
  24. The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
  25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  26. Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
  27. The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
  28. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  29. Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
  30. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  32. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  33. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  34. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
  35. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  36. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  37. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
  38. Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
  39. The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
  40. McTeague by Frank Norris
  41. Money by Martin Amis
  42. The Outsider by Colin Wilson
  43. Strange People by Frank Edwards
  44. English Journey by J.B. Priestley
  45. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  46. The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
  47. 1984 by George Orwell
  48. The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
  49. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
  50. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
  51. Beano (comic, ’50s)
  52. Raw (comic, ’80s)
  53. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  54. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom
    by Peter Guralnick
  55. Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
  56. Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
  57. The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
  58. Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
  59. The Street by Ann Petry
  60. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  61. Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
  62. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
  63. The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
  64. Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
  65. The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
  66. The Bridge by Hart Crane
  67. All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
  68. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  69. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
  70. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  71. Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
  72. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
  73. Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
  74. Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
  75. Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson
    by Camille Paglia
  76. The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
  77. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  78. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  79. Teenage by Jon Savage
  80. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
  81. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
  82. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  83. Viz (comic, early ’80s)
  84. Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
  85. Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
  86. The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
  87. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
  88. Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont
  89. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  90. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler
  91. Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  92. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
  93. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  94. The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
  95. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  96. A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
  97. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
  98. In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
  99. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
  100. Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

If we do not have the title in the library catalog, we have linked to it’s record so that you can order it through Inter-Library Loan. This is a free service offered by the library so you can have access to books, CDs and DVDs from hundreds of libraries across the country.



Learning Never Stops

You might think that just because you are out of school, you don’t need to learn anything. Wrong! You learn new things every day, and the library is a natural place to learn and try new things—a classroom for the community.

The library is full of books and classes and videos to learn to things. Want to finally fix up that old Ford Mustang that has been sitting in your garage? Check out our online Chilton catalogs, which provides step by step instructions.

PlayWant to learn how to teach your child? Visit one of our many classes, or just stop by the children’s area and play. Did you know that play is one of the key aspects in a child’s learning and development? That’s right. A child’s job is to play. Play is how children learn new things and how they make sense of the world. Have you ever listened on your child’s conversation while they are playing? They are internalizing a conversation they have experienced, and are making it real by acting it out with their toys.


Want to enroll your children in some STEAM classes…but aren’t really sure where to start? Check out the many Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math classes the library has to offer for all ages. The Forge, at the North Branch Library, is full of fun technology, including a 3-D printers, Raspberry Pis, and Arduinos. The South Branch Library recently started a STEAM Ahead program, which will focus on different aspects of STEAM. This month we had a Lego Challenge: create something that floats, build a tall structure, and assemble a word out of Lego blocks.

Want to learn more about your family history? The Emily Fowler Library has an entire department devoted to genealogy and family history.

The Denton Public Library has a never-ending list of learning opportunities, so do as our blog says and “Check it out!”

Youth Librarian, South Branch Library

Favorite Halloween Memories

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.  I remember dressing up as a child and going trick-or-treating in my neighborhood with my brothers.  Now, my parents did not believe in spending money on costumes.  We usually had to DIY something, and this was back before DIY was cool.  My favorite go-to costumes were “Gypsy” or “Hobo.”  Both costumes were easy to make by raiding my parents closet.  Yes, I could find plenty of scarves, beaded necklaces, bracelets, and make-up for my gypsy-look from my mother.  And for the “Hobo,” there was this awesome old trench coat of my father’s that was wrinkled, worn and torn and, well, perfect.  Add a handkerchief bundle tied to a stick and I was ready to go.  I think I alternated between these two costumes a couple of years in a row.  There was one year when we were able to convince my mom to buy us amazing Halloween masks.  Imagine my joy in dressing in a black dress, black hat, and super ugly green witch mask.  I think I cackled all night long.

As an adult, I miss going trick-or-treating but I still love to dress up. Being a children’s librarian gives me many opportunities to dress up and I’m always looking for new costume ideas.  I think my new go-to look is “Pirate” with a vest, eye patch and stuffed parrot.


Imagine my happiness when I saw the book Monster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak.  In this picture book, Monster needs a costume for Halloween and he keeps changing his mind about which costume is perfect.  Cowboy, dancer, ninja?  Which one will he choose?  You will have to read the book to find out.  And then there is Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies by Melanie Watt, a tongue-and-cheek take on Halloween preparations with one of my favorite book characters Scaredy Squirrel.  You can find Monster Needs a Costume, Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween, and many more Halloween picture books at the Denton Public Library.  Come by the library and check out a Halloween-themed book.  And be sure to show off those costumes at Spooky StoryTime or any of the library’s Halloween programs.   And have a happy and safe Halloween!

Youth Service Librarian
Emily Fowler Central Library

Little Stories

nightingaleI recently completed the audiobook version of The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, a big story about France during WWII; but within, a smaller story of two sisters and the ways they survived the terrible deprivations while contributing to preserving kindness and humanity throughout.

One sister, brash and willful Isabelle, ends up escorting downed allied airmen over the Pyrenees Mountains to safety in Spain. This part is based on a real story. She delivers over 100 servicemen to freedom before she is captured and sent to Ravensbrook, a German POW camp for those who aided the enemy. Sister Vianne meanwhile, manages at her small farm in Carriveau, as a school teacher and mother to Sophie. As the war progresses, Vianne finds her own ways to resist the enemy by working to save Jewish children from deportation and certain death.

I have read many novels and nonfiction works about the WWII era. The idea of human perseverance in the face of such terrible cruelty and relentless hardship inspires me with admiration and awe. At the same time I also wonder about the Axis powers – what motivated them? How could human beings participate in such an evil plan? The whole conflict is a giant cautionary tale.
There have been many other conflicts and disasters throughout time, and sadly, there continues to be in many parts of the world. I have to wonder then, when I hear current voices describing the culture of the United States in terms like, “It’s the worst time in history,” or similar hyperbole, I have to wonder. Do we not know what the “worst time” really looks like?

The last chapter of The Nightingale culminates in a very satisfying end. The heroes of this story were the “powerless” French women left to fend for themselves during a time of unimaginable hardship. For years. Their lives took a dreadful turn and they made decisions that no person should ever have to face. The fact that they, and many other victims persevered at great cost fills me with hope and gratitude.

History provides us with perspective. To ignore it places us at risk at repeating the same mistakes. But in the grander scheme, it is the little stories that give life meaning. A world preserved with no human kindness and compassion is not much of a world. Read The Nightingale. Read a history book! And enjoy your life today. It could have turned out much differently but for the millions of little stories.

Terri Gibbs

Discovering Stephen King


I first encountered Stephen King’s work when I was about 11 years old. My dad would let us wander the used book stores he frequented and said we could pick out a couple. In the early 80s teen books as we now know them were non-existent. As usual, I wandered the adult stacks hoping for something that was not boring. There I found a battered copy of “Salem’s Lot” and thought, “Vampires are cool.” (I guess teens don’t change all that much.) I started reading it on the way home. It terrified me and yet I could not put it down. It was a dark and twisted world but the characters that inhabited it were very real. I worried about them and had trouble closing the book leaving them alone. Though I did put the book outside my bedroom door so it wouldn’t be too close when I slept. When I finished, I hoped he had written more…and was not disappointed. This blind date with a used book has led to a 30 year relationship that is still going strong.

I always browse the stacks of the library hoping for that moment of serendipity when I pick up a title (be it a book, CD or movie) and decide “why not?” only to find a new brilliant connection.

While Stephen King’s name is synonymous with horror he has dipped his toe (or ran his scalpel) through many different genres. If you are thinking of giving him a try here are some (but not all) of my favorites.
The Stand:

TheStandIs it really that shocking that the end of the world might start in a gas station in East Texas?

Most of the world is wiped out by a flu-like plague and the survivors try and find their place in a scary new world. The Stand contains a large cast of intriguing characters (good, evil and unknown) that would be right at home in George RR Martin’s Westeros, only instead of King’s Landing, the power struggle centers in Las Vegas. A dystopian nightmare decades ahead of it’s time.

The Dark Tower Series:

GunslingerSpeaking of epic fantasy…

This seven book series follows the Roland of Gilead, a heroic and tragic figure as he pursues the enigmatic “Man in Black” across the pages. A blockbuster otherworldly tale full of nods to many of Stephen King’s other works.

If you read the first book “The Gunslinger” early on and didn’t love it you might want to give it another try, King revised it in 2003 and it is now a start worthy of the series.

The Shining


When you think of the Shining, do you think of Jack Nicholson holding an axe and quoting Ed McMahon? If so, you are missing out.

A family snowed in at a deserted inn has a number of supernatural encounters. There is a line in this book that actually caused me to gasp, something that I rarely have happen during an entire horror movie.

Last year he came out with a very well-received and worthy sequel Doctor Sleep.



Have you ever wondered if you were dropped into a tragic moment in history and knew what was going to happen, how you would stop it, without being committed as a lunatic?

This is what happens when Jake Epping finds a way to travel back in time to the years before the Kennedy assassination. How would a regular person with no past change the future?

On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft


I’m sure people ask Stephen King all the time where he gets his ideas, what makes him so successful and how does he know so many ways to completely freak us out. He tries to answer some of these questions in “On Writing” which looks at his career and personal struggles, including the van accident that nearly took his life.

I have never met Mr. King. But as a lifelong fan I feel I know him through his words and the worlds he has created.

Though from time to time I do have to put one of his books in another room while I sleep. Just to be safe.

~Kimberly Wells

Emily Fowler Central Library

New Books in August! Put them on hold today.

X by GraftonTaming of the QueenIron Wolf


The following books will be released in August but are available in the catalog to put on hold.

LORD OF THE WINGS by Andrews, Donna

DECEPTIONS by Armstrong, Kelley


POWER SURGE by Bova, Ben


IRON WOLF by Brown, Dale

FRICTION by Brown, Sandra

THE BANGKOK ASSET by Burdett, John



DEVIL’S BRIDGE by Fairstein, Linda A.

THE DROWNED BOY by Fossum, Karin

FLOOD OF FIRE by Ghosh, Amitav

X by Grafton, Sue

THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN by Gregory, Philippa

DEADLY ASSETS by Griffin, W. E. B.

WOMAN WITH A SECRET by Hannah, Sophie

FOOL’S QUEST by Hobb, Robin


THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTER by Kellerman, Jonathan

DRAGONBANE by Kenyon, Sherrilyn

BROWN-EYED GIRL by Kleypas, Lisa

LAST WORDS by Koryta, Michael

SILVER LININGS : A Rose Harbor Novel by Macomber, Debbie

LONG UPON THE LAND by Maron, Margaret

CANDY CORN MURDER by Meier, Leslie

POINT BLANK by Michaels, Fern

THREE MOMENTS OF AN EXPLOSION : stories by Mieville, China

SECONDHAND SOULS by Moore, Christopher

KEEPER’S REACH by Neggers, Carla

ALERT by Patterson, James


HOSTAGE TAKER by Pintoff, Stefanie

THE LAST TIME I SAW HER by Robards, Karen

IN THE DARK PLACES by Robinson, Peter

TRAP by Tanenbaum, Robert

A PATTERN OF LIES by Todd, Charles

GRAND OPENING by Weber, Carl/ Pete, Eric


WHO DO YOU LOVE by Weiner, Jennifer