Mooresville Public Library

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Friday, August 27, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #68: The Cloak of Dreams, by Béla Balázs

Mooresville Public Library (Mooresville, Indiana) presents a book trailer featuring The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales, by Béla Balázs; illustrations by Mariette Lydis; translated by Jack Zipes (Princeton Univ. Press, 2010).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

MPL Composer Website Launch

Danny Buckley, volunteer composer for Mooresville Public Library (Mooresville, Indiana), has launched a new website. The URL is:

(You may need to copy-and-paste this URL into your web browser's address line, if the hyperlink is broken.) Danny's website includes audio files of his original compositions (to which you may listen and share, free-of-charge), as well as biographical information, resume, and contact information. He is available to compose original music for hire.

Danny is a 2010 graduate of Millikin University (Decatur, Illinois) and holds a B.A. in Music Business.

If you have enjoyed any of our 90-plus videos and book trailers posted to the library's YouTube Channel (, the thanks should go to Danny. His original musical compositions, drawn from over a half-dozen CDs of his music, bring our videos to life. We could not have done this work without his invaluable assistance.

MPL Video Productions

MPL Readers Advisory: "Dear Reader" Book News Service Now Available

Mooresville Public Library (MPL) (Mooresville, Indiana) now subscribes to the Dear Reader Book News website. Patrons may sign-up free-of-charge for newsletters providing book news (and new releases) in various genres. Check it out by following the URL below (you may need to copy-and-paste the URL into your web browser's address line):

You will find a tremendous amount of readers' advisory information through this new subscription service. Best of all, since the library pays for the service, it is free to you, our patron.

Because of this new online service, the library will be restructuring this blog, which performs a redundant function. We will continue to announce our new book trailers and videos from our YouTube Channel (, and our previously posted articles will still be available on this blog for your perusal.

Thank you for reading!

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Check out my MPL Indiana Room blog at:

MPL Video: "Put Your Nose in a Book"

Mooresville Public Library (Mooresville, Indiana) presents a new video entitled "Put Your Nose in a Book." We welcome your comments and feedback and hope you enjoy it.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Friday, August 20, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #67: Unseen Worlds, by Kate Adams

Like most kids from my generation, I was heavily influenced by television. Adults simultaneously warned us that TV would rot our brains while allowing us to spend hours parked in front of the mid-20th century's "electronic baby-sitter." This was nothing new--our parents' generation had collectively sat before that early 20th century marvel, the radio--but, then again, there were distinctions.

Radio was "theater of the mind." You could hear the actors, music, sound effects, announcers, and advertising copy, but you had to picture it all in your mind. That required real imagination. Although New Yorker columnist James Thurber was the voice of doom when describing the debilitating effects of radio upon the nation's youth, the generations that came of age during radio's heyday had more powerful imaginations than youngsters weaned upon the visual household medium. Television, then, sapped the strength of our young minds. We were slaves to what we saw on the tube.

Or so we were often told by our elders. It was the type of broad generalization that the older generation frequently tossed out to us kids. There was some truth there, but not all encompassing. Admittedly, TV did provide visual imagery that enabled viewers to skip the mental step that radio listening required, but this hardly meant that kids of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were fantasy-impaired. All the kids I knew had wild, free-roaming imaginations, and television merely gave us more new and interesting fuels to fire our fictional play worlds. Mine were populated with many fabricated people, who seemed quite real during our games (I still remember their names I invented), but who were mere fantasies. Of course, we all knew the difference between reality and fantasy. That was the fun of it, because it afforded an escape from the adult traumas that surrounded us children growing up in occasionally dysfunctional families.

Once adulthood devours us, we lose touch with those childhood fantasy skills that we worked so hard to nurture as kids. Perhaps adults who are interested in being better parents (and educators) would benefit from Unseen Worlds: Looking Through the Lens of Childhood, by Kate Adams, Ph.D. (Jessica Kingsley Publ., 2010). Our book trailer below summarizes the book's approach.

Learning to encourage and embrace fantasy building in children's play will enliven adults by enabling them to re-engage dreams and imaginations without looking like idiots (i.e., still playing with kids' toys). Playing with children gives adults a license to re-enter their childhoods. Adams' book helps us understand how to return to our playful roots.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

MPL YouTube Channel Playlists: 10 Newest Videos

Mooresville Public Library (Mooresville, Indiana) now has a playlist on our YouTube Channel featuring our 10 latest video uploads. We appreciate your viewership and welcome your comments and feedback.

Bill Buckley
Indiana Room Librarian

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MPL Teen Council Video Playlist Now on MPL YouTube Channel

Mooresville Public Library (Mooresville, Indiana) has a YouTube playlist featuring videos created by members of the MPL Teen Council. Watch for new videos as they become available.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

MPL Book Trailer #66: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

In the summer of 1862, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson accompanied Reverend Robinson Duckworth in a rowboat outing on the Thames River. Joining them on the trip were Lorina, Alice, and Edith Liddell (ages 13, 10, and 8, respectively). To relieve the girls' boredom, Rev. Dodgson regaled the passengers with a rollicking adventure tale featuring a girl named Alice.

Three years later, Rev. Dodgson published the story using his pen name, Lewis Carroll, under the title Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Today most people know the tale by its shortened name, Alice in Wonderland. Our book trailer below gives a brief synopsis.

Generations of scholars and students of children's literature have scoured Carroll's masterpiece to decipher his many puns and underlying social commentaries. Twentieth century New Yorker essayist James Thurber held the firm opinion that the novel is nothing more than inspired silliness. It was fun for fun's sake, Thurber felt. In any event, most of the mid-19th century literary allusions are lost on modern readers, and so it makes sense to follow Thurber's advice and enjoy the book for the considerable laughs and zaniness it delivers. Adults and children should read and enjoy it. It is a classic in every sense, which you, like Alice, should find "curiouser and curiouser."

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #65: Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma, by Myra Shackley

It is easy to discount alleged sightings of primeval primates poking about in the 21st century when one glimpses the carnival atmosphere surrounding "tourist traps" littered across the American Northwest. In the field of cryptozoology, there are always people looking to take advantage of tourists wandering about in hope of spotting errant monsters and such like.

However, when one considers the wealth of sightings from around the world and across centuries, many of which derive from completely reliable and unimpeachable witnesses, one must at least maintain an open mind when investigating whether or not "Bigfoot," Sasquatch, Yeti, or Abominable Snowmen (to employ some of the more well-known names) are myths or actual living beings.

Anthropologist Myra Shackley, Ph.D., presents a new wrinkle to the mystery of the strange, hairy, primate "beasts" observed in remote locations in North America and across Asia. Could these "creatures" actually be surviving members of the Neanderthal branch of humanity, thought extinct for over 30,000 years? Our book trailer gives an inkling of Dr. Shackley's worldwide study of the subject:

In her book, Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (Thames & Hudson, 1983), Dr. Shackley marshals evidence from around the globe, investigating eyewitness reports from Siberia, central Asia, China, Tibet, and North America. Some of the animals observed, such as the Yeti, were probably descendants of the great ape Gigantopithecus, theorizes the author. This may explain many Bigfoot (Sasquatch) sightings as well, but it does not cover the entire field of case histories. More human in appearance than the larger, more apelike Bigfoot variety, the Almas and Chuchunaa, found in various Asian environments, could quite conceivably be descended from Neanderthals, or some hybrid resulting from interbreeding of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans--us). Keep in mind that Neanderthals were also human beings--as human as you or I am--and there is substantial evidence that the two branches of humanity interbred throughout history (this may explain certain phenotypical characteristics of certain Asian and Eastern European peoples).

Sound like racial profiling? Humans have different physical appearances--that much is obvious--but looks are only skin-deep, as the saying goes. The bottom line is: humans are humans. Any superficial distinctions are inconsequential in life's larger scheme. But people especially cringe when they hear the suggestion that Neanderthals--a supposedly stupid, ineffectual, freakish deviation of humanity--mated with the branch of hominids from which we "modern humans" arose. Calling Neanderthals dim-witted and inferior is a completely erroneous characterization. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis had brain capacities as large as, or larger than, Homo sapiens sapiens, and there is ample evidence that Neanderthals were intelligent, socially adept, and sophisticated tool makers and hunters. There is some proof suggesting that their psychic awareness was vastly superior to modern humans. These were people who deserve our respect--especially since our ancestors (nearly?) exterminated them--and Dr. Shackley is willing to give the evidence a fair hearing. Considering the ridicule that the author has undoubtedly endured from establishment anthropology regarding her research, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and recommend her book for your perusal. I read it years ago, and I was impressed by her scholarship and objectivity. It is worthy of your serious consideration, and it is a fun read, to boot.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Monday, August 16, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #64: Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell

Back in my college teaching days, I overheard a student complain that her English literature professor assigned the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. "[The year] 1984 has come and gone," she observed, "and none of those things happened."

The student's comment illustrates the reason the book was assigned reading. She was incorrect in assuming that Orwell's novel was a historical prediction. Instead, Orwell selected a year that, for him at the time of writing, was in the future (the novel was first published in 1949), and he choose 1984 because it was approximately the same amount of time in which two major totalitarian regimes had risen to the heights of power and influence (Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union). It was not intended as a prediction of what the world would be like in the year 1984. Instead, it is a cautionary tale of a future dystopian society, based upon the oppressive governments that Stalin and Hitler (and their ilk) oversaw.

Our book trailer below summarizes the plot:

The college student I overheard was also incorrect about whether or not some of the totalitarian conditions had arisen since Nineteen Eighty-Four was first published in 1949. Here are some examples:

  • Political manipulation of mass media to propagandize and misinform the public (see, e.g., Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky [Pantheon ed., 2002] for a battery of illustrations, many of which date from the 1960s);

  • The omnipresence of television in American culture (by the 1970s), albeit not for surveillance purposes but to influence and manipulate public awareness and opinion;

  • The use of deceptive language (Newspeak) (see, e.g., The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore, by William Lutz [Perennial ed., 1997], which was the subject of one of our earlier book trailers and readers' advisory blogs);

  • Rewriting of history to reflect the ruling power's political and socioeconomic agenda (see, e.g., Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen [Touchstone ed., 2007], which was also the subject of one of our earlier book trailers and readers' advisory blogs); and
  • Censorship (see, e.g., One Hundred Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature, by Nicholas Karolides [Checkmark Books, 1999]; for an excellent novel about censorship, see Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury [Ballantine ed., 1987], which was also the subject of one of our earlier book trailers and readers' advisory blogs).

There are, of course, many further examples one could dredge from post-World War II history to the present. Suffice to say that Orwell's terrifying vision, although fictional, has appeared in actuality throughout the 20th, and into the 21st, centuries. As long as there are political factions that gain and abuse power against their citizenry, the populace must be cognizant of the dangers to their freedoms (where they still exist) and must be vigilant in protecting them. That is Orwell's fundamental theme, and it is why his books, including 1984, should continue to be read by anyone interested in personal freedom and governmental oppression.

Bill Buckley

MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Saturday, August 14, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #63: Poltergeist, by Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson has spent decades studying the paranormal. His books on the subject are exhaustively researched, clearly written, and analytically sound. In a field fraught with light-weight, superficial, poorly reasoned presentations, Wilson's books have always been reliably substantive, displaying high levels of scholarship and critical thinking. What's more, Wilson delivers avalanches of evidence and presents a persuasive case.

Each of these qualities is present in the second edition of Wilson's book, Poltergeist: a Classic Study in Destructive Hauntings (Llewellyn, 2009). The author presents his usual encyclopedic treatment of case histories and historical records. He examines poltergeist phenomena from multiple angles, considering various explanatory theories. Our book trailer gives a brief summary:

Readers new to paranormal activities generally (or poltergeist phenomena particularly) will have little difficulty sifting through this extensive examination, as Wilson explains ideas with remarkable lucidity. Those more immersed in psychical research will benefit from his attention to detail and engaging writing style. This is a classic study in every respect, and anyone interested in poltergeists will be intrigued and informed by Wilson's exploration of the topic.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MPL Readers' Advisory: Amazing Resumes, 2nd ed., by Jim Bright & Joanne Earl

Know your audience.

Allow me to indulge in a somewhat lengthy personal example. I was once representing a client who had contracted food poisoning from a restaurant that had prepared meals in unsanitary conditions. My client, who was the plaintiff in the lawsuit, had incurred substantial medical expenses, missed a significant amount of work, and had endured physical and emotional pain and suffering as a consequence of the defendant restaurant's negligence.

The evidentiary difficulty was proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff's illness was caused by the defendant's failure to use reasonable care in preparing the food that made plaintiff sick. Even though my client became ill within a day of eating there, this, by itself, did not establish a causal link to the restaurant's negligent food preparation. Our star witness was a former employee who had worked in the restaurant's kitchen. She testified that, on the day the plaintiff ate at the restaurant, she had seen other staff preparing chicken, meat, and vegetables on the same cutting surfaces without washing them.

This established a prima facie case of negligence, but defense counsel was prepared to rebut the evidence. Admittedly, we had not established an "open-and-shut" case. However, I knew my audience. I spent a considerable amount of time having the witness describe precisely how the different foods were prepared on the cutting surfaces. The jury and the judge heard in exquisite detail how an ideal environment for cross-contamination occurred.

Defense counsel raised a few anticipated objections to this drawn-out testimony, which the judge overruled. This was hardly surprising; I knew the judge was obsessive-compulsive with a severe germ phobia. He was grossed out by our witness' description of the restaurant's kitchen conditions, and so he was receptive to admitting our limited evidence that ultimately persuaded the jury to find in plaintiff's favor.

I had an advantage over defense counsel, who was an out-of-town lawyer from a "high power" firm from the state capital. I, on the other hand, was practicing in my own county's court system before a judge with whom I was personally familiar, thanks to local bar functions and social encounters. It pays to know the type of person who is ruling on your case.

The lesson, then, is to know your audience, and you will be successful.

This is as true in employment applications as it is in my courtroom experience. Each resume a job applicant submits should be adapted to the particular prospective employer, emphasizing the applicant's strengths for that specific job.

In the book Amazing Resumes: What Employers Want to See, and How to Say It, by Jim Bright and Joanne Earl (2nd ed., JIST Publishing, 2009), the authors emphasize how to write your resumes to motivate employers to hire you. They detail the psychology of the selection process and "impression management," and the book guides readers to tailor job applications to emphasize their skills and experience relevant to particular positions. A host of examples and illustrations are provided, with step-by-step instructions.

This book is best suited for beginners to the job-search process--recent college or high school graduates, for instance--but it can be helpful for "experienced" workers as well. The insights the authors provide should improve anyone's ability to navigate the treacherous waters of job searching, especially with our struggling economy.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Monday, August 9, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #62: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

I was fourteen when I first read I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. First published in 1954, the book was adapted for the silver screen at least three times: The Last Man on Earth (1964), starring Vincent Price; The Omega Man (1971), starring Charlton Heston; and I Am Legend (2007), starring Will Smith. It was the first Matheson book I had read, although I had previously seen several of his teleplays written for the TV series The Twilight Zone (1959-1964). Particularly frightening had been Matheson's episode, Terror at 20,000 Feet, starring William Shatner. Matheson built his early reputation by writing science fiction and horror stories, but he wrote across many genres, including romantic fantasy classics as Bid Time Return (1975), which was retitled Somewhere in Time following the success of the motion picture adaptation, and What Dreams May Come (1978). (What Dreams May Come, according to the author, was entirely based upon factual research, but that is better left for another blog article.)

The basic plot line to I Am Legend is fairly easily summarized in our book trailer below:

Matheson significantly influenced many popular horror writers, such as Stephen King, who said that Matheson was his biggest influence as a writer. But it would be a mistake to label Matheson a Sci-Fi/Horror author. More than anything else, Matheson wrote about human psychology, concentrating upon the dark, dissonant emotions. He used ordinary characters facing extraordinary circumstances. These were people with whom readers could readily relate; their fears and disorientation were easily understood and assimilated from the written word. Matheson's storyteller's gift placed the characters' emotions directly inside readers' consciousness. It was often disconcerting, occasionally terrifying, but always intriguing.

I Am Legend is a psychological tale of extreme loneliness in the face of a post-apocalyptic world populated by the undead. Although Matheson calls his protagonists vampires, they are more like zombies; in fact, modern zombie literature owes much to Matheson's descriptions, and "zombie movie" producers like George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead [1968]) are indebted to Matheson's book (and its 1964 screen adaptation, The Last Man on Earth) for creating the modern zombie prototype.

For better or worse, Matheson employed the vampirism motif, and so we must take it as we find it. His main character, Robert Neville, exercises the traditional strategies to extinguish his bloodthirsty assailants (wooden stake and mallet, for instance). Neville endures the loneliest life imaginable--he is the last living human on earth (or so it seems), with the balance of humanity reduced to zombie-like vampirism due to a worldwide pandemic--and Matheson delivers the impact of this powerfully by examining Neville's daily routines couched in a series of flashbacks to provide back story. Neville's sense of isolation is palpable, and we are shown a dramatic, intimate psychological study. The novel's conclusion turns this isolation on its head and provides substantial social commentary upon which readers may ruminate.

I Am Legend has been favorably compared with other great "human isolation" novels, such as Robinson Crusoe (1719), by Daniel Defoe, whose title character finds himself castaway for 28 years on a remote tropical island, and who faces, among other dangers, cannibals intent upon his consumption. I rate Matheson's tale the superior of the two, although this probably reveals my 20th century English language preference more than differences in writing style, plot development, and characterization between the authors. But I make no apologies. Matheson is a favorite writer because his "horror" works make the reader squirm over the characters' anxieties and frightening experiences. That's a safe way to encounter fear--vicariously--and that's why Matheson is such a joy to read.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Friday, August 6, 2010

MPL Teen Council Book Trailer #1: The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (Jules Feiffer, illus.)

As part of our "cavalcade of local talent," we are pleased to present a book trailer created by "Hudfy 668," who is a member of the library's teen council. The featured book is The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (illustrated by Jules Feiffer).

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian

Thursday, August 5, 2010

MPL Book Trailer #61: "The Treatment Trap," by Rosemary Gibson & Janardan Prasad Singh

I spent the first three months of my life living in a cracked incubator in a hospital maternity ward. I received round-the-clock care, for which I am eternally grateful. My parents brought me home on their wedding anniversary, which had been, coincidentally, my projected birth date while I was in utero. Sometime later, my parents received the hospital bill for my extended stay.

Guess how much prenatal care, delivery, and three months of continuous infant hospitalization cost in 1958?

Give up? My parents paid $1,244 for the lot. In 2010 dollars, adjusting for inflation, that's $9,459.17, according to Dollar ( How much would a similar hospital stay cost today? Using a conservative figure (average ordinary hospital stay at $420 per day) over a period of ninety days would equal $37,800, or about four times the 2010 dollar value of my 1958 intensive care treatment, delivery costs, and my mother's prenatal care.

Of course, if you or anyone in your family has incurred even moderate medical expenses in the United States today, you already know how deeply the cash has been carved from your pocketbook. If you have decent health insurance, then you probably weathered the costs, but for many of us, insurance benefits are limited or nonexistent. This has created much concern about the current precarious state of American health care, and publishers have promptly provided a battery of well-researched, articulate books on the subject.

But there is much more to the health care crisis than just cost. Several books address the increasing problem of unnecessary medical treatments, procedures, tests, and prescriptions, all of which enrich the pharmaceutical and health care industries but deplete patient resources with questionable benefits to health. In The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It (Ivan R. Dee, 1st ed., 2010), Rosemary Gibson, former Vice President of the Economic and Social Research Institute, and Janardan Prasad Singh, a World Bank economist, explore the topic in depth. Reviewers have called the work "compelling" and "a wake-up call for Americans." Our book trailer below provides a brief summary of the book's focus.

American health care is a sensitive issue, but if you live in the United States, you are bound to incur health care needs and expenses sometime. Educating oneself about the relevant issues seems prudent indeed. Gibson and Singh's books is one, among many others, that should provide valuable information.

Bill Buckley
MPL Indiana Room Librarian