Into the Beautiful North: An Unexpected Perspective

by Ann B.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
El proyecto NEA Big Read es una iniciativa del National Endowment for the Arts (el Fondo Nacional para las Artes de Estados Unidos) en cooperación con Arts Midwest.

What do you think of when you hear “book club”?  Middle aged women discussing the latest literary fiction or, maybe chick lit, novel, while drinking wine of course.  Or maybe you think of retirees, discussing the latest John Grisham or C.J. Box novel.  You probably don’t think of inmates discussing the plot line of any novel; much less bring up the plot device of “the hand of God” also known as “Deus ex machina”.  But that is what we have been experiencing through our partnership with the Penitentiary of New Mexico for our Big Read of Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North

It has been, in a word, fantastic.

Prison book clubs are not incredibly new but they are not necessarily prevalent in many facilities.  There are many things to consider: 

  • the topic of the book
  • its availability in paperback (hardcover books are not allowed)
  • volunteer training and orientation
  • approval from facility leadership

We have met for the past three Tuesdays via video conferencing for a lively discussion of Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North.  Roseanna Andrade, the PNM librarian, has wonderfully led us through three-quarters of the book. Our group includes six Santa Fe Public Library librarians and six prison inmates along with Roseanna. 

Ryan, Virgilio, Joshua, Carlos, Larenzo, and Richard are active and engaged participants.  Their interests include science fiction/fantasy, adventure, mystery, self-help, philosophy, and history.  Their favorite characters include Aria Stark, Lisbeth Salander, Teresa Mendoza, Roland Deschain and others.  Some are from the Southwest and are familiar with the border area that combines New Mexico, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.  Others have no experience with the notion of border crossing beyond what they see and hear on TV.  Diverse backgrounds make for great discussion.

However diverse their background, finding common ground in Urrea’s book is not difficult for them or for us.  If you have not read the book yet, maybe this will inspire you to check it out from the library.  Or if you have read it, thethoughts and insights from these men may shine a different light or give you a different perspective.

Also, spoiler alert. . .

One of the first topics that came up was the idea of the grand quest. Two of the men mentioned they were reading or re-reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a 14-book series with questing and traveling at its core.  The questing theme is found in almost all literature.  Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces explores this concept in depth. We are all searching for something, aren’t we?   Our main character, Nayeli, leads the group of four on a quest to bring seven strong men back to save their town.  This, of course, turned our first discussion to the movie The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner, which inspired Nayeli to embark on this quest.  The consensus is the 1960 version was better than the 2016 remake.  But, the first original, The Seven Samurai, is a classic. 

The discussion moves towards some hard questions.  Are there any good men in the story?  Matriarchal society versus machismo culture was mentioned, as the character, La Osa, is a strong and fierce woman. The inmates definitely picked up on the fact that all the men have left the small town leaving it defenseless and ripe for the picking by drug cartels.  One of our participants confirmed that this happens frequently.  This is not a made up plot line to move a story along.  Drug cartels take over the small towns when the young and able-bodied men head north. So, again, where are the good men?  Finding partners for themselves is as much a part of the quest  as saving the town.

In our three sessions, so many new perspectives and ideas have been brought forth.  With only one more to go, I am anxious to see where it leads.  Will we discuss the Dump metaphor?  The Dump representing disposable people?  But also representing making something good out of someone else’s trash like the couple that helps the group and feeds them in Tijuana?  Or maybe the idea of divine providence will pop up again? 

What about home?  Where is your home? Is it in you?  Do you make a home wherever you end up?  Or, what reminds us of home?  A smell, a sound? 

And what about our expectations?  The dream of going north versus the reality of the experience.  The reality of thieves, deportation, tear gas, and assault outweighs the kindness experienced through a simple meal.  Our discussion on kindness was intense.  A couple of participants were concerned that the group wasn’t experience real kindness as there were ulterior motives involved.  True kindness is seen as selflessness and sacrifice.  It must be altruistic. 

In reading this book, we may forget that three of our main characters are teenagers.  They still have a lot of growing to do.  Roseanna mentioned, and we all agreed, that a significant amount of growing up is going on.  But they don’t just grow up during this experience, they grow through it.  And doesn’t that just sum up all of our life experiences. 

The beauty of books and book clubs, the experience of a shared discussion, is that it brings to mind our similarities as well as our differences.  As I said earlier, our group is a wonderfully diverse group including people with a range of experience, ages, and ethnicities.  Yet we all find common ground either in the characters, the setting, the plot, or the plot device.  I hope you have the opportunity to share this experience too.

National Library Week

by Ann B.

“To ask why we need libraries at all, when there is so much information available elsewhere, is about as sensible as asking if roadmaps are necessary now that there are so very many roads.”

Jon Bing (1944-2014. Norwegian writer and law professor at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law)

As we come to the end of National Library Week, we are so grateful for our libraries and library staff.

Libraries are a place of belonging, a place to find something about yourself or any other topic in which you are interested. And even with all the resources available on the internet, the library is increasingly important to all communities.

Speaking personally, I usually get two responses when I tell people I am a librarian. 
“Really?  That’s so cool!  I love reading.  It must be so nice to sit and read all day long.”  For the record, I don’t get to read all day long; most librarians do not get to do this.  We do spend time reading and reviewing titles but we are pretty busy otherwise.
The other response is “Do people still use the library?” which of course I answer with a resounding “YES!” 

In honor of National Library Week, below is a short list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, centered on libraries and librarians.

This is one of my favorites in that it is a very good read. That being said, it is the factual account of every librarian’s nightmare. The Library Book by Susan Orlean chronicles the fire that ripped through the Central Library in Los Angeles, California in 1986.  Over 400,000 books were consumed in the fire with another 700,000 being destroyed. 

The New Public Library: design innovation for the twenty-first century by R. Thomas Hille.

This gorgeous book discusses the historical architecture of libraries and new modern designs.  An examination of how library buildings have changed due to changing communities and services, I found this book inspiring and hopeful.  Libraries, as an essential part of any community, are adjusting to new services and opportunities which should be reflected in their buildings.  It’s not just about the books, but about the information and access we provide.

The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Guillaume de Laubier.

A book to inspire your wanderlust, the images in this book are too beautiful to describe.  Twenty-Three libraries from around the world are explored visually and historically.  Small and large libraries, public and academic, are detailed with gorgeous photos and descriptions. 

The Library Book by Thomas R. Schiff.

Yes, this has the same title as Orlean’s but definitely happier content. Duplicate title besides, this book “beautifully captures the shifting architectural styles and missions of the library in sweeping 360-degree panoramas–from the very earliest American libraries to the modernist masterpieces of Louis I. Kahn and others.”


For the fiction readers, there are many, many stories centered on libraries and librarians.  If Cozy Mysteries are your thing, we’ve got you covered.  Fantasy?  Check.  Historical fiction? Yep. 

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman is the first book in a series of seven, so far. “One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction… Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities.” I mean, spies and librarians, how could you go wrong?

Another library-related fantasy is The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. This is truly a winding tale described as “a timeless love story set in a secret underground world–a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.”

If you like cozy mysteries, check out (pun intended) The Spook in the Stacks by Eva Gates or Murder Past Due by Miranda James. ( Like most modern libraries, we do not have late fees.  So, if you’ve been worried about returning late books, don’t!  ) Most librarians are invariably curious which of course makes for great amateur sleuth characters.

A couple of newer titles are The Giver of Stars: A Novel by Jojo Moyes and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: a novel by Kim Michele Richardson. Interestingly enough, both of these books were written in 2019 and center around Eleanor Roosevelt’s Pack Horse Library Project. Both novels take place in 1930s Depression Era Kentucky and explore the women who took on this heroic endeavor.


We love being part of and serving the Santa Fe community.  I hope these books inspire you to share your love of libraries with your friends and neighbors.  We are still working for you during this time.  You are still able to place holds on our website or phone.  You can pick up your items during our curbside hours at all three branches.  And, of course, you can return items 24/7 at our outdoor drops.  We love serving our neighbors and we want everyone to have access to our collection which is really your collection! 

For more information on our interim services or to browse our catalog, visit www.santafelibrary.org. Information can also be found on our e-resources, digital library, author events, and our Big Read.

St. Patrick’s Day

by Ann B.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Santa Fe! The staff at the library wish you a lovely day full of friends, family, maybe some yummy treats, and, of course, a few good books.

Some of us got into the spirit of the day as well. Enjoy the pictures of staff showing off their spot of green. And, don’t worry, no pinching is allowed for the lack of green-ness!


Cookbooks

Kevin Dundon’s modern Irish food : more than 100 recipes for easy comfort food by Kevin Dundon. These recipes look amazing. I’ve made soda bread a few times . . . and now I have to make more.

Real Irish food : 150 classic recipes from the old country by David Bowers. “Real Irish food is brown soda bread so moist it barely needs the yolk-yellow butter; fragrant apple tarts with tender, golden crusts; rich stews redolent of meaty gravy and sweet carrots; crisp-edged potato cakes flipped hot from a skillet directly onto the plate. Forget meatloaf or mac and cheese–this stuff is the original comfort food.” While there is no way I will ever give up mac and cheese (especially if it’s homemade), apple tarts are always welcome.

An Irish country cookbook by Patrick Taylor. If you’re a fan of Taylor’s Irish County series, this cookbook is for you. Not only does it have 150+ recipes, it also includes 10 short stories featuring his characters.

Biographies

The Immortal Irishman: the Irish revolutionary who became an American hero by Timothy Egan. “From the National Book Award-winning and best-selling author Timothy Egan comes the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishman in nineteenth-century America. The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America.”

Angela’s ashes: a memoir by Frank McCourt. “Angela’s Ashes , imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic. “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland.”

Teacher man: a memoir also by Frank McCourt. “Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write “An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God”), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!). McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story to paper.”

My father left me Ireland : an American son’s search for home by Michael Brendan Dougherty. “The child of an Irish man and an Irish-American woman who split up soon after he was born, Michael Brendan Dougherty grew up with an acute sense of absence. He loved his mother but longed for his father, who only occasionally returned from Ireland for visits. He was happy enough in America, but desperately wanted the sense of cultural belonging that his Irish half-siblings seemed to enjoy . . . [H]e began to study Gaelic. He buried himself in Irish history and learned old songs to sing to his daughter. Most significantly, he began writing letters to his father about what he remembered, what he missed, and what he longed for, realizing along the way that his longings were shared by many of his generation. These letters would become this book. Many Americans today, of all backgrounds, lack a clear sense of cultural heritage or even a vocabulary for expressing this lack. And as the national conversation about identity becomes increasingly polarized, people tend to avoid talking about their roots altogether. In these deeply felt and fascinating letters, Dougherty offers a new way for all of us to think about who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going.”

Fiction

St. Patrick’s Day murder: a Lucy Stone mystery by Leslie Meier. Something slightly more light-hearted. . .

The ninth hour by Alice McDermott. “– a powerfully affecting story spanning the twentieth century of a widow and her daughter and the nuns who serve their Irish-American community in Brooklyn.”

Until the next time: a novel by Kevin Fox. “For Sean Corrigan the past is simply what happened yesterday, until his twenty-first birthday, when he is given a journal left him by his father’s brother Michael–a man he had not known existed. The journal, kept after his uncle fled from New York City to Ireland to escape prosecution for a murder he did not commit, draws Sean into a hunt for the truth about Michael’s fate. Sean too leaves New York for Ireland, where he is caught up in the lives of people who not only know all about Michael Corrigan but have a score to settle.”


I hope you enjoyed this quick list of Irish flavored books! Maybe you’ve been to Ireland, want to go to Ireland, or just want to cook some Irish food (which you can share with us), make sure you explore everything Irish. You can find more on our online catalog, santafelibrary.org.

Quit Lit

by Callie S.

The season of Lent began on February 17th and is generally a time of reflection and sacrifice.  Although historically observed by Christians, many secular individuals have joined in the Lenten holiday, which is commemorated by choosing to go without one of life’s pleasures for some 40 plus days. Unsurprisingly, alcohol is one of the main things people choose to forego.

Whether you consider yourself a moderate drinker or a bit of a lush, it’s an excellent time to flex your sober muscles. Quit lit, a genre about people giving up primarily drugs and alcohol, is a good way to help you stick to your Lenten goals. Instead of reaching for that glass of wine, pick up one of these instead.    

Unwasted:  My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Scoblic.  This is the first quit lit book I ever read. I loved Scoblic’s glamorous life as a writer in D.C. and that made her inevitable fall and redemption that much more rewarding to read. Scoblic is one of the many sober people I’ve read about who become long distance runners as well, a commonality I find particularly fascinating.

This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness and Change Your Life by Annie Grace.  Grace explores how we become addicted and what alcohol does in the brain. Even more importantly, Grace gives those struggling with alcohol addiction the tools to understand on a cognitive level that alcohol does nothing for us. She takes a lot of her research from Allan Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, but builds on her own experiences with alcohol. She hints in the beginning that you can moderate after reading her book, but by the book’s end you find out that no, you really can’t, according to Grace.

Quit Like a Woman: the Radical Choice Not to Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker.  Whitaker not only talks her own personal struggles with alcohol and the biology of addiction, she also explores how women have been targeted by “big alcohol.” I especially enjoyed her thoughts on AA. She goes against the grain of “one day at a time” by substituting her personal empowering statement of “never question the decision.” This book was the most unique and “radical” book on sobriety I’ve read.

We are the Luckiest: the Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen.  McKowen is probably the most gifted author on the list and the beauty she finds on the other side of alcohol is remarkable. Of course, the ugliness in her life while drinking is probably the most horrifying of all the memoirs on this list, so be prepared. There aren’t any zany and funny stories about her drinking days. There are stories about her leaving her 4 year old daughter unattended while hooking up with a stranger at a wedding.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola.  This book is unique in that it spends equal time with the author before and after sobriety.  This book was the most compelling of the memoirs because Hepola is the most like me. Alcohol makes her creative and more fun, not mean and disorderly. She doesn’t have abuse to forget or post-traumatic stress disorder. Hepola is a girl who just started drinking one day and never really needed to stop, until she did.

The Good House by Ann Leary.  Set in a small Massachusetts town, the protagonist struggles with her growing and secret dependence on wine. This work of fiction examines why we drink, why we hide, and what it ultimately takes to get sober. I listened to this one and I can’t recommend the audio version highly enough. 

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Nothing Good Can Come from This: Essays by Kristi Coulter.  I thoroughly enjoyed Coulter’s intimate essays.  She helped me wake up to how common it is for women to encourage other women to drink. When did skinning your knee at 10 am become an excuse for a midmorning glass of rose?  Coulter’s been there, and her poignant essays are never preachy.

The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun: This series based on a coffee-swilling reporter and his crime-solving cat isn’t really about sobriety. However, the main character is sober and I like how deftly Braun incorporates that into the books without putting a spotlight on it. It’s about a man who happens to be sober, not about a sober man.

Anyone who drinks on a regular basis can learn from the above mentioned books, even if you don’t identify yourself as an alcoholic or someone with a drinking problem. I personally like to keep tabs on my relationship with alcohol and regularly reading books like these helps me do that. The biggest reason I read quit lit is because it’s always a story about the most fascinating conflict on earth: man versus himself.

Movies and more movies!

by John P.

Due to a generous donation of DVDs to the Southside library, we have been able to add some DVD titles we have not been able to carry before, because they have been unobtainable for us. All titles are available through our website at santafelibrary.org.

These movies are the kinds of titles that film buffs will like, and with the shutdown of most alternative movie screens in Santa Fe, at least there is the option of rediscovering them for free from us.

Book Cover

Starting off there is Bitter Victory – from 1958 : “British Capt. Leith (Richard Burton) knows the Libyan Desert like the back of his hand, but Maj. Brand (Curt Jurgens), who’s unfamiliar with the terrain, is chosen to lead a campaign through the area because of his prestigious military credentials. During the mission, tensions build between Leith and Brand, and the latter reveals himself to be a poor fit for the dangerous operation. The power struggle between the officers is only intensified when Brand learns that his wife once loved Leith”.  –  a chance to see a young Richard Burton in an early role.


Next a film set in both Brazil and San Francisco from 2000 : Woman on top : “Set to the intoxicating rhythms of Brazil, “Woman on Top” is a spicy, sexy comedy about the magic of food, love and music. Meet Isabella, a sultry enchantress born with the special gift of melting the palates and hearts of men everywhere. When she decides to break free from her rocky marriage, and the stifling kitchen of her husband’s restaurant in Brazil,  she spirits off to San Francisco in pursuit of her dreams of a real culinary career.   – Starring Penélope Cruz, it has a great soundtrack too.

Next we have Āsoka (2001) This movie traces the life of Emperor Āsoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya who ascended the throne of Magadha in the 3rd century B.C. To extend the borders of his kingdom, he wages one of the bloodiest wars in history with the neighboring kingdom of Kalinga, leaving it ravaged and devastated. Confronted by the aftermath of his conquest, Āsoka is overcome with remorse and renounces the path of war to dedicate his life to spreading the teachings of Buddhism. Starring  Shahrukh Khan as Asoka.


Then another film set in India from 1992- City of Joy – : Farmer Hasari Pal (Om Puri) moves his family to Calcutta to start a new life. Settling in the city’s poorest area (the “city of joy”), he finds Texan doctor Max (Patrick Swayze), who has been assaulted and robbed, lying in the street. Hasari takes him to his district, where the homeless and lepers live. Max becomes friends with Hasari and clinic doctor Joan (Pauline Collins), and Hasari gets a job as a rickshaw driver. Max soon plunges into his new life.


Yet another Foreign Indian addition is:  Earth -: The disaster of Indian/Pakistani partition in 1947, seen through the eyes of a child – Lenny, an eight-year-old crippled girl – from Lahore, the Punjabi city that saw some of the bloodiest pogroms. The experiences, hopes and fears of this young girl provide an intense portrait of the period. – Directed by Deepa Mehta.


Moving over to Europe, for the first time in a while, we are able to add Bernardo Bertolucci’s The conformist =: Conformista –from 1970: – “Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a member of the secret police in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. He and his new bride, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), travel to Paris for their honeymoon, where Marcello also plans to assassinate his former college professor Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), an outspoken anti-Fascist living in exile. But when Marcello meets the professor’s young wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda), both his romantic and his political loyalties are tested.”

Photo by Grace Kusta Nasralla on Pexels.com

Next on our list is : Zachariah – from 1971. In this Western featuring rock music by such famous performers integrated into the cast as Country Joe and the Fish, Elvin Jones, the James Gang, and Cajun singer Doug Kershaw, Zachariah is an aspiring gunslinger who journeys from town to town, from one adventure to another, from affiliation with the West’s most inept gang of bandits to a shot at membership in the West’s toughest, from a life of quiet farming to a near-fatal confrontation with his best friend. This is a cult classic from the 70’s, often shown as a late night feature on college campuses then.


Then visiting Ancient Egypt we have: Land of the Pharaohs – 1955. Directed by Howard Hawks American Cinematheque has this to say about it: “This truly phenomenal CinemaScope fantasia of ancient Egypt features pharaoh Jack Hawkins, who is obsessed with building an eternal monument to his glory, while nympho wife Joan Collins (at her slinky, scheming best) tries to orchestrate his murder. -Stunning technical credits all around, with a script co-written by William Faulkner (!), and sumptuous art direction by the legendary Alexander Trauner. “When I first saw it as a kid, LAND OF THE PHAROAHS became my favorite film.” – Martin Scorsese

Going abroad again from Canada (2003) we added: My life without me– directed by Isabel Coixet and starring Sarah Polley, Mark Ruffalo, Scott Speedman, and Leonor Watling. A hard-working mother of two Ann (Sarah Polley) discovers she has terminal ovarian cancer and the doctors give her two months to live, she decides to keep the news from her family. ‘My life Without Me’ shows us how vulnerable we can be and how dramatically things can change when we take control of our lives. -Nominated for a Goya Award for Best Picture 2004.


Rounding our list out, we also added- The last metro =: Le dernier métro (1980) –directed by  François Truffaut – “A stylish and poignant film about Jewish director Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent), who is forced to hide in the basement of his theater during the Nazi occupation while his wife (Catherine Deneuve) stars in its latest production. Romantic tensions mount when she and her leading man (Gérard Depardieu) begin to fall in love with each other. At the same time, a pro-Nazi theater critic ensconces himself in the theater causing stress to the entire cast”–

We hope you find something new to view! Make sure you check out all the movies, television shows, and documentaries available through your Santa Fe Public Library.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In Memoriam – 2020

Ann B.

One of my favorite things about reading is feeling that connection with an author that inspires us to read all the books they’ve ever written. We wait, not-so-patiently, for the next title they publish. We feel excited when it finally is available at our library or bookstore. And then time passes and they’re gone. And maybe we mourn or feel like we’ve lost a friend.

We have lost a few of our favorite authors this year either to age or illness. Wonderful, prolific authors who carried us away to new places, new worlds, and new adventures have left behind and treasure trove of materials. From westerns to science fiction and fantasy to romance to classic children’s books, women’s rights and journalism, the list below will hopefully remind you of some favorites you’ve enjoyed in the past.


Three of those we lost were known for their children’s books. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney was read many times to my children. Also, Betsy Byars and Tomie DePaola passed away this year. Most of us have read at least one Strega Nona book!

John LeCarre passed recently and leaves behind a vast number of spy and espionage novels. Most famously, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Several fiction authors have passed as well. These include Clive Cussler, Charles Portis (of True Grit fame), as well as two grand dames of mystery, Mary Higgins Clark and M.C. Beaton.

We lost two giants of science fiction and fantasy: Ben Bova and Terry Goodkind.

And we must not forget Rudolpho Anaya whose Bless Me, Ultima is a staple of New Mexico high school reading requirements. Anaya’s children’s books are also very popular, especially Faralitos for Abuelo and The Farolitos of Christmas.

For more information on authors we lost this year, please check out this article by the New York Times: Notable Deaths 2020: Books by NY Times.

Happy Holidays – December 2020

by Ann B.

Just a quick post to say Happy Holidays and Best Wishes from the Santa Fe Public Library. Just a couple of recipes, a couple of traditions, to share with our readers. While this season is usually a time of family and celebration, this year it’s a little different. But we hope you are able to find a moment of peace during these hectic times.

Jessica G. shares her family’s fun traditions of pajamas and movies.

Every year my Mom gifts all of the kids pajamas and homemade socks. It is the first and only gift we all open on Christmas eve and everyone changes into their new pajamas for the eve and to be worn on Christmas morning.
As huge horror movie buffs, leading up to Christmas, it is tradition to do movie marathons of all the Christmas horror films my husband and I can find. Some favorite Xmas Horror are Black Christmas (1974 and 2006 versions), Krampus, Gremlins, and Rare Exports.

Adam shared a delicious sounding side dish.

Grampa Charlie’s Scalloped Corn

  • 1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper (green chile when in NM)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cups soft bread crumbs
  • 2 cans (8-1/2 ounces each) cream-style corn
  • 1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • In a large skillet, saute pepper and onion in 4 tablespoons butter until tender. Stir in the soft bread crumbs, corn and eggs. Transfer to a greased 8-in. square baking dish.
  • Melt the remaining butter; toss with dry bread crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ann’s only-make-once-a-year treats

Date Nut Rice Krispy Treats (Disclaimer: This is NOT, in any way, shape, or form, a healthy recipe.  I only make this once a year at Christmas.)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • ½ pound chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • Powdered sugar

Mix butter, sugar, and dates in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Cook for 10 minutes until dates are softened and sugar is dissolved.
Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then add pecans and Rice Krispies.  Mix well.  Form into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball.  Roll in powdered sugar.  Let cool and enjoy!
There are a few variations on this recipe so it’s kind of customizable.  You can use almost any other nut instead of pecans.  Almonds are popular as are walnuts.  Some people also either don’t use the powdered sugar or use shredded coconut instead.

Photo by Fallon Michael on Pexels.com

Ann’s Family Tradition

A Christmas Eve tradition for my family is, after attending a Christmas Eve service, to load up with hot chocolate and blankets then drive around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. We roll the windows down and find whatever radio station is playing holiday music. When we get home, it’s time to open one present, usually pajamas, sometimes something extra special.

Movies, movies, movies

by John P.

New DVDs at Santa Fe Public Library

The library continues to receive new DVD titles; either completely new or new to Santa Fe Public Library.  Unfortunately, since patrons are not able to come in at this time and browse our new titles, we thought we would feature some of the new adult DVDs on our blog. Since going to a movie theater isn’t an option right now, here’s a few new-to-us titles to explore.

First we start off with Rudolph Valentino in the silent classic, Blood & SandBlood and Sand premiered at the Rialto Theater in Los Angeles on August 22, 1922. The film was a box office hit and was one of the top-grossing films of 1922.  The film, along with The Sheik and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (both 1921), helped to establish Valentino as a star and was one of the most successful films of his career.

Then leaping forward to 2018 is Reinvention  a DVD Biography of Camila Cabello.  This film covers the rise of Camila Cabello, mostly through a series of interviews.

Next is A place called Chiapas-(1998): “On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista National Liberation Army — made up of impoverished Mayan Indians from the state of Chiapas — took over five towns and 500 ranches in southern Mexico. The government deployed its troops, and at least 145 people died in the ensuing battle. Fighting for indigenous Mexicans to regain control over their lives and the land, the Zapatistas and their charismatic leader, guerilla poet Subcomandante Marcos, began sending their message to the world via the Internet. The result was what The New York Times called “the world’s first postmodern revolution”. Years into the uprising, filmmaker Nettie Wild traveled to the jungle canyons of southern Mexico to film the elusive and fragile life of the rebellion over an eight month period. Her camera effectively and movingly captures the personal stories behind a very public clash of traditional culture and globalization.”

Then a title recommended for addition by my colleague affectionately known as “T”,   is 2016’s The Love Witch – Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her Gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However her spells work too well, and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder. With a visual style that pays tribute to Technicolor thrillers of the 60s, The Love Witch explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism.

Next from Mexico, directed by Gerardo Naranjo is Miss Bala – (2011) – “An aspiring beauty queen finds herself in the wrong place at the worst possible time in this explosive crime thriller set amid Mexico’s increasingly violent drug war. After witnessing a shooting in a nightclub, the young woman is kidnapped and forced to work for ruthless gangsters in order to keep her dreams, and her family, alive.”

Moving over to Berlin is Night out (2017) –“ Saturday night in Berlin. A colorful mix of hetero and gay singles, couples and polyamorous, craving fun explore the city and their relationships for different reasons. Their journey will lead them into a frenetic night where anything goes, portraying an array of contemporary nightlife possibilities. Loaded, passionate, and sweaty, the stories of our protagonists ultimately intertwine in the KitKatClub. At the break of dawn, and after a series of mishaps, they each leave changed people.”

The music DVD section at Southside Branch Library has always been strong, and now we just added Nirvana: live at the Paramount from 1991 – a  Halloween concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theater in its entirety; – part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind. It is the only known Nirvana concert shot to film.

Returning to World Cinema we also have from France: Return of the Hero-(2018) – France, 1809: “The charming Captain Neuville is set to marry the naive Pauline when the war breaks out, forcing Neuville to depart for the battlefield. After not hearing from the captain for months, Pauline grows sick with worry, and her sister Elizabeth decides to write letters on Neuville’s behalf to cheer her up. Unexpectedly, Neuville returns home in glory and is welcomed as a hero, but unbeknownst to everyone, he is a coward and a war deserter.” Those who were introduced to Melanie Laurent, in Inglourious Bastards, will enjoy seeing her in a different role.

It took a while for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma,(2018)  to be released on DVD, with a Criterion version coming out in 2020. It is now in our collection:  –“With his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuarón recreated the early-1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in a revelatory screen debut), the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals. Written, directed, shot, and co-edited by Cuarón, Roma is a labor of love with few parallels in the history of cinema, deploying monumental black-and-white cinematography, an immersive soundtrack, and a mixture of professional and nonprofessional performances to shape its author’s memories into a world of enveloping texture, and to pay tribute to the woman who nurtured him. “

Photo by Grace Kusta Nasralla on Pexels.com

Also, for another World Cinema treat, we have from India Trishna– (2011) – the title character of Michael Winterbottom’s subcontinental rethink of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.– “Trishna lives with her family in a village in Rajasthan and works in a resort to help pay the family bills. Jay is the wealthy son of a property developer. When Jay takes up managing resorts, he meets Trishna and wins her affection. They move to Mumbai, but problems arise when his deep family bond threatens their bliss. –”Do you think you’ll have to pay a high price for your mistakes?” 

Returning to US films; a recent addition not in the collection before, is The Wild Angels (1966) – The Wild Angels is a 1966 American outlaw biker film produced and directed by Roger Corman. Made on location in Southern California, The Wild Angels was the first film to associate actor Peter Fonda with Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 1960s counterculture. –also featuring Bruce Dern and Nancy Sinatra.

And finally from 1967, Dame Edith Evans stars in The Whisperers – “Elderly Mrs. Ross (Edith Evans) loses her grip on reality when she begins to hear “voices” that seem to be conspiring against her. Separated from her dishonest husband, Archie (Eric Portman), and living alone, Mrs. Ross is patiently waiting for a windfall from her late father’s nonexistent estate. When her thieving son, Charlie (Ronald Fraser), stashes a large sum of stolen cash in her apartment, Mrs. Ross finds it, assuming the money is her long-awaited inheritance.”

We hope you find a new movie to check out or a an old classic to share. Make sure you check out or DVD collection at santafepubliclibrary.org.

Thankfulness

by Ann B.

It can be hard to be thankful during hard or troubling times. And we have all had plenty of those this year. As we approach the holidays this year, and especially Thanksgiving, it may be hard to find that place of thankfulness and gratitude.

We at Santa Fe Public Library hope that in some way offering our services through phone or email or curbside pick up has helped you in some way during this time. We are grateful to provide the services we can in the form of books, craft kits, or even a timely and important print request! We are also grateful for our patrons who encourage us and let us know how grateful they are for the libraries.

Below you will find a few quotes to inspire, books to encourage, and some familiar, and not familiar, things to be grateful for from the staff at Santa Fe Public Library. We are so very grateful for you!


“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” Henry Ward Beecher

Marie V.
I’m thankful for the love of my hubby and cat
I’m thankful for the health of my family
I’m thankful to be working for SFPL
I’m thankful to have the ability to enjoy a walk in nature
I’m thankful for books, they keep one sane during tough times.

Grateful: the transformative power of giving thanks by Diana Butler Bass

Callie S.
I’m thankful for:
Never running out of books to read
Football
Snuggles with my dog and husband
Infinite places to visit
Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it (yet)

“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
Charles Dickens

Thanks!: how practicing gratitude can make you happier by Robert A. Emmons

Kristen:

  • New Mexico sunlight over textured landscapes 
  • Rancho Viejo trails with very little light pollution at night
  • The new microfilm reader at the Main Library
  • My TBR (to be read) pile is neither depleted nor smothering me
  • Curbside for those days I just can’t get a workout in 

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”
William Faulkner

Thanks a thousand: a gratitude journey by A.J. Jacobs

Christina S.
I am so very Thankful for my Staff.  They have given more than 100% to provide excellent service to our patrons, all while adapting to changes, weather, and all while wearing PPE!  I am constantly amazed by their dedication and determination.

Jessica G.
Five things I’m thankful for…
Health
Family
To live in Santa Fe
To work at SFPL

Jess’s furbaby #1
Jess’s furbaby #2

Living a life of gratitude: your journey to grace, joy & healing by Sara Wiseman

 “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Elizabeth M.
Every day, I am thankful for my family (including the furry ones) and friends, my job, red wine, dark chocolate, guacamole, my sense of humor and the beady things I love to play with.
I am currently thankful that the political ads have disappeared, too.

The gift of thanks: the roots and rituals of gratitude by Margaret Visser

Living in gratitude: a journey that will change your life by Angeles Arrien

“For my part, I am almost contented just now, and very thankful. Gratitude is a divine emotion: it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms it, but not to fever.”
Charlotte Bronte

Attitudes of gratitude: how to give and receive joy every day of your life by M. J. Ryan

Jeff, Ann, and many others:
Green Chile
Chocolate
Coffee
Tea

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

Michele R.
As the elder stateswoman in our system (or at least I am pretty sure I’m the oldest) with 54 years of working under my belt I can honestly say that under the leadership of Maria Sanchez-Tucker I have never been more thankful for the folks with whom I work.  She knows how to play to our strengths, trusts that we are professionals who want nothing more than to do our job well, brings out the best in us.  Under her tutelage I have seen (much) younger colleagues spread their wings and fly higher than they thought possible.  Even in this time of separation she has brought us together like never before or at least in my time (6.5 years) with SFPL. So I guess I am thankful for each and every one who has the privilege and honor to work at SFPL.  My colleagues have gone over and above the call of duty to support my efforts to do that which I do best which is particularly poignant for me as SFPL will be the last institution I will work in full time.  Yes, I have tears in my eyes.   Thanks for asking us to reflect on our thankfulness.

Jess’s coworkers

And finally, this . . .

 “Rest and be thankful.” William Wordsworth


November: National Novel Writing Month

by Ann B.

Have you ever thought of being a writer?  Dreamed of someday putting your stories on a page?  Do you have a story to tell?  Either science fiction or historical fiction? Maybe a creepy horror novel or a western centered in the Southwest?  Maybe a memoir?  If you’ve ever wanted to write a story or just take a stab at getting down your ideas, November is the perfect month for you.

It’s NaNoWriMo time!  National Novel Writing Month (https://nanowrimo.org/).  Started over 20 years ago, the goal of NaNoWriMo participants is to write 50,000 words in one month.  It breaks down to 1666 words per day.  If you reach the goal, you win!  The NaNoWriMo community is very encouraging and helpful if you desire to put some ink on the page . . . or print on the paper . . . or text on the screen. 

If you need a kick in the pants to get started, NaNoWriMo can help.  If you’re the kind of person who needs or wants a specific goal in a specific time frame, you’ll find compatriots there as well. The library is a good place to help with your research or your inspiration. A good place to break that writer’s block or simply find a starting point.

The following titles are just a small sample of the resources available through the library to inspire you or get you through that rough writing patch.


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com
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