David Cherry's blog

Author Peter Heller Kicks off Gulf Coast Reads 2013

An Evening with Peter Heller
Clear Lake City – County Freeman Branch Library
Thursday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m.

Author photo by Tory ReadHarris County Public Library gets Gulf Coast Reads 2013 off to a flying start when Peter Heller, author of this year’s selection The Dog Stars, visits Clear Lake City – County Freeman Branch Library on October 3 at 7:00 p.m. He will give a brief talk about how he came to write the novel, followed by a Q & A, and book signing.

Gulf Coast Reads is an annual regional reading initiative that encourages everyone living near the upper Texas Gulf Coast to read (or listen to) a selected title during the month of October.

Peter Heller’s appearance, made possible by the Friends of Freeman Library and a bequest from the estate of Jocelyn H. Lee, is just one of many events across the area in conjunction with Gulf Coast Reads and related to themes explored in the novel. Programs include sustainable gardening seminars, disaster preparedness workshops, a visit from the Houston Police Department canine unit, and many more—including, of course, plenty of discussion groups where you can share your thoughts on the book. Check your branch's events calendar for complete local listings, and ‘Like’ Gulf Coast Reads on Facebook to keep up-to-date on all the happenings in October.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with HCPL!

Hispanic Heritage Month Banner

September 15 - October 15 represents Hispanic Heritage Month and we at Harris County Public Library invite you to join us in celebrating the contributions people of Hispanic descent have made and continue to make in all facets of cultural and civic life in this great big mosaic of a county we all call home. HCPL will host programs for every age group that will entertain and inform. Scheduled events include movies, crafts,   dance demonstrations, a presentation on Latino history and literature, and--because we take celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month--seriously, several branches will hold fiestas with music, crafts, food and more!

Below are just some of the great programs in store across the county for Hispanic Heritage Month. Check your branch's Events Calendar for more. All programs are free and open to the public.

HCPL Catalog Will Be Temporarily Unavailable: Saturday, Sept. 14. 8:00 p.m.

ExclamationThe Harris County Public Library catalog will be unavailable starting at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept 14. We anticipate it will be down only for a few hours, but due to the nature of the necessary procedures, we cannot guarantee exactly when it will be up and running. Of course, we will do everything we can to minimize the catalog's downtime.

We thank you for your patience.

September is National Literacy Awareness Month

National Literacy Awareness Month Logo This September, the Houston Center for Literacy and Harris County Public Library want you to recognize the importance of literacy in your life, and to encourage you to share the gift of literacy by helping someone in your own community learn to read.

Take just a moment to think about how your ability to read has broadened your own world. Think of all the books that have entertained you, educated you, and changed your life for the better. Now, think about everything you’ve read today: the email, the street signs, the instructions for that new gadget, the expiration date on a can of tuna. Now think about how much harder your life would be if you could not read.

Finally, think about this: 1 out of 5 of your neighbors is functionally illiterate. That means that more than 400,000 of us who call Houston home cannot fill out a job application, read a bank statement or help their children with homework. 400,000 people.

Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013)

cover art: Electric Light by Seamus HeaneyThe Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney, had the great good fortune to be born in a place that values poetry in a way that most Americans cannot imagine. He was an honest-to-goodness celebrity in his native Ireland, not perhaps on a Bieberian scale, but solidly, unostentatiously famous nonetheless. Right around the time he accepted the Nobel laurels, he became something beyond the poet and teacher he started out to be. He became a sage, a go-to quote-maker on the Big Questions of the day, and I think to some extent he relished those extracurricular roles. I know he was awfully good at them.

It's always tempting to see a softening in the work when someone in any profession has reached that level of success, and perhaps the poems became bigger, more aware of their place in his country's sociopolitical discourse, and his own legacy, but they were still masterful. For me, there will always be something in his early work when all that talent was balling up into a fist and he was finding new ways to say what had to be said, when he hadn't quite become the master (though so much better, more naturally gifted than anyone working at the time). Those are the poems I suspect I'll return to most.

Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

cover art 52 Pickup

I hate that in its obituary for Elmore Leonard, the New York Times felt the need to sniff down its long, blue-blooded corporate nose, and call him “a modern master of American genre writing” [italics mine]. I’m sure no offense was intended, and I suspect Leonard wouldn’t have objected, but still, the qualification is wholly unnecessary. He was a master. Period. And the fact is, he didn’t aspire to the literary pantheon. He preferred to be read, and his influence was not limited to other "genre" writers. There are a lot of people referred to as "writer's writers," Elmore Leonard was a writer's writer's writer. He was that good. He was not only the consummate craftsman, he was a bit of a visionary. Leonard was one of those people who come along when an art form has gone a little soft, become a little too reliant on convention and its practitioners a little too pleased with themselves, who strips the form down and re-imagines it, and in so doing revitalizes the art. Elmore Leonard did that twice, for the western and then crime fiction.

If you regularly write anything more complex than a grocery list and you haven’t memorized Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing, do it now...

No, really. I'm serious. NOW

Stripes Presents Donation to Fairbanks Branch Library

Check presentation @ Stripes Convenience Store opening.

The Fairbanks Branch Library recently received a donation of $1000 from Stripes Convenience Stores in honor of the opening of their first location in Houston. The check was presented to Fairbanks' Children's Librarian Victor Schill at the store's grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 26. Harris County Public Library thanks Stripes for their generosity and welcomes them to the community.

South Houston Branch Will Be Closed August 23 - 24 for Parking Lot Repair

La Biblioteca de South Houston estarán cerrada Viernes, 23 de agosto y Sábado, 24 de agosto para la reparación del estacionamiento.

SHOThe South Houston Branch Library will be closed Friday, August 23 and Saturday, August 24 for much-needed parking lot repaving. Please keep in mind that you will not have access to the library’s book drop during that time, but you are welcome to return any HCPL items to any of our locations.

We encourage you stock up on books, DVDs and music prior to the temporary closing, or visit one of the other nearby branches for internet access and all other library services. The locations nearest South Houston Branch are Galena Park Branch Library located at 1500 Keane Drive Galena Park TX 77547,
Parker Williams Branch Library at 10851 Scarsdale Blvd, Suite 510 Houston TX 77089.

South Houston Branch Library will reopen Monday, August 26 at 1:00 PM.

Have Book - Will You Triumph or Be Defeated? Amazing Read Challenge Week 8

Where did you travel for last week’s challenge? Wherever you went, I hope you met some new friends, saw some new sights, and plan to go back sometime soon.

After seven of these challenges, we figure your competitive juices should be flowing, so this week we want you to read books about sports or other competitions. For you fiction readers, how about Chad Harbach's bestselling The Art of Fielding, or Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain? If you like your competitions with somewhat higher stakes, you could try any one of The Hunger Games Trilogy. For you nonfiction folks, there are quite a few recent releases that might get your motors running. Try Dream Team by Jack McCallum, or Over Time, the memoir by the always thought (and argument)-provoking Frank Deford.

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