216 N Marshall Ave
Litchfield MN 55355


Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hot books for chillier days

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Fall is here, daylight is shorter, and the weather is bound to turn cooler soon.  Time to find a good novel to curl up with!  Look for these novels that are getting some buzz this fall.

John le CarrĂ© is a British master of the spy novel.  He is 85 years old, and for the first time in 25 years he has come out with a new George Smiley book, A Legacy of Spies.  This new installment connects back to his classic novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but is set in the current day.  Cold War novels had seemed to be a thing of the past, but everything old is new again.  You might expect that le CarrĂ© couldn’t effectively go back to storylines written in the 1960s and ‘70s, but reviewers say it’s fresh and brilliant.

For those who like science fiction, The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary take on dystopia.  In this version of the future, deadly ticks have caused the remnant of the United States to retreat to a safe zone within a ring of scorched earth for protection, although the society within is tightly controlled and full of fear.  But people who pay enough and are brave enough can venture out to see more of the world on guided expeditions.  A group of these adventurers, strangers to each other, get captured by a community of outer-zone survivors, and they have to decide which side they’re on. 

In 2004, Lily Tuck won the National Book Award for fiction for The News from Paraguay even though she wasn’t a well-known author.  She’s still far from being a household name, but her new novella is getting some literary attention.  Sisters is a second-wife’s rumination on what her new husband’s first wife must be like.  The reader never learns the name of either woman.  The narrator becomes obsessed with all that her husband doesn’t tell her about her predecessor, whether she can ever equal her, and the way she betrayed her.
Jesmyn Ward is also a National Book Award winner for her novel Salvage the Bones, which won in 2011.  Her new novel is Sing, Unburied, Sing.  It’s a Southern road novel, and reviewers are so excited about it, comparing it to Homer’s Odyssey and the work of Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor.  A black woman and her two children drive from her parents’ farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the state penitentiary to pick up the children’s white father, encountering dangers on the journey.  Incorporating drug addiction, the legacy of racial violence, and the long-term damage hurricanes can cause, this timely novel ventures into magical realism. 

If you’re looking for a thriller, The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd could fit the bill.  The fourth book in the Virtue Falls series features newly-elected sheriff Kateri and a case involving her old friend Merida, who is mute and has returned to town with a different name, a new look, and a plan for revenge after living as a long-suffering trophy wife.  Merida and Kateri are looking for the truth about something that happened nine years earlier and the identity of the person who’s murdering women in the small community. 

Some other novels released in September that you may want to seek out include Enemy of the State by Kyle Mills and the late Vince Flynn, Enigma by Catherine Coulter, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz, which is a continuation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series.  You can order these online through our catalog or stop in to ask a staff person to help you find a copy.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

 By Jan Pease
Those of you who have facebook can click on this link and see our favorite spot.

As many of you know, we like to get away “Up North” and spend some time looking at Lake Superior and reading a lot of books. So this is the annual “what I read on my vacation” article.

My husband Dave is working hard to get our house painted before the snow flies. This year our vacation turned into a staycation.

I read a lot.  Some of it was very good.  Some of it was truly embarrassing.  One of the best books I’m still reading is “The Benedict Option: a Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation,” by Rod Dreher.  Mr. Dreher calls attention to the way our culture erodes the family and the church.  He
foresees a coming  dark age nearly as bad as the one in Europe during and after the fall of the Roman Empire.  The  book is an interesting, controversial read, and definitely makes you think.  Reviews at range from “awful” to “vital.”

I discovered Ann Aguirre, a young adult author and her trilogy, “Razorland.”  The titles are “Enclave,” “Outpost,” and “Horde.” Ms. Aguirre does a good job of world-building her post-apocalyptic societies in and around   New York City, which is in ruins.  There are tunnel denizens, various races, and isolated communities who live in walled villages, all faced by an implacable cannibalistic enemy.

I also read “When the English Fall,” by David Williams.  This is another post-apocalyptic novel, told from the point of view of an Amish farmer. The world of the outsiders, called “The English” collapses after a massive solar storm.  The Amish aren’t affected at first by the loss of electricity and the internet and all of the amenities of modern life, but gradually their peaceful world is invaded by desperate people willing to kill just for the sake of killing.  I really enjoyed this book, and hope that Mr. Williams continues the story of a peaceful family surviving in a terrible world.
Because so many people read Charlaine Harris, and because I watched a summer  tv show called “Midnight, Texas” based on her books, I finally read Ms. Harris.  Four of her books! I read “Midnight Crossroad,” “Day Shift,” and “Night Shift,” as well as the first Sookie Stackhouse book, “Dead until Dark.” They are too silly, and have too much romance, and too many vampires, were-tigers, demons, and fallen angels for me. I hope this doesn’t offend any of her fans, but these four and no more.

Jo Nesbo is a Norwegian author who is very popular in our area.  He has been on my list of “to be read” also known as TBR for quite awhile.  I finished the first Harry Hole novel, “The Bat” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I’m not on vacation now, I’m looking forward to reading “Cockroaches,” the second Harry Hole book.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” continued the story of Lisbeth Salander that started with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by the late Stieg Larsson. 
David Lagercrantz  is writing the series, now renamed “Stieg Larsson’s  Millennium Series.”  The first time I tried reading “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” I just couldn’t deal with the difference in style, even though Mr. Lagercrantz writes a lot like Mr. Larsson.  But now it’s been long enough since I read the first books, and I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with this Swedish series.

 See you at the library!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Children's books still fun for adults

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

This fall is the 75th anniversary of Little Golden Books, those inexpensive, golden-spined classics of all of our childhoods.  On Tuesday, September 19, the Litchfield Library will be hosting a presentation on the history of Little Golden Books.  At 6 p.m., collector Ellen Radel will share her extensive knowledge of these special children’s books, show us her collection and read one of her favorite Little Golden Books.  She will have some books available for sale at the end. 

If this date doesn’t work for your schedule, you can catch Ellen at the Dassel History Center on Sunday, September 10, at 3 p.m., or at the Hutchinson Library at 6:30 p.m. on September 26, among other Pioneerland libraries that are hosting programs.

Even as adults, we can enjoy children’s books.  In the new book Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, author Bruce Handy examines classic children’s books.  Handy is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine and was nominated for an Emmy in the ‘90s for writing for Saturday Night Live.  He researched the classic children’s books he read to his kids, such as Goodnight Moon, Charlotte’s Web, and The Cat in the Hat.  In this book he shares perspectives on how we see these books differently as adults than we did when we were children ourselves.  Do you love the artwork of Beatrix Potter or Maurice Sendak?  Do you agree with Handy that Ramona the Pest is as iconic an American character as Tom Sawyer or Jay Gatsby? (I do.)  Reviewers say this book is a pleasure to read, with plenty of humor, and it’s an interesting look at the history and significance of our favorite children’s books. 

Speaking of Goodnight Moon, we have a new biography of its author.  In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary shows that Brown was very different than the quiet classic she’s famous for.  She began writing children’s books for a school, with a mission to create stories that were more than fairy tales and that had gender equality in mind.  Brown prepared for her writing by doing things children would do: picking daisies, watching the clouds, and otherwise observing nature so that she could capture a child’s sense of wonder.  Her approach to writing changed the children’s publishing business.  She also lived an adventurous, bohemian life: as NPR put it, she was no old lady whispering hush.

The editor of the New York Times Book Review, Pamela Paul, has a new book out called My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues.  Paul has kept a notebook all her life called her book of books, or “Bob” for short, which lists all of the books she has read.  The first chapter is called “Brave New World: You Shouldn’t Be Reading That.”  In it, Paul describes what it was like to be a bookworm when she was growing up, and she talks about her adventures in the library, checking out things she was proud of reading, like “Little Women,” and things she was embarrassed about, like Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume books.  She eventually realized the librarians weren’t judging her.  Paul’s memoir should appeal to people who love books and like to think about how the books we read are a part of our lives.

It can be really fun to revisit classic children’s books, whether you’re reading them to your children or grandchildren or just going back to enjoy something on your own.  Did you love The Poky Little Puppy or The Monster at the End of This Book?  Come to our program on the history of Little Golden Books at one of the local libraries and enjoy the nostalgia.  

Closed for Labor Day

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Monday, September 4, for Labor Day.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Thank you to our sponsors for supporting a successful summer!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Our summer reading program, Reading by Design, is coming to a close.  The last day to turn in reading game sheets for prizes is Thursday, August 31. 

This year 315 kids signed up for the program at Litchfield Library.  They spent the summer earning prizes for reading, being active, and trying out new books.

At Grove City Library, 45 kids participated in the summer reading program.  Dassel Library had 161 kids signed up this year, twenty more than last year.  Cosmos Library had the first summer reading program in the new building, with 29 kids signed up.
We’d like to give a big thank you to the local businesses that donated prizes for the kids.  For all four libraries, that included Pizza Hut, Pizza Ranch, McDonald’s, KLFD, and Taco John’s.

Litchfield Subway, Jimmy’s Pizza of Litchfield, and Dairy Queen of Litchfield all donated prizes for the Litchfield, Grove City, and Cosmos libraries.

The Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center and the Willmar YMCA donated prizes for the summer reading programs in Grove City and Cosmos. 

Casey’s donated prizes for the Cosmos and the Dassel programs.

For the Dassel summer reading program, Cokato Subway, Cokato Dairy Queen, Red Rooster Foods, and Jimmy’s Pizza of Dassel all donated prizes.

In addition to prizes such as gift certificates for food items or pool passes, some organizations gave monetary donations to the summer reading programs.  The Friends of the Litchfield Public Library sponsored the books that Litchfield kids could choose as prizes, plus some of the other prize choices.  Donations from the Dassel Community Chest and the Dassel Friends of the Library funded the books given to kids who signed up at the Dassel Library, and the Friends funded their fines read-down for kids.  The First State Bank of Grove City gave a donation that helped to fund summer reading prizes and programs at the Grove City Library. 

The kids were very excited to choose from all of the great prizes, and many pushed themselves to keep completing reading game sheets so they could earn more. 

Thank you to all of these businesses and organizations for supporting reading and kids in our communities!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thank you to our summer reading sponsors!

Thank you to the sponsors of prizes for the summer reading program:

Pizza Hut
Pizza Ranch
Taco John's
Jimmy's Pizza
Dairy Queen
Friends of the Litchfield Public Library

We couldn't have done it without you!  The kids and their parents were very grateful for such nice donations.  Thank you for supporting kids and reading in Litchfield!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mark Your Calendars! Get Ready for Fall!

By Jan Pease

Mark your calendars!  It’s almost time to change to the library’s fall schedule. Summer reading records may be turned in through August 31.   Fall programming begins the week of September 11th and continues through December 23rd.  

On Mondays Mariah will offer Makerspace.  She will have a creative area set up with supplies and music, and invites students age 12 and older to come and create on the second Monday of each month.  There is no need to sign up, you’re free to create and all supplies are provided.

Every Wednesday we invite toddlers and their parents or caregivers to Toddler Time from 10:15-10:45. This is a very beginning story time with singing and movement. We read one fun book. 

Every Thursday, Brick Heads, our Lego building group, gets together in the large meeting room to build.  Sometimes we have challenges, such as building blindfolded.  Look at the Lego creations on display and marvel at the imaginations of our builders.  This group is for ages 4-14, moms, dads and grandparents welcome, and we meet from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Beginner Book Club gathers on the third Thursday of each month.  For September we are reading “Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society.”  This is a collection of eleven short stories about dogs written by Betsy Byars and her daughters, Laurie Myers and Betsy Duffey.  Beginner book club is for students in grades 1-3. We begin as close as we can to 3:00 and end at about 4:15.

Friday has been story hour day longer than I’ve worked here, which is a long, long time.  It’s planned for children age 3 through entering Kindergarten.  We start shortly after 10, and pack a lot into the hour, including movement play, singing, a craft project, and a great book.  Older siblings are always welcome.

On Saturdays we’re upgrading our second Saturday story time to Saturday Fun @ the Library.  We will start just after 10:00 and we will be doing all kinds of activities and projects.   This library program is for all ages, but children under age seven need to have a caregiver or parent with them.
At Litchfield library, we aren’t participating in the 1000 Books before Kindergarten project. But I am involved in a program called Read  Our goal is encouraging every child, every parent to read aloud 15 minutes every day.   Be as diligent about reading to your children as you are about brushing their teeth.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child in our area entered Kindergarten ready to learn, and without cavities?

See you at the library!