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Arts and Culture (Books)

You can get (most) anything you want — even a good book

If the medium is the message, then there’s more to be learned from Calvert Library’s huge festival of local authors than you’ll read in this week’s feature story, The Writers Next Door.
    Your neighbor may have written just the one for you, I say, introducing 33 authors and their latest (or favorite) books. These are quick introductions, the literary equivalent of speed dating, with a life compressed into one sentence and a plot into another. At the May 31 festival, you’ll meet even more authors from 9:30 am to 4pm.
    All that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    The submerged message is that Calvert County’s ­public library system is ambitious in a big way to be a place where people connect with ideas and each other.
    You see it in the Prince Frederick library building, built in 2006 to change the way people use their libraries. Twenty-first century libraries will trend that way, using architecture and location to draw people in and interior design to make them feel comfortable, welcome and ready to stay a while.
    Libraries of the future will be community centers — with the visual appeal of bookstores — according to Anne Arundel Public Library director Skip Auld, who’s thinking toward a new Annapolis Public Library that will be state-of-the-art.
    Sending the message that your library is the center of your community is more than putting it in a place people are likely to go. It’s more than a light-filled building with maritime and local allusions, human-sized spaces and comfortable chairs.
    The medium of that message has to be that here, as in Alice’s Restaurant of Arlo Guthrie’s song, you can get anything you want.
    That’s just about true of our 19 libraries, in Anne Arundel as well as in Calvert.
    They’re open when you want to go. This year, Anne Arundel libraries regained the county funding to open every branch from 9am to 9pm four days a week, and until 5pm Fridays and Saturdays, with some Sunday hours in regional centers. Calvert’s libraries have always opened 9am to 9pm four days, with shorter hours Friday (noon-5pm) and Saturday (9am-5pm).
    Along with longer hours, the Anne Arundel library system added 31 new staffers.
    Many of Anne Arundel’s new service are devoted to kids. The libraries’ Early Literacy Initiative runs 144 programs a year for infants through five-year-olds, as well as reaching out to schools and Head Start centers.
    Bay Weekly’s Kids Time at the Libraries lists as many as 50 kids programs each week. Of course kids programs involve grown-ups as well, and often stuffed animals.
    That’s another part of the message: programs for people of all ages. Stories, songs, fingerplays and stuffed-animal sleepovers for kiddies … Legos, homework help and tutors on call for kids … pizza parties and games, both board and electronic, for teens … and for all ages, computers, shelves and shelves of books in print (large and small) and on recording, collections of databases, movies, music and games — and all for free.

The healing power of a good story

Bob Timberg has a face you don’t forget.
    How the U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Marine first lieutenant — handsome son of a mother who was a McCall’s cover girl at 13 — got that face is a question you don’t ask.
    Yet now, “as I edge into my seventies,” Timberg says, he has written a book revealing the whole story.
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Still time to escape in a good book

     With half of summer stretching before you, there’s still time to get lost in a good book.
    Armchair travelers stretch our confined worlds with books that take us places we’ll probably never see on our own. Certainly not with the open-eye and open-heart clarity of the ­writers we love best.
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Mine makes 15,001

     Five years ago in Wisconsin, Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher. He installed it on a post in his front yard and filled it with books to give away. It was such a hit with his neighbors that he built and gave away several more, each with a sign that read free books.
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Is your neighbor the next New York Times bestseller?

The death of reading — like the death of Mark Twain — may be greatly exaggerated.
    For the Digital Age has given us high-quality, nearly instant do-it-yourself publishing. Thus the book each of us has within can find a publisher — if it finds an author.
    Then it must find readers.
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A tribute to one man’s time in Korea

Is it coincidence that graduation coincides so closely to Memorial Day, when we honor those lost in battle, so many of whom don a uniform upon leaving school?
    When William Edward Alli, now of Bowie, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1950, he was barely 18 and not yet out of high school. “I had been clueless about what was happening to Marines deployed to a seemingly doomed southeast corner of Korea,” Alli recounts.
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Connecting food to farm: It takes chickens, cows and maple trees to make French toast

When Patrick O’Shanahan stumbles into the kitchen for “another boring breakfast,” he’s in for a surprise. Dad is making his World Famous French Toast, and there’s a cow in the kitchen. As if that’s not exciting enough, a trio of hens “bagaaaawwwkkk” in the fridge, and maple trees spring up from the floor.
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World Class; Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom, by J.C. Elkin

My students arrive in a dust storm of change. …    
their tongues in accents
lush as rustling crop leaves.

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Meet Secret Life of Bees author Sue Monk Kidd … at Sam’s Club

Sue Monk Kidd, author of the bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees, is coming to Annapolis.
    She’s selling and signing her newest book, The Invention of Wings, not at familiar book haunts but at Sam’s Club, a newcomer in author appearances.
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Local and regional authors help you — and your gift list — read into a good new year

    For Bay Lovers …
Chesapeake Views: Catching the Light
by Wilson Wyatt Jr.
     Almost four hundred years ago, one of the first European visitors to the New World, Captain John Smith, extolled the Chesapeake: “Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation.”
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