Happy Birthday Harry!

Harry Potter turns 36 today!

Takes me back

“The Boy Who Lived” (a.k.a. “the boy that got an entire generation of people excited about reading” – 400 MILLION COPIES SOLD) was born July, 31 1980 in the fictional world that inhabits the mind of series creator J.K. Rowling (who coincidentally also happens to have a birthday today).

If you are a fan of the series you might be saying, ‘But wait, the first book came out in ’97 and he turned 11 at the beginning of it so shouldn’t he be…’ You can stop doing the math – no, seriously, stop. I can feel you trying to work it out. It’s giving me goosebumps. Just trust me on this – J.K. Rowling herself has confirmed his birth year as 1980.


Crazy rich

While were at it, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JK Rowling!

If you are feeling all nostalgic now, overwhelmed by the desire to dive back into the world of wizards and quidditch and death eaters and so on, then might I suggest you stop by the Moline Library and check out your favorite Potter book today. Or, if you have been there and done that, but still want some exciting wizard action you could stop by our sci-fi/fantasy section and see what else you can find. The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, starting with the book Storm Front, is about a wizard living in Chicago. Or, if you prefer your magic to come with a British accent, you could take a look at the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka -it’s set in modern-day London and starts with the book Fated. Or anything else you’d like – there is plenty of magic to go around at the library.


Author Birthdays – Finishing Up July

Alexandre Dumas (b. July 24, 1802, Villers-Cotterets, France; d. December 5,  1870, Seine-Maritime, France)

I know. Not at all what I would have pictured either“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Coming from a line of down-and-out military-aristocrats, being the grandson of an African slave, writing several plays, essays, stories and novels (most famously The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo), being the most widely read French author in history, spending much of the money he made writing on wine, women and song, and for being exhumed and reinterred in the Pantheon of Paris (where all the best French people are buried) in 2002

For more on Alexandre Dumas, click here.

(George) Bernard Shaw (b. July 26, 1856, Dublin, Ireland; d. November 2, 1950, Ayot St. Lawrence, England)

"Distinguished" is the word you're looking for.“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Disliking being called George, (he preferred to go by his middle name), being an Irish socialist living in England, writing over 60 plays, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925 (no biggie), and for winning an Oscar for the screenplay adaptation of Pygmalion, one of his most famous plays

For more information on Bernard Shaw, click here.

 Aldous Huxley (b. July 26, 1894, Godalming, England; d. November 22, 1963, Los Angeles, CA)

The word "bookish" comes to mind“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a Huxley (they’re a big deal, and were especially so in 19th & 20th century Britain), being a distinguished Oxford grad and all-around intellectual, being a humanist philosopher and pacifist, being a prolific writer (he is best known today for his dystopian novel, Brave New World, which has proven eerily accurate in some of its predictions), and experimenting fairly extensively with psychedelic drugs later in life (a lot of his experiences got incorporated into his writing)

For more information on Mr. Huxley, click here.

Beatrix Potter (b. July 28, 1866, London, England; d. December 22, 1943, Near and Far Sawrey, England)

Why so serious?“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” More quotes here.

Best Known for: Having a lifelong love of nature, her scientific study and illustrations of plants and animals (especially her early paintings of fungi), writing and illustrating several children’s books – including the beloved Peter Rabbit books, being a successful farmer and sheep breeder, her interest in conservation and land preservation, and for donating so much land to the UK’s National Trust that it now constitutes a large part of Lake District National Park“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” More quotes here.

For information on Beatrix Potter, click here.



July 20, the day man first walked on the moon, is Moon Day!

Little known fact, it's actually chock-full of aliens

Hello, neighbor!

Come to the library and celebrate Moon Day by learning about our closest neighbor, celestially speaking.

After all, libraries and moons are a lot alike. Both are quiet, unassuming things, but we are constant; always there for you to enjoy, just waiting for people to come and visit. And our gravitational pull causes an ebb and flow of the Earth’s bodies of water creating the tides. I am a little fuzzy on the science but I am pretty sure I am right on this. Happy Moon Day!

Big Birthday Week

In light of the sheer number of birthdays this week we will be going with a brief, “what are they best know for” write-up for our beloved authors. This is in no way meant to be a reflection on them or their work. It is only a reflection of this humble blogger, who regrettably only has so much time. Also, I skipped breakfast so I would like to be done in time for lunch.

Hunter S. Thompson (b. July 18, 1937, Louisville, KY; d. February 20,  2005, Woody Creek, CO)

Selfie?“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Reporting for Rolling Stone Magazine, inventing “gonzo journalism,” writing Hell’s Angels, The Rum Diary (made into a Johnny Depp movie), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also made into a Johnny Depp movie), “drugs, alcohol, violence, [and] insanity”

For more on Hunter S. Thompson, click here.

Stephen Coonts (b. July 19, 1946, Buckhannon, WV)

Executive Air“All really great flying adventures begin at dawn.” Find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a naval aviator in the Vietnam War, writing military, action, techno-thriller novels and creating the character Jack Grafton

For more information on Mr. Coonts and his books, click here.


Petrarch (b. July 20, 1304, Arezzo, Italy; d. July, 19, 1374, Arqua Petrarca, Italy)

Nice leaves“Five enemies of peace inhabit with us – avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a Renaissance scholar and poet, beginning the humanist philosophical movement as well as the concept of the “Dark Ages,” writing Canzoniere, Trionfi and Africa

For more information on Petrarch, click here.


Cormac McCarthy (b. July 20, 1933, Providence, RI)

The lighting makes you look slightly sinister in spite of the smile.“My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold, and anything else is just a waste of time.” More McCarthy quotes here.

Best Known for: Being named Cormac (seriously, how many other Cormacs do you know?), winning the MacArthur Genius Grant, being one of the most respected American novelists of the last 50 years, writing Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses (movie), No Country for Old Men (movie) and The Road (another movie), and… oh yeah, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

For information on Cormac McCarthy and his books you can go to his website, here.


Ernest Hemingway (b. July 21, 1899, Oak Park, IL; d. July 2, 1961, Ketchum, ID)

What is he looking at?“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Fighting in multiple wars, living it up in Paris, going on safari and in general leading a life of adventure and being the model of modern masculinity; he also wrote The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize for Literature for his efforts – not too shabby

For more on Ernest Hemingway, click here.


Raymond Chandler (b. July 23, 1888, Chicago, IL; d. March 26, 1959, La Jolla, CA)

Pipes - the most distinguished way to get mouth cancer“I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle, so he won’t let himself get snotty about it.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being an oil executive that lost his livelihood during the great depression and had to turn to writing detective stories to make a living, co-authoring several Hollywood screenplays (including the Oscar-nominated Double Indemnity), creating the character Philip Marlowe (later played by Humphrey Bogart), and writing several masterpieces of the hard-boiled detective genre, including The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye

For more Chandler information, click here.

This Week’s Author Birthdays

Henry David Thoreau (b. July 12, 1817, Concord, MA; d. May 6, 1862, Concord, MA)

That is a beard.“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Read more quotes here.

Remember when I referenced Walden last week when we were talking about Nathaniel Hawthorne and transcendentalism? Well, this is the guy! Henry David Thoreau, super-transcendentalist (which means that he was a naturalist, proto-environmentalist and philosopher in addition to being an author and a poet), was so devoted to the idea of simple living and experiencing and observing nature that he went to live by himself in a small, rustic cabin in the woods. For two years. The cabin was on the shores of a lake called Walden Pond (I know, odd name for a lake) and during his time there he wrote quite a bit about what he saw and felt and thought and he called the resulting work Walden. For those less naturally inclined and/or more politically minded, he is also well known for writing a little essay entitled Civil Disobedience in which he explores how best to oppose a government one does not agree with. Not that anyone ever has problems with the government anymore. For more on Mr. Thoreau, click here.

Clive Cussler (b. July 15, 1931, Aurora, IL)

Is he in Africa?“My friends joke that I raised the Titanic and never left the Rockies.” More quotes to be had here.

Clive Cussler writes what he knows… or rather he lives what he has written; the books technically came first.

Cussler is a popular and prolific action-adventure writer. His Dirk Pitt and NUMA Files series revolve around danger, classic cars, archaeology and adventure on the high seas; think of a modern, maritime version of Indiana Jones. So, where does real life come in? Admittedly, the 84 year old author’s day-to-day probably has far less in the way of maniacal villains and explosions than most of his stories BUT Cussler’s fictional government agency, the National Underwater & Marine Agency (NUMA), became a reality when the author created a non-profit agency of the same name devoted “to preserving our maritime heritage through the discovery, archaeological survey and conservation of shipwreck artifacts.” To date, Cussler and his organization have discovered more than 60 underwater wreck sites. And, as for those classic cars that often feature in his writing, Mr. Cussler is an avid collector. For more information on Clive Cussler, click here.

Introducing… BIRTHDAYS!

The cake is a lie!Okay. So, maybe we didn’t actually come up with the idea of birthdays but you should still be intrigued, and so…

We love books here at the library. Little books and big books, paranormal mysteries and exam prep books, audio books and ebooks, all of them. And where do all these books come from? Authors! So, by extension, we love authors too. We think they, and their hard work, should be celebrated. So, starting today, with this very post, we are going to regularly highlight the upcoming birthdays of notable authors (or at least as many of them as we can think of – there will inevitably be some that fall through the cracks and I apologize in advance to them and to you for the oversight). If this inspires you to pick up a book by one of those authors then great (especially if you were to pick it up at your favorite library), if not then at least you will learn a little bit about them and that’s good too.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (b. July 4, 1804, Salem, MA; d. May 19, 1864, Plymouth, NH)

Why did all the great transcendentalists have that wing-thing going on with their hair?“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Read more quotes here.

Hawthorne was a contemporary of the American Transcendentalism movement but never fully got on board – his time as a part of a utopian, agrarian community did not turn into his Walden but rather The Blithedale Romance, viewed by many as critical of transcendentalist ideas. His writing is generally seen as more closely aligned to the Romanticist movement, more specifically Dark Romanticism. Hawthorne’s novels and short stories often showed his Puritan roots (he was, after all, the descendant of one of the judges at the Salem witch trials, much to his chagrin) and were heavy with themes of morality and sin. Today, he is probably best known for his novel, The Scarlet Letter. For more on Nathaniel Hawthorne, click here.

 Barbara Cartland (b. July 9, 1901, Birmingham, UK; d. May 21, 2000, Hatfield, UK)

I know, I know. But at least she looks happy in addition to creepy.“A historical romance is the only kind of book where chastity really counts.” More quotes to be had here.

Barbara Cartland is one of the most successful and prolific romance authors in history. During her 98 years she published more than 700 romance novels, with more published after her death in 2000. She holds that Guinness World Record for the most novels written in a single year (that would be the 23 that she wrote in 1976) and sold more than 750 million copies of her work. Given the sheer number of titles and span of years that her career included it is pretty unlikely that any normal library would have anywhere close to all of her works but, given the sheer number of titles and span of years that her career included, it is pretty likely that any normal library would have at least some of her works. Here is what you can find at Moline Library. For more information on the lady herself, click here.

Robert A. Heinlein (b. July 7, 1907, Butler, MO; d. May 8, 1988, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA)

Space Marines! Hurrah!“Don’t ever become a pessimist… a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.” You can find more quotes here.

Robert A. Heinlein was one-third of the much lauded “Big Three” of science fiction in the second half of the 20th century (along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke). A former Navy man turned sci-fi writer, much of his work focused on self-reliance and individuality set against a military or space-traveling background (often both). Starship Troopers is quite possibly his most well known novel but if you are a fan of 60s style cultural revolutions and social experimentation  you can dive into the deep end and start with Stranger in a Strange Land. For more Heinlein information, click here.

Dean Koontz (b. July 9, 1945, Everett, PA)

Oh my God! Are you Stephen King?!“Nothing gives us courage more readily than the desire to avoid looking like a damn fool.” More Koontz quotes here.

Dean Koontz, the only author this week that is still writing (read “living”), is a best-selling author of suspense-thrillers. Many of his books include elements of the horror, dark fantasy and mystery genres as well, drawing inevitable comparisons to other authors that write on similar topics; most notably (and sometimes controversially) Stephen King. Koontz is best known for his successful Odd Thomas and Frankenstein series. For up-to-date information on Dean Koontz and his books you can go to his website, here.



Happy World UFO Day!

I can't identify it!

I took this one from my backyard.   ……   No, not really. But how cool would that be?

Whether you are a true believer, a skeptic, or just curious, today is the day to get your alien costumes on (or your human costumes off – you know who you are) and indulge in all things extraterrestrial, especially objects of the flying and unidentified variety. According to worldufoday.com there are several ways to be aware of World UFO Day; the simplest being to read UFO/alien themed books and watch UFO/alien themed films or TV shows and have UFO/alien themed conversations with friends or family or strangers. Well, maybe not strangers.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, Moline Library has you covered. You can browse our collection for books and movies that will scratch that little-green-men-and-women-in-flying-saucers itch and then stop in at the Java Lab Cafe for a well-caffeinated discussion about the possibility of life on other planets with your friends. Enjoy and remember, ‘Klaatu barada nikto‘ in case of rampaging Gorts.