HAPPY CAPS LOCK DAY!

CAPS LOCK

TAKE THE TIME TO TYPOGRAPHICALLY SHOUT AT SOMEONE TODAY TO REMIND THEM OF ALL THE TIMES THAT YOU DON’T!

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8 In 10 Adults Still See Libraries as Sources of Credible Info

Card Cat

Photo by Sanwal Deen on Unsplash

With the terms of what constitutes “news” or even “facts” ever more in question, most Americans are comfortable depending on public libraries to help guide them toward reliable sources. A new study cited by the Pew Research Center reports that at least seventy-eight percent of adults believe their local library can steer them toward information that is “trustworthy and reliable.” In fact, the public’s growing fear of being bamboozled by “fake news” may actually be working in our libraries’ favor, as “about six-in-ten adults (sixty-one percent) say they would be helped at least somewhat in making decisions if they got training on how to find trustworthy information online.” Chances are, your local librarian will be able to help you with that very objective.

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Genre Friday – Wuxia

If you had to sum it up in just a few words, I suppose you would call the stories in the wuxia genre Chinese, historical, martial arts epics. It’s almost the Chinese version of a western but, instead of the rough-around-the-edges, drifter with a gun that blows into town in the American west of the 19th century to clean up the place the hard way, it’s a lone, often lowly-born, wushu warrior in pre-modern China. Plus, there is normally an element mystery.

It’s actually got a pretty complex and storied history, so rather than attempting to explain it further, I’m going to hand it over to Chinese-born romance author, Sherry Thomas…

Wuxia Explained: A Look at Mystery Storytelling Across Cultures

Wuxia

Photo © Shutterstock

The Chinese enjoy a long literary tradition of stories dealing with crime and punishment. Often those stories have for a protagonist an incorruptible magistrate – not that easy to find, it would seem, in the imperial bureaucratic system, and therefore the more heroic for his rarity. The magistrate has a lot of power over his jurisdiction: He is prosecutor, judge, and jury, not to mention the lead detective on the cases that come before him.

Modern western mysteries were introduced to China late in the nineteenth century and quickly became popular. Chinese readers consumed a lot of Sherlock Holmes’s adventures and Chinese writers produced many detective titles of their own. But after Communist rule was established in the mainland, that output ground to a halt, since it seemed to serve no “revolutionary” purposes.

Outside the Communist sphere, however, in Taiwan and Hong Kong, mystery writers continued apace. But mystery writers weren’t the only ones to adopt and adapt the formula: Some of the most widely read mysteries written in the Chinese language were, in fact, martial arts epics.

Collectively known as wuxia, martial arts epics are some of the most popular genre books in the modern Sinosphere. They feature heroes and heroines who are adept in the various disciplines of martial arts, and portray grand dramas set against something of an alternate society, in which characters belong to myriad lineages of martial training and often find themselves involved in blood feuds dating back generations.

Classical wuxia novels were more likely to be straightforward accounts of itinerant heroics. But the most influential writers of the modern era delight in incorporating mystery elements. Sometimes it is done as a partial plot arc, such as when the clever heroine of Legends of the Condor Heroes, a work comparable to The Lord of the Rings in its reach and influence, figures the true murderers of her fiancé’s masters. Sometimes it is the entire plot: Long before I knew what a locked-room mystery was, I had read one, about how a roomful of great martial arts masters, on seclusion to take their skills to the next level, were all found dead when the doors to the hall were at last thrust open.

Mystery novels aren’t just about solving the puzzle; they are also about seeing justice served. Classical western detective fiction usually did not deal with the portion of the legal process that would actually see the culprits punished; the implicit assumption was that, with means, motive, opportunity so clearly laid out, often with a confession to boot, the system would work as it should. (Agatha Christie sometimes liked to have the murderers commit suicide, just to be sure.)

But such a legal system does not exist in the parallel universe that is the martial world in wuxia novels. The revelation of guilt, therefore, is often followed by a battle royale, from which our heroes emerge victorious, and the villains are disposed of extra-judiciously, but justly, a solution that suits the ethos of wuxia literature, with its emphasis on a system of honor, rather than a system of laws.

The funny thing is, I had devoured all the wuxia novels I could lay my hands on in my adolescence, never once realizing that they were, in fact, a melding of eastern and western storytelling. It was only later, when I read more about the development of modern wuxia, that I learned its highest practitioners had made the deliberate choice to fuse the structure of detective fiction onto the age-old setting of the martial world.

All I can say, looking back at my voracious reading of yesteryear, is that as an artistic choice, it totally worked!

Dont’ You Cry – Book Discussion with the author, Mary Kubica

IL Reads - Don't You Cry

I bet it’s a great book, but I tell you, that title does not make me feel like something good is about to happen.

Fall into Reading: *Our Most Anticipated Books of the Fall

Fall Books

by Chris Schluep, September 06, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

As book lovers, we know that the close of summer is something to anticipate. Maybe there aren’t as many beachy reads available–but the ones that are on the horizon are BIG ones. Stephen King. Michael Connelly. Nora Roberts. Ken Follett. Janet Evanovich. John Grisham. And Dan Brown. BIG.

But fall is also the traditional season of serious nonfiction. Walter Isaacson has written a book on Leonardo da Vinci. Ron Chernow has a huge biography coming out on Ulysses Grant (in this book, I learned that the “S” in U. S. Grant was the result of a fortunate clerical error that Grant decided to keep). And National Book Award-winner Ta-Nehisi Coates has a collection of essays coming out in October.

In literature, some other names that stand out are Jennifer Egan, John Green, Celeste Ng, and Jeffrey Eugenides.

But that’s really just scratching the surface. There are lots of books in our Fall Reading list. Some of the authors will be familiar, but it’s our hope you’ll discover new ones as well. Have a look. And happy reading!

(Oh, and cookbooks. There are lots of new cookbooks.)

*”Our” referring to the writers of Omnivoracious, Amazon.com’s book blog

Learn Your Library Resources: Services Edition – Notary Public and Passport Service at the Library

Special thanks to the Children’s Department Blog and Marta for writing this brief intro to two of our library’s most helpful services. 

NOTARY PUBLIC AND PASSPORT SERVICES AT YOUR LIBRARY!

Many libraries offer services that might surprise a few people. Two unusual things we offer are Notary Public and Passport services.

Notary

A notary public can witness a signature on a document with a proper photo ID. Remember not to sign the document, the notary must see you sign the document. There is a small fee for this service.

Passport EmblemYes, you can apply for a passport at our library! We have several passport acceptance agents who are trained by the Department of State to accept your application. Applications are available on line or you may pick one up at the library. You can also get your passport photo taken at the library, just let us know when you sign up for an appointment.

Unlike many places these services are available in the evening or on Saturdays.

Even Libraries Need Friends!

National friends of libraries week

Friends groups and foundations help libraries across the country enhance their services and programming by helping the libraries face budgetary challenges and the technological demands of today.

The Moline Public Library Friends Foundation is a volunteer group founded in 1990 and dedicated to supporting the Moline Public Library in order to enhance the services provided to library patrons. Its efforts, through the Friends run book store and fund raising, have provided the library with hundreds of thousands of dollars that were used to provide great and exciting services and programs.

So, if you love your library, thank a Friend today. Or better yet, become one!