Your Library Staff at Home- Must Watch Documentaries

Have you watched all the guilty pleasure reality television you can handle? Re-watched all of your favorite classic films? Caught up on all those Oscar-nominated movies that you missed? If you find yourself struggling to find great viewing at home, I’ve put together a list of five stellar documentaries that you can watch at home right now for free!

Faces Places

This utterly charming documentary was recommended to me a while back by Dori, our Adult Services Manager who always has a great film tip up her sleeve, and I finally got around to watching it last week. This delightful film follows 89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33 year-old French photographer and muralist JR in what is essentially a roadtrip movie through France. Winner of the Golden Eye at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Available through Kanopy.

13th

Netflix recently made a variety of educational documentaries available for free viewing on YouTube- you can view all of the free documentary offerings here. The amazing documentary 13th is one of these offerings and a definite must watch. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. This critically acclaimed film will leave you with much to think about.

Bombshell

Bombshell shares the inspiring story of Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr as she fled an oppressive marriage to create a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies in the 1940s. Viewers learn that behind the glamour and sex appeal was a very talented and inquisitive inventor who created a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology. Lamarr didn’t receive credit for this achievement but this film looks to give her recognition long past due. Available through Kanopy.

I Am Not Your Negro

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Oscar-nominated documentary explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, the book wasn’t completed and consisted of only thirty pages at the time of Baldwin’s death. Filmmaker Raoul Peck utilizes archival footage and Baldwin’s own words to envision the book he never finished, providing an excellent introduction to Baldwin’s work and an intriguing look at racism in America. Available through Kanopy.

Geek Girls

Geek Girls looks at the “hidden half” of fan culture- women! Nerdy ladies open up about their personal experiences in the world of conventions, video games, and other pop culture circles that are burdened by widespread misogyny. While geek communities have recently risen to prominence, very little attention is paid to nerdy women. Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of geeky women including a feminist geek blogger, a professional gamer, and a NASA engineer. Official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival. Available through Kanopy.

I hope something sparks your interest from my list! Each and every one of these documentaries is thought-provoking and well worth a watch. I guarantee you will learn something too, which is always what I expect from a good documentary. What are some of your favorite documentaries? I’d love to hear your picks in the comments!

Happy viewing and stay well!

Your Library Staff at Home-Social Distancing ABCs

A is for Anxiety. We are all feeling it and we all react to and handle it differently. Our reactions can even vary from moment to moment. How fun is that? Take me for example- today I had a fight over text with my brother and threw rocks at the lake. Engaging in a argument was dumb. Do not recommend; avoid if possible. Rock throwing, on the other hand, was very therapeutic. Definitely recommend. This is hard, friends. I hope you are finding solace-in books, in nature, in friends and family. And be kind to yourself if your solace is a lot chocolate. Chocolate definitely helps.

B is for Books about Libraries. Surprise! I’m switching up the B for National Library Week!

Here are a few of my favorite books about libraries and librarians:

C is for Connecting. My favorite way of connecting this week has been watching old episodes of Supernatural with a friend. We did this before social distancing, so it feel nice and normal. We don’t Zoom or Facetime or even talk on the phone. We load up the episode and just watch and text comments and emojis to each other. Low tech and high comfort.

Take care, everyone.

~Megan

Your Library Staff at Home- Cookbook Adventures

As you may have guessed, I love books. My home library includes a little bit of everything- classics, poetry, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and a variety of cookbooks that I’ve been gifted or picked up throughout the years. Traditionally, my home library organization mostly consisted of “put the books wherever they fit” and “let’s start stacking books under the coffee table”… but my husband and I recently purchased a new home and I now find myself with more space and shelving than ever before! I have a dedicated cookbook area in my kitchen, plenty of time to try out recipes that have long sat flagged with Post-it notes, and no plans to leave the house (except for groceries) for some time- could there be a more perfect time to experiment in the kitchen?

Today I’m sharing a few cookbooks I’ve been working my way through, along with links to some favorite recipes I have (successfully!) made myself so you can try at home.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Both The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and the follow-up Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman are fabulous, and Deb writes with such a conversational and encouraging tone, you will feel emboldened to try even her most complicated recipe. She is a home cook from NYC and her tasty comfort food is perfect for the stress we might all be feeling right now. I recommend making her one-pan farro and tomatoes– an easy dish that requires few ingredients and even fewer pots and pans!

Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski

I am totally obsessed with Sister Pie bakery. My brother-in-law lives in Detroit and whenever I visit we make sure to schedule a stop at this awesome bakery, snagging pie slices and cookies to take back with us (or consume entirely on the drive back home). I highly recommend making the sweet beet pie or the honey lemon meringue- both are crazy delicious and included in the cookbook!

Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon

Liddon’s cookbook is full of healthy vegan recipes and usually utilizes pantry staples and basic ingredients, so you don’t need to go to any specialty stores for ingredients (and nobody wants to go to a basic grocery store now, let alone a specialty store!). Try this quick pantry dal that you can make with basically whatever veggies you have around the house.

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard

Fun fact- Gerard grew up right here in Northeast Ohio! She lives in Colorado now but there are definite Midwest influences in many of her recipes, and she particularly adores broccoli cheddar soup recipes inspired by her childhood love of Panera Bread. Her crinkle top brownies are my absolute favorite brownie recipe, but be warned you may be tempted to eat the whole pan. Exercise extreme caution.

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

This was one of the first cookbooks I ever purchased (I own the original edition but the 10th anniversary edition has new recipes and updates!) and it is still one of my favorites. With extensive recipes for every occasion and meal, these vegan recipes are so delicious and flavorful you don’t need to be vegan to appreciate them. Time consuming and oh so delicious, I highly recommend making her eggplant moussaka with pine nut cream. It has been my go-to recipe for potlucks and parties for years, but also a great family dish for home because it will provide delicious vegan leftovers for days!

Don’t forget you can access an amazing array of cookbooks to browse as well through our digital library! And most of the cookbooks highlighted above include a recipe link to the author’s blogs, which are full of hundreds of more delicious recipes. Another great place for recipe discovery online is from the New York Times Cooking site, who are currently allowing free access to many more recipes than usual for non-subscribers.

What fun and exciting dishes or baked goods have you whipped up at home these past couple weeks? What do you have planned for April cooking? I’m hoping to try out some more Sister Pie recipes!

Your Library Staff at Home- Our Favorite Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month from all of us at Rocky River Public Library! National Poetry Month was launched in April of 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. You can read more about National Poetry Month and ways to get involved here!

Below you will find some favorite poems and poetry collections curated by RRPL staff we hope you will enjoy, along with lots of links so you can explore our favorite poets from home.

Dori’s Poetry Pick: “Sorrow Is Not My Name” from Bringing the Shovel Down, by Ross Gay

You can find more of this Ohio born poet’s work on his website, in our digital library collection, and through the Poetry Foundation website.

Megan’s Poetry Pick: “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats

You can read more from Yeats, widely considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, through the Poetry Foundation, or choose from four of Willam Butler Yeats poetry collections in our digital collection, including some of his early poems and an audiobook.

Greg’s Poetry Picks: Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith and
Bury it by Sam Sax

Read more of Smith’s award-winning poetry on his website and on the Poetry Foundation website. You can find more of Sax’s work on his website, through the Poetry Foundation site , and you can check out his debut collection of poems, Madness, from our digital library collection.

Nicole’s Poetry Pick: Blud by Rachel McKibbens

You can listen to audio performances of some of McKibbens’ poetry on her website or read some of her poetry through the Poetry Foundation.

Carol’s Poetry Pick: “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime” by William Carlos Williams

You can check out a collection of Williams’ early poems from our digital library in addition to reading more of Williams’ poetry through the Poetry Foundation.

Stacey’s Poetry Pick: “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems by Maya Angelou

We offer quite a few of Angelou’s amazing poetry collections in our digital library, and many of her poems are available on the Poetry Foundation website.

We’ll be celebrating poetry all month long over on the library’s social media, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more staff favorites, book spine poetry, and more. If you want to participate, consider recording yourself reading a favorite poem and sharing it on social media! We can all #shelterinpoems while we shelter in place- thanks to the Poetry Foundation for that wonderful hashtag!

Your Library Staff at Home – Keeping the young kid(s) busy while working from home

This week we had the opportunity to enjoy some happy mail for the little one, and it continues to bring us joy and engagement while trying to get some of my work tasks completed. Our happy mail included a care package from Grandma, a book from the Imagination Library and Highlights Magazine.

The care package from grandma included Easter candy and goodies, plus some very helpful handcrafted cloth masks for our little family to wear when we need to make essential runs.

My daughter also received her second book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a copy of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit and we were thrilled to add this classic to our collection. The Imagination Library is such an important resource in expanding access to books for young children. Participating communities are eligible to sign up children ages 0-5 to receive free books monthly. According the the Department of Education:

Data from the NAEP also show that students who report having more books in their homes performed better academically. Specifically, while less than 15 percent of students with between 0 and 10 books scored proficient in 2015, 50 percent of students with more than 100 books did. The data and research are clear – children who have access to print reading materials have better literacy outcomes.

The final piece of happy mail we received to help us pass the time this week was the April edition of Highlights Magazine. The coloring pages, photo hunts, and simple stories are proving to be an excellent resource to keep an eager-to-learn 4 year-old busy while I get work done.

Good health to you and yours,

Beth

Your Library Staff at Home – Pageturning Fiction & a Binge-Worthy Comedy

Feeling overwhelmed? Slow down. At the very least you can at least control what you are watching and reading. Here are some recommendations, just in time.

If you are looking for something different to binge-watch, “Raised by Wolves” is available via our free Acorn TV service https://rockyriveroh.rbdigital.com/  and is a “pleasantly raunchy British comedy,” according to the The New York Times. Portraying the eccentricities of a home-schooled family of six children, their headstrong single mother, and randy grandfather, this show isn’t for everyone, but its two seasons are refreshingly honest and original and filled with moments of comic gold.

In need of a satisfying page-turner? Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid fits the bill. Deceiving in appearance with its cute title and cover art, this novel about the connections between two women—a twenty-eight-year-old black babysitter and the well-meaning woman who employs her, will make you think about race and privilege, and is reminiscent of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Find a digital eBook or audio copy of the book at https://clevnet.overdrive.com/clevnet-rrpl/content/

If these sound like your cup of tea, enjoy. And, stay safe!