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Write a Novel with BCPL! (You know you want to.)

posted by: November 10, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for Book in a Month Cover art for No Plot? No Problem!Cover art for The End, Part 1It’s that time of year again: The time when the air cools down and the writing heats up. At BCPL, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming to a branch near you. Everyone has a story inside them, and November is the time to let it out! With that in mind, check out the following titles that have helped others reach deep inside themselves to let their own words out.


Need structure? No idea where to begin? Afraid that the middle will fall completely out of the story? Never fear! Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s Book in a Month provides all the instruction a person could want about how to put together an outline, assemble ideas and even generate new ones! Schmidt brings order, structure and worksheets to the chaos that is a house when a novel is being written inside.


What if you have no idea what to write, only that you want to write it right now, immediately? Talk to Chris Baty. The founder of NaNoWriMo (going strong since 1999) aims his book No Plot? No Problem! at anyone who thinks it might be fun to write a novel but has no idea what to write about. Or anyone who has just discovered that NaNoWriMo is a thing and wants to do it.


Unsure if you can be successful writing a readable novel in a month? T. Styles, popular author extraordinaire, demonstrates her prowess in The End, Part 1. This short book (155 pages) takes the aspiring author one day at a time through the process of creating a novel.


Make “some day” become this day, right now.



The 2015 Fall Literary Awards Update

posted by: October 14, 2015 - 12:00pm



Cover of A Brief History of Seven Killings



Congratulations to Marlon James who won the Man Booker Prize last night in London for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings. James is the first Jamaican author to win the prestigious award which promotes the finest in fiction and comes with a £50,000 prize. Spanning three decades, the novelist was inspired by the true story of the attempt on the life of reggae star Bob Marley to explore the unsettled world of Jamaican gangs and politics. The Guardian calls the winning novel “an epic, uncompromising novel not for the faint of heart. It brims with shocking gang violence, swearing, graphic sex, drug crime but also, said the judges, a lot of laughs.” 









The National Book Award finalists were announced today. The winners will be announced on November 18th. 



Cover of RefundCover of The Turner House Cover of Fates and Furies Cover of Fortune Smiles  Cover of A Little Life



Cover of Between the World and Me  Cover of Hold Still Cover of If the Oceans Were Ink Cover of Ordinary Light  Cover of The Soul of an Octopus



Cover of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude Cover of How to Be Drawn  Cover of Voyage of Sable Venus Cover of Bright Dead Things  Cover of Elegy for a Broken Machine


Young People's Literature 

Cover of The Thing About Jellyfish  Cover of Bone Gap Cover of Most Dangerous Cover of Challenger Deep Cover of Nimona







Banned Books Week

posted by: September 30, 2015 - 11:00am

Cover art for The Bluest EyeCover art for The Kite RunnerCover art for The Perks of Being a WallflowerThis week, the national reading community celebrates “Banned Books Week.” Established in 1982 in response to a sudden increase in challenges to books in schools, Banned Books Week is a celebration of our freedom to read as well as the diverse writers who challenge, provoke and even offend us.


Here is a list of the most challenged books in libraries, schools and bookstores for the year 2014:


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This novel explores race and identity by focusing on a young cartoonist who leaves his reservation school to attend an all-white high school whose mascot happens to be an Indian. It’s been challenged for its explicit language, depictions of sexuality and bullying.


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This autobiographical graphic novel has received much acclaim for humanizing Iran for western audiences, and was turned into an animated film in 2007. It is often challenged for its depictions of the torture of Iranian dissidents.


And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

This picture book tells the story of two penguins unable to conceive who raise a neglected egg as their own. Why the controversy? Roy and Silo are both dads!


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Morrison’s classic novel deals with internalized racism during the Great Depression. It is controversial for its exploration of racism as well as child abuse.


It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health by Robie Harris

A guide to puberty for children narrated by a cartoon bird and bee (get it?). Many people find the illustrations of naked bodies offensive, but if you’re on board it’s much less terrifying than those educational videos they show in gym class.


Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

This graphic novel follows two alien soldiers who abandon their war to start a family together. It has been challenged for being “anti-family,” which is ironic because family is such a strong theme in the book. Maybe they’re just against people with horns marrying people with wings?


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This coming of age story set in Afghanistan has been challenged for “desensitizing students to violence.”


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Chbosky’s book has been challenged since its publication for its depictions of teenage depression, yet has still struck a chord with young readers and was turned into a film in 2012. Visit the Banned Books Week website to read testimonies from students who have literally had the book taken away from them while they were reading it!


A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

Trigger warning: This book deals with the author’s experience of being kidnapped as a child. It is frequently challenged for the upsetting nature of this story.


Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Teenagers! Kissing! Unsupervised! Telgemeier’s light-hearted graphic novel has been challenged for its focus on teenage relationships as well as its homosexual themes.



Carnegie Medal Longlist Announced

posted by: September 30, 2015 - 11:00am

Carnegie MedalThe longlists for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were announced yesterday, and 20 outstanding titles have made each list. Congratulations to Baltimore’s own Anne Tyler, whose A Spool of Blue Thread made the fiction list, while another Baltimore native, Ta-Nehisi Coates, was selected for the nonfiction list with Between the World and Me. It’s been a very good year for Coates, who is also on the National Book Award longlist and was named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow on Monday.


The Carnegie committee is a joint project between RUSA, a division of the American Library Association, and Booklist. A shortlist will be announced on October 19, and the winners will be announced on January 10, 2016.


Between the Covers with Charles Belfoure

posted by: September 23, 2015 - 7:00am

House of Thieves cover art.Bestselling author, architect and Westminster resident Charles Belfoure will join Baltimore County Public Library for a librarian-led group book discussion on Friday, September 25 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in The Ivy Bookshop tent at the Baltimore Book Festival. Mr. Belfoure will discuss his new historical novel, House of Thieves, as well as his well-regarded first novel The Paris Architect. Both stories feature an architect who ends up using his skills for precarious endeavors. In The Paris Architect, set during the Nazi's occupation of France, Lucien Bernard collaborates with a local industrialist to design hiding places for the Jews. In House of Thieves, architect John Cross is forced by gangsters to use his blueprints to expedite home burglaries to save his son from a gambling debt. Recently, Charles Belfoure answered questions for Between the Covers about House of Thieves.


Between the Covers: You do such a masterful job placing readers in late 19th century Manhattan. What made you choose New York’s Gilded Age for your setting and this lively time period? 

Charles Belfoure: That was my favorite period in architectural history and I was also fascinated by the social history of the period. I spent a lot of time doing research on the worlds of the super-rich, the miserably poor and the underworld of the Gilded Age.


BTC: You introduce your readers to John Cross, an architect who gets drawn into the criminal underworld to protect his family. Did you have anyone from real life in mind when you created this character?

CB: I came across a real historical figure named George L. Leslie. He came from a wealthy family in the Midwest and had come to New York in the 1870s to practice as an architect, but gave it up because he preferred the life of a bank robber. When I was young, I had done a project for a Mafia boss who’s since been murdered. That was also an inspiration for doing a book about the underworld.


BTC: In many ways this story is a tale of societal contrasts. Was this deliberate on your part?

CB: Yes, there was an incredible contrast between rich high society and the miserably poor in New York City. The poor of that time had no social safety net like unemployment insurance or Medicaid to help them as they do today. The poverty was staggering. I wanted the lives of people in these two different worlds to intersect.


BTC: Both of your novels revolve around the world of an architect using his skills and training in ways never imagined. Can you talk a little about your own world as an architect?The Paris Architect

CB: I still practice as an architect or as a historic preservation consultant. I help recycle historic buildings into new uses. As an architect, I’m doing three buildings on Eutaw St. on the block up from the Hippodrome and one on Howard St. As a preservation consultant and historic tax credit consultant, I’m currently working on a dozen buildings.


BTC: Tell us about your Baltimore roots? 

CB: I grew up in Woodlawn in the 1960s and early 1970s. I graduated from Woodlawn Senior High. Woodlawn is right on the western city-county line so I went into Baltimore City quite a bit on the bus. I’d go down to Howard St. to go to the big department stores and movie theaters. It’s strange that I now work on projects on Howard St., which is this dangerous rundown deserted area so different from when I was a kid with crowds of shoppers. I think I do these historic rehab projects to try to bring back the city the way it used to be.


BTC: Baltimore has its share of noted local authors? Do you have a favorite?

CB: Anne Tyler, one of America’s finest novelists. No one has a finer insight into human nature than she does. She’s the only writer that I’ve read consistently.


BTC: Are you working on a third novel?

CB: Yes, it’s set in England in 1905 and about an architect who has hit rock bottom.


Mr. Belfoure will be signing copies of both novels, available for purchase, during the event.  


Jackie Collins 1937-2015

posted by: September 21, 2015 - 12:12pm

Cover art for The SantangelosJackie CollinsJackie Collins, the beloved best-selling novelist, died over the weekend following a six-year battle with breast cancer. She was 77. She published 30 books over four decades, selling more than 500 million copies in 40 countries and casting a strong influence in the worlds of publishing and Hollywood.


Born in London, Jackie was a rebellious child who was expelled from school as a teenager. Her options were reform school or Hollywood, so she chose to join her actress sister, Joan, in Hollywood. She tried acting, but eventually made the switch to novelist with the publication of her first novel in 1968. The World Is Full of Married Men which was so salacious it was banned in Australia and South Africa. Many of her novels focused on the scintillating lives of Hollywood’s rich and famous, including Hollywood Wives which was made into a successful miniseries. Her novels featuring Lucy Santangelo all hit the bestseller lists and The Santangelos was her last published novel.


Following her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis, Jackie chose to keep her illness almost entirely to herself. In an exclusive interview with People Magazine on September 14, she noted, "I did it my way, as Frank Sinatra would say. I've written five books since the diagnosis, I've lived my life, I've travelled all over the world, I have not turned down book tours and no one has ever known until now when I feel as though I should come out with it." A complete list of titles available from BCPL can be found here.




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