Armchair Travel in the Coffman Library

By Carol Van Why

In preparing to spend two weeks in fourNew England states during October, I first cruised the 1666 Coffman library shelves.  A book in the TRAVEL WRITINGS section, The Last Empty Places by Peter Stark, offered up tidbits about Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau. Because my travel was going to feature Revolutionary War sites, I signed out and enjoyed David McCullough’s 1776 from the U.S. HISTORY section.

The trip would also take me to western Massachusetts with a special visit to Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA.  The Library’s FICTION section did not disappoint, containing Wharton’s House of Mirth, Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence.

The final third of the trip would be a meander down the Maine Coast.  Linda Greenlaw’s Lobster Chronicles, found on the BIOGRAPHY shelves was required reading for this segment of the trip.

Where have your 2018 travels taken you?  Did you browse our library to find related reading before or after your trip?

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Library Committee

By Katie Weiblen
Originally published in the October 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

New picture books have been added to the children’s area on the second floor of the  library. Residents are encouraged to view and use these wonderful additions and share them with grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

This Is the Nest that Robin Built by Denise Fleming.
A robin’s friends help build her nest in this collage picture book. It received Caldecott Honor Award.

Love by Matt de la Peña
The importance of love in a child’s life is eloquent and moving.

Out of Wonder: Poets Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander pays homage to twenty famed poets.

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackwell
Watch the days and the seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and the icebergs pass by. Outside there is water all around. Inside the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family.

Ducks Away by Mem Fox
Count along with mother duck as her ducklings try to waddle across the bridge. What happens when ducks fall one by one into the river teaches young readers basic math principles of addition and subtraction.

Old Hat by Emily Gravett
This fresh and funny picture book is about the futility of fads and the joy of learning to be yourself.

There is a Crocodile Under My Bed by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
This colorful picture book helps children overcome bedtime fears of the dark.

Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss
Grace is the quiet girl in the class and Gus the class guinea pig. Grace knows Gus is lonely so she sets out to help her furry friend.

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham
Follow the journey of the sun across the world from a whale’s eye to a little girl’s window.

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
A girl is lost in the snow. A wolf pup is lost too. How will they find their way home? This book won the Caldecott Medal.

For Older Children

Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
A young girl’s experience living in New York city in the 1990’s. It is a delightful story of old New York about a tomboy who could not help being a lady at the same time. It won the Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman
Maria Merian became an artist and a scientist in the seventeenth century. Her fieldwork and careful observation helped uncover the truth about metamorphosis and changed the course of science. Joyce Sidman is a Minnesota author and is known as a foremost science writer for children.

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A Minnesota Tradition

If you follow the Minnesota literary scene you may be aware that the Minnesota Book Awards have been awarded since 1988.  Between now and November 16, 2018, submissions are being accepted for the awards that will be announced on April 6, 2019.

Coffman Library’s collection contains many of the books that have been award winners, finalists or nominees during the history of the awards.  Copy the following link into your browser to see the complete list of past award winners and finalists.

To be eligible a book must have a 2018 copyright date and only authors, publishers and agents are eligible to make submissions.  If you could make a submission, what Minnesota book would you recognize for the upcoming awards?

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Some of 2018’s Best Books and More

By Carol Van Why
Originally published in the September 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

In June, the Library Committee asked you to tell us what new books you’d like to see in the library. Those titles are among the dozens that will begin to appear on the library’s Recent Arrivals shelves (just inside the second floor door to the right) this week. You can also find them under the “We Suggest” menu item New Books – 2018.

Our statistics tell us that Coffman’s reading interests, in order of popularity, are fiction, mystery, biography, and history. With the help of a financial donation from a resident, the Library Committee has been able to purchase 17 new books in the mystery/thriller genre. Look for new books by favorite authors like Baldacci, Krueger, Penny, Sandford, and Winspear.

You’ll be happy to hear that several of our new fiction purchases are based on such historical figures as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton and Alma Mahler. A new work by a favorite Minnesota author, Julie Schumacher, and popular fiction by contemporary Asian American authors should also be popular with Coffman readers.

Many of our nonfiction purchases are award winners and will grace library shelves for years. Biography highlights include recent works on Grant and Eisenhower. At least two of our history selections are actually true crime tales set in previous centuries. If you liked The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson these may appeal to you.

Though not as popular with Coffman readers, our science and environment collections contain more award-winning titles per shelf than any other library category. We’re pleased to have added important new books on both the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. And most readers will not be able to resist Simon Winchester’s latest. Now there’s an author who has proven to be able to turn any subject into a riveting read.

I hope you’re inspired to browse what’s new in the library. To help, we’ve put together a list of all the new titles, arranged by genre or subject. Pick up your own copy from the library’s table today.

For the next couple of months when the new books are not signed out to others,
you’ll find them on the library’s Recent Arrivals shelves. Thereafter, you’ll find them shelved in their permanent locations.

Don’t forget to sign books out and return them promptly for your fellow residents to enjoy.

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Most Definitely A Community of Readers!

By Carol Van Why

We asked and you told us what you’ve been reading this summer. All of your recommendations are combined in a list that you can find on the Library’s website at the Resident Reading List – Summer 2018. Titles appear in a genre/broad subject arrangement. Most but not all of the books on the list are in the Coffman collection. If you can’t find something contact one of the Library Committee members for help. Enjoy!

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Lounge, Connect, Browse, Borrow

By Carol Van Why and Victoria Tirrel
Originally published in the August 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

So good to see so many people enjoying the library these days, either for reading or taking advantage of Coffman’s wifi. By now we hope that even those of you who are new to Coffman know that the library has its own website. Connect with us at Once at 1666 Coffman’s site click on “1666 Coffman Library” on the far left.

When the site opens, slide your cursor over the menu bar at the top to discover topics ranging from using the library, donating materials, making memorial donations, to book cart sales and reading ideas. Click on any of the menu items to locate the information you need.

You’ll find our most recent blog post on the site’s opening page. We try to have new content there twice a month. If you’ve subscribed to the blog, you’ll receive an email whenever there’s something new on the site. You have to click on the link to take you directly to the new content. If you’ve been doing this, you already know that we highlight a new book each week for you to look for on the Recent Arrivals shelves.

That reminds me that last year Coffman residents borrowed 913 items from the library, up 26% from 2016. We couldn’t do it without your support. Your generous book donations are the lifeblood of the collection. A modest annual appropriation from the association helps us add some of the year’s best books to the collection. Watch for a blog post later in the summer to link you to a list of what’s new to borrow.

Want to know more about the library? Cochair Katie Weiblen is available to give you a personal tour of the library and answer your questions.

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What I’m Reading This Summer

By Victoria Tirrel

When the mercury hits 90 or the rain falls, you’ll find my nose in a book. This summer I’ve read my way through some of my old favorites and a few new ones courtesy of the Coffman Library.

I recently finished Miller’s Way by Anna Quindlen, a novel about a young girl growing up in a valley named for her family that is under threat of being drown by a new water diversion project. The book spans her life from grade school until adulthood, the dynamics of a well-drawn family of diverse characters, against the backdrop of the ’60s to today. It’s a novel for people who love place and family.

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad kept me reading eagerly. Winner of both the Pulitzer Price and the National Book Award, it’s the story of an escaping slave named Cora. Whitehead doesn’t stint on the brutality, but the subtlety he adds to the portrayal of slave life and escape keeps the book a page turner. Highly recommended!

I’m now about a third of the way through Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, which tells the story of the daughter of a man with mafia connections as she works in the Brooklyn Naval Yard during WWII. So far it’s rich with history and possibility…can’t wait to find out what happens. Egan won the Pulitizer Prize for her earlier book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, so you know the writing is excellent!

I hope you’ll check out these novels and the myriad other wonderful books waiting on the shelves of your library. Happy summer reading!

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Special People, Special Books

By Carol Van Why
Originally published in the July  2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

Cheri Register’s name is one that often comes up in Coffman conversations whenever good books are mentioned. In a 2017 Book Night mini-review, Sara Evans shared that Register’s book The Chronic Illness Experience is one she suggests to friends who are coping with chronic conditions. Interestingly, Jane Brody, New York Times columnist, praised an earlier edition of this book in her “Personal Health” column in February, 1989. Clearly, this book has staying power.

Shortly after Register’s The Big Marsh was published, Gretchen Kreuter invited Cheri to discuss the book at Book Night. Cheri Register died in March 2018, but not before two of her books received Minnesota Book Awards. The Big Marsh is one of those, as is Packinghouse Daughter. Recently, both books have been added to the Coffman library’s collection. Gretchen Kreuter donated Packinghouse Daughter, and I donated The Chronic Illness Experience.

Bettye Olson is not a Coffman resident but lives in nearby Lauderdale. Not only is she a friend of many residents and a longtime attendee at Mag’s exercise class, but it’s said that she is one of Minnesota’s most influential twentieth century artists. Bettye’s Coffman friends feel privileged to share her with art lovers near and far.

At least once or twice a day, Coffman’s eastsiders are fortunate to enjoy one of Bettye’s works hanging in the 1E elevator lobby. Now, thanks to Afton Press, Bettye Olson’s life and lengthy career are documented in a stunning book entitled, Persistence of Vision: The Art of Bettye Olson. As part of a group that raised seed money to support publication of the book, I’m pleased to have my copy become part of our library’s collection.

Look for all three of these important books in Coffman library’s recent arrivals area. Remember to sign out books on the clipboard located on the library’s table.  The library’s loan period is two months.

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Great American Read

By Carol Van Why, Library Co-Chair

When I visited the St. Anthony Park Library recently I picked up a flyer promoting the Great American Read.  Turns out it’s a joint PBS/American Library Association/American Booksellers effort to celebrate and promote reading.

Copy this into your browser to watch video of the program launch:

Hosted by Meredith Vierra the video features well-known authors, celebrities and ordinary people talking about their love of reading and favorite novels.  On the same website, click on Read-the-List in order to print the 100 favorite books and see how many you’ve read.  I can tell you that many of them are on the Coffman Library shelves.

It seems that readers around the country are invited to vote on their favorite book from the list.  PBS and its partners will announce the winner in the fall.

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Reviewers Spotlight Strong Women

By Joanne Kendall
Originally published in the April 2018 issue of the 1666 Coffman Newsletter

On Wednesday, April 18, Coco Weber will review The Round House, one the novels of Louise Erdrich in which she speaks so powerfully of and for the Native Americans who are central to her writing.

The strong women in Code Girls by Liz Mundy sparked lively conversation and recollections of World War II in the discussion that followed Huber Warner’s Book Night review in March. Those in the audience at Katie Weiblen’s February Book Night review of Emma, recall the delight her telling of the single-mindedness of its author, Jane Austen, and the determination of the main character—their strengths quite a contrast to Katie’s softly genteel stage setting in a Georgian-Regency Period mini-parlor.

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