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Pumpkin Decorating Contest 2015 – Voting Begins Now!

Entries for this year’s Pumpkin Decorating Contest are on display in the case on the first floor of the Library. The theme this year is “Music”.   Our participants have all done an amazing job.  Cast your vote for your favorite entry.

Ballots are available at the Library Service Desk; voting starts today through Thursday, October 29.  Everyone who votes will be entered in a raffle to win a Halloween goody bag. The winner of the best display and of the raffle will be announced Friday, October 30If you cannot make it to the Library, you may also email your vote to

Pumpkins with their contest numbers.  Click to expand image.

  1. pdc1
  2. pdc2
  3. pdc3
  4. pdc4
  5. pdc5
  6. pdc6
    The participants behind this submission wired it with lights, which we cannot power while the submission is in the display case.  We’ve made a gif of it in action (click to play).20151023_152946(1)
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Style by the Book – Hey guys, remember Harry Potter?

Back when we were first forming the current blog team, the Library staff joked about ways in which we could get more Harry Potter on to the blog. Someone suggested having regular posts entitled “Hey guys, remember Harry Potter?” and we all laughed but we were kind of serious too. You see, most of the Library staff are huge Harry Potter fans. We use our MBTI types to determine which Harry Potter character we’re most like (You’d be surprised at the number of Dracos we have here.) and compete in Harry Potter Trivia Night under the team name “Madame Pince’s Army” (Second place! We were SO CLOSE!) Unfortunately, the regular Harry Potter posts never happened but I wanted to share one last Style by the Book inspired by that magical series. I’ll see you at Platform 9 3/4!


Heading to Hogwarts
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One City One Story

ocos1Each year, the Boston Book Festival makes a short story available to all, free of charge, to spread the joy of reading for pleasure among the teens and adults of our city. This year’s short story is “Home Movie” written by Jennifer De Leon. This story, focusing on a Guatemalan wife and husband living in Boston with their children, explores themes of immigration, home, and memory.

Copies of “Home Movie” are available for free at the Wheelock College Library. Digital copies, as well as Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, and Mandarin translations are available at the One City One Story website. Join one of the discussions that are happening at several Boston Public Library locations or organize your own! The website has some great questions to help you get the conversation started.

For more information about this year’s One City One Story selection, author, events, and the Boston Book Festival happening on October 24th, visit the Boston Book festival website at


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Rotary phone

Mindset List for the Baby Boomers

Every fall Beloit College issues its Mindset List for the incoming college class and every year I find myself more and more surprised. My cultural references have become obsolete. Where did the time go? It made me wonder if the incoming class would find the mindset of my college class as alien as I find theirs. I thought I’d give it a try, so here are some of the realities of life for my incoming college class.

  • If you wanted your own phone, you had to order it from the phone company. Each dorm had a phone in the lobby; if you got a call the person at the desk would call you on the intercom so you could pick up the extension in the hall.

    Rotary phone

    Rotary Phone. Image from

  • The lucky few owned typewriters. The really lucky ones owned electric typewriters. The rest of us borrowed.
  • Microwaves were too big and expensive to bring to college.
  • We drank Tab and Fresca. No Diet Coke yet.

  • Students went to Florida and other warm spots for spring break but not to Disney World because it hadn’t been built.
  • We found articles by looking in books, thick indexes that covered a few months to a year per volume
  • The library catalog was still a card catalog.

    Traditional card catalog

    Traditional card catalog. Image from Wikimedia Commons

  • We didn’t have cable television.
  • We called the movie, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars.

I looked up what things cost then:

  • Gallon of gas                      $ .65
  • New car (average)           $ 4300
  • Loaf of bread                     $ .32
  • Average income               $10,360.



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Feel Like a Jane Austen Movie Marathon?

Last month was the 20th anniversary of the movie, Clueless. I was not old enough to watch it in theaters when it came out and watched it in the early 2000s. While the clothes were no longer in style by then, the movie still felt fresh and modern.   I watched it again a few months ago and was glad to find that it still held up (and is Paul Rudd immortal?).  That is because it was an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and Jane Austen is always in style.  Adaptations and spinoffs of her novels are still going two centuries after her novels were published. The appearance of Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in my Netflix recommendations inspired me to hold you hostage to my some of my thoughts about lesser known Austen on-screen adaptations.
Aisha (2010).  A Bollywood modern-day adaptation of Emma . It has a slick and upbeat sensibility and continues the tradition of making the character of Emma and her antics frustrating but winsome, which I find difficult to do for a modern remake.

brideandprejudiceBride and Prejudice (2004). Some of the best scenes in Pride and Prejudice take place at dance parties, so a musical Bollywood film is a natural medium for the story. The misunderstanding between Lalita (Elizabeth) and Will (Darcy) has the added dimension of a culture clash between the Lalita, who is Indian, and Will, who is Caucasian American.

clueless Clueless (1995).   I just find some of Emma’s personality traits much more acceptable and realistic in a historical context rather than a modern one.  That is probably why the screenwriter aged her down from 20 to 16 and placed the entire story in high school.  When Emma (or Cher as she is known in the film) is a teenager, her single-mindedness, naivety, and unintended selfishness make more sense to me.  The movie has an interesting atmosphere of both innocence and biting commentary, which is partly why it is being celebrated 20 years later.

From Prada to Nada (2011). A loose, modern-day adaptation of Sense of Sensibility. Nora and Mary are the counterparts to Elinor and Marianne. What’s interesting about the movie is that the two young women are Mexican-American and part of their growth in the film involves exploring their cultural identity.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013). This is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in the form of video blog –featuring a graduate student, named Lizzie. This works incredibly well since the novel is primarily told in Elizabeth’s point of the view. I like the twists and updates to the characters and their situations. Mr.Collins’s proposal wasn’t a proposal of marriage but a proposal for Lizzie to join him as a business partner.  You can watch the series on youtube.

mansfieldparkMansfield Park (2007). Another Mansfield Park adaptation starring Rose Tyler Billie Piper.  As an adaptation, it was a failure. It was historically inaccurate and some of the characters portrayals were completely different from their novel counterparts.  So why is this on this list?  Because as a Mansfield Park alternate universe fake-history fanfiction, I found it a funny and entertaining watch.  I don’t think there has been a Mansfield Park adaptation made yet that has done its source material justice.


Persuasion (1995): 1995 was a great year for Jane Austen adaptations! Persuasion is faithful to the novel and its characters. Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds were quite a bit older than the novel’s characters, but they portrayed Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot and their suppressed emotions beautifully.


persuasion2Persuasion (2007): Another great adaptation of the novel, though I think it’s a touch more romanticized (especially the ending!) than the 1995 version and lacks some of the tension from the 1995.



You may notice that Northanger Abbey adaptations are not mentioned.  That’s because I haven’t watched any of them yet!  On-screen adaptations may be wonderful and very satisfying, but nothing beats the books.  Amidst all the romance are the social commentaries, the satirical notes, and the comedic beats that don’t always shine through in the adaptations.

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