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Harry Potter

Go on a Blind Date with a Book!

Tired of wasting your time with the wrong books?

Hate being led on by a fancy cover, just to find out there’s not much inside?

Maybe you’re still a little caught up on that book from your past? (*cough Harry Potter cough*)

If you’re ready to take a chance on literary love, then stop by the Wheelock College Library and go on a Blind Date with a Book! We guarantee that every book in this display has the potential to make it to the top of your Amazon wish list.

BDWAB

How it Works:

  • Each wrapped book has a catchy (ok, cheesy) pick-up line which also hints to the book’s contents.
  • Browse the pick-up lines on each library book and select your perfect reading match—NO PEEKING!
  • Take the book to the Library Service Desk to check it out
  • When you get home, unwrap your blind date to meet the book of your dreams
  • READ AND ENJOY!

The best part is, if things don’t work out, just bring your failed fling back to the library and drop it off. No waterworks, no messy public breakups, and no getting dumped via text message at 4 am. These literomeos will only be around through Valentine’s Day, so come in soon so you’re not left wondering what could have been.


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

Literary Cosplay

After 10 years of living in Boston, I finally went to my first Anime Boston.  Anime Boston is an annual convention that celebrates and promotes Japanese animation, comics and pop-culture. I don’t keep up with anime as much as I used to but part of the appeal of an event like this is just immersing yourself in the culture. And one of my favorite parts of this culture is cosplay. Cosplay is a type of performance art in which participants dress up as a character often from video games, anime, or comics. Many cosplayers create their elaborate costumes by hand – sewing, gluing, molding and piecing together ideas that existed only in an imaginary or virtual world. The art of cosplay has grown over the years and has created celebrity cosplayers and even a reality show! And as we all know, once you have a reality show, you’ve really made it in this world.

Cosplay isn’t just limited to anime and comics. Some of my favorite literary characters have been brought to life by cosplayers. As I read, I form images in my mind as to what the characters and the setting look like. It’s one thing to see it in my head, but to see it brought into the real world is truly incredible.

mistborn

Mistborn cosplay by Ellen Hyde of Hyde Designs

Mistborn – I love the Mistborn series written by Brandon Sanderson. He is a master at creating rich and detailed worlds. In this series, Allomancers are people who are born with the ability to “burn” metals which give them special abilities such as increased strength, speed or the ability to influence the emotions of others. While Allomancers can only burn one kind of metal, giving them access to only one special ability, Mistborn can burn all metals which makes them especially powerful. To distinguish themselves from regular Allomancers, Mistborn wear special cloaks that enable them to blend in with the night mists. See more of Ellen Hyde’s work at her website, Hyde Designs.

A Surprise Pride and Prejudice Engagement

A Surprise Pride and Prejudice Engagement

Pride and Prejudice – This Jane Austen cosplay is just beyond words. A family planned an elaborate Pride and Prejudice surprise engagement in which they put on hand sewn Regency dresses and acted out various scenes from the novel ending, of course, with Mr. Darcy proposing to Elizabeth Bennett. It also helps to have family members who look as if they’ve stepped out of a BBC period drama.

Moaning Myrtle at Dragon Con 2013

Harry Potter – With the end of the books and movies, some of us may be experiencing a little Harry Potter withdrawal.  Thankfully, there are other ways to revisit Hogwarts. While it may seem pretty easy to cosplay as a Hogwarts student (Sweater, white collared shirt, tie, done.), these people definitely took it to another level. By the way, there’s an entire convention dedicated to Harry Potter!

Marauder’s Map dress by Ali

Marauder’s Map dress by Ali.

The map on this dress was hand drawn using a fine point Sharpie! See more details on Ali’s Tumblr.

Steampunk Rowena Ravenclaw by Aleta Pardalis

Steampunk Rowena Ravenclaw by Aleta Pardalis

Aleta Pardalis is a genius at creating steampunk interpretations of well known characters. See more of her work on her website!

Who would you like to cosplay as? Are you a cosplayer? If you are, we would love to see your creations! Share links in the comments!


Let’s judge that book cover!

The inspiration for this post comes from my (mostly) weekly update of the new books panel of this Library blog (yes, this is the place where you can find out about new books!). The Library gets a lot of new stuff every week, and I go ahead and select about 10 books, give or take, to be featured. It’s not a difficult process: I mostly choose the ones that have covers that catch my eye.

Cover of Goblin Secrets

New book at the Library (J AL28g). The cover reminds me of one of my favorite books/movies, Howl’s Moving Castle.

In the Library’s case, the books have already been carefully selected so I don’t have to think about content when judging which ones get featured. However, I find myself doing this outside of the Wheelock, gravitating and picking up books with interesting and/or attractive covers and ignoring the plain, generic ones.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think everyone does this to some extent.

Cover harry potter book 1

A little sad that the Harry Potter series will be getting new covers in the US. I’m so attached to this one!

I don’t believe it is necessarily a horrible thing to judge books by their covers and to place so much importance on covers. Entire marketing departments, artists, models, and sometimes, even authors, have worked hard on them (at least, I like to think so). And a cover is often the first piece of information we get about a book and the first image around which we build our vision of the book’s world and characters. Sometimes, it is the only piece of information that we remember about a book or the only image we associate with the book.  For those of us into specific genres of fiction, the cover is a great indicator as to whether the book is a mystery, romance, science-fiction, or fantasy.  Thousands of titles are published each week so it is easy and fast to choose based on instant reactions to the aesthetics.

Wuthering Heights cover

I wonder if Emily Bronte was rolling in her grave when she saw this. Book (with different cover) also available at the Library

Due to all of this, even when we are not judging the book itself by its cover, we can and do judge the intent behind the cover.  Sometimes tacky, sloppy, or blatantly misleading covers can be a source of ire, snarky remarks, and spirited discussions.  Would Twilight fans pick up Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights if it has a Twlight-esque cover with a reminder that it’s Bella and Edward’s favorite book (Yes)and should we care if it’s getting readers to explore the English lit classic?  Have you noticed the racism in YA covers and why do publishers think we’re not going to notice if the cover features a white female when the story’s main character is black?  Where does the UK’s recent 50th anniversary edition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar land in the kitten-to-suicide scale?  And would E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Gray  have done so well if it had a less tame, less genre-ambiguous cover?

What are your thoughts about book covers?  Have you discovered a good read or a new favorite author after choosing a book based on its cover art?

The Bell Jar

Isn’t this a story of a young woman’s descent into clinical depression? This book (with a different cover) is also available at the Library.


Pumpkin Pasties

Pumpkin shaped pumpkin pasties–magic!

When it comes to literary imagination, it is hard to trump J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. These ingeniously crafted books offer departures from reality across all aspects of the story–from language, to transportation, to food. Being a food lover, I read the books imagining what butter beer, pumpkin juice and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans actually tasted like. Writing this blog has made me stop wondering and start investigating! Recently I made a treat from the Honeydukes cart on the Hogwarts Express: Pumpkin Pasties.

Pasties (pronounced PAS-tees) are a staple of English cuisine. These small hand-pies are most widely associated with the county of Cornwall, and are traditionally filled with a mixture of beef and vegetables. The Cornish Pasty actually has a Protected Geographical Indication, meaning that the recipe is basically a culinary historic landmark (that you can eat!). Having watched many Food Network shows about stuffed pastry, I know that the pastie originated as a way for working people to transport their food with them. The crust originally had only a functional, not culinary, value–it held the filling until the owner was ready to eat it, and kept his hands clean while he did. Sometimes the crust was even discarded, not consumed. Now, the pastie has made it’s way into Harry Potter with an imaginative twist on filling: pumpkin.

When creating my pumpkin pasties, I quickly arrived at a puzzling question: are pumpkin pasties sweet or savory? Traditional pasties tend to be savory, but in the books they are available on the Honeydukes cart–which sells only candy and sweet treats. Instead of choosing between two equally appealing options, I opted to try out both. One savory, one sweet.

I used store bought pie crust, and made the following fillings (all measurements are approximate, I am an imprecise cook):

Sweet

The savory filling is on the left, sweet is on the right.

1/2 can pure pumpkin

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Savory

1/2 can pure pumpkin

1 sauteed shallot, chopped

2 sauteed garlic cloves, chopped

2 boiled potatoes, smashed

salt and pepper to your liking

I made two fancy pumpkin shaped pasties using this little gem, but also baked a few standard circles. For each circular pastie, I laid out the bottom crust and added filling, leaving about a 1/8 inch boarder. Then I placed the top crust on and crimped the edges with a fork. For the pumpkin shaped ones, I simply laid the bottom dough in the mold, filled the dent in the center, put on the top crust and pinched it closed. All of the pasties got an egg wash, and the sweet ones also got a dusting of cinnamon sugar. Easy! I baked the whole batch for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, then removed the smaller circles and left the pumpkin shapes in for another 6 minutes (which was about a minute too long–it oven was a little smoky when I opened the door). The pasties did ooze a bit, but because of my amazing silicone baking mat, they didn’t stick at all.

The resulting pasties were DELICIOUS! The savory ones tasted like jazzed up mashed potatoes mixed with the top of a chicken pot pie, and were a great dinner on a chilly night. The sweet pasties were basically hand held pumpkin pies–I will definitely be reviving those as a fun and easy dessert twist for a party. The verdict:  While earwax flavored jelly beans are still a questionable choice to me, wizards really got it right with the pumpkin pastie, savory or sweet.

Just like Honeydukes!