Monday, September 7, 2015

Meghan’s 10 deserted island books

Ed. Note: This is the 6th in our series of books we'd take with us on a deserted island if we could only pick ten. Today's list comes from Meghan Volchko, a librarian and Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive.


Note from Meghan: 

This was really hard.  I regret everything. Can I just bring my iPad and some kind of solar charger and get OverDrive books from CCPL?

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway is my favorite American author, and as a recovering English major, I need to have this book.  Hemingway's own experiences in World War I lead to this beautiful story of love and pain and the horrors of war.  I am in awe of his succinct writing style, so unlike my own.

Les Miserables­ by Victor Hugo

I have never read this book, but I figure what better time to read an epic novel then when you are abandoned on an island?  Also, I think that it will answer lots of the burning questions I have from the musical (like whatever happened to Jean Valjean's sister after he was sent to prison for stealing bread for her), and give me a chance to belt out all of the songs with no one around to judge me.

The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor

If you have never read Flannery O'Connor, you are missing out on one of the most unique voices in American literature.  She captures modern Southern gothic, and I challenge you not to enjoy these dark tales, honest and full of life.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book, and how it looks at gender, is almost more relevant today than it was when it came out in the mid-2000s.  The story of a multi-generational family of Greek immigrants in Detroit, it shows the American dream and all of the skeletons in the closet that can come along with it.  This is a book that stays with you long after you are finished.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Confession 1: I am a sucker for time travel romance (especially when it is a well written and researched as this book); Confession 2: I have read this book at least 6 times; Confession 3: I have read no other books in the series (but one of these days, I will, just not on a deserted island).

Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Who doesn't love a book of fairy tales?  Princesses, frogs, fire-hot iron shoes that an evil queen must dance in until she dies, these are the original versions of the tales that we knew and loved as children, not knowing how dark and creepy they really were.  While these would have frightened me as a child, as an adult, I find them fascinating (and still frightening).

Bel Canto­ by Ann Patchett

You can hear the music in this book.  Patchett weaves song through this story of terrorism and survival, and it really is a masterpiece of a story.  If you are a character-driven reader, which I am, you will love all of the stories of all of those involved in this story of a prolonged hostage situation in South America.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This book…  I barely even know where to start, but this story of an outcast Dominican American super nerd growing up in New Jersey and trying to fit in is one of my favorite books ever.  The amount of "Easter eggs" of science fiction and fantasy are impossible to catch in one reading, and Oscar's family requires an additional visit as well.  Plus there are footnotes!

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

My parents introduced me to James Herriot at a young age, both in book form and the amazing BBC series (which I used to binge-watch in the dark days of VHS).  His stories of being a young veterinarian in Yorkshire, England in the 1940s are a must-read for any animal lover.  This book is close to my heart, as will all of the quirky townsfolk and their furry family members be to you after just a few chapters.

Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Department of the Army

I like to eat.  I also know that I would totally end up like Foxface from The Hunger Games if I was left alone to try to survive by foraging for my own food, so if I have the opportunity to have some survival tools, I'm going to take them.


Meghan Volchko is a librarians and a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive

Amazon to release a $50 Fire Tablet


Amazon is gearing up to release a Fire Tablet this Fall that will carry a very economical price point of $50 US. This will be the first time that the Seattle company has ever devised a throwaway gadget that will likely appeal to people who want to use it in the kitchen or bring it out into the rigors of the world.

Aside from the new six inch tablet, Amazon also has plans to release a new seven and ten inch tablet. This should round off their new portfolio of devices, but it remains to be seen if they will be accepted by customers. Outside of the US, the Fire line of tablets does not have the footprint that Amazon would like, because the market is too saturated.

These are the Most Popular Books in US Libraries


Public libraries in the United States are the destination of choice to checkout new books, without breaking the bank. Titles like Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman and Paula Hawkins' novel The Girl on the Train have huge waiting lists and this has prompted people to take a gander at new material. Today, lets look at the top books all over the US, mapped by city excluding the two above titles.

The time period for the checkout lists varied by library, but all were each library's most recent figures. Most of this data comes from reports from July, others for August, and some spanned multiple recent months.

10 Free Kindle eBooks for Labor Day

Here’s a roundup of ten free highly-rated Kindle ebooks for Labor Day 2015, along with some Kindle book deals. Please note that the free Kindle ebooks are free as of September 7th, 2015. Most of these titles are free for a limited time only; most will expire in a few days or less before going […]

DJ MistaJam and Sam Aaron compose using code

Live coder, researcher, MagPi contributor and creator of the music live coding platform Sonic Pi, Sam Aaron has recently found the time to teach BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ MistaJam how to code music.

Sam and MistaJam look at Bizet’s Carmen before working their magic on updating it and creating a new arrangement through live coding. If you are based in the UK then you can watch their session on the BBC website here.

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Live coding masterclass for DJ MistaJam from Sam Aaron with Sonic Pi

If you are unable to watch the video there is no need to feel left out, Sam has provided the code from the session for you to play in Sonic Pi and experiment with yourself.

This session is part of the BBC’s Ten Pieces initiative for schools which aims to open up the world of classical music to children and inspire them to develop their own creative responses to the pieces through music, dance, digital art and performance poetry. It includes teaching resources for both primary and secondary and officially launches in October 2015 with free screenings of a brand new cinematic film featuring stunning footage of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performing a new selection of orchestral music, representing a wide range of styles and eras relevant to the Key Stage 3/3rd Level music curriculum.

Benton Park Primary have featured on our blog for their Sonic Pi Orchestra and were in fact one of last year's Ten Pieces finalists!


Sam is a regular at Picademy helping to train and inspire teachers

Teaching music and teaching computer science have been at the heart of Sonic Pi development over the past few years. We have an entire Key Stage 3 Sonic Pi scheme of work containing lesson plans for computing in our free resources and as part of the Sonic Pi Live and Coding Project there is a scheme of work for teaching Key Stage 3 Music too. Sam often speaks about Sonic Pi in education as well as seeing programming as a performance like in his TEDxNewcastle talk:

Outside of the curriculum, Sonic Pi is a fantastic way to unleash your creativity and learn how to code. We always include the latest version of Sonic Pi on our operating system Raspbian, and we have resources to get you started dropping your first beats. Sam is also a regular contributor to The MagPi, our official Raspberry Pi magazine. In issue 37 Sam introduces us to beat stretching, filtering and slicing with Sonic Pi v2.6 as he continues to push the boundaries of music creation with his free and open source software.

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So what are you waiting for? Why not use Sonic Pi to create your own creative responses to one of the Ten Pieces and let us know how you get on.

The post DJ MistaJam and Sam Aaron compose using code appeared first on Raspberry Pi.