15 Fictional Schools We Wish We Attended

Fall is a beautiful season filled with pumpkin spice lattes, leaf peeping and cardigans. It also makes us feel nostalgic for our school days. Although for most of us an average day of school amounted to nothing particularly memorable–that wouldn’t be the case if we had attended these amazing, adventurous fictional schools. Let us know where you’d love to go in the comments!

91eYB53N4NL
Wayside School (from the Wayside School series)

Not only is this school 30 stories high, but there is only one classroom per floor due to a construction error. If only we could be a student of Mrs. Jewls’ 30th floor classroom. With bizarre yet hysterical things happening all the time, math class would go by so much faster.

Ever After High (from the Ever After High series)

Can you imagine having the daughters of Snow White, Cinderella and the Evil Queen as school mates?  Our favorite classes would have to be either Grimnastics with Coach Gingerbreadman or Home Evilnomics with Mr. Badwolf.

5183RyDfNFLSt. Gallway School (from Special Topics in Calamity Physics)

This elite boarding school in North Carolina is filled with precocious, wealthy and alluring teenagers who just happen to be involved in a clique that may dabble in murder?!

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (from the X-Men series)

Who wouldn’t want to train their mutant powers?  Just imagine the hijinks you might get up to with your mutant cohorts in the dorms.

61W7Zg3ReIL
Walkerville Elementary School (from the The Magic School Bus series)

The science lessons will really stick with you here—and possibly haunt your dreams for the rest of your life. You can never forget getting swallowed by one of your classmates for a thorough anatomy lesson.

Battle School (Ender’s Game)

A school for tough lover aficionadas. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, especially in zero gravity combat simulations.

51Omgf4bBkL
Brakebills Academy (The Magicians)

This exclusive (and secret) college for magicians is filled with broken people who are disillusioned with life, but they get to practice magic—real magic that is taxing to learn and has consequences. It’s kind of like a grown-up Hogwarts complete with love, sex and booze.

Old School (Old School)

An English major’s dream school where the only acknowledged snobbery is literary snobbery. Famous authors are frequent visitors, and this year it’s Ernest Hemingway!

71QAl1bXLVL
Avalon High (Avalon High)

This may seem like a typical American high school, but everyone finds their lives intertwined with a familiar Arthurian legend.

Crunchem Hall Primary School (Matilda)

Even though this school has the ogre Ms. Trunchbull as the principal who even uses eating cake as a punishment, there is light and hope in the form of teachers like Ms. Honey and friends like Lavender.

Sweet Valley High (Sweet Valley High series)

This series did make high school look glamorous with dreamy basketball captains or soccer stars asking you to the homecoming dance.

415nWcdibyL
Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women (Gallagher Girls series)

This prestigious institution is for talented young women to study espionage. Just imagine spending your days in martial arts training or history class learning political secrets. Plus, there are several secret passageways to hide (or spy) in.

Avonlea School (Anne of Green Gables)

This quaint one-room schoolhouse on Prince Edward Island may not be as impressive as some of the other schools on this list, but with the richness of the company of Anne Shirley, Gilbert Blythe, and Diana Barry as classmates you won’t realize how sparse the surroundings are.

41CIGepEw5L
Hampden College (Secret History)

This small, elite Vermont college is filled with word nerds who form cliques over ancient languages. Okay, they may have some murderous tendencies, but it will be fine if you just stay out of the woods at night.

Hogwarts (Harry Potter series)

You didn’t think we’d forget this prestigious institution of witchcraft and wizardry. We are still waiting on an owl bearing our acceptance letter.

Extra credit for those who leave a comment on which fictional school you wish you attended. Class dismissed!

Posted in Booklist | Leave a comment

5 Great Cold Main Dishes for a Hot Summer’s Night

KingSoopers_Banner1

Sometimes it’s just too hot to turn your oven on. Here are some of our favorite cold suppers found in cookbooks in our collection.

61ZOS2JNJ1LGreek-Style Chicken Wraps
(from Cooking Light: Annual Recipes)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of red pepper
  • 4 ounces rotisserie chicken breast
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 6 tablespoons plain hummus
  • 6 whole-wheat tortillas

Place tomatoes, olives, feta, juice, oregano, oil, pepper, chicken and cucumber in a large bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon hummus over one side of each tortilla. Top each tortilla with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. Roll up wraps; cut in half.

51afcGl48dLCrab Louis
(from Martha’s American Food by Martha Stewart)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 boiled eggs
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1.5 pounds cooked crabmeat
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 to 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 celery stalks
  • lemon wedges
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons grated sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup tomato-based chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of cayenne
  • coarse salt

Slice eggs in half. Divide lettuce among four plates. Scoop crabmeat on top of lettuce and sprinkle with parsley. Arrange tomato wedges, celery stalks, egg halves and lemon wedges around the crab.

Stir together mayonnaise, onion, chili sauce, relish, lemon juice and cayenne; season with salt. Spoon dressing on top of crab.

51BVNBhVTLLTomato and Watermelon Salad with Feta and Toasted Almonds

(from The Epicurious Cookbook by Tanya Steel and the editors of Epicurious)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 cups watermelon
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • pinch of salt
  • glob of olive oil
  •  splash of red wine vinegar
  • chopped assorted herbs (dill, mint, basil, etc.)
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 5 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup almonds, lightly toasted

Combine melon and tomatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss to blend. After 15 minutes, add oil, vinegar, herbs. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed.

Toss the arugula in a smaller bowl with a splash of olive oil. Divide among plates. Top with melon salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds.

51CCyGiMkCL (1)Chilled Beet Soup with Yogurt and Pepitas
(from Endless Summer by Katie Lee)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of roasted beets
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 4 teaspoons Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons pepitas

Coarsely chop roasted beets. Place beets, coconut milk, lime juice, ginger, salt and pepper in blender. Puree until very smooth. Transfer to fridge to chill until ready to serve.

To serve, pour soup into four bowls; top each with yogurt and pepitas.

51mjHq3NlHL (1)Souvlaki in Pita
(from Summer Days & Balmy Nights)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pita breads
  • 2 oz. pre-grilled and marinated lean pork
  • lettuce
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 radishes
  • 1 red onion
  • yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 inch piece of cucumber
  • pinch of sea salt

Slice cucumbers, bell pepper, radishes and red onions. Place sliced vegetables together with lettuce and cherry tomatoes in a bowl. Toss gently. Add marinated pork. Place inside pita pockets.

Create garlic dressing by placing yogurt in a bowl. Beat in the garlic, cucumber and salt. Add a large spoonful to each pocket.

Posted in Sooper Friends | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Author Events: August & September

We have a number of free author talks happening at Douglas County Libraries locations around the district. Join us and meet an author!

51Otsc+cfHL
An Evening with Helen Thorpe
Saturday, August 22
Philip S. Miller/Castle Rock
6:30 PM

Colorado author and journalist Helen Thorpe will talk about her newest book, Soldier Girls, which follows three women over twelve years on their paths into military combat. It is a raw, nuanced look into the lives of female soldiers.

 

 

91t8IDwHyWL
An Evening with Hannah Nordhaus
Friday, August 28
Parker
6:30 PM

Award-winning journalist and proclaimed author of The Beekeeper’s Lament, Nordhaus will discuss her latest work, American Ghost. In the book, she attempts to uncover the truth about her great-great-grandmother, Julia–whose ghost is said to haunt an elegant hotel in Santa Fe. It is a spellbinding exploration of myth, family history and the American West.

 

 

51sL9m8NUeLOne Book, One Boat: An Olympic Affair with Terry Frei
Thursday, September 24
James H. LaRue/Highlands Ranch
7:00 PM
Colorado author and journalist Terry Frei will talk about his novel An Olympic Affair based on the true story of Olympia filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and Colorado Olympian Glenn Morris during the 1936 games in Berlin.

 

 

81YstxOwjPLAn Evening with Diane Mott Davidson
Wednesday, September 23
James H. LaRue/Highlands Ranch
7:00 PM

Bestselling author of the Goldy Schultz culinary mystery series set in the fictional town of Aspen Meadows (similar to Evergreen, CO), Diane Mott Davidson will talk about Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook. The cookbook features recipes from the series as well as charming anecdotes from Davidson’s writing and cooking life.

Posted in Events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

20 Books that Will Make You Laugh Out Loud

Summer is made for funny, breezy reads. The downside is the stares when a book makes you involuntarily chortle on an airplane or by the neighborhood pool. Here are some of our favorite humorous books that should come with warning labels….these books will likely make you laugh out loud.

41G+8CzY40L (1)The Knockoff  by Lucky Skyes and Jo Piazza

The Knockoff is an insider’s look at the ever-changing world of fashion, and it is wickedly funny.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson, known to the internet world as The Bloggess, is a comic genius. This book recounts her eccentric childhood in rural Texas. It’s hysterical and yet unexpectedly touching.

Hyperbole and a Half  by Allie Brosh

Another popular blogger turned author, Brosh turns embarrassing life moments into hilarious comics. The subjects range from light (dogs) to dark (depression), but they all contain offbeat humor.

41HGJKFdW3LWhere’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

This charming satirical novel is about an agoraphobic mother and her broken promise to take her daughter to Antarctica. It’s hysterical, wacky and heartfelt.

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live fame is one of the funniest women on television. Naturally, her memoir is laugh out loud funny. The book ranges from her start in the comedy world to balancing work and family as well as how to handle being in a male dominated industry. Of course, all these subjects are handled with her dry wit.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris 

No funny book list would be complete without the comic genius of David Sedaris. While any of his short story collections will guarantee to make you laugh out loud, Me Talk Pretty One Day is a stand-out covering his attempts to learn French where he progresses “from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly.”

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

This whimsical odyssey through the galaxy is one of the funniest science fiction series out there. Adams is the king of intelligent satire and comedic dialogue.

619eSNf4TYLThe Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey

This is legendary Deep Thoughts humorist’s first novel; it’s an absurd adventure tale. An unreliable narrator and his friend discover an old treasure map and embark on a quest for the Golden Monkey, which takes them to the mysterious and stinky foreign land of Honolulu.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

After spending twenty years in Britain, Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail to rediscover his native home. It’s a delightful chronicle of the history of the trail and the places it passes through.

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Screenwriter of romantic comedy classics like Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, Ephron nails the effects of aging on women. It’s wickedly witty.

61WS38mfpqLThe Princess Bride by William Goldman

A true fantasy classic with fencing, torture, poison, true love, revenge, passions, miracles. It’s a wonderful spoof of classic swashbuckling romance.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

International bestselling romantic comedy features an socially challenged but loveably quirky genetics professor on his quest to find true love. It’s at once funny, touching and delightful.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach 

Roach tackles the strange science of space travel with wry humor. It is a surreally entertaining trip.

51MyBHMOBCLBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A brilliant take on school yard scandal, ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters. There’s murder, but Moriarty’s sly humor gives the book the right balance of light and dark.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Widely considered an American comic masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces covers zany adventures in New Orleans brimming with original characters.

The Essays of E.B. White by E.B. White

While White is perhaps best known for beloved classics like Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, his essays for publications like The New Yorker and Harpers are phenomenal. They are insightful and incredibly amusing.

91ne901bxeLGood Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

On the Eve of Armageddon, Aziraphale, a rare-book dealing angel, and Crowley, his demon friend found that they are rather fond of their Earthly lifestyles and are not actually looking forward to the impending Rapture. So, they set off to find the misplaced Antichrist infant…hilarity ensues.

Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Wodehouse is one of the best British humorists of the 20th century. Well-intentioned, wealthy layabout Bertie Wooster always seems to get himself in trouble. It’s up to his brilliant butler, Jeeves to bail him out. It’s a classic.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

Crosley takes stereotypical tales of mid-20s life and turns them into hilarious vignettes with a sassy edge.

Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sing by Christopher Moore

A wild romp in whale researching with a boatful of wacky characters. It is thoughtful, irreverent and hilariously funny.

51jL4u3TZXL (1)Hatched!: The Big Push from Pregnancy to Motherhood by Sloane Tanen

You’re in for a treat if you’ve haven’t been exposed to Tanen’s signature chicks. She tackles the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and motherhood.

Posted in Booklist | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Embrace Summer’s Bounty

KingSoopers_Banner1

Did you know that every time you shop using our reloadable Douglas County Libraries Foundation gift card at your favorite King Soopers, the DCL Foundation benefits? Please contact Elaine McCain at emccain@dclibraries.org, or 720-348-9509, for a free card or more information.

Summer fruits and vegetables are having their moment. Currently, they are bursting with flavors and color. Here are some great cookbooks to check out so that you can take advantage of summer’s bounty.

614fli52e5LThe Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson

From James Beard Award winner Chef Hugh Acheson comes a seasonal cookbook of 200 recipes designed to make the most of your famers’ market bounty.

Endless Summer Cookbook by Katie Lee

Food Network host Katie Lee is known for her summer soirees. This cookbook includes more than 100 recipes that are staples at all her seasonal parties.

61ziCWZgcxLHomemade Summer by Yvette van Boven

These recipes will inspire you to step into the kitchen this summer and make something delicious with fresh herbs and delicate summer lettuces.

Fresh & Easy by Jane Hornby

Cooking simple and tasty dishes with fresh ingredients has never been easier with this mouthwatering collection of 75 step-by-step simple dishes.

Farmstand Favorites by Anna Krusinski 

This cookbook is the ultimate source for recipes to use with fresh produce. The over 300 easy-to-prepare recipes including all-American favorites like Strawberry & Blueberry Muffins as well as Broiled Sirloin with Spicy Mustard and Apple Chutney.

615X4GcQ90LSummerland by Anne Stiles Quatrano 

This cookbook makes the harvest a reason to celebrate. Imagine hosting a lakeside barbecue with watermelon sangria, corn on the cob in a jar, and roasted peaches with chamomile ice milk. All these recipes and more are featured in this cookbook.

Fresh Food Nation by Martha Holmberg

At its heart, this is a great basic vegetable and fruit recipe book, but it also has great information about family farming and coming together to share food across your community.

51B7jnTHzfLVibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink 

This cookbook invites you to look at ingredients different and choose based on colors that inspire you. It is an artistic picture of whole foods eating.

The Gardener & The Grill by Karen Adler 

Nothing tastes better than freshly harvested vegetables grilled to perfection. This is your ultimate summer grilling guide for getting some grill time with your produce.

 

51VFaWuDvrLThe Kitchen Garden Cookbook by Jeanne Kelley

What can be more rewarding than making a delicious meal from freshly harvested fruits, vegetables or eggs. This cookbook is both inspiring and practical with many tips on how to garden or raise chickens and bees yourself.

Posted in Sooper Friends | Leave a comment

Reading Zone Activity Two: Find A New Book

SRP_884px_ReadingZone

We’re building readers at Douglas County Libraries this summer. Welcome to the Reading Zone, our summer reading program for all ages. Kids 12 and under, read for 12 hours and/or complete the ten alternative activities shown on the summer reading log to finish the program. Teens and adults, read four books. Register here

Summer Reading is the perfect opportunity to find a new book! Here are some great construction themed picture books to get kids motivated in the Reading Zone.


51Q+XQYfMbLTruckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka 

This fun poetry book is full of entertaining truck rhymes. From the bright red firetruck to the pastel ice cream truck, each illustration accompanying the rhymes with delight.

 

 

 

 

51vWV-WjAML Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard 

Another whimsical rhyming book highlighting the different jobs and personalities of vehicles from a backhoe to a snowplow.

 

 

 

 

51YmYihPTqLBang! Boom! Roar! A Busy Crew of Dinosaurs by Nate Evans

Hilarious rhyming alphabet picture book about a group of dinosaurs working together to build something. There are hidden letters on every page and visual jokes lead to a silly surprise ending.

 

 

 

61Q2rPB4W6LGoodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

As the sun sets on the construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to lie down to rest. It’s a sweet rhyming text that makes for a perfect bedtime story.

 

 

 

518VYS8TF7LMike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton 

A childhood classic that has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shove, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out basements for city skyscrapers. However, industrial America heralds progress in the form of new machines. The inseparable duo may soon be out of work, but Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week. It’s a heartwarming story about the importance of friendship.

61A2EqtMOaLMonsters on Machines by Deb Lund

Stinky Stubb, Dirty Dugg, Gorbert and Melvina are the craftiest crew of monsters ever to build a house. The first half of this rhyming picture book follows these gnarly monsters as they hop on various construction machines. Break time reveals that these rough-and-tumble creatures are really just kids when monster mom brings them lunch and puts them down for a nap.

 

 

61W9AYJXMGLBig Dig: A Pop-Up Construction by Paul Stickland 

Construction sites are so exciting with their mesmerizing combination of color and sound. Stickland makes all elements of a building project come to life in his 3D pop-up book.

 

 

51bX+74MHFLMachines at Work by Byron Barton

Bold illustrations and rhythmic, punchy text captures the energy of a day at a construction site.

 

 

 

 

81xpH732M1LBuilding with Dad by Carol Nevius 

This father and son story is perfect for a Father’s Day read. While accompanying his dad at work on a construction site, the son learns about all the different construction machines and what they do.

 

 

 

 

51aL3kZRhPLDemolition by Sally Sutton 

Sounds play a large role in this rambunctious demolition book. Bright spreads of gargantuan machines will keep your little one riveted.

 

 

 

 

If you prefer ebooks, please check out this construction selection that are perfect for young readers.

Posted in Reading Zone | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

15 Great Audiobooks for Family Roadtrips

Kids hanging out of back of SUV

Planning a road trip this summer? With a car full of kids, it can be a bit of a challenge to keep the peace without breaking out the iPads. Playing an audiobook is a great way to entertain the entire family, and it will give you something to talk about at rest stop breaks. Whether you have young kids, middle schoolers or teens, we have a suggestion for you.

GREAT FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLERS

61K3EFGgZ7LThe Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

This is the first book in the Series of Unfortunate Events, which tells the misadventures of the three Baudelaire siblings who become orphans in the first chapter of the series.

The books are narrated by the deliriously funny Tim Curry along with a team of talented readers.

Time: 2 hours and 31 minutes; approximately the time it would take to drive to Breckenridge.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

This classic series of the Chronicles of Narnia will capture the hearts of the entire family. It tells the story of four ordinary British children who find a wardrobe that leads them to the magical land of Narnia.

The reader is an acclaimed actor; his narration will keep your mind firmly in Narnia.

Time: 4 hours and 21 minutes; approximately a drive to Crested Butte.

71VcqWsrkzLGeorge’s Secret Key to the Universe by Stephen Hawking & Lucy Hawking

The brilliant theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has partnered with his daughter, Lucy, to write a funny, Dr. Who-like adventure that will inspire curiosity about the universe to all ages.

It is narrated by the actor Hugh Dancy.

Time: 5 hours and 28 minutes; approximately a trip out to Ouray.

Flora And Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

A laugh-out-loud adventure story of a cynic (Flora) who meets an unlikely superhero (Ulysses)—who is also a squirrel. An incident with a vacuum cleaner instills him with powers of strength, flight and misspelled poetry.

Time: 4 hours and 31 minutes; approximately a drive to Aspen.

51HSnz2edOL._SS500_The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi

If your children loved Harry Potter, they will be delighted by this series. The Grace children discover the faerie world is closer than you think after finding a mysterious field guide in the attic of the new ramshackle mansion they moved into. This audiobook covers the first two books The Field Guide and The Seeing Stone.

Time: 2 hours and 8 minutes; approximately a drive to Fort Collins.

PERFECT FOR MIDDLE GRADES

91fxDVdg8xLGolden Compass by Philip Pullman

The first in an epic trilogy of fantasy. It is a coming of age story of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry as they journey through parallel universes.

The audiobook has full cast narration that is fantastic.

Time: 10 hours and 35 minutes; approximately a trip to the Grand Canyon

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The book opens with a scary scene—a family is stabbed to death by a man named Jack, but it quickly moves to more child-friendly storytelling. The sole survivor is a toddler who slips away to a graveyard. Recognizing the baby as an orphan, the ghosts of the graveyard adopt him and name him Nobody; he lives among the tombs.

The audiobook is another full cast narration whose talent brings the characters to life.

Time: 8 hours and 26 minutes; approximately a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.

813iyiHsBMLThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Whimsical series featuring hapless Arthur Dent who is plucked off Earth before it is demolished by his friend Ford Prefect, who is actually an alien who is a researcher for the revised edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This is a full cast performance that makes the irreverent story come to life.

Time: 3 hours; approximately a trip to Glenwood Springs.

Redwall by Brian Jacques

This is the first in the Redwall series, which features animals in a Medieval fantasy land where they go on quests and wage battles.

Time: 12 hours and 38 minutes; approximately a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.

51UPXpEUDpLPeter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

A fast paced adventure about Peter and his mates as they set sail abroad the Never Land, a ship carrying precious and mysterious cargo. They encounter treacherous pirates and foreboding storms along their journey. It’s a fresh new look at Peter Pan.

Jim Dale is the narrator; he also narrated the Harry Potter series.

Time: 8 hours and 39 minutes; approximately a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

TEENS

51FH8CFR32LA Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is an entertaining guide taking listeners along the Appalachian Trail introducing us to the history of the trail and some hardy folks he meets while hiking the trail.

Time: 9 hours and 47 minutes; a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Vowell takes us on a road trip to sites of political violence from Washington DC to Alaska. She exposes the conundrums of American history with an irreverent sense of humor.

Several guests narrate the book including Conan O’Brien as Robert Todd Lincoln, Stephen King as President Abraham Lincoln, and Jon Stewart as President James A. Garfield.

Time: 7 hours and 24 minutes; roundtrip to Steamboat Springs

41ge7+YdIYLMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Humorist David Sedaris presents a collection of hilarious stories as a transplant in Paris.  The audiobook is read by David Sedaris.

Time: 5 hours and 51 minutes;  approximately a trip to Montrose.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A dystopian tale of a society where women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes. It is read by actress Claire Dane.

Time: 11 hours; approximately roundtrip to Durango

61eJhdxIMZLThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Actors Clive Merrison and Michael Williams star as Holmes and Watson in this collection of twelve stories from Arthur Conan Doyle.

Time: 8 hours and 8 seconds; approximately a drive to Billings, Montana

Posted in Booklist | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reading Zone Activity One: Take a Walk

SRP_884px_ReadingZone

We’re building readers at Douglas County Libraries this summer. Welcome to the Reading Zone, our summer reading program for all ages. Kids 12 and under, read for 12 hours and/or complete the ten alternative activities shown on the summer reading log to finish the program. Teens and adults, read four books. Register here

In the words of Passion Pit: “Take a walk, take a walk, take a walk.” We live in a beautiful state, and it’s nice to take advantage of our picturesque outdoors. You could take a simple walk around your neighborhood to complete the first activity in your summer reading log, but you’re not that far away from some great hikes! Here are a few of our favorite Douglas County hikes:

Waterfall Hike at Castlewood Canyon State Park

Distance: between .17+ to 3.2 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
Approximate Hiking Time: 1 hour
Type: Out and Back

Did you know there is a waterfall in Castle Rock? Castlewood Canyon is a beautiful state park that has 12 miles of scenic trails and plenty of wildlife. It’s a good idea to bring sunscreen and water. The park is also dog friendly, so feel free to bring Fido. The shortest way to the falls is from the Waterfall Parking lot (it will only take about 10 minutes from the parking lot), but if you have the time we recommend starting at the Homestead trailhead, which will add a mile to the hike. This is a state park; it is $7 for a daily park pass.

Bluffs Loop Trail at Bluffs Regional Park

Distance: 2.7 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Approximate Hiking Time: 1 hour 45 mins
Type: Loop

Bluffs is a 253 acre regional park in Lone Tree (not too far from where the new Douglas County Libraries–Lone Tree location will be). The park has amazing views of the Front Range as well as the Denver metro area. Bicyclists, dogs, horseback riders and hikers are frequently seen on the trails. The Bluffs Loop trail is great for a short run with the jogging stroller or an easy hike with the family.

Daniel’s Park Trails

Distance: 0.2-3 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Approximate Hiking Time: 20 minutes to 1.5 hours
Type: Out and Back

Daniels Park is one of the largest parks in the Denver Mountain Park system. The 1,000 acre site in Castle Pines is known from its bison herd and historic ranch buildings. It easily offers the best sunsets in Denver! The trails at Daniels Park are undeveloped, but there are a few hikes if you know where to look. For a short jaunt, park at the Shelter House and begin walking north along the top of the bluff. It’s the perfect spot for a sunset picnic. For a longer hike, start at the Shelter House and head north again. Extend the hike by continuing along the road until it intersects with Grigs Road (about 1.5 miles), then hike back to the Shelter House for a 3 mile round trip hike.

Glendale Farm Trail

Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Approximate Hiking Time: 45 minutes
Type: Loop

Outside of Castle Pines along Havana Street, there is a wonderful prairie plateau with great trails. The loop is perfect for an after work trail run or stroll. It’s another great hike to take your dog on, because next to the trails there is a 17 acre off-leash dog park where you can let him run free after doing the loop.

Fountain Valley Overlook and Loop Trail at Roxborough State Park

Distance: 2.3 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Approximate Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Type: Loop

Who needs the Garden of the Gods? Roxborough State Park has amazing rock formations that are equally stunning. The Fountain Valley Overlook is a short hike from the Visitor’s Center. The loop will take you up to the high trail that looks down and across the fountain formation. There are some ruins of an old estate along the trail and many opportunities to spot wildlife, so it’s a great easy trail to take with the little ones.

Indian Creek Loop

Distance: 3-14.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Approximate Hiking Time: 2-7.5 hours
Type: Loop

Sedalia has some beautiful trails, including Indian Creek Loop, which features a well-traveled trail through pines and aspen trees. It is the perfect trail to spot wildflowers. The full loop is pretty aggressive; 14.6 miles that will go out through Roxborough Park. If you’re looking for something shorter, go right (south) on the fire road when you come to a junction after 1.6 miles. It will take you down to the campground where you can cut across to get back to the parking lot/trailhead.

Devil’s Head Fire Lookout

Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Approximate Hiking Time: 1-3 hours
Type: Out and back

Devil’s Head is a distinct granite rock outcropping west of Castle Rock. It is home to the only fire lookout in Colorado. The trail gains 950 feet in elevation over 1.4 miles and ends with a climb up 143 stairs to the lookout. You may have to wait your turn as only 10 people at a time are allowed on the lookout. The views are well worth the wait/climb.

Columbine Open Space Trail

Distance: 2.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
Approximate Hiking Time: 1-3 hours
Type: Loop

This easy trail near Castle Rock crosses over upper grasslands and shrublands near protected wetlands along Plum Creek. To get here, travel south from Castle Rock on the East I-25 Frontage Road approximately six miles. Turn left at the large red barn and cross the one-lane bridge. Park in the designated parking lot. No dogs are allowed because the space is a wildlife habitat for numerous species, including deer, elk, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and small mammals, like the threatened Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

 

 

Posted in Reading Zone | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Time for the Reading Zone

SRP_884px_ReadingZoneSchool’s out for summer! It’s time for long days of playing in the sunshine, swimming in outdoor pools and camping in the mountains. It is also time for summer reading.

Summer reading is so important. A 2010 study at Dominican University found that “students who participated in the public library summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participated.” Additionally, “students who participated in the public library summer reading program had better reading skills at the end of third grade and scored higher on standards tests than the students who did not participate.”

Sign up for the reading program and keep kids off that dreaded summer learning slide where they “slide” backwards in their skills. Here are some tips to make the reading program fun for your family:

  1. Combine activities with books: Are you planning a beach vacation or heading to a Rockies game? Check out a book that subject. Then you’ll have something to talk about on the car ride downtown or the plane ride to the beach. 
  2. Lead by example: Pick up a magazine while relaxing by the pool or read the newspaper at breakfast. When your child sees you reading for pleasure, they will understand that reading can be fun.
  3. Have plenty of material around: Go with your child to the library to pick up books on subjects that interest him. Make sure to pick up a handful of different books, so there will always be a book around the house that may interest him.

 

Posted in Reading Zone | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

10 Great Guides to Outdoor Dining

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 8.54.44 AM

It’s the perfect season to hold outdoor dinner parties. Here are some of our favorite guides for alfresco dining.

61GhxxQ1XkLThe Summer Table

Outdoor entertaining will be a breeze with this cookbook. Choose from wonderful menus like a Mexican Grill Party with chipotle chicken or a Beach Buffet with Spiced Yogurt Dip & Veggies. Enjoy the best of summer’s produce with these recipes.

The Picnic Cookbook

Whether it’s a spontaneous outdoor dinner or a grand al fresco dinner, this cookbook has you covered with practical advice from cooking on location to eating outside in weather that is less than stellar. The Quinoa Tabbouleh and Baked Chicken with Za’atar and Pine Nuts are sure to become a picnic basket staple in your family.

51Xrys9xE7LGather: Memorable Menus for Entertaining Throughout the Seasons

A great book for year-round entertaining. It includes decorating tips and cooking shortcuts. The Cider-Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Spring Carrots and Sugar Peas Braised in Butter is the perfect end of spring meal.

Barefoot Contessa Parties

Ina’s parties are always a delight. This cookbook includes stories about Ina’s own parties and how to organize and assemble food like a caterer. The Caesar Salad with Pancetta, California Pizzas that guests can assemble themselves and Ice-Cream Sodas will make the perfect stress-free evening.

51g6zkfxi2L (1)Sip & Savor

This book is filled with all-season teas, lemonades, nectars and punches. The Sweet Tea Southern Sangria or Blackberry Fizz will be a delightful welcome mocktail for your guest.

Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends

Pippa Middleton divulges secrets for hosting a successful party with tips and detailed instructions on throw an event to remember.

514A0QaI25LEmily Post’s Great Get-Togethers

The great-great-granddaughters of world-renowned etiquette and entertaining guru, Emily Post revive Emily Post’s Entertaining for modern times with ideas on how couples can develop their own unique entertaining style.

A Perfect Day for a Picnic

This cookbook has ten themed menus from teddy bear picnics for little ones to an Middle Eastern inspired Bohemian picnic.

51mjHq3NlHLSummer Days & Balmy Nights

Nothing says summer more than images of sun-drenched Mediterranean coasts. If you can’t travel there this summer, be transported by cooking the very best dishes of Spain, Italy, France and Greece. The Food to Go section has great ideas for easily transportable picnics from Spinach Pies to Asparagus and Blue Cheese Tartlets.

Country Living Eating Outdoors

Country Living knows the elements of backyard picnics. Your next picnic will be a smash with Sage Buttered Corn on the Cob, Chicago-Style Ale-Brined Frankfurters, Herb-Stuffed Grilled Trout and Praline Ice Cream.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment