“I’m looking for a really funny movie!”

“What do you recommend?”  Several people have asked me this when I’ve been sitting at the library Reference Desk.  The first time, I was amazed to discover that we have close to 1,000 comedy DVDs in the North Castle library. When a patron and I  started looking over the list, she was quick to point out that some of the movies that the film studios call comedies “don’t sound very funny.”  A movie that had caught her attention was Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston.  It’s about a mother who is suffering from debilitating physical and emotional pain in the aftermath of a car accident that killed her young son.  This “dark comedy” is an interesting movie about grief and healing and is, in fact, one that I would recommend, but it’s not “rolling in the aisles” funny.

It can be difficult to distinguish between the uproarious Robin Williams-style comedies, and more serious films with comic elements that are sometimes called “comedies.”  In addition, much of what people find funny is a matter of personal taste.  Jerry Lewis, who died this past week, was widely thought of as a genius in France, but never achieved quite the same level of acclaim in the United States.

That’s why I was happy to see an online poll where people were asked, “What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?”  I then found another poll where comedians were asked which movies they thought were the funniest.  The films they selected that are in the North Castle collection follow, in alphabetical order.  If you don’t see your own favorite comedy, please add it in the comments!

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June is LGBT Pride Month

Aspen Mays’ Book Sculpture.  This image was used by the Westchester Library System in an ad placed in the White Plains LOFT pride brochure.

LGBT Pride Month is celebrated every year in June  to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan. In the early morning hours of  June 28, 1969, police raided a Greenwich Village bar that had a largely gay clientele.  Patrons, who were angry about the frequent raids, fought back and soon a crowd of more than 400 people gathered in the streets. News of the event spread and inspired others to mobilize in support of gay rights.

The Westchester Library System has a growing collection of books with LGBT themes.  For this post, I will spotlight three fiction writers who have made LGBT content an important part of their writing.

Sarah Waters writes historical fiction for adults:


The Paying Guests:  In 1922 London, economics force a widow and her daughter Frances to take in lodgers . Their lives are profoundly changed after they rent to a young couple and Frances has a dangerous clandestine affair with the wife.


FingersmithFingersmith:  Sue Trinity, an orphan raised by thieves, is recruited by a con man to help in his quest to marry Maude, a wealthy heiress.  Sue agrees to pose as a maid to gain Maude’s confidence, but finds herself falling in love with her.


TippingTheVelvetTipping the Velvet:  At a London music hall in 1887,  a male impersonator falls in love with her dresser.




Affinity: Visiting a grim Victorian London prison as part of rehabilitative charity work, Margaret Prior, a woman recovering from a suicide attempt, is drawn in by an inmate who asks Margaret to help her escape.


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The Books Behind the 2017 Oscar Nominations…..

This year’s Oscar nominees include several  movies that are based on books.  If you were captivated by the movie, and want to read the book, or if you liked a book that has been made into a movie, check out this list.   It’s always interesting to compare the two!


The Book: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley.  Five-year-old Saroo, living in rural India, gets separated from his older brother and falls asleep on an empty train parked in the station. Suddenly the train takes off, headed for Calcutta, a city where Saroo can’t speak the language. After living on the street for several weeks he is adopted by a couple from Australia. 25 years later, he uses images on Google Maps to jog his memory and find his way back to his original home.

 The Movie: Lion. Nominated for Best: Picture; Actor in a Supporting Role (Dev Patel); Actress in a Supporting Role (Nicole Kidman);  Adapted Screenplay; Cinematography; and Original Score.  


The Book:  Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. During World War II, the American aeronautics industry hired black female mathematicians to fill a labor shortage.

The Movie:  Hidden Figures.   Nominated for Best Picture; Actress in a supporting role (Octavia Spencer),  and Adapted Screenplay.




The Book:  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  A grumpy man hides a personal loss beneath his short-tempered exterior.  He clashes with new neighbors, a boisterous family whose chattiness leads to unexpected friendship.  This comical and heartwarming book  has been an enormously popular bestseller.

The Movie: A Man Called Ove. Nominated for Best Foreign Film;  Makeup and Hairstyling. In Swedish with English subtitles. *Available  on DVD.



tonysusan2-copyThe Book:  Tony & Susan by Austin Wright. Susan Wright receives a manuscript and a request for feedback from her ex-husband of fifteen years. His novel is called Nocturnal Animals, and it is the violent story of a man whose wife and daughter are murdered.  As she is drawn into the life of the story’s main character, she confronts a devastating parallel darkness from her own past.

The Movie:  Nocturnal Animals. Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Shannon).

Continue reading “The Books Behind the 2017 Oscar Nominations…..”

Celebrate January!

Feeling sad that the holiday season is over?   The North Castle Library can help you make the cold months more enjoyable.

man-reading-by-the-fire1.  Choose a “Snow Read”.  These are books that require more concentration than “Beach Reads.”  When you’re home on a snowy day, it’s much easier to focus on a book than it is when you’re out in the sand and sun.  Maybe there is a classic that you’ve always wanted to read.  You can also check out the Best Books lists that are compiled by The New York Times and NPR.

slateoscar32. Catch up on movies that are generating Oscar buzz. Several of the movies and television shows that were nominated for Golden Globe awards are already out in DVD and are available in the library.  These include Florence Foster Jenkins, Sing Street, The Lobster, Deadpool, Hell or High Water, War Dogs and more!

3.  Embrace a Healthier Lifestyle.  It doesn’t sound like fun, but many people who commit iceskatingto it report feeling much better.  “Dryuary”, the practice of abstaining from alcohol in January or February, is rapidly catching on. Our library has many of the newest books on aspects of healthy living including The 4 x 4 Diet: 4 Key Foods, 4 Minute Workouts, 4 Weeks to the Body You Want by Erin Opria, The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes and  The Mindspan Diet: Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, Minimize Memory Loss, and Keep Your Brain Young by Preston Estep III.

king34.  Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by learning more about the man who dedicated his life to promoting racial equality.  The library has biographies of King, and many books about the civil rights movement. You can also check out fiction books like The Help and We are all Welcome Here that are set in the civil rights era.  In addition, we have award-winning movies like Selma, 4 Little Girls, The Butler, Mississippi Burning, and All The Way.        

Happy January!        










’tis the season….to read a holiday novel!

 Stressed out during the holiday season?   Unwind while staying in the spirit with a holiday novel!  Here are some of the new December 2016 books:

joanne-fluke-christmas-caramel-murderChristmas Caramel Murder
by Joanne Fluke
During the town’s production of A Christmas Carol, Hannah helps her friend Lisa, who has been implicated in the murder of her husband’s ex-girlfriend.  More than 20 holiday-themed recipes are included.

Winter Stormshilderbrand_winterstorms
by Elin Hilderbrand
The Quinn family’s efforts to reunite for a long-anticipated wedding during the holiday season are overshadowed by a health scare, addiction problems and commitment issues.

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Are you concerned about the upcoming election? (and who isn’t?)

Emotions are running high, and so much is uncertain.  This year, it’s especially important to stay informed.  Fortunately, the library has excellent resources for you and your kids!

 Books by and About the Candidates:



HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton
by Jonathan J. M. Allen The story of Hillary’s rebirth, after her career hit a low point in 2008 when she lost to Barack Obama.  Since that time she rose to become Obama’s most important ally and an even more powerful politician, culminating in the democratic nomination for President of the United States.



hardchoices-1 Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Hillary Clinton’s look at the choices and challenges she has faced is “a subtle, finely calibrated work…with succinct and often shrew appraisals of the complex web of political, economic, and historical forces in play around the world” (The New York Times)



anncoulterIn Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!   Ann Coulter believes that Trump has captured the spirit of the times .  His views on trade, immigration, and foreign policy  should be embraced, particularly by those in the working class who have had to contend with cheap foreign labor.




 crippledamerica Crippled America
How to Make America Great Again  Donald Trump outlines his plan for fixingour failing economy”, reforming health care, rebuilding our military and “start winning wars – instead of watching our enemies take over”, and “how to immediately bring jobs back to America by closing our doors to illegal immigrants, and pressuring businesses to produce their goods at home.”


Neither Choice is Good!

yearofvotingdangerouslyThe Year of Voting Dangerously
The Derangement of American Politics.  
Maureen Dowd argues that both candidates are unfavorable.


Continue reading “Are you concerned about the upcoming election? (and who isn’t?)”

Become tech savvy!

You don’t have to spend money to become a spreadsheet pro and learn other important computer skills!

All you need is your North Castle library card. The computer classes that are offered on our library’s website are truly amazing.

A few years ago, I was looking for a job, and I wanted to improve my skills in Excel and website coding. At the time, I spent over $1,000 at a technical school in Manhattan. I have recently been delighted to discover that my library provides access to Lynda.com and Skillsoft online courses, which I’ve used to become more proficient with various Microsoft products and WordPress. I’ve not only saved money, but I’ve benefited from learning at my own pace and I’m not holding up the rest of the class when I’m slow to grasp something!

In addition, both of these websites offer interesting courses on business skills like marketing, finance, workplace professionalism, and much more. Go to our website: http://www.northcastlelibrary.org/, and look at Your Virtual Library in the upper right. Under Educational Resources, you can find Lynda.com and Skillsoft online courses. Or, here are the direct links:
Susan Kramer