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Manage Your Money During Financial Literacy Month



April is Financial Literacy Month and we have been celebrating at the Literacy House this month with tips from Pro Literacy to get financially fit.

There is no time like the present to take a few small steps to become more financially responsible. Experts suggest that sometimes just making a few small changes can make a dramatic difference in the way we view our finances.

By categorizing our spending, we may discover ways of improving the way we spend. Pro Literacy suggests using a grocery store list to eliminate those often expensive impulse buys.

And if we start saving just a little more each month, we might get inspired to do more in the future.

Mobile apps make tracking money convenient and it is easier than using a pen and paper – check out some of these suggestions from cnet. and check out some of these books from the library for basic budgeting and more.


4/24/2015 by Lisa Smant Add a Comment Share this:

Good Grounds for Books March Report

Fellow readers,

                Thanks to those who were able to participate in Good Grounds bookclub this month. We had a good time and heard reports of some fascinating reading. Happy Easter and Happy Passover, everyone.

LAUREEN read two books and has another three in progress. Reading more than one book at a time is not the norm for Laureen but is necessary for one reason or other. The first finished novel she reported on was Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James. Laureen saw this book under recommended New books at the APL catalog and was attracted to the genealogical aspect of this title and series. Miranda James is a pseudonym for Dean James, a medical librarian who has written 2 series of books that take place in the fictional town of Athena, Mississippi. An archival librarian is the main character in this book and he has a Maine Coon sidekick cat named Diesel. The dilemma in this book involves some stolen Civil War diaries and a related murder. Laureen was attracted to the old books aspect of the story and the interesting fabric connection (tarlatan.) This is light reading with infectious hooks at the ends of the chapters. Laureen’s husband Pete bought a self-published book from a local author and teacher called Fort Worth Characters by Richard F. Selcer and she read that in March. There are 12 different famous and infamous people presented in this book. Laureen’s favorites were Quanah Parker and Al Hayne (a hero in a fire.) Laureen felt most of the chapters were too long and could have been edited better but she got a taste of long ago Fort Worth. The 3 books in progress are A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters, Growing Up by Russell Baker (APL does not own a copy of this book, which was published 1982 and won a Pulitzer for biography/autobiography,) and Shakespeare: the world as stage/Bill Bryson.

ELIZABETH brought us a trio of titles, two of which are non-fiction. The first was The Republic of the Imagination:  America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi. The author is a professor who has taught in America and Iran. In this defense of fiction books, Nafisi takes three books, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Heart Is a Lonely Place by Lula Carson Smith and Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, and then shows how these books capture the essence of America and Americans. Next up was Murder and Mendelssohn: a Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood. Since this book is published by Poisoned Pen Press, you can deduce that this is a murder and detective story. It is 20th title in Ms. Greenwood’s series that takes place in Australia in the late 1920s. The two murdered choir conductors in this story were rehearsing Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.” Elizabeth likes the details and the pace of this particular novel. It was published in 2014. The third book is available in hard copy and e-book.  It is George Washington’s Secret Six: the Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. These two men share the “true story of an anonymous group of spies who played important roles in winning the Revolutionary War, documenting how they risked their lives to obtain crucial intelligence for George Washington, using sophisticated tactics and complex code.” Elizabeth added that this book can be read on several different levels and that the CIA still studies Washington’s group’s techniques.

BARBARA read This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper after watching the movie adaptation. It is a story of a dysfunctional family and Barbara feels the book is better than the film. One of the book reviewers called this story about “love, marriage, divorce, family and the ties that bind.” Barbara’s second review was of a book we have heard about before—The Girl on the Train: a Novel by Paula Hawkins. Barbara thought it well-written, especially for a first novel. She could see why it is on the bestseller list. The main character in the book thought she had a full, normal life but then everything fell apart for her. She started riding a train daily, while pretending to go to a non-existent job. She made up a new story for her life and it got her in trouble. Barbara said it is hard to read about someone whose life is spiraling out of control but it does have a fairly positive ending.

LINDA brought two titles to the table in March. Linda likes mysteries and both books fit that category. The first is Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. The story is set in Australia and a “death occurs in what appears to be a tragic accident but evidence shows it might have been premeditated.” The conflict focuses on three mothers of Kindergarten children and their potential involvement with a school riot. Linda feels there is a deepness to this story. Her favorite reported read was probably Casebook: a Novel by Mona Simpson. The APL catalog calls this a story about “a young man’s quest to uncover mysteries in his unraveling family.” This is Ms. Simpson’s 6th novel and Linda really enjoyed it. She thought it quite interesting to get into the head of Miles and see how a young boy worries about his parents. Linda also briefly mentioned reading and enjoying a book our group has discussed before, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

BETTY wanted some light reading this month so she stuck to her beloved mysteries. The first featured some favorite characters, Carole and Jude, in Simon Brett’s Fethering Mysteries series. This book is The Tomb in Turkey and a body is eventually found in an ancient Lycian tomb. Betty likes the 50-something woman character and she found the 184 page novel entertaining. The second mystery Betty brought to the Good Grounds table was Half in Love with Artful Death by Bill Crider. This Texas author writes a series featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes. The APL description for this book has an unbelievable amount of criminal or near criminal events going on in small town Texas. Betty thought this novel lighthearted and she enjoyed it so she may read Crider again.

RONNIE read and loved Kristin Hannah’s novel, The Nightingale, “an epic love story set at the dawn of WWII,” so now she is reading another Hannah book, Waiting for the Moon. This latter romance is not in the APL catalog. Ronnie also read a borrowed book from one of our Good Grounds members, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. In brief, that story deals with missing persons and the country of Burma. Next, Ronnie tried The Rosie Effect: a Novel by Graeme Simion, even though reviews for this follow-up book to The Rosie Project were anything but glowing. Ronnie felt the sequel lived up to its bad reputation. The last book Ronnie told us about was The Kind Worth Killing: a Novel by Peter Swanson. She did not think this book worthwhile and it reminded her of Gone Girl. The APL catalog calls is a “dark suspense novel about a random encounter” that had dire consequences.  One reviewer said this book is a modern reimagining of Patricia Highsmith’s 1950 novel, Strangers on a Train. A Hitchcock film was produced from the Highsmith book.

SANDY talked up a cookbook at our pre-lunch meeting. Hungry, anyone? It is Ruhlman’s How to Braise: Foolproof Techniques and Recipes for the Home Cook by Michael Ruhlman. Sandy feels this chef is good at explaining the science behind cooking techniques. The 2015 book is supposed to be second in a series. The first book in the series may be Ratio: the Simple Codes behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. Sandy’s other non-fiction book of the day was Sarah Style: an Inspiring Room by Room Guide to Designing your Perfect Home by Sarah Richardson. This is probably a browsing book by the HGTV personality and designer. Last on Sandy’s reading list was The Madonnas of Leningrad, a historical fiction book by Debra Dean. Sandy felt it compelling. The woman character who endures through the siege of what is now known as St. Petersburg, reminisces about the 1940s war and then reverts to her present day life in the U. S. Sandy said even the artwork in the book vacillates between WWII and now. It was published in 2006.

TONY told us he had been a “busy boy” and he wasn’t kidding. He brought us three challenging titles to think about. Two of them we have already reviewed but he brought a fresh perspective on them. First up was Enigma, a 1995 fiction book by Robert Harris about the WWII effort to break the dreaded German code. The main character in the book is Tom Jericho, a contemporary of Alan Turning. Tony characterized the story as a spy and detective story with a little romance. Next, Tony told us he read The Burgess Boys: a Novel by Elizabeth Strout and he called it a family drama that takes place in Maine and New York. A hate crime involving Somalis living in the U. S. is also part of the story. Last up was the much discussed All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Tony called this book “super” and he managed to refresh the interest of those of us who have already heard it reviewed. It is a WWII story that involves the Resistance and the German Occupation of France. There are a young woman and man, on different sides in the war, whose paths cross. Tony is now reading Flash Boys: a Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis, which is a non-fiction book about Wall Street, stockbrokers and finance. This same author previously wrote a book about the financial crisis of 2008 called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

PETE read The Dead Key by D. M. Pulley as an e-book but it is now being published as a 470 page hardback book. This title won a 2014 Breakthrough Novel Award on Amazon, in the Mystery and Thriller category. Pete said it is a book with mystery and human pathos. It certainly has a different premise-a woman architect is inspecting and admiring an abandoned bank building when she discovers it still has 24 hour security and someone is living there. Pete says it has a “whiz bang” conclusion but at least two reviewers wanted the author to pick up the pace.

DAVID read How Firm a Foundation, another book in David Weber’s Safehold series. Weber sets his fictional world in the future but society is medieval-like. It is more a spy novel than science fiction and David enjoys its many characters.

RON enjoys Joel C. Rosenberg’s books, as everyone in Good Grouds know. The 2015 bestseller book that Ron brought to the table is The 3rd Target. All Rosenberg books have ties to the Old Testament and ties to places and events that we are familiar with. The plot takes place in Syria and a foreign correspondent hears about hidden chemical weapons and he tries to find them. In the story, the President of the U. S. flies in and high tension and CIA intrigue come with the arrival. Next Ron totally changed gears and read a book about real estate called Zillow Talk: the New Rules of Real Estate by Spencer Rascoff. The online real estate company that this book features provides data that helps homeowners buy and sell property. Ron told us that such details as how far the home is from the nearest Starbucks can be important to someone. Also this company knows the average income of the people in many locations and it also talks about when to sell and when to buy. Now Ron is taking a break from non-fiction and he’s reading a 2007 work by one of his favorite authors, David Baldacci. This book is Simple Genius.  It is Book 3 in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series and Ron recommends it.

That’s a wrap, everyone. The included quotes mostly came from the detailed versions of book records in the APL catalog. Happy Reading and I hope to see you all soon.

- Laureen the (retired) librarian, Good Grounds for Books leader              

National Volunteer Week

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we've highlighted some of our volunteers in our digital signs. Take a peek!

Volunteer Name:   Laureen J.
Occupation:  Retired Librarian
Volunteer Position:  Heritage Sleuth at the NE Branch and Library Ambassador for Good Grounds at the WW Branch Library
Why do you volunteer?  I love the book club members I had as an active librarian and wanted to continue.  I am also a Genealogical Resources Committee Chair.
What do you like most about the Arlington Public Library?  7 locations
What is your favorite book?  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montogomery
What are your hobbies?  Sewing, quilting, writing about family, and Carnegie Libraries in Texas.
What is your favorite treat?  Apples
Where would you take your dream vacation?  Beaches in North Carolina and Hawaii

Volunteer Name:  Pete J.
Occupation: USMC Colonel (retired), Airline Captain (retired)
Volunteer Position:  Heritage Sleuth and Book Wrangler
Why do you volunteer?  I have a great respect for libraries and the opportunity for lifetime learning.
What do you like most about the Arlington Public Library?  Talented employees, many branches, generous open times
What are your hobbies?  Genealogy photography, wood working
What is your favorite treat?  Ice cream.  Did I say ice cream?
Where would you take your dream vacation?  Rocky Mountain Wilderness Parks

Volunteer Name:  Stan H.
Occupation:  Claim Representative
Volunteer Position:  Book Wrangler for the Southeast and Southwest Branches
Why do you volunteer?   I like to help the community
What do you like most about the Arlington Public Library?  Vast collection of books
What is your favorite book?  Bible
What are your hobbies?  Bowling
What is your favorite treat?  Blueberry muffins
Where would you take your dream vacation?  Mexico 

Volunteer Name:  Rachel F.
Occupation:  High School Student
Volunteer Position:  Book Wrangler at the Southeast Branch
Why do you volunteer?  I volunteer for the National Honors Society
What do you like most about the Arlington Public Library?   It is a great place to learn and it is very welcoming.
What is your favorite book?  The Giver by Lois Lowry
What are your hobbies?  Band, cheerleading and helping people out.
What is your favorite treat?  Animal Crackers!
Where would you take your dream vacation?   The Bahamas

Volunteer Name:  Abdirahman W.
Occupation:  High School Student
Volunteer Position:  East Branch Library and Books on Wheels
Why do you volunteer?  To help my young adult children
What do you like most about the Arlington Public Library?  I like to read more books
What is your favorite book?  The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer
What are your hobbies?  Computer Science
What is your favorite treat?  Cookies
Where would you take your dream vacation?  Africa 

Volunteer Name:  Andri E.
Occupation:  High School Student
Volunteer Position:  Southeast Branch Book Wrangler
Why do you volunteer?  For National Honor Society and I love to read and help.
What do you like most about the Arlington Public Library?  It’s cam it is a great environment
What is your favorite book?  Looking for Alaska by John Green
What are your hobbies?  Band, piano lessons, helping when I can
What is your favorite treat?  Reeses and all food
Where would you take your dream vacation?  Bora, Bora

4/15/2015 by Sharon Granado Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington

Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Announced

The shortlist of books up for the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medals have been announced! The Carnegie Medals recognize outstanding fiction and nonfiction books written for adults. The awards are given for the previous year, so the 2015 awards will go to books published in 2014. Keep reading for review snippets and put a hold on what interests you!

Nonfiction Shortlist

 The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

“Five watershed events in the deep past decimated life on earth, hence the designation “Sixth Extinction” for today’s ­human-propelled crisis… Intrepid and astute, Kolbert combines vivid, informed, and awestruck descriptions of natural wonders, from rain forests to the Great Barrier Reef, and wryly amusing tales about such dicey situations as nearly grabbing onto a tree branch harboring a fist-sized tarantula, swimming among poisonous jellyfish, and venturing into a bat cave; each dispatch is laced with running explanations of urgent scientific inquiries and disquieting findings. Rendered with rare, resolute, and resounding clarity, Kolbert’s compelling and enlightening report forthrightly addresses the most significant topic of our lives.” (Booklist)




Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

“Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. […]  Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.” (Booklist)





Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David by Lawrence Wright

A dramatic, illuminating day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter convinced Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sign a peace treaty--the first treaty in the modern Middle East, and one which endures to this day. (Booklist)






Fiction Shortlist

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long—­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. […] It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.” (Booklist)




Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

“The Ireland of four decades ago is beautifully evoked through events in the three-year widowhood of fortysomething Nora Webster, left by the early death of her beloved Maurice with four children and scarcely enough money to cover the family expenses. A character-portrait novel in the full definition of that type—which means as meticulous in detail and as sound in psychological understanding as a biography—Irishman Tóibín’s latest rich novel, following the provocative Testament of Mary (2012), is self-assured in its authenticity, daring in the male author’s presumption of inhabiting a female protagonist, and all this is achieved through prose at once alive and understated.” (Booklist)




On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee.

“Lee (The Surrendered, 2010), always entrancing and delving, has taken fresh approaches to storytelling in each of his previous four novels, but he takes a truly radical leap in this wrenching yet poetic, philosophical, even mystical speculative odyssey. B-Mor is a rigorously ordered labor settlement founded in what used to be Baltimore by refugees from impossibly polluted New China. They grow stringently regulated food for the elite, who live in gated “charter” villages, surrounded by “open counties,” in which civilization has collapsed under the assaults of a pandemic and an ever-harsher climate. In a third-person plural narrative voice that perfectly embodies the brutal and wistful communities he portrays, Lee tells the mythic story of young, small, yet mighty Fan, a breath-held diver preternaturally at home among the farmed fish she tends to.” (Booklist)

Prepare for College Life at the Library

High school graduations are right around the corner and for those seniors who have decided to attend college, this can be both an exciting and intimidating time. The prospect of new friends, classes and  impending career  decisions can all be a big change from most high school schedules.

With that in mind, staff from APL’s literacy house  share their favorite parts of the college experience:

APL’s Literacy Coordinator, Wes says that  he most appreciated the wide and unique variety of classes offered, “I received my undergraduate degree in English literature, and I was able to take an American post-modern literature class, a Jewish fiction class and even a class studying the lyrics of Bob Dylan. Classes don’t have to be dry and boring like most people might imagine they are. There is something for every taste and interest!”

Ellen, AmeriCorps VISTA said she loved the variety of social and volunteer groups that she could easily be a part of.

Campus life has lots of opportunities whether students are moving across country or attending a local college! Take a look at some of these resources from the library that might help navigate the college experience! 

4/10/2015 by Lisa Smant Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Books, Careers, Literacy

National Library Workers Day

The Arlington Public Library system could not function without our wonderful library staff. From staff providing excellent service at our customer service desks, to stacks maintenance staff making sure our books get back to their shelves so you can check them out, to program assistants and librarians creating fun programs for you and your family to enjoy, every staff member has an important role.

Do you really appreciate the stellar work of a library staff member? Is so, nominate them! or tell us about your experiences at your library on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram #Arlingtontxlib.

4/2/2015 by Julie W. Add a Comment Share this:

National Library Week

National Library Week (April 12-18, 2015) is a national observance sponsored by the American Libraries Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. This is a time to celebrate all things libraries and the contributions libraries of all sizes and specialties have in their immediate community as well as globally.

Public libraries are the free university for every (wo)man. Access to WiFi, books, music, DVDs, and databases are all available to use with your public library card. Public libraries are the place to go for free entertainment as well as self-guided independent learning. You can check out a book on designing science experiements (for your children or yourself!), be swept off to another time and location by reading an engrossing novel, use databases from MORe Library to explore your family history, and save money each month by reading magazines using Zinio.

Our library staff strives to provide programs for all ages that is engaging (Mindstorm Robots, anyone?), educational, and fun. We have an entire summer of fun with Summer Reading Club!

There is something for everyone, regardless of age, at our local libraries. If there is something we’re missing, let us know! We want your feedback to provide you with the best experience.

Share your library stories with us on social media! #Arlingtontxlib

4/2/2015 by Julie W. Add a Comment Share this:

Success Stories

Arlington Public Library runs adult literacy programs for the community. Adults can take classes to study for the GED, attend Conversation Circles to practice English, take formal English as a Second Language classes, and go back to the basics with learning to read. Recently, former GED students were contacted and asked how attending classes at the Literacy House (literally, a house where the adult education programs are held!) affected their personal and professional lives. Here are just a few of their stories.

"It makes a difference when children see the mom is educated."  -  Irene G.

Irene said she could not help her children with their homework before passing the GED and it was very frustrating. Now that she has passed, she says she feels very proud that she can both help her kids and encourage them to continue their education. Irene is also going to Tarrant County College and stated that without the help of the tutors in Arlington Reads, it would not have been possible for her to pass.

"I don’t think I could do it without their help." -  Lauren G.

Lauren is very grateful to the Arlington Reads GED Prep Program which helped her pass the GED. Lauren’s dream came true after passing the GED. She has a great job in Arlington and is working full time and getting much higher pay than her previous job! Lauren was able to reach her goals as a result of studying in the program.

“It changed my life.” Angel H.

Angel now has a full-time job working with CNC Machines after passing the GED. He reported he is making better wages as a result of this job. About the GED Prep program, Angel said, “Oh yeah! It changed my life!” Now, Angel wants to bring his wife to the Literacy House to study for the GED so she can change her life too!

GED for self-fulfillment - Margaret S.

Not all individuals studying for the GED want it for better employment. Some, like Margaret, have just always wanted to get the credential to prove to themselves that they can do it! Just a few days after Margaret passed the GED, she retired from work. She said that passing has given her the confidence that she can do something when she puts her mind to it. She appreciates the Arlington Reads GED Prep Program because they help individuals of all backgrounds and goals to study. 

If you'd like to learn more about how you can volunteer or donate to our adult literacy programs, such as the GED program, please visit

3/31/2015 by Julie W. Add a Comment Share this:
Topics: Arlington, Literacy

New Nonfiction Releases April 1-13

Target Tokyo is historian James M. Scott's new book about the famous counterstrike against Tokyo following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

3/31/2015 by Linda S Add a Comment Share this:

New Fiction Releases April 1-13

In bestselling Scottoline's new stand alone thriller, a psychiatrist begins treating a troubled teen and bad things start to happen to everyone around him-including murder and kidnapping. Will someone really die Every Fifteen Minutes?

3/30/2015 by Linda S Add a Comment Share this: