Lauren Martino: Welcome to Library Matters. I’m your host, Lauren Martino. And today I’m here with Lisa Navidi who is Head of Adult Services at the Davis Library and has worked for MCPL for 32 years. Welcome Lisa.
Lisa Navidi: Happy to be here.
Lauren Martino: And we’ve also got with us, Patrick Fromm, the new Branch Manager here at Rockville Library. Welcome Patrick.
Patrick Fromm: Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Lauren Martino: And today we are talking about the best and the brightest new books from 2018. So Lisa, looking back over 2018, what kind of year has it been in general for literature?
Lisa Navidi: There was an ancient Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” And that’s what we’re living in. We have out-of-the-box type of books, fiction and non-fiction, especially about empowering women both fiction and non-fiction, and Trump.
Lauren Martino: Empowering women and Trump.
Lisa Navidi: And both. And sometimes both.
Lauren Martino: Okay.
Patrick Fromm: That was such a beautiful answer.
Lauren Martino: Anything else you’ve noticed besides empowering women and Trump, Patrick?
Patrick Fromm: Just that when you look at the bestsellers for the year whether it’s Barnes & Noble or Amazon, you see a lot of that reaction to Trump, a lot of non-fiction talking about the global lead, talking about the Trump administration, and also just talking about the state of human beings in general as we’re all bombarded with news both vile and corrosive.
Lauren Martino: So a lot – I guess we are processing as a culture now and that’s coming out in our books.
Patrick Fromm: Definitely.
Lisa Navidi: We’re all trying to process this new life.
Lauren Martino: In general, is there anything you see that’s different from last year’s best of list I mean, we were dealing with a lot of the same things last year. I don’t know if we’re processing them a little bit more this year or any particular – anything that stands out to you?
Lisa Navidi: There was a lot of last year that started the immigration wave of fiction. I think 2016, 2017 and now there’s still more of that reeling after what happened in the election, specifically “What Happened” by Clinton.
Lauren Martino: There it is in the title.
Lisa Navidi: Yes. Yeah, that pretty much says it all. I read a wonderful book in 2017 which I read in 2018 that –
Lauren Martino: That’s okay. You can talk about it.
Lisa Navidi: Can I talk about it?
Lauren Martino: Yeah, you can talk about it.
Lisa Navidi: There were actually several but I discovered a new author, Joshilyn Jackson, who wrote Almost Sisters. And when you first start reading – I mean, she’s read – she’s written several other books. But when you first start reading it, you think, “Oh, it’s an enjoyable piece of fluffy chicklet.” But actually it becomes about family, about southern family, about racism, about love and ultimately about love of family. It’s a wonderful book and it’s one on my list that I just recommend to people to listen to especially and to read.
Lauren Martino: Anything you’ve noticed, Patrick, that’s different from last year that’s you’ve seen?
Patrick Fromm: I don’t know if I have any quantitative evidence to this but I felt like a lot of the books that I was reading or recommended either by customers or by friends and family were non-fiction specifically memoirs. I read Failure Is An Option by H. Jon Benjamin. I read Dopesick and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, as well as Educated by Tara Westover and Heavy by Kiese Laymon. And a lot of those ended up on best of list now at this part of the year. But at that time, I felt like a lot of people were saying this is what I’m reading, this is what you’ll enjoy, and in particular You’re on an Airplane by Parker Posey who is in all best of –
Lisa Navidi: Yeah. Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah.
Lisa Navidi: I didn’t read it but I read about it. I love her.
Lauren Martino: Tell me about that one. Yeah, I don’t know anything about that one. Sorry, children’s librarian here.
Patrick Fromm: So I listen to most of my books because my communities are churches. And a lot of times I like the ones by actors because they read it themselves and it’s fun to get them whispering to your ear all day.
Lisa Navidi: Right. Right.
Patrick Fromm: And she tells it like she’s telling a story to someone who is stuck next to her on an airplane.
Lisa Navidi: Oh yeah.
Patrick Fromm: So there are sounds of the airplane happening around her. She is frequently interrupting her own story to talk to the flight attendant or to order more tea or whatnot and she’s got her little dog with her as well. But her stories are really rambling and interesting, a lot of insight Hollywood talk because she was kind of nominated or self-proclaimed indie queen.
Lisa Navidi: Right. Right.
Patrick Fromm: But she didn’t really necessarily choose to do that. That just kind of happened. And so it’s really interesting to hear when she tries to strike out for big pictures like a Woody Allen film or she was in Blade as opposed to like the ones she’s really known for like the Christopher Guest movies like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.
Lisa Navidi: Mackumentaries.
Patrick Fromm: Yes, exactly. So I really – it was one of those books where I was excited to get into traffic like when my Google Maps is like, “Oh, it’s an hour and 30 minutes to home,” I was like, well –
Lisa Navidi: Yes.
Patrick Fromm: – I don’t get to see my baby, but I do get to –”
Lisa Navidi: Parker Posey. Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah. I definitely enjoyed pretty much all of those.
Lauren Martino: I think, yeah, a lot of comedians do the audio books and they’ve got the sound effects and, you know, bringing in their, you know, guest stars and that’s just kind of how they roll. Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: I mean, you mentioned that – I guess last year, there was the wave of immigration books. I feel like that’s continuing at least in children’s books in what I’ve seen.
Lisa Navidi: Oh, absolutely.
Lauren Martino: Because there’s a ton of new ones out that – I mean, things that – you know, in the past year like, “Oh gosh, we got to find a book about a Latino kid and I don’t know where to find it.” And now it’s like, “Oh, there’s all these new ones. It’s great.”
Lisa Navidi: Yeah. We do have a lot here.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Lisa Navidi: And there is a list put out by the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature about the best multicultural children’s books of 2018 which includes a lot of these immigration kind of books.
Lauren Martino: And you can find it in our show notes.
Lisa Navidi: Yes.
Patrick Fromm: Lauren, did you get a chance to read Alma and How She Got Her Name?
Lauren Martino: I didn’t. I saw that on a lot of lists, but I haven’t.
Patrick Fromm: I wanted to mention it because it’s one of the few I actually did read, so I can sound really smart.
Lauren Martino: Oh, then you tell us about it, yes.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah. Well, it –
Lauren Martino: There you go, you got the children’s librarian fee. Good job. Go for it.
Patrick Fromm: It was just really interesting because it gets into the naming particularly in families from Central America, South America –
Lauren Martino: Mm-hmm.
Patrick Fromm: And Alma has six names and at first she’s a little perturbed by having that and doesn’t understand why, but then her father takes her through each name and who it represents in her ancestry, in her family. And they’re kind of represented on the page. And to me, I remember distinctly back when I was in Baltimore County, we would have issues with customers with longer names because the form that you filled out only had X number of spaces and –
Lauren Martino: The computer has no tolerance.
Patrick Fromm: Exactly. So we had to figure out how to do that and most people didn’t understand because Baltimore County isn’t nearly as diverse as Montgomery County. So we’re all kind of learning on the fly there and I distinctly remember thinking while reading this, I wish I had this book back when that happened. So I would have had a little more background because it really – it broke it down in a way I’d never quite explained before and the drawing is beautiful. It’s – she illustrates and writes it so it’s excellent.
Lauren Martino: So is there a particular place you go to find what you consider the best of – man, there are so many lists, Washington Post has them, and the New York Times. Is there any particular place you like to go to find out what you should have read this year?
Lisa Navidi: Well, I learned about the NPR’s Book Concierge.
Patrick Fromm: Yes.
Lauren Martino: Oh, what’s that about?
Lisa Navidi: Which is easy to use, has a click on thing. You can say, “I want a biography for my book club and it’s this and it’s that.” You can really focus on what you want and then you click on the title and it has this cute little thing, a summary of the book. And it’s really nice.
Patrick Fromm: And it cuts a lot of that like critiquey jargon.
Lisa Navidi: Yes.
Patrick Fromm: Like I feel like the people are really talking to you.
Lisa Navidi: Yes. This is – it’s done by the NPR staff.
Lauren Martino: Mm-hmm.
Lisa Navidi: So it is real.
Patrick Fromm: So this is what I haven’t read, but The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, she wrote The God of Small Things which is like my favorite book of all time made it on to the list I think, for this year. But the little blurb was like, this isn’t going to fulfill everyone who thinks that The God of Small Things is all that wonderful everything that you want, but it is still worth to try for these like specific reasons. So there was like a short one paragraph blurb but it told me, I’m going to wait on reading because I don’t want to be disappointed. But yeah, you’re right. That is a – it’s a wonderful resource. That’s one I direct customers to because it’s very easy to personalize.
Lisa Navidi: There’s also one of our databases which I just discovered very recently. Books & Authors, ampersand authors, it is easy to go through, to find what you’re looking for and also has the summaries and it has the best of and award winning. So I know there’s another question about that. It does show, you know, what the best of ‘18, best of 2017, 2016, et cetera.
Lauren Martino: Mm-hmm.
Patrick Fromm: That’s really cool. Do they pull it from a specific place or is it done by that database, you know?
Lisa Navidi: I’m sure they pulled it but I don’t know where they pulled it from. Sorry.
Lauren Martino: We’ll see if we can put that in the show notes too. What books this year have you not been able to keep up with the demand for? I know there’s always that book that you’re out the desk and you’re like, “Oh, no.” And it’s like, “It’s this book called like Educated? Have you heard of it?”
Lisa Navidi: Right, yeah.
Lauren Martino: It’s like, yeah, like, the pass five people before you have asked for that book. And I couldn’t find it for them either.
Lisa Navidi: Well, finally, A Gentleman in Moscow, it’s coming down – the holds are coming down but that’s like two years ago. And there were still –
Lauren Martino: Is that the one about the guy hanging out in the airport?
Lisa Navidi: No.
Patrick Fromm: Imprisoned in a hotel.
Lisa Navidi: In the hotel in Moscow, he was –
Lauren Martino: Yeah, okay.
Lisa Navidi: He was imprisoned.
Lauren Martino: Okay.
Lisa Navidi: In the hotel in Moscow.
Lauren Martino: As an aside, this is like the perfect time of year to read that book, like you can’t recommend that enough. It’s just delightful.
Lisa Navidi: It is. It is. It’s one of those books you really can give to anybody.
Patrick Fromm: My – when we’re asking about the what we use to get a recommendation besides NPR, I always go to my aunt, Rita. She has got impeccable taste in – she likes that one enough that she bought like, you know, 10 copies and just gave it to people to convince them – and it was perfect because I kept getting asked about it and I was never going to get it on hold. That was like 380 times. So I was able to read it that way, but yeah, that – can’t recommend that one enough.
Lisa Navidi: Mm-hmm.
Patrick Fromm: I guess for this year, I’d probably say Becoming.
Lisa Navidi: Well, someone just asked how many people were on the list. There are like 700.
Lauren Martino: I feel like we should let people know that we’re on – we got this – the huge long list, we do tend to buy more copies so it’s not hopeless and you should get on the list.
Lisa Navidi: Exactly. And you never know there may be an express copy on the shelf.
Lauren Martino: That’s true. We have – oh, can you tell us a little bit about what an express copy is?
Lisa Navidi: It is – they are leased books, L-E-A-S-E-D from Baker & Taylor, we buy the hot books. You can’t renew them, you can’t reserve them. They’re either there or they’re not, and it’s like sort of winning a little lottery when you come in and, “Oh, look, A Gentleman in Moscow is here.”
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Lisa Navidi: So it’s always – it’s a good way to show people what else there is as they’re waiting for their book or maybe find their book there.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah. And if you want a visual encapsulation of what’s hot in Montgomery County or –
Lisa Navidi: Yes.
Patrick Fromm: – the library world, it’s a great place to just browse. It would probably be pretty hard for us to pick a loser among the bunch.
Lauren Martino: All right. We’ve talked about some of them already but what are your absolute favorites from this year that you want to impress some people they need to read. I’ve got a picture of book one but I’ll save it.
Patrick Fromm: Well, I know probably the one that I enjoyed the most would be Circe by Madeline Miller.
Lauren Martino: Mm-hmm.
Patrick Fromm: It’s a retelling of the great story of Circe who is a goddess and she’s kind of like, unlikely goddess. She doesn’t really enjoy gods or titans. And it’s in the adults but it kind of, captures that sort of Percy Jackson mythology vibe.
Lisa Navidi: Mm-hmm.
Lauren Martino: Percy Jackson for adults.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah, exactly.
Lauren Martino: Everyone grew up reading Percy Jackson. That’s awesome.
Patrick Fromm: It’s so good. Like if you even have like a surface knowledge of Greek mythology, you’re going to love it. There’s all the big names appearing in it. But it really is a compelling story, too, and the language is beautiful, and the narrator, whose name I do not know, is British and I love listening to British. So I checked all the boxes.
Lauren Martino: It doesn’t hurt.
Patrick Fromm: And it’s definitely my favorite fiction book of the year.
Lauren Martino: Do you think Neil Gaiman fans would like that, too? People that –
Patrick Fromm: Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, it is a spiritual – same spiritual realm as a Neil Gaiman book. Although a little less weird if – like I said, like there’s nothing that made my skin crawl.
Lauren Martino: So Neil Gaiman is too weird and creepy for you.
Patrick Fromm: This is a good middle ground. Definitely.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah. One of our children’s librarians read that and loved it, loved it and I also read about it that you really – I somehow missed Greek mythology in high school. And so, what I read about this is that you don’t have to know Greek mythology to really enjoy it.
Patrick Fromm: Very true.
Lisa Navidi: And she thought it was one of the surprising books, surprising bestsellers.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah. I only picked it up because of its cover and I was very surprised.
Lisa Navidi: Because it was Circe, right?
Patrick Fromm: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Lisa Navidi: A librarian angel.
Lauren Martino: It’s a fun fact. Fun fact. It happens to be the name of our catalogue system. Do you have anything, Lisa?
Lisa Navidi: Yeah, I do. Eleanor Oliphant is alive and completely fine. I started reading it and I wasn’t crazy about it, then I’d listen to it and it’s wonderful. There’s been a great glut recently of captivating book titles featuring quirky characters like A Man Called Ove, which is one of my favorite books of all times, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Britt-Marie Was Here – and this is a woman who seems almost on the spectrum. She’s not happy at work. Nobody likes her and then she became obsessed with this singer that she’s never – she had just seen perform who – and she thought, “I’m going to marry him.” And so, she does all these quirky things and gets involved with his friend at work and her life – and as you’re reading it, you’re finding more and more about her life and how sad and why she is the way she is. It’s a wonderful book and it’s not light reading. It’s funny. It’s sad, you know. So that was one of my favorites.
Lauren Martino: I like books that can do funny and sad together. It’s like the emotional roller coaster.
Lisa Navidi: Yes. Yes, indeed. Indeed.
Patrick Fromm: Plus that title is impeccable.
Lisa Navidi: Yes, yes. Another one that really was not – it wasn’t published in 2018. I’m sorry. But it’s Nutshell by Ian McEwan, which is basically a fetal Hamlet.
Lauren Martino: What?
Lisa Navidi: It is narrated by the fetus. His mother and his uncle are plotting to kill his father and he is narrating this whole thing from his point of view, but his point of view is so sophisticated and there, the mother and the uncle are drinking wine and he said, “Oh, I really would have preferred a Sancerre,” you know, because it’s coming right to him. It’s a wonderful book and it’s narrated by a British – it’s not narrated by McEwan, but I loved it and it was – that was a big surprise to me. Somebody recommended that to me. And thank you for that.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. It’s one of those – it’s like you give a quick description and it doesn’t sound like anything you would actually want to read, but you’re here to tell us that you need to go for it.
Lisa Navidi: I am here to tell you and I have recommended it to people, so.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: Did either of you check out I’ll Be Gone in the Dark?
Lauren Martino: No, but I feel like –
Lisa Navidi: No. I’ve heard about it.
Lauren Martino: We talked about it in our True Crime episode a few episodes back with it.
Patrick Fromm: Got you.
Lauren Martino: But you want to tell us some more about it?
Patrick Fromm: Just that – it was one that I wasn’t – I heard about it separately through a True Crime podcast that I listened to and I didn’t realize it was Michelle McNamara – Patton – I knew her as Patton Oswalt’s spouse who tragically died two years ago, I guess. Patton Oswalt was a community member.
Lisa Navidi: Oh, I remember that. Yes, yes.
Patrick Fromm: So – and he gave bunch of heartfelt tributes at the time and I was very moved by that. But then, reading this, it is a better character study of her than anything I could imagine because it captures a lot of her life into it, which is almost as interesting as the case she is obsessed with.
Lisa Navidi: Mm-hmm. This was the one in California?
Patrick Fromm: Mm-hmm, the Golden State Killer.
Lisa Navidi: Right, right.
Patrick Fromm: Whew. And it’s a – I think it’s going to be a show. I want to say HBO. I’m not 100% sure, but I feel like demand will rise for it again. But there’s a really nice foreword by Gillian Flynn, the Sharp Objects and Gone Girl author, and an afterword by Patton Oswalt, her husband. So it was a great book and it’s one of those ones where listening to it, I would get totally lost into it and I have to lock all my doors and all the windows, like it’s creepy. So I highly recommend that for non-fiction likers.
Lauren Martino: That’s when they ended up finding the killer through DNA?
Patrick Fromm: Yes.
Lauren Martino: So it came into our genealogy podcast too. So in three podcasts now, this is the book to read.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah, definitely.
Lisa Navidi: I also read – I love amnesia fiction where the character –
Lauren Martino: Amnesia fiction. This is a genre.
Lisa Navidi: It should be a genre and this is – it’s almost –
Lauren Martino: It’s the next podcast. The genre of amnesia fiction. You’re our guest.
Lisa Navidi: I can’t remember what it was about, but – anyway –
Lauren Martino: It took us a second, but yeah.
Lisa Navidi: Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move, she can’t speak, she can’t open her eyes so she can hear everyone around her, but no one knows because she in a coma. She doesn’t remember what happened and she has a sneaking suspicion her husband has something to do with it, so it alternates between this present, her paralyzed present, and the week before her accident, and the series of childhood diaries from 20 years ago, and you really, and the title should tell you everything, Sometimes I Lie.
So you don’t know, you don’t trust the narrator. So it’s an ultimate detective kind of hunt for who is the real bad person, the villain in this, who isn’t, and it will surprise you right up until the end.
Lauren Martino: It makes me think of Memento, I know I’m crossing genres there, materials.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah, exactly. One more, can I tell you one more?
Lauren Martino: Yes, yes, you can. Please do, please do. This is your opportunity to get all this book love off your chest.
Lisa Navidi: American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and it’s about an African-American couple, and he – I think he works in a – he worked in a law firm and she has a business, and they fell in love, and then something happens.
I don’t know whether to divulge it or not, but he gets taken away to prison, and so there’s – they’re looking at their marriage, he’s there, she is here, she’s sort of left, she doesn’t know what to do, and they’re writing letters to each other, so it has that epistolary fiction kind of genre which I love, and doesn’t end up the way you think it does. It’s just fascinating look at their lives and what could happen in an instant to change their lives.
Patrick Fromm: Cool, I wanted to check that one out, I haven’t, yeah.
Lauren Martino: Okay. I have, on our list questions, favorite kid’s books, chapter books, picture books, graphic novels, non-fiction, because of course I wrote their questions and I’m a children’s librarian, but you all are adult librarians.
So I am happy to hear what has grabbed your attention out of there. I am also – I’ve got things that I can share as well.
Patrick Fromm: For picture books, I was excited to see that Square and Triangle illustrated by Jon Klassen and written Mac Bennett, Barnett, Marc, Mac Barnett.
Lauren Martino: Mac Barnett, something like that, yes. We’re going to say Mac Barnett.
Patrick Fromm: I loved I Want My Hat Back. I’m really drawn to anything that Jon Klassen illustrates, I love those eyes. So when I saw what they’re doing on the shapes, I was like, “This is awesome.”
So immediately, I took them home and showed my daughter, and she also loves it. She was right at that time learning the word eye, and so it’s the perk, because she would just go, “Eye, eye,” and point to their eyes, and I was like, “This is exactly what I wanted as a father.”
So those, those are on top of my list, and I think they’re going to do another one, so I’m excited for that too.
Lauren Martino: Do you have anything, Lisa?
Lisa Navidi: Well, this is actually from the my children’s librarian at Davis. It’s a board book, Holi Color, H-O-L-I. I don’t know it’s called Holi or – it’s an Indian festival and it’s a board book that introduces the Hindu Holi Festival. There’s also Islandborn by Junot Diaz.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, I don’t think if I heard that one, but I’ve seen it, yeah.
Lisa Navidi: It’s a picture book about a girl who is doing a project in first grade about where she was born. She was born on an island and she uses first person accounts from neighbors to tell her story.
Patrick Fromm: I didn’t know that he had written a children’s book, that’s interesting.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah, it is interesting.
Lauren Martino: Okay. I have to share, there’s this lovely book called The Rabbit Listened, that’s a picture book, and I think it’s got to be the most concise description of how you help anyone deal with tragedy that has ever been written.
It’s just this beautiful book because basically this little boy built a tower, and it’s a big, big tower, and he’s so excited, and then it falls down. And then it’s got the ostrich that says – comes and says, “You know, you got to just bury your heard in the sand, and just forget about it,” and all these other animals that are kind of giving the appropriate, for them, response. And a bear offers him a hug, and all these other stuff, and, you know, just nothing is helping.
And then the rabbit comes over, and just sits, and he’s there, and he’s still, and everything pours out, and he hugs the rabbit, and he, you know, rages at the rabbit and sticks his head in the sand with the rabbit, and all these things that the animals suggested, he can do it with a rabbit who is just going to sit there, and be present, and I’m just like, “Wow, this is really powerful,” so I just, yeah, I should really buy that book for everybody in my Christmas list this year.
It’s like, “Go, be a better person with this book.”
Lisa Navidi: I found this book. I don’t even know if we have it, I’m sorry.
Lauren Martino: It’s okay.
Lisa Navidi: I found it – I found it on, it was on Facebook. It’s called The Winky Wonky Donkey –
Lauren Martino: The Winky Wonky Donkey.
Lisa Navidi: – and I watched this grandmother reading too, she was like Australian or something. She was reading to her, her little, probably a year-old child who just wanted to wriggle out, but she was having so much fun reading it to him, and each thing they would add another thing.
It was Winky Wonky, Crabby, Tabby, Labby, you know, and it was just so cute, so I had to buy it, so I bought it for my grandson.
Lauren Martino: Oh that’s awesome. I feel like, yeah, include that. See if we can find the video and we can put it on the show notes, because that sounds like the perfect example of this is how you need to read to a wiggly kid, and read to that wiggly kid, that wiggly kid it needs read to. That’s awesome.
See, I also enjoy this – I guess this as a teen book. While we’re talking about memoirs and biographies, Hey, Kiddo by – and I’m going to totally mess this up, Krosoczka who is best known probably for Lunch Lady, and yeah, the Lunch Lady book. So he wrote a memoir – a graphic novel memoir of his childhood that, yeah, you’re just like wow.
Patrick Fromm: What’s it called again?
Lauren Martino: Hey, Kiddo.
Patrick Fromm: Hey, Kiddo.
Lauren Martino: Because he’s raised by his grandparents, who, you know, and then just like all throughout the book they’re saying, “Hey, kiddo. Hey, kiddo.” Because his mother was a heroin addict. And yeah – and just dealing with, you know, I love my mother but my mother can’t be my mother. And yeah, so, you know, he’s raised by the grandparents who – they’re doing the best they can. They’re putting in through a, you know, valuable effort, but, you know, things are just, you know, not quite like they should be. But the ending, I was tear – tear-ridden because – and it was just – and just how you come through this and, you know, with enough power and enough, you know, you made it well enough to then publish your graphic novels.
Patrick Fromm: Well, while we’re on the graphic novel train, I do feel like I got to give a shout out to the 2018 Dog Man books that came out by Dav Pilkey.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah
Patrick Fromm: It’s just continuing.
Lauren Martino: Oh my gosh.
Lisa Navidi: I have –
Patrick Fromm: I could build a library building out of Dog Man books and I would still not have enough Dog Man books.
Lauren Martino: Amen.
Lisa Navidi: I have read that. I’ve read it to my grandson and daughter –
Lauren Martino: Can you – how was the experience for you?
Lisa Navidi: Well, they’re older but they loved it.
Lauren Martino: Oh, that’s awesome.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah and I loved it. I thought it was very funny and interesting and creative.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah, I had to see what all the fuss was about. And I would have to admit, I was cracking up and I was looking forward to being able to share it with my daughter when she gets a bit older.
Lauren Martino: Well, the titles will do it in and of themselves.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Lord of the Fleas.
Patrick Fromm: Lord of the Fleas, yeah.
Lisa Navidi: Yes.
Lauren Martino: A Tale of Two Kitties.
Lisa Navidi: Right, right. And they’re always asking for them.
Patrick Fromm: And it’s great because now he’s got this back catalogue of Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta. So you can easily like – once they get through Dog Man, it’s like, “Well, I’ve got this whole another world to show you and just keep on reading.”
Lauren Martino: And you wonder how a grown man just keeps churning out these type of books.
Patrick Fromm: Where does he get these ideas?
Lauren Martino: It’s like it just doesn’t stop. I mean, I don’t know, I feel like the – well, the Dog Man titles are easier to say and you don’t have to say them like, the Preposterous Plight of Professor Poopypants or you see adults trying to say this and you just start giggling because, like, I know what you’re talking about.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah, it was always really hard to recommend a book to parent and be like, “Oh, you got a reluctant reader, well, let me tell you, Super Diaper Baby.” And they’re like, “Oh, oh, oh.”
Lisa Navidi: Yeah, the parent is shaking his head and the kid is cracking up. And the kid’s like, “Oh yeah, no, I want that book.”
Lauren Martino: Are there any new authors that published books this year that you’ve been particularly impressed with?
Lisa Navidi: There is a book that I want to read, I haven’t read it yet. And I’m looking for it, right now.
Lauren Martino: Let’s pause for station identification.
Lisa Navidi: Pause. Oh yeah, here it is. Yeah, it’s on my list of Women’s Voices Hear Them Roar which has that. I don’t – Naomi Alderman wrote The Power, which – what do you think would had – answers the question what do you think would happen if women had unstoppable power to combat misogynist – misogynism. And the answer – she answers this with a speculative novel called The Power about women actually getting the power. It starts out with teenage girls getting a strange power in their arms. So like, electric eels.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Lisa Navidi: So they’re able to inflict pain on whomever they choose.
Lauren Martino: So like, biological Tasers?
Lisa Navidi: Yeah. Exactly.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Lisa Navidi: So what could go wrong with that? Teenage girls having unstoppable powers –
Lauren Martino: Oh my goodness. I’m reimagining my high school years.
Lisa Navidi: Exactly. But it’s not funny really. And it becomes all women get these – most women get these powers. And the whole life turns, you know, and women having the power and men not. Anyways, so there’s that one.
There’s another one though that’s called Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, Z-U-M-A-S. And it’s – it’s kind of like a Handmaid’s Tale sort of thing, life, when there are no abortions. And so it’s five women having to deal with these – these scenarios. I haven’t read it but I started it and it sounds really good.
Patrick Fromm: Was this emerging authors? Is that what we’re doing?
Lauren Martino: Yes.
Patrick Fromm: Oh, I think probably for me Gaël Faye who wrote Small Country which is a book about – it takes place in Bujumbura in Burundi in Africa. And it’s taking place right around the cusp of the – the genocide in Rwanda with the Hutus and the Tutsies. And it’s – he – it’s a coming of age story taking place along that climate and dealing with the dual French identity. And the author himself is a French – I think he’s actually a rapper, it was his debut novel.
But it’s short, it’s brief and it’s really, really hard to read because it really sets in your mind how difficult it must be to be a child anywhere near an atrocity of that scale. And the normalization and the destabilization of their government and how things are falling apart but they’re still doing kid type things to that backdrop. But they just become more and more wild and influenced by the adults. So at one point they’re carting around an active grenade trying to defend their neighborhood and hiding out in like a disabled VW like van. It’s really, really good and I’m excited for whatever he does next. I haven’t listened to any of his music yet, but that’s next on my list, so.
Lauren Martino: There you go. Anything that you are excited about for 2019 that you can’t wait to read or not?
Lisa Navidi: Margaret Atwood is doing a sequel to Handmaid’s Tale.
Lauren Martino: I imagine that will be popular.
Lisa Navidi: Yes. And it will be interesting to see what she adds to that, that actually isn’t on the TV show.
Lauren Martino: Oh, my goodness, the diversions of worlds.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah, exactly. Or it may just –
Lauren Martino: And everywhere heads are exploding.
Lisa Navidi: Actually, I did read about it, that if you’re following Offred, the character, it is her diaries after, and they’re reading it after – Golum? What is the name of that – oh, well, anyway.
Patrick Fromm: Gilead.
Lisa Navidi: Gilead. Gilead?
Patrick Fromm: The place there?
Lisa Navidi: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: I think it’s Gilead.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah, after that sort of falls, then they find their diaries. That’s what it’s about.
Lauren Martino: Oh, okay.
Patrick Fromm: That’s pretty cool. I hope it’s good. It’s one of those things where I wonder if –
Lisa Navidi: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: – it should have been left standalone.
Lisa Navidi: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: But I’ll read it.
Lisa Navidi: Right, right. A lot of people will.
Patrick Fromm: For me, Dark Age, which is a second book in a trilogy that was preceded by a first trilogy, the Red Rising Trilogy. They’re science fiction books that kind of take place on Mars, where there’s this sort of caste system depending on your color. It determines your lot in life. So the – I liked the original trilogy. It’s kind of Hunger Games-ian, I guess, and it was a quick read. A little into the slightly older audience, which I dug, and then it was done. And then Iron Gold came out last year – this year? I don’t remember. And I was surprised. I thought, for sure, that it was going to be one of those things where it’s just a cash grab, but I think it’s actually better than the first books in the trilogy. So the sequel to that is coming out and I’m very excited to read it. So I’m hoping that Pierce Brown continues to have success with that.
Lauren Martino: All right. So our final question, as always. Lisa, what are you reading right now? And it doesn’t have to be from 2018.
Lisa Navidi: Okay. Actually, what I’m reading right now is from 2018.
Lauren Martino: So much the better.
Lisa Navidi: I’m reading Washington Black. It’s about a slave who was brought to Barbados when he was very young, and his journey of freedom. The writing is perfect, and it’s just about – he is befriended by his master’s brother and they flee together. And it’s just adventures and what it’s like to be a slave and think about – and the guilt he feels about leaving. It’s just an amazing book.
And I’m also reading Darius the Great Is Not Okay. It’s a –
Lauren Martino: It’s another one of those names, yeah.
Lisa Navidi: Yes. It’s a YA book by Adib Khorram about a high schooler who is partially Persian – his mother is Persian, his father isn’t – who visits Iran with his family. It’s a YA book that, of course, has to include the fact that he’s chronically depressed, and so is his father. But it’s right on the mark about being Persian, growing up Persian in America. So I’m trying to decide whether my partially Persian grandson is old enough to read it. He is 13, so.
Lauren Martino: You need to have him read Not So Awful, Falafel if he is not quite ready for it–
Lisa Navidi: Okay.
Lauren Martino: – because that’s a fun one, yeah. It’s by the author of Funny in Farsi.
Lisa Navidi: Oh, right, right. I did read that.
Lauren Martino: So yeah, it’s a lot of fun. Although kind of intense at times, but it is in the children’s section, so.
Lisa Navidi: Thank you.
Lauren Martino: You’re welcome.
Patrick Fromm: For me, I’m currently listening to Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart, which is awesome. It’s really, really engaging. It’s got two narratives, one is when one’s a man. I recognize the man from something, I haven’t looked it up yet, but it is definitely –
Lisa Navidi: It’s like a road trip or something.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah. And I heard it described as like a bro going on a road trip. It really is. It’s simple finding it. It’s a guy who is a hedge fund operator, who is possibly in some legal trouble, who also has a son that’s on the spectrum who is kind of fleeing from the familial situation. And he really loves his watches, and he takes out down to Baltimore, down to Virginia and across the country to try and figure out what he’s going to do with his life and chase after his old college flame. So it’s really, really good. It’s gut-wrenching a lot of the time, and the people are all kind of unlikeable. It’s one of those, so if you don’t like that, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you’re down with the sort of mad men, I can deal with really awful people, I highly, highly recommend it.
Lauren Martino: Tolerance, yeah.
Patrick Fromm: And then I’m reading on my Kindle, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Lauren Martino: Oh, I’m like way down on the list, so tell me how it is.
Patrick Fromm: It’s really good.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: It’s – so –
Lisa Navidi: It’s worth waiting for.
Lauren Martino: Okay.
Patrick Fromm: Yeah. Did you read it?
Lisa Navidi: No, I just –
Patrick Fromm: Oh, yeah, it’s got a lot of that sort of same young adult, teen, power story. You know, a person from a disadvantaged birth who is being held down by an oppressive government. And – but she’s got the secret power in her blood and has to go explore that. And it’s really good. I’m excited to see where it goes. But the world that it creates is particularly effective and it’s definitely got sort of like an African influence to it. And I’m just really – I’m enjoying it quite a bit. So I’m hoping that its ending will be satisfying.
And I think it’s going to be a trilogy? Question mark. So I’m hoping those will be good, too.
Lauren Martino: I think we’re slowly getting more like African-influenced like fantasy books.
Patrick Fromm: It’s such a rich thing to pull from.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Patrick Fromm: You got such a great, great catalogue of images and naming structures, so I’m enjoying it.
Lauren Martino: I thank you so much, Lisa and Patrick, for joining us today and sharing a year’s worth of reading. And we look forward to what you read next year.
Please keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple Podcast app or Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcasts. And make some comments, we’d love to know what you think.
Thanks for listening to our conversation today, and we’ll see you next time.
Summary: Librarians Lisa Navidi and Patrick Fromm share their picks for the best books of 2018, along with a few titles from other years. After all, their book love can't be confined by something so pedestrian as time.
Recording Date: December 5, 2018
Lisa Navidi, Adult Services Librarian at Davis Library
Patrick Fromm, Branch Manager of Rockville Memorial Library
Host: Lauren Martino
What Our Guest Is Reading:
Books and Authors Mentioned During this Episode:
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Dark Age by Pierce Brown
Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey
Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers
Educated by Tara Westover
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Failure Is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin
Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Heavy: an American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
Hey Kiddo by Jarnett Krosoczka
Holi Colors by Rina Singh
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Islandborn by Junot Diaz
It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Lunch Lady series by Jarnett Krosoczka
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfield
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Ricky Ricotta series by Dav Pilkey
Small Country by Gaël Faye
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Square by Mac Barnett
Triangle by Mac Barnett
What Happened by Hillary Clinton
You're on an Airplane by Parker Posey
Other Items of Interest:
Books and Authors - An online tool for discovering what to read next. Includes dozens of literary award and best seller lists.
What Do I Check Out Next? - Use this form to tell MCPL staff what you like to read and we'll respond with a list of 3 to 5 books that our readers' advisory experts have chosen for you.
David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with me David Payne. And today, we're going to be talking about music and listening to music as well. And joining me today, I am very pleased to welcome our old friend and guest, Eric Carzon, manager of the Twinbrook branch library. And Eric is the man behind one of MCPL's newest services, the Library of Things Music. So, welcome Eric.
Eric Carzon: Thank you. Good to be here.
David Payne: Good to have you back. And I see you've got a few props to entertain us with too.
Eric Carzon: Yeah.
David Payne: So, let's start by asking you how did you get into music and what instruments do you play.
Eric Carzon: Not really. Well, I just always loved music. My parents loved music a lot too, so was always playing in the house or they were singing. In fact, my grandfather was a singer as well. He sang - he was in World War II and he sang for the army, in the Washington Area. So growing up my mom would play Gordon Lightfoot, my dad would play Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, The Platters, a lot of doo-wop, some Janis Ian. Kind of a wide spread, a lot of different kinds of music, classical music as well. And then my grandmother, of all people, introduced me to Pink Floyd, so, you know, a little rock and roll too. In college my music buddies turned me on to the Indigo Girls, and of course there's all the great 80's-90's music, Eurythmics, U2, and whatnot. So I used to always be making up little songs and walking around the block singing them.
Then later on, I was in a church choir and the county choir later on. Eventually I was in a band in high school. No Top 100 hits yet though. I play the guitar mostly, and the ukulele. Mostly a rhythm guitar player, a little bit of lead work, and I sing and write songs as well.
David Payne: Great. What age did you start playing the guitar?
Eric Carzon: About - I think I took a class around fifth-sixth grade. Put it down for a while, eighth grade I picked it back up and just a couple of classes. I'm mostly self-taught and I learned from other musicians and books.
David Payne: Okay. So self-taught on the ukulele too?
Eric Carzon: Uh-huh, yeah, I picked that up about four or five years ago.
David Payne: Well, having said that, is there a musical instrument that you don't play but would like to if you had the chance?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah. One of the instruments in the Library of Things Music is the African djembe drum, a very popular West African drum. And I actually have one at home that I've had for decoration basically, but it's a real playing drum. And so I am motivated to learn how to play that for real. We've got some books and that we're about to have in the collection for that. And I went to a drum circle in the region recently where they sit around and they play. And it's a lot of fun, and it's very easy to get started with that instrument, so I do look forward to learning how to play that better.
David Payne: Okay. So, let's talk a bit about the Library of Things Music. For any listeners who haven't come across it before, can you tell us about your new innovation?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, absolutely. So we lend musical instruments, that's the Library of Things Music. It started at the Twinbrook branch, so that's the only branch right now, so you have to come to the Twinbrook branch to get the instrument, and when you return it you have to return it to the Twinbrook branch, which is in Rockville. And you have it for two weeks, 14 days. We do ask that the cardholder who checks the instrument out be 14 years or older. You could check it out for your kid obviously, and we have some that are sized for children specifically for that. But we do need a responsible party to check the instrument out. Of course, your account has to be in good standing, and you should be prepared with your identification so we can verify that your address is correct and that we have the right person.
At this time, we don't renew the checkout, so it is a strict 14 days. We don't do reserves through the computer system, but if you go to the Library of Things website, which is in the MCPL musical website you can get a look at what the instruments are and little bit of a description of what they are. And you can call us. So when you call us we'll tell you what's available or you can say, "Hey, I want a ukulele, do you have any?" And we'll look and we'll see if there's one available. So if there's one available for checkout we'll hold it for you for the balance of that business day. So if you call us 10:00 we'll hold it till 8:00, if you call us at 7:54 we'll hold it till 8:00 that day if it's a 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM day, which is Monday through Thursday for us. So that's what we can do in terms of reserve. But it's been going pretty well so far, and people seem to know how to use it.
David Payne: I was just going to ask, because we're a few weeks into it now, so yeah. So business is good.
Eric Carzon: It is. It's doing great. We have a total of 29 instruments and six amplifiers. And everything has gone out a few times and come back. Everything has come back in one piece, thank you everybody for taking care of the instruments. We've got a variety of guitars, we have a couple specifically children sized, we have the classical guitars, a couple of steel string, a couple of electric guitars, a couple of electric basses, we have several ukuleles, and then we have African drums, the djembes, we have a couple of Native American and Irish drums, a dumbak, which is like a Middle Eastern one, this Indian tabla drum, which is pretty cool, it's actually like a pair, like Master Blaster, so there's like a big one and small one, and one is brass and one is wood. It's pretty cool. We have a Jamaican steel drum, and we have a slot tongue drum, which is kind of like a wooden box with little mallets, and two kalimbas, which are pianos that you play with your thumb, so they're quite nifty.
David Payne: Quite a great collection there.
Eric Carzon: Yeah.
David Payne: So where did you, going back to the very beginning, where did you get the idea to lend musical instruments?
Eric Carzon: Well, we stole the idea. No, it's been around a long time. There have been library systems all over that country that had been lending musical instruments probably since the '60s or better in small numbers. I mean there's still not a whole lot of them, I wouldn't call it thousands of systems, but let's say there's probably at least 50-plus systems throughout the United States, and that's probably a low number, there's probably more. Ukulele, for instance, very easy, so it's very popular in a lot of systems, including several in the state, besides ourselves, lend ukuleles. I will say, we have a pretty wide selection and number, as far as I can tell, from the other systems that I looked at and compared. But it's not a new idea.
We've been wanting to do, what we call, a Library of Things in Montgomery County for a long time. But as we went through the planning processes different staff made different proposals for different kinds of things to lend. Some people had kitchenware, power tools, various kinds of computer or tablet or whatever. So there were a lot of different ideas on the table, and I proposed the music one, and it so happened that mine seemed to be the most feasible to implement so far. So we went for it.
David Payne: Right. And it seems your collection so far represents the diversity of the county.
Eric Carzon: Oh, that's what we were shooting for; get a nice wide diversity of musical instruments, kind of tempered with what we could take care of.
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: So there was that sort of element, but we went as wide as we could within the scope of what we felt like we could take care of and what would sort of survive repeated use from customers.
David Payne: Right. So, obviously the response, the customer response so far has been great. Do you have any stories you can share with us about customer experience, any customers who have come in to borrow musical instruments, have you noticed anybody asking about music lessons or tutorials, anything you can share with us?
Eric Carzon: Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. So the response has been great, and people have been pretty happy as they've turned in their surveys. I haven't gotten anybody unhappy, and everybody is pretty much top happy, very happy. We do get a lot of questions about lessons. And we ourselves, we can’t really give lessons, it wouldn't be - there's 29 different kind of instruments, so unless there were - unless the only people interested in lessons all were interested in the same instrument it would be kind of hard for us as a library system to give classes. Now that being said, we do have an online product that does have actually several different instruments in several different genres, so we'll talk about that a little later. But that is our version of a class.
The coolest thing that's happened so far is we have a music discussion group on the first Monday of each month, at 6:30 at Twinbrook. And so this Monday's music discussion group or the November 5th one, we had this little boy. He came in and he had just started guitar lessons, so he was like maybe eight lessons in. But actually - he was pretty impressive for a kid who's only had eight lessons, and he was kind of small. I mean his hands were small, so even the small guitar was a little large for him. So at this discussion group he saw the ukulele because I demoed several instruments and ukulele was one of them, and so he gave it a try. And so by the end of that hour he had actually taught himself with the help of one of our books, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. And he, for the last 10 minutes, he played it over and over again until he got like fully down.
David Payne: Just right, yeah.
Eric Carzon: So his first time picking up the ukulele, like literally in his whole life and he walked away with that song. So, we'll talk a little later about this, but that's why I like ukulele because it's really easy and it's a great instrument for children.
David Payne: Right. You mentioned the ukulele, and I recall from our pervious podcast with you that that came up as well in the conversation. The instrument itself seems to have become increasingly more popular. Why do you think that is, and how difficult is it to play?
Eric Carzon: To me it's extremely easy to play. I don’t know I might be a little ambitious, but I'd like to say that most people could probably walk away within a couple of hours able to play a simple song on the ukulele. It's kind of that easy. It's gotten kind of a resurgence in the past, I'd say, decade or so because you've got some pretty large stars that also play ukulele. I mean it wasn't their solo - sole instrument, but I think like Taylor Swift has got a couple of ukulele tunes, Coco - I might be getting her name wrong, I think it's Coco, she does, and several other stars. I think Jason Mraz might even have one. So there's been some super huge pop stars that have like really put ukulele back on the map. And then it was always there, I mean there was Tiny Tim in the 60's or whatnot. But, so there's that, I mean it's got some star power. And then it's just - it's fun and it's easy. So there's that.
And like if you're a guitar player ukulele is like super easy to learn because even some of the chord shapes are the same, the principles of the instrument are the same, you just have to learn a few different chord patterns and realize that the scale - like which key you're in sort of differs a little bit, but not by much. I mean it's much like the guitar very efficiently designed, and so you can pick it up real quick. And then the other thing is the instrument itself is pretty affordable. I mean for $40 you can get one that will play and you can learn on. Really, I kind of recommend more like the $60-ish - I wouldn't pay less than $60 to $75 for a ukulele, and for that price though you get one that's like real and will keep its tune and is pretty decent, and anything above $300 you're just paying for show. So that's a pretty decent price range for a musical instrument. And for about $100 you can get a super-duper competent ukulele that holds its tune very well and plays excellently. So that's a plus. That's kind of a small investment for a real musical instrument.
David Payne: Okay.
Eric Carzon: So that's why I like it. And there's all sorts of books and lessons, and it's real easy.
David Payne: Great. I see you've actually bought a ukulele in.
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah.
David Payne: Can you give us a few notes on …
[Playing Ukulele] [00:12:02]
Eric Carzon: Just a little noodling there.
David Payne: Well, thank you. And well as a musician yourself, do you have any advice for any budding musicians?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, I've got lots of advice.
David Payne: We could fit a whole podcast with, I'm sure.
Eric Carzon: Yeah. But I think the first thing I would say that's most important to me is that if you're going to do music do it for yourself always first. It's a way to be in touch with what's spiritual and keeps your inner child fed and happy, I like to say. And I know music has helped me through some difficult times. So it's a personal, it's a spiritual gift. To the extent that you share it with other people, if those people are reasonable and kind then they will generally be supportive. If you're asking for it then they should give you constructive criticism. And if you've got other people that are being mean to you then they're not worth your time. But play it for yourself first and foremost. If I had never performed for anybody in my life I'd still be happy because the music is for me. So don't be obsessed with perfection, because I see that in a lot of people. You see people doing music and they stop because they're like, "Oh, I can't get this right. I can't get this perfect." It's like, well, who are you playing for. Does it have to be perfect, I mean are you having fun?
David Payne: It's all about the enjoyment, right.
Eric Carzon: Exactly.
David Payne: Yeah.
Eric Carzon: So if you're having fun then roll with it. Now that's not to say like if you really want to get good and get good enough that you could play for other people and they enjoy it, then that's great to go for as well. But that it takes time. I would say as well expose yourself to a variety of music, experience live music in variety as well, as music from tape and digital and wherever. It doesn't have to be paid concerts though. I mean there are churches; there are open mics, community events, library programs, city, county programs. There's free music everywhere, so you don't have to pay for the music, but go see it live, go see somebody do it, observe them. Because if you're serious about music and you want to get serious about performing it then you're definitely going to want to encounter other musical people and pick up and learn from them.
From a practical perspective, if you really want to get good, as the Malcolm Gladwell book says, it takes about 10,000 hours to get super good at anything.
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: 10,000 hours of meaningful practice, he calls it. And it's fun, but you got to make it - make it fun. Don't make it a drag. I used to put myself to sleep by kind of sitting with my guitar and taking a couple of chords and kind of just very meditatively doing everything I could with that chord.
David Payne: Uh-huh.
Eric Carzon: You know, I'd play an A sustained chord for 20 minutes and use my pinkies and other fingers to find every variation of that chord that I possibly could, and I would do that for hours on end and days on end. When you strung it all together you can write a whole song that way. And that's what I did; a lot of my songs come from some of those exercises. The other thing I'd say is don't be afraid to deviate a little or improvise. I get a lot of these musical books and sometimes they get really contorted. You're like reading that Hal Leonard and you're like, "Oh my god, I can't make that chord. My fingers just don't bend into that shape."
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: You know, improvise. Sometimes you could leave a couple of fingers off and that chord will be close enough or you could pick a couple of notes and kind of skip over, especially if it's like a real quick change. Don't feel like that is the total gospel. Sometimes search around for other versions. Sometimes a song, like the original song as done by the artist or actually as cooked up by some staffer at Hal Leonard or Alfred or one of those other music company books might look super complicated to you, but then do a little Google searching or whatever, you might encounter like a super simple, like - here, here's the three-chord version of that same song. Okay, it might not sound like Janis Joplin, or Def Leppard, or Pink Floyd did it originally, but if it's close enough and you can play it and enjoy it, hey, go for it. So don't be afraid. What's the worst that could happen? You're not going to get fined.
I would say two - and I'm a little bit of a music snob on this, don't buy a cruddy instrument if you can avoid it. We have really good music stores in the county and you don't have to buy - I'm not advocating that you buy top dollar, but if you're going to buy an instrument get something that's going to stay in tune and it produces the sound properly. For guitars, that means you want a solid top natural wood guitar, and those are very common, it's not like it's hard to find that. And in some cases you're only talking about a difference of maybe $50 or $100. I talked about the pricing for ukulele earlier. And like for guitar something between $150 and $350 will get you a good solid guitar that stays in tune and plays well. Much more than that and you're paying for something that's made of real special wood and sounds extra uber super-duper good and was made in America or something like that, I mean you're paying for that kind of thing.
But they mass produce guitars in Mexico and China pretty well. And for that price point of $150 to $350 you can get some good guitar. For a guitar, you want spruce or mahogany; you don't want laminate for the soundboard. For the neck, laminate is fine. If you get the stuff that's too cheap, like the stuff you find in Toys "R" Us, or Target, or Costco, yeah, you're essentially paying for a toy. So you're still going to pay $60 to $100 for it, and for another $50 you could've got yourself a real instrument. So I had some good instruments to start with, and those were the instruments I really learned to play on. I tried to get some junkie instruments, like I wanted an electric guitar, but I got a piece of junk. So, like for 10 years, I didn't really learn how to play electric guitar because what I had was …
David Payne: And the sound was probably horrible too.
Eric Carzon: Exactly. And it didn't produce sound and it didn't stay in tune. So if you want to learn how to play an instrument do your best to find one that actually plays, because otherwise you're going to hate it, then you're not going to play it as much or not going to play it at all. And then you wasted your money and you lost out on the opportunity to really learn how to play something well.
David Payne: Right, so shop around.
Eric Carzon: Yeah.
David Payne: Well, learning an instrument as an adult can seem particularly daunting. Do you have any tips for adults who want to try an instrument?
Eric Carzon: Yeah, definitely. Now, everything I just said about the budding musician sort of applies. Do it for yourself first. You don't have to shoot for a Grammy, unless you want a Grammy. And then if you want a Grammy don't be scared, go for it. But it's going to take you 10,000 hours. But don't let that sort of quality; search for perfection dominate your experience because that's not what it's about. I do highly recommend the ukulele because I think almost anybody can learn how to play it. It's a little less painful too. Like one of the things that dissuades people from guitar sometimes is that it does hurt your tips of your fingers a little bit. Not long, I mean, if you spend a month or so getting used to it then you won't feel any pain anymore, and it's really not that much pain. But some people are very - everybody is different, so some people are more sensitive to that pain than others.
The nice thing about ukuleles and guitars is that you don't have to know how to read music. And like with piano or saxophone or a lot of those other instruments, you are going to have to learn how to read music otherwise you're not going to be able to do anything. So with guitar and ukulele they're great amateur beginner instruments because they have all tons of books with the little chords just diagrammed right on there so you can look at the little diagram like, "Oh, that's where my fingers go." And you do it and you can play a whole song and learn it, so it's easy. I've been playing for 30 years, I still don't know how to read music, but I can play a lot of different songs. So I do highly recommend the uku and the guitar for that reason. I did take a class here and there, and that's good to do. If ArtistWorks was around when I was younger I would've been all over that.
So the online courses where you've got sort of a master player and they're showing you everything, and you got little videos, and you can watch them. And they chunk it up in these little five and seven-minute segments, so you can take it at your own pace. Those are awesome, and you should definitely try that out. I've tried it myself and I like it. And I know people who have tried it and they really enjoyed it. The other thing is to find people. One of the programs we'll talk about a little later is by a group called the Songwriters' Association of Washington. And they, if you Google them, saw.org is their website, and they have oodles of events, like pretty much two to four times a week they've got something going on somewhere in the region, all the way up as high as Baltimore, as far west as Manassas, everything on the western shore, pretty much from Washington County down to Charles County, they've got something. And a lot of Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., and Arlington, and Fairfax events especially.
But there's others groups, there's one called, I think it's like the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance or I might be butchering their name a little bit. But if you look around there are some organizations, they are either low-cost or free to join, or you can attend their events and you don't have to be a member, because a lot of them do open mics at bars and stuff. And then there's church groups, community groups, put it on a bulletin board. There's lots of different ways to connect with other people playing music, I guess, is what I'm getting at.
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: And if you really want the full experience, that's the full experience. So find some other people and play with them and learn with them, start your own little group if you want. A lot of these events are - songwriters' circle in somebody's basement, so you come to their house with your guitar and some cheese and crackers, and everybody sits around and plays, and you learn from each other that way. So I definitely highly recommend that as part of the experience.
David Payne: That's great. Let's turn now to music resources. And start by asking you, what print resources does MCPL offer about music, musicians, and learning to play instruments or sing?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, so we have a wealth of stuff. It's generally in the non-fiction section, in what I call the 780s, so that the non-fiction range from 780 to 799 contains pretty much all of the music books. And it's a variety of things, so it's going to be books about artists. So there'll be the big thick book about The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, or whatever, so there's that, so if you want to learn about musicians. Then there's sheet music, and then there's how to play different instruments or how to care for different instruments, and also books about like the music business. So we have that full spread. And I brought some with me just to give you a quick - so in my little stack here I've got, How to Rap, the Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC; Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop; from the children's section I got Learn to Play Keyboards; Usborne's Guitar for Beginners.
From the adult section, we've got Jazz, Rock, and Funk Guitar; Guitar Aerobics, which is like a daily exercise regimen to strengthen your fingers and improve your skills; Drum Circle: A Guide to World Percussion, that teach you how to play that djembe drum or the bongos or the congas, The Ukulele 3 Song Chord Book, so a lot of songs, pop songs broken down into three very easy chords; Alto Sax, 101 Hit Songs; Disney Hits for Ukulele; and one of my current reads, The Daily Ukulele: 365 Songs, so you can learn one song a day on ukulele; and of course, Hamilton: Music for Piano, Vocals, and Guitar.
David Payne: All right.
Eric Carzon: So that's kind of a sampling of physical books. And there's also DVDs in that, and I wouldn't ignore our DVD collection. In a couple of different dimensions they're important. You've got DVDs in non-fiction, such as You Can Play Electric Blues: A Complete Course for Beginner; and I know there's a good bass course on DVD as well. From the juvenile section there's a thing, I think most every branch has this, called, The Music Factory, and it's like eight or 10 different DVDs with like basic music for kids. And then you've got stuff like - I've got Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock, so pick up a couple of the DVDs of the sort of major live concerts, Absolute Guitar for Beginners, another course. And of course, you've got movies that either are musical or are either fiction about music or like sort of classical, like Broadway - we got a lot of Broadway.
In fact, with me here I've got Rent and The Jazz Singer, the Al Jolson version, I've got Singin' in the Rain; Jersey Boys, and Pitch Perfect. So that's also a great way to experience music, so highly recommend that. And then last but not least, we do have CDs in the branches. I brought with me a copy of The Beatles, The White Album. So physical collection, we've got CDs, we've got DVDs, we've got books, and definitely worth taking advantage of.
David Payne: Some great examples there. And I should mention to our listeners that, again, the resources that we mention in today's podcast can all be found under the show notes on the MCPL podcast website.
You mentioned ArtistWorks previously. Can you tell us about that, and some of the other digital resources for music and musical schools that MCPL has?
Eric Carzon: Great. Yes, absolutely. So, everything starts from the main webpage. So go to our webpage, montgomerycountymd.gov/library. And when you're looking right at it, in the left, the sort of first menu is Books, Movies, and Music. So you go Book, Movies, and Music, and go Find, and then you go find Music. So when you get to that menu article pops up, and that's everything we got about music is kind of in that article, and it's got a couple of tabs. One, the sort of first tab has a lot of our digital assets, and then the second tab talks more about our books and our scores. So, two of the standout digital resources are Freegal and the American music Streaming Music collection.
So, we'll start with Freegal. So Freegal stands for free and legal. So, there are over four million songs in every genre that you can imagine in Freegal. And so you login for the first time, you give it your library card number and your pin number and you can download the songs from Freegal, and they come to you as DRM-free files, MP3 files, which basically means you can do anything you want with that file, you want to email it to yourself, you want to put it in your collection whether - like I'm an iTunes user, so I download it and then I put it into my iTunes library and I can make playlists with all my other iTunes songs that I bought from iTunes or that I burned from CDs that I owned. If you're a Rhapsody user you can do the same thing or a general Windows user you can do the same thing because it's an MP3 file. So whatever you have it'll manipulate. And it's got everything from pop, to classical, to world music.
Some things that are on Freegal, you've got Daft Punk, they've got Adele, Springsteen, they've got classical music, world music, jazz, probably hundreds of thousands of artists literally. They've got the really popular stuff in broad array, and then they've got stuff that you've probably never heard of that you could explore. Now, I will say this about electronic music, nobody, absolutely nobody has everything. So Freegal has the Sony catalogue, and they estimate that it's about a quarter of what you would consider popular music. And then the rest of the world is divided between Apple, Rhapsody, and other music services, so none of them have access to everything digitally. But you can download five songs a week per account. So you can get pretty deep into music with that capability.
And it has lists, so you can do previews and you can put stuff on wish lists so you can remember what you wanted to download and then each time you login you can download another, and I think it turns over every Sunday night. So Sunday, at midnight, turns over, and the next week starts fresh. And it's great. You don't - Freegal is atypical of library services in that you do not have to return these songs. You check out the song, it's yours forever. And so that's not something you'll find in almost any other library product. But that makes it very easy to put them in your collection and manipulate them. And we'll come back to Freegal in a minute, because I have some fun things about Freegal.
But I want to talk about the American Music Streaming Collection. And so this is from a - the company is called Alexander Street, and you can actually just search the whole collection or they have it broken down, like they have certain major categories. So they have like American music, classical music, world sounds, and they have a - it's a mix of music, spoken word, and sounds. So you can hear everything from recordings of the poems of Langston Hughes, or you can have like sounds from nature. I did a search for frogs, I think it's - if you want to near a North American bull toad song they've got an entry about that, or I did animal sounds and they've got one with lions in the zoo. They got a lot of spoken word, so they got like a lot of famous works that are being read either by the original person or by somebody famous who is reading somebody famous. And then of course there's the music.
It's great especially like - really, I like blues and early jazz. So a couple of searches that they have a deep amount of songs in our Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, that was the woman in that HBO recent series. So if you want to know what she's all about you could do a search and they've got tons of songs from her. Billie Holiday, the famous blues player Lead Belly. Then they've got world music, and like an example of that, I did sort of a random search and Chernobyl songs came up, so authentic sort of Russian, Ukrainian ethnic music. And then we talked about frogs. Here's a couple of interesting searches to do. Search for The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and you get lots of the different versions of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. And then if you didn't know, The Lion Sleeps Tonight actually comes from an African song in the '30s called, Mbube, m-b-u-b-e.
So search of that, and that will - that is actually the name of the genre of music from South Africa, so you'll actually come up with a bunch of South African songs in that genre that are beautiful, they sound wonderful. And then, of course, there are tons of versions of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which was also known as Wimoweh because that's what Pete Seeger brought it over to America, and that's what he called it. And so if you search for that then you'll get like all 18 different versions of him, and then the - I think it was The Tokens that made it famous the second time around, in the mid 50's. So it's a very interesting collection. It's got a lot of deep depth that you can get in to.
And then I did this little - I call it Freegal fun, so I do these little poems made up of songs that I got from Freegal. So for instance, here's one; Bruce is not bitter baby. I was born in the USA. Baby, I was born to run. Hard times in my hometown. We have all got a hungry heart for the glory days. And then here's one for blues; I went down to the crossroads to tell my baby that she done lost her good thing now. The thrill is gone, damn right, I got the blues. So there's five blues songs in each of those - in that poem. Blues two I did was; The sky is crying, mustang sally, voodoo child, let the good times roll. And then finally, Adele's Lament, this is all from her 25 album; Don't you remember how we set fire to the rain with our love song, now we've just turning tables. So that's what you can do with Freegal, I highly recommend. It's a lot of fun.
David Payne: You've given us some great examples of some very powerful resources there. Let's talk a bit about music programming that MCPL offers?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah. So there's two monthly series that I know of, and I did sort of a search for programming, so I think I'm correct in asserting that just these two. So there's mine, at Twinbrook I call it Make More Music Discussion Group. And we've had our two groups so far. So it's going to be the first Monday of every month at 6:30. Keep an eye out on the webpage or call us to - just in case there's a holiday or something. But so far, there have not been any holiday blockages for first Mondays, so that's one of the reasons I picked first Mondays, so first Monday, 6:30, Twinbrook. Mine is a very open format. I'll do a little demo, a little clinic if there's anybody who has an issue and they want to see if the group has any advice about it, and then some sharing if people want to share.
Now actually, the first couple of groups, we've had a lot of kids and they've not had anything to share per say, but they wanted to explore the instruments, and so we basically did that for a large portion. But I did have some sharing in the first - we had this wonderful guy, he just played classical guitar throughout the whole conversation, for like 20 minutes, and he was just awesome. And he was like, "Oh, I just learned this as a student. I don't really play well." And he's playing like this guitar god. So you never know what you're going to encounter. I mean he was wonderful. So that's mine.
And then at the Rockville Library, they have a monthly songwriters' workshop, it's the second Saturdays, at 12:30. So it runs from 12:30 to 3:00. And it's a song circle by the Songwriters' Association of Washington. So what they generally do in this program is somebody will probably speak for a little bit at the beginning, maybe play two or three songs. So they'll have sort of somebody more experienced who will start everything off and give some tips to the rest of the audience. And then, basically, they'll go in a circle and they'll take turns. So everybody who wants to participate, they'll get to play one song. And you can bring - in fact they encourage you to bring 10 or 15 copies of your song and you pass it around, and people can give you constructive criticism and advice.
People sometimes - you can come with a partial song, and sometimes people have kibbutz on heh have you tried this lyric, I thought about that lyric, or did you think about changing this word or this chord structure, or do this or do that." So, it's really great if you want to get into songwriting, and you want to get some advice from folks. It's a great experience. Then the other thing is that all the branches are - we're always doing some kind of musical program. So on any given week somebody somewhere in Montgomery County Public Libraries is sponsoring a musical event of some sort. I know the Olney Library, about once a quarter; they have kind of an open mic that's themed. Their last one I think they had was like kids; they did like a 60's one which was a lot of fun. And I think they did the 70's and maybe even the 80's.
So they're doing like decades and other specialties. But the last one they did was with kids. I haven't seen one posted yet, so that one you'll have to keep a watch out for or call, and say, "Hey, when is your next open mic?" But then I know, for instance, at Twinbrook, we're also having a jazz program on December 13th with Christiana Drapkin who is regional, she's done a lot of accent libraries in Montgomery County and other jurisdictions. So we're doing jazz for kids specialty, and then a lot of branches are doing something. So there is something, like I said, every week. And so if you search or ask your branch what's coming up they'll tell you. If you search our events calendar from our web page you would want to look - there's a checkbox on the left, and if you checked performing arts and then selected all branches and gave it a date range, it would show you all the programs coming up that involve a performance.
And like I just did a search before I came here and I got two pages worth of hits going out all the way until June 30th of 2019. So, there's definitely musical acts, and they vary everything from jazz, to folk. I don't have one booked yet, but I'm going to book a drum circle some time before the end of 2019. And I'd say it's probably evenly divided between stuff for adults and stuff for kids. So some of the musical programs are specifically designed for children, and some of them are for all ages.
David Payne: And we should also talk about a couple of significant music programs, Vinyl Record Day, and the Make Music Montgomery Contest.
Eric Carzon: Oh yes, excellent. Thank you. Yeah, so on April 27th, 2019; we are hosting the second annual Day of the Record Vinyl Record Musical Festival at the Silver Spring library. This is going to be from about 12:00 to 4:00. And one of the main events of Vinyl Record Day is going to be what we call, Make Music Montgomery. So in December, we will release instructions on MCPL website for a call for auditions. So we're looking for folks who have about three-minute acts, and they must include a live musical component. So you could play a song. Doesn't have to be original, but you got to play a song. You could have a dance act as long as somebody is doing live music while the other person is dancing, or you can dance and sing at the same time if you want.
So the advice is going to be open. We're looking for as diverse a grouping of acts as we can. But this is a musical festival so we are insisting on a live musical component. But that's going to be a lot of fun. You'll be able to submit your auditions via an electronic file, which should be pretty easy for most folks. And we will have at least one live audition. I'll have one on my February 4th Make Music Discussion Group, will be live auditions for folks who want to come and audition live. But if you don't want to audition live you can still submit the file. And the submissions will be open from approximately mid December through the end of February.
David Payne: And as far as Vinyl Record Day, building on a very successful first year, last year.
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, it was great.
David Payne: Yeah.
Eric Carzon: And so aside from the Make Music Discussion or the Make Music event at Vinyl Record Day, the other things, we'll have a keynote speaker, which we're still negotiating with, should be a lot of fun, and a panel discussion, and then a lot of other fun events. The super fun event we will have again is making crafts with records. So we'll have a whole bunch of beat up records and record covers, and you'll be able to make a craft out of that. And that was super popular at the last event. There'll also be an auction and a sale of vinyl records. So the friends of the library will bring tons of records to buy.
David Payne: Great. So stay tuned for Vinyl Record Day. Now, do you have a favorite book about music or about a particular musician?
Eric Carzon: Yeah. I quite enjoyed the book, Legends, Icons, & Rebels by Robbie Robertson. It's in our collection. I think most often it's in the teen collection. It's got a lot of beautiful pictures, and stories, and two CDs, so it basically talks - it does like short bios of a lot of the major musicians of sort of the golden age of rock and roll, so everybody from Chuck Berry, to Bob Marley, to Carol King, Bruce Springsteen, I think is in there as well, Aretha Franklin, folks like that. Another book that I recommend is The Rap Year Book. Whether you're in to rap or not, because I'm not super into rap, but there's some rap songs I do like, and it's such a major part of our culture that I wanted to learn more about it.
And this book is great because it takes one rap song, from like 1979 up through I think the mid 90's, and talks about the song and how it came about and the artists. And it's fascinating stories about some of these songs, and it's a really great read. And that is also in our collection, and I highly recommend that one.
David Payne: Well, from books to songs. Do you have a favorite song?
Eric Carzon: I - it's a hard question because there's 50 or more songs that I love dearly and play often, not including my own songs that I've written. But if I had to go with one I'm going to go with Smile. And I didn't know this about Smile until you asked me this question, I did a little research. And Smile was originally written by Charlie Chaplin as an instrumental. And he wrote it for his last silent film, Modern Times. And around that time, his mother had passed away. So it's kind of a sad by sweet song. And later on two lyricists, named John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, added the lyrics to it. Shortly thereafter, Nat King Cole, I think was first, and then a couple of years later, Tony Bennett both made the song with the lyrics, and that's what made the song famous. And since then it's been covered by everybody from Barbara Streisand to Michael Jackson and in between.
In fact Michael Jackson loved it so much it was his favorite song and he put it on - well he didn't; the people who made History after he died, HIStory put it on and they put on his version of Smile on to HIStory. At least according to MTV, that's where I got some of this information. Tony Bennett's version is still my favorite version, although I must say my second favorite is the TV show, Glee, did a great version of Smile with ukulele. And I like their version as well.
David Payne: Well, we typically close our podcast by asking our guests to tell us about a book they are currently reading or recently enjoyed. So what can you share with us?
Eric Carzon: Okay, I'm ready. I've been reading - I've been taking the MCPL 2018 reading challenge, and I am three books away from finishing, so I am getting there.
David Payne: Good man.
Eric Carzon: I am reading The Daily Ukulele, so picked some songs there to sort of expand my repertoire of ukulele music. I am just starting March: One, by Congressman John Lewis, and it's great. I've read March: Three, so I started kind of backwards. But it's great because it gives you a lot of information about the Civil Rights era, and told from a not Martin Luther King perspective. Because we're all taught Martin Luther King, and that's important, but it's great to see other perspectives related, I mean because he worked with Dr. King, so - but it's great to see sort of all the other players, and he really goes in to that. He like talks about a lot of the different people and a lot of the history of some of those super important seminal events in our history. So I'm looking forward to finishing March: One.
The other book I'm reading is Gather Together in My Name, which is the second autobiography by Maya Angelou. And I'd always heard about Maya Angelou and heard little snippets of her poems from the presidential inaugurations and whatnot. But I'd never taken the time to read one until I finally read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was her first autobiography, and it was unbelievable. So I actually listened to it in audiobook from the collection, and then - so I've picked up the second, because now I - the first audiobook, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she sort of ends as an adolescent and she's like a young teenage mom, and then like ends. You're like, "What happened?" So the second book picks up and continues her story. So I'm really looking forward to that.
David Payne: Well, Eric, thank you very much for joining us today and sharing your passion for music, your knowledge in music. And congratulations on a great start with the Library of Things Music.
Eric Carzon: Thank you.
David Payne: Look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength.
Eric Carzon: Thank you. Appreciate it.
David Payne: Keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple Podcast app, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcast, we'd love to know what you think.
Thank you for listening to our conversation today. And see you next time.
Summary: Musician and Twinbrook Branch Manager Eric Carzon talks with host David Payne about the Library of Things Music, the new instrument lending program at Twinbrook Library, as well as MCPL's many other music related resources and programs.
Recording Date: November 7, 2018
Guest: Eric Carzon, Branch Manager at Twinbrook Library
Host: David Payne
What Our Guest Is Reading:
The Daily Ukulele by Liz and Jim Beloff
Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou
March by John Lewis
MCPL Books and Other Resources Mentioned During this Episode:
Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers
Brave New Blues Guitar by Greg Koch
Drum Circle: A Guide to World Percussion by Chalo Eduardo and Frank Kumor
Freegal: Download up to 5 MP3 songs for free each week.
Guitar Aerobics by Troy Nelson
Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin-Manuel M
How to Rap, the Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC by Paul Edwards
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Jazz, Rock & Funk Guitar by Dan Brown
The Jazz Singer (DVD)
Jersey Boys (DVD)
Learn to Play Keyboards by Emma Danes
Legends, Icons, & Rebels: Music that Changed the World by Robbie Robertson
Library of Things Music: A collection of musical instruments at Twinbrook Library that customers can check out.
Modern Times (DVD)
Music Factory (DVD): Music education videos for children.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Pitch Perfect (DVD)
The Rap Year Book by Shea Serrano
Singin' in the Rain (DVD)
Songwriters' Toolbox: A monthly workshop/song circle that meets monthly at Rockville Memorial Library.
Streaming Music from Alexander Street: Stream popular, classical, world, jazz, historical, and many other genres of music.
Other Items of Interest:
Hal Leonard: Music publisher
Smile: Song based on an instrumental piece used in Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times. It is one of Eric Carzon's favorite songs.