Penguin Books

Penguin Books, and the Importance of Accessible Literature

Over seventy years ago, a man named Allen Lane, who often took the train from Exeter train station, had found the reading material to be limited. He had asked the same question, time and again, the same question one would assume would always ask when trying to find something of value in their media.

Why is there nothing good to read?

At the time, in 1935, good books were just hard to find on the fly, especially decent ones. At said train station, and convenience stores, Lane had only found cheap pulp novels and magazines, and that is often not enough when trying to curb the boredom of traveling by a train (nothing really can, but still). Yet, Lane had had an inspired idea; why not utilize the same kind of physical production of the pulp novel, so called due to the paper of these books being made from the remaining pulp of better quality paper, and redistribute that to other forms of literature? Why could books like Great Expectations or The Canterbury Tales be published in the same vein?


And so Penguin Books was born.


Established in 1935, Allen Lane wanted to produce and distribute quality and attractive looking books that could be “bought as easily and casually as a packet of cigarettes.” ( Penguin Books have been around ever since, in many forms and incarnations, but always with the same penguin on the spine. What Allen Lane gifted too many was the accessibility of literature, well known classics and a growing numbers of contemporary. I myself have several books, all from differing genres and time periods, all telling a different story. And none of these would have been as easy to get if it had not been for that little Penguin.


This month, we celebrate that ingenuity and the gift of stories, with our monthly display at Central Library, in the Center for the Reader. On our display, besides the little penguin, is several different pieces of fiction, all from different authors and times, from different walks of life, and even a few hardcovers.

So this month, please take the time to study these little books and look around our room for more of the penguin.

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Check us out on our new site!!!

Our Library is rolling out a beautiful new website! So after Monday, October 17th, you may find this blog at

We look forward to seeing you there!!!

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Writers, Get Ready for WriMo!

come_write_in_logoCome Write In This November in Celebration of National Novel Writing Month 2016!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Join us, STL literati, and fellow Wrimos at Central Library each Saturday in November, 2-5 p.m., for writing games, word sprints, a contest, and a weekly wordsmithing seminar. Week one, we’ll convene in the first floor Book Club Room, then the second floor Training Room weeks two through four.

We’ll supply the caffeine. You supply the story!

Come Write In! Sign

Keep an eye on this page in the coming weeks for info on each week’s seminar. In the meantime, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out upcoming NaNoWriMo prep sessions in the area:

Mon, October 17, 6:30pm – 8:00pm: Ferguson Municipal Public Library
Tue, October 18, 7pm – 9pm: Mid-County County Library
Tue, October 18, 7pm – 9pm: Maplewood Public Library (yes, there are two on the same evening! take your pick)
Mon, October 24, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Indian Trails County Library
Tue, October 25, 7pm – 9pm: Maplewood Public Library
Wed, October 26, 7pm – 9pm: Samuel C. Sachs County Library

Sign up to begin writing and word-counting here, and RSVP for the regional kick-off party on October 22 here!

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American Gods at Alumni


Central Book Club Too will catch the tail end of Alumni’s happy hour this Wednesday, October 12, 6:30 p.m., for our discussion of Neil Gaiman’s great American Gods. Place a hold here, or pick up a copy anytime in Center for the Reader. (In case you didn’t know, it’s going to be a show on Starz next year, starring the likes of Gillian Anderson, Cloris Leachman, and Ian McShane!)

CBCToo now has its own Goodreads group page, too: join us for discussion and details on upcoming meetings and events.

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The Pros (and Potential Pitfalls) of Self-Publishing

SLPL is excited to join over 200 other libraries across North America in celebration of Indie Author Day, an event designed to bring local writing communities together to participate in author panels, book readings and signings, workshops, presentations, and more!

This Saturday, Central Library presents The Pros (and Potential Pitfalls) of Self-Publishing, a panel of Missouri-based authors at the ready to talk independent authorship:


Join St. Louis local Nicole Evelina (Daughter of Destiny, Been Searching for You), Svetlana Grobman of Columbia Public Library (The Education of A Traitor), and SLPL’s own Joe Schwartz (The Games Men Play, Ladies and Gentlemen) as they detail their forays into self-publishing, take questions, and sign books Saturday, October 8th! Light refreshments will be served.

Then, be sure to stop by Central again one week later — Saturday, October 15th — for the third annual St. Louis Small Press Expo. Learn more here. #STLSPEx16

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Eagerly Anticipated Movie Out Soon: The Girl on the Train

Book cover for The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has consistently been a popular book, whether for individual readers or for book groups. Many of us who enjoyed the book have been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the movie adaptation to come out, and it’s now right around the corner! The movie, starring Emily Blunt, is due out on October 8th.

The New York Times has a great interview with Emily Blunt. One of the questions they asked her was:

Were you a fan of the book before you took on the role?

I was determined not to read the book initially because I saw everyone else and their auntie reading it. Then the producer called me and said, “We’re really interested in you for it, and do you want to have a read and see what you think?” I could quickly see why it became the phenomenon that it did. These domestic thrillers are quite tantalizing for readers. You can see yourself in these people. And that idea of danger being close to home is exciting.

I think that what Blunt says about domestic thrillers is very on point; readers can see themselves in the characters, or in the story, and that can make a book very appealing. Even if you don’t see yourself in the characters, perhaps they make you think of someone that you know. If you’re one of the readers who enjoyed The Girl on the Train, and want something to read while you’re waiting for the movie, may I suggest:

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison


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This Week’s #Q&Ink

RBrooks-book-1Tattoos have unique meaning to each individual. A person chooses their ink based on a personal connection. Throughout the month of September, SLPL would like to provide patrons with inspiring readings related to their art. Send a photo of your tattoo to and a Librarian will match your ink with a read. Or Tweet us a photo and use the hashtag #Q&Ink

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

And don’t miss our “Q and Ink” program on September 29th at 6:30 here at Central Library!! Our panel of five local tattoo artists will talk about the artistic process behind stunning designs. You’ll learn about how the medium of tattoo ink affects design, how artists work with clients to create or enhance a design, current trends in tattooing, and more. Whether you have ink of your own, or are just interested in the evolution of a tattoo from concept to completion, our experienced panelists are sure to enhance your knowledge of this significant form of art and expression.


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80 Years in the Making: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s I’d Die for You

Gang, it’s Banned Books Week! Come on down to the library and pick yourself up a few banned/challenged titles and a “Stand Up for Your Right to Read” bookmark… Or, if you can’t make it in, add a Twibbon to your Twitter profile pic instead!

31573237And while we still have that First Amendment on the brain, in honor of Mr. Fitzgerald’s banned classic The Great Gatsby, may we present a whole new collection of the Jazz Age author’s provocative fiction? Keep your eyes peeled next spring for the previously unpublished I’d Die for You (due out from Scribner in April 2017, a mere 80 years or so after its originally intended release). According to The Guardian:

It ranges from work that Fitzgerald was unable to sell because its “subject matter or style departed from what editors expected of [the author] in the 1930s”, Scribner said, to writing that he submitted to magazines, and which was accepted for publication but never printed.

Scribner promised the collection featured “Fitzgerald writing about controversial topics, depicting young men and women who actually spoke and thought more as young men and women did, without censorship”.

The US publisher added: “Rather than permit changes and sanitising by his contemporary editors, Fitzgerald preferred to let his work remain unpublished, even at a time when he was in great need of money and review attention.”

What with new J.D. Salinger on the way as well, what a time to be alive, right?

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Staff Pick: Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Today’s staff pick comes from Dennis, who wrote about Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner:

On New Years Day 1973, schoolteacher Roseann Quinn was stabbed to death in her New York City apartment by John Wayne Wilson, an unbalanced drifter she had met only a couple of hours earlier in a local bar. The crime, surrounded by a haze of sordid rumors about the life of a single woman in the depths of the sexual revolution, became an immediate tabloid sensation. Coverage of the case inspired novelist Judith Rossner to write Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which begins with the capture of the murderer of Theresa Dunn, a New York City schoolteacher. The killer, Gary Cooper White, is nonplussed when he learns of her profession — “Boy, some of the people they got teaching kids, I’m keeping mine out of school.”

The novel then retraces the life of Theresa from early childhood to violent consummation. Rossner’s imaginative reconstruction of Quinn is remarkable for its ambiguity. Theresa’s first sexual relationship, with a manipulative professor, is a case in point — although the professor is a thorough (and thoroughly believable) bastard, Theresa is not a simple innocent victimized by an older man in a position of authority, but neither is her sexual awakening a purely positive experience. Her double life is lampshaded by the lives of her two sisters — one, married and boring, the other, liberated but miserable. The same dichotomy is expressed in the two men with whom she carries on simultaneous relationships in the latter half of the novel — James, the caring lawyer who connects with her emotionally, and Tony, the violent hoodlum who both arouses and satisfies her lust. It is this lust which connects her to Gary and his world, but it is her fear of losing an empty freedom which drags her down to her end.

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When an Adaptation Is — Gasp! — Better Than the Book

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I saw this article on Book Riot recently, and it made me think of instances where I really feel the movie is better than the book. I know . . . blasphemy, right?  But, the article makes some good points, like how sometimes, the best medium to tell a story isn’t necessarily a book.

Annika Barranti Klein gives some examples in her article, like the recent movie Carol, which is the movie adaptation of The Price of Salt. She writes, “Carol in the book is an object. She is only described as Therese sees her. Carol in the movie must, by necessity, be a full person –- indeed, be the main character. Somehow, the movie achieves this while staying true to the book –- and the sum of its parts makes it, in my view, superior to the book.”

I’ve also had experiences where I have read a book, then see a movie, and feel like I enjoyed the movie more.  One of these books is Chocolat by Joanne Harris. I enjoyed the book, but I prefer the movie adaptation because I feel it’s a bit smoother (and I like some of the changes that the movie made to how some of the characters relate to each other). I also prefer the movie adaptation of Practical Magic over the book. While I enjoy many of Alice Hoffman’s books, I felt that the movie adaptation was better (perhaps because every time I see that movie, I wish I could just live in that world. Maybe as one of the sisters).

As always, I leave it up to the reader — but do you have any adaptations that you prefer over the book? We welcome comments!

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