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Who Needs a Box of Chocolates for Valentine’s Day: Sample These Library Books Instead

13 Feb

If you or your loved ones are chocoholics, then we have three sweet recommendations to check out this Valentine’s Day!

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes
by Maricel E. Presilla.
Maricel Presilla has two Latin American Restaurants in Hoboken.  She did a chocolate presentation here at the library when her book on chocolate first came out and it is definitely worth checking out if you have not already.  The New Taste of Chocolate looks at everything from the early chocolate rituals of the Aztecs to the new discoveries and innovations surrounding many people’s favorite treat.  You’ll want to try out of some of the recipes with your sweet this Valentine’s Day.

The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate!
by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Rob McClurkan

Of course Valentine’s Day isn’t just for adults.  It is fun to help my son get his Valentine’s ready for his class at school.  I remember how excited I was was each year as a kid to pick out the special card that was meant for all of my BFFs in my class.  My son enjoyed this look at the history of hot chocolate that covers the history of winter’s perfect beverage including facts like chocolate being part of the rations for Revolutionary soldiers. The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate! is best shared with a cup of warm cocoa with a sprinkling of marshmallows.  On Valentine’s Day the library is holding cookie decorating for kids; click here to learn more.  For healthy foodie fun for kids you also can check out our Cooks & Books Program.

The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg with Ann Krueger Spivack and Susie Heller
If – like me – you have enjoyed Scharffen Berger chocolates, then you will want to check out this cookbook, the first from the duo behind the gourmet treats. The Essence of Chocolate includes sweet desserts like White Velvet Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache, but also savory dishes like vegetarian chili and a cocoa rub (perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner). The book has three sections “Intensely Chocolate”, “Essentially Chocolate” and “A Hint of Chocolate”.  You will also learn useful tips and get a behind the scenes look at how chocolate is created.

If you are looking for some chocolatey fiction check out our previous blog post where I discuss a trio of novels where chocolate helps magic and romance happen.  You can also get some Valentine’s Day song recommendations from us!

Have a favorite book about chocolate or one with great Valentine’s Day recipes?  Share it with us in the comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Science Fiction Parody and Humor TV Shows

23 Jan

Ghosted and the Orville both debuted last year and the Hoboken Public Library recently got their first seasons on DVD.  They parody popular classic Science Fiction TV shows, but even while they skewer conventions and plot lines, they still manage to send lots of love to the shows they are poking fun at.  I’ve also listed a few of my older comedy science fiction favorites that are worth checking out.

I was a fan of the The X-Files as a teen, so I was interested to check out GhostedGhosted stars Craig Robinson and Adam Scott in a half hour comedy about a skeptical former security guard and a brilliant true believer who must solve paranormal incidents involving aliens, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures for a secret Government Agency.  Having been cancelled after its first season, it didn’t find the audience of the long running X-Files which it parodied, but it is still a fun way to spend some time binging on a snowy winter day.

The Orville
The Orville, according to my husband, feels like every episode is one of the funny episodes you would get each season of a Star Trek series and considering the hilarious “The Trouble with Tribbles” often gets ranked as one Trek fan’s favorite episodes of all times, this could mean it is definitely worth checking out if you are a Trekie.  I thought it captured more of the feel of the old TV shows than the new streaming series which has more in common with the recent Star Trek movie reboots.  The great banter between Captain Ed Mercer and his first officer and ex-wife are just one of the reasons to tune in.  I recommend this highly, even if like me you are not usually a fan of star and creator Seth MacFarlane’s work.

Red Dwarf
red dwarf
My father, who is a Science Fiction fan, encouraged me to check out the BBC show Red Dwarf , which centers around a motley starship crew including the last living human who wakes from stasis in the far future, a hologram of his former bunkmate, a humanoid creature who evolved from his pet cat, and the ship’s computer AI.  The series first aired in 1988 and has evolved over the years.  Lister and Rimmer are the Odd Couple in Space.  Check it out and see why the show has developed a cult following.


Lexx is a Canadian series focusing on the powerful starship Lexx, which can destroy worlds, and its crew.  The story takes them to a number of unusual planets and even an alternative version of our own.  Lexx moves between a more serious tone and at times has broader farce towards the end of its run, but on the whole the humor is much darker than the others on this list.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is based on the idea that some movies are so bad they are good.  This cult classic stars a man trapped in space with only his robot companions to keep to keep him company while they watch horrible movies as part of mad scientists’ nefarious experiments.  The funny dialogue between the actors adds laughs to some truly bad films.  Definitely worth revisiting older episodes or checking out the new reboot.  Hoopla lets you decide who you think is funniest Joel, Mike, or the newest star Jonah.  You can also borrow episodes from BCCLS libraries including HPL.

If you are a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, you can join me for screenings of Science Fiction and Fantasy movies we show one Monday each month at 4 PM; in February our screening will be on February 25.  At 6:15 PM on Feb 25, there will also be a discussion of  the magical novel, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab; it was suggested by one of our group members and though I’m only a third of the way through I already want to read the other two in the series.  You can stop by the reference desk for a print copy. Borrow an ebook copy from eLibraryNJ or digital audiobook copy from Hoopla, who also has the comic series.  Don’t have an ereader of your own; HPL residents can check out ereaders with all of our book discussion books and more downloaded on them.  Email hplwriters @ for more information about the group.  You can sign up for the library’s enewsletter to stay up to date on all the library’s fun and informative programs.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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