New Year, New You: Inspirational Books

You don’t have to wait until January 1st to start working on your resolutions. If your goals focus on elevating your body, mind, and spirit these eBooks. You can download them instantly with Hoopla. Happy New Year!

You Were Born For This
by Chani Nicholas
Vibrate Higher Delia
by Lalah Deila
Pleasure Activism
by Various Artist
Raising Good Humans
by Hunter Clarke-Fields eBook
Detox Your Thoughts
by Andrea Bonior, Ph. D. eBook
Craft A Life You Love
by Amy Tangerine
Changes That Heal
by Henry Cloud
Eat Real To Heal
by Nicolette Richer

Everyday Calming Rituals by Tania Ahsan
A Happy Pocket Full of Money
by David Cameron Gikandi
Emergent Strategy
by Adrienne Maree Brown eBook

Be, Awake, Create
by Rebekah Younger

Most Popular Reads of 2020

2020 was a crazy year full of many ups and downs for many. One of the ups is definitely all of the amazing books that hit Pratt’s shelves this year! Here’s a look at some of the top books for the year. There’s still time to pick up a copy using Sidewalk Service or download to read before the ball drops on the 31st!

The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennet eBook|Audiobook
by Isabel Wilkerson eBook|Audiobook
A Burning
by Meghanns Majumdat eBook|Audiobook
Pretty Things
by  Janelle Brown eBook|Audiobook
Hidden Valley Road
by Robert Kolker eBook|Audiobook
Oona Out of Order
by Margarite Montimore eBook|Audiobook
Deacon King Kong
by James McBride eBook|Audiobook
Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World
by Fareed Zakaria eBook|Audiobook
Take A Hint Dani Brown
by Tala Hibbert
Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia eBook|Audiobook
The Girl with the Louding Voice
by Abi Dare eBook|Audiobook
Transcendent Kingdom
by Yaa Gyasi eBook|Audiobook

Baltimore makes a Cameo in Route 66

by Tom Warner (Best & Next Department)

If buildings were listed on the Internet Movie Database (, the Central Library would have quite an impressive filmography. Several television shows, including NBC’s Homicide: Life On the Street (1993-1999) and Fox’s short-lived Past Life (2010) have filmed episodes at the library, and the CEO’s boardroom even made a cameo appearance in the 2005 George Clooney movie Syriana. But for high-profile “Central casting,” nothing tops the featured role the Central Library played in “The Mud Nest,” a 1961 episode of the popular CBS TV series Route 66 (1960-1964.) Fortunately, you can now watch this Season 2 episode and the complete series for free on Hoopla using your library card!

Marty Milner and George Maharis get their kicks on Route 66

For those of you too young to remember, Route 66 starred Martin Milner (future star of Adam-12) and George Maharis (Exodus) as young drifters Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock. From 1960-1964, these two restless road warriors traveled across America (though rarely on Route 66) in their sporty Chevrolet Corvette on CBS’ popular Friday night drama series. One of the most appealing aspects of the show – besides its outstanding writing, groovy Nelson Riddle theme song, and a stellar cast of guest stars (many of whom – like William Shatner, Ed Asner, Julie Newmar, Lee Marvin, and Milner’s future Adam-12 co-star Kent McCord – would go on to later fame and acclaim) –  was that it was filmed entirely on location, serving as a sort of dramatic travelogue throughout the U.S. at a time when the nation was much more provincial than today’s homogenized landscape with a Starbucks or 7-11 on every corner.

Hess, MD served as the fictional town of Hester in “Route 66”

“The Mud Nest” episode of Route 66 opens in the fictional “nowhere bend in the road” town “Hester” (the very real town of Hess, MD near Sunnybrook Farms). There, a chance encounter with a rural Maryland family bearing a striking resemblance to him leads Buz to Baltimore where, with the help of Pratt Library and a police detective, he searches for the woman who might be his birth mother.

Lon Chaney, Jr. as Grandpa Colby with Marty Milner

Buz learns that he’s related to the Colby clan (with George Maharais’s real-life siblings – brothers Mark and Hank and sister Cleopatra – making cameo appearances), and meets a cantankerous relation, Grandpa Colby, who’s played by Lon Chaney, Jr. Colby gives Buz a picture of his alleged birth mother, Dorothea, whom the adopted Buz never knew.

Buz and Tod drive up Charles Street  past the Washington Monument

In Baltimore, the boys drive past the Washington Monument, The Block, and the old Victorian Gothic-style Pine Street police station, where Buz meets Lt. Tagelar, a Missing Persons detective played by a young Ed Asner.

A young Ed Asner played a Baltimore detective who tracks down missing persons.

And then they arrive at the Central Library, for even though they are out-of-towners, Tod and Buz already know the best place in town to go for information!

Central casting: Enoch Pratt Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street, Mount Vernon.
Buz and Tod enter the Central Library’s Main Hall

At the library, Tod and Buz seek evidence that Buz’s mom existed by checking Polk’s Baltimore City Directories in the mezzanine of what is now the Best & Next Department.

Buz and Todd ascend the steps to the Best & Next Dept.’s mezzanine
Polk’s Baltimore City Directories
Buz and Tod flip through Baltimore City Directories

After concluding their library research, Buz and Tod head across town to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Buz has an emotional encounter with nurse Dorothea Colby (played by Betty Field), who has changed her name to Thompson. It turns out (spoiler alert!) she isn’t Buz’s mother and became a nurse only after she lost a child and resolved to help future newborns. “Please, don’t hate your mother,” she pleads. “She gave you life, which is more than I could give my child.” In a touching final scene, the two strangers end up bonding as a surrogate mother and child. For a guide to all the Baltimore locations in this episode, check out Doug Dawson’s excellent photos and commentary at ohio66, as well as Frederick N. Rasmussen’s “Heading back down Route 66Baltimore Sun article (June 3, 2012).

Pratt’s Cool Yule Holiday Music Playlist

by Tom Warner (Best & Next Department)

It seems every musician from the Beatles to the Zombies has recorded a holiday song. The Best & Next Department alone boasts over 350 holiday-themed CDs and records, while Hoopla has over 2,300 holiday-themed albums available to download or stream using your library card.

Best & Next has hundreds of holiday LPs! In such a crowded field, it’s hard to separate the lumps of coal in the stockings from the diamonds in the rough, so we’ve compiled a playlist of some of the coolest yuletide titles available from Pratt’s extensive music collections. So plug in your earbuds and enjoy listening to our Top 10 holiday playlist!

Christmas In The Stars
by Meco Monardo

Long out-of-print and extremely rare (used copies go for over $100 on Amazon and eBay!), this 1980 novelty record by “Meco” Monardo features chirpy Star Wars-themed Christmas songs and stories sung and narrated by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO from the Star Wars films). The album is notable for featuring the first professional recording of Jon Bon Jovi (credited here as “John Bongiovi”), who – “a  long time ago in a recording studio far, far away” – sang lead vocals on the song “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  (Jon’s cousin Tony Bongiovi co-produced the album and ran the recording studio, where Jon was sweeping floors at the time.) But the real gem here is clearly “What Can You Get a Wookee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?),” a question that has baffled Star Wars fans for ages.

Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio
by Bob Rivers

Former “98 Rock” radio personality Bob Rivers’ Twisted Christmas was the first in a line of Christmas-themed parody records that included Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire and White Trash Christmas (both also available on Hoopla) and became a gold record in 1987. collection includes all of Twisted Christmas’s hits –  “Walkin’ ‘Round In Women’s Underwear,” “The Twelve Pains of Christmas,” “I Came Upon a Roadkill Deer,” “Wreck the Malls,” “O Come All Ye Grateful Dead-Heads” – and more.

The Complete James Brown Christmas
by James Brown

Poppa Santa’s got a brand new bag and it’s chock-full of 37 soulful Christmas songs from all of JB’s holiday albums, including his acclaimed social commentary hit “Santa Claus Go Straight To the Ghetto.”

Christmas Cocktails
by Billy May

Called the “perfect martini-and-mistletoe combo,” Christmas Cocktails mixes nostalgic classics (Nat “King” Cole, Dean Martin, Lou Rawls) with campy lounge fare (Billy Mays’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo,” Ray Anthony’s “Christmas Kisses”) for people who prefer a Rat Pack, Mad Men-era holiday vibe. This is the first of four volumes in Ultra-Lounge’s Cocktails series.

Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album
by Tiny Tim

Yes, Virginia, there is a Tiny Tim. And his quavering falsetto and ukulele-strummed Tin Pan Alley musical stylings are every bit as weird you’d expect! Tiptoe through the mistletoe with Tim as he sings “The Christmas Song.”

Soul Christmas
by Clarence Carter

The R&B players here need no introduction: Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, William Bell, King Curtis, and Booker T. & the MG’s. Standout tunes include Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas Baby” and Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa.”.

Christmas Rock
by Various Artists

From Chuck Berry (R.I.P.)’s’ “Run Rudolph Run” to Weezer’s “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” this compilation rocks with abandon around the Christmas Tree. Other artists include Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World, The Smithereens, The Dickies, Fallout Boy and The Killers, whose peace-on-earth anthem “Don’t Shoot me Santa” is not to be missed.

We Wish You A Metal Xmas
by Various Artists

This all-star collection features hard rock and metal superstars like Alice Cooper, Lemmy Kilmister and Ronnie James Dio banging their heads to Christmas standards, highlighted by Alice’s sneering “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and Lemmy joined by Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) on “Run Rudolph Run.”

The Blind Boys of Alabama
by The Blind Boys of Alabama

Assisted by such singing stars as Solomon Burke, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples and Tom Waits, the Blind Boys’ gospel record plays like a soulful sermon highlighted by their classic “Last Month of the Year” and the poignant “In the Bleak Midwinter,” sung by Chrissie Hynde with backing guitar by Richard Thompson.

Doo Wop Christmas
by Various Artists

From the great Clyde McPherson and the Drifters’ doo-wop take on holiday standard “White Christmas” to the Marcels’ hip-swinging “Merry Twist-mas,” Doo Wop Christmas puts the sweet harmony in the holiday hit parade.

Free Holiday Albums to Download

Get the hot chocolate ready and download these Holiday albums perfect for trimming the tree! Everything from new releases by Carrie Underwood and Tori Kelly to Christmas favorites from Mariah Carey, there’s plenty of music to help you get in the Holiday spirit.

My Gift
by Carrie Underwood

Social Christmasing
by Straight No Chaser
Warmer in the Winter
by Lindsey Stirling
Merry Christmas II You
by Mariah Carey
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
by Various Artist

Not really in the mood for Christmas? Hoopla still has chart topping albums ready to download. Give them a listen!

by Ariana Grande
Good News
by Megan Thee Stallion
by Jhene Aiko
by Taylor Swift
Love Goes
by Sam Smith