Showing posts with label library. Show all posts
Showing posts with label library. Show all posts

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Reading Goals

Long-time readers of my blog may remember that I usually do a big New Year's Resolutions post at the end of each year.  I skipped that for the beginning of 2016, as you may have noticed.

Why?  I'm just not feeling very...resolutiony this year.  I think resolutions often come with the implication that you're planning to "fix" something in your life, and this year I don't feel like there is much to fix, at least in terms of my reading goals.  (I've decided not to list my personal, non-book, non-running goals on the blog this year, not that they're that interesting anyway, but I'm keeping them to myself.)  :)

With that said, I do have some reading habits from 2015 that I'd like to continue to incorporate into my reading in 2016:

1. Keep it flexible: I did a pretty good job in 2015 of not getting bogged down by a ton of challenges or a too-full tour schedule.  I'd like to keep that up this year, because having extra time for "free range" reading was awesome.

2. Don't fear the chunksters: When I started the blog, I took a big step back from reading very long novels.  The reason is simple: when you're trying to start a book blog and generate traffic, you don't have time to spend weeks and weeks reading 1 book if you want to keep posting frequent reviews.  In 2015, with my blogging becoming less frequent (and me becoming more okay with it), I embraced some of those longer novels again.  It felt great to lose myself in a 600+ page epic once in a while.  I'm hoping to do more of that this year...there's too many I've been putting off!

3. Embrace the library: In 2015, I started to make a habit of perusing the adult fiction New Release shelf at my library every time I brought the boys there for a visit.  This was fun, because it allowed me to grab some of the latest reading material, but it also required me to make FAST decisions (my kids reach a level of Maximum Destruction in the adult section of the library in about 8 seconds).  In these hurried selections, I ended up with some excellent new reading material.  Getting on board with The Bazaar of Bad Dreams , Girl on the Train , The Shore , etc. provided a fun change of pace from my at-home TBR of mostly backlist titles.  I plan to do more library perusing in 2016!

4. Embrace the home TBR: I can't ignore my home shelves, though.  As always, they are weighty with unread books!  I'll work in as many of those as I can as well (especially because several of them are on my 30 Before 35 list...can't wait to keep truckin' on that!).

I think that's about it!  No goal for a certain number of books, no particular challenges to complete.  Just keep up the fun and flexibility in my reading habits.  I guess that's a pretty good resolution, eh?

What are your reading goals for 2016?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Salon #2: A Well-Read (Different Shade of) Redhead

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!  Let's talk about...

Here in Rochester, we continue to endure this winter.  There is no enjoying at this point, not when it's -26 degrees outside and when you walk to the mailbox the inner walls of your nostrils freeze together so that you are forced to breathe through your mouth (true thing that happened).  Just enduring.

However, we are having a bit of a heat wave (highs in the 20s yesterday and today!), so I celebrated by going for my first outdoor run in about 2 weeks.  The roads were completely unplowed, and I was trudging through snow drifts with every step, BUT GODDAMN IT I WAS OUTSIDE.  It was glorious.

Anyway, in order to spice up this winter, I did an exciting thing on Friday (at least, for me).  I've never colored my hair before--nope, this redhead was au naturel.  However, The Grays started to invade a few years ago (kids will do that), and I finally took drastic measures to do away with them.  Thus, we now have the new-and-improved Well-Read Redhead:
Awkward closeup selfie because it's the only one I did that didn't seem completely awful.  I take horrific selfies.  This one makes me look like I have a huge nose, but we're going to roll with it.  This picture actually makes the color look a little lighter than it is in real life.
This is a long caption.
(Did you think I'd go blonde or brunette or something?  Heck no.  Then I need a new blog name.  PRIORITIES!)

I am loving my new darker shade.  Something fun to keep things interesting during this loooong winter.

As for what's new on the reading front: I have a tiny lull between tour books, so I'm smooshing in some library reads right now.  Just started Burial Rites by Hannah Kent this week, and I am intrigued.  I've also go Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch on my nightstand.  And yes, I plan to finish Moby Dick sometime...soon-ish.

Confession: the way I have been choosing my library reads lately is to pull up the "Best/Favorites of 2014" lists from some of my favorite bloggers (like Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall, Words for Worms, The Relentless Reader, Book Hooked, River City Reading, and Books Speak Volumes, to name just a few) and check out the ones they recommend the most from last year.  This method rarely fails me.  Rock on, bloggers!

What are you up to this week, reading pals?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A life of lovely LIBRARIES.

I've wanted to do this post for a while, because in case I haven't said it enough, I LOVE THE LIBRARY.  I thought it would be worth highlighting the various wonderful libraries that I've had the pleasure of living near throughout my life.

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Some of my very earliest memories are of going to the local library with my mom.  My first local library was the Bill Memorial Library in Groton, CT.  Up until we moved at age 10, "the Bill" was an easy 5 minute walk from our house.  How great is that?
Bill Memorial Library, Groton, CT
I went to countless story times there as a tyke. I remember following my mom through the stacks of the adult section as she picked out books, spending many hours browsing the kids section, and I volunteered there for a period of time in middle school.  This library is super cool, because it's quite old, very small and cozy, and has a lot of history behind it.  There's even an interesting-slash-creepy butterfly collection in the attic.  If there is a place where my love of books began, this is likely it.

We moved across town when I was in 5th grade, and even though we made the drive back to the Bill often, the move put me closer to the Groton Public Library , which is bigger and has quite a few more resources for visitors.  Not as cozy as the Bill, but a great place for studying...I remember spending way too many hours here doing AP English homework and researching colleges in my junior/senior years.
Groton Public Library, Groton, CT
After high school, I headed to college at UConn and had 4 years of visiting the Homer Babbidge Library on campus.  The place is impressive--UConn is a Research 1 institution, so naturally they have a library to match.  However, my memories of this place are less filled with pleasant, literature-filled lazy hours, and more filled with OMG MY FINAL IS TOMORROW HOW DID I FORGET WHAT A COVALENT BOND IS ALREADY (yes, my first all-nighter took place here).  Even so, there are two locations that have more lighthearted memories for me in UConn's library: the Bookworms coffee cafe on the main floor, and 3 North ("study" area on the 3rd floor, north side of the building).  3 North was affectionately nicknamed the Dry Bar.  No work gets done there.  I'm pretty sure that's still the case.
Homer Babbidge Library, University of Connecticut
After college, I moved just north of Albany, NY, and the now-husband and I lived in that area for the next 8 years.  In the first apartment we lived in, the local library was the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie.   These were my early post-college years, when I first re-connected with the library after living in textbooks for 4 years.  I wanted to read ALL THE THINGS and would spend ages just wandering the stacks in wide-eyed wonder.

Then we moved to our first house a few years later, and our new library was about 15 minutes north, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library .  When we moved to Clifton Park, I realized something wonderful: the Sanford Library is part of the Upper Hudson Library System, which encompasses over 30 libraries around Albany.  And the Clifton Park library is part of a different system that covers 8 counties north and west of Albany.  For two years, my library cards at both places were active.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY BOOKS I HAD AT MY FINGERTIPS?  The power was great.  I could interlibrary loan literally anything you could think of.  It was amazing.  **geek moment**
Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, Clifton Park, NY
Nerdy stuff aside, I will always have very fond memories of the Clifton Park library, because that is where I took Small Fry to his very first story times as a baby (only 3.5 months old for his first one)!  Awwww, love of libraries coming full circle.  CPH really does an amazing job with their children's area and activities.  Plus, this is where I got attend my first author event, as they hosted Dennis Lehane there in 2012.

Then, of course, we made our big move to western New York in 2013.  First, we had a brief 6-week stint in Batavia, NY as we waited for our house to come available.  Even though we were only there a short time, our rental was just a couple blocks from the Richmond Memorial Library .  Small Fry and pregnant-me took many, many summer walks there in the few weeks that we lived in the area.  Richmond library reminds me an awful lot of "the Bill", with it's older exterior, though it has gotten a facelift in recent years.  This library is smaller in size, but offers a surprisingly large number of programs given the size of the surrounding community (Batavia is fairly rural).  I didn't love living in Batavia, but I will say that the Richmond library provided some of the best memories we have there!
Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY
Finally, on to Rochester.  I was quick to figure out my library options when we got here.  I live on the western side of the city, but my library card is good at any of the 31 libraries in Monroe County, which rocks my socks.  We actually have several of those libraries in close proximity to our house, and make a point of visiting at least one of them each week.  Our current favorite is the Chili Public Library (affectionately referred to by Small Fry as the "train library", thanks to the awesome Thomas the Train table in the children's room).
Chili Public Library, Rochester, NY
It's a small-ish library, but the staff is SO nice, and they put on a ton of fun programs for kids.  (And yes--this is where Tater Tot got to attend his first story time! Memorieeeeees.)  Plus, I suspect that Small Fry has a crush on Miss Jill, one of the children's librarians, so chances are he has an ulterior motive for all our many, many visits here.

Quite the litany of library experiences I've had in three decades!  I look forward to many more years of literary memories, and new libraries to explore.

(And if you haven't gotten the subtext of this post yet--VISIT YOUR LIBRARY!!  So much to see and do...not just books, but often craft programs, book sales, free museum passes, book clubs, etc.  Most of it free, too.  BONUS.)

Tell me about your favorite library memories, reader friends!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review: The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Title: The World's Strongest Librarian
Author: Josh Hanagarne
Publisher: Gotham Books
Publication Date: May 2, 2013
Source: e-ARC received from publisher for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

My Review:

What's the recipe for an immediately intriguing book description?  As the lovely Jen pointed out, it's a memoir that includes libraries, Tourette Syndrome, weightlifting, and Mormonism.  Readers, it does not get more unique than that.  Color me interested.

Josh Hanagarne has a one-of-a-kind story, and he knows how to tell it.  Each chapter begins with an interesting (and often hilarious) anectode about his time as a librarian with the Salt Lake City Public Library.  His stories will have you alternately astounded (at the crazy things people will do in a public place) and sad (at the unfortunate circumstances that often lead people there).

 (And before I go further, have you ever SEEN this library?  Feast your eyes on this amazingness:
HOLD THE PHONE.  It's like Book Nirvana up in hurrr.
I was in Salt Lake City for a trip 2.5 years ago, and I am TOTALLY BUMMED that I did not know about this place then.)

Okay, bookish drooling time is over.  Onward!

After each library anecdote, Josh (yes, we're on a first name basis...the tone of his novel makes me feel that way, and I'm okay with it) recounts part of his personal journey, from early childhood through the present.  Most notable was his ability to delve so deeply into powerful reservoirs of frustration and grief, while also managing to keep a laugh-out-loud sense of humor.  I know, I sound like a cheesy movie tagline ("You'll laugh!  You'll cry!"), but it's TRUE.  There were several times, in the midst of a very serious part of the story, when I encountered an unexpected joke or one-liner that left me giggling through the tears.  If anything, this makes Josh's story that much more inspiring.  He always sees some fun in life, even when it's trying to get him down.

This is not just a memoir about Tourette's.  The affliction obviously affects all areas of his life, but his ability to describe his other conflicts and doubts was equally impressive.  I was particularly moved by his description of his struggles as a teenager--all of the emotions that are wrapped up in maturing (mentally and physically), first dates, etc.  In this way, Hanagarne crafts a story that has a universal message for everyone.  I don't have Tourette's, I'm not a Mormon, I'm not a 6+ foot-tall weightlifter.  But I still found myself relating to pieces of his life as it was unveiled.

The only part of Josh's story that I would have loved to hear more about was his wife's pregnancy with Max.  They went through years of infertility, and I was completely absorbed in this part of his story--he writes it with heartbreaking emotion, and I think a lot of couples will find both common ground and solace in it.  However, once his wife got pregnant, the story suddenly jumped to Max's birth and childhood.  After hearing so much about their infertility struggles, I guess I was left wanting to experience the pregnancy with them as well.  Maybe that's just me being a sappy girl, but it was the only point in the memoir where I felt like I wanted a little more.

As I read the last word of this memoir, all I could do was close my eyes like a happy, contented reader and think, "Yes."  It wraps up at a perfect point, in a way that leaves you feeling both curious and hopeful.

I can't recommend this book enough.  Josh Hanagarne has a poignant and humorous way of relating his story that makes it reachable for any reader.  I learned a lot, I laughed a lot, and I was rooting for him at every turn.  I know I'm on a memoir kick this week, but trust me--if you're in the market for one, this is an awesome pick!

Other reviews of The World's Strongest Librarian:
The Relentless Reader
As The Page Turns
Bookin' It

Have you read any great memoirs lately?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Library Blackout...has this happened to you?

Here's a pic of my library (taken from the second floor looking down towards the reference area).  Isn't it purty?:

I swear, there is something in the air at this place.

Every time I walk in there with ONE particular book in mind, I come out with that book, plus eleventy billion others that I have no idea when I will find the time to read.

Take, for example, last week.  I went to the library to pick up How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn.  I really, truly, try to limit my library books lately, because I have SO SO many unread books at home (not to mention on my Kindle).  But I NEEDED this book for my Around the World in 12 Books challenge.  So borrowing was imperative.

I was kind of in a hurry, so I walked in, located the book, and done.  I was walking towards the checkout desk, thinking about my other book challenges this year, and remembered the Foodies Read challenge.  And I thought, "Huh, I've only done one foodie book so far this year...maybe I'll pick up one of those too.  JUST ONE."

I wander over to the nonfiction area and peruse the food/cooking section.  Suddenly I am inundated with choices.  So many good choices.  I CAN'T HANDLE ALL THE CHOICES.

It was at this point that I blacked out.

When I came to, I was in my car with How Green Was My Valley, as well as The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain, Beaten, Seared, and Sauced by Jonathan Dixon, and Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.  Also, Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson is on my holds list now, apparently.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THERE?  I will never know.  I can only assume the librarians drugged me and sent me packing with enough food-related reading material to cover me for most of the spring season.  They're a suspicious bunch, librarians.

Ah well, at-home TBR pile.  We will meet again another day.
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