Monthly Archives: December 2012

Patronizing Patrons

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This guy called and patronized me and I don’t appreciate it.

Me: Cedar Rapids Public Library, can I help you?

Patron: Wait, is this a person? Are you a person?

Me: Um, yes.. Can I help you?

Patron: I’m so used to getting recordings that I am surprised you are real.

Me: Okay.. how can I help you?

Patron: Do you have the movie Dr. Zhivago?

Me: Sure let me look… It looks like there are 3 versions do you know which one you’d like? Perhaps the year it was made or an actor who’s in it?

Patron: Do you know what Dr. Zhivago is?

Me: Yes..

Patron: Its like War & Peace but in a movie (actually its not) .. Have you read War & Peace?

Me: No I have not.

Patron: Do you really work at a library?

Me: Yes..

Patron: And you haven’t read War & Peace? How old are you?

This is the point in time where I would have hung up on him if I could have.

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eReader Bliss

I can’t even explain to y’all how much I love having an eReader (sp?)

My loving boyfriend bought me a Google Nexus for my birthday slash Christmas this year and I use it constantly. Not just to read, I must admit. The other night I was lying in bed watching episodes of Once Upon a Time through Netflix. But most often it is to read. And it comes in handy when I travel. Which I do quite frequently since the previously mentioned loving boyfriend lives 2,000 miles away.

For this next trip I have downloaded 8 books through my wonderful place of employment (and previously place of employment), the library! Did you know the BPL lets you check out TEN eBooks at a time?? Whereas my current library only lets you check out four. Still, four is probably enough. But I need variety people. Here’s what I have so far.

Those we Love Most by Lee Woodruff

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Oprah’s new bookclub book)

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (juvenile chapter book)

Delicacy by David Foenkinos

An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Dark Places & Sharp Objects both by Gillian Flynn

Any suggestions on what to read first? OR more books to add? My Nexus is why I love airports & flying. So if you hate flying this holiday season just get yourself an eReader and a cup of coffee and you’ll be set to go for a cross country flight.

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I love Jim Dale

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I love Jim Dale. He is my hero & the voice I dream about at night. Jim Dale himself rates his top 3 narrated books. They are as follows: Bike Man by Thomas Flynn, The Shoe Bird by Samuel Jones, and the entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I adore Jim Dale and these 3 books are now on my to-read list. Or technically it should be a to-listen list… And there’s not 3 books there’s actually 9.. okay anyway..

Anyway, I’ve started with the Harry Potter books. Since I’ve already read those (but I read them back in the day) I thought it would be good to start with something I already know so I can just listen to the butter of Jim’s voice. If you’d like to take a listen here is Jim talking to NPR about being the Harry Potter narrator. He has portrayed 117 different characters (ridiculous!) just within the Harry Potter books.

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Writers & their Books

From a new book, Unpacking my Shelves: writers & their books, we see short interviews with famous authors about what their most favorite books mean to them complete with pictures of their library shelves!

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Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City and Motherless Brooklyn.

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Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story one of the NYT 10 Best Books of 2011

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Philip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials trilogy & the new book Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm.

Check out the book Unpacking my Shelves by Leah Price at the library or read the article (includes more pictures!) all about Writers & their Books here.

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Christmas Storytime

This week was my storytime week & what a great time too.

I talked all about Christmas & I’m going to share it with YOU! (like how I made a little rhyme there??)

Okay so here’s how it went. Introductions first, my name is & today we’re talking about Christmas blah blah. Who loves Christmas?! Everyone raises their hand of course. Then we read, I Love Christmas by Anna Walker.

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Then we used my hand bells from Mother Goose on the Loose to sing Jingle Bells. The kids love that. Once we’re done singing (we did it a few times) I read Christmas Magic by Sue Stainton. I let them keep the bells & every time I said “reindeer bells” in the book they got to ring their bells. It was cute seeing them on the edge of their seats waiting for me to say the words.

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Return the bells. Get their minds of returning their awesome activity by asking what every child wants for Christmas. Everyone likes to talk about presents so that does the trick. Once everyone has had a turn to share I read The Christmas Penguin by Mary Packard. Ollie the penguin wants to be able to fly for his Christmas gift!

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If there’s still time left I had some others I read to older kids who were sitting still. What am I? Christmas by Anne Margaret Lewis was a great book to keep them interested because its a guessing game book. There’s a little snippet describing what you’re guessing and also a little bit of the picture peeks out. Its cute! Counting Christmas by Karen Katz was also one I read in place of I Love Christmas if I had a crowd with younger kids. We would start by counting to ten. I also had a little rhyme about Santa that we did also.

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Merry Christmas y’all! Read to your kids & buy them some books!

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Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz

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I am fascinated (sometimes unnaturally so) by autism and Asperger’s. I know they’re different but I am equally interested in them both. I read every book I can find that has to do with both. I have recently read Jodi Picoult’s House Rules (loved) & Lisa Genova’s Love Anthony (also loved). Most recently, I finished a YA novel titled Colin Fischer. Colin has no concept of facial expressions, which explains the cover and the endpapers being peppered with different facial expressions. Here is a quick summary from Goodreads.

“When a gun is found in the school cafeteria, interrupting a female classmate’s birthday celebration, Colin is the only one for the investigation. It’s up to him to prove that Wayne Connelly, the school bully and Colin’s frequent tormenter, didn’t bring the gun to school.”

And there lies the plot. Pretty self explanatory. The ending opens up for a sequel but there is no, “look for book 2” comment in the back so perhaps it’s just a cliff hanger ending. I really enjoyed this book although I’m curious as to whether children with Asperger’s are really as flexible as Colin seems to be in his every day life. I know there’s obviously a spectrum so perhaps Colin is just on his own spectrum. But from previous books I’ve read about kids Colin seems to be more flexible than most i.e. he learns to be touched without screaming in fact he volunteers it once at the end, he improves his hand eye coordination and becomes a basketball star, etc.  Either way, it was a great book and I highly suggest it.

Summary for House Rules by Picoult here & Love Anthony by Genova here.

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Creative Nonfiction

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One of the best books I’ve ever read was introduced to me in a college class titled Creative Nonfiction. The book is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  Since falling in love with that book I have gained a love of nonfiction books, particularly memoirs and biographies. But whenever I read them I wonder, how does the author know that happened that way? Even when the author is writing an autobiography it still makes me wonder, how do you remember exactly how that happened twenty years ago? When I read (actually I listened to) Devil in the White City I was with my dad driving cross country. I would pause the book & look at him in the car and say, how does he KNOW that? Where are the footnotes saying where this information came from? Who did he talk to? I was baffled. An article I read today answered some of these questions. The article is an interview with Erik Larson, the author of Devil in the White City & Garden of Beasts both of which are historical creative nonfiction books that possess situations and conversations that Erik Larson would have personally known nothing about. This is what he says about where he finds his information.

“The way it starts, for me, is you read the broad stuff, the big survey histories and so forth. You kind of circle in, getting closer and closer to the nub of things by going into what I call the intimate histories—the published diaries, documents, letters—and all the while you’re looking for the right characters. Then you have an idea of who these characters might be; you come down to a half-dozen characters, one of whom could be central to the story. Then it’s time to go to the archives. The Library of Congress is stop one. The manuscript division… So then you go to the archives. I love it. I love going through boxes filled with files that are full of stuff. You never know what you’re going to find in the next folder. The problem with online research is you always know what’s coming. Somebody else has selected what’s online. The serendipity effect is crucial, finding things that are potentially really valuable to you. Say, an envelope with nothing in it, nothing associated with it, could be valuable because it might have so-and-so’s return address on it. Or it might confirm a contact. Little detective-like things. I just love those…”

This is what he says about how he writes dialogue.

“I get a kick out of people saying to me, ‘You must have made this up. Because this is dialogue. How could you know this?’ I put this note in every one of my books, and everyone ignores it: ‘Anything between quotation marks is from a written document. All dialogue that appears in this book is taken verbatim from the sources in which it initially appeared.’ So what I’m getting at is that it is the reader who brings the magic, I am convinced. I’m trying to lay out all those little vivid details that might spark the imagination. The reader comes to this with his or her vast experience of reading novels and everything else, and puts those dots together.”

To hear more about Erik’s interview click here or to get some tips on writing creating nonfiction yourself read this.

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