Saturday, August 26, 2017


Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a post-USA world, two teenagers find that what makes them enemies also makes them natural allies.

First thoughts: An interesting concept, one that is worth exploring and developing more - hence why Legend is part of a trilogy. Including more of the central conflict earlier in the story would have helped convince me to keep reading, though. I'm not sure I care enough yet to want to continue the story, even though I think the "good stuff" is still coming.

YA thoughts: I love me a good YA read. Exploring current conflicts in a future/dystopian/alternate reality makes for fun reading. I'll suspend my disbelief for a lot of things - a country's history that no one remembers (oh wait... #2017problems), technology that gives minors all the advantages of a mastermind criminal, military-style trials forced on populations...but you lose me at underdeveloped characters and rushed romances. Teenagers/young adults reading: call me out if you're into the premature feelings and I'm being a Scrooge, but I was 13 once and I don't remember needing my protagonists to fall in love. On the other hand, the action scenes are well written - those shone for me while the love scenes fell flat. With more action and a quicker arrival at the crux of the conflict, I'd already be done with the second book.

Recommended for: Legend has become a pretty well known dystopian YA novel, so it's appropriate for a person hoping to become a youth librarian to become familiar with it. Unless you fit that description, or you've exhausted all other YA resources, I'm sure there are others books you could get lost in.

Final thoughts: This was probably a bigger hit in 2011. In 2017, it needs more.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Librarian Memoirs

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison LibrarianRunning the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An obituary writer needing a life change shares the story of his professional and personal development during his time as a prison librarian.

First thoughts: I got Orange is the New Black vibes from this. And lots of reminders of my time as both a social worker and teacher - the coded language, use of names (first name vs ms last name), being friends vs acquaintances. There's a similarity in boundary setting, even if the environments are (hopefully) different. I also thought a lot about how Steinberg reacted to certain things versus how a woman in his situation might (or if a woman would even be put in similar situations).

Favorite quotes:

"But the library was different: it was a place, a dynamic social setting where groups gathered, where people were put into relation with others. A space an individual could physically explore on his own." (There is freedom in libraries.)

"True librarians are unsentimental. They're pragmatic, concerned with the newest, cleanest, most popular books. Archivists, on the other hand, are only peripherally interested in what other people like, and much prefer the rare to the useful." (Uh oh, am I an archivist?)

Recommended for: I think a lot of people could benefit from reading this, but people who are already interested in libraries, librarians, and the prison industry will enjoy Steinberg's stories.

Final thoughts: Made me think. About what I could and could not do in Steinberg's position. About the point of prisons. About the point of libraries. About the absurd beauty of prison libraries. About programs like Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of FamilyThe World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hanagarne discusses his childhood and how he came to be a librarian, with entertaining bits from the library world.

First thoughts: This book was gripping, yet light. I found myself enjoying the present day story more than childhood flashbacks. I appreciated the Library of Congress subject headings as themes for each chapter.

Favorite quotes:

"As a breed, we're the ultimate generalists. I'll never know everything about anything, but I'll know something about almost everything and that's how I like to live." (Me too.)

"Test everything that can be tested. As soon as you think you know something, that's when you stop questioning it. Understanding kills curiosity." -Adam Glass

Recommended for: book people, Jacks & Jills of all trades, anyone with a passing interest in Mormonism, Tourette's, or librarianship.

Final thoughts: I was a little annoyed at him asking for an application and getting a job.! But overall, good thoughts on what it means to be faithful or brave or strong or a librarian.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Double Bind

Double Bind: Women on AmbitionDouble Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Essays on ambition from women in all walks of life - if you have emotions about ambition, there's an essay for you here.

First thoughts: This book gave me some feelings, or at least it brought out feelings I'd already had. Am I ambitious? Do I care about ambition?

Favorite quotes:

"There are infinite facets." -Robin Romm (There are so many ways to be a woman, to view ambition...and we're still surprised that we're not all the same.)

"I and mine are not lean-in women. Mine is a long and illustrious heritage of elegant survivalists and creative realists." -Ayana Mathis

"That's enough being scared, they'd say. We didn't do all of this struggling so you could just give up. Get up now. Take a step. Then another. Then another, like we did." -Ayana Mathis

"What I want - interesting problems, inspiring people, chances to steer old conversations in new directions - is happening all around me, all the time." -Evany Thomas

"I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so...careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don't want to fight their battles, because I don't want to claw my way anywhere." -Elisa Albert

"Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don't care if I'm socialized to feel this way, because in fact I do feel this way." -Elisa Albert

"I write to make sense of things, to make order from chaos, to make something from nothing." -Elisa Albert

Recommended for: women, men, ambitious types, passionate folks, cautious and creative individuals, anyone interested in humans.

Final thoughts: Why do women in particular have such strange relationships with ambition? What does that elusive word even mean? This book asks more questions than it answers, and asks them specifically to the reader, showing how personal ambition really is.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Letter to a Future Lover

Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in LibrariesLetter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries by Ander Monson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Collected essays inspired by the things left in library books - this is the type of book I'm always drawn to, the type that I could see myself writing, and yet Monson's take was worlds different from what I expected.

First thoughts: There are moments of genius in these essays. Other times, I'm confused. I know they weren't originally bound and ordered this way, so I wonder if there's an order to the essays that would reveal a different narrative. I found some of the topics extremely interesting with my 1.5 class library school background.

Favorite quotes:
"Each book in which you lose yourself equals ten thousand you will not have time to read." (bittersweet!)

"Own the ways we break, it seems to say: understand that the fault lines of a mind or body are individual, and honor them."

"We often move through books more quickly than is wise." (guilty)

"Everything we've written, what we've read, what we've collected, what we've bookmarked on what pages, what notes we left pressed herein, what we have included, discarded, defaced, lost and then replaced, how it's filed and organized: it's all a carrier, a vector, an edifice of us."

Recommended for: librarian wannabes, love letter leavers, organizers, memory keepers, collectors, and romantics.

Final thoughts: Hmm. An interesting book to dip into, and a solid short-but-slow read, if that's what you're feeling.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Night Links 40

We've made it - I'm officially 29, that magical age that so many women claim to be. (Is that still a thing? It definitely was when I was younger.) When I turned 28, I committed to following my curiosity, and I think we can all agree I did just that. The end of my teaching fellowship brought on lots of questions about my future plans, but a few of the biggest (for me) were "Do I want to be a librarian?" and "How do I become a librarian?"

If I'm being honest with myself, that's been my dream for a while now, and going back to school became step one in the process. Taking a step away from blogging to focus on schoolwork was step two. I'm figuring out the rest of the steps as I go, and stocking up on some wisdom for the journey. Here's where my attention is these days:

I'm truly hoping that this article rings true this year. I think I can feel a glimmer of it.

I've got a year to actually get into the habit of flossing, I guess.

Things a 31 yr old is learning...and things a 29 year old could take to heart.

Feeling similarly at 29...I think I know what I want to be, now I just have to get an employer to agree.