Reading Tolstoy, Alone.

My husband and I could not be more different from each other.  In a few ways, at least.  Case in point: I spent my childhood hiding under the covers with a flashlight and a copy of The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, while he spent his summers at Computer Camp programming the little Logo turtle to make triangles and squares.  I’m an avid reader and librarian; he’s a complete computer whiz who could program his way right into whatever industry he chooses.

When Aaron was just a little boy, his dad brought home the Commodore 64 that would seal his fate as a hot computer nerd.  As a mere seventh grader, he self-taught his way through a book of how to code in C.  While I was auditioning for high school plays, my husband was teaching himself database architecture via a little homegrown website called “Synthetic” that he’d built in his basement.  When he first wooed me, he wrote me a little program called “arrow_kill” to destroy all those nasty little carrots — “>>>>” — that show up in email trails.  I hate those things!  It totally worked.  Now Aaron predicts chemical / protein interactions using computer simulations.  This is cutting-edge, sought-after, super sexy stuff in the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.

Continue reading


Booklist: Love Your Library

In an effort to subtly promote the “Vote Yes for the Library” campaign while not crossing any ethical lines, I decided to create a small display called “Love Your Library” that lives at the reference desk of the Lawrence Public Library. It was fun to see what we had in our collection that could count; here’s what ended up on the display (As always, pix and synopses are adapted from WorldCat, Goodreads, & Amazon):

America's Library America’s Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000
The American Library of Congress holds over 110 million items — many of them unique and priceless — and this charts the history of the Library and its holdings, from its initial 740-book collection begun in 1800 to its miles of bookshelves today. Vintage photos and illustrations pack a presentation which is a must for anyone who digs American book history.
Book By Book Book by Book
Drawing on sources as diverse as Dr. Seuss and Simone Weil, P. G. Wodehouse and Isaiah Berlin, Pulitzer Prizewinning critic Michael Dirda shows how the wit, wisdom, and enchantment of the written word informs and enriches nearly every aspect of life, from education and work to love and death. Organized by significant life events and abounding with quotations from great writers and thinkers, Book by Book showcases Dirda’s capacious love for and understanding of books.

Continue reading

Librarian’s Advisory

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you may recall that I have sort of a love-hate relationship with what we here in the library like to call “Reader’s Advisory.” Don’t panic — I’m not going to rehash that whole thing!

Yet I had the coolest Reader’s Advisory experience here at the public library the other day, and now I’m dying to know if other librarians have experienced this, too. I’m going to call it “Librarian’s Advisory.” Here’s what happened: Continue reading

Tried and True Faves

So I’ve been thinking a LOT about Young Adult Fiction lately, probably because I’m really looking forward to the possibility of working with teens in a public library next year.  This got me thinking about what books I really loved when I was coming into my own as a reader.  I chatted up one of the YA librarians at the library yesterday, and I felt really dated inquiring about some of my old favorites.  But she did confirm that some teens are still actually reading these old-timer classics.  Anyway, I just wanted to mention some of them here for posterity:

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater 

Walter and Winston set out to rescue the inventor of the Alligatron, a computer developed from an avocado which is the world’s last defense against the space-realtors.

A Wrinkle in Time A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle 

Meg’s father mysteriously disappears after experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel. Determined to rescue him, Meg and her friends must outwit the forces of evil on a heart-stopping journey through space and time.

Black Cauldron The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander 

Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper of Prydain, volunteers to assist in the destruction of the dreaded Black Cauldron, the chief implement of the evil powers of Arawn, lord of the Land of Death.

Continue reading

YA Reading List

Yesterday I went to the absolutely fabulous Marion Public Library and one of the really helpful reference librarians recommended some YA fiction for me to read.  I’m pretty excited about the list we came up with:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YALSA pick)
Miracle Wimp Miracle Wimp by Eric P. Kraft
Fat Kid Rules the World Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Continue reading