Choose-Your-Own-Faulkner February

Remember that book club I started up with those jokesters over at The Larryville Chronicles about a year and half ago?  We’re still going strong!

William Faulkner with Pipe

This month we’re switching things up with a book by a dead white guy.  Make that ‘books’ plural.  If you live in NE Kansas and like book clubs that are charmingly disorganized and consume copious amounts of cheap beer, you might want to join us for our weirdest experiment yet: Choose-Your-Own-Faulkner February. Continue reading

In Three Acts

Since I’ve been contributing to everyone else’s blogs lately, I thought you all deserved a little update, too.  Here it is, in three acts.  Happy birthday!

act i: what I’ve been reading

scene 1: Fifty Shades of Grey

This book really is as terrible as everyone says it is.  But I still loved reading it and would do it again; here’s why.  For the cynical take, you’ll have to check-in with twitter friends @knsstxs (“reading that book is my own red room of pain,”) and @theluckynun  (“I could write better one-handed reading with one hand tied behind my back & some gross dude spanking me.”)  I also enjoyed Chip’s ostentatiously lazy review.

scene 2: Love is a Mix Tape

Gawd, what a great piece of pop culture writing.  I heart Rob Sheffield, and this book made me cry like a baby, even though (or perhaps because) it was about Duran Duran and Missy Elliott.  I’m going to cheat by linking to my brand new review for Lawrence Public Library — this review isn’t officially published until tomorrow.  Doesn’t it feel exclusive?

scene 3: 2666

Roberto Bolaño is totally freaking me out, in that way that only the best writers know how.  I loved Savage Detectives, but 200 pages in and I’m already calling it: 2666 is Bolaño’s masterpiece.  I’m crawling along, reading just a few pages at a time, because it’s too much to take in.  This business with Amalfitano and the geometry textbook is KILLING me.

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Bunnies with Moustaches, and Nine Other Things I Love About the Library

Plush bunny with moustache

There have been too many things to love about the library this spring.  At least five of them have to do with beer:

1. Reading Terminal Market and the Fabric Workshop and Museum

In March I headed to my first ever PLA conference, in adorable Philadelphia.  I roomed with my boss, and we watched “Friends” reruns in our hotel room.  So, it was pretty rad.  These Amish women at the Reading Terminal Market made the best sticky buns I’ve ever had in my life. Beer was consumed. But my favorite was the Fabric Workshop and Museum, where I met the very awesome Chicago librarians Vicki Rakowski and Ben Haines, and scored some pink plastic tentacles and a bunny with a moustache.  Then we saw Betty White.

2. The San Jose Public Library

Nate Hill, web librarian at San Jose Public Library, is my new favorite librarian — I saw him speak at PLA in Philly.  Imagine: self-published books by library patrons that could be instantly cataloged and then vetted by upvoting, like on Reddit.  And check out that sexy color coding on their website.  These are some of the brain children of Nate Hill, who makes jokes about dogs and burritos.

3. Erotic Fiction workshops

Also a Philly highlight: talking about smutty books with about 100 fellow librarians at 8:30 on a Saturday morning.  I learned that many erotic novels have purple or red covers, and I placed a hold on Fifty Shades of Grey.

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Books & Beer

If you’ve been following that other blog I contribute to, you may already know that tonight I’m getting together with a bunch of Larryville book nerds to talk about Haruki Murakami’s 925 page odyssey, 1Q84.  We’ll be drinking PBR at the Tap Room at 7:30 p.m.

Besides being hipper than your mom’s book club, we love seeing new people, especially after we’ve had a beer or two.  If you live in Larry and have been reading your way through 1Q84, come on down!

A Year of Librarianship.

My job at the public library is fun, and sometimes hard, just like any job.  This March, I started a new position as my library’s Adult Programs Librarian, which has been rewarding, satisfying, challenging.  Sometimes I lose track of what’s up, exactly, and just how much we’ve all accomplished.  As my library school advisor would say, it’s because I’m working in “The Swamp” (does he think that’s supposed to make it better?).

But, here and now, on December 30, this is my chance to step back from the murky stuff right in front of my face, and look back to see just how far we’ve come.  We really have been up to some pretty neat stuff.

one

Authors Candice Millard, Charles Shields, Bill James, Stanley Lombardo, Tessa Gratton and Nancy Pearl all stopped by to speak at my library.  Maybe you met them.  They’re all amazing.

two

I threw a big library party with Cathy Hamilton (desserts!  European cruises!  tour guides!), and learned about the Manic Mouth Congress.

three

I wore my banana suit to a block party. Hearts of Darkness played hip hop, and babies danced with Yogi Bear.

four

I tried to help Lawrence win a $100,000 energy efficiency grant, and was taken down by Manhattan (KS)’s EcoKat.  I did win a $25,000 grant for my library from the Kansas Health Foundation.

five

I collaborated with Lawrence Magazine and Jason Barr to create a giant version of their John Brown Paper Doll and Disguise Kit.  We installed it in the front lobby of my library, and our community played giant paper dolls. Continue reading

Being a Librarian in a Book Club

Readers, I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret.  Today’s librarians cringe a little when you talk to us about books and reading.  Come on, guys: it’s the Information Age, and all of your librarians went to “Library and Information Schools.”  Maybe even just an “Information School.”  Many of us came into librarianship because we liked to read, but left “professionalized” with all these fancy ideas about how our core calling is to bring Information to the people.  That’s what happened to me.

These days, I am what I’m beginning to think of as a rehabilitated reader.  Sure, my heart still palpitates over social media, government docs, and information literacy.  But there’s one thing you just can’t shake when people find out you’re a librarian.  They really wanna talk about books.

A few months ago, my buddy Nog and I formed a little book club on a lark.  If you want to witness the saltier side of your friendly neighborhood Librarian in a Banana Suit, head on over to our PBR Book Club blog.  It’s a group for bookish hipsters, and we are actually mostly boys.  That’s what happens when you combine books with beer.  At our inaugural meeting there were only five of us, and we were discussing David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.  We started by shotgunning a few PBRs to ease any tension, and then Nog — who teaches college English courses — cleared his throat.  “Umm, I don’t really know how to do a book group.”  And then he turned expectantly to me.

“Oh my god,” I realized, “they expect me to know what I’m doing because I’m the librarian.”

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PBR Book Club

It might not look live I’ve been blogging very much this month… but actually I’ve been blogging more than usual!  Bookish hipsters all over Lawrence are rejoicing in the launch of the PBR Book Club, an intimate group devoted to beers and pretentious postmodern lit.

We’ve started with David Mitchell’s bawdy and labyrinthine Cloud Atlas, which we’ll be discussing at the Replay later this month, but in the meantime we’re using social tools like twitter (#pbrbookclub) and blogspot (pbrbookclub.blogspot.com) to mull over the experience as it unfolds in real time.

The blog is coauthored by several Lawrence nerds, including myself, @larryvillelife, @courtbelle, and hopefully soon (wink) @mentalplex and @indieabby88.  It’s a little, um, saltier than what you might be used to seeing from me here.  So be forewarned, have fun checking it out, and join in!