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Wintry Hodgepodge 1/6/17

January 6, 2018

“Any time it gets that cold, iguanas become lifeless. But that doesn’t always prove fatal.” (NPR)


“You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw — but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

I’ve only barely begun to read C.S. Lewis but I found this while browsing Tumblr and it makes me think I need to read The Problem of Pain, and his essays generally.

Reading YA in Corporate America (BookRiot) Come ON! What part of ” every book its reader” are we not understanding?

I’ve never thought much about how blackboards transformed American education, but this makes a lot of sense (JSTOR Daily)

Thanks to Lisa for reminding me that it is almost time to get obsessed with the Winter Olympics. I do love the speed skating… and the crazy feats of skiing.

And sometimes, I really love the figure skating.

2018 Reading Resolutions

January 1, 2018

Nothing says “plan grandiose reading resolutions” like January 1st. Read classics! Don’t buy any books! Read the books that have been languishing on the shelf! Read more diverse authors! Read more poetry!

Over the years I’ve done all sorts of ambitious variations, with admittedly patchy success. I did manage to churn through the complete Sherlock Holmes stories, so there’s that.

I set the bar pretty high for 2017’s total reads. But shooting for 200 did a number on me, as it were. I got to 196, with a good handful of shorter graphic novels and middle grade fiction. In November and December, I felt twitchy about making the numbers, and chose shorter books to read.

This year, I’m going to set the goal at 150, to encourage myself not to choose books as an excuse to churn through them faster. I might exceed that number, who knows?

And I’m modifying my No Buying Books resolution. Because yes, I have a definite need to read the books I’ve accumulated over the years, and I know that my library can keep me well stocked with new titles that catch my eye.

All of that said, I’m not going to penalize my favorite bookstore, Burton’s Bookstore, with my self-restraint. And, I like that buying books from Housing Works Bookstore helps a good cause. So this year, I’m modifying the resolution.

Image result for Burton's bookstore greenport

Image result for Burton's bookstore greenport

If and when it’s time to buy a book, I’m ordering it from Scott at Burton’s, or picking it up at Housing Works. For me, or for gifts.

As for reading challenges, I think I’m only going to do two:

The Mount TBR Challenge is a way to read books I already own and have been meaning to read for ages.

Challenge Levels:

Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

And the rules:
*Once you choose your challenge level, you are locked in for at least that many books. If you find that you’re on a mountain-climbing roll and want to tackle a taller mountain, then you are certainly welcome to upgrade.  All books counted for lower mountains carry over towards the new peak.

I’m going to sign up for the first level, Pike’s Peak, with the hope that I can read a few more than that.

I’m also signing up for the Hub Challenge when YALSA posts it next month, reading from a selection of award-winning YA and middle-grade titles. Because I feel like that gave me a good grounding in what’s out there in YA, and pointed me towards some titles that I might not have found on my own.

Seems like a good place to start.

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!


Books Read in December

December 31, 2017

Book totals for the final month of 2017, and for the year.

E-Books/Paper Books

  1. The Long and Short of It by Jodi Taylor. St. Mary’s short stories, some of which I’d read elsewhere, but didn’t count until I read this in book form. Never sure what to do with short stories in my book tallies, really.
  2. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem. YA set in Russia and NY in the 80’s. Sets up a series I’m not sure I’ll keep reading, though.
  3. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia. Excellent historical fiction for middle grade readers, with a very much 11 year old protagonist, in the summer of 1968 in San Francisco.
  4. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. Really well done middle-grade fiction I will happily hand to tweens.
  5. Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson. I read this for a book discussion with my fellow YAbrarians, and it’s about the dystopian aftermath of alien first contact… it felt remote, like a thought experiment, and also too real in its dystopian discomforts. Did not like this.
  6. Interim Errantry: On Ordeal by Diane Duane. Novellas about some of the other characters from the Young Wizards’ universe. I really liked Ronan’s. And Mamvish’s was impressively strange.
  7. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. An anthology of all kinds of authors writing in various parts of the Star Wars universe. Really interesting, and I liked a lot of the stories by familiar favorite authors (I read it for Daniel Jose Older, not going to lie), and authors that were new to me.
  8. Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds. So good. I need more Miles Morales in my life. Novels or comics, not picky.
  9. The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig. Reread, because Christmas.
  10. A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh. Meh. English country manor mystery with histrionic characters. Not much fun, kind of irked it was my last book of 2017.


Graphic Novels

  1. Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 2: A Recipe for Disaster by Natalie Riess
  2. Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan
  3. Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 by James Tynion. Actually not as ridiculous as it could have been.
  4. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run the World? Squirrels. by Ryan North. Aw, yeah!
  5. Batgirl, Vol 2: Family Business by Cameron Stewart. I like this iteration of Batgirl. Not hideously dark.
  6. Deadpool: The Complete Collection by Daniel Way. I wanted to like this more than I did.
  7. Gotham Academy Vol 2. Calamity by Becky Cloonan. I’m still not sure this series won’t collapse under the weight of its own mythology and the larger Batman universe, but for now, it’s doing well.
  8. Lumberjanes Vol. 7: Birds’ Eye View by Shannon Watters. Love this series.
  9. Batgirl Vol 1: Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone. Darker than Cameron Stewart’s take, but interesting to see how they incorporate some of the source material and take it to different directions.
  10. Superman: Earth 1, Volume 2 by J. Michael Stracyzinski. I don’t think I’ve read Vol 1, but this was a solid introduction, and a pretty good mix of dark and hopeful, which is about what I’d expect from JMS.



  1. The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett. What you read when you’re starved for more Discworld audiobooks. On the plus side, it includes audio of an interview with Sir Terry, himself. Which was lovely.
  2. Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, as read by the author. About 15 minutes long, but a good fairy tale.

Twenty things read? Hooray for me! Not too shabby at all!

And that’s it for 2017!!!  195 according to Goodreads, and I’m sure heaps more than that if you count the picture books I’ve been reading for storytime.

EveryLibrary - Any Library Initiative Anywhere for Every Library EverywhereIn honor of all this, I’ve made my donation to EveryLibrary, because they do good, important work to help libraries. I rounded up to $200.

A year of firsts. My first, working as a public librarian, with actual teenagers. My first time reading manga. My introduction to a lot of comic series, even as I follow up with old favorites.

Can I pick a favorite book of the year? I’m not sure I can. There were several great ones. A few I didn’t love, but mostly a great reading year.

Lessons learned: I’m not going to shoot for 200 again next year, because starting in December I got kind of competitive, and chose shorter books and graphic novels to make the numbers work.

Hodgepodge 12/13/17

December 13, 2017

An entire semester’s review of biology… seamlessly folded into “My Shot” from Hamilton. This teacher is a genius.

From the Talented People I Know division: My friend Emily, writes about Shakespeare on the Page, a Better Way   (WomenWriteAboutComics) She makes several very good points, but especially:

Wouldn’t you prefer to read a graphic novel version of a play in which a comics artist treated the playscript like a comics script, turning it into a fully-fledged comic, rather than one where the artist treated the script like a “classic book” to be “adapted” for “reluctant readers?”

YES! This! Say it again for the people in the back!!!

So many, my god, SO MANY books and adaptations, and even articles or lesson ideas, could benefit from rethinking and coming more from this perspective. Get away from the “adapt for reluctant readers” mindset, and barrel straight into telling the best, most interesting story, play with the strengths of the medium you’re transforming into.

I know I’m late to this particular party, but I dearly loved the plums meme that made the rounds on Twitter.

There were also song parodies.

Putting this Twitter thread here for both a reading list and collection development purposes.

Two lists of forthcoming YA books from Teen Librarian Toolbox have me wondering if I should just give up on sleep. Here and Here.

Books Read in November

December 11, 2017

Late with this, and kind of can’t believe it’s December. (Don’t even ask about the state of my holiday shopping, eesh.)


  1. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison (for an apocalypse-themed book club.)
  3. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
  4. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
  5. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  6. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Graphic Novels

  1. Phoebe and Her Unicorn in The Magic Storm by Dana Simpson
  2. Spinning by Tillie Walden (more a memoir than a graphic novel. Beautifully done)
  3. Ms Marvel, Vol 7: Damage Done. by G. Willow Wilson. Ferociously good.
  4. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: The Best There Is by Amy Reeder. So’s this one.
  5. Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart. Thayne made me do it.
  6. Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison. Also Thayne’s fault. I do not think I liked this book.


Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Much better as an audiobook. I can see returning to this.

Okay, so 13 books completed. So we’re up to 174, which has me very impressed with myself. If not altogether sure I can make it to 200….

The goal of 200 is kind of messing with me, I’ll be honest. “Hmm, let’s dig into that pile of comics! And short YA novels, Kindle says I can burn through this in two hours! Yeah!”

Mostly because I want to read for charity and write EveryLibrary a fat check for $200 sooner rather than later, plus the GoodReads challenge gamification is messing with me, as well.

What do we think? Do I try for 200 in a binge of comics and short books? (And the possibly vain hope of a free afternoon to just hole up and crank through a novel or two?) Or should I back the challenge down to 180 and get ready to feel impressed with myself?

Books Read in October

November 1, 2017

As of the end of October, according to Goodreads, I have read 161 books. That beats my grand total for the entirety of 2011,  my previous record for reading for charity. Go me!

Here’s what I read this month:


  1. Away with Words: An irreverent tour through the world of pun competitions by Joe Berkowitz. Hat-tip to Scott of Burton’s Bookstore for suggesting this enjoyable romp of a book.
  2. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. Very much a John Green Book, complete with erudite, quirky teenagers. But I give this kudos for being real about anxiety and mental illness. I’m glad it exists.
  3. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. Very creepy, suspenseful scifi, set in Lagos, Nigeria.
  4. Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan. This series is still so good!
  5. When Churchill Slaughtered Sheep and Churchill Robbed a Bank by Giles Milton. Yes, I totally read this for the title, and for the premise of short, bite-sized chapters about history’s unknown moments. Again, a hat-tip to Scott at Burton’s for putting this one on my radar.
  6. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, because it’s a Halloween tradition. I’ve read this something like 30 times.

Graphic Novels

  1. Visitor Vol 1 by Yee-Jung No. Korean manga, suggested to me by Esther, the manga-loving teen. Creepy, but palatable. I may continue the series.
  2. Real Friends by Shannon Hale.  A graphic memoir that captures tween girlhood and frenemies. Brought back memories, oof!
  3. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. Delightful!
  4. Phoebe And Her Unicorn in The Magic Storm by Dana Simpson. I love this series.
  5. Rivers of London: Black Mould by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel and Lee Sullivan. Another great, creepy entry in the Peter Grant series.


Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs.

Making Money by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs.

So, that’s a total of 13 books consumed for the month, and a grand total of 161 so far. Hm, I’m trying to hit 200, but I’m not sure I can make it, especially as the Readathon whizzed past me, and I couldn’t join in, as I was working.

Almost all of these were library books, with the exception of The Westing Game.

Hodgepodge 10/24/17

October 24, 2017

Been a while since we had one of these

The Moth: Hatpin Mary This is an audio file, and it’s NSFW (swearing) but it’s magnificent. Like a time capsule of New York and coming of age.

Company Uses Mushrooms to Grow Plastic Alternatives (JSTOR Daily). Nifty science!

Must-read Manga for Fall (BookRiot) Blame my library life

Diverse and Spooky Reads for Kids (Book Riot) and 13 Spooky YA Horror and Thriller Novels (Kirkus) Going to use these to freshen up the Halloween book displays

John Green and Turtles All the Way Down (Teen Librarian Toolbox) because I read the book, and it does an impressive job of showing a teen grappling with mental health issues, while still being a teen in a John Green Novel.

Dan Brown is pretty much what you’d expect (Omnivoracious)

Another from Teen Librarian Toolbox: Post-It Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle-Grade Books. Because there are good graphic novel suggestions and because I need to steal the Post-It Note speed review technique