What does love feel like to you?
I found this description in Son of Fortune by Victoria McKernan:
“Aiden had almost starved to death once. Love felt exactly the same, only the complete opposite. Starvation had scraped out the center of his bones, numbed his hands and feet and shimmered his vision. It conjured weird, distant music in the back of his brain, and made everything he touched feel oddly unreal. The same symptoms seized him now, only the ache in his gut was a lump of silver. The strings that fastened his heart in his chest had come undone, so the muscle skidded around with every beat. His lungs could never get enough air, for the air contained the breaths she had exhaled.”
I have collected more thoughts and ideas about love from books and poems in a zine that is on sale for $0.99 for Valentine’s Day week. Love… contains quotations from Kate DiCamillo, Rainer Maria Rilke, and everyone in between. It may make a unique gift for someone special or a little treat for yourself. Either way, I hope you enjoy it.
P.S. Son of Fortune is the sequel to The Devil’s Paintbox. Both are excellent historical novels for teens. Recommended for readers who like adventure with just a touch of romance.
Last year Minneapolis spoken word artist Guante posted his list of Six Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Getting Started as an Artist, and Minnesota Public Radio has taken the theme to several other career choices, like teachers, doctors, and journalism. Now that I am over ten years into my career, I have a few ideas of things that I wish I’d known when I was a new librarian. Here goes:
- Most people have no idea what librarians do or why they matter. You will just have to get used to people saying different versions of “You need a Master’s degree to check out books?!” Be ready to advocate for yourself politely.
- The library field draws book people, but it is a people job. Learn to connect.
- It’s all about change. The Internet didn’t kill libraries. Ebooks aren’t going to do it either. They just change things. Be an early adopter when you can.
- Education matters, but experience is crucial. Most people pursuing library science degrees have years of experience working as paraprofessionals in libraries behind them already. Volunteer, if you have to, but get experience in a library before you graduate.
- The field is hugely varied. People bring different backgrounds, skills, and interests to librarianship. Get to know your colleagues, and learn from them when you can.
- Accept help when you need it, even if it’s from a vendor. This is perhaps a somewhat self-serving comment since I currently work as a staff librarian at a library vendor, but when I was a public librarian I really didn’t know what kind of tools and support were available from book companies. These services are often free, so take advantage of them. We want to help. :)
Are you a librarian? What would you add?
“Memoir is a strut and a confession, a whisper in the ear, a scream.”
–Beth Kephart in Handling the Truth
I sometimes think I have a story to tell about my life, but then I’m not entirely sure I’m ready strut, scream, or, worse, confess. If there is a book that can turn off my doubts about my story, it is Handling the Truth by Beth Kephart. The book ranges from practical to motivational, and I finished reading it feeling like I’d received a crash course in the art of memoir. Not to mention I had a huge reading list of all the memoirs referenced and quoted in the book.
There was so much in this book that went beyond writing, beyond memoir. It was a book about seeking truth and love, about telling stories in a way that connects readers and writers. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in telling true stories. Perhaps you will find your strut in its pages.
Find this book at your local library or indie bookstore.
Live music doesn’t have to be about huge arenas and screaming fans or late nights at crowded rock clubs. Sometimes it’s about connection. I recently had the pleasure of attending an event at Torch, a new performing arts space in Minneapolis that puts the audience-artist connection at the forefront of the experience. It’s a great space with a strong vision, and I am excited to see what’s next there.
I caught the final date in the Raw Deal concert series that ran on Sunday evenings in December and January. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at Torch, but I couldn’t help but smile when I walked in to find friendly faces and the smell of brownies baking. ”Homespun” is the way it is described on the web site, and I think that describes it well. Torch has a homespun feel to it in the most complimentary way possible. This is a venue where you introduce yourself to your fellow audience members and you talk about what brought you there. It’s a venue where you can, not only meet the artist, but also have a conversation with them. When the show started, we all paid attention.
Hannah von der Hoff performed first. Her bluesy style radiated warmth and fit perfectly with the setting. There was no set list. The audience drew the song names from a couple of hats, which kept things conversational and open.
Matt Latterell closed the night with songs that told stories. His album Life on Land has been in regular rotation on the playlist at our house for a while, and my husband and I were happy to have the opportunity to see him perform in a venue like this one.
I’m typing next to an open window, and there has been a steady stream of pedestrian traffic outside. It’s up to 28 degrees today, and it’s a comparative heat wave. Last weekend, we were preparing for a Freezepocalypse of ridiculously low temperatures (even for Minnesota), and my family spend two and a half days stuck inside our small apartment. Here are three picture books that, together, represent our Freezepocalypse:
I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black is for my six-year-old, for obvious reasons. I felt more like the mama penguin who needed a little time to herself in Baby Penguins Everywhere by Melissa Guion. Side note to parents: Do you need a time out yourself? Read your kids this book to introduce the idea. You’re welcome.
Fortunately, my wonderful partner decided it was a Soup Day as in Soup Day by Melissa Iwai, so we were well fed. Soup makes everything better.
Books and soup. That’s how we got through our Freezepocalypse. How about you?
Back in June, I posted a list of my favorite books of the year at that point. Here are the books that made the list for the second half of the year.
- Wild by Emily Hughes – You can’t tame everything. You might remember this book from this post. (Ages 4-8)
- Journey by Aaron Becker – Beautiful wordless book. The trailer gives a peek into the magic. (Ages 4-8)
- Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden – A poem turned into a picture book that looks at changes with a gentle touch. (Ages 4-8)
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – Fun and different. (Ages 4-8)
- Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo – Great mix of humor and heart. This was my Book Pick in September. (Ages 8-12)
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan – I love pretty much anything David Levithan does in books, and this one was particularly good. I had more to say about it in this post. (Teen)
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – If I could only choose one book by this author, I’d choose Eleanor & Park for sure, but Fangirl is a close second. (Teen/Adult)
A look inside What the Heart Knows by Joyce Sidman.
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings by Joyce Sidman – The subtitle of this book of poems threw me off a bit, but once I gave it a chance, I found a lovely tribute to the power of words. (Teen/Adult)
- Handling the Truth by Beth Kephart – I’m still dreaming of writing, and this book fueled the dream. (Adult)
The best book I read in 2013 was an old favorite that I reread in anticipation of the movie version, which I still haven’t seen. The Book Thief was just as good as I remembered it, and I highly recommend it if you have yet to read it.
What were your favorite reads of 2013?
The office has been quiet over the holidays, and I have been catching up on my podcast listening. Here are a few that I thought worth sharing, along with some books that popped to mind as I listened:
- Radiolab’s latest short episode The Times They are a-Changin’ looks at the Earth’s journey around the sun and reminds us that nothing is as constant as we think it is. I was reminded of the picture book by Debra Frasier that I recently read with my daughter A Birthday Cake is No Ordinary Cake, which is about how each birthday is another trip around the sun. Millions of years ago, the trip just took a little longer.
- The Stuff You Missed in History Class episode about Edward Jenner, the father of vaccines, was fascinating. Among other things, the show mentioned the difficulty of getting the small pox vaccine from Europe to the New World, and the ethically ambiguous way that the task was eventually accomplished, which was a part of the novel Saving the World by Julia Alvarez.
- Lexicon Valley looks at the way kids begin to use language in Learning to Say No. Parents, in particular, are likely to appreciate the opportunity to see what’s behind this pesky little word. To go along with that, Claudia Rueda has a sweet picture book simple titled No that as Booklist said in its review gets “right to the heart of a child’s inner life.”
If you, like me, are staying inside this weekend due to unbearably cold temperatures, these podcasts might be just the thing to ease the boredom. I hope everyone stays warm and safe. Happy listening and reading! :)
If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have looked for the answer in a picture book. It seems like a picture book sort of question, doesn’t it?
“Snow came singing a silent song,” writes Lynne Rae Perkins in Snow Music. In this book, winter is quiet after a snow fall, but there is a whole symphony of sounds if you listen for them. Cars, trucks, and animals all sound different in the winter. There’s a beauty in the whispers of snowfall and the loud scrapes of trucks clearing the way. There’s a beauty in the differences.
For the past several weeks, I have had a different answer to the question. I have had Haley Bonar’s new EP Wntr Snds on repeat, and these six songs are spare and intimate in a way that creates just the warmth that we need in a cold, cold Minnesota winter. ”Like Ice and Cold” is my personal favorite. In this song, winter sounds like change, like hope. Maybe it isn’t so different from Snow Music.
If you need a little encouragement to see what winter can offer during this sub-zero week, try one of these and listen closely.
Find Snow Music at your local library or indie bookstore. Or get more wintery picture book suggestions here.
I won’t have a Book Pick for December. Instead, here are the books I’ve featured throughout the year:
Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip Stead – A little bird makes friends and finds her people.
Wild by Emily Hughes – An quirky and delightful look at what cannot be tamed.
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo – Funny and philosophical novel for kids
Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond – A dark fable exploring human nature.
The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure – Do you believe in fairies?
Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham – Challenge your assumptions about people who look different.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman – For the romantic in you…
Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler – Glimpse a strictly religious childhood in this memoir that is funny and fascinating.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – For the romantic nerd in you…
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – A novel about family relationships and bridging cultures.
Goliath by Tom Gauld – In case you’ve ever wondered about Goliath’s side of the story…
Book Picks resume in January. I also hope to have an updated list of my favorites from 2013. My favorites from the first half of the year are here.
We’ve taken a step toward a more traditional holiday this year. Our DIY Christmas tree has taken several different forms over the last few years–some of which barely resembled a tree at all–but the same idea was behind them all. We wanted to use what we had to celebrate. We wanted a holiday that focused on creative reuse rather than consumerism. This year we were given a hand-me-down artificial tree, and we have a small collection of ornaments that have been gifted to us, so our tree is pretty traditional.
In keeping with the DIY spirit of our holiday, we made a few ornaments out of wrapping paper glued to cardboard. A pre-publication copy (F&G) of Holly Hobbie’s new version of The Night Before Christmas made for a few cute ornaments in the same way. They were simple enough for our almost six-year-old to do with minimal frustration, and I think they look charming too.
In all honesty, my favorite traditions are the ones that are different every year. They are familiar without being tired. They grow with us, but keep us grounded to our values. That’s all I really want in a holiday. More than elaborate decor or expensive presents, I want to spend time with the people I love, share what I have, and think about what we value.
May your holidays be full of love, hope, and happiness. :)
This blog will probably be fairly quiet this month, but you may check out previous years’ posts for more holiday related content: