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#ErynReadin2016 January

Here’s what I read in January, 2016. A good start to the year. Total page count:1713.

Started Finished Title Author Genre Recommend? Page Length Page Total:
1/1/2016 1/10/2016 Dune Frank Herbert Sci Fi More, please. Yes. 800 1707
1/13/2016 1/17/2016 The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh Kathryn Aalgo NonFic: Biographical Lovely! YES. 308  
1/17/2016 1/17/2016 Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe Yumi Sajugawa Graphic Novel? Illustrated New Age. Is that your thing? Then yes. 20(rounded down for illustrations)  
1/18/2016 1/21/2016 The Light Between Oceans ML Stedman Novel Well-written but gut-clenching. No? 345  
1/26/2016   Bazaar of Bad Dreams Stephen King Short Stories Yes (Not finished yet.) 234  

I read Dune because it was one of my brother’s top 5 favorite books. I always meant to read it, but the length was daunting. My husband enjoyed it & many of the sequels, but said that I “wouldn’t enjoy it” but can’t recall why he said that. It may be because of the later sequels.

I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the message of self-control & I enjoyed the SCOPE of the universe that Frank Herbert created.

I was floored when I learned that Frank Herbert was inspired to write Dune by my very area. People think of the Pacific Northwest & they think of rain, but we have should more accurately be known for our dryland agriculture. We make the land do what we want. To an amazing extent. The Grand Coulee Dam filled HUGE dry fissures (coulees) that cut northeastern Washington’s desert with water. We then irrigated an entire half of our state with that water we were slowing down as it traveled from Canada to the Pacific Ocean. You can’t really imagine the scope of this unless you’ve seen the dam or lived through a summer in the inland Pacific Northwest.

Not 10 minutes from my house, you can be in sand dunes. A patron told me that when she was a kid, her uncle would pick her & her siblings up in his tender truck, drive out to the dunes & they’d make pools in the dunes. They’d spend the day making sand castles. Sleepless in Seattle is not THE Washington Experience.

I wish I’d read Dune as a teen. I’d recommend it to anyone, but I wish I could get everyone from Eastern Washington & Oregon to read it. If I had someone visiting me from out of the area, I’d ask them if they’d read Dune! Then we could go for a drive to the sand dunes. 🙂

The book I read this month that I REALLY recommend is Kathryn Aalgo’s The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh. It’s the loveliest book I’ve read in a long time. It’s about Milne’s inspiration for Winnie the Pooh & Shepard’s inspiration for the artwork.

I’m finishing up Stephen King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I should have had it finished by now, but my brains a little scattered currently.

Librarians Managing Class Visits Alone

The question of how to manage class visits to the library when you are the sole librarian comes up in forums for new school librarians.

I’m not a school librarian, but we’re a community library directly across the street from an under-funded school with an outdated library. Part of my mission is to get those kids access to a library, so I work hard to make class visits a fun, productive reality for those kids.

Here’s my routine for a smooth library class visit, including reading a book to the students.

I work alone & do class visits of 20-32 kids in 25 minutes. Here’s my system (it’s a little wordy written out this way, but I hope it’s helpful).

  • The kids all drop their books in a box on my desk, as they file in.
  • I greet them, standing where I will read to them, book in hand.
  • I ask them about their week & introduce the book while they settle around me.
  • I read the chosen book (5-7 minutes). TIP: Read books aloud to yourself at some point, before reading them to your class. Man alive, some books are LONG once you commit to them!
  • At the end of the book I ask a couple short questions & then very purposefully say “Those of you that BROUGHT BOOKS BACK this week may go pick out new books. I just got in some exciting XYZ books, they are here.”
  • I head straight to the computer & check in the returned books.
  • I put all returned books on a table, because often the kids want books their friends just had (also saves me from having to shelve some of the books, haha).
  • As soon as the books are checked-in, I start answering their questions for special requests & have the kids line up to check their books out. They don’t bring cards, so I look each kid up by name (gets easier as you go along, promise!).

I do NOT talk to kids about late books individually in this time allotment. I pull a list of overdue books when I don’t have classes present & email it to the teacher for her to discuss with the kids.

Having a chunk of exciting, timely books spread out on a table when they get there, to direct them to when I’m busy checking in books, is a real help (& alleviates the thing where they won’t take books from a display, because they are afraid to mess it up).

I’m sure there are smoother ways to solve the problem of trying to do it all for a class visit, if you’re actually in a school library. For instance, teachers may help the librarian check in books, or representatives from the class may drop the books off earlier in the day. These aren’t options for me (non-employees can not access the database, etc.) but they may be helpful for you! Keep looking for what works for you.

And the last tip?

Embrace the barely controlled chaos! 😉

Do you have tips & tricks for a smooth class visit to the library?

Not All My Friends Are Dead!

I will never grow out of being completely excited to receive packages in the mail. Surprise packages are even better!

Lookie what my friend Cassie sent me this week! All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen & Jory Jon. It’s so morbidly delightful.

All My Friends Are Dead

Cassie is a sweet friend that Blogs at What Momma Does. This is a girl that gives & gives & always has an ear (& hilarious gifts) for her friends. She came to visit me once & we spent an hour laughing at funny greeting cards in a shop.

My life is better for having Cassie in it.

And not just because of her potato soup recipe.

February Book Wrap-Up

I made a goal to do more reading in 2014. I don’t have a set goal, like 50 books in a year, or anything, but over the years I’ve noticed I was reading complete books less & less often. Pretty shameful, for a librarian…

I also have enough social media sites to manage, so instead of keeping Goodreads updated, I’m keeping a running spreadsheet of the books I read in 2014 & blogging about them here.

In January, I read 9 books. In February… I didn’t read for 3 weeks. I don’t know really know what happened, I wasn’t busier than in the previous month. Part of the problem was that the last book of the series I read last last month was really, really awful (like, CHAPTERS about a 13-year-old girl working as a prostitute & it “not being a bad life for her”, awful). I couldn’t make myself read any more of it, then I just didn’t read anything else until the last week of February. What the hell, Piers Anthony?

I still read 5 books, bringing me to 14 (& a 1/2, counting the terrible rapey book) novels for the year, totaling 3823 pages + 1 audio book. I’m starting to feel like a real librarian, with the reading & all. 😉


In February 2014, I read:

And Eternity (Incarnations of Immortality, Book 7) is the last book of the original series. It’s worth reading if you read & enjoyed the earlier books. Under a Velvet Cloak (Incarnations of Immortality, Book 8) is the terrible child-rapey Piers Anthony book, written over a decade after the other books. Did he get all gross & dotty in his old age? Under a Velvet Cloak honestly made me regret ever recommending On a Pale Horse to people, even though it’s a really fun, solid fantasy novel.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story came to my attention because I read that it’s author, Ned Vizzini passed away in December & had written some of the most popular YA books of all time. I am screening books for this summer’s teen book club at work & wanted to check it out. This semi-autobiographical book based on the author’s own stay in a psychiatric treatment facility is a very accurate look into suicidal thoughts & depression, especially what a teen goes through. I can’t really speak to how accurate a representation of being in a psychiatric hospital it is.

I don’t know if I should really give this spoiler, because it very much colored how I processed the book, but it’s part of a very important dialog. Ned Vizzini is dead. After over 15 years fighting the depression he so clearly describes in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, he ended his pain by jumping off a roof. It’s heartbreaking. There’s so much to talk about here.

Who would I want to read this book? EVERY single person who believes suicide is “the easy way out” or for “weak people” or for “selfish people”. Or family of people who deal with cyclical thoughts & depression. I’m not sure I could in good faith put it in the hands of someone who deals with this level of depression, especially if they know how the story really, truly ends. It kind of put me in a dark place, myself. But it’s such valuable work.

Now on to The Fault in Our Stars. Oh, what a book. This is another YA book I’m screening for the teen summer reading book list.

The Fault in Our Stars is beautiful. Sad, but in a true way. Not manipulative or shallow, nor at the expense of joy, or humor.

The book is about terminal cancer, but it’s not Stepmom. It doesn’t just go for cheap shots, rubbing salt in easy wounds to illicit a big teary response. It’s clever, with characters that you love because they’re fleshed out & you’re invested in them. They’re smart & they don’t WANT you to love them, or cry for them, or pander to them.

It is the truest & most natural teen dialog I have ever read. Laugh-out-loud lines, giggle-inducing lines, heart-stopping lines.

The Fault in Our Stars doesn’t follow the formula books about kids with cancer follow. Great, because I HATE that formula. Why do they DO that?! It’s not for people with cancer that they write these emotionally-manipulative shallow stories, kids with cancer know what’s on their plate. And if it’s for the general public, then we’re pathetic. Kids with cancer aren’t a story you can read so you FEEL something. I have shit tons of feelings every day, many of which are pretty awful. I don’t WANT to be gut-punched by cliches, cry until I’m sick, then just close the book & go on my way. I don’t want kids with cancer to dance for me, so I can feel something.

Do read it. You’ll cry, but it’s worth it. I don’t even want to say anything more.

The links in the post are Amazon Associate links & I receive a percentage of sales made after clicking those links. My opinions aren’t biased by this. All proceeds received from my Amazon Associate account go towards the kids’ homeschooling materials & supplies.