Tag Archives: books

Coming out a reading slump

Ever had a reading slump? One where you either can’t seem to focus on a book or don’t like anything that you’ve been reading? I think I’ve been in one for the last few months. I’ve been having some anxiety about the world, our garbage-fire racist sexist President, and work and health stuff. That’s been making it hard to focus on reading. It’s been a lot easier to zone out to TV and play Hearthstone or Avengers Academy.

But after some new anxiety meds I feel like I’m getting back to being better. Plus I’ve been able to read more and actually feel like I’m absorbing what I’m reading! This is pretty important for my job and for someone who generally really likes to read.

It feels good to be getting back on track.

that's better

Briefly here’s a few books I’ve read recently that I really enjoyed:

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry – I didn’t think that I would love a story about 13th century French so-called heretics so much, but I did. So amazing.

Monstress, Vol 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda – Incredible art and fascinating world-building. Plus talking cats with two tails!

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner – I cried some ugly tears in this one. I really identified with snobby Lydia AND fantasy-obsessed Travis.

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham – A lovely inter-generational story about a grandmother, mother, and daughter.

The Reader by Tracy Chee – A fantasy that’s all about the magic of reading and books? Sign me up! I loved the meta-storytelling elements, too.

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Training is hard

Training a coworker is really hard. I feel like I don’t have a lot of the answers and it’s hard to find a mix between informative and overwhelming. Plus, it’s a whole new person and personality to learn. Rebecca is lovely and great with the teens. I love how many good ideas she has and how willing she is to just try out new ideas. I think she’s going to make the teen department great!

It’s been two weeks so hopefully the real “training” part is going to end soon!

I don’t have much to say other than that so instead enjoy this delightful MC Lars video about children’s books:

Also go read Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. It’s delightful!


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Professional happenings

Goodness have things been busy in Anna-land! I saw sick for a few days, recovered, then went to New Hampshire, and of course worked, too.

In this time, some fun things have been happening professionally. I got appointed to a YALSA committee: the Research Journal Advisory Board! Cool! This is what we do: “YALSA’s Research Journal Advisory Board oversees the peer reviewing process as outlined in the Refereeing Process Guidelines that were approved by the YALSA Board of Directors.  The Board also serves in an advisory capacity to the Member Editor of the journal by assisting with the solicitation of contributors and articles as well as generating ideas for topical articles or themes, when requested from the Member Editor.”

I have not thought about peer review in a long time, so hopefully I will be up to the task. In other YALSA news, I’ve come to the end of my tenure writing for The Hub. It’s been really rewarding and fun for me. If you want to see all of the stuff that I wrote for them, check it out here.

11797414I’ve also had some good luck with books lately. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a slump but the last few books I’ve buzzed through because they were so great! First was Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. A lot of the “shocking” things in the book about the poor quality and horrible working conditions that go into making “fast fashion” I already knew about. But, it’s easy to ignore when you can get a shirt for a few dollars. It made me want to be conscientious about what I buy – and remind myself I really have a TON of clothes – and feel better about trying to make more of my clothes.

18166936The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and Down from the Mountain, are two very different and yet engaging books. By quality of writing Ava Lavender steals the show with atmospheric and beautiful prose. It’s the story of a girl born with wings and the lives of her mother and grandmother before her. It’s definitely a book for older teens as there is some frank descriptions of sex and sexual violence, but I think older teens would get more from it anyway. You don’t really get to Ava’s birth until about 1/3 of the way through the book. It’s slow moving but fascinating, and will definitely make you want to eat French pastries and breads. Ava’s grandmother owns a bakery and the descriptions made me constantly hungry.


23163709Down from the Mountain is one in a strange, mini-trend of teen books about cults. Between the handful of books that came out this year and Kimmy Schmidt, weird cults are having a moment. Yay? I picked it over other teen cult books because I liked the cover better and it was about a girl. Yup, I’m that person. Regardless, it was a fairly straightforward story of a girl in a religious cult in Colorado with a controlling, shaming ‘Prophet Ezekiel’ as a leader. With her mother pregnant with a high risk baby and not enough food, plus the threat of Ezekiel “marrying” 14-year old Eva, the book sort of catapults you along. Her “heathen” friend Trevor who she meets in town is a bit too obvious and pedantic as a student who studies religious cults and helps her process her life. But overall, it was interesting and I did want to find out what happens. The author is a therapist who has worked with people escaping cults, so that added an interesting angle.

I’m also currently listening to Kindred by Octavia Butler and reading Elizabeth Wein’s Black Dove, White Raven. Anyone read anything good lately?



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Stray observations

I’ve had a few things kicking around in my head that I’ve wanted to write about but have been extremely lazy. I haven’t really been able to form them into coherent longer thoughts. So. I’ll make semi-coherent short thoughts.

Here’s what I’ve been pondering:

-First to all you YA/Teen librarians out there, do you feel an obligation to provide volunteer programs for your teens during the year or summer? My library has for the last few years, but last year’s was a struggle. They are so many kids who need volunteer time and it’s a beast to plan and supervise. My coworker feels she’s done everything under the sun and we’re dreading coming up with ideas? We’ve floated around the idea of not doing anything, but I feel somewhat strongly that we, as the town library, should provide an program. Any thoughts? Are we just being really lazy (this is entirely possible)?

-There was a bit of a kerfluffle in the YA world about some comments Andrew Smith, whose books I do generally really like made about girls. Here is the comment made to Vice:

“[VICE]: On the flip side, it sometimes seems like there isn’t much of a way into your books for female readers. Where are all the women in your work?
[SMITH]: I was raised in a family with four boys, and I absolutely did not know anything about girls at all. I have a daughter now; she’s 17. When she was born, that was the first girl I ever had in my life. I consider myself completely ignorant to all things woman and female. I’m trying to be better though.”

When I saw the comments, I thought, “Huh. So he didn’t try to investigate the lives of girls until he had a daughter? Not even his wife?” It reminded me a bit of when people try to get a man to care about women’s issues by saying, “Imagine this happening to your mother or wife or daughter?” As if men can’t possibly care about a woman that isn’t related or known to him. That men can’t care about women as greater members of humanity first, and then humans they know second.

Fellow YA author Tessa Gratton wrote a response to the comments and ends saying, “I’m not asking for boycotts or apologies, I’m asking that we keep talking about this, keep pointing it out, keep making it shameful and at least annoying to say things like this. I was nearly scared out of writing this up simply because it’s hard to listen to haters and stalkers and trolls, and I’m pretty damn busy writing my feminist novels. But shouldn’t it be harder for someone to willingly participate in a culture of sexism than it is for us to talk about it out loud, and publicly?” I agree with her completely, and because this is the life we lead, she was harassed and threatened on Twitter. You know, by grown-ass people.

The whole thing just made me sad and tired because I’m not sure Smith was trying to be sexist, it’s just that its so easy for many of us to get caught up in that culture, and say things that reflect it without knowing. Chuck Wendig writes about this a bit, in a post that is very thought-provoking. Maybe that’s why I started the Alex Crow and didn’t get far. I just couldn’t get into it. And maybe it was because of this backstory. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad that is books feature mostly boy characters. There can be books about boys and everyone can read them. But I will admit, if I’m looking for a book that has great girl characters, I’m probably not going to read an Andrew Smith book. I guess, I just don’t know if that’s ok. It’s still something to think about.

-Finally, this piece in the Harvard Crimson (yesssss, so fancy! Ted, make me another martini!) is really lovely and piercing:

“There were books you didn’t write because you are sensitive, because of course you are sensitive, because the half-sleights and the full-sleights wear you down and all the books in you start rioting and say: Hey! I am a book! Let me out, let me out of here! […]

Let’s tally up all the days it was difficult to get out of bed.

Let’s tally up all the time we spent turning to the side, and then to the other side, so we could see our bellies in the mirror every morning before showering: grabbing our thighs, grabbing our other thighs, doing it again. Five minutes a day for 10 years. […]”

I feel that way sometimes about writing or about trying new things or doing the hobbies I enjoy. Sometimes I wonder what I could do if I could get out of my way and not let others hold me back.

Deep thoughts this morning, folks. Luckily, I’m actually ok. The sun is shining and the snow has melted from in front of my house. Go forth into the world and be great, friends!




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Because survival is insufficient

Listen up: Station Eleven is about a traveling symphony that performs symphonies (duh) and Shakespeare all across post-plague ravaged Michigan

Quite a nice cover as well!

Quite a nice cover as well!

because survival is insufficient. Oh yeah, that’s a Star Trek quote (Voyager, but STILL) and a comic features quite heavily. Despite the fact that I was reading about a plague that kills 99% of those exposed while I have a cold and Ebola is breaking out all over, I could not put this down. It really does have so many elements that I knew I would like: music, literature, comics, Star Trek, post apocalyptic life, and amazing writing.

The novel seamlessly weaves in the stories of a famous actor who dies the first night of the outbreak, the paparazzi-turned-paramedic who once interviewed him and tries to save his life, the child actor who was on stage with him when he died, his first wife, and his best friend. Mandel sees the connections between them but it’s not in a grand, structured Cloud Atlas David Mitchell sort of way, but more of the real life bonds we make that are sometimes passing and sometimes deep.

There is perhaps more I’d like the write about it (the friendship between August and Kirsten?!), but it’s still settling in my mind. It’s really lovely and engaging. I heartily recommend.

Oh and I forgot to recommend Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles as well. Just briefly: a kid whose father wrote a well-known sci-fi novel with a character eerily similar to him feels trapped in the book. He thinks of time as distance (it takes the earth one second to revolve 20 miles so 5 seconds is 100 sideways miles) and goes on a road trip with his friend. Classic Andrew Smith with great insight into the mind of a teenage boy; always a winner.

I’m now looking at my hold shelf to see what’s coming up for me next. Here’s what I have active or what I am very much looking forward to:

Rooms by Lauren Oliver – I liked Oliver’s writing and this sounds like a nice, creepy read.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – Jesuits/missionaries in space! Need I say more?

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater – Book 3 of the amazing YA fantasy series, the Raven Boys.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and more – A Muslim teen becomes Ms. Marvel. Huzzah for diversity in comics!

I could list more but then it’s just me listing the other 22 items on my hold list. That gets a bit dull.

Anything I’m missing and I should have on hold? What are you looking forward to reading this fall?



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