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Best of 2017

Hey everyone, it’s time to list the best books I’ve read this year! There were some really great ones and I hope you find something you like in these recommendations. I won’t be able to be blogging about YA books next year because of my Printz duties – eeeeeek! – but I’ll try to write more about library programming and adult books.

I hope to have a personal update posted soon.


Best YA

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry – You know I love a historical fiction about a supposed heretical Christian sect in 13th century Province? Don’t you? I guess I didn’t know I needed that in my life, but this is incredible. It treats the issues of Christian women mystics, the abuses of the Catholic church, and faith in general with such tact and skill.

The Reader by Traci Chee – A fantasy where reading is outlawed and has a sweet meta-narrative. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee – Need an 18th century Continental gay road trip novel? Of course you do, read this.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds – Jason Reynolds can do no wrong. Every book he writes is a winner. This one is a verse novel about a teen taking a long elevator ride trying to decide to whether or not to avenge his brother’s murder. Heartbreaking, real, incredible.

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez – A great novel about not fitting in. Perfect for anyone who has ever felt way that. I have a feeling there’s a lot of people like that.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – If this doesn’t win the 2018 Printz I’ll scream. Incredible story about family, police brutality, friendship, and more. Everyone should read this.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner – Another great one about feeling like you’re destined for better places, but don’t know how to get this. It will probably break your heart.

Thor loves snakes, so he’d probably like The Serpent King.


Best Adult Books

How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards – Utterly fascinating with beautiful pictures. Great for anyone interested in fashion even in the slightest.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby – Some of the most hilarious writing about anxiety, staying inside, and falling in love.

The Stone Sky and the whole Broken Earth series by N.K Jemisin – This is a great conclusion to the series. If you’re not on board with N.K. Jemisin and you like fantasy and sci-fi, you’re seriously missing out.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Leznevich – A hard, sad book that mixes true crime journalism and memoir. Not for the faint of heart or those not willing to examine their feelings about the death penalty and the nature of evil.

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald – You wouldn’t think a book about training a hawk and T.H. White would be so emotionally resonant but really is. Also, the author reads the audio book and it is very lovely.

Hullo, I am birb.


Best Series – not necessarily my favorite on their own, but consistently great series

Giant Days by John Allison – This comic consistently makes me laugh out loud. The characters are such gems. Perfect for anyone who has friends.

The Expanse Books by James S. A. Corey – It’s always fun to see what scrapes Holden, Amos, Naomi and company are getting into. Every book is better with characters like the foul-mouthed UN ambassador Chrisjen Avasarala and huge marine and badass lady Bobbie Draper.

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers – A deceptively simple and fun sci-fi series that ends up being more heart-felt and deep than it appears. If possible, I liked the sequel even more than the first one and can’t wait for book three.

Oh wait, you should also watch “Jane the Virgin” because it is very very good.

Best Comics

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun – A cute, weird little book that would melt the coldest heart.

Spinning by Tillie Walden – A beautiful comic memoir about figure skating, friendship, and coming out.

Unstoppable Wasp by Jeremy Whitley  – Nadiya is the cutest and it’s a shame this was cancelled. As they say, “Comics will break your heart.”

Favorite Games:

Clank! – I love this game. It’s a bit goofy but I like the card drafting aspect as well as the movement around the board. Lots of stuff going on, but super fun.

Century Golem – Cute golems and quick to learn gameplay = a sure hit for me.

Gloomhaven – I wasn’t sure I was going to like this at first because the box is very large and that’s intimidating. But it’s like a premade, RPG-light game that is easier to grasp and more fun than I anticipated.

Elevenses – Yes, it’s a game about having tea but somehow my friends and I have managed to turn it into something very obscene. I don’t know how, but it’s a delight.

Cat Lady – Cats! In a board game! What more do I need to say?



Other great things:

The Adventure Zone and other McElroy products – If you’re looking for a D&D podcast that is both hilarious and very emotional, check out the Adventure Zone. It’s so great. The McElroys seem like such good, good brothers if I ever find out they’re sexist or racist trash I’m going to be heartbroken.

Kesha’s Rainbow – Friends, this album is soooooooo good. It is legitimately good. Don’t discount it because you don’t like pop music, Kesha has pipes and the writing is top notch. Thanks to Renata for getting me to listen to this all the time!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Amazing! If you didn’t like it because you wanted it to be like the original series, then fine. But you gotta accept that a franchise is going to evolve… Anyway, I loved it. Rey is a badass, Luke was a real character with motivations and demons, Rose WAS THE GREATEST, Poe was still super hot, Finn was a delight, and I loved how a main message of the movie was to listen to women and people of color.


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A scavenger hunt

After two weeks of craziness regarding my alma mater (whose letter Obama ignored and signed an nondiscrimination executive order anyway! YAY!), a trip for a funeral to Kansas*, being sick, getting in a mini-car accident** where some jerk hit my two-month-old car, and a ton of library programming, I’m back into the blog. I want to write a little bit about one thing I did over the last two weeks that was library-related!

I mean, this is supposed to a library blog after all. I should write about libraries.

It was a scavenger hunt! I really like scavenger hunts or at least I like the idea of them when I put them on the schedule. Somehow I always manage to forget how much work it is to put together a scavenger hunt. This is my process:

  • write the clues
  • then makes sure they are solvable
  • then type them
  • find cute pictures – because it’s Random Fandom Summer Reading themed –  for the clues
  • decide which picture of David Tennant to use for the Doctor Who clue
  • learn about bronies
  • realize you probably have all these pictures saved somewhere but can’t find them….
  • print them out
  • cut them into little strips
  • get envelopes to put the clues in
  • put matching pictures from clues on envelopes because it’s fun and it makes it a bit easier
  • tell the staff you’re doing a scavenger hunt and warn them
  • send the staff the clues so they can help
  • let the director know I am NOT sending kids up the top quiet study floor where her office is
  • pat myself on the back for thinking of that in time…
  • put the clues into a few different groups so you can send the kids in different directions
  • put markers on each of the clues for each group (I used different colored stars)
  • put the right clues from the right groups into the right envelopes
  • make sure they all end where you want them to
  • put the envelopes in their clue places
  • run back and write notes on all the envelopes saying, “For a library program! Please do not remove!”
  • wait for the teens to arrive
  • tell them the rules
  • give them their clues and groups
  • send them off
  • help with clues
  • give really easy hints that they sometimes don’t get
  • wait
  • help more
  • wait more
  • finally they bring all of the clues back to you . . . or most of the clues
  • Give them candy!

Overall, I would say it took me maybe 4 -5 hours in setting up the program. That’s kind of a lot! That includes all of the writing of the clues, organizing – it takes a lot longer than you think to sort them into different groups and make sure the kids aren’t just following each other around the library, and set up. That’s a lot more time than I usually spend on a program. I always have a good time helping the teens with the clues when I’m done but in the middle of the implementation stage it’s hard not to feel really overwhelmed.

Sorting the clues into their correct envelopes in the right group order is a challenge!

Sorting the clues into their correct envelopes in the right group order is a challenge!

Have you ever thought of doing a scavenger hunt. It’s a bit of work, but really fun and worth it. Give it a try sometime!

*I think I became a a bit more of a New Englander in Kansas. It’s so open . . . I don’t like it. Where are all the buildings? Or the ocean?

**I’m totally fine. My new spacecar needs bumper work:

Sad U.S.S. Spaceship (that’s what I call my car sometimes….H.M.S. Spaceship if I’m pretending I’m from Britain)

HAHAHAHA. I destroyed you!

HAHAHAHA. I destroyed you, Other Car’s Bumper!

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An ode to weeding

Ahh weeding. Who doesn’t love it? I don’t mean weeding in a garden, I mean getting rid of the crappy books in a library’s collection. They might be crappy because they are old or because they got destroyed or they are ugly or offensive. Circulation actually goes up after you weed because patrons can see all of the good books stuck in between the dreck. Also, it shows that you care about keeping your collection current and useful to your patrons. I like to think that patrons appreciate this.

Other than getting rid of unused, old, and ugly books, you get to find some serious gems. I’m definitely not an expert gemologist in this field – that honor goes to the delightful blog, Awful Library Books – but I just thought I’d share some of the ones that I found  . . . and then deleted.

First, R.L. Stine. Oh, Mr. Stine. Patrons really do read your books. Teens love horror and thriller stories. But you are the victim of some seriously dated and heinous cover art. I’ll certainly replace your books or ones like it, but until then, look back on what you have wrought:

Now this next one, I’m not sure what to say about it. I think the title says it all. I mean, how can you hijack a cave?

Lastly, this one is actually just awesome. I have the red-covered version, but it’s basically the same.

Here’s a little excerpt, a peek into the mind of Han Solo:

“Han shook his head. Long ago he had told himself that females – mammalian, reptilian, or some biological class yet to be discovered – were beyond his meager powers of comprehension. Better leave them to mystery, he’d often advised himself.
But for a while at least, Han had begun to believe that there was at least one female in all the cosmos that he was beginning to understand. And yet, he’d been wrong before.”

Ooh, I bet it’s Leia!

Go forth and weed, my friends.

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