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    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    Today's books: Housemaids and housemates. 

    housemaids and house mates

    SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY
    by Siri Mitchell
    (2010)

    In this Christian historical romance set in the Gilded Age, Clara Carter’s father insists that she marry New York’s most eligible bachelor, the De Vries heir.  When Franklin De Vries and his brother return early from Europe, Clara receives a crash course in etiquette and appearances, only to discover that she may not want what her family wants for her.

    MAID TO MATCH
    by Deeanne Gist
    (2010)

    Told from the perspective of a housemaid, this Christian historical romance set in the Gilded Age goes behind the scenes at Biltmore Estate.  Tillie Reese is thrilled to work at the largest private home in the country and aspires to become a lady’s maid, but an attractive footman may get in the way.

    LONGBOURN
    by Jo Baker
    (2014)

    Though readers may think they are familiar with Longbourn and the Bennet family, Jo Baker’s retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE shares an entirely new story.  Told from the perspective of housemaid Sarah, Longbourn goes behind the scenes to explore class issues.

    THE SECRET DIARY OF LIZZIE BENNET
    by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
    (2014)

    More than just a retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, this novelization is an adaptation of an adaptation (wrap your head around that!).  For viewers who just couldn’t get enough of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Bernie Su and Vlog Brother Hank Green’s Emmy Award winning YouTube series, The Secret Diaries of Lizzie Bennet reveals more about Lizzie’s adventures in grad school, at home with her two sisters, and at Pemberley Digital.

    THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
    by John Green
    (2014)

    John Green, the second half of the YouTube’s Vlog Brothers, based this tale of teen cancer and love in part on the experiences of real life cancer patient Esther Earl.  In THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (which takes its title from William Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR), Sixteen year old Hazel attends a cancer support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer patient who will change her life forever.

    A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
    by William Shakespeare
    (Sometime between 1590 and 1597)

    One of William Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM describes a series of mishaps during a night in an enchanted forest. Hermia’s father insists that she marry Demetrius even though she loves Lysander.  Her best friend Helena, meanwhile, loves Demetrius with all her heart and is crushed that he has rejected her.  When mischievous fairies interfere, hilarious chaos ensues. 

  • Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    So, with no further ado, we bring you 6 Degrees of Reading, Abusive Sisters and Spinsters edition.

    PERSUASION
    by Jane Austen
    (1818)

    Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot’s friends and family convinced her to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth.  Now 27 years old and considered a spinster, Anne divides her time between her father and sisters, all of whom use and abuse her.  When Anne is reunited with Captain Wentworth, she feels the full weight of her regret.

    THE HIDING PLACE
    by Corrie ten Boom
    (1984)

    Corrie Ten Boom never expected to be a political prisoner; the youngest daughter in a large, religious family, she lived an uneventful life.  Corrie, a self-described spinster, worked in her father’s watch repair shop and helped around the house.  During the Nazi invasion, however, she and her family leave their peaceful lives behind, joining the Dutch Resistance and housing runaway Jews.

    AUDREY HEPBURN: AN ELEGANT SPIRIT
    by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
    (2005)

    Written by her oldest son, Sean, this biography follows Audrey from her boarding school days in London, through her teen years spent carrying messages and performing fundraising ballets for the Dutch Resistance during World War II, and into her early adulthood as an aspiring actress.  Ferrer understandably focuses in particular on Hepburn’s later experiences not only as a movie star but as a loving mother of two sons and on her extensive work with UNICEF.

    SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY, MAYBE
    by Lauren Graham
    (2014) 

    When I saw that Lauren Graham, known for her roles on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood (two of my favorite shows), had published a book, I knew I had to read it.  Someday, Someday, Maybe follows young, aspiring actress Franny Banks, named after a character in her deceased mother’s favorite book, as she tries to establish her career in New York.

    ROSE DAUGHTER 
    by Robin McKinley
    (1997)

    Robin Mckinley earned widespread acclaim for her first Beauty and the Beast retelling, Beauty, and her Newberry Award Winning fantasy novel, The Hero and the Crown.  Fewer readers are familiar with this second fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, however.  Beauty, whose mother died years before, lives with her merchant father and sisters.  After losing all their money, the family moves to Rose Cottage, where Beauty discovers a deep love for roses and gardening.  Her father sets off to remake his fortune, but he ends up making a terrible bargain with a beast within a hidden castle.

    ELLA ENCHANTED
    by Gail Carson Levine
    (1997)

    In this fairytale retelling, Ella of Frell lives with a terrible curse of obedience placed on her in childhood.  As she befriends elves, conquers ogres, outsmarts the stepmother and stepsisters who use and abuse her, and falls in love, Ella never loses her spunk or her determination to break the curse.

  •  picking favorites

    Today's a very special day, and you might not even know it! It's International Book Lovers Day! Given that this is one of the happiest days of the year, we've been brainstorming the best ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions:

    1. Read something, of course!

    2. Read to a child.

    3. Have a child read to you.

    4. Start a book club.

      Book Clubbin
      Source

    5. Reserve a book club set for your brand new club. 

    6. Check out a book from the library.

    7. Donate books you no longer want to the library. If we can’t add them to the library collection, we sell them in our book store and all profits go to library programming.

    8. Write a review of a book you love on Amazon. Reader reviews can make a big difference in an author's career.

    9. If you don't already have one, open a Goodreads account to keep track of what you've read and what you want to read.

    10. Follow our children's or teen and adult staff review blogs.

    11. Fill out a personalized reading recommendation form on our website and we'll recommend books just for you!

    12. Make plans to meet an author and get a book signed at one of our many upcoming AuthorLink events.

    13. Skim a review journal like Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, or The New York Times Book Review to find your next great read.

    14. If you have kids, add story time to your fall schedule. It starts up again on August 28th!

    15. Sniff a book.You know you want to.
      Rory Gilmore
      Source

    16. Have a favorite genre? Check out our adult, teen, and children’s booklists for recommendations.

    17. Visit our Read-alikes page to find authors who are similar to your favorites

    18. Reread a book that always makes you cry. It’s cathartic.

    19. Set up an Overdrive account if you haven’t already! We have hundreds of ebooks and eAudiobooks for you to check out.

    20. Think audiobooks readers are too slow? Listen to audiobooks on Overdrive at whatever pace you’d like – even chipmunk-speed double time.

    21. Download Libby to your smartphone and test it out. Overdrive will be phasing out its old app soon in favor of this new, easier-to-use app.

    22. Don’t feel like you have enough time to read? Try a graphic novel.

    23. Read an award-winning book.
      Newbery  
      Caldecott 
      Printz 
      National Book Award 
      Nebula 
      Pulitzer 

    24. Or, read a Goodreads Choice book selected by fellow readers. Make sure to vote for your 2017 favorites at the end of the year!

    25. Cuddle your pet while reading.

      Gloomy Days are the Best
      Image by Cat Versus Human

    26. Ask a librarian for a book recommendation.

    27. Visit a used bookstore like Pioneer Book.

    28. Learn a new skill from a nonfiction book.

    29. Try your hand at writing a book.

    30. Sign up for NaNoWriMo and commit to write an entire novel in November.

    31. Use Novelist to find books you might like.

    32. Does your place of employment have a waiting room? Stock it with books, including picture books for young readers.

    33. Is the library missing a book you’d like to read? Submit a purchase request, and we might just buy it.

    34. Or, see if we can borrow it from another library for you. It's free!
    35. Some books always seeem to be checked out. Place one on hold to make sure you're next in line!

    36. Take a look at our librarians’ favorite children’s, teen, and adult books from last year, and make plans to attend next year’s Best Books program in February

    37. Set aside a specific amount of time each day for reading.

    38. Give a book as a gift.

    39. Learn about our early literacy workshops for children ages 2-3 and their parents/caregivers.
       
    40. Create a cozy reading spot in your home.

      Reading nook
      Source

    41. Try reading a book in a format you don’t usually use – eBooks, digital audiobooks, books on cd, or maybe even a printed book.

    42. Read a book from an unfamiliar genre.

    43. If you’re a teen, sign up for our Teen Volunteer Board. You can help make the library even better!

    44. Did you know the Provo City Libray and the Orem Public Library have a reciprocal agreement where their patrons can use both libraries? Get a library card at the Orem Library if you don’t already have one, and double your library options!

    45. Plan to bring your children to Library Kids for books and literacy-based crafts and activities.

    46. Make sure your kids see you reading for fun. They're more likely to love reading if they know you do.

    47. Register for Parent/Child Book Clubs in September.

    48. Watch a film adaptation of a great book.

    49. Read the book one of your favorite film adaptations is based on.

    50. Sign up for a library tour to learn about the fascinating history of this beautiful building or about how to use the library more effectively. 

      Library at Dusk Summer 019.2

    51. Know a Provo resident who doesn’t have a library card? Encourage them to get one by sharing what you love about the library and how easy it is to set up an account.

    52. Reread your favorite parts of your favorite book.

    53. Finally pick up that classic book you’ve been meaning to read for years.

    54. Have a struggling reader at home? Have them read to a pet.

    55. Or a stuffed animal.

    56. If you have kids age 4 and younger, pledge to read 1000 books with them before kindergarten

    57. Recommend a book to a friend.

    58. Build your home library by buying a book you love.

    59. Volunteer to read to seniors at a retirement home.

    60. Encourage your children to talk about what they’re reading by asking lots of open-ended questions.

    61. Read the books your children love to make these conversations even better.

    62. Gather friends and family for silent reading time.

    63. Set a reading goal for the rest of the year.

    64. Carry a book with you all day.

    65. Become a #bookstagrammer.

      Essays by E.B. WhiteImage by @oliverskywolfoliverskywolf

    66. Upcycle a book into art.

    67. Buy a book for $2 at our used bookstore.

    68. Revisit a childhood favorite.

    69. Visit Buzzfeed to take endless “which book character are you?” quizzes.

    70. Plan a literary-themed Halloween costume.

    71. Start a little free library.

    72. Tuck a friendly note into a book donation for the person who buys it.

    73. Make a new recipe from a cookbook.

    74. Reorganize your bookshelves.

    75. Run out of shelf space? Buy and set up a new bookshelf. You can never have too many.
      Not Enough Bookshelves

     

  •  Judging a Book By Its Cover 628

    A while back, I shared one of my favorite librarian hobbies – spotting copycat book covers. Since then, I’ve kept an eagle eye out for more, and I’ve discovered a surprising and strangely specific trend in 2017 and 2018 cover art: the shiny bug.

    This past publishing year has produced a handful of gorgeous covers featuring intricate, stylized, metallic insects. It’s an unlikely trend, but a beautiful one.

    10.12 Dreadful Young LadiesDREADFUL YOUNG LADIES: AND OTHER STORIES
    By Kelly Barnhill
    (2018)

     

    10.12 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017) 

     

    10.12 Bruja BornBRUJA BORN
    By Zoraida Cordova
    (2018)

     

    10.12 The Moth PresentsTHE MOTH PRESENTS ALL THESE WONDERS
    By Catherine Burns
    (2017)

     

    Like just about everything, book cover art follows trends (we’re capitalists, y’all). In the 80s and 90s, chick lit, with its pastel illustrations, dominated YA.  During my teen years in the early 2000s, it was all about bright, solid colors, à la THE PRINCESS DIARIES and SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (tangent, but Rachel Hawkins recent book ROYALS seems to harken back to that style). More recently, books like THE LUXE and THE SELECTION spawned a seemingly endless parade of ball gown-centric cover art.

    So where’d all these glittery bugs come from? I see it as part of a larger trend that I’m pretty jazzed about:  a move away from depicting characters and towards gorgeous lettering. I’ve written about a few of my favorite covers in this style before, and I plan to share more soon.

    So, what are some of your favorite book covers? Have you noticed any recent trends in cover art?

  •  Do you love art? Do you love books? Well, then this post is for you.

    In my recent online wanderings, I've stumbled across a variety of incredible book sculptures. By folding, curling, cutting, and reshaping pages, artists transform old books into gorgeous works of art that celebrate literature.

    Since the book sale is this Saturday, I thought I'd share this artform with you. In addition to finding your next read there, it's a chance to buy dozens of inexpensive, used books for craft and art projects. Why not upcycle a dated textbook into a whimsical piece of art?

    Here are a few of my favorites as inspiration:

    PETER PAN
    by MarielleJL

    Sculpture Peter Pan

     

    TREASURE ISLAND
    By PagesReimagined

    Sculpture Treasure Island 2 

     

    A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
    By LitArTure

    Sculpture A Tree Groes in Brooklyn

     

    PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    by WetCanvasArt

    Sculpture Pride and Prejudice

     

    HARRY POTTER
    By MalenaValcarcel

    Sculpture Harry Potter 1

     

    And a little more HARRY POTTER
    By StorybookSculpture

    Sculpture Harry Potter 2

     

    ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
    By WetCanvasArt

    Sculpture Alice in Wonderland

     

    And in case you need a hat for the Mad Hatter's Tea Party
    By WetCanvasArt

     Sculpture Hat

     

    GILEAD
    By WordsInk

     Scupture Gilead

     

    THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
    By WordsInk

    Sculpture The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

     

    THE KITE RUNNER
    By WordsInk

    Sculpture The Kite Runner

     

    DON QUIXOTE
    By ThePoetTrees

    Sculpture Don Quixote

     

    CINDERELLA
    By StorybookSculpture

    Sculpture Cinderella

     

    And a lovely nook for reading them in
    By MalenaValcarcel

    Sculpture Book Nook

     

    Aren’t they beautiful? In case you’re feeling inspired to try your hand at artistic book upcycling, Provo Library also has several instruction books that can help.

    Altered ArtALTERED ART FOR THE FIRST TIME
    By Madeline Arendt
    (2005)

     

     

     

     

    The Repurposed LibraryTHE REPURPOSED LIBRARY
    By Lisa Occhipinti
    (2011)

     

     

     

     

     

    Art Made from BooksART MADE FROM BOOKS
    By Laura Heyenga
    (2013)

     

     

     

     

     
    Playing with BooksPLAYING WITH BOOKS
    By Jason Thompson
    (2010)

     

     

     

     

     

  •  BB 2017 FB

    One of our favorite events of the year is fast approaching! On Tuesday, February 20th at 7:00, join us to hear our librarians favorite reads of 2017 at our annual Best Books event. We'll have treats and books to give away, and you'll leave with some great recommendations for children's, teen, and adult books.

    While we can't give away our top picks just yet, we wanted to whet your appetite by sharing a few of the reads that just barely made the final list.

    2.15 Lincoln in the BardoLINCOLN IN THE BARDO
    By George Saunders

    Lincoln in the Bardo is just bizarre.  I struggled to listen to the first third and just couldn’t enjoy it.  I was a confused and a bit offended.  But I persevered and actually picked up a physical copy of the book to “quickly scan through to the end”.  Half way through the book I was hooked.  In a nutshell, this is a book about the afterlife and how it intersects with the living world.  It’s curious format and odd characters help the reader explore what it means to let go of life and move on in a way that is a bit breathtaking.  I put it down with a sigh and a smile, but the journey getting there was a bit rough.  I just couldn’t recommend it as universally as I’d like. 

     

    2.15 My Absolute DarlingMY ABSOLUTE DARLING
    By Gabriel Tallent

    This is a fantastically written book about a fourteen year old girl searching for herself.  She runs wild through the woods of the California coast but her social existence is confined to school and home with an abusive, but charismatic father.  A chance meeting in the woods introduces her to a boy and her first glimpses of life with possibilities.  This book is mesmerizing.  It is also extremely violent and I feel a need to be extremely selective of who I recommend it to.  It could be very upsetting to many people, but a gripping novel for those who can stomach the described abuse. 

     

    2.15 A Piece of the WorldA PIECE OF THE WORLD
    By Christina Baker Kline

    I was on the fence for weeks about whether to include this book in my final 25, and ultimately decided to go with another book with a similar premise instead. A PIECE OF THE WORLD is gorgeously written and received rave reviews, which is a big part of why I thought about calling it one of my Best Books of 2017. The deciding factor, though, was that I simply enjoyed reading the other book more. While A PIECE OF THE WORLD is beautiful and meaningful, it isn’t a particularly fun read, and I think I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind when I chose to read it. 

     

    2.16 The River at NightTHE RIVER AT NIGHT
    By Erica Ferencik

    This was another tough call, because I liked the idea of including a book with adventure and thriller elements to add variety to my Best Books list. It tells the story of four female friends who end up trapped in the Maine wilderness after a rafting trip goes awry. Great premise, right? Kind of a HATCHET for adults vibe? In the end, though, THE RIVER AT NIGHT wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I struggled to connect with the characters, and I was bothered by the unkind, stereotypical depiction of people who live in more rural areas. Having grown up in Montana in an outdoors obsessed family, that didn’t jive with me.

     

    2.15 The Simplicity of CiderTHE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER
    By Amy E. Reichert

    The Simplicity of Cider didn’t blow me away in a way that earned it a Best Books spot, but I’d still recommend it. If you’re looking for an easy, sweet, clean read with a cute love story, this is an excellent choice. I liked it enough to read from beginning to end in one sitting.

     
  • best boyfriends 01

     

    It’s been a few months since my Worst Boyfriends in Classic Literature list came out, and I’ve been trying to come up with one featuring best boyfriends ever since. The trouble is, there are surprisingly few good men in classic literary relationships. Even the male romantic leads that I like often do deeply troubling things (I’m looking at you and that possible marital rape scene, Rhett Butler). I was also disappointed in myself when I realized that I often find literary good guys super boring (it’s my fault, not yours, Edward Ferrars).

    But never fear, reader dear; there are good men out there, even in the realm of classic literature. Mostly, I have realized, they live in the countryside and children’s novels.

    As with the worst boyfriends list, I’ll warn you there are serious spoilers ahead.

    Honorable Mention: Marius Pontmercy, LES MISERABLES

    Marius

     

    Marius is a good guy, but he’s definitely not my favorite literary romantic lead.

    Bonus points: speaks French, English, and German, courageously holds to his principles, is offended when his friends encourage him to take Cosette as a mistress rather than marry her.

    Deductions: falls in insta-love, has been portrayed by Nick Jonas, does not notice his gal pal is in love with him, loves boring Cosette, initially thinks father-in-law is a murderer, has death wish.

    (photo from the 2012 film, featuring Eddie Redmayne before he decided to become a wizard and go gallavanting after magical creatures)

     10: Joe Willard, BETSY AND JOE

    Joe Willard

    You may not know Joe Willard, but you should. This is especially true if you love the Anne of Green Gables series even a little bit, since this is basically the Minnesotan version. Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series, which is loosely based on the author’s own youth in the early 1900s, follows Betsy Ray and her best friends from age 5 to their twenties. Along the way, Betsy meets Joe Willard, who becomes her main school competitor (echoes of Anne and Gilbert, anyone?), her dancing partner, her writing buddy (she’s an aspiring novelist, he’s an aspiring journalist), and ultimately her husband. His succinct agony column apologizing to Betsy is one of my favorite love confessions in literature.

    A Joe Willard line that only a librarian (or possibly only this librarian) would find romantic: “Say, you told me you thought Les Miserables was the greatest novel ever written. I think Vanity Fair is the greatest. Let’s fight.”

    (illustration from the Betsy-Tacy books)

    9: Faramir, THE RETURN OF THE KING

    Faramir

    It seemed appropriate to throw in a little classic fantasy to shake up this list of nineteenth century British and American novels. Faramir is the ultimate good guy. The appendices to THE LORD OF THE RINGS describe him this way:  “He read the hearts of men as shrewdly as his father, but what he read moved him sooner to pity than to scorn. He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judged less than his brother’s. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose.” Add to that the fact that he is never tempted by the ring (unless we’re talking about Peter Jackson’s version), and you’ve got yourself a pretty great man. In The Return of the King, Faramir becomes completely devoted to Eowyn, and I love that they fall in love with each other only gradually.

    Basically, if you like your fellows sweet and sensitive but also able to kick butt when necessary, Faramir’s the guy for you.  

    (photo from the LORD OF THE RINGS films, with Faramir portrayed by David Wenham)

    8: Tom, AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL 

    1870 success OldFashionedGirl byLMAlcott RobertsBros

    AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL is my go-to read when I’m feeling blue. It’s not as well-known as LITTLE WOMEN, but I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re looking for something short, sweet, and lovely.

    For anyone who really wanted Jo to end up with Laurie, I give you Tom. Tom is pretty rambunctious when we first meet him, and he loves nothing better than teasing his sister’s friend Polly. It’s clear that he has a good heart, though, and he and Polly become dear friends and confidantes. In the end, Tom goes West, grows a beard, and works hard to make up for the financial troubles he has caused his family. He never confesses his love for Polly until he feels like he has grown up enough to be her equal.

    Favorite butterfly-inducing moment: Before Tom even recognizes his romantic interest in Polly, he finds himself “idly wondering for a minute if she knew how long and curly her lashes were.”  

    (illustration from the book published by the Roberts Brothers)

    7: Professor Bhaer, LITTLE WOMEN

    Bhaer

    All the Laurie/Jo shippers out there are probably up in arms, but please hear me out on this one. I feel like I should note LITTLE WOMEN is my favorite book, and I’ve reread it at least a dozen times. You can trust that I’ve completely overthought this.  

    I love Laurie. Seriously. I LOVE him. Probably more than it is appropriate for me to feel for an imaginary person. He’s playful, sweet, and fun, and he loves the March women with all his giant heart. BUT, I don’t think he belongs with Jo, and neither did Jo. I must confess that I also wouldn’t mind if Jo had never married anyone at all (though 14-year-old me would vehemently disagree).

    Nevertheless, if Jo must marry, Professor Bhaer is ideal. He might be poor and a little paternalistic, but he’s smart and sweet and an adult. He’s well-read. He’s quiet and humble yet direct. He’s wonderful with children (his interactions with little Tina melt my cynical heart). He darns his own socks. He is fundamentally selfless and kind, and nearly every scene that features him is testament to that. Finally, remember that scene with the ball of yarn and the head bumping? Or the proposal scene under the umbrella? I still get the warm fuzzies thinking of those ones.

    Also, I just realized that the old man character I’ve been picturing isn’t even forty, so now I’m having an existential crisis.  

    (photo: Winona Ryder and Gabriel Byrne as Jo March and Friedrich Bhaer, in LITTLE WOMEN, 1994)

    6: Fitzwilliam Darcy, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE 

    The Many Faces of Darcy

    Oh, Darcy. I have mixed feelings about him because he can be moody and aloof, but PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has hands-down my favorite love story of all time. Darcy has his faults to begin with (as does Elizabeth), but he is ultimately humble enough to change. It’s also worth noting that the story progresses largely through Lizzy’s thoughts and dialogue, and, at least initially, she’s not a reliable narrator where he’s concerned. As the story progresses, we learn that Darcy is a kind and loving older brother, a generous employer, and in the end a selfless romantic lead. Best of all, he loves Elizabeth because she is his intellectual and moral equal. That’s my kind of romance.

    In the words of my coworker: “He better be somewhere on there, because he’s my bae.”  

    (photo from so many film versions of Darcy. Seriously. So many.)

    Part Two coming soon! (update: it's here!) While you're waiting, who would you recommend for the top 5 slots? 

  • best boyfriends 01

     

    I’m sure you’ve been waiting impatiently, readers, and the time has finally come. I’m ready to wax eloquent once again on the merits of classic literature’s best men (read part one in this series here). 

    A few warnings: First, this is nearly 1000 words, which is embarrassingly long. Apparently I have very strong opinions about imaginary men. Don’t judge. Second, as always, spoilers abound in my descriptions. 

    And with that, here are my top five literary fellas.

    5. Almanzo Wilder, Little House on the Prairie series

    almanzo

    First of all, Almanzo was mighty fine in real life. Like many of the men on this list, he’s the strong but silent type, and he supports Laura in her goals wholeheartedly. When she tells him she doesn’t want to promise to “obey” in her wedding vows, he’s completely onboard. He also saved an entire town by riding through a blizzard to find food, so that’s just a little bit impressive. Bonus points: builds a house with an incredible pantry, makes excellent pancakes, was an actual, nonimaginary person. Deductions: started courting Laura when he was 25 and she was 15, which, by modern standards, is 100% creepy.

    (photo of Almanzo Wilder by unknown photographer; public domain)

    4. Mr. Thornton, NORTH AND SOUTH

    thornton

    Thornton has a temper and can be awkward in one-on-one interactions. Nevertheless, he is a kind and, much like Mr. Darcy, is humble enough to admit faults and change his views. Unlike Darcy, he has pulled himself up in society through sheer grit. His father committed suicide, leaving the family in horrible debt. Through intense hard work, Thornton reestablishes the family financially and insists on paying his father’s debts long after creditors had given up on payment. He cares for his flighty sister, and he loves and respects his mama.

    Also, he apparently has incredible teeth, “a set of teeth so faultless and beautiful as to give the effect of sudden sunlight when the rare bright smile, coming in an instant and shining out of the eyes, changed the whole look from the severe and resolved expression of a man ready to do and dare anything, to the keen honest enjoyment of the moment.” (I’m now imagining him with one of those little star things they use to show gleaming teeth for cartoon characters.)

    Note: If we’re talking classic literary film adaptations, then Mr. Thornton is without question my favorite male lead. In the 2004 BBC miniseries, Thornton is played by Richard Armitage, a god among men (and dwarves) with the voice to match. “Look back at me…”

    (photo: Richard Armitage. Copyright BBC.) 

    3. Mr. Knightley, EMMA  

    knightley

    Knightley is my favorite Austen hero because he’s Emma’s best friend long before he’s a romantic interest. And he’s a true friend who communicates honestly, even when it might hurt his standing with her. He’s loving and truly a nice guy, but he’s also willing to call Emma out on her crap (and let’s admit it, Emma occasionally makes choices that deserve calling out).

    Although he’s a member of the gentry, he’s not a snob. He respects and befriends farmers and governesses without judgment. He is kind even to awkward Miss Bates, and he continually protects and defends her. He’s also gentle and respectful toward Emma’s father, in spite of his irrational behavior. (Side note, there’s a delightfully zany academic theory that Mr. Woodhouse is the villain of Emma. I swear I’m not making that up.) Knightley even offers to leave his own estate after marriage so that Emma can stay with her father! That’s true love, y’all.

    Favorite warm fuzzies line: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

    (photo: Jeremy Northam in Miramax's version of the classic. Probably don't look at his current IMDB page; just let him live in this regency getup forever). 

    2. Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables series  

    gilbert

    Initially, Gilbert is a little bit smug, but then, so is Anne. He’s misguided in his first flirting attempts (carrots, anyone?), but he more than makes up for it. In spite of all of Anne’s prickliness and resentment, he is always kind to her after their initial interaction. I love that they fall in love through friendly academic rivalry (intellectual equality = my kind of romance); they push each other to be better.

    Other things I love about Gilbert: He loves Anne completely but remains her friend when she doesn’t feel the same. He lets her know how he feels and then waits patiently without pushing her for more. He never tries to change Anne, but loves her for all her quirks and foibles. He encourages her to write and offers great advice. He works hard, eventually becoming a caring doctor. He selflessly gives up his teaching spot in Avonlea so that Anne can stay at Green Gables after Matthew dies (*sob*).

    After Anne and Gilbert marry, “their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.” Isn’t that just lovely?

    (photo: Jonathan Crombie in CBC Television's masterful miniseries)

    1. Gabriel Oak, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

    gabriel

    Gabriel is kind, humble, loyal, dignified, intelligent, and incredibly hardworking. When the universe hands him an awful situation (via Bathsheba’s rejection and his dog’s excessive enthusiasm for herding sheep) he doesn’t mope. Instead, he goes right back to work and isn’t too proud to start over again. He loves Bathsheba through all of her rejections and bad choices: “I shall do one thing in this life – one thing certain – that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die.” He never demands that she love him in return, though; throughout it all, he respects her right to marry whomever she chooses or not to marry at all. He also believes in her ability to run a farm, which is pretty impressive considering the book was written in 1874. Most importantly, he brings Bathsheba a pet lamb when he proposes, which totally would have worked on me.

    (photo: Matthias Schoenaerts in the Fox Searchlight Pictures adaptation)

    Writing this list has brought about several revelations, some of them unsettling. It appears that I like my (literary) men intelligent, dignified, hardworking, and pro-feminism. Bonus points if they have a farm or country house. Accents are also a plus. More alarmingly, I don’t seem to be bothered by old men or May-December romances. I also appear to have a thing for pining/one-sided love that is ultimately requited. And for imaginary men. Off to see a therapist now.

    psychiatric help

    What do you think? Who did we miss? Disagree with the top pick? Battle it out (nicely) in the comments!

    Wondering about the scoundrels we denounced in the worst boyfriends lists? Revisit parts one and two of that list. 

     

  • 1) When you're partway through the book and someone shares a major spoiler.

     Cat 1"You are now my greatest enemy, Alan."

    2) Reading so late that you fall into a book-induced stupor.

     Cat 9"Just one more chapter..."

    3) Getting up the next morning.

    Cat 3"At least I know what happened to Megan Hipwell."

    4) When your friend/roommate/child/significant other/public transit seatmate won't stop interrupting your reading.

    Cat 4"Really, Kenneth? Really?"

    5) When the house creaks right at the scariest point of your book.

    Cat 5"It was just the heater. Definitely not a Nazgûl."

    6) Reading in bed while wearing glasses.

    Cats 6"There's gotta be a spell for this. Harry Potter never dealt with this nonsense."

    7) When your favorite character is sick and doesn't seem to be getting better.

    Cat 7"Beth is really, really sick. Jo's there, but I don't think there's anything she can do."
    "You want to put the book in the freezer?"

    8) When you get to a feast scene and realize you haven't eaten in ten hours

    Cat 8"I have no idea what Turkish Delight is, but I'd kill for some right now."

    9) Trying to make peace with an unexpected ending.

    Cat 10"It's fine. Nothing happened. Old Dan and Little Ann are fine. There's no such thing as mountain lions."

    10) When a sticky-fingered friend wants to borrow your book.

    Cat 11"My precious."

     

     

  • Book Trivia

     

    Are you a bookworm? Book nerd? Book fiend? Bibliophile? Literary savant? Reading wunderkind? Maybe you just really love Jeopardy and all things trivia.  If so, this event is for you.

    Join us at 7:00pm on Friday, June 24th for an evening of book trivia.  Create your own team of 4-8 people or simply join a team after you arrive.  Contestants ages 10 and up are welcome, and no prior registration is required.  Play for the glory (and for the prizes)!

    To whet your appetite, we’ve compiled a few sample questions for you.  If you come to our Book Trivia Night with the correct answers to all three questions, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a Barnes and Noble gift card, in addition to having a shot at first, second, or third place game prizes.  No researching or sharing answers, please!

    1. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund betrays his siblings and friends for a taste of what candy?  
    2. Truman Capote was childhood friends with what beloved author who died earlier this year, a few months after her controversial and long-awaited second novel was published?  
    3. After realizing that he could draw things (hint, hint) even if he couldn’t draw horses, Maurice Sendak changed the name of his classic picture book from “Land of Wild Horses” to what?
  •  Eliza

    May 20th is a special day for me. No, it’s not because it’s World Metrology Day or the feast day of Saint Ivo of Chartres. It’s because it’s Eliza Doolittle Day!

    As any musical or classic film fan knows, Eliza Doolittle is the aspiring “lady in a flower shop” and star of Lerner and Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY. The original 1956 Broadway production won seven Tonys, with the 1964 film going on to garner eight Academy Awards, and a current revival is up for 10 more possible Tonys. It’s an almost guaranteed critic and crowd pleaser.

    MY FAIR LADY has been my favorite film for nearly 20 years now, and as an Audrey Hepburn obsessive, I have a soft spot in my heart for the song “Just You Wait.” Unlike most of the songs, which were dubbed by Marni Nixon, it features Hepburn’s actual singing voice with only a small section of dubbing. Skip to 1:31 for the establishment of this important international holiday.

     

    So here are a few options for celebrating Eliza Doolittle Day:

    Watch the film

    5.17 My Fair LadyMY FAIR LADY
    Directed by George Cukor
    (1964)

    Number 8 on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest Movie Musicals, Number 12 on their 100 Years … 100 Passions list, and number 91 on their list of the 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time. It’s just that good. 

     

    Listen to the original cast recording

    5.17 SoundtrackMY FAIR LADY: ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING
    Music by Frederick Loewe
    Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
    (1956)

    Even half a century later, there’s still a surprising amount of controversy over the casting of Audrey Hepburn in the film over Julie Andrews, who originated the role. Luckily, you can still listen to the original Broadway cast recording in all its undubbed glory. 

     

    Play or sing along

    5.17 Piano VocalMY FAIR LADY PIANO/VOCAL/CHORD SELECTIONS
    Music by Frederick Loewe
    Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
    (2007)

    Why not try your own hand (or voice) at classic tunes like “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” I’d argue that Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics for MY FAIR LADY are some of the cleverest ever written for Broadway, and Loewe’s gorgeous, sweeping score stands the test of time. 

     

    Read the original

    5.17 PygmalionPYGMALION
    By George Bernard Shaw
    (1913)

    MY FAIR LADY is based on this classic play, inspired by Greek mythology. Nearly every clever line from the musical comes straight from George Bernard Shaw’s original, but be prepared for a very different ending. 

     

    Read about the Elizas

    Though many women have played Eliza, Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn are inarguably the women who defined the role. They are fortunately both exemplary role models in their own rights, and these biographies will give you wonderful insight into the women behind the role.

    5.17 HomeHOME: A MEMOIR OF MY EARLY YEARS
    By Julie Andrews
    (2008)

     

    5.17 Audrey HepburnAUDREY HEPBURN: AN ELEGANT SPIRIT
    By Sean Hepburn Ferrer
    (2003)

     
  • christmas at the library

    It’s hard to believe that tomorrow’s the first of December! Did the holiday season seem to sneak up on you too? If it did, don’t worry. We have plenty of holiday cheer to share at the library this December.

    Join us for one of these free, family-friendly holiday programs.

    Movie Night: Elf
    Friday, December 1
    7:00 p.m.
    Young Special Events Room #201

    Come get the holiday season started with this free showing of Elf! Chairs will be provided but feel free to bring blankets, pillows, and snacks to get comfy.

    Elf Gif

    Monday Night at the Library: Utah Valley Handbell Ringers
    Monday, December 4
    6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    Ballroom

    Ring in the holiday season with this annual musical tradition! The 6:30 p.m. performance is targeted toward younger audiences.

    Monday Night at the Library: A Christmas Carol
    Monday, December 11
    7:00 p.m.
    Ballroom

    Many Christmases ago, Charles Dickens would perform a one-man telling of this classic holiday tale, doing all the voices himself. Today, drama teacher Dane Allred recreates that experience with Dickens's original script. Using all of his vocal range, Allred will perform more than 20 voices, letting the audience use their imaginations to create their own versions of these classic characters.

    God Bless Us Everyone

    Monday Night at the Library: A Light in Winter's Dark
    Monday, December 18
    7:00 p.m.
    Ballroom

    An evening of traditional Celtic Christmas carols performed by Rebakah Dunford's instrumental ensemble.

     

  • family night 1

    Monday Night programs at the library are back! For a breakdown of these programs, including children’s story and craft nights, check out Kelly’s post from yesterday. Today, we wanted to fill you in a bit more about our upcoming cultural performances on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Mondays of every month. These free performances take place at 7:00 in the ballroom, and no tickets are required. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

    Performances to look forward to this fall:

    September 18: Stephen and Teresa Gashler

    This Monday, we’re kicking off the season with an evening of music and stories from beloved local performers Stephen and Teresa Gashler. This multitalented duo have worked as actors, puppeteers, comedians, musicians, and writers, and they got their storytelling start right here at the Provo Library! Stephen has won 1st place at the 2014 National Storytelling Conference Story Slam, the Audience Choice Award at the 2013 Timpanogos Storytelling Hauntings contest, and 3rd place in the 2012 Utah’s Biggest Liar contest, while Teresa’s play “How to Save a Life” won 2nd place for the 2011 Vera Hinckley Mayhew Award.  To get a taste of their talents, check out Stephen performing the tale of The Lady of Utah Lake.

     

    October 2nd: Tom Carr – Just a Ghost Hunter

    Get into the Halloween spirit as professional ghost hunter Tom Carr shares his spooky experiences with the paranormal in this family-friendly program. Carr has investigated many of Utah's haunted places, including Lehi's Hutchings Musem and the Baron Woolen Mills in Brigham City.

    October 16: AuthorLink with John Klassen and Mac Barnett

    Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are the award-winning author/illustrator duo behind SAM & DAVE DIG A HOLE, TRIANGLE, EXTRA YARN, and more. Join them for the tour of their clever new picture book THE WOLF, THE DUCK, AND THE MOUSE. Watch a quick book trailer below and reserve a copy here.

     

    October 30: Viva El Folklore

    Whenever a fifth Monday rolls around, we offer WorldLink performances, which highlight the history and arts of a particular country. At the end of October, join local Latin American dance group Viva El Folklore for an exciting Day of the Dead performance (just a couple of days early).

     

    November 6th: BYU Young Company: The Glorious Story Emporium

    Perennial favorite BYU Young Company returns to the Provo City Library for their first-ever improvisation show! The whole family can join in for this interactive experience, helping to create a totally one-of-a-kind performance. Get a sneak peek with this album of rehearsal photos.

    November 20: Forever Young A Capella

    This up and coming a cappella group from BYU performs a variety of hit songs, using only their voices to create complex harmonies. Check out more of their videos here

     

    We have a great holiday line up in the works as well, so be on the lookout for concerts and plays when December rolls around.

    Do you know of a performer or performing group who might be interested in doing a program here at the Provo City Library? If you do, have them contact our Assistant Community Relations Coordinator, Shaina at (801) 852-6722 or shainar@provolibrary.com.

  • Hamilton

    Confession: after listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time, I sobbed in my car for ten minutes.

    I had gone back and forth, listening first to the audiobook of the Ron Chernow biography that inspired the play and then to the soundtrack until I caught up chronologically with my reading. By the time I had finished the biography, I was deeply invested in the stories and personalities of early American history, but when the final song shifted focus to Eliza … I was a goner. It was quiet, unexpected, meaningful, and so incredibly moving. I think it’s the best final number in musical theater history, and I will fight you on that.

    There was no going back for me. I was obsessed.

    If you care about musical theater at all, you already know that Hamilton is coming to town. The national tour arrives in Salt Lake City in just a few short weeks, and the digital fight to get tickets was a bloodbath. Whether you were one of the lucky few to get tickets or you’re now considering selling a kidney in order to afford one on craigslist*, the library provides plenty of ways to become the ultimate Hamilton fan.

    1) Read the biography

    3.1 Alexander HamiltonALEXANDER HAMILTON
    By Ron Chernow
    (2004)

    The book that started it all. Lin-Manuel Miranda read ALEXANDER HAMILTON while on vacation in 2008 and spent the next several years gradually crafting the music, lyrics, and book for his musical juggernaut. Even if you’re not a big history buff, rest assured that Pulitzer prize winner Chernow is a master biographer who makes history come alive in an accessible, compelling way. 

     

    2) Listen to the soundtrack

    3.1 SoundtrackHAMILTON: ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING
    Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
    (2015)

    If you haven’t listened to the soundtrack yet, stop reading and place a hold on it now.

    Seriously. Now.

     

    3) Learn the backstory

    3.1 Hamilton the RevolutionHAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION
    By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
    (2016)

    Now that you’re knee-deep in the world of HAMILTON, it’s time to dive a little deeper. HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION, also affectionately known as the Hamiltome, gives an insider’s look into the making of the musical. Part of what makes HAMILTON so accessible to so many people is the way it blends hip hop with classic musical theater styling. It has so many subtle nods to rap and musical theater history, and the Hamiltome is the best way to catch them all. 

     

    4) Sing (and play) along

    3.1 MusicHAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL
    Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
    (2016)

    Even if you don’t have the velvety voice of Leslie Odom Jr. or the lyrical speed of Renée Elise Goldsberry, you can take your best shot at the music. We have both the standard piano/vocal music and an easy piano version for you to try. 

     

    5) Keep reading

    3.1 I Eliza HamiltonThe popularity of the musical has led to an explosion of Hamilton-related fiction in the past couple of years. For adults, there’s I, ELIZA HAMILTON, THE HAMILTON AFFAIR, and (later this year) MY DEAR HAMILTON, and teens can read ALEX AND ELIZA, HAMILTON AND PEGGY! A REVOLUTIONARY FRIENDSHIP, or ALEXANDER HAMILTON: THE GRAPHIC HISTORY OF AN AMERICAN FOUNDING FATHER.

    Everything you need if you're not quite ready to leave Hamilton behind.

     

    *The Provo City Library does not endorse selling human organs, even for Hamilton tickets.

  • friday faves

     

    I have a confession to make: I’m a reluctant self-help reader. Fiction is typically my preference over nonfiction, and I’ve been especially resistant to self-help books. I thought they weren’t really my thing, and I think I had a vague, unfair assumption that most self-help books would be unscientific psychobabble. Over the last few months, though, I’ve been devouring self-help books, and these favorites have actually improved my quality of life.

     

    willpowerWILLPOWER: REDISCOVERING THE GREATEST HUMAN STRENGTH
    by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
    (2012)

    This book is the one that had me completely rethinking my attitude toward self-help books. You won’t find any pseudoscience or vague personal ideas here. Instead, research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and science writer John Tierney lay out what scientists have learned about the nature of willpower through decades of research. They offer concrete steps individuals can take to improve their self-control and share fascinating related anecdotes. Best of all, though, they back up every claim by describing the experiments and studies that scientists used to understand how to exercise and build willpower. This was an engrossing read for me, and I have been actively applying its ideas in my life. I also can’t stop sharing interesting details from it with my friends and coworkers.

     

    declutterTHE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: THE JAPANESE ART OF DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING
    by Marie Kondo
    (2014)

    This book really did change me. I wrote a glowing review of it last summer, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Though The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up isn’t as scientific as some of the others on the list, it is based on the strategies used by the author, a wildly popular professional organizer from Japan. Her basic principle is that you go, category by category, through every item in your home, hold it close and decide whether or not it “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t, you toss it. As hokey as that might sound, it radically changed the way I look my belongings. I now buy less to begin with, get rid of anything I don’t need and love, and keep my home tidier than ever before.

     

    switchSWITCH: HOW TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CHANGE IS HARD
    by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    (2010)

    As the subtitle suggests, Switch explains how individuals and organizations can motivate and implement change. Even when we want to change something, human nature makes us resistant. The authors dedicate each chapter to a specific strategy for overcoming that resistance. I loved how organized and easy to follow Switch was.

     

    habitTHE POWER OF HABIT: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO IN LIFE AND BUSINESS
    by Charles Duhigg
    (2012)

    Even though this book was a bestseller, I didn’t love it nearly as much as the others on the list. The structure was confusing, a lot of the book seemed like filler, and I felt like the authors were defining “habit” as everything and anything. In spite of those frustrations, I’m including The Power of Habit because the first three chapters and especially the appendix were fantastic. If you read just those sections, you’ll come away with a much better understanding of how our habits shape us and how we in turn can shape our habits.

     

    gritGRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERENCE
    by Angela Duckworth
    (2016)

    I’ve just started reading this book, so I can’t fully recommend it just yet. I think it’s going to be a good read, though. We often assume that those who achieve incredible things must have some kind of native genius; naturally talented, they were born to be Olympic gymnasts, concert pianists, political masterminds, or exceptional writers. Duckworth argues instead that extraordinary achievements result not from unusual intelligence or talent, but from what she calls “grit,” a mix of passion and persistent effort.

     

     

  • book club 2

    I recently shared my top five reasons for starting or joining a book club in 2018, and, as promised, I’m here today to share how to keep that club going strong. 

    As I thought about things that help a book club succeed, I realized I had tips both for getting started and for keeping things going, so today we’ll focus on the former. It’s all too easy for a book club to drift out of existence when schedules, reading preferences, and inconsistency get in the way. Making these few key decisions ahead of time can make all the difference.

    Decide ahead of time:

    1. Who to include in your book club
      This is probably the most important component of a successful book group. In my opinion, it’s best to keep things small if you want a lasting club, as larger groups tend to fall apart more easily because people don’t feel responsible to participate. My club, Team Don't Read Crappy Books, has ended up with nine members, which works well for us. As harsh as it sounds, it’s okay to bump people from the group if by the third meeting they haven’t read any books or participated in any meetings. You can always let them back in at a later time if they want to recommit (do I sound like a book club snob yet?).

      If your group is tight-knit, be sure everyone in the group is on board if you want to invite someone new to join later on. Longterm friends are your best bet, especially if they know multiple people in the club. Our group member who joined later is a cousin and roommate of one group member, an old friend of another, and had already met several of us. She's been a great addition who we were all comfortable with adding.

      More than anything, I encourage you to choose group members who are comfortable with similar levels of language and adult content as you are. It’s not at all necessary to have the same taste in book genres, but you’ll have a frustrating time trying to agree on books if some of your club members want only squeaky clean reads while others are comfortable with some dark or adult content. Think about what you’re comfortable reading (and what you aren’t okay with reading), and find group members who feel similarly. I promise it will make things easier. 

    2. How often you’ll meet
      My book club definitely struggles with this (balancing schedules is hard!), but we aim to meet every other month. It might help your group to have a set day of every month or every other month when you meet. If you’d like to use the Provo Library’s book club sets, you’ll want to meet every six weeks so that it’s easy to rotate sets. Whatever you choose, consistency is key. 

    3. How books will be chosen
      There are a few options for choosing what book you should read. Team Don’t Read Crappy Books rotates hosts, and the host chooses what we’ll read. This has worked well for us and has led to more variety in what we read. Another option is to choose as a group what you’ll read, which can work especially well if you’re checking out book club sets, as the more popular sets need to be reserved months in advance

      Like I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what your group is comfortable reading. Lay the ground rules of what content you’re okay with in your very first meeting. It’s also a good idea to have a page number limit so that club members have enough time to finish the book before meeting. We’ve found a 500 page limit to be a good guideline, but we’re flexible about it. 

    4. How club members will get copies of the book
      Will one member of your club reserve, pick up, hand out, collect, and return a book club set from the library? Will that club member change each time or always be the same person? Will each member be responsible for buying or checking out their own book? Decide ahead of time how you want this to work. 

    5. How your club will communicate
      Team Don’t Read Crappy Books has a private Facebook group that is a perfect means of communicating for us. We use it to announce what we’ll be reading next, share pictures and happy news (book related or not), and decide when to meet. The polls feature is especially useful when we’re trying to figure out a meeting time that works for everyone. Facebook works for us, but group texts and emails are also good options.
  • Looking at Books

    A funny thing happens after you’ve worked in a library for a while. You become so familiar with recent and popular book covers that you’re hyper aware of copycat covers, and eventually you start to see them everywhere.

    Sometimes an entire genre will feature similar covers so that you know what the book is before you’ve even read the description (the ubiquitous “girl facing away from you while wearing a fancy period dress” women’s historical fiction cover for instance). Other times, as I suspect is the case for the first pair listed below, a new release tries to capitalize on the popularity of a better established book by using a nearly identical cover. Then there’s the case of stock photos run amuck.

    And sometimes the similarities are simply baffling (do MERE CHRISTIANITY and TWILIGHT really have the same target demographic?).

    Here are a few suspiciously similar book covers we’ve discovered. What have we missed? Share your book doppelgängers in the comments!

    11.9 The Tethered MageTHE TETHERED MAGE
    By Melissa Caruso
    (2017)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 Crooked KingdomCROOKED KINGDOM
    By Leigh Bardugo
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 The Smaller EvilTHE SMALLER EVIL
    By Stephanie Kuehn
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 UndeniableUNDENIABLE: HOW BIOLOGY CONFIRMS OUR INTUITION THAT LIFE IS DESIGNED
    By Douglas Axe
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

    11.9 Amy SnowAMY SNOW
    By Tracy Rees
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 A Murder in TimeA MURDER IN TIME
    By Julie McElwain
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 Rare ObjectsRARE OBJECTS
    By Kathleen Tessaro
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 The Fitzosbornes in ExileTHE FITZOSBORNES IN EXILE
    By Michelle Cooper
    (2012)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 The House of DreamsTHE HOUSE OF DREAMS
    By Kate Lord Brown
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 A Quiet LifeA QUIET LIFE
    By Natasha Walter
    (2016)

     

     

     

     

     

    11.9 Words to Live ByWORDS TO LIVE BY: A GUIDE FOR THE MERELY CHRISTIAN
    By C.S. Lewis
    (2007)

     

     

     

     

    11.9 TwilightTWILIGHT
    By Stephanie Meyer
    (2005)

     

     

     

     

     

  •  Judging a Book By Its cover

    We all know the old adage about not judging a book by its cover, but cover art nevertheless can make a huge difference in a book’s success. Think about it. When you’re browsing the shelves of the library or a book store, books with distinctive covers or spines are the ones you notice, right?

    Personally, I’m drawn to gorgeous typography. While cover photos and illustrations are all well and good, beautiful print, especially if it has a feminine, vintage vibe, calls me to a book better than anything short of a glowing Kirkus review.

    You know you’re a librarian when you have not only favorite books and authors, but favorite book covers and cover illustrators. These are a few of my favorites:

    9.28.2 Dorian GrayJESSICA HISCHE

    Jessica Hische's work is what first sucked me into the world of cover art, and she's my favorite cover illustrator to this day. I'm a book hoarde... ahem, collector, but I started off just buying paperbacks, not caring what the covers looked like. In an act of youthful folly, I even bought the movie tie-in paperbacks of the LORD OF THE RINGS series many years ago (*shudders*). There was no looking back once I started buying Hische's gorgeous collection of Barnes and Noble leatherbound classics, though. Her work is all about intricate lettering, and in addition to her Barnes and Noble designs, she's created lovely covers for Penguin's Drop Caps series, Audible, and McSweeney's Publishing. Thanks to her, I began buying books for their beauty as well as their readability, and, eleven copies of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE later, it's been a beautiful and expensive path from there.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    9.28.2 The Fox and the StarCORALIE BICKFORD-SMITH

    First of all, we need to acknowledge that Coralie Bickford-Smith's name is AWESOME. With a name like that, she should be either the protagonist of a novel or the lady of an English manor house. Okay, with that out of the way, let's talk about her cover art. 

    Even if you haven't heard Bickford-Smith's name, you've probably seen her work. Penguin has released a series ofclothbound classics which feature her gorgeous and whimsical art and which you've inevitably come across in one book store or another. I'm also a fan of her F. Scott Fitzgerald covers, which have a decidedly Art Deco flair that fits his Jazz Age themes perfectly. My absolute favorite cover of hers, however, is from her very own book THE FOX AND THE STAR. The silver, the swirls, the sweet little fox - like Mary Poppins, it's practically perfect in every way.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    9.28.2 Wink Poppy Midnight

    LISA PERRIN

    Lisa Perrin's work is a recent discovery for me. WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE by Lana Popovic has been getting a lot of buzz in the YA community lately, and when I first saw the cover, I was immediately curious about both the book and the artist. After researching a bit, I found the cover for WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT, and I loved it even more. Perrin has the same intricate, feminine, and typography-based style that I love from Bickford-Smith and Hische, but she also uses color and weaves in animal and botanical patterns in a way that reminds me of Scandinavian folk art. The result is eye-catching, playful, and absolutely lovely.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  •  Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness month? I would guess that, if we haven’t already, all of us will at some point experience our own mental health struggles or have someone very close to us who does. Just like the rest of our bodies, our minds can go through periods of wellness and periods of poor health, and they deserve care and treatment.

    A generation or two ago, these struggles might have been kept quiet. Fortunately, our culture is becoming more accepting of and open about mental health. For instance, you might have heard about the Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by younger members of the British royal family, or about the Campaign to Change Direction. Programs like these aim to reduce stigma against mental illness, to educate, and to provide mental health resources.

    In recent years, memoirs dealing with mental health, including some REALLY funny memoirs, have become common. Their humorous but honest approach can remind us that we aren't alone and keep us laughing. Here are a few of my favorites.

    Hyperbole and a HalfHYPERBOLE AND A HALF
    By Allie Brosh
    (2013)

    Even if you’ve never heard of Brosh or her blog, you’ve probably seen her CLEAN ALL THE THINGS! meme. Brosh blogs about everyday life using a mix of text and crudely drawn webcomics. In addition to sharing hilarious stories about grammar, her childhood, and her dogs, she has also written about ADHD and, famously, depression.

    Whether in book or blog form, HYPERBOLE AND A HALF might just be the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting her second book for a couple of years now, but its expected release date has been pushed back from 2017 to 2050. I’ll be impatiently waiting into old age, it appears.  

    Furiously HappyFURIOUSLY HAPPY: A FUNNY BOOK ABOUT HORRIBLE THINGS
    By Jenny Lawson
    (2015)

    Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. the bloggess) is another author who started out in the blogosphere. She writes irreverently about living in a small Texas town with her patient husband, their daughter, and an ever-growing collection of quirky taxidermy. She frequently writes about her experiences with depression, anxiety, and avoidant personality disorder. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is my favorite of her books, but I also love her first memoir LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED and YOU ARE HERE, a coloring book of the illustrations she creates in moments of anxiety.

     

    Adulthood is a MythADULTHOOD IS A MYTH
    By Sarah Andersen
    (2016)

    This is a book you could easily read in an hour or two. Sarah Andersen, who also gained a following online (I’m sensing a theme here), creates comics about life as a Millennial adult. In simple drawings, she depicts social anxiety, body image struggles, insecurity, and how pets make it all a bit better.

     

    Heart and BrainHEART AND BRAIN: AN AWKWARD YETI COLLECTION
    By Nick Seluk
    (2015)

    Nick Seluck is another webcomic creator who eventually became a published author. He is best known for comics depicting inner turmoil between logical Brain and fanciful Heart, as well as various other organs (I have a soft spot for the adorable Gallbladder). I’ve especially enjoyed his comics about anxiety and insomnia.

     

    Youre Never Weird on the InternetYOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (ALMOST)
    By Felicia Day
    (2015)

    Felicia Day’s life has been an unusual one. Homeschooled as a child, she went to college at sixteen, finished her math degree with flying colors, and then became an actress and web-series developer. She writes about anxiety, depression, and the intense gaming addiction she developed in her twenties.

    YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET is easily the funniest celebrity memoir I’ve ever read (and I’ve read an embarrassing number of celebrity memoirs). Day’s narration of the audiobook is especially hysterical.

     

  •  Learning to Love Fantasy Again 2

    Growing up, I loved fantasy. Authors like Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and, of course, J.K. Rowling captured my imagination and carried me off to magical worlds. I reread their books again and again, loving the immersion and escapism they offered.

    As an adult, I’ve found a few new favorites (Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, and Cassie Beasley come to mind), but for the most part I’ve moved away from fantasy in favor of other genres. So many of the novels I’ve tried recently have disappointed me due to shallow world-building or a focus on romance at the expense of plot. I was beginning to wonder if, at the ripe old age of 29, I’m just too old and crotchety for fantasy.

    Fortunately, 2017 is changing my mind. This year, three novels in particular have blown me away with their beautiful writing, imaginative and vivid world building, and three-dimensional characters.

    9.7 The Bear and the NightingaleTHE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE
    By Katherine Arden
    (2017)

    This book, the first by author Katherine Arden, draws on Russian folklore to create an utterly engrossing story of a young girl who embraces magic at a time when it is being suppressed. I read THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE early in the year, but I can still picture the characters and setting with perfect clarity because the book is so beautifully written. Although this is a coming of age story, it is marketed to adults rather than teens, largely because the novel has its dark and creepy aspects. At turns playful, heartbreaking, comforting, scary, and suspenseful, THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE really is a wonderful book.

     

    9.7 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest
    (2017)

    This Y.A. fantasy novel is CONTROVERSIAL. Though it received starred reviews from several review journals, it has also been excoriated by a few prominent book bloggers for being racist, homophobic, ableist, sexist, and more. So why is THE BLACK WITCH one of my favorite fantasy reads in years?

    As the book begins, its protagonist, Elloren Gardner undeniable exhibits all of the characteristics listed above, as do her family and the society in which she lives. As the book progresses, however, Elloren gradually comes to recognize that the history and prejudices she’s been raised with are inaccurate and cruel. This may be a book about a racist, but I don't feel like it's a racist book. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    This book may not be for everyone. Particularly for individuals who have been on the receiving end of prejudice, it's perfectly valid to not want to live in the mind of a prejudiced character for hundreds of pages. I believe, however, that THE BLACK WITCH has a valuable message about both how a racist (or homophobe, sexist, ableist, etc.) is made and how they can be unmade. Education and relationships with people who are different from herself are the keys to Elloren’s awakening (which isn’t perfectly complete at the end of the book – this is the first of a series, after all), and maybe through her story readers will confront their own unacknowledged prejudice and privilege. It certainly left me thinking deeply about difficult issues, something that you don’t always expect from Y.A. fantasy.

    On top of that, Laurie Forest is an excellent writer, creating a world with a complex history, fascinating cultures, and a vivid cast of characters. The complexity of the magical society she developed even reminds me of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world. I was riveted from the first page and finished this 600 page book within 48 hours.

    9.7 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017)

    STRANGE THE DREAMER may just have the most unique, vivid, and gorgeous world-building I’ve ever encountered in a fantasy novel.  Lazlo Strange, a poor, orphaned young man, has fixated on the lost city of Weep since childhood. Though others say Weep is simply a myth, Lazlo pours his heart into researching the mysterious city, desperate to uncover its secrets. The story is difficult to do justice to in a synopsis, but count on this novel for dreams, nightmares, adventure, romance, mystery, and plenty of plot twists.

    Plus, the main character is a librarian, which is certainly a point in his favor. I <3 Lazlo Strange.