Tag Archives: reading

On Reading 100 Books, Part II

Another year over, and once again I failed miserably at reading 100 books.

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But I did succeed in garnering the silent judgement of cats everywhere.
Source

All right, maybe “failed” is a strong word. I ended up reading 70 books and that’s nothing to scoff at, right? Scornful sideways glances from feral felines aside, I decided to highlight five of my favorite books and three of my least favorite books of 2015. If it tickles your fancy, you can look at the whole list on the next page.

The Five I Liked the Most:

loveLove is a Dog from Hell: Poems, 1974-1977 by Charles Bukowski
I learned about this book of poetry by way of The Limousines’ song of the same name. This was my first foray into the writings of Bukowski and it didn’t disappoint. With lines like “I have gotten so used to melancholia / that / I greet it like an old / friend.” and “I am going / to die alone / just the way I live,” this certainly isn’t Lord Byron or John Keats.  This is the kind of stuff you read after a breakup, right before rushing out to do it all over again. These are a few of my favorite lines from the poem Chopin Bukowski:

people need me. I fill
them. if they can’t see me
for a while they get desperate, they get
sick.

but if I see them too often
I get sick. it’s hard to feed
without getting fed.

youYou by Caroline Kepnes
Stephen King—of whom I officially became a fan in 2015 thanks to It and Four Past Midnight—called this book “hypnotic and scary.” What more of an endorsement do you need? You illustrates how easy it is to stalk a person in the digital age. It’s an eerie, well-written page-turner that’s left me eagerly awaiting the sequel, Hidden Bodies, due out in February.

mosquitoMosquitoland by David Arnold
It’s very seldom that a book bring me to tears (in a good way), but this YA debut did just that. The premise—a teenager has to return to her home town via Greyhound when she learns her mother is unwell—was what interested me in this book. Whether in real life or in fiction, I love a good road trip. Just like the tumultuous teenage years, Mosquitoland is equal parts happy and sad. It’s now one of my favorite YA novels of all time.

treesSea of Trees by Robert James Russell
I came across Aokigahara—a dense forest at the bottom of Mt Fuji and a popular place where people go to commit suicide—while reading one of my favorite websites. Doing a simple Google search for more information on the location led me to this novella. It’s a quick, creepy mystery about a couple searching Aokigahara for the woman’s lost sister. What’s even creepier is that two movies have been made about this forest, one starring Matthew McConaughey released in 2015 and one starring Natalie Dormer that came out just last week. The creepiest bit, though, is that this is a real place. Check out this great documentary short put out by Vice for more on the Suicide Forest.

linesPoorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories by Reza Farazmand
This book actually came in for someone else, but I saw it and ordered it for myself. It’s hilarious, nonsensical and was a welcome break from the previous book I’d read, The Price of Salt, which was neither hilarious nor nonsensical. Visit the website of the same name for more giggles.

The Three I Liked the Least:

watchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
I went into this book with almost zero expectations. I’ve experienced first-hand how disappointing a decades-later followup can be (I’m looking at you, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Part of the charm of To Kill a Mockingbird was the way that Lee wrote Scout. Everything that happens is seen through a rose-colored, knee-high lens of childhood. That’s not the case with Watchman. Scout is twenty-six and has returned to Maycomb to visit Atticus. Events transpire that make her question the truths she clung to during childhood. The readers question these truths right along with her and I normally love a good existential rumination, but it’s handled in such a bland and forgettable way here. And that’s not even mentioning how certain characters are almost unrecognizable (ethically speaking) from their Mockingbird counterparts or how the death of a beloved character from Lee’s first novel is only eluded to rather than shown. How this ended up on Goodreads’ Best of 2015 list is baffling, especially when almost every patron I talked with about it also didn’t like it. I don’t want to waste anymore digital ink complaining about it, so I’ll just echo Philip Hensher‘s comments:  it’s “a pretty bad novel.”

starwarsStar Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
Unlike Go Set a Watchman, I had at least one expectation for this book–that it would prepare me for the galactic landscape after the fall of the Empire. Sadly, this book did little to elucidate the mystery of what happens between the end of Return of the Jedi and the beginning of The Force Awakens. The plot takes its time getting started and by the time it does, I wasn’t nearly as invested in the characters as I should have been. These weren’t familiar characters like Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, so I didn’t particularly care what happened to them. Not to mention the new characters all came across as annoyingly self-assured. Because of this, I felt like there were no real stakes in book at all. But maybe that’s on me; it’s been a long time since I’ve read supplemental Star Wars material. There is one scene of Han Solo and Chewbacca aboard the Millennium Falcon, but as a whole, the book skews toward poorly-written fanfiction. In the plus column, I’ve got to give credit to Wendig for introducing the first gay hero in the form of ex-Imperial soldier Sinjir Rath Velus as well as a lesbian couple. In a universe where there are literally hundreds of different alien species, Star Wars has never been that concerned about diversity … but that’s a blog post for another day.

americanAmerican Pastoral by Philip Roth
This is up there (or down there) with The Train from Pittsburgh as one of my least favorite, most hated, severely unenjoyable reads of 2015. The actual plot of this book–an all-American family is torn apart after their daughter blows up a convenience store at the height of the Vietnam War, with musings of the rise and fall of the American Dream sprinkled in–could be boiled down to probably fifty pages. The other 350 pages of Roth’s novel are made up of tangential ramblings including, but not limited to, the history of Newark, the minutiae of Miss America contests and more information on glove-making than any human ever needs to know. It was frustrating for me to read through these prolonged chapters filled with walls of text and just when I thought that there was no point to be made–that maybe I’d picked up a New Jersey history book by mistake–and I was about to give up, Roth would wrap up his tangent and continue with the narrative. In It, Stephen King was similarly long-winded while detailing of the history of the fictional town of Derry, but King held my interest far more than Roth did in describing a place that’s only a six -hour drive away. Again, I have no one to blame but myself–I only read this because first-time director Ewan McGregor filmed the adaptation here, but getting through this book was such an ordeal that I’m now in no hurry to see the movie, despite my well-documented love for Pittsburgh on film.

Did you set or reach any reading goals in 2015? Do you have any reading goals for 2016 or any tips on how I can finally get to 100? Sound off in the comments below!

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You’ve got a Friend in Me: Reading Buddies at the Library

This summer, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh launched a brand-new volunteer program called Reading Buddies. The program was developed out of an initiative called Hazelwood Reads Together, and here’s the gist: trained volunteers are stationed in the library to read to and interact with kids, one on one or in small groups.

We know that kids succeed when they read, and that having a caring mentor doing the reading can be a big part of helping children develop a long-lasting love of books and reading. What we were also happy to discover is that volunteers love the experience, too.

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Reading together at CLP – Hazelwood

One volunteer, Maddie, explains it like this: “I decided to become a Reading Buddies volunteer because I was working full time at a job that I was getting nothing out of … I decided to check out the library’s website and see if any volunteer opportunities were available. I saw the Reading Buddies post and was instantly drawn to it. I have always loved working with kids and I knew I would be a good fit. It became the highlight of my work weeks. My day would go faster knowing I was going to leave work and do something I actually enjoyed while giving back at the same time.”

Another volunteer, Sally, agrees: “The kids love to read, create puzzles and create stories … It’s nice to give all of the kids attention that takes them away from the computers.  The kids are appreciative of the time and I appreciate the opportunity to engage with them in a fun, relaxed way. Reading Buddies is enjoyable for everyone. ”

Besides having the opportunity to give back by encouraging youth literacy, volunteering to read with kids helped some volunteers reflect on mentors who played a role in their own learning.

“My fourth grade teacher used to read my class a chapter of a book at the end of each day. He almost always picked one of Roald Dahl‘s books,” Maddie remembers. “I was always a pretty big reader, but when I started hearing these stories I was hooked. I still think of that teacher today when I see someone reading a Dahl book or see the old copies on my book shelf. I think of how my teacher did a great job of picking books our class would connect with, and I try to do that as a Reading Buddy.”

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A kiddo relaxes in the reading nook at CLP – Hazelwood

Adrienne, a Reading Buddy and a twenty-year veteran of teaching, recalls: “As a child, I always enjoyed being read to or reading with someone.  Some of my favorite books were: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein,  the Dr. Seuss books, the Paddington series by Michael Bond, The Box Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner and books by Judy Blume.”

Since June, twelve Reading Buddies volunteers have spent more than 150 hours volunteering to support early literacy at CLP – Hazelwood.  As library staff, we appreciate and recognize the dedication of those who give their time and talents to support young minds in this way.

We’re currently recruiting Reading Buddies volunteers for three different Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations:  Hazelwood, Hill District and Sheraden. If you’re interested, you can apply online or contact us for more information.

-Ginny

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Leave Me Alone. Sometimes.

vGQOGFuA therapist recently informed me that I am an introvert.* I never thought I was an introvert. I like meeting people. I like parties. I socialize. I have friends. I’m not particularly shy (though I hate calling strangers on the phone), and I don’t have anxiety about meeting people.

But.

I don’t mind going out alone to dinner, movies, bars, whatever. Brainstorming makes me grit my teeth. Group projects suck. Mingling is a nightmare. And it all makes me so tired! Judging by how many secrets strangers tell me, I’m a good listener.  I’m better on paper. All of my best ideas come when I’m alone; usually in bed or the shower. I loved living alone. I was never lonely or bored. My husband is an extrovert. One of the hardest things about marriage for me is living with another person. Like, can’t we have a duplex and visit? (The answer is no.) If I don’t get enough time alone to decompress, I get irritable and withdrawn. I do not thrive in a group environment. Oh yeah, I’m also a librarian.

I thought it was an only child thing.

In reading the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, I came across her definition of introverts:

Introverts have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment. Introverts tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak, and have a more circumspect and cautious approach to risk. Introverts think more, are less reckless and focus on what really matters—relationships and meaningful work.

That’s me!

bookcover (5)

In Quiet, Cain presents the history of how Western (and in particular, American) culture is dominated by a culture of personality, an “extrovert ideal.” She describes this ideal as “the belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight” and “favors the man of action over the man of contemplation.” And while Cain is gently rebuking a culture that favors style over substance, she does point out that both temperaments have important roles to play.

Without introverts, we wouldn’t have the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Rosa Parks), The Emancipation Proclamation (Abraham Lincoln), the Theory of Relativity (Albert Einstein), Starry Night (Vincent VanGogh), Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) or The Cat in the Hat (Theodore Geisel)! What a terrible world indeed!

Introverts also feature in some of my favorite fiction titles!

Tell the Wolves I’m Homebookcover, Carol Rifka Brunt

There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down.

bookcover (4)The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama and new friends. Sex, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

bookcover (1)Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be; a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

bookcover (2)Glaciers, Alexis M. Smith

Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture. Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel’s sense of history, memory and place.

bookcover (3)A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother and an aunt who gives her love too freely—to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny.

Are you an introvert? An extrovert? An ambivert (it’s a thing!)?

crawling back into my corner,
suzy

*I took the online Myers-Briggs Extroversion quiz like five times because I didn’t believe her.

 

 

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Pumpkin Lattes and More Banned Books

Image courtesy ALA.

Image courtesy ALA.

Did you forget Banned Books Week? Or did you celebrate fully with one copy of Lolita in your right hand and the Bible in your left? Whatever the case, we have a quiz for you.

At the ACLU and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Banned Book event fREADom on September 30, librarians from CLP delivered a Banned Books quiz to an audience that included such famous Pittsburghers as Etta Cox, Lynn Cullen, Terrance Hayes, Rick Sebak and members of LUPEC. It was delightful, dirty and an all-around a good time.

But if you missed it (or if you’re suffering Banned Books Week withdrawal), have no fear, we’ve got the questions right here. This year’s BBW celebrated young adult literature, and (hint) we did too. We’ve even linked you to other BBW lists and quizzes in some of the answers so you can keep the party going year-round, because a week isn’t enough to celebrate banned books. Enjoy! (But don’t scroll down too far! Answers are below.)

Questions:

  1. This book was banned for “bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level” and undermining gender roles. It stars a girl from Kansas, her dog, a not-so-brave lion, a scarecrow and a man made of tin who all take a trek down a yellow brick road to find someone to grant their wishes.
  2. Called “trash and only suitable for the slums,” this famous American author’s book had a teenager floating down the Mississippi River with his friend, a metaphor for growing up.
  3. This book appeared on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged books, and sparked controversy when it was banned by two school districts back in 2004, five years after it was first published. In this latest instance in Wallingford, Connecticut, a parent complained because of a two-page section of the book in which the protagonist witnesses date rape—the section most often contested. In 2013, author Judy Blume came to the rescue of this book after a Chicago school district banned the book in its junior high school. Blume’s intervention sparked a nearly unanimous vote on the school board to reinstate the book later that year in a Banned Books Miracle. Hint: It’s set in Pittsburgh.
  4. Banned for alleged misogyny, author Roald Dahl humorously defended his book with this statement: “I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women. There is no such thing as a male witch. On the other hand, a ghoul is always a male… both are dangerous.  But neither of them is half as dangerous as a REAL WITCH.” Hint: Made into a movie starring Anjelica Huston.
  5. On the same theme, name the popular series that had many religious groups concerned about the books’ focus on witchcraft — and even went so far as to burn them (the books, not the witches) — while other groups merely think that they’re too scary and set a bad example for children.
  6. What 1982 book about a relationship between two high school girls, Annie and Liza, was burned outside of Kansas City, Kansas, school district offices because it described a blooming romantic and sexual relationship between the girls?
  7. This title is still sometimes taken off shelves or reading lists. Not because students might get nightmares reading about a family hiding in an attic until they were dragged into Nazi death camps, but because at one, brief point the 14-year-old protagonist describes her maturing anatomy.
  8. Not strictly a teen read but something that is found in every middle and high school, which fundamental book was banned in the Menifree school district in California for an entry on oral sex? Hint: It’s not a thesaurus.
  9. Can you “catch” on to this banned title? He’s a typical, if moody, teenager. He mourns the loss of his younger brother, hangs out with his younger sister and eventually gets thrown into a psychiatric treatment center. He probably thinks you are phony.
  10. Where the Sidewalk Ends author Shel Silverstein’s other book was banned for “glorifying Satan,” “suicide and cannibalism” and “encouraging children to be disobedient,” as well as the unforgivable offense of “breaking dishes so they wouldn’t have to dry them.” What is the title of this banned collection of poems?
  11. Competition arises among talking farm animals when two pigs fight for control. What is the name of this book?
  12. Banned from many school libraries, protests were lodged against this alliterative title. An interactive, illustrated book, readers looked for the character in many scenes, but detractors who got the book banned saw and objected to topless sun bathers, gay lovers and characters holding up the hail Satan sign.  Hint: The titular character is most identifiable by his red and white striped shirt and red cap.
  13. Name the title or author! This autobiographical novel, with illustrations, tells the story of a young cartoonist who leaves his Native American reservation school in order to pursue his life and studies in the all-white world of the neighboring school.  This young adult favorite has been banned for “pornographic language” and depicting scenes of sex and violence.  It won the National Book Award in 2007.
  14. Students try to get A’s in school, but that wouldn’t be good in this book. The book still places on the Banned Book list because it is considered sinful and obscene by objectors. Which Nathaniel Hawthorne book is this?
Now, think long and hard ...

“Is the answer Where’s Ralph Waldo Emerson?”
Click through for source.

Answer Key:

  1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  4. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  5. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  6. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  8. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  9. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  10. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  11. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  12. Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford
  13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  14. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 So how did you do? Post your score in the comments below.

-Isabelle

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My Year of Nonfiction

As I’m taking a look back at what I’ve read so far this year, I realize that my tastes have leaned greatly toward nonfiction. Yes, there has been the occasional mystery book and more than a smattering of graphic novels, but by-and-large I have been reading biographies and memoirs. I’ve already told you about a few of the books in a couple of blog posts and at least one staff pick. Here are some of the others that I have been fortunate enough to pluck from the shelves thus far in 2015:

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes – Do you love The Princes Bride movie? Of course you do! (If you don’t, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.) And with these stories from behind the scenes, you can love it even more. Did you even think that was possible?!? The yarns I enjoyed most were about Andre the Giant. He used a pitcher for a beer mug; they provided him with a special golf cart to get around the set; and he once got so drunk that he passed out in a hotel lobby and was too heavy to move, so all the guests had to go around him. Now, there was a man who lived life to the fullest!

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris – The fantastic NPH shares his life, up to this point, in true Gen X style – as a “choose your own adventure” book. You, the reader get to decide which decisions Neil makes at critical junctures in his life. Does he take that role and become television’s iconic kid doctor or not? Does he choose to reveal details about his personal life and sexual orientation or stay in the closet? The life of NPH is up to you! (BTW, If you’re like me and the thought of not reading a book sequentially, page-by-page gives you hives — no worries, with very little continuity issues, this book can be read the regular way too.)

Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan’s Ancient Pleasure District by T. Louise Brown – It took me about 50 page to realize that I’ve read this book before. It must have really appealed to me, for me to pick it up twice, years apart. But read it a second time, I did. I like using books to explore lives vastly different from mine. (If everyone was like me and had my life, the world would be very boring indeed.) This book is the result of the author spending many months and years visiting and staying among the women in the “red light” district in Lahore, Pakistan. The culture and class system that this book explains are so foreign to my experiences that I can’t get enough of reading about them. And, of course, I want to save everyone.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life by Sophia Loren – I never knew that Sophia Loren grew up in such poverty or without her father in her life. So many hardships were endured by this international film legend. I feel inspired knowing about her childhood during World War II, her journey to stardom and life in general. Sophia Loren is so much more than a pretty face. Her substance and style are more than skin deep. What a classy lady!

And here’s what’s on my TBR pile at home:

Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household by Kate Hubbard.

A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story by Brenda Ashford.

Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days by Bill Whitfield.

The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess – In Her Own Words by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan.

VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave by Nina Blackwood.

Now, go forth and read some biographies!

-Melissa M.

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Graphic Novels from a Woman’s POV 3

I used to be able to say that graphic novels were outside my comfort zone and a new reading endeavor for me. Now that I’m on my third post about graphic novels written by women (here are one and two) and the umpteenth one that mentions the genre, I don’t think I’m able to truthfully make that statement any longer.

My graphic novel journey began six years ago, when I was new to the First Floor and felt I needed to be more familiar with the format, in order to be able to talk to library customers about them. Fast forward and I now find myself reading more graphic novels than almost any other genre. They fit my lifestyle and, for the most part, make me laugh. I enjoy seeing myself in their stories and pictures. Plus, I am still the type of person that likes pictures in books. Bonus is that I can now comfortably discuss and recommend graphic novels to anyone. There’s such a wide variety of topics available in this format, that there is literally something that could appeal to anyone and everyone.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell – Based on the title, I thought this book might be more titillating that it turned out to be. (I’ve read some that are for sure!) Turns out we are the voyeurs observing the author’s life. But also, she’s the voyeur observing, and possibly over-analyzing, her own life. This book made me glad that I’m not an artist or author. It seems that the self-doubt and paranoia can be soul-crushing. Kudos to all of those who are able to overcome these feeling and produce the works we all enjoy. Bonus feature: There was a brief appearance by my second favorite graphic novelist!

Journal: February 2011-October 2012 by Julie Delporte – This peek into the daily life of an artist in post-break-up status is raw, but visually beautiful. She purposefully shies away from using black in her doodling and journaling pallet because it’s safe, and the last things she feels, or wants to feel currently, is safe. Her little drawings on each page are miniature works of art. The daily entries are akin to stream of consciousness writing at times. Watching her journey to discovering herself as an artist is intellectually satisfying.

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger – This book is visually stunning from cover to cover. It is a pictorial synopsis of designer Christian Dior’s career, from his first collection as a solo designer to his untimely death, through the eyes of one of his “young ladies”, which is what his runway models were called. Although the protagonist in the story is fictional, the other people, and most importantly, the designs pictured are factual. This book was originally published in French and is basically a love letter to Dior and everything he represented. A timeline of his life, short biographies’ of his well-known associates and supporters, list of all his fashion collections and glossary of fashion terms are included at the end. I leave you with these parting words from Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion (1954), “Uncomfortable shoes will alter your gait and harm your elegance.” Truer words were never spoken.

But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist by Margaux Motin – True to life comics of the days, and nights, of a fashion-obsessed, French wife and mother of a young girl. Watch her try to “hint” to her husband what she wants for her birthday, navigate life with a preschooler who parrots the words of her mother at the most inopportune times and deal with her post-pregnancy body. This book talks to you like you’re one of her girlfriends. And since she lives in Paris, that’s what I want to be!

On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin – In this collection of stories, French Canadian lesbians tell their tales about realizing their sexual orientation, first loves, and first “times.” They are all variations on a theme, but each individual follows a slightly different route. If you can get over the people in each story being replaced by anthropomorphized animal-like creatures, you’ll discover very human tales of coming-out and becoming comfortable with yourself.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston – Opening this book is like discovering your great-grandmother’s scrapbook in the attic. You can’t help yourself. You sit right down in place and begin flipping through the pages — marveling at the assortment of old photographs and clippings from magazines and newspapers. What’s even better is that there’s a story here for you to read. You don’t have to try and figure out the meaning of the ticket stub, the pressed flower or that scrap of fabric. Before you know it, you’ve spent the better part of the afternoon absorbed in another time period. And you realize you’ve been rooting for the scrapbook keeper to find fame, fortune and love.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed by Liz Prince – Liz is one of my top four favorite graphic artists/novelists right now. (The others being Lucy Knisley, who is number one; Jeffrey Brown, as you already have learned above, is number two; and the team of Hubert and Kerascoët are number four, just FYI.) This book is super short, a small, graphic novel that is full of laughs. It took me less than an hour to read, but I kept stopping to show comics to my boyfriend, accompanied by comments like, “This is TOTALLY us!” and “You’ve/I’ve done this on more than one occasion.” This is a hilarious and sweet look at relationships and it doesn’t hurt that my second favorite graphic artist drew the preface!

-Melissa M.

P.S. Turns out that I unknowingly had a theme this time. Four of the seven books above were originally published in another language and subsequently translated into English. We have graphic novels from all countries. Fun fact!

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Ready, Set…. Goal!

Summer Reading has long been the domain of children and teens. In fact, we’re sometimes so focused on getting younger folks to read during the summer, it’s easy for people to forget that Summer Reading is important and exciting for adults, too!

This year, CLP is getting more intentional about Summer Reading by asking adult readers to go a step further than simply logging the number of pages or books they’ve read. We’re asking that you set a Summer Reading goal and let us know how it goes! Throughout the summer, we’ll share tips, book recommendations, supplemental readings and library resources related to your goal.  Your goal can be anything at all related to reading. To prove it, here’s a look at the Summer Reading goals of some CLP volunteers.

Ashley P.:Blue Lily, Lily Blue

I have a problem. I read the first book in a series, love it, plan to continue the series…and then never do! So, to try and combat this problem, my summer reading goal is to finish at least 10 books from series I have already begun but never finished. On my list? Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan, Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, and Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch.

Kate:

I’m a mother to an 8-year-old boy who would much rather be playing Minecraft than reading, so one of my goals is to supervise his summer reading program as well as read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to him at bedtime in the hope that it will inspire him to begin reading chapter books. For myself, this summer I’m going to read books with a landscape theme. One of these is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, another is Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error, the great Annales School historical work by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, and a third is The Great Gatsby. I’m going to read Montaillou with an eye to writing a short story featuring a character in Ladurie’s history, the Cathar shepherd Pierre Maury. Wish me luck!

Ehrrin:

After weeks of agonizing over what my summer reading goal would be this year, I decided not to decide. Or rather, to decide on a multi-genre goal since I couldn’t settle on all one category of anything. I’m going to read five books, in no particular order.

Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley

  1. Something self-improvement: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I know so many people who have read and loved this book, and I’m a slob, so I’m hoping this will revolutionize my life. Or at least my apartment.
  2. Something hilarious: Meaty by Samantha Irby. I occasionally read her blog, Bitches Gotta Eat. (Who knew that tales of Crohn’s disease could be so funny?) As you may guess from the title of her blog, the profanity is free-flowing, so not suitable for folks sensitive to that kind of thing.
  3. Something sciencey: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. Because nothing screams a serious interest in science like using the word “sciencey.”
  4. Something from my culture of origin: Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley by Ann Pancake. I’m a native West Virginian, and have a special affinity for stories about my Appalachian homeland. Also, I was roommates with her brother during college for a while.
  5. Something recommended to me by a CLP librarian: Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari. I attended the Volunteer Appreciation event in April (which was awesome, by the way!) and Suzy from the South Side branch suggested this based on my special blend of literary nerdiness.

Ashley H.:

I started out with a pretty ambitions reading goal of all the unread books in my Audible collection.  When I actually checked to see how many unread books I had, it turned out to be about 25 books.  After doing some quick math, this translated to over 320 hours of reading or about 3 hours of reading every single day through August 31.  Since I barely get half an hour of free time every day, this seemed like an over ambitious goal.  So, I broke down my books into 3 categories, fiction, education non-fiction, and history non-fiction.  My new goal is to read three books from each category this summer, which I think is a little more reasonable.  My first book this week was Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Hamilton’s Anita Blake series is one of my favorite series books full of horror, action, sci-fi and more.  My next pick will have to be something from non-fiction, maybe The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner.

Ellie:

I’ve got a long list of books on my ‘to-read’ list. Some of them have been there for ages, and keep getting pushed to the bottom (you know how it is….when someone tells you about an especially good, or new book that you just have to read… the list just never ends). So this summer, I’m going to the bottom of my list and challenging myself to read books that I have been putting off. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, as well as Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles,ASR Landing Page Graphic (2) by Richard Dowden are two that will definitely bump their way to the top! Another mini goal I have for myself is to read a couple of nonfiction books. I have a tendency to shy away from nonfiction!

Ready? Set? GOAL: Sign up for Summer Reading at carnegielibrary.org/summer, set your goal, receive encouragement and tips, and be entered to win some awesome prizes.

Happy Reading!

-Ginny

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