Thursday, June 30, 2016

Variations on a Theme: Beach Reads

June is the start of summer. Summer is for beach reads. Instead of the usual list of fun, light books, this Variations on a Them encompasses books about the beach... or at least near the beach. So, when you have your toes in the sand you can read about sand itself. I love nerdy moments like that.

Sand: The Never-Ending Story
Michael Wellend

From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years in the past to the future, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest, most powerful, and most ubiquitous materials. Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, Sand examines the science—sand forensics, the physics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, planetary exploration—and at the same time explores the rich human context of sand. Interwoven with tales of artists, mathematicians, explorers, and even a vampire, the story of sand is an epic of environmental construction and destruction, an adventure in staggering scales of time and distance, yet a tale that encompasses the ordinary and everyday. Sand, in fact, is all around us—it has made possible our computers, buildings and windows, toothpaste, cosmetics, and paper, and it has played dramatic roles in human history, commerce, and imagination. In this luminous, kinetic, revelatory account, we do indeed find the world in a grain of sand.

Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A Natural History and Species Guide
Annalisa Berta

The eighty-nine cetacean species that swim our seas and rivers are as diverse as they are intelligent and elusive, from the hundred-foot-long, two-hundred-ton blue whale to the lesser-known tucuxi, ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, and diminutive, critically endangered vaquita. The huge distances these highly migratory creatures cover and the depths they dive mean we catch only the merest glimpses of their lives as they break the surface of the water. But thanks to the marriage of science and technology, we are now beginning to understand their anatomy, complex social structures, extraordinary communication abilities, and behavioral patterns. In this beautifully illustrated guide, renowned marine mammalogist Annalisa Berta draws on the contributions of a pod of fellow whale biologists to present the most comprehensive, authoritative overview ever published of these remarkable aquatic mammals.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect,” about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.

The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean
Trevor Corson

In this intimate portrait of an island lobstering community and aneccentric band of renegade biologists, journalist Trevor Corson escorts the reader onto the slippery decks of fishing boats, through danger-filled scuba dives, and deep into the churning currents of the Gulf of Maine to learn about the secret undersea lives of lobsters.

The Edge of the Sea
Rachel Carson

The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place." A book to be read for pleasure as well as a practical identification guide, The Edge of the Sea introduces a world of teeming life where the sea meets the land. A new generation of readers is discovering why Rachel Carson's books have become cornerstones of the environmental and conservation movements. New introduction by Sue Hubbell.

Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells
Helen Scales

Seashells, stretching from the deep past into the present day, are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Members of the phylum Mollusca are among the most ancient animals on the planet. Their shells provide homes for other animals; have been used as a form of money; and have been a source of gems, food, and new medicines.
After surviving multiple mass extinctions millions of years ago, molluscs and their shells still face an onslaught of anthropogenic challenges, including climate change and corrosive oceans. But rather than dwelling on all that is lost, Helen Scales emphasizes that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to bridge the gap between ourselves and the living world.

Other Beach Reads
Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor - Anthony D. Fredericks
The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod - Henry Beston

A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life in the North Atlantic: Canada to Cape Cod - J. Duane Sept
Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, from Myth to Reality - Helen Scale
The Reef: A Passionate History: The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change - Ian McCalman

The Shell Collector's Handbook: The Essential Field Guide for Exploring the World of Shells - Kenneth Wye

Surf, Sand, and Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes, and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast - Keith Heyer Meldahl
A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean - Melinda Blanchard and Robert Blanchard

Links and Stuff: June 30, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book 19: What If?

TITLE: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
AUTHOR: Randall Munroe
STARTED: June 1, 2016
FINISHED: June 26, 2016
PAGES: 303
GENRE: Science

FIRST SENTENCE: This book is a collection of answers to hypothetical questions.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Millions of people visit each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have an enormous, dedicated following, as do his deeply researched answers to his fans’ strangest questions.
The queries he receives range from merely odd to downright diabolical:What if I took a swim in a spent-nuclear-fuel pool? Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns? What if a Richter 15 earthquake hit New York City? Are fire tornadoes possible? His responses are masterpieces of clarity and wit, gleefully and accurately explaining everything from the relativistic effects of a baseball pitched at near the speed of light to the many horrible ways you could die while building a periodic table out of all the actual elements. The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? is an informative feast for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.

THOUGHTS: The Husband warned me that this book was best read in chunks. He read it start through as his only book and found it to be "too much." I read this a little bit each night while half-watching television. That was perfect. I was able to understand the science and laugh at the jokes. If you like xkcd or the What If website, you'll love this book. It's funny and informative. My favorite part was actually the running bit about the worrisome questions people have submitted.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What I Read This Week: June 26, 2016

On Monday, The Husband and I did something that I thought was pretty darn awesome: we took a tour of the US Naval Observatory. Most people know that as the place where the Vice President lives, but we went to the science side of the complex. We got to look through a telescope at Jupiter, see a 360 degree, nighttime skyline view of the DC area, visit their awesome library, and learn about how the navy has developed time technology. It was a nerdy blast.
  • Work
    • I'm reading a lot of disaster response and recovery plans. Ours is out of date and I would love to have it updated and approved before the year is over.
  • Magazines
    • Food Network, July/August 2016 - I loved all the delightfully refreshing summer dishes in this issue. Sadly, some many of them involve a grill that I mourn for the loss of my patio. Oh well. At least the theme party ideas could be put into action.
    • Real Simple, July 2016 - There were two fantastic feature articles in this issue. The first was on how an autistic boy communicates through visual aids - that one hit me right in
      the feels. The second was about gossip and how it's both good and bad for us. Aside from that, I loved the many ideas on how to enjoy the summer months. 
  • Books
    • I made a concerted effort to read Doctor Dealer in larger chunks this week. I was mildly successful which meant I got to sink into the story more. Bowden is doing a wonderful job of discussing the dealer's back-story. I almost like the guy even though, in actuality, he's not a good person.  
    • I'm still working my way through What If?. This is a great book and I keep laughing at some many of the comments and cartoons. 
  • Other 
    • I love leaning about science and astronomy. I've developed fangirl crushes on both Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, so I thought it was pretty awesome when the New York Times posted an article about what Bill Nye's Sunday looks like.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Links and Stuff: June 23, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why I Love... Surprise Libraries

On Monday, The Husband and I took a tour of the US Naval Observatory. Part of that tour included a stop at their library. I had no idea that was part of the tour and it was stunning!

The room was one large, circular space with two stories of stacks. Lovely, iron spiral staircases on opposite ends of the room led to the second floor area. The room itself was domed with a large chandelier lighting up the space. Beneath the chandelier, there was a fountain. A fountain! I wish my office had a water feature.

The collection has a mix of old and new books. Like every library, there were titles that are meant to be used - i.e. current journals and monographs on science. There were also some parts of the collection that were simply for display. In a rare books display case, there was a book from 1430, a copy of Newton's Principia, and a copy of Galileo's Dialogues. It's a good thing those items were under glass because I want to leaf through them so badly!

Surprise library visits are awesome. It's so cool to see a new library space and collection. Every library has its own vibe and personality. This room felt both academic and military. As a part of the US Navy, that made sense. There was something about the space that made it feel like you could be productive, but there was no overly hushed tone. It was a comfortable room that was both cozy and majestic.

Before tour ended, our guide shared a fun anecdote, "You can spend more time in this space by calling us and saying the magic words... 'I have research to complete.'"

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book 18: Mortal Heart

TITLE: Mortal Heart
AUTHOR: Robin LaFevers
STARTED: June 5, 2016
FINISHED: June 15, 2016
PAGES: 444
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: For most, the bleak dark months when the black storms come howling out of the north is a time of grimness and sorrow as people await the arrival of the winter, which brings death, hunger, and bitter cold in its wake.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's  New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

THOUGHTS: It took me a few years to finally get around to reading the final book in the series, but I'm glad I got around to it. This book was a good way to end the series even if I figured out the "big reveal" WAY before it was shown. Like... the moment the two characters met I knew where the author was taking the story.

I really wish I had more to say than "this was an enjoyable story." Nothing wowed me in this book, but I found it easy reading and I liked seeing what happened to all of the characters who were introduced in the first book. 

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, June 19, 2016

What I Read This Week: June 19, 2016

This week was the perfect balance of work and relaxation. I took a few days off but while I was home I worked-out, voted, and tackled a few things on my to do list. At the office, I managed to stay on top of the daily tasks while having time to plan for and research future projects.

Also, yesterday was awesome. I met up with Lady K and Lady B for a movie (Love and Friendship) and a late lunch. Lady K and I were supposed to use our lunch time to set up our new bullet journals. Whelp, the day before our date, I found out that I ordered a blank instead of dotted notebook... so Lady K set up her journal while I joined Lady B in coloring. While I'm very bummed I didn't get to set up my journal, coloring is still awesome.

Speaking of awesome - The Husband didn't bat an eye during my "It's not dotted!" freak-out when I opened the journal... which had been sitting around (unwrapped) for over a week... so it's my own fault. He merely found an outlet that had it in stock and sent me a link to order the right journal this time. I have ordered two (yes, two) of the correct notebooks from two different vendors. Whoever arrives first gets to be my first bullet journal. Then the other one gets to be a back up. I plan on using the blank notebook for all those meetings I have to take notes in. I don't need dots to keep my notes neat. I'm depending on them to make my bullet journal easier to organize.

Now onto the reading!
  • Work
    • I requested a book, Working Together: Collaborative Information Practices for Organizational Learning, from a library in our consortium to reference for my article. It was a lot shorter than expected. I managed to finish it in a day. Go me.
  • Magazines
    • HGTV Magazine, July/August 2016 - I loved how colorful this issue was, but it seems to be that this magazine repeats the same design styles over and over again. I would love to see something outside of the norm. 
    • Good Housekeeping, July 2016 - I ran through this issue rather quickly, but I did enjoy reading the feature pieces on how one woman surprised her family with her weight loss and how another learned to overcome her fear. There was also a great short piece on a group of military wives who put together a business for other military wives.
    • Cooking Light, July 2016 - I looooooove summer recipes. All the fresh produce and pictures of grilled food just sets my mouth to watering. I snipped a few recipes to try including a steak and tomato panzanella salad that should make both me and The Husband happy. 
  • Books
    • I finished reading Mortal Heart. I'm glad I got to finish it off one massive chunk while on the train. It made it much easier to get absorbed into the end of the story.
    • Now, I am reading Mark Bowden's Doctor Dealer. This has been sitting on my shelf for years. I was in the mood for non-fiction, so it's about time I finally got around to reading it. As with all things Bowden, so far, so good. Also, I didn't realize that he wrote this book in the 1980s. I do wonder if that will have an impact on his writing style.
    • I put another dent in What If?. This book is the perfect thing to read when you're also half-watching television. The chapters are (mostly) short, so I can stop and start easily.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book 17: Working Together

TITLE: Working Together: Collaborative Information Practices for Organizational Learning
AUTHOR: Mary M. Somerville
STARTED: June 15, 2016
FINISHED: June 15, 2016
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: Librarians at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo were experiencing  rapid technological change, aggravating financial uncertainties, and escalating community expectations.

SUMMARY: [From ALA] Around the globe, library leaders are asking: How do we create ‘forward thinking’ outcomes in the Digital Age? In response, the profession is increasingly recognizing that we must start by transitioning current employees into new roles and responsibilities within redesigned workplace environments. Given the magnitude of external economic, technological, and social changes, merely tinkering with traditional organizational models is inadequate. Rather, the forces at play require pro-actively moving from the old, comfortable model - designed for a world that no longer exists – to fundamentally re-invent professional assumptions, organizational structures, and workplace processes. Working Together presents a framework for comprehensive redesign of library organizations. In addition to a review of core literature, the author presents workplace examples illustrating the efficacy of collaborative information practices orchestrated by inclusive leadership principles.

THOUGHTS: I grabbed this book to see if it would be useful for an article I'm working on. Parts of it were, but the majority is a sort of case study look at the changes in one library. That information was valuable, just not for my purposes. The best part of the book was the chapter that summed up the essentials of working together. Not a bad book, just not what I was expecting it to be.

RATING: 5/10 [meh]

The Friday Find: Purse!

You can now carry your books in a book! The Husband sent me the link to the fabulous purse. I think it's a fantastic find.

You can purchase this from Think Geek.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Links and Stuff: June 16, 2016

Little Free Robot Library. From PopVille.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book 16: Orchard House

TITLE: Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow
AUTHOR: Tara Austen Weaver
STARTED: May 22, 2016
FINISHED: June 5, 2016
PAGES: 304
GENRE: Memoir 

FIRST SENTENCE: I hadn't expected much from the house.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Peeling paint, stained floors, vined-over windows, a neglected and wild garden—Tara Austen Weaver can’t get the Seattle real estate listing out of her head. Any sane person would have seen the abandoned property for what it was: a ramshackle half-acre filled with dead grass, blackberry vines, and trouble. But Tara sees potential and promise—not only for the edible bounty the garden could yield for her family, but for the personal renewal she and her mother might reap along the way. So begins Orchard House, a story of rehabilitation and cultivation—of land and soul. Through bleak winters, springs that sputter with rain and cold, golden days of summer, and autumns full of apples, pears, and pumpkins, this evocative memoir recounts the Weavers’ trials and triumphs, detailing what grew and what didn’t, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned. Inexorably, as mother and daughter tend this wild patch and the fruits of their labor begin to flourish, green shoots of hope emerge from the darkness of their past. For everyone who has ever planted something that they wished would survive—or tried to mend something that seemed forever broken—Orchard House is a tale of healing and growth set in a most unlikely place.

THOUGHTS: This memoir was everything I hoped it would be. I've been following Weaver's blog, Tea and Cookies, for years. This book was essentially her blog in print form with all the entries focused on the orchard house. It's been a long time since I've wanted to ignore the world and read a book, and Orchard House made me want to do just that.

I can't imagine that this was an easy book to write. Weaver discusses many of the tough emotional challenges she and her family as faced but she balances them out with the victories and happy moments. I love how she uses the format of taking over an aging garden to show how, with careful tending, many things (including a family) will grow.

Weaver's writing style lush and lyrical. The writing has enough flourish to be rich but manages to stay away from purple prose. Her writing style is one of the main reasons I keep reading her blog. She manages to be approachable, friendly, warm, and insightful all at the same time.

I've often thought that I would love to get coffee with this author and this book only reinforces that wish.

RATING: 9/10 [Excellent!]

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What I Read This Week: June 12, 2016

New York, New York! It's a wonderful town. The Husband and I are in NYC for the weekend to visit my brother. My parents, who live in upstate NY, thought that was a great idea so they came down to join us. NY is a bit too big of a city for my taste, but they do have some stellar museums and eateries. Also bookstores. The Strand is amazing.
  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, June 2016 - I mostly skimmed this issue, but I found the article on the top trends in academic libraries to be useful. I also liked the list of journalism resources. Some of those should benefit my media studies students.
  • Books
    • I finished Orchard House late Sunday night. I loved it! My full review is here.
    • Now I am reading Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers. It's the third (and final?) book in a series I started a few years back. Lady B tells me it's a good read. So far I agree. I thought this book would take me over a month to finish, by the train ride to NY offered some uninterrupted daytime reading.
  • Other
    • I wish her campaign tagline could be "You like me when I'm working." Let's be honest, whether you love her or hate her, Hillary Clinton works extremely hard for what she believes in.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Friday Find: With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

I think it might be safe to say that Belle is every booklover's favorite Disney princess. I was always a fan of Aurora myself, but Belle is kind of girl. She was well-read, kind, and had a backbone. No simpering flwoer that one.

A lovely shop on Etsy has decided to be epically awesome and see what it might look like if Belle ran a coffee shop.

You can buy the mug from StoryBookStiches05.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Links and Stuff: June 9, 2016

Best animated movie scene ever!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Why I Love... Travelling Library Books

Library books are great because they have unknown back-stories. I have no idea who else has been reading the book or where the book has traveled. I love taking library books when I travel because I like to think that it it enjoys seeing the world and it also adds more mystery to the back-story of that specific text.

When I visit NYC this weekend, I'm taking my current library read with me. I hope it enjoys the train ride and the views of the Big Apple.

It's impossible to know if a library book is more well-traveled than I am, but I love to think these library books enjoy seeing the world.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Book 15: Building Bridges

TITLE: Building Bridges: Collaboration Within and Beyond the Academic Library
AUTHOR: Anne Langley, Edward G. Gray, and K.T.L. Vaughan
STARTED: June 2, 2016
FINISHED: June3, 2016
PAGES: 143
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: For many librarians, collaboration can seem a risky venture.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon] Intended for academic libraries, this book covers all aspects of collaboration. Technology has increased the need for, and the ability to, collaborate at work; the first part of the book contains a discussion of: the basic how's and why's of collaboration; building an environment where collaboration can flourish; descriptions and how-to's for using technology tools which aid and enhance the collaborative process; a process of how to get started in collaborative projects; and how to manage them once you begin. The second section of the book presents real-life case studies of collaboration in academic libraries followed by discussions of how each project worked (or not) and why.
  • Describes in detail how to get collaborative projects off the ground and running, and how to manage them for the long-term
  • Guides the reader through the technology that they can use to enhance their collaborative efforts
  • Provides case-studies of real-life examples of collaboration projects

THOUGHTS: I sped through this book in about two sittings. It was mainly a skim-fest, but I did slow down for some aspects that look like they might be relevant to the article I'm writing. The book was well written was a touch to simple for my needs.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, June 05, 2016

What I Read This Week: June 5, 2016

I am so amazed by how much time I have now that I no longer read everything on the internet. I Kondo-ed my RSS feeds and was ruthless. I mainly scrapped news feeds (have no fear, I still get a shload of informative email newsletters), but the amount of time that I have now that I'm not trying to READ ALL THE THINGS is just amazing. So, of course, I now seem to spend that extra free time reading books... but still. I consider that progress.
  • Work
    • American Libraries, June 2016 - First, this magazine overhauled its layout and style. I very much like the changes. Now onto the content! The bulk of this issue was devoted to the annual meeting in Orlando. I'm not going. Sad face. ALA turned 140 this year, and I loved reading about our organizations proudest moments. Librar* for the win! There were also great pieces on Sci-Hub and recruiting/retaining volunteers.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, June 2016 - The cover article on Donald Trump did not ease my fears about this man winning the presidency. I appreciated the new angle (looking into his phsychological personality traits as compared to other presidents), but the whole idea of Trump in the White House still makes me shudder. Turning to the story on DNA, I found the the findings scary given how much we rely on this evidence to "prove" cases. In more positive area, I loved the story how how we can boost kids grit and resilience to foster their education and growth. 
  • Books
    • I've nearly finished Orchard House. I am so happy that I grabbed this book from the library. It is everything I hoped it would be and more.
    • Since I finished all my magazines, I needed something to read while I half watched The Husband play the Uncharted videogames. I picked up What If? by Randall Munroe (or XKCD fame) since it's easy and the chapters are brief and allow me to look up and check out the purty scenery of the video game.
  • Other
    • BuzzFeed posted an awesome crash course article on Bullet Journaling. I'm kind of in love with this idea and think I may need to start one either soon (i.e. July) or as my resolution for 2017. I'm leaning toward July because I am really, really excited about this idea.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Seen on the Metro: Double

Today's metro reading sighting was a two-fer! Both made me very happy.

When I found my seat on the train this morning, I looked up and spied a twenty-something woman reading, what looked to be, a crisp, new paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She was a few chapters in as best I can tell. She wore a rather comfortable looking paisley, maxi dress and beside her was a rolling suitcase. I don't know where she's going, but she's getting there in style with a great book to keep her company.

When the first woman got off the train, her spot was immediately taken by anther twenty-something woman. She was wearing a striped shirt and carrying a small purse over one shoulder. In her hand was a hardcover copy of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was only able to determine that was the title because Lady K gifted me that book for Christmas this year. My fellow passenger was about half-way into the text. If we weren't sitting so far apart I would have asked for her opinion on the book. She exited the train at Union Station... which is one of the better stations to use if you're headed to the Supreme Court. I don't know if that's where she was going but, in my head, she was off to have coffee with Justice Ginsburg so they could chat about the book.

The Friday Find: Sleeps

These pajama pants might be the ideal choice for the next readathon.

You can grab them from Zappos.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Links and Stuff: June 2, 2016