Sunday, August 20, 2017

What I Read This Week: August 20, 2017

This week's reading list is very (very) short. The Husband and out were out of town for most of the week so my completed reading is a pitiful pile. Also, I melted once we returned to the DC humidity. Now I remember why I enjoyed summer's in Upstate New York.

  • Books
    • I only managed a few pages more in Feral. The amount may have been pitiful, but the writing in the book is fantastic. It's some of the most vivid non-fiction prose I've read in a long time.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Friday Find: Pouch

The school year is just around the corner. In some districts, it might have already started. If you're looking for a way to store your (or your kids) pencils and other writing tools, I'd like to direct your attention to this pouch from NYPL. It's a chic and slightly nerdy way to store those class essentials.
You can buy this from the NYPL store.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why I Love... Books as Art

I am putting together a small exhibit for work that focuses on the book as an object of art. About a week ago, I searched our stacks looking for beautiful books. I found many and I loved every one of them. 

Books are already great because they take your mind to new places, but they are also physical objects. Books have bindings and printed pages which we can admire for their design and construction as well as their content. Some of the books I discovered in our stacks had stunning tooling and gilt work on the boards and spines. The geometric patterns shown brightly when tilted in the light. The covers can go beyond scroll work to include illustrations or vignettes based on the book's material. Many covers didn't shine, but were marbled in stunning colors and swirls. 

Inside the covers, end papers can include everything from printed designs, to maps, to illustrations. Books can also have wonderful illustrations printed inside that can vary from simple line drawings to full-color artistic paintings. Book owners can also paste in beautiful book plates which are collector's items themselves.

The edges of books are not to be overlooked. Many books of a certain era showcase gilt or marbled edges. Others offer stunning examples of fore-edge paintings. These books, when their pages are fanned just so, display stunning examples of landscape painting. When the book is closed, you'd never know such a stunning piece of work is there. 

Books have been around for hundreds of years and changes to binding and printing techniques have created so many beautiful pieces that it is impossible to list them all. You can see some great examples of beautiful books on the National Library of Sweden's Flickr page.

The next time you're in a bookstore, why not take a moment to pick up a book and just admire its artistry and design. You'll find that the item in your hands is a marvel to behold.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What I Read This Week: August 13, 2017

Short post this week without any bells and whistles. The Husband and I are visiting my parents and I'm typing this up really quick before we go play tourist.
  • Magazines
    • HGTV, September 2017 - I don't even know why I bother including this title in the round-up. It's basically a catalog and I always flip through it very quickly. The only thing I slowed down for in this issue was the piece involving DIY makeovers of objects and styling options.
  • Books
    • I spent an hour on Sunday reading Before the Fall because I wanted to finish and return it to the library before we left on vacation. I achieved that mission and, while I enjoyed the book, the ending was so real to life that it made me angry. In a good way, I guess, but I was still cranky. This book is going to be hard to review without spoilers.
    • I'm now reading Feral. A book about rewilding by George Monbiot. So far, I love the writing.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Friday Find: Wild Mobile

Someone I know needs to have a baby soon so I have a reason to buy this mobile. It's so cute!

You can find this in the dropsofcolor Etsy shop.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

What I Read This Week: August 6, 2017

This was, perhaps, one of the most normal weeks I've had all summer. Work was just work. Home was just home. There were no random nights out. There was just daily life. I kind of liked it. Must be the introverted side of me.

  • Work
    • I started reading Digital Imaging: A Practical Handbook by Stuart D. Lee this week. We're pivoting toward digitization in my department so I'm reviewing information that might be of use in getting our nascent program to the next level. 
  • Magazines
    • Food Network, September 2017 - This issue had quite a food tasty looking recipes. I most enjoyed the ones that were included in the sheet pan dinners and cookout cookbook section. I also liked the small pullout book devoted to sandwiches. The article on baking and cooking tips from readers had a few things I've not seen before. There was a lot of love for using cooking spray to deal with sticky ingredients.
  • Books
    • I'm still making headway in Before the Fall. I really just ought to spend one night ignoring the internet and finishing this book. Falling asleep after 5 pages each night is really throwing off my reading groove. I was smart one day this week and got in to bed early one night and read for about an hour. Definitely got through more pages that way.
  • Other

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Friday Find: Rain, Rain

DC has been deluged by a lot of summer storms recently. This is why I always carry an umbrella in my bag. You never know when the clouds will open up and drench you in two minutes. If you're looking for an umbrella that shows off your bookishness, I suggest taking a look at this Pride and Prejudice version.
You can find this in the LiteratiClub Etsy shop.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Links and Stuff: August 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Why I Love... A Fresh Start

This year, I've weeded a large number of books from my collection. There were titles on my shelves that I've owned for years... many for over a decade. Not once in all that time did I pick them up to read. They were always "I'll get to them later."

I've been listening to The Minimalists Podcast and they often discuss bringing items into your life with intention. I like that. I decided that I want a fresh start with my collection. So, this summer my shelves got a major weed. I finally stopped keeping everything that I thought I might read later. What is left on my shelves are books that I have read and loved OR I know I will read in the next year. That's it. My bookcases are pretty bare now... which has a bonus action of making it easier to move in the future.

This is a fresh start for my book collection and it's great. My collection is now focused more on my reading style. I'm a mood reader and I often hit up the library to fulfill those moods. And, now, there are few books lingering at home stressing me out because I keep ignoring them. When I do bring a book home now it's because I know it will add value to my shelves and to my life.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 30, 2017

This was one of those weeks that just sorta fluttered by. I know I did stuff but none of it was remarkable. The Husband and I started watching random episodes of Top Gear and now we're both excited for The Grand Tour to return. Aside from that, we hosted a pretty awesome dinner with some of our friends last night. Now if only it would stop raining...

  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, July/August 2017 - Firstly, what is up with the cover pictures. It's a bit odd. Moving on. While I skimmed the majority of this issue, I did like the piece discussing the new roles and strengths of teaching librarians.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, August 2017 - From the cover, I thought this would be an issue I skimmed through quickly. Surprisingly, I read the majority of the issue. The spread on weekend getaways was very well done. It was organized by kind of getaway and each category had drive times, options, and recommendations. There is now a tree house in Virginia I want
      to spend the night in. The short piece on local ice cream places made my mouth water. Finally, there was a short review by a reporter who spent the night in an upscale pet hotel. I thought that was hilarious.
    • National Geographic, August 2017 - I might have squeed a little bit when this issue arrived in the mailbox. I absolutely love when Nat Geo covers space cause the articles are always great and pictures are pretty. This was true for this issue but in a slightly different way. The article was great  - but the pictures highlighted future moon probes which are still earth-bound. The article on Astronaut Scott Kelly was also good but, again, more earth-bound like pictures. Finally, the article on open defecation around the world surprised me. This is a topic that most people in the developed world don't think about which is exactly why Nat Geo included the article. Definitely worth the read.
  • Books
    • I'm about halfway through Before the Fall. It's really good and somehow seems relevant for the times... I just keep falling asleep after five pages. Damn my ability to fall asleep easily! I want to read more!
  • Other
    • The New York Times posted a rather good piece on the Cambridges and sartorial diplomacy.
    • The Washington Post sent out an email alert this week about a long but utterly fascinating story about how modern DNA testing is uncovering lost stories and family trees.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Friday Find: Game of Travel

The Husband and I have slowly been working our way through the Game of Thrones HBO series. George R.R. Martin has created such an interesting world that I (almost) want to travel to it. I think, however, it would be safer for me to just hang these posters in our hallway.
You can find these (and others) in TheSeventhArtShop on Etsy.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Maps

At work, I am creating an exhibit on the art of the book. Part of this project has me traipsing through the stacks looking for pretty bindings and end papers. Some of my favorite end papers happen to be maps. This spurred an idea for this month's Variations on a Themes. Here's a list of books on maps and map-making.

Jerry Brotton

Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, maps of the world are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places. Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps - from the almost mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite-derived imagery of today. He vividly recreates the environments and circumstances in which each of the maps was made, showing how each conveys a highly individual view of the world. Brotton shows how each of his maps both influenced and reflected contemporary events and how, by considering it in all its nuances and omissions, we can better understand the world that produced it. Although the way we map our surroundings is more precise than ever before, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been. Readers of this beautifully illustrated and masterfully argued book will never look at a map in quite the same way again.

Simon Garfield

Imagine a world without maps. How would we travel? Could we own land? What would men and women argue about in cars? Scientists have even suggested that mapping—not language—is what elevated our prehistoric ancestors from ape-dom. Follow the history of maps from the early explorers’ maps and the awe-inspiring medieval Mappa Mundi to Google Maps and the satellite renderings on our smartphones, Garfield explores the unique way that maps relate and realign our history—and reflect the best and worst of what makes us human. Featuring a foreword by Dava Sobel and packed with fascinating tales of cartographic intrigue, outsize personalities, and amusing “pocket maps” on an array of subjects from how to fold a map to the strangest maps on the Internet, On the Map is a rich historical tapestry infused with Garfield’s signature narrative flair. Map-obsessives and everyone who loved Just My Type will be lining up to join Garfield on his audacious journey through time and around the globe.

Ken Jennings

It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere. Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks from the London Map Fair to the bowels of the Library of Congress, from the prepubescent geniuses at the National Geographic Bee to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the “unreal estate” charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been. From the “Here be dragons” parchment maps of the Age of Discovery to the spinning globes of grade school to the postmodern revolution of digital maps and GPS, Maphead is filled with intriguing details, engaging anecdotes, and enlightening analysis. If you’re an inveterate map lover yourself—or even if you’re among the cartographically clueless who can get lost in a supermarket—let Ken Jennings be your guide to the strange world of mapheads.

Tim Marshall

Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question. All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders. Offering “a fresh way of looking at maps” (The New York Times Book Review), Marshall explains the complex geo-political strategies that shape the globe. Why is Putin so obsessed with Crimea? Why was the US destined to become a global superpower? Why does China’s power base continue to expand? Why is Tibet destined to lose its autonomy? Why will Europe never be united? The answers are geographical. “In an ever more complex, chaotic, and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geopolitics” (Newsweek) and a critical guide to one of the major determining factors in world affairs.

Phaidon Editors

Map: Exploring the World brings together more than 300 fascinating maps from the birth of cartography to cutting-edge digital maps of the twenty-fist century. The book's unique arrangement, with the maps organized in complimentary or contrasting pairs, reveals how the history of our attempts to make flat representations of the world has been full of beauty, ingenuity and innovation. Selected by an international panel of curators, academics and collectors, the maps reflect the many reasons people make maps, such as to find their way, to assert ownership, to record human activity, to establish control, to encourage settlement, to plan military campaigns or to show political power. The selection includes the greatest names in cartography, such as James Cook, Gerard Mercator, Matthew Fontaine Maury and Phyllis Pearsall, as well as maps from indigenous cultures around the world, rarely seen maps from lesser'known cartographers, and maps of outstanding beauty and surprising individuality from the current generation of map makers.

Ashley Baynton-Williams

Since that ancient day when the first human drew a line connecting Point A to Point B, maps have been understood as one of the most essential tools of communication. Despite differences in language, appearance, or culture, maps are universal touchstones in human civilization. Over the centuries, maps have served many varied purposes; far from mere guides for reaching a destination, they are unique artistic forms, aides in planning commercial routes, literary devices for illuminating a story. Accuracy—or inaccuracy—of maps has been the make-or-break factor in countless military battles throughout history. They have graced the walls of homes, bringing prestige and elegance to their owners. They track the mountains, oceans, and stars of our existence. Maps help us make sense of our worlds both real and imaginary—they bring order to the seeming chaos of our surroundings. With The Curious Map Book, Ashley Baynton-Williams gathers an amazing, chronologically ordered variety of cartographic gems, mainly from the vast collection of the British Library. He has unearthed a wide array of the whimsical and fantastic, from maps of board games to political ones, maps of the Holy Land to maps of the human soul. In his illuminating introduction, Baynton-Williams also identifies and expounds upon key themes of map production, peculiar styles, and the commerce and collection of unique maps. This incredible volume offers a wealth of gorgeous illustrations for anyone who is cartographically curious.

Other Map Books:
Atlas of Cursed Places - Olivier Le Carrer
Cartographia - Vincent Virga 
Flattening the Earth - John P. Snyder
Maps and Civilization - Norman J.W. Thrower
Maps: Finding Our Place in the World - James R. Akerman, Robert W. Karrow Jr., and John McCarter
Maps that Changed the World - John O.E. Clark
Maps: Their Untold Stories - Rose Mitchell and Andrew Jones

Links and Stuff: July 27, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book 16: The Little Book of Hygge

TITLE: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living
AUTHOR: Meik Wiking
STARTED: July 3, 2017
FINISHED: July 12, 2017
PAGES: 225
GENRE: Non-Fiction


SUMMARY: [From Amazon] Get consciously cozy. The Danes are famously the happiest people in the world, and hygge is a cornerstone of their way of life. Hygge (pro-nounced Hoo-ga) loosely translates as a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. It is about gratitude and savoring the simple pleasures in life. In short, it is the pursuit of everyday happiness. Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life and what makes people happy. From bringing out the candles and spending time with your tribe to giving yourself a break from the demands of healthy living (cake is most definitely hygge), Meik’s beautiful, inspiring book will help you to be more hygge.

THOUGHTS: If you liked Marie Kondo's book, I think you'll like this one. It's basically a manual to finding what sparks joy in life. Wiking has crafted a quick book (backed with science and survives) to find what makes people happy. He's focused on Denmark, but the whole point of the book is to focus on relationships (including the one with yourself) and finding your happy place. I am a homebody, so this book basically validated my desires to sit in a snuggly area and read or watch a movie with The Husband.

I like how Wiking incorporated various ways of presenting his information. Some chapters were stories, some lists, some diagrams and pictures, and some were just straight paragraphs of factual information. While I enjoyed the information in this book, the organization was a bit scattered. I think a few of the chapters should have been reordered to better develop Wiking's argument. But that's a nitpink.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, July 23, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 23, 2017

This was my annual birthday staycation week. I like to take a week off around my birthday every year for two reasons. First, I usually have a long list of to do items that I want to devote my attention to. This list includes weeding things, cleaning things, and generally getting stuff done to get my life in order. Second, I like to have one me day on my birthday day. I usually just indulge in food items and home spa stuff. It's incredibly relaxing.

  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, August 2017 - This issue was focused on fast recipes and it was full of delicious and fresh looking meals. I actually said, "Ooo! Ooo!" outloud when I say the recipe for skillet ratatouille. I've already asked The Husband if he's game for me trying it as one of our meals this week. I skimmed over the feature articles in this issue because they were kind of blah, but the recipes were definitely worth my attention.
    • Real Simple, August 2017 - This was kind of a lackluster issue for this magazine. Most of the feature articles were just there for me and the tips/tricks/food all seemed like repeats. The one article I did like was about how to be kind in a rude world. I always think it's best to spread a little bit of kindness every day. You never know what people are going through, so it's best to approach the world with a smile and a helping hand. 
  • Books
    • I'm making a decent dent in Before the Fall. So far, the book is mainly a mystery with evolving backstories. I like it. It's also a great summer read. There is enough drama and characters to make me pay attention, but it's also easy to read. It does, however, make me never want to fly on a private plane...

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Friday Find: Caddy

Yesterday was my birthday and I indulged myself with a home spa day. There was an assortment of facial products, hair products, and a fluffy white bathrobe. There was also a long, hot bath with a bath bomb. The only thing that was missing was a bathtub caddy to take my luxuriating to another level.

You can find this at Pottery Barn.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Links and Stuff: July 20, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why I Love... Letting Go

Today, I completed my biannual weeding of the things in our apartment. This included another pass of my books. I let go of four more today. That was on top of the random pass I did last week where I let go of ten. Our bookshelves are now looking rather empty.

But that's okay.

These books went to the community bookcase in our building's laundry room. I've noticed that many of the titles have already been scooped up by our neighbors. These books, almost all of them unread, had no more meaning to me - they've have gone to someone else who found them to be of interest.

That is why I love letting go.

These books will live on for someone else. They will give joy to someone else. They will inform or entertain or provoke feelings in someone else. They no longer did that for me. I want to read other books. I want to get those feelings from other titles and other stories.

Letting go does not mean trashing something. Letting go means living on.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 16, 2017

This is the first weekend of my staycation. Huzzah! I plan on spending most of my time cleaning, getting stuff done around the apartment, and generally knocking things off my personal to do list, but I have some fun stuff planned. The Husband and I played some rousing Mario Kart at Lady B and her SO's apartment last night. I am not a good driver, but I can eat tasty pizza with the best of them! It was like we were back in high school.

DC also muddled through it's first solid heat-wave of the summer. Every year I forget how melty it can get here. I actually found myself craving icy lemonade. Even now it sounds tasty. Drinking lemonade while reading in a swinging hammock in the shade sounds like a most excellent way to spend the day.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, July/August 2017 - Well this was a scarily prescient issue. The cover story (by my favorite non-fiction author Mark Bowden) was all about our options to deal with a nuclear North Korea. It was scary to read this right after the North Koreans tested an ICBM. Scary... but important. This was a great article laying out all the tough and complex decisions surrounding this area of geopolitics. In addition to the cover story, I really liked the two medical feature stories. The first was about using smartphone and app technology to help diagnose and treat mental illness. The second was about the quest to find new bacteria to counter the threat of antibiotic Resistance. The usual supporting articles in this issue were good, but none of them were outstanding must-reads.
  • Books
    • I finished reading The Little Book of Hygge. It was just as delightful as I hoped it would be. I love how it basically says my homebodiness is a good thing.
    • The book I'm reading now is Before The Fall by Noah Hawley. It's a mystery/thriller which is not my usual genre, but I've read some rave reviews. So far, I'm very intrigued by both the story and the writing style.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Friday Find: From The Library Of

At work this week, I can across a small trove of books that had book plates inside the front cover. I don't put bookplates in my books because I usually don't hang on to them once I finish reading them, but if I did, I would use these lovely peacock versions.

You can find this in the SunshineandRavioli2 Etsy store.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book 15: Digital Preservation

TITLE: Digital Preservation
AUTHOR: Marilyn Deegan and Simon Tanner, eds.
STARTED: April 4, 2017
FINISHED: July 6, 2017
PAGES: 260
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the introduction] This third volume in the Digital Futures series has been some time in gestation, and is intended as a contribution to the urgent debate about issues around the preservation of culture in digital form.

SUMMARY: [From ALA Editions] The rise of the Internet and the rapid expansion of electronic information present new challenges for librarians who must acquire, store, organize, preserve, and disseminate this information to their users. How can you locate the electronic resources most relevant to the needs of your users, integrate those resources into the infrastructure of your institutions, manage the necessary technology, and anticipate future trends? Deegan and Tanner suggest both the “why” and the “how” in this meticulous and completely practical examination of the strategic issues we face in a digital future. Chapters like: “Digital Futures in Current Contexts”; “Why Digitize?”; “Developing Collections in the Digital World”; “Economic Implications of Digital Collections”; “Resource Recovery”; “Structures and Services: Mechanisms for End-User Access”; “Digital Preservation”; “The Changing Profession of Librarianship”; and “Digital Futures” encapsulate the themes, concepts, and critical issues facing every librarian.

THOUGHTS: I grabbed this book because I am now on our consortium's digital preservation task force. While the book offered a nice summary of the issues and possibilities around digital preservation, it was published in 2006. Many of the examples are out of date and major strides have been made in the area since then. Even with that, it's still a good summary of the concepts and needs of the subject.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book 14: This Place Has No Atmosphere

TITLE: This Place Has No Atmosphere
AUTHOR: Paula Danziger
STARTED: June 27, 2017
FINISHED: July 3, 2017
PAGES: 207
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: "I think he likes you," Juan whispers, as Matthew sits down at the other end of the table and smiles at me.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In the year 2057 people live in malls, take classes in ESP, and get detention from robots. Fifteen-year-old Aurora loves everything about her life. She’s part of the coolest group of kids at school and has just started dating the best-looking guy in her grade. Then her parents make the announcement that she’s sure will ruin her life—the family’s moving to the moon! What with water rationing, no privacy, and freeze-dried ham­burgers, how will Aurora ever feel like she’s home again?

THOUGHTS: When I was in elementary school, I read this book at least 14 times. Something about it spoke to me and I decided I needed to reread it for the nostalgia factor.

As a way to relive my childhood, this book was awesome. It brought me back to all the days I spent reading nestled in my bed or on a patio chair. It reminded me of how excited I was about traveling to the moon as a teenager. It reminded me that this book felt new, fresh, and full of adventure. The nostalgia of my reread put a HUGE smile on my face for days.

As for the book itself, as an adult, the magic is not the same. Aurora feels selfish and juvenile. She insults and judges people for inane reasons. She is downright mean in many instances. The plot is also oddly paced giving a lot of time to earth and not to the moon. The secondary characters also fall a bit flat. I was disappointed that my adult side sees less good in this book, but that's what happens when you grow up. At least the idea of the story still feels innovative. I've not come across another YA book like this.

That said, I still this book because it reminds me of my younger days when I could read and read and read without any other care in the world.

RATING: For the Nostalgia - 8/10 [Terrific]; For the Book - 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, July 09, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 9, 2017

Holidays that arrive mid-week always throw my mental schedule out of whack. Tuesday felt like a Saturday. Wednesday felt like a Monday. Thursday felt like a Friday. Weirdness. On the Fourth, The Husband and I got to enjoy DC's fireworks on the rooftop of one of friend's buildings. The rain managed to miss us so we had a blast grilling and seeing the sparkles. I know they're illegal, but I love how people all over DC set off fireworks. It's a 360 show!
  • Work
    • I was able to get back to reading Digital Preservation.... and I finished it! That is a good thing because, now that we are done moving our campus libraries, digital preservation and digitization are the new main focus of my job.
  • Magazines
    • Food Network, July/August 2017 - For the first time in a long time, I did not save one recipe from this magazine. This issue had plenty of BBQ and picnic foods, which I love, but most of them are grill based. Since we no longer have a grill, I skimmed right through them. The foil packet dinners were intriguing but, again, grill based. 
    • Washingtonian, July 2017 - When I sat down to read this issue earlier this week, I didn't think I'd end up finishing it in one sitting. Normally it takes me a few days to get through each issue. I have a feeling my speed was due to the bulk of this issue being about food. The cheap eats cover story gave
      me a great list of new places to try. I also liked the story about the guy behind the Instagram account DCFoodPorn. I've followed that account for a few months so it was cool to get the behind the scenes story. In non-food news, the article about moving the Capital out of DC was intriguing... and a little scary since I live here. The one downside to this issue was the HUGE ad section featuring Best Of relators, doctors, etc. I always flip past those.
  • Books
    • I finished off This Place Has No Atmosphere early in the week. It's a very nostalgic book for me to read (I loved it as a kid), but I can see now that the book itself is not the best. I'll have a full review up soon.
    • I started reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets of Happy Living by Meik Wiking. So far it's a slightly denser version of The Live Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The books have the same sort of structure. They even feel the same in the hand. I'm almost halfway done already and I can't wait to add more hygge to my daily life.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Friday Find: Shh

Zits is one of my favorite parts of the Sunday comics. I love the whole strip but I adore it when they involve books and reading in the story. This particular strip might be one of my favorites of all time.

You can read more Zits here.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Why I Love... Finishing Books Unexpectedly

It doesn't happen often, but I love it when I sit down to read a book and it turns out I only had five or so pages left to read.

Many books these days seem to have a lot of extra pages after the end of the main text. These pages are either appendices, bibliographies, author interviews, or previews of other books. When you don't know those features are there, it can appear like there is a lot more story left to read.

So, I love it when those pages throw off my mental timing. It means I'm not "reading" ahead trying to figure out what is next for the characters in a book. When I'm in to a story, my mind can wander about to try to think of where the plot is heading. The longer the book, the more like I am to come up with plot trajectories in my head. It can be distracting. Books ending sooner than planned stops that mind wandering.

It also means the unexpected endings gives me a rare moment to pause and think, "Hmmm? What am I in the mood for now." I often plan on what I'm reading next when I know a book is ending. When I don't get the chance to do that, my mind runs wile with possibilities. Abrupt endings give my brain a break and allow for transition time from one book to the next.

These moments are rare, but it means I love it even more when they happen.

Monday, July 03, 2017

In the News: Above and Beyond

Last week, I read a CNN story about a young librarian who has saved six people from drug overdoses. I can guarantee you that this woman did not get her master's degree to do this. She did not learn in school how to save dying people with Narcan. She did not know that her job would entail checking bathrooms to make sure no one was shooting up. She did not know that people would look to her to save people slumped over and turning blue on benches outside of her library building. She did not get the training needed to handle emotional aftermath.

She, like thousands of other librarians, never expected to or were trained to handle these situations... but they do it anyway.

So often librarians are seen as shushers and book pushers. Instead, they are often social workers, counselors, and medics. Libraries and librarians are pillars of their community and people look to us to fulfill needs as they arise. Libraries are open to everyone from the soccer mom and small business owner to the homeless who come in every day seeking access to social services and a safe place to spend their day. Libraries are central hubs of activity because they allow access for all to books, magazines, the internet, and tools to help people grow.

Libraries seek to help people find what they need and, because of that, librarians often go above and beyond their written job duties to fulfill those requests. This includes reviving overdosed drug users, handling vocal and physical disputes among their users, and acting as counselors to children and teens who are dropped off my parents heading to work. As community budgets are cut, libraries often remain the last bastion of service. Librarians end up connecting their users with government services like TANF and SNAP. They serve as social workers and connect those with mental illness to services that can with counseling and treatment. They connect the homeless to groups that can provide temporary or permanent shelter. And, despite policies saying otherwise, they end up being daycare services for children who have no place else to go.

The interactions can be highly emotional and most librarians come to these situations untrained in these areas. Some patrons can become agitated and abusive. I don't know of a single librarian who has not been yelled at by a patron. You're there to help and when you can't, no matter how are you try, the responses you get can be upsetting. Some patrons accept your answer and go away, head hanging. Others yell and scream at you in their frustration. Some people become violent. And, at the end of the day, when you go home, their emotions can stay with you.

But there are high points as well. Some children spend all day in the library because that is their only option. These kids have a world of information at their fingers and many show their appreciation through smiles, thank you notes, and small presents. They read piles of books and participate in story-time or craft classes. They take coding sessions offered in the computer lab or build robots in the Makerspace. And, they leave the day smiling and waving goodbye.

Recent immigrants can use the library to find ESL classes or other programs to help them learn about American culture. I shadowed a reference desk once where a recent immigrant from Africa asked how she should could become a licensed mid-wife. She had delivered babies in her home country of Ghana and wanted to continue her work in her new home. The librarian I was shadowing was able to connect her to a program run through a local medical school. She left the desk with a stack of information beaming at the prospect that she could find her future here.

These positive interactions are what the majority of people think about. They don't think about librarians having to clean up bodily fluids in the bathroom or stacks. They don't think about the homeless trying to hide in a back room so they can spend the night indoors. They don't think about all the manner of things that find their way in to the book drops (dirty needles, trash, and weapons among included).  They don't think about librarians comforting sobbing college students during finals week. They don't think about librarians providing a safe space and information for the gay middle school student from a conservative household.

Everyone in the community can use the library. That means librarians encounter all the kinds of people that live in that community. The good and the bad. The well-off and the needy.

As a librarian, you help the person in front of you. You help every individual with the information and service they require no matter who they are. It just so happens that when the economy takes a downturn and community needs are great, those needs can be heartbreaking.

But librarians don't turn people away. They help in whatever way they can.

They go above and beyond.

Book 13: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

TITLE: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
AUTHOR: Robert Louis Stevenson
STARTED: June 12, 2017
FINISHED: June 26, 2017
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable.

SUMMARY: [From BN] When Edward Hyde tramples an innocent girl, two bystanders catch the fellow and force him to pay reparations to the girl's family. A respected lawyer, Utterson, hears this story and begins to unravel the seemingly manic behavior of his best friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and his connection with Hyde. Utterson probes into both Jekyll and his unlikely protégé, increasingly unnerved at each new revelation. In a forerunner of psychological dramas to come, Robert Louis Stevenson uses Hyde to show that we are both repulsed and attracted to the darker side of life, particularly when we can experience it in anonymity.

THOUGHTS: For some reason, I thought this novella would involve a lot more violence, mayhem, and murder. Popular culture has given me the impression that this book was way more dramatic than it turned out to be. Once I got over how the images in my head did not meat the actual plot, I was able to get into this story. This story is more eerie and tense than it is violent. I liked that. The personality split and mystery were at the forefront of the writing. There is a lot of philosophy and dense imagery in this book which is fine, but it does leave me surprised that this story is generally shelved in the Young Adult section of the library.

All-in-all this is a good book that popular culture has, unfortunately, turned in to an necessarily violent story. RLS work is far more thought-provoking and deserves better.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, July 02, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 2, 2017

Hoorah! We finished relocating our last branch library earlier this week. I celebrated by having a beer and sleeping the deepest sleep of the year. We still have clean-up work to do, but the hardest part is over. All the material is in the building! *dances*

In other news, I tried something new this week. I slipped $10 Starbucks gift cards into envelopes with notes and left them in various public locations. I called them #luckydayenvelopes and I hope that the unexpected gifts brings a smile to someone's face. I have no idea who found them or what they thought, but I just wanted to do a nice little gesture for someone.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, June 2017 - This is the annual Best of Issue. I like this one better than the past issues because it highlighted things that were outside the usual for me. I now have a short list of things I want to try and places I want to eat. In addition to the round-up, I liked the article on one woman's late term abortion. I know the subject is touchy, but it's an important piece because it details a personal experience without judging the other side. Finally, the story about the Breitbart reporter was rather interesting. I thought the subject's drive was impressive, but it does a better job of showing why we need strong reporting and even strong information literacy skills.
    • Real Simple, July 2017 - I am determined to stay on top my
      magazine reading now so I read this issue the same weekend it came in. (Go me!) This was one of the blahest Real Simple issues I've read this year, but I did love the article on how to have a family of readers through the summer. The productivity and summer vacation tips weren't too bad either. But that was about it.
  • Books
    • I finished the last pages of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Monday. I always had this mental image of the story (thanks popular culture) but the book is quite different from what I thought it would be.
    • Ah, nostalgia. This week, I picked up a childhood favorite, This Place Has No Atmosphere, and I've been transported back to my elementary school self. I LOVED this book as a kid and, so far, my reread has reminded me of why. 
  • Other

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Friday Find: Hold My Beer

Summer is for reading outside. Summer is also for cold beer. If you like to combine this two, this customizable beer coozy is a great option.

You can find this in the QuotableLife Etsy shop.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Handwriting

Ever since I started using a bullet journal last year, I've wanted to make changes to my handwriting. I've always been a fan of pen and paper, but writing every day has shown me how inconsistent my own handwriting has become. While legible, it's a mix of print and cursive and I want to make some tweaks to my style. This current obsession has led me to a trove of books on handwriting and hand-lettering. I decided that I need to share my finds in this month's Variations on a Theme.

Spencerian Handwriting: The Complete Collection of Theory and Practical Workbooks for Perfect Cursive and Hand Lettering
Platts Roger Spence

Easy to understand yet challenging to perfect, the Spencerian system was the standard for all personal and business correspondence in the 1800s. While modern students are barely taught cursive, for more than a century schoolchildren were dutifully drilled in intricate penmanship using this original primer.

Now you can follow the step-by-step instructions and practice on the included workbook pages to learn:
• The seven Spencerian principles
• Proper pen positioning
• Finger and arm movement
• Heights and widths of letters
• Spacing between letters and words
• Optional shading effects

With Spencerian Handwriting, you can add a personal touch to all your handwritten letters and notes reminiscent of simpler, more elegant times.

Gabri Joy Kirkendann et al.

Creative Lettering and Beyond combines the artistic talents and inspirational tips and tutorials of several professional hand letterers and calligraphers for a dynamic and interactive learning experience. After a brief introduction to the various tools and materials, artists and lettering enthusiasts will learn how to master the art of hand lettering and typography through engaging, easy-to-follow step-by-step projects, prompts, and exercises. From the basic shape and form of letters, to cursive script, spacing, and alignment, artists will discover how to transform simple words, phrases, and quotes into beautiful works of hand-lettered art. The interactive format and step-by-step process offers inspirational instruction for a wide variety of fun projects and gift ideas, including hand-rendered phrases on paper and digitally enhanced notecards. Artists will also discover how to apply lettering to linen, coffee mugs, calendars, and more. Numerous practice pages and interactive prompts throughout the book invite readers to put their newfound lettering skills to use, as well as work out their artistic ideas. Covering a variety of styles and types of lettered art, including calligraphy, illustration, chalk lettering, and more, artists will find a plethora of exercises and tips to help them develop their own unique lettering style. With comprehensive instructions and fun, inspirational exercises and projects, Creative Lettering and Beyond is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to learn this beautiful and stylish art form.

Chalkfulloflove and Paige Tate Select

If you follow Chalkfulloflove (also known as Sarah!) on social media, you and thousands of others already know how adorable her hand-lettered creations are. With Hand Lettering 101, Sarah brings her fabulous Hand Lettering 101 workshop right to you with this beginner workbook! In this book, you will go over the basics on how to learn Sarah's fun style of faux calligraphy. This book will guide you through each letter of the lower case alphabet, go over her technique behind connecting letters, give tips on how to mix and match your fonts, and finally lead you to make six finished projects! This is an introduction, so no experience is needed! Since practice is key, this gold spiral bound workbook lays flat and provides tons of opportunities for practice! Chalkfulloflove was created to encourage, inspire and make you giggle, so just pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in to start your own unique, adorable lettering creations!

Anne Trubek

In the digital age of instant communication, handwriting is less necessary than ever before, and indeed fewer and fewer schoolchildren are being taught how to write in cursive. Signatures--far from John Hancock’s elegant model--have become scrawls. In her recent and widely discussed and debated essays, Anne Trubek argues that the decline and even elimination of handwriting from daily life does not signal a decline in civilization, but rather the next stage in the evolution of communication. Now, in The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, Trubek uncovers the long and significant impact handwriting has had on culture and humanity--from the first recorded handwriting on the clay tablets of the Sumerians some four thousand years ago and the invention of the alphabet as we know it, to the rising value of handwritten manuscripts today. Each innovation over the millennia has threatened existing standards and entrenched interests: Indeed, in ancient Athens, Socrates and his followers decried the very use of handwriting, claiming memory would be destroyed; while Gutenberg’s printing press ultimately overturned the livelihood of the monks who created books in the pre-printing era. And yet new methods of writing and communication have always appeared. Establishing a novel link between our deep past and emerging future, Anne Trubek offers a colorful lens through which to view our shared social experience.

Margaret Shepherd

When you receive the daily mail do you jump to open the handwritten envelopes first because you can’t wait to see who has written and why? Or do you hold those letters aside to savor and enjoy after you are done sorting your bills and tossing the junk mail? Whatever your approach, you no doubt recognize the importance of the note that comes in a unique envelope with distinct handwriting and possibly a decoration or two. Indeed, in an age when even birthday greetings are sent by e-mail, the personal letter is appreciated more than ever before. For those who enjoy writing notes, or those who value doing so but find themselves intimidated by the task, acclaimed calligrapher Margaret Shepherd has created both an epistolary tribute and rescue manual. Just as you cherish receiving personal mail, you can take pleasure in crafting correspondence. Love, gratitude, condolences, congratulations–for every emotion and occasion, a snippet of heartfelt prose is included, sure to loosen the most stymied letter writer. Not only providing inspiration for the content of the missives, The Art of the Handwritten Note gives thorough instruction in the specific details that give so many men and women the jitters when it comes to correspondence that can’t (or shouldn’t) be produced on a keyboard. From overcoming illegible penmanship to mastering the challenge of keeping straight margins, avoiding smeared ink, and choosing stationery that is appropriate but suits your style, this is a powerful little guide to conveying thoughts in an enduring–and noteworthy–way.

The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide: A Complete Step-by-Step Creative Workbook to Jump Start Modern Calligraphy Skills
Peggy Dean

The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide has something for everyone - from beginners that have never used a brush pen, to seasoned letterers looking for new stylistic, expressive options and ideas. Each lesson builds on itself, unlocking endless opportunities inside the playful art of brush lettering.This book covers it all, from the ever-so-important basics, through a journey of faux calligraphy, a comprehensive brush pen guide along with how they're used, pages of different alphabet styles, unique flourishes and ligatures, to creative step-by-step DIY projects. Dive in and discover your unique style.

More Handwriting Titles
The Art of the Personal Letter - Margaret Shepherd and Sharon Hogan
Hand Lettering for Everyone - Cristina Vanko
Hand Lettering Ledger - Mary Kate McDevitt
Handwriting in America - Tamara Plakins Thornton
Improve Your Handwriting - Rosemary Sassoon and Gunnlaugur S.E. Briem
Modern Calligraphy - Molly Suber Thorpe
Pen to Paper - Mary Savig
Simply Calligraphy - Judy Detrick
The Universal Penman - George Bickham

Links and Stuff: June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book 12: Today Will Be Different

TITLE: Today Will Be Different
AUTHOR: Maria Semple
STARTED: May 28, 2017
FINISHED: June 11, 2017
PAGES: 272
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Today will be different.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

THOUGHTS: I've held off on reviewing this book because I was still trying to decide if I actually liked it or not. Two weeks later and the best conclusion I can come to is that I like the book but I loathe the main character. The story is well written and paced, but I just could not take to the main character. Even when you're supposed to sympathize with Eleanor, I just wanted to yell at her. To me, she's self-centered, dense, and grating. If I met Eleanor in real life, she would be that person I avoid like the plague. My dislike of her overwhelms the rest of the book. The story is fine and I enjoy how the authored structured it as flashbacks set in one day of recall, but again with the character. She just drove me batty.


RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What I Read This Week: June 25, 2017

The movers we hired to help us relocate one of our branch library collections into the main library started this week. This is the last branch library closure I will have to manage. (Huzzah!) This has been the most complicated relocation and I am so happy it looks like we will finish on time. My project management skills may have grown through all of these relocations, but I am SO SO happy that my department gets to focus on other things now.

In happier news, Lady B and I treated ourselves to facials on Tuesday. It was a wonderful mid-week treat but I always have a hard time not petting my own face afterwards.

  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, May 2017 - This week, I took some time to clear off all of the professional reading that has accumulated on my desk. I thought I was going to breeze through this issue, but I thought the story on engaging students with whiteboards was very relevant. We have whiteboards throughout our library, so I liked the new ideas of how we might use them.
    • College and Research Libraries News, June 2017 - This issue opened with a story about how libraries can support refugees and asylum piece. It's an important and, unfortunately, necessary piece for today. In happier news, I'm jealous of the Penn State library's 3D printing program... mainly because there was a photo of a printed t-rex skull in the article. It looked so cool!
    • American Libraries, May 2017 - The Trends story in this issue was all about inclusion. I am so glad that libraries still scream from the mountaintop "All are welcome here!" There was also a great article about adding libraries to public housing developments. I love that kind of outreach. The bulk of this issue was devoted to the annual systems report and tech trends. I love seeing all the new things that come out each year and how libraries choose to take advantage of innovation. Finally, AL did something (new to me) in this issue - they highlighted notable dissertations from library science students. That was really cool!
    • American Libraries, June 2017 - This issue was focused mainly on the ALA annual conference. (One of these days I will get to attend!) My favorite article in this issue highlighted the brave souls who desegregated the libraries in the American South. I also liked the piece of mindful librarianship.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, May 2017 - This issue exemplified why I decided to subscribe to this magazine. It has fantastic local human interest stories (when flooding hit the Greenbrier resort area), it gave me ideas of things to do (Virginia wineries), and I learned a bit of DC area history that was new to me (the baseball misfits). Now I just have to read one more of these issues before I am fully caught up on my backlog. Woot!
    • National Geographic, July 2017 - I was lucky enough to read the majority of this issue in one setting. That was great because I was able to see how climate change was affecting the antarctic and then see all the beautiful pictures of what
      wildlife and ecosystems we could lose. Then, I got to read a great story about a man who risks his life to harvest psychotropic honey. That's not your average beekeeping job. Finally, there was a great story about hummingbirds which included some stunning photography.
  • Books
    • I'm nearly done reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a good book but this story on top of my work stress has given me very odd dreams.
  • Other