Thursday, August 31, 2017

Links and Stuff: August 31, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why I Love... Syllabus Week

The students are back on campus and, boy, does that make me happy. While I love the summer months because we can finish major projects (like moving HUGE collections) with minimal disruptions, I absolutely adore that time of year when our students come back.

I love syllabus week because students come to the library eager for a new (or their first) semester. There's a sense of positivity and possibility that does not occur at other points in a year. Syllabus week is fantastic because it means the library is back in action. There are books to be collected, articles to be found, and new study areas to scope out.

A library needs people to come to life. Sure, we can much of our jobs online these days, but the heart of an academic library is the pulse of the students. They fill the tables, browse the shelves, and ask questions at the desk. Their actions give the library a sense of purpose. Their needs offer a renewed sense of direction.

Syllabus week is the best time of the year because there's no sense of stress from papers and projects or dread of deadlines. Instead, the library is alive with curiosity and wonder. Just as it should be.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

YouTube Tuesday: Accompany

Classes at my university started this week. It seemed a good time to share a video that might make long reading even more enjoyable.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Book 17: Before The Fall

TITLE: Before the Fall
AUTHOR: Noah Hawley
STARTED: July 12, 2017
FINISHED: August 6, 2017
PAGES: 391
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: A private plane sits on a runway in Martha's Vineyard, foreword stairs deployed.

SUMMARY: [From BN] On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family. With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage. Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

THOUGHTS: I put this book on my list because it was getting rave reviews and the story seemed interesting. The story ended up being enjoyable (if somewhat existential) but now that I'm done reading it, the book has flittered away from memory. While reading this book, I was very into the plot and the characters. I want to see what would happen; I want to see how these flawed people would react; I wanted to see how all the plot lines would wrap up. I even spent a solid hour on the couch one afternoon finishing the final 50 pages. But, once I finished the book, it had no staying power. I simply added it to the pile of books that needed to back to the library and went about my merry way.

As intriguing as the story is, I think the book gets a bit dense and philosophical for what is, essentially, a beach read. It's a thriller that has digressions on philosophy and what it means to be a survivor or human going through a dramatic period. It pits individual peoples life choices against one another but, because the book feels like the plot of a thriller, it doesn't all quite work together. I wish the author had picked one style: beach read or look at human nature... not both.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, August 27, 2017

What I Read This Week: August 27, 2017

I had so many meetings this week that I honestly thought Friday was Wednesday. It's very rare that my week gets stacked with meetings so, when it does, it really throws off my mental schedule. On the upside, however, I end up being super productive because I hyper focus during that time I have between meetings. I was shocked by just how many things I was able to accomplish this week. Huzzah!

Also, the weather took a turn for the gorgeous this week. I spent most of my lunch time walking around campus just to enjoy the sunshine and cool breezes. I cannot wait for fall to get here... bring on the scarfs!

  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, September 2017 - This issue was notable for two reasons. First, the magazine has a completely new look in terms of layout and design. I liked it! There is more white space, recipes are organized better, and it's a generally cleaner and fresher look. Second, they've added new columnists whose content I enjoyed. In terms of feature articles, I liked the pieces on snacking and eating as a family. Finally, I might have saved over half of the recipes to try later. Great issue!
    • Washingtonian, September 2017 - The cover story was about the best new restaurants. I was underwhelmed. It was short and not much was detailed about the restaurants or their menu. There were two pieces, however, that I really liked in this
      issue. The first was on local newscaster Jim Vance. He passed away recently, but his impact on the area was great so it was nice to read a retrospective. The second piece was about two dads who walked around the DC Beltway. That was a great story because it gave such insights to what lies just off the main path.
  • Books
    • I think I'm making decent progress in Feral considering it is a non-fiction book. The writing is fantastic and I get the point the author is making but, so far, his thesis is subtle. I hope there is a call to action before the final chapter.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Friday Find: Snail Mail

I love sending snail mail to people. These days the contents of mailboxes tend to be boring or transactionary. I like to add a spark with an occasional card that was sent for no reason at all. This card is adorable and I just may have to add it to my collection.

You can find this card in the SquidInkArtMelbourne Etsy shop.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Productive

School is back in session! The freshman at my university are moving in today. Where did the summer go? I like to think the new school year is a chance to start fresh on to do lists and goals. This month's Variations on a Theme is a collection books devoted to productivity.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
David Allen

Since it was first published almost fifteen years ago, David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business books of its era, and the ultimate book on personal organization. “GTD” is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots. Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with important perspectives on the new workplace, and adding material that will make the book fresh and relevant for years to come. This new edition of Getting Things Done will be welcomed not only by its hundreds of thousands of existing fans but also by a whole new generation eager to adopt its proven principles.

Stephen R. Covey

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity -- principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

Peter Bergman

Based upon his weekly Harvard Business Review columns (which is one of the most popular columns on, receiving hundreds of thousands of unique page views a month), 18 Minutes clearly shows how busy people can cut through all the daily clutter and distractions and find a way to focus on those key items which are truly the top priorities in our lives. Bregman works from the premise that the best way to combat constant and distracting interruptions is to create productive distractions of one's own. Based upon a series of short bite-sized chapters, his approach allows us to safely navigate through the constant chatter of emails, text messages, phone calls, and endless meetings that prevent us from focusing our time on those things that are truly important to us.  Mixing first-person insights along with unique case studies, Bregman sprinkles his charming book with pathways which help guide us -- pathways that can get us on the right trail in 18 minutes or less.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

This groundbreaking New York Times bestseller has helped hundreds of thousands of people at work and at home balance stress and recovery and sustain high performance despite crushing workloads and 24/7 demands on their time. “Combines the gritty toughmindedness of the best coaches with the gentle-but-insistent inspiration of the most effective spiritual advisers” (Fast Company). We live in digital time. Our pace is rushed, rapid-fire, and relentless. Facing crushing workloads, we try to cram as much as possible into every day. We're wired up, but we're melting down. Time management is no longer a viable solution. As bestselling authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz demonstrate in this groundbreaking book, managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and life balance. The Power of Full Engagement is a highly practical, scientifically based approach to managing your energy more skillfully both on and off the job by laying out the key training principles and provides a powerful, step-by-step program that will help you to: Mobilize four key sources of energy, Balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal, Expand capacity in the same systematic way that elite athletes do, Create highly specific, positive energy management rituals to make lasting changes. Above all, this book provides a life-changing road map to becoming more fully engaged on and off the job, meaning physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned.

Arianna Huffington

In this deeply personal book, Arianna talks candidly about her own challenges with managing time and prioritizing the demands of a career and raising two daughters--of juggling business deadlines and family crises, a harried dance that led to her collapse and to her "aha moment." Drawing on the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep, and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging, and giving, Arianna shows us the way to a revolution in our culture, our thinking, our workplace, and our lives.

Charlies Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

More Productivity Titles
The Art of Strategy - Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff
Eat That Frog - Brian Tracy
Enchantment - Guy Kawasaki
Essentialism - Greg McKeown
Fierce Conversations - Susan Scott
Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg
Making It All Work - David Allen
Mindset - Carol Dweck
The One Thing - Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Ready for Anything - David Allen

Links and Stuff: August 24, 2017

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.