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There’s been a lot of hubbub about Robin Williams passing–I, as any other twenty something, grew up with him voicing and portraying some of my favorite characters in movies. There’s also lot of people saying that he/ people with mental illness in general should just ‘ask for help’ if you’re struggling, but let’s be clear: asking for help and telling someone to ask for help are two totally different things. Admitting you need help is a big step, and then to ask someone to open up about mental illness and ask for help is even bigger.

I’m off track, but there is a librarianship tie-in here. Self-checkout and making library resources on mental illness readily findable without assistance is important. Self-checkout allows a patron to leave with pertinent information without having to see the flutter of an eyelid from library staff as they checkout the item. Making online services with mental health tie-ins available on a specific and findable resources page is key as well. Heck, even create a libguide on it with call numbers to in-house resources as well. We can all help, but telling someone to ask for help may be the least helpful thing of all.

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I JUST NOW finished one of the more hyped YA books of the summer, and while I found it to be a quick and engaging read, I wasn’t blown away. I won’t name names, but it just didn’t do it for me.

Have you ever read a book that was highly-praised but found it to be lackluster?

Now if I’m being honest, my opinion toward Zadie Smith is biased; I find her to be a wonderful writer, and more plainly just a wonderful person. So I decided to link to this piece, not that it’s about this country or even very recently published, but because I love it and I think it works for the US too: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/jun/02/north-west-london-blues/

“Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay…A library is a different kind of social reality…which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.”

I have mere pages to go in Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and let me tell you, I now believe that all vampire novels that came after it are rip-offs! Okay, so maybe not all, but certainly Twilight and The Vampire Diaries generously help themselves to some themes (and even characters); I’m sure there are vampire novels that are more fantasy heavy that have more original plot lines. I may be unfair to say that, but I guess I’ll have to read the most original vampire novel I can think of to decide if they’re all just rip-offs: Dracula.

I decided to read Interview because I am interested in books that have been made in to movies. I am thinking about creating such a display for my library, so I’m trying to read across genres and levels so that the display has something for everyone. Anyway, that’s another blog post entirely.

People of this blog ((hello! are you there!? Is anyone out there, can anyone hear me?) I feel like I’m the guy in the lifeboat searching for people after titanic sinks and I’m just waiting for my Kate Winslet to call out to me) please tell me who you think the most original vampire is/the best vampire novel.

A paperback is truly my favorite format of book. I mean it–give me a paperback over a hardback or e-book any day of the week! There’s just something about that bendable spine that gets to me. BUT I have come to realize that, in fact, trade paperbacks are my favorite format.

There is a stigma against mass-market paperbacks, an idea that only smutty romance novels (which I like!) are printed in mmpbs. I never gave it much thought and frankly found it to be silly, this stigma, until recently while on a flight I felt a bit judged for my mass-market book. Genre fiction tends to be printed in mass-market formats and I know genre fiction tends to be considered a ‘less’ or formulaic or not super intellectual, so perhaps I was just being sensitive.

Thoughts? How does format effect the way you perceive a book? Have you ever read a book in one format and loved it, and again in another but really disliked it?

I don’t know what it is about YA fiction lately, but it seems every leading lady is in a predicament I was never (and I do mean NOT ONCE) in as a teenager: a love triangle. I’ve been reading more YA fiction recently, as I have boatloads of galleys to read, so maybe this isn’t a new trend so much as one I’m just coming to notice due to the volume of YA books I’ve read.

YA is a category that I tend to make broader generalizations or stereotypes about, so I’m trying to give it a chance and increase my breadth of knowledge, but if these dang love triangles don’t come to an end I just don’t know what I’ll do.

“What kind of book is that?” Is a question I often get at the small public library where I work after giving a book suggestion to a patron. Genres are hard, I think. For example, I was telling someone about Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, and they asked what genre it was. I said…drumroll please…”fiction?” Because truthfully, I don’t know! I can tell you what it’s about, I can tell you what I would suggest for subject headings, but as for a genre…I’m not sure. Genres are limiting. Genres are often confused with format. Genres are hard. 

Crossovers between traditional genre writers and the way we organize books by genre can limit/inhibit a patron from picking a book they might like just because it doesn’t fall under the category of the type of book they usually like

Also, what do we do with graphic novels? Are they a genre or a format? If they’re a format why are they all generally shoved in nonfiction when they can be either fiction or nonfiction?

LGBTQ is another ‘genre’ that people often ask about; what qualifies as lgbtq? Is it an LGBTQ author or LGBTQ characters, or both? It’s not a format, but it’s not a genre either–not all LGBTQ characters are detectives or vampires–they cross over in to all types of genres. 

I attend school in a state eight hours away from my home, and to kill time on the holiday drives back and forth, I’ve been listening to audiobooks. The first one, given to me by my grandmother, was a Nora Roberts audiobook. I don’t recall the title, but the narrator had a great baritone voice and I found myself mildly entertained for the six hour duration. Upon recommendation from several librarians, I then checked out ‘Bloody Jack‘ by L.A. Meyer. While I found the content to be interesting I could not stand the narrator. Her voice drove me bananas. All the librarians had given high praise to the energetic narration, so I was slightly surprised by my distaste. I also tried listening to Augusten Burroughs’ autobiography ‘Running with Scissors‘. It is painfully narrated by the author and dreadful. I stopped it after 20 minutes.

I began to think maybe audiobooks just weren’t something I would enjoy; then I listened to Divergent by Victoria Roth. I loved the audiobook. Yes, it is another dystopian teen fiction novel, but it was enjoyable. Of course I found myself drawing parallels between it and The Hunger Games, but it is different enough to keep the reader/listener curious. The narration was great–not too over the top and allowed the listener to add their own imagination to the story.

So here’s my question: Do you like audiobooks? What type of narrator do you prefer…a great actor or someone with a pleasing voice? What’s the best audiobook you’ve listened to?

A book called ‘How They Croaked‘ was brought to my attention by my practicum advisor, who suggested it as a great non-fiction book for reluctant readers.

Why? Well, broken in to bite-sized bits are the histories of how famous people have famously died. The small chunks and the snarky tone of the book make for a good read for tweens and could be a great solution to my weekly tutoring/book talk sessions with ESL students.

Both my practicum advisor and I found the content and tone incredibly funny and harmless. A patron at the desk disagreed, commenting that she found it an inappropriate topic for kids of that age. We both assured her that it wasn’t overly gore-y and showed her some of the pages for reference. She seemed appeased after viewing it, but that got me thinking about what other kinds of reactions this book might elicit. I decided to go on Amazon.com and read the comments (never read the comments). Reviews were overwhelmingly favorable, but more than a couple reviewers found the content to be unspiritual, inappropriate, and even dangerous.

Take a look at the book and tell me your thoughts!

As of late, I’ve found myself interacting often with teens and tweens and the maturity and education level between peers has been quite astounding (but I’m sure can be true for all stages of life). While I’m currently tutoring for a middle school, I’m looking for books for emergent readers with low literacy but a yearning for more mature and complex story lines and I’m utterly stumped. To be fair, the kids I work with are truly amazing–they’ll read anything if you sell it well enough, but I know they’re all currently in an awkward ‘coming of age’ stage and some of the subject matter isn’t very interesting to them. It’s difficult to find material that is relatable to their current lifestyles/problems at a lower reading level. I need some high/low book recommendations!

If you have any suggestions, please let me know!