Saturday, August 31, 2013

Look what I'm reading...aloud

The Summer of Smut had ended, folks  Time to get back to reading some good ole educational material. I actually ordered this title recently with state aid funds. I've always been fascinated with English history, especially anything related to the monarchs. FYI, though it is titled A Short History of England, it is far from brief. 

If you noticed the title of this post is "Look what I'm reading...aloud" Yup, I am reading this book aloud. Why? Well I didn't start the book this way. I read the first few chapters silently, but I have a tendency of getting distracted. Nonfiction can do that do me, especially if it is very dry. 

I really wanted to absorb this book, so I decided to try the old school way.... old school as in my mom reading aloud to me as a kid. Though it is going to take me longer to finish this book, I found that I was retaining more of what I was reading by actually saying the words...and I think the dog learned something as well. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reading Chaos

I am notoriously bad at reading many books at one time. Currently I am reading/listening to 6 titles. A lot of people don’t understand this, but there is a method to this madness.

I usually read several different genres as once to cover any mood I might be in: Romance, YA, Mystery, Nonfiction, etc. I also have certain areas that I read in my house so I usually keep one of the books I am reading in each area.

Here is what I am currently reading and where:

Car: I am listening to David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I am very picky with my audio. I only like nonfiction audio, read by the author, and preferably humor. See, picky?

Computer/Tablet: I very rarely read on my tablet unless I am traveling. Usually then it is some sort of romance that I have gotten from Amazon or I read on my computer materials that I have downloaded from me library. There are usually adult fiction or romance. Right now I am reading Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs (2nd in the Mercy Thompson series)

Living Room: I usually read nonfiction in my living room. I am very rarely in the living room, because we hang out mostly in the man cave. Currently I am working through A Short History of England: The Glorious Story of a Rowdy Nation by Simon Jenkins

Bedroom: Normally, I start a romance novel that I can finish in one sitting. Right now I have Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts that needs to be finished. I like it, but I put it down and that is where I went wrong. I am also slowly working my way through Release, an erotica novel by Beth Kery.

Purse: As a rule, I don’t usually keep a book in my purse. My tablet is always there and whenever I get stuck at the doctor’s office or an airport I’ll just use the tablet. Right now I have a paperback romance that I am almost finished with. I started The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst one night before I went to sleep. I finished 3/4s of the novel that night, but I fell asleep before finishing it. It is a lighthearted read that I am really enjoying. I threw it in my purse on my way to babysit and that is still where it is. I’m hoping to dig it out of my purse and finish it tonight.

Several of my friends and even BF have commented on the chaos of this, but I love it. I feel productive that I am knocking out a lot of my TBR shelf. Where do you usually read and how many do you read at one time?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I caved....

Well it has finally happened...I got a smartphone.  Expect more images on this blog now.  First image?  From my work desk...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Collection Development Stats. and Circs.

      One of the best parts of being a librarian (to me) is collection development. I love ordering books and I love when people check them out. It is a simple process that makes me unbelievably happy. Everytime I see a patron taking home a book that I ordered I feel like I have done my job. Since I order nonfiction I agonize over my orders. Would this title check out more than this one? Which one has more images? Does it have color images vs black and white? Maybe I overthink this, but when I get my stats reports every month and my circulations are up in a particular area, it is a good feeling.

     Every community is different and you do have to know your community. I have always heard this phrase but kind of brushed it off as a na├»ve librarian. Now I know. I know that at my library  cookbooks with color images (preferably an image on every page) will check out ten times more than anything else. I also know that political science books about current events are not going to do so well (which is fine by me because they become dated pretty quickly). WWII and Civil War materials will also circulate very well, but Civil Rights isn’t going to move at all. Computer books will go out a bunch, but people will always gravitate towards the For Dummies books (I am slowly teaching my patrons that Teach Yourself Visually is a better and a more informative series). Dogs books rank higher than any other animal book, even though raising chickens and horses aren’t far behind (sorry cat lovers!). Everyone loves a new fad diet and yoga is always popular. Test Prep books (GED, GRE, ASVAB, and ACT) never go out of style.

    Since this is my favorite part of my job, I thought I would share some of the titles that I have ordered that have really taken off. I have also included the number of circulations and the date it was added to the collection to give you an idea.

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, update, &Show Your Home Some Love by Sherry and John Petersik  - 9 checkouts since 1/28/13

Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies by Ashley English – 14 checkouts since 12/11/12

Windows 8: Out of the Box by Mike Halsey – 9 checkouts since 2/28/13

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl – 7 checkouts since 3/21/13

Taste of Home: Simple and Delicious Cookbook by Taste of Home (really anything by Taste of Home will circulate. I told you…color pictures on every page work!) – 14 checkouts since 2/5/13

Star Wars : year by year : avisual chronicle (anything Star Wars or Lego related is gold, because we have a lot of kids who are fanatics.) – 3 checkouts since 7/1/13

The Speedy Vegetable Garden by Mark Diacono – 11 checkouts since 2/28/13

Servants’ Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance by Margaret Powell (I attribute this completely to Downton Abbey) – 8 checkouts since 4/8/13

Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk by Lara Ferroni 14 checkouts since 2/28/13

Rachel’s Irish Family Food by Rachel Allen – 11 checkouts since 4/2/13

Proof of heaven : a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander – 7 checkouts since 2/14/13 (item was lost for about a month)

The Paleo slow cooker :healthy, gluten-free meals the easy way by Arsy Vartanian (My patrons are all up on this Paleo Diet fad. Anything paleo goes out fast and has a decent hold list) – 7 checkouts since 3/28/13

Omni Diet by Tana Amen – 5 checkouts since 5/1/13

Meals in a Jar by Julie Languille – 13 checkouts since 4/16/13

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch – 12 checkouts since 1/28/13

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess – 8 checkouts since 3/12/13

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis – 9 checkouts since 2/14/13

Is This Thing On?: A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking and Screaming by Abby Stokes (Insanely popular at my computer classes!) – 8 checkouts since 1/28/13

How To Retire The Cheapskate Way by Jeff Yeager – 13 checkouts since 1/28/13

Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides by Fred Thompson – 14 checkouts since 1/3/13

Food and Feasts of Jesus by Douglas E. Neel – 11 checkouts since 12/11/13

F for Effort! More of the Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson – 12 checkouts since 2/28/13

Bless Your Heart: Saving the World One Covered Dish at a Time by Patsy Caldwell – 11 checkouts since 4/2/13

     I didn’t include many bestsellers on this list because for the most part they go out. I am always fascinated by the amount of circulations an item has.Here are a couple of titles that I thought would do really well and didn’t. Just goes to show that sometimes you get it wrong.

Astor Orphan: A Memoir by Alexandra Aldrich

Cooking With Flowers by Miche Bacher

Desktop Digest of Despots and Dictators by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert

Flower Recipe Book by Alethea Harampolis

The Futureby Al Gore

In the Kingdom of theSick by Laurie Edwards

Pigeon in a Crosswalk by Jack Gray

T-Rex Trying by Hugh Murphy

The Truth about Style by Stacy London

On some of these I thought they would just fly off the shelves (Cooking with Flowers and Simon’s Cat), but obviously my patrons did not think so. Some of these books will check out over time (Medusa’s Gaze will go out whenever there is a project on urban myths), but I had hoped for better results.

    Based on the first couple of orders I placed and the orders I place now, there is a definite shift from more academic titles to general nonfiction. Yes, a collection needs to have both academic titles and general nonfiction, but when you compare a weighted historical analysis that might check out say 2 or 3 times in 5 years vs. a craft book that will garner about 15 circs a year it is hard to remember that you need a well rounded collection.

Sidenote:  I wish I worked in cataloging. I would get to see all the books before anyone else and no dealing with patrons. Catalogers are so lucky!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I am a Librarian!

Rewatching The Mummy and thought I would share this delightful scene...

Monday, August 12, 2013

113 vs. 9

If you follow this blog you have probably noticed one thing...the number of posts have significantly decreased.

Earlier tonight I was reading Adventures in Life, Love, Librarianship, a wonderful blog that provides not only delicious recipes, but helpful hints and tips for everyday life and lots of librarian stuff. As I was reading I started feeling guilty. I have seriously slacked off on the number of posts. According to Blogger, I posted 113 times last year. Even though this is only early August I have posted a total of 9 times in 2013. Yeah, serious slacking off.

Let me defend myself....or at least give you a bunch of excuses.

1. I changed jobs.
    At my last job I had a desk in the Circulation Workroom and I spent most of my day there. I only had interaction with patrons for a few hours a day and the rest of the time I could do my job in peace...away from those pesky patrons. Plenty of time to write reviews and blog. Now? I am right smack dab in the middle of the to the computers....which brings every single question in the world. I can rarely sit for more than 3 minutes at a time before I am up showing a patron how to move the mouse around. Time to write a book review? Puuuhleeze.

2. My current job doesn't blog.
    Well, actually we don't do any form of social media at all. Facebook, twitter, blogging....nothing. This means that there is absolutely no reason for me to write a book review. At my last job, I could easily review and post a picture book review that had just come across my desk. I know I could review the books that I read on my own, but there isn't much incentive now. I bet you are thinking "Her library doesn't have Facebook? She should change that!" That's a whole 'nother post and a big ole bottle of wine.

3.  I have a crap phone.
     I do not have a smart phone. Let me repeat because I know most of you are like "What? Did I just read that right?" You did. I do not have a smart phone. Why? Because before this job I was on crap pay grade and I had other priorities besides having an expensive phone bill. I also didn't have cable for a long time, which I could probably do without now. I intend to get a smartphone but I need to get a few things paid off first and save some more. When people ask, "You don't have a smartphone?" I reply with "Oooh, my phone is vintage!". So what does this have to do with me blogging more? Well at my old job, I saw a lot of damaged materials and my coworkers would add quirky little notes to the materials. Well, my phone use not to be so crappy so I could upload pictures to my blog. I guess along with the way I lost that capability. Now if I want to upload a picture I have to find my digital camera..make sure the battery is charged (which it never is) try to find the memory card, take the picture, upload it to my computer, then to the blog. I am not a lazy person by nature, but typing that sentence exhausted me, which is why you don't get very many pictures on this blog.

4. I moved.
     Right across from my job. Our mailboxes are like 4 feet apart. Yeah, that close. Moving sucks. I wouldn't recommend it.

5. My computer tried to fly. It can't...but it is great at falling.
     Great part of moving? People give you stuff! Case in point? BF's parents bought us (technically him, but we are a joint package now) a new bedroom suite. It is beautiful and high. The bed is 4 feet high. No joke. I have to get a running start and jump onto the bed. Sometimes I don't make it. Best idea I ever had? Leaving my laptop on this crazily high bed. The first time the laptop fell from the bed it didn't work for 12 hours. Then it woke up from its coma and all was right in the world. You would think that this would make me realize that I should a) back everything up on my computer b) not leave my computer on the insanely high bed. I never said I was a smart cookie. The 2nd time it fell and continued to work, I thought my computer was made of steel. Well, the 3rd time was the charm. The 3rd time it got knocked off the screen was open. If I wasn't too lazy to get up and find my digital camera you could have a picture of how it looks. Surprisingly, it still works! Just the screen looks like an etch-a-sketch. Right now I am sitting on the living room floor as I transfer the files through the wifi from the etch-a-sketch made of steel laptop to my dad's netbook through the TV. I don't really know how I am doing this but BF did it for me, so I don't ask questions. Oh, and the 3rd fall took place over a month ago and I am now getting around to transferring files.

All these are great excuses to why I have slacked off blogging, but they aren't the real reason. The real reason why I haven't pretty much taken a big absence from everything social? My dad died.

Yeah, this post just took a big sad sharp turn. When I started typing this post I had no intention of mentioning my dad. I was just going to give the 5 excuses I did and try to start blogging more. I very rarely reveal personal information in this blog. I am not an insecure person or anything that would make me think people wouldn't want to read what I write, but I am a private person and very paranoid. I am always thinking that the patron that I am talking about will find my particular rant and demand I be fired. See, paranoid? So revealing personal information isn't really my M.O. (sidenote: do you know what M.O. stands for? Modus Operandi. Latin for mode/method of operation.) I think maybe mentioning it on my blog (where only a few of you know me personally) might help me handle and manage my grief.

I have very little experience with death and especially cancer. I had no idea the devastation cancer could deal out or the aftermath of it. Where I come from, you whisper the word cancer. I naively thought that "other" people get cancer. Not my family. My dad passed away over 5 months ago from a year and half battle with cancer and I am still dealing with the destruction that it did to him, my family and our lives. The amount of physical and emotional pain that I saw him go through could crumble any heart and my heart broke hundreds of times everyday. My dad was the nucleus of my family and we are struggling to handle life without him.

I have checked out several books on dealing with the loss of the parent. I even read 2 pages on one. I keep thinking, I need to check out a book to help me grieve. I help people all the time locate books on grief, but I have never actually read any. I usually pick up if they are looking for secular or something a little more spiritual. From there I can recommend a couple of selections, but I always let them do the rest. I wish I could say, "This book helped me so much", but I haven't even tried that hard. Although, I have to admit that BF handled the situation quite well when he noticed I was trying to read one of the grief books. When I mean handled I mean that for the next week he asked if I was okay every hour and followed me around the house waiting for a random emotional breakdown (he was caught off guard plenty of times).

I would really like to find a book to help me deal with this grief. Books have always helped me deal with plenty of emotions and situations in my life (boys, school, etc.) and I need them for this.  If anyone knows of any secular material that deals with death or particularly the loss of a parent, feel fee to recommend it to me.

I feel like I shouldn't end this post on such a down note, but I don't know where to go from here. I hope to try and post more. I'm working very hard on getting my life back to a routine. Hey, maybe I'll even get a smartphone one day...yeah, even I don't know if I believe that. Guess I will keep on rocking my vintage phone.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

RWA, New Adult, and Cora Carmack

     To top off my Summer of Smut, I was lucky enough to be part of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) Librarian Day in Atlanta this year. Making the road trip with several of my friends and meeting up with more friends there was a wonderful way to get away from Summer Reading (plus I got to meet Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Sylvia Day, Tessa Dare, and many many more amazing authors).

      There were 4 workshops with the first one of the day being titles “Let’s Talk: Young Adult, New Adult, and “Adult” Romance. There was a panel of authors including Roxanne St. Clair, Cora Carmack,  and Christie Craig aka C.C. Hunter. To me though, Cora Carmack really shined through on the panel. I had only heard of Carmack when researching some of the authors that were presenting. I had looked up her first book, a self-published new adult title, Losing It. I loved the synopsis of a soon to be college graduate who hasn’t lost her V-Card. She decides that it must go but at the last minute backs out and leaves a very naked British boy in her bed…who turns out to be her new professor. How could you not want to read that?
But before I get to Losing It , I just want to talk about Carmack’s take on New Adult. I have read several new adult titles including Easy by Tammara Webber, Abbi Glines’ Too Far series, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, and On Dublin Street by Samantha Young. All were fine and some were even pretty good (Beautiful Disaster), but all had one major factor in common: major angst.

      So when Carmack started talking about New Adult genre I was glad she mentioned this common denominator. She also stated that her series are pretty low on the angst level which intrigued me. All I knew about the New Adult genre was what I had picked up from reading the titles. The panel, mainly Carmack, went on to explain that while Young Adult materials focus on teens who are still stable and secure in their parents’ worlds and regular Adult romances usually focus on people who are stable in their own lives, New Adult tackles that particular age between 19 to 25 when we are on our own, looking for jobs, trying to survive college, or figuring out how to pay the bills. A question was raised by a librarian in the audience who wanted to know if New Adult was defined by the age group or the situations of the characters. The panel stated that the age group played a major part, but also the situation and storyline. We also discussed how New Adult has basically come out of nowhere with the rise of self-publishing e-books and for the first time the authors are in control, not the publishing companies. Carmack also mentioned about how if New Adult doesn’t break out of the mold they have created for themselves (angsty romances, usually an abused past, etc.) that they would be their own downfall. She talked about taking new approaches within the genre like paranormal and various other ideas.

     You can read more about Carmack’s take on New Adult on a write up she did on her website here.
I was extremely impressed with her take on New Adult. She was positive, excited, and sometimes it is hard to come across this enthusiasm in libraryland...especially when it comes to something new. She got me excited about New Adult.

       I couldn’t wait to read Losing It when I got home. Based on the previous New Adults books I had read I thought there would be graphic sex and lots of angst. What I expected and what I read were two totally different things though. Losing It is cute, light hearted and impossible not to love. Carmack created a set of characters that are smart, funny, and actually real. There was very little angst, but there was actual conflict and situations that were handled with a sense of reality that I have found lacking in other New Adult romances. Carmack stayed away from stereotypes and made her characters believable and loveable.

     One of the reasons that I think New Adult has become so popular is the fact that the stories jump right in. In today’s world this generation is busy and we don’t have time for long drawn out descriptions. We are in a hurry and we want everything to cut right to the point. The difference with Losing It and other New Adult books I have come across is that the characters in Losing It aren’t so rushed that the chemistry is left out. I also want to note that Carmack did a wonderful job creating chemistry and not being vulgar (ain’t nothing wrong with that though) with the sex scenes. They were descriptive but done with class. This is a great debut and a refreshing direction in a genre that is quickly becoming teeming with stereotypes and predictability.

    Overall this whole post is pretty much stating how much I think Cora Carmack rocks.

    Also, on a side note, I found this great website on New Adult through Carmack’s website called NA Alley, which is run by nine bloggers and writers who are passionate about New Adult. It is definitely worth checking out because they are doing a great job of bringing New Adult to the front burners and it is more than just what you find on Amazon’s top sellers. 
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