Friday, July 29, 2016

Who knows you better than YOU?

A few days ago I stumbled upon a book called Love Louder: 33 ways to amplify your life by Preston Smiles. Being the self-help fanatic that I am, I indulged. Now I'm only about half of the way through the book but I already feel myself being lifted into a new. I've done some research on this guy Preston and he seems like someone I should know personally. He's an advocate of taking control of your life, challenging yourself and building a better you. As I was reading I definitely could relate to many situations. If you need a wake up call check this book out it will have you reevaluating things!

The ever so popular TV producer, Shonda Rhimes wrote Year of Yes which is a fun read. I grabbed the audio book version, narrated by Ms. Rhimes herself and she is hilarious! It's a bio about her life and trials as mother, sister, friend and powerful black woman in the world of television. She has fears and makes mistakes just like the rest of us. She states sometimes we need wine more than food. She unapologetically puts herself out there and I respect her for it. Instead of being what you think people want you to be, why not I don't know, BE YOURSELF. I've never watched Grey's Anatomy or could keep up with the many seasons of Scandal or How To Get Away With Murder, but she is definitely owning Thursday night TV. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Books to take to the beach that will scare you out of the water

I recently made the excellent decision to read Tananarive Due's wickedly, chillingly wonderful short story collection, Ghost Summer, just after a dip in the James River. The first story kept me up all night worrying about what would happen to me. (I'm far.) Seriously, this book is insanely creepy and wonderful. It has literally every kind of scare: zombies; post apocalyptic things; conjure tales; vengeful ghosts; possession; good ol' swamp monsters. Put this in your beach bag and keep an eye on what might be lurking in the lake.

Ruth Ware's (author of In a Dark, Dark Wood) The Woman in Cabin 10 JUST walked in the library and leaped right into my weekend reading pile aaaand I'm already done with it. Fans of Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) and Emma Healey (Elizabeth is Missing) will love this damp and claustrophobic thriller with a wonderfully flawed, unreliable narrator, set on board a cruise ship. No vacation destination is spared.

Now for the gross-out novels to end all gross out novels: Nick Cutter's nightmarish and cleverly disgusting  (sort of series?) The Troop and The Deep.  If you liked The Ruins by Scott Smith but thought it would have been better with worms, The Troop, a terrifying tale of Boy Scouts trapped on an island with a science experiment gone horribly awry, is for you. If you thought The Troop could have been a whole lot ickier, then go check out The Deep and never, ever get back in the water again. Fan of Stephen King's Dreamcatcher and Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted--these are for you.

Friday, July 15, 2016


What is fan fiction? To be honest with you, I didn't know what it was until I was introduced to it by a friend a couple of months ago. By the name of it, it seemed cool, but I didn't think it would be half-way as addicting as it actually is!
The day my friend told me about it, I went on the website she gave me (, and started exploring my many options. They literally have stories about any and every celebrity I can think of on that website. My ultimate favorite stories are the ones about August Alsina (which is a singer, btw). He is so great, just look at him!
Perception was one of the first books I read on that website, and as soon as I looked over the first page I was hooked. I'm a "love story" & "romance" kind of girl, so that book seemed to be made just for me with the right amount of twists and turns to keep me interested. Check it out! (Perception)
Even though they have a lot of books that I like to read, the possibilities are literally endless. They have fan fiction for any, and I mean any, kind of reader. It really doesn't matter what you're into, it's on here. They might have more of one genre than another, but I promise you, any and every genre is on this website. Wattpad also has an app, so if you're somewhere you don't really want to be then you can read your stories on the app to make the time go by faster.
Whatever you're into, fan fiction is definitely the way to go! These are stories filled with people's deepest and darkest desires and fantasies. With enough exploring, you'll find a work which expresses your interests without you even having to write it! You might have to sniff through to find the right one for you, because there is such a thing as "bad fan fiction", but once you find what you're looking for you will be pleased with what you have found. Trust me on this one.

Friday, July 08, 2016

What is Ergodic Literature?

Feeling tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol novel? Feel like you read them all? Another Patterson doesn’t seem so tantalizing (but we’ll probably read it regardless(that’s what makes him an 80 million dollar author after all))? Another murder mystery and scene of unrequited love got you yawning? Well, you can just put down your newly released, it’s-been-done-a-hundred-times novel and look no further (or if you’re reading a really good book, finish that and snag one of these).

The genre ergodic literature (exchange this word for experimental and you might be good) hasn’t been around for very long. There are no sections in libraries listing these types of work. And it isn’t exactly a commonly used word in the literary realm as in the realm of say, mathematics and physics. First coined by Espen J. Aarseth in Cybertext—Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (you’re just dying for a copy, right?), he described it as something which:
nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages.

Basically a text that requires some outside effort on the reader that is more than just turning pages to other pages and moving your eyes from top to bottom. Ok, so maybe this sounds like too much work and you may be asking the question, “Why would I want reading a book to be so much effort?”

That’s a legitimate concern. Some authors have really taken this effort to extremes and produced some really difficult works that aren’t exactly fun unless you enjoy being confused and getting possible headaches from the mind’s feeble attempt at understanding what this is all about.
At any rate, keep scrolling and stick around to get a glimpse of some of these super interesting books (some older(er) some new).

House of Leaves
Probably one of the largest and most notable types of novels that falls into this ergodic heading. Written by Mark Danielewski and published in 2000, it is a horror/supernatural novel about a man named Johnny Truant that moves into a new apartment and finds a dead man’s manuscript, which is an extensive analysis of a film called The Navidson Record. Johnny can’t determine whether or not this film ever existed, even though the book has interviews with such people like Stephen King, claiming it is in fact real.  

What really makes this book wild and scary is the subject matter of The Navidson Record. The story within the story. It’s the tale of a family who notices that their house is slowly expanding. Hallways expand and new rooms and doors appear. And one in particular is important because it leads into a huge labyrinth of a space with no light that is underneath their house. This too is constantly growing, changing and twisting.  

This thing is really crazy. The text and layout of the book is not your typical Jane Eyre.  But don’t take my word for it. Check it out. (Available in the RPL catalog!)

Composition No. 1

You won’t find many books like this one by French writer Marc Saporta. It’s a republished and redesigned book from his 1962 release of the same title, which looked drastically different than the one out now. It’s a romance, technically speaking. But none of the pages are bound. It’s just a book in a box. The pages are meant to be taken out and shuffled around. The reader has total control of the layout of the story, when it begins and when it ends, making the possibility of new outcomes (the book has 155 pages) exactly:


Basically this is the only book you ever need to buy and read for your ENTIRE LIFE.

(There is even a British library that tried to actually contain this non-linear oddity and bound it for use in the library. Blasphemy or just a way so patrons don’t lose the pages? You call it.)

Tree of Codes

The author of this one is Jonathan Foer. This didn’t get quite the attention of some of his others like Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but once you see it, it quickly becomes one of his most memorable. Tree of Codes was created by taking Bruno Schulz’s book Street of Crocodiles and omitting words and sentences to create an entirely new story. Instead of just assembling the new text, the pages are actually published with the words literally cut from the page. How cool! (as long as you don’t end up tearing it) The original story is about a small Jewish family of merchants that reads more like a dream or something you might find from the likes of Murakami. You can expect ToC to be even more dreamy and poetic.

The Familiar Vol 1: One Rainy Day in May
Another by Mark Danielewski clocking in over 800 pages. And this first installment is just one of the 3 that are currently out right now, all of equal length. Allegedly this is the beginning of a 27 book series. Yeah, 27 books all over 800 pages. Between this and Composition No. 1  you might have to quit your job and set a reminder to feed your cat because, long free time. The book is an interwoven story taking place in one day, with many different narratives all weaved into one, with the focus mainly on a young girl named Xanther who finds a cat. Like House of Leaves it has many of the same mind-bending page layout antics that Danielewski is so good at creating. Too much to even say about this one, really. Get off your seat and get a copy (well, it’s very much possible to do that now without ever leaving your seat).

A book not totally unlike some of Danielewski’s work: dizzying sideways/upside-down/slanted text with a story about an author trying to write a book. Full of details that border real life truth or complete fiction but there’s enough of a clear story with this one that the reader can stay engaged and not get burnt out from flipping the book around in circles. This novel is a tale of an author trying to write his next piece and eventually lands some inspiration to write an Arabic love story based through a friendship he develops with a local taxi driver. Lots of strange typography and line structures (of course) run through this book. In fact, so much that Adam Thirwell admitted that part of his point in doing all this was to create a reading experience “...that aged you.” Fun for some, probably not for all.
This should be a good starting point for any of you folks out there interested in reading some of this experimental lit. But it wouldn’t be right to mention all these physical texts without mentioning some digital texts (yeah, the other half to this movement is the electronic literature side(e-lit tends to be very interactive, full of links (which depending on what sets of links you follow determines the story’s outcome), images and intentional glitches that make the stories really immersive and fun to read)).  

Happy reading!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Did you say you like GIFs?

A total manic GIFsplosion is the only way I can adequately express the feeling of staggering around the exhibit hall at ALA last week, weighed down with 400 pounds of ARCs. That's Advanced Reader Copies, you guys--as in books before they get released.

I got a new Matt Bell! Won't be on shelves until September! The latest Okey Ndibe! Juan Gabriel Vasquez! Han Kang!

OMG Han Kang! The Vegetarian WAS. SO. GOOD.

me, back at the hotel.

Day 2

Day 3

on the plane home

This is a library blog, and a bookish sort of library blog much of the time. Readers gonna read, you know? Readers read about reading. They write about it. They read about writing about it. Blogs Sometimes. But, and I need you to take a deep breath here, dear readers: libraries have a whole lot more than books going on. Yes, putting ink to paper (or vellum, or stone tablet) was pretty much the greatest thing mankind ever came up with. (Sorry, wheel.) But ideas, information, experiences, come in a whole lot of different formats than the codex. We can hook you up with a book on yoga, a DVD with yoga moves, a yoga app, some mantras, probably even a cute book full of pictures of cats with captions about yoga too, but we also want to give free access to the shared experience of yoga in a group setting. Or the experience of learning Python, knitting, writing, looking at or making art...Check out an experience to take with you even--there are teddy bears for check out at one of our branches, and you can check out a backpack with an access pass to Virginia State Parks this summer.

Our gathering spaces are as essential to providing information as are our bookshelves. The cozy chairs by the windows? The ones tucked mostly out of sight, over behind the graphic novels for teens? Those are your favorite, admit it. That space is as vital to the teens as are the graphic novels, now in a pile under the chair.

Yes, chill.
I attended a session put on by the lovely folks behind an animated Disney TV show--Miles from Tomorrowland--and the panel included none other than A REAL LIVE ASTRONAUT! 

Clearly NOT Miles from Tomorrowland, clearly failing at popular culture.  

Brilliant and inspiring flight surgeon-turned-astronaut Dr. Yvonne Cagle, and the other lovely folks on the panel, show creator Sascha Paladino and director Diane Ikemiyashiro, all related their own formative library experiences, none of which had to do with books. They all described the library as a third place--that all important space that is neither home, nor work/school. It's a space where people can gather and explore, discuss, create, relax, turn inward, reach out, learn, do, be, experience. Sascha Paladino remembered the record collection his library had when he was growing up. He would visit the library for hours, pop on some headphones and play records. Diane Ikemiyashiro fondly recalled going down to her little library's basement to watch a theater group perform for children. And Dr. Cagle, brilliant astronaut, would "skip school and go to the library." To just hang out. (Stay in school, kids.) How fascinating that for each of them, the library was more than a building, more than towers of shelves and the quiet rustling of pages, and books, books, books. It was a space where they experienced something they would reminisce about years later, on a panel discussing science in children's literature and empowering girls to pursue STEM careers to a bunch of librarians.

Makes you think.

Oh, hey! Check out some of these books when they come out later:

More to come...