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Category Archives: Nonfiction

Find a moment

Find a #moment (1)

A while ago I wrote about Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation that I marked up and continue to think about and reference in conversation almost daily. The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath will be another book that I continue to think about and reference in conversation. Published in October 2017, this is the latest collaboration between the brothers and their other book topics include decision-making, ideas, and changes. The Power of Moments deals with memorable moments in our lives.

PowerofMomentsAs I started to shape what I wanted to share in this post, I also remembered that a fellow New York State librarian, Sue Kowalski, often uses the hashtag #momentsthatmatter when she posts to Instagram, usually when sharing pictures of her mother, but friends and family. She knows the value of a moment. I wonder if she could have contributed to the book? In essence, the Heath brothers set out to demonstrate to readers how experiences in our lives have an “extraordinary impact” and drill down to the four elements of powerful moments: Elevation, Insight, Pride, and Connection. They reluctantly share the acronym to easily remember it as EPIC.

They walk through the four elements and hone in on succinct examples and scientific research about how moments can be orchestrated (but recognize they’re hard work to create) and when they occur naturally. I can share that I used about two pads of Post-its as I read the book feverishly taking notes. Especially for educators, there is commentary on how we can create moments that matter using the four elements in schools.

In addition, anyone who wants to think deeper about their own lives can use the book as a tool too: a) creating milestones (using the Couch to 5K example), b) that purpose trumps passion in work, c) that courage is contagious, d) that transitions are natural moment-makers, e) that employees strongly agree that “full appreciation of work done” is the best gift they can receive from bosses, f) that variety truly is the spice of life. And I could go on, but I’m putting it to others to read the book. Read deeply and openly.

I want to “turn up the volume” on moments in my life. There are already elements that I’ve used without understanding the reasons that the book lays bare. And, it’s also why apps are revolutionizing moments– they are creating moments in our lives when we didn’t know there were milestones to celebrate (think: You’ve walked 10,000 steps today! Or, congratulations, you’ve sampled 100 beers from 13 different states!)

If you haven’t read the book, read it. I’d love to form a book group about the topics Chip and Dan Heath present. I know librarians who create these moments for students every day (ahem, Stacey Rattner) and sparkling personalities that savor human interaction (ahem, Sue Kowalski) and apps that helped me run a 15K (ahem, Runkeeper), so let’s work toward creating more of these moments.

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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Adult, Authors, Nonfiction, Research

 

Best of 2017: Six sensational adult titles

As promised, I’ve drilled down my picks for the six sensational adult titles of 2017. What will 2018 bring? I can’t wait to find out.

ReasonYoureAlive1. The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick

I have read his young adult novels but have never read his adult ones… until now. I’ve recommended this title to more than a few people immediately after finishing it since the cyclical story about redemption is the human story. Do not read if you do not like some tragedy with a side of hope. Well, a lot of tragedy. And the grittiness of the main character is at times difficult to swallow, yet the story is significant: a Vietnam veteran rehashing a lifetime of darkness. But the arc of the story is why Quick is known for his writing acumen.

Saga2. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (artist)

You’ll see me in line for volume eight of this graphic novel series that should be hitting stores in a few days, but volume seven came out in April. I was already late to the game since Vaughan and company has been giving readers the science fiction soap opera for years, but I had only just discovered it while sitting on a graphic novel committee for teens and a discussion of Saga came up. I read the first volume, then tore through all available volumes until I was fresh out. Is it filled with sex? Yes. Is it genius? Yes. I wish I could take credit for the ingenuity of the sci-fi characters but the story line at its very core is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But much more contemporary. And with more sex. Did I say that already? I know I’ve convinced you, so see you in line on the 27th and not a minute before because you’ll be catching up if you haven’t already been following it.

FromHeretoEternity3. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Yes, still obsessed with Doughty’s one-woman effort to transform the death industry. If you didn’t subscribe to her Youtube channel, you will after watching just one episode. She’s fascinating and funny with a side of serious. And this book (one of very few I bought the first day it came out) was no different. The subtitle tells you what you need to know: she traveled around the world and explains the process of death in other countries. In some cases her vivid descriptions led me to Google and also got me thinking, more than she already has, about my own death preferences. She’s a storyteller with a message.

DifficultWomen4. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

This was my first read of Gay’s and I’ve quickly put myself in line for her past work. The collection of stories were a mix of haunting and dark (my favorite kind), serious, realistic, sad, and powerful. They pack a punch to the gut and peek behind the curtain of the lives women lead.

DearFahrenheit4515. Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

You don’t have to be a librarian, but you do have to have some kind of book sense to appreciate Spence’s humorous approach to writing love letters and breakup notes to books. In fact, you might be inspired to write a few of your own. And I can tell you I fell in love from the moment she professed her undying love for The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides- it easily makes my favorites list. Though Spence also makes it okay to not like a book because sometimes it’s just not the right time, just like the boyfriend or making a career move. It’s a light read and an easy gift for a bookish friend, but you’ll want to buy a second copy for yourself.

SunandherFlowers6. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

I’m riding the bandwagon of Kaur fans and I’m not ashamed of it. She’s one of a handful of poets that share their poetry via Instagram and it has made them more popular. I own milk and honey and went out to buy her second collection the day it came out. I waited a week and by the end of the sitting had both finished and had about twenty Post-its sticking out of the book. This one felt more personal than her first as readers got to know more about her background and feelings. The sketches are just as important in this one as the first that add a flair unique to her work. Often without capitalization, some poems are mere lines, while others fill the page and she can pack a punch with either.

FallinLovewithyourSolitude

 

The drive

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was to describe your commute to work.

Ah, my commute. Not too long, not too short. I judge how the day will go by whether my favorite songs end up being played on the radio. If it’s a special day, I’ll plug my phone in and play a specific playlist, but those days are few and far between.

Unfortunately I do what most others in our capital city do, I drive in to the city to work and leave the city (to return to my pint-sized home city to the north). If it’s my late day, it aligns more perfectly with this heavy traffic pattern but I frequent the interstates that run the smoothest, though I’ve had my fair share of stop-and-go or completely halted traffic. I often think that everyone who causes an accident during rush hour should be fined and that money disbursed to those that have driven by to relieve the annoyance. A thought– certainly never going to be a reality– but it makes me temporarily better.

And my usual route follows a river, so while it is a busy route, it’s lovely to look over at the peaceful water. This fast stretch of interstate is punctuated by city-driving which includes an awareness of pedestrians and traffic lights.

TrafficWhether I’m coming or going, my home city is always a sight and was actually the center of quite a lot of media attention recently due to a stupid mistake and a windy day. It is devastating to see the aftermath, but we’re a strong city and will recover. Work and home are two of my favorite places and I enjoy the journey between the them.

 

But the best thing about sharing this post with you is that I remembered about a book a librarian friend shared years ago that I never go around to reading, a book called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us). It’s now in my queue, maybe it should be in yours too?

 

 

Scratching the surface: A-Z in 2017

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was to create an A to Z.

Well, it is almost 2018, so why not reflect on what I read in 2017 by breaking it down alphabetically. This certainly does not even capture half of what I actually read from picture books to adult novels, but what a fun way to look back at some of the book I read this year.

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

CiCi’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training by Joris Chamblain

Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Hunted by Megan Spooner

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Jonesy by Sam Humphries

Kindred: A graphic novel adaptation by Damian Duffy

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Nowhere Girls, The by Amy Reed

Odd & True by Cat Winter

Patina by Jason Reynolds

Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain

Reason You’re Alive, The by Matthew Quick

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

Takedown, The by Corrie Wang

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The by Rachel Joyce

VWord: True Stories about First-Time Sex edited by Amber Keyser

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold

PaX by Sara Pennypacker

You May Already be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

Zoboi’s American Street 

Letters

 

Thankfulness

For the past few weeks, we’ve had a display in our library that asks students and staff to share what books they’re thankful for. Those books become the feathers on our turkey. And while some simply put the title, others added why. So on Thanksgiving, let me share a few of the books I’m thankful for and wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

2017-11-22 12.48.25-1

  • Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age by Sherry Turkle for all the reasons that I keep bringing up the book in blog posts.
  • Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence for it’s humor and authenticity. She captures what every book lover and/or librarian feels when we read books especially when they come at the right (or wrong) time in our lives.
  • From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty professes a need to talk about death more in our death-scared American culture so that deceitful practices and high prices can be uncovered and allow people to discover what they truly would like after death.
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a contemporary classic that began the conversation about rape in young adult literature that continues to strengthen the voices of teens struggling. Plus, everyone knew the groups that she was talking about in high school from the geeks to the jocks and everyone in between.
  • Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge is a graphic novel with beautiful color and a main character wanting to find her voice as she’s growing up. So, as she’s navigating the good and bad, Gulledge gave me all the feels on every page with how she captured Paige’s internal and external feelings. Those images I will not forget and would use them as wall art they’re so creative.
  • Steam Train, Dream Train and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Litchenheld are two of the most gorgeously illustrated, phenomenally-rhymed, and thoughtful children’s books that I had the pleasure of reading to my own boys. It was more perfect because I had one who was a fan of trains and one who was a fan of construction equipment. It couldn’t have been more perfect a match.
  • Anything by Ruta Sepetys, Erika Robuck, or Jeffrey Zentner. They spin tales like magical weavers of words and I’m lost in their significance any time I pick up a new books of theirs.

I could go on as book lovers are apt to do, so I’ll stop there and ask, what books are you thankful for?

 

Traveling: IRL & in books

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was about traveling overseas and dream travels. 

I must say I’ve been fortunate to have traveled a bit especially when I was younger, less so with a family, but I hope to get back to it as the kids get older. And of course, I always have a few destinations in my back pocket. So I’m going to take you around the world to some of the places I’ve visited and share a book recommendation set in or around the places I’ve visited to make this fun.

WolfWilder

Russia

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell is an intricate and moody story of a girl growing up outside of St. Petersburg where she and her mother are tasked with helping the wolves re-acclimate to the wild after being kept by Russian elites. When they lash out because they are wild animals, they are sent away, but to kill them is also bad luck. Darkly endearing.

Africa

ElephantTalkElephant Talk: The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication by Ann Downer-Hazell is exactly what the title and subtitle tell you it’s about as a short nonfiction explanation of how elephants communicate and how humans have studied and learned about these animals as people like Jane Goodall did with primates. It’s one of two reasons I went on a solo trip to Africa after I got my Bachelor’s degree– to see a wild elephant.

HaroldFryEurope

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is and feels very “European”. A gentleman struggling with issues at home goes on a mysterious trek on foot to reunite with a woman reader’s believed was only a tangential person in his life only to discover the deeper connection and how spiritual a mission can be for the human spirit.

All the Places I’d like to Travel to Next… 

FromHeretoEternityIt begins with a single step (actually, some money and a plane ticket) and I know a few places that are on my list, but in the meantime, I want to add a recent read that gave me the traveling bug again: Caitlin Doughty’s From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. I’m a super fan of hers. I love her YouTube channel and everything she stands for. So her 2017 publication took her work a step further and highlights all the ways the dead die and are cared for after death. Not to pick one method over another but to highlight the similarities and differences in American death culture and what happens around the world for better or worse. She wants to educate and educate she did in her humor and curiosity.

 

 
 

Insta-reviews

I’ve written before about completing Riotgrams Instagram challenges– a photo each day for a month around the prompt set forth that usually aligns in part with holidays, seasons, and suggestions from Book Riot‘s followers. I thought I’d share some book recommendations based on the prompts and my pictures so far this month. Keep in mind it’s only October 15th, which means there’s still a half of a month to go!

2017-10-14 08.43.42Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs is an addition to the Miss Peregrine’s series. This book is a collection of short stories written under the guise of a historian for peculiars and tells the tall tales that only another peculiar can tell. Some are light-hearted but some are downright depressing. But it brings out the best in Riggs’ creativity and is a perfectly natural (see what I did there?) addition to the family of books.

This post’s inspiration was “books in nature”.

 

 

 


2017-10-09 11.40.35The Round House by Louise Erdrich is an adult novel written in 2012 that is a multi-layered and emotionally-draining portrayal of a family torn apart on the North Dakota reservation of the Ojibwe tribe. This is the kind of book you dive into with every fiber of your being and continue to think about after you’re finished. It’s likely a book I will re-read when I don’t often do that.

This post’s inspiration was “Native and indigenous reads.” 

 

 


2017-10-10 19.19.47-1Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson is the final book in her Gold Seer trilogy that I finished about fifteen minutes ago. I bought it on it’s book birthday because I had to have it and finished it within a few days, though if I could ignore adulthood, I could have been done the following day. Carson demonstrates the facets of immigration and race relations in the 1850s during the Gold Rush though it began years before that in the south after Leah’s parents were murdered and she needed to run, hiding herself in plain sight as a boy and meeting up with a band of interesting people all pushing their way west. If I can provide more encouragement to read the series, know that I had at least one night of dreams set in the wild West myself that demonstrates Carson’s command of setting.

This post’s inspiration was “books & candy”.


2017-10-04 08.01.19Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence is a must-read for librarians (duh) and avid book lovers. Her uniquely humorous style provides glimpses into her reading habits and her life. Her and I are kindred spirits because we share an all-time book favorite The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Her approach had me laughing and smirking making for awkward public interactions. But readers certainly can find ways to incorporate this style– a love letter to your books– into some epic internal conversations or as part of your next book group meeting. Love, Alicia.

This post’s inspiration was “current read.”


2017-10-03 16.03.30-1And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard has one of my favorite covers. So while it’s not winter and I wasn’t going to dress in all-black, you get the point. This young adult novel features poetry and inspiration from Emily Dickinson in one of the ways I appreciate contemporary YA authors– bringing back the old by incorporating it into the new. The main character has experienced something tragic and is now at a boarding school and channeling Emily Dickinson to heal. The mystery unfolds over the course of the book and readers get to go back in time and revisit some of Emily Dickinson’s best poetry while Hubbard flexes her own poetry muscles and has Emily writing her own which is just as beautiful.

This post’s inspiration was “three word titles.”


2017-10-11 15.34.27Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is an adult biography that I have recommended widely since reading. While I will never know what it’s like to be a scientist, I felt like I understood the life of one, with the added benefits of chronicling Jahren’s personal life alongside her academic one. Without a doubt, it is eloquently written and organized in a studious manner, with three sections being named for plant life weaving these plants into the story of her own life and her lab partner. It’s as serious as it is cerebral with commentary on mental health, family, friendship, and science itself.

This post’s inspiration was “underrated read”.