I only read 56 books in 2013

I know most individuals would never be ashamed at a number like that. And it’s not that I’m ashamed, per say…but in 2012 I read 77. Granted, in 2012 I didn’t get married, open a new library, write a column for School Library Journal Teen online, or otherwise stay pretty busy…but I digress. I’m a bit surprised at the low number, but I have the rest of my life to read. And besides, books aren’t going anywhere.*

To see the books I read (more than just what I put on this here blog) check out my LibraryThing account. Where do you log your books?

Other 2013 news, hmm…

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Like I said, I got married. This pic was taken as part of our post-bridal shoot which was completely stress-free. Seriously, couples that sneak away to take pics on the wedding day? How stressful must that be?! Post-bridal is totally the way to go. Not to mention, you get to wear your pretty dress again.

I was busy in library land devising and hosting programs; as a member of the 2014 Summer Reading Program committee and the 2013 1Book 1 Community committee; and reading and reviewing books. (Reading and reviewing doesn’t take place during work time because there is never time for that. Despite what my sister thinks. No seriously – she was convinced I was lying to her when I said I didn’t read during work hours. She then became even more impressed that I read 77 books in 2012. HA!)

A couple things I struggled with:
– Honestly, some days I just plum didn’t want to review a book. Not because I was lazy, but because I had other things to do. Dare I say more important? Summer Reading was busy, so my reviews over the summer dropped. The winter months were scarce in terms of number of books read, so I didn’t review much then, either. And I won’t review just for reviewing sake. I need to care – one way or the other. So I just didn’t.
– Did people even care? Were people even reading my blog? Quite a few times I had to remind myself that writing is first a personal thing, a public matter second. If I wasn’t fulfilled personally, how would I fulfill anyone publicly? So I stopped kicking myself in the butt and said, “I care.”

What did you do in 2013? What are you most proud of? What did you struggle with?

*Unless you’re living in Alena Graedon’s world in her 2014 debut novel The Word ExchangeIt’s set in a time when the printed word is completely obsolete and those who want to continue writing words are doomed to an untimely fate. Can April, 2014 arrive NOW so I can get my hands on this?

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Jay Asher visited me!

Okay okay, he obviously didn’t come to Virginia to visit me. I’d like to think so, but I don’t think international bestselling authors travel across the country to visit a girl who literally ran into him on the exhibit floor at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. I digress…

Jay’s (we’re on a first name basis now) debut novel was first brought up at a 2012 1Book 1Community committee meeting. In discussing appropriate titles, a few of us mentioned 13 Reasons Why. The book didn’t make the cut for that particular program, but the library’s programming division manager didn’t forget our enthusiasm, and asked him to be the guest author at our annual It’s All Write short story contest. He agreed. Check out his blog to see pictures and read about from his visit.

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In addition to his role as keynote speaker, Jay visited a couple high schools, the juvenile detention center, and my library for an after-hours event. (Pictures from the day are posted on our Facebook page.) The after-hours event was awfully cool for a Teen Services Librarian (um, that’s me). He and his peers write the books I recommend on a daily basis. He ‘gets’ the audience. He understand the emotions, the needs, and the interests of the demographic I serve.

Jay mentioned that just that week he had learned of 13 Reasons Why making it onto the ALA’s most frequently challenged list. He wasn’t surprised, but he did what (I assume) he must do frequently – defended his novel (rightfully so), arguing that Hannah’s story helps those suffering from suicidal thoughts. And he knows it helps readers cope with their own suicidal thoughts and depression…because they tell him. In fact, a young girl sitting in our small audience spoke openly about her own insecurities, her past as a bullied youth, and her consideration of suicide as the only way out. Jay hears this at every event he attends. He – through his novel, talks, and events – has saved lives, and he uses testimonies from teens on his website – 13RWProject.

By becoming more comfortable as a country to discuss this topic, it will help.

Suicide is such a taboo topic. As a whole, we don’t discuss depression or mental instability. Or, we use it as an excuse for why horrible actions occur, without opening up the table for discussion. Whether or not Jay knew his book would have such a profound impact on the mental state of so many youth is not known…but as a reader and fan, I am proud to say that he has turned his (and his book’s) fame into a mission of hope. A really cool thing he did with Hannah – and all of the characters in the novel – was keeping her physical appearance a secret. He didn’t so much not tell as simply didn’t include it. That way, Hannah could be any girl. Hannah could be any age, any race, or of any socio-economic status. Granted, the girl on the cover is a thin white girl with straight blond hair…but reading the book, you don’t get that vibe. I appreciate the vagueness.

For all that serious stuff, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the thing I cannot stop LOL-ing about. The first book he ever wrote (I forgot what age he was…grade school? Adult? I forgot, but either way it’s hilarious) was titled Stop Easter Bunny, You Forgot Something! He had aspirations of writing funny books for kids, and while he is a very funny, witty guy, I am glad he listened to his heart when it told him to write a serious novel.

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Join me next month when I geek out over the visit of Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Talking Booksand Tahereh Mafi, author of Shatter Me and the recently-released sequel Unravel Me.

Little things, little things

(I love Good Charlotte, hence the subject title and now the song that is stuck in my head.)

So some things are so totally random, but so small, that not many people would even take the time to notice. Well, I would. I do. So I am doing inventory at TMA and am entering the numbers manually, all of which start with “3”, followed by eight “0”s, then ending with a four-digit number. So, 300000000XXXX. Easy enough. Well, I come across 3000000000666 and of course, I must look at the title of this hellion book. As it turns out, it’s The Silver Chair by famous Christian author C.S. Lewis. I find it funny that either by chance (or, even funnier, on purpose) someone would choose to stick “666” on a Christian author’s novel.
…just saying, some of the little things really get me thinking.

As does this situation that just took place. Cary is at a dr.s appt., so I am alone in the library. No biggie. Well, a kid just came to me and asked if I had anything to eat because he was so hungry he couldn’t concentrate. I gave him a mini box of Raisinettes I stashed here yesterday because I just couldn’t stand the idea of sending him back to class hungry. In my defense, I told him to eat breakfast every morning, and to not do this again. I mean, he is in 9th grade, it’s the beginning of the year. So many of these kids are just getting used to the rigor of the school, so I can’t be mean, ya know? If he were a Senior it would be different, I think, because s/he would have been here for 3 years already.

What would you have done?