A Bunch of Thoughts

Again, I know it’s been a minute since anything has been posted to the library blog.  Four of your librarians recently returned from ALA.  For those who are confused by random acronyms, that stands for the American Library Association.  Among many other things, the ALA has an annual conference that is huuuge.  Think around 13,000 (if not more) librarians storming McCormick Place in Chicago ready to learn something new, network with other librarians, and take a look at some new products. Since each of us does something a little bit different at the library, we all attended different sessions and probably had varying experiences.  Since I can only speak for myself, that’s what I’ll do. It was my first time going and I was amazed and quite overwhelmed at first.  To give you an idea of how I felt, here is a floor plan. I eventually got my bearings and had a wonderful time and I think everyone else here did as well.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain why there have been no blog posts this week (so far).

When I came back on Monday, the library was insanely busy (which is awesome).  Every summer, we have reading programs for adults and kids so this contributes to a lot of the traffic. By the way, you can still sign up for the adult Summer Reading Program or come to any of the events that are going on for kids!  However, this year has objectively seen more patrons and check-outs than ever before.

I know this to be true because we were almost completely out of date-due cards.  What is a date-due card, you ask?  Well, we used to stamp the date that your items were due on these cards and that’s how you would know when to return your items.  At this point, they’re a bit antiquated, but we still use them to secure our collection. The fact that they were almost gone means that more items are being checked out than any other time in our recent past. They are a non-consumable supply, so when we have to re-order them, it means we’re doing good things. I absolutely love working for this library and our community and I hope that we continue to be surprised by how many books are getting taken out. Also, let it be known that we are always looking for ways to make your library experience even better–if you ever have any suggestions (or compliments), let us know.  You can send us a Facebook message, contact us through our website or stop in!


Your Library Curated: Best New Books

After a week-long hiatus, we’re back!  Here are some of the best new books at your library.  This time, we’re focusing on e-books and e-audiobooks. If you’ve never used library e-books or e-audiobooks (and you’re interested in doing so), talk to a librarian today!

  • Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (e-book) by Alison Weir:  I feel like I’ve researched everything there is to know about Anne Boleyn. This book was a breath of fresh air because it fictionalizes the drama of this era. Weir also writes non-fiction books about the English royals, so she knows her stuff.


  • Black Mad Wheel (e-audiobook) by Josh Malerman:  What I enjoyed the most about this book was Malerman’s prose.  He’s very sparing in the use of his words, so in this way, they really pack a punch.  This is a book by a musician–about musicians.  A rock band is asked to investigate a strange sound in the Namib Desert of Africa during the early Cold War. What goes down during their mission isn’t quite clear at first, but I will tell you that the main character ends up in the hospital.

black mad wheel

  • The Heirs (e-book and e-audiobook) by Susan Rieger:  A wealthy and powerful (and also dying) man is about to leave his five sons (and wife) without a father/husband.  He may have also left a mistress along with other children. Read this for some high-brow drama. heirs
  •   Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable (e-book) by William Shatner and Jeff Rovin:  If you enjoy casually reading about horses, then this is the book for you.  It’s clear that the author has a deep passion for the creatures while reading this book. Even though I think he could have used a better editor, it’s still fun to read the meandering thoughts of William Shatner.    spirit of the horse
  •  White Fur (e-book) by Jardine Libaire:  People fall in love, make money and die in New York City in the 1980s.  What’s not to love?  Joking aside, this book was painful to read because it left nothing left unsaid. It’s beautiful and smart and I loved it. white fur

You Should Read These Books if You Like “American Gods”

I know a lot of people are watching Starz’s new TV show American Gods based on Nail Gaiman’s novel of the same name.  If you’re enjoying the battle between old gods and new gods and the combination of mythology and modern fantasy, then you’re sure to like these other titles available at your library.

  • “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Nail Gaiman:  It might seem a little silly to put another Neil Gaiman novel on the list, but he mixes myths and gods into a lot of his work. In this one, an angel and a demon band together to stop the end of the world.
  • “Autobiography of Red” by Anne Carson:  This novel in verse takes Geryon (a winged monster who fights Herakles) and rewrites the character into a modern teen who falls in love with the Greek hero instead of being slain.
  • “Mr. Fox” by Helen Oyeyemi:  This terrifying novel blurs the line between fantasy and reality. A writer named St. John Fox struggles deeply with one of the muses in his books.
  • “Grendel” by John Gardner:  The author does a complete retelling of the Old English poem Beowulf from the monster’s perspective. Although this novel was published in 1971, it still holds up today.

If you’re interested in these or anything else, give your library a call!


Google Announces Enhancements to Results When Searching For “Art-Related Things”

As someone who is currently pursuing my Master’s in Library and Information Science, I’ve been reading widely on a lot of topics including those that also relate to museums. Many museums have been working diligently for a number of years in order to digitize parts or all of their collections to be accessed on their website.  For example, one can search or browse through the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago. I had a passionate debate with a fellow student over whether digitization actually increases or decreases visits to the museum. In this debate, I can understand both sides. I truly believe that an image on a computer or phone will never replace the experience of seeing a Picasso or Monet in person. However, when I was in my undergrad, many of my classmates in our Art History class were guilty of using digital collections for our museum assignment instead of actually visiting. However, this is nothing new; students have been looking for the easy way out since the beginning of education.

Now, Google has made it even easier to browse popular artists’ works and get the information that you’re seeking. They even claim that you can “visit hundreds of museums around the world right from your laptop.” I beg to differ. While I think this is a great discovery and educational tool, I am never going to substitute my trip to MoMA for an image on Google.

To find out more, click here.

Your Library Curated: New Book Recommendations

I just finished a couple books and they were both awesome!  The best part about these two books is your library owns them, so stop in and check them out or put them on hold today.


“A Face Like Glass” by Frances Hardinge:  Everyone in Caverna is born with a blank canvas for a face and must be taught how to make expressions.  Facesmiths are the professionals who provide the service of creating expressions for the people of Caverna.  The problem with this service is that it costs money–the rich get to choose from an array of faces while those that don’t have financial resources get stuck with faces that have already been chosen for them such as expressions of subservience. This book is pure magic in both the craft of the writing, as well as the actual content.

face like glass

“Bad Dreams and Other Stories” by Tessa Hadley:  This short story collection gives readers complex characters and a sense of closure when each story is finished.  I actually became attached to a lot of the characters here instead of forgetting them the moment I moved on to the next story.  The connecting thread between these stories is self-reflection–each character goes through a deeply conflicting experience and must look inside themselves for the answers.

bad dreams

Your Library Curated: Best New Books

In order to highlight some of the best and newest additions to the Jacksonville Public Library’s collection, the blog will have a regular curation of mini book reviews.  If you’re interested in any of these titles, stop in or give us a call!

  • “I’d Die for You” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anne Margaret Daniel:  This is a new collection of Fitzgerald’s previously unpublished or uncollected short stories.  Not every story is destined to become a new classic.  However, each story gives readers insight into the famed author’s psyche while trying to produce new work.

I'd die for you

  • “Anything Is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout:  As with other works by Strout, it’s hard to quite tell if this is a novel or a collection of short stories.  Either way, each chapter or story is connected by common themes.  Strout’s newest book is well-written and examines ideas like class (as in working-class etc.), insecurity, and forgiveness.  Don’t miss out!

anything is possible

  • “The Pearl Thief” by Elizabeth Wein:  I am reviewing a novel for young adults because both adults and teens alike enjoy reading them.  This book is published by the same author as Code Name Verity.  However, you do not need to read the previously published novel to understand and enjoy this new one.  It’s both a murder mystery and a coming-of-age story.  The thing I loved most about this book was the main character–she’s witty and real.

pearl thief

  • “House of Names” by Colm Toibin:  This book is quite tragic… Characters are thrown into dungeons and the amount of violence that occurs is quite staggering.  However, the violence isn’t gratuitous.  With Toibin’s adept writing, the characters are alive with depth.  This book doesn’t quite seem like Toibin’s other work, but it is a great book on its own.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I turned every page.

house of names

  • “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore:  This book is all about workers’ rights.  The women Moore writes about died from the radium they were exposed to while working for dial-making factories.  The women’s lives were painful and tragic, but their legacy has paved the way for the protection of workers today.

radium girls

  • “The American Spirit” by David McCullough:  This collection of speeches is tied together by the theme of history.  McCullough is synonymous with expert as he has won 2 Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his previous work.  These speeches instill a much-needed hope at a time of unrest on both sides of the aisle.

american spirit

  • “Shattered” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:  This book explores the ins and outs of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president.  Ultimately, it looks at what went wrong and tries to make sense of Clinton’s shocking loss last November.  This book is the first word on 2016, but it most certainly will not be the last. shattered
  • “The Shadow Land” by Elizabeth Kostova:  In Kostova’s third novel, she returns to Eastern Europe–Bulgaria.  The author  has spent much time in this country as this is where she met her husband.  The novel starts in 2008 with the main character teaching English in a new country and quickly turns into a mystery to figure out the life of a man named Stoyan Lazarov.  Kostova has managed to make another masterpiece so check it out today!      shadow land
  • “The Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli:  This new young adult  novel explores all the challenges and beauty that comes with new love.  This book is super fun with a cast of characters that will keep you entertained.  Try this one out for a summer beach read!

upside of unrequited

  • “Richard Nixon” by John A. Farrell:  This biography turns Richard Nixon into a human with depth and feelings.  However, it doesn’t let Nixon off the hook for the corruption of his presidency.  The book also brings previously unknown details to light from diaries and reports that were recently discovered.  If you’ve ever been curious about Nixon, the man, this book is for you.richard nixon


New Language Learning Database

The library is now subscribing to a new language learning database:  Rocket Languages.  All you need is your library card and you could be on your way to finally fulfilling your New Year’s resolution from five years ago to learn a new language.  I kid.

But, really, I’ve been meaning to brush up on the seven years of Spanish I took in both high school and college–I can barely remember how to have a basic conversation.  I’m pretty excited myself to have this new resource!

Rocket Languages has a really neat component called the Interactive Audio Course that allows users to have real conversations.  I can attest to how important this is because I have forgotten all of my Spanish because I haven’t been using it.  The database even has culture lessons and games!  So, if you’re looking for something fulfilling to do this summer, learn a new language with the library’s new database.

rocket languages

The Best Cult Novels at Your Public Library

What is a cult novel?  A cult novel is one in which a rabid group of fans swears it’s the best book of all time.  I’m sure there are better definitions, but that’s what I’m going with.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger:  Everyone knows this classic, but it used to be super underground in the 50s.  In fact, it used to be the most banned book of all time after it caught on with the youth!catcher in the rye
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac:  Reviewers around the time this book was published weren’t too keen on this novel, but it has become an essential book for those who like to wander a little bit more than average.on the road
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole:  Sadly, our culture tends to revere authors and other artists when they die too soon or before their work becomes famous.  That’s the case with this novel.  There are a huge number of cult fans who will swear this is the funniest book they’ve ever read.

confederacy of dunces

  • Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis:  Another funny one!  A cult novel written by a cult author about a cult!

masters of atlantis

  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse:  Thinking about travelling to the Himalayas?  You should probably read this book.


  • Dune by Frank Herbert:  This book has the most intense fan-base I’ve ever seen.  If you haven’t read this amazing piece of science-fiction, I’m here to tell you that you probably should.


  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein:  The main character was raised by aliens. Need I say more?  Oh, it has also been very influential in the realm of science-fiction.


  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt:  Teenagers love this book because it follows around a group of college students–it’s both successful and culty (is that a word?).

secret history

  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski:  A lot of people hate this book with extreme passion, but a lot of people also really love it.  This is one of those books that had a cult following online before it was officially published in print.  The mystery, as well as the stark differences in opinion regarding its literary merit, will make this a cult novel for years to come.

house of leaves

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig:  This book was rejected by more publishers than any other bestseller.  While this book is kind of kitschy at this point, it is still incredibly popular.

zen and the art of

jimmy corrigan

  • Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski:  Everything Bukowski has ever done is culty.  I personally think his work can be hard to get into, but not everyone agrees.

ham on rye

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card:  While there have been questions about the author’s homophobia, many fans still champion this book quite fervently.

ender's game

  • Fear of Flying by Erica Jong:  A coming-of-age story for the ages…

fear of flying


  • Generation X by Douglas Coupland:  This novel is responsible for coining its namesake.  What do people born after 1960 think?  I don’t know; read this book.

generation x

  • The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk:  The first book by Pamuk where we really get to witness his chops as an author.

black book

  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace:  Everyone I’ve every known that has read this book likes to act like they’re better than the people who have not read it.  Ah well.

infinite jest

  • Kindred by Octavia Butler:  Everyone who reads this author falls in love with her!


why did I ever

  • Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann:  This novel is seen as the ‘girl’s’ version of Catcher in the Rye and was self-published before it was picked up by Random House years later.  Sounds like the makings of a cult novel!

anthropology of an american girl


All of these books are available at the Jacksonville Public Library.  Let us know if you’re interested in any of them.

Hemingway’s Love Letters

high school hemingway

I often wonder how authors would feel if they knew that our modern world was consuming the work they had never anticipated publishing.  See:  Franz Kafka and Emily Dickinson.  What’s even more revealing is the correspondence some authors had with the ones who were closest to them in their lifetime.  One such example that sparked my interest today was that of Ernest Hemingway’s love letters.

A woman named Betsy Fermano went to a Hemingway exhibit at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum and recognized a name from her family (Coates).  Frances Elizabeth Coates was someone that Hemingway felt quite deeply about after they dated for a short time.  Two letters that passed between the two have survived and are on display in the exhibit.  These letters are important because they show a different side of the famous author that not many readers have had the opportunity to see.

The Paris Review covers these fascinating letters and more in detail here.

Book Review: All Our Wrong Todays

I recently read All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai.  I absolutely loved most of it.  It’s relentlessly hilarious with an incredibly unique concept.  In the main character’s timeline, the world is almost perfect–technology has solved every conceivable problem that we have today.  There’s just one problem that Tom still has–he’s lost the love of his life, but he has a time machine.

The worst thing possible happens:  Tom ends up in the readers’ (our) timeline and he doesn’t understand our world at all.  He has some big choices to make:  stay here with the woman of his dreams or go back to a technologically advanced haven.  I can tell you one thing:  he doesn’t make it easy on himself.

My only issue with the book was that the story became a bit convoluted at times, but it continued to maintain my interest.  I actually laughed out loud multiple times and truly enjoyed reading something so out-of-this-world.

This book is available at our library, so come check it out!

all our wrong todays