Cut Up Your Collection

If you’re anything like me, you have piles of books everywhere waiting to be read, in the process of being read and library books that looked interesting– but I logically know I’ll never have time to digest all the things I want to read.

In this way, I’ve always been interested in the insight that could be gained from peeking at another person’s book piles.  In the same vein, what would people think of me?  Much like my musical tastes, there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it.  Or is there?

Nina Katchadourian has thought through this very issue and created an art project to accompany these curiosities. The specific project that I have linked to cuts up William S. Burroughs’ book collection at his Kansas home.  If you look at some of these photographs, there is definitely something to be said of the types of books Burroughs liked to read.  From my estimation, his reading tastes are a little odd, off-the-wall and representative of the sub-culture of drugs just like his own writing.

Perhaps, I was drawn to this particular collection because I am currently re-reading Naked Lunch. The first time I read it, I think I was far too young to understand it. At the age of 14, it seemed like a jumbled-up mess of darkness and grotesque descriptions of disease.  Now, at the age of 27, I understand that it is about the disgusting ways in which addiction can change your life–any addiction–violence, vapid consumerism or self-loathing. I see the inspiration even in just the titles of Nina’s cut-up project. Now, I’m interested in reading these titles for myself to see what Burroughs saw.

I thought I would take a few snapshots of the Jacksonville Public Library’s collection.  We serve everyone and therefore, we try to collect books from as many different genres and tastes as we can.  For this reason, I don’t necessarily think that these snaps will provide as much of a clue into the entirety of our collection as one’s own personal collection.  However, I did try to pick titles that I found interesting or that played well together.  Feel free to tell me what you think or post some pictures of your own!

Cut up Project

Cut up Project 2


Mini Book Review

So, I just finished reading “Are You Sleeping” by Kathleen Barber as an e-book.  There is something so subtle and nuanced about this book as it seamlessly slips between the past and the present. The twist in this thriller is also so under the radar that it will haunt you and make you question your own judgment long after you finish reading it. If you pick this one up, don’t expect a dose of optimism, but rather the harsh reality of mental illness and those it affects.  Lies, murder, and darkness–what more could you want in a psychological thriller?are you sleeping

A Couple of Mini Reviews

I won’t get into politics here, but have you ever wondered why government officials and financial institutions are rarely held accountable for their crimes?  Then, The Chickens*** Club by Jesse Eisinger is for you.  If you’re offended by the star symbols, I’m sorry.  Anyway, it’s a wonderful new book that we have at the library by a Pulitzer Prize winner.  He talks about James Comey and a wide cast of characters we’ve all been hearing about in the news.  It’s a fascinating read discussing the financial crisis, as well as other large-scale scandals. If you would like to place a hold on this book, click here.


On the completely opposite side of the spectrum is Richard Kadrey’s The Kill Society.  This book is like a cross between Mad Max and Cormac McCarthy with a lot of noir themes thrown in for good measure. This book is a thrill ride until the very last minute and I had a great time with it. It’s available from your library as an e-book.

kill society

Your Library Curated: Best New Books

Here are some mini-reviews of the best new books at your  library:

  • Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero:  This is the story about the kids from Scooby-Doo all grown-up.  While this sounds like a bit of a silly idea, it is well-executed with some dark undertones.

meddling kids


  • The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota:  This is a book that challenges its readers to step into the shoes of another–in this case, take a walk in the lives of Indian migrants in Britain.

year of the runaways

  • Defectors by Joseph Kanon:  This is a wonderful thriller and spy novel that is set in the early 1950s during the Red Scare. It was so gripping that it only took me about a day to get through it.


  • The Child by Fiona Barton:  The author’s previous book, The Widow, centers around a cold case–this book does as well, only this time, it involves the murder of a newborn. There’s a huge twist at the end that will leave you thinking about this book for some time to come.


  • The Force by Don Winslow:  This quote from NPR was so wonderful that I have to use it.  “An instant classic, an epic, a…Wagner opera with a full cast and buckets of blood and smack and Jameson whiskey.”  If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then I don’t what to tell you.


  • Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (e-book):  A book about dementia that’s sweet (but not too sweet) and relatable. goodbye vitamin
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (e-book):  Goss is drawing from Robert Louis Stevenson, H. G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mary Shelley in this story of friendship and history. Rather than being derivative, it’s actually quite insightful.

strange case

do not become alarmed

  • The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman:  This book is a testament to the power of reading.  Literature vs. video games–who will win?

chalk artist

  • Theft by Finding by David Sedaris:  For fans of David Sedaris, this is like a glimpse into his mind–an all-at-once shocking and amazing place.

theft by finding

  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn:  A suspenseful read full of pain, but also hope.

alice network

  • Silver Silence by Nalini Singh (e-book):  If you like paranormal romance, then this book is for you.  There are changelings, humans, and a race called Psy who ward off all emotions.

silver silence

lost and found sisters

Book Review: “Miles, the Autobiography”

I just finished “Miles, the Autobiography” and I have to say I loved it. Miles Davis is a figure not unlike those in the media today. His book is full of judgments and outright dismissals of other artists. If you can get past the general ‘meanness’ of the biography, I think that fans of Miles Davis will enjoy his take on the world.

Additionally, his feelings on other musicians have also been recorded during a series of blindfold tests that forced Davis to figure out who was playing and then remark on what he had heard. In one particular test, he said of Eric Dolphy’s “Miss Ann” that “nobody else could sound that bad!”

If you’re interested in Miles Davis or any other famous figure, let a librarian know.  We have a rather expansive biography section full of information about your faves!

8-Hour Emily Dickinson Marathon Reading

I’ve always had a thing for poetry and I’ve always loved Emily Dickinson from the moment I read her work in high school (or maybe junior high–I don’t remember). I would consider myself an amateur Dickinson scholar; amateur is the key word here. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center, along with the Folger Library, recently did a free marathon reading of her work. The entire thing is around 8 hours long!  While I realize that is a long time to spend listening to Emily Dickinson poetry, it is in celebration of her 184th birthday. In fact, 8 hours was only enough time to get through about a third of her work.

Poet, Eleanor Heginbotham starts out the recording with Dickinson’s letter to her editor, abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Emily says:  “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?”  Well, hats off to Emily!  Her verse is alive and well and I couldn’t be more thankful.

In case anyone actually ends up listening to this, here is a link to part 2.

And, of course, we have all of Dickinson’s work at your library if you want to brush up!

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.