Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Go. Learn Things.

[photo source]

Scott Bakula plays Dwayne Pride, one of the main characters in NCIS: New Orleans. Pride can often be heard telling his team, “Go. Learn Things.” For some reason, that phrase really hit home with me during one of the last episodes of the first season. It really hit me as a call to action, not only for the characters in the show, but for me personally. In a way, a lightbulb went off.

I’m passionate about lifelong learning, but in past year or so, I feel like I haven’t done much learning. When I heard Pride say, “Go. Learn Things,” I realized that I had to make learning a priority again. The point of my blog has always been to have a place where I can synthesize what I’ve learned, and also share thoughts on all kinds of topics. I haven’t blogged nearly as often as I should, but I’m about to change that.

My library’s new fiscal year begins tomorrow. One of my goals for the coming year is to blog twice per month about things I’ve learned. I have a few ideas in mind for what I might blog about, such as: using Microsoft Publisher, weeding library materials, content curation, and using Canva to create images.

Now that I’ve told the world my goal, the next step is to make it happen. Expect to see posts twice per month on things I've learned. I'll also post at other times on other topics that are dear to my heart, like scrapbooking, and running. 

So, here’s to accountability. Stay tuned to see what I learn next!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. EJI’s mission is to help people on death row, incarcerated children, and those without a voice. Just Mercy tells the stories of the people who have been wrongly accused, those who can’t speak for themselves, and those who are affected by our broken justice system.
This is the best book I read all year. Bryan Stevenson is a wonderful storyteller, and I often forgot that this is nonfiction. He is obviously passionate about what he does and is trying to make a difference. Just Mercy was an inspiring read.
If you like this book, you might also like The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Writing from the Grave

Many things about the publishing world make little sense to me. One of them is the reluctance to say goodbye to deceased authors. I shouldn’t say that it doesn’t make sense; in fact, it makes perfect sense. Publishers still make money on authors who “write” from the grave, and several are still writing. For instance, Robert B. Parker died in 2010, but his books are still being written by Michael Brandman, and Ace Atkins. A new Dragon Tattoo book is in the works. Steig Larsson died in 2004, and David Lagercrantz has been recently hired to write the newest book in the series. Other authors who “write” from the grave are:

Dick Francis died in 2010. His son Felix has taken over the writing of his books.

Robert Ludlum, of the Bourne trilogy fame, died in 2001. His books are now written by Kyle Mills, Eric Lustbader, Jamie Freveletti.

Ian Fleming died before I was born, but he’s still “writing,” thanks to Raymond Benson, William Boyd, & Jeffery Deaver. They’ve all worked to keep the 007 franchise alive.

Publishers are able to cash in on these big name authors, even though they’re no longer with us. I've always been annoyed by authors who “write” from the grave, but it really hit me recently when I was placing a book order. There are several reasons that I think we should let deceased authors rest in peace.
  • I can't order many books I'd like to, because the money is tied up elsewhere.
  • I can't replace withdrawn copies, because I'm spending money on dead people.
  • I can't order debut novels, because I'm spending money on dead people.
How can we turn the focus from these dead authors to living and breathing ones? One option is readalikes. Introduce readers to authors who have a similar writing style to a dead author.

I’m glad that an author’s popularity doesn’t die with them, but I wish that we could focus on those authors that are still here with us. What do you think? Should publishers stop releasing books from authors who have died? Or do you think it’s OK to keep buying books from ghostwriters?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What's In a Name 2014

The What's In a Name reading challenge was started by Annie, taken over by Beth Fish Reads, and this year, continued by The Worm Hole.

My Thoughts

I've tried participating for the last couple of years, and so far, haven't completed the challenge. I decided to try it again in 2014, and I'm going to make it a priority this time around.

Here's some info about the What's In a Name reading challenge. Feel free to join me!

The Basics

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories (examples of books you could choose are in brackets):
  • A reference to time (Eleven Minutes, Before Ever After)
  • A position of royalty (The People’s Queen, The Last Empress, The Curse Of The Pharaoh)
  • A number written in letters (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Tale Of Two Cities)
  • A forename or names (Rebecca, Eleanor & Park, The Unfinished Work Of Elizabeth D.)
  • A type or element of weather (Gone With The Wind, Red Earth Pouring Rain)
Remember the titles I’ve given here are only examples, you can by all means use them if you want to – some are classics after all – but it’s not necessary. There are plenty of other books that will fit the categories and you may have some in mind already or even some on your shelves you can read. 
Extra Information
  • Books can be any format (print, audio, ebook).
  • It’s preferred that the books don’t overlap with other challenges, but not a requirement at all.
  • Books cannot overlap categories (for instance my first example, Eleven Minutes, could be used for category 1 or 3 but not both).
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
  • You don’t have to make your list of books beforehand, you can choose them as you go.
  • You don’t have to read your chosen books in any particular order.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

One of my friends talked me into running a half-marathon with her in January 2015. The thing is, I’m not a runner. In fact, I’m a couch potato. Thankfully, I stumbled across Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley. At the beginning of the book, Heminsley is like me: she’s not interested in running, and then decides that maybe it’s something she can start doing.

Running Like a Girl is the perfect book for novice runners, because it starts with the basics: from buying gear to getting past the brutal beginnings. It’s also very funny. Heminsley shares stories of running mishaps, the details of running, and her experiences she has along the way. This book has all the tips I need to start running. Heminsley has inspired me to give running a try. Maybe someday running will become a release and not a chore.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Jake Brigance is back, and I couldn’t be happier. John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, featured the young lawyer from Clanton, Mississippi. It’s one of my favorite books. Sycamore Row continues just three years after A Time to Kill. The story of Jake Brigance and his misfit cohorts is just as good.

Seth Hubbard takes his own life right after he writes a new will that cuts out his family, and leaves most of his fortune to his housekeeper. Seth has appointed Jake to be the lawyer for the estate, which throws Jake into a bitter will contest. You might think that a book about a contested will would be boring. This book is anything but.  As in most John Grisham novels, there are more questions than answers. Why did Seth Hubbard leave most of his fortune to his black housekeeper? Why did Seth choose Jake to fight for the new will? What is the awful secret that Seth and his estranged brother kept for over fifty years? What secrets does the housekeeper have?

The desire to discover the answers to these questions is why I kept reading. I wanted to see what happened to Jake Brigance next. Grisham keeps you guessing as he throws curve ball after curve ball. Once you think you have everything figured out, guess again.

If you liked this book, you might like Fall From Grace by Richard North Patterson.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

What do you do when you find out you’re someone’s last hope? That’s the situation Louisa Clark finds herself in after she’s hired to care for quadriplegic Will Traynor. In Me Before You, Louisa is perfectly content living her life in a small English village, working at a café, and not venturing outside her comfort zone. But when the café closes, Louisa must find another job quickly, because she is the family breadwinner. Enter Will Traynor, a man who lived life on the edge. After his accident, he is a stubborn, moody, and bossy man who is not looking to improve his situation. Louisa discovers that she’s been hired to change Will’s outlook on life. She does her best to show him what his life could be like, despite his physical challenges.

I loved this book. In fact, I think it’s one of my favorites that I read this year. I really enjoyed that the story is not only told from Will and Louisa’s point of view, it’s also told from the point of view of other important characters. This lets readers see the story from all sides, and see what other characters think of the situation. I really enjoyed Jojo Moyes’ writing, and will be reading more of her books.

If you liked Me Before You, you might also like The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison.