Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Cover Love: Crowns

The last time I talked about cover trends, I focused on amusement parks. Today, I want to showcase covers that have crowns on them. These covers are gorgeous, and I can't get enough of them. It's hard to pick my favorite cover, but if I have to narrow it down, my two favorites are The Crown's Game and Three Dark Crowns.

Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath
Bloodtraitor by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Broken Prince by Erin Watt

The crown on Saving Hamlet is small, but it's there! What do you think about this trend? Which of these covers do you like the best? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


So I did something wild recently: I took a vacation and did nothing but read. I didn’t leave my house, except for some groceries and to donate a bag of clothes to Goodwill. I didn’t plan to go anywhere with my time off except to the library (twice). I dedicated more than one paid day off work to do little more than make a dent into my to-be-read list. This wasn’t a reader’s retreat — though that dream will happen in the future — but rather, it was a staycation with books. A readcation. My readcation was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I highly suggest scheduling one for yourself as soon as possible.
~Kelly Jensen, "How To Take a Readcation"


I have been thinking of taking some time off in the fall, but am not able to travel. A staycation is doable - there are plenty of local spots I haven't seen. But then I was reading the Book Riot article about taking a readcation, and I thought - that it's it! That's the one for me. I have been amassing an impressive TBR pile, and a lovely October day seems like a great time to curl up with a good book. And tea. And cats. After all, October just feels literary, ever since I read Anne of Green Gables and Anne said "I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Pick a time that works for you, stock the pantry, hit the library, unplug, get comfy, host a reading party - those are Book Riot's recommendations. (Somebody else suggested trying to plan a book club readcation, if you like the party idea.) There seem to be a lot of book bloggers talking about taking a readcation after the Book Riot post - and certainly lots of hashtag action on Instagram and Twitter - and someone even posited the question If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go for a ‘readcation’? I can't imagine leaving my house, since that's where the books, food, and pajamas are, but maybe you'd like to read on the beach. Or by the Seine. Or in a cabin in the woods. It might actually be easier to unplug in a cabin in the woods, now that I think about it, but I'll stay home for the moment.

I'm hoping that immersing myself in reading will engender a reaction similar to this blogger's:

There’s something about reading that makes you feel more conscious. ...after a few hours of reading every day I feel like the world is drawn in darker outlines and richer colors. It’s definitely the opposite feeling I get from a Netflix marathon. Nothing against Netflix but I can understand what Frank Lloyd Wright meant when he referred to television as chewing gum for the eyes.

Being able to write about my reading adventure here on the blog is definitely a gift, akin to Eleanor Catton's grant to give writers time to read and then write a non-fiction piece about their reading. Shall we begin?


I took a whole week off, and I started with plans of choosing what days I would be reading and logging my reading hours each day. Those plans soon fell by the wayside as I entered vacation mode! I do know I read an average of four hours a day the first couple of days. The picture that accompanies this post is of the books from my TBR which I chose to read, and I got through five of them, plus a couple of library books when I discovered my original choices were a bit too memoir-heavy. Here are the books I read:

Abba Gold by Elisabeth Vincentelli
The library catalog only features one title from the fascinating 33 1/3 series, Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem. Consider checking it out if you are a music geek - each book is focused on one album, with some of the books being fictional, some non-fiction, explorations of the music. I got Abba Gold for Christmas a few years ago and it did not let me down - I love Abba, and after each chapter I had to go to YouTube and watch the videos. Did you know early Abba videos were directed by Lasse Hallström, who later directed The Cider House Rules and Chocolat?

Chew, Vol. 10: Blood Puddin' by John Layman
Another great entry in this series! These graphic novels are at the edge of my comfort zone, and don't read them while you're eating, but they are fast-paced and imaginative.

My Misspent Youth: Essays by Meghan Daum
This is the book that kickstarted Daum's career back in the 2001, only recently back in print. I particularly enjoyed the piece "Music Is My Bag" and the one about flight attendants, "Inside the Tube." She is also the author of  The Unspeakable And Other Subjects of Discussion. You can also see some of her more recent pieces on her website.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
This one has a good buzz, positive reviews, and a decent-sized hold list, but somehow I couldn't engage with the action.

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
I am a huge fan of the Vera Stanhope mysteries, though I know many prefer Cleeves' Shetland series. This one was a solid mystery, with just a few too many mentions of Vera's unprepossessing physical appearance. Have you watched the Vera series on DVD? That came out first in the U.S., and the books have trickled into publication following the show's success.

Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans
I found this a little lurid for my taste, though I am a huge Ava Gardner fan - I even went to her museum in North Carolina! This makes an interesting companion to the ultimately more satisfying Ava Gardner: "Love Is Nothing."

Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp
This charming book does for parlourmaids what Mary Poppins does for nannies - both are outsize characters, though Cluny is more whimsical than magical. Margery Sharp is also the author of the Miss Bianca children's book series, which inspired the Disney film The Rescuers.

Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith
Another whimsical character, this one modern-day, living in Oregon, and working at a library! This is a slim novel, a fast read, but so very rewarding. Very lyrically written, not a word out of place - it might be my favorite of my readcation books.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
Not my favorite by Allende, and in fact it took me a while to get into it, but in the end I found it enormously affecting. Did you catch her A Word With Writers event at the KiMo last November?

Ultimately, my readcation experience was a lot of fun! I curled up on my couch with my cats and took naps around reading. Because I had the whole week, I did get a little restless and ended up doing some other things that took me out of the house - and at one point got caught out by a friend with no physical book on hand! (I did have a library book on the Kindle app on my phone, though.) If you have a few days off owed to you, or a long weekend coming up, I highly recommended a therapeutic readcation. It does a mind good!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Literary Links: Books to Read Before You Die

When did doing things "before you die" become a thing? It's got to be before the film Bucket List came out in 2007. Suddenly, people want to make sure they have time to "sleep under the stars" and "visit the Taj by moonlight," and they are making the lists to prove it. If you needed any help figuring out what makes the list of 10 or 100 or 1000 things you need to do before your life winds down, here's a sampling of some of the books from the library catalog with "before you die" in the title to get you started:

100 Things To Do in Albuquerque Before You Die

And, as you would expect, the catalog also features 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - wow! That's a lot of reading! If you'd like a smaller, or perhaps more specific list, or one from a different perspective, we've combed the internet to find some alternate lists of recommended reads. We know not everyone loves a list - but for those who do, we've got you covered.

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime [Amazon]

25 Books to Read Before You Die: World Edition [Powell's]

Popular 100 Books to Read Before You Die Shelf [Goodreads]

The 42 best books to read before you die - our favorites [Independent]

Creating the Ultimate List : 100 Books to Read Before You Die [Medium]

Choosing 1000 Novels to Read Before You Die [Guardian]

26 Books From Around the World You Need to Read Before You Die [Buzzfeed]

The Sci-Fi Classics You Need to Read Before You Die [PopSugar]

On the Books: Amazon compiled a list of 100 young adult books to read before you die [EW]

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Helping You Help Yourself: Some Guides to Modern Living

We confess, self-help is not a genre we've given a lot of attention to. We're more of the mindset of Sarah Bennett, co-author of  F*ck Feelings: One Shrink's Practical Advice for Managing All Life's Impossible Problems, who has said:

The first step is accepting what you can't control. So many people who come to my father [psychiatrist and co-author Michael Bennett]—they want something they can't have. They want a happy relationship that’s never going to be happy, or they want opportunities that are not easy to come by. So it's going into accepting what you can't control, the factors that are out of your hands, and seeing what you can do with what you can control. And learning to be proud of yourself not just for accomplishing what you can, and not beating yourself up for what you can't. Not seeing yourself as a failure, when you haven’t really failed because it’s not something that you could have controlled in the first place. And admiring your ability to withstand a feeling of rejection, and the frustration and the pain, and keep going on towards a more reasonable goal while being a good person. That’s also what’s emphasized so heavily. Figuring out your own values and sticking to them.
That said, we have a lot of admiration for people who have faced adversity, have worked on their personal problem using creative means, who are "able to laugh at how much life sucks."  And we are not totally averse to dipping into self-help - Dear Abby might be a bridge too far, but we have certainly perused the occasional Ask Polly column and taken in the Dear Sugar podcast now and then, and like the So Sad Today twitter feed, sometimes we feel like we'd like to "borrow some dopamine", and reading that someone else has "same anxiety different day" is oddly comforting. Sometimes succor comes from unusual sources; sometimes from just feeling seen and feeling understood.

The modern world has its own set of manners and mysteries, pratfalls and perils; we've collected some books that might serve as guideposts along your way or to make you feel like one of the gang, even if, like Groucho Marx, you would "refuse to join any club that would have [you] as a member."

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Love and Life From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

How to Be a Person In the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilesky


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Science Fiction for Reluctant Science Fiction Readers

Ringed Planet. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016. Accessed 29 Sep 2016.
Science fiction can be an acquired taste. Some readers grew up on it; others never quite saw the appeal of stories involving time travel, alien contact, space exploration, or the ways in which these concepts can be used to explore moral and intellectual debates. But if you’re a reader who’d like to ease their way into the genre, there are a few great places to begin.
~Tobias Carroll, "Science Fiction Books For People Who Don't Read Science Fiction"

Judging by the amount of articles you can find online titled with some variation on "science fiction novels for people who hate science fiction," or "for people who don't usually read science fiction," it seems that this genre can be a bit of a hard sell - kind of funny, considering that big and small screens are dominated by Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the like. But some of science fiction can be daunting - probably you won't want to dive into "hard science fiction" unless you like your science fiction to emphasize the science, for instance, and unless you have someone knowledgeable to guide you, subgenres like "space opera" might be confounding (although "alternate history" and "post-apocalyptic" are pretty straightforward). There are folks out there who think that genre fiction is "lightweight stuff;" there's an argument for cultural differences factoring in for those who are not interested in the genre. Ultimately, though, you could say that "[r]eal science fiction is as close to an intense discussion of philosophy as you can get while still reading fast-paced, page-turning fiction." Science fiction is asking some big questions, after all - "what does it mean to be human? What’s our place in the universe? Do we matter? Are we alone?"

Most of us have asked ourselves these kinds of questions. Why not try some science fiction next time you're at the library? Check out the list below, compiled from several lists "for people who don't read science fiction" - you might have already read one or two (or a book by the same author), and not even realized it. We've included each book's subgenre just to give you an idea of  the plot - "science fiction" with no qualifier usually means literary fiction, although sometimes it indicates a humorous bent.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell [social science fiction]

Shards of Honor [eAudiobook] by Lois McMaster Bujold [space opera]

Never Let Me Go by  Kazuo Ishiguro [science fiction]

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell [experimental fiction]

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger [time travel]

Slaughterhouse-Five: Or, The Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance With Death by Kurt Vonnegut [military science fiction]

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes [time travel]

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin [social science fiction]

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy [social science fiction]

China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh [science fiction]

The Player of Games by Iain Banks [space opera]

Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem [science fiction]

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood [dystopia]

To Say Nothing of the Dog, Or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump At Last by Connie Willis [science fiction]

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon [alternative history]

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel [apocalyptic fiction]

The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian [apocalyptic fiction]

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi [apocalyptic fiction]

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber [science fiction]

Embassytown by China Miéville [social science fiction]

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson [science fiction]

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New & Novel @ Your Library

The Public Library ABQ-BernCo is always trying to meet the needs of a changing world. We're not just books - we're eBooks! We're a Seed Library! Check out cake pans, Kindle Fire Tablets, Kill-a-Watt Energy Detectors! Subscribe our our email book recommendation newsletters! Our databases and subject guides are open 24/7, with your valid library card - learn a new language with Pronunciator or look up the list of Caldecott winners. Are we missing something you need? Suggest a purchase or get it via interlibrary loan. Do you need to book a meeting or study room for your group? We've got those. And more! Here are some of the latest additions to our library offerings, as well as some older programs of which you might not be aware:

Freegal Music 
Freegal is a free music service which offers download or streaming access to more than 9 million songs and over 15,000 music videos, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists. In total the collection is comprised of music from over 28,000 labels with music that originates in over 100 countries. Freegal works with almost all computers, players, tablets, and smartphones. No special software is needed, but there are Apple and Android apps available for a more mobile friendly experience. To access your Freegal benefits, your library account needs to be in good standing. You can download 3 songs per week and stream 3 hours per day using your library card number and PIN to log in.

Friends for the Public Library
For information about donating at library branches, book sales, and more.

Genealogy Center
The Genealogy Center is located at the Main Library. Contact the center to schedule a tour at the Genealogy Center or to come to you with a half hour presentation about the many resources available for free from the Public Library ABQ-BernCo and the Genealogy Center to support family history research. Or stop by for Research Day (last Tuesday of the month) or Military Research Day (first Tuesday of the month). The American Ancestors database is only accessible at this location.

Gizmo Garage
Want to meet eReaders and learn how to borrow eBooks, eAudiobooks, and digital magazines from the library? Visit our Gizmo Garage for hands-on experience with devices and in-person assistance with library downloads. 

Making Change   
A local history lecture series at Special Collections presented by The Public Library ABQ – BernCo, Historic Albuquerque, Inc., and Oasis Albuquerque.

Mergent Intellect Global
Access comprehensive information such as Company descriptions & history, Products & services, Structure & operations, Competitors, SEC filings, Annual reports with synopsis, and Business news & industry trends. Use company information to research companies and competitors in your industry, find new business opportunities. Find information on 245 million private/public & inactive global businesses companies. Also, access full family trees including domestic and international subsidiaries and branches.

Mobile Hotspot
Use your library card to check out a Hotspot providing you with free, and mobile, internet access! The Public Library ABQ-BernCo is very pleased to be working with T-Mobile to offer mobile Hotspots for check-out.
  • The mobile Hotspots may be checked out at all ABQ-BernCo Library locations.
  • Customers must have a valid ABQ-BernCo Library card.
  • Hotspots may be checked out by adult cardholders with full access accounts, in good standing.
  • Hotspots can be checked out for 3 weeks.
  • Hotspots are not eligible for renewal.
  • All components (Hotspot, charger, cord, and piece case) must be present upon return for the library to consider the item checked in.
  • Instruction cards are included with the hotspots.
  • Replacement for the Hotspot is $120.
  • Hotspots must be returned to a staff member at the Circulation Desk.

Museum Discovery Pass Program 
Check the catalog (a keyword search of "family pass" will bring up all of them) or call a library branch and ask them to check the library catalog - the passes are first come, first served, and you cannot place holds. If the pass you're looking for is not currently available, keep checking the Museum Discovery Pass LibGuide for updates on new program dates!

TREP Center
The TREP Center is Public Library ABQ-BernCo’s hub for small business owners, entrepreneurs, inventors and researchers. At the TREP Center, you'll find information resources curated with the startup community in mind. In addition to print and digital resources, the center is home to Book-a-Librarian. Make an appointment for a consultation with a librarian with special training in connecting citizens to innovation and planning resources throughout Albuquerque.

Upcoming Events
Programs and events at all branches of the Public Library ABQ-BernCo.

Photo credit: Library attendant. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 18 May 2016.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

September in Review

September was a better reading month than I thought it would be. I'm still doing a good job following the themes my sister and I decided on for the year. In September, we were supposed to read at least one LGBT book, and I read more than one. Here's what I read in September.

Tumbling by Caela Carter
Twelve Days of Terror: A Definitive Investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks by Richard G. Fernicola
Sing by Vivi Greene
Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Erin Lindstrom
True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medin
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
The Hunt by Megan Shepherd
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

I feel like I read a good mix in September: I read LGBT fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, a graphic novel, and non-fiction. I did feel like I read a little too much, though (is that possible?!), since I didn't spend as much time writing as I would have liked. This month, I'm going to try to balance that better.

The theme for October is to read at least one Stephen King book, I'm planning on reading Christine, which is my favorite King novel, and one that I think doesn't get talked about nearly enough.

What did you read in September? Let us know in the comments!