Saturday, August 30, 2014

When Books Inspire Art

Several months ago, I stumbled across a photographer, Margot Wood of The Real Fauxtographer, whose blog includes many photos (or as she calls them, fauxtos) that were inspired by young adult books. Because she allows sharing her photos, as long as she's given credit for them, I'm going to share my favorite images of hers.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi. I haven't actually read the book (I tried, but I just couldn't get into it), but I love this image.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. It's one of my favorite books, and after showing this image to one of my colleagues, we agreed that it perfectly represents Anna's character.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan. The picture is a little creepy, as it should be, since the book is about zombies.

And finally, the very first photo I saw in Margot's YA series.

Courtesy of Margot Wood

This image was inspired by Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo.

What I love about Margot Wood's blog is that she doesn't just post pictures inspired by young adult books. She talks about the photos, too: what books inspired them and how, how she took the photograph, the costumes that are used, and more. It's fascinating to see how books can inspire other types of art.

How do books inspire you, artistically or otherwise?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unusual Library Collections and Customs in History

Chained Library, Chelsea Old Church [Colin Smith]
From age to age, libraries grow and change, flourish and disappear, blossom and contract...
~Matthew Battles

There's a book in the library catalog called Library: An Unquiet History.  We've only skimmed it, but it tells the stories you might already know about libraries - the burning of Alexandria's papyrus scrolls in 48 B.C. (author Matthew Battles calls it a "biblioclasm"); that "[i]n the Middle Ages, access to books, even literacy itself, was parceled out on a strict 'need to know' basis"; that " the nineteenth century, the sheer proliferation of books in number and kind transformed the library from temple to market, from canon to cornucopia"; and the birth of the modern public library, with the help of folks like Andrew Carnegie.  What this most excellent volume does not mention (though, granted, we've only skimmed its 214 pages) is some of the more unusual, and now mostly archaic, traditions of libraries through the ages.  For example...

  • Anthropodermic Bibliopegy: As was widely reported earlier this year, there are multiple libraries (at Harvard University, at Brown University, at the Boston Athenaeum, at the University of Georgia) that include in their collections books bound in human skin. A volume at Harvard, Des destinees de l'ame (Destinies of the Soul), contains a note by the binder which reads"'A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering.'"* Anthropodermic bibliopegy, basically tanning human skin as one would tan leather, has been practiced since the 16th century, with a rise in popularity during the 19th century, when the skins of criminals who had been executed were given to bookbinders. The practice has also been used by doctors to honor a deceased patient or colleague. Philadelphia's Mutter Museum also features a collection of books bound in this manner by 19th century doctor Joseph Leidy, and a human-skin wallet owned by the same.
  • Chained Libraries: During the Middle Ages, a popular practice was chaining books, especially large, valuable reference books, to the bookshelf to prevent theft.  The chains, generally fitted to the corner or cover of the book to avoid wear and tear, would be long enough to remove the book from the shelf and read, but not take the book from the library. There are still a few chained libraries which have survived in Europe, mostly in England. The film of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone featured chained books in the restricted section of the library at Hogwarts.
  • Scholars' (or Reading) Cages: Marsh Library in Dublin, Ireland went a step further to secure their books - they actually locked borrowers in cages! These cages are actually three alcoves with wire doors, perhaps an early and less trusting version of the library carrels you see in the college libraries today. (Shields Library at UC Davis has something similar for the convenience of their graduate students, though students do find them "creepy".)
  • Xylothek or Wooden Libraries: These libraries, relatives of Wunderkammern or cabinets of curiosities, reached the height of popularity in Germany in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Each "book" is made out of a particular type of wood, covered in bark, with moss and lichen from the tree used to decorate the cover.  Inside, "readers" generally find leaves, flowers, fruits, seedlings, root, cut branches, and seeds, along with a special compartment with a written description of the tree and its uses. Great for those studying forestry, botany, or related fields.

    Do you know of any interesting library collections or customs from history that we've missed?  Let us know in the comments!

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

    New and Novel: Crime Novels

    Series versus stand-alone, hard-boiled versus cozy, historical versus contemporary, a carefully planned menu versus potluck? Picking the best crime novels of the year is no easy trick.
    ~Bill Ott* 

    Looking for a few good books full of mystery and suspense?  Here are some of the best-reviewed (and Booklist recommended) reads of the past few months.  Covert operations! Daring escapes! Obsession! Treachery! Psychological character studies! Enigmatic strangers! These books explore all the malevolent forces at work in the world, and their aftermath.

    The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

    In the Morning I'll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty

    Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

    An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

    The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

    Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

    The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

    The Ascendant by Drew Chapman

    Decoded by Mai Jia 

    Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini

    North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

    Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

    The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon                

    The Fever by Megan Abbott

    The Director by David Ignatius

    The Bone Seeker by M. J. McGrath

    The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

    One Kick by Chelsea Cain

    The Son by Jo Nesbø


    The Year's Best Crime Novels: 2014 [Booklist]*

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    Blame It On Phryne: Return to the Jazz Age

    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
    ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher, Australia's divine and fearless 1920s detective, has her own TV series. Downton Abbey is moving into the Jazz Age.  Woody Allen made Midnight in Paris, then Magic in the Moonlight. Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby had everyone falling in love with this classic all over again. It's almost 2020, 100 years since the Jazz Age, and perhaps nostalgia has already kicked in, because there are currently a lot of Lost Generation items at the library that will have you wanting to bob your hair (women) and slouch around in your Oxford bags (men). If you want to feel a Roaring Twenties vibe, try kicking back with one of these likely titles!


    Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell

    Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife by Gioia Diliberto

    American Cocktail: A "Colored Girl" in the World by Anita Reynolds with Howard M. Miller

    Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance by Carla Kaplan

    Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell


    Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

    Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes

    The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

    The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

    The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

    The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty 


    "Here's What a Bestseller Looked Like in the 1920s" [HuffPost Books]

    "The Roar of the Crowd" [The New York Times]

    "Hats, pearls, and all that jazz woo style mavens" [Christian Science Monitor]

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Mind-Bending YA

    Pete Hautman’s The Klaatu Terminus completes a trilogy that dares to make a number of narrative and temporal shifts, each of which challenges readers to hold tight—or possibly let go?—of the sensical reins. The forefather of such mind-bending sleight of hand is Kurt Vonnegut, whose Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) has inspired generations of rule breakers. Such experimental works are rare in YA, but recent years have provided a number of worthy heirs.
    ~Daniel Kraus, "Readalikes: The New Vonneguts" [Booklist]

    Books told entirely with images, involving magical science and travel to parallel worlds, starring a girl born with the wings of a bird and a boy who believes he is a character in a novel, part darkly comic philosophical discussion, with an experiment gone terribly wrong, a curiously powerful plant and a black mirror...  Which book's plot are we describing?  All the books on this list!  If you like the strange, the fantastical, the slightly awry, the inscrutable future, this young adult fiction booklist is here to test your grip on reality and introduce you to other realities!

    Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral

    Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin [eBook] 

    Grasshopper Jungle: A History by Andrew Smith

    Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick   

    My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek

    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

    Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

    Flux by Beth Goobie [eBook] 

    47 by Walter Mosley    

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Back to School

    The new school year is in full swing, and here at abcreads, we like to celebrate by highlighting some of the many print and online resources available to help our students succeed. In addition to homework help, test prep, and research databases, we have a wealth of materials to help with the challenges of going back to school.

    Sometimes students aren’t the only ones who could use a little guidance. Our parents and teachers work just as hard, and we have resources for them, too!

    Check out some of our lesser known gems:

    For Students

    Beyond Googling: In today's digital world, it's becoming increasingly important that we can find accurate, credible materials online. Our article databases provide access to high-quality periodicals and peer-reviewed journals that are great for older students. Check out our printable user guide with information and search strategies. UC Berkeley also has a good tutorial on how to evaluate a website.

    Got a current events project? Opposing Viewpoints and Points of View are great places to start your research. They have a variety of primary sources and essays that shows both sides of the issue.

    If you need biographies in a pinch, we have databases of those, too.

    For Parents

    Is your child struggling with stress and time management? Or dealing with a bully? We have a books in our catalog geared towards both parents and students to help handle these important issues.

    If you're looking for a free afterschool activity, we host a ton of events for children and teens. Do you have a struggling young reader? Read to the Dogs can help them improve their skills and boost their confidence.

    Need resources on life lessons or tricky situations? Check our online catalog for children's books on topics such as manners, respecting others, and handling friendships.

    For Teachers

    Our libraries regularly host classroom visits that introduce your students to the library with stories and crafts. 

    Do you work at a Title I school or work with special needs students? Thanks to the Thomason Transportation Program, you can get free transportation
    to and from the library.

    Novelist K-8 Plus is an excellent website to turn to when you're looking for books for your classroom. Check out their professional toolbox for help finding Common Core content.

    You can find all of these and more on our teacher and educator resources webpage.

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    YA Series Books Worth Reading

    It seems like these days, when a young adult book is published, chances are that it will be the first book in a series. Even books that seem like they won't be part of a series end up as a series or as having companion novels (Nantucket Blue, for example). With all the series that come out, it can be hard to decide what to read. Should I read a trilogy, like The Hunger Games, since I'm only committing to three books, or do I want to take the plunge and read a longer series, like Pretty Little Liars, and commit to sixteen books?

    To help, I've narrowed the field down to my favorite YA series books--the must-read books out of all the YA series. Since there are plenty of YA series that I haven't read but that are popular, I'm also including a list of the series books I most want to read but haven't gotten to yet. In both categories, I'm skipping Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, and focusing instead on series that are popular, but maybe not as popular.

    Must-Read YA Series

    The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano
    The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
    Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
    Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga
    Delirium by Lauren Oliver
    The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
    The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
    Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

    Series to Add to Your To-Read List

    Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore
    Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
    Defy by Sara B. Larson

    • Defy
    • Ignite (expected publication: 2015)

    Legend by Marie Lu

    Newsoul by Jodi Meadows

    The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

    Is there anything you would add to these lists? Anything you would take off the lists? Let us know if the comments!

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Fantasy Classics

    This year's World Fantasy Convention (when the World Fantasy Awards will be presented) has the theme of "1914 - Three Centennials - 2014" - honoring British author Robert Aickman and sci-fi/horror illustrator Virgil Findlay, and commemorating the beginning of WWI. "1914 was a time of transition...We welcome you to join us in exploring the many facets, both light and dark, of these forces that shaped the future," their website explains. (You can read more about the theme there.)  Though the convention is not until November, their timeline of the centennial of the Great War begins August 5th, with Montenegro declaring war on Austria-Hungary. It also reminds us that "[w]hile J. R. R. Tolkien and Robert Graves survived, William Hope Hodgson and Saki were lost in the war.  In addition, Ambrose Bierce vanished into the Mexican Revolution that year."

    With this theme in mind, we present to you a list of fantasy classics for your perusal, many recommended by staff!  We hope you will enjoy this list, and that it reminds you of fantasy fiction's long and varied history.

    The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

    The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

    The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

    Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury  
    The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
    Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson
    A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony [eBook]
    The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
    Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
    The Once and Future King by T.H. White
    Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
    The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino by Michael Moorcock
    The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
    Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz

    Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

    There are also many fantasy classics that fall under the classification of children's fiction, but are enjoyable for all ages:

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

    Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
    Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

    The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame 

    The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting [eBook]

    Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

    Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson

    The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

    Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 

    Are there classics we've missed?  What would you add (or subtract) from this list? 


    "Core Collection: Fantasy Classics" [Booklist]

    "Carte Blanche: Appreciating Oz" [Booklist]


    Monday, August 11, 2014

    YA Horror

    I keep thinking of something attributed to Alan Moore: most people think horror is a man cutting a tomato at the kitchen counter and then continuing on to slice off his fingers. But horror actually is a man cutting a tomato at the kitchen counter and then the tomato runs up his arm and bites off his ear.  
    ~Barry Lyga

    Do all children who read Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark grow up to read Stephen King? Well, if you're not ready for your teen to advance to adult horror fiction just yet, but they love scary stories, here are some young adults titles to entertain them in the meantime. Or, if you're an adult who loves horror stories, consider trying out young adult versions to see if they're comparable! Several of these titles are recommendations from young adult horror authors Robin Wasserman, Brenna Yovanoff, Barry Lyga, and Daniel Kraus.*

    Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon

    Scowler by Daniel Kraus

    The Diviners by Libba Bray

    The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki (J)

    Bliss by Lauren Myracle

    I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

    The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

    The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

    Clay by David Almond

    The Monstrumologist edited by Rick Yancey

    The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong


    "Monsters, Murder, and Morality: A Graveside Chat about YA Horror Fiction"  (Booklist)*

    "Horror in YA Lit Is a Staple, Not a Trend" (School Library Journal)

    "12 Creepy YA Books That Should Be Made Into Horror Movies" (Epic Reads)

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Mosaic Muralists at Juan Tabo Library

    In July of 2013, artists and their young apprentices from the Mayor's Art Institute at Harwood Art Center began an art project at the Juan Tabo Library.  The tile mosaic mural on the building's front wall is an amazing celebration of New Mexico's storytellers.  This year, the muralists have returned, and are adding to their masterpiece.  The latest work will be unveiled at a ceremony on August 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM at the Juan Tabo branch library.  All community members are welcome to attend.  Last year's festivities included a reading by Albuquerque's then poet laureate, Hakim Bellamy, and a presentation by the artists on their influences and the message they hope to give through their mural.  We hope to see you there!

    Many of the branches of ABC Library have art in all kinds of mediums.  Check with your local branch to find out what kind of art might be there.  You can learn about public art all over the city by going to the city's webpage on public art.  You can even view Albuquerque's interactive public art map!

    If seeing the mural inspires you to try your own hand at making mosaics take a look at these books to get you started:

    Garden Patterns and Mosaics by Clare Matthews

    The Complete Mosaic Handbook: Projects, Techniques, Designs by Sarah Kelly

    Easy Mosaics for Your Home and Garden by Sarah Donnelly

    The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook by Maggy Howarth

    You can also search our catalog under Mosaics

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    The Hawking Index

    There are certain books on our "must read" list. Books it seems like everyone else is reading (ahem, The Goldfinch). Books that will make us look well-read. Books we've been told will change our lives.

    Finally, we find the time to read these books. We pick them up, read a few (or a hundred) pages, and set them down. Later down the road we may valiantly try again, but they will probably remain half-read, doomed to our "I meant to read" or "I tried to get through but couldn't" list.

    We've all done this for different reasons, and we've all felt guilty about it. But now there's (unscientific) proof that we're not alone! Math professor Jordan Ellenberg has provided us with an entertaining method to get a sense of how far people are reading by looking at a Kindle book's top highlighted passages. He calls it the Hawking Index (named for Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time):

    "Amazon's "Popular Highlights" feature provides one quick and dirty measure. Every book's Kindle page lists the five passages most highlighted by readers. If every reader is getting to the end, those highlights could be scattered throughout the length of the book. If nobody has made it past the introduction, the popular highlights will be clustered at the beginning."

    Here are some of his findings:

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt : 98.5%

    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins : 43.4%

    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald : 28.3%

    Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James: 25.9%

    A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking: 6.6%

    Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty : 2.4%

    At abcreads, we have some books we're guilty of not finishing (we're getting to them!). Here's what makes our list:

    The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

    Middlemarch by George Eliot

    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    The Iliad by Homer

    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (Ellenberg addresses this book and more in his blog)

    What books are on your "I tried" list?

    For more, check out NPR and the Chicago Tribune.

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    J.K. Rowling: Should She Stop Writing?

    Back in February, Lynn Shepherd posted an editorial on Huffington Post's UK blog about J.K. Rowling and why Rowling should stop writing. Shepherd equated Rowling's The Cuckoo's Calling (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) to a monopoly, suggesting that the high sales of the book resulted in other books not being sold or possibly even given shelf space. Here are some of Shepherd's thoughts about The Cuckoo's Calling phenomenon and J.K. Rowling writing adult fiction:

    "The book [The Cuckoo's Calling] dominated crime lists, and crime reviews in newspapers, and crime sections in bookshops, making it even more difficult than it already was for other books - just as well-written, and just as well-received - to get a look in. Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do. And now there's going to be a sequel, and you can bet the same thing is going to happen all over again."

    "By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure - I would never deny anyone that - but when it comes to the adult market you've had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you're doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it's time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe."

    Shepherd's editorial got me thinking--is it fair? While I understand the frustration Shepherd expresses--the same frustration is expressed often when celebrities publish fiction--in that it's hard to be published, and Rowling's books might mean other, equally talented, adult fiction writers won't get published. Still, I'm not sure I agree with Shepherd's sentiments. After all, J.K. Rowling had to start somewhere, too. According to Wikipedia, it took her approximately four years to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and twelve publishing houses rejected the manuscript before Bloomsbury purchased the manuscript and published it in 1997.

    What this means is, Rowling's publishing story isn't unlike that of other authors. It proves, in fact, how difficult it can be to get published. Did the success of Harry Potter make it easier for Rowling to publish adult fiction? Maybe. Does that mean she shouldn't continue to write and publish adult fiction, and instead let lesser-known and unknown authors publish it instead? I'm not so sure. After all, if she should stop writing adult fiction for those reasons, then so should many other authors--Stephen King, James Patterson, Danielle Steel, and other bestselling authors. In addition, if Rowling has had her turn with adult fiction, then can't it also be said that she's had her turn with children's fiction, and possibly just writing in general? The age level a book is written for doesn't make it easier or harder to be published--it's likely that there are just as many unknown children's authors as there are adult fiction authors, so can't it be said that if Rowling writes more children's fiction, she's taking shelf space and other resources away from children's authors who haven't been published yet? (That is, of course, if we follow Shepherd's logic.)

    What do you think? Do you agree with Shepherd, and that Rowling has had her turn with adult fiction? Should Rowling only write children's fiction, or should she celebrate her success as a writer for multiple age levels across multiple genres, and continue to write anything she wants to write?