Posted in Just for Fun

It’s Getting Deep

And I’m not talking rain.

I’m talking books in general, and Ray Bradbury specifically. As a child, I remember watching the cheesy Sci-Fi channel at my granny’s house. Inevitably, an astronaut’s helmet cracked, an alien injected humans with a thing, or a rocket crashed into a harsh and unforgiving landscape.

On the surface, many of Ray Bradbury’s stories share a similar fate with those 1970’s science fiction movies. Plucky characters valiantly fight the evil martian, proving the perseverance of humans and our unending desire to live.

And yet, when you ask three people the meaning of a Bradbury story, you will likely get three different answers. Ask more, and the interpretations are endless. I know because I’ve dissected and discussed Bradbury since high school, throughout my honor’s classes in college, and into the present as a speech coach.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that Bradbury’s writing has at least three distinct levels. One is all about entertainment. Humans hurtling through the stars in crippled rocket ships, landing on inhospitable planets only to face epic, inter-species battles. It’s cheesy sci-fi movies in word form.

The second layer plunges characters into a personal battle with themselves. Mental health vs fragility. Reality vs imagination. Fight, flight or freeze?

It isn’t until we scratch our way past the dirt and grime that we find a third, deeply disturbing level of social commentary that looks eerily like prophecy. Mankind vs the dire reality of our science and technology catapulting us into the throes of dystopia.

And that’s where the prophecy part of this comes in. You see, Bradbury wrote way ahead of his time. Before man walked on the moon, he wrote about it. He speculated about the stars and our need to reach them, just as we had reached outward from our humble beginnings and crossed the sea to conquer foreign lands.

In a way, his writing is almost like history repeating itself, but on a galactic level. The future and the past colliding seamlessly. Hand-print pictographs on space-ship walls.

Some books are worth a second or third read with intervening years between. The more life we experience, the deeper we can dive into the meaning of a book.

In the meantime, stay dry and keep reading~ jody

Posted in Just for Fun

When Books Have Hooks

Over the past few weeks, I listened to Ruth Ware’s “The Turn of the Key”. For the most part, it was a passive experience. The story is told in a series of memories, writings, and flashbacks. Nothing is urgent. Nothing is actively happening. But the cover was so beautiful and its allusions to “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James kept me plugging away at it, determined to finish it.

The five minute drive between work and home. The seven minutes it took to fix my hair. Minute by minute the chapters fell away.

Then, last Saturday happened. It was a drizzly morning. My hubby was at work. My boys were at football. My in-laws had just left. All of this to say, the television was off and my audio book was on while I cleaned the kitchen.

Twenty-three minutes left in the book.

I sat down, riveted by the lilt of Imogen Church’s accent and the unfolding plot that actually surprised me. Until this point, I thought I had figured out what really happened. Turns out, I didn’t.

Despite twelve hours of passive listening, I was suddenly crushed that the book was over. In fact, I looked at my watch.


An hour left before anyone was expected home.

I drove to the library to grab our copy of “The Turn of the Screw”. Short, but nothing sweet about it. A true ghost story so open ended that even today’s scholars haven’t figured out exactly what happened. Now that’s a book with deep hooks.

On Sunday (another drizzly day), I picked up our book club book and read that from start to finish. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. After reading the last page, I flipped back to the first and began reading it again.

Another book with hooks. But a different kind. The kind that haunted my dreams. The kind that made me pull out my computer and research. The kind that hurts the soul and makes you think–really think–about who you are and where you come from. Not in the sense of place, but in the sense of emotional space.

Trauma changes us. It touches everything and everyone we touch. It creates a tint through which all other experiences must be seen. It gets its hooks inside of us and no matter how tenderly we remove them, or how much healing we do, the ghost-like memory will always be there. Sometimes pushed to the edges, sometimes right in front of us, but always, ever, it is there.

And that, my reader friends, is what makes a great book great. It, too, gets its hooks inside of us and makes us think. Its message touches everything and everyone we touch. It changes the tint through which we view all future experiences.

A great book with hooks is one with the power to unite, to heal, to understand, to hope, to accept, and to embrace. It pushes the ghosts into the light.

happy reading~ jody

Posted in Book Talk

Gitchie Girl Uncovered

Gitchie Girl

Join us this Saturday, September 14th at 10:00 am for an event with Phil and Sandy Hamman, authors of Gitchie Girl and Gitchie Girl Uncovered. If you’ve read the Hammans’ books and want more true crime, Meinders Community Library has you covered.


  • The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Serial Killer by J. Reuben Appleman
  • In My Father’s House: a New View of How Crime Runs in the Family by Fox Butterfield
  • Adnan’s Story: the Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry
  • Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago by Max Allan Collins & A. Brad Schwartz
  • Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba—and Then Lost It to the Revolution by T.J. English
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  • Burned: a Story of Murder and the Crime that Wasn’t by Edward Humes
  • Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  • Final Harvest: an American Tragedy by Andrew H. Malcolm
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
  • The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller
  • While the City Slept: a Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders
  • King Con : the Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age’s Greatest Impostor by Paul Willetts

Fiction That Reads Like True Crime

  • Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • Sundown at Sunrise: A Story of Love and Murder, Based on One of the Most Notorious Ax Murders in American History by Marty Seifert
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • Women Talking by Miriam Toews


Posted in Get Connected

Writer’s Cafe

The general statistic for those who want to write a book someday hovers around 80%–give or take. That’s nearly 200 million Americans who are itching to write a book.

Beginning on September 12, Meinders Library will help you reach your goal. On the second Thursday of each month from 6:30pm-8:00pm, we will host the Writer’s Cafe, a place where aspiring writers can gather, write, discuss, support, and connect.

The Writer’s Cafe will be open to ages 12 and up. Light snacks and beverages may be brought in by participants as long as beverages can be closed and participants clean up after themselves.

At the beginning of each session, we will spend a few minutes talking about projects, progress, and goals. The remaining time will be flexible, with participants able to share excerpts and provide feedback as desired, to discuss writing questions and concerns, or to simply write.

As a writer myself, the hardest thing to do is prioritize and carve out solid writing time. I’ve been off the train more than I’ve been on it since I began working at the library. It’s time I dig deep and get back into the habit of writing.

If time isn’t your only barrier to writing, we have desk top computers for participants to use, as well as two laptops if necessary. In addition, all writing styles, lengths, and genres are welcome. The only limit is your commitment.

Please share this information with anyone you know who has ever exclaimed, “I should write a book!”

get connected to the story in you~ jody

Posted in Just for Fun

Welcome Back, Students

It’s always a pleasure when students return to the library fresh from summer vacation. This year we welcome them back with a new feel to the library, as we want nothing more than to encourage youth to visit the library often.


Some responses we’ve gotten from our new set up:

  • This feels like we’re in college.
  • It’s like we’re in a coffee shop.
  • I love this space. I can’t wait to just sit in it.
  • I almost wish I wasn’t a senior, because I want to spend so much time here.
  • Dude, this is awesome!

And it is awesome. We hope we’ve created a sense of community and belonging with enough space for privacy, relaxing, and of course, study.

In addition to the new furniture, we have great staff at the library who are truly here to help in any way possible. In return, we ask for a few things:

  • Food and drink should be consumed outside the library during school hours. If we want to keep our furniture clean, we can’t have sticky, stains all over the place. After school, we have space at the front of the library where food and drink are acceptable.
  • Furniture is for behinds, not feet. We ask that patrons do not stand on the chairs or sit on the tables. That said, you can put your feet up on the ottomans to relax.
  • Media should be minimal. Nobody should hear your phone ringing or your favorite you-tube video playing. In fact, practice using that inside voice we all learned about in kindergarten. This will make the library more comfortable for everyone.
  • And lastly, please do not move the furniture from where it’s at. While the computer lab and conference room has flexible seating with tables and chairs on casters that you can move to accommodate your group needs, our study area does not for the simple reason that the furniture is set up the way it is on purpose–to accomodate all sorts of patron preferences.

One last quick reminder before I go. It’s the one that keeps me up at night and anxious every afternoon.

The library parking lot is not a student pick-up spot.

Our lot is not set up for easy parking or maneuvering. When parents park in the library parking lot, they take parking space away from public patrons who actually want to use the library. In addition, cars are hit all the time in our lot, which poses a safety risk for students (and family vehicles)–particularly when the lot is congested.

Instead, please use the circle drive. While busy, and also congested, its purpose is as a pick-up zone for youth.

happy learning~ jody


Posted in Book Talk

Teens’ Top Ten Voting

From now until October 12th, teens can vote for their favorite reads from 2018 in YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten. Fifteen teen book groups from around the country curated the list of nominees, so these books are chosen by teens for teens. Peruse the list of nominees below, check out titles from Meinders Community Library, and vote for your top three.

  • #MurderTrending by Gretchen McNeil
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
  • Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
  • American Panda by Gloria Chao
  • The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
  • Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  • Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
  • Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
  • Frat Girl by Kiley Roache
  • Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
  • Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
  • To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  • Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
  • Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll
  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
  • The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown
  • Wildcard by Marie Lu


Posted in Get Connected

The Twine that Binds

Once upon a time, our family visited the great ball of twine in Darwin, Minnesota. On occasions we have returned to see it. The last time was approximately 17 years ago.

Today, my sibs and I returned to this astounding product of one man’s passion. It’s a unique and quirky part of Minnesota that draws people to this tiny town from all ends of the nation–as evidenced by the locations cited in the guest book. In the ten minutes we were there, two other groups stopped by to do the tourist thing and snap a pic.

Commemorating our own pilgrimage with a decent photo was not an easy thing to do with the noon sun overhead. Yet, despite the difficulties, we got an amazing and eerie image.

Our ghostly reflections below highlight just how easy it is to blur reality and just how frighteningly easy it is to forget.

56505As we left Darwin, we reminisced about that day, remembering the experiences leading up to the moment in front of the celebrated twine and those that followed. We shared laughter and a bit of sorrow.

Seventeen years ago, 16 people gathered in front of the twine ball. Of those, some have moved halfway across the country, others have grown up and moved out. Still others have simply moved on. Great aunt Toody is no longer with us.

This simple snapshot is rather profound. Without retelling stories and keeping them alive, we are in danger of losing a piece of who we are, where we came from, and where we need to go.

Seventeen years is but a microsecond blip on the vast and varied clock of our nation’s history. Yet the four of us remembered and forgot different things. As citizens of a global family, our collective memories are similarly complex. As such, we should strive for actively and accurately remembering.

The library is filled with resources to help you do this. We have a robust nonfiction collection and a genealogy section with local and regional histories. We have books that discuss multiple points of view on a wide array of topics. Further, we can help guide you through the internet and the tangled strands of digital information.

At the core of that giant ball of twine is a decades old story of one man. The end result draws people together in unexpected ways. In a way, this is our global story. We just have to own it.

The past is a part of who we are, and it most definitely continues to shape who we will become.

Get connected~ Jody