Posted in Just for Fun

Tastes Like Chicken and Other Like Things

Two weeks ago, my hubby and I were hanging out with friends talking about exotic foods we’ve eaten or are willing to try. Iguana? Tastes like chicken. Alligator? Tastes like chicken. Frog legs? Yep, you guessed it. Tastes exactly like chicken. By the end of the night this became a joke and inspired a later trip to Ivanhoe to pick up a few of these mystery meats at the seafood market.

Where the Crawdads SingCollectively, the four of us have eaten enough to know that, nope, these meats do not taste like chicken. Inherently we knew that Christopher Columbus had it all wrong when he declared that snake in the new world tasted just like chicken. Besides, we have all eaten enough to know the fallacy of this oft-used phrase to describe unfamiliar foods.

While certain meats might be white and mild, each animal has its own flavor. Chefs and foodies alike recognize the many subtle variations that each fowl and fauna bring to the table.

Likewise, serious readers enjoy the nuances that define individual authors and their individual works. And yet, we are still guilty of categorizing flavors of books to appease our literary tastes.

We google “books similar to…” or tell our reader friends, “If you loved Author X, you will love Author Z.”

As a librarians, it’s what we do. As book lovers, it’s how we shop and how we recommend. Though I doubt you would ever hear one of us say, “It’s exactly like….” In part, because there are far too many word combinations, characters, and plot twists for this sentiment to hold water.

Instead, we are more like great culinary artists who know that slight variations in the amount of one ingredient over another can vastly change the flavor of the end product. Temperatures do matter. As do oils and butter and lard. It might be similar, but it will not be the same.

Keep this in mind as I offer the following recommendation. If you are one of the many who have read or thought about reading Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, you should give The Witness Tree by Amy Pendino a try.

Both are written by debut novelists, and both tend to end up in the same shopping cart on Amazon. Both have received strong accolades from fellow writers–including two we’ve hosted at the library.

According to Minnesota author Lorna Landvik, The Witness Tree is “deeply satisfying.”

According to Kim at the circulation desk, The Witness Tree is a worthy read. What did she love about it? The main character eschewed the social constraints of the time and stood her ground in the face of 1920’s conservative attitudes.

So while these two books are as alike as alligators and rattlesnakes on the outside, they share a similar flavor–a coming of age story tied to nature, social prejudice, and characters with a strength that defies the norm.

happy reading~ jody

P.S. Railroad Street Seafood in Ivanhoe has crawdads. Though I doubt they taste like chicken!

Posted in Book Talk

Home Run Reads

Few things feel as summery as a day at the ballpark. Here are some baseball books to read, whether you’re waiting for a game to start at the park or watching the Twins on TV.

Middle Grade Fiction

  • Goodbye, Mr. Spalding by Jennifer Robin Barr
  • Soar by Joan Bauer
  • The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop
  • Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
  • The Big Field Mike Lupica
  • Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta

Young Adult Fiction

  • Swing by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess
  • Battery Boys by Steven Carman
  • See No Color by Shannon Gibney
  • Stealing Parker by Miranda Keannelley
  • Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
  • The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
  • A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White

Adult Fiction

  • Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
  • The Kansas City Cowboys by Johnny D. Boggs
  • Calico Joe by John Grisham
  • The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
  • One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline


  • Tony Oliva by Thom Henninger
  • We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
  • Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King
  • Town Ball: The Glory Days of Minnesota Amateur Baseball by Armand Peterson and Tom Tomashek
  • Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure by Craig Robinson
  • Baseball in Minnesota by Stew Thornley



Posted in Alerts

Mark Your Calendar for Closures


The Pipestone County Fair is a pivotal event each summer. Beyond the animals, rides, music, and shows, the fair signals the winding down of summer. Everyone busies themselves with fitting in last minute visits to the lake or an afternoon at the water park. They have cook outs and bonfires with family and friends. All with the intention of soaking up the last rays of summer before Labor Day weekend.

For the library, the fair represents something fresh and new, as it often ushers in our week of cleaning and maintenance. This year, Meinders Library will be closed for its annual upkeep August 5th-10th. Thanks to the wonderful custodial staff at PAS, we will reopen on Monday, August 12 dust-free and with floors clean enough to eat off of.

During that time, Emily and I help facilitate a literacy training for teachers and librarians in southwestern Minnesota. It’s our time to connect with professionals, discuss books, and learn about trends in the youth publishing industry. We always come back from this refreshed and ready to start the new school year.

As avid readers ourselves, we highly recommend you stock up on books, DVDs, and STEM backpacks next week so you won’t be left without something to do.

That said, our digital platforms are never closed. You can access Overdrive, RBDigital, and ebooks MN from the comfort of your home. All you need is a device, your library card, and access to the internet. Books will not be due while we are closed, though the book drop will be checked on a regular basis.

On hold items delivered during our closure will be available Monday, August 12 at 10am.

For those planning out the rest of their summer, we will also be closed over Labor Day weekend.

Posted in Just for Fun

Bags, Books, and Backpacks, Oh My!


I am the ultimate bag lady. I don’t care about shoes and wear the same sandals for generations. Likewise, comfy, old clothes always win out over the trauma of shopping for a new wardrobe. Bags, though? That’s my kryptonite.

They are bold, beautiful, tiny, fun, sleek, sassy, and everything in between.

In school, I carried the same pencils and notebooks from year to year, but always in a new bag. Sometimes in two or three bags over the course of a single semester. But rest assured, I’m not the only bag lady around. Every librarian I know has a penchant for bags and rotates their favorites depending on how many books they feel the need to carry at any given time.

So, you can imagine my delight when we purchased our new STEM backpacks at the library. They are perfect for carrying a collection of books, games, and hands-on activities centered around a theme. Created for ages 0-8, these backpacks delight our youngest patrons, as well as their caregivers.

They have pockets–a must for any good bag–padded shoulder straps for the comfort of all serious backpackers, and room to fit all the cool things inside, ranging from bugs to snakes and pizzas to ice cream. Counting, coloring, measuring, and more can be found in our thirty one bags from our State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant.

Pick up your STEM backpack today and make the inquisitive young un’s in your life as happy as a librarian in a room full of books and bags!

creating bag ladies (and gentlemen) one backpack at a time~ jody

Posted in Get Connected

A Decade of Reading

Yesterday, a small handful of us met over the noon hour to discuss our newest book club. Basically, the purpose is to connect with others crazy enough to actively read through a “100 Books Before You Die” list.

My calculator tells me that it will take 8.3 years to get through 100 books. My gut says it will take longer, as some of the books found on these ambitious compilations are enormous and will likely take longer than a month to finish.

I’m cool with that. I can handle reading for the next decade. What I have a problem with are some of the books on the list.

Moby Dick. Has anyone in this town actually read Moby Dick from cover to cover? Because dabbling doesn’t count. Reading the first 60 pages only to discover we still haven’t checked into the inn doesn’t count. So what does count?

“Does a book count if I’ve read it when I was too inexperienced about life to fully understand it all?” I mused aloud in the library one day.

“Nope,” my friend and fellow reader responded.

Well, shoot. Looks like I have to try Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being once again…among others. Moby Dick.

No worries, though, I have ten years to get it done!

“What about watching a movie?” Em asked. Em is all about mixed media and adaptations where books are concerned. In my opinion, a story’s a story. And any time it’s told from a different perspective great things can happen. Apparently I’m not as stodgy as my aforementioned friend when it comes to counting books.

Besides, we’re starting the classics with Of Mice and Men. A book I’ve read before, and will happily read again. Plus, there’s a movie, a play, and a radio adaptation. As well as a metalcore rock band who took their name from the novel’s title and the theme that the best laid plans sometimes go awry.

If you join our 100 Books book club, you, too, can experience a decade of reading with other like-minded bibliophiles.

We hope to see you at our next meeting on August 15 @ noon. Pick up a copy of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, stop by the library and we can order one for you, or find a copy online.

Posted in Just for Fun

Q Is Not For Quiet

I find it ironic that the emergency designation for our library door is the letter Q. I get that libraries are supposed to be quiet, with the quintessential librarian shushing whispered conversations while looking down on patrons over her horn-rimmed glasses.

Meinders Library is quite different from the libraries of yore.

As a community hub, we are focused on providing vast and varied experiences, a wide array of materials, and quality programming. We quill and play Quiddler, and are sometimes a bit quirky. But we never, ever quibble. We have books on Qi, books that quench your thirst for knowledge, and books that define Qi and quench and quill. 

Paper quilling dates back to the Renaissance and owes its birth to monks and nuns who hand-rolled scraps of gold-trimmed paper leftover from the book binding process to make intricate decor for religious artifacts. This faux filigree saved money and was kept alive by the English elite of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Despite the fact that Q is the least used letter in our alphabet, our library has no qualms about embracing all it has to offer.

We hope you will find your “Q” at the library as well, but if you have trouble locating it, just ask a librarian…we are qualified to help!

happy reading~ jody


Posted in Book Talk

Classics Remixed

I watched the movie Clueless countless times before I found out that it’s based on Jane Austen’s Emma. This revelation completely blew my mind and made reading Emma a much richer experience. Retellings are a chance to explore familiar stories and beloved characters from a different angle, whether the retelling modernizes Shakespeare, looks at Frankenstein from a side character’s point of view, turns Sherlock Holmes into Charlotte Holmes, or sets Pride and Prejudice in a fantasy world with dragons.

If contemplating classic retellings sounds good to you, there is a list below. Or if you want to read the originals first, consider joining our new classic literature lunchtime book club. You can give us a call, stop by the library, or attend our introductory meeting at 12:00pm this Thursday, July 18.


  • The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson (Much Ado About Nothing)
  • Exit Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (The Winter’s Tale)
  • Warm Bodies by Issac Marion (Romeo and Juliet)
  • Fool by Christopher Moore (King Lear)
  • As I Descended by Robin Talley (Macbeth)
  • Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (The Taming of the Shrew)
  • The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters (Hamlet)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  • Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
  • Unmarriagable by Soniah Kamal
  • Heartstone by Elle Katherine White
  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  • Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  • The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
  • Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett
  • A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
  • Splintered by A. G. Howard
  • A Blade So Black by L. L. McKinney
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer

More Retellings

  • Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes)
  • Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
  • The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling)
  • We Are the Perfect Girl by Ariel Kaplan (Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand)
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Dracula by Bram Stoker)
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)
  • Circe by Madeline Miller (The Odyssey by Homer)
  • Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins (The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer)