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.

11:03.

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 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.

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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 Just for Fun

So, What Does A Librarian Actually Do?

A. Read All Day       B. Read All Day       C. Other Things       D. A and B

For the answer, check out this movie:

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And when you’re done, come talk to me. Because that’s the other thing librarians do after reading all day: we talk to people and we listen to their stories. 

I laughed. I cried. I loved it for its social commentary. I hated it for the social injustice so prevalent in our society. It was truly a worthy way to spend my evening.

~ jody

P.S. If you prefer to wait, you can watch the movie with us on November 8 during a public viewing at the library. We have a discussion guide (from Emilio Estevez himself) to help facilitate stronger community conversation about the vast and varied social concerns reflected in the movie.

Posted in Just for Fun

What’s In a Cover?

20190821_082036.jpgAs readers, we are often concerned with what’s between the covers. We like great characters, intriguing plot lines, and beautiful prose. However, when picking out our next read, we’re often swayed by what’s on the cover: gorgeous illustrations, enticing blurbs, and a great layout. Without these things, we may never crack the book open and give it a chance.

But what’s with the jacket cover itself?

In the 1800s, a dust jacket’s sole purpose was to cover the book in protective coating long enough to get it from printer to owner. This plain piece of wrapping kept dings, scratches, and tears from marring the beautiful leather, silk, or cloth covers of the day.

Fast forward to the turn of the century. At this time, dust jackets were still meant for shipping and disposal, but they had morphed into something a tiny bit fancier. This generation of wraps had a cut-out window to showcase the engravings or embossed titles that were prevalent on the covers.

It wasn’t until the late 1920’s that publishers realized the advertising real estate that dust jackets offered. This was the birth of the modern dust jacket complete with pictures and text used to “sell” the book. Although at this time, these covers were still considered disposable.

In fact, if you have dust jackets predating the 1970’s, consider yourself lucky. Though beware of the stigma attached to this, as these “ancient” dust jackets were preserved more out of laziness on the buyers behalf than out of a sense of keeping a historic paper trail.

Never fear, our librarians were not lazy as evidenced by a quick glance at our shelves. Our older collection is rife with missing covers–the “salable” information cut out of the original dust jacket and glued to the inside covers. On the other hand, our more current collection sports protective coverings on the protective coverings.

Somewhere along the line, libraries discarded the idea of discarding and began using these masterpieces of art and words to showcase the goodness inside each book. The result: a mishmash of covered and uncovered books.

While the books with intact dust jackets wrapped in their fancy, plastic covers may immediately hold more reading appeal, we hope you don’t skip over the books with the plain spines and cloth covers. Those literary masterpieces still deserve your time and attention.

happy reading~ jody

For more information on the history of dust jackets, head over to these blogs.

Posted in Just for Fun

Meinders Movie Theater Is No Longer Haunted

Thanks to our fearless, ghostbusting escapees, the library is once again a safe haven for Pipestone residents.

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Enjoy this quick escape room countdown:

  • Cats and Spook at 80 minutes
  • A Flock of Sandwiches at 75 minutes
  • Bones’ Harem at 72 minutes
  • The Rainbow Nerds at 71 minutes
  • The Lovebirds at 59 minutes
  • Locks Are for the Birds at 52 minutes
  • (B)lockbusters- the “B” is silent at 44 minutes

Mark your calendars for the last weekend in October and crack the codes in our next escape room adventure.

Posted in Just for Fun

Words Are Hard

Last weekend, I received two amazing gifts–a mug that says “Professional Bookworm” and this:

i before e mugAs we get ready for the new school year, I am once again reminded of all our educational professionals do in teaching our youth to reach their potential.

Reading is hard, but necessary. We live in a world of words. Without them, we get lost.

In fact, a training we just completed at the library gave me a terrifying insight into the world of words. By the age of three, a child coming from inter-generational poverty will hear 30 million less words than a three-year-old child coming from the middle class.

30,000,000

That’s equivalent to not hearing 333.3 full-length novels read out loud. That’s not hearing 111 books worth of words each year. That’s a lot of missing words.

Teachers have my utmost respect, whether they are professional educators or parents and acquaintances taking the time to talk to and read with the youth in their lives.

Words are hard. It’s not weird. It’s a fact.

As you go about your day, please support reading, support strong communication, and support education. It’s the only way any of us can reach our potential.

Thank you, teachers!

happy reading~ jody