And We Have a Winner…s!

As I lamented, for the second year in a row, I missed my opportunity to be a book giver during World Book Night. In each of these years, the book list has featured titles that I consider fundamental-to-life reads. In 2012, it was Octavia Butler’s Kindred and this year, Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry, a Wisconsin farm boy turned judicious small town scribe.

Though my inability to keep an accurate watch on such meaningful details ripped out the left corner of my soul, I wasn’t going to let opportunity run away with it. I purchased a copy of Population: 485, and encouraged readers to choose someone in their community who would benefit from a free book. Essentially it was World Book Night within World Book Night. Me giving a title to someone with the intent of in turn passing it along.

I received an underwhelming, in quantity only, three comments. Each had an individual, thoughtful reason for wanting to share the book (after first reading it, but who can blame them)? And it would be daft of me to fail to note that I actually personally know each of the people who commented.

So, I’ve decided to buy two more copies and give one to each.

I was immediately chided by my father for playing into our societies “everyone’s a winner!” habit, in which I slightly agree has created a generation of entitled’s who expect a ticker tape parade for the completion of every menial task. But I recognize that each of the recipients will benefit from the read in uniquely specific ways, plus the book givers get to give out 20 books, so it’s really not fair that I was only giving out one.

So congratulations, let your World Book Night duties commence. Read, dog ear, and then gracefully part with these, now, never-ending tales.


The Best of World Book Night 2013

If you read my last post, you are familiar with my failure to again apply to be a book giver during this years World Book Night 2013. And the subsequent pain of discovering one of my life changing titles on the list to give away.

It turns out there were so many amazing people who were not only WAY more attentive to details than I, but also genuinely excited about sharing books with members of their communities. Here are a few moments I found on Twitter that make me thankful and motivated. (I’ve signed up for the newsletter, I’m on it for 2014, guys!)

@wawharton: My GED class in Brooklyn celebrates world book night! @wbnamerica

@aikonar: Looking down the bar for #wbn2013
A book about a bar, given to people at a bar, by their bartender.

@jennIRL: stealth-giving for #WBN2013! @corpuslibris is the sneakiest

@GoddardRiv: It’s @wbnamerica at Goddard and the giving has already started! #WBN2013

@VernonLibrary: The fine folks at the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods FPD with their new copies of POPULATION:485 by @sneezingcow #WBN2013

@saltpublishing: There be pirates on #Cromer pier! Argh me ‘earties— they be celebrating @WorldBookNight #worldbooknight

@MsMelissaBrooks: @wbnamerica just gave away my first book

@nulibrs: #WorldBookNight is finally here & we’re giving away copies of ‘Red Dust Road’ tonight at 5pm! Where? you ask… well,

@LibWithAttitude: Have just made a train carriage of people happy by giving them a graphic novel #worldbooknight

How I Managed to Fail in 5 Days (Sorry, Michael Perry)

The book that made me a Wisconsinite.

The book that made me a Wisconsinite. I’ll be giving away one copy – check the end of the post for details!

Last year in the days after April 23rd, I started hearing about free copies of Kindred being passed from stranger to stranger. I was jealous at not having gotten one. Then, when driven by bitterness curiosity as to why I hadn’t been included, I read about World Book Night and was jealous that I hadn’t been able to be a book giver. Certainly the trauma would forever scar me and come World Book Night 2013, I wouldn’t be left behind.

World Book Morning. Yawn. Coffee. Twitter.



I apprehensively found the 2013 book list. And there, judging me with a scornful look of disappointment, was Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time.

The single book I took on my first international trip.

The book that made me realize how much I love home, but why I have to travel.

Ironically, upon my return from Africa, it made me leave Wisconsin and move back to my hometown in Washington state. But while, I’ve read many people’s thoughts that Population could describe Anytown, USA, it didn’t describe that not-so-small-not-at-all-quaint town on the left coast, so I came back. Back to a very literal translation of New Auburn. A small Wisconsin town. A half block from the volunteer-manned fire station. Perry is my Kerouac.

I’d love to say that’s the first time this week I’ve failed Michael Perry.

On Saturday, day four of the Fox Cities Book Festival, Perry and the Long Beds performed a benefit concert. There was a little of this. And, undoubtedly, a lot of this.

And I saw none of it. Not that my Saturday wasn’t well spent and there is always that question on whether or not the old Subie would make a long haul like the Fox Cities, but damn it, it would have been nice to be there.

So, in a span of 5 days, I failed. Failed to take the opportunity to see a favorite writer, but more importantly, missed an opportunity to introduce him to neighbors.

Here’s the best part about me and grief. It makes me want to shop. So I bought one copy (I work in education, even that was a stretch for the budget) of Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and am going to give it away.

Since this is my 2nd Annual Pity Party over forgetting World Book Night, I’d like to continue their mission in a small way.

Tell me to who you’d give the book. A light or non-reader you think would benefit the most from the gift.

I’ll take submissions in the comments until May 1st and then make a decision and notify the winner via e-mail by May 4.

Unbutton Your Cardigans and Loosen Your Buns

I’m one of those annoying adults who still use the phrase, “When I grow up, I want to be…” Yeah, it’s not original nor cute, but it’s true. I haven’t reached the point where I’m comfortable having a “career” versus a “job.” I do have a strong list of possibilities including Indiana Jones in heels, a NASCAR driver, and, the slightly more likely, librarian.

I get nerdily excited about books. Especially the musty ones with the yellowing pages that slide through your fingers with a certain gritty, greasiness only possible from years on a shelf. It’s why I don’t like e-readers and won’t use them. The experience of reading a book isn’t the same. You don’t get the feeling of accomplishment or, minimal, caloric burn as you do when cracking a spine or turning a page. Although if you have children, I bet you still get that greasy, gritty feel under your finger when sliding across the screen.

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my books, but not my library. Recently Salon senior writer, Laura Miller, published a piece encouraging the return of the quiet library. “Bring back the shushing librarian” cited a Pew survey indicating that “…quiet matters more to library patrons than special programs for kids or job-search resources or access to fancy databases or classes and events or spaces for public meetings.”

Miller continues that an unquiet, social library risks becoming places “…as lively as a cafe, street corner, park bench or the Apple Store, but we already have those places to go when we want to sit and visit or to congregate around a screen.” She asks, “Where will we go when we need some peace?”

How about the woods or a park? An abandoned factory who’s workers have been displaced by an economy that transfers jobs overseas necessitating job-search resources in a community space? Beyond those community-building resources provided by many libraries, the idea that silence is the best practice, overlooks the fundamental use of a library: the transference of knowledge.

Author’s and illustrators possess the ability to transplant knowledge into anyone. To conjure questions, fear, curiosity are all paramount to learning and, therefore, opening one’s mind. If this is being done in solitude, tucked away in cubicle or hidden lounge chair, is it not prohibitive to the very point? Or when it’s done on a park bench or Apple Store or cafe, it lacks the ability to research and expound with thousands of references at your whimsy. And if you are thinking the internet counts in these situations, it doesn’t, as it is mostly like the first search result will be Wikipedia.

When I’m in a library and I read something that is instantly emotional: interesting, saddening, exciting, angering, the first thing I want to do is find the nearest person, shove the book under their nose, and yell, “OH SHIT! Look at this!”

In a previous blog post, I lamented about the idea that people talk too much without consideration for the actual content, caring only that their opinion be the one that is heard. I’m not reversing my opinion on that by suggesting that as soon as someone develops an idea after reading that it should be immediately and obnoxiously shared with others. I’m suggesting that the library be a place for that type of spontaneous discussion that encourages viewing ideas from alternate sides. The unquenchable thirst that plagues many of the insatiable knowledge seekers and life-long learners could be satisfied with these impromptu gatherings, but a quiet library discourages the very idea.

The silence of a library is scary. It is uncomfortable and it forces me to be hyper-aware to every noise that I make, which is turn causes me to make A LOT of unintentional noise. I bump into shelves, knock over books with my purse, and just generally take the role of proverbial bull that has inexplicably found themselves  in that damn china shop. It’s not in my nature to be particular graceful, nor attempt to do so quietly. This overall anxiety about my awkward library etiquette also means that I don’t ask questions that I actually want to and I don’t engage fellow patrons for fear of imposing on their, possibly forced, silence.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these anxieties about library silence, although it may be heightened by personal quirks, but why not, as suggested by a library staff member quoted in Miller’s article, use, “…smaller cubicles…(and) quiet spaces…not…in any open areas,” thus reserving “..the main part of the library (to the hustle and bustle)?”

While the Pew survey claims to include a cross section of the public, I’d be interested to see a survey broken down by age. I think it could be successfully argued that for younger patrons the progressively social aspect of the library is welcome. The library hasn’t been a hip place since Rome, so any attempt at drawing in a variable cross-section of the community that includes the “cool kids” is probably aiming to high, but constructing a less intimidating environment for the casual nerd might be the key to the extension of public funding and the necessary elimination of those embarrassing Shh… finger tattoos.