Thursday, January 12, 2017

Blind Date with a Book

This year I am trying out at our Central branch a Blind Date with a Book display the first 2 weeks of February. We have RFID at our libraries so this will work particularly well so that we do not have to make a cutout in the wrapping for a barcode.

Lots of great colors to choose from
I purchased regular sized sandwich bags from in Magenta and Black. Hardcover books can be placed in these bags and then the top folded over and stapled, glued or taped shut. This eliminates having to wrap up each book (flashbacks to paper bag wrapping my textbooks in Elementary School!)

Once the book is wrapped I printed out, filled out and glued these cute book profiles to the outside. I made these to look like the dating profiles on OKCupid (a popular dating website.) The 3 questions are even right from the website. Please see below for my list of book profiles. Here is the link to the public Canva document I made for all the profiles below.

For the cover of each bag
Here is the 8.5 x 11 sign to go with the book display as well.

To find good titles I used Novelist but Goodreads can be great too. The reviews on Goodreads can help you get to know a title a little bit better in order to fill out the profile for each book better. I also tried to select titles we owned multiple copies of or that were not in high demand (since they can't be found for holds.)

Book Profiles:

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
My self summary: I'm an amusing story of starting over and finding your passion when you least expect it.
On a typical Friday night I am: Experimenting with new dough recipes
You should take me home if: You are looking for a delicious mental vacation

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My self summary: I create technological virtual utopias so I don't have to deal with the real world of famine, poverty and disease.
On a typical Friday night I am: Playing Space Invaders at the arcade by my house
You should take me home if:  You like to solve a good puzzle

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman
My self summary: I know my name is a little unorthodox for a teenage girl but you'd get it if you lived in the world I do.
On a typical Friday night I am: Searching for a cure to save my brother (I like to party too, but not much time for that these days.)
You should take me home if: You want to join my band of nomads

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My self summary: It is hard for me to trust you at first. I have demons in my past but I am working through them.
On a typical Friday night I am: Looking for the next big scoop
You should take me home if: A little suspense and secrets do not scare you

Homer & Langley by EL Doctorow
My self summary: I live with my brother in New York City in our 5th avenue apartment. But don't worry, my parents are out of the picture.
On a typical Friday night I am: Working on my newspaper and hosting tea dances
You should take me home if: You loved the film Grey Gardens as much as I did

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
My self summary: We've all seen it happen -- someone makes a bad decision in the public eye and people pile on in judgment.
On a typical Friday night I am: Trolling the comment sections of You Tube
You should take me home if: You own your shame and don't enjoy public humiliation. Let your freak flag fly!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
My self summary: I'm no guru but I do have a lot of sweet wisdom I will impart on anyone who asks.
On a typical Friday night I am: Sitting down to my Macbook and catching up on emails
You should take me home if: You need some down to earth advise on some of life's hardest questions

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My self summary: Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering if there is a world beyond this place. I dream about the world my parents told me existed before my birth.
On a typical Friday night I am: Traveling with my musical theater troupe across the wasteland
You should take me home if: You can get down to "It's the End of the World as we Know It" by REM

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
My self summary: I was left for dead, I was the one who got away. No, seriously.....
On a typical Friday night I am: Not answering the phone and making sure the deadbolt is locked
You should take me home if: You like a fast paced thrillers that span a lifetime

Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter
My self summary: Single white male seeks Android for long walks on the beach
On a typical Friday night I am: Wandering the streets of this cesspool of a city that I loathe but could not live without
You should take me home if: You are a fan of the TV show Westworld

Say You're One of Them by Akpan Uwem
My self summary: I a collection of short stories as intense as Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart."
On a typical Friday night I am: Working to make enough food to feed my brothers and sisters
You should take me home if: You enjoy haunting, gritty and complex stories

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education  of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
My self summary: I'm working on building my career as a writer and working kitchen jobs on the side.
On a typical Friday night I am: Peeling potatoes and scraping plates
You should take me home if: You enjoy witty behind-the-kitchen memoirs

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
My self summary: My son and I are always on the move looking for food and shelter. It would be nice to have a special partner to share that burden with.
On a typical Friday night I am: Scavenging the wasteland for food, same as everyone else
You should take me home if: When the end of the world comes, you are one of the good guys

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
My self summary: I'm darkly funny, and very heartfelt living in Newfoundland.
On a typical Friday night I am: Hopefully finding a sitter for my girls and going on a date with you
You should take me home if: You welcome a little melodrama at a leisurely pace

Fool by Christopher Moore
My self summary: Looking for NSA fun. Rodent-faced muck-suckers need not apply.
On a typical Friday night I am: Entertaining a court of hypocrites and buffoons
You should take me home if: Offbeat British humor and wordplay turns you on

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
My self summary: I may have a degree from Yale but I never forgot the streets I came from
On a typical Friday night I am: Hanging out with my friends, smoking, joking
You should take me home if: You like a good gritty story about a young man's rise to the top and eventual descent

Lost Girls: an Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
My self summary: I may not be as famous as Jack the Ripper but we do have something in common
On a typical Friday night I am: Trolling Craigslist for my next victim...
You should take me home if: You are a fan of true crime novels

The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black
My self summary: I'm a straight talking PI that don't take no poppycock from nobody
On a typical Friday night I am: Hanging out in the parking lot of the Motel 6 with my zoom lens
You should take me home if: You are a fan of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe private eye novels

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Discussion: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Which stories did you enjoy most?

Did you notice any overarching themes in these stories? Anything that connects them?
  • The struggle of being a good person when our culture/environment might be otherwise
  • Families with financial burdens
Do any of these stories seem like they take place in the same world?

Were you able to find humor in any of the stories?

Did you identify with any characters in the book?

"Sticks" is short even by short story standards. What do you think Saunders accomplished (or was trying to accomplish) in this one to two pages?

Do any difficult people in your life have something equivalent to the poles -- a way of showing unusual affection or enthusiasm?

Marie thinks, after leaving without the puppy, "it was a nice pup, but Marie was not going to contribute to a situation like this in even the smallest way" (41). In the end, though, her actions led to Callie abandoning the puppy in the cornfield. What does it mean to "contribute" and has Marie already done so? What do you think an appropriate reaction to the situation would be?

"Escape from Spiderhead" could be classified as a different genre than the preceding stories since its premise is science fiction. Did you enjoy that change?

Abnesti justifies his experiments by saying he is working for the greater good and that the people harmed have done very bad things in the past. Do you think he is justified? If prisoners had a choice between regular prison and Spiderhead, then would the experiments be justified?

What sort of work do you imagine the workers Todd is addressing do?

Did you like or sympathize with Al Roosten?

How long did it take you to figure out what an "SG" was?

Do you think Saunders is trying to draw parallels between the Semplica Girls and any situations in our current culture?

In "home," what do you think happened to the narrator while he was at war? How can we explain the animosity he feels towards his family?

Once again Saunders uses a science fiction pharmaceutical drug as a key element in the story. Why do you think he does this? Does the use of the drug allow him to express something about human nature that would be harder to show in a realistic story?

Why do you think the title of this story was chosen as the title for the book?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Discussion: Between the World and Me

Coates mentions the American Dream in the book. What aspects of the dream does he discuss?

On pg. 78, Coates speaks of the recent talk about “diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras.” He says that “these are all fine and applicable, but that (they)understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them.”

  •  If speaking about diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras allows the American people to dissociate racism from themselves, what is it that we should be discussing? 
  • How can we make the American people face the racial injustices and prejudices that still exist? 
Is this book's message hopeful or pessimistic? 

What does Coates want us to take-away from this book?

On page 7 Coates writes "but race is the child of racism, not the father." What is he suggesting here?

On page 60 he states "hate gives identity." Do you agree? Can you think of examples to illustrate that statement.

Some questions pulled from 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Science Fiction Authors

Taken from the August 2016 Library journal Article "Ten Top SF Writers Diverse Voices." p. 26-28

Steven Barnes
Octavia Butler
Samuel R. Delaney
Nalo Hopkinson
Adre Norton
Wesley Chu
N.K. Jemisin
Yon Han Lee
Ken Liu
Ndedi Okorafor

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Discussion: Little Children by Tom Perotta

A group of young suburban parents, including a stay-at-home dad, a former feminist, and an over-structured mom, finds its sleepy existence shattered when a convicted  molester moves back into town and two of the parents have an affair

Discussion Questions:

Why is Ronnie's story included in the book?

What do you think about the way we deal with sex offenders in our society?

Which characters do you sympathize most with in the novel?
       Do your sympathies shift over course of the novel?

What did Todd and Sarah represent to each other?    

How are children portrayed in the book?

On page 109 Richard states that "if there was one thing life had taught him, it was that it was ridiculous to be at war with your own desires." What are your thoughts on this statement? How can one make peace with your own desires?

Why is the book called Little Children?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book Displays: Funny Families.....and you thought yours was bad!

Many titles from the Novelist List Funny Families compiled by Kimberly Burton

Lost in suburbia : how I got pregnant, lost myself, and got my cool back in the New Jersey suburbs
by Beckerman, Tracy

French twist : an American mom's experiment in Parisian parenting
by Crawford, Catherine

Dad is fat
by Gaffigan, Jim

Cool, calm & contentious
by Markoe, Merrill

Dress your family in corduroy and denim
by Sedaris, David
(really most books by Sedaris)

I can't complain : (all too) personal essays
by Lipman, Elinor

My inappropriate life : some material not suitable for small children, nuns, or mature adults
by McDonald, Heather

Dan gets a minivan : life at the intersection of dude and dad
by Zevin, Dan

Sh*t my dad says
by Halpern, Justin

Let's pretend this never happened : (a mostly true memoir)
by Lawson, Jenny

Funny in Farsi : a memoir of growing up Iranian in America
by Dumas, Firoozeh

The life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid : a memoir
by Bryson, Bill

A girl named Zippy : growing up small in Mooreland, Indiana
by Kimmel, Haven

Manhood for amateurs : the pleasures and regrets of a husband, father, and son
by Chabon, Michael

My mother was nuts : a memoir
by Marshall, Penny

Running with scissors : a memoir
by Burroughs, Augusten

Fiction ruined my family
by Darst, Jeanne

Fresh off the boat : a memoir
by Huang, Eddie

The corrections
by Franzen, Jonathan

A spool of blue thread
by Tyler, Anne

Lifesaving lessons : notes from an accidental mother
by Greenlaw, Linda

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Discussion: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Discussion Questions:

Little Bee tells the reader, “We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived” (p. 9). Which characters in the story are left with physical scars? Emotional scars? Do they embrace them as beautiful? Do you have any scars you’ve come to embrace? Did you feel more connected to Little Bee as a narrator after this pact?

How did it affect your reading experience to have two narrators? Did you trust one woman more than the other? Did you prefer the voice of one above the other?

Why do readers react so strongly to Sarah? Why don't some readers like her very much? How do you feel about her?

Little Bee begins her story talking about what life would be like for her once
she learned the Queen’s English or if she were a pound note. How is language
currency? Why does language come to represent hope for Little Bee?

Little Bee credits a small bottle of nail polish for “saving her life” while she was in the detention center (p. 7). Is there any object or act that helps you feel alive and beautiful, even when everything else seems to be falling apart?

 Little Bee says of horror films, “Horror in your country is something you take a dose of to remind yourself that you are not suffering from it” (p. 45). Do you agree? Was reading this novel in any way a dose of horror for you? How did it help you reflect on the presence or lack of horror in your own life?

Little Bee figures out the best way to kill herself in any given situation, just in case “the men come suddenly.” How do these plans help Little Bee reclaim some power? Were you disturbed by this, or were you able to find the humor in some of the scenarios she imagines? How do you think she "killed herself back to life."

What do you think happens to the characters at the end of the novel? Do you like that the ending is open, or wish the loose ends were more neatly tied up?

Why does Sarah’s four-year-old son, Charlie, need his Batman costume? What
are the deeper meanings around costumes and masks in this novel?

Why does Lawrence feel threatened by Sarah’s relationship with Little Bee?

Little Bee says, “I do not think I have left my country. I think it has traveled with
me.” How do the places we come from shape us and what does it mean to

Why did the author call this book Little Bee? What do you think of its original
title, The Other Hand?

Why does the novel close with this Nigerian proverb: “If your face is swollen
from the severe beatings of life, smile and pretend to be a fat man”? How
does the proverb relate to the book as a whole?