The Story of a Library

 
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I had so much fun at the Indianapolis Library Foundation’s Cheers for 50 Years event last week to celebrate 50 years of ensuring quality programming for the library! I got to speak about how the library impacted me and represent young library users of the 1990s, and thought I would share my remarks below. Happy reading!

Stories are important. Just as a scientist finds it important to capture a black hole on film for the first time, I find it important to capture our ideas, moments, and experiences on pages that are shared widely and available to all who want to read them.

Our ability to do that – to share stories - is thanks to libraries. I can’t imagine thinking this way if I didn’t grow up visiting the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library branches.

My parents are the ones who introduced me to the library, who taught me to love to read, and who taught me how to share stories. I wouldn’t know about Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods if my dad didn’t read to me before bed. I wouldn’t know about Madeline and twelve little girls in two straight lines if it weren’t for the library story times my mom took me to. I wouldn’t know about a little girl in a little house on a little prairie if I hadn’t gotten my library card when I was just six-years-old, clutching the blue plastic with my scrawled name on the back all the way home.

I would not know these things because I would not have been as curious as I am about stories. I would not have ferociously read as many books as I could to get points in the summer reading program. I would not have gone to the library at least every Saturday (but most likely more) if it were not for all the options on the shelves, sparking my curiosity. I was taught to read what I wanted, and as much as I wanted.

Because of this dedication, as a child I was confident in who I was and who I wanted to be. I saw that confidence reflected in the characters I befriended. Young women like Nancy Drew, Betsy-Tacy, and Hermione told me that it was okay to love books and to want to be alone sometimes, and that I wasn’t the only one picked on for my “smarts.” I knew that you could be different. That different lives happen around the world, and those different stories are worth knowing about.

That’s a meaningful thing to share with children; that’s what ensures every generation understands more than just their own experiences. And that’s why we do whatever we can to keep our libraries. So join me in supporting this mission, of spreading stories to every child who wants to hear them, however they need to hear it. And let’s never forget that we are far stronger when we’re curious about stories that come from the world around us.

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

4/5 pineapples

Oh, blogger's block.

I was pumped at the beginning of this year about my blogging. I would do it more and consistently. I would have exciting new posts that would attract the attention of all my readers. I would find a style that worked for me. I would create a space that was a hobby, not a chore.

But the best laid plans...

I tried to post, I really did. But every time I started something, I didn't like it. It never had the tone or content I wanted or that I felt was worth publishing. So I was silent.

Until now.

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Last night I finished Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, a novel of books, computers, Google, twenty-somethings with 21st century jobs, and people in black robes. This book was a roller coaster, surprising me in subtle ways and changing throughout the lines in each chapter. By the time I closed the paperback, I wasn't sure what I thought--or, for that matter, what had just happened to me.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore explores the relationship between books and technology, a topic most of us dance around nowadays. I don't like to see books give way to code and digitization. A character who works at Google actually says:

"I mean, once we've got everything scanned, and cheap reading devices are ubiquitous...nobody's going to need bookstores, right?"

Um, wrong. I'm grateful when Clay, the narrator, replies with: "We'll be fine...people still like the smell of books." YES WE DO! And the rough paper between our fingers, and the satisfaction of watching the pages stack up to the left side of the books, and our thumbs catching on the fibers of paper to turn the page...

But I digress.

Mr. Penumbra makes me think about books, and I love that. Why do we read them, and what are we looking for? What do they tell us? And how much does technology matter in how we understand and use them? It's thought-provoking, and full of little lines about books and life that make me want to pinch the words right off the page and into something I wrote (yes, I know that's wrong--hush, hush, I'm not actually going to do it).

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore | Scribbling in the Margins blog

There are times where the book would drag a little for me, or where I lost the plot/what mattered. Part of this is because I was reading it in bits and pieces every night, but part of this is because the story takes a little while to get moving. I had trouble getting into the book until at least halfway through; but once I got there, it was well worth it.

I also almost banged my head against a wall when I saw "Epilogue" printed at the top of the last chapter. NO NO NO. The book ended just fine before that; I didn't need to know how everyone lived happily ever after, and I felt like Sloan cheated me out of imagining my own futures for the characters.

All the same, a book for readers and technology-lovers alike, I really enjoyed the balance between print and screen Sloan explores in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. 

What do you think--do books have a future in a technology-based world?

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Oh, and P.S.- try reading it in the dark.

My 10 Most Important Books

10 Most Important Books to My Life | Scribbling in the Margins blogThere's a tag roaming around my Facebook feed where a person is nominated to list 10 books that have been very important to their life. My dear "big sister" (sorority slang) Emily tagged me August 26th, so my list is well overdue!

So, without further ado, the 10 books that have been very important to my life:

  1. The Great Gatsby (I did devote a whole post to it ;))
  2. The American Girl series (Samantha in particular)
  3. Junie B. Jones (JBJ Has a Peep in Her Pocket is a particular favorite)
  4. Harry Potter (with a special shout out to number 5)
  5. Nancy Drew Mysteries (and the Nancy Drew Notebooks and Nancy Drew, Girl Detective versions)
  6. Pride and Prejudice (my first love in classical literature)
  7. "The Kissing Hand" (a meaningful family favorite)
  8. Our Town (the play that made me love reading plays)
  9. The Care and Keeping of You (everything 12-year-old me needed to know)
  10. Tenth of December (one day, I want to write like George Saunders)

What are your 10 most important books?

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Below the Line:

  • Still lots of homework to be done. I have two papers to write for Tuesday so if I don't get a post out, that's why :)
  • This list was surprisingly hard to write! I really had to dig back into my memories to find the books that really meant something to me.
  • Not much else to report. Mostly just school work going on around here!

What I Read: We Were Liars (50 Followers Bonus Post!)

Before I get into the review, thank you SO MUCH for 50 followers! It's been a lot of fun writing this blog this summer, and I'm glad there's 50 of you out there who enjoy it :) What's a blog without great readers? In celebration, here's a bonus book review about one of the more talked about novels of the summer. I hope you like it!

4.5/5 pineapples

What I Read: We Were Liars | Scribbling in the Margins blog

This review has been difficult to write. I finished We Were Liars in the beginning of August, but I just haven't been able to review it yet. It's a complicated book. Plus it straight out warns me to lie when people ask what it's about.

I don't buy into that sales tactic. So I will review this book as I would any other, without spoiling anything but still explaining what I do and don't like. The book is about the extravagantly wealthy family, the Sinclairs. Of course, they're a total mess (that's what makes things interesting). Cadence, the eldest grandchild of the Sinclairs, serves as our narrator. Due to some unspeakable accident, Cadence can't remember the summer she was fifteen on her family's fancy-pants island. We follow her thoughts throughout the book as she tries to figure out what happened.

First of all, Lockhart's writing style is refreshing. It has a lyrical quality to it, breaking up paragraphs and even sentences into short lines. She also inserts fairy tale inspired stories in between the narrative that provide insight into Cadence's rather messed up mind.

The plot is also intriguing enough to keep reading. This was a refreshing element, since recently I've had to drag myself through the books I've read. That plus the writing style makes its easy to get through this book in one or two days.

What I Read: We Were Liars | Scribbling in the Margins blog

But my absolute favorite part of this book is the mystery. I love mysteries, whether in book or TV form. I like trying to figure out with the characters what different elements mean, and then going back once I know the answer and seeing what clues I missed. We Were Liars is one giant mystery. Cadence doesn't figure out what happened that "missing" summer until the very end of the book. It's a twist I didn't see coming at all.

I left feeling like I learned enough, though. This wasn't one of those cliff-hanger books, hitting you with big information and then simply dropping off the page. I wasn't trapped without a satisfactory resolution.

Yet, I couldn't give We Were Liars the full five pineapples. Simply because, like Gone Girlit was an entertaining read but not a life-changing one. Still, it's an excellent book that keeps you guessing. Lockhart's writing style also keeps the  story moving and brings an interesting perspective on the truth versus the lies. I highly recommend it.

What did you think of We Were Liars?name


Below the Line:

  • I'm faced with lots of packing to do this week as I get ready to head back to school. Any packing tips would be appreciated (and yes, this is my third year- I still haven't figured out the best way to pack :))
  • My back-to-school series resumes on Tuesday! More college knowledge (see what I did there?)