The Value of Libraries- A List

When people think of libraries, their mind probably drifts immediately to books. It’s true; at the core of a library is its bookshelves, and the books it contains within them. However, libraries provide far more to their communities than a vast selection of novels and encyclopedias. Here’s a list of just some of the many things public libraries offer here in the United States.

  • Warmth and/or Air Conditioning (by season), drinking water, bathrooms

My area doesn’t have a large homeless population, but we do have a few homeless friends. The library keeps them off the streets, and in a warm environment where they have access to clean, running water, heat/air conditioning, bathrooms for hygiene, and lots of entertainment to keep them busy until they find employment to help them earn a salary to get back on their feet again!

  • citizenship classes and books

Trying to become a citizen of the United States? The library can help!

  • ESL classes
  • foreign language conversation groups
  • computer classes for seniors
  • magazines
  • movies
  • music- free, legal downloadable music from the library prevents piracy!
  • e-books
  • audiobooks (for the blind and for the sighted)
  • travel guides
  • children’s storytimes- promoted child literacy
  • STEM programs- 3D printing, coding/computer programming…for children, teens and adults
  • makerspaces
  • access to opposing viewpoints
  • knowledgable librarians that can help you decode fact from fiction- fake news? not when you consult a librarian and his/her arsenal of research databases!
  • help for the unemployed- job searching, resumes, etc.
  • a family
  • access to research materials, online and in print
  • newspapers
  • museum passes- encourages cultural literacy, empathy
  • resources for learning a foreign language
  • books on a variety of topics: cancer prevention, recipes for diabetics, baby names, history, confidence, mental health, religion/spirituality, exercise, environmental concerns….
  • community programs/events for all ages: dancing, music, movies, karate, cooking/baking, art….anything a librarian or teacher can dream up!

 

This list will never be complete. Libraries evolve as technology evolves. I frequently am asked the question, “do you think people don’t need libraries anymore because of the internet?” My answer is always, “No!” People always will need libraries and information professionals. Technology has evolved rapidly- true. The internet gives us access to a whole new world of information that could never fit in a little building- true. But all of this is only a change in HOW we access information. People still need information, and it is a library’s job to protect a patron’s privacy and right to that information. In addition, the internet is full of false information. People need us more than ever to help them decipher it.

When 3D printers came to the market, we bought them, we learned how to use them, and we began teaching the public. E-readers? No problem! We’ve armed ourselves with databases of e-books and audiobooks for our patrons, and set up a program where patrons can come learn how to use their new devices. Technology is a library’s friend, never its enemy.

If a library has offered you any kind of assistance, given you solace or hope when you felt like you were in despair, I would love to hear your stories in the comments below! Tell me what my list missed, and help this list grow with the millions of ways libraries benefit our communities.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone- first time reader discussion!

Friends, the day has come. I have finally (FINALLY!) read the first Harry Potter book. I know, I know. It’s insane. Hold your tears and applause until the end please, we have much to discuss.

In case there are other people reading this who like me (well, like the previous me) have not yet dipped their toes into the wizarding world of Harry Potter, I’m going to keep this discussion spoiler-free and to the book.

The Characters
I’ve seen several of the Harry Potter movies over the years. I knew Ron was the redhead, Hermione was played by Emma Watson, Harry Potter by Daniel Radcliffe. I knew that Voldemort was not someone to invite to your child’s birthday party, no matter how cool of a talent show he might be able to put on. There are still some Harry Potter characters I have yet to meet, though- a coworker was trying to show me a little girl who apparently looks exactly like a younger version of Luna Lovegood and until she begged me to look at a photo I had no idea who she was talking about.

This basic knowledge was enough to carry me into the book. I remember loving Hermione in the movies, but I was really rooting for her in the book. She’s “goals” really, wicked smart, friendly, and loyal to her friends. And of course there’s Harry, who you can’t help but pity as he lives in a cupboard. I’m incredibly thankful my parents are not the Dursleys and I promise my future children will not be named Dudley. Sorry guys, it’s just not happening. Yes, I know it’s a FANTASTIC name. (And if your real name is Dudley then I apologize for Dudley Dursley’s correlation to you. You are much cooler than he!)

Reading the book also instilled in me a love for both Hagrid and Dumbledore. I just love how each and every character in this book is distinct and memorable; there are no characters that are just carbon copies of one another and totally useless to the plot of the story.

The Plot
Great plot twist. Seriously, Ms. Rowling, that came out of nowhere. I feel almost foolish for not expecting it, but I was so enthralled with the world of the book that it just never occurred to me that you might be tricky and pull something on me.

As for the rest of the plot, the world unfolded so nicely. You can almost picture the map of Hogwarts in your head; you know why you shouldn’t have a picnic on the third floor. Every plot point helped sew this world together, whether characters played Quidditch, did some exploring, or feasted in the dining hall. (Speaking of Quidditch, I am much wishing my college had a Quidditch team. My friend is going to try out for hers, and given I didn’t know Quidditch, sans levitating brooms of course, was an actual, playable sport nowadays.)

HP #1 is the first juvenile/children ‘s book I’ve read since, well, I was a child. At first, the language took a little getting used to (younger audience means slightly less difficult sentences) but there is absolutely no reason a teenager or adult can’t enjoy a book like Harry Potter. I’ve heard some shaming of people who read YA or kid’s lit, and it’s sickening. (“Blah blah doesn’t read, they just read comics and Harry Potter!”) I’m sure reading Pride and Prejudice would expand your vocabulary and challenge your mind, but reading shouldn’t be about challenging yourself. Reading can be and should be FUN. Why don’t all kids like to read? Perhaps because they are being taught it isn’t fun. Comics and graphic novels ARE reading. If you want to read YA or Harry Potter, go right ahead. Don’t let people tell you what you like to read doesn’t matter or is worthless. It all counts for something, and you can be incredibly proud of that.

In closing, when did you first read Harry Potter, if at all? Did you read the books before the movies? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Summer 2015 To-Read List!

One of my annual summer traditions is to hop onto my Goodreads account an start making a shelf of all the books I want to read that summer. I don’t usually get to every one of them- I usually add about 15-20 to my list- but I try my best to get as close to the finish line as possible. This year, my list mainly consists of things that I feel I should have read by now but haven’t, as well as some fun new things I’ve just came across.

#1- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Somehow, I have managed to graduate High School without having read this novel. Strangely enough, I took all the advanced literature and English classes at my school, yet it was the “regular” classes who read Gatsby, not my classes. The Great Gatsby is a short novel, so I figure it’s a good way to start off my summer reading.

#2- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Another book I didn’t read in High School, for the same reason as Gatsby. Amidst news of a sequel coming soon, I figure I might as well read this acclaimed classic too!

#3- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling

I can feel all of your eyes glaring down on me for this one. No, I have never read a single Harry Potter book. I know, I know! What was my childhood? Did I even have one? Was I abducted by aliens? Aliens who also didn’t read Harry Potter? It’s alright, guys, because I will finally read it, I promise, and it’s better late than never, right? Don’t get all Incredible Hulk on me.

To be fair, I did see the movies…

…and I loved them?

Not helping, OK, I’ll move on to the next book.

#4- The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I’m a big “I can’t watch the movie unless I’ve read the book” person. *Says the girl who watched Harry Potter and didn’t read it!* I’ve made a few exceptions, including Life of Pi and yes, Harry Potter, but otherwise I try my best to stick to this rule. I’ve never watched any of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movies, (I saw the beginning of one but that was a long time ago) and now I can finally start, once I read this book of course.

#5- Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

One of my best friends to this day cannot get over the fact that I have not read or watched Howl’s Moving Castle. It is one of her all time favorite books and movies, aside from Harry Potter and Star Wars of course. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it before I met her. It has such a good rating, I can’t not give it a whirl.

#6- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The last book on my list that’s something I should’ve read a LONG time ago, especially for someone who adores YA sci-fi and fantasy novels. I even tried playing the H.G.G game, which I believe is hosted online by BBC, but it was perplexing after a while. Anyway, I’ve already started this book and I love it.

#7- Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

I’m super excited about this one. As you all know, I am a huge Ready Player One fan. I think I’m actually going to re-read it this summer, actually. In my literature class, we had a Hamlet To Be or Not to Be project, and I re-wrote the soliloquy from the perspective of Wade Watts. Anyway, the synopsis of Wolf in White Van sounds like something gaming fans and nerds alike will enjoy, and I’m hella (yes I said hella) excited to try it out.

#8- The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The thing that most drew me to this book when I first heard news of its publication was the fact that it is a YA fantasy without magic in the world. I have nothing against the use of magic in YA novels, but this really sets it apart from others on the market. Assuming it’s as good as I’ve heard, this one might be a real winner.

#9- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

This book is the sequel to Throne of Glass. I wasn’t as floored by Throne of Glass as I would’ve liked to have been, but I have high hopes for its sequel. (Although I did name by Skyrim character after Celaena- I love that name!) In fact, C.O.M. has a 4.2/5 star review based on over 60,000 ratings, which is pretty remarkable.

#10- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

One of the things I do in my job is recommend books to patrons that come in. A lot of the times, though, the books that first come to mind are checked out, so I’m forced to look through the shelves for anything I know anything about. I know what’s popular, what goes out a lot, what people seem to like, and of course things I’ve read in the past. I recommended Seraphina to someone recently, because it’s something that I know I’ve wanted to read but haven’t, and I gave it to the patron despite knowing only this about it. I knew it involved dragons, which is automatically a selling point for me. She came back and LOVED it, and was enthralled when I told her there was a sequel. Now I can finally read this one for myself, knowing it is apparently pretty fantastic. You know I’ll be reading the sequel too if I love it.

#11- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

It’s summer, which is when I tend to begin reading more lighthearted books and taking them to read by the water. A couple months ago I read Jandy Nelson’s other book, The Sky is Everywhere. I really enjoyed it, possibly because I felt I related to the main character in some ways, and was thrilled to hear the author had come out with another book. Plus, the cover is beautiful, so why not?

#12- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Goodreads really wants me to read this book based on the fact that I’ve read some John Green books and Eleanor and Park. I’ve read both good and iffy things about this one, but again, it’s summer, why not try it?

#13- Ms. Marvel comics

The new Ms. Marvel comics are really the only comics I follow. I read the collected editions, which means having to wait, but since I’ve now finished Volume 2, I think I may just have to venture to a comic store and get some individual issues.

Speaking of which, what comics do you guys recommend? I’ve been to a few comic book stores recently and get way too excited about the Marvel, DC Comics and Image Comics sections, but I don’t know where to start. I have favorite superheroes *cough* Captain America, Black Widow, Spiderman… *cough* and I’ve read some of the classic Frank Miller Batman comics, for example, but I haven’t really delved into this realm further. I’ve watched the movies, if that counts. But with Spidey alone there’s several different lines, like Amazing Spiderman or Ultimate, and yikes it’s overwhelming. What’s good? What’s not? Help!

#14- Bone Volume 2 by Jeff Smith

I’ve been shelving these graphic novels for years and somehow I never thought to actually read them in my childhood. The other day, though, someone returned the first Volume, and remembering a friend’s recommendation, I sat down and read it. It’s super adorable and fun, and I’m quite disappointed I didn’t read them as a kid. I’m not going to BookCon this year, but if I were I would totally get Jeff Smith to autograph a copy!

#15- Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Seconds is a graphic novel by the same guy who wrote the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. Those are awesome, so I just have to try this one out.

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That’s it for this year’s list! Of course, I never want to limit myself to just this list, so I will most likely venture off of it slightly, but lists like this set a nice track to begin my selections off of.

What books are on YOUR summer reading lists? Let me know in the comments down below!

Battle of the Sequel: Cinder vs Scarlet

It’s a battle of epic proportions. Two novels. One winner. Which will survive the grueling tests? Which will emerge victorious?  *Dramatic music now plays*

Well, maybe not epic proportions. But Cinder and Scarlet are at least somewhat out of this world, if you know what I mean. OK, enough with the bad puns.

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Both images are from Goodreads.

My opinion: I preferred the second book in the series, Scarlet, to be much better than the first book, Cinder.

Arguments:
1. Cinder spent more time setting up than getting to the action, a point you’ve probably heard me say only about five different times. Scarlet had the PERFECT opening. You were dropped right into the real plot and action from page 1. I already knew I would love it.

2. Cinder is cool, but I liked seeing her more as a secondary character in the second book. It gave her more of a status (hey there’s that kick-ass mechanic cyborg girl from Book 1 on the run! Awesome!), somehow, seeing things through the eyes of someone other than Cinder. It was like reading about a familiar friend.

3. Scarlet’s story is frankly more eventful, but less sci-fi-esque than Cinder. This could be a good or bad thing depending on how you see it.

4. Scarlet had cooler characters; Thorne tops my list of favorite book characters ever. He is one of the few characters that actually made me laugh out loud. Oh, and there’s our mysterious Wolf. (Scarlet is based off of Little Red Riding Hood)

5. This point does not effect my opinion, but I would say Cinder’s cover is more intriguing than Scarlet’s. Cinder’s is an x-ray view into Cinder’s android/human foot and Scarlet’s is… A cape and an elbow?

However, don’t disregard Cinder. I rated it very highly, especially when it came to the second half of the novel! Lots of people try and remake fairy tales, but nobody has done it like Marissa Meyer.

Remember, you must read Cinder before you get to Scarlet! No skipping!! On to Cress, Book #3!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: Defiance by C.J Redwine

HiBefore I explain what this book is about, I will say that one thing that confuses me is that this book had great reviews, but then a group of people started giving it low ratings, saying they were confused why everyone was enjoying this book. Sometimes we should take ratings with a grain of salt; maybe the book is actually great, or maybe it isn’t. I admit Defiance will only appeal to people with certain tastes. If it isn’t your taste, then maybe it isn’t the book’s fault, and that is OK.

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Summary:
In the city of Baalboden, everyone lives in fear of a man titled the Commander. All women/girls are assigned a protector until claiming age, 17, when they can then be handed off to a man who wishes to claim them. A girl should never wander off at night without her protector. Nobody would. And then there’s Rachel. Rachel is told that beyond the gates lies the dead body of her beloved father, who took so long to return he was assumed dead. She is assigned a new protector, which is an awkward situation in itself, but she is determined to do whatever it takes to prove her father is still alive. Even if it means crossing the sadistic Commander and venturing for herself outside the walls of her city and into the unknown.

Characters
Rachel: our heroine. Only main female character.
Logan: Rachel’s new protector
Jared: Rachel’s allegedly dead father
The Commander: head of Baalboden. Known for extremely harsh punishments (death, torture…)

I liked Rachel. She’s tough, gorgeous, selfless and confident, all qualities I like to see in a female protagonist. I also liked Logan a lot, although perhaps a lot of the things he said were almost tropes in YA. (Commonplace, seen before..) But he is still very charming.

Plot
The plot was great. I felt entertained and surprised the whole time.  I loved the idea if the Cursed One and I am so intrigued by the idea of each city. The only thing I’ll say is that some of the timing was very unrealistic. Rachel vs. Logan’s amount of time to travel, for example, had me a little lost. (Rachel took weeks and Logan seemed to catch up pretty fast?)

Verdict: As with any book, this won’t be for everyone. It’s not the most original book I’ve ever seen, but also not unoriginal. This was a well executed YA book with some fascinating and original ideas mixed with your typical in-book YA romance. But since you’re asking me whether I liked it or not, then yes, I loved it!

Will I read the next few books?
I’ll definitely hunt for the sequel and go from there!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

It’s Monday, What are You Reading?

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Good question! I’m finished with Defiance, so I am currently reading….

Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

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With the huge headache that is balancing school, work and volunteering,  it is hard to find time to read. But reading keeps me sane, to be honest. I’ve been using it as a reward for finishing homework and projects. I’m so excited to keep reading and reviewing for you guys!

See ya later.. Until then, what are YOU reading today?

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Beginning of September Book Haul!

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Haul time! *Does a happy dance*

When I got out of work, I speed-walked my way to the young adult section to pick up some new reads.

First we have Impostor, which I mentioned in last week’s Friday’s Finds. It is about a girl named Tessa who can somehow mimic other people’s appearances and pose as them by “absorbing their DNA.” (Which sounds absolutely terrifying by the way). While working for the FBI she is assigned to pose as a local teen named Madison to stop a lurking serial killer. A lot of reviewers are comparing it to X-Men.

Counting by 7’s doesn’t really say what it is about on the book jacket. It just goes on about what a heartwarming and well written story it is. I figure my librarian ordered it for a reason and I might as well be the first person to check it out and review it.

These Broken Stars is one of those books you’ve probably heard way too much about. I never got around to reading it, but I’ve passed it on the shelves and thought to myself how gorgeous that cover is. From what I know it is some sort of epic survival sci-fi romance, and since I finished the Across the Universe trilogy, I figure why not!

And lastly, Defiance by C.J Redwine. I am also late on this bandwagon (did I seriously just say bandwagon?) but never say never, right? (And now you’re quoting Justin Bieber?!) As I’m reading the Goodreads description, I’m realizing it sounds a LOT like After the End, which I reviewed in July here. But maybe Defiance has more to offer, being a series and all. I’d like to see if the super enthusiastic reviews on this book are right or if I side with the negative reviewers.

Hope you enjoyed my haul! What are you looking forward to this month? Discuss in the comments below!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”