Tag - library

Show us your Books – April 2019

Oh hey, I’m late to the books party. I was in warm, gorgeous (and gnat-filled) Savannah for a work conference and WHOOSH. Gone went the blog. Thank heavens I actually smartened up and wrote a lot of this as I reviewed each book, like so many on the linkup do. I am a SHINING example of a kid who was Talented and Gifted and ended up a completely average adult.
On to the books! I use the Goodreads reviewing system, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing
The library stack plus Becoming, on loan from Mom.

Over the last few years, I’ve been striving to read more works by women and women of color. I’m not trying to exclude books by men, but some months it just works out that way.

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting over — Nell Irvin Painter

Celebrated Princeton History professor Nell Painter retires in her 60s and decides to go to art school! It’s about as difficult as you can imagine, with professors who kept trying to tear her down and say she’d never be a ‘real artist,’ poor treatment because of her race, and classmates who practically shun her because they’re not comfortable with her age. The age thing is something I experience now at 46 — I can’t imagine how much worse it will be in 20 more years.

Nell, like all of us, is far from perfect. She’s willing to enter the art school world on the ground floor but expects the art school world to respect her past career. She disparages her classmates’ artwork, ages, body sizes, and fashion. Everything that’s slung at her, she slings at other people. Either she can’t see what she’s doing, or she gives no craps about it.

Complicating matters is the decline of her parents. As an only surviving child, it was 100% Nell’s burden to make sure her parents were taken care of. And as we all know, there is never a good time for a medical issue to crop up in the family.

Three stars! I enjoyed the memoir parts, but I really became bogged down by the art history parts, because I’ve never been interested in art history. She also LOVES New Jersey, and I’m proud to share a state with her.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant — Beatriz Williams

A lovely book with 2 stories told in parallel: Vivian Schuyler trying to become a magazine writer in 1964 and her great-aunt Violet Schuyler Grant trying to become a physicist in 1911. Hold on, let me get this out of the way…

The Schulyer Sisters

Had to.

This is a story of love and independence and passion and murder and whoa hey, war and espionage? That came right out of nowhere, but I loved it all. I had to reread the final few chapters just to make sure I got the espionage part down.

Four stars, with a trigger warning for sexual assholiness and what today we call rape but back in the 19-teens would be called men being men and women being loose. Consider Walter Grant canceled.

Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World — Kirsten Gillibrand

Saw this on display at the library, and thought maybe it won’t be a bad idea to read up on some of the candidates that aren’t getting attention because the media is in love with men-who-lost-their-Senate-races-yet-think-they-were-born-to-run-for-president.

This book was written long before she entered the 2020 fray, but is probably a part of her long-range plan to enter the race. Gillibrand comes from a strong local-politics matriarchy back in New York. She’s part of the private-school-and-Dartmouth part swath of middle class. She was raised Catholic which informs her desire to help and give back, but she’s very pro-choice. She used to have an A-rating with the NRA, but has shifted her views on gun control. (Being friends with Gabby Giffords helps.)

I enjoyed this book because she often touches on the human side of the campaign and political grind. She talks candidly about how hard it is to have young children and hold her Senate job. (Some of those senators are assholes.) She has a chapter about fluctuating weight. She touches on her difficult relationship with her father without flogging us with it.

Three stars. I wish her well and wouldn’t mind if she won.

Dear Mrs. Bird — A.J. Pearce

In WWII era London, Emmy Lake applies for a job at a publisher, thinking it will put her on the path to her dream job as a Lady War Correspondent. After an interview where Emmy fails to ask what, exactly, the job is, she takes the job and finds herself instead a typist for Henrietta Bird, an “agony aunt” at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs. Bird has VERY outdated and strict standards for what kind of questions she answers, and insists that Emmy throw out letters that don’t reach those standards. But the letterwriters are women Emmy’s age who are in very modern circumstances. What is Emmy to do but answer them herself, but as Mrs. Bird?

At the same time, she is trying to navigate a very sad and sticky situation with her best friend Bunty. I love that nickname.

I think what struck me the most is how regular life continued on as best it could while London was being bombed. People brought gas masks to work, couples still went to dinner, young people still went to shows. Four stars.

The Library Book — Susan Orlean

This is the kind of non-fiction book that I EAT UP. I know the phrase “this book is a love letter to…” is vastly overused. HOWEVER, this book is a love letter to libraries and the people who love them.

The main topic is the fire that burned the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986. It completely destroyed over 400,000 books and the smoke and water damaged 700,000 more I was a teen in 1986, but had never heard of the fire because the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened at the same time which stole most of the news coverage. Not knowing if nuclear winds were going to destroy Europe makes for a big story.

Orlean is an amazing writer, and weaves into her book the history of the Los Angeles Public library and its librarians (including the amazing Mary Jones), the services that libraries provide, her warm memories of the library visits of her childhood, the AIDS crisis, and how libraries are adapting to the future.

Five stars, it’s a must-read if you love libraries and I know many of you do.

Currently reading: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez.

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph

January | February | March |April |
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

Lynda, the Library, and me

The Big!Work!Project! which surely you are tired of hearing of by now involved new software, and a new-to-us way of writing reports. It’s Crystal Reports, which while it’s new-to-us, isn’t very new-to-me. I was using it over 10 years ago at the C-P, and I won’t lie, seeing it re-emerge sent a shiver of dread down my spine. What I needed was a refresher.

Last Tuesday night, I had a dream that I went to Lynda.com (a training site that’s been live since 1995) and signed up for Crystal Reports training.

Wednesday I woke and thought…good idea, dream-Kim! Lynda is free to try for the first month, and then $20-30 each subsequent month. I looked online and saw that there was a Crystal Reports Essentials class. Niiiiiice.

And then I paused. And started to Google. Because I’m a member of 2 different library systems, I thought maybe one of them had a discount available. Turns out, The Philadephia Free Library offers free access to Lynda.com. That partnership started on September 5 — my birthday.

Which is how I earned a digital certificate in Crystal Reports for absolutely free, and how I’m going to take SQL and other data classes each month FOR FREE.

You probably thought this was a sponsored post for Lynda.com but instead, I’m going to tell you to join your local library and get stuff for free!

But if Lynda.com wants to give me money to talk about them, I’m all ears! 😉

Friday Five: Accessories

Happy Friday!

William Pepper statue

This is Dr. William Pepper, founder of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Yes, Dr. Pepper!

The snow is melting! The temperature made it into the 50s today, which allowed me to finally walk to the library at lunch to renew my card. I really need to go there once a week. I also need to not wear the boots I wore today, because they were very loud. But now that my card’s renewed, I can go back online and put some eBooks on hold. Living in the future is pretty sweet.

Time for the Friday Five! This week’s theme is Accessories

1. What was the last computer accessory you acquired?

An adorable Kate Spade case for my phone. I love Kate Spade. I don’t love Kate Spade’s prices. And if the Apple store was going to charge me $39 for a plain case, may as well spend 95 cents more and get a jazzy one! (I just noticed the cases are all on sale. Gr.)

2. What was the last clothing accessory you acquired?
This is super boring, but I’m in the process of replacing my crappy cheap acrylic socks with nicer ones made of wool, cotton, and bamboo. I’ve always been happy with the products and services at Sock Dreams. The socks are a little pricier than the cheap Target/Walmart stuff I’ve been wearing, but I consider it my penance to my feet after years of wearing amazing and damaging heels. 🙂

3. What was the last auto accessory you acquired?
Replacement windshield wiper blades in the fall. Not sexy, but it’s nice to be able to see in the rain.

4. What was the last accessory you acquired for one of your hobbies?
Ehhhh. It’s not so much an accessory, but I did order new earring wires. I have many beads but not as many findings!

5. What was the last hair accessory you acquired?
I bought some elastic headbands that look like they are made of bra strap material. I’ve always loved headbands, but lately when I wear the hard plastic ones I get pain behind my ears. And not even where the ends of the headband lay. I guess my head is too fat? Or too old? Whatever. So now it’s fabric headbands for me.

I AM SO GLAD IT’S THE WEEKEND. I haven’t worked a steady week in a while thanks to scheduled days off and snowdays. The lack of schedule is wreaking havoc with my brain. The more time I have off, the more time I *want* off. And that’s no way to be thinking when 1) you love your job and 2) you’ll probably have to work until the day you die.

I have some laundry going downstairs. We are currently in a DEFCON 2 laundry situation. (DIRTCON 2?) I’m not washing socks and underthings in the sink yet, but we’re getting dangerously close. Granted, it’s not a great way to spend a Friday night, but I have comfy clothes on, a warm cup of coffee in my hand, and two slightly stinky dogs snuggled up to me. (The cat’s over me. He has claimed WM as his “person.” If he does hang with me, it’s only because WM is grading. And even then he makes it VERY obvious I’m his second choice.) Life is good, friends, even if I am sitting on your third-to-last pair of clean underwear.

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