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We came, We saw, We stalked: Karen’s ALA Highlights

Last week Heather, Christie and I went to ALA in Chicago. It was epic!

Top LtoR: Karen & Christie, author Sharon Biggs Waller, Vordak, author Jonathan Maberry
2nd Row LtoR: author Cory Doctorow, author S. J. Adams and Christie, Free Comic Book Day Panel, Heather Booth reading Rose Under Fire
3rd Row LtoR: author Mindy McGinnis, Free Comic Book Day Panel, author Simone Elkeles
Bottom LtoR: author Tim Federle, author Sean Beaudoin, author Jennifer McGowan, Heather, Karen and Christie

See the complete ALA 2013 TLT Photo Album here

TLT Meet Up!

First, this is the first time that Christie and I have actually met Heather in person.  She feels like part of the family.  In fact, Heather and I just wrote an entire book together – The Whole Teen Library Handbook – but this is the first time we have met, in person, face to face.  In fact, I stayed at her house and it was totally fun.  So here we be, three of the TLT team.

Cory Doctorow Talks, We Should All Listen

At one point, I went and listened to Cory Doctorow talk about intellectual freedom, patent craziness, and more.  He made an interesting statement about how our outdoors playgrouds are often empty because parents are afraid to let their children play because we live in such a dangerous world, and yet we let our children play freely on the most dangerous playground of all – the Internet.  He made a great case for how we must do better in helping others understand this information rich world we live in while protecting their privacy and learning to evaluate the information we see.

New Adult? Or is it “New Adult”?

I also attended a session on New Adult Literature which made me very happy because I was glad to hear others saying what I thought about the issue.  1) The genre has always existed.  2) The name is troublesome because when I hear new adult, I think “oh look, here is some NEW Adult Fiction.” What do we call new titles in this genre, New New Adult?  If it were a perfect world, which it is not, we would call it Young Adult (because that’s what they are, young adults in the 19-24 age group) and call Young Adult fiction Teen Fiction, especially since the teens refer to themselves as teens.  In fact, walk into a Barnes and Noble store and they even have it labelled Teen Fiction.  3)  Yes, teens are and will read New Adult (just as they do Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark and more) but it should be in the Adult area, not YA (or Teen Area as I like to call it). 4) New Adult has a lot of the same diversity issues as Young Adult.  You can find an overview of the session here and a link to their NA RA blog.

Karen Geeks Out Over the 3D Printer

To have a totally geeky moment: I FINALLY SAW A 3D PRINTER.  I have been truly fascinated by the 3d printer concept in part because I couldn’t figure out how it worked and what the final product looked like.  There was one in the Exhibits Hall as well as some finished products, including a model of a bridge and a working whistle.  I really want one.

Meeting the Authors – and You!

From Left to Right: Christa Desir author of Faultline, Sharon Biggs Waller author of A Mad, Wicked Folly and Mindy McGinnis author of Not a Drop to Drink

Another great part of ALA is seeing people you know and love, meeting new people, and meeting some of the authors that write the books you love.  I spent a lot of time with fellow TLTers, my mentor and adopted mom, and met some amazing authors, publishers, and Erinn Batkyefer from The Library is Incubator Project for the first time.  Even though we have been working together for 2 years now on the It Came from a Book project, this is the first time we have met in person.  She stood in line with me while I waited to get a signed copy of Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry.  Speaking of Maberry, I got the very first signed ARC of Fire and Ash, the final book in the Rot & Ruin series.  I also was willing to stand in line to meet Sean Beaudoin, because I like not only his books, but a lot of his online writing.

I had dinner with debut author Mindy McGinniss and an author you may have heard of, Veronica Roth.  I had the most fascinating conversation with Roth about Divergent and a scene in it, which she said if she was writing it now she might leave out.  I also got to talk to Michael Grant about the BZRK series, which is a great series and should probably be marketed as awesome Sci Fi instead of awesome YA, because I think it has just as much adult appeal (and adult voice) as the works of Michael Crichton and Phillip K. Dick.  Having now met author Mindy McGinnis in person, it looks like we may be presenting together in April at TLA (I’ll tell you more when I can make an official announcement).

I am not going to lie, I had the best time ever at ALA.  I feel like I learned a lot, met a lot of great fellow librarians and authors, and really just felt invigorated and full of new ideas that I wanted to take back and try.  And yes, I discovered a lot of new books that I want to investigate further.  In fact, I used my phone to take pictures of the covers.  I will write about the books in a separate post.

Did you go to ALA? Share your highlights with us in the comments.

We Came, We Saw, We Talked, We Stalked: Christie’s ALA Highlights



We Came
I had a blast at ALA Annual in Chicago. Buses and transportation got a little weird, but I loved the energy with the Blackhawks celebration and the Pride Celebration and everything else going on. So much fun! And add into the mix all the authors and librarians and the craziness that we have anyways, and it’s always a good time!


We Saw
There were some sessions that I missed due to the rooms being overfull past the point of fire codes (YA Dystopian Authors, Cory Doctorow and DRM) which is something that needs worked on. I did run into a lot of my conference family and even people I’ve worked with in the past that I never see except for conferences which is always a wonderful time. I attended a wonderful session on graphic novels entitled Let’s Discuss This: A Roundtable Discussion which featured Gail Simone, John Green (from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and Teenboat), Paul Pope, Gregg Hurwitz, and Jeffrey Brown talking about the comic industry.
John Green and Gail Simone
And I was also able to attend the Scholastic Brunch, where I was treated to reader theater and learned about new titles by Gordan Korman and others…
Gordon Korman with his new series The Hypnotists

Kat Falls and her new book Inhuman

Brandon Mull and Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born, a multiplatform series

We Talked
I represented the Rainbow Project (of which I am chair this year) at the SRRT All Committee meeting and on the exhibits floor to help find titles for this year’s list. Karen and I also spoke about Free Comic Book Day on the Graphic Novel Stage.
Free Comic Book Day Panel
We Stalked
And then there were the authors….  I got to talk to Marie Lu (Prodigy/Legend) and SJ Adams (Sparks), Malinda Lo (Ash, Adaptation), and then got mutually stalked by Tim Federle (Better Nate than Never, Tequila Mockingbird). That Guy got to talk with Cory Doctorow (Homeland, Big Brother) and they are sharing emails.
Me and SJ Adams (Adam Selzer)

Me and Marie Lu

Me, That Guy, and his side of the family
Heather, Karen, and me
And I got to meet Heather in person and part of our family came over, so a good time was had by all!  What were your highlights of ALA?

Sweet Home Chicago: Christie G’s Highlights for Annual 2013

Can I say that I am SO excited for Annual? Chicago is a fun city to visit, but doubly so for me because I have family close by, and some are going to be able to make the drive and see me while I’m there! BONUS! But there are so many fun things to do (aside from meeting authors and meeting up with my conference family)- I’m always double booked on the things I have on my schedule. Here are my MUST DOS for this conference:

FRIDAY (flying in from Texas)

Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Distopia– Friday, June 28, 8-10 p.m., Sheraton Ballroom 5.  Join Booklist Publications for this year’s Books for Youth forum, featuring a stellar lineup of YA authors, who will discuss the wildly popular genre of dystopian literature for teens. Speakers will include: Lois Lowry, Cory Doctorow, Veronica Roth, and Patrick Ness.

SRRT All Task Force Committee– Friday, June 28, 7:30 – 9p.m., Hilton- Buckingham Room. I’m going for a bit to this, representing the Rainbow Project as I’m serving as the Chair this year. Interested in learning more about the Rainbow Project or other committees within the Social Responsibilities Round Table? This is the place to start.

SATURDAY

Multicultural Programming for Tweens and Families– Saturday, June 29, 8:30 – 10 a.m., McCormick Place Convention Center, S404d.  In the spirit of El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, celebrate many children, many cultures, and many books throughout the year. Hear from a panel of librarians and community partners who will share successful programs such as a Día Family Book Club, a weekend full of multicultural events, and a culture-focused, one book-one city initiative. Stay for an I-DÍA Showcase featuring hands-on program activities, and receive how-to handouts from libraries across the country.
SUNDAY (also Family Visit Day- YEA!)

Cory Doctorow: More Than a Book-Lined Internet Cafe- Sunday, June 30, 3-4 p.m. McCormick Place Convention Center, S105a-c.  LITA President Zoe Stewart-Marshall welcomes digital rights activist, science fiction writer and Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow. This lively, thought-provoking talk will look at how libraries can and do stand on the front lines of the debate over the role of free information, and free information technology in ensuring the healthy maintenance of a free society. And yes, he will talk about DRM.

MONDAY
Graphic Novel Stage: Free Comic Book Day at the Library– Monday, July 1, 12 noon – 1 p.m.,  McCormick Place Convention Center, Exhibits Floor, Graphic Novel Stage.  Held the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day has become a highly-anticipated annual tradition for comic book and graphic novel shops and fans. Libraries can also tap into this excitement by hosting their own Free Comic Book Day events. This panel will show librarians how to put their own FCBD together, including tips on partnering with local comic shops, utilizing their graphic novel collections, acquiring comics to give away, and more. Oh, and Karen and I are part of the panel.

TUESDAY (flying back from Texas)
Closing Session: Octavia Spenser– Tuesday, July 2, 9:30 – 11 a.m., McCormick Place Convention Center, S100a. Find out what Octavia Spencer has recently been busy with—including appearing on 30 Rock and writing her first novel. Spencer is keynote speaker at the Closing General Session. She’ll be talking (among other things) about her upcoming first novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (October 2013, Simon & Schuster).
Are you going to be at ALA Annual?  What are you planning to hit?

Booktalk This: The Geek edition

This quote has been circling the internet for a while, and as a life-long nerd and geek, I’ve worked to live up to the sentiment. This is not always easy, and it was especially difficult for me during high school, as I was torn between wanting to both appear “cool” AND to embrace that which I loved.  In remembering that time, I always enjoy discovering books about teens that are able to embrace their inner geeks or nerds and find happiness at the same time!

Would you rather be the nerd finding love? Or find love with a nerd?
If you’d rather embrace your nerdom while finding love, try Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill.  Julia’s thrilled to spend Spring Break on a school-sponsored, no-parents field trip to London, England, and with extra pencils and her pocket Shakespeare, she plans to get the most out of it. Unfortunately, most of her classmates see the trip as a license to party, and she ends up paired with the worst offender of them all, her nemesis, Jason. Can she keep him from getting into too much trouble? And can he help her woo her true love?

If you’re looking to find love with a nerd of your own, try Julia Halpern’s Into the Great Nerd Yonder. Jessie is the odd girl out at the start of sophomore year, when she comes back to school in a new skirt but her two best friends show up as new people: buzz-cuts, neon hair, and punk rock attitudes. Uninterested in joining their punk rebellion, Jessie spends her time sewing, listening to audiobooks (she has GREAT taste), and dips her toes into tabletop gaming. Can she find happiness over 20-sided dice?
Would you rather use your analytical skills to figure out how to avoid getting dumped? Or to fight the man?
As a former child prodigy and current dumpee, Colin is determined to create a theorem that will explain why nineteen Katherines in a row have dumped him, and enable him – and others – to avoid getting dumped in the future. In John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, Colin and his best friend, Hassan, go on a summer road trip, chase down feral pigs, and find the grave of Franz Ferdinand in a town called Gutshot. Love, graphing, and anagramming will never be this fun again!  
  
Marcus is a computer genius…and a rule-breaker. So, when San Francisco is rocked by a terrorist attack and the government responds by cranking up their electronic surveillance, Marcus gets caught in the mix. Scared and angry after a brutal interrogation, he fights back as his hacker alter ego, w1n5t0n, against growing governmental control. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is a scary and intense thrill ride you won’t want to miss!
And finally, do you limit yourself to one realm of nerdom or geekery? Or does it (like my own) span many areas and genres?
If you limit your geekery to one area, you may feel some camaraderie with Maddy, the heroine of both Mari Mancusi’s Gamer Girl AND of Maddy’s favorite online game, Fields of Fantasy. In the game, Maddy is beyond awesome, and her elfin alter-ego is beginning an online friendship/flirtation with another gamer, Sir Leo.   But, outside of the game, Maddy has no friends at her new school.  Can she be as brave as her manga-style gaming avatar and find love in the real world?
 
If your geekery knows no bounds, check out the wide-range of fun (for older teens) contained in Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, an anthology celebrating all things nerd and geek, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castelucci. Many awesome teen authors contributed, from Cassandra Clare to Scott Westerfeld, and it alternates between short stories and short, funny, how-to comics (my favorite geekdoms are represented in “How to Identify…the Living Dead” and “What to Remember When Going to a Convention”). There’s something here for any form of geekery!
Kearsten is the YA Librarian from the Glendale Public Library in Arizona and our resident Booktalk This column writer.  In short, she rocks.

Top 10: Books for the Geek in Us All

The second week in March is reserved for Teen Tech Week in teen services everywhere.  Sponsored by YALSA we take the whole week to celebrate the formats of tech in the library- databases and online help, text reference, ebooks, movies and much more!  Yet, there is no reason why we can’t celebrate Teen Tech Week with some sensational hard copies, either!  Below, find 10 (in one base, not binary) books that celebrate this year’s theme while enticing teen readers….


15 short stories from some of the most amazing and geeky authors today
4th in the Uglies series, Extras debates the questions about what happens when you’re too popular….    Optioned by Fox.

When their AOL in the 80’s shows them their Facebook future, can they change it? Or do they want to? Optioned for the big screen by Warner Brothers

Sequel to Little Brother, Marcus is back, and having to chose between  his dream job and continuing the rebellion he started.

True story of Kevin Mitnick, hacking his way through companies and keeping one step ahead of the authorities.  


Sent by his parents to summer camp in order to ‘normalize’ him from his  RPG world, Perry instead finds the creators of his game, and will need all his skills (both gaming and social) in order to save the princess in this game.

Very (Veronica) is addicted to tech- can’t live without her iPod, IM, texts, comp time….  But when she’s forced to go to tech rehab, can she figure out her life before it’s too late?

Always trusting Society to control everything, Cassia is perfectly content with her match- until a second face appears for a brief second.  Can she regain her trust with Society, or will she forge a new and dangerous path?  Trilogy optioned by Disney.

Drawing upon actual interviews with the hackers of Anonymous and LulzSec, this tells the tales of the most  organized and secretive hacker group so far. 

In 2044, Wade escapes reality by burying himself in videogames, and trying to discover the Ticket that will give one person unlimited money and power- if you can unlock the puzzle.  Optioned for the big screen by Warner Brothers.

Book Review: Homeland by Cory Doctorow

“Marcus,” he said. “Have you noticed how messed up everything is today? How we put a ‘good’ president in the White House and he kept right on torturing and bombing and running secret prisons?  How every time we turn around someone’s trying to take away the Internet from us, make it into someone kind of giant stupid shopping mall where the rent-a-cops can kick you out of if they don’t like your clothes?  Have you noticed how much money the one percent have? How we’re putting more people in jail every day, and more people are unemployed every day and more people are losing their houses every day?”

“I’ve noticed,” I said. “But haven’t things always been screwed up? I mean, doesn’t everyone assume that their generation has the most special most awful problems?”
“Yeah,” Ange said. “But not every generation has had the net.”

“Bingo,” Jolu said. “I’m not saying it wasn’t terrible in the Great Depression or whatever. But we’ve got the power to organize like we’ve never had before. And the creeps and the spooks have the power to spy on us more than ever before, to control us and censor us and find us and snatch us.”
“Who’s going to win?” I said. “I mean, I used to think that we’d win, because we understand computers and they don’t.”

“Oh, they understand computers. And they’re doing everything they can to invent new ways to mess you up with them. But if we leave the field, it’ll just be them. People who want everything, want to be in charge of everyone.”
“So we’re going to win?”

Jolu laughed. “There’s no winning or losing, Marcus. There’s only doing.”


In this stand-alone sequel to Little Brother, Marcus lands his dream job as a webmaster for a crusading politician, when a former girlfriend hands him access to her security then disappears in the clutches of their archnemesis.  Now Marcus must decide what to do- because leaking the information could save Masha, but if he’s found out, he’d lose his job in the process, and he can’t go anywhere near his old sphere without being recognized.  And the information Masha has is damaging to a lot of people.  Is it even the right thing to do?  But he has to decide fast, because dangerous forces (old and new) are closing in, and they have no compunctions about who they hurt.

Marcus was M1ck3y, the hacker who created the darknet and let everyone know what the government was doing to his friends and others when martial law was declared in San Francisco   Now, however, California’s economy has collapsed, his parents are struggling to find jobs and to hang onto their home, and he’s dropped out of college and is completely lost.  Escaping with his girlfriend Ange to Burning Man, his past comes back to him full force in the form of Masha, who is running from their old enemies and has a slipped Marcus a thumb drive and a mission: if she disappears, seed the information throughout the internet. And disappear she does, right with Carrie Johnson, who was responsible for Marcus’ torture years ago. 

Back in San Francisco, Marcus and Ange call in favors and start looking at what Masha has collected, and realize it’s extremely dangerous.  And Marcus has just taken his dream job as web master with a politician who wants to change everything, and can make those changes through legitimate channels.  Faced with moral and personal decisions, somehow Johnson has discovered that Marcus has Masha’s key, and now is again fighting for his life. 

Homeland is extremely gripping and fast paced, full of tech references and making the reader think about all the everyday things we take for granted. For really thought provoking discussions, mesh with Feed by MT Anderson, or Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick.  4.5 out of 5 stars.  (Goodreads currently has Homeland as 4.08 stars as of Feburary 26, 2013.)


I was gripped by Homeland, and could not put it down, even though it made me paranoid about all the tech in my house and made me bug That Guy about everything we own.  As well anyone should be- there are really spooky things that go on with tech, and people are too trusting. Do you really read your software agreements? Do you know what you agree to when you update your apps? Do you know that even when your GPS is off, your phone still knows where you’re at?

That is the underlying point within *all* his works: think.  If you think it’s a little far fetched, take a look at what Microsoft wants to do with its new Kinect rollout. Or google some of the stuff that pops up in Homeland. It’s there, and online even in the mainstream Internet.  Even as I write this, the US is getting new anti-piracy software through our INTERNET providers, who will evidently decide who are the pirates and who are not.  

The world Marcus inhabits is not very far-fetched, which is what makes it so creepy and riveting at the same time. You don’t know who to trust, and with the final betrayal near the end you get your heart broken just as you’ve put your trust in that character. It’s wonderful stuff, an excellent for teens and adults alike.  For more information, and to learn about Cory Doctorow’s views on Creative Commons for his works, check it out here.

Book Review: Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

I’d thought he was angry, and he was, a bit, but when I looked into those eyes, I saw that what I had mistaken for anger was really terror.  He was even more scared that I was.  Scared that without the net, his job was gone.  Scared that without the net, Mum couldn’t sign on every week and get her benefits.  Without the net, my sister Cora wouldn’t be able to do her schoolwork.

“Trent,” he said, his chest heaving.  “Trent, what have you done?”  There were tears in his eyes.
I tried to find the words.  We all do it, I wanted to say.  You do it, I wanted to say.  I had to do it, I wanted to say.  But what came out, when I opened my mouth, was nothing.  Dad’s hands tightened on my arms and for a moment, I was sure he was going to beat the hell out of me, really beat me, like you saw some of the other dads do on the estate.  But then he let go of me and turned round and stormed out of the flat.  Mum stood in the door to my room, sagging hard against the door frame, eyes rimmed with red, mouth pulled down in sorrow and pain.  I opened my mouth again, but again, no words came out.
I was sixteen.  I didn’t have the words to explain why I’d downloaded and kept downloading.  Why making the film that was in my head was such an all-consuming obsession.  I’d read stories of the great directors — Hitchcock, Lucas, Smith — and how they worked their arses off, ruined their health, ruined their family lives, just to get that film out of their head and onto the screen.  In my mind, I was one of them, someone who had to get this bloody film out of my skull, like, I was filled with holy fire and would burn me up if I didn’t send it somewhere.
That had all seemed proper noble and exciting and heroic right up to the point that the fake copper turned up at the flat and took away my family’s Internet and ruined our lives.  After that, it seemed like a stupid, childish, selfish whim.  

Pirate Cinema is set in a futuristic science fiction dystopia that’s coming closer and closer to reality with each passing day, where pirating content off the Internet can get you in serious trouble.  The government is controlled by the large media corporations who keep pushing for tighter and tighter control of their “content” at the expense of creativity, art, and freedom.  Trent, a sixteen year old who HAS to get the movies out of his head, splices together pieces of films of his favorite actor to make mash-ups, and after two warnings gets his family’s Internet cut off for a year.  His dad loses his job, his mother with MS is in danger of losing her medications and benefits, and his brilliant sister will flunk school, because of him. Wracked with guilt, Trent takes off for London, and falls in with a band of his own kind:  artists and techno geeks who are determined to free the Internet for everyone’s use.

The language of the book can definitely take some readers a bit to get used to as it has English slang, but there is more than a passing nod to Oliver Twist in the characters Trent runs into during his first days in London, which is a blast.  There are a lot of current issues and discussion topics to be taken away from the book that would make it ideal for classroom and book club discussions.  I would definitely recommend it for higher level YA readers- I know that some teens would have problems with the language and technical aspects, while others would fall right in and be absorbed immediately.

SPOILERS BE HERE!  You have been warned :)

I really loved this book, and got into it completely.  It’s definitely a science fiction dystopia (heavy on the science, not the fantasy) but one that scarily you can see we’re on the road to; that is a hallmark of Doctorow’s books.  If you don’t believe me, check out Makers- 3D printers, anyone?  With the restrictions on library Internet filters, CIPA, the fallout from Napster, the current debates about whether you own ebooks you purchase, and other legislation that is constantly going through revisions and resurrections, I can certainly see a future like the one described in Pirate Cinema.  

Trent and his gang are gripping and realistic, fleshed out with quirks and personalities of their own that I personally want to know more about, and I love the throwbacks to Oliver Twist that are present.  There are twists and highs and lows with Jem and Aziz and the others that pull you from Trent’s story into theirs, but they complement and fill out Trent’s world so that you get a complete picture of what’s going on.  There’s a GLBT relationship (and talks about the abuse that happened to one of the lovers beforehand), the teens end up in jail at one point, and they are squatting and breaking rules and avoiding the law all over the place.

One thing that is of definite interest is that Trent is a little aimless until 26 comes along.  He’s content to float, and try and make more of his movies, but it’s not until 26 that he moves into the political arena.  The love interest between Trent and 26 (yes, her adopted name is 26) pulls Trent into politics and into a way to change things around, and the ending is realistic enough that you know that it’s not all peaches and roses. 
I can only hope that there is actually another book after Pirate Cinema, continuing Trent’s story, that the 1 on the spine is a hint of things to come.  Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part…or maybe not.

The Final Word:

Definitely good for your techie teens, and your higher reader teens- I have teens that I think would love it being that they are into the entire mash-up tech movement, but I don’t know that they would be able to read it for the level of language in it.  It’s definitely a higher Lexile level than some teens might be ready for, which is something to consider when recommending it, even if their interests run parallel with the book.

Karen’s Note: Pirate Cinema is nominated for a 2012 Cybils Award in the Teen Science Fiction/Fantasy category.  I read it this weekend and agree with Christie, it is a good book.  It feels so current day and relevant.  Recommended. 4 out of 5 stars.

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, published by Tor Teen.  ISBN: 978-0-7653-2908-0

My Emotional Soundtrack: What Keeps Me Sane

So the other day I talked about things that I just couldn’t go back to, even if I wanted to (if you missed it, go here).  Today, I thought that I’d share things that give me comfort.  It’s a rocky place out there, and while I consider myself a stable person, there are things that can rock you to your core- things that happen with your teens/tween, within your professional life, within your personal life, or within the world in general.  We, as teen advocates, should be embodying and modeling ways that are at least generally healthy ways to cope with whatever life throws at us, because you never know who’s watching.  We can (and do) break down in private, but we can’t exactly go screaming through the stacks to let off steam, as much as we would like to.  Someone, unfortunately, is bound to notice, whether it’s our teens, our patrons, or our boss.

So, I thought I’d share what keeps me as sane as I can be [which I’ve been told is up for doubt some days :) ], and please share yours in the comments below.  I think we’d all like to learn different ways to keep on keepin’ on.


Family and friends.  Even if they are over half a world away, and we only connect via social media, text or email, I can send out something and get something back within seconds to minutes.  I have a very expanded definition of family, very different than what most people (and probably those in my “family” would consider) but these are the people that if something happened, I know that they’d drop everything to get to me- and I would drop everything to get to them.  I can contact them with anything and no matter how trivial, or how silly, we can laugh or cry or share and it’ll be OK.  And I have been extremely blessed in that I have found people where ever I have landed throughout my life and have been able to keep adding to my family.

Music.  I really cannot live without music, and I am as bad as my tweens and teens with it- needs to be on constantly.  I listen to just about anything (save for most rap- that’s a whole different discussion), and you can rarely find me without my player.  I name them.  The current one is named Lilith after the Lilith Fair concert series, an ipod Touch, and has a speaker set in my office and has a port in my car.  Plato is quoted as saying, “Music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”  I prefer Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”  


Tea.  I’m not sure how I grew up with sweet tea in the middle of Illinois, but we always had sweet tea in the house.  I got out of the habit in college, but after I married That Guy, I got back into iced sweet tea, although the sugar got replaced with substitutes.  Now, I’ve gotten into hot teas at work and at bedtime, and oh, man, it is a comfort.  I haven’t gotten the hang of the spiced teas or fruit teas yet (always willing to try) and haven’t been brave enough to try a chai (they seem so expensive), but I’m addicted to black teas that have vanilla caramel or a good English Breakfast tea.  I even got a special cup from my last Disney trip that has Alice and the Mad Hatter having a tea party that I can microwave that has a sippy lid, instead of having to balance an open cup around my crazy kids.  Ah, simple joys.


Fluffy things.  I’ve always been lucky in my library career in that I’ve always had someplace with storage that was mine and mine alone, and I know enough about library worlds to know that my situation isn’t always the norm.  I’ve always been able to have something fluffy to take out to play with the kids, whether it’s a bear or a bunny dressed in different outfits (did you know that those Build-a-Bear animals fit in about size 3-6 month baby clothes?).  And as my space has expanded, so too has my collection of things, as you can see above.  I’ve gone from one teddy bear that was for baby story times to a bear and a bunny (who have been renamed for co-workers by the kids), a chef, two sock monkeys (a pirate and a ninja), a frog, a Dalek, and a Beaker, and there are a basket of Beanie Babies in the closet waiting for the appropriate time.  However, the toys aren’t just for the kids- they’re for me too.  They all mean something, and at times, I need the hugs that they’ve stored up from the kids who have dressed them and babysat them.

Books.  Always, constant, faithful companions are books.  My house is full of them, my work is full of them, and my life is full of them   If they weren’t, I am definitely in the wrong job. When I want comfort, I want the familiar, and I want familiar authors- ones that I know I like and will transport me away for a while.  I don’t want to take a chance on a book and be disappointed.  I take off the librarian and blogger hat, and I put on the consumer/patron hat, and read what makes me feel safe.  And yes, I know there are bloggers and librarians alike out there probably pulling hair out at the thought of using reading as an escape, but sometimes, for me, it is.  

My favorite YA and Adult authors are ones that I know will deliver me to other places and settings, give me a good story, and not jar me with inconsistencies.  I turn to the techno worlds of Cory Doctorow, to the realities Judy Blume (heaven help me if Summer Sisters or Superfudge goes out of print).  I go to the worlds of Anita Blake and Merry Gentry by Laurel K. Hamilton, and Rachel Morgan and Madison Avery from Kim Harrison.  I look for Maureen Johnson, David Levithan, John Green, Rachel Cohn, Jillian Larkin’s Flapper series and Anne Godberson’s Luxe series (all considered teen/young adult materials).  I look for Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series, or Patricia Brigg and Tanya Huff, or Eric Jerome Dickey (all considered adult materials).  I look for Mercedes Lackey (an author that can fall either teen or adult, depending on the reader).

So, those are my comforts.  What are your comfort reads, your comfort things?  Share in the comments below.