Timothy Zahn and my Star Wars obsession

Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite books of all time:

For those Star Wars obsessed individuals among my readers, you likely easily recognized The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. What you may not know is that this is the trilogy that relaunched the Expanded Universe. Without Timothy Zahn and his incredible ability to evoke the heart of Star Wars while injecting much needed life in the form of unique new characters, I’m not sure what Star Wars fandom would be today. We might not have even had any of the other content that has come out since the early 1990s. Indeed, we might not even have the die-hard fans our fandom has. I say this because for many, me included, it was the Expanded Universe novels that solidified and fed our love of Star Wars when there was nothing else new out there. Fun fact: We also wouldn’t actually know that the name of the planet that housed the Imperial Center was Coruscant if Zahn hadn’t dreamed up the name (See “Legends” Wookieepedia page for “Coruscant,”and scroll to “Behind the Scenes” – I’m not making this up!).

So when a friend told me Zahn would be attending two panels at a local science fiction convention, I knew I had to go. I gathered the hallowed above paperbacks from their honored place on my fiction bookshelf to be signed. (Yes I have a whole other bookshelf for nonfiction.) And then I spent several days freaking out. Continue reading

Reading women: A self-evaluation

Get lists of women authors from the staff at the New Jersey City University library.

Get lists of women authors from the staff at the New Jersey City University library.

After cobbling together a reading challenge for myself for 2016 (I smooshed together different aspects from these reading challenges suggested by Bustle), I created a “women authors” category on my Goodreads profile to help me track that category of books. I was sorely disappointed in myself to learn that only 28% of the books I’ve read were written by women (keeping in mind that I didn’t consistently track the books I’ve read until a few years ago), and most of those have been in the last two years. Considering how many women there are in the world, that’s a dismally low number. According to The World Bank, the number is 50.4% in the United States, which is where most of the authors I read are from. Australia and Great Britain are the only two other home countries for the majority of my authors, and they have similar numbers. But the lack of geographic diversity in my reading is a whole other disparity that deserves its own post, which has luckily already been written by someone more talented than I: Reading More Translated Books Will Make You A Better Person by Rachel Cardasco on BookRiot.

But getting back to women authors. Here are some thoughts that tagging all the books written by women I’ve read brought up:

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My creepy fall reading list

I am a seasonal reader. By that I mean that there are certain books that demand to be read during a particular season, be it quirky romances in spring or science fiction in the summer. With its mild sunny days and chilly nights struck through with sharp breezes carrying the scent of decaying leaves and cinnamon, fall is the most demanding season of all. Late September always finds me plotting out a list of books that will put me in just the right spirit for the season of Jack-o-Lanterns and ghost stories. readings__1224527389_9277

Like my movies, I don’t like my books to be scary. But I do want a creepy factor, a thick and clawing fog, dead branches scratching on windows, humans who aren’t quite human. There can be ghosts and monsters, sure, but I prefer those books that reveal the spooky wrongness we are all capable of harboring. Where magic is real and coexists in the world we already know, accounting for that weird prickling you feel on the back of your neck or the chill that steals through you on even the warmest days. My fall reads evoke these feelings and leave me looking forward to this season most of all. Well, I look forward to the books as well as to the return of pumpkin beers, hot apple cider and spicy chai lattes.

I thought I would share a list, my good readers, as you build your own TBR list for fall. Some books I plan to read this season, and some are books I’ve already read that fit perfectly into the season. Books I haven’t read (0r haven’t quite finished) are starred. Continue reading

Authors, Bats, and Space: Library programming lessons for (and from) a beginner

As I mentioned back in early August, I’ve been trying to relaunch my library’s adult programming. Since then I’ve held two programs, set up a third, and sketched out ideas for 15 or so more. I’ll probably learn so much more as time goes on, but I thought I would record some of the lessons I’ve learned so far. Remember, I’m a beginner, so don’t laugh when it comes to my relative ignorance. I will say that I had nightmares about both thanks to all the stress. This has made it really difficult to get excited about planning events, but really I just have to learn to stop putting so much pressure on myself. As Woody Allen says, “80 percent of success is showing up.” Just by having programs, I am calling our programming at least an 80% success, especially since we had roughly zero last year. While it is up to me to get that number as high as I can, it’s nice to rely on at least some measure of success just by having an event for people to show up to. Now I only have 20 more percent to go to reach my lofty goals for myself, so wish me luck!Woody-Allen1 Continue reading

Librarianship outside the library

Outreach can take many forms, but the traditional bookmobile - like this one serving patrons near Beguildy - has largely fallen out of favor for more creative solutions. (Image courtesy of National Library of Wales via Wikimedia)

Outreach can take many forms, but the traditional bookmobile – like this one serving patrons near Beguildy in Wales – has largely fallen out of favor for more creative solutions. (Image courtesy of National Library of Wales via Wikimedia)

I wouldn’t be a librarian if I didn’t love being in a library all the time, but what I enjoy most is sharing my love of libraries with others, especially those who are skeptical about their value or just don’t know what we provide. That’s where outreach comes in to the picture. Outreach can take many forms, but at its core it is about sharing the value of libraries – and even providing some library services – outside the library’s walls. More and more, outreach is becoming a vital aspect of librarianship, for many reasons:
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