Fictional libraries and bookstores I want to visit


The Sunnydale High School Library, featured in the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is on my list of fictional libraries and bookstores I would love to visit.

As I was listening to The Waste Lands by Stephen King (the third book in The Dark Tower series), I  suddenly found myself wanting to visit a particular shop described in the series: The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind. It occurred to me that there are a number of libraries and book stores described in literature (and television), that I would love to visit. So, here is my list:

  • Sunnydale High School Library: Hellmouth? Check. Ancient tomes on magic and vampires and demons? Check. Cute British librarian with a secret mission? Check. Who wouldn’t want to visit Giles in this West Coast landmark? I’ll need fair warning not to visit when the next big bad is attempting to open that nasty Hellmouth, though. (Featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind: Stephen King’s the Dark Tower features some strange sights, but this quirky neighborhood bookstore is easy to miss among the other outlandish settings. But Calvin Tower (Tower! Get the connection?) runs a fun themed bookstore that feeds the mind with hard-boiled detective works, southern-fried Faulkner and many more. (Featured in The Waste Lands, Book 3 of The Dark Tower series)
  • The Book Apothecary: Imagine a bookstore where you go to discover books to heal your soul. Nina George did, in The Little Paris Bookshop, which introduces us to Jean Perdu, the bookseller who retrofitted a barge to serve as his bookshop. One conversation with him and he can recommend the best book for solving your inner pain. For example, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is prescribed “for the world-weary and the dangerously naïve.” Get your own recommendations from Penguin House’s companion site to the novel. (Featured in The Little Paris Bookshop)
  • Hogwarts Library: You know I had to include a location from Harry Potter. What better one than Hermione’s favorite hangout, which deserved a mention for its intriguing “Restricted Section.” And, you have to respect the librarian’s reaction to Harry’s copy of Advanced Potion Making. (Featured the Harry Potter series)

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

Virginia’s HB 516 and a slippery slope

Every year libraries across the country celebrate Banned Books Week, a chance for us to remember the dangers inherent in limiting a person’s ability to consume information due to a single person’s objection. But like all specially named weeks and months that benefit good causes – Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and American Heart Month in February, to name two – it becomes easy to only focus on those issues during that timeframe. But intellectual freedom is threatened all year round, including this year in Virginia. VASeal

In early March, HB 516 passed both the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the bill “would allow parents to opt out of reading assignments deemed ‘sexually explicit’ by the Virginia Board of Education.” Why is this a problem? Continue reading

First Sale


The Owners’ Rights Initiative , which ALA is a part of, brings together a diverse group to espouse the belief that “if you bought it, you own it, and should have the right to sell, lend or give away your personal property.” The First Sale Doctrine underpins this view.

As I was writing my post on Understanding Fair Use, I realized that not only do few people understand it, it often gets confused with First Sale, an entirely different but even more essential component of copyright law, especially for libraries. I say this because that’s what my brain did. I mushed the two together. So, I thought it only prudent to clarify, if only for myself, the finer points of the First Sale Doctrine and why it is so important to libraries, not to mention used booksellers, both physical stores and digital providers (think Amazon Marketplace or eBay). But this post will just focus on libraries.

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Review: Eleanor by Jason Gurley

eleanorIt was the cover that first grabbed me. Watercolor swirls of blue, outlining brimming eyes dripping tears down into rolling waves on an ivory background. The title and author were afterthoughts: I had to read this book because I had to read about this cover.

Lucky for me, the cover evokes both the topics and themes of the book – a young woman grappling with the tragedies that have derailed her family, as well as the healing power of water and the sea. Sometimes it pays off to judge a book by its heartbreakingly emotive cover. Continue reading