I have always liked plants. I got my green thumb from my mom. Some of my plants are from her collection and I take such comfort in being able nurture these keepsakes. My mom never reached crazy plant lady status. I, however, have accepted the challenge. Here are a couple of my favorites. The top right is a new baby I started from my mom’s plant (I also have momma) and bottom right is also from my mother’s house. She bought it over 30 years ago to cover a hole in her dining room floor! I’ve started a couple of babies from her as well. I love buying plants. I love receiving plants as gifts. And I really love the thrill of propagating my plants.
A big part of my plant hoarding lifestyle includes books. Oh, how I LOVE a gorgeous plant book and RRPL keeps me in books.
Don’t have a green thumb? We have a book for that!
My next plant purchases are going to be large floor plants and I think I need to start browsing our home improvement books for some shelving ideas. I am out of surfaces for potted plants!
If you are more of an outdoor gardener we have seeds for you! We are so excited to have our own Seed Library, courtesy of the Cleveland Seed Bank. To learn more about the seed bank and get your free seeds, check out our page on the RRPL website. I have my eye on some milkweed seeds!
Daughters of Erietown is Connie Schultz’s debut novel. It’s the story of Ellie and Brick McGinty, two rural Ohio teens whose lives were changed by an unplanned pregnancy. While Ellie and Brick learn to be a married couple in the 1950’s they also battle with the demons of their past. The young couple navigate societal norms, limited opportunities, and dreams deferred. They raise a middle-class family on a union job salary. They watch their children grow up and forge their own paths in the world. It’s a quiet story, rich in character and it’s likely on your summer TBR list. You aren’t alone. So, while you wait for your library hold to come available, check out some of these generational stories.
I love true crime. I listen to a dozen true crime podcast. I read true crime books. I watch true crime documentaries and tv shows. And that’s just on my own time. At work my fellow Murderino (that’s what fans of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder call ourselves) and I started a true crime book club. The Riverinos Discussion Group was formed and while I am biased, but I think it was hit. Due to Covid-19 we are currently on hiatus with our in person meeting, but I can’t be stopped! So, my first exciting bit of news is that I can created a new Facebook group for our Riverinos. We are still working on adding content, but you can join the group here.
Here is a little taste of what you’ll find in the group:
Riverinos won’t be having a July meeting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the subject here in our group. Maureen Callahan’s book, American Predator is an in-depth report of Israel Keyes and his alleged crimes. Want more? Riverinos hosts Sherry and Megan loves podcasts! Here are Sherry’s recommendations for podcast episodes that cover Israel Keyes:
Now, stick with me here. I mention Israel Keyes as a segue to the disappearance of Maura Murray, which is written about in True Crime Addict by James Renner. It’s been suggested that Israel Keyes could be connected to Maura Murray. If you aren’t familiar with her story I recommend reading Renner’s book. The book is great and the case is bonkers!
And, finally, speaking of James Renner, I was so excited to learn about his new project-he next book with be about the murder of Lisa Pruett. Lisa was a 16-year old from Shaker Heights when she was murdered on September 14, 1990. The case is of particular interest to me because it occurred just a few miles from my home in Cleveland Heights, where I was also a teenager. For more information about Lisa Pruett check out James’ website.
If you are also a true crime addict, please join me in the Riverinos group.
There is no escaping the news and racism, policing, and protesting are currently the main headlines for most news outlets. More and more I have been hearing a cry to defund the police, an idea that I did not fully understand. Naturally, I took to the intern to begin my research, where I came across the book The End of Policing by Alex Vitale. I found it to be a quick read and interesting read.
Alex S. Vitale is a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College. He is also the coordinator of The Policing and Social Justice Project, an organization that “…advocates and supports organizing against harmful law enforcement strategies and has provided guidance for social justice and criminal justice reform efforts across the country.” Vitale has studied and written about policing for 25 and consult both police departments and human rights organizations.
The End of Policing is a broad history and analysis of the policing system in the United States. Chapters address police in schools, the policing of our borders, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, and sex workers. He discusses theories of policing such as warrior policing and broken window policing. Vitale clearly outlines the roles that presidents and politicians on both sides of the aisle have played in contributing to the problems of policing. From union-busting to the war on drugs, from ICE to three strikes, from stop and frisk to closing mental institutions, our modern presidents have all enacted polices that have resulted in harmful policing practices. Vitale cites as a major issue with policing the idea that we rely on police to solve all of our problems, despite police not being qualified to do so. Police are expected to perform the jobs of mental health providers, social workers, addiction specialists, and more without the proper skills and at great cost to society. The author details how special courts, diversion programs, and jails are all more expensive to run than social services programs. His conclusion is that training and reform are not enough. Vitale argues that diverting funds into programs that work to prevent social problems, ie, mental health care, affordable house, access to jobs, etc can reduce crime an the need for policing.
This is an interesting, informative, and well-researched book that I found helpful in understanding the idea behind the call to defund police.
June marks the beginning of Pride Month. The celebration of LGBTQ+ pride occurs in June to honor the Stonewall Uprising of June 28, 1969. The previous links will take you to the Library of Congress; I would encourage you to take some time and explore primary sources, images, documentary footage, and audioclips. While the month is typically marked with celebrations and parades, Pride Month also serves as a sober reminder that we have a long history in this country of marginalizing people as well as a history of uprisings by marginalized people against oppression. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks, to say the least, so I was thrilled to get lost in a book that turned out to be exactly what I needed right now.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a charming story about a remote island that serves as a home for magical misfits. Linus Barker is a case worker for the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth. In this role he visits government run orphanages and over-sees the well-being of the residents. He is an efficient worker and content with his solitary life. Linus is perplexed whe he is called to a meeting by the Extremely Upper Management. Is he being disciplined for that salad dressing stain on his shirt? It turns out the reason for the meeting is stranger than that. Extremely Upper Management have a special assignment for him- travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside. He is to spend a month there and evaluate the orphange and it’s caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. Also, the assignment is classified, top-secret, and potentially dangerous.
Nothing in his career prepares Linus for what he discovers on the island. He is confronted with a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. His task is to determine for the government if Arthur has control of these children or if they are a threat to the nearby village and possibly the world. As he pushes through his fear and gets to know the inhabitants for Marsyas Island, he discovers a growing closenes with the charming Arthur. He also discovers more dark secrets that threaten to destroy everything.
I cannot emphasis enough how charming and sweet and heartwarming this story is. This book addresses society’s tendancy to fear and shun those who are different, it talks about the meaning of family, and presents a budding gay romance, all with magic and humor. I fell under the spell of Marsyas Island and hope that this is not the end of the story of Linus and Arthur and the children who call the house in the cerulean sea home.
For additional Pride Month Reads be sure to visit our digital libraries for specially curated collections.
As regular readers of my ramblings know, my focus during this quarantine has been on anxiety and uncertainty. As we are slowing transitioning back to library for some of our shifts there will still be anxiety and uncertainty, but I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces in a familiar setting. So I want to use my final Your Library Staff at Home post to present readers with a list of books that I have found helpful in my own personal quest to learn more about race and racism in America. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but I have found them to be easily accessible.
If you only have time for one book, I highly recommend it be White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racismby Dr. Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo coined the term white fragility to refer to the tendency for white people to become defensive when confronted with their racial advantage. I appreciated this book so much that after listening to it I ordered a print copy to have to refer back to. It IS hard to talk about racism. This book can help make it easier.
So, you’re ready to talk about race. That’s a great start. Yes, it’s just a start. This next book was an eye-opener for me. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is another fantastic social justice read. Kendi asks readers to think of what an antiracist society looks like. He digs into history and science as he outlines many different types of racism. He thoughtfully examines his own past thoughts and behaviors that he deemed to be racist. This is an engaging look at race and provides many excellent topics of discussion as well as practical ideas to implement in order to create an antiracist society.
Finally, I recommend Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, argues “The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don’t act now, if you don’t address race immediately, there very well may be no future.”
These are just a few of the nonfiction titles that have had a profound effect on me. One of the things I love about books is that they are a safe way to confront tough topics and they can give us the tools we need to grow.
We are all in this together. Let’s be kind to one another.
A is for Anxiety. As we work on our plans to expand services to our patrons my anxiety has crept back up on me. It’s weird but also expected. I am excited to be able to get new materials to everyone (and myself) and I am looking forward to talking patrons and seeing coworkers again. But also, I am worried about all the things we don’t know. My rational brain knows that the library is taking everyone’s health and safety very seriously. My lizard brain won’t shut up with the “what ifs.” So this week I have headed back to my neglected yoga mat and have found some peace and solace. There are plenty of yoga instructors online. I love Yoga with Adrienne. But the library also has a great collection of yoga and meditation materials-books, dvds, and soundtracks. So if you want a dvd, give us a call! It’s totally normal to be stressed about what’s next. Deep breathing really does help. The library is also here for you. Let us know what you need.
B is for Billboard fame. I am not bingeing anything these days other than podcasts and Best Fiends. So this week’s B is a Brag and a Billboard. Look at how amazing this is! We are on a billboard and it’s gorgeous. Curious about RiverCon 2020? Sign up here for more information.
C is for Connecting and Cookie Dough. Today was a gorgeous day for some social distance connecting. It was so wonderful to see some familiar faces over cookie dough from the Cleveland Cookie Dough Company. Who doesn’t love edible cookie dough? I took my dog, met some coworkers, and got a little fresh air and exercise (psst…also good for anxiety). We have to be creative about how we connect these days and I am thankful the library porvided this opportunity.
Don’t forget, we are now open for curbide pick ups, so place your holds online or give us a call and we will walk your new books, movies, and magazines right out to you! I look forward to hearing from you when I get back in the library in June. Until then, hang in there. We’ll get through this together.
A-There is just no winning during a pandemic. Just when I was figuring out ways to manage my anxiety over being stuck at home, things are once again changing. So, as businesses reopen and more people head back to work, a whole new batch of worries have cropped up. Are we moving too fast? Do I remember how to be around people? Who am I kidding, I was never great at peopling. I am craving routine and structure (and salty snacks, but no way am I going to a store anytime soon), but can we keep the comfy quarantine clothes? Staff will soon be heading back to the library and I am pretty excited about that, but what is our new normal going to look like? Gah! So many questions. So many unknowns. We’ll get through this together.
B-Books, babies, and beach therapy.
I haven’t been doing to much reading with my eyes, but I have been bingeing audiobooks like crazy. I have revisited old favorites-Harry Potter, Skulduggery Pleasant, Bloody Jack-all available in Overdrive and Hoopla. All my comfort books have comforted me enough to be ready to look for new content. This week I fired up the ereader and took a look at some of my digital advance reader copies of upcoming books. Here are the two I decided to start reading:
Look for The Invisible Girl in October and The End of Her in July.
One of my favorite ways to relax is to get what I like to call beach therapy. It’s finally warming up enough to sit on some sun-baked sand and sift through the rocks looking for treasures. One of my favorite spots is close to the library-Bradstreet Landing in Rocky River. Today I treated myself to a trip to the drive through of one of my favorite local coffee shops and headed to the beach. Look at the fuzzy baby geese!
Wrapping up with this week’s C is RiverCon (yeah, it’s a stretch, but I am really excited about this event and want to keep talking about it)! RiverCon has an offical logo and it is FANTASTIC! I am thrilled to be able to share it with you today and remind you to register here for your RiverCon kit. Registration opens this Saturday! Each kit will have a comic craft, reading recommedations, Hoopla and Overdrive swag, a RiverCon magnet, and more.
A is for All the Feelings. I’ve talked a lot about anxiety in general and how it has effected me specifically. I think we’ve reached a point in all of this that most people are well aware that we are feeling stress and anxiety, so I am changing this week’s A. Story time. Working from home has really drawn attention to just how bad my home home internet service is, so I decided to take advantage of a different company’s new customer offer. I placed my order and the company sent me the equipment. I felt very proud of myself for managing this basic task. I woke up Tuesday ready to set it all up. I disconnected the old modem. I unpacked the new one, feeling determination that quickly turned to anger and despair. I didn’t have the needed cable outlet! Feeling stupid that I didn’t know I needed cable, I made a quick call to customer service and the kindest woman dispatched a technician. Relief. I reconnected the old modem, only to discover it didn’t work. So, there I was, in a house with 2 internet companies, 2 different modems, and ZERO internet. I spent the next three hours waiting for help to arrive. I spiraled through ALL THE FEELINGS. I FELT them ALL. I walked myself to the ledge and then talked my own self off. My internet was finally installed, but I wasn’t up and running yet…I needed a router. Sigh. Being an adult is stupid and hard. Curbside pick up at Target. The internet ordeal that began at 11 am was about to finally end…9 hours later. Wrong. Which leads me to this week’s B.
B is for Breakdowns. Yup. I was finally defeated by a wireless router. What should have been a simple installation became my own personal hell. After an hour of trying and failing, of unplugging and restarting, of factory resets, of watching videos and reading all the help articles, I admitted defeat. I gave up. I sat on the couch and disolved into angry, self-pitying tears. I cried over a router. I cried because I had such a first-world problem that I couldn’t solve. I cried because I had a day full of ALL THE FEELINGS. For someone who likes to keep all the feelings deep inside, feeling them is shocking! If you have read this far, you might be nodding along, feeling all your own feelings. Or you might, like me, be wondering what this has to do with the library. Bare with me. I am about to make it sort of connect.
C is for Connecting. We are going through something. We are all feeling all the feelings at any given moment. My colleagues and I have been working on mourning the loss of our exciting summer plans for the public. We have had to completely switch gears. We have had to make tough decision about what programs to completely abandon and which ones to rework for our new virtual reality. Prior to all of this I was part of a team working to put on the library’s first ever mini-con. RiverCon 2020 was going to be AWESOME! Last week we had a team meeting. We felt all the feelings together and then got to work reimaging our program. I am proud of what we came up with and I so happy that Ms Nicole’s RiverCon 2020 is still going to happen. Details will be forthcoming, but for right now I can tell you that virtual RiverCon will include interviews with comic creators and experts, an at-home cosplay activity, comic recommedations for readers of all ages and a virtual superhero storytime with Ms. Amanda. Finally, we are working on bringing RiverCon directly to you! On May 16 you can register for a RiverCon@Home kit, full of fun crafts, comic resources and hopefully some cool comic swag. Save the date and register here. We are all working hard behind the scenes and from our make-shift home offices to stay connected with our patrons. We are adapting and thinking outside the box and we are excited about what we are coming up with. Stay with us. We are here for you. We are all in this together.
A is for Anxiety. We are all feeling it and we all react to and handle it differently. Our reactions can even vary from moment to moment. How fun is that? Take me for example- today I had a fight over text with my brother and threw rocks at the lake. Engaging in a argument was dumb. Do not recommend; avoid if possible. Rock throwing, on the other hand, was very therapeutic. Definitely recommend. This is hard, friends. I hope you are finding solace-in books, in nature, in friends and family. And be kind to yourself if your solace is a lot chocolate. Chocolate definitely helps.
B is for Books about Libraries. Surprise! I’m switching up the B for National Library Week!
Here are a few of my favorite books about libraries and librarians:
C is for Connecting. My favorite way of connecting this week has been watching old episodes of Supernatural with a friend. We did this before social distancing, so it feel nice and normal. We don’t Zoom or Facetime or even talk on the phone. We load up the episode and just watch and text comments and emojis to each other. Low tech and high comfort.