Bookish Pet Peeves

I feel like I have been staring at this blank screen forever, trying to decide what the write about this week. My creative brain feels broken right now. So I sit and stare and struggle to think think think, all the while half listening to an audiobook. So far in this story a woman has fainted multiple times after receiving bad news and two characters have vomited. And there it is. My inspiration. Do people really throw up this frequently as a reaction to terrible news? I have had my fair share of terrible news and it has never lead me to seek the nearest bathroom and arrive there in the nick of time. Why does this happen so much in books?!?! Whyyyyy? Drives me crazy.

Other bookish pet peeves:

  • Dream sequences
  • Weird character names
  • Love triangles
  • Mid-series cover changes

But let’s not end on a negative note. Here are a few of my bookish loves:

  • Books within books
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Mind-blowing twists
  • Unapologetically smart and strong heroines

Enjoy this sassy baby goat while you think about your own bookish pet peeves.

~Megan

Reconnect@RRPL – Keep Calm … and Read Historical Fiction

2020 has been something else! To escape, lately I’ve been reading one historical fiction novel after another. Not only does taking a peek at the trials and tribulations across centuries help me feel like we really don’t have it that bad, but it is also really entertaining.

The atmospheric The Lost Orphan by Stacy Halls is set in 1754 in London. Bess is a street hawker of shrimp who is forced, due to poverty, to give up her illegitimate day-old daughter to the nearby foundling hospital, with the intention to reclaim her one day. Six years pass before Bess has enough money to do just that, but instead learns that the girl has already been taken, years previously, by someone claiming to be Bess. As she seeks to find out what happened to her little girl, Bess’s story is contrasted with that of a wealthy woman who, under the guise of protecting her own young daughter from the dangers of London, does not allow her to leave the confines of their home. This captivating novel about family, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood is a good reminder that the struggle between the haves and have-nots is indeed a very old story.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline is another page-turning historical about the plight of less fortunate women. It is set in the early 19th-century in Van Diemen’s land, a penal colony in Australia, where thousands of convicts were shipped from overcrowded English prisons and forced to provide free labor to the settlers there. This novel follows the journey of two such young English women, Evangeline and Hazel, both of whom were wrongly accused and imprisoned. Their stories intertwine with that of an Aboriginal girl, Mathinna, who at the age of eight is adopted as a “curiosity” by white colonists who attempt to “civilize” her. Impeccably researched, this novel educates and enthralls. I read it in one sitting.

Perhaps you also need an escape. Find it in these and other books when you Reconnect@RRPL.

-Carol

What’s Your Voting Plan?

I’m sure you’ve seen this question recently, maybe many times recently, and I had been brushing it off. I vote. I was feeling all confident about knowing what I need to do, with my absentee ballot requested waaaay back in Summer. (Perhaps a little smug about my readiness to make sure my voice is heard?) And today I got a little reality check. I’m confident in my in-person voting, but there’s more to learn about absentee ballots….

Did you know postage due on your ballot might be greater than the value of one USPS forever stamp ? Due to size and weight, Cuyahoga County’s ballot may cost .65 and first class postage is .55. How do you know the cost for sure? You can stop in your local United States Post Office to get it weighed and postmarked, or call your county’s Board of Elections to confirm the cost. The Secretary of State’s site also includes information that you should not use a postage meter or online service to “affix postage” but can “use a postage label purchased at a USPS customer service window or vending machine” and “the date on the label is the postmark.” You should read the whole list for a better understanding, but key ideas have been highlighted in case someone is compelled to skim… (again, please read it all as it’s pretty short and very important!)

You can also drop your absentee ballot off at your local board of elections once early voting starts on Tuesday, October 6. (If you live in Cuyahoga County, October 6th is also the day when absentee ballots will be mailed out.)

If you’re a regular voter by mail and you have more tips for us newbies, please share your knowledge!

Alright so TL:DR: please be sure you’re prepared to vote on November 3, 2020!

– Stacey

5Days4Democracy – Why Democracy?

For me, the answer to “why democracy?” is an easy one. America’s democratic system of government grants me many freedoms that other countries’ citizens are not automatically given.

Two of my favorites are my freedom of speech and the right to vote for my choice in our elections. And while I admit that it’s hard for me sometimes when I see neighbors’ yard signs in support of a candidate running against the one I support, I’m sure glad I’m able to put up my own yard sign. When I feel myself getting aggravated by such a display, it’s important for me to take a step back and realize that this disagreement is actually our country’s Constitution at work. I take a deep breath and know that it’s not just okay that my neighbor might not agree with me, it is their right, too!

During these five days for democracy, think about how opposing yard signs make you feel. And then take your own deep breath and be grateful that you too live in a country where you can express such a thing.

So, help celebrate these 5 Days for Democracy and sign up here to receive emails this week that will help you better understand, celebrate and think of ways to improve what democracy does for you. Oh, and don’t even think about stealing any yard signs!

-Carol

5Days4Democracy -There’s Still Time!

Tomorrow is the first official day of the Five Days for Democracy event and you can sign up now, or any time this week, to receive Monday’s email! This might be the easiest program *ever* to join but will hopefully get you thinking and taking action, which can be hard work. It’s good for us flex those decision making muscles, it’s even better to feel like you made a positive difference for yourself and others. During these five days of emails, full of things to read or watch, small actions we can take every day or once in a while, and encourage discussion, all adding a little zing to your inbox! And who doesn’t need a little zing?!

Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.

—Stacey

Reconnect @ RRPL – #GrumpLit

There are so many fans of A Man Called Ove, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and books along those lines, that there is indeed a hashtag for books starring lovable curmudgeons. I am not sure why this is a trend but let’s face it, Charles Dickens gave us Ebenezer Scrooge and we’ve wanted more ever since. So stop your scowling, because I may have found your next new favorite book!

In The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons, Eudora is an 85-year-old with no friends or family in her life. Although in decent physical shape (she swims laps at the local pool almost daily), Eudora considers herself done living. Having cared for her mother at her own end, Eudora never wants to be in a position where she is forced to rely on someone else when she can no longer care for herself. She’s decided she will end things on her own terms and has written to a clinic in Switzerland that promises to allow her to do just that. Eudora is eagerly awaiting to be accepted into this program when she meets and is befriended by her new neighbors’ daughter, Rose, an adorable, wise-beyond-her-years 10-year-old with a built-in wild fashion sense and an inability to take “no” for an answer.

Rose inserts herself into Eudora’s world, bringing along another older neighbor and widower named Stanley. Their kindness and exuberance for life forces Eudora outside of her comfort zone, and she finds herself not only trying new things, but also reflecting on her past and the possibilities of what might lie ahead.

Although you’ll need a handkerchief nearby (not a Kleenex—Eudora is a classy lady), this novel is ultimately a feel-good story that will lift your spirits and make you laugh out loud.

-Carol

5Days4Democracy -Join Us!

One of the things I most appreciate about being a citizen of the United States of America? I can make a difference each time I vote! And in-between elections, I can contact elected representatives, from local to Federal, when an issue is important to me!

From Monday, September 28 to Friday, October 2, Rocky River Public Library, our fellow public library systems in Cuyahoga County, and City Club of Cleveland are asking you to participate in Five Days for Democracy—a week dedicated to spending just a little bit of time each day thinking about what democracy means to you, why it’s important, and why it’s worth fighting for.

When you sign up, you’ll receive an email each day packed with opportunities to explore different facets of our democracy, in all its aspirations and failings. From listening to a podcast to watching a video, reading an article or responding to a call to action, each day you’ll pick one challenge to complete. And maybe you’d like to start reading a little something right now, like a little prep work for the week? Check out on of the many titles suggested in the 5 Days for Democracy collection!

Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.

Sign up at Five Days for Democracy and get ready to embrace your voting power!

—Stacey

Great Book Series to Great TV Series

I was late to reading Michael Connelly’s excellent, hard-boiled crime novels starring Harry Bosch as a tough, no-nonsense war veteran and LAPD cop, a modern-day Philip Marlowe, who goes after justice no matter what it takes. Connelly started writing about Bosch in 1992 and there are now 20 books in the series. I’m not yet through with them all but am enthralled and entertained so far by the series’ fast-paced action, its true-to-life descriptions of relationships and police work, and its gritty and bustling setting of Los Angeles, where just about anything can and does happen.

Late to the party as I am, I guess it also makes sense that I’ve only just discovered that the series “Bosch” was adapted for television in 2014 by Amazon who has just ordered its seventh and final season. With the weather turning chillier, I’m looking forward to working my way through all of them.

So far, I’ve binged-watched the first season, which stars Titus Welliver who magnificently embodies Bosch. Let me tell you, he’s not the only thing about this series that won’t disappoint. Unlike most TV adaptations, in fact, each of the characters in “Bosch” feel as real and complex as they are portrayed in the novels and some of the novels’ characters get even more developed on the screen. This is likely due to the fact that Michael Connelly serves as an executive producer and writer for the show. And, despite updating Bosch’s timeline as well (in the books he is a Vietnam vet but has served in the Gulf war and Afghanistan on the show), everything else rings just about right for this reader/viewer.

Want to jump in? No, I can’t buy you an Amazon Prime membership, but I can tell you to start reading the series with book #1, The Black Echo

-Carol

An Apple A Day, plus other foods!

Wow. How did it get to be Fall? I’m a fan of cozy sweaters, beautiful Fall foliage, new school supplies (less this year than usual -obvs), and Halloween, but I’m not ready yet… are you?

It’s here, whether any of us are ready or not, and I have decided now is a good time to match up my excessive kitchen time with seasonal foods. Take that! (I don’t know who’s taking it but it felt good to put that there. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) I need a few more apples and I can make King Arthur Baking Company’s Old Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting (yum!) and then I”ll move along to searching for main meal options from books in the Fall Harvest collection… dessert should *always* be first!! If you have a tasty Fall recipe, please feel free to share! While I wait for ideas, maybe some soup?

-enjoy!
Stacey

Let’s Talk about Ohio

I don’t think there’s been anything really easy about this year so far and so I like to take a small win (or a rare 2020 big win!) whenever I can find one! I just finished reading Barnstorming Ohio To Understand America  by David Giffels and it’s definitely in my win column for this week!

Ohio. We are full of variety and contradictions. We are the 7th most populous state but 34th in total are; the top of the State gets incredibly cold with lots of snow and the lower half can be 10 to 20 degrees warmer with almost no snow; our economy is based on agriculture, industry, and innovative ideas; and there’s an incredible range of natural landscapes to explore. Ohioans have plenty to be proud about and issues we need to solve, but we are also an almost perfect cross-section of the U.S.A.

In Barnstorming Ohio, Mr. Giffels provides the current and historical context that helped me to understand exactly what it means to be seen as bellwether State for the Country. Having thoughtful conversations with the people who live in the “Five Ohios” (representing diverse voting communities) and offering great insights for what could be a larger, nation-wide conversation, this book was engaging, eye-opening, and easy-to-read. As we head into the 2020 General Election, you might also find this book worth checking out, and then we can chat!

(Small tangent -Did you know tomato juice is the official beverage of Ohio? Can we vote on that?)

—Stacey