Book Reviews

Getting Inspired: In the Company of Women


I’m drinking up In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney. It’s a collection of interviews with a ton of women, but it’s real talk about building a business and the creative process. Actual questions: “In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself up? and “What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?”

Here are some of my favorite answers.

Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a business.

“Most of the time things won’t turn out the way you expect, and that’s usually not a bad thing. Don’t let go of your goals, but let go of your expectations.” — Elise Kornack, Chef & Restauranteur

What is your personal or professional motto?

“Be relentless, be ambitious, be excellent.” — Roxane Gay, Writer & Professor

What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?

“The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.” — Amy Poehler (from Veronica Corzo-Duchardt, Graphic Designer & Artist)

What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?

“I eat two breakfasts. One sweet and one savory.” — Gauri Nanda, Product Designer

Pretty sure I’ll be adopting that last one ASAP.

Book Reviews, Life

Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I first fell in love with Big Magic on page 9. This isn’t really true, because I was listening to the book the first time around, but now that I’m re-reading it in print, I can tell you it’s page 9. Continue reading “Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert”

Book Reviews

The Year of the Audiobook: 2015 in Review

On my running “Best of” List, I had:

  • 6 audiobooks
  • 3 picture books
  • 3 YA fiction (plus one audio)
  • 3 adult nonfiction
  • 1 middle-grade fiction
  • 1 adult novel
  • 1 graphic novel

I didn’t listen to audiobooks before the past two years, so it’s amazing to see it have such an impact on my reading life. It really changes the relationship I have with a book – it’s a completely different reading experience.

Before starting the list, I want to clarify that these are the best books I read during 2015. Not all were c2015 — some were published in earlier years.

Book Reviews

Mini-Review: Has Anyone Seen My Pants? by Sarah Colonna

Audio Edition. Four stars.

My new BFF Sarah Colonna is a wonderful road trip partner, and we spent 6+ wonderful hours together yesterday while driving back from my parents’ house.

pants_coverHas Anyone Seen My Pants? has kind of been on my to-read list since it was released earlier this year, but it had never made it off my list and into my car until yesterday, when I realized that I did not need anything serious or long — I just wanted to make it through the 9-hour drive without losing it. (My review also should give four stars to Verizon, for having the LTE for me to download the Hoopla file while on a state highway nowhere near town.)

This was made to be. At the North Platte Starbucks (the last one until I’m practically home, making it a major stop), I had 3 hours, 21 minutes left in the drive AND 3 hours, 21 minutes left in the book. Fate!

So what’s this thing about anyway?

New York Times bestselling author of Life as I Blow It Sarah Colonna is back with a hilarious, honest look at life in her late thirties, in all its messy, pants-missing glory.

How does a gal with a successful career, great friends, and a razor-sharp wit find herself wandering pants-less through the hallways of a casino hotel in Iowa on New Year’s Eve?

Ask Sarah Colonna.

Has Anyone Seen My Pants? is a laugh-out-loud trip around America (and Mexico!) with Sarah as she braves crying in nail salons, mother-daughter road trips, Iowan casinos, and single-shaming resorts. From a fling-gone-wrong to friend breakups and a new romance, Sarah’s signature wit and sharp observations take you on a journey at once so deviously funny and surprisingly compassionate that it might just steal your heart, not to mention your pants.

I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, and then I sped up because I needed to hug my cat and I wasn’t even to the Colorado border yet. Mischief — RIP.

As I enter my 30s, I’m finding myself more and more appreciative of books that take humorous yet honest looks at a.) online dating and b.) having a career that you love. No, I can’t work less nor do I want to. And neither does Sarah, which is great, because I’m looking forward to hearing more from her. Thanks for the support, new BFF!



Book Reviews

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

This book was an unusual read for me, both because it’s a historical romance (only my third EVER!) and because I kind of reviewed it on Goodreads. I spend far more time talking about books than writing about them, but I had to made a confession about this one, and the Goodreads review was as good of a time as any.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #4)Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I totally judged this book by the cover.


For actual reviews of the book, I recommend Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ squee-filled review and the Dear Author recommended read review.

Book Reviews

Favorite Books of 2014

Book Reviews

Favorite Picture Books, 2014

One of my favorite parts of working in a public library is being surrounded by gorgeous picture books, both new and old. These are the four best ones I read this year.

Peggy  Peggy by Anna Walker. An adorable tale about a hen who goes on a brave adventure in the city.

The Book with No Pictures The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Not technically a picture book, but a joy to read aloud. Best read with someone else nearby. Pets count.
Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. Dark but beautifully written and illustrated. I felt quite content the morning I read this.
Smoky Night Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. I picked this book up after reading a phenomenal blog post on resources for talking with children about race. There were tears at my desk.

Coming Sunday: The full list of my favorite 2014 reads.
Book Reviews

Give and Take

Give and Take by Adam Grant was a hot pick on my campus last year, and I finally got on the bandwagon this semester. Building relationships is crucial to public services work in libraries, and this book had great insights into how librarians can better develop their networks. The crux is that Givers (defined as other-focused individuals who are generous with sharing time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections) are more successful than Matchers (I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine) or Takers (exactly what it sounds like). This in itself has value for librarianship. It’s easy to find opportunities to give more in our work. Send a helpful article, introduce two faculty with similar research in different fields. We’re well positioned to share our knowledge, skills and connections.

But the most telling part was about burnout, particularly in terms of what Grant calls the “Impact Vacuum” — when Givers without a cause burnout from not seeing the value in their work.

“Givers don’t burn out when they devote too much time and energy to giving. They burn out when they’re working with people in need but are unable to help effectively.”

Sound familiar?

Academic libraries have emphasized showing value to those outside the building, but how do we define success to ourselves? How do we know what we’re doing is working? How do we know our work matters? Showing this internally may be even more important to long-term library success than reporting outward.

Have you read Give and Take?

Book Reviews

Recommended reads: Best of 2013

I know, I know — libraries aren’t all about books anymore. These are titles that are too good not to share.

I’ve read a lot this year, and I’m astonished how many nonfiction books made my favorites list. I’d also like to grant some Yearly Achievement Awards to George R.R. Martin, Rae Carson, Tiffany Reisz and M.L. Buchman for sucking me into their series and taking me off to much more exciting worlds.

And now, without further adieu, my Goodreads shelf for the best books I’ve read this year.

What books did you love?

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever

Explanation. It’s the name of the game in public services. So do we really need an entire book explaining this seemingly simple concept? Absolutely. Explanation may be a natural part of how we communicate, but it also is a skill on which we can improve, and The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever is one resource that will benefit librarians in this area.

LeFever is the founder of Common Craft, maker of such videos as Blogs in Plain English and Augmented Reality — Explained by Common Craft. The book is presented in three parts: Plan, Package and Present, each a step in the explanation process.

LeFever writes that explanation tells you how to do something and why it makes sense. The text details how to assess audience understanding, how to decide which information to include, and how to determine where to start. LeFever emphasizes the role of empathy in explanations, which are intended to increase understanding and build confidence in the listeners. He also notes the importance of identifying the big ideas and having clear intentions, as well as the value of including both facts and stories in presenting information. Clear examples throughout the book and creative diagrams help readers solve their own explanation problems while walking through the steps of the process.

The Art of Explanation is highly recommended across disciplines, and any librarian who has written a research guide, taught an instruction session, or even wanted to improve the quality of reference services they provide will find great value in this work.