Almost 5 years ago, Estelle & Magan met at a wedding — where M was the photographer and E was a bridesmaid for her best friend's big day. We talked about books for under five minutes, and a friendship was born.
Since then, we’ve shared our love of books, Zac Efron, and shopping on this blog, changed jobs, had babies, moved, visited DC and Disney World together, and constantly stayed connected -- despite the miles between us. RBR has been the our own version of a coffee date, our way to mark the time before we can hang out and gab in person again. Thanks for spending time with us. xoxo
Welcome to the 11th month of the Dive into Diversity challenge! Rebecca and I can hardly believe we are just about done, but here we are. In the last sparkly original post, I’m piggybacking off some feelings I’ve had lately — how the general public who doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging out in the online book community or reading Publishers Weekly is finding out about the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Of course, I immediately think of librarians who work tirelessly to stock their libraries with books their community wants to read, recommend titles when asked, and make everyone feels welcome.
So I asked a few librarians to answer some questions on their jobs and how the diversity campaign has essentially affected how they do their job. Did they feel like the people who aren’t invested in these book/publishing bubbles were knew what was going on? What about the future? I hope you enjoy their insights and give you a little taste into DIVERSITY IN THE REAL WORLD.
Eden has been a young adult librarian in Kentucky for 3 years. @edenjeangrey
(Diverse) books and authors have you been recommending this year: Mostly books about mental illness, like Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.
On how to connect the campaign with patrons: I feel that customizing and tailoring your individual approach to diversity in library collections and services is crucial – just promoting diversity in general isn’t going to accomplish as much. Take time to determine what diversity means for our community, your service area, and your patrons, and work according to their identities and needs.
Bookish has been a librarian for 8 years. She has previously worked in college admissions and as a middle school teacher. @bookish & her blog.
On what’s changed since the WNDB campaign became “mainstream”: When I first got into librarianship, if I brought up the need for diversity in YA or kidlit, I’d get uncomfortable silences on listservs and in conversations. Only a few brave souls would answer. There was a deafening silence from the rest. Now that the WNDB campaign is more “mainstream,” many more people are willing to at least listen to the need for diversity.
(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Grace Lin, Zetta Elliott, Jacqueline Woodson, Neesha Meminger, Yuyi Morales, Uma Krishnaswami, Mitali Perkins, Janine Macbeth, Misako Rocks, books published by Lee & Low press, Corduroy, the list goes on and on and on!
Patrons and their quest for change: Young parents of color…are keenly aware that they didn’t get to see themselves accurately and genuinely reflected in books as they were growing up, but that they want their kids to have this important connection to literature, in a visceral way. This generation of parents of color are already clamoring for books that represent their lives, their realities, so that they can share these with their children.
On what needs to happen next: …this push for diversity is mistaken as needing to be fulfilled by getting already well-known mainstream white writers to write diverse characters into their books. Don’t get me wrong; this trend is definitely a step in the right direction, for the most part. But what would be WAY more heartening is to see publishers taking chances on a LARGE number of first-time writers of color, to allow the diverse stories to be told through diverse authorial voices.
Pamela lives in Wisconsin and has been a Youth Services Librarian since 2013. @PamelaJean0 & her blog.
Since WNDB how her book ordering has changed: Instead of ordering, say, 4 copies of a book by a popular author, I have diversified my collections by purchasing only 1 copy of a popular book and then using the remaining funds to buy new books that showcase diversity.
(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy; George by Alex Gino; Princeless by Jeremy Whitley; Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, always and forever. <3
How the word can spread even more: Merchandising. Teens love free stuff, especially if it’s LEGALLY free (ha!). The acronym itself would be intriguing if teens didn’t know what it was. And if we can turn it into an identifying rallying cry, like DFTBA? (Editor’s not: I had to look this up. Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.) Then that’s it. Maybe vlogging, snap chatting — whatever social media the teens are on, we need to be there too.
Librarians are some of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE and I’m so glad to spotlight some of them today and hear about their experiences. There are so many layers to this campaign, and I wish I could have featured even more people because I love to be nosey and see how all of this is rolling in the real world. That being said, if you are a librarian, who has tips, tricks, and thoughts to share about the WNDB campaign — please feel free to do so below. Can’t wait to hear from you! Happy Tuesday, and happy almost Thanksgiving!
I’m giddy with excitement to present my first HOLIDAY POST OF 2015. Whew! I’ve been preparing for this for twelve months. Well, kind of. We have about a week to go before Thanksgiving so I thought it was safe to talk about holiday romances. (I swear on Santa’s sleigh I’ve only listened to two Christmas carols so far — one accidentally.) With the end of year getting super busy with presents, parties, and good cheer, there’s nothing like relaxing with a quick read that keeps you interested and relaxes you. (They are especially great when paired with sparkly wine or some hot cocoa.)
First, a glimpse at the two I’ve sampled so far:
Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller (9/29 from HQN Books): Charlotte is back home in Mustang Creek for good, and she’s surprised to find her ex, Jaxon, there too. The surprises don’t stop coming with the mysterious Mrs. Klozz, who has been taking care of Charlotte’s ailing aunt. For a cute story about second chances and true holiday magic, Christmas in Mustang Creek is sweet and sure to get you in the mood for a beautiful home cooked meal with only the best sweets. (Seriously, the menu in this book is fit for royalty.)
Evergreen Springs by RaeAnne Thayne (9/29 by HQN Books): A single dad with two kids; a doctor who is so used to taking care of everyone else that sometimes she forgets about herself. This is what holiday dreams are made of. Cole and Devin have that opposites attract vibe, and this story is so much about how the spirit of the holidays uplifts the most downtrodden. I love how the town of Haven Point bands together to help their own (even those least likely to be joiners), the holiday traditions (peppermint cotton candy!), and the all around kindness expressed in this book. It’s everything I’d want a holiday romance to be — complete with a hot spring and a tree from the middle of the woods.
Just checking in to say hello and hope you are well after a horrific past few days, and some unexpectedly unexpected things going on here. It’s like every time I turn around, the month has gotten farther and farther away from me. I mean, next week is THANKSGIVING. And then officially the holiday season. I really need a dose of good will toward people and an extra wave of cheerfulness — and I know I’m not alone in that. So. Bring it on, already.
I officially finished my #30DaysofYoga challenge on Sunday afternoon, and it was surprisingly emotional for me. I’m still not sure why. I wasn’t feeling particularly weepy or anything (what a surprise) but I think I realized how much a relief yoga has been during these stressful few weeks. It may have taken me longer than I thought (a month and a half) but still, I stuck with it and I feel good about this accomplishment. I’ve realized in the past few months that these little missions I have been giving myself really keep me agile and present in life, and I want to keep feeling that way. There’s always work to be done. So for now, I’ll be continuing with Adriene’s videos for my evening work outs. (I really need a new yoga mat; suggestions please!)
Hm. What else has been going on? Not too, too much. My husband and I started watching Jane the Virgin, and Master of None recently and I’m enjoying both a lot. (We are almost done with the last season of Last Man Standing available on Netflix and that’s always a bummer. We speed through those episodes so quickly!) I watched a strange movie with Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks last week where they are half-siblings but he doesn’t tell her and she starts to fall in love with him? No. It was too weird for me. (For reference, it was People Like Us.) I also made a butternut squash mac and cheese, and pumpkin chili. (One of my other November goals is to cook four new meals; checked off that one.)
As for reading: I finished The Trouble With Density (12/8) by Lauren Morrill the other day, and thought it was a hoot — a marching band on a cruise ship trying to win prize money with a ton of hijinks. And as my middle grade kick continues, My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando was a speedy read about Kate, a girl who is very unhappy about her parent’s financial problems and their decision to sell their beloved house. This week, I’m working through some library books with All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brandon Kiely and my first Amy Reed book: Invincible.
Hey, it’s a new week and a new month! I’m back here again with this stream of consciousness Monday thing. But, of course, it’s Sunday and I’m cooking a meat pie (just call me Mrs. Lovett) and getting ready to settle in for sports and Walking Dead (which we have all been pining away for, right?). Last week, I was all like OMG IT’S GOING TO BE NOVEMBER and now IT’S REALLY NOVEMBER. So that’s something to deal with — along with trying to avoid the red cups at Starbucks because I don’t want to RUSH the holiday season as much as I love, love, love it. (I ordered an iced coffee today and didn’t get the cup. It’s all okay. Whew.)
Last week, I shared that I’m working on #30DaysofYoga. Tomorrow, I jump into Day 20, and I wanted to share this FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD motto from Adriene. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Not only when I “go to the mat” (yoga speak makes me legit, right?) but so much of this year feels like it was FIND WHAT FEELS GOOD until I could define it with four words. Unfortunately, making this happen might mean a lot of bad feelings. My friend has told me repeatedly that turning 30 is really tough. You find out a lot about yourself, your friendships, and it’s like starting all over again in some ways. But then once you get through it, it’s (mostly) smooth sailing and you’ll be so thankful you went through the “terrible” 30.
In many ways, 30 has been complicated. With James still in school most of the time and living on one salary, it’s a little like we were college kids all over again. (But with wisdom!) And maybe it’s my own disappointment that (snap!) things don’t automatically feel settled just because he graduated and passed the bar (hooray!). If anything, this feels like the most challenging year for me personally and our marriage. I don’t think a lot of people share how challenging marriage is OUT LOUD (unless you are reading the amazing A Practical Wedding) but it is. It brings me zero shame to say that because I know we are constantly working on making each other happy (together and separately) and it really makes me THAT much more present in my life, and aware of all the feelings. (That’s kind of my thing anyway.)
My life isn’t ALL about marriage but hey, when this is the person you come home to each and every day — happy, sad, angry, lonely, proud, enthused — you want to make sure you put a lot of work into making that foundation strong and tough and comfortable in a way where you can be yourself and everything feels like a possibility. No walls. Maybe a little resistance but you know, compromise and sacrifice are also two factors of this union. And two I’m probably never going to completely master.
The point is FINDING WHAT FEELS GOOD takes work and dedication and also WANT. You have to want to feel good to be willing to drop the things that don’t, to let go of what obviously isn’t wanting you anymore. Making room for the people who love you even when you aren’t perfect and always available; and for those activities that give you room to grow and learn new things about the world around you and yourself. Maybe it’s a lot more about forgiveness than I thought.
Ah, this took a serious turn for a Monday but I guess the moral of my story is feel good? It really makes a difference, even if it’s a process. Now to some other things…
What I’m reading: I’m on a middle grade kick and read Finding Someplaceby Denise Lewis Patrick — about a young girl in the midst of Hurricane Katrina and how it affects her home, her family, and everything after that. SO GOOD. I was crying all over the place while reading it. I’m almost halfway through The Thing about Jellyfishby Ali Benjamin; another emotional story about a middle school girl dealing with the loss of her best friend. I can tell this book is going to be a special one.
What I’m looking forward to this week: Seeing the PEANUTS movie. (Seriously, I am obsessed and cannot cannot wait.) Strangely, I’m also going to my first concert in forever but mostly for the Broadway aspect of it: Sara Bareilles is singing songs from her new musical (based on a favorite film of mine) Waitress. Also: I’m going to start some holiday card lists. I need to get organized this year!
I borrowed the title of this post from a Selena Gomez song (Hands to Myself). I’ve been obsessed with new releases from her and Demi Lovato lately. They are both sexy and confident and strong, and both new albums reflect that. I’m not sure how natural of a segway this is into ROMANCE NOVELS but I’m going to pretend it was seamless. I finished a heavy-ish book the other night (I Crawl Through It by A.S. King) and I already felt my brain begging me to jump into a romance next. I’m still sorting through what’s next but before then I wanted to make sure I talked about a few of the others I’ve read recently. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of the romance roundups.
Hold Me by Susan Mallery (Harlequin HQN/April 28, 2015): It’s always a comfort to head back to Fool’s Gold and the most memorable part of diving into Hold Me was the sister relationship forming between Destiny and her half-sister, Starr. Being that Destiny had an unstable upbringing, she doesn’t have much confidence in her “parenting” skills as her sister’s guardian for the summer and I liked watching them figure each other yet. It can’t be easy for someone like Destiny who is so used to jumping from one job to the next to help someone she barely knows feel settled. Despite the sister storyline, we have Destiny and and Kipling — a guy who is ready to settle in Fool’s Gold for good and even opens a bar for “the men”. (Um, this lead to some very, very funny scenes.) Their relationship was very unconventional as far as Mallery’s usually go and while I definitely enjoyed it, a little more growth and built would have made their pairing more solid for me. Always worth checking out what Mallery is up to. I can’t wait for the Christmas book!!
Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl (Harlequin HQN/July 28, 2015): In my eyes, Dahl can do no wrong. In Taking the Heat, she pairs a hunky male librarian and an advice columnist (confident on the outside and the opposite inside) together. I loved reading about Veronica answering notes from those who needed help, and how Gabe’s gig at the library was so much about improving the tech aspects of the place. From the tiniest details, Dahl concentrates so much on the backstories of her characters, making everything that much more enjoyable to read and even sexier when this couple starts to get closer. I always know to expect major sizzle in every single book she writes. Taking the Heat was no exception. And not only are the two characters trying to navigate their feelings for each other, both are in a position where they need to find the strength to stand up to their parents about where they want their life to go. So relatable, and so so great.
Willow Brook Road by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin MIRA/ September 29, 2015): My first book from Sherryl Woods, and while the romance aspect was great, I adored the family dynamics and main character Carrie’s motivation to find her life’s passion and go for it. Woods takes the small town gossip to a whole new level with the huge O’Brien family (who practically runs the town) and new guy Sam Winslow cannot escape their matchmaking or their friendly (really!) advice. The author also touches on pregnancy difficulties and adoption in another plotline. I liked having this parallel of a marriage facing difficulties and we read about Sam and Carrie getting closer. Willow Brook Road may favor sweet over sexy but it was certainly fun to read.
Back in December, Hannah from So Obsessed With and I decided to start a laidback feature where we introduce each other to favorite books of our childhood and joint read another. Well, we have certainly taken the laidback part of this feature to a whole new level. (Let’s blame a broken computer, summer, and life!) That being said, yay for the next installment of You Make Me Feel So Young. (Have you seen the new Geico commercial where they sing this song?)
Memories Are Made of This: All I remember about reading this book when I was itty-bitty was that I devoured it — which is a little shocking because books with very little dialogue and so, so much nature are not really my thing now.
Second Time Around: I couldn’t stop thinking about how Island of Blue Dolphins was a precursor to dystopians like The Hunger Games. This young girl is forced to find ways to survive for herself, and all alone — not for a game, not for the entertainment/punishment of the government. (I’m sure I would fee this way about Lord of the Flies too.) That being said, I forgot how sad and quiet this book was. It was, though, remarkable to watch her drive build up even during the darkest times. Yay for a strong female lead.
You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: I would have no problem with my future children picking this book up, but my one fear is that dystopians are canceling out classics like this one. (I don’t have anything to back this statement up but I could see why kids want to pick up a shiny cover over something like this.) Otherwise, I can definitely see this book looking so well in not only a lit class but how about a history as well?
Do You Know Why? “When I was talking to Estelle about the books of my childhood, I realized that many of my favorites are classics. But which one was I going to make her read? Since our discussion was initially taking place during the spring, I wanted to choose a book that fit the season. And that’s what inspired The Secret Garden! Mary Lennox (who truly is “quite contrary” in the beginning) experiences so much growth, which makes this book a great character-driven read. I was hoping Estelle would be transported by the magic of the story!” — Hannah
Can’t You Just See Yourself: I am the worst at reading classics. I always promise myself it will happen, and nope nope nope. I avoid it a lot. I’m so mad at myself for waiting to read The Secret Garden (for the record, my old coworker lent me her copy 2 years ago and that’s the copy I read for this project). It started off a little slow especially because Mary was such a brat (not surprised) and then really picked up as she fell in love with her freedom outside and all the possibilities at Misselthwaite Manor.
I Give You My Word: Definitely a book I would pass along to the future kids of the world. I can only imagine the discussions of literary devices, symbolism, and even art projects that could supplement the reading of The Secret Garden.
Before the Music Ends: My mission for you: find a beautiful version of this book and read it as soon as you can. Though some of the dialogue hasn’t aged as graciously with time, it’s a delightful read about many different walks of life finding second chances and blossoming once again. I’m so glad Hannah convinced me to read it. (Now I’m ready to read The Little Princess!)
What’s the last book you picked out of your “vintage” bookshelf?