Summer Library Challenge: Library Storytime

 This week’s challenge: “I wanted to share some stories about my library experiences and I’d like for you to do so as well.”

This post is a little bit as I didn’t finish it up before I went to the lake this weekend. I wasn’t sure what to write about, but over the weekend I remembered an assignment I had in my first year of university. I wrote a short autobiography about the role of reading and writing in my life. Of course, the library has played a huge role! Here are my earliest library memories, which I wrote about in my assignment: 
When I was two and a half, my favourite outing was to the library. I went with my mom at least once every three weeks when the books were due. There were two blue laundry baskets filled with books in the kid’s section at the [Local] Library.  One of the baskets was filled with books by Beatrix Potter. I would make my mom sit in one of tiny plastic chairs around the tiny plastic table and then I would go over to the Beatrix Potter basket. I would pile up the books and then rearrange them and then pile them up again. If I got bored, I would go look at the books on the kid-sized shelves. Then I would go back to stacking up the Beatrix Potter books. I was very possessive of that blue basket. I would put my arms around the basket if another kid tried to come near it. I wasn’t mean or rude, though. If somebody really wanted a book, I would pick one out for them and give it to them. I just wouldn’t let them near my basket of books. Sitting by that basket is the earliest memory I have. How fitting that the memory would be about books.
The thing about the Beatrix Potter books is that my mom told me I could only take out two at a time because that was a rule the library had. This was a rule I didn’t like much, but I believed it to be real until I was eight years old and my little sister started taking out Beatrix Potter books (I was far too old for Beatrix Potter at that point). I told her she was only allowed to take out two, but then my mom laughed at me and told me that was a rule she had just made up because she didn’t like reading them to me (She would get my grandma to read them. I should clarify that my mother is very supportive of my reading and writing habits. She just didn’t like Beatrix Potter very much). Even though I was too old for Beatrix Potter, I was still upset that at one point my mom had limited the number of books I was allowed to take out.
Around the time when I was reading Beatrix Potter books, my mother began taking me to a reading group. I can very distinctly recall not enjoying that activity at all. I didn’t see why I had to go into a room full of people and have someone else read a story to me and all those people. I would rather sit with a book on my own and read it, thank-you very much. I never talked during reading group. I didn’t tell my mom I never enjoyed going until I was much older, too old for reading group.
In kindergarten we went to the [Other Local] Library for a field trip. I didn’t have a library card and I thought I wouldn’t be able to take out any books. I cried. Luckily my mom was a volunteer for this field trip and she hurriedly explained to me that I could a sign up for a library card right then and there. I stopped crying and cheerfully signed out a handful of books.


Summer Library Challenge: Survey

 This week’s challenge: “We should learn more about each others’ libraries! I have a fun survey, feel free to pick as many or as little questions to answer and include some images of your library if you like as well!”

  1. What’s the name of your library and how close is it to where you live?
    • My public library has 20 branches. The branch I visit most frequently is the head branch, which is not close to where I live, but it’s downtown on my bus route and right near my university. The building was renovated and expanded in 2005. It’s four stories and has a massive wall of windows. The park renovation was completed in 2012. It’s a great place to hang out at!
    •  My library has a great Flickr account but they don’t allow sharing of photos. Click here to see photos of the head branch (I think it’s a very cool building!)
  2. How frequently do you go to the library?
    •  At least once a week, if only for a short while. I make afternoon trips, to sit and read and browse and write, at least once a month.
  3. What is the first section you normally go to when you get to the library?
    •  If I have some time to spend,  I’ll go up to the fourth floor to non-fiction. I’ll read or write or browse up there, then I’ll pick up specific books on my way out or browse fiction/children’s on the way out. If I’m only in for a quick trip, I either pick up holds or go straight to fiction to pick up whatever I’m looking for.
  4. Share a link to your library’s webpage. How often do you use it and what for?
    • Library webpage
    • I don’t use the webpage too often (unless you include searching the catalogue – I do that every day!), but when I do it’s to look up information on programs or events.
  5. Does your library have a summer reading program for your age group? Do you participate and why or why not?
    •  Not for my age group. My library participates in the TD Summer Reads program, which is for school-aged children.
  6. What is one thing you can think of that would make your library better?
    •  Tough question! The library already has nearly everything I could ask for. Personally, I would like more specialized books on Tolkien 😉
  7. Does your library have a self checkout station and do you use it more than the circulation clerks?
    •  Yes. I rarely use the self checkout, unless there’s a large line and I’m hurrying to catch a bus. I often see people line up at a checkout clerk even if the self checkout is not being used. I wonder why that it is?
    • EDIT: From reading other people’s posts, it sounds like at other libraries the people who run the checkout desks do other things at well. At my library, there’s always someone sitting there. They don’t do anything other than sign out your books, so if you take your books to the person, you’re not preventing them from other tasks.
  8. What programs have you attended or thought of attending at your library?
    • When I was very little, my parents took me to story time. 
    • Recently I attended a presentation on tombstones given by the local genealogical society, and a dance performance specially choreographed for the steps of the library.
    • In the past I have also attended readings and presentations as part of the local writers festival.
    • There is always so much happening at my library. I hope to attend more events as part of this challenge.
  9. Do you have family that utilizes the library with you? Who is your “library buddy”?
    •  My family does use the library occasionally, but not often with me anymore. They visit the branch close to home, while I pop over to the downtown branch before or after classes. I do have a ‘library buddy’, though! I used to always see a coworker out of the blue when I went to the library. Now neither of us work at that place anymore, but we make plans to meet at the library and catch up.
  10. What is the best thing about your library?
    •  The books, of course! I should also say the architecture, as I know I will also miss the beautiful building with its high ceilings and many rows of shelves and huge windows.

Armchair BEA: Wrap-up (incl. Giveaway Winner)

Here we are at the end of ArmchairBEA. This week went by in a whirlwind. I hadn’t decided to participate until last Saturday, just before the week kicked off. I don’t want to get caught in too many blogger events, but since I haven’t participated in any events focused primarily on connecting with the community I thought this would be a good event for me. I was correct! I have discovered so many great bloggers/blogs I don’t know how I would have found otherwise, and I have gained new followers here, on Twitter, and on GoodReads. Thank-you so so much to everyone who has taken the time to come visit and encourage my fledgling blog! Please feel free to add me on GoodReads and follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. 

I participated in four Twitter chats (Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday). I won two prizes (both from Friday – one Twitter party, one topic 5). I wrote six posts specifically for Armchair BEA:

  1. Monday: Introduction
  2. Tuesday: Author Interaction
  3. Wednesday: Novellas/Short Stories
  4. Thursday: Giveaway
  5. Friday: Middle Grade
  6. Saturday: This one

Giveaway Winner

The winner of my giveaway is Kai @ Fiction State of Mind. She wins the Best American Comics 2011. Thank-you to everyone who stopped by my blog and participated! I enjoyed reading all your comments – now I’m off to reply to them.

Armchair BEA: Middle Grade

I almost didn’t have time to write this post, since I had an essay due to today, but I’m squeezing it in! I’d like to share some of my favourite books I discovered when I was in grade five, books that I still love rereading today. I wonder today if children still read these? They are classics to me. All of these books I first saw in the Scholastic Book Order – undoubtedly the best part of school! I keep all of these books together on a shelf (along with…), which I call the first best reads shelf.

 Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke

As a dedicated reader, I was enthralled with Inkheart. I especially loved Eleanor’s library and was heartbroken at what happens to it. I always loved that the books felt grown-up and not at all dumme down. I liked that they dealt with cruel villains who were still humain, and ordinary family conflicts that no one likes to acknowledge. I liked that parts of the stories were told from the adult’s point of view. I loved everything there is to love about a book – the settings, the characters, the prose, the story, the book design. My hardcover trilogy is very precious to me!

Book 1
Book 2
Book 3

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

I’m not sure why I decided to read Artemis Fowl because I don’t think I would pick it up today if someone described it to me. But I am so glad I did, because I adore these books. They are so much fun. I thought they were clever and both serious and funny, in just the right amount of each. I loved the twist on fairies, though I would scoff at it now if you described it to me (I generally like my fairies done more traditionally). I love picking up the first book for a quick read whenever I start to feel a bit bored.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Oh, what is there to say about ASOUE? I loved the prose and the narration style. Lemony Snicket is a fantastic character himself, as are all the others. Count Olaf truly creeps me out in the first book, though I found him more comic as the series went on (I was in tears at the last book, though!). I loved the relationship between the Baudelaires and how smart they were, and how they grew throughout the books. I liked how there was little romance. Of course, I loved the “a word which here means…” convention. My favourite book is The Hostile Hospital. I reread all of the books last year and I thought they were even better than before. I think there’s a lot more to pick up on when you’re older. I have the 13 books stacked vertically on my shelf and I think they look very fine. They were examples of book design done well!

The last book out of these three series was released The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl #8) in July 2012. I remember taking a solemn moment to consider that, wondering if I should be sad.  I decided not to be, because you can always reread a great book! I’m still on the hunt for books that excite me as much as these ones do. I loved each of the Inkheart and ASOUE books but I found AF decline after the fifth book. I wonder if that’s because I outgrew them? (Though I doubt it – I think the stories got sillier and the romance was out of place. Also I miss the original cover designs D:) But I still love rereading the first three! (The fourth is too sad to be reread often).

What were your favourite books from when you were young? Or, what are your favourite middle grade reads now?

Armchair BEA: Novellas/Short Stories


Now that I own an iPad, I’ve been paying more attention to novellas. I like the idea of spending a dollar to easily pick up a quick read by a beloved author. A few weeks ago I reviewed three novellas by some of my favourite authors (Catherynne M. Valente, Rhiannon Paille, and Neal Shusterman) that filled in gaps in their series. I think this is a great use of the novella form. An author can now easily share pieces of a story that might not ever have been published. I saw a tweet where someone dismissed these types of novellas as marketing ploys. While I don’t doubt that they are in part attempts to capitalize on an author’s popularity, I think they can still be valuable stories for the invested reader. I think these three authors I’ve cited, at least, have their reader’s best interests at heart. Valente’s story, for example, was available for free online before it became an eBook. Paille and Shusterman’s stories fill in crucial information that addresses readers who wonder “But what about…”, thus making the main novels in their series more enjoyable. I will definitely keep an eye out for more of these ‘filler’ novellas from authors I enjoy in the future.

Short Stories

I don’t read as many short stories as I would like to. I can think of three collections that I own- Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors and Paul Glennon’s The Dodecahedron. I read a collection last year by Theodora Goss (In the Forest of Forgetting) that I enjoyed. What each of these collections have in common is that they tell fantastical stories, providing glimpses into unusual worlds, sharing enough to intrigue the reader while leaving enough questions unanswered to ignite the reader’s imagination. The Dodecahedron stands out because all the stories are interlinked in mind-bending ways (this review on GoodReads explains the connections). I would love to read more collections like these ones, where the stories told make good use of the short story form.