Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

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Librarians are Resources!

My assignment for yesterday was to bring a picture book of my choice that was published within the last five years, along with 6 assigned picture books, to my Writing for Children class. To prepare for class, I went to my local branch of the Boston Public Library. The children's librarian there is very helpful for students of all ages. She is a Simmons grad and loves working at the library with the youngest patrons. This is just one example of how everywhere I go in the Boston Public Library - whichever branch I visit - I find a Simmons grad. Hoping to utilize the expertise of the librarian, I told her that I needed an exemplary picture book written in the last five years. I was hoping for a book that could teach me about a picture book's narrative structure. 

The children's librarian searched for notable picture books from 2018, and suggested A Perfect Day by Lane Smith: a hilarious book inspired by animals visiting the author and illustrator's backyard. Knowing I had a knowledgeable children's librarian to help me made this assignment feel so much easier. I went home that night to read my seven picture books. In reading the books, I found my notes from LIS 481: Library Collections & Materials super helpful. Looking back at these notes made understanding the context of the words with the illustrations much easier. Because there are some SLIS students who are dually enrolled in the LIS and Children's Literature degrees, many courses pair together or cover similar concepts.

Going into class yesterday, I knew that only one other student in my Writing for Children class was also in the SLIS program. Many of my classmates shared that they had struggled with finding a picture book published within the last 5 years for this class. Reflecting, it seemed like I was the only student who went straight to the children's librarian to ask for help. I did this because a strong knowledge of the collection and reader's advisory (i.e. recommending materials) are necessary skills for a children's librarian. I went into class yesterday with A Perfect Day on my desk, and my writing professor immediately recognized the book as a well-written story for kids. Now that I've spent a few hours reading through my LIS 481 notes and reading picture books, I think maybe it is time for me to write my own draft of a picture book! 


Children's Literature | Classes | Librarians | SLIS | reading

Referencing Spook

I recently moved from circulation up to reference at the Watertown Free Public Library where I work! It was interning at the reference desk at my local public library in college that sparked my desire to be a librarian in the first place, so it felt a bit like coming home! It's already been fun to help people that I recognize from working in circ with some of their more in depth questions.  

My first shift on desk (after my training) was Wednesday night, and I was able to help patrons with flyer making, provided information on literacy classes, completed some reader's advisory, and updated some bib records. But my favorite thing by far was getting to design a book display! Whenever I do displays, I make sure to showcase the voices of authors of color and of various gender alignments. Displays are a chance to recommend books -- even to people who don't engage with you at the reference desk -- and a fun challenge!

I wanted to create something spooky, but not overtly Halloween-like, as we are only a few weeks into October.  The sign is a little bit difficult to make out, so above is a copy of what the flyer looks like. 

A few books I compiled for the display and recommend: 

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado (a favorite) 

The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg 

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (creepiest book I've ever read -- cw for assault) 

The Cask of Amontillado and other works by Edgar Allan Poe 

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys 

Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal 

Feel free to pop into the library to come say "Hi!" or to check out some ghoulish or ghastly books from my display!


Books | Fun | Librarians | SLIS | reading

Book Bound in Boston

Perks of living in Boston and being a library school student: meeting famous children's/YA authors. Just a couple weeks ago, my Writing for Children professor ended class early so a couple students can go meet Rainbow Rowell at Brookline Booksmith. Rowell is the author of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Carry On! About a week ago, Brown Girl Dreaming author Jacqueline Woodson was at Harvard Book Store, and then last Saturday, they hosted R.J. Palacio. If that name doesn't sound familiar, R.J. Palacio is the mastermind behind the Wonder books, and is known for her character Augie Pullman.

Before I was able to meet R.J., I had the privilege of meeting six authors at an amazing awards ceremony and reception for the Horn Book hosted at our very own Simmons University. My Writing for Children professor had strongly encouraged us to attend last Friday, and I'm am so glad she did! While I met so many amazing authors, I unfortunately wasn't able to meet Angie Thomas, the famous woman behind The Hate U Give. Although I didn't get to meet Thomas, her proxy read out loud a pretty dope acceptance speech. On the positive side, I was able to meet so many amazing people at this awards ceremony. I was privileged to meet an American hero, hear a young girl give an acceptance speech for her dad, and talk to a first generation Iranian-American about our shared experience of having immigrant parents. 

Horn Book Awards.JPGThe American hero is Jo Ann Allen Boyce, a 78-year-old woman who desegregated her high school in Clinton, Tennessee. The young girl was the daughter of Jarrett Krosoczka, author of Hey, Kiddo. Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel memoir that tells of Jarrett's not very happy childhood, and this book won the 2019 The Boston Globe Horn Book Award honor book for nonfiction. The smile on this girl's face when she was signing her father's books after her acceptance speech was so beautiful - I am willing to bet that someday this girl will be a prolific author. Lastly, Abid Khorram won the Fiction & Poetry Horn Book Honor Award for Darius The Great is Not Okay. When I went to meet Abid after the awards, I shared with him how this book spoke to my personal experiences, as I had gone to visit my family in India when I was 10. Throughout the whole book, I related to the main character Darius. The book is so fun to read! Laughing about long-distance calls to our family abroad with Abid made me feel like I truly connected with this celebrity as a friend and peer - such a magical moment. 

Meeting Abid Khorram.JPGAs if meeting all those celebrities at the Horn Book Awards Friday night was not enough, that Saturday afternoon I went to meet R.J. Palacio at Brookline Booksmith. Brookline Booksmith is an amazing independent bookshop in Brookline. This bookshop has famous authors visiting just about every week. R.J. Palacio gave an enthralling talk about writing, how she gets her ideas, her mission to bring more compassion into the world using books, and how she is open to writing YA. Meeting her after the talk was a wonderful moment. R.J. was so kind. I got the White Bird graphic novel signed for my little cousins and the book Wonder signed for a friend in Galway, Ireland. If my week proves anything, it's that living in Boston - especially going to school at Simmons - there is never a shortage of opportunities to meet famous children's/YA authors. 

RJ Palacio at Brookline Booksmith.JPG

Books | Events | SLIS | YA Literature | reading

Lots of Reading

   I was very busy this past weekend getting readings done, and my first written assignment for my YA Library Collections class was due on Wednesday. The assignment was to read a Young Adult book. Figuring out what is Young Adult is the hard part. I went to talk to my local children's librarian at the neighborhood branch of the Boston Public Library, and she showed me her recommendations for good YA books in the collection. Sitting down with the pile of books, it was hard to choose just one. Instead, I chose to read one for the assignment and bring two other books home to read later. Spending all weekend reading Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina was quite fun, especially when you can lounge in the library's comfy chair. But after reading that, I realized I have another task to do. Peggy_Books1.JPG

   When I was in the library this weekend, I saw a teen hanging out in the adult section and the teen section. I asked her to show me what books she likes to read on the shelves, which got her very excited. She showed me a few different authors that I didn't recognize, and it was nice to see this teenage girl so excited about reading. I then told her I am plotting an outline of a YA story for my Writing for Children class. Sometimes it is the little things that remind us why we are going into a career, for me, serving library patrons.

  Monday afternoon, I went off to Simmons' Boston campus to work on a project in the SLIS Tech Lab. This project is something I wanted SCIRRT to do for Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week ended today, and it is a week to celebrate the banned books in America. To recognize Banned Books Week, I did research on banned books from around the world. Printing out trivia questions about different countries, I scattered these fun facts on colored paper all around the SLIS Lounge. My goal in doing this project is to promote diversity and awareness of how books are censored in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.


Classes | SLIS | reading

Moving on to Fall

 This week was fairly uneventful, as all I did was read teen books and sneeze a lot. I really enjoy this program in SLIS! All my assigned readings are really fun, and I never thought homework in grad school would be fun. The only hard part about being slammed with so much homework is I woke up on Monday with the sniffles. The sniffles are really no fun, especially when a sore throat follows a day or two later. Lots of naps this week with the sniffles, but by next week I should be back to Loretta's for line dancing.

  For my Young Adult class, I am evaluating trends in publishing. It is so interesting, and makes my course seem so relevant to the profession I will be going into in about a year. The critical texts we read correspond with the assigned young adult books we read, which is really nice.

 In my other class, I have a lot of textbook readings about story structure. I've always loved writing, so I don't mind all the reading - as dense as it is. This week was the first big writing assignment for the Writing for Children class, and I feel so lucky to be taking a class with MFA students in the Simmons Children's Literature program. Simmons has blessed me with two wonderful programs of courses and one degree that will lead to a future career in school libraries (and writing children's books during the summer).

   This is the last weekend of summer before the fall weather comes. I've already brought out the gourds and apple cider, but I guess that fall will have to wait until Tuesday. My weekend plans are ice cream at Abbott's frozen custard in Brighton, a picnic in a park (a lovely pond in Brighton) with fellow SLIS school library friends, and lots of studying. Looking forward to summer weather this weekend, but not so much the studying. 

SLIS | classes | reading

It's LIT!

The truth is, sometimes I think of myself as a 'bad librarian' for how few books I've read in the past year! It may even be less that I'm not living up to the librarian stereotypes, and more because I feel like I'm missing a piece of myself! In middle and high school (especially over the summer), I would read two or three books a week. College kind of killed my reading bug. I'd find it almost impossible to read for pleasure after 200-some pages of theory, so Netflix it was! I had high hopes that the ease of reading would fly back to me post-graduation, but that was not the case! One book. I read one book! ALL SUMMER! After Karin Slaughter's thrilling but terrifying Pretty Girls (highly recommend), I was overcome with moving to Boston, making my first apartment home, and finding a tribe. Kicking off grad school meant more prescribed reading, three jobs, and more exhaustion. But even though summer is almost over, I decided I'd had enough. I work at a library for goodness sake, so what's stopping me? 

During my break I bounded upstairs and selected Martin Duberman's Stonewall from a beautiful Pride month display. I'm only a chapter or so into the book, but I'm letting the book swallow me in its pages. While working the Children's desk, Natasha Slee and Cynthia Kittler's Planet Fashion: 100 Years of Fashion History caught my eye. It may have started with a children's book, but I'm finally remembering how to read for fun! David Wong's John Dies at the End also grabbed my attention, along with The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I usually only consume fantasy in visual forms, so I'm excited for the new experienceI may have been a little ambitious grabbing three thick books when my Google calendar is so full, but I have hope that I'm tapping into the joy grade school Katie felt while cracking open a book!

Fun | SLIS | Summer | reading

End of Summer Term, Plus Beach Reads!

It's the last week of summer term!  Yay!  I am almost done with all my work.  I submitted my final project for my Info Sources class, but I am still finishing my final paper for my Management class.  It's a grant proposal and I'm struggling with it.  Grant writing is very different from academic writing.  It needs to be very concise and to the point.  I love to write and play around with words and sentence structure and having to pare down my language has been tough.  I'm focusing on brevity but I'm also worried that I'm not explaining myself enough.  I'm sure there's a sweet spot between too little explanation and too much explanation, but I haven't found it yet and I'm frustrated.  It feels very sparse and cold somehow.  Thankfully I have a solid base written out and I just need to make sure that I'm being addressing all the necessary points.  But grant writing is something that I am probably going to be encountering in my library career, so it's good to practice.  We learned in class that grant writing is a team-oriented process and there are several proofreaders for each grant.  Volunteering to be a proofreader will be a great way to get more familiar with grant writing, and I definitely want to do it, especially since grants can have a significant impact on libraries. 

After I submit all my work for this semester, I'm going on vacation!  In a lovely coincidence, my yearly family vacation in Cape Cod starts right after term ends, and I cannot wait.  I spend most of my time reading at the beach, with my toes in the sand, listening to the sound of the waves.  I usually bring a ton of books, and this year I'm bringing  Louis XIV: the power and the glory by Josephine Wilkinson, Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the fall of Madame X, and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee.  It's an odd assortment for sure, with books about all-powerful royalty, leper colonies in Hawaii, aspiring rap singers, and scandalous artwork.  But I couldn't resist.  I expect to be highly entertained.  And I deserve a break, because I worked really hard this semester.  I am going to enjoy not having any homework to do until September!

Fun | SLIS | Summer | classes | reading

To All the Bookstores I Ever Loved

Now that summer has officially started, I am finding myself with something I almost never have, extra free time! I am interning full-time this summer so I am still busy throughout the day but it is so nice to be able to leave my work at the office and come home and not have to worry about catching up on my assignments or readings for class. So obviously, my conclusion for how to occupy all this new free time is that I can finally start catching up on all my leisure reading. 

This also means I have to make a trip to my favorite bookstore because you can never have too many books. I live pretty close to Brookline, and Coolidge Corner has always been one of my favorite areas to take a stroll and hang out when the weather is nice. The Trader Joe's is there, a great tea shop, a yoga studio (I keep saying I will take a class at one of these weekends), and best of all Brookline Booksmith, (a used and new bookstore.) I have spent many hours in their basement going through their new additions cart of used books.

 My latest trip over to pick up some summer reading though gave me the idea for this post: I want to find all the best local bookstores in Boston!   I'm a creature of habit and once I find a place I like I just frequent them exclusively but now living in a big city that has a lot of options I need to work on broadening my horizons! 

One of the areas I always seem to hang out is Cambridge since my cousin and I are obsessed with a Mexican restaurant there called Felipe's (they have a rooftop and frozen margs, need I say more). So one day when I had enough free time and before meeting up for dinner, I explored the Cambridge area hunting for good bookstores. That is how I stumbled upon some of the best news. Harvard Book Store has an annual summer sale at their warehouse location! So like any avid reader and deal hunter, I planned my whole weekend around attending their sale and it was magical. They had everything new books, old books, popular reads, they even had a sections for older, more rare books! I had to definitely reel myself in on a feel occasions just because I knew I had to carry everything I bought home and it was a long ride home.  It was certainly a workout hauling all of my new finds home but it was well worth it (I even got a coupon to use at their normal storefront!).

With my haul safely home, it goes without saying that I will be quite busy now with all my new books to read this summer. I still have plans to explore other bookshops around Boston this summer, my next one being More than Words Bookstore which is perfectly located near the Sowa Market.

Fun | SLIS | Summer | reading

Book Talk Beats Bed

Sometimes, as a student with a mishmash of jobs and an objectively messed up sleep schedule, it can be hard to find the motivation to go to SLIS events, even if they are right up your alley! This Tuesday was one of those days where I just needed a nap. I was ready to trek to the bus, journey home, and wrap myself in covers. But, at the invitation of my friend Lee, I powered through and ended up at Professor Jeannette Bastian's talk on her new book: Decolonizing the Caribbean Record: An Archives Reader. 

I'm so glad I went! In undergrad I took a slew of courses on colonization in Latin America and Caribbean women writers that changed my entire outlook on life. This event, put on by the Student Chapter of ALA International Relations Round Table (SCIRRT), brought me right back to those amazing classes!

Professor Bastian's background as the Territorial Librarian of the United States Virgin Islands from 1987 to 1998 means that not only is she an expert on the subject, but the collection is near and dear to her heart. Decolonizing the Caribbean Record is a collection "forty essays by archivists and academics within and outside of the Caribbean region that address challenges of collecting, representing, and preserving the records and cultural expressions of former colonial societies, exploring the contribution of these records to nation-building."

As Prof. Bastian told us, this book was inspired by work she completed in 2014 as a part of a UNESCO-funded team for designing a library and information science curriculum for the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, and was meant to serve as a text for the program. The UNESCO team, and by extension this collection, sought to create material that "was sensitive to the cultural heritage of the Caribbean as well as to the archival concerns of a small former colonial islands in tropical climates."

Our book discussion included the 'owning' of memory, and who can lay claim to records, as well as oral traditions and how recorded history (or lack thereof) shapes self image. In a similar vein, we briefly discussed Professor Bastian's 2003 book Owning Memory, How a Caribbean Community Lost Its Archives and Found Its History. I really enjoyed her expansion of the traditional definition of an archival material, asserting that Caribbean carnivals are an archival record in themselves! We also talked about the difficulties and rewards of editing a book, including organizing and bringing together all of the essays, seeking out contributors, and following through on deadlines set for said contributors.

Professor Bastian joked that her 800 page collection was quite a 'door stopper,' but said it's more of an occasional reader that something to binge: you pick it up, read an essay, then put it down for a few months. Maybe I'll write a follow up blog post in a few years when I make my way through this exciting and rich (but somewhat daunting) text! 

Events | Presentations | SLIS | reading

Searching for the Unknown

We are taught early on how to search for information in a library.  You search by author, title, or subject, and find what you need.  But the reality is, it's not always easy to find exactly what you want unless you have a good idea of what you are looking for.  In LIS 415, Information Organization, we completed an assignment where we searched for the word "grey" as author, keyword, and title.  Predictably, the results were numerous and varied, as "grey" is a fairly common word that can be a name or a color.  That assignment gave me a lot to think about.  I use the library a lot, both for school and for myself.  Most of the time I have an author or title in mind when I'm searching, or at least a subject that can narrow down my search.  But how do I search when I don't know what I want?  And more importantly, do I ever search for the unknown?

All these questions came up because of my trip to the Needham Public Library last week.  They had a "Blind Date with a Book" table set up, and it immediately intrigued me.  The books were wrapped in brown paper, with only the keywords taped to the front.  I browsed the table and chose two books.  It was not an easy decision!

Book 1:  Death--Afterlife--Making Amends--China--Ghosts--1920's

Book 2:  Paranormal abilities--search for truth--academic life--rivalry--magazine    editors--past lives--philosophers--aunts--relationships

It was disorienting to search for books using only those identifiers.  I've spent considerable time so far learning about the complexities of categorizing information, and this simple exhibit forced me take a closer look at what exactly that information provided.  Clearly the keywords gave some idea about the book's content, but not about how everything tied together.  Consider Book 2.  How exactly do past lives, paranormal abilities, and (this one makes me laugh) magazine editors relate to each other?  What is the book actually about?  I had no clue, but I wanted to find out.

I don't know if I will like either of these books, but that's not really the point.  The point is that I was open to checking them out and to getting out of my reading comfort zone.  Reading new books is the perfect way to take a risk.  If I don't like a book, I can return it.  But if I love a book, I can discover a whole new world.  The next time I'm at the library, I'm going to take another chance.  Because sometimes not knowing what you want allows you to find just what you need.

For those who are interested, the mystery books were:

Book 1:  Three Souls by Janie Chang

Book 2:  The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

Books | Fun | reading

Fall Beckons!

My penultimate semester at Simmons has begun and the summer is officially over. I'm at this stage of my school journey in which things are beginning to feel very repetitive. Here I am: getting up before 6 am every Saturday, driving the same route to South Hadley, Mass., stopping at the same places for gas and a bite to eat, walking the same paths to familiar classrooms, seeing the same faces, eating the same lunches at the SlIS West office.... This is not to say that there's nothing unique about this semester, just that it's begun to feel very routine.

In many ways, though, this semester is unprecedented. For the first time, both of my kids will be at school for some portion of the day, giving me chunks of dedicated homework time in the mornings. The kids' school schedules force all of us to be up and at 'em fairly early so there will be more discipline and more routine. And I'm starting this semester with more planning, motivation, determination, and better personal organization than ever before. As my program has progressed it's become increasingly important for me to stay on top of my stress and anxiety and manage everything in my life so that the most important things do not get neglected.  

So how am I accomplishing this? First of all, I spent the weeks leading up to this semester organizing everything. My house and my own personal space is cleaner and neater right now than it's been since we moved in. I've attempted to do something similar in my mental space: relaxing, organizing, preparing. All of this has been aided and informed by an amazing book I read called The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin (a neuroscientist). The book explains how the brain receives, organizes, processes, and retrieves information and details various strategies for organizing your home, time, social life, and workplace to maximize your brain's ability to deal with today's information overload. I think it should be required reading for every librarian/aspiring librarian. The author included multiple references to information organization, records management, and devoted a whole section to information literacy.

I've devised a system for managing my time and my schoolwork that should help me stay on track, determine whether I'm spending too much or too little time on things, and recall what I've read all week so I can engage in discussions in class. My archives class has only 6 people in it and is very heavy on readings and discussion...which means none of us will be able to hide if we've slacked off that week! So I'm feeling quite optimistic about this semester and excited for the cooler weather which is clearly on the way. Bring it on Fall!!

Real World | SLIS | SLIS West | reading

The End of Summer

So, I thought that my fall class started next week- I was wrong.  Guess who gets two more weeks of summer?!  That's right, I do!  The students in my class got an email from our professor a few days ago giving us details about the class (LIS 488: Technology for Information Professionals), and it said that our start date is September 11, which means that I get more time before school starts!  Now that I have the syllabus and some more details about the class, I can see that this is going to be different than other online classes that I've had.  There are going to be a few "live sessions" where everyone is online and interacting with each other at the same time, which I'm really looking forward to!  While I've gotten to interact with my classmates during online classes before, it's been mostly through forums, and we reply to each other at our leisure.  With the live sessions (I assume) we will actually be able to see one another and participate like an in-person class.  My fall class is going to be an interesting new adventure, and I'll keep you updated throughout the semester.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do much as the summer has been winding down.  As I mentioned last time, I got surgery last week, and while I'm back at work this week, I've been trying to take it easy and heal.  However, because I have been trying to take it easy, I have been making a pretty good dent in my reading list and my Netflix/Hulu/Amazon queue.  Here's what I'm reading/watching:

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: This comedy-drama series can be found on Amazon Prime and was created by the team that made Gilmore Girls.  It's won a ton of awards and is nominated for 14 Emmy Awards. 
  • Sick by Porochista Khakpour: This memoir is about the tremendous difficulty of chronic illness and the long emotional journey of getting and accepting a diagnosis.  
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I actually read this book last year, but before I got my surgery I was able to see the movie, and I wanted to reread the book.  The book is excellent, as is the movie (in theaters now). 
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: This was recommended to me after I finished Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  It's a historical fiction novel, but it is based on true events. 
  • Brooklyn 99: I was devastated earlier this summer when it was announced that this series had been cancelled, but within about 24 hours it was picked up by NBC for a sixth season.  I've been re-watching the entire series on Hulu. 

I hope that you are enjoying your remaining days of summer break!

Fun | Relaxing | Summer | reading

Summer Has Arrived

Oh my goodness a heatwave has hit Massachusetts!  If summer wasn't here before, it has definitely arrived now.  I must admit, I'm not really a fan of excessively hot and humid weather, and I'm glad that it seems to be cooling down just a bit.  

Because of the heat, I've been trying to stay indoors with my beloved air conditioning as much as possible.  Between work and my summer class, it really has not been difficult.  As I mentioned in my last post, my summer class is online, and we're fitting 14 weeks' worth of material into 8 weeks.  The class is keeping me very busy between the readings and assignments, but I'm really enjoying learning all the new concepts and interacting with my classmates.  We've been learning about information organization, metadata, and as of this week, encoding standards.  I will admit, learning all the new material in the shortened time frame has been a challenge, but it has been an enjoyable one. 

One of the best parts about this class is that there are so many opportunities for discussion.  I will fully admit that when I started at Simmons, I really hesitated at taking online classes because I thought that I would be missing out on the chance to connect with my fellow students, but the experience that I've had at Simmons has shown me that you can have it all.  However, I am planning on taking an in-person class at some point. 

Even though work and my summer class have kept me incredibly occupied, I've tried to manage my time so that I can have some time to relax and unwind.  I'm slowly but surely working my way through a couple of books.  I'm one of those people who reads several books at once, but right now I've limited it to two- The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore and Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.  I highly recommend both of them to anyone who is looking for a good read this summer! 

I hope everyone is having a great summer and is managing to stay cool!  Until next time!

Online | Summer | classes | reading

Books and Adaptations

Hello again! I am back in Boston as of late last night (early this morning) and they weather is gorgeous.  I read many great books while abroad including a thriller/mystery series. My sister-in-law had obtained a collection of books from the UK author Ann Cleves. These books are great mystery books and the Vera series has been made into a television series in the UK (which we can watch here in the States on Hulu).  These series remind me of Agatha Christie series with Hercule Poirot.  Great for summer time beach reading of you're into that sort of thing.

Reading these books got me thinking about books that have been adapted into television and movies.  I feel that most popular books have now been adapted into a film or television series. Often, people only know about the adaptation before learning that it was a book first (with the exception of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games). The Divergent series, The Maze Runner series, The Book Thief, and Riverdale as well as Lemony Snicket as Netflix series just to name a few of the Young Adult books/comics. Jaws and Jurassic Park were books first as well.  This is the tip of the iceberg. 

What does this mean for LIS and Children's Literature as a program of study at Simmons and how should we approach the subject as students and later, professional? I believe it is something that should be considered and thought about because I do not see this trend going anywhere. Should adaptations be considered as an approach to those who are aspiring authors, or would this be considered selling out?  I do not know.  Is it something we should leave alone altogether as students? I think it would be interesting to see course work related to this topic even if it was just a small section of the course.  Perhaps it already is! As a fairly new student in the CL program I have a lot to discover and I am looking forward to it all.

 Until next time!

Books | Children's Literature | Fun | Summer | reading

Summer Reading

It's time for another book list! Here's what I'm currently diving into, and one more that I'm planning to pick up from the library ASAP.

Needful Things by Stephen King- I haven't read a good scary book in a while. Well, that's not true. I did read The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani, which thoroughly unsettled me. I would not suggest that one if you are a mother looking to hire childcare anytime soon. The kind of scary I'm talking about is the supernatural horror variety, and King is my go to author for that particular brand. I'm only a few pages in, and once again he's taken me right into the small-town life and happenings of Castle Rock, Maine. He has this enchanting way of writing characters, dialogue, and setting that transports me inside of the story. It's fantastic, and it also guarantees that I'm going to be frightened at least a few times. I can't wait :)

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert- Yes, I'm reading this one again. I think it's going to be one of those books that I return to every few months. It was on sale at a bookstore I found in Vermont last weekend, which I took as a sign that I had to buy it then and there, so now I can underline and make notes to my heart's delight. I've been listening to a number of podcasts with Gilbert as a co-host or interviewee, and I just love her ideas about creative, amplified living and cultivating a lifestyle where we choose curiosity and playfulness versus being crippled by fear. Phew. I'm working on it, and she's a huge inspiration.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan- I'm trying to make my way through some of the more well-known works of feminist literature, and this is one of them! The chapter on the history of feminism in America has been one of my favorites, and made me realize there are so many incredible women who I have never heard of (ex. Julia Ward Howe, Lucy Stone), along with women I have heard of but wish to learn more about (ex. Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony). There's not much to be said for intersectionality in this book and it's certainly a product of its time, but I've been alarmed to realize it was only 50-ish years ago that young men and women were being educated and pigeonholed into strict roles of breadwinners and housewife-mothers. It's an attitude that still pervades today, even if it's not as prevalent, and it's easy to see why when Friedan references certain magazine articles, fiction, research, and textbook materials that used to be widely spread and accepted in our society. I still have about half of the book left, and I'm interested to see what else unravels.

Insurrection: To Believe Is Human, To Doubt, Divine by Peter Rollins- I've been listening to Rollins, a philosopher and theologian hailing from Northern Ireland, here and there since last fall. It's only been in recent weeks that I've started taking more keen interest in his work, and I was real excited to find out that he has a few books published. I'm not sure what to expect from this one, but I imagine it will be awesome. Whether you're spiritual or religious or not interested in any of that whatsoever, Rollins is a fantastic thinker and speaker, and he has a great accent to boot. He asks great questions and forces the reader/listener to contemplate, which I appreciate a lot.

As an end note, I'd also like to diversify the titles that I'm reading. As you can see above, these authors are Western Caucasians, which is all well and good, but there are a whole lot of other authors out there in the world! I would love to do something like Ann Morgan spoke about in her TED talk, where she read a book from every single country. That sounds so, so cool and exciting to me. I have to dash off to work now, but thanks for stopping by, and happy reading to you!

Summer | reading

First Semester: Complete!

As of 11:55 PM last night, my first semester at Simmons is over!  Not that I was counting the minutes or anything.  All of my lectures are done, readings completed, and my final project has been TURNED IN!  Even though this class was a lot of work, I loved every minute of it and learned so much.  As I said last week, I'm really proud of everything I've accomplished this semester, and now I have a break from schoolwork until mid-June, which is when my summer class starts. 

Because I have had absolutely no free time whatsoever for the past few weeks until today because of school, stress, and personal life issues, I am a little bit relieved that I will be having a break from schoolwork, just for a little while.  As I will now be having free time, I plan on catching up on some reading.  I've really been slacking off-  I'm a voracious reader, and I usually try and read several books a month but I've been so busy lately I haven't had the time.  Also, as someone who is studying to be a librarian, I really feel that I should be reading more than I am right now. 

Here are some of the books that are on my reading list for the upcoming weeks:

  • Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
    • I adored Tamora Pierce's Tortall books when I was a teenager and I've been waiting for her book on Numair to come out since high school.  I've been hearing about this book for over ten years, and it was finally released in November 2017.  I'm so excited to read it, and it's the first of the Numair Chronicles, which means it's going to be a series.  I haven't actually read anything by her in years, so I might have to give her other books a quick skim to reacquaint myself with the universe. 
  • I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamera
    • In case if you missed the news, the Golden State Killer was caught last week.  The late Michelle McNamera poured her heart and soul into this book, which was released posthumously in February 2018, and I've been looking forward to reading it ever since I read an article about it a few months ago.  It has a foreword by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl) and an afterword by Patton Oswalt (the author's husband).
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
    • I always have been fascinated by Greek mythology and epic poems like the Iliad and the Odyssey, and this book, which was released in April 2018, seems right up my alley.  People who have read the Odyssey might remember that Circe played a role in Odysseus' tale and that she is the daughter of the god Helios.  This book is about her story, and it sounds like a fascinating read.  The author also wrote The Song of Achilles, which was a different take on the Iliad and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Greek mythology/epics. 
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
    • This was one of the best books of 2015, and I somehow missed it.  I came across it when doing research for my final project (I was in a bookstore and I was supposed to be looking for books on a completely different subject and I just happened to wander into the fiction section.  I know.  I'm terrible.)  It's about the exploration of a marriage and it sounds like a fascinating read. 
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
    • I am a HUGE Neil Gaiman fan, and I have read most of his works, but I have not read this one.  I saw it in the library a few months ago, and it's been on my reading list for a while, and I'm excited to finally read it.  Also, I highly recommend all of his work, especially Good Omens, which is his collaboration with the late Terry Pratchett.  

Books | Fun | SLIS | Summer | classes | reading

Comprehensive Reading List and Learning to Love Old Genres

Are you an avid reader and stuck in a genre? I certainly was before I attended Simmons. I have my preferred genre's and have difficulty convincing myself to read something different. Especially when it comes down to books I read for pleasure.  In the Children's Literature program, you will be reading a lot of books.  I was so overwhelmed at the beginning of the semester, the few books I brought with me from Texas to read in my "spare" time sat on my little bookshelf collecting dust.  Each week I had anywhere from two-five books to read. While these books are young adult books, some of them falling into my preferred genre, there were some I was not too excited for.  It had been quite some time since I read anything outside of fantasy so when books like The Boxcar Children (a book I loved as a child), Little House in the Big Woods, or Happy Endings are All Alike showed up on our reading list, I was a bit apprehensive.  However, as each week has gone by this semester I have diligently read through each of these books and been pleasantly surprised.  I knew I enjoyed reading a wide range of books as a child but reading some of these genres an adult didn't seem likely to inspire me.  Boy, I was wrong!  All of these books have been great in their own right. I am so happy to have read them, especially from an adult perspective. Children's literature is rich with complexity.

 Of course, I knew by coming to Simmons I would not only be reading Fantasy books, I would probably bet burned out on the subject if so.  All I knew is that I had a deep interest in reading, authors, and writing and that Simmons was the school that would offer me the most thorough education on all things Children's Literature.  I was up for the challenge even if I knew I had to push myself a bit.  I heard on the podcast 88 Cups of Tea, an interview with V.E. Schwab, and she said that she reads about 100 books a year. At that, she reads ALL different genres. The point of this is that you cannot grow as a writer and a reader if you do not expand your knowledge of what it is in the industry.  I thought this was great advice.  It has proven true with my first semester here at Simmons.  My To-Be-Read pile has significantly expanded and I have rekindled my appreciation of long-forgotten genres. 

 P.S. I have found the time to read books in my spare time! I was too adamant about spending every waking hour reading for class that I had convinced myself I did not have time for fun books.  I have reconsidered this because I was going mad, and I believe it is important to allow yourself at least 10 minutes of free reading time with a book of your own choosing.

 Until next time!

Children's Literature | classes | reading