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Oh, the Horror!

October is the perfect month to indulge in the horror genre. I would love to share some of my favourite Reader’s Advisory horror tools, some spook-tacular display ideas, and one of my favourite horror novels.

Finding a wide variety of excellent horror suggestions can be difficult, especially if you don’t read the genre (and many people don’t). Most fans of the horror genre have read popular authors such as Clive Barker and Stephen King. Here are some great RA tools to help you find some new authors and the best possible selection of horror:

RA for All Horror

This is Horror-Awards

What Should I Read Next?

Literature Map

I also enjoy creating displays in the library to showcase different aspects of our collection, and in October I love to make spooky displays. Here are a few ideas to try at your own library:

 

Mariko Koike’s The Graveyard Apartment is a great book to recommend to customers who love to read horror novels.

horrorread

After moving to a new apartment complex next to a cemetery, a young Japanese family experiences strange and terrifying occurrences that send the other residents fleeing their homes, ultimately leaving them alone with a dark, evil something, or someone, residing in the basement.

If you are a fan of horror, please add your favourite reads in the comments below!

-Sally, Library Technician, Maple Ridge Public Library

 

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NoveList Book Squad

Have you heard about NoveList Book Squad? Book Squad is a newsletter put out by NoveList that delivers RA tips and tricks, genre information, display ideas, and showcases interesting and relevant topics for discussion at your library.  You can select a number of topics to receive information about, just like how NextReads works.

topic selection

I find Book Squad most useful for unique and simple display ideas. For example, a recent newsletter featured a picture of a “Killer Summer Reads” display with a selection of horror titles to get started.  Most newsletters also come with readymade posters, bookmarks, and other printables that you can use in your own library.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Poster 1poster-2.pngPoster 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a good idea to make sure all the titles are in your library’s collection before you print out posters. Even if you’re not interested in printing out any of the materials, it is a good way to ideas for displays and then populate them with books right off your own shelves.  If you don’t like the display they’ve made, it helps to jump start the brainstorming process or bring new possibilities and topics to light.

Of course, NoveList is interested in self-promotion, so the newsletters also provides tips for using NoveList for your RA inquiries, links to NoveList training materials like genre outlines, and other ideas about how to use NoveList at your own library. And, because NoveList is an American company, a lot of the content tends to be more American in focus.

Have you used this resource and found it useful? Let us know in the comments below!

Sarah Jost – Information Services Librarian at FVRL

 

RA Roundup

Library Journal: Growing Readership Through Diversity ALA Panel

An insightful summary from the “Growing Readership Through Diversity” ALA panel from this year’s conference. The article discusses the important role that library staff have in terms of increasing visibility in books and authors by introducing their patrons to diverse readers.

Vancouver Public Library: Newly Added Literary Landmarks

VPL recently added new plaques for the Literary Landmarks Initiative for the following authors and creators:  Ivan Coyote, David Suzuki, bill bissett, and Madeleine Thien. If you’re not familiar with the initiative check out the website for the interactive map, information on the authors and their contributions to their neighbourhoods, as well as a list of their works.

Toronto Public Library: Toronto in Literature – Neighbourhood Booklists

Here’s another example of how public libraries are incorporating local fiction maps into their RA. Check out Toronto Public Library’s Neighbhourhood Booklists that feature a breakdown of the various neighbourhoods and how they’ve been captured in literature. The list includes a variety of formats from novels, graphic novels, short stories, and memoirs.

Book Riot: Indulgent Fiction and Food Pairings

Celine Low over at Book Riot has compiled fantastic list of fiction and food pairings (some even include a “pairs poorly with” offerings). The titles range from George R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones to Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.

 

Apps for your reading life

Here are some reading-related apps for all of us book nerds:

Litsy

litsyLitsy is basically Instagram for those of us who only care about book photos. In addition to the book cover galore, you can use Litsy as a way to track your reading. Search for a title, add to your reading stack, and when you are done, share your rating, short review, blurb or quote. I am especially fond of the “bail” rating. Thank you for giving me the permission to just close the book and say, “that’s enough of that.”

If you like hanging out with other book lovers, give Litsy a try. There is always good old Goodreads too of course. It’s June already. How are you doing on your annual reading challenge?

 

 

Ambient Mixer

I first heard about Ambient Mixer from this Lifehacker post, and it sounds like a fun way to add to the atmosphere while you are reading, and help you get immersed in the scenes. The website provides a wide variety of themed music loops and mixes so you can create the appropriate background soundtrack to match whatever you are reading. Jon Snow could be walking to the sounds of a “mysterious walk in snow storm”  beyond the wall. Transport yourself to Waystone Inn with the fantasy inn/pub/tavern loop. Or, how about some crowd noise for Ned Stark? (Umm, no thanks!)

 

Forest

forestSure, there are books that completely capture my attention, but alas, my phone has too much power over me, and I find myself reaching for it when I am supposed to be reading. There are lots of apps out there that can help you maintain focus. I chose Forest because of its genius use of guilt. And I love the UI.

When you are ready to start a task, set a timer of how long you want to read, and the app will plant a tree for you. The idea is to not navigate away from the Forest app to go check your email, or watch that owl pooping and fleeing the scene video for the nth time.  If you try, a warning will come up, asking you if you are really prepared to live the life of a tree killer. Not just any trees, as you can see, cute, little trees!

 

Libib

Libib is a super quick way to catalogue your personal book collection. The app is very easy to use. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book, and the book will be added to your collection. Because my husband and I are both SFF readers, we often stand at the bookstore wondering if we own a particular volume in the series or not. Libib solves that problem for us, well, as long as we add our purchases religiously.

What apps have you found useful in your reading life? Share your favourites in the comment section.

Virginia from the Port Moody Public Library

The Taibbi Trilogy

Well not really a trilogy, but Griftopia, The Divide and Insane Clown President all riff on the same general theme of a corrupt American society, run by a cabal of robber barons at the expense of the poor. Once you read the first, it’s pretty easy to move on to the next.

Taibbi is our generation’s Hunter S. Thompson. Yes, lighter on the shock-value prose and drug addled stream of consciousness writing, but heavier on the political analysis. And in our the complex world of incomprehensible economic and legal jargon, he’s the Rolling Stone political writer we need. To his credit, Taibbi approaches the material with same requisite snarl and bite as Thompson once did. He’s angry and incredulous, blending in dark humour to lighten the subject matter.

Griftopia

 

With less of an over-arching theme than The Divide, Taibbi tells some free association stories about various grifts and cons that have gone on the in the American economic system over the past decade. In it, Taibbi also provides probably the greatest all-time explanation-for-novices of the crash of 2007 (even better than Michael Lewis). If you’ve ever wondered what a credit default swap is, Griftopia is the place to start.

Perhaps Taibbi’s best work is a chapter on former Chariman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, entitled The Biggest Asshole in the Universe. It chronicles the endless gaffs of a high-society-loving charlatan who was able to convince generations political elites that he was a financial Nostradamus. Taibbi argues that, as with most Friedmanites and Rand enthusiasts, Greenspan’s skill laid in pushing a tragically flawed philosophy, one that simultaneously exalts the pursuit of personal wealth while providing the ‘intellectual’ and ‘moral’ framework for a generation of thieves to convince themselves that they are doing what’s best for society. Taibbi destroys their methodology, point by point. It’s really something.

The Divide

The Divide juxtaposes the two courts of law in America: One for the rich and white and one for the poor and the minority. Taibbi exposes a society where a black man can be stopped, frisked, thrown in the back of a police car and given a court date, all for the crime of standing on the street, while a major bank can ‘illegally’ add five billion dollars off the top of a merger, while stiffing creditors and receiving no blowback, all through the power of their high-priced legal teams.

The Divide is a punch to the gut. It’s horrific, troubling, and illuminating. Easily my favourite of the three.

Insane Clown President

In his newest and most Thompson-esque work, Taibbi dispatches from the Trump campaign trail. It’s a collection of pieces cobbled together from his year writing for the Rolling Stone – much like HST’s famous books of the 1970s and 1980s. It’s hard not to compare Taibbi-Trump to HST-Nixon.

In the book, Taibbi details the fascist-like fervour of Trump’s rally’s, ultimately deciding that Trump is a fitting modern American President, A “human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself. Nixon at least played the piano and read the classics. He was an intellectual with a pig’s heart. Trump is just the pig part.”

Read it now, while it’s still topical, because hopefully time is running out on America’s most famous unhinged carnival-barker.

 

Nolan Kelly is a Library Tech student at Langara.

Gritting it out to reach your Peak

I read Anders Ericsson’s Peak a few months ago, so I’m cheating a bit here, but I loved it and thought I’d share. While, Angela Duckworth’s Grit feels like a sequel to Peak, insofar as it dovetails with the overarching theme of Peak’s thesis: how to become more successful at the things you love. Peak is the methodology for how to practice and achieve success; Grit is the explanation for why some of us achieve more than others, and the prescription for how to become an achiever.

Peak is a game changer if there ever was one.

You’ve likely heard of the 10,000 hour rule that postulates you need that many hours to become an expert in a given field. It was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell a few years back, you know, Gladwell does his is thing where he takes a complex idea, chops out the complicated parts and serves the juicy bits to the masses, as only he can.

Ericsson is the man behind the 10,000 hour rule’s science. His theory: that talent doesn’t exist. That it’s the word we give to hard work and practice.

Which, if you pause to reflect, is the most inspiring notion.

If Mozart had no natural born proclivity towards music and his ‘genius’ was simply the result of endless hours of practice at an early age; if Mario Lemieux’s skill on the ice was the result of countless hours of practice as a child in his basement; if John Irving’s penchant for story telling was built upon a lifetime sitting at a typewriter, it opens up a world of achievement that we assumed closed to us. Ericsson is not saying everyone can or will become Mozart, Lemieux, or Irving, but he is saying that if you work hard, through deliberate practice and expert coaching, you can get close, or perhaps closer than you dreamed possible.

Ericsson underpins his thesis by citing countless examples from his own research, including random test subjects who, with training, become memory experts, and a Hungarian family of chess masters whose intense workload dispels the notion that hi IQ plays any role in chess mastery.

Recently, I put Ericsson’s ideas to work in my own life. For the past six months I’ve been training for a triathlon, making constant improvements in running and biking, failing miserably at swimming. So miserably in fact that I hadn’t improved one bit since I’d started. Four laps and I was exhausted. I treated swimming like biking and running – a test of will and a slow build up of cardio – failing to realize that success in the water is all about technique, and acquiring perfect technique requires deliberate practice. I began by Identifying each key element of a stroke, analysing them and focusing on making them perfect. Within a week of studying strokes and focusing at the pool, I had gone from four laps in a row to 20. A 500% improvement, simply by following the steps laid out in Ericsson’s book. It was an epiphany for me, with far reaching implications for the rest of my life.

Now, you could make the case that I’m an idiot for not realizing this sooner and that practicing something properly isn’t exactly a ground-breaking idea. But when you further dive into the nuances of deliberate practice, it becomes clear that there’s a specific methodology behind it. Ericsson includes a detailed how-to guide that involves explanations on mental focus, mental maps and self-analysis. He’d argue that when most of us practice something, we are often just going through the motions and he offers ways to correct that.

So, if you finally want to master that Rachmaninov concerto, hit that driver farther or, finish that thesis faster, Peak is a great place to start.

Up next, Angela Duckworth’s Grit.

Nolan Kelly is a library tech student at Langara.

In Search of Lost Time

 

As part of a half-baked New Year’s resolution, I decided to read 5-10 pages of a classic novel every night before bed. The thinking, that drier works whose epic length might once have caused consternation, ultimately resulting in disinclination and lack of completion, could be boiled down to smaller, less intimidating bits.

I viewed the process as a lagniappe in the field of book-reading accomplishment, as though I could complete a behemoth on top of my regular reading list without even noticing (“Has it been 78 months already? That Gravity’s Rainbow just flew by!”).

It began in January, with the granddaddy of them all, Marcel Proust’s, In Search of Lost Time.

A breezy 4215 pages, but who’s counting?

Unfortunately, it’s been a harder than I thought to keep up with this resolution. For starters, Proust’s style –  heavy on minutia, light on plot – can be trying.

Sometimes, after a long day, I just can’t do eight pages of Proust waxing poetic about an ephemeral memory of a glimmering doorknob in his childhood bed chamber.

Sometimes, I can’t struggle through yet another endless digression, following young Marcel as he plots to have his mother come in and kiss him good night for a second time. Come on child Proust, get it together. Somebody buy that kid a football.

And, a more general and obvious difficultly I found when attempting and failing at this process before with War and Peace: over a long period of time it can be hard to keep track of everything at play. I’d forgotten about Mr. *****vich, whose last acquaintance I’d met some three months ago at a ballroom in *****berg, with six more *****stov’s and an *****ovna. Remembering becomes a war of attrition and the book always wins.

But overall, it’s been a rewarding gambit. Despite my previous criticisms, I couldn’t have chosen a better book to begin with.

For starters, Proust’s writing is masterful. The pacing, the rhythm. It’s languid and smooth and comforting. It’s literary hot chocolate, made with thick cream, drunk by candle light on a cold winter’s night.

And In Search of Lost Time’s profoundly peaceful nature has a calming effect before bed. Nothing much is happening, but that’s okay, because Proust somehow manages to turn simplicity into profundity. Take his famous Madeleine Passage. For Proust, dipping a madeleine in tea takes on religious significance.

As well it should.

The passage and the general theme of Proust’s writing has made me appreciate the Little Things more. Or at the very least, I’ve become more aware of trying to appreciate them. That mocha on a cold day, those chicken wings and beer. Far too often we gluttonously move from pleasure to pleasure without pausing to reflect on the simple joy found in a singular moment. The law of diminishing returns in a post-scarcity world can make appreciation a difficult endeavor and inflecting Proust is a way of challenging that.

These small moments make up the bulk of our lives, and we miss them because they’re old hat, or as Proust poetically summarized: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but seeing with new eyes.”

It’s rare and wonderful when a book improves your life in some small way, even if it is trying at times and it takes nine years to read.

Nolan Kelly is a library tech student at Langara College.