Longing for Sunny Skies

On Saturday, we were blanketed with about two feet of snow. It took days for things to clear and, now, instead of pristine white, we’re left with partially melted piles of grayish sludge. Even though I love my office window, when I look outside, all I see is icy gray, murky skies, and barren trees. It’s dispiriting.

Plus, this has been an exhausting week.

Work has been especially busy, not helped by having no less than 5 hours of meetings a day. It’s so hard to get things done when all of your usual time is taken away. Plus, weird things seemed to crop up more than usual. I ended up declining a meeting yesterday with the note, “Things have gotten progressively more strange and I need to be at my desk.”

Plus, I haven’t slept well, so I’m physically exhausted, too.

It’s hard to be optimistic during weeks like this one, hard to see that they’re not always like this. It’s so hard not to be dragged down by all of the gray and murkiness and frustration.

Beach ReadingSo to remind myself that there is something better, I think of days like the ones we had in Puerto Rico, days filled with abundant sunshine, good food (not pictured), feet in the sand, The Dude, reading, crashing waves, and endless blue skies.

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Paging, or The Great Book Hunt

It’s the first week of classes and things are absolutely crazy. I mean, they always are, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but this semester seems especially bad. Maybe it’s because we’re in the midst of a number of intense projects? Or, maybe it’s because our staffing levels seem especially up-in-the-air? Or, maybe it’s just extra crazy.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been running around a lot more than usual. One of the things I’ve needed to do is get the paging done. What’s paging you ask? Well, my friends, it’s a bit like a treasure hunt: In the library, the pager is the person who looks at all of the requests for books/loanable items (in our case, from other libraries, not our own patrons), finds them in the stacks, and sends them where they need to do.

Some people really hate paging, but I kind of enjoy it. I like having the opportunity to get up from my desk and do something that doesn’t require much thought beyond, “Oh, hey! This is how the alphabet and call numbers work!” I like the satisfaction that comes with finding books that have been misplaced. And, I really like having the chance to explore our (admittedly great) collection.

 

Books and Tsums

Library books, personal book, and Disney Tsum Tsums make for great table decorations.

Our library collections are a great perk of working at the college. At any given time, I have between 10 and 20 books checked out. Most of them, to The Dude’s chagrin, are sitting on our coffee table. At least The Dude arranged them nicely the last time he cleaned?

With the way things are looking,  I’ll probably have to page again tomorrow. Oh well, it’s a nice break from the monotony of my usual managerial work. Plus, I may find a new book or three…

I’m Still Reading That

I am a chronic re-reader. If I love a book, or a series, I can’t help but want to revist it again and again. Some series (like Patrica C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles) have become so familiar that I can start my re-read on any word, on any page and know instantly what’s going on, what’s going to happen next. The characters become old friends, steadfast and comforting, the environment is as familiar as the route I take to work.

No matter how many times I go back to an old favorite, I seem to find something new. It can be something big like the fact that a supporting character is always associated with the color yellow or the scent of flowers (and, thus, all associated literary symbolism) or it can be something small, like the nuances of the main character’s speech patterns. Finding things like this warms my geeky heart; it makes me a better thinker and a better reader.

Though I love re-reading, sometimes I do it because I feel like I have to. Before a new Harry Potter book came out, for example, I read through the entire series in case I forgot anything. (Now, I read the series about once every 1.5 years just for fun. And, because I love it.) I find this especially daunting and necessary when the series (and, individual books) are long and there have been long stretches of time between each book (I’m looking directly at you, George R. R. Martin. Directly. At. You.).

Then, there are the books that I can’t wait to “have to” read again. I can’t wait for the next Kingkiller Chronicles book to come out so I can delve back into the world of Kvothe and the Chandrian. Likewise, I’m antsy to get back to Libba Bray‘sThe Diviners, a fun series set in Manhattan in the 1920s, and can’t wait to sink my teeth into Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final novel in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Though the latter book came out in April, I haven’t gotten around to re-reading the first two novels. (Hmm… maybe those should be next…)

My favorite books to re-read are the ones where it’s easy to completely lose myself in that world, whether it’s the Mountains of Morning or Rivendell or Hogwarts. The ones that, no matter how many times I’ve read the words, I continue to laugh or cry or rage with the characters. They are the books that stick with me and fill me with joy. They are the ones that, if I’m having a particularly trying day or frustrating week, I reach for automatically, knowing they will take me away for a little while.

Fictional Bucket List

You know what would be cool? Being able to have long, involved conversations with animals. Or, having a (half) giant come to tell  you that you’re a wizard. Or, being given a chocolate factory just because you aren’t  horrible, greedy, and ill-behaved.

When I’m reading a book I love, I tend to get very involved in the book, very invested in the emotions and experiences of the characters. I especially love that, through them, I can experience things that I would never get to experience in my everyday life. The same goes for television shows that I really like; if something makes me want to be there, in that moment, with those characters, I’m hooked.

What experiences would I most like to have(other than the above, naturally)? Here’s my quick fictional (mostly, but not exclusively literary) bucket list:

  1. Attend Hogwarts and get a job at the Ministry of Magic.
  2. Slay a vampire (or demon or monster or whatever) with Buffy and the Scoobies.
  3. Jump into a chalk drawing with Mary Poppins.
  4. Build a cottage in the Enchanted Forest, preferably right next to Morwen.
  5. Go on a tour of London with Arthur Bryant.
  6. Step through a wardrobe and meet a satyr by a lamppost.
  7. Listen to music and have a pint in The Eolian tavern.
  8. Have dinner (or breakfast, or second breakfast, or elevensies) with some hobbits.
  9. Be one of Jessica Fletcher’s best friends (then, I won’t die, but I will get to solve mysteries with her).
  10. Eat cheesecake with Rose, Sophia, Dorothy, and Blanche.

As I was thinking about this list, I couldn’t help thinking of all of the fictional adventures that I want absolutely no part in (Trek through a fire swamp and meet an R.O.U.S.? Thanks but, no thanks.), but I’ll save that list for another day!

Books from Childhood

“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” – Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan),You’ve Got Mail

Today would have been Nora Ephron’s 73rd birthday. I can’t think about Nora Ephron without thinking about You’ve Got Mail (one of my favorite girly movies!) and I can’t think about You’ve Got Mail without thinking about the above quote.

I really couldn’t agree more with Kathleen Kelly. I read a lot now, but very few things stick with me the way books from my childhood have. Here are five books/series that I remember most. In all cases, I have re-read the books more times than I can count:

  1. Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
    This is my absolute favorite series. It’s the one I pick up if I’ve had a really hard week and just need to lose myself for a little while. It’s the one that I turn to when I’m sad or lonely or just plain cranky. I love that Cimorene hates being a princess because it’s boring and that she’d rather cook and learn Latin and be a dragon’s princess. I love the hints of other fairy tales and the witch that gets in trouble for having too many cats and not having a warty nose. I love that the King of Dragons is a job title and that gender doesn’t matter. Being curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, drinking a cup of tea, and reading any of the books in this series (though, Calling on Dragons is my favorite!) makes for a pretty perfect day.
  2. A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
    I really wanted to be friends with Sara Crewe. In the blink of an eye, she went from having everything to having nothing, and still remained kind, imaginative, and full of joy. She gave me a new meaning of princess, one that didn’t have to have fancy dresses or jewels to be beautiful and special.
  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales
    I have always loved fairy tales and folkore, and I especially loved reading the original stories that inspired Disney movies, no matter how gruesome they could be. Later in life (when wearing my anthropologist hat), I was particularly interested in what the myths, legends, and lore of a group could tell you about their culture. My favorite stories? Jorinda and Joringel and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
  4. Nancy Drew Mysteries, Carolyn Keene
    In elementary school, we had a library period at least twice a week. Each period, I would borrow at least one Nancy Drew book until I had read them all more than once. I wanted to be Nancy when I grew up; she was poised and feminine and respected and whip-smart. Plus, she was a detective which I still think sounds like an awesome job. I loved everything about her (even if her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, was kind of a lunk). The thing I remember most about the books? Hearing my mom read them to me; she loves them as much as I do.
  5. Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
    Even though I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until I was in junior high/high school, I simply can’t leave them off of any list of favorite books. I still read the entire series every year and I still miss the hype and fervor that surrounded any new book release. There’s truly something in the books for everyone. They show you that sometimes evil is pink and fluffy, that the most unlikely hero can save the day, and that anyone can be capable of encompassing, enduring love.