The Page 69 Test

If you’ve ever read and re-read a book jacket, back cover or inside flap over and over to try to decide if you might like a certain book, one blog has taken this to the next level. It’s called “The Page 69 Test”. The idea is that page 69 is a good point in the story–the characters have been developed a bit, the tension is in mid-stride, and the plot is well underway–to tell a reader exactly what the story is really about. On the blog, they ask authors to open to page 69 of their books, and share that page with readers. Is it always a good choice? No, but more often than not, when you read what each author has written about the page, they seem to be amazed at how much page 69 is indicative of their books.

Let’s give it a try. Picking up HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger (the first book that came across the desk as I was writing this post), I flip to page 69 and find that it’s about the twins, the flat that the story revolves around, and sewing—all things that quite represent the book. (It was a long page….so I didn’t bother typing it out here.)

fearful

Give it a try with a book you’re currently reading, or one of your favourites. Flip to page 69. Does it represent the book? Let us know! This is a lot of fun, and a new way I might recommend people choose books, just to see how it works.

Would you try this with a book you were thinking about picking up at the store?

Sign up for Camp!

We’re getting ready to do it again…welcome aspiring writers to the library to participate in a month-long challenge to write a book in one month. April is all about Camp NaNoWriMo here, and we’re gearing up for some fun!

camp2We started doing this about one year ago, and it’s been a great year. Back then, we weren’t sure if anyone would show up, or how they would do, but we’ve had a dedicated writing group ever since. We meet up about once a month and discuss new projects, take part in challenges and plan for upcoming events.

Last year, during the first Camp NaNo attempt, we had about ten people of all ages take part. They wrote like crazy for the month of April….30 days….and several met the goal of 50,000 words, which is the length of a small book. Yay! After that, we worked on revision, talked about voice, and discussed plot, all in an attempt to further our writing chops. It’s been amazing to see these writers grow.

During the summer, many of them took part in a second run, trying their hand at a new book or revising the one they finished in April. We also gathered together a summer of young writers, and wrote many, many, many creative things. It was fantastic!

In November, a few of the writers took part in the more official National Novel Writing Month, and wrote a new book. Our youngest participant was a teen who won NaNo, and finished her second novel. How amazing, right?

Now, we’re doing it all again. We’d love to get new writers….anyone interested in giving it a try. You’ll have the rest of March to prepare an idea, work out some plot points or create some characters, and then you can join us on Tuesday, March 31st for the Camp NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party at the library, from 6-7pm.  We’ll learn the rules, make some promises, but mostly….we’ll gear up for a month of fun.

If you’ve never written a book, but have always wanted to try, why not join us? You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to try. There are no rules, and you don’t have to actually write on the library premises…..write wherever you like…at home, in a coffee shop, on the bus. But join us for the meetings, and sign up for the daily inspirational emails. We’d love to have you join!

If you’d like a bit more information, drop by the library, or give us a call at 257-2702. We’re writing in APRIL!

 

Bookstores.

readsWe have a wonderful local independent bookstore called Read’s Book Shop. On any given day, they have fun drop-in clubs (knitting, book clubs etc), delicious treats and homemade soups at their counter, cute gift items and of course, lots of wonderful books for purchase. I’d like to think this is a bookstore that will continue to go the distance, but we all need to make it work.

Like the future of libraries, bookstores depend on people coming in and purchasing books and other items. They need to remain vital parts of our main streets, and have programs running that will bring in shoppers as well as readers. They also need to be able to provide friendly staff, quick turnaround for book requests, and incentives to get customers to come back. Read’s does this and much more, very similar to a library’s goals, I think.

Did you know that our library and Read’s Book Shop work together at times? You might think we’d be on opposite sides, but we’re not! Our library tries to use the local bookstore for small book orders we might need on a quick turnaround, we encourage people to shop there if they’re looking for something we might not carry at the moment, and we also try to participate in programs they support, such as Free Comic Book Day. In return, they offer us fantastic support, whether it’s through program advertisement, inclusion in special book fairs, and even spontaneous author visits!

Libraries and book stores should do more of this. We are important to each other in different ways, and especially in small communities, vital to the survival of books in our town. Make sure you visit both….your public library and your local book shop. Without you, we might not be around forever.

eReaders. How We Love to Hate Them.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the staff at our library use electronic devices to access eBooks and audiobooks from the OverDrive site, and we’ll rave about it to anyone who will listen. But do we love dedicated eReaders? Not really. And as it turns out, only a small portion of people who use them actually like them.

ereaderWhen eReaders first came on the scene, it was predominantly an Amazon market. The Kindle was the only eReader for many people, and because they were expensive, and only allowed people to read books that they purchased, only a select few were instantly in love.

Then came an explosion of eReaders put out by a variety of companies. These allowed you to access books from other places besides Amazon, and *cue the trumpets*, you could now also download FREE eBooks from your library! WOW!  We were overwhelmed by people purchasing eReaders for themselves and their families (mostly for elderly parents who might not be able to get to the library as easily as others), and it was decidedly frustrating for us in the library. The eReaders were not simple to use, not if you wanted to download free books from the OverDrive website. Everyone had different devices, different computers and different problems. We could spend hours with a patron trying to get them set up, only to face the probability that they’d be back in a few weeks, still not sure how to do the entire process on their own. It was especially difficult that first year as many people bought eReaders for their parents at Christmas, and then left them with the instructions to “go to the library to have it set up”. For many of these people, computers were difficult enough to use, and to add a device was more than frustrating. I think we had a lot of disappointed patrons that winter.

Now, after several years, there are more devices on the market, and fewer problems. How is that possible? Apps, my friend……APPS.

People who want to enjoy eBooks and audiobooks are no longer forced to buy a device that only allows them to read books on it. Now, phones, tablets and many of the eReaders themselves have wi-fi and use apps so that users can read books, surf the net, text, check Facebook, take photos for Instagram and tweet….all while they listen to a book or download their next ten books for their vacation. They are multi-purpose devices, and that’s exactly the way eReading needed to go.  They are much easier to use, have a simple set-up for OverDrive, and people can usually download a book and be on their way in minutes, rather than have an extensive session at the library to get them going. We love them….and still loathe them, all at the same time.

Kindles, while still one of the most popular devices on the market, are not compatible with OverDrive in Canada. Well, not most of the Kindles, anyway. (The Kindle Fire is more of a tablet which does use apps, and therefore, allows you to access OverDrive.) This is sad news for people who have done research and found the product that seems to have the most positive reviews will not work for them if they want free eBooks and audiobooks. In the US, library patrons can access OverDrive ebooks through their libraries due to a program used to allow them to be compatible, but so far, it hasn’t crossed the border. Are there bigger issues that aren’t being addressed?  I’m not sure, but I guess we’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Now, though, Kindle has put out a new device that they are saying is BETTER THAN BOOKS.  Better than books????? What? The Kindle Voyage claims to be so good, you’ll forget you’re reading on an electronic device. The “paper” is so realistic, it is easy on your eyes, and in your hands, and will certainly make you a convert. But what’s so special? Have you ever read an enormous book with multiple characters that are difficult to keep track of? The Kindle Voyage has a simple pop up that will display the characters to remind you, let you tap a word to look it up in the dictionary, allow you to flip to footnotes and back easily, and also uses new technology that puts turning the pages right under where your fingers naturally rest when holding the device. No more swiping.

I’m sure it’s wonderful. I’m sure it will revolutionize reading for many people. How could it not? Who wouldn’t want to be able to carry around thousands of books in the palm of your hand? Who wouldn’t want to be able to download the newest best-seller from their favourite author the second it comes out on the market? eBooks and eReaders are truly wonderful for that. And Kindles aren’t the only devices that will do this.

But will the frustrations from not being able to access books from your library, or having to re-charge your device simply to finish that book, or losing your entire collection when you drop your device on a hard floor (or in the bathtub), override the old hardcover? Probably not. We love eBooks and audiobooks and all that they provide to us. We just don’t always love the downsides that come with the devices.

How about you? Let us know…do you prefer eBooks over the real deal? Do you mix it up?

 

Black History Month

We have class visits from local schools during the week, and recently, one of the classes was studying important figures for Black History Month. While I had books on people like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, there was a definite gap in fiction to put out. Books written by African American authors, and books that represent young people of colour are something that should be easily found on the shelves.  Books like:

brownBROWN GIRL DREAMING, a National Book Award Winner in 2014 by Jacqueline Woodson, is middle grade fiction, telling the story of Woodson’s life, in verse.

pointePOINTE by Brandy Colbert was named Best Book of the Year in 2014 by many of the larger magazines and book reviewers. It’s got the ballet world to draw from, but also contains secrets and the darker side of life, perfect for those YA readers who are looking for something a bit gritty and true to life.

chaosTHE CHAOS by Nalo Hopkinson is the story of Scotch, a sixteen-year-old who feels like she doesn’t fit into any category…even more so when her skin becomes covered with a black, sticky substance she can’t remove. Fans of fantasy will enjoy this YA read.

Most of these books and more are available to download as eBooks through OverDrive, using your library card and PIN. Drop by the library today if you need help logging in, or choosing a great selection to celebrate Black History Month!

Diversity for our Readers

While we were at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference, one of the big themes I seemed to come across was the excitement surrounding books for LGBTQ readers. This is not a category that has been well stocked in the past, but it seems that more and more authors are writing for this group, and there are plenty of amazing books out there just waiting to hit library shelves.

If you’re not familiar with this acronym, LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual or Questioning. People want to see themselves in books, no matter who they are, what they believe in, or where they come from. Books in the LGBTQ category are popular and serve a great need for our readers, and it’s wonderful to see such great choices coming out of the publishing houses.

I attended a session devoted to the best LGBTQ Reading Recommendations for Teens, hosted by Dewey Divas and the Dudesa wonderful group of people who keep librarians (and readers) up on all the latest and important happenings in the book world. They talked about their favourite books, both from the recent past and upcoming reads that they felt our readers would love to get their hands on, and I must admit, I came away from the session with a long list of books we’d be thrilled to have on our shelves.

askASK THE PASSENGERS by A. S. King was one of the trendier reads, about a teen named Astrid who copes with her small town’s narrow-mindedness by sending out wishes to all of the passengers in planes flying overhead.

beauty

BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray has been a popular read on our shelves for the past few years. This witty read has lots to offer any reader, dealing with the tribulations of fifty beauty contestants who are stranded on an island after a plane crash. Fun!

sunJandy Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN has been a must-read for anyone interested in YA books. Nelson’s gorgeous writing deals with the sensitive subject matter in a way only she could, bringing a difficult topic to mainstream readers.

These are just a few of the suggestions for teen readers who might be looking for something beyond the traditional read. We’ll most likely be adding many from the list to our collection in the future. Are there any favourite LGBTQ reads for teens you’d suggest? Tell us about them!

Blind Dates are Fun!

We’re doing it again…a Blind Date with a Book! During the month of February, drop into the library and pick up one of our expertly wrapped books. You won’t know what you’re taking out until you get it home and unwrap it, but this year, we’ve given you a few clues to help you along.

20150202_132218Once you read the book, there is a fun “Rate Your Date” card inside the book. Fill it out and bring it back to the library with the book. We’ll post it on our Date Board so everyone can see how the dates have been going.

20150202_132211Don’t worry, this is a lot less risky than meeting someone new at a restaurant, and a lot more fun! If you don’t like the book, it’s no big deal. Bring it back, and try again if you like. We’ll have lots to choose from all month long!