Monday, December 9, 2019

Best Books of 2019

Another year, another handful of fabulous reads...I will be posting some of my favorite children's books SOON... 


Those people by Louise Candlish (2019)

I love a thriller, and this one about some undesirable neighbors with unreliable narrators and multiple points of view has me hooked. I’ve read a LOT of Candlish since this one.

Three things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon (2018)

Not enough stories deal with the difficulties of aging, and this one has some fabulous wrinkles.

The mother-in-law by Sally Hepworth (2019)

Another thriller, this one a very interesting exploration from two very distinct points of view.

The other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson (2019)

There is something eerie about a look-alike assuming another identity, and this one, set among the idle not-rich, strikes a very contemporary cord.

The knowledge by Martha Grimes (2018)

The mythology of London’s black cabs underpins this solid Anglophile mystery.

My sister the serial killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2019)

It is so refreshing to read something from another part of the world, and this Nigerian thriller is funny and complex.

Realistic fiction

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (2019)

An amazing, nuanced look at youth and mental illness in modern, multicultural London.

Fleishman is in trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (2019)

Plumbs midlife malaise has many deft touches that elevate it, a la Philip Roth.

There was an old woman by Hallie Ephron (2014)

Both contemporary and historical, this look at gentrification, addiction, and adulthood stuck with me.

Brit lit

Nothing to report (1940) and Somewhere in England (1943) by Carola Oman

I often think I would love to search for backlist titles for ebook editions: isn’t that the promise of the long tail? Dean Street Press has done a terrific job with recovering this pair of provincial English wartime accounts.


Thick and other essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom (2019)

Another excellent piece of biographically informed nonfiction, which I have turned back to and recommended again and again.

Because Internet: understanding how language is changing By Gretchen McCulloch (2019)

Linguistic ticks to re-framing communications, the network has changes how and why we communicate.

How to do nothing: resisting the attention economy by Jenny Odell (2019)

Artist Odell calls for a return to time unplugged for an authentic life and urges connection with the natural world.

From Goodwill to grunge: a history of secondhand styles and alternative economies by Jennifer Le Zotte (2017)

When I heard about this at SHARP, I downloaded it immediately and devoured it. For anyone obsessed with vintage things, this is a must-read.

How to own the room: women and the art of brilliant speaking by Viv Groskop (2018)

Call it a public speaking guide, but it is also a manifesto about power and the public.

Strangely, this list is ALL WOMEN. Hmmm.


Best Books of 2018

Best Books of 2017

Best Books of 2016

Best Books of 2015

Best Books of 2014

Best Books of 2013

Best Books of 2012

Best Books of 2011

Best Books of 2010

Best Books of 2009

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fleishman, the Performative Middlebrow and Legible Clothing

I saw this tweet just after I'd started the book

and then I saw the Susan Hill comment after

so I'm not the only one that can't stop thinking about this book.

One of my favorites bits in the novel are the legible tank tops that Rachel and her cohort wear.
Brodesser-Akner has her finger on the pulse with these:
  • Spiritual gangster
  • But first, coffee
  • Brunch so hard
  • Ride or die
  • Lipstick and lunges
  • Any yoga I do is hot yoga
  • Nevertheless, she perspired
  • Run the world
  • Nah 'ma stay in bed
I have been fascinated by slogan-ed clothes for a while. They are an aggressive form of signaling. Virtue-signaling, too, because they are on tank tops teamed with yoga tights. The choice to wear such little clothing in public, yet having it speak so assertively intrigues me. These are texts, right?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Turning the TItanic

Earlier this year, I was feeling a little over ALA. I was becoming convinced that it was too enormous and unwieldy to be useful to me as a nascent academic. I questioned the utility of a conference experience where it seemed like social media created an in-group and out-group. I even did some research into professional involvement life cycles to confirm I wasn't some sort of negative Nellie outlier.

Image result for world landscape blowing up

Then things began shifting. There was the "future of Midwinter" conversation. In our spring meeting, AASL board talked about some changes, including publishing the electronic Board Books so members can read them before the conferences, combining association awards like Best Apps and Best Websites (since there is considerable overlap and probably considerable streamlining in these areas), and eliminating the committee liaison role of the Board to have them report directly to the EC. There is the very real prospect that Council (which has some issues, though participation there was one of the best experiences I have had with ALA) might vote itself out of existence.

Then, in my final act as regional director on the AASL board yesterday, I seconded a motion and we voted unanimously to investigate restructuring that body -- a fleshed-out proposal would be sent to the membership for a vote, but it was a big signal to me (along with the whole Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness and LITA/ALCTS/LLAMA confluence) that the organization and AASL as a piece of it was more responsive and forward-thinking that I had feared. And I got to use a little Latin in a meeting.

Social cooling aside, this felt worthy of reviving this little channel. I now feel I am a different place with ALA. Maybe this January, I will actually get to a program or two. So I am optimistic. Happier. A librarian can hope.