I’m a big fan of anything cross genre, especially if it’s dystopian. Teen fiction is also a big draw for me, and unconventional stories. Lately I’ve interested in reading a lot of creeping psychological horror with sci-fi and fantasy leanings.
My all time favorite of the creeping psychological dread is probably House of Leaves. It uses quite a bit of unconventional writing techniques not often seen outside of poetry anthologies, but isn’t too heavy handed. The main character is piecing together snippets of documents about a fictional movie about a house that doesn’t exist and uses the idea of space and distance in literally maddening ways.
If you like a little fae influence, I recommend The Hum and the Shiver. It starts out fairly gumshoe detective, but quickly introduces the reader to a whole hidden world and culture of magic and music and secrets, all set in modern small-town Appalachia where certain people are more than they seem to be.
For something a little more light-hearted I’ve been listening to the audiobook version on the Overdrive app of The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant. The whole series is a really hilarious, slightly episodic adventures of Fred, who is a very introverted, rather boring accountant, and also a vampire, as he gathers up a ragtag crew of supernatural misfits as his friends in his new vampire social life. He also saves a bunch of people, somehow. Several times.
I hope you all are staying safe during these difficult times. I have written this poetry blog and hope it inspires you to be creative and have fun using language to express yourself and to understand the expressions of others. Poetry is something anyone can write. Whether you did well in English classes or not does not matter.
There are many ways to enjoy poetry. One can enjoy it by writing it, reading it, or sharing it with others. One can also allow it to stimulate the intellect and ponder on its meanings. Poetry can also help to manage your emotions throughout your life. It can help through times as diverse as dealing with something exciting to coping through times of grief.
Poetry can also help build your imagination. You can be forced to think about objects, feelings, and experiences in ways that you have never thought about them before. It can also help build your vocabulary and increase your critical thinking skills.
Poetry is something that can evoke many emotions for both a writer and a reader. These emotions include happiness, sadness, grief, accomplishment, inspiration, anger, embarrassment, frustration, humor, and a plethora of other feelings Poetry can also take you places It can take you back in time and stimulate you to think about the past, present, and future. It take you to other planets and galaxies. It can take you to the sky, to the bottom of the ocean, deep underground, to jungles, forests, deserts, and even fictional places from an imagination.
Writing poetry can also provide a framework for your life. A decade from now, you can look back at the poetry you write today and look at it within the context of how things have changed Just like keeping a diary, you can monitor how your feelings change regarding relationships, goals, and experiences. When you write a poem, you have the option of keeping it completely private or sharing it with others.
I have put together some tips for writing poetry:
When writing poetry, do not worry about whether it is “good” or “bad.” Write from your heart. Write with feeling. Write about things which are meaningful to you. If you do this, your poetry will serve a special purpose in your life.
If you are having trouble thinking of words to use, browse through a dictionary or thesaurus. If you are writing about a specific subject, increase your vocabulary and knowledge about that subject. For example, if you want to write a poem about lions, read about lions. Read about their habitats, communication, how they hunt, and how they live in prides. This will provide ideas for both words to use and themes to write about.
Remember that you do not have to write the verses of your poems in the final order. You can write verses as they come to you and later rearrange them in the order that you think flows best.
Although not necessary, I like to try and make a powerful last verse to the poems I write. I like my last verse to be an intense verse that ends the poem with a solid conclusion that ties the poem up and provides a sense of finality.
Explore different forms of poetry. Poetry is a very vast field. There are many rhyming variations you can experiment with. We have many resources about poetry at the library. These resources include materials on how to write poetry and materials that will allow you to read poetry. I encourage you to explore these resources. Library staff will be happy to assist you.
By Shannon Owens, Reference Department
The Technology Age is upon us, ladies and gents! Anything you could ever desire is at your fingertips, rendering third parties nearly obsolete when it comes to food delivery (Seamless, Uber Eats) and retail shopping (Amazon, StitchFix). Now it’s extended into the wonderful world of publishing! ePubs and PDFs are part of our everyday vernacular, and self-publishing has become a rather commonplace alternative. You can see the draw: who needs to find a rare (and potentially expensive) agent at a major publishing house?
Who needs to have a 1,000 pound printing press stowed away in their basement? Why, nobody at all! In fact, being a member of our library gives you access to online software that allows you to publish your own book(s)!
Pressbooks allows you to create professional-quality EBook and print-ready files of your book in ePub, MOBI, and PDF formats. You can write and edit your books without any worry of coding or graphic design: neither is required here. Pressbooks has several themes and formats to choose from, but it won’t take any ownership over your newly minted masterpiece! Already started writing your book? They’ve got you covered there, too! You can copy and paste each chapter into the Pressbooks format or you can upload your entire document from Microsoft Word.
Here’s how to get started with Pressbooks:
- Visit our library website here
- Toggle over the eLibrary drop down link and click on Pressbooks Self-Publishing on the far right side of your screen
- Click “Connect Via Your Local Library” (the big blue button in the middle) which will direct you to the BiblioBoard homepage
- You’ll need to create a profile: click on “Get Started Now”
Now that you’ve knocked out the basics, it’s time to get down to business! You’ll be prompted to add your book information: title, pub date, cover, etc. Most of these data entry spaces are optional, so keep that in mind if you’re still unsure on the details of the book. The main BiblioBoard page allows you to edit data, organize chapters (Main Body), and create a preface (Front Matter) or bibliography (Back Matter), etc. This same page gives you the ability to choose from twenty themes to make your book aesthetically pleasing and uniquely you! When all is complete, every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed, you can export your latest work. Worried this may be difficult? Fear not, the export process involves one button! Can you guess what that button reads? Yep, “Export”…tough stuff, I tell you!
What are you waiting for? Go get signed up and start writing (uh, well, typing) today! This program is absolutely free and one of the best resources for budding authors that our library has available. More questions? Check out Pressbooks’ YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/pressbooks
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
Once again the time has come for us to make you smile through the medium of the blogosphere. Last year we regaled you of the rather painstakingly concocted tale of St. Hilarius, to some fanfare. This year however, a different tack is needed. This year I am going to give you some of the most outrageous books and library facts imaginable. All will be true and factual. That’s what I deal in, you know facts. So hold on to your mouse for some of the great absurdities of literature and libraries.
- Libraries have more cardholders than Visa.
- Libraries have more locations than McDonalds.
- Casanova, one of the greatest lovers in history, was a librarian.
- Ranganathan, an Indian Librarian and Mathematician, created five laws of library science (not to be confused with the three laws of robotics created by Isaac Asimov): 1) Books are for use. 2) Every reader his book. 3) Every book its reader. 4) Save the time of the user. 5) The library is a growing organism.
- King Æthelred, often known as the Unready, was also known as the librarian king, or Writðengel, because of his large collection of hand copied manuscripts.
- Before becoming a leader in the Chinese communist movement, Mao Tse Tung was a librarian at Beijing University.
- 331.892829225209712743090511 is the longest Dewey decimal number on record. It deals with labor relations in tractor manufacturing in Canada in 2001.
- The book How the World Began, written in 1962, is the work of the youngest published author ever, Dorothy Straight, who penned the book for her grandmother at age four.
- The first prose novel, The Tale of the Genji, was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu 1000 years ago (approximately 1008 CE).
- William Shakespeare is credited with inventing more words than any other single person. Among his creations are: hurry, boredom, disgraceful, hostile, money’s worth, obscene, puke, perplex, on purpose, shooting star, and sneak.
- While in Tangiers, William S. Burroughs was known to put his cat, Ginger, into a child’s suit and insist he be served in cafes.
- The longest sentence in the book Les Miserables is 823 words long, and it still falls short of the current record holder. Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age(1964) by Bohumil Hrabal is a novel made up of a single sentence that goes on for 128 pages.
- In early drafts of Gone with the Wind, Scarlet O’Hara was named Pansy.
- Generations have grown up with the Arab street urchin Aladdin, but the original story from Tales of 1001 Arabian Nights begins, “Aladdin was a little Chinese boy.”
- The Land of Oz is named after a filing cabinet. L. Frank Baum had two; one was A-N the other O-Z.
- Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham using less than 50 different words on a dare from his editor. John Milton used more than 8,000 different words to write Paradise Lost.
- Orson Wells radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, of October 30, 1938, was so realistic that people actually believed there was an alien invasion occurring just outside the New York metropolitan area. Police attempted to break in the broadcast studio to end the show because of the number of distraught calls they were receiving.
- Lisbeth Slander, from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is based on Stieg Larsson’s idea of what Pippi Longstocking would be like as a grown up.
Sherlock Holmes may have had the first real fandom. When Arthur Conan Doyle killed off the famous detective he had begun to tire of in His Last Bow, over 20,000 people canceled their subscription to The Strand Magazine. In his autobiography, Doyle writes, “They say that a man is never properly appreciated until he is dead, and the general protest against my summary execution of Holmes taught me how many and numerous were his friends. ‘You Brute!’ was the beginning of a letter which one lady sent me….”
- The first book bought on Amazon was called Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.
- Bibliosmia is the enjoyment of the smell of old books.
- Agatha Christie disliked her creation Hercule Poirot, calling him “a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep.”
- Evelyn Waugh’s first wife’s name was Evelyn. They were known as ‘He-Evelyn’ and ‘She-Evelyn’.
- Edgar Allen Poe, famous for his horror stories, actually invented the mystery genre and was one of the first to propose a solution to the cosmological problem known as Olbers’ Paradox.
- Stephen King was once arrested for vandalism when he went into a bookstore in Virginia and began signing copies of his book.
- Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge joined the army under the name Silas Tomkyn Cumberbatch.
- Noted diarist, Samuel Pepys, made the first recorded instance of an English person drinking tea on 25 September 1660.
- Mickey Spillane insisted that 50,000 copies of his book Kiss Me, Deadly be destroyed for a single typo. The comma was left off the title.
- Duran Duran: The First Four Years of the Fab Five(1984) was Neil Gaiman’s first published book.
- Owing to failing eyesight, James Joyce wrote much of his novel, Finnegan’s Wake, in crayon on pieces of cardboard.
Roald Dahl was a taste tester for Cadbury’s Chocolate in his youth.
- Ian Fleming based many of the traits of James Bond on his friend and amiable rival, Roald Dahl. The two met while working for British Intelligence.
- J. R. R. Tolkien was once known to have dressed up as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and chased his neighbor as a jest.
- The Count of Monte Cristo has such a vivid and realistic description of Dantes’s incarceration due to the fact that Dumas drew upon his recollection of his own time in prison for breaking the appellation d’origine controlee laws (essentially selling counterfeit cheese).
- The Hogwarts houses names were originally written down on an air sickness bag because J. K. Rowling came up with them while on a plane.
- In 1871, Mark Twain held patents for a scrapbooking technique and for an elastic hook and eye strap for garments similar to those used on modern bras.
- Ernest Vincent Wright wrote his 50,000 word novel, Gadsby, without using the letter “e”. Georges Perec did the same thing in French with his novel, La Disparition, but it has the added quality of being translated into English, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Turkish, Dutch, Romanian, Croatian and Japanese all without using the most common letter in their respective language.
In building the M6 Toll Road in the UK, some 2.5 million Mills & Boon (equivalent to the American Harlequin romances) novels were pulped and mixed into the tarmac to help the surface absorbency.
- While visiting a Harry Potter chat room J. K. Rowling was told to be quiet because she didn’t know enough about Harry Potter.
- The Alice who inspired Alice in Wonderland is not the same one who inspired Through the Looking Glass.
So that is the list of the craziest facts about books, authors and libraries I could find. (Okay, I also spend a fair amount of time writing fiction as well so I may have made up a few of these to add a little spice to the mix. Sorry, I can’t let the first of April go by without some fun). Were you able to figure out the crazy but true from the too good to be true? Here are the purposeful missteps:
- King Æthelred was not known as the librarian king. His successor, Alfred the Great, was the first English king to author books.
- Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl did have a friendly, gentleman’s rivalry during their time in the O.S.S. and Dahl was a war hero and lady’s man, but when asked about his inspiration, Fleming did not list his old chum Dahl.
- Alexandre Dumas never served a day in jail for any crime, and chees was not added to the AoC laws until 1925.
- Stephen King was once mistaken for a vandal in a bookstore in Alice Springs, Australia when he went in and began signing copies of his books, but the owner realized who he was long before the authorities were called.
- Burroughs did have a cat named Ginger and got up to some amazing antics in Morocco, but putting Ginger in a suit was not one of them (that we know of).