Of course it's that time of year. We're all re-girding our loins to make the second semester of the 19-20 school year our best yet. We're revitalized. We're...
maybe perfectly on track?
Each school librarian is having a different experience.
I'm all of the above. After my awesome library aide left to pursue other career opportunities (she is doing great, by the way!), my services cut way back. I had to do her job and mine. Plus, there were some services we were only able to offer because she is bilingual. So I started break feeling like a library loser.
I ordered this book and waited for it to come in during the holiday hullabaloo. "School Librarian's Career Planner" didn't fix everything. About half of the book was aimed towards points in my career I had already passed, so I only glanced at them. This would be an amazing read for someone considering library as a career or still attending library school. I got something really great out of it though. Five fresh ideas to suite my new role! (I'll let you know how they pan out in future posts.) I also got confirmation of what I was working out in my brain already: it's time to prioritize instead of whining, complaining, and pushing for another aide. It's time to look at what I can do all by myself again, not berate myself for what the dreams WERE vs. where the library is right now, and really decide what is worth my energy. I'm realizing my energy is finite - at least right now - and I need to be honest with myself and my program about what is the most important. It all matters. It's not all the best thing for right this second.
So no matter where you are in your career, this is a nice read. It isn't a fix-it book. It's not packed with lists of ideas. I purchased my copy used from Amazon for only $14, and it's likely I'll only read it this once. I plan on giving my copy to the library program I graduated from to see if they can pass it off to an interested student.
How long has it been since I was really, genuinely bursting with excitement over a YA book?
Let me tell you: it's been awhile.
I don't know what clicked SO MUCH with "A Danger to Herself and Others" by Alicia Sheinmel, but it did. Could it be that I was reading in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep? Sure. But it comes down to the fact that it gave me a lot of thoughts and feelings as a reader. Isn't that the whole point of reading?
I love the unreliable narrator aspect - and I've rarely seen it executed this well. Hannah is very easy for me to connect and sympathize with. She has a lot of anxiety and coping mechanisms in place throughout the book that honestly seem pretty reasonable. Counting steps? Sure. Not hurting anyone by counting steps. I think that's why I was so blown away by the book. We see everything through Hannah's perspective and she's a worthy narrator.
The masterful storytelling is something that has me really excited to share "A Danger to Herself and Others" with my readers. April Henry fans will devour this book. Heck, I would read it again! (And I'm known for NOT re-reading books.) It's suspenseful, nothing comes out of left field without justification, and just...beautiful. Beautifully written.
Finally, that ending... I wanted to pull Hannah to me and hug her myself. Her parents were so distant and aloof that I could barely stand it. The author doesn't cave to my need to know Hannah is going to be alright. She lets it dangle in front of me without succumbing to the trend to put a pretty bow on every ending - especially when dealing with mental illness. I am thrilled that this book is in my library's collection and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
It's not about money. It's just that no matter what I do - how long I work or what I accomplish - I never hear anything positive. If I make a mistake, I hear about it immediately, but if I do my job well, the silence is overwhelming.
I don't know Dave, the man who said the text above, but I feel him. I know my colleagues feel him as well.
My knowledge of the five love languages is pretty normal. I read the original book for marriages plus the one for teens. I think the main challenge in the workplace one is isolation. It takes a lot to figure out your co-workers' love languages unless your whole workplace does the inventory and shares the results (which, honestly, my personality prefers BIG TIME). The authors do give you signs to start working out the love language of those around you, but I don't know. I prefer it directly from them.
While I found some nuggets that were worth the read, I didn't really LEARN all that much from this book. I loved the initial chapters where all of the data was. (Surprise!) Once speculation began, I didn't feel it was as valuable. I liked a few of the examples - even highlighted 2 of them to share with a specific co-worker. Framing compliments as "One of the things I admire about you is...", "I wish I were more... (like them)", and being detailed and specific were all great pieces of advice.
I would recommend this to any supervisor of any kind in any field. Appreciation only means so much coming from a coworker. It tends to mean more the higher up the ladder that it comes from. However, if you're like me and searching for ways to show your colleagues that you appreciate them, it's worth a flip through - even if you have to resist the urge to make all of them take the inventory so you just know their language.
"Born a Crime" had me laughing out loud, pausing to wonder, and voraciously listening - until I only had 90 minutes left. Then, I slowed down. I didn't want the book to end. I feel this is unique to the audiobook - this desire to savor what little storytelling is left. Some of the subject matter was really hard to listen to, not because it was graphic, but because I've never really experienced inequality. Trevor helped me understand a bit more what it's like to be "on the other side" of the issue by letting me hear about apartheid. These first hand accounts are irreplaceable. Soon enough, fiction will paint its magical dust over them. Readers will experience the events with a veil over their eyes.
The resounding message of perseverance - doing what it takes and not forgetting who you are - intermingled with a setting just similar enough to be relatable yet with intriguing differences make this a sure winner for people who enjoy autobiographies, Trevor Noah's performances, or are just interested in what it is like to grow up in another part of the world.
You know that feeling when you pick up a book that's about a truly underrepresented minority in YA (Young Adult) lit, and your hopes are SO HIGH but your expectations are SO LOW? That's how I went into listening to the audiobook of "A Very Large Expanse of Sea" by Tahereh Mafi.
From the get-go, I loved Shirin. She's a potty-mouth, withdrawn teenage girl who has BEEN THROUGH SOME STUFF. This survivor was assaulted in the wake of 9/11 for wearing a hijab, nearly killed. Dealing with the outside fear of her religion every day leads Shirin to the safety of solitude by the time high school hits.
Shirin is very interesting to me. As a high school teacher with a few Muslim students in my school, I sort of listened with the context of, "Is this what they go through?" Honestly, the book's events are very realistic without being over the top. Some crazy things happen, but they are not outside of the realm of possibility. For example, Shirin's love of breakdancing turns into a passion as she joins a breakdancing team. What an amazing catalyst for empowerment! (Side note: I remember the first time I saw women in hijabs playing roller derby. I cheered and may have shed a tear of intense pride.)
Conversations take place throughout AVLEOS that give the reader more information about what it's like to wear a hijab, why some girls wear them, and what the consequences are for not wearing one. Basically, any question you've secretly wanted to ask a woman wearing a hijab are addressed in the book in a natural way.
Overall, what I liked best about the book isn't the love story or the acceptance Shirin gains from her peers. It's simply an the authentic voice and experiences of Shirin. Anyone can read "A Very Large Expanse of Sea" and benefit from it. I have it in the high school library where I work and am committed to promoting it. My students have a lot of experience with Latino culture and Nebraska culture, but not with other cultures that are now being represented in our school. This book is a great way to acquire understanding both of what it's like to be a Muslim high school girl and to examine how the people around her react to her presence.
Mark my words:
YOU WILL SEE YOURSELF IN THIS BOOK.
Will you like what you see?