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Aug 07

Quarantine with My Neighbors by Michelle Flaws

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on August 7, 2020 at 1:49 PM by Genesis Gaule

Picture collage of Sherlock Holmes, Chi's Sweet Home, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Luke Skywalker

Enter the spring of 2020 and because of COVID-19 I found myself working from home, stressed and unable to sleep. I thought that perhaps this would be the best time to finally tackle all of those challenging classics that I’ve been meaning to read someday. There I was perfectly nestled in a blanket, two am in the morning -the most serene time in the night to read, when my neighbors upstairs decided that this would be a good time to vacuum the living room.

Across the hall from me the family’s young children decide that they want to play dodge ball against their front door. I will applaud their effort and enthusiasm, they will always be picked first when they begin school. The worst offender lives downstairs and he is an avid gamer. I have not been able to decipher which video game he plays but he loses regularly and goes on such vulgar and descriptive rants that sailors would make him an honorary member. If his losing streak continues, the angrier he gets the higher his falsetto which sometimes throws me into a giggling fit.

I tried to concentrate on my novel but finally decided to go to bed and turn on both my fan and sleep machine to drown out the neighbors. I’m sure you're thinking, “well that’s just the cost of having such close proximity with neighbors” and you are right ! I sacrifice privacy and noise control for affordable housing at this moment in my life, but what if I could pick my neighbors? Who would I choose? What about literary characters?!

Obviously while I love hobbits, I would have to put in a revolving door for all the communal meals and constant visits. Wizards would cause way too much disruption in the building for a muggle like me. Dracula would be such an interesting person to visit with since he’s lived through so many centuries but his lack of restraint would be dangerous to all of the tenants. Those musically inclined might not be the best fit-because their genius doesn’t abide by a regular schedule and I need sleep-sorry Phantom.

On the basement floor would live all of my animal neighbors--Winnie the Pooh and friends, Chi and the Yamada family, griffins, and Pokémon.

The second floor would be for all my neighbors who worked in the criminal justice sector-Patrick Kenzie is a P.I., Clarice Sterling works for the FBI and Sherlock only takes the most interesting cases.

The third floor would house the neighbors who required the most privacy-I would constantly want to be making excuses to “borrow a cup of sugar”. Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker share a two bedroom apartment.

The apartments available would not be big enough for the Traveller’s time machine but I hear he rents a super secret storage unit for it anyway.

So while I figure out a way to either make an apartment living more zen or finally move out, I’ll continue to imagine what it would be like to have my choice of ideal book character neighbors!

Jul 31

Browsing the Stacks by Cody Rasmussen

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 31, 2020 at 12:09 PM by Genesis Gaule

Looking down the aisle between mystery and junior book shelves

What’s the first thing one does when they visit a new library? They start walking around looking at the different shelves.

Each library usually has its own system that they use to organize their books. I have seen this done in a variety of ways, whether it was by subject material, by the author, or even just by the title of the books themselves. For me it can be both amusing at times, or just downright confusing. Our library has sometimes confused our patrons as well, but there are some easy steps to figuring out the EGF Campbell Library.

Guide to the Library:
  1. One of the first things you need to know about this library, is that the books are first separated by the subject. We have Mystery, Junior, Adult Fiction, and even Military History sections. The sections are clearly labeled on the sides of the shelves, so I’ve found that they can easily be located.

  2. Authors are spread out around the library, so that is one thing that can mess someone up. It’s happened to myself quite a few times. One author that is spread out would be James Patterson, whose books are located anywhere from Junior to Nonfiction. In those cases where the author has written in a variety of genres, the best option would be to either go to a librarian and ask for assistance; or to simply look at the card catalog that is available to the public.

  3. We also have our Nonfiction and Easy Nonfiction sections. These are done using the Dewey Decimal System, and many of you probably have some experience with it.

  4. The library staff is always willing to help browse around with you as well. We all have different interests so we are able to give recommendations to many that would like to read a particular subject.

The last advice I would have for browsing the library is simple, just walk around and look at the shelves. You have no idea how many times I would just walk around and stumble across a book that seems to call to me. Just glancing at the shelves is enough to start you on your next great series.

Hope you all will enjoy browsing the stacks!

Jul 30

Do I Have to Finish It? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2020 at 2:47 PM by Genesis Gaule

close up of a person in a pink t-shirt reading an open book

I’ve started thousands and thousands of books. I’ve finished the majority of them. What?!?

It’s true. I haven’t finished every book I started. They didn’t all hit the spot and there are so many fantastic books I want to read.

This is where the library offers one more advantage. If I check out 2 books at the library and find that the first one isn’t entertaining me or informing me the way I had hoped then I put it aside and read my other choice. Super great idea, checking out a variety to make sure I picked the just right title.

How to pick a book that will take me where I want to go:

  • Here’s my first secret. Read the first 13 lines. Right, a good author can easily catch a reader’s attention in just a few sentences. Often, the first line grabs me and I’m off into a great read!
  • My second secret, if those lines almost caught me then I open to a random page and read only a few lines. Dialogue is good if it is fiction. The end of a subsection if it is nonfiction. If it sounds real then the book will get more of my attention. Even nonfiction books don’t always sound real.
  • I know patrons who read the end first. I’ve never done that and have no intention of trying that approach. Endings can be magnificent, especially when I’m surprised!
  • If still uncertain, my third go-to is to look for other author’s comments on the book jacket. Do I recognize the author and if so, do I like that author’s work? That can sway me.

These guidelines help me choose books for my own reading. Selection of materials for the library’s collection involves quite a bit more work and isn’t nearly as fun.

So back to where I started. How do I decide if the book is going to get better or even amazing when the beginning is ordinary? Excellent question and one our staff discusses often. Some of us have the obligatory, “I started it; I’ll finish it,” mindset. Others go with the first chapter and hope there is a catch at the end that jumps the reader into Chapter 2. Then there is the 100 page trial--way too long for me. I go back to that jump start. If I’m not caught early on there is no chance I’ll push through to the end. My list of must-reads continues to grow at a rate that will outlast my longevity.

To have a public library to try different genres, authors, or formats is a wonderful advantage. Sampling a new book can be like test driving a car or trying on new clothes. Don’t settle for ordinary when there is extraordinary on another shelf!

I’d love to hear how you choose your books. Of course, our friends are a great source of recommendations for what to read next.

In the words of a 3-year-old patron, “I picked this one because it was pink.”