For a long time I couldn’t figure out why the books with “Whoever’s” Wife or Daughter as the title rubbed me the wrong way. I knew that I didn’t like them, but I didn’t know why. The realization was gradual, but I feel like I now fully understand my issue with these books.
The problem is the possession. The “This-Man’s” Wife or Daughter. Like she does not exist without that relationship. She is defined by what some male relation does for a living. She is not her own person.
Many of these books have a good premise. Many of them feature a wife or daughter who is the real hero of the story. I can understand why an author or publisher might chose that title. Maybe she is breaking free of His shadow or secretly responsible for all of His accomplishments. However, there are other, better options. She Has a Name!
While there are legions of books with “So-And-So’s” Wife or Daughter as the title, the opposite is not true. I have been hard pressed to find books with “Some-Lady’s” Husband or Son as the title. I guess men aren’t usually defined by their women, weird.
Here are the books with the best opportunity to be re-christened. They feature strong female lead characters who are their own people, with their own lives and accomplishments. I have included my corrected title suggestions. Please comment below with your own ideas!
Alchemist’s Daughter by Katherine McMahon - Raised by her father in near isolation in the English countryside, Emilie Selden is trained as a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist. When Emilie against her father's wishes experiences the passion of first love, she is banished to London. Corrected Title: The Alchemist’s Banishment
Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin - When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. Corrected Title: The Glider Pilot
Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood - When Emily Warren Roebling marries 'Wash' Roebling a lifetime of family fun and happiness seems within her grasp. But then Wash accepts the position as Chief Engineer on the Brooklyn Bridge, it changes both of their lives forever. Wash convinces Emily to be his messenger to the site. Little by little, Emily finds herself taking over the project-with no formal training. Emily throws herself into building the bridge but faces suspicion and disparagement at every turn as she supervises dangerous construction sites and argues for the safety of the bridge amongst Manhattan's male elite. Corrected Title: Emily’s Bridge
Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch - Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son. A drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin. Convinced she is innocent, Magdalena races against the clock to find the true killer. Corrected Title: Magdalena in the Time of Witches
Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani –Enza's family faces disaster and she, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future. Enza begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan. A portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk. Corrected Title: The Seamstress
Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman - When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw. Zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants. Corrected Title: Antonina’s Zoo While I was writing this post, it made me realize how pissed I would be if someone wrote a book about me and gave it one of these titles. FYI, it would be “The Contractor’s Wife”, gag. So, just in case, my biography is to be called “Bossy Librarian” (obviously), because I am Bossy and a Librarian. What is your biography title? Comment below:
Check back on Thursday for a No Spoiler Book Review of Miracle Creek
It’s officially the time of year when people start giving up on their New Year’s Resolutions. That’s right, two weeks and most people are done. It’s no wonder really, everyone is so busy and no one seems to have enough time for themselves. How do you follow the Whole 30, when you don’t have time to cook? How do you work out when you work 12 hours per day? Here are some quick tips to help you free up some time, so you can prioritize your personal life.
If you are reading this you are either a librarian or an avid reader. If you are an avid reader, you probably read more than me every year. You can read this article, laugh, pat me on the head and tell me my goals are adorable. If you are a librarian, you probably read, on average, what I read every year. You can read this article, quietly nod in agreement, and *maybe* leave me a comment, thanking me for my brilliance.
I only started setting reading goals when my second daughter was born two years ago. I decided to re-read all of the Harry Potters while I was taking my unpaid-maternity-leave. I read all seven in the allotted time, easily. I then continued to read one book per two-week check-out, even after I went back to work. With no problem.
The key to my success was my smart phone. I started downloading books to my phone, so that I would read instead of wasting my life scrolling social media. I had no idea how much time I was wasting on mind numbing social media, until I did this. I went from reading something like 12 books per year, to 24, and in 2019 I read 37! This is the part where the avid readers pat me on the head. In March 2019, I rediscovered audiobooks, which effectively doubled the number of books I can read. WooHoo! So, for 2020, I will basically read one book per week. I know I will occasionally read something that is a little long, or I will be busy with work or some other excuse. So, my official goal will be to read at least 40 books next year, but I expect to read closer to 50. What’s your number? Here are some tips to get you out of a reading slump:
Here are some prompts to help you find books outside of your comfort zone:
Tell me about your reading goals and strategy for 2020. Comment below:
Obviously, I’m talking about New Year’s Day, as I will be in bed by 10 PM on New Year’s Eve. Don’t be ridiculous…
Here in Texas, we are supposed to cook black eyed peas for good luck. I have done this in previous years with mixed results. I think I will still cook them just to be safe, because apparently, I am superstitious. What I actually want is steak and crab with peas as a side dish. You know, to appease the fates. Plus, steak and crab sounds AMAZING!!! I don’t set traditional New Year’s Resolutions, because I think they are cursed to fail. Instead, I spend a lot of time in January planning and setting goals for the upcoming year. I’ll consider diet tweaks, fitness goals, work achievements, hobbies, and time with friends and family. I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts on my blog in January.
Do you have any New Year’s traditions? Have you had luck setting resolutions? Comment below:
We try to keep things pretty simple at our house for Christmas. A couple small presents for the kids and one book or bottle of wine for all of the adults. That being said, we still end up with way too much. Too many presents and too much food. We always have some relative or friend deliver a giant doll house or kitchen set for the girls, plus all the sweets and treats for us. To be clear, I am not complaining.
I know everyone has special Christmas traditions. We live in Texas and before that, we lived in Arizona, so we have benefited from many years of great Mexican food and culture. In our region, it is becoming very popular to have a traditional Tamale feast on Christmas. We get tamales from the best dive shop, and I make Mexican rice, beans and spicy vegetables. This is a tradition that everyone can benefit from, it’s easy and delicious! Feliz Navidad Amigos!
What is your special Christmas tradition? Comment below:
I struggle with what to give to the adults that celebrate Christmas morning with us. Adults seem to have everything that they need/want so I always worry that whatever I buy is just going to be wasted. Last year we did a book and wine (coffee or chocolate for non-drinkers) exchange because we knew that both of those items would be well loved. I ended up with a couple of good books and a few bottles of wine. Honestly, it was perfect. Here are the variations that you can use for your Christmas party.
This Book and Wine is for You
This is what we do, it’s pretty traditional, with everyone giving gifts to each other. We let everyone know that we were limiting gifts to just books and wine. I make sure that I know which books everyone wants and if they prefer red or white. I know some people prefer to guess and have Christmas be more of a surprise, and that is fun too. This year I created a flowchart (nerd alert) that I will send to everyone attending, to help me figure out which book to buy them. If you would like a copy of my flowchart, subscribe below and I will send it to you!
Favorite Books and Wine Gift Exchange This is my favorite idea because all adults would end up with one high quality gift that they actually want. Everyone brings their favorite book or bottle of wine, wrapped or in a gift bag. Follow the rules of the standard White Elephant exchange here. Feel free to brag about the book you brought to encourage readers and non-readers to get excited about new books. Of course, there are a few bottles of wine floating around too, so if a book doesn’t appeal to you, there is a back-up gift option.
I would love to exchange only books and no wine, but I know that not everyone is as much of a bibliophile as I am. Having the second option available takes pressure off of your guests who don’t read as much. It also gives everyone another option, if none of the books sound good to them. Either way everyone gets something they will use and enjoy.
Here is a preview of my flowchart. Please subscribe and I will email you a copy. Don’t worry, I send very few emails, no spam. I promise.
Subscribe below for a free copy!
Check back on Tuesday for a Christmas Gift Book List
Thanksgiving is a small holiday for our family. It is a quiet day to enjoy a nice meal with our family and a few friends. I know that the holiday has a dark history. We certainly don’t celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving tale. For us Thanksgiving is about gratitude.
We host Thanksgiving dinner and I cook most of the traditional meal, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and whatever else anyone wants that year. I do not consider myself a baker, so we go out and buy far too many delicious pies. We’ll have an early dinner and then go for a walk or play card games. We do not have the TV on at all, no parades, no football games. Maybe a little Supernatural after the kids go to bed and everyone goes home.
This year I am thankful for my family and friends. I am grateful that we are fortunate enough to live in a nice home, in a good school district. I am grateful for this blog and for all of the interesting librarians, authors and readers that I have met since starting it. Happy Thanksgiving!
Tell me about your Thanksgiving! Comment below:
Check back on Tuesday for a list of books to read before meeting Santa!
On our way to an end of the year work party in Mexico!
This time of year, we often find ourselves obligated to attend multiple social events with family, friends, and coworkers. If you’re an introverted librarian, like me, the thought of crowded rooms full of noisy people and distractions is overwhelming. I have struggled with these parties for years and have finally collected enough “helpful tips” to actually enjoy myself. Here is what has worked for me.
I think that introverts need to prepare themselves for parties, like marathoners before a big race. Get plenty of sleep the night before, eat healthy and drink lots of water. When it comes time to start getting ready for the party, I usually have a coffee and an apple or banana. This combination seems to give me a boost of steady energy. When I get to the party, if it’s appropriate, I’ll have a glass of wine. This gives my hands something to do while the alcohol works its magic. Obviously, having a drink is entirely up to you.
Halloween is finally here! The uncontested best holiday in the world! This year my family and I are going as Star Wars characters. H will be Ewan McGregor’s Obi-wan Kenobe, my daughters are going as Ahsoka Tano and a baby Ewok. I will be a generic female Jedi. Why a generic female Jedi, you ask? Because there are very young women and very old women in Star Wars and none in the middle. Nobody wants to see me in a Leia bikini, but I’m not retired yet either. So, generic it is.
Every year we host a “Trick-or-Treat” party. We invite everyone we know to come enjoy pizza, beer, wine and unlimited candy. Everyone either goes trick-or-treating or hands out candy to the parade of children. The kids run around the house and the neighborhood like the Witches and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that they are. It’s basically four hours of sugar fueled chaos.
This Halloween, dress up if you want to, eat lots of candy, and let the teenagers trick-or-treat. Whatever your plans are, I hope that it is a happy and safe night. Only 365 more days until next Halloween! Tell me about your plans for Halloween! Comment below:
Check back on Tuesday for a Thanksgiving Picture Book List!
When I first started working at the Library, we had a handful of volunteers who worked a disorganized ten hours per week. We had a few volunteers that had been coming in for years, they would come in when they wanted, do their task and leave. We also had short term volunteers, they would show up when they were available and we would scramble to find work. We had volunteers, but we didn’t have a volunteer program.
When I finally became a proper Reference Librarian, I immediately started conspiring to take over as the Volunteer Coordinator. I liked working events, I liked working circulation and I liked working with Teens, it just seemed like a good fit. It was not a difficult sell. Once I took over, I immediately started a schedule-based volunteer program, and by the end of the month was getting 40-50 hours per week of volunteer work.
Libraries already serve veterans every day. We’ve all seen the Octogenarian with a military service cap on, but we’re also assisting the less obvious young men and women veterans. They might be in need of specialized assistance or they might just need access to services you already offer. Either way, there are many simple ways that library staff can support this group.
The best way to get started is to work with your local Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). As you are probably aware this department is notoriously understaffed and underfunded, so they will likely be grateful for your partnership. Many VA branches will have a staff member available to provide official training on ways that you can support veterans. They will also have contacts within the veteran community for people you can partner with to fill needs and advertise services.
After you have begun working with the VA, you will want to reach out to the veterans that are in your service area. Holding a round-table discussion with a small group of local veterans is a great way to learn their needs. Most of the time their needs will conveniently line up with services that the library already offers. They will likely need, periodic meeting space, specific computer classes, help with job searches or any of the other services you already offer.
As Veterans Day approaches it is a good time to analyze the services that you provide for this group and make improvement where you can. A lot of libraries are almost as understaffed and underfunded as the VA, so just do the best that you can with what you have. Since so many veteran needs overlap with library services, a simple invitation to participate might be all that you need to provide.
Let's Collaborate! How does your library serve veterans? Comment below:
Check back on Thursday for a No Spoiler Review of The End of the Ocean by Lunde
Olivia by Ian Falconer was first published in 2000, it is a popular book featuring a high energy, high fashion piggy on her adventures with her family. The interesting thing about dressing up like Olivia, is that the books are illustrated in black and white with just a little red, so the look is highly stylized. Olivia has several books and a TV series so she is a very recognizable character.
Most parents will be able to assemble this costume with items they already own, a trip to the store and very minimal craftiness.
This is the fourth DIY costume post, please check back on Tuesday for a list of additional costume character ideas.
Pirates Don’t Change Diapers was first published in 2007, it is a popular book that most kids have already read. Jeremy Jacob is a regular boy who gets help babysitting from a silly pirate crew. Assembling a costume is easy because Jeremy Jacob dresses like a normal kid, who has pirate friends. If you add a bandana and a big belt to your kids’ normal jeans and tee shirt, you probably achieved the perfect Jeremy Jacob costume. Ahoy, Pirates!
Most parents will be able to assemble this costume with items they already own, a trip to the store and very minimal craftiness.
This is the third of four DIY costumes, please check back for more ideas.
Fancy Nancy was first published in 2005, it is the quintessential girlie dress up book. One of the nice things about dressing up as Fancy Nancy is that you can use your creativity. There are dozens of Fancy Nancy books and Nancy has a new look in each book, so as long as you are fancy, you can be Nancy. I based my costume creation on the original Fancy Nancy book, but any book in the series works great!
Most parents will be able to assemble this costume with items they already own, a trip to the store and very minimal craftiness. This is the second of four DIY costumes, please check back every day this week for more ideas. You will need:
Halloween is fast approaching and with it, parents in desperate need of a last-minute costume based on a book character. If your town is like mine, the schools celebrate some sort of book based, non-Halloween, dress up bonanza. This means that parents will buy their kids a Halloween costume and then panic when Trixten and Paxler tell them they can’t wear it to school. I have created four school friendly costumes that parents can put together pretty easily. The first is Dylan the Villain, I will post a new character every day for the rest of this week.
Dylan the Villain was first published in 2016, it is an under-rated, fun and mischievous book. I chose this as one of my DIY dress up books, for a couple of reasons. First, we love Dylan the Villain. The story is about a highly competitive, robot building, super villain in training. What’s not to love? Second, Dylan the Villain, is a title character, which helps with recognition. Lastly, even if you have never read Dylan the Villain, you would still recognize the costume as a super-villain (or maybe hero) without having to ask.
Most parents will be able to assemble this costume with items they already own, a trip to the store and very minimal craftiness. You will need:
Almost every summer, my family and I go on vacation to Breckenridge. It’s become imperative that we get out of the 100-degree heat of North Texas Summers and into the nice cool clean mountains of Colorado for a few days. We rent a nice Airbnb within walking distance of town, go for hikes, play at the omnipresent festivals and enjoy good food. It’s always a nice break from the stress and heat of Dallas.
Being a good librarian, I almost always visit the library of whatever town that I am travelling to, but for some reason, I had never made it to the Breckenridge library. This year, I actually scheduled a time to go on a guided tour with the Branch Manager and Operations Manager, it was such a good idea. My typical self-guided library tours definitely skim the surface of everything that libraries have to offer. It was so fascinating to hear the history of the building and about the projects and challenges of the library.
Harry Potter is the number one thing that I am fanatical about. I have read all of the books no less than three times, I own the First American Edition hardbacks of all the books, plus the beautifully illustrated editions, I went to the midnight opening of all eight movies, and I have been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I am a Ravenclaw and I have seriously considered getting a Harry Potter inspired tattoo. However, I had never been to a Harry Potter Convention, so a super fangirl friend of mine and I decided to go together. I only got to go for one day, so I missed a lot of good programs, but we still managed plenty of mischief.
The very first thing we did was get my friend a Butter Beer, because she needed breakfast, and at Leaky Con you have butterscotch flavored slushies for breakfast. After that, we went to a party game hour, that was hosted by the actor who played Frank Longbottom, James Payton. The host called participants out of the crowd to compete in a game of trivia, a spellcasting duel, and a game similar to Taboo. It was entertaining to watch, but there were a lot of people in the crowd, so the chances of participating were small. I wonder if breaking the crowd into smaller groups and allowing everyone to play as a team would have been better? Maybe having a limited registration for participants and unlimited entry for audience? This was still a fun event, but when only 12 people out of 80 get to play, it’s a little disengaging.
Every fall after the madness of Summer has settled down and the kids are back in school, you get but yet another onslaught of parents looking for books by the truckload, Reading Bingo. Any reading program is great and there are many benefits for students, but there can definitely be some challenges for librarians. Hopefully, this article will help you be more prepared when the season hits.
Reading Bingo is a challenge issued by school districts, teachers or school librarians, depending on your district and how they have it set up. My library serves a school district that issues Reading Bingo at the district level and they have the forms available online for each grade. We are very lucky; this is definitely not the case for everyone and it can cause some challenges if these lists are difficult to find. If you happen to work in a district that does not offer reading bingo, it is definitely something you could consider offering to the community through the public library.
I recently realized that I have never attended a book club that I was not being paid to mediate. I enjoy participating in book clubs in this capacity, but I thought I should try one out as a civilian. In the book Big Little Lies, the main characters start an “erotic” book club (which isn’t really) and all they do is hang out and drink and maybe talk about the book a little. It sounded like fun. Pretty much right after I read that, one of my neighbors invited me to join her book club, so of course I over-enthusiastically accepted.
It was pretty much exactly like Big Little Lies. Big perfect house, beautiful and intelligent women, and me, doing my best Bridget Jones impression, as per usual when I’m nervous. I was a few minutes late, yet I was still one of the first people there, I really need to work on my fashionably late entrance. I’m either too early or actually late, how have I not got this down yet? I brought cookies and a Cabernet with a twist cap, because I was not about to try to open a corked bottle with an audience. I think I made the right call.
I suppose most people learn to cook from their parents or maybe by watching cooking shows, but I learned to cook at the library. My mom cannot cook. I recently went to her house for lunch, she made steaks on the grill, one side was CHARRED the other was frozen, we had cereal. I have never watched cooking shows, except in waiting rooms, I actually enjoy them when I watch them, but I haven’t ever sought them out. Does anyone watch them? Is it a spectator thing or are you supposed to cook along with the host? Just wondering… My husband and I primarily ate out when we were younger, but then I started getting more interested in health and decided I wanted to learn to cook, so I started checking out cookbooks at the library.
I loved it when a new cart would come in with a few new cookbooks on it. A couple of the library ladies and I would fight over who would get each new cookbook first. Then we would all review and recommend new recipes to each other. I would consider a cookbook to be “good” if I made one or two recipes from it and liked at least one. Then I would photocopy (is that legal?) the recipe I liked and add it to my recipe binder. FYI, I have moved most of my recipes to the “Recipe Gallery” App on my IPhone, but I still have the binder, just in case. I now have a core understanding of how to cook, so I am not as excited by new cookbooks, but I still enjoy flipping through the new ones when they come in.