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Library Matters

Library Matters is a podcast by Montgomery County Public Libraries exploring the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning.
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Library Matters is a podcast of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) in Montgomery County, MD. Each episode we explore the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning. Library Matters is hosted by Julie Dina, Outreach Associate, Lauren Martino, Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch, and David Payne, Branch Manager of our Davis branch and Acting Branch Manager of our Potomac branch.  

Jan 3, 2018

Listen to the audio

David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.

 

Lauren Martino: And I'm Lauren Martino.

 

David Payne: And as we kick off the New Year 2018 and we haven't quite forgotten 2017 and here to discuss the 2017 book here with us, two MCPL staff members, JoEllen Sarff, who is with our collection management department and Dianne Whitaker, who is branch manager at Wheaton Interim Library. We're going to be talking a lot about books obviously and a lot of titles will be mentioned and a reminder that you can find the list of everything that's mentioned in today's podcast by going to the Library Matters website and checking our show notes. So looking back over 2017, what kind of year has it been for literature? How would you both sum up the year?

 

JoEllen Sarff: I think children's and teen books it's been a very good year. We've seen many more diverse characters represented in the books that have been published. There are more biographies of people of color and international people, lesser known people that are important to our world. In the adult fiction and adult non-fictions areas, this year, I saw that the refuge experience in the United States and in Europe was a theme as well as the stranger in a strange land kind of experience. It definitely seemed to be a theme in the fiction. There were more people from multicultural backgrounds, diverse backgrounds who were writing and getting published this year. In addition, in the non-fiction area, racism and totalitarianism were big themes, and for instance, the national book award of non-fiction winner was The Future Is History.

 

David Payne: So in terms of quality then, you would say, sum up 2017, a good year overall.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yes, definitely.

 

David Payne: Well, looking back over the year, which of 2017’s hottest titles took you both by surprise?

 

Dianne Whitaker: What took me by surprise was the emergence of classic old literature that became top of the best seller list. For instance, it can happen here by Sinclair Lewis, the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and the subsequent television show on who and which one and Emmy award for best drama and the 1984 by George Orwell were all top of the best seller list.

 

JoEllen Sarff: And I found interesting that a very old story that was just written in pieces by Mark Twain, he has become very popular, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine and it was actually Mark Twain wrote it, wrote down pieces of it as he told his daughters a bedtime story and it was found in Berkeley where his papers are kept. An author took that and wrote the rest of the story, filled in the gaps. So it's kind of interesting to see over 100 years ago, here we have Mark Twain coming back with a new story that no one's ever heard before. The other one is a book called After the Fall by Dan Santat and it's about what happens to Humpty Dumpty. And, the rhyme says that Humpty Dumpty couldn't be put back together again, but in this book, he is put back together. And it's a very interesting story about how he's afraid of heights and he doesn't want to go back on the wall, so it gives children a support when it's okay to be fearful and that he overcomes his fear and does go back on the wall to watch his beloved birds.

 

David Payne: Very interesting. Who knew that Humpty Dumpty would be the star of 2017?

 

JoEllen Sarff: Exactly.

 

David Payne: What's in store for 2018 I wonder? So breaking down by genre, what in particular stood out for you both in fiction, anything that really comes to mind and was it a good year in fiction?

 

JoEllen Sarff: I think it was a very good year in fiction. There were lots of different stories told with lots of multicultural characters, people from other countries. Two that kind of stand out for me is the Wishtree, which was written by Katherine Applegate and it's a story told by a tree, the tree is red, he's been around for 216 years and he's seen many things happen. And one day, someone carves the word leave, leave into the tree and there's a new immigrant family that's Muslim that lives in the neighborhood. And so, the owner of the property is thinking, well, should I cut the tree down, should I leave it, it's a permanent mark on the tree. And so what happens when the tree tries to help carry things along and has a very satisfying ending. And the other book is Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and the whole story takes place in 60 seconds. And it's about a boy whose brother was killed and he has a code where you don't cry, you don't snitch and there's always revenge. So he gets on the elevator on the seventh floor of his house, he's grabbed a gun, put it in the back of his waistband, and as he gets eight floor, he stops and someone gets on the elevator, someone who's passed away, but has a message for him and what happens when he gets down to the ground level, what's he going to do, very powerful, yes.

 

David Payne: like to see that Dianne?

 

Dianne Whitaker: Several books stood out for me this year. In historical fiction and it was also I think kind of a literary fiction book was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It was really a unique book because it started off, was telling the story of the death of Willie Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln son and his first - when he was first in the White House and - but that's just the beginning, that's just the stage for the book. The book is really about the - almost I guess the battle for Willie's soul as he is in the Bardo, the netherworld between death and the afterlife. And Lincoln - Abraham Lincoln comes to Willie to grieve and show his love that he misses him so much and so Willie has a hard time going on, but what's really unique about the book is it's told in multiple voices of the ghosts, the spirits that inhabit the cemetery and inhabit the Bardo. And they are amazed at the love that Abraham Lincoln has for Willie. And what's really I think really unique is, you're going back and forth in different spaces of time and place over a course of several months. It's not truly a narrative fiction. So it is very unique and it won the Man Booker award for this year.

 

Another title that I really liked this year was the final book in the Broken Earth trilogy N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky. It really was probably one of the best fantasy books that I've read in many years. The whole Broken Earth trilogy, the first book, the Fifth Season won the 2016 Hugo, the second book, the Obelisk Gate won the 2017 Hugo and I suspect The Stone Sky will be running for the 2018 Hugo, but basically, it's the story of a person in an alternate Earth where they have these cataclysmic geologic disasters known as fifth seasons and it turns out that it could be very far in the future in an alternative Earth, but it's the theme and it is actually racism underneath and how you overcome slavery and those are told, so that it has an actual - very intense moral message for our time and it's also the story of love, both romantic love and love between a mother and a daughter. I would highly recommend that. And as far as non-fiction, adult non-fiction, I really like the Hidden Life of Trees, which gave me a really interesting perspective on how trees are in forest for a reason, they communicate through the roots and they live together in community and it's a narrative non-fiction told by a German forester and I would highly recommend people reading and if they really want to understand why nature needs to be protected.

 

Lauren Martino: So we've talked about some of the adult titles that have been popular this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the outstanding children's and young adult titles?

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yes. There are many. To choose from, it's hard to just do a few. I would like people to know about Lauren Wolk's book, Beyond the Bright Sea. It's an interesting story about a baby who set adrift and lands on an island and an older gentleman finds her and cares for her. And she knows nothing about her past, nobody does and when she becomes older, they notice that there are some fires off in the distance and the fires are coming closer, so they're a bit concerned what this all means. And as the story unfolds, you find out more about her past and what the fires mean.

 

Lauren Martino: So this isn't some sort of like maybe future scenario where we're not quite sure?

 

JoEllen Sarff: I want to yes. One of those where you kind of go, oh, okay, it's - we're not quite sure what happened.

 

Lauren Martino: So a little bit ambiguous, now trying to figure out the entire time exactly what's going on. It is interesting.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Exactly. And another book that people might be interested in is Step Up to the Plate. Maria Singh wrote this book. It's a historical fiction, 1945, California, the city towns, people want to start a girl's softball team and the main character in this story wants to be on the team and so it's her getting ready to prepare for the team and that her family heritage is interesting. She has a Spanish mother and her father is Eastern Indian. You learn a lot about her family as you read the book and how she tries to get on the team. And I talked about Wishtree a little bit earlier and that's one of my favorite books for this year about the old oak tree and how they try to save the oak tree from being cut down and wishtree comes from hanging wishes on the tree on May 1st and the owner of the tree had forgotten about her family history and how that came about and how they resolved the tree issue.

 

David Payne: Interesting that trees have [CROSSTALK] [00:11:31].

 

JoEllen Sarff: And you find out the trees are named just very plainly. It's red, because it's a red oak tree. And his friend Bongo who is a crow, the two of them talking.

 

Lauren Martino: So it's from the tree's perspective?

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yes. It is. The tree and the tree - you have the tree's thoughts and at one point, he actually says something to a human being, which is something you never do. Trees don't talk. But they did. So that was very interesting. And a couple of children's books, the Wolf in the Snow and if you've seen that one as -

 

Lauren Martino: I don't think so. Is it a picture book or?

 

JoEllen Sarff: It's a picture book it has a little boy in a red snowsuit on the front and a little baby wolf and they both are out in the snow and they get lost in a snowstorm. So they're walking, trying to find their homes and they find each other. So the little boy is almost wordless, but the boy kind of helps the wolf because he can't walk in the snow. It's getting too deep and he carries him and then they hear wolves howling and the little boy is frightened and suddenly, you have a little boy holding the wolf, baby wolf and momma wolf and you wonder what's going to happen. Well, momma wolf takes baby wolf and then the wolves kind of follow him and then he finds his way. And the other one is Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Deedy.

 

Lauren Martino: Yeah. It's gotten a lot of buzz. Hasn't it?

 

JoEllen Sarff: I guess, you heard her tell stories twice. She's an incredible storyteller and now she's starting to write some of her own stories and putting them in picture books.

 

Lauren Martino: Like Martina the Beautiful Cockroach.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yes. She has another one. I hope she does. I heard her tell a story. It's about the sun and the moon and how this sun and the moon don't pass and the moon always wants to see the children, but she can't because it's night out and so how they work that out and I hope she makes that into a picture book in the future. Let's talk about it.

 

Lauren Martino: Do you have any Dianne?

 

Dianne Whitaker: One I would add to the list is Amina's Voice. I really liked that book. It's a story of a young girl who is 11, going to middle School for the sixth grade and she's got a best friend, Soojin. Soojin is Korean American and Amina is Pakistani American. And Amina becomes very upset because Soojin starts to be friending another girl named Emily who Amina is not quite sure she likes her and she, in a way becomes a little bit jealous of Soojin and Emily's relationship. As it happens, it's very typical middle school.

 

Lauren Martino: Yes. It's like half of all middle school books, but it's true life.

 

Dianne Whitaker: But the truth of it is Amina is also coming to terms with her identity as a young Muslim and there's things about being Muslim, she doesn't like because she has a very overbearing uncle who comes to visit and he tells her that she's got - she loves music, she loves to sing, she likes playing the piano and he tells her music is not something that she should be doing, tells her father that. And so, she's not real thrilled with that. And she's very concerned because she wants to stay being a good girl, but she loves her music. But she also is - she's looking forward to a Quran competition where they do a recitation of the Quran and then their community center, I guess, the mosque is vandalized. And it's how things turn around or change because of the vandalism, that's the crux of the story. And it just seemed very appropriate in their time, because I thought it that there might be a lot of middle school and upper elementary children in their community who might find it very, very good read, so. Yes. It was very good, very good.

 

Lauren Martino: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Febe Huezo: Hey, did you know that a library card is a must have in your wallet? With a library card, you can download books, learn a new language in my favorite download music. Visit a nearby branch and get your library card today. So the next time someone asks you what's in your wallet, you can show them your MCPL card.

 

Lauren Martino: Now, back to our program.

 

David Payne: Well, out of all that you read this year, if you have to choose a gift for somebody, give a book as a gift, what would you choose and why?

 

JoEllen Sarff: Well, it depends on the person. I couldn't choose just one title. I would - there's like two or three titles that I would choose. The Broken Earth trilogy, I would give to the science fiction fantasy fans in my family, it is just so good that I felt that they would definitely enjoy because of the emphasis on love and just the unique setting of a geologic upheaval that these people are going through and just all the overcoming of the enslavement and just how they become better people and then find their identity through who they are. And it's definitely adult book. It's - has strong sexual themes in it, but it is really, really got a good message.

 

Lauren Martino: So it's science fiction that really focuses on the human aspect?

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yes, definitely, particularly estrangement between mother and daughter and then the love between mother and daughter and that's one of the key themes in it.

 

David Payne: Sounds like a good read.

 

JoEllen Sarff: It is - the other one that I would - for the non science fiction fans, I would recommend, it is actually a book from last year, but I got hold of it and read it this year was Hillbilly Elegy. It was a really good biography about overcoming hardships and particularly what it's like to grow up in rural Appalachian Rust Belt, southern Ohio and actually become a very successful person. And I think knowing different people that - those would be by choices. Also Neil Gaiman's mythology, Norse mythology would be another choice that I would give, because actually my son in law asked for that.

 

David Payne: Yeah, and your game is always a winner.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Necessarily yes, and the audio books too. Well, he tells the stories in current English that is easy to understand, but he brings them to life in a way that’s uniquely Neil Gaiman.

 

Lauren Martino: And just some of the dry, like, I'm going to kill you and this is the way he says it. It's hilarious. But not every author can narrate their own audiobooks and Neil Gaiman is the strong exception. Sorry, I'll stop with the audiobooks.

 

JoEllen Sarff: I have three giftbooks that I'd like to suggest. The first one is Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares. It's a story about two cardinals that live in this huge pinetree. More trees? Yes. And one day Red is off gathering some food to bring back to Lulu and when he comes back, the tree has been cut down and it's on a hotbed truck pulling away from the house that they've lived up in front of her salon. And he's just frantic. So he starts flying as fast as he can trying to keep up with the truck and he can hear Lulu talking. She's crying to him and he's reassuring her, I'm going to be there, but they are going to New York City. And there's this incredible picture where Lulu, friend Red is over here and you see the George Washington Bridge and you see the truck with a tree way in the distance. And so, he frantically flies all over New York, looking for the tree. And he remembers a song that people sang, the old Christmas tree and he hears that song. And he finds Lulu. It's just a really sweet story. Another work book is called Dance by Matthew Van Fleet. And it's about a little chick that was born, hatched out of an egg yesterday and he goes to the local dance hall, because he says, "I don't know how to dance." That's his first priority. I am born, need to dance. And so he meets various people in the dance hall and the hippos teaching the [hula] [00:20:58], the rabbits teach him how to hop and the crazy pigs teach him how to tap. So at the end of the book, you see him doing all the various dances. It's a word book with flaps, little hinges that actually turn. So, it would just be a great one for preschool. And I could just see them learning the dances and then dancing and [CROSSTALK] [00:21:25]. And then for the older non-fiction, there's a Harry Potter journey through magic book, which is really beautiful. It's got lots of color pictures and talks about the history of magic and brings Harry Potter movies in a - books and movies into it.

 

Lauren Martino: Is there anything you're still waiting on or anything you didn't quite get finished this year that you're excited about?

 

JoEllen Sarff: Many

 

Dianne Whitaker: Me too. I have a fairly long list of titles that I would like to read for and I actually have several holds. I'm looking at Pachinko set in Japan and Korea and it's - it was shortlisted for National Book Award, but as I said, it's a historical fiction set in the early 20th Century and other than that, it looked interesting. So I think I'll put that on - that's on my list. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Roy - Arundhati Roy. That looks really interesting. It's on my bookshelf, but I haven't quite started reading it yet. Column of Fire by Ken Follett is another one on my list. The Radium Girls is another one on my list.

 

Lauren Martino: Just never ends. Does it?

 

Dianne Whitaker: It never ends. And Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. I love biographies as well as historical fictions. So that one is definitely on my list too.

 

David Payne: Ken Follett's huge book will keep you busy for a while I suspect.

 

Dianne Whitaker: And I've read Pillars of Fire and World Without End. So I've read the other two. So it's just - I like the Century trilogy that came out in 2010, 11 and 13, 14 that that was good, but I like this one too.

 

JoEllen Sarff: One of the books that I've been interested in reading is called Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi. He wrote Ship Breaker several years ago and I really enjoyed that book and he's since come out with Dream Cities and this is another one I am not really calling it as sequel, it is just part of a series. So I'm not sure exactly how they are connected together, but in this one, their tool is actually a robot Android that works for the government. And -

 

Lauren Martino: A bureaucrat robot.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yes. A bureaucrat robot and he becomes self-aware and decides he doesn't like what the government is doing. So, kind of - I mean, I'm interested in seeing what happens because I really did enjoy the first book. And the First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez. It's about a girl who moves to Chicago with her mom and she's always been a little bit of an outsider. She marches to her own drama. In the first day of school, she violates the dress code and then she meets up with the popular girl in school and she decides she doesn't want to be friends with her. She wants to stay with other people and she starts a band. So, this is definitely marching to her own drum. And then Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Garcia Williams - Williams-Garcia. It sounds like a great story about -

 

Lauren Martino: At one crazy summer.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Yeah. Right. And that Clayton's grandfather who was a musician passes away and his mother says that we can't play music in the house anymore. And so he just hurts - he wants to remember his grandfather, he went with him all the time and he plays harmonica, so he ends up running away and joining up with some of the men who his grandfather used to play with and they go out on the road.

 

Lauren Martino: This could be the year of the musical kids [CROSSTALK] [00:25:50] and Clayton Byrd. Yes. Diverse musical kids. Do you have any - so, this isn't a question on - we didn't prep you for this question, but do you have any new barrier, Caldecott predictions. I don't know if this will come out by the time they've announced them, but -

 

JoEllen Sarff: It should. I love Wishtree. I just think it's just one of those perfect books where there's so definitely for a new very - I'm hoping it's seriously considered. And Rooster Who Wouldn't be Quiet, Wolf in the Snow and Red and Lulu. I think they are all great contenders for the Caldecott. We'll find out.

 

Lauren Martino: We'll find out soon.

 

David Payne: Well, can you tell us some of the - give us any tips as to how we might find out about the latest books? What's coming out? What are the tools and resources that MCPL has that we can use?

 

JoEllen Sarff: The books and author's database is one tool to be using. I've been using it for about a year I guess and it's very interesting, because you can create an account, similar in a way to - you would use good reads where you can rate things and then you could - it comes up with reader likes or books that they would recommend as well. And you can see what's forthcoming, which I think is a good feature. There's also a Novelist, which also gives reader likes as well. And has a Novelist K-8, yes, and then there's our own forthcoming books on our website too.

 

Lauren Martino: our Digital Times too those splash up like with the top couple of titles that have been checked out for children and for adults. Those are kind of fun too.

 

JoEllen Sarff: I'd also like to suggest Beanstack as a good resource for parents where you can actually sign up your children and they will send you emails with suggested books. And there's also an adult component to that.

 

Dianne Whitaker: So I would just like to talk about some of the trends that I'm seeing in science fiction. One of the themes I saw this year was climate change becoming a theme. And dystopia in general has been a continuing theme as well. There was a September article in The New York Times about climate change fiction and several titles were from 2017 were recommended, including New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. I finished reading last month and American War by Omar El Akkad and he's an up and coming new writer, Canadian actually. That was really interesting too because it wasn't just about climate change, it was about the future as though we had a civil war over climate change and the survivors. And it is set in the early 22nd century, in the Southern United States, so I’ll give you an hint on that, they also recommended born by Jeff Vandermeer who's a well known science fiction writer and that was kind of unique because it wasn't really climate change, it was more the after effects of pollution on the grand scale and genetic engineering go on a wry and it's a love story actually I think and how one person finds humanity by adopting a critter that is truly unique and how the interplay between bioengineered critters become paramount in their world of that time and how the two main characters come to terms with their past and they find their love surviving.

 

Lauren Martino: So we ask all of our guests here on Library Matters, what's in your bed stand that you're just dying to gush about and tell it. Share with the world.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Right now, I have two books on my nightstand and they're both fairly thick. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson is my science fiction of the month and then I also have the Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy.

 

Lauren Martino: So you're going to get to it very soon.

 

JoEllen Sarff: Next week.

 

Dianne Whitaker: I have an adult book on my nightstand, The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille. I belong to a book club and we're going to be reading it for next month and the other one is Wonder. I have not read it and I want to read it before I go see the movie.

 

Lauren Martino: [CROSSTALK] [00:30:49] we've had like five people ask this one after the other.

 

Dianne Whitaker: I hope to get to it this weekend and return it so someone else can enjoy it.

 

Lauren Martino: Have you started it yet?

 

Dianne Whitaker: No.

 

Lauren Martino: Oh my Gosh. That first chapter, it's like laugh cry, laugh cry, it's credible. Well, thank you so much Dianne and JoEllen for coming and talking to us today about what's been great this year in the world of literature. Please keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple podcast and we love to know what you think. Thanks for listening to our conversation today and we'll see you next time.

 

[Audio Ends]

Jan 2, 2018

Recording Date: December 13, 2017

Hosts: Lauren Martino and David Payne

Episode Summary: Guests JoEllen Sarff and Dianne Whitaker, who both have experience selecting books for MCPL, discuss their picks for the best books of 2017, along with a few titles from other years, because, well, we're librarians. Our book love can't be confined by something so pedestrian as time.   

Guests: Librarian JoEllen Sarff, from our Collection Management department, and Wheaton Interim Branch Manager Dianne Whitaker, former head of Collection Management. 

Featured MCPL Resource: An MCPL library card is your ticket to new worlds, a new life, a new career, and more. MCPL offers fantastic fiction to fuel your imagination, exercise and nutrition books and DVDs to enhance your health. online training to catapult your career, and so much more. Get your MCPL library card today. 

What Our Guests Are Currently Reading

JoEllen Sarff: The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille and Wonder by R J. Palacio. 

Dianne Whitaker: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. 

Books Mentioned During this Episode

Adult Fiction:

American War (2017) by Omar El Akkad

Borne (2017) by Jeff VanderMeer

Column of Fire (2017) by Ken Follett. The previous 2 novels set in the fictional city of Kingsbridge are Pillars of the Earth and World Without End

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) by George Saunders, winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize

1984 by George Orwell

The Stone Sky (2017) by N.K. Jemisin. This is the third book in the Broken Earth trilogy. The first book is The Fifth Season. The second book is The Obelisk Gate

Adult Non-Fiction

The Future Is History (2017) by Masha Gessen

Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlenben

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Leonardo da Vinci (2017) by Walter Isaacson

Radium Girls: the Dark Story of America's Shining Women (2017) by Kate Moore

Children's Fiction

After the Fall (2017) by Dan Santat

Amina's Voice (2017) by Hena Khan

Beyond the Bright Sea (2017) by Lauren Wolk

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (2017) by Rita Williams-Garcia

Dance (2017) by Matthew Van Fleet

The First Rule of Punk (2017) by Celia C Perez

Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson

Pachinko (2017) by Min Jin Lee

The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine (2017) by Mark Twain. How can a book written by Mark Twain have a publication year of 2017? Well, it's complicated

Red and Lulu (2017) by Matt Tavares

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet (2017) by Carmen Agra Deedy

Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh (2017) by Uma Krishnaswami

Wishtree (2017) by Katherine Applegate

Wolf in the Snow (2017) by Matthew Cordell

Children's Non-Fiction

Harry Potter: a Journey Through the History of Magic (2017) The British Library

Teen Fiction

Long Way Down (2017) by Jason Reynolds

Tool of War (2017) by Paolo Bacigalupi. Tool of War is book three in the Ship Breaker trilogy. The first book is Ship Breaker. The second book is The Drowned Cities

Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

Beanstack: An online service where users can log their reading, write reviews, and get reading recommendations. 

Books & Authors: A book discovery tool with read-alikes and suggestions, awards lists, reviews, and reader ratings. 

New in Media: Check the left column of our catalog for links to the latest film and television DVD's, as well as adult and children's books on CD, that MCPL has received. 

NoveList Plus: Find fiction by series, plot, setting, and read-alikes. Also offers book discussion guides, booktalks, and articles. 

On Order Titles: Check the left column of our catalog for links to new books that MCPL has ordered, but have not yet arrived. You can place holds on these incoming books. 

Top 4 Checkouts: See the top 4 checkouts for adult fiction and non-fiction, children's fiction and non-fiction, and teen fiction during the last several months. 

Read the full transcript

Dec 20, 2017

Listen to the audio

Julie Dina: Welcome to Library Matters, a podcast at the Montgomery County Public Library. I’m your host, Julie Dina. Everyone wants a friend and I’m glad to say Montgomery County Public Library has a friend with the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County chapter.

 

Today on the program, we have Ari Brooks, Executive Director, and Lance Salins, Business Manager of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County chapter, FOLMC. Welcome guys.

 

Ari Brooks: Thank you.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, thank you for having us.

 

Julie Dina: So let’s start of if you can let the listeners know what exactly is FOLMC?

 

Ari Brooks: We are a group of dedicated residents of Montgomery County who believe very strongly in the value of the library system and came together back in 1983 to make a good library system, a great library system.

 

FOLMC is first of all a parent organization, Friends of the Library Montgomery County to 17 chapters of Friends of the Library. So at the 21 branches here at MCPL, 17 of those branches have chapters that report under our parent organization.

 

Julie Dina: What would you say is the difference between the FOLMC and the Friends of each individual chapter?

 

Ari Brooks: Well, the major difference is that FOLMC, the parent organization works with the public library system to provide enhanced programs or services throughout the entire system. So we for example helped pilot a lot of the new materials in libraries that really didn’t exist back in the ‘80s or even in the ‘90s.

 

So we piloted the VHS tapes as a new media. So we purchased, I think it was $60,000 that we put into the collections budget. And then when DVDs replaced the VHS tapes, we purchased DVDs for the collections. We piloted CDs, musical CDs, to help the system to determine whether or not people would go to the library and check out other materials, you know, other than books or magazines, your traditional materials.

 

So those were the kinds of things that we provide, again, enhanced programs, services, and materials that are going to impact the entire library community. Another example of that is the fact that we piloted the first session management software found in MCPL. So remember a very long time ago when the computers were first introduced to libraries, volunteers and library staff actually cued the lines.

 

And then software was developed to allow you to enter your library card number to be able to use the computer for a certain amount of time. Well, we piloted that software first at the Long Branch Library. And then the library director came back and wanted to pilot another version of that. We purchased that. Again, it was piloted at the Long Branch, branch and at Gaithersburg because those were two branches that had traditionally the highest computer use, public computer use.

 

And so, again, we are in the position that we can help the system by funding things that will benefit the entire library community. Whereas the local chapters really work hand in hand with their branch mangers to look at what the unique needs are of their community and how they can fund programming that is very specific to their community needs.

 

So you might find more Chinese Lunar New Year programs at one branch because of a certain, you know, demographics or you might find more children’s programming at one branch or more programming for older adults at another branch. Again, based on demographics and based on what the branch manager says the community really needs. So that is the major differences. We’re looking at the system as a whole whereas the chapters are really focused on their branches in their communities.

 

Julie Dina: So tell us about your work with the FOLMC? Exactly, what would you say your role is in the whole thing?

 

Ari Brooks: Sure. Well, I’ve been the executive director for almost 15 years now.

 

Julie Dina: Wow.

 

Ari Brooks: I know.

 

Julie Dina: Did you start when you were five?

 

Ari Brooks: Basically, six.

 

Julie Dina: Six?

 

Ari Brooks: Six and a half. And so my role is to oversee the organization to make sure that the mission and vision as it has been carved out by the Board of Trustees is carried out. And we do that through a strategic plan to make sure that community needs are being met and that the residents of this county needs are being met through our support of public libraries.

 

So I get to work very closely with Lance who oversees the bookstore, so a big part of what I do is support him in his role. We do have a development staff that does your traditional fundraising. We’re a membership organization, so we recruit people to become members of Friends of the Library. We do receive grants. So there is a lot of very traditional fund raising that goes on as well. So I oversee all of those activities and the administrative functions as well. It doesn’t sound very exciting the way I’m describing it right now, but it is my –.

 

Julie Dina: I’m sure it is.

 

Ari Brooks: – life’s passion. It is a very rewarding work to know that I am in a position to be able to support something that every single resident of Montgomery County can ultimately benefit from.

 

Julie Dina: Sounds good. So who then can join the Friends?

 

Ari Brooks: You can join the Friends. Anyone –.

 

Julie Dina: I can be your friends?

 

Lance Salins: Anyone, everyone.

 

Ari Brooks: Anyone can join the Friends of the Library. We’re a very welcoming group. And we want to expand our base of friends in Montgomery County because, you know, when you consider how many people have library cards, all of those people potentially should be a friend of the library.

 

Julie Dina: That is true.

 

Ari Brooks: Even if you don’t have a library card or don’t consider yourself a library person or a reader, you should still be a friend of the library.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, even if you’re not a regular library user every day and I’ve met people at our stores that say that they don’t – they just buy books new. They don’t use the library. But they – it is still would benefit them to support and be a friend of their library system because it is a community wide service that we’re providing, that everyone is providing. And so, you know, if they may not use it individually, other members in their community are using it. And so it won’t impact them that way.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah. And I know that library systems have been tied into things like property values and having a strong library system is really in everyone’s best interest. And, you know, you might be a book buyer today, but you might not be able to be a book buyer tomorrow.

 

Julie Dina: That is true.

 

Ari Brooks: And you want that public library there so that you can access it in the event that you might need it. I know that in – the downturn of the economy, often libraries and especially our bookstores will see an upsurge and use. And so it is very important that communities have a strong library system regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a library user. So everyone is welcome to be a friend of the library.

 

Julie Dina: How can they join?

 

Ari Brooks: Well, you can join a number of ways. In our website @folmc.org, there is membership brochure throughout the entire library system in all branches. You can call into the office at 240-777-0020. And segue into the bookstores, you can actually join at the bookstores as well.

 

Lance Salins: Yes, that is what I was eager to say. You can come and see us at the bookstores. We’re open approximately 359 days every year. We offer a year round. We’re open 62 hours a week and are currently have two locations. At any time that we’re open, you can come in there and purchase a membership and it gets you 10% off of all materials at our bookstores.

 

Julie Dina: I would think that is one incentive that everyone should join.

 

Ari Brooks: Definitely. Many people come to get their membership card so that they can enjoy that benefit. But that is one of many membership benefits. We do programs throughout the year. We also do an annual gala during national library weeks. So we offer discounted rates on our events as well. MCPL also produces a quarterly calendar of events, so members who receive that from FOLMC through subscription. You also would get our quarterly newsletter which highlights our organization and events that we produce. So you get first-hand information about what is happening in libraries if you’re a member.

 

Julie Dina: And is this the same way you generate your funding or how exactly do you acquire funding?

 

Ari Brooks: Well, the largest funding strain comes from the use bookstores. And so –.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Ari Brooks: – and Lance can speak to that. But membership – like I mentioned before, we do traditional fundraisings such as grants. We’re a large organization, a large arts and humanities organization in the county, probably a medium size, arts and humanities organization in the State of Maryland. So we are a large grantee through the Arts and Humanities Council. So we do received grants. So we also receive foundation support, so the Family Foundations. But definitely, the largest chunk of our funding comes from the – to use bookstores that we currently operate.

 

Male Speaker: And now, a brief message about MCPL Services and Resources.

 

Female Speaker: Flipster, what in the world is Flipster? Is it a new word game or gymnastics move? No, it is a great way to read your favorite magazines absolutely free. You’ll find entertainment magazines like “People,” news magazines like, “Time,” financial, children’s, fitness, and lots more. You can read the magazines in your browser or download the Flipster app and read them offline. You can find the link to Flipster and our other e-magazine resources in this episode’s show notes.

 

Male Speaker: Now, back to our program.

 

Julie Dina: And talking about bookstores, can you tell us something about your wonderful bookstore, Lance?

 

Lance Salins: I will tell you something, I can tell you anything and everything. It is really – I love the bookstores. That is how I was drawn into the organization. A family member of mine took me to the bookstore, they were like, “You should come and check out this bookstore, the prices are really good.” I went in. And the first time I was over there I spent two hours just wandering around. And it is in four weeks expanded our Rockville location.

 

I just was in awe looking at the shelves up and down. It is so affordable. You know, I was just not so long out of college at that point and so on a tight book budget. But every thing was just so – it was just amazing, the opportunity for a book lover to just create your own library, we are just immense. And so I just spend so much time wandering around. So I immediately signed up on the website to volunteer. And the bookstore manager at that time, he is still the bookstore manager at Rockville, got in touch with me. And so that was a little over years ago I started as volunteer. And I sort of worked my way to the position I’m in now.

 

But our bookstores, as I said earlier, they are open 62 hours a week to the public. We take donations from the public during our normal hours. And that is how we operate entirely is on donations from the public. And it is amazing. I am amazed every day at the quality of materials that we get. This is a wonderfully diverse area in terms of cultures and educations and backgrounds and interests. And we see that in our donations in the wonderful assortment of things that we get.

 

And we’ve grown a solid group of regulars that come from pretty much up and down the east coast to visit us because they know that we just get such an amazing panoply of things that they – and we get thousands of books donated to us every day. We sell thousands of books every day. The turn around is incredibly quick. We can sell a book within 10 minutes of it coming in, because someone drops it off and then we price it and someone else walks in the door and that is the book they have been looking for, for years. And so we see, you know, the confluence like that and it is really fun to see the books really enriching people’s lives like that.

 

Julie Dina: And it is funny you mentioned how you get an array of books daily. I actually read, I think it was in Montgomery County Media, about a book that the FOL bookstores recently sold for a significant amount of money. Can you tell us a little about that?

 

Lance Salins: Sure. That would the signed copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.” It was a limited edition that he did before publication. I think it was in 1929. And he was pretty young at that point. I think he was only 30. And so he signed. I believe it was 500 or 510 of these. It is fairly well-known book among book collectors.

 

And so a few years ago, one night a staff member was going through a box of books and he called me and I came over. And when I looked at him, he was very pale. He was like almost shaking a little bit. And I walked over and he said he just had the book in his hand, and he said, “Is this real?” And I looked at it. And I went, “Oh my.” And so I said, “Well, let’s find out.” We did a little research and then indeed it was real signed. He was holding and I was holding a book that Ernest Hemingway had once held and singed. It was number of 382 of 510 copies.

 

And it came in a Baileys Irish cream box, liquor box. Somebody had just dropped it off. Clearly, they had no idea what they had and what they were dropping off, but we were very grateful to receive it. We’re not even sure to this day who donated it. I suspect that it was in somebody’s garage or someone’s attic, you know, just a book that some of their family members have had. And it winded its way to us and we were delighted to receive it. And we were able to broker a sale and we sold it for $6,000 to a private collector in Oregon.

 

Julie Dina: Wow, all the way in Oregon.

 

Lance Salins: Yes. We had a listing online for it. It was online for a number of months. And we were finally able to find the right buyer for it.

 

Julie Dina: So would – can we then say that is true friend indeed.

 

Lance Salins: Absolutely. I would say, definitely a supporter of libraries, lover of libraries. And then as this the person who brought it in seemingly without realizing it, they just said, “Oh, I got this old box of books in my garage or my attic.” And they just dropped it off not knowing that there was $6,000 check in the box that we were able to convert it into that. But that is what we are relying on every day. And that is why I’m always very excited and eager to greet our donors when they show up, because often times they’ll be in the midst of something they’re moving. They’re downsizing. They’re dealing with an estate or their kids going off to college or any number of different life circumstances could lead someone to having to just get rid of stuff.

 

And so when they show up, and they usually like, “How does this work? Where do we drop it off?” And I’m just happy to say, “If you got books, we’d love to help you. We can bring them in. Thank you for bringing them to us.” They may not realize what they have, but that is our life blood, is those donors’ books. And as Ari said, it is – our biggest fundraising mechanism is our bookstores. It is our biggest face to the community. And we would not be there without the community every day being willing to donate to us, to shop with us. And really, it is a wonderful thing to see.

 

Julie Dina: And how often does this rare opportunity occur?

 

Lance Salins: You mean a collectible like that?

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: I would say on a monthly basis, we get some very valuable books in. I just wrote in our quarterly newsletter which our members receive directly via the mail about a book of Picasso’s lithographs that is worth a few thousand dollars for original lithographs were produced for this book. I believe it is called "Toreros". And Picasso did those, I believe it was published 1961. And, again, I just found that going through an ordinary box of donations. And another one that we found was –.

 

Ari Brooker: The Andy Warhol.

 

Lance Salins: The Andy Warhol. Yes, thank you. We had a book that was doubly signed by Andy Warhol, once on the cover, the dust jacket of the book and on the title pages as well. And it is a beautiful book Andy Warhol’s exposure. It is a book compilation of his photos of his celebrity friends. I believe it dates from a book signing that he did in the 1970s in Downtown, DC. So it is two legitimate signatures by Andy Warhol who was just an icon of the Pop Art Movement.

 

So, on a monthly basis we get very valuable books like this. We’ve had signed – book signed by Langston Hughes. I think we’re up to nine different presidents that we’ve had book signed by that we’ve sold. I found three books signed by Richard Nixon just this week and a book signed by George Bush.

 

Ari Brooks: And presidential candidates.

 

Lance Salins: Presidential candidates as well, Bernie Sanders –.

 

Julie Dina: Wow.

 

Lance Salins: – Elizabeth Warren, anybody you can think of. We live in such a diverse area here. There are so many different luminaries in different fields. We get donations from lawyers, ambassadors, doctors, teachers –.

 

Ari Brooks: Senators.

 

Lance Salins: – senators, yes. They all, well, you know, a lot of them live in this area. And so if they have libraries or offices that they need to clear out they’ll say, “Well, we’ll just, you know, give it to a good cause, give it to the library.” They’ll bring it to us and we’re very grateful because they’re handing over sometimes treasures that we’re able to convert into funding for the entire library system, so.

 

Ari Brooks: And that is a testament, the ability to identify these books is a strong testament to the training that Lance provides to the managers and to our staff because we take very seriously our job to turn these books and these materials into moneys –.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: – that we can then put back into the public library system. At the end of the day, that is what our purpose is, that is what our mission is, is to fundraise for the enhancement of Montgomery County Public Libraries.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. And me and Ari talked about that a lot and I do with our bookstore staff. And we do have – a lot of people don’t realize, we do not pay professional trained staff that are evaluating these books at both book stores year around. It is not – we do have volunteers who are very grateful for their help, but we have paid staffs that are handling the money and handling these very valuable materials because as Ari said, we have a duty to the library system to make sure that it is carried out in the best way as possible in the best responsible manner.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah, to extract value from them so that we fund these items that can benefit the entire Montgomery County Community.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. And it is really a public trust from all those donors that stream to the store. They are trusting us to extract that value to benefit their libraries. When they drop off that box of books, eventually in their mind they’re thinking this is going to benefit the library. This is going to put a book in a child’s hand. This is going to provide better technology for library staff to serve the entire county.

 

Julie Dina: So this is big stuff we’re talking about here.

 

Lance Salins: It really is, yeah. We get – it gets lost some time in the day to day but really, we’re working to help strengthen and just make a better system for all of us, including ourselves. You know, we’re part of this community, too, so that is – I think I know that is why I love it and I think that is why Ari loves it as well is that we’re trying to make a difference and make a better system.

 

Julie Dina: And you guys are.

 

Ari Brooks: Thanks.

 

Lance Salins: Thank you.

 

Ari Brooks: And I think – and just to clarify Lance’s comment, it gets lost, I think, and not an – and we’re very clear about what our mission is.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, absolutely.

 

Ari Brooks: But it gets lost in the public when they see all these books coming in and the volume that comes in and goes out. It gets lost in the translation for other people who assume those books were given to us for a different reason. And so we’re very clear about what our stated purpose and mission is and why we’re doing what we’re doing and how we’re benefiting the community.

 

Julie Dina: And for our listeners who are now hearing you mention all these treasurable books, don’t be surprised if tomorrow you get tons of people come into the bookstore.

 

Ari Brooks: We love that.

 

Lance Salins: We welcome it.

 

Ari Brooks: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: That is our stated goal at the bookstores, is to be placed in Montgomery County where people can donate their books that they longer need and where they can purchase books for any and all purposes. We have a broad range of books. We take books in every subject, every language as long as it is in good condition we will accept it and we have customers from all over the world who buy for a number of reasons, including the philanthropic reasons.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah. And so people can really responsibly donate to us. You know, if it is in sellable condition we will find a home for it. And then we have a variety of other ways that we responsibly handle the materials, including helping, you know, set designers with their sets. I think two years ago, books from our bookstore were actually featured in the White House Christmas display.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, they were. They were crafted, absolutely a set designer for that – I believe that – I believe the first lady was working with to decorate the White House. She stopped by the – from a design agency and she spent a few hours buying books that they eventually turned into a tree of books. They arranged it in layers such that it resembled the traditional Christmas tree that was made entirely out of books.

 

Ari Brooks: Books that we – that couldn’t be sold because they were in a condition where you couldn’t read them at that point.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah.

 

Julie Dina: But it was still use –.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Lance Salins: She did, yeah.

 

Ari Brooks: You could still use like that – maybe like the cover of them.

 

Lance Salins: And she did buy them. We were able to sell them for that purpose. So if there is a book that we know – you normally wouldn’t put on a shelf because it may not be seem readable to the average consumer, we will make every effort we can to repurpose that book and give it, not only to raise funds by selling it, but also to keep it out of the waste stream, to give another purpose. We have people buy books to turn into clocks.

 

Ari Brooks: Purses.

 

Lance Salins: Purses, all sorts of different crafts. They’ll show up every month. They may go have a blank journal. I have had different –.

 

Ari Brooks: Art teachers –.

 

Lance Salins: Art teachers coming in.

 

Ari Brooks: – contacted us to work to have materials again that are not in sellable condition. Clearly, you know, there is pages torn out of them or –.

 

Lance Salins: Or see discs, compact discs or DVDs that are heavily scratched and won’t play. Even those, we have our teachers that work with the school system or home schoolers that will use them for arts, arts and crafts and collaging and repurposing. So that is part of our effort to be environmental stewards and to make sure that we are doing everything we can to lessen the landfill stream.

 

Ari Brooks: To lessen – to decrease our footprint.

 

Lance Salins: Absolutely.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah. And so, you know, every book hopefully will have a home.

 

Lance Salins: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: But then there are books that – and I’m sure your listening audience might want to know what does happen to books that are soiled beyond repair. And, you know, working in the used book business is a dirty business. And so we unfortunately do get books that are just completely beyond repair or books that would be at –.

 

Lance Salins: Beyond recognition. They’ll be soiled contaminated and this is where – but it does come with the territory and we’re prepared to handle that.

 

Ari Brooks: It could be hazardous if they were redistributed to the community at one point when we were also physically located in the lower level of the Wheaton branch. We have to not only protect our collection but the libraries collection above. And so if things with, you know, visibly molded, we do work. We have worked with Montgomery County solid waste division to train our staff on how to properly dispose of items that could be hazard to us, to our customers, and to library patrons.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, absolutely. We work with them to train them – our staff on recycling the best practices just to make sure. There are such things as paper viruses that they will get into the paper and they can spread throughout collections. That is what Ari was mentioning about protecting not only our own collections but anybody that were collocated with, which we were at one point in the Wheaton branch. But that is all just part of our general management.

 

Ari Brooks: And we’re also, you know, very sensitive to help other communities want to handle their discarded books. So we work with – we have a volunteer who works with a rabbi –.

 

Lance Salins: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: – to dispose of Judaica.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. There is a certain way, listeners may not know, but there is a certain way that books in the Jewish faith need to be disposed off when they’re no longer readable. And so we do have volunteer that it is a member of a synagogue and he works with the rabbinic leadership there to make sure that those materials are properly disposed off in accordance with their cultural traditions.

 

Ari Brooks: So at the end of the day we’re book lovers.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: We love books.

 

Lance Salins: From beginning to end.

 

Ari Brooks: From beginning to end and, you know, we definitely take very seriously our purpose to recycle these books and to repurpose them so that, again, that we can fulfill our ultimate mission, which is to use these funds to go back into the public library system.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. We’ve sort of become – because our bookstores have grown so much, a lot of people don't realized we become a major recycling and repurposing resource in the county just because people come to us so much with these goods that they no longer need and they want for a greater cause that on our end we have taken these measures to be stewards of the environment and to make sure that we’re handling all the material, this great influx of material that we’re handling it properly.

 

Julie Dina: So that is plenty. You guys actually have – other than selling books you actually have this big operation. You have lots of stuff going on behind the scenes just to have everything going.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, we do. And we only had books. We had already form book imaginable. We have comic books.

 

Ari Brooks: We have vinyl records.

 

Lance Salins: Vinyl records, compact discs, CDs. Sometimes they buy the CDs cheaper than to download the album because we sell our CDs usually for $2 each and usually on online it can be $10.

 

Julie Dina: Don’t you have a coupon system that you –?

 

Lance Salins: We do.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Lance Salins: We send that membership coupon when anybody signs up for their initial membership they’ll get a coupon. We distribute coupons at our events.

 

Ari Brooks: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: We’ve worked with schools, Montgomery County public schools, to do individualized coupons for programs that they have.

 

Ari Brooks: To help encourage reading and so that parents will know that there is a resource for their families to purchase affordable books, work a lot with home scholars, too, who purchased textbooks from us. I have known families who have bought textbooks from us so that their kids don’t have to take books back and forth to school.

 

And we also are the major funder of MCPL’s Summer Read and Learn Program. So the children and teens that participate and successfully complete that program also get a coupon as one of the many incentives that MCPL gives out to them. And we make a really big deal about that when the kids bring in their coupons and congratulate them on completing the program and, you know, making them feel really good about being readers.

 

Lance Salins: And vinyl actually on the upswing, vinyl records. There are people starting to release vinyl records. New bands are – were releasing new records in that format. A lot of audio files are seeking out that content, the order content because they prefer how it sounds in that format. We have a number of collectors that frequent at our stores so we’ve had a series of vinyl auctions collectible, vintage vinyl. And I believe MCPL is working on having an event next year that will focus on that community that –.

 

Ari Brooks: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: – help vinyl enthusiasts.

 

Ari Brooks: MCPL, FOLMC, the Levine School of Music, and Open Sky Jazz are partnering for a vinyl just for the record day.

 

Julie Dina: And this is sometime next year.

 

Ari Brooks: It is in April.

 

Lance Salins: Yes, still in the planning stages and we – at the bookstores we have a vinyl list people can join if they email bookstores at folmc.org and we keep people up to date on all of the vinyl collectibles because we do get vinyl – just like we get book collectibles we get vinyl collectibles. We sold records for as much as $400 individual records.

 

Julie Dina: That is a record?

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, yeah.

 

Julie Dina: No pun intended?

 

Lance Salins: But, yeah, which is exciting. We have people that shop. They’ll come by every day looking to see if we have new records.

 

Ari Brooks: Every single day.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, yes. They’re committed.

 

Ari Brooks: Every day there is – there are people who literally come every single day. I can remember going to the stores and seeing like the same guy. Every single time I went and go and asking –.

 

Lance Salins: They’ll be like, “Did I hire this person?”

 

Ari Brooks: Did they hire this guy, like?

 

Lance Salins: Yeah.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Ari Brooks: And when I see on the payroll why is he here every time I’m here and then we go – I, you know, find out that, no, he actually just comes every single day after work –.

 

Julie Dina: So it is not just because you’re there.

 

Ari Brooks: Right.

 

Julie Dina: It is because he is there all the time.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, yeah. We have committed regulars that we know by name and it is great.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Ari Brooks: That has got to really feel good.

 

Lance Salins: It does. We’re a regular part of their life in their community and now they’ll pull up a chair, and they’ll read, and they’ll shop, and they’ll talk, and they’ll meet other regulars, and they’ll talk, and they’ll trade book recommendations, and just talk about their book collections or their music collections and there is a lot of cross talking. That is really where we see the community aspect.

 

Ari Brooks: The community, yeah.

 

Lance Salins: And that is what we strive to be a welcoming community bookstore because we just think that it is a wonderful thing to see people enjoying books, enjoying literacy, artistic expression. It is just it is great.

 

Ari Brooks: And I think part of our success is that we turn the books over. When I think of used bookstores from my past, I think of the books being there, you know, the one month going back, the next month the book is still there.

 

Lance Salins: It is all static.

 

Ari Brooks: And then the book is on the floor and then the next time I go back and we actually have a constant turnover of books and are always seeking outlets to get the books into the hands of people regardless of whether they’re sold in our store or sold through other set –.

 

Lance Salins: Online, we sell online.

 

FeLance Salins: – online vendors.

 

Lance Salins: Where – then we’re like we sold the Hemmingway online just because it was such a rare item. The chances of having somebody walk in with $6,000 to spend –.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: Right.

 

Lance Salins: – may not have been that high. But – so we do use online market places, but that is just to extract the greatest value and the greatest return for the library because that is our mission and that is our duty.

 

Ari Brooks: Right. So they aren’t sold in the store. There is another place that we will try to sell it.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, yeah. We’re constantly thinking of new channels and new ways that we can find homes for these materials and these books. And that is all to serve our greater mission. But it is fun and it is enjoyable to find new outlets and that is why we have these reading lists. We also have a comics list where we send out messages to comic enthusiasts to let them know we have a new batch of comics in and they flock.

 

I’ll go to the store the morning after I’ve sent an email to our comics list and they will be 10 people eagerly waiting inline crowding around the door because they want to get in there and start going through and looking for those comics to complete their sets or the comic from the their childhood that they’ve been looking for, for 15 years and they just can’t find it, or they can’t find it because it is, you know, a thousand dollars online and they’re hoping to find it on our store for a better price. Yeah, that is what we see.

 

Julie Dina: That is awesome. So we usually like to close the show off with what books are you currently reading? We’ll start with you first.

 

Ari Brooks: Okay. So I am finishing up "The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears" by Dinaw Mengestu, which is the big read book that we hope the entire Montgomery County will be reading with us from April to June of 2018. And I’m reading with my daughter the “Case of the Missing Lion” by Alexander McCall Smith, one of his young adult books.

 

Lance Salins: I am reading “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, which is amazing. I definitely recommend it. I’m only about a third of the way through, but it is very intense and I highly recommend it. I’m also reading a number of other things like I kind of tend to alternate and switch around with my books. And I also want to give a shout out with my niece. I currently – I’m reading with here, she is working her way through the Warriors series –.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Lance Salins: – by Erin Hunter which is extremely popular.

 

Ari Brooks: The cats.

 

Lance Salins: Those cats get up to some really –.

 

Ari Brooks: I know.

 

Lance Salins: It is very –.

 

Ari Brooks: I’ve been there and done that with my daughters.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah, the cats.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. Talk about intensity, oh my goodness. She was explaining to me all the intricacies of these different clans.

 

Ari Brooks: The clans.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: And all of the – just all the behind the scenes politics and backstabbing or I guess back cloying or all the different things. And it was – she would kept explaining it to me and I was just sitting there stunned because it was – it almost read like “Game of Thrones,” all the intricacies and just nine – just my nine-year-old niece is telling me all of this. I’m just like, “Wow, that is intense.” I was impressed with her grasp on all of it. So I give a shout out to the Warrior series for her.

 

Julie Dina: I hope you heard that, niecy [Phonetic] [0:35:48].

 

Lance Salins: Yes, absolutely. Or anybody that is looking for that great level, that fourth, fifth, sixth great level.

 

Ari Brooks: I highly recommend it.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah.

 

Ari Brooks: My older daughter went through that whole face and just gobbled those books up.

 

Julie Dina: Well, I’ve got to say this was very, very – a very, very nice conversation. And I have to mention that on behalf of Montgomery County staff, we want to say a very big thank you to our friends, Friends of the Library, for all the many show stopping programs you guys have been able to allow us to provide to our customers and for everything that you guys do. We really, really appreciate it. So thank you to Ari and thank you Lance for coming to the program today.

 

And keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcast. Also, please review and rate us on Apple podcast. We’ll love to know what you think. Thank you once again for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.

Dec 19, 2017

Recording Date: November 29, 2017

Hosts: Julie Dina

Episode Summary: Julie Dina discusses the work of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC) with FOLMC Executive Director Ari Brooks and Business Manager Lance Salins. 

Guests: FOLMC Executive Director Ari Brooks and FOLMC Business Manager Lance Salins

Featured MCPL Resource: Flipster is an online collection of current and back issues of your favorite magazines such as Cooking Light, Ebony, and Sports Illustrated. A different selection of popular magazines is available through our other online magazine service, RBdigital Magazines

What Our Guests Are Currently Reading:

Ari Brooks: The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu for herself and The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith with her daughter.  

Lance Salins: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for himself and The Warriors series by Erin Hunter with his niece. 

Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

FOLMC Bookstores: The FOLMC operates 2 used bookstores. 1 in Rockville and 1 in Silver Spring. The revenues from these bookstores support FOLMC's mission. Here is a description of the items they accept for donations.  

"Friends of the Library Sells Rare Copy of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms for $6,000": MyMCMedia news article about the discovery and sale of a copy of Farewell to Arms signed by Ernest Hemingway. 

Friends of the Library, Chapters: 17 of MCPL's 21 branches have individual Friends of the Library chapters. The Deaf Culture Digital Library also has a Friends chapter. 

Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC): An independent nonprofit that provides supplemental funding, programs, materials, and equipment to MCPL.  

Library After Dark: An annual gala at which library staff, volunteers, donors, and community leaders are recognized for their contributions to making MCPL a nationally recognized library system. 

Montgomery County Library Board: The Library Board makes recommendations to the County Executive on matters affecting the public library system. 23 subcommittees of the Library Board, called Library Advisory Committees (LACs) represent each library branch, the correctional facility, and the accessibility community. 

Read the full transcript

Dec 6, 2017

Listen to the audio


David Payne: Hello and welcome to another edition of Library Matters with your host, David Payne.

 

Julie Dina: And I’m Julie Dina.

 

David Payne: Today, we are talking about a genre which has become increasingly popular but increasingly difficult to define and that is science fiction. And here with us to talk about sci-fi and explain it, we have two MCPL staff members, Richard McElroy.

 

Richard McElroy: Hi there.

 

David Payne: And Beth Chandler.

 

Beth Chandler: Hello.

 

David Payne: Just a reminder that all of the books, authors, television shows, and movies that we mention during the podcast today can be found listed on our show notes on the Library Matters website.

 

Julie Dina: So why don’t we start the show off with asking the most obvious question? What exactly is science fiction?

 

Beth Chandler: Well, in my experience science fiction is a genre in which the creator extrapolates from our current technology and our current knowledge of the universe and projects what it might be like in the future.

 

Richard McElroy: In coming up with the definition I would try to, I guess, just still it into a few words as possible. And so based on these two words, science and fiction, it is just a work of fiction that is based around scientific technology. Because it is fiction, it would be based on technology that is not currently possible but that is feasible.

 

Julie Dina: So do we say is this – does this have anything to do with STEM?

 

Richard McElroy: That is right.

 

Beth Chandler: Because it has lot to do with STEM.

 

Julie Dina: Since everyone is talking about STEM these days.

 

Beth Chandler: You can find the elements of all sciences and technologies in it. And some stories also incorporate art, language, music, and other elements of, you know, basic – you know, anything that you think about with society or civilization, either hours or some potential civilization with very different beings.

 

Richard McElroy: Yeah. And it is great because it is fun, so it can encourage kids to get involve with STEM.

 

Julie Dina: It will encourage me for sure.

 

David Payne: So now that we’ve defined sci-fi and we know what it is, we tend to think of it, science fiction, as always being set in the future. Is that necessarily the case?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, I don’t think it has to be the case. It often is the case because that is the easiest way to present science that is not currently possible. But there has been plenty of science fiction that has been set in the present like, Jules Verne, set all of his books in the present and they were all about fantastic journeys into parts of the world that we hadn’t yet discovered using technology that wasn’t quite available at the time.

 

Beth Chandler: Definitely you can go back in the past – the past and have things for instance, let’s say Leonardo da Vinci had gotten much further with some of his inventions that never came to fruition. And we had 19th century technology back in the renaissance era. That is a possible setting for science fiction or could go back to the days in pyramids and say, “Yes, there really were aliens who helped build the pyramids.” And, you know, and write a story, you know, based on that with highly advanced technology.

 

Julie Dina: Now, science fiction is often paired with fantasy. Can you tell us why exactly and are there differences, are there similarities between the two genres?

 

Beth Chandler: One of the similarities is that they both deal with things that we don’t have in our present reality. And a lot of authors also write books of science fiction and fantasy, sometimes you can’t tell the difference. People who’ve read – may read very well know that. A lot of stories are fantasy and some of them edge into a combination and Martian Chronicles is a good example. He brings some characters from the past and from fairy tails into future stories about Mars and the Martians.

 

One of my favorite Manga, “Fullmetal Alchemist,” is mostly about Alchemian magic. But there is also something called automail, which is a prosthetic replacement for people that actually interacts with their own musculature and nerves that is something that were only starting to develop now these days. And this story was written more than 10 years ago.

 

Richard McElroy: Beth hit on this a little bit, but I think science fiction and fantasy are often paired together because they often look very similar on the surface. They both often involved aliens, and monsters, and spaceships, and explosions, and stuff like that. But I think the key difference is that science fiction as I said in my first answer is something that is feasible. It is something that we could see ourselves progressing towards as species, or as a society, or as fantasy as something that is not feasible. It is something where we have to suspend our disbelief and go into another world often involving magic or alternate universes or just world that don’t exist altogether.

 

Oh, and one other thing I’d like to add is a clear example of the difference between science fiction and fantasy is the difference between “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”. I think that “Star Trek” is a classic example of science fiction as it takes place in our world, set in the future based on scientific advancement, whereas “Star Wars” is more of a space fantasy. It is sort of this big opera that is about the story and involves magical elements and it is in a galaxy far, far away, and isn’t necessarily as directly related to the world that we live in.

 

David Payne: What has drawn you both to science fiction? How do you develop your interest for science fiction books, movies, and so on?

 

Richard McElroy: I was drawn into science fiction originally as a kid. I used to watch a lot of “Twilight Zone.” My mom would watch it a lot, especially the marathons that would go on TV. I believe on New Years Eve there would be marathons of Twilight’s unplayed. So since then I’ve always been interested in potential futures. I’ve always been interested in the questions about life and possibilities that it brings up.

 

Beth Chandler: I was to add a similar introduction. It was, you know, through TV. I grew up in the era of the “Star Trek: Animated Series,” which people growing up in the ’70s will remember. And actually we used to play “Star Trek,” my brother, and my cousin, and I. They always wanted to kill aliens and I was more interested in investigating new worlds and new civilizations which are the great appeal for me is exploring the unknown, getting to know that new ways of being – as ancient being.

 

Julie Dina: What is some of the best science fiction books you’ve ever read?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, I say that my favorite is probably “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I – If you’ve only seen the movie and never read book, I highly encourage reading the book available at the Montgomery County Public Libraries.

 

The “Frankenstein” monster is a much more intelligent creature than he was in the movie. And it really grapples with a lot of questions about existence in our world. About what it is to be human? What it is to be a person? How to be an accepted member of our society? Some other preferred science fiction books of mine include “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick. Also my favorite science fiction short story is probably “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov.

 

Beth Chandler: I enjoyed the last question, too. I spent much of my teen years reading short stories, many by Isaac Asimov. My favorite for many, many years it does time with one or two others is the “Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K Le Guin. It is a story about a single human who goes as the envoy to try to convince a planet of humans who have been for millennia, millennia distance from other humans. He is going to influence them to join a sort of consortium of known worlds. And this particular planet has people who do not have one set gender. They become either male or female once a month.

 

Ursula K Le Guin when writing this said that she went to play with the idea of what would a society be without gender? So it is a very character-driven and concept-driven story, but also it has a lot to say about skepticism, how much politics influences things. And also quite a bit about the nature of friendship, loyalty and, you know, patriotism. In addition, she does manage to get some good humor into it.

 

Richard McElroy: I’m glad that you mentioned humor, because I love humor in science fiction, too, and some matters that I might mention are Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams. “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” is just a fantastic, really funny science fiction book that is really easy to read. It is a short readable book that I highly recommend.

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah, that is a good place to start off with science fiction if you want something that is not going to throw a lot of data in advance science that you would also be very enjoyable. I enjoyed “The Hitchhiker’s” series myself. And actually my other favorite author besides Ursula K. Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, has a wonderful gift for humor. And sometimes, you know, write up one of the most heart wrenching period to the story a moment later she will throw in this sort of rye joke. And you’re like, “I was almost crying a minute ago and now I’m cracking up.” So she was –.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Richard McElroy: – emotions.

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah. Yes it is.

 

Julie Dina: So she knows how to sneak it in.

 

Beth Chandler: She knows how to sneak it in and she has amazingly, you know, well rounded characters. There is, you know, cast of dozens in her “Vorkosigan Saga” stories. And when one pops up, again, I remember, you know, who they are, what their personality is, little bit of their history, very memorable.

 

David Payne: So let’s go from authors to characters. Which character from a science fiction movie or TV show would you most want as a co-worker?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, that is easy for me. And I think it is might be the same for most science fiction fans, but I would say Spock from “Star Trek”. He is unemotional. He is completely rational. He is the science officer. And so he is easily as efficient as possible because he doesn’t have to grapple with work place emotions that often arise. Who wouldn’t want to have Spock as a co-worker?

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah. I thought about Spock, too, actually. And then I thought, you know, he does have that occasional sort of rye almost sensitive humor. But, you know, if I wanted someone friendly to chat with, you know, my other favorite is the Fourth Doctor from the British Doctor Who series. He was one of my favorite doctors. He is cheerful. He is also very ethical. He seems genuinely fun to people. Does his best to get along with everyone and just gives this whole sense that, you know, everything is somehow okay and he is going to be okay. And we’re going to have a pretty, pretty good time dealing with it whatever it is.

 

Richard McElroy: And if you have a bad day just leave on his TARDIS.

 

Beth Chandler: Also true.

 

Julie Dina: So in your opinion, what elements should good science fiction book or film contain?

 

Beth Chandler: I think it needs to have something of everything. A good, you know, good plot, technology that is, you know, realistic to extrapolate from what we have now or is so far in the future that it seems realistic even though it is something that we can’t quite figure out how it will work. So you need that, the technology, a good plot line, characters you really care about. I love a lot of the old classic science fiction, but I have to admit some of the characters are basically there to, you know, support the technology and the plot and fortunately that has changed the great deal.

 

Richard McElroy: In my opinion, good science fiction provides a vision of the future that is connected to our present day reality. And the way I distinguished good science fiction from, let say hackey [Phonetic] science fiction, is that the good science fiction allows you to come up with your conclusions about whatever the subject matter is. It stimulates your own curiosity rather than telling you how the future should be.

 

A lot of science fiction I think often falls into the pitfalls of being preachy and saying how the future should look. Whereas good science fiction just sort of presents concepts that are difficult and doesn’t necessarily tell you what the answer is, but allows you to come up for the answer yourself. And a lot of that I think involves conflicting virtues. Science fiction often presents two different virtues that when taken to their extreme might clash with one another and it forces us to grapple with which ones we value more.

 

David Payne: Do you think then sci-fi has become more complex if we’re – if our world today is more complex and we’re looking – if we are looking at future worlds? Has it become more difficult to understand?

 

Richard McElroy: No. I don’t – I mean, I think that it is always been able to. It just progressed with the times and with the progression of technology. So talking about space travel in the first place was difficult to understand for people 100 years ago. And now what is difficult for us to understand is something like let’s say, the nature of consciousness and what it is to be a person and whether an artificial life form can have an equal status to a human life form and where do you draw the line between life and let say having your conscious uploaded on to a computer. There are a lot of questions that for us seem difficult now that might seem easy to those in the future and questions that in the past seem easy to us now but might have been difficult for them.

 

Beth Chandler: I agree with Richard. Science fiction is always dealt with some of the major more in philosophical issues going back to some of the classics. Isaac Asimov writing his Robot stories, you know, dealt with the question of, you know, a robot is more good for humans or bad for them and the answer seeming, you know, different and ambiguous going all the way up through his timeline further and further into the future. And he explored all sorts of advantages and disadvantages of that one particular type of technology the positronic robot that he created with his mind and his knowledge of science as it existed in the ’50s and ’60s.

 

Richard McElroy: It seems like most of the good science fiction coming out nowadays is about artificial intelligence because that is something that is really blossoming right now and it is – there are a lot of moral issues that come up there. We have to really have an understanding of if we’re going to move forward with the development of artificial intelligence.

 

Julie Dina: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Lisa Navidi: Ever wonder about the who, what and why of a book? Readers Cafe is a virtual meeting place for books and readers. Your one stop center for book clubs, book blogs, articles, and literally research. Take a look and you can be the envy of your literally chums. You can find the link in this episode show notes.

 

Julie Dina: Now, back to our program.

 

David Payne: Which science fiction world would you most and least like to live in?

 

Beth Chandler: The first book in the “Terra Ignota” series, “Too Like the Lightning” by Ada Palmer. She – this is just her first novel. She has only written one other when so far that has been published. And it is a future world about 300 years on from now where the, you know, the world is separated into entirely different concept, to what countries are. We finally have our flying cars and they can cross the world in the matter of hours. Still working on trying to colonize Mars, but there is a lot of wonderful things about the culture and the way human beings get along with each other. But of course, there is always that little deed of something that starts falling apart, so I’d like to live there before things start falling apart.

 

Richard McElroy: Okay. I would say that the science fiction world that I would most like to live in, you know, is about to go with “Star Trek,” which seems to be a common answer for me, but instead I’m going to go with “Firefly,” the TV show by Joss Whedon, because “Star Trek” is a little too sanitized for my taste, whereas “Firefly” is similar. It is a futuristic space series, but it is a little more wild west like. There is a little more freedom out there, a little more conflict, and it just seems like a more a fun universe to live in than, let say “Star Trek.”

 

David Payne: So looking back over the years, the whole history of the sci-fi genre, which sci-fi movie or novel written long ago and set either in the past or the current present is most hilariously wrong and which is the most accurate?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, I think it is very important to note that in ‘Back to the Future’ they went to 2015 and the newspaper headline said ‘Chicago Cubs win World Series.’ They were one year off. The Cubs won their first World Series in 110 years in 2016.

 

David Payne: Right.

 

Richard McElroy: So that was really impressively accurate.

 

Julie Dina: That was close.

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah. One I thought of – as being hilariously wrong was of 2001, “Space Odyssey,” the original book by Arthur C. Clarke in which he has people referring to hotels as Hiltons. He figured, you know, just as many people called refrigerators as frigidaires and adhesive bandages – Band Aids that we’d all be calling hotel Hiltons and we don’t. There are a lot of other things. There was a space station. We had gotten much further forward in space travel than he expected we would, which is one of the ongoing limits of a lot of science fiction fans as well as scientists themselves.

 

Richard McElroy: There are a lot of technologies that have been predicted very accurately like “Star Trek” for example. Can you tell that I like “Star Trek”?

 

David Payne: Oh, you bet.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Richard McElroy: They were using these little screens that they had in their hands that were just like tablets today. They had –.

 

Julie Dina: iPads.

 

Richard McElroy: Yeah. They had communicators that were like cell phones. They had replicators where they would just create food or other objects that they needed out of these replicators, which are very similar to a 3-D printers that are currently available in the Montgomery County Public Libraries.

 

Beth Chandler: Library, yes. Although we do not make candy with them, but I – now make candy with some 3-D printers.

 

Richard McElroy: Oh, wow.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Beth Chandler: So we’re getting into Tea, Earl Gray, Hot.

 

Richard McElroy: Exactly. Also with the holodecks where this virtual reality rooms that you could go into and create any kind of reality you wanted. Now, we’re progressing with virtual reality which is coming soon to Montgomery County Public Library near you.

 

Julie Dina: One thing for sure, you do love your Montgomery County Public Library.

 

Beth Chandler: It is very good with that. And an interesting thing is that “Star Trek” was not the primary creation of just one person, but it has been written by a dozens of screen writers and multiple directors and producers have had their hand in, so it seems that crowd sourcing a science fiction story. You know, maybe said to help make it more accurate.

 

David Payne: That is interesting. So what are some of the science fiction books that contained characters of color or of the LGBTQ community?

 

Beth Chandler: Just to name a few, there is Nnedi Okorafor who is American who grew up in Nigeria. She has written several stories about – not just African-Americans, but primarily Africans. Several other writers Nalo Hopkinson is one, Ada Palmer, who I’d mentioned before has written a lot about characters both of various colors. Three-hundred years from now, most of us are going to be highly into racial, according to her. Very few people who are, you know, purely, you know, one ethnicity or another. And actually, one of our MoComCon guests last year and this year, Don Sakers, is a local author, has been writing for years about characters of color and characters in the LGBTQ community.

 

David Payne: So diversity very much of the heart of sci-fi.

 

Richard McElroy: Yeah.

 

Julie Dina: So what exactly would be the weirdest science fiction book you’ve ever come across, weirdest ever?

 

Beth Chandler: I will say it was more of a novella, but I would say one of the weirdest stories I’ve read by one of the strangest authors I’ve read, but I love him dearly is –.

 

Julie Dina: But he is weird?

 

Beth Chandler: Oh, yes. I -- to further out the better, I mean, I never did drugs because I said all I have to do is go pick up a Theodore Sturgeon novel, you know, as a teenager, or collection of short stories. And he wrote one story called The, and next few words are in brackets, [Widget], The [Wadget] and Boff. And it is about two aliens who are observing earth and making a small change to see if it can effect the larger change in the world, which is something more than one science fiction or author has done.

 

But this one is so bizarre by the way it puts everything from the alien’s perspective. Ordinary things like somebody trying to ask someone else for a date and meal times in children are seen through the view point of these aliens. So I would say that is one of the strangest stories by one of the strangest science fiction authors.

 

Richard McElroy: Unfortunately I don’t have anything to notch that.

 

Beth Chandler: Okay.

 

Julie Dina: Well, we do have, and I’m sure you both know that our MoComCon last year was very successful. We had tons of people come from the county and from the neighboring counties. Would you please explain to our listeners what exactly MoComCon is?

 

Beth Chandler: MoComCon stands for Montgomery County Comic Con, but like many conventions in the, you know, science fiction fantasy, comics, et cetera, you know, phantom, it is a convention that ties in a lot more than comics brings in, as I said science fiction and fantasy stories, movies, TV shows, and pretty much various kinds of nerdity including, you know, hot technology. And that is what you’ll be seeing in January at MoComCon.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

David Payne: So are you coming to MoComCon dress as a sci-fi character?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, indeed I am as I am an employee of the – well, I work at the Silver Spring Library. And fortunately for my co-workers my dream will come true for all of them because I will be there dressed as Spock, so they will get to have Spock as a co-worker for a day.

 

Beth Chandler: Oh, excellent. Delighted to hear Spock will be working with us. I’m on the actual MoComCon committee, so I won’t be able to dress up. I’ll be wearing one of our colorful and exciting MoComCon t-shirts. But I hope to wear a couple of buttons, almost certainly one of my buttons that says, “Prepare for the future, read science fiction.”

 

David Payne: Well, finally it is our tradition here on Library Matters to ask all guests to tell us about the book that you have enjoyed recently. What have you both enjoyed reading recently?

 

Richard McElroy: So this isn’t science fiction work. I haven’t read a science fiction book in a little while, but I recently read “American Pastoral” by Philip Roth which is a fabulous book. I highly recommend. It takes place in the recent past, so it is a recent historical fiction, novel you could say.

 

Beth Chandler: A book I read recently that I really enjoyed is actually a fantasy novel. And like many science fictions fans, I also read fantasy. It is the first in Philip Pullman’s new series, “The Book of Dust.” The title is “La Belle Sauvage.” And I thoroughly enjoyed going back into the same world as the previous series he’d written in the same universe about Lyra and a world where each human has their own demon which is a part of, you know, their own selves. And he writes a marvelous story taking place 10 years before the previous series. And just like in a good science fiction book, he has a wonderfully realized alternate oxford at alternate earth that you just dive right into. You can almost feel like, you know, you’re sailing along with the main character in his little boat.

 

Julie Dina: Well, thank you so very much Beth and Richard for all the wonderful information you’ve given us which relates to sci-fi.

 

Keep the conversations going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast. Also, please review and rate us on Apple podcast. We’ll love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.

 

[Audio Ends] [0:26:59]

Dec 5, 2017

Recording Date: November 8, 2017

Hosts: Julia Dina and David Payne

Episode Summary: Science fiction fans Beth Chandler, a librarian in our Collection Management division, and Richard McElroy, a Library Desk Assistant at our Silver Spring branch, talk about science fiction: what it is, how it has changed, and what it means.

Guests: Librarian Beth Chandler and Library Desk Assistant Richard McElroy

Featured MCPL Resource: Readers' Café, a virtual meeting place for books and reader. Visit Readers Cafe to find book reviews, recommended reading, book clubs, and more. 

What Our Guests Are Currently Reading:

Beth Chandler: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Richard McElroy: American Pastoral by Philip Roth 

Authors, Books, Movies, Television Shows, and Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

2001: a Space Odyssey: A film based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" about the crew of a spaceship bound for Jupiter along with a self aware computer, HAL, who begins to malfunction. 

Lois McMaster Bujold: Science fiction writer known for her Vorkosigan Saga, Chalion, and Sharing Knife series. 

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Doctor Who: The time and space traveling adventures of a long lived Timelord and his Terran companions. 

Firefly: A science fiction television series about the adventures of the crew of Serenity, who make their living on the fringe of society. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Nalo Hopkinson: Author of numerous science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism books, including Sister Mine, The Chaos, and The New Moon's Arms

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

"The Last Question" (short story) by Isaac Asimov

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Nnedi Okorafor: Author of Binti, Lagoon, Akata Warrior, and other science fiction and fantasy books. 

Ada Palmer: A historian at the University of Chicago and author of the science fiction novels Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders

Don Sakers: A Maryland science fiction writer and book reviewer for Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. He is a frequent guest speaker at science fiction conventions. He will be a workshop presenter at MoComCon. 

Star Trek: A long standing science fiction world that has spawned numerous television shows, movies, and countless books. 

Star Trek: the Animated Series: A cartoon version of the original Star Trek television series, produced for 2 episodes during the 1970s. 

Star Wars: Science fiction fantasy tale from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 

Twilight Zone: A genre mixing science fiction, horror, thriller television show begun in 1959 that often concluded with an unexpected twist.  

Jules Verne: 19th century author of several science fiction stories including Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  

Kurt Vonnegut: Writer best known for his dark, satirical novel Slaughterhouse-Five. His other books featuring science fiction elements include The Sirens of Titan and Timequake.

The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff: A novella by Theodore Sturgeon written from the perspective of alien scientists studying a group of humans. 

Other Items of Interest:

MoComCon: MCPL's comic convention, taking place at Silver Spring Library on January 27, 2018. 

Read the full transcript

Nov 22, 2017

 

Listen to the audio

Lauren Martino: Welcome to Library Matters. I’m Lauren Martino and...

 

David Payne: I’m David Payne.

 

Lauren Martino: And we’re here today with some of the most talented librarians in the system and they can cook too. This is Nalani Devendra and Dana Alsup. And they are going to talk to us today about their favorite cookbooks, their favorite methods, their favorite ways of preparing delicious goodness, and I am excited to have you guys here welcome.

 

Dana Alsup: Thank you for having us.

 

Nalani Devendra: Thank you for having us.

 

Lauren Martino: So, we’d like to know a little bit about you guys. We know you’re awesome librarians but tell us a little bit about you as cooks. What do you like to cook best? Do you have a signature dish? What makes you kick tick as cooks?

 

Dana Alsup: Well, I’m a recipe follower. I like following recipes. I’m not good at making stuff up and so I don’t feel advanced enough to not follow the recipe. But I – the more I cook, the more I understand like the elements of what I’m doing, like bread making. I made bread recently and I could feel, like I knew just kneading the dough like it’s right – it’s good, it just needs to rise now so.

 

Lauren Martino: You’ve gotten to that point where it’s like –

 

Dana Alsup: I’ve gotten to that point with bread-making alone. And then I like – foods I like best, anything fried, whatever, any – anything fried, my heart’s not probably happy about that, but I sure am. And my family is from New Mexico so anything with green chili on it –

 

Lauren Martino: Green chili.

 

Dana Alsup: Green chili is, oof, I heard great.

 

Lauren Martino: Legends. What is the deal with the green chili?

 

Dana Alsup: Well, it’s from Hatch in New Mexico which is a town and there’s – every fall, they do a roast, so it’s a big – it’s a big thing in New Mexico, and it is only – that’s where green chili is from. So I have a stockpile of green chili in my freezer at all times, put it in anything. Green chili mac and cheese. We’re going to put green chili in the stuffing for Thanksgiving.

 

Lauren Martino: Wow.

 

Dana Alsup: My favorite is green chili cheeseburgers. It’s not – they can be hot but they’re flavorful, so it’s not like a scald-your-mouth hot, heat pepper, its flavor. And in New Mexico, they’ll either ask you red or green but you can say Christmas, which means both.

 

Lauren Martino: Nice.

 

Nalani Devendra: I’m a lot more opposite with Dana. I’m not that much big follower of the recipe. I get something from the recipe but always I never hesitate to change the recipe, modify the recipe. I always go for the recipe to check how I can change this to my taste or my husband – especially my husband’s taste because I know he’s mostly prefer only to eat Sri Lankan food. But I’m making for him some type of other food, some touch with the Sri Lankan style. I have to be creative.

 

Lauren Martino: Oh, boy.

 

David Payne: So, a lot of experimental stuff?

 

Nalani Devendra: Of course, I do a lot of experimental stuff. Also, every time when my husband realizes I’m doing something, creating something, he is scared of that because he know he has to eat them. That’s what will happen. If I’m around, he’s trying to eat; if I’m not there, all these going to be in the trash.

 

Lauren Martino: Oh.

 

Nalani Devendra: Sometime. But most of the time, I have done good job.

 

Lauren Martino: So does that usually involve like kicking up the spice? I know you were telling me – we work together in the same branch and you were telling me about when you make stuff for work, it’s a – it’s different.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. I have to – I have two ways to cook. If I’m cooking for my husband, I cook as regular. And if I’m cooking for my colleague at work, I call for that – I call in for that the – I’m making a baby food because I’m not using that much spice on there. Normally what our country people do for the babies because they are not yet pick up the spice.

 

Lauren Martino: That’s all of us at Silver Spring. Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: But I believe now, I’m also enjoying baby food. I’m not anymore good with the spicy. Although, I cook for my husband, I cannot eat some time.

 

Lauren Martino: So I’m trying to picture what you’d have to do to like, you know, spaghetti or mac and cheese to make your husband like it.

 

David Payne: Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. If I’m doing mac and cheese, I mean, I will add pinch of crusted pepper, then it will give him some spice.

 

Lauren Martino: It’ll be enough for him.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes.

 

David Payne: So, two very different approaches here.

 

Lauren Martino: Yes.

 

David Payne: Tell us, where do you get your recipes from? What are your favorite cookbooks?

 

Dana Alsup: Oh, that is an end-list, endless list. I like using cookbooks. And I found – I use blogs, Pinterest, of course. But a lot of times, a blog – well, the person who writes the blog comes out with a cookbook and there are so many of those and I love those cookbooks. And then you have the blog as like an annex of recipes, almost. So, The Forest Feast, which we own here at MCPL, we own two of the three cookbooks for it. The first one I use is the kid’s version. It’s – the kids’ books for cooking are a lot of fun and they’re very simple and there’s a lot of warning about how you might cut yourself. But The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson is great.

 

Lauren Martino: What is The Forest Feast? I’m not familiar with this.

 

Dana Alsup: One, it’s beautiful. She was a food photographer in New York and now she lives in like beautiful Northern California, and they’re vegetarian recipes. But everything is about like five ingredients or less. So you don’t have to go – it’s like the opposite of America’s Test Kitchen. It’s like the antithesis of that, which is nice to say I only need five ingredients to make these, you know, tacos or these cookies or the salad. And a lot of times, it’s just three ingredients and it’s –

 

David Payne: So it’s cooking at its most basic?

 

Dana Alsup: Yeah. And it’s beautifully – it’s beautifully laid out, so it’s a pleasure just visually to look at but that’s – I’d say a lot of stuff comes from online, but then part of my job is looking at all the new books when they come in, so all of those new cookbooks go through my hands before they hit the shelf.

 

Lauren Martino: I feel like I’m always looking at those before lunch and then we just –

 

Dana Alsup: Oh.

 

Lauren Martino: I do love eating mediocre lunch while looking at beautiful pictures of food.

 

Dana Alsup: Yes.

 

David Payne: Clearly, timing is everything, yeah.

 

Dana Alsup: Yeah, it is.

 

Lauren Martino: So, Nalani, you were telling me a little bit about where you cook from.

 

Nalani Devendra: Actually, if I go back how I started –

 

Lauren Martino: Yes, tell us about those.

 

Nalani Devendra: I didn’t know whether I’m good with the cooking because I didn’t cook when I was teenage or after – until I get to this country. Actually, I didn’t cook much. But I do remember when I was very young, my father normally don’t cook. My mother was – who is cook usually. But especially in the Sri Lankan New Year actually I’m from Sri Lanka – at the Sri Lankan New Year Day, my father is the one who cook and I’m his helper. My mom got off on that day. And then I saw something different. I never want to watch how my mommy cook, I don’t remember how she cooked, but I do remember how my dad cooked because he made special dish on that day. And maybe that is why I love it. My father brought one cookbook which is very popular in Sri Lanka. I believe its name is [Gunasekar] [0:09:20] Cooking Book or something. He gave it to me, not for my mommy, not for my sister, he gave it to me. I believe my father knew whether I have a talent on that.

 

Lauren Martino: Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: Then my next start was in the America. I got to this country 2009. And since the second day of my life in America, I start watching the TV. Guess what I watch? My husband at work, I’m at home for eight-hour by myself, I turn on the TV, I found the Food Network. Almost seven hours I watched the Food Network at least for two months.

 

David Payne: That would do it. Yeah.

 

Lauren Martino: Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: My favorite and my only one known celebrity was Paula Deen.

 

Lauren Martino: Talk about fried food.

 

Dana Alsup: Yes.

 

Nalani Devendra: But I don’t like her food because a lot of fat. I don’t like to eat a lot of fat. But I love to watch her TV show. And – but I took a lot of things from her, how she do it. After that, I enjoy Giada.

 

Lauren Martino: Giada.

 

Nalani Devendra: Giada.

 

Lauren Martino: Giada de Laurentiis, is that how you say it?

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. Yeah.

 

Dana Alsup: I think so.

 

Lauren Martino: Yeah.

 

Dana Alsup: I believe so.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. And there’s other one, I don’t remember her name, Barefoot or something.

 

Lauren Martino: Barefoot Contessa?

 

Dana Alsup: Barefoot Contessa.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes, of course.

 

David Payne: All right.

 

Lauren Martino: Oh.

 

Nalani Devendra: I wish my husband like my food like that way.

 

Lauren Martino: What do you guys find appealing in a cookbook? What does it have to have to make you pick it up and what does it have to have in it to make you cook from it?

 

Dana Alsup: Pictures. I need pictures. A cook book without pictures is sad to me. I don’t, don’t like looking at it. What’s it supposed to look like? Will I like what it looks like? I like having pictures on a cookbook. And like ingredients-wise, what it should have or like butter, cheese, cozy – I generally like cozy foods, I’m not a salad person. Grilled things, grilled meats, yeah, a lot of cozy, cozy food as if I’m hibernating all year round but it sounds like –

 

David Payne: Do you go for the picture first or the recipe?

 

Dana Alsup: The picture. I’ll go for the picture. And there are plenty of cookbooks that I’ve looked at several times where I think, “I haven’t seen this before,” and then I see the recipe and it’s like, “I have and this just – oh, it’s too complicated. I’m not doing this.” I’m not – I’ve – although I do have a passion for America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks, they are so thorough and they take time to just even read, and so I – if I have the time, I will grab my Test Kitchen cookbook and I will find the recipe, but then I also grab like Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, which is like half the ingredients half the time and a very good result. So I don’t – although I do like things like bread-making, which take hours to make bread but it’s not a lot of hands-on time. It’s – you know, you’re – it’s rising for two hours –

 

David Payne: It’s the preparation.

 

Dana Alsup: Yeah. You come back to it for five minutes. It’s rising for another hour. But the – too much time, I’m just not into it. I have stuff to binge watch on Netflix, right? I’m a casual cooker.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. As you mentioned – Dana mentioned, of course, picture. If it doesn’t have picture, I don’t want to touch that cookbook. Every time like you mentioned if I have a moment at the library, I go to the new cook book section, turn it, “Is picture on it? Yes, that is my book, let me grab it.” I go through that. Although, I kind of admit, I like to see it. If it doesn’t have a picture, although how popular, how good, I don’t want to touch it. As I saw the picture, I can image, “Oh, yes, I can do that. Oh, I can eat that. Oh, my husband will like.” Or maybe I can cook for my colleague. If it doesn’t have picture, I don’t know. I –

 

Lauren Martino: Yes, you can cook for your colleagues.

 

Nalani Devendra: Oh, yes, I know.

 

Lauren Martino: Yes, you can cook for your colleague.

 

Nalani Devendra: Also, the ingredient is really big. Normally, I loved – the ingredient which is, I can easily find, also ingredient which is I can use every day, but I am kind of good with substituting for the ingredients. I don’t hesitate to drop out the ingredients. I can feel if I use this, it’s not – if I drop out this ingredient, it – it’s not going to make a change. I can enjoy it still although I – if I don’t have the ingredient. Also, other thing, the less ingredient, yes, of course.

 

Lauren Martino: Fewer ingredients?

 

Nalani Devendra: Fewer ingredients. I know one of my colleague I used to work with him at the Long Branch Library, Fred Akuffo. That is the point I used to start looking less ingredient recipe because every time when I saw him – cookbook or recipes he has, how many ingredient over there, then he count the ingredients including salt, pepper, onion, everything. I say, “Hey, Fred, don’t count salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, every kitchen has it.” He said, “No.”

 

Lauren Martino: Sure thing you’ve got that on your stove, right? It’s in there.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. And since then, I start looking at the cookbook with the less ingredient. It’s much easier to handle, it is less opportunity to go –

 

Lauren Martino: To mess it up?

 

Nalani Devendra: Mess it up, yes. Thank you, Lauren. Then – yes, of course. Also, I have to thinking about whether my husband will like it, so – because that is the only one I have at my home.

 

Dana Alsup: I agree with that. I also want to know if my husband will like the meal.

 

Lauren Martino: Because you’re cooking it for somebody else and –

 

Dana Alsup: Typically, his answer is yes. He’s not a picky eater like myself.

 

David Payne: So that brings us to a follow-up question. Now, you’re in the mood to cook. You decide to cook something, how do you decide what you’re cooking?

 

Dana Alsup: Well, a lot of it is dependent upon time. As the – are – my schedule and my husband’s work schedule don’t line up, so sometimes I get an hour to make and eat dinner and that’s it. If he’s going to also eat it, not go to work without food. And other times, a day – a day off or if our schedules line up better, I have much more time to cook. So I can do something that takes more time or I don’t have to prep it, part of it the night before, I can do – I like fast meals like a grilled pizza, those are quick. I don’t have – I can do that real fast, but that’s a lot of how I plan what we’re eating. And I plan everything on Sunday and shop for it. I used to be one of those willy-nilly shoppers. At the end – at the end of the week, I have a whole bunch of stuff that I had to throw away or we didn’t get to or why did I buy this? So I now plan the meals according to our schedules, but it’s also like, you know, if I’m cooking something for my brother, no cheese can be in sight. He does not like cheese. I know. Something’s –

 

Lauren Martino: That’s strange.

 

Dana Alsup: We don’t want to get into it.

 

Lauren Martino: I could understand it for ethical reasons, but –

 

[Crosstalk]

 

Dana Alsup: Where I think like – beside – like butter and cheese are my first two food groups. If I’m cooking something for my mom, she’s a fantastic cook and she’s an adventurous cook, she’ll try anything. But I was a stubborn, stubborn picky eater as a child, so I feel that my cooking now for her is like continuously attempting to make up for my horrible eating habits as a child. So it’s like, “Oh, look what I made. I use this ingredient. Aren’t you proud?” And she and my brother are still stunned that I will eat certain things now that I refused to eat as a child.

 

Lauren Martino: I was totally the same way. And I’m kind of curious, Nalani, were you a picky eater as a kid?

 

Nalani Devendra: Of course, I was. In Sri Lanka house, some food I don’t want to eat. I mean, I never eat. I don’t know why.

 

Dana Alsup: I’m the same way. There are still foods I won’t eat, ask my in-laws, they are – they have a list.

 

Lauren Martino: A list.

 

Dana Alsup: We have to remember Dana doesn’t like that. I believe there’s something to that, maybe like people that are picky eaters just become cooks like us.

 

Lauren Martino: Well, there’s a great book by Bee Wilson who’s – the title of it just went out of my head but it’s all about how we learn to eat and part of it is picky eaters, is it a hereditary thing? Is it a choice thing? And it goes into all the different aspects of how we learn to eat as people and as cultures.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yeah, I do remember as a young kid, I believe – as I do remember, whole one year, I only eat one dish. I mean, rice and that veggie dish. Every day my mom cooked for me, whole year –

 

Lauren Martino: This was by your choice or hers?

 

Nalani Devendra: My choice.

 

Lauren Martino: Okay.

 

Nalani Devendra: Because I was – I don’t want to eat anything else.

 

Lauren Martino: Like Bread and Jam for Frances but probably over the year.

 

Nalani Devendra: And, now, I have realized I’m now excited to try new food, not actually Sri Lankan food – sorry. Any other culture food I like to try. When I go somewhere to eat, I try to go with the food because I don’t know what is that. Sometimes I come hungry because I couldn’t eat that, but it’s still okay, I tried it.

 

Lauren Martino: So you see something, you got to try it.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: Sometimes you hate it.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: But – and you go hungry but it doesn’t stop you from trying new things.

 

Nalani Devendra: No, it’s not, because the reason is I have some scare. While I’m eating, I can just think, “What are the ingredients? Do I have this ingredient? What I can do with this ingredient? Can I make this dish?” Sometimes I come home, try it, sometime I’m – oh, yeah, I have done good job. Maybe I am missing some ingredient but it’s still – at least I can get close to it. One thing I just – first thing I did, I love to go to the Ruby Tuesday.

 

Lauren Martino: Ruby Tuesday’s? Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: They have potato salad. I love that. Always I want to go to the salad bar because of that.

 

Lauren Martino: Because of the Ruby Tuesday’s potato salad.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. And then, I start thinking why I cannot make it. Actually, I did make, I add some spice.

 

Lauren Martino: Sri Lankan potato salad.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes, Sri Lankans would be too scared for potato salad, I made it.

 

Lauren Martino: Awesome.

 

Nalani Devendra: And, actually, I have made that for my colleague at the Long Branch before I came to the Silver Spring.

 

Lauren Martino: For Fred?

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes, for Fred and the Long Branch people, they enjoy.

 

David Payne: And, now, a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Female Speaker: What do astronauts eat in space? How does corn become popcorn? What happens to a hamburger inside your stomach? Who can answer all these questions? You and your child can. Our libraries offer fun programs and resources to help your child develop an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEM. Come to the library to learn to code, to build, to design, and to open up the world. You can find a link to MCPL STEM resources in this episode’s show notes.

 

David Payne: Now back to our program. So, an interest – a full disclosure on the show, what’s the most epic failure you’ve ever had working from a cookbook?

 

Dana Alsup: I made a lemon pasta dish where you order – where you add a quarter cup of lemon juice at the very end. And I served it and my husband said, “Oh, no, it’s good.” And then I had a bite and if you ever need something to peel the outermost layer of the inside of your mouth that’s the dish. It was so acidic. Our mouths peeled. And we threw it away and I threw the recipe away. I don’t even remember what cookbook it was from. We’re very angry at it. And then we order takeout. That was – that was an epic fail and we still talk about it. “Remember that time –” “Yeah, I remember.”

 

David Payne: Yeah. So, listeners, don’t try that one.

 

Dana Alsup: Don’t try that one. But beware because I don’t remember the cookbook because we got to add a little bit of lemon juice on that.

 

Lauren Martino: Yeah, squeeze and put – and I thought – a quarter cup of lemon juice? Oof. Well, I was right.

 

Dana Alsup: Not more than once I’ve tried the recipe and I’m like, “This has to be wrong.”

 

Lauren Martino: Yeah. This is just not right.

 

Dana Alsup: I even – I went back, I looked, I looked, I looked. And afterward, after I made it, I looked, my husband look, “No, it says quarter cup. It says a quarter cup.”

 

Nalani Devendra: I’m just guessing it might be printing mistake, maybe quarter tablespoon?

 

Dana Alsup: It’s quite the mistake. Come on, editors, step up.

 

Nalani Devendra: Of course, I have one recently.

 

Lauren Martino: I didn’t – I did not taste this but you say other people at our branch did.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. I want to try the zucchini brownie. I found that recipe at one of our cookbook. I don’t remember which one. The recipe is good. Then the first time I made, it turned out like a zucchini chocolate cake –

 

Lauren Martino: Which is not an epic fail, you know, you can aim for brownies and reach cake and that’s okay.

 

Nalani Devendra: Then next time I thought, “Okay, I made the mistake, let me correct it.” The next time I made it – oh, my God, I didn’t even want to eat it until I take it to the library. It was a special meeting for something and I brought it. And then as soon as I cut it, I realized, “No, this is not the one. Then I told, “Oh, guys. Don’t eat this one.”

 

Lauren Martino: What was wrong with it again? Is it just too squishy or is it runny?

 

[Crosstalk]

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes, it’s like a really sticky rice.

 

Lauren Martino: Sticky rice brownies.

 

David Payne: Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: It is like a sticky, I don’t know what’s wrong. Then I was thinking, “Oh, my God, Silver Spring people got scared for Nalani’s food. They will not anymore trust Nalani’s cooking.” Fortunately, they still –

 

David Payne: I gather they still have you back.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: Well, you made that eggplant lasagna and all was forgiven, I assure you.

 

Nalani Devendra: Thank you, Lauren.

 

Lauren Martino: That was really good.

 

Nalani Devendra: And you miss my – I believe you miss my recent fried rice, healthy fried rice.

 

Lauren Martino: No, I had some of that.

 

Nalani Devendra: Oh.

 

Lauren Martino: I had some of that. It was very good.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: So you’d say that was your signature dish?

 

Nalani Devendra: For them, my colleague, which is I called the baby food, yes, my signature dish is my fried rice.

 

Lauren Martino: Is the fried rice.

 

Nalani Devendra: Which is – because I use very healthy version with a lot of veggie, less oil, everyone asking how you do that, everyone asking, “Can you send me that recipe? I’m sorry I don’t have a recipe. Whatever I can find, I add, I made it.”

 

Lauren Martino: You did.

 

Nalani Devendra: Then I have to tell them. Okay, write it down.

 

Lauren Martino: So you have to write your own cookbook now.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. And for the Sri Lankan community, my signature dish is – which called in English hoppers, in Sri Lankan word is Aappa. It is long process. It has to – have a lot of experience do you need or whatever, I don’t know. I know a lot of people cannot do that. Everyone, if I’m inviting them, “Nalani, is that going to be hoppers?” I said, “No.” “We don’t want to come.”

 

Lauren Martino: So, if you know anybody that finds cooking a challenge, what advice do you have for them to help them get over their intimidation, their fear of cooking?

 

Dana Alsup: I think Nalani and I might bring up the same cookbook. It’s Jessica Seinfeld’s The Can’t Cook Book where she has – she has how-tos throughout it. She tells you – she shows you in pictures, thank goodness, how to chop certain things and how to cut things a certain way. And she even has, before every recipe, “Don’t panic” and a little tip.

 

Lauren Martino: In big friendly letters?

 

Dana Alsup: Yes, don’t panic. But it is – it’s simple. And it’s – you will fail at cooking. Cooking is – the kitchen is like a laboratory. You experiment there and you try things, and sometimes they don’t work out because you add a quarter cup of lemon juice. Sometimes they go really in your favor. And the next time you make that it’s not the same thing and you have to figure out why. It is – it’s different every time, and it’s okay to fail. And don’t, like, don’t try to make Thanksgiving as your first meal.

 

Lauren Martino: Oh, that’s very good advice.

 

Dana Alsup: Start small, start real small. And it’s okay not to make fancy type meals. The Queen is rarely coming over for dinner, so you don’t need to make her a huge meal. If it’s just you and a family member, you can make something small.

 

David Payne: Just probably cook breakfast.

 

Dana Alsup: Yeah, just start small. I love the cover of this book by the way. It’s got all these things burning on the like huge flames leaping out of the pots on the stove. So The Can’t cookbook, just for the cover alone, it’s – yeah.

 

Lauren Martino: I think it’s worth taking.

 

Dana Alsup: Yeah, it’s good.

 

Nalani Devendra: And also, inside of this book, it has given the description and the – with the – with the picture what are the tools you will need.

 

Dana Alsup: Yes.

 

Nalani Devendra: And very basic tools because sometime or since we cook, we know some tools but I also don’t know everything. I mean this is really good if someone is going to start cooking also. I will tell if someone is going to start cooking, first step is start – is start boiling water. Second day, add the egg on the boiling water, then you’re going to have – after you cook – boil for 15 minutes, you’re going to have a boiled egg. Hey, yes, you cook. Start – and probably the next day, all right, now, you know how to cook the egg, boiled egg, grab the pasta – box of the pasta and it will tell you instruction how to cook or boil it – boil the pasta. And now you know something.

 

Lauren Martino: We’ve got carbohydrates and the protein.

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes. Also, then, go to the grocery store, grab the pasta sauce and then mix pasta – pasta sauce and your pasta, you have a perfect dinner or lunch with the carbohydrate and protein. And, next day, I would tell have some chopped onion, garlic, and if you have some basil or some herbs, and heat up the pan, add some oil on it, let it to – a little bit heat up, add the garlic, ginger, or onion, or any herbs, which is you have for it, sauté it, then add your pasta sauce on it, then you are changing your pasta sauce test a little bit, and add your pasta on it. You have a different test today. And next day if you want, just boil – steam some veggie and add that veggie for that sauté onion, garlic, whatever you are doing and then you have a veggie pasta with the boiled egg.

 

Lauren Martino: There you go.

 

Nalani Devendra: There you go. You are cooking.

 

David Payne: So lots of cooks, there’s your answer. Yeah.

 

Lauren Martino: Here at Library Matters, we really like to ask everybody, what book are you reading that you’re just dying to gush about?

 

Dana Alsup: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. I’m a murder mystery fan, and Anthony Horowitz wrote Foyle’s War, which is a television show and also Midsummer Murders, which I’ve seen all of them, and they are amazing. So he wrote this book, he’s written several others, but it just – I was on vacation in Italy and I just wanted to stay in and read.

 

David Payne: Not cook, not cook?

 

Dana Alsup: Yes. Not cook. I just – I did –

 

Lauren Martino: Or eat.

 

Dana Alsup: Or eat. I just – yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re in Italy, but listen, there’s Magpie Murders to read.

 

Lauren Martino: That is a matter of a good book.

 

Dana Alsup: I – it was – it was phenomenal. I loved it so much. It was funny. It was not predictable. None of his stuff is. And that was great. And I also just finished reading The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson, and that was – that was a different kind of book for me to read, and it was very enjoyable. It’s a – it’s complex. But if you are the type of person that likes watching like reality shows just for the sake of looking in on someone else’s life, then you’ll like this book.

 

Lauren Martino: Reality show without the reality.

 

Dana Alsup: Exactly, yeah.

 

Lauren Martino: It’s fiction.

 

Dana Alsup: But you’re really peeping in on someone’s life. Yeah.

 

Nalani Devendra: I just finished, which is a talk about – which called Future Crimes, Marc Goldman – Goodman.

 

Lauren Martino: Marc Goodman.

 

Nalani Devendra: Goodman, sorry. I liked it because it’s kind of prediction.

 

Lauren Martino: It’s predicting the future?

 

Nalani Devendra: Future. We think all these modern technology make our life easier. Also – on that way, it make easier for the internet crime – happened internet crime.

 

Lauren Martino: Wow, that’s timely, isn’t it?

 

Nalani Devendra: Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: There’s been a lot of hack.

 

Nalani Devendra: Like a – we think of – if we have as much door lock, that much convenient. At the same time, if cyber –

 

David Payne: Cybercrime?

 

Nalani Devendra: Cybercrime, people who are doing cybercrime, it’s make easier for them to handle our life, take things from our life because we think it is everything is convenient but at the same time, actually – it is convenient plus there’s risk. But I like modern life. I want to buy this smart door lock.

 

David Payne: Well, Nalani and Dana, thank you very much for joining us on the show today and making us feel very hungry. Don’t forget, keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple Podcast app Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcasts. We’d love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.

 

[Audio Ends]

Nov 21, 2017

Recording Date: November 7, 2017

Hosts: Lauren Martino and David Payne

Episode Summary: Cooking enthusiasts Dana Alsup, a librarian at Marilyn Praisner Library, and Nalani Devendra, a library associate at Silver Spring Library, discuss the joys and challenges of cooking and how MCPL can make your next meal a delicious one. 

Guests: Librarian Dana Alsup and Library Associate Nalani Devendra

Featured MCPL Service: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) resources and events. Our Go! Kits contain books, science tools, a tablet, and more selected to encourage parents/caregivers and children to actively explore the world around them. We have Little Explorer Go! Kits for children ages 3-6 and Young Voyager Go! Kits for children ages 7-12. 

What Our Guests Are Currently Reading

Dana Alsup: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Horowitz has also written for the television series Foyles War and Midsomer Murders. Dana also recently read Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson.

Nalani Devendra: Future Crimes by Marc Goodman

Books, Magazines, Cooking Shows, and Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

641.5: The call number for cookbooks at MCPL. 

America's Test Kitchen: A  cooking show on WETA. The show has an extensive website that includes an archive of old shows. MCPL has a large collection of America's Test Kitchen cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa: An American cooking show on the Food Network featuring celebrity chef Ina Garten, who has authored several cookbooks and has an extensive cooking website.  

Bon Appetit: This food magazine is available in print at several MCPL branches. It is available online through our RBdigital Magazines service

The Can't Cook Book: 100+ Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified by Jessica Seinfeld.

Giada De Laurentis: Chef, writer, and television personality. Host of the Food Network's Giada at Home. MCPL owns many of her cookbooks

Paula Deen: Celebrity chef, restaurant owner, and author. MCPL owns a number of her cookbooks.  

First Bite by Bee Wilson: A look at how individual's food habits are formed. 

The Forest Feast blog: Erin Gleeson's blog features mostly vegetarian recipes and entertaining ideas.  

The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods by Erin Gleeson

The Forest Feast Gatherings: Simple Vegetarian Menus for Hosting Friends & Family by Erin Gleeson

The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes that Are Simple to Make by Erin Gleeson

The Food Network: Cable and satellite television channel focused on food. 

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Other Items of Interest:

Flipster: An online collection of full color magazines that includes the magazines Food & Wine and Cooking Light

RBdigital Magazines: This online collection of full color magazines includes several cooking magazines such as Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Food Network Magazine, and more. 

Read the full transcript

Nov 8, 2017

 

Listen to the audio 

Julie Dina: Welcome to Library Matters. Here are your hosts, Julie Dina and –.

 

David Payne: David Payne.

 

Julie Dina: Do you have a child who is reluctant to pick up a book and read? Today we have Barbara Shansby who is a wonderful and knowledgeable children’s librarian, who is here to share with us activities, tips, and advice that will encourage reluctant readers to start turning the pages, perhaps even before this podcast is over. Welcome Barbara, and thanks for being with us today.

 

Barbara: You’re welcome.

 

David Payne: Well, Barbara we are talking about reluctant readers but perhaps we should start by understanding what we mean by that term. In terms of the work that you do, can you explain what is or who is a reluctant reader to you?

 

Barbara: Sure. We usually think about, consider people reluctant readers if they don’t seem enthusiastic about reading. We see this especially with children who come to the library and then they’ll ask for help finding a book for a class or for a book report, and when we give them a book, they just give you this blank stare or worse, and there just seems to be no appeal at all for the books. The kids often don’t say that they don’t like to read, but we can tell from their body language that that’s a big issue, and just as often we’ll get questions from parents who are very honest about that. They will say their children don’t want to read or don’t like it and can we help them get them the books that they do need?

 

David Payne: You talked about children. Can we count adults as reluctant readers?

 

Barbara: Absolutely; although to be honest, they are probably a little bit less likely to come to the library. I do think there are plenty of adults in this day and age who don’t read or who are intimidated by it in some way and it’s a challenge.

 

David Payne: Well, Barbara, let’s talk about you a bit as a reader. Did you like to read as a child?

 

Barbara: Yes, I did. I was a huge reader as a kid. I probably spent too much time reading. I was sort of the opposite problem. My parents were like, “Why don’t you go outside for a change?” So yeah, I’ve always been a reader and in fact my book club for a while, we were going to call ourselves The Women Who Read Too Much and I love that title.

 

David Payne: So how did you develop your – or discover your love for reading?

 

Barbara: Well, that’s a hard thing to answer because I can’t – I don’t remember what got me started. I just remember that I loved to do it. However, I will say that the libraries were probably a big part of it. We lived in Montgomery County and my mother used to take me and my sisters to the library every few weeks and we’d check out our two or three books or whatever and bring them home and then we finished we’d go back and it was just an ongoing thing and really as I said, a b part of my life. I mean I remember many of my books very fondly and then when I came back to work as a children’s librarian, there they were. That was pretty amazing.

 

Julie Dina: Why do you think some people are reluctant to read, both adults and children?

 

Barbara: I think there are a lot of reasons why people don’t like to read. There’s a feel of failure with it if they’ve had books that they didn’t like or couldn’t make it through for some reason, then the whole task might be intimidating. Certainly learning disorders play a part in especially again in children. There may have been frustrations that kids or adults faced in previous classes or with previous tasks. Sometimes people may want to read but they are not just finding what appeals to them at that particular point. I also think we can’t discount peer pressure again for the kids, that if their friends aren’t reading why should they pick up a book? And for adults, lack of time is often an issue. Sometimes a person might be willing to read but it’s just not a priority and with so many other things, they are not going to pick up a book.

 

Julie Dina: So for adults, it’s best to say make more time and then you become willing to read? Would you say that?

 

Barbara: Well, not necessarily. I mean it would be nice if that’s easy but maybe for some people, that will happen but often it’s a problem of finding the book that appeals to you that’s going to turn you on in some way and make you want to keep reading.

 

David Payne: Well, Barbara talking about books and appeal, what kind of books do you think have the potential to really sparkle up a reading inn somebody who doesn’t have it already?

 

Barbara: Well, I think that’s a really, really hard question. It’s very tough to know what’s going to appeal and what’s going to appeal to which reader. So since I’m a children’s librarian, I’m going to talk more about that. We found that there is a big cache with the super popular books that kids will be enthusiastic about reading Dork Diaries or Big Nate because all their friends are reading it. I think we all remember when Harry Porter came out, kids who had never touched a book in their life suddenly had to have all of those books and they actually did read them and that was clearly peer pressure. But in addition to choosing the most popular books, there are other ways to determine that you are meeting the needs of that particular kid and the first thing that I would look at is reading level. It’s really important to have a book that a child can have success with. If you give them something that’s too hard, it can be really discouraging. So often, especially at the lower grades I’ll show a child a book and say, “Does this look too easy, too hard?” But you want to make it easy for them, so that’s the first thing that we are looking at.

 

Julie Dina: How do you motivate a reluctant reader? What set of questions do you ask them and how do you go about matching the reader with a book?

 

Barbara: As I said, we started with the grade level and then we are looking at what’s popular. You know you can’t always suggest Captain Underpants or Dork Diaries. We are also looking at the format that the child wants to try a graphic novel or a ‘comic book,’ something that has more illustrations than texts. Sometimes kids and again especially the boys want nonfiction, books about sports or animals or science, something like that. So that’s the way to go. Sometimes we are asking them if they had a book that they read before that they liked, can we follow up on that somehow? So there’s a lot of ways to go at it and hopefully we are going to find something that really just lights up those eyes and get that kid into the idea that this would be a fun thing to do.

 

Julie Dina: Could you share with our listeners and tell us about some o the MCPL programs that will be actually helpful for reluctant readers and their parents or caregivers?

 

Barbara: Sure, I’m happy to do that. The first thing that comes to mind is our summer reading program and of course we are pretty far from summer right now and I know at spring you have a podcast on summer reading but that is a great way to encourage reading that kids actually get prizes for doing activities and for reading books and it’s a big encouragement for them to come to the library and look at different kinds of books and complete their books. So that’s just a wonderful program but during the school year, there are other programs. We have Early Literacy Story Times which are important. For the older kids, there is a Read to the Dog program which is really fun. It’s held at several different libraries and the kids come in and an adult has a dog that sits there and the child picks up a book and actually reads the book to the dog and that’s terrific because will give you no judgment. A kid who might be shy in a class or with another adult, may find it a little bit easier to read to a dog. Similarly, we also have a Grand Reader program where kids are able to read to an older adult who again may be a little bit less judgmental and a more comforting presence. Also, there are several book discussion clubs for kids and that’s a wonderfully motivating activity because kids who talk about a book are really learning more about it and it will encourage them to read more and to get more out of it.

 

And of course there are other programs. At lots of different libraries we have author visits, we have STEM activities, and there are just so many programs. I also want to talk a little bit about resources for reluctant readers and for any readers. One thing that I learned recently is that one new technique is to encourage kids to read large print books. They are finding that that is somehow less intimidating to a child to read than a book where all the print is kind of squished together and every page looks so dense. A large print book has more wide space, the word are a little bit further apart. It’s easier for many children to navigate and to have MCPL. We have a pretty good collection of children’s books in large print and of course there are also lots of adult large print. Another thing that can be used in a similar kind of way is e-books. We have again a huge collection of e-books that can be downloaded and read on a device or a computer. Again, you could make the print larger. Some kids might feel more comfortable just to read on a computer than to pick up a book, so that’s a good thing. And also for younger kids, we have two programs, read-along books and so that’s another resource that can be used. In addition, on our website we have all kinds of subject book lists. We have graded book lists, so if you want to know what your second grader might like you could print out the second grade list. If you want to know books on nature or history or whatever, you could print out that list. There’s a lot of great resources.

 

Julie Dina: I knew it, we worked for MCPL.

 

David Payne: Something – we had lots of readers.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah, we would cover everyone.

 

David Payne: And now, a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Female Speaker: Looking for your next favorite book? MCPL can help. Fill out our what do I check out next online form and tell us what you like to read. You can find the link to the service on our homepage. We will email you a list of three to five books that are library chosen just for you, happy reading.

 

David Payne: Now back to our program. Well, Barbara let’s talk about a few books, in particular let’s say you have a first grader who says they don’t like reading. What would be your automatic go-to book for them? What about for a third grader or a fifth grader or a ninth grader? What are some of the automatic choices that you go to in those situations?

 

Barbara: Okay, well I’m going to answer with of course more than one because being a librarian, we always like to pile all these books on you. For a first grade reader, if they are below reading level we have a series called Flip a Word and it’s basically phonics. It’s really clear graphics, very simple, basically again phonics, rhyming words and it’s super easy and very appealing to kids. So that would be my first choice for somebody who’s not quite at first grade or struggling with it. If they are a little better reader but just not enthusiastic, I like to suggest funny books so I might say Fly Guy by Ted Arnold or Williams Piggy and Elephant books. I think humor gets kids reading. For the third grader, again the lower level maybe Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo.

 

Again they are pretty easy, they are funny, they have humor, they have large print, it’s a pretty easy book to read but it’s thick. So that’s nice, that gives them a sense of accomplishment. For somebody more on level, we might do Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton, Baby Mouse, those are all good choices I think. For the fifth grader, again if they are below level I might go to some of those third grade suggestions if they are more on level something like Dork dairies, Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, those are all – again, they have the humor that encourages kids. They have lots of illustrations, they are very popular. So usually when a kid sees that, they are pretty willing to give it a try. The ninth grade is a little harder, I thought. If they are below grade level, I might suggest Hatchet by Paul which is a great adventure story but again it’s short, it’s easy text but it moves really quickly, might be one of those fifth grade books that I mentioned. If they are more at grade level, I might suggest Alex Rider or Hunger Games, a lot of excitement, they move quickly. So I think those books have a fairly good chance to encourage a kid to get reading.

 

Julie Dina: Could you tell me about a story where you were able to actually get a child who was reluctant and had sworn “I’m never ever going to read again” but you turned it around?

 

David Payne: Okay. So for this we are going to my family members because what’s a good podcast if you are not embarrassing someone in your family? And I’m going to start with my son and then if you want I can give you a story too about my niece. So my story is in middle school – well actually elementary and middle school, one of my sons really did not like reading and he has never become a huge fiction fan. But his summer reading for middle school one year was to read a novel, so I thought that should be pretty easy, how hard can that be? And I kept bringing home books and he kept saying “No, I don’t like it. It looks stupid.” So finally I brought home the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and something about it appealed to him. It’s the story of a girl who witnesses something horrible happening at a party.

 

The writing is very spare, it’s powerful, it’s not a long book and something in that book just appealed to him and he read it and then later in the year, his school or his class had a contest to design a new book cover for any boo that you had read and he did the cover for Speak and he won the contest. So I thought that was pretty good reinforcement for reading. The other story was also a summer reading story. My niece had to read a huge amount of pages one summer, that was the assignment, read – I don’t know 500 pages or 1000 pages or 200o pages for your summer reading and again I kept handing her all these young adult novels and she kept “No, I just don’t like it. I don’t know, it’s just –” and finally somebody – and I’m not sure I could take credit for it because it could have been one of her friends said – handed her Twilight and that was when that book was hugely popular. And she read the whole thing and that book is like 500 or 600 pages. I just couldn’t believe this girl who wouldn’t open a 200-page novel, but again there was something about it that just appealed to her. It moved quickly, it was fast, it was popular and so she made her 1000 pages by reading all the books in that series. So that’s my story.

 

Julie Dina: I love them all.

 

David Payne: So Barbara, for any parent listening who may be concerned that their child doesn’t like to read, what advice would you give them?

 

Barbara: Okay, I think it’s a really fine line between encouraging your child to read and pushing them too hard and you have to be really careful. So probably the best strategy is to offer books but don’t force them. You want to make sure that there aren’t learning disabilities that are causing the problems but once that’s been dealt with, again offer the books. If there is a specific problem, you want to maybe work with the teachers to get them to encourage reading. But again, have a choice of books, do the nonfiction, do the graphic novels, do the popular things, and make sure that there are some good options for the child.

 

Julie Dina: Well, still on the same line of what you just said, because you know many parents are concerned for their reluctant readers and some parents actually would prefer their kids to read above their grade level. What would you say to such parents who keep trying to give a child a book that they are not really interested in and it’s below, well the parents consider this book being below the child’s reading level?

 

Barbara: Well, we do see that a lot with these many arguments between many parents and many children at the library, but again, we are at that fine line. I do think there are kids who need to be pushed to move away from their comfort level and stretch a little, but some kids need to have the positive reinforcement of reading success at the lower level. So sometimes I do say to parents, “Look, it’s the reading that’s important, not so much the format or the level.” And again, this is something if they are finding it hard to get the child up to the next level, this is something more that a teacher might be able to do more effectively. At the library, we really want to make sure the child is enjoying and that it’s not becoming a chore or an effort. So if a kid is happy reading, you don’t want to mess with that too much.

 

Julie Dina: So we want a joyful child?

 

Barbara: Absolutely.

 

David Payne: That would help?

 

Barbara: Yeah.

 

David Payne:

 

Julie Dina: Now we’ve talked a lot with regards to children but there are some adults who would mention and say, “I really don’t have time to read this long book.” Do you have any solutions as to what would be good for them?

 

Barbara: Yes. I think that’s absolutely a valid thing. Sometimes people just don’t want to commit to a huge book. In my old age I’m finding that to be more the case for myself. I’m just like, “Oh no, I have many pages.”

 

Julie Dina: So what would you recommend for yourself?

 

Barbara: A shorter book. There are lots of very good books that are 300 or 400 pages or less, fiction, nonfiction, whatever. So you don’t have to go the huge novel route but also there are short stories, there are novels or – I’m sorry, short stories or novellas, there are graphic novels, magazine articles, again the nonfiction is always an option. If you have a nonfiction book sometimes you don’t have to read the whole thing, you kind of skip around a little bit or leave out the chapters that you are not interested in. Another option which actually we didn’t talk about for kids but many people enjoy listening to a book, so that’s another way to deal with the lack of time and possibly the lack of commitment. So if you are on a long trip it doesn’t really matter how long your book is, you just listen for as long as it goes. Also I had another idea and that is that adults can also read young adult books or children’s novels. There are a lot of books that are so well written and have interesting themes and characters, but it’s usually a pretty quick read and that’s a great option.

 

Julie Dina: Well, finally before we let you go, it’s our tradition here o Library Matters to ask our guests to tell us about a book they have enjoyed reading recently. Could you share that with us?

 

Barbara: Okay. So I’m going to tell you about a book that I just finished a week or two ago and following my own advice for an easy read, it was young adult, nonfiction. The book is called Survivors Club and the author is Michael Bornstein. And this was an amazing story of a young Jewish boy from Poland who was sent to a concentration camp with his family. At the time he was only four years old, but he managed to survive and even more surprising, almost everybody in his extended family survived. Some survived by hiding, some survived by escaping, some seemed to survive just by luck. So even though it was a sad story and it was pretty awful to read about the violence and the trauma that he went through, I felt like it was so inspiring to learn about where everybody did survive and how he was reunited with his family.

 

Julie Dina: It sounds wonderful. Well, once again, thank you so much Barbara for joining us for this podcast episode.

 

David Payne: And being an inspiration to the many young children and the parents who are looking to get that boost into reading. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

 

Julie Dina: You are very welcome.

 

David Payne: Don’t forget, keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple Podcast app, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcast, we’d love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today, see you next time on Library Matters.

 

 

Nov 7, 2017

Recording Date: October 11, 2017

Hosts:Julie Dina and David Payne 

Episode Summary: Children's Library Associate Barbara Shansby talks about why some children, and adults, are reluctant to read and how to foster an appreciation for reading among reluctant readers. 

Guest: Children's Library Associate Barbara Shansby

Featured MCPL Service: What Do I Check Out Next? Tell us what you like to read through our What Do I Check Out Next? form. Our librarians will e-mail you 3 -5 personalized book suggestions. 

What Our Guest is Currently Reading: Survivors Club: the True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein. The incredible story of Michael Bornstein, who at 4 years old, was one of the youngest people to be liberated from Auschwitz.  

Books and Authors Mentioned During this Episode:

Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz: In this thrilling series, 14 year old Alex Rider is coerced into working for British intelligence after his uncle is killed on a mission. 

Babymouse by Jennifer and Matthew Holm: An imaginative mouse learns life lessons in this graphic novel series. 

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce: Chronicles the life of Nate Wright as he resists the confinements of middle school. 

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey: The humorous books recount the adventures of an unlikely super hero. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney: This series, formatted as a journal, recounts the life of middle schooler Greg and his best friend Rowley. 

Dork Diaries by Rachel Russell: Humorous book series written as a diary with lots of drawings and doodles. It chronicles the life of middle schooler Nikki Maxwell. 

Flip a Word by Harriet Ziefert: A series of humorously illustrated books, including Quack Shack and Crab Cab, that introduce rhyming word families. 

Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold: Funny book series about a fly and his best friend, a boy named Buzz. 

Geronimo Stilton: This series features the adventures of Geronimo Stilton, the scaredy mouse editor of The Rodent's Gazette, who is constantly being dragged into adventures by his pushy, boisterous family. 

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter's fantastic adventure in this 7 book series starts with 4 simple words, "You're a wizard Harry." 

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: Brian Robeson is the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness.  

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: In this popular dystopia, teens from twelve oppressed districts are forced to fight to the death in a futuristic arena.  

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo: In this series, a buttered toast loving pet pig named Mercy Watson has all sorts of adventures in her neighborhood. 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: A traumatic event near the end of summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school. 

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers: This series chronicles the romance between a teen girl and a vampire amidst growing conflict within the secret world of vampires. 

Other MCPL Resources and Services Mentioned During this Episode

Audio books: MCPL offers audio books on CD, on Playaways, and online.   

Book discussion groups are available for kids, teens, and adults.

Early literacy storytimes prepare our county's babies, toddlers, and preschoolers for a lifetime of reading and learning. 

Grandreaders: Children can practice reading aloud to our specially trained older members of the community.

List of recommended books by Grade and Age

Library Matters recorded an episode about MCPL's Summer Read and Learn program in May, 2017. 

Read to a Dog: Children can build confidence in their reading skills by reading aloud to one of our trained therapy dogs.    

Short story collections: MCPL has a wide varied of short story collections for children, teens, and adults

Small type can be a barrier for some readers, including kids. Check out MCPL's large type books for children

Read the full transcript

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