Hopping Holidays

Hey Friends! and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

No matter what you are celebrating this festive season I hope you are taking some time to relax. Whether it is picking up a museum pass, having coffee with friends or curling up with a new library book, don’t forget that this is a time to focus on the people and things that really matter to you.

For me, literacy and supporting my library are really important. During this lovely time of year I will be doing tiny things to help my favorite cause.

Friends, for the first time in my life, I wrote a check to the library! Admittedly, it was not a lot of money but I know that materials are expensive and there are so many to choose from. My donation will help the library purchase a few titles (books or films) that they did not budget for. Yay!

Speaking of materials being expensive, my family does an advent calendar every year and this year we decided to give books! This is a terrific idea but can break the bank (hello 25 days of children’s books!) I saved a ton of money by visiting the book sales found in many public libraries and paying wayyyyy less for like new books. High five to this mom for saving all the money and supporting the library!

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Also, last week I borrowed three cook books and a cocktail recipe book from the library . I am SO excited to try some new recipes in honor of the season.

After the baking, traveling and present-ing is over there is still vacation. The impending task of keeping the kiddos entertained has lead me to make a list of some awesome programs happening at the library. I plan to pack up the family and utilize all the programming that libraries have to offer. I’m looking at you Wallingford Public Library’s Collaboratory.

Friendly Reminder that if you have a library card in CT you have access to all the libraries in the state!

Lastly, in order to survive the plethora of holiday car trips, lines at the grocery store and vigorous house cleaning, I have downloaded the Overdrive App to my phone. With my trusty library card I am able to borrow hundreds of audio books and will always have something to listen to! My wait time just got a lot more literary!

Holy Moly who knew that the library would come in so handy this time of year?! How are you using the library during this busy time?

Happy Holidays Friends! Have a safe and happy season! Cheers to you!

Hop Picks for November 2018

November is Native American History month and a terrific time to head to your library.

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When my local librarian handed me this beautiful book, I slumped myself into a chair and wept. Photographer (and incredible professor) John Willis has been documenting the Lakota people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation since 1995.

I was amazed at Willis’s ability to capture the daily life and hardship of the people living at Pine Ridge.

There is nothing romantic about the culture he captures in his photographs. The black and white images (shot on film and printed in a dark room!) do not exoticize the community that eventually trust and befriend him. Over the years, Willis had access to their homes, celebrations and sacred rituals but very little of that is in the book. This collection documents their every day. It is about their struggle. Their lives. Among the beautiful photographs are poems and artful contributions from people of all ages living on the reservation. This. Book. Is. Stunning.  Buy this book, learn about the beautiful people of Pine Ridge and carefully consider A View from the Reservation.

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In the 1920’s the Osage Tribe in Oklahoma struck oil on their land, making them the RICHEST people per capita IN THE WORLD!!!! They bought cars, mansions, and began living a life of luxury (not privilege because outside the reservation they had zero rights) then, they started dying. The people of the Osage nation were being poisoned and shot. People in the tribe began dying mysteriously AND the people investigating the deaths began dying too!! A young J. Edgar Hoover (in an attempt to build and strengthen the F.B.I) began investigating this insane series of events.

Killers of the Flower Moon is one of the best books I have read this year.

David Grann’s detailed account brings history alive in a way that is both depressing and captivating. I am so grateful that he has written such a stellar book on a piece of history that I knew nothing about. You better believe I will be buying several copies of this book to give as gifts this holiday season.

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You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is Sherman Alexie’s memoir that will rip your heart out.

I was a puddle after reading this book. Alexies’s stories of his life on the reservation are riddled with alcoholism, parental abuse and the struggle for identity. This book was tough to read. I ached for all his sadness and acceptance of how his mother treated him. It was heartbreaking, unnerving and important. 

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#NotYourPrincess is a collection of essays, poems, photos and artwork by Native American women who live in North America. This collection breaks stereotypes and asks the tough questions. It is a stunningly personal account that would resonate with anyone.

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Grand Theft Horse by G. Neri is not about a Native American tribe but I am including it because it was recommended to me by someone with a background in Native American studies. It is a graphic novel about a woman who trains dangerous horses. While Corban Wilkin’s illustrations are not my favorite (I prefer color and a large layout) I loved the story. Gail, the protagonist is a strong and compelling character that fights for the humane treatment of race horses. I appreciated this recommendation because I am not one to really care about horse racing however, this book is a phenomenal read.

I want to read more books about different Native American cultures.

After spending some time with these books I am floored by the way the Osage were treated in 1920 and how the Lakota are treated today. Friends, there is so much more that we can do. There are so many things to apologize for. The United States has such an insane history and there is so much that we don’t know or talk about. I have learned a mere speck of the history and want to learn more. Do you recommend any books about a Native American Culture or history? How about an author that has lived on a reservation? Let’s all try to read harder, loiter and learn something.

Westbrook Public Library

The Westbrook Public Library sits nestled against a small forest and away from the hustle of Route 1 in Essex, CT. The first thing I noticed when heading towards the building was the beautiful landscaping. The garden club is taking very good care of the trees, shrubs and potted plants. The flowers were so colorful and drew my eye up towards the crisp building.

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It is apparent that the Westbrook Public Library is proud of it’s building and yet, the tropical turquoise accent was a fun and unexpected detail.

In the lobby I was excited to see a box to recycle cell phones and a place to drop off canned goods. From my first steps I could tell that this library was invested in its community which became more apparent as I walked past the front desk and was greeted with an enormous community bulletin board.

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Westbrook Library has incredibly high ceilings that have been accentuated by huge white beams. As I explored the library, I imagined I was walking through the belly of a massive ship. A ship that was not made of wood but of a dreamy cumulus cloud. Maybe my imagination was running or maybe I was just feeling sleepy because it was kinda dark in there.

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It appears that Westbrook Library prefers  to rely on natural light and that makes sense considering it’s spanning windows and luscious forest backdrop.

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This public library has incomparable views of the woods. It was truly magical but if I were doing research I think I would have to bring a flashlight.

The day I visited Westbrook Public Library was overcast and pretty dark. I found myself gravitating towards the windows (not the shelves) to give my eyes a good scratch and a refocus.

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On the other hand, the children’s room had all their lights on and more people were in this room using the computers, reading the paper and hanging out.

It was during school so no kids were in the children’s room, but I smiled at all the adults that were using the light.

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Westbrook Children’s room is so sweet. There are several places for caregivers and children to sit. Many chairs, couches and crannies for reading and exploring.

My absolute favorite part was the beach pebbles that decorated the book shelves. Very unique and very appropriate for tiny hands cultivating their sensory skills.

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After visiting the Children’s Department, I noticed a room for magazines and planted in the middle was AN ACTUAL CARD CATALOG!!!! I swooned, I sighed, and I took way, way, wayyyy too many pictures of this treasure. Turns out, the librarians at Westbrook Public Library still regularly use the card catalog!

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Like many libraries, Westbrook Public Library is more than just a place for books. The natural surroundings provided a calm while the busy bulletin board begs you to get involved. This is not the busiest library but I felt welcomed by the friendly staff and was truly grateful for a quiet moment.