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.

Hop Picks For October 2018

October! YAY! YAY!!!! YAY!!!!!! and also BOO!

This is such a magical month. The colors, the cool nights, the way your imagination can run wild with ghost stories… I LOVE this time of year. If you need me I will be curled up in the autumnal sunshine or next to a roaring fire reading (obviously) every scary, spooky and eerie book that the library has to offer.

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For me, the season officially starts when I have spent some time with Shirley Jackson.

Friends, if we ever meet please ask me about Shirley Jackson. I have so much to say about her, so many thoughts, so much awe. She was a fascinating person (Ruth Franklin wrote an INCREDIBLE biography about her) and I have such admiration for her ability to write such chilling fiction AND lovely memoirs about being a mother. She was a very creative person and it shows in her writing. My favorite opening paragraph from a novel (EVER) is from We Have Always Lived in the Castle:

“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”

Shirley Jackson is best known for her spooky story The Lottery but I would argue that We Have Always Lived in the Castle is true genius. Every time I read this novel, I can’t believe how sorry I feel for Mary Kat. She and her sister are horribly ostracized by the people in her town and the isolation they face is heartbreaking. Yet, Mary Kat is also a terrifying person… I mean, did she kill her whole family? maybe?

The prose in this novel is wonderful and the dedication between the sisters is fascinating... I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it!

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The Witches by Roald Dahl is technically a children’s book. Although, I suggest that you don’t read this book until you’re at least thirty. I’m kidding but seriously, this book is creeeeeeeepy.

I love this book because it was one of the first that truly scared me but here’s the thing, I STILL think it’s scary.

I mean, the idea that witches look like regular women however they are actually out to “get rid” of children? EEK. Witches could be your neighbors, your parent’s friends, teachers, who knows! and they are all secretly plotting to make children disappear. This book is a serious twist on the usual witch story and perfect for a nine to twelve year old that wants a good Halloween spook.

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Recently, I watched the film A Quiet Place and was immediately reminded of Bird Box.

This is the story of a monster/spooky something that will destroy you if you look at it. If anyone wants to survive they must learn to navigate the world blindfolded. What sets this novel a part from other post apocalyptic stories? The main character is a mother. A mother who is trying to teach her young children how to navigate the world without sight. Scary right? Spoiler: There is a scene when the mother and her children are all blindfolded and trying to navigate a river. IN A CANOE!!!

Read this book before the Netflix film comes out. So Fun!

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Marisha Pessl’s Night Film is more of a thriller then horror but it was such a heart racing, page turner that I must include it on this list. The story of Scott Mcgrath, (a washed up journalist) is extremely captivating as he becomes obsessed with a reclusive film maker named Cordova. When Cordova’s young and brilliant daughter commits suicide, Mcgrath is determined to find out if it was murrrrrderrr. This book is a twisty path of bizarre characters and strange places as McGrath tries to find Cordova who is never interviewed, never seen and his staff all swear to secrecy.

If you like a mystery that has you guessing over and over again, check out Night Film.

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Look at that cover!! So good. Grady Hendrix is a maniac and all his books are so, so, soooo unique. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is fantastic because it is both super spooky and also fills me with a nostalgia for the cheesy fiction I read in high school.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is about a group of high school girls in the 80’s and reads like a John Hughes film (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles).

At one point one of girls, Abby, takes a quiz from a magazine to find out if she is driving her best friend (Gretchen) away. Turns out, it’s not Abby’s fault that Gretchen is acting so strangely. Turns out, Gretchen is possessed by the devil.

If you were ever a fan of the Sweet Valley High series I suggest you pick this book up. Your mind will explode because the writing style seems so familiar but the story is bananas.

Wow! This list is very entertaining! Not trying to brag but seriously these titles are all excellent! What is surprising about this list is that none of the books are overly gory.

There are so many books in the horror genre that are centered around men’s violence towards women and I am surprised that this list does not have a single torture book on it.

I’ve realized that for me, reading is my time to forget the news, forget the world’s problems and lose myself in a good story. These books are entertaining and fun and an effectual place to be when you are losing sleep over the real world.

What are you reading to celebrate (or forget) this haunting time of year?