Top 5 books of 2016

It was a bit of a rough year as far as favorites go.  Most of what I read didn’t blow me away.  I think I was just in a weird place this year – trying to look for a new job, building my social life up again, and having too much free time on my hands and being unfocused.

There were some books I read that failed to impress despite their blockbuster status (like My Name is Lucy Barton), but I think it’s more because of the place I was in this year, rather than the books not living up to their reputation.  Also, as I mentioned in my last post on my reading wrap up for the year, I read too many free advanced reading copies, and didn’t prioritize the books on my to do read list enough. But, there were some winners this year!

My top five books of 2016 are:

1.   The Girl on the Train.  Deservedly a bestseller and a movie (which I need to see), this thriller kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.

From the cover:
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EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

2.    Modern Romance.  Even if you are not single and trying to date in these crazy times, this is a great read that gives you a hint as to what your single friends are dealing with!  I thought it was a funny, insightful examination of today’s {exhausting} dating culture.

Excerpt from the cover:
23453112A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s sharpest comedic voices.

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

3.    Dreaming Water.  While this book honestly didn’t blow me away, it was a good read and it did get me to read out my usual genres and is encouraging me to read more books like it.  A tear jerker written in two voices, the book explores a mother daughter relationship and is a reminder to be grateful for the small things.

Excerpt from the cover:
Bestselling author Gail Tsukiyama is known for her poignant, subtle insights into the most 51112complicated of relationships. Dreaming Water is an exploration of two of the richest and most layered human connections that exist: mother and daughter and lifelong friends.

Hana is suffering from Werner’s syndrome, a disease that makes a person age at twice the rate of a healthy individual: at thirty-eight Hana has the appearance of an eighty-year-old. Cate, her mother, is caring for her while struggling with her grief at losing her husband, Max, and with the knowledge that Hana’s disease is getting worse by the day.

Dreaming Water is about a mother’s courage, a daughter’s strength, and a friend’s love. It is about the importance of human dignity and the importance of all the small moments that create a life worth living.

4.    The Forgotten.  Because I love thrillers and mysteries. Published in 2013, this book is the second in a series about character John Puller.  However, I never read the first book and didn’t have trouble following the story or understanding the characters.  A fun page turner.

15791157From the cover:
Army Special Agent John Puller is the best there is. A combat veteran, Puller is the man the U.S. Army relies on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. Now he has a new case–but this time, the crime is personal: His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida.

A picture-perfect town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Paradise thrives on the wealthy tourists and retirees drawn to its gorgeous weather and beaches. The local police have ruled his aunt’s death an unfortunate, tragic accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller’s father, telling him that beneath its beautiful veneer, Paradise is not all it seems to be.

What Puller finds convinces him that his aunt’s death was no accident . . . and that the palm trees and sandy beaches of Paradise may hide a conspiracy so shocking that some will go to unthinkable lengths to make sure the truth is never revealed.

5.    Past Crimes.  This was one free advanced reading copy I got at the ALA conference that I enjoyed.  This thriller is a finalist for the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and is an exciting and fast paced debut.

Excerpt from the cover:
22535504.jpgThe Anthony, Macavity, and Strand Critics award-winning debut from Glen Erik Hamilton.

When his estranged grandfather is shot and left for dead, an Army Ranger must plunge into the criminal underworld of his youth to find a murderer and uncover a shocking family secret in this atmospheric and evocative debut thriller.

Van Shaw was raised to be a thief, but at eighteen he suddenly broke all ties to that life and joined the military—abandoning his illicit past and the career-criminal grandfather who taught him the trade. Now, after ten years of silence, his grandfather has asked him to come home to Seattle. But when Van arrives, he discovers his grandfather bleeding out on the floor from a gunshot to the head. With a lifetime of tough history between him and the old man, Van knows he’s sure to be the main suspect.

Edgy and suspenseful, rich with emotional resonance, gritty action, and a deep-rooted sense of place, Past Crimes trumpets the arrival of a powerful talent in the mold of Dennis Lehane, Robert B. Parker, and John D. MacDonald.

Honorable mentions:

Somebody I Used to Know.  Another free book from ALA.  I enjoyed this thriller about a man who seems a woman that is the spitting image of his college girlfriend – who was killed in a fire.

Sarah’s Key.  As my mom says, “An oldie (2008) but a goodie”.   I had a big phase this year with reading dual timeline novels.  This was my favorite of the bunch, connecting Sarah’s story in 1942 with Julia’s in 2002.  Also, check out the movie if you like the book.  It diverts from the book, but it also good in itself.

What were some of your favorites from 2016?

2016 Reading Wrap Up

I can’t believe it’s already time again for a reading wrap up.  2016 was a weird year, wasn’t it?  I’m looking forward to it being in the rear view mirror soon.

I didn’t read as many books as usual.  I think because it was my first free year after finishing grad school and I spent a lot of my time enjoying a social life again (another reason why I haven’t been blogging much this year!)  But, I still managed to read 32 books – not too shabby.

Total – 32
Percent fiction – 63%
Percent mystery/thriller –28%
Percent young adult –9%
Percent female authors – 34%
Percent nonfiction – 37% – up from 2%
Average per month – 2.6
Percent really liked – 24%
Percent just okay – 54%
Percent didn’t like – 22%

I started another four books that I didn’t finish, all four of which were advanced reading copies (ARCs) I got at the ALA conference last year.  Overall, I’ve sadly been unimpressed with the ARCs I got there and I learned my lesson that if I ever go again, I’ll be much more selective in which books I carry home.  Many of the books I got were those that publishers foisted upon me as I walked down the aisles and not what I’d usually read (as in lots of chick lit and kids’ books), but I was also trying to take advantage and explore new genres. It hasn’t been working out great, but I still have about 20 to go!

I again focused on reading more fiction (up from 31%) over young adult this year and succeeded (down from 25% to only 9%).  It was nice trying to focus on fiction, although I admit they weren’t all exactly “literary” and many were free books from ALA.

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Somehow my to read list on Goodreads has exploded to over 300 books.  I think it may be time to clean out some of the ones I’ll never get around to reading!  But, in 2017, in no particular order, I’d like to read:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihira

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

Stiletto (Rook Files #2) by Daniel O’Malley.  I really liked the first book, but I read it a long time ago and may need to refresh my memory.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Because I finally saw the movie and now I’m intrigued.

Trespasser by Tana French

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

And I saw this every year, but I’d like to try to read some short stories this year. Any suggestions on some good story collections?

What are some of the books you want to read in 2017?

I’ll share a few of my favorite books from this year soon!

PS Here’s my wrap ups from 2014 and 2013.

Image source.

 

Today

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After a very sleepless night, all I can say is how sad and shocked I am this morning.  My heart is broken.  If you’re feeling anxious or angry, you’re not alone.  We are witnessing a very different historic event than many of us expected.  What year this has been.  I need some time to process this and will be headed to the beach to force myself to stop watching the news.

I haven’t been very active on this blog for some time, but luckily have found a new job and will hopefully have more time for writing.  At least that is one positive for this year!

Take care of yourself today.  Support others who may be feeling sad, anxious, or angry.   Let’s use this experience to inspire change in the future.

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TED Talk: Gerard Ryle and the Panama Papers

Oh, my poor neglected little blog…I’ve missed sharing things here.  I don’t know about you, but this year has been a crazy one for me.  After finishing up my MLIS I could barely stand to look at the computer for months, and I’m finally starting to feel almost normal again. Now I’m just looking for libraryland jobs and enjoying post-grad life.

I heard this great TED Talk on my commute to work this morning by Gerard Ryle on “How the Panama Papers journalists broke the biggest leak in history.”  A great insight into a collaboration between journalists around the world to ensure access to information.

 

The transcript can be found here.

The Panama Papers database can be accessed here.

Sonoma County Wine Library

It has been quite a long time since I posted anything, but I have a very good excuse (I think).  I finished my MLIS!  It’s hard to believe that I finally finished my three years and a few months journey through grad school.  It was an exhausting fall and holiday season and I needed some time away from the computer to recuperate and relax!

One thing I did to celebrate was to go wine tasting for the day with the bf.  Coincidentally, BayNet was hosting a tour of the Sonoma County Wine Library that same day.  Even luckier for me, the bf was into supporting my nerdiness and happily went on the tour with me.

The tour was back in October, so forgive the lateness of this post.  Like I said, I’ve been avoiding the computer for a couple of months.  Anyway, it was a good turnout and the Wine Librarian (how do I get that title?!?), Jon Haupt, pulled out some fun items to share with the group.

The library is located inside the Healdsburg branch of the Sonoma County Library system.

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They have about 6,000 items in the collection, including 1,000 rare books, ephemera, periodicals, and wine-related clippings.  Topics include agriculture, cooking, viticulture, food, cheese, beer and liquor, regions, the wine business, and winemaking.

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They use the Koha catalog system for their OPAC.  The collection is cataloged using the Dewey Decimal System.

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The periodicals area, with approximately 60 different magazine subscriptions

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The oldest book in the collection, published 1518 (but much older than that), the Libri de re rustica by Marcus Porcius Cato.  (See the digitized version at the Internet Archive!)

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This was a beautiful and enormous book from 1900 containing illustrations of French grapes.  (I didn’t catch the name of it, sorry, so please let me know if you know the title.)

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This is a fun pop up book – Hugh Johnson’s Pop Up Wine BookPublished in 1989.

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Another rare book was one published in Spain in 1584 the Libro de agricultura: que tracta de la labranca y crianca, y de muchas otras particularidades y prouechos del campo, by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera.  The book is on winemaking, which he said they might have used for reference in the California missions.  See the digitized version at the Internet Archive.)

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This is the rare books and clippings area.

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More rare books

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Subject files.  The clippings are in a database, but new items are not currently being added to the existing database.

Like many other special libraries, the Wine Library did not have a collection development policy when the librarian began, and they are out of space for the physical collection. He has not had time to do any deaccessioning. The library also does not have a strategic plan, although he would like to create one.

I thought these were fun..

And then there is the ephemera!  I totally want this game.

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And a scrapbook on the region

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An interesting special collection at the library is of wine labels.

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Some of the food and cooking titles

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Finally, I passed by the famous seed library inside the main Healdsburg branch

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It is a great special library and I’m so glad I had the chance to see it.  It’s open to the public, and I recommend you visit if you can!

Sutro Library tour

A little while back, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Sutro Library in San Francisco.  This is one of my most favoritest libraries evah, so I jumped at the chance to get a behind the scenes look.  The library is part of the California State Library system and has one of the largest genealogy collections west of Salt Lake City, which is how I discovered it.  However, it wasn’t until more recently that I learned of all the amazing other things hidden away in their collection.  I thought they had a lot of goodies in the stacks, but there were even more in the archives.

sutro library sign

I began visiting the library somewhere around 10 years ago to try to find the birth family of my grandfather, who gave him up for adoption with no info other than his parents’ names.  Lo and behold, I broke the “brick wall” of this part of the family tree in a dark room of the library filled with microfilm machines and drawers full of census records.  Ever since then, I’ve loved this place.  Their resources are amazing.  I’ve even found my mother in a Honolulu telephone book.

sutro library books

The library moved in 2012 to a new space on the San Francisco State University campus.  Since that was the year I also began the MLIS program, I never had the chance to visit.  I was happy to discover it was worth the wait.  The space is of course much larger, but also brighter (no windows in the last place that I can remember) and felt more welcoming.

sutro library study area

The Sutro Library collections come from Adolph Sutro, a former San Francisco mayor and apparently an extremely avid book collector who had the largest private library in the world at the time.  Sutro felt that San Francisco was still pretty wild, as it wasn’t too long after the Gold Rush, and wanted to make the city more modern and cultured.  His philosophy was to buy in bulk, even purchasing books that had been thrown in the trash.  One such example is the library’s Mexicana collection, where Sutro bought the inventory of the largest book store in Mexico City, the Libreria Abadiano, yielding several thousand items pre-1900 and much more.

sutro library stacks

Unfortunately, Sutro died (1898) before the library he envisioned was built and the books were stored in two different locations.  Even more unfortunately, the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed an astounding two-thirds of the books, yet 70,000 managed to survive.  Sutro didn’t keep an inventory (!) so the library is not sure what did not survive the quake, but they do have some receipts and other things to help piece together the original collection.

sutro library surname catalog

The real excitement began when we went into the closed stacks, and a conference room where the librarian had already brought out special items for the tour.

sutro stacks

sutro stacks

I learned that these enormous books are called elephant folios

elephant folios

Bound issues of The Star

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A mysterious miniature cuneiform tablet that they don’t know how got into the collection

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Tlatelolco library, part of the Mexicana collection, from 1500s to 1700s

mexicana collection

A Shakespeare first folio from 1623, one of only 233 in the world (all of the books from here down were already opened, so I couldn’t get any pics of the covers.)

shakespeare first folio

A first edition of the King James Bible, 1611

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“King Charles I, his speech made upon the scaffold”, 1649.  This is the speech made before his execution.

king charles I speech

This book from 1470 is the first printed book of music.  I didn’t catch the name of it while I was there, but after exploring the library’s catalog, I believe this is the Constitutis, cuattentione dicende by Johannes Gerson.

first printed music book

A Japanese print

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An illuminated book

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The library is cataloged with both Library of Congress (LC) and Dewey Decimal, and they are slowly converting everything to LC.

Some of the other resources available are:

  • A surname catalog (a bunch of people on the tour started checking to see if their surnames were in it!)
  • A locality catalog
  • 10,000 British pamphlets
  • American pamphlets from the 1500s-1800s
  • Works Progress Administration records
  • Sutro Baths posters
  • About 50 incunabula (pre-1500)
  • 4,000 family histories
  • Daughters of the American Revolution publications
  • Italian manuscripts from the 15th to 17th centuries

The library is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5.   The library also offers email and online reference support.  The staff has always been very helpful and friendly when I’ve asked questions.

Literary map of the British Isles [infographic]

Happy Friday! I have been a busy bee working on my e-portfolio and wrapping up my MLIS.  Graduation is {hopefully} in sight!  I decided to put my e-port on a website, so I was forced to think of a name for it.  I’m not great at naming things, but I managed to come up with one that wasn’t already taken, and now changed this blog name to match.  So, welcome to Crafter Librarian!

For your Friday enjoyment, here’s a literary map of the British Isles, via BuzzFeed.

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Currently reading: The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro (another advanced reading copy from the ALA conference)