summer reads in 10: LaGuardia

African futurism, aliens, plants, relationships, and a bit of protest.

LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor, Tana Ford & James Devlin

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summer reads in 10: Superbuns!

Super cute! Blast the world with kindness and exclamation points!

(Kindness is her superpower.)

Superbuns! by Diane Kredensor

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summer reads in 10: One Dark Bird

Do some counting and learn what a murmuration is. Cool!

One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon and Frann Preston-Gannon

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summer reads in 10: All the Greys on Greene Street

Layers, shadow, light, shading, absence — art and life blend together.

(A wonderful story of artists, acrobats, monster lovers and mystery fans. And life in all its confusion and wonder.)

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

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summer reads in 10: Catwad – It’s me

Unsticking popsicles and finding new uses for lemonade.

(Fun for kids especially.)

Catwad: It’s Me by Jim Benton

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summer reads in 10: Patron Saints of Nothing

A wide and shimmering window into worlds not my own.

(Also, please read this one.)

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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summer reads in 10: We’re all works of art

Surreal? Classic? Art is full of us, full of beauty.

We’re All Works of Art by Mark Sperring and Rose Blake

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summer reads in 10: Being Edie is Hard Today

Oh, to be a squid. We all feel that way.

(And not just today.)

Being Edie is Hard Today by Ben Brashares and Elizabeth Bergeland

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summer reads in 10: They Called Us Enemy

When will we ever learn?

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker

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summer reads in 10: Small World

Your world grows ever larger. Amazing things happen. (Even space!)

Small World by Ishta Mercurio and Jen Corace

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summer reads in 10: Goodnight Lagoon

We needed a Goodnight Moon parody with pirates.

(We just didn’t know it.)

Goodnight Lagoon by Lisa Ann Scott and Paco Sordo

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summer reads in 10: Duckworth the Difficult Child

Clueless parents, creative child, reptiles. Duckworth wins. Ha!

Duckworth the Difficult Child by Michael Sussman and Júlia Sardà

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summer reads in 10: Earth by the Numbers

Groovy earth infographics from the amazing Steve Jenkins — YAY!

(And there are more in this series!)

Earth by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

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summer reads in 10: Can Cat and Bird be friends?

Friendship? Yes, we can! (Some complications and painting involved.)

Can Cat and Bird Be Friends? by Coll Muir

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summer reads in 10: Truman

Peaceful, pensive, risk-taking, awesome rescue turtle — Truman.

Truman by Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins

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summer reads in 10: Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas

Avoid this book if you fear saucy words.

(Like “bum.”)

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

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summer reads in 10: The Bastard Brigade

Physics, THE bomb, quirky characters, Nazis, war, mistakes, choices.

(A history in thriller form.)

The Bastard Brigade: the true story of the renegade scientists and spies who sabotaged the Nazi atomic bomb by Sam Kean

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summer reads in 10: One Shoe Two Shoes

A twist on Dr. Seuss but with mice, many mice.

One Shoe Two Shoes by Caryl Hart and Edward Underwood

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How Shakira is like the library: a meditation on life

My son and I share a love for Shakira – also Beyoncé, Donna Summer, and most dance-able pop music that doesn’t involve Ed Sheeran or lyrics that make my teeth hurt.  Do I love them more because he will listen to them in the car and let me bop along on the 5+ hour trip to see Grandma and Grandpa?  Oh, definitely. 

So it’s no surprise that I was staring at some out-of-control squash plants in the garden this morning, humming “Hips Don’t Lie,” and thinking about what my day would be like at the library.  Those squash plants, given a little sun and water, just do not stop.  They go where they want.  They climb across the fence and reach over to the blackberry plants or the redbud tree.  You can re-direct them sometimes, but if you aren’t paying attention, they’ll head back exactly where they wanted to go to begin with. 

You see where I’m going here, don’t you?  The library is like that. 

Patrons come in with their own agenda.  Sometimes they don’t want to wait.  They see you’re helping someone at the desk, and they just barge up, lean on or over the desk, and announce what they think they need, pretending the other person wasn’t there first.   If you deflect them to the circulation desk, they might decide to come back and remind you that you didn’t do your job by helping them, or they might make the person at the circulation desk’s day miserable.  Re-directing people doesn’t always work. 

And, really, when you think about it, as you’re looking at your garden, working at the library is exactly like the garden.  You think it’s going to be one thing – full of things you love, wonderfully organized, potential popping up all over the place, happy little plants/people doing exactly what they need to do when they need to do it in a synchronized, pleasant way… and it is almost never like that. Because public service means you’re dealing with the public.

And people are not always nice.  Mostly, it’s that you’re seeing them on what isn’t their best day ever, and if you can’t improve it, they’re just not going to be happy with you or anyone else.  Sometimes profanity is involved, especially if it’s a teen who’s been loud and annoying and who needs to be somewhere else that day.

Sometimes they’re not scary; they just make you want to roll your eyes endlessly. You find something that fits what they ask for.  They announce that’s not what they want and not what they asked for.  You find something else.  They use a tone to tell you that they already told you that’s not what they want, although it’s exactly what they asked for.  You ask more questions, doing that whole reference interview thing.  Finally, they admit they really wanted something completely different, probably a James Patterson book that has 45 holds on it.

Someone else might demand to see the Ripley’s Believe It or Not series and then announce that you have all the stupid ones to the entire library at a volume that even stops the kid who’s screaming by the picture books. 

And then the entire system will crash, and someone will not realize their two hours is up on the computer and think you can get everything they’ve been working on back, even though they haven’t saved it to a flash drive or emailed it or anything.  And a supervised visit will be taking place in the children’s area with someone who clearly needs a lot of parenting help.  And the angry man whose card has expired – he didn’t know they did that, so it must be your fault – has $65 in fines on his account, because he didn’t return some books on antique guns, and the manager is out of the building. 

Every day is a reminder that library life is much more like working in social services (which I did in a previous career) than what most people think it’s really like. Lots of people think working at the library is easy, mostly talking about books and maybe reading on the job.  Sigh.  That’s not my world at all.  It’s not a bad world; it’s just not a quiet refuge of book lovers.  And I feel guilty if I’m even reading professional literature on the job.  Who has the time?

Am I lucky to work there?  I am.  After a few careers and a few gardens, you realize that pretty much every environment can be toxic, given the right mix of poison ivy and unhealthy co-workers.  But right now?  I work with some groovy people, who make me laugh and let me bring in rhubarb coffeecakes.  I get to do things I like – like making a Baby Shark for the bookdrop and laughing silently every time a kid starts singing that annoying song. 

And there are really fun patrons, too, the ones who rattle on about their favorite TV shows, books, movies, restaurants, whatever, because they know you’ll love them, too, even if you hated The Girl on the Train and they loved it.  That kind of thing.  The overwhelming awfulness of some people, the stress from constantly changing things you don’t have control over, the mind-numbing rules and ever-expanding services you can hardly keep track of – all of that, all of that is like Shakira and the garden. 

Don’t you see, baby?  This is perfection.

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summer reads in 10: Seagull & Sea Dragon

Perspective can change everything.  Keep an open mind & heart.

Seagull and Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg

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