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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ready, Set, Read 2017!

All right, readers! It's time to turn off the boob tube and turn on the reading lamp. Which reading challenge are you going to try this year?
  • Mississippi Reads Online Bookclub
    While not a challenge per se, this book club on Facebook run by the Mississippi Center for the Book reads one book each month. Challenge yourself to read along with them and weigh in with your opinion for each book. January's book is Ever is a Long Time by W. Ralph Eubanks.
  • World Tour Challenge
    We've seen several variations on this theme. There's a European Reading Challenge. There's a Women Writers of the World Reading Challenge. Read a book about each continent or written by authors from each continent--you decide!
  • POPSUGAR's Moms Reading Challenge
    This list challenges busy moms to read 20 books in various categories, like "a book short enough to finish on secret trips to the bathroom to escape the kids" and "a book that highlights the humor in parenting."
  • POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
    For those of us without little ones and for those supermoms among us, POPSUGAR has also created a "non-mom" reading challenge. These 40 books, plus 12 more for the advanced challenge, fall into categories like "a book recommended by a librarian" and "a book set in a hotel."
  • The TBR Jar Challenge
    Basically, you put book titles you want to read into a jar and pull one out when you're ready to read a new book. A variation on this would be placing your book challenge categories on slips of paper and drawing them out of the jar.


  • Goodreads
    This app simply asks that you challenge yourself. Pick a reading goal of 1-1,000,000 books (seriously, if you read a million books this year please let us know how you do it) and use Goodread's reading community to help you stick with it.
  • YALSA Hub Challenge
    While this challenge has not yet begun for 2017, we have our eyes peeled for the start date. Participants will read 25 award winning YA books between the end of January and the end of June. Head to YALSA's contests and challenges page for more information.
  • The Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge
    This is another book challenge where you choose your own books from given categories. These range from things like "a book in a genre you usually avoid" to "a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet."
  • Book Riot's Read Harder Reading Challenge
    Participants will read 24 books in a variety of categories like "a book about books" and "an all-ages comic." Bonus: six of the categories were suggested by some of today's popular authors.
Still want to read more books in 2017, but don't see the perfect challenge for you? We found two lists, one from Book Riot and one from Girl XOXO, that contain even more 2017 reading challenges.

Need help finding books to meet your reading challenge? Try our anonymous, personalized Bookmatch service!

Let us know your 2017 reading plans in the comments. Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, December 30, 2016

21 Authors Who Died in 2016

Some of our most beloved authors passed away in 2016. While we can still enjoy their work, it's disheartening to realize that there won't be another Llama Llama book or bestselling novel from these folks. Head to your local library or independent bookstore to check out any of these great books by authors we lost this year.
  • Margaret Forster
    May 25, 1938-February 8, 2016
    Her 1965 book Georgy Girl was turned into a movie with this hit song by The Seekers.
  • Harper Lee
    April 28, 1926-February 19, 2016
    Her novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a modern classic.


  • Umberto Eco
    January 5, 1932-February 19, 2016
    A prolific Italian author, his book The Name of the Rose was turned into a hit movie in 1986.

  • Pat Conroy
    October 26, 1945-March 4, 2016
    Perhaps best known for his novels The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, Conroy was once fired as a teacher because he refused to use corporal punishment.
  • Jim Harrison
    December 11, 1937-March 26, 2016
    His Legends of the Fall novella trilogy was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins.
  • Katherine Dunn
    October 24, 1945-May 11, 2016
    Her 1989 novel, Geek Love, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
  • Wendy Leigh
    September 13, 1950-May 29, 2016
    Leigh was a nonfiction writer, penning biographies of many celebrities including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Prince.
  • Lois Duncan
    April 28, 1934-June 16, 2016
    Many of her runaway hit YA suspense and horror books, like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin, were made into movies.
  • Alvin Toffler
    October 4, 1928-June 27, 2016
    Toffler explored technological advances in his books Future Shock and The Third Wave.
  • Elie Wiesel
    September 30, 1928-July 2, 2016
    A Holocaust survivor who published over 50 books, including his best known work, Night, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
  • Reverend Tim LaHaye
    April 27, 1926-July 25, 2016
    His Left Behind series captivated millions.
  • James Alan McPherson
    September 16, 1943-July 27, 2016
    He won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Elbow Room in 1978.
  • Max Ritvo
    December 19, 1990-August 23, 2016
    He told the world about his cancer in shockingly lyrical verse.
  • Anna Dewdney
    December 25, 1965-September 3, 2016
    Her children's books, especially the Llama Llama series, were beloved by children and adults worldwide.
  • Edward Albee
    March 12, 1928-September 16, 2016
    Pulitzer and Tony Award winning playwright
  • W.P. Kinsella
    May 25-1935-September 16, 2016
    A Canadian author, he was well known for his book Shoeless Joe, which became the movie Field of Dreams.
  • Gloria Naylor
    January 25, 1950-September 28, 2016
    Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place won the National Book Award in 1983 for First Novel and was made into a miniseries starring Cicely Tyson and Oprah Winfrey.
  • Steve Dillon
    March 22, 1962-October 22, 2016
    Co-creator of Preacher, he also worked on Hellblazer and The Punisher.
  • William Trevor
    May 24, 1928-November 21, 2016
    Trevor was aprize-winning Irish author.
  • E.R. Braithwaite
    June 27, 1912-December 12, 2016
    Braithwaite's autobiographical novel To Sir, With Love was made into a movie starring Sidney Poitier in 1967.
  • Richard Adams
    May 9, 1920-December 27, 2016
    His novel Watership Down became an instant classic when it was published in 1972.
Until next time, happy reading!
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/2016-year-in-review/look-back-all-famous-figures-who-died-2016-n698791
http://www.tributes.com/celebrity/deaths/Writers

Thursday, December 29, 2016

On Carrie, Debbie, and Books

Debbie Reynolds broke into acting in the early 1950s and headlined in classics like Singin' in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. (Did you know that her movie Tammy and the Bachelor was based on the book Tammy Out of Time by Mississippi author Cid Ricketts Sumner?) She gave birth to her daughter Carrie Fisher on October 21, 1956.



Carrie Fisher came into my life when I was two. My parents took me to the drive-in theater, where we saw Star Wars on the big screen. I, of course, have no recollection of this momentous event, but I grew up with the films and their characters. I never minded being Princess Leia on the playground. (Daisy Duke, not so much.) She was courageous, beautiful, and she suffered no fools. Really, what little girl wouldn't want to emulate her?



Like many, I was saddened to hear of Fisher's death on December 27 and her mother Reynolds's death the next day. Their close familial ties say much of their mother-daughter bond. Also, both ladies were possessed of such grace and style... and love of the literary! Reynolds wrote three memoirs about her life, most recently 2015's Make 'Em Laugh. Fisher, too, wrote three memoirs, as well as several novels and screenplays. Her latest, The Princess Diarist, came out last month.

If you, too, are mourning Reynolds and Fisher, why not check out one of their books or try one of these that explore the love between mothers and their daughters?

  • Little Women
    Louisa May Alcott
  • Are You My Mother?
    Alison Bechdel
  • Blue Nights
    Joan Didion
  • Where We Belong
    Emily Giffin
  • Winter Garden
    Kristin Hannah
  • The Book that Matters Most
    Ann Hood
  • Then Again
    Diane Keaton
  • The Secret Life of Bees
    Sue Monk Kidd
  • Annie John
    Jamaica Kincaid
  • I Am My Mother's Daughter
    Iris Krasnow
  • The Winter People
    Jennifer McMahon
  • Beloved
    Toni Morrison
  • Everything I Never Told You
    Celeste Ng
  • Eat Cake
    Jeanne Ray
  • Undivided
    Patricia and Alana Raybon
  • Please Look After Mom
    Kyung-Sook Shin
  • The Rules of Inheritance
    Claire Bidwell Smith
  • My Name is Lucy Barton
    Elizabeth Strout
  • The Joy Luck Club
    Amy Tan
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
    Rebecca Wells
Until next time, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reading Widely: Picture Books

Start the new year with some diverse picture books for the little ones in your life or your library!


Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt de la Pena
Illustrated by Christian Robinson

CJ and his grandmother ride the bus across town every Sunday. This account of their ride through their bustling neighborhood and the differences between CJ and his neighbors provides a wonderful perspective on city life.











One Family
Written by George Shannon
Illustrated by Blanca Gomez

A playful and interactive text about all the different ways a family can be constructed.














Thunder Boy Jr.
Written by Sherman Alexie
Illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Thunder Boy Jr is named after his dad, but he wants a name of his very own. With the help of his dad, they pick out a name that celebrates him and who he is.










Green is a Chile Pepper
Written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
Illustrated by John Parra


A book of children discovering all the bright colors in their Hispanic neighborhood.













Mixed Me
Written by Taye Diggs
Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Mike is biracial, and he has to answer a lot of questions about being mixed. And he does, knowing he's the perfect blend of the two parents who love him.











Golden Domes and Silver Lanters
Written by Hena Khan
Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

A beautifully illustrated book of colors that draws inspiration from Muslim culture.










Trombone Shorty
Written by Troy Andrews
Illustrated by Bryan Collier

A lively picture book autobiography of Troy Andrews, a trombone prodigy, also highlights the feel and energy of New Orleans.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Books We Loved in 2016: Part 2

We read so many great books in 2016 that we couldn't be confined to just one post. Here's the second installment of our staff's favorite books that they read in the last year. Enjoy!

  • The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski
    "This is one of the most visually stunning picture books I've ever read, plus the story is a great take on the power of imagination."
  • Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
    "This graphic novel for middle-graders has all the feels! It's about having the courage to be yourself with all the awkwardness of being a tween."
  • Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
    "Beautiful book about friendship... It was so good I cried."
Elisabeth S, Reference Librarian/Social Media Coordinator

  •  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
Megan S, Collection Management Librarian

  • Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  • All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
  • A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood
Ally W, Library Consultant

  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell  
Gloria J, Machine Lending Librarian

  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
    "A story about two families during the housing bubble of 2008: one is an immigrant family from Africa trying to make a life in America and the other is a wealthy family barely hanging on due to all the secrets they keep from one another. A moving story of friendship, loss, and the great American dream... does it exist? Is it achievable anymore?"
  • Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
    "Loosely based on the true story of Frances and Ainslie Conway and their time as military spies on the Galapagos Islands. However, much of the story is from Frances's point of view, telling how she came to be a spy and exploring her great lifelong friendship with Rosalie. While this is historical fiction, it immerses the reader so deeply into Frances's life that more research on the real Frances Conway will be of great interest. I fell in love with this book and all of its characters."
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
    "The tale of a pharmacy researcher who is sent by her boss/lover to the deepest, darkest corner of the Amazon to investigate the death of her colleague Anders Eckman. Eckman had been dispatched to check on the progress of the incommunicado Dr. Annick Swenson, a rogue scientist developing a fertility drug. This plot-driven title is well written and one that stayed on my mind long after I turned the last page."
  • The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
    "The story of 104 year old Ona and an 11 year old boy... the boy, a Boy Scout, has been helping Ona around her house on Saturdays. Along the way, Ona shares her life story and secrets as the boy does odd jobs for her. To say more would ruin the book, but I will say that this book has Boy Scouts (as previously mentioned), a road trip, a Christian band, and fun facts from the Guinness Book of World Records (real facts!) Don't let this book fly under your 'to be read' radar."
Shellie Z, Talking Book Services Director

  • Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  • The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
  • In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware 
Mary Rodgers B, Readers Advisor

Let us know the best books that you read in 2016 in the comments below and look for more book recommendations soon. Until then, happy reading!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Books We Loved in 2016: Part 1

We're a reading bunch of folks. It's not just because we work in a library, or because we work closely with other librarians, or even because we recommend a lot of books to others. Believe it or not, not all librarians like to spend time reading! MLC just happens to employ a lot of people who truly love to read. That said, we've read a lot of books during 2016 and wanted to share our favorites with you. Without further ado, here they are:

  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson
Ally M, Information Services Director

  •  The Alienist by Caleb Carr
    "Because I enjoyed the Cinemax show The Knick I was advised to read this book. It was a great suggestion for someone who loves period based thrillers. I also read recently that it is being made into a TV series. Yippee!!!"
Lacy E, Senior Library Consultant

  • Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill
    "This is an absolutely adorable middle-grade story about two princesses going on an adventure and trying to find their happily ever after. It's SO CUTE, with beautiful artwork, and so sweet that it'll give you cavities."
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    "Don't let the size of the book scare you! Clarke has a wonderfullu unique writing style, is absolutely amazing at worldbuilding, and crafts complex characters with wonderful relationships."
Katie G, Collection Management

  • Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis
  • Fire Bound by Christine Feehan
  • Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis
Lorietha M, Library Development Administrative Assistant

  • Your Baby's First Word Will Be DADA by Jimmy Fallon and Miguel Ordóñez
  • The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower
Kelly K, Reference Librarian

So many of our staff participated and wanted to share their favorite books from 2016 that we had too many for just one post. Tomorrow we'll bring you part 2 of our favorite staff books. Until then, happy reading!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Meet MLC Monday: Susan Cassagne

Meet Susan Cassagne, Executive Director of the Mississippi Library Commission! As the head of the agency, Susan oversees all the various roles at MLC, as well as working with public library directors across the state. Libraries play an important role in the lives of people around Mississippi, but sufficient funding is key. As a staunch advocate of libraries, Susan also spends a significant portion of her time relaying this wisdom to state legislators. Additionally, she works to find a balance in our budget between what we want to do and what we can do. Prior to this, Cassagne, who became Executive Director October 1, 2013, was the director of the Judge George W. Armstrong Library in Natchez for eleven years. She started her library career at Pearl River County Library System as a circulation clerk and has been known to tell Librarianship 101 classes and others, "You never know where you'll end up!" Lovely advice from a lovely director!


Susan holds a Bachelor of Science in General Studies from Louisiana State University and a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi. She was the President of the Mississippi Library Association in 2005 and 2006, staying on an extra year after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

When asked her favorite thing about working at the Library Commission, Cassagne was hard pressed to decide on just one. "I so appreciate the staff here at MLC and the various responsibilities they have. I enjoy working with public library directors and hope that I can guide MLC to improve the many services our state's public libraries offer because I see the positive impact libraries have throughout the state. According to a recent study, librarians are among the most trusted of professionals!"

Susan also expanded on her love for libraries and their importance in today's society. "Libraries have a huge role in the lives of their communities. From Mama-Baby lap-sit storytime, to early childhood library programs, meeting students' research needs, providing for adult reading and research, job seekers, genealogy users, senior programs--this list goes on and on! And I've barely mentioned technology or computers! I feel libraries--from school libraries to public libraries to college/university libraries and even to special libraries--reach more people and are used by individuals in every walk of life. Few, if any, other government-supported agencies can say that. Many agencies are geared to a specific group of people, but not public libraries!"

Cassagne is a big fan of reading, saying she reads for enjoyment, entertainment, and relaxation. She throws in the random how-to or nonfiction from time to time to keep things well rounded. Susan swears she can't pick just one favorite book. "That would be like having a favorite child!" She's currently reading through an older David Baldacci series. When she's not busy at the library or reading a great book, Cassagne likes to cook, bake, and travel. She's a long-time active member of the DAR and she loves playing with her three grandchildren and watching them learn and grow.
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