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Friday, August 7, 2020

A Celebrity Book Club Primer

2020 is the year of many things: the pandemic, murder hornets, Tiger King. One of the more fun things that will define this time period is the idea of the celebrity book club. Celebrity book clubs have been around for a while: Oprah’s Book Club started in 1996 and ran for fifteen years on the Oprah Winfrey Show. But nowadays, it seems there are more celebrity book clubs than ever—so many that it’s kind of hard to know where to start! Here’s a quick primer on some book clubs, who they’re associated with, and what sort of books they choose.

Oprah’s Book Club 2.0: Launched in 2012, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 is a book club founded by talk show host, philanthropist, and Mississippi native Oprah Winfrey and sponsored by the Oprah Winfrey Network and O magazine. Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 does not have a regular schedule of books picked, though the book club tends to pick a new book every few months. Broadly speaking, the books tend towards literary fiction, often written by African American authors. Previous selections include The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and The Invention of Wings by Sue Kidd Monk.

Reese’s Book Club: Reese’s Book Club was founded in 2015 by the actress Reese Witherspoon. Each month, Witherspoon features a book with a woman at the center of the story. Witherspoon’s choices tend towards literary fiction, often written by female authors, as well as big, buzzy books: you’ve definitely seen some of her choices on NPR lists or the New York Times best sellers list! Previous selections include The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Andrew Luck Book Club: Founded by former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, this book club’s selection is more catch-all: one month will have a sports memoir, the next month will have a nonfiction book about politics, the next month will have a science fiction book. Luck divides his book club into two sections: Rookies (books that are geared towards a younger reader) and Veterans (books geared towards older readers.) Previous Rookies picks include The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, and The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Previous Veterans picks include The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Noname Book Club: The rapper and poet Noname founded this book club in 2019. Each month, the book club features two books by POC (people of color) authors. These selections include fiction, biographies, and nonfiction books on heavier subjects such as an examination on critical race theory or the prison industrial complex. Previous selections include Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Race Music: Black Cultures From Bebop to Hip-Hop by Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

There's more celebrity book clubs out there than just these four! Did we miss your favorite? Which celebrity would you love to see start a book club?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Recreating What You Read and Watch

Kristina Kelly
Administrative Services Administrative Assistant

For everyone who is feeling down because the Con circuit has been shut down this summer, this post is for you to plan for next year.

You may not realize it, but all of us have probably dressed as a someone from pop culture at some point in our lives, specifically on Halloween. We dressed up as our favorite cartoon character or our favorite horror movie monster or even our favorite rock star. I remember dressing as the Pink Panther, Boy George from Culture Club, and Lestat, from Interview with a Vampire. I guess a lot of us outgrow "playing dress up." Alas, I have not.

Cosplay, which is short for costume roleplaying, is a brilliant way to show how much you love a topic and an outlet for creative talent. Cosplay has become so popular that people are now making a living at it.

Cosplaying has many levels to it. You can take it as far you want or keep it simple. One of my favorite types of Cosplay was created so adults could "dress up" without breaking Disney’s rule of no costumes for guests over the age of 14. Adults dressed as characters could cause confusion for children. These rules are relaxed only during select special events, like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but even these select events have specific costume guidelines. So, one creative person created DisneyBounding. “Bounding” is creating a set of regular, everyday clothes inspired by your favorite character. It is not wearing a costume and can be done on a very limited budget.

I participated in a Quarantine-Oween celebrating Halloween, and we had to post different costumes. This was my subtle Bounding outfit for Wonder Woman.

I thoroughly enjoy taking a book I love and creating a costume to wear based on it. There are times when a young person (or young at heart) sees you and instantly makes a connection with you because they too love the same thing.

Cosplay is also something that can be done at your local library. There are several topics on integrating it into your programming! Here are some links:

Many of our own Mississippi libraries host events where people can cosplay. The one in my area is the Central Con, hosted by the Central Mississippi Regional Library System.

My Top Cosplays from Books and Movies

Dr. Jones and Jr. – The first time I was able to get my husband into a cosplay event, he and my son were mobbed in the parking lot. My son wore his scout uniform and, if you look closely, carried the Cross of Coronado. My husband carried his briefcase, the journal of the grail, and an umbrella.

Sanderson Sisters – cult classic/fan favorite. I had the best time putting this look together. With Disney+ hiring a director for a sequel, this costume set may make a comeback.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels – Some of the best parts of these is looking at the paintings in the background for easter eggs of previous LXG members. My family did this as a cosplay at a Con not too long ago.

Aquaman and Mera – For my daughter and her friend, I made feudal Japanese clothing based on these characters.

My Top Book Cosplay Ideas

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – Elf or hobbit? Ranger or Rider of Rohan? The costume possibilities are wide and there is much to love. If I were to make something from this book, it would be Aragorn & Arwen (or Beren & Luthien).

The Old Guard – Recently made into a movie pilot by Netflix, I foresee many a female cosplayer with a Scythian Axe. The clothing would also be very easy to upcycle from finds at thrift stores and flea markets.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I am dying to make a Medusa headdress out of data cords.

The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson) – These are currently being turned into a series by Amazon. I admit to having a bit of excitement to see how this plays out on screen. I am also looking forward to seeing the Aiel on screen. Who is your favorite character?

Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind – Wizards galore, and who doesn’t want a Mord-Sith costume?

Any book on Greek mythology – by 5th grade I had read all the books in my school's library on mythology, with my favorite being the Greek/Roman myths. This borders on another hobby of mine – historical reenactment. Thinking about all the mythos of the world, I went downstairs to look at MLCs collection and this is one of the shelves I discovered.

Dune by Frank Herbert – “Soon to be made into another motion picture”. I love Dune, I love the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood (the litany against fear is a go to for hand washing chant for me), and I love the possibility of making a still suit.

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman – yeah, yeah. Gaiman is on here twice, but this is awesome! I attended a medieval superhero ball a couple years ago. Participants combined their love of medieval history and their love for superheroes. It was an inspiring night of creativity!

Now you know that your love for a book can be expressed through cosplay, we want to hear from you about what fandom you are recreating, whether movie, book, or comic!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Nikki Jones

Meet Nikki Jones, Talking Book Services (TBS) Reader’s Advisor at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Nikki began working at MLC at the beginning of July and her main job duty is  assisting patrons with the selection of braille and talking books. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Temple University and a master's degree in Education from Eastern University. She comes to MLC with public library experience with the Jackson Hinds Library System. She received their Leadership Award in 2011.

Nikki has enjoyed learning about the unique services that TBS offers its patrons. She says, "I like working at MLC because it is an efficient agency that offers library services for all Mississippians."She adds, "I like libraries because you can travel the world, learn a trade, vicariously feed a lion, explore history, dive into the future, and discover the life and experiences of others all under one roof. It truly is an amazing place to learn about the world in which we live!"

She likes to read about people and their life experiences because so many lessons can be learned from them. Her favorite book is the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. She also loves animals and cares for several cats.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Name’s Squatch. Sassy Squatch.

Alex Brower
Information Services Director

The existence of the Sasquatch has been the source of many arguments, both familial and scientific. There have been videos of reported sightings, adamant campers with tall tales, and even college courses that debate or seemingly prove the existence (or not) of this creature. What does the Sasquatch have to do with libraries, one may ask? One daring investigator led the children of an afterschool program on a quest through admittedly fake (or are they?) primary source documents to learn the value of research.

black and white photo of a woman wearing a checked shirt and glasses. She is staring intently of a fuzzy finger puppet on her index finger. Library shelves and carts are in the background.
Tracy Carr, Sasquatch Specialist (left)
Sassy, Sasquatch Puppet (right)

It all started when Tracy Carr, a librarian purportedly specializing in Sasquatches and real-life MLC Library Services Director, was invited to speak at the Neshoba County Library’s Sasquatch Week. A variety of “experts” presented information about various aspects of ‘Squatch life. At the end of each presentation, the adventurous attendees were polled to see who had been swayed towards believing in the beast. Ms. Carr needed to find a way to trick children and teach information literacy, but how?!

Enter Clementine McGillicuddy, Tobias Toole, and the mysterious Carl. These characters featured in four “primary source documents” that detailed the civilian Mr. Toole’s encounter with Carl, a suspected Sasquatch. Ms. McGillicuddy, an FBI agent from the Special Secret Issues Unit, made a sharpish safari to the Greenwood, Mississippi, site, ruining a presumably precious pair of pumps.

The ‘Squatch-seeking schoolchildren were instructed on the difference between primary and secondary sources. For those not in the know, or in the Special Secret Issues Unit, a primary source document is anything created at the time an event occurred. Examples include letters, diaries, newspaper stories, and photographs. Secondary sources are interpretations of primary source documents, like books written using diaries from the Civil War or a textbook written using interpretations of original research.

They were then presented with Ms. Carr’s “primary source documents”: three letters, one including a handy map, and a memo from the Special Secret Issues Unit. The children were tasked with putting them in order and discovering what events took place during the fateful days between February 3rd and May 4th, 1952. (These documents are included at the end of the post). The tale includes Mr. Toole’s original sighting and letter to Ms. McGillicuddy, hints at what may have been seen, and exposes the coverup that keeps Carl from certain discovery. After the students put the pieces together, Tracy had turned two doubting Thomases into totally taken-in Thomases. The investigators also got to make their own Sasquatch puppets.

Black and white photo of a fuzzy finger puppet sitting in a chair and looking at documents. Library shelves are behind it.
Sassy the Sasquatch finger puppet conducting their own independent research.
There you have it, folks. The tale of Tracy’s talk to temerarious tots. Who knew a humble Sasquatch named Carl could help impart so much learning? Your library could be the next Sasquatch research hub, teaching children about the wonders of primary sources and the world of critical thinking. But why stop at Sasquatches? Maybe your fearless fledglings could discover Nessie, or a unicorn, or some local mermaids. The world is your oyster when the topic doesn’t actually exist. Or does it…

Primary Source Documents:

Faked old letter dated february 3 1952 from Tobias Toole to Clementine McGillicuddy Director of the FBI special secret issues unit about the existence of a sasquatch named carl
Letter from Tobias Toole to Clementine McGillicuddy
hand drawn fake map with mountains, a river and carl the sasquatch's location. there are fake waterstains on the page
Map from Tobias Toole, included in letter
fake internal memo from clementine to J B Simo about keeping the sasquatch discovery under wraps and asked to be reimbursed for her ruined pumps
Memo from Clementine McGillicuddy to J.B. Simo
Fake 1952 letter from Tobias to Clementine saying he appreciated her visit and he's sorry she ruined her shoes. He also references the map he included.
Letter from Tobias Toole to Clementine McGillicuddy
Fake redacted letter from Clementine to Tobias. All you can read is thank you for your correspondence of april 14 unfortunately because of while we at the FBI we appreciate again thank you for your letter and please let us know if want to also sincerely
Redacted letter from Clementine McGillicuddy to Tobias Toole
To do your own research using primary source documents, check here:

See your local library for an amazing array of secondary source documents!

Interested in learning more about the Sasquatch and the lengths people have gone to find it? Check out these:

Monday, June 15, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Abbe Macoy

Meet Abbe Macoy, Reference Librarian at the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Abbe started working at MLC in late May and has been busy learning the ropes. Even under social distancing restrictions, Abbe has quickly picked up some of her new job duties: answering reference questions and shelving large print books. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. Her Honors Thesis was a collection of her own poetry titled To My Room’s Future Tenant for which she won the Honors College Excellence in Creative Activity Award.

3 small picture of MLC at top and at bottom. In middle is a photo of a smiling woman wearing glasses. A wooded area is behind her. Text reads I like libraries because there are so many different worlds on the shelves, and libraries are important because they value, protect, and share these worlds.

Although she's been here such a short time, Abbe has already been impressed by the diversity and harmony of the staff working here. She says the beautiful building is an added bonus. When asked about her interest in libraries, Abbe responds, "I like libraries because there are so many different worlds on the shelves, and libraries are important because they value, protect, and share these worlds." Abbe loves to read; her favorite book is A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. She is also heavily involved in her church, Relate Church, and likes to create Pinterest DIYs.

Join us in welcoming Abbe to the Mississippi Library Commission!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Celebrate Pride Month with Mississippi Authors

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Grenwich Village, New York City as part of an ever-growing harassment campaign against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people. In response, the bar staff, patrons, and nearby residents took to the streets to riot. The Stonewall Inn riots are commonly seen as one of the catalysts of the gay rights movement. The United States typically celebrates Pride Month in June as a way to honor and recognize the Stonewall Inn riots.

Pride Month is a month-long celebration of LGBTQ people, history, and communities. Though most people associate Pride Month with rainbow flags and large parades, Pride Month is also a time for remembering the past and moving to the future. Memorials are held to remember those LGBTQ lives lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS. Likewise, Pride Month is a time when activists shine a light on discriminatory laws and practices that target the LGBTQ community to this day such as bathroom bills, employment discrimination, and youth homelessness.

Many Pride Month celebrations have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the parades may be canceled, you can still celebrate Pride Month from your own home. One way to do so is read a book! In a time where LGBTQ books are some of the most banned and challenged books by schools and public libraries, just reading a book by a LGBTQ author can be a sign of support. We’ve compiled a list of books written by LGBTQ authors from Mississippi or about LGBTQ Mississippians for you to read, discuss, and enjoy.

If you know a LGBTQ Mississippi author we’ve missed, please let us know in the comments! If you’re interested in purchasing any of these books yourself, we highly recommend purchasing them from a LGBTQ bookstore like Mississippi's own Violet Valley Bookstore. And if you want to explore beyond Mississippi authors, consider the books and resources on these lists.

The Ultimate LGBTQIA+ Pride Book List
The 20 Best LGBTQ Books of 2019 
9 Books About Being Southern and Queer as Hell
17 Books By Queer Asian American Writers
10 Young Black LGBTQ Authors Reclaiming Their Space Through Words
Resources for Parents and Families of LGBTQ Individuals (ALA)
Resources for Families of LGBTQ Youth
5 Resources for Coming Out as LGBTQ
Coming Out - A Handbook for LGBTQ Young People
Older Adults on Coming Out Later in Life
6 Resources Every Trans Person (and Ally) Should Know About
Understanding Non-Binary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive

Monday, June 8, 2020

Meet MLC Monday: Jayson Bounds

Meet Jayson Bounds, Circulation Services Librarian in Talking Book Services for the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC)! Jayson started at MLC at the end of May, so his introduction to library life has been unusual, to say the least. No matter! He is quickly learning the basics of his job: keeping audiobooks stocked on our shelves and sending them out to patrons. He also checks that the digital cartridges aren't defective when they're returned through the mail. Jayson holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Belhaven University.

3 small pictures of MLC Talking book services at top and bottom. In middle is a picture of a smiling man seated outside in front of a tree. Text reads I have always been fascinated by history and libraries hold those books that can act as gates to the past.

Jayson enjoys filling people's audiobook requests because he finds it interesting to see which books are most popular. (It's not always the current bestsellers!) His love for libraries stems from his passion for history. "I have always been fascinated by history and libraries hold those books that can act as gates to the past."

Although he only reads occasionally, recently Jayson was inspired to read his now favorite book, A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, after watching the Game of Thrones series. Sports are his true passion. He likes rooting for his favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, his favorite basketball team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and his favorite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. When he has time, he also likes to play those sports with friends and unwind by playing video games, like The Witcher 3.

Please join us in welcoming Jayson to the Mississippi Library Commission!
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