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Friday, October 30, 2015

MLC Reads: October 29, 2015

We love reading a new book. Not necessarily a book hot off the press, but a new-to-us book. Here are a few new-to-us books that Mississippi Library Commission staff read this past week.

In the Woods
written by Tana French
fiction: mystery, thriller
four stars

In the Woods is the debut novel of author Tana French and the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. In the Woods is notable for its richly detailed characters and their relationships with each other. What could easily be another run-of-the-mill police procedural is instead a refreshing story populated with compelling and flawed characters. The novel veers away from a neatly wrapped up ending and is immensely satisfying because it does so.

Black Hole
written and illustrated by Charles Burns
graphic novel
three stars

Black Hole is set in the 1970s. There's an STD with crazy, creepy, downright horrific side effects and there's no cure. Those who catch it are shunned and ostracized. It reminded us of the transition from the free love era of the 1960s to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, and that may very well be what Burns intended. We found it a tiny bit pretentious, but Black Hole's saving grace is it's amazing art. (And really, we had to keep reading to find out what happened. No setting this one aside for later. But the ending--what?!) This is definitely for mature readers. Those who are against nudity, sex, and drugs in their reading material should steer clear.

Modern Romance
written by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
non-fiction: sociology, dating, humor
four stars

A sociology study on dating peppered with off-color humor: informative and hilarious.

 She Is Not Invisible
written by Marcus Sedgwick
young adult
five stars

She Is Not Invisible is pretty spectacular. There's a strong female protagonist with plenty of gumption and the writing kept us on the edge of our seat. Bonus: we learned a lot of neat tidbits about coincidence and probability.

Next week, our staff are reading these books:
  • Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald
    edited by Suzanne Mars and Tom Nolan
    nonfiction: letters
  • The Truth About Alice
    written by Jennifer Mathieu
    young adult
  • Uprooted
    written by Naomi Novik
    fiction: fantasy
  • Freedom Summer
    written by Deborah Wiles
    illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue
    picture book
Until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

If There Are Ghosts In Your Library...

Did you know that Mississippi has not one but two reportedly haunted libraries? The Lee-Itawamba Library System, located in Tupelo, Mississippi, is said to be haunted by former U.S. Congressman John Mills Allen. The library building, which was built in 1971, resides on the site of Mr. Allen's home. The library even has some original doors and glass panels from Mr. Allen's home in its Mississippi Room. Mr. Allen's ghost now roams the library knocking books off the shelves and stealing from the book drop.  

The Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library is haunted by either of two spirits. The late Head Librarian, Jeanne Broach, was devoted to the library for over 30 years and is said to still linger in the library causing cold spots and strange noises. She likes to ride the elevator too. Library employees have also reported hearing a crying baby and someone calling out their names. However, there may be another culprit. The library building sits on a plot of land that was originally the personal home of Mr. A. J. Lyons. His wife reportedly committed suicide in that home and could possibly still haunt the grounds where she died. Its also conceivable that both women haunt the library, forever roaming the shelves for that perfect book.

So, if there were a ghost in your library, who would you call?  

The Ghostbusters


The Ghostfacers

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Celebrating Friends of Mississippi Libraries

It's National Friends of Libraries Week, but do you know what that means? The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word friend as a close acquaintance. We'd like to introduce you to some very special friends of ours, the multitude of Friends of Libraries groups across Mississippi. These groups are integral to libraries. They are our fundraisers, our volunteers, our supporters, and our advocates. They are our friends. Just look at their extraordinary accomplishments just last year in Mississippi.

One neat way you can help Friends groups and Mississippi libraries is to participate in the Mississippi Day of Giving this coming Saturday, October 24, 2015. Many libraries and Friends groups are registered as participating organizations.

Would you like to be involved in the Friends chapter at your local library? Are you interested in learning more about Friends of Libraries groups in Mississippi? Check our website here for the ins and outs of participating in a chapter or starting and running a group.

Existing Friends groups, take note! There is a new grant opportunity, the Margaret Murray Grant, which will "advance library programming and literacy for Mississippi public libraries through activities sponsored by the local Friends of Mississippi Libraries chapters."

We hope you enjoy the 10th annual National Friends of Libraries Week and that you use it to become an even closer acquaintance with your friend, your local library!

Friday, October 16, 2015

MLC Reads: October 16, 2015

As Lemony Snicket said in Horseradish, “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” These are the books we carried around with us last week.

Richard Wright and the Library Card
written by William Miller
illustrated by Gregory Christie
picture book
four stars
The words he had read echoed in his ears, colored everything he saw. He wondered if he would act differently, if others would see how the books had changed him.
The meat of this picture book is pulled from an incident in Richard Wright's autobiography, Black Boy. We reread this book for the anniversary of Richard Wright's birth last month (September 4, 1908) and again marveled at the lovely adaptation. Denied books by the Memphis library's segregation policies, Wright borrows a library card from a white coworker and uses it to check out stacks of books. Solid introduction to one of Mississippi's most famous and enduring authors.

 Honor Girl
written and illustrated by Maggie Thrash
graphic memoir
four stars

This coming-of-age graphic memoir swept us back to our own experiences at summer camp: learning new skills, meeting new people, dealing with the "popular" kids, finding yourself, first crush, first love, first broken heart... Read this for a bittersweet blast of nostalgia.

 In a Dark Dark Wood
written by Ruth Ware
fiction: mystery/thriller
five stars

This is the kind of book that will either drive you crazy or lead you to love it and not be able to put it down until you've reached the climatic end. The story flips back and forth between the present and the past. A woman, Nora, wakes up in the hospital. She is all bruised and a police officer is guarding her hospital room door. She has no idea why she is there, but she starts to recall the "hen party" she had attended days before. The mystery of what happened at this two day event is quickly unraveled. Ware has the ability to create a very eerie setting and to keep the reader guessing until the very last chapter. We thoroughly enjoyed this one; it had us reading until late into the night.

 Marketing with Social Media
edited by Beth C. Thomsett-Scott
nonfiction: marketing in libraries
four stars

This is the perfect introductory book for libraries that are just beginning to use social media. It covers many of the basic networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Blogs, Pinterest, YouTube, etc... Each chapter contains one topic area and explains how to get started and how to maintain the site, as well as including case studies, statistics, and a reference section. Highly usable, the only downside to this book is that the fast-changing technologies it profiles change so rapidly that this book will soon be obsolete.

We've got these books lined up for next week. We can't wait to read them and tell you all about them!
  • Modern Romance
    written by Aziz Ansari
    nonfiction: sociology, romance, and humor
  • Black Hole
    written and illustrated by Charles Burns
    graphic novel
  • In the Woods
    written by Tana French
    fiction: mystery, thriller
  • She is not Invisible
    written by Marcus Sedgwick
    young adult
Until next week, happy reading!

Monday, October 12, 2015

UFO Sighting in Pascagoula, Mississippi

On October 11, 1973, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, Jr. claimed to be abducted by aliens while fishing in the Pascagoula River. The two friends had decided to go fishing after a long day of work. With little luck at several fishing spots, Hickson suggested they try near an abandoned shipyard. Just as they were about to give up and head home, they heard a strange zipping sound. Hickson then noticed that sixty or seventy feet behind them was a blue craft hovering over the ground. The craft was shaped like a football with two windows at one end.

Calvin Parker's sketch of the craft in April 1975

As the space craft hovered, an opening appeared at one end and three beings exited. Hickson and Parker described the them as around five feet tall, wrinkled, neckless, and gray.

This is the completed sketch of the creature described by Hickson while under hypnosis.  
The beings made their way toward Hickson and Parker by moving without their feet touching the ground. Their touch paralyzed both men and made them incapable of speaking. The men were then taken aboard the craft to be examined by a large eye. After a few moments of examination, Hickson and Parker were taken back to the shipyard where Parker seemed to go through a trance of some kind. While Hickson assisted Parker, the beings made their way back to the craft. After another zipping sound and a bright flash of blue light, they were gone. Hickson, however, was left with a telepathic message that said, "We are peaceful; we meant no harm."

Sunday marked the 42nd anniversary of the UFO sighting at Pascagoula, Mississippi, which has since become one of the most notorious alien abductions. For more fascinating details, check out Charles Hickson's book titled UFO Contact at Pascagoula at the Mississippi Library Commission or your local library.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Staff Reads: October 9, 2015

Every Friday, the staff of the Mississippi Library Commission share a few of the best books and graphic novels we've read in the past week.

Fear Agent, Volume One: Re-Ignition
written by Rick Remender
illustrated by Tony Moore
four stars

This fun and adventurous graphic novel follows Heath Huston, the last Fear Agent, as he discovers an alien's plot to wipe out the human species. Heath must now use his skills as an alien exterminator to save the day. This was a great graphic novel with a retro feel. We recommend Fear Agent to those who enjoy pulp science fiction.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
four stars
Philippe Petit is not afraid of heights at all. His 1974 tightrope walk between the World Trade Center's twin towers is captured here in all its marvelous glory. Gorgeous illustrations and illuminating prose by Mordicai Gerstein will have your kids dreaming about the trapeze.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
written by Karen Joy Fowler
five stars

First off, don't read anything about this book except the following review: it's good. That's all you need to know. Finding out what the big reveal is will only diminish your reading experience. Trust us when we say this book explores family relationships in an interesting way--one you won't forget.

The World's Largest Man
written by Harrison Scott Key
five stars

Fathers. Families. Funny. Feels. Harrison Scott Key's book about his father is a beautiful, soul-searching, hilarious memoir that you need to read. 

We've got these books on our radar this week:
  • Richard Wright and the Library Card
    written by William Miller
    illustrated by Gregory Christie
  • Marketing with Social Media
    edited by Beth C. Thomsett-Scott
  • Honor Girl
    written and illustrated by Maggie Thrash
  • In a Dark, Dark Wood
    written by Ruth Ware
Until next week, happy reading!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Letters About Literature 2015

It's Letters About Literature time again! This year's theme is "How did an author's work change your view of the world or yourself?"

Letters About Literature is a state and national writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Each student is encouraged to write a letter to the author of their favorite book explaining how the book changed their life, changed their outlook, or helped them through a hard time. It's a personal letter, not an essay, so students can feel free to express how they feel!

There are three age categories:
Level 1: grades 4-6
Level 2: grades 7-8
Level 3: grades 9-12

Letters from Levels 1 and 2 are due by January 11, 2016. Letters from Level 3 are due by December 4, 2015.

Statewide prizes are as follows:
First place (for each of the three age levels): $100
Second place (for each of the three age levels): $75
Third place (for each of the three age levels): $50

First place winners move on to national judging. National prizes are $1,000 for first place in each of the three age levels and $200 for Honor Winners in each of the three age levels.

Teachers, librarians, and parents, please share this information widely!

The 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries, and other organizations. Statewide, this contest is made possible by the Mississippi Library Commission, the Mississippi Center for the Book, and the Friends of Mississippi Libraries.

Entry forms can be found here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Staff Reads: October 2, 2015

Each week, the staff of the Mississippi Library Commission share some of the books we have been reading.

Mean Streak
written by Sandra Brown
five stars

Mean Streak has everything a good thriller needs: drama, suspense, intrigue, and sex. It kept us on the edge of our seats with its twists and turns. We never even saw the end coming. Our prediction was completely different from what ended up happening--what a surprise! Now we can't wait to read Sandra Brown's latest novel, Friction.

 Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars
written by Jeff Lemire
illustrated by Dustin Nguyen
five stars

Descender's first volume depicts a futuristic universe that is being attacked by giant space robots. A young companion android, Tim-21, wakes up years later to find out that he may hold the answer to putting a stop to the evil robots. This is a great new series by Lemire and Nguyen, who combine storytelling with beautiful artwork. If you're a fan of Copperhead by Jay Faerber or Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, you'll definitely want to check out Descender.

 Humans of New York
written and photographed by Brandon Stanton
five stars

If you love the Humans of New York Tumblr blog, you will love this book! Like the blog, the book completely captures the spirit of New York City. For a former resident (and current staff member!) reading the book, memories all the things she loved about living there came flooding back. If you are not familiar with the blog, you should still check out the book. The subject matter is diverse and thought-provoking.

Yard War
written by Taylor Kitchings
five stars

When nothing ever changes and everybody seems okay, you don't ask a lot of questions. But I'm starting to think the grownups don't have everything figured out.
Yard War is a middle-grade novel about two boys with different skin colors, one white and one black, who become friends in Jackson, Mississippi, just after Freedom Summer. They unite over football, and their friendship blossoms, but segregation still holds sway over their town. This little book, with Taylor Kitchings's excellent ear for the rhythmic way Mississippians speak and his wonderful prose, is a solid introduction to the time period. Highly recommended.

We've got our sights set on these wonderful books for next week:

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
    written by Karen Joy Fowler
  • The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
    written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
  • The World's Largest Man
    written by Harrison Scott Key
  • Fear Agent, Volume 1: Re-Ignition
    written by Rick Remender
    illustrated by Tony Moore
Until next week, happy reading!

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