Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon!

Hey, y'all!

Yeah, I am the worst blogger ever!  I've been keeping up with my video posting on YouTube, but I have pretty much ignored this space.  My bad.  I have a string of poor, abandoned sites and blogs littered throughout cyberspace, but I'm doing good on videos, dammit!

Anyway, I decided (probably against good sense) to participate in the Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon on April 23.  I should be completely done grading and dealing with my undergraduates by then, and I have to have my last prelim statement in by then.  So, in an effort to provide a bit of a breather between the spring semester and a HUGE thing I have to do the 28th through the 30th, I thought I would try this out.  A full day of reading reading reading?  Sounds like my thang!

In the next few days I will be posting a (potential) reading list, and I will also hopefully be doing a bit of mini-blogging on the day of the event.  I do have to dip out for a few hours to attend an event, but I'm hoping to get lots and lots of reading done that day.  We shall see.  Are any of you fine people participating?  If so, good luck, and I'll see you there!

Readathon Home Page 
Sign-Up Page
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where My Girls At?!: Women of Southern Gothic Lit

Right, so yesterday I saw a short article posted by The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies which appeared in Publisher's Weekly (read that HERE) entitled "10 Best Southern Gothic Books."  Because I love Southern Gothic lit, I of course clicked through...and promptly got hocked off.  Out of ten books, there was ONE woman.  ONE.  Come on, guys, really?  Off the top of my head, I had five and then thought of three more nearly immediately.  Not hard. Ugh.

Flannery is not impressed with your shit, Publisher's Weekly.

Don't get me wrong.  I loved quite a few of the books they listed, Dennis Covington's Salvation on Sand Mountain, for instance, which was one of the best Southern books I've read in years.  But there was just no call for leaving all these women out.

Anyway, this list is absolutely NOT an end-all-be-all.  As I mention in the companion video (which you can find HERE), this list is way too white-washed, but I realized I don't know any Southern Gothic writers who are women of color.  I almost included Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston, but I'm not sure they would actually fall into this genre.  Any suggestions for Southern Gothic lit by women of color (or anyone of color for that matter) would be greatly appreciated.

[EDIT:  Upon further research and reflection, I absolutely should have included Zora Neale Hurston on this list, and I have added her below.  My apologies, Ms. Hurston.]

With that said, here's my short, quite incomplete list:

1.  Flannery O'Connor:  She was the sole woman on the PW list, and she is the high priestess of Southern Gothic in my opinion.  Her story "Good Country People" is hands down one of the weirdest and best short stories EVER.  Also must read:  Wise Blood (her sole novel) and any short story collection (e.g. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories).

2.  Dorothy Allison:  Bastard Out of Carolina and Trash

3.  Carson McCullers:  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories

4.  Harper Lee:  To Kill a Mockingbird (and I would bet Go Set a Watchman since it's set in the same universe as TKAM)

5.  Eudora Welty:  The Optimist's Daughter, Ponder Heart, and Why I Live at the P.O. and Other Stories...I hesitated to put her on this list despite the clear Southern Gothic nature of her writing because she was once quoted as saying about Southern Gothic, "They better not call me that!"  Sorry Eudora, had to do it.

The lat three here are modern horror novelists, but their work is definitely Southern Gothic.

6.  Anne Rice:  The Vampire Chronicles and Violin, although most of her work would fall into this category

7.  Caitlin Kiernan:  The Red Tree, Th Drowning Girl, and about a billion short stories in various and sundry anthologies

8.  Poppy Z. Brite (now known as Billy Martin, although all of these were published under Poppy Brite):  Wormwood, Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, and Exquisite Corpse

[EDIT] 9.  Zora Neale Hurston:  As noted above, I almost included her in the video and list, but I was unsure she fit.  After doing a bit of searching, I realized that she is included in the American Library editions of Southern Women writers, and thought of as Southern Gothic at least in some circles.  That's good enough for me.  Read:  ALL the things, of course, but particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mules and Men, and The Complete Stories.

As I said, this is by no means all-inclusive, and I welcome suggestions.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Classics Book Tag

One of my favorite booktubers, Sam over at Novels and Nonsense, did this tag  a couple of weeks ago, and although she is a much more ardent lover of classics than I, I definitely number a bunch among my favorites.  If you'd like to see the video, complete with plenty of explanatory tangents:  Classics Tag Video

So here we go!

The Classics Book Tag (originated by

1. An overhyped classic you really didn't like:
     Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger & anything by Jane Austen (seriously. I really hate her work) 

2. Favorite time period to read about
     Victorian England...if only because I love steampunk time travel and sci-fi

3. Favorite fairy tale
    Alice in Wonderland

4. What is the most embarrassing classic you haven't read yet
     [Note:  I am not actually embarrassed about this.  I don't subscribe to that whole notion of "if you        haven't read this particular set of books, you suck and are a moron."  More about that in another          post.]
     The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

5. Top 5 classics you would like to read (soon)
  •  Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes [actually a reread]
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller [also a reread]
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

6. Favorite modern book/series based on a classic
    The Triologia Victoriana by Felix J. Palma

7. Favorite movie version/tv series based on a classic
    The Time Machine [Note:  The original version from 1960 starring Rod Taylor]
    Little Women [both the 1949 version starring Elizabeth Taylor as Amy and the 1994 version                      starring Winona Ryder as Jo]
    Bride and Prejudice [Yes, I hate Jane Austen, but I LOVE musicals and Bollywood.  This is one of            the only 2 good things that came out of Austen's work.  The other is zombies.]

8. Worst classic to movie adaptation
     The 2002 version of The Time Machine [This was an abomination unto the time travel gods.]

9. Favorite edition(s) you'd like to collect more classics from
    There are 3 sets I think are gorgeous, but I don't want the entirety of any of them.  Weird, I know.
  • the Word Cloud editions.  There are at least 7 I want of these.
  • Puffin in Bloom.  Unless they release more of these, I really only want Little Women.
  • Penguin Drop Caps.  I think I counted 3 or 4 of these I'd like to own.

10. An underhyped classic you'd recommend to everyone
      I chose 4:
  •  H.G. Well's The Time Machine. My favorite of all time which seems to get the shaft.  None of the pretty editions of classics ever have this book in them.
  • Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
  • John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

Well, there ya go!  I'm trying my best to do coordinating blog posts with my videos, but you see how well that is going.  Oh, well, A for effort, yeah?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award Tag

The lovely Sarah over at CrawfordReads on youtube tagged me to do the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award Tag.  She asked me 10 questions, I responded with a video of my own and tagged 10 mew people with new questions.  The video in which she tagged me is at:

And if you want to watch my response, go here:

In other news, I swear I'm trying to remember to post over here in tandem with my Booktube videos, but as we see school and my general forgetfulness has prevented that from happening.  I will endeavor to do better, guys.  In the meantime, check out my channel and all the awesome Booktubers I follow. Books!!!  How could not love it?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In which I explain my absence

Hey, y'all!  If you are still returning to check for new content after all this time, bless your heart!  I have been a terrible blogger this past year, but in my defense, I've had a lot going on.  First, I graduated with my Master's in Library Science in May. Woohoo!  Then I immediately started on the doctoral program in the same subject, so I've been trudging along through that.  The first semester ended well, and I have been enjoying my break and slacking off on many things I should have been doing.  But that's what the last minute is for, yes?  This past weekend I sprained the hell out of my ankle, so that has also thrown a huge monkey wrench into any major activity.

Anyway...I am going to do my best to blog more often and more regularly, especially with the new project I have loaded upon my plate.  As of this morning, I now have a youtube channel unsurprisingly called The Dinosaur in the Library.  There's only one video up right now, but I hope to get a few more on there in the next week or so and then do one a week once the semester starts up in January.  For most, I will endeavor to have a coordinating blog post for those of you playing along at home.

I hope that you will join me in my new experiment!  Comment there, here, or on my Twitter (@librarydino) with any suggestions for topics, tags, or general ideas.  Have the merriest of holidays (whatever you celebrate), and if I don't see you before then, have a fabulous new year!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the importance of LGBTQ literature

I'm currently reading Jeanette Winterson's autobiography Why Be Normal When You Could Be Happy?, and she talks a lot about how literature saved her. This, of course, lead me to thinking about those coming out years, and how desperate I was to locate myself in the pages of the books I read.  I remember so clearly accidentally picking up E. Lynn Harris' Invisible Life in the adult fiction section and feeling absolutely floored.  The cover itself was enough to draw my radar.  Something about the way the two men looked toward each other, and I knew I had found something.  Too afraid to actually check it out at first, I would read sections of it curled into a corner of the library and then replace it carefully in the H section before leaving.  I was so relieved to find in print the same feelings I was having, even if they were happening for a man and not a woman.  It was enough to see that we existed outside in the world.  After I was outed, I finally got up the nerve to take it home. Sometimes I didn't even read it again. I would just stack it with my other library books in my room and be comforted by its presence.

Fast forward to my first year of college.  I left home and came to Tallahassee, admittedly not a bustling metropolis, but still the largest city in which I'd ever lived.  There was a gay community center and, wonder of all wonders,  a gay bookstore! (Oh, Rubyfruit Books, how I miss thee!) The first time I went in that store, I felt this knot in my chest release.  Staring at me from all angles were gay and lesbian fiction, nonfiction, tshirts, buttons, sex books...I wanted to turn in circles and toss my hat like Mary Tyler Moore. It was one of the most wondrous experiences I have ever had--discovering that not only were we legion, we were freaking prolific writers!  The first book I bought was Rita Mae Brown's  Rubyfruit Jungle. I devoured that book, and then I read anything that had the woman's name on it. By the gods, if she had written copy for Kellogg's boxes, I would've been on an all-cereal diet.  I was then handed Winterson's Written on the Body for a Women in Literature class. I was engrossed in the book and remember having to do a group project on it. I was so nervous, because I felt like I had to represent my people well and honor her. Really, it was a crap project, but that book. Oh my god. That book. Perusing my beloved Rubyfruit, I found out that she wrote others and fell in mad love with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.  One afternoon, I was in the campus bookstore and found "Lesbian and Gay Studies" section. Albeit, it really was a small section, but the implication! This was a regular bookstore. And they had books about us! Like it was normal! I felt another knot release. I know I picked up every book on those few shelves and stared at the covers and back jackets.  The first one I bought was Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, and after I got over the shock of not really needing to try to be covert about my purchase, I proceeded to buy one every single time I had money.  There was erotica and nonfiction and so many blessed other things.  And if I had only been able to locate these in my own library, senior year might have been a very different place for me, at least, internally.

Remembering all this makes me want to order a million LGBT books and stuff shelves full in libraries everywhere. Because everyone deserves to be able to see themselves reflected.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

One More For Our Side!

As you probably already know, I work for Scholastic Book Fairs, and every season we have a Season Kick Off meeting at which we discuss the previous season, customer surveys, new books, etc.  Today was the Spring SKO, and as usual, we ended up discussing, what else, but our own individual reading. :-) A coworker, one who admittedly never liked reading  before, talked about picking up one of the Bluford High series (No Way Out, I think) to read for our Stop, Drop, and Read program.  In it, he found for the first time a story to which he could connect.  The characters and situations reflected his community and life, and as a result, he came to love the book.  It seems to have sparked a genuine interest in reading, and I'm pretty sure he'll be reading the rest of the series.  Hopefully, this will lead to even more reading of lots of different titles and kinds of books.

What's your point, Dawn?  This is cool, but really, what are you trying to say?  This coworker is in his early 20's, 23 I think.  He is just now, as a result of a random book picked up because he "had" to read for 15 minutes every workday, finding a love of reading.  What could it have done for him to have found this love 10 years ago? 15 years ago?  What if some librarian or teacher had put a book in his hands then that reflected him, and as a result, he started reading more and more at age 8 or 13 as opposed to 23?  Now, don't get me wrong here...starting to read every day at ANY age is awesome, and I love that he did.  I just wonder about the kids who grow up to be the 23 and 30 year olds who never find that book.  Once a child is out of school, there is no guarantee that he or she will visit the library or read at all.  Once he or she is out of that age range where school is mandatory and the library is visited at least some for schoolwork, we've lost our golden chance.  Luckily, this coworker came to work for a company that values literacy and created an opportunity for him to find this new interest, but there are a lot of people who don't like to read or never read out there and only a few jobs open at Scholastic.  So what to do?

Every time you have the opportunity to put a book in a child's hands, DO IT.  Take your kids to the library.  Buy books for nieces and nephews and cousins and friends.  Read in front of kids.  Get excited about whatever you're reading, and when you read something amazing, talk it up like you've got the cure for cancer. While reading may not actually cure cancer or AIDS or anything else in and of itself, if you get a child to read a lot now, who's to say that he or she won't find a love of science in that reading and grow up to cure these things.  There's no way to gauge just how much impact the simple act of handing a book to a kid can have, but I promise you, it is huge.