Happy Monday, friends!! Well, as you can tell from the time of this post, I didn’t make it to the library today!! You know I love going there to get lots and lots of work done, but the easy breezy summer is working against me, I guess!! But still, I thought today’s motivational quotes could honor libraries for all the splendor that they are!! Remember how thrilling and exciting it was to go to the library when you were a child? It was one grand adventure, and thanks to Ms. Bear, my sister and I had adventures at least three times a week! Getting lost in the stacks and reading all the newest issues of your favorite magazines…ahhh, what wonderful days!! Here are five quotes to celebrate all the wonderful things libraries have to offer, in the summer and every day of the year…
Ooooh, friends!!!! I’ve been wanting to do this post for ages now, and I’m so excited that TODAY is finally the day!! Do you remember Jessi? She’s a writer/blogger extraordinaire, and we became fast friends when I was her newspaper adviser many, many years ago! These days, she’s hard at work documenting her family history (fun fact: her ancestor Jacob Haish was an early inventor of barbed wire!) and plotting out her first book!! And speaking of books, Jessi is also sharing her love of books in the form of a Little Free Library!!!
Her Little Free Library lives right in her front yard and has gained quite the following, both in the form of people stopping by to grab a good book and other people dropping off books to add to the selection. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of reading and the community that forms when people say, “Hey, have you read this book yet?” That’s why I was so glad when Jessi said she’d be game for an interview, so read on to learn more about Jessi’s Little Free Library and why reading is so important to her…
Why did you start your Little Free Library? What was the inspiration?
I had heard about the Little Free Library movement and I was patiently waiting to have one until I owned my own home. My husband and I quickly started putting together ideas for our library as soon as we bought our house! I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a young girl. This seemed like a fun, easy way to trade and share books, while inspiring a younger generation to do the same.
What’s been the most rewarding about the experience?
I love the response from my neighborhood. A neighbor once posted on my library’s Facebook page and let me know that she and her young son had just finished reading a picture book they had borrowed from the library. Once they had finished it, the son told his mother… “let’s go get another one!” That story and that excitement will stick with me forever.
What books are most popular? What types of books do people drop off regularly?
Children’s books, especially the sturdy, durable “board books,” fly off the Little Free Library’s shelves. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of children and retirees, so kids books and adult books come and go fairly often. I’ve had a wide variety of books dropped off at the library, and incredibly generous donations made — I’ve come home to tubs full of donated books sitting on my front stoop.
You’ve always had a passion for books. Why is reading so important to you?
I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Even in my teen years, sitting at home reading a book on a Friday night was much more intriguing than going out. That still hasn’t changed. I have fond memories of my mom reading to me when I was younger. Now, my dad and I talk about the books we’ve read. Reading encourages my creative side (I’m a writer!) and it fulfills the lifelong learner in me. It sounds cheesy, but I love to explore new worlds and learn new things. That’s what books can do for you.
What’s your favorite book of all time and why?
“The Outsiders” by SE Hinton has been my favorite book since middle school. I’m not even sure what drew me to that book originally, but I’ve read it dozens of times since. I feel a real connection to the characters (I love character development) and I love the story. It never gets old.
Do you have any tips for people who want to start a Little Free Library of their own?
Actually STARTING the library was the most daunting thing for me — constructing something that could hold books. After that, things really got going! First, find a good location, whether it’s your front yard or a public park. Then, figure out who your “clientele” is — that will determine what kind of books you should keep in stock. Something to consider in your design: if your library specializes in kids books, make sure it can accommodate them. I never truly realized how large some children’s pictures books can be! The Little Free Library’s official website has some tips for starting your own library, too. Most of all, just try it out and have fun! It’s so rewarding when you start to see people congregate at your library. It’s very fulfilling to be a Little Free Library steward.
Thank you for the inspiration, Jessi. Be sure to follow Jessi’s blog Our Midwest Diary, which celebrates all the cool spots she and her husband visit. And, don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram too! xoxo
If you know me, then you know I’m a huge Mirfanda — the name for the Miranda Sings fandom, obviously! I also have this habit of working Miranda into every conversation!! Seriously! Just ask my mom and Janelle. I do the classic greeting (“Hey, guys!“). I give solid fashion advice (“Don’t be porn!“). I comfort people and offer them sympathy (“I feel sorry for you. I will pray for you!“). I’ve even got Miranda’s unique pronunciation down (“I’m SO essited!“) as well as her trademark brand of, umm, honesty (“I’m the most talented there ever even was…not even kidding about it!” No offense!“).
TL;DR: I love Miranda. Like, A LOT, pretty much!
So, obviously, I was so ESSITED (see?) to read her newest masterpiece, which just came out yesterday!! What, you didn’t know that? Well, I feel sorry for you and I will pray for you!
Anyway, My Diarrhe is the book only Miranda herself could write! It’s all her diary entries from her entire life — ALL OF THEM! In one book! Her birth certificate? Got it. Her homeschool homework? Got it. Her emotional teenage drama? Got it. Her meteoric rise on YouTube? Got it. It’s all there, complete with bootiful photos (another Miranda-ism!) and the occasional unidentifiable leftover food or other “Miranda treasure.”
My mom was flipping through the book yesterday and exclaimed, “This is just like your diary!” She wasn’t wrong! Remember the days when I’d share my diary entries on the blog? That little trip down memory lane was certainly a blast from the past, wasn’t it?
But I think there’s something to be said for looking back and reflecting on your past every so often. It’s a chance to take a look at the person you used to be and really see, up close, just how you’ve changed over the years. It’s the perfect snapshot of you, taken at one moment in time — and, even, it might help you get a glimpse of who you’ll become in the future.
See? All those lessons…given to us by the red-lipped, sassy, most talented, NOT porn Miranda Sings!! She’s here to teach the masses!! I mean, that’s the best gift of all, if you ask me… xoxo
Isn’t it funny how people come into your life sometimes — in the most unexpected yet perfect ways? Last year, I had the honor of being featured in the book Pantsuit Nation, which was a first for me and so exciting! Even more exciting?? Taking part in the book launch, where I got to read my excerpt AND meet so many incredible women who are making the world a better place; it was truly inspiring! One of those women was Lee Fearnside! She, along with her brother Andrew, wanted to pay tribute to dead celebrities who died in 2016, and the result is the amazing book O! Relentless Death: Celebrities, Loss and Mourning. Writers penned their eulogies to celebrities such as David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher and Lady Chablis (my contribution!) and each essay is accompanied by an illustration of the celebrity. Lee and Andrew have already met their Kickstarter goal, and I had the chance to chat with Lee and Andrew about what it was like making the book and the lasting legacy of these celebrities… xoxo
Can you tell me a bit about yourself — your background, hobbies, etc.?
Lee: I’ve been making art all of my life. Our mother is an artist, and some of my earliest memories are of making linocut relief prints with her (the technique we used in this book), creating hand-drawn animations with neighborhood kids and making sculptures from natural materials. Art has also always been part of my personal expression and social justice work. I came out in high school through a series of photographs I made. So for me, this project is both a natural extension of what I’ve done all my life and something completely different because of the collaboration.
Andrew: Just like Lee, I grew up making art a lot. Mom took us to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where I’d later go to art school, and as a young person, I was enthralled by the blockbuster shows it hosted during the ‘70s and ‘80s–Tut, the Bayeux Tapestry and more. She also took us to Harvard’s Peabody Museum, which had amazing 19th century displays of gemstones, taxidermied birds and a huge octopus crawling across the ceiling. It also had preserved the horrific racism of that era in the form of waxwork Native Americans in ill-fitting clothing stolen during America’s campaign of overt genocide against our Native population.
As a kid, drawing was what I was good at. Drawing was what I could stand on in the face of the unchecked aggression that dominated public schools in that time and place. In drawing, I could be different from the popular kids and yet respected. I did puppet shows from 10-12, inspired by our school system’s big and publicly funded puppet performances–Moby Dick was amazing. In high school, I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Z, the school’s photography teacher; and there I could blend things I loved: puppets, costumes, fantasy, horror, fashion, expressionism, punk rock, Dada, and Butoh, which I’d just discovered.
What gave you the idea to do the book? What’s the inspiration behind it?
Lee: Like many people, we were completely devastated by the 2016 election. The number of celebrity deaths that year, especially right around and after the election, felt like the end of an era, in part because so many of the celebrities who died were icons from our childhood and young adulthood. Making this book was a form of grieving.
Andrew: Lee and I had been doing drawings of dead celebrities in the fall of 2015. We talked about Bowie’s death on the phone and went back to our lives. But then Prince died, in April 2016; and at the same time, Trump was winning Primaries, despite the clear impossibility of that fact. We talked on the phone again. We began to see the parallels between the chain of celebrity deaths, our generation’s grief over the loss of its heroes, and our grief over the loss, first of Bernie to Hillary and then Hillary to Trump.
Why do you think this book is so important now?
Lee: The Trump era for Progressives has been one of anger, grief, and action. The anger and action are expressed all over the place — in marches, on social media, in the number of non-politicians running for office. Less obvious for ways for people to acknowledge their grief, and to have that process of grieving be expressed collectively. I hope this book not only helps people remember and grieve these celebrities but also grieve the state of the nation without them.
Andrew: American mass culture is organized around celebrities who seem to exist as shimmering halls of mirrors — immortals, floating above us in a mysterious and impenetrable world of stylists and spin managers, fracturing “truth” into glittering crystalline images. And yet celebrities are human, once we penetrate through the media fog; they are no better than their fans, and they too must die, as all do.
Do you have any future plans to do more books, like one each year for those who died?
Lee: We do! While we don’t plan to return to celebrities anytime soon, our next project will explore community. A few years ago, Facebook claimed that people in the US are no longer separated by 6 degrees, but instead by 3.46 because of social media. We’re going to explore that idea, and pair interviews and portraits/images with community change-makers that we know. We’ll ask those people for suggestions of three other people, do the same process of interview and image-making with them, and then ask those three people for their connections, and see if we end up with any of those 54 people connected to each other.
Andrew: Oh yes! This has been such a joy to create, soup to nuts. We want to make art that connects — art that engages our tribe right where we are. This book has driven me deep, and given me a chance to support the work of Albuquerque writers who I truly believe in. I can’t wait to do more collaborative projects.
Thanks so much, Lee and Andrew! Be sure to follow the book on Facebook for spotlights of the book’s author. I was so honored to be asked to contribute and am so glad Lee and Andrew came into my life!!
[Top photo via Kickstarter]
Book lovers!! Bookworms!! Word nerds!! Whatever you call these special people in your life, chances are their heart will jump for joy over one of these literary-themed gifts!! Above, a literary tote of their favorite work, $18…
Bookish candles named for locations in literary classics so they can be transported to a magical place, $16
Some temporary tattoos to sport their favorite literary quote for the whole world to see, $10
A festive book pin for an added dose of chic, $11
Bird bookends to keep all the best books in one place, $26.95
This personalized book necklace with their initial, $24
This Just One More Chapter mug, which would be equally perfect for a writer or reader, $15.30
A banned books pouch for all their treasured goodies, $12
A cozy pillow because, really, nothing is better than lying in bed and reading, $25.99
And, of course, a handy bookmark, so they never lose their place in a good story, $14.99
P.S. More fun literary gifts…