Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Challenges abound.


I've been blogging for about a decade. In the past few months I've seen how this experience helped me guide people while they're writing their own guest posts for my May project.


It's been a pretty humbling experience working with folks on their individual pieces. Everyone who wrote for me had to agree to allow me to edit, but I promised to be gentle but firm.


It's also been a challenge. Here's why:


It's an exercise in self-control. I can look at a piece and tell immediately know if it feels too warm, too cold, too loose, or too tight. I can (and do) tell my guest bloggers what I think they should do, but it would be presumptuous to assume I know exactly what they want to convey. I've had a few conversations with people to discuss the concept they wish to address and help them cultivate their idea further before writing them down. They are their ideas. I'm just trying to make them shine.


It is a HUGE balancing act between my ego as a writer (sorry, we're all like this) and knowing I must be sensitive to others during this process. So, I am pushing for two things: clarity and brevity. Everything else is negotiable.


It's helped me learn to be responsive. Sometimes I must be firm and sometimes flexible. Some guest bloggers have taken me up on the offer to help them write their posts. Some have submitted them and I've suggested minimal changes. Whatever my writers decide, I've been rolling with it, with one exception: if they say they don't want to be edited, I say, "Sayonara," and move on. Being edited is the reality of being a writer. And being edited makes you a better writer.


Every challenge is a learning experience. I'm taking this one to heart.


Can't wait to share the GOLD!

Friday, April 13, 2018

May is going to be an emotional month.

Photo Credit: Reuters
As you know, I am opening up this blog to other guest bloggers in May. Every day in May (if all goes to plan), a different guest blogger will have their own original story published on this blog. And if the past two weeks are any indication of what's to come, May is going to be an emotional month, and not just for me.

So far, the material that's been submitted has been incredible. My writers are taking this seriously, and I am grateful for their efforts. Some have brought me to tears.

I am pre-planning a lot of these posts for the days they are supposed to appear. I'm reading them, making minor edits, confirming the edits with each author, then scheduling them on the blog.

Right now, I feel like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dam, but I'm not waiting for someone to come fix the dam and free me. I'm waiting to pull my finger out and let the deluge flow forth.

You have no idea of the beauty that's in store for you.

Stay tuned.


❤❤❤


















Monday, April 2, 2018

The Child by Fiona Barton (Audiobook)

The Child by Fiona Barton was one of the best fiction books I've ever read [or heard on audiobook]. I will remember this book for a long time to come. It was very, very good.


Barton is an expert storyteller. The characters in this story - starting with the reporter, Kate - are realistic enough to touch.


When a newborn baby is found buried in a garden in Howard Street in a small UK village, a tiny blurb - not much larger than a classified ad - appears in the newspaper. The blurb catches Kate's eye, and she decides to pursue the lead. There must be a story behind the child's burial. How did the baby die? How did it get there? Who was responsible? Kate decides to uncover the truth about the newborn's death... even if it is the coldest case most police would ever encounter.


Barton assembled the story through a number of perspectives which can be very confusing. Hang on for the ride, and let her sort it all out. You won't be sorry. The story comes to a beautiful, poignant crescendo at the close of the book.


I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hangin' Out My Shingle for Freelance Writing Services

Hey folks, sorry I haven't blogged here for a while.

At the beginning of March, I began building my side hustle, called Parrot Content & Copy. Right now it's in its beginning stages, and I'm excited to get it started.

I'm also getting geared up for my guest blogger month in May, and I've already got some great writers signed up. I can't wait to get it moving.

Also, I'm still finishing Fiona Barton's audiobook The Child, which I'll post a review for in a few days when it's done.

Here's my site: I hope you'll come and visit. I'm blogging there every morning and adding to my services each and every day.

Thank you for reading!

Es

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Last Jew of Treblinka by Chil Rajchman (Audiobook)

What a short, disturbing book. And yet, so powerful.

A lot of the Holocaust books I've read have focused on the concentration camps in and around Germany. I never read anything about the Polish camps. I never knew that the Polish camps were not concentration camps - they were extermination camps. With few exceptions, every person who entered Treblinka suffered a horrible fate: immediate gassing and cremation.

The only thing worse than being gassed and cremated was having to shave the heads of men and women who were headed to the gas chambers. And having to pull the teeth of the dead to extract gold fillings. And having to pick up bone shards and unearth corpses. Chil Rajchman did it all, until he escaped. Then later, he identified SS war criminals and testified against them in court.

This story is a profound, disturbing, and moving tale that needed to be heard.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It's sad, really...

When someone doesn't make progress, it makes me sad.

When they stay in one place.

When they refuse to move forward.

There is never any excuse not to seek to become better.

I mean, why don't they realize the resources that are their fingertips?

They have:

  • THE INTERNET
  • THE LIBRARY
  • GOOGLE
  • YAHOO
  • LINKEDIN
  • SKILLSHARE
  • YOUTUBE
  • YOUR FRIENDS
  • YOUR FAMILY
  • YOUR COWORKERS
  • ME!

Not making progress is a choice. Plain and simple.

Everything you need is right in front of you.

GO.

A word on motivation.

My friend Mary is the queen of motivating others. She has a kind of intuitive sense of what people need to hear to accomplish a goal.

When I was working toward my higher degrees, Mary kept telling me that no matter what, I could do it. I really needed to hear that. I was struggling in so many ways. When I achieved my goal, she attended my graduation as an honored guest. I could not have appreciated her more if she had done the work for me.

Flash forward two months, when I seated my nine-year-old son next to Mary during lunch. He has been having some problems with getting his reading done for school and we talked about it. She asked him what he needed to achieve in March, and it's a lot. He told her which book it was and said he needs to finish it by May 28 to test on it and get the points. When he told her it was nearly 500 pages, she shook her head and said to me, over his head, "Oh no. There's no way he can finish that book in time."

My son's eyes blazed. He was absolutely furious. He turned bright red and slid all the way down in his chair.

I whispered to him, "What's the matter?"

Almost in a growl, he said, "I don't LIKE IT when someone tells me I can't do something."

I responded, "Well, then I guess you have to show her you CAN do it."

Since then, the kid has read every night at least an hour. He knows he can do it, so he can.

Anger can be a powerful motivator. And sometimes, it takes others to show you how to make it work for you.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Madeleine L'Engle and A Wrinkle in Time

Today, my friend Mary and I took the kids to see A Wrinkle in Time. I had read the book so long ago that I couldn't remember anything about it. 

The one thing I do remember as a child is that the book was decried as blasphemous by many Christians. Until yesterday, I thought it was because the book had so many feminist themes. I also noted that there are some similarities between "the Misses" and Gaia, known as Mother Earth. (In my experience, you never know what will trigger a fundamentalist, but something certainly will!) 

I realized also that I knew nothing of Madeleine L'Engle. So I looked her up on Wikipedia: 

L'Engle was an Episcopalian and believed in universal salvation, writing that, "All will be redeemed in God's fullness of time, all, not just the small portion of the population who have been given the grace to know and accept Christ. All the strayed and stolen sheep. All the little lost ones." 

As a result of her promotion of Christian universalism, many Christian bookstores refused to carry her books, which were also frequently banned from Christian schools and libraries. 

At the same time, some of her most secular critics attacked her work for being too religious.

Her views on divine punishment were similar to those of George MacDonald, who also had a large influence on her fictional work. 

She said "I cannot believe that God wants punishment to go on interminably any more than does a loving parent. The entire purpose of loving punishment is to teach, and it lasts only as long as is needed for the lesson. And the lesson is always love."

Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me.
That's why we weren't supposed to read it?

From the moment I had enough brains in my head to know anything, I knew there was something wrong with my "religion." It seemed over and over again that leaders in my church were willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater - demanding total adherence to rigid, antiquated teachings while not taking into consideration that most things in life are anything but absolute. It is inane to live life like that. When I refused to accept everything they said as the God-given truth, I was admonished. Shamed. Ostracized. For thinking.

A Wrinkle in Time is about love. If you read this book or see this movie and can't see that, you're too stupid to be leading a church full of people. 

End rant.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Looking forward to May.

So far I have 25 people signed up as guest bloggers in May. They're going to write and publish a blog post. I've assigned dates for people who want to contribute. The content started to roll in on Wednesday and it's good. I mean, really good. I'm so psyched to share it with you.

I hand picked some of these would-be bloggers and others came to me through the announcements and social media posts.

If you agreed to write something, I'm so excited to have you on board.

If you haven't, why not?

There are six spots left - don't miss this chance to tell your own story!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I realize this may come as a surprise...

...but I'm not seeking to become famous with my writing.

There are two sides to my personality - the practical and the impractical.

I'm very practical in some ways:
  • I like pants with pockets. 
  • I like comfortable shoes. 
  • I wear a lot of black because it's slimming and easy to accessorize. 
  • I like clean stove tops and neat computer desktops (sacred places where magic happens.)
And yet... I can be very impractical, too. (You might say I'm a bit snotty.)
  • I like diamonds set in rose gold. 
  • I like fine foods and expensive wine. 
  • I would eat octopus and caviar every day if I could.
  • I will never voluntarily sleep in a tent again.
When it comes to writing, I am very practical.
  • I say what I mean.
  • I mean what I say.
  • I write what I feel. 
  • I use very little fluff.
And yet... I am seeking to do more with my writing. 
  • I want to help people with my words. 
  • I want to earn money with my words.
  • I want to write books and blog posts people will devour.
  • I want to build a following.
And above all: I want to do it on my own.

Therein lies the problem: I can't do it all on my own. 

Without you reading and sharing: 
  • This blog is just a series of unread musings by a nutty blowhard. 
  • I make no impact. 
  • My words go nowhere. 
  • I cannot be successful. 
The practical must be paired with the "fancy," as my best friend would say, to get the job done.  

"No man or woman is an island. To exist just for yourself is meaningless. You can achieve the most satisfaction when you feel related to some greater purpose in life, something greater than yourself." 
- Denis Waitley, Motivational Speaker

More to come on this... thanks for your continued support.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Calling all would-be bloggers!

Have you ever thought about what stories or wisdom you can offer to others? Well, maybe it's time to see what you can do!

I'm dedicating the month of May to guest bloggers. So far, 17 people have decided to take the plunge. Their topics include everything from their own book recommendations to living with chronic illness, recovering from addiction, and more.

If you'd like you try your hand at blogging, please send me an email about yourself and the topic you'd like to write about! I'll assign you a date and you can take it from there. If you don't know how to start, let me know, and we can work on your post together. The more diversity and variation, the better! Email me at ejhcurtis@gmail.com if you'd like to take the plunge.

Your voice matters! Let's hear it!

P.S. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I reserve the right to reject any blog submissions that I deem inappropriate for my audience. No hate speech or profanity will be tolerated!


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Don't go on autopilot.

We humans have a tendency to go on autopilot when we're doing routine tasks.

We do crazy, stupid things on autopilot. Like, for instance, I once opened up a container of leftover spaghetti and found a pair of my sunglasses pushed into it. I must have done it while I was cleaning up the kitchen on autopilot after a particularly stressful day.

Check out this article from the New Scientist on "default mode network" - DMN - a structure in the brain that handles rote functions.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2151137-your-autopilot-mode-is-real-now-we-know-how-the-brain-does-it/

I'd like to challenge you to keep your brain active while you're driving to work, taking a shower, and doing the dishes.

Put on some headphones and listen to an audiobook.

Right now, I'm listening to The Child by Fiona Barton, and it's riveting. It makes me feel alive when I'm doing routine stuff at home, at work, or during my commute.

You can use Audible if you like, but I choose to borrow audiobooks from the Delaware Library Catalog. (You need a library card to access it, so go get one today.)

Don't live your life on autopilot.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A word (or two) on parenting.

As a parent, I'm dedicated to raising my kids with all the love and patience I can summon. If you're a parent, you probably know some days are harder than others. At the end of the day, if the kids are safe, well-fed, and healthy, I consider it a win.

My goal for my kids is to build in them the skill sets they need to go forward in life when they're 18 years old. I expect my kids to move out, go to college, or get a job. I expect them to become productive citizens and care about one another. I expect them to build the future when I'm no longer around to do it.

As other influences (good and bad) come and go, I am dedicated to remaining aggressive about their learning. My kids do chores, have responsibilities, and know what I expect of them. They know how I'm going to react when they display poor judgment or act like entitled little brats. I try to be consistent, if nothing else.

Whether my kids become rocket scientists or custodians, they're going to need to know how to read and comprehend language, cook a meal, do their laundry, shop sensibly, be accountable for their actions, learn good habits, be affectionate and compassionate, respect others, give back to their community, and learn. These are the things I am seeking to teach them while I have their relatively undivided attention.

Am I always going to be perfect? No.

Am I always trying to be better? Yes.

Am I expecting to be my child's best friend? No. And that is why I will succeed.

In return for all of my hard work, I have inexhaustible motivation to be a better person for my kids.

💖💖

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Spelling Bee.

Today, my daughter represented her school at the state spelling bee. She got to the third round and was stumped by a word I had never encountered in all the time I've been reading. In fact, there were a few words I'd never heard before.

In any case, the experience was a good one for her, and not one she'll soon forget. She was the top speller in her school, and for good reason: the kid reads like a fiend. When I see her getting totally absorbed in a book, it makes me so proud.

I'm proud of my son, too. The other night at Cover2Cover Book Club, he said he wanted to say something at the end of the discussion. When it was his turn, he stood up and presented Eragon, the book that has totally immersed him, and told 25 adults they should check it out. One adult responded, "Well! We love smart boy readers in this group!" (Cue proud mom blushing.)

What an ignorant ass I'd have been if I'd never had kids.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Books create an opportunity to learn from each other.

On my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages, I posted a photo of the Cover2Cover Book Club at the Smyrna Public Library. I wanted to remember that evening because it was so profound.

For the past few years, our book club has been predominantly white and female, but last year, more people of color and men have joined. It's been fascinating to see the conversations grow and change. We're all better because of the diversity in our group.

Thursday's book discussion was about Maya Angelou's book Why the Caged Bird Sings. I confess I did not read the entire book - I am presently about halfway through it - but I wouldn't have missed the discussion for anything.

At some point, the discussion leader asked if everyone in the room knew there was a Black American National Anthem. She said anytime the song is played in a public setting, African Americans will stand. Many people in the group were totally stunned. I myself had heard this was the case but couldn't remember the title or the refrain.

The song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," was written by a poet named James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and was set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. Our librarian, Nadine, looked up the song on YouTube and played it for us. Here's a link.

As it played, I realized I knew the song but never knew the lyrics. As a child I had heard it played numerous times at Galilee Baptist Church in Philadelphia during services and at Vacation Bible School. I knew that it was a song that we all stood for, but never knew why. The song is proud and regal, especially when played on a pipe organ.

While the song was playing on Nadine's phone, one of our book club members stood out of respect, and the rest of us followed suit. Something clicked for me, and I got a little teared up. We're all in this together, and here and now, we know it, I thought.

Many of the books we've chosen to read and discuss in the past year have focused on racial and gender equality and other socioeconomic issues. Our club has honest discussions that are refreshing for the soul because people let down their guard and speak honestly and respectfully to one another. If only the wider world could operate with such grace.

I learn from my fellow book club members every time I have the opportunity to be in the same room with them. On April 5, we'll be discussing my own recommendation: Carol Anderson's book White Rage, a book that is sure to provoke deep discussion. If you're in the area, please join us at 6:30pm.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Willingness to Expand - Organically.

My blog is not a fancy blog. But it's my blog, and it's a good blog. It's had almost 30,000 views as of today. I'm proud of my blog. It's pretty, and it's chock full of good stuff.

I've had this blog for eight years. I'm almost 39 years old, so I've maintained this blog for almost 21% of the time I've spent on earth. In that time I've read countless books (185 were reviewed here) and explored topics that mean so much to me.

I started The Ardent Reader after my second child was born. I had part time job in a nonprofit and I had extra time every afternoon after work to read. I was married then, I drove a minivan, and I had a dog. That seems like such a long time ago.

For me, this blog is so much more than being about reading. Reading is, of course, important, but when I realized what reading could do for me as a mother, a professional, a woman, this blog changed. It has become something else: evidence of my own deliberate cultivation of myself. I went from a young mother with an newly-earned associate's degree and half decent writing talent to an educated professional writer with two kids both on the path to excellence themselves.

I learned that in all things, I strive to be genuine. The practice of blogging has helped to reveal this particular aspect of my personality. It helped me realize I don't want to compromise my strongest held values, and it led to some of the hardest life choices I ever had to make. Here's a blog post called Living an Authentic Life, which I posted on my shorter-term blog, My Ten Bucks. 

A week or so ago, news broke that Russian hackers had used people's nationalism coupled with their own ignorance to divide us and undermine the validity of our elections. Twitter cut thousands of "bot" accounts overnight, and some folks lost thousands of followers in the process. And that night, I didn't lose a single one. In fact, I gained a few. For me, this was evidence that by cultivating this blog and my Twitter following slowly and organically, I had hit the right people. Real people.

Maybe I don't have thousands of followers on my blog but I know the ones I do have are people I want to have on my team. I want you to know how much you mean to me, dear reader, and that I appreciate your continued readership.

Thanks.

💗

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book 185: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

Although I have a million other books to read right now, when I came across this one in the library book sale room, I had to set aside everything to read it. I couldn't put it down until I was finished.

I had seen the movie Everest about the 1996 climbing disaster but I didn't know anything about the people who went through it. Journalist Jon Krakauer from Outside magazine had been along on the journey that ultimately killed twelve people and injured and disabled numerous others. He wrote Into Thin Air six months after he returned home after the traumatic event.

Krakauer was a seasoned climber and had always dreamed of climbing Everest. He had his chance when the magazine sponsored his climb to get a firsthand account of the true Everest climbing experience.

Although no one can definitively say why the 1996 team had so many problems, Krakauer makes his own conjecture about why some people lived and others died. One thing he wrote will stick with me forever: that being determined is both a strength and a weakness on Everest. A person's will can be so strong that he or she refuses to give up even when disaster is imminent. They will literally kill themselves to achieve a goal. Everest Fever is a real thing, and it looks like it was the reason 12 people died in May of 1996.

Krakauer was adept at pulling together all of the accounts into a spellbinding narrative that will stay with me forever. I'm glad I picked up this book and I hope you will, too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Library Lovers Day!!

In honor of Library Lovers Day, I am simply posting photos of beautiful libraries.

St. Florian Monastery, Austria

















George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, USA
Main Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (I've been here)
Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada
Library at Chateau de Groussay, France
Reading Room, National Library, Paris











































































































And here are some of my most well-loved libraries.

Smyrna Public Library, Delaware, in my hometown:





































Dover Public Library, Delaware:











Free Library of Philadelphia, Main Branch:

And finally, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Roxborough Branch, where my love of the library began:


Monday, February 12, 2018

Book 184: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty (Audiobook)

Ever since I read her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, I've been fascinated with Caitlin Doughty's writing style and ability to both be respectful and poke fun at aspects of death at the very same time. For many years, Doughty - herself an undertaker - has been an advocate for respectful, interactive funeral arrangements and more family involvement in the American death experience as a way for us to mourn and remain connected with our loved ones long after they have gone.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death is one of the more interesting books I've read on the topic of death. In it, Doughty details her travels to learn about death traditions and how families care for their dead. She traveled to a remote island in Indonesia, where the beloved dead are mummified and kept in the family home for years after they've expired. In Colorado, she found a group that uses a mobile funeral pyre to burn a person's body down to ashes in front of his or her loved ones. In Bolivia, she found shrines full of skulls which bless the communities in which they reside. In Japan, she found a corpse hotel which infused technology and death traditions to create posthumous experiences for both the dead and their families.

In this book, Doughty shows us the American death tradition is just as weird as any other. I've long disliked the look of an embalmed body, so I've opted for cremation when my time comes. In fact, I even have a plan that both my kids know by heart: I want them to use whatever money I have to take a trip together and to scatter my in a beautiful part of the world I've never visited. (A little pinch will do - they don't have to fly an entire urn out to Africa and dump it.) Until I read Doughty's books I didn't realized I had an option as to how I'll be cremated. I could be burned on a funeral pyre or the kids could push the button to start the cremation process. There's something to be said for closure and being part of the final arrangements. It's about letting go in a way that's respectful, intimate, and personal.

I hope you'll pick up this book (read Smoke Gets in Your Eyes first) and love it as much as I did. Your skin might crawl a bit, but you'll learn a lot, too. Buy it here. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"The Orange Tree" Mixed Media Painting

I painted this original watercolor on cold press paper with high quality watercolors. I added some depth with embossing  It's about 6" x 8" but it's presented in a 8" x 10" frame matted to 5" x 7".

I called this painting "The Orange Tree" because although it's abstract, you might see branches and fruit like I did.

I love the color orange, because it is a happy color.

Click here to see this item in my Etsy store. 

Thanks for checking it out!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Book 183: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer (Review requested by Faber&Faber)

When I was asked by Kate Hamer's publicist to review an advanced copy of The Doll Funeral as part of an international book blog tour, I was psyched. I've never participated in a blog tour before, but it's brilliant publicity for Hamer, and I always try to support my fellow writers. One day I intend to publish my own book, and I hope to have the same support from my fellow bloggers.

Onto the review.

The Doll Funeral is written in two eras: the 1970s and the 1980s, and jumps back and forth between the two. It's set in England, in the Forest of Dean, which seems to me like a place that is real and not real at the same time. If it were a person, you might say the Forest has one foot in the grave.

The first story is that of Ruby, an orphan who - as the story opens - occupies her own living hell. She has an abusive foster father and a weak, enabling foster mother. When things begin to spin out of control, Ruby embarks on a journey that propels her toward her birth parents, for better or for worse. In the end, everything Ruby thought she knew about her life is turned upside down. She finally understands she is equipped with everything she needs to find her way home, which isn't what she expected, either.

It is also the story of Anna, an unwed pregnant teenager who decides to keep her child despite all her family's arguing for the contrary. She is plagued by problems of both the internal and external variety which lead to her demise. I'm only telling you this because anyone with an eye can see from the start that Anna's life is on a collision course with tragedy. And that's all I can tell you about Anna without ruining the story. 😉

The Doll Funeral was a little slow at first, but I knew Hamer was building up to something big. As soon as I realized there was a supernatural aspect to the story, I was hooked. I was invested in Ruby's fate. Shadow's every appearance piqued my curiosity. The strange characters of Crispin, Elizabeth, and Tom had me guessing about their importance to the plot of this story since they seemed to come out of nowhere. And by the way, I was confused for just about the entire book, but I knew Hamer intended to keep me that way as long as possible so that when she revealed the truth, I'd eat it up. And I did.

The Doll Funeral was a masterpiece of hidden suspense. I'm interested in reading it a second time to see what I missed the first time through. I'd definitely recommend it.

As most of my followers know, I'm more of a nonfiction gal, but I enjoyed The Doll Funeral and I look forward to reading more of Kate Hamer's stories. Follow @kate_hamer on Twitter or visit https://www.katehamer.co.uk/ to learn more about her work. You can buy The Doll Funeral on Amazon.

Great job, Kate!

❤❤❤

P.S. Here are the other bloggers slated to review The Doll Funeral in January 2018. Please visit each of them and enjoy!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

"Alphalittlebit" by Es Curtis - Created Dec. 31, 2017

I called this "Alphalittlebit" because it just gives us just a little glimpse of some of the numbers and symbols that appear on the typical keyboard. 

I used a rubber stamp and embossing materials to give the cold press watercolor the appearance of an old document. Then I used a tan watercolor to make the paper look aged. Then I painted the letters, symbols, and numbers freehand using black and red watercolors. 

This was a new technique for me - I'd never tried mixing embossing and watercolor on the same page before. It turned out pretty cool. 

Click here to visit my Etsy listing. If you can't buy it, do me a favor and share it - someone else may fall in love with it!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Switching Gears for 2018.

"In Depth No. 1" given to a friend in 2017
Pen and ink on heavy paper
My goal for the second half of 2017 (after I finished my master's degree) was to read two books a week for the rest of the year. For the most part I achieved the goal but toward the end of the year it got tough to maintain the momentum with all the family functions and holiday celebrations. I just kept at it and did my best. I learned that I could manage quite a bit of reading if I simply made reading a priority and kept reading materials readily accessible.

The problem is that reading is not exactly a group activity, and my family was sort of wondering when I was going to eventually come up for air. So for 2018 I decided to focus on a goal that won't alienate others and might even engage my kids and family even more.

I have declared 2018 The Year of Creativity, to bring art back into my life in a big way. In the past few years I've been working on an art project here and there. It's been catch-as-catch-can, but I'm no novice. My parents are artists, so I was immersed in art classes from birth. One of my earliest memories was being in my dad's art studio in our Philadelphia house, taking in the mayhem of creativity, poking globs of clay, and smelling photo developer fluid. My mom is an Origami fiend and has taught classes for years at libraries and art centers alike.

So I started my Etsy shop - BrightEyedCrafts - to post and sell the things I create. Also, Mr. Fussypants is an accomplished photographer (see https://sailorstrek.com/) and he hasn't marketed his work quite as much as he should. I hope you'll come to visit my Etsy store and if something strikes your fantasy, please pick it up. Everything I post will be an Es Curtis or Mr. Fussypants original.

My newly cleaned desk and a few works in progress.
This is not the end of this blog. I still have a few books to finish - those authors have sent me - and I will finish reading, reviewing, or featuring their books on my blog. Also, reading is a huge part of my life, so I'll continue to read and post what I read, though not in such a rapid fire approach.

I appreciate all of your support in 2017, and hope you will continue to follow me as I switch gears and move into a new chapter of my life.

Thanks, all... and Happy New Year. May 2018 live up to all of our expectations.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Book 182: Looking for Jane by Judith Redline Coopey

x

I love the book club at the Smyrna Public Library, because each person recommends books they like or think are important. These folks have taught me to open up and try new things, and also remind me to be very deliberate about what I recommend for my own selections.

Because there was a woman in a bonnet and a guy on a horse on the cover, I honestly thought, Oh no, this is a western, a genre I wrote off a long time ago. (Yes, I judged this book by its cover.) Turns out, I am a dumbass. It was darn good historical fiction, set in a time I knew nothing about - the 1890s. And my curiosity was piqued.

I began reading this book and I immediately fell in love with the main character, Nell. She's an orphan with a cleft palate, newly freed from her convent upbringing, and convinced Calamity Jane is her long-lost mother. After leaving the convent, Nell embarks on a journey to Deadwood, South Dakota. I won't tell you all the details, but I do love dynamic characters, and Nell is forever changed by her journey. Her trek across half the U.S. doesn't end the way she expected, but she winds up better for it in the end. The plot was pretty good, and had some twists I hadn't anticipated.

The author Judith Redline Coopey is a history buff from Pennsylvania. I loved her style and her informed writing. From her bio online:


Historical fiction is my genre -- no bodice ripping romances for me -- just well researched interesting stories of those who've gone before. I write the kind of stories I like to read: of strong people facing the challenges life lays before them, following their inner light and living responsible lives. 

Anyway, thanks to the person that recommended this book, because I'll definitely be reading Coopey again. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book 181: The Rooster Bar by John Grisham (Audiobook)

This review is late because my brother was in town and I was so crazy busy I did not have time to finish my books.

Although it was not my favorite John Grisham novel of all time (that honor is reserved for The Rainmaker), The Rooster Bar was a fun read. The plot was inventive and had twists and turns that I really loved.

D.C. law students Mark, Todd, Zola, and their friend Gordy find themselves in a no-win situation in their final year of school. They're all deep in debt, without any good job prospects, even though they've been promised by their law school that their ensuing careers will give them the edge they need to get ahead of the student loans and make bank. Three of the friends embark upon a journey that has all the promise of making them rich, or at least breaking even. In the end, the decisions they make lead them to an ending no one could have guessed. At least, I didn't.

As all of my readers already know, I finished my master's degree in 2017. Even with tuition assistance from my employer, I still owe more than $60,000 in student loans, so this aspect of this book was familiar territory, and I felt I could commiserate with the characters in The Rooster Bar. (Hey Congress, want to score points with voters? Forgive student loans.)

As I said, The Rooster Bar was not my favorite Grisham read, and here's the reason: I love John Grisham's ability to weave a complex, multi-dimensional story. The Rooster Bar was sort of like John Grisham Light. Maybe you'll disagree, but that was my impression.

Ari Fliakos did a great job on narration - I thought his voices were wonderful.

The Rooster Bar was another loan from my dear coworker, Sherry, who kept me supplied with excellent audio books throughout 2017. As soon as I finished one, she had another one on deck. It's always nice to have someone like that around.

😊😊😊

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book 180: Beat This! Cookbook: Absolutely Unbeatable Knock'em Dead Recipes for the Very Best Dishes by Ann Hodgman

This is the best cookbook I have ever owned. Yes, I know it's old (published in 1999), but the other day I realized I would be remiss in blogging about other cookbooks without revealing my one true love sitting at home in my own library: Beat This! Cookbook by Ann Hodgman.

I have owned this cookbook for at least six years. In that time I've made everything in the book at least once. I have at least ten cookbooks, and this is the only one I refer to all the time. Of all the recipes, my absolute favorite is Hodgman's "Best Banana Bread" which is better than anything I've ever tasted, before or after I bought this book. And the book is funny! It's not just bland recipes; Hodgman infuses them with humor. You could read this book from cover to cover and have a few giggles.

I love this book and have bought copies for friends over the years, especially those who love cooking, or (like me) had a bit of a rocky start to baking. Although I'm a decent cook (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), my baking skills have never been good. Thankfully, Hodgman's collection of recipes are straightforward and simple, and so far, are impossible to screw up.

If you buy this book, I would make one recommendation, with regard to the banana bread recipe (of course): freeze your bananas for a few days before you make the banana bread. Then thaw them the night before you make it. They get super brown and mushy and are perfect for that recipe. You can literally squeeze the bananas right out of their skins.

If you only have one cookbook in your collection, make it this one. You won't regret it. Click here to get it on Amazon.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book 179: Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

In 2015, news correspondent Katy Tur of NBC was assigned to follow and report on Donald Trump and his presidential campaign. She accepted the assignment with mixed feelings - she knew it would be good for her career, but that the assignment might also wreak havoc on her personal life. She dedicated most of 2015 and all of 2016 to observing and reporting all the news that was fit to print - and some not so much - about the Trump campaign. It was the experience of a lifetime, but I doubt it's one she'd soon repeat.

In this book, Tur documented major developments in the presidential election from May 2015 through November 2016, when Trump was elected to office. Having lived every day of the nightmare that was the Trump campaign and later, the Trump presidency, nothing in this book surprised me. Still, while reading Tur's account, I felt a renewed disgust. She documented Trump's bullying, sexual impropriety, hatred, bigotry, and outright lies. She wrote about Trump hostility toward her and her fellow journalists, and his efforts to discredit both her and the main stream media. She wrote about the shock she felt when Trump called her out in the middle of a rally, effectively making her a target. After that, she had to travel with a security detail, because the "deplorables" saw her as a representative of "fake news," and she feared for her life.

As the saying goes, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." I'm grateful that Tur wrote this book, if only to document the insanity that was (and remains) on display for the whole world to see. Hopefully, we as a country will learn from this experience. May we never forget how we got here.

Katy Tur: If ever I have the honor of meeting you, I'm buying you one big ass glass of wine. You earned it, lady.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Book 178: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I felt I had to read this book, if only to understand Fisher's life a little better. We all know her as Princess Leia from Star Wars, but she was so much more than that. 

Nearly a year ago, Fisher died at age 60 after having an apparent heart attack on a plane, and her mother Debbie Reynolds died the day after of a stroke. Her later autopsy showed that she had had a variety of drugs in her system. I found myself thinking how tragic this was, but also, how consistent with reality. 

In Wishful Drinking, Fisher wrote about how she had struggled with the lethal combination of mental health and drug addiction. After years of therapy, treatment, and institutionalization, she finally decided to try electroconvulsive therapy, and in the book she discussed what impact it had on her memory. The book was a short one (I finished it in a day) but in it Fisher delved into her relationship with her mother and father, "inbred" Hollywood, her husbands, her daughter, and her addiction to alcohol and drugs, which she used to bring herself "down" or "up" depending on her manic state. And damn it, she was funny. 

I wrote my thesis for my master's degree on dual diagnosis mental health and substance abuse, so for me, this book was equal parts disturbing and enlightening. It isn't often that someone with these issues has a platform from which to tell the world the weird, embarrassing, unpleasant truth of being truly messed up. I know now why people said Fisher was a beacon for mental health and substance abuse awareness. She didn't sugar coat the garbage roiling around inside her head; she talked about it. She told people. And that is very, very important.

Fisher's stream-of-consciousness writing style was difficult to follow at times, but it was also genuine. She wrote as she spoke, and it was easy to imagine her telling the stories of her life in her animated way. I'm glad I got to know her a little better through this book. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book 177: I Hate Everyone Except You by Clinton Kelly

I like birds. I picked up this book because the cover had a bird on it. (That's true.) I kept reading this book because it was freaking hilarious. I laughed until Mr. Fussypants asked me to please stop, so he could hear his show. When I kept on, adapting my guffaws to Muttley-style huffing, he gave me the look. Luckily, I have insomnia due to some sort of throat ailment, so I finished it in private later on, chuckling quietly to myself in the den. 

Clinton Kelly was a co-host of What Not to Wear and is now on The Chew - two shows I never even heard of until I read this book. (Sorry, Clinton, but don't feel bad... I don't watch much TV.)  This book is a series of stories from his life, opinion pieces, and even a previously unpublished screenplay. He writes about his life as a co-host and talks about his working relationships, bitches about celebrities (Paula Deen, for one), and talks about his relationship with his family and his husband, Damon, who sounds like a saint.

Clinton Kelly is the king of snark. Every story from the theme park adventure as a child to the two hour forced commentary on salad was filled with wit and sarcasm that would give Joan Rivers a run for her money. Because I can visualize everything that happened in this book, I found it riotously funny.

I Hate Everyone, Except You was funny, but Kelly also injected a lot of truth about love and life into it. For example, the wishful-thinking "if I were president" piece in which Kelly says one of the first things he'd do is initiate a mandatory draft for food service - for everyone. As a former waitress, I could not agree more. I learned some of my most profound life lessons while serving others their food and drinks, and I often think some of the assholes I come across could do with a dose of humility that often comes along with the job.

I borrowed the digital copy of this book from the Delaware Library Catalog, but if you don't have access, you can buy it here.

I needed a good laugh, and this did it. Thanks, Clinton.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Book 176: Jennifer Brown's Journey by Angie Langley

The author, Angie Langley, asked me to read and review this book, and I was happy to oblige. I absolutely loved this book.

Jennifer Brown's Journey is the story of a young woman who found herself in a life she didn't like with a man that didn't want her. In no time, she was homeless, prevailing upon friends for room and board while she figured out how to begin anew. In the ensuing months she traveled, moved around, and changed careers, until the life she left behind was a distant memory, and she was a completely different person... a happy one.

This book was witty and fun and had twists and turns I didn't expect. The story felt genuine and the characters and settings were very real. When I contacted the author to tell her much I was enjoying it, she told me it was completely true. That made me love it even more. Then she killed me with three little words: To be continued. I can't wait to read rest of Jennifer Brown's journey, because this book was great.

I hope you'll pick up this book on Amazon and enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December is Read a New Book Month!

It's no surprise that December is "Read a New Book Month."
December = Christmas
Christmas = Gifts
Gifts = Books (Sometimes.)

According to Forbes, between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published each year in the United States. Of those, about half are self-published. A study by Stanford University found that fiction accounts for only 11% of books published in a given year. Almost 130 million books have been published (and reprinted) since the beginning of time. We've got thousands of choices at our fingertips, and more appear every day.

Sources for new book recommendations also change every day, but for me, some are tried and true. I always check the new book rack at my local Delaware library. It's usually front and center when you walk in. There's also a feature on the Delaware Library Catalog where you can view and request new books in both digital and print format.

My non-library sources for new books begin with NPR Books, which boasts a wide variety of books and reviews from authors I might never hear of otherwise. For situational awareness, I may check the New York Times Bestseller List, while repeating this mantra in my head: What is popular is not always good. (Like cars, cell phones, jobs, computers, and houses, "new" doesn't necessarily equate to "great." Duds are everywhere.) I also check Amazon New Releases, which is my best source for new books on sale. (There's also this fantastic feature on Amazon, where you can put together and publish your own public wish list and share it with friends and family. They can search for it, too.) I also like the Slate Audio Book Club.

Hopefully you'll get a fantastic book for Christmas, or a gift card with a huge balance on it, so that you can buy yourself a whole new collection of Mary Roach or Mark Kurlansky books that will blow your mind. (Hint, hint.) Who knows what December will bring?

My advice is to never stop reading. Whether it's given to you or you buy it, pick up a new book, wrap up in your favorite blanket, and enjoy the heck out of it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Book 175: The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsay Fitzharris

Well folks, I apologize for this review coming so late, but I just could not seem to find the time between now and last Wednesday to sit down and bust this one out. And I loved it, so that's saying something.

Lindsay Fitzharris has written a book that is both grisly and disgusting but really, really good. It was well written, and she damn well did her research, as the final 50 pages of references attest. It made me squirm in discomfort and horror and I loved every page of it.

The Butchering Art is the heroic story of Joseph Lister, the man who introduced the use of antiseptics to the medical community in Edinburgh, Scotland, then to London, England, then to the world. As a child, Lister was fascinated with his father's microscope. Later, when he entered the [utterly insane] field of surgery, he used the microscope to identify microbes responsible for causing post-surgical infections that were literally killing entire hospital units full of patients. Lister experimented with a variety of chemical antiseptics, wound dressings, and stitching materials, and eventually revolutionized the world of medicine. The guy was a genius, and made every surgeon before him look like a complete idiot. They weren't too happy about that, but had to eventually adopt his practices because, quite simply, they worked.

This book is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Fitzharris provides the most awful details about the most revolting surgical practices common in Victorian-era medicine. She tells you more than you ever wanted to know, and proves once again that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. This was better than any horror fiction ever written. (Sorry, Mr. King, but I still love ya.)

I was thoroughly disgusted and totally riveted, and I fully intend to make this book part of my permanent collection.

Lindsay, send me a signed copy! It would make my day!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book 174: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

I wasn't totally in love with this book. Although I felt strongly that the lessons within it were worthwhile, the style is a little bit dry. Meik Wiking, the author, is an academic who studies happiness at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. It sort of felt like a cross between a DIY book and an academic paper.

Despite the style, I learned quite a bit from The Little Book of Hygge about the Danish custom of sharing cozy spaces, warm lighting, comfort food, and comfortable furniture for one purpose: to enjoy each other's company. I didn't know that Danes will invest thousands in the right lamps to achieve Hygge in their cozy living rooms.

These days, with just over a month left in the year and complete my goal, I'll pick up any book that has "little" in the title. This book was just a hundred or so pages (I'm estimating this, since I read it on my Kindle) and went through the major points of Hygge (pronounced "hug-gah") and how to implement Hygge to improve your own quality of life. The author even included recipes to make some of the Danes' favorite comfort foods.

If you're into home decorating and entertaining, this is definitely the book for you.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Plight of Women in America

All my life I've been drawn to stories of women like Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dorothy Day, Clara Barton, and Queen Esther. These women didn't ask for permission to do what they needed to; instead, they broke rules and made history. They didn't conform to social norms. They did what they thought was right. I like that, and I always have. 

Not long ago, I realized that for every women who rose above the status quo, millions lived and died in horrific circumstances that destroyed their bodies and spirits for thousands of years before me. They lived through hell.

Women were once considered second-class citizens and the property of their fathers and husbands. Yes, that was here in the U.S. In fact, it was legal for a husband to beat his wife and children, and many suffered such extreme abuse that they never recovered. Women were beaten until they could not or would not stand up for themselves. Watch The Color Purple or The Stoning of Soraya M  and let yourself feel the pain of these characters, which reflect so many other true stories that will never be told. 

Until 200 years ago, women weren't permitted to attend any institutions of higher education. They were welcome to attend grammar school, but "were at a significant disadvantage in access to most forms of higher education." Academies for women were not much more than high schools, and were "restrictive and inferior when compared to the educational opportunities available to young men." In 1836, women were able to pursue their higher degrees at only two universities in the whole United States. Men had no such restrictions, and flourished. 

Women kept pushing to crack the glass ceiling and be elected to the U.S. Congress, despite losing election after election to male opponents. The first woman voted into Congress was Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, who served in the House of Representatives. One hundred years ago, she took her seat in the 65th Congress in 1917, a full 128 years after congress was established. (Because women couldn't vote, she couldn't even cast a vote for herself, but you know she damn well used her congressional vote to push through women's suffrage.) 

In the early 1900s, suffragettes fought to vote, a right that had been bestowed upon men in the U.S. Constitution, but had not been extended to women. In 1920, women won the battle, but not without being imprisoned, tortured, and some even killed for their activism. I still get chills thinking about the bravery of these women, and I'll always vote because of their sacrifices on my behalf. Watch Suffragette to better understand their struggles. 

The Women's Liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s - which I am so, so pissed that I missed - focused on the fact that women outnumbered men (51% of the American population) and still had nowhere near as many rights and opportunities. They focused on a variety of causes, including better pay, more higher education admissions, reproductive freedom, better employment opportunities, and among other things, dissolving the traditional gender roles so women weren't limited to domestic roles. The term "feminist" was used to describe these revolutionary women who spoke out for equality and absorbed every punch they were dealt. They are both revered and vilified by all manner of historians. 

Even now, in 2017, women are undervalued in the American workplace, and underrepresented in leadership roles, on boards, and in Congress. Women have to work twice as hard to gain the same success as their male counterparts even with superior education and experience. Look at the leadership of any Fortune 500 company and you'll see that most are overwhelmingly comprised of men, unless they are women-owned organizations. And the gender pay gap is another can of worms entirely; women still earn about 80% of what men earn to do the same jobs. And men are selected for promotions more often than women

Women have continued to push for equality because for hundreds of years our country has taken advantage of our strengths and all but ignored our contributions to its success. 

With the #NoMore movement, the feminism wave is rising again. Women are tired of being beat up, underrepresented, treated like doormats, and most of all, sick of being expected to continue to put up with it. And guess what? We really hate that we continue to be victims of sexual assault and abuse in this civilized day and age. Men should be able to control themselves and keep their hands to themselves, end of story.

Right now, many women who have chosen to speak out against sexual assault and abuse are being absolutely destroyed by the press and social media. They stay strong despite the onslaught of criticism, and I salute them for their bravery. Their voices will be the catalyst for positive change in our society, and I hope that even more will decide to come forward. Perhaps their voices will be the reason one abused woman will have the courage she needs to finally walk away.

Women: Assault and abuse and harassment leave deep wounds that never heal. A woman speaking out is reliving the most shameful moment of her life. She's ashamed because she was too scared or shocked to stop her assailant. She's ashamed because she's lived with this secret for her entire life and by keeping it a secret, she's protected the person who hurt her. Speaking out is the hardest thing she's ever done, and she's doing it for all of us - even those of you that choose not to believe her. One in five American women suffer assault, abuse, or harassment, so you could end up in her shoes. Wouldn't you want people to believe you if you had the guts to speak out? 

Men: Don't complain about the storm of allegations against news icons, movie stars, elected officials, and film directors. Women have been putting up with a lot of shit for a lot of years, and these guys have had it coming. If you're shocked, it only shows how ignorant you are of the horrors women have had to endure since the beginning of time. Don't act like this is something new. These guys represent the tip of the iceberg. Just support us as we get through it. The process is just like pulling weeds out of a flower bed. These stories need to be told so that we can get through this as a nation and be better as individuals.

We've been ignoring these problems for a long time, and now is not the time to strike these stories from the record and sweep them under the rug. Now is the time to listen.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Book 173: Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

I don't normally review cookbooks, but this was one I couldn't resist. I ran across an article in bon apetit magazine about this awesome new chef, Samin Nosrat, who is redefining the way people understand their ingredients.

Nosrat's book is not your standard run-of-the-mill cookbook. In each chapter, she focuses on the chemical properties of each element of cooking - salt, fat, acid, heat - to help her readers better understand how each impacts the texture and flavor of the food we prepare. At the end, she provides a number of simple and delicious recipes to try at home.

As an avid cook and an artist, this book was simply irresistible. Aside from the cooking advice, I loved Nosrat's writing style and ability to communicate complex chemical processes. And I loved the illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton, who put her heart and soul into each drawing. I borrowed this book from the library, but believe me, when I can afford it, the hard copy will be in my permanent collection.

It's difficult to read and absorb every page of this book in a few days. I would definitely recommend buying a copy (if only to keep the recipes at the back of the book handy) so that you have time to read and apply the tips in this book. I don't normally do this, but here's the link to the book on Amazon. I would not recommend the e-book version - get hard copy to see McNaughton's beautiful artwork for yourself.

I hope you check it out... it's one of the more unique books I've read this year.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A discussion of generations, libraries, and pride.

I'm in the process of doing my family tree, which is probably why I'm thinking about generations a lot lately. How are generations determined? Who determines them? What defines them? Who determines what defines them, and how is that determined? Why don't we know anything about any generations before Baby Boomers? I decided to dig a bit to learn more.

There are all sorts of conflicting definitions of which generations were born when, but NPR defines them like this:

  • GI Generation - Born 1901-1924 (THREE OF MY GRANDPARENTS)
  • Silent Generation - Both 1925-1942 (ONE GRANDPARENT)
  • Baby Boomers - Born 1943-1964 (MY PARENTS)
  • Generation X - Born 1965-1979 (ME)
  • Millennials - Born 1980-2000
  • Generation Z - Born 2001-Present (MY KIDS)
I'm a member of Generation X (GenX). I was born in 1979 and I always felt like I was the freshman of my GenX peers. I love NPR's definition of GenX, which I've never seen until now:
[GenXers] were originally called the baby busters because fertility rates fell after the boomers. As teenagers, they experienced the AIDs epidemic and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sometimes called the MTV Generation, the "X" in their name refers to this generation's desire not to be defined.

I like this definition much better than the one I heard about being called "Generation X" because we had nothing specific that would define us as a group. It's also much better than the definition a Baby Boomer once gave me when I was a teen: "Your generation is called Generation X because you have no ambition and no future." Needless to say, I didn't spend anymore time listening to whatever else that asshole had to say.

Sadly, GenXers are not known for their patronage of libraries. In fact, only 45% of GenXers and 43% of Baby Boomers visited a library in the past year. Maybe it's because I'm a GenXer and I don't want to be defined by numbers or labels, but 45%, seriously? Come on, people. Get it together. This is a matter of pride, which we certainly do not lack.

Thankfully, my mother was an exception to her own Baby Boomer generation and went to the library as often as most people get gas or go to the grocery store. Even now, she spends one day a week volunteering, helping to build programs at the public library in her new hometown of Crossville, Tennessee.

It's ironic: The defining GenX movie The Breakfast Club was set in a library, and the only reason those kids
were there was because they had detention.
But there is hope: Millennials seem to be turning the tide. Numbers published by The Pew Research Center showed that 53% of Millennials visited a public library or a bookmobile in person in the last year. And that data doesn't include university or college libraries - it's public libraries only. Nobody seems to like Millennials; they're criticized for being narcissistic and entitled, but at least they go to the library.

In a CNN article detailing the report's findings, journalist Jessica Suerth wrote that technology within libraries has a lot to do with the upsurge in their usage. Among other things she names digital loans, free internet access, 3D printers, and online account access as reasons the libraries draw more Millennials. American libraries' hard work in continuing to innovate has paid off. In my opinion, that's pretty great.

In a year when everyone seems weighed down by negativity, I thought I'd take a moment to offer some good news. Everything doesn't completely suck. Millennials go to the library.

If you're a GenXer or a Baby Boomer, maybe you should shoot over to your local library and check it out. Chances are, things have changed quite a bit and you might not even recognize it.

📖 📖 📖
There was an error in this gadget