Books and Gnocchi

Have you noticed that gnocchi is everywhere lately?  “Everywhere” might be an exaggeration, but I think it has been mentioned in three out of four books I’ve been reading lately.  That’s pretty impressive (not the books I’m talking about below). … Continue reading

On Being Middle Management

My current job is in fact my first long-term managerial position in the working world.  Because of that, it’s been more challenging and adventurous than any previous job.  People always add an element of adventure to everything, right?  Different personalities and skill sets and preferences all collide into one work environment, and we all have to figure out how to be a great team together.

Sometimes in the middle of the daily hubbub in the library, I end up feeling powerless to make a real positive change in my work environment.  I should feel more powerful than I used to, but I don’t.  I think when I was only responsible for my own actions, change was simpler.  All I had to do was change myself.

Now I have to change the system sometimes and the team at other times, and then there’s still all of the change that has to happen in myself.  There’s so much potential for change, yet it seems less attainable at times.  There can be so many layers to work through before anything is really different.

The good news is that I’ve been reading a great book lately.  It’s called The Best Place to Work, and it was written by Ron Friedman.

image from

image from

Dr. Friedman is kind enough to give me back some of my middle management confidence.  Woohoo!  I love that Friedman tells you about the studies behind the suggestions.  (Yeah, I like reading academic studies.  That’s at least 5% of why I’m a librarian.)  Best of all, the suggestions for managers and employees start out on an epic scale–what you could do if you had significant power in your company or a huge expendable budget.  And the ideas then filter down all the way to the inexpensive or free category, which is perfect for a library.  It’s nice to hear what’s possible and then hear how those awesome benefits can be captured to some degree in our realm.

So if you find yourself managing people (or being managed) and want to know how you can try to turn your workplace into the best place to work, this is a definite recommendation.

Standard Life: February Edition

You know, sometimes life doesn’t seem bloggable.  Sometimes it’s just dinner and dishes and TV and work.  Plenty of work.

I don’t mind when life gets into normal ruts, but it does make it more challenging to present interesting material to you.  Sigh.

So today?  Today we’ll go through the quick and dirty of what’s going on.

  1. We had a Super Bowl party on Sunday (the best time for Super Bowl parties, really… during the Super Bowl).  I don’t know about anyone else, but Scott and Peanut and I had a very good time.  Among the many tasty food items, there was The Pioneer Woman’s Queso Fundido.  It’s officially my favorite football food.

    photo from (by Ree Drummond)

    photo from (by Ree Drummond)

  2. Reading is still fun.  I hope you’re not surprised by that.  I recently finished The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  Big Little Lies isn’t my typical reading fare, but it was still a very enjoyable read.  It’s doing well on bestseller lists, and there’s a parental riot in the first chapter.  I couldn’t very well read about a parental riot (at a school night for parents) and then not find out who got killed.  Good hook, Liane Moriarty.  The Secret Keeper was a bit more standard for me–historical fiction mixed with some mystery.
  3. Life is going along pretty normally.  Peanut is adorable.  We’re cooking.  The weather is drab and wintry.

And with that, I leave you to this fine, par-for-the-course Tuesday.

Get Them a Book for Christmas

I haven’t bought a whole lot of books as Christmas presents this year, which is surprising.  Nine years out of ten, I buy a whole lot of books for Christmas.

photo from

Photo from… Christmas shopping heaven, if you ask me.

Why so many books?  Well, I’m a professional book pusher, so that’s part of it.  But honestly, I think that books are the perfect gift for lots and lots of reasons.

1) A book can fit into almost anyone’s budget.  You can find a rare book if you’re feeling spendy.  But if you’re on a budget like most folks, you can get a great new book for $10-20.  Or a super inexpensive new book for $2.  Or even a used book for as little as $0.50.  I’ve received used books as gifts before, and I didn’t feel bad about it at all.

First edition Jane Austen books for probably a truckload of money…

or Barnes and Noble’s “Fiction Under $5.

2) You can find a book to fit any person’s personality.  That makes it a thoughtful gift.  It can also be a general gift if you don’t know the person too well.  Get them a book that you suspect they might enjoy or just a great classic that they could return if they’re really not into reading a great classic (boo for that).

A book for your favorite people watcher…

humansor a book for your dog watcher (assuming he or she actually likes dogs).

puppies3) Your Christmas present could actually change someone’s life.  Reading fiction makes you a more empathetic person, thus say the scientists.  And I can pinpoint a few books that have certainly impacted who I have become as a person.  That’s some powerful Christmas present buying.

4) How often do you find a present that can be inspirational, educational, and a source of entertainment and joy all in one?

5) Books are easy to mail and probably won’t get damaged in transit, even in your suitcase.

Do you see what I mean?  Books are the perfect present.  If left to my own devices, I would probably buy everyone on my list a book every single year.  Fortunately for my friends and family (or unfortunately), I know that they have mixed likes, so I try to also mix up presents to match their preferences.  You can’t go wrong with a book though.

I wouldn’t recommend getting my dad a book about the Jonas brothers, but with a bit of thought, you can’t go wrong.

Reason 2,948 Why I Love My Job

I love my job for lots of reasons–for the sheer insanity that happens sometimes when you’re working with the general public.  For the random information I learn every day.  For the chance to help people with small things like using a website that can impact the big things like getting a job.  It’s great.

But today I like my job because in the building where I work, there are thousands and thousands of stories waiting to be read.

I spent a large chunk of yesterday reading.  It was my day off, and no one else was home (except for Peanut).  What better way to spend a few hours than polishing off one of those library books I needed to return today?

I read about the Civil War, and I learned all about various battles and spy rings and all sorts of exciting things.  So many of those things happened in my adopted state of Virginia, and I didn’t know about them before.  It was kind of amazing.  (I mean, I knew that lots of Civil War battles took place in Virginia.  I just didn’t know as many details as I should have known.)

Today I started a new book that’s taking me to Oxford, and I get to soak up an entirely different set of experiences.

photo by Emily Aimsworth, found on

photo by Emily Aimsworth, found on

Color me happy!  (And yes, that is why you should visit your local library.  It’s free and exciting and not at all dull.)

Reading Break

I’m going to write less today so that you and I can both go and read something else, preferably something on paper.  This is the selfish reason for that: I have three books checked out from the library, all due between one day and three weeks from now.  I want to read them all very very badly.

This is what I will be reading today:


book cover from

These are what I’m excited about reading as soon as I finish the book above:

first impressions

book cover from

book cover from

It’s a sad librarian story, right?  But if I go read right now, it becomes a happy librarian story.
Also, if you’re looking for a good read, I’m pretty excited about these three.  In order, you’ve got the Civil War, Jane Austen meets modern novel, and culinary/French awesomeness.  I’m only halfway through the first of the three, but I think they’re all winners.

Oh, and smart people say that reading fiction helps your brain function better.  So if you don’t do it for fun, do it for your brain.  (The first one is non-fiction, but I still think it has to do something good for your brain.  Read anything you want!)

Read Your Bookcase!

Okay, I promise I have lots and lots to blog about this week.  There are potential cookies and a potential side table redo.  There’s fresh kale from the garden and a living area that’s almost clean enough to photograph and share.  So many possibilities!

But for today, you’ll have to be satisfied with a very unique bookcase:

picture from (via Pinterest)

picture from (via Pinterest)

Fun, right? 

I need to read our bookcase a bit more.  There are so many good stories right in our house, and sometimes the new and flashy options at the library make me forget the books waiting for me at home.  So yes, go forth and read thy bookcase.