Shelf Life: May We Suggest…

portrait of girl wearing christmas hat
Photo by Pixabay on

As of this writing, we’re a few days away from Thanksgiving.

In my house, we generally celebrate one holiday at a time, but we’ve been doing a lot of back-and-forth on suitable Christmas present ideas. Including books.

It seems to have been a week for making book recommendations. As it is, I have had two people this month ask me for advice on what books to give someone as a gift.

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Writer’s Block: Time, Time, Not On My Side

shallow focus of clear hourglass
Photo by Jordan Benton on

Now that we’re down to the end of October, it’s coming time for the traditional NaNoWriMo participant’s lament:

“How am I going to be able to make time to write?”

Sound familiar?

With NaNoWriMo coming up fairly soonish – this Thursday, to be exact – I’m trying to figure out how to squeeze in some writing time, in between work and other demands.

(Yes, me and everyone and their brother, sister, and fifth cousin once removed.)

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Shelf Life: Little Free Library

A Little Free Library in Hudson Heights, Manhattan. COURTESY BEYOND MY KEN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Just a quick one this evening, in between working on NaNoWriMo prep, watching Doctor Who and bracing myself for the pending Monday. (Do I know how to multi-task, or what?)

I wanted to devote a few lines to the phenomenon that is the Little Free Library.

For those unfamiliar, the Little Free Library is exactly that: a miniature library where people can leave books or take them free of charge.

You’ve probably seen Little Free Libraries around your neighborhood – after all, according to the website, there’s at least 75,000 around the world. They’ve popped up in front yards, at schools, houses of worship, and anywhere else where someone decided, “There should be a place to get some reading matter here.”

I just did a piece on Little Free Libraries for Montclair Local – check it out here.

It’s a nice gesture, and definitely a step up from the battered “take a book, leave a book” boxes you might see in the thrift shop or the coffee shop. I’ve used them as a good place to drop books that I no longer read – but my TBR pile being what it is, I usually can’t walk away from a Little Free Library without taking a book. (Surprise.)

Do you have a Little Free Library in your town?

Shelf Life: Little Women

Louisa May Alcott. (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s probably because it’s the 150th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, but Little Women seems to be everywhere this year.

I probably see at least one article or essay every week in which people reflect on which of the March sisters they identify with.

There’s the series that is starting on PBS this year, and there was just a movie that came out setting the novel’s events in the present day.

I remember watching part of the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon with my parents, and I think that was my first exposure to the . A few years later, I had to read Little Women for a summer reading assignment in seventh grade or so. We already had a copy on hand, a beautiful two-part volume with illustrations by Tasha Tudor, so that was what I used.

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Tools of the Trade: Bullet Journals

clear glass jar filled of coloring pens beside of white sketch pad
Photo by Jessica Lewis on

If, like me, you’re prepping for National Novel Writing Month, you’ve probably heard a lot of other participants talking about bullet journals and how they’re going to use them to keep up with writing goals and stuff.

I’ve decided to give it a shot. As of this writing, I’ve got a new pack of markers, and I’m debating which (and how many) of my stock of blank notebooks to use.

Okay, that’s nice, you might be saying, but what is a bullet journal?

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World Building: Songs about Books and Authors

brown and black gramophone
Photo by Skitterphoto on

It’s probably because of my earlier posting about what music I like to listen to when I’m writing, but I’ve found myself thinking about all the times books and writing are referenced in music.

And I’m sure I’m not the first person who’s thought, “Hmm, maybe I should put together a playlist of songs about books and writers.”

So what would go on it?

There’s no shortage of books, plays and legends that have been adapted for the opera, the theater, the concert stage or the ballet. For brevity’s sake, let’s just talk about individual songs that have references to books and authors somewhere in them.

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Shelf Life: Book Reports

abc books chalk chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on

Ah, book reports. A delight for some children, but more likely a pain in the neck for most others.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own experiences with book reports over the years, probably because it’s September and therefore back to school month.

Even as I write this, I’m thinking back to the scene in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, when the gang does a book report on Peter Rabbit. You know what I’m talking about: Lucy tries to pad out the word count, Schroeder and his computer get sidetracked onto Robin Hood, Linus does a graduate-level thesis and Charlie Brown just frets and worries and procrastinates until the last minute. I think we’ve all been there at some point.

My first encounter with the book report beast was in second grade, when our teacher had us do dress-up book reports. We each chose a chapter book, did a report on it, and then we all had to dress up as the main character and then present the report before an audience of our parents. (No sweat, right?)

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