Thursday, December 31

January Events for The Morton Library


   Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean all of the excitement is gone.
At the Morton Library, we are still reading, making crafts, and having contests! 
We have fun crafts to be picked up for our take-home crafts this month.
We are also having another fun contest! This one will show all of your creative talents!
It's making a snowman! The only rules are that it can't contain anything that will go bad or melt and it needs to be no taller than 24 inches high. Other than that let your imaginations run wild and see who can create the best snowman. So let the contest begin and may the best snowman win! Bring your snowman to the library no later than Jan 17th . The winner will be picked that afternoon. A small prize will be given.

   We have a great event for adults online this month. It is an interview with  Author Randy Pierce.
It will be a zoom talk on January 21 at 3:00 p.m. He is the author of the book Missy. Please join in 
and hear all about him.

Don't forget to return any books that you may still have at home from prior to covid, we are relieving
fines right now so please return any books you may have and we will take care of the fine for you.

Thursday, December 17

Christmas Trees Throughout the Years

 O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! How lovely are thy branches! ~~ Ernst Anschutz

In 1824, a German composer and teacher named Ernst Anschutz paid homage to the fir tree when he penned the modern lyrics to "O Tannebaum." The original folk song was written in the 16th century by Melchior Franck and was rewritten again in 1819 as a tragic love song by August Zarnack. However, it was not until the custom of the Christmas tree developed in the 19th century, that Anshutz's version morphed into the beloved English Christmas carol. The song tells the story of the faithful fir tree with its evergreen branches that bear the joyful message of the Christmas story. According to the various lyric changes, the tree gives us pleasure and delight, fills our hearts with music, and brings us light in winter's gloom.

The Forest Public Library agrees that nothing brightens the holidays like the first sight of Christmas trees. As part of the Forest Area Chamber of Commerce's Stationary Christmas Parade, the library staff created a display of 12 Christmas trees throughout the years, beginning with the Pioneer tree. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of Christmas celebrations during the pioneer days; however, it is doubtful that she had a Christmas tree in her "little house." Most pioneer homes were too small to make room for a tree, or wood was too scarce to "waste" on a tree. Christmas gatherings happened by the fireplace or around the traditional meal. Children might be fortunate to find a new penny in a knitted stocking, but most children delighted in a homemade gift, such as a carved wooden toy or a cornhusk doll. If a pioneer home was large enough for a tree, the decorations included pinecones, yarn or straw figures, bits of ribbon, and flour ornaments.

The Victorians took quite a different attitude toward the Christmas tree. In the 1870s, store-bought ornaments were introduced and quickly replaced homemade decorations. Paper designs of Christmas ornaments were printed in ladies' magazines and glass Christmas tree ornaments made their first appearance on American trees. Victorian trees were trimmed with gilded angels, stars, walnuts, and crosses - the more gold, the better. Candles were also used to illuminate the tree. One traditional token remained. The Christmas cracker was made with colored tissue paper and a sweet verse (and sweet treats) inside. These popping tubes were called "Kisses," and were later mass-produced by Tom Smith and Company, who manufactured nearly eleven million in a single season.
From feast to famine was the tale of the depression-era Christmas tree. Gone were the great excesses, replaced with meager and frugal trinkets...with one exception. The tree at Rockefeller Center was erected on Christmas Eve in 1931 by construction workers. The tree was a 20-foot balsam fir decorated with strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and tin cans. That year, America was in the middle of a deep depression with unemployment near 60% in the construction industry. The laborers received holiday checks and bonuses, and for them, the Christmas tree was a sign of hope and better days ahead. The official tree lighting at Rockefeller Center started in 1933 with a 40-foot tree illuminated with 700 lights and continues to this present day.
In the twenty years that followed, Americans witnessed an era of great prosperity. During post-war consumer craziness, many Americans were buying and building new (and modern) houses, and they did not want old-fashioned fir trees. Concept trees featured in glamour magazines were artificially produced in factories, usually in one color - pink or blue - with the same color ornaments. These trees were a favorite of Peanuts' character Lucy as she strolled through the commercial tree lots.
In the 1960s, the Christmas tree became even more commercial with the appearance of the silver aluminum tree. From 1958 until the mid-'60s, the tree could be purchased in the Sears catalog, along with a rotating wheel of four primary colors. Many families substituted the traditional evergreen tree for the shiny new tree with its Shiny Glass Brite ornaments. Little did these companies know that one television special would send their trees and rotating wheels packing to attics and basements throughout the country.
In the 1965 Peanuts' special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, the main character buys a scrawny, live fir tree to protest the over-commercialization of Christmas. After his friends make fun of his selection, Charlie Brown takes the fir tree home to decorate it. He places one red ornament on the tree, and it bends under the weight. Charlie Brown thinks he has killed the tree. Later, his friends come along and redecorate the tree with an eclectic mix of ornaments - teaching them (and the viewer) the real meaning of Christmas.
After the Charlie Brown special, Americans begin to see the Christmas tree as something to love and cherish. Ornaments became more personal in the 1970s, and trees returned to their natural green color. In 1973, a company called Hallmark produced its first Keepsake ornament. Since that year, over 400 ornaments have been issued. These Keepsake ornaments are carefully stored each year with other family heirlooms to be used again during the next Christmas season. Each year, the unpacking of the ornaments creates familial connections that serve as part of the tree decorating rituals, which also include holiday music, hot cocoa, and happy memories.
The most common theme for artificial Christmas trees from the beginning of the 1970s until the present day is a more natural appearance. Evergreens of all shapes and sizes have been produced to satisfy the discriminant customer. The science of flocking used by natural tree farms to create the resemblance of snow was soon copied in the artificial market. Flocked trees are especially popular in Southern climates where snow is scarce.
Whoville trees made their first appearance in the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The best-known decoration in Who-lore is the iconic curved conifer tree - a whimsical style used in American displays to the present day. The magic of the Whoville tree is found in its association with a favorite childhood story that celebrates not only the joy and wonder of a season but the difficulties and challenges as well.
At the turn of the millennium, the idea of a themed Christmas tree was still in vogue. As part of the Y2K celebration, patriotic trees were trimmed with flags and stars; red, white, and blue ornaments; and the year 2000 memorabilia and keepsake ornaments. Despite the warning that the world would end on January 1st, Americans continued to deck out their fashionable Christmas trees to coincide with the historic celebration.
Approaching the present day and in keeping with fashion, the designer tree is a must-have for families of influence. Gucci, Dior, Chanel, and many of the biggest names in fashion began designing unique Christmas trees to benefit charities in the late 1990s. After the millennium, department stores seized the opportunity to market these trees to the consummate shopper. A color scheme, oversized ornaments, and a large topper are the secrets to a designer tree -- sometimes accompanied by an interior designer who decorates the tree in the client's home. 
And finally, the annual tree at the Forest Public Library - no branches, only books. But, as always, still lovely.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 
with what delight I see you!
When winter days are dark and drear, 
you bring us hope for all the year.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, 
you bear a joyful message!
That faith and hope shall ever bloom 
to bring us light in winter's gloom.
Oh Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 10

December Events At The Morton LIbrary

We have a lot of fun events at the Library this month!

     We have a Gingerbread contest where you come into the library and pick up a paper gingerbread man and make it look like something other than a gingerbread man. They need to be turned in before Dec 20th for judging and the best one will win a small prize!

 We also have a new take-home craft each week to be picked up. 

The week of Dec 14th come by the library to pick up your little Christmas treat.

We have a ton of Christmas movies and books for you to watch this Holiday Season so come by and see what all we have available or you can go online and reserve your copies to be placed on hold for you.

The Elf on the Shelf will be up to fun and mischief from now until Christmas so come by the Library each day and see what he is up to and to fill out your letters to Santa! We have a magic mailbox that sends your letters directly to Santa! 

 We look forward to seeing all of you and we hope you stay well and have a very Happy Holiday!


Friday, November 20

December Events at the Morton Library

 We are going to have a lot of exciting things going on in December!

First off we will be having a contest to see who can Disguise the best Gingerbread Man! Come by the library and pick up your Gingerbread Man and take it home and decorate it to look like something other than a Gingerbread Man. Bring it back to the Library by December 20th and We will pick the best disguise to win a prize.

Next, we will be having a special Letters to Santa! Come in the Library and make out your Christmas list and we will have a magical Santa mailbox where you can put your letter in and it will be sent to Santa as soon as you put it in the mailbox!

We will also have a Santa's Naughty and Nice list up for you to add your name to for Santa to see. You better be nice or Santa will know!

We hope you have a great and safe Christmas Holiday! Spend time with your family and read some Christmas stories. We have lots of Christmas books for you to choose from so come see us and get some books to read together as a family and make this Christmas one to remember!

Merry Christmas from the Morton Library!

Wednesday, November 18

Nothing Trivial About It: The Answer Is… by Alex Trebek

Tragically, Alex Trebek, the long-time host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy!, passed away earlier this month on November 8, at the age of 80, after struggling with pancreatic cancer. As a fixture on the show for 36 years, Trebek became a steadfast daily presence in the lives of millions of Americans. He became a symbol of intellectual achievement and commitment to curiosity and learning.

Behind the symbolism, though, lay an ordinary human with a story to tell. Before his death, Trebek released his autobiography, The Answer Is…:Reflections on My Life, this July. Alex Trebek was born as the son of a Ukranian immigrant hotel cook in a mining town in northern Ontario. Trebek does not pay short shrift to his origins, nor is he condescending in his tone. He understands most people are probably reading the book for insight into the world of Jeopardy!, but I think this choice is revealing of a very humble attitude in his perspective on his success.

Trebek does get to Jeopardy! and tells you about iconic champions Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, but also tells you about his favorite contestants of lesser renown as well. Both in the book and on the show, he could vacillate between gravitas and silliness, becoming whatever the situation called for. He mentions several times that he is the host, not the star, of Jeopardy! The show itself is the star, and we are the players.

Written well into his cancer struggle, The Answer Is… can be pensive, but it is never morose. It is far closer to being joyful and full of life. While a look into the life of Alex Trebek (written by the man himself) may surprise its readers, we should all be so lucky to take stock of our lives as the final curtain closes.

Tuesday, November 10

Pearl Staff Book Reviews

Hello, CMRLS patrons! We know it has been a crazy year, and with things slowing down due to COVID, our staff has had more reading time on our hands. We would like to share with you what we've been reading lately. If you have read any of the following or want to recommend new picks, please let us know in the comments! 

First up, we have Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

Pearl Circulation Supervisor Amy Lee writes:

            Wow!  I highly recommend this read! At first, I thought the title was overhyped because it was part of Reese’s book club, but then curiosity eventually got the best of me. Therefore, I had to see what the fuss was all about. I am so glad I did! The characters are unforgettable, and the plot and storyline are brilliant. I literally could not put this book down because it drew me in. It is such a bittersweet, unforgettable story that makes you cheer for Kya, the heroine, in all her trials. This is a must-read! 

Kya has been living on her own since she was abandoned by her family as a small child. Living in an old shack outside of a charming North Carolina beach town, Kya only leaves her house to boat to the local gas station for groceries, as well as study local coastal wildlife. As a result, she has been given the nickname “Marsh Girl” by most of the town, many disapproving of her wild living and failure to blend in with society and its ways. One day, a young man, from a respected family in town, is discovered dead in the marsh.  No one, not even the sheriff, can figure out how he died.  Was it simply a tragic accident, or was there foul play? 

Brenda Martin-Campbell, circulation, said the following about Stephenie Meyer's Midnight Sun:

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer is Edward’s perspective from the Twilight series. It is interesting to see a different point of view from such a popular series. It is much different than Bella’s point of view which was how the original series was written. It helps us understand Edward and his actions better. I noticed a few things were different from how the original was written, but it was still very interesting and a great read. I would recommend to any Twilight fan!

Samantha Dinnella, our newest staff member read Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao and writes:

In Blood Heir, there are two types of people: humans and affinites. Affinites are people with special gifts; however, they are often abused and sold into slavery. The main character is Anastacya Mikhailo (Ana). She is the Crown Princess and a Blood Affinite. After being framed for murdering her father, Ana flees for her life. She spends a year growing stronger and hunting the man that really killed her father. She also learns of a darker conspiracy that could annihilate her entire kingdom. 

I recommend this book, and I am waiting for the sequel, Red Tigress, to come out on March 2, 2021.

Morgan Hedglin, Pearl branch manager, recommends Darling Rose Gold and writes: 

Don’t let the pretty cover fool you, this book is creepy and sinister. Based on the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a victim of Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) who eventually murdered her abusive mother with her online boyfriend, Stephanie Wrobel reimagines what may have happened if the titular Rose Gold sent her mother to prison instead of killing her.

The events of the book go back and forth between present-day and 5 years earlier when the mother Patty was sent to prison. Rose Gold has agreed to let Patty have a second chance and live with her upon release, but does she or Patty have revenge in mind?

Excellent read for fans of The Act on Hulu or Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you have any book recommendations for us? 

Until next time, 

Happy reading! 


Friday, October 9

Escape through Time

If there has ever been a time in my life where I wanted to escape the reality of today, it has been 2020. Seems like just as soon as I have adjusted to one thing and think, “Nothing else can happen,” something “else” comes along. One of my top methods of escape is reading and nothing breaks me out more quickly than a time travel novel. For many years, it has been a favorite subject of mine. My all-time favorite time travel novel is Jack Finney’s 1970 illustrated novel, Time and Again. If you are a time travel fan and have not read this book, I would highly recommend giving it a try. Finney followed up with From Time to Time in 1995, and while it is a good read, it does not surpass Time and Again in my opinion.

Time travel novels cover a wide range of storylines. Some are alternate histories like Stephen King’s novel, 11/22/63. There are mysteries, romance, historical fiction – there is a time travel novel out there for almost every genre. Even James Lee Burke has a hint of time travel in his newest novel, A Private Cathedral. There are many fans of Diane Gabaldon’s time-traveling series, better known as Outlander. If you are awaiting the next installment, perhaps you missed the 2017 Seven Stones to Stand or Fall, which is a collection of Outlander fiction. A personal recommendation: If you like the Outlander series, try The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer. It is a novel about a neurosurgeon that time travels to Italy in 1347 during the time of the plague. 

Looking for something new to read that is different from your normal selection? Already a fan of time travel novels but do not know how to find another one? Click on the link below to our card catalog that lists 235 novels of time travel fiction. And if you happen to pick Jack Finney’s Time and Again, check back with me after you are finished. My sister and I always disagreed about the ending. You will know what I mean if you read the book. Happy reading!

CMRLS Adult Time Travel Fiction

Thursday, October 8

October Events at the Morton Library


      We are ready for Halloween at the Morton Library!  Be sure to come by on Oct 30th for Trick or Treating.  Come by anytime to pick up your treat bag.

     We also have fun stories and crafts online that you can make at home. There is something for all ages, even adults! We may not be able to have events in the library yet but there is plenty to do online, including resources to help you with your homework, school projects or making a new resume. Check out all of these ideas at CMRLS.LIB.MS.US. 

      We also have some fun Teen events going on for Teentober this month.

We have a  write and illustrate your own Halloween Graphic Novel contest  (pg13 rated please) and Write your own Scary Halloween story. The best of each category will win a small prize. Plus we are having an art contest to re-design our Acorn Children's library cards. You must be between 5-18 years old. Come by the library to pick up a registration form for this contest. The winner will win a $50 gift card!


Wednesday, September 30

Crickets: The Plaguing Sound of Tuesday Night

Crickets - urban slang for absolute stillness, complete quiet, the sound of silence. Exactly how one would imagine life inside a library with librarians shushing the few whispers that make it to the desk - except at the Forest Public Library on a Tuesday night. Post-Covid Tuesday night at the library is certainly not what it used to be. This past Tuesday night, very few patrons visited the library between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Crickets.

Because of its designation as late night at the library, Tuesday night was always programming night. Many of the programs were scheduled before closing; however, on very special nights, programs were scheduled after closing. These Tuesday night programs were called BACK DOOR EVENTS. Over a period of three years, the entertaining events became the most well-attended programs at the library.

BACK DOOR EVENTS were never still or quiet. Months of planning went into each program, which usually included a menu of food to fit the occasion. If the event was a book signing with an author from the Mississippi Delta, then the menu included Delta Grind grits, a magnolia cake from a local baker, and southern-fried catfish. If the event celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, local Latino patrons served up homemade tamales, while children painted corn husks with spices and sang a traditional pinata song. And if the event celebrated the premiere of the Outlander television series, the menu included authentic Scottish fare of bannocks, shepherd's pie, and jam tarts.

Teens remember Tuesday nights for the Halloween BACK DOOR EVENTS when a corpse lay prostrate on a table filled with edible hearts, lungs, and red velvet cinnamon-roll intestines to be consumed by ghoulish protagonists from horror stories. They might eat crickets, but no one was ever quiet. These teens also rejected the clawingly sweet sentiments of Valentine's Day with a Love Bites program where sarcasm and saltiness were served up with heartbreak cookies and fries not guys! Of course, if someone asked the teens which menu stood out in their minds, it was the salute to Black History Month with pulled pork and collard green eggrolls and cornbread salad. 

Life at the library was definitely festive on Tuesday nights, whether it was celebrating St. Patrick's Day, Fourth of July, Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving with Friends, or a Camino Island Christmas with Bruce Cable bow ties. Party-goers showed their books in exchange for Mardi Gras beads, donned their Scottish plaids while listening to live bagpipes, and visited their favorite John Grisham island while reading ONE BOOK. The highlight of every BACK DOOR EVENT was food - from New Orleans etouffee to coastal crab cakes. The sound of every event was a chorus of mirth.

Now, it's just crickets. Absolute silence. Complete quiet. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in The Great GatsbyLife starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. As cooler weather indicates the change of yet another season and as libraries continue to plan virtual programs, some patrons wonder if life will ever start all over again. Some wonder if they will ever share lively conversations over delicious meals, or meet the candidates in person, or sing and dance with a live band. Some wonder if they will hear the squeal of children when the pinata bursts and everyone is scrambling on the floor for candy. Most wonder how long it will be until the next BACK DOOR EVENT.

For now, thanks to a pandemic, there is the plaguing sound of Tuesday night, which is actually no sound. Maybe a library is supposed to be quiet after all; just not this one.

Tuesday, September 8

Virtual Schooling Tips


You made the choice to virtual school your kids. Things are going okay but you have questions about how things are going. Here is a list of some ideas a teacher posted to help you feel a little more secure.

Tips for families doing virtual school:

1. Sit with your child a few times and learn the program. A lot of programs allow a child to answer twice. However, the first answer is what is counted for their grade. Often children do not understand this and so worry less about their first answer.

2. Click on all the buttons. Do this both in student and parent logins. Learn where they can see their grade. Learn where they can see their progress. It is important that they know how much they need to do a day to finish on time. Also, can you as a parent see their class syllabus or curriculum? This will let you know what they have worked on and what they will be working on.

3. Make sure they write some every day. Buy a workbook like Brain Quest (this one is really good for following standards by grade). Or have a notebook and give them a writing topic. Make sure they remember how to use a pencil.

4. Encourage them to read EVERY day. Make sure they have print outside of their computer time. Get a library card. Let your librarian help you find grade-level and books of interest to encourage reading. Set up goals for how many minutes and how many books read. Celebrate those goals.

5. Early readers have sight words to learn, make flashcards, and put them in a folder. Have a words I know side and the words I’m learning side. Help your child review these sight words regularly.

Whether virtual school, regular school, or homeschool, a key to success is for you to stay involved. Your child will be blessed and so might you.

Wednesday, August 26

Where to Donate Books during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Books can sometimes feel like our most valuable of treasures; their ability to transport, inform, and instruct can feel magical. If you are the type of person who is currently reading a blog post on a library website, I don’t think I have to make too strong a case about the feelings that books inspire.


Because of those feelings, it is understandable that we feel guilty when we run out of space in our lives or our shelves for ALL the books we would ideally like to keep. Therefore, instead of tossing our old books in the dumpster or leaving them in a box on the curb, we attempt to share the joy that these books have provided to us (or a loved one).


Here at the Flowood library, we have received MANY calls recently asking whether we are accepting book donations at this time. Unfortunately, due to the current CMRLS policy during this pandemic, we are unable to accept donations right now. Although we surely will in the future again, it is impossible to know exactly when that will be.


In the meantime, I have researched some options if you need to downsize your book collection for the foreseeable future. Wherever you decide to take your donations, please DO make sure that any books you want to donate are in good condition. A couple years ago, I stored my Harry Potter hardbacks in a place where the Mississippi heat and humidity got to them, growing mold and bending the cover. It bummed me out, but I had to throw them away, because nobody wanted to read those books! Anyway, here are some of your options.


  1. Goodwill - I called the Goodwill Center at the Crossgate Shopping Center in Pearl, and the associate I spoke to said they are accepting books. The address is 5708 Highway 80 East in Pearl, and the hours are 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. You might still want to consider calling ahead 601-664-3424.


  1. Salvation Army Family Store - The Salvation Army Store is accepting books at this time. They request no textbooks nor encyclopedias be donated. The address is 110 Presto Lane, Jackson, MS, 39206. The donation hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Please call 601-982-4881 to schedule an appointment.


  1. Big House Books - Big House Books is an organization that sends free books to Mississippians in prison and juvenile correction that request them. While they are not accepting general donations, they are currently looking for paperback copies of “dictionaries, urban fiction, CDL manuals, trade learning, GED manuals, James Patterson books, and John Grisham books.” E-mail to donate if you have any books that fit this description.


  1. Little Free Libraries - You may have probably seen a little free library before. They are book donation boxes in publicly accessible areas where you can leave and/or take books. There is a helpful (although incomplete map) in the Little Free Library Website link below, listing several in Brandon, one in Mize, and plenty in Jackson. Our friend and former librarian Lisa B. tipped me off that there is a Little Free Library in Winner’s Circle Park (across from the Flowood Library) next to the vending machines, and one on Lakeview Drive, not too far from Oakdale Elementary.


For more information, please visit these websites:


Wednesday, August 19

Addicted to Love

"Your lights are on, but you're not home. Your mind is not your own. 
Your heart sweats, your body shakes. Another kiss is what it takes.
You can't sleep, you can't eat. There's no doubt, you're in deep. 
Your throat is tight, you can't breathe. Another kiss is all you need.

You like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh yeah.
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough.
You know, you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love."
Addicted to Love, lyrics by Robert Allan Palmer

August is Romance Awareness Month, and readers of romance novels are addicted to love! Romance novels are big business, according to the Romance Writers of America website. The romance fiction genre is worth 1.08 billion dollars a year - a third larger than the inspirational book industry and the size of the mystery genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined. Romance novels are considered "the beating heart" - no pun intended - of the publishing industry and the top revenue-generating literary category in the U.S. Even as the publishing industry as a whole has struggled, especially during the digital age, the romance genre has thrived. In the U.K. alone, a romantic novel is purchased every two seconds. 

And yet, romance novels are not winning any major literary awards. Even though they regularly appear at the top of the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller lists, the romance novel has long been the target of literary snobbery and ridiculed as a less worthy genre by its critics. As a librarian who has read hundreds of romance novels, addressing this criticism will hopefully bring greater awareness during a month dedicated to romance.

According to Romance Writers of America, romance novels have a formula that consists of two basic elements: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. The focus of the central love story centers around two individuals falling in love, facing struggles and conflicts, and resolving or overcoming those conflicts before the final page. According to the website, "romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality - ranging from sweet to extremely hot." The CMRLS library collections include various romance novel genres, series, and single-titles. The sub-genres range from Inspirational to Erotic, from Historical to Contemporary, from Paranormal to Suspense. Even the subgenres have divisions. Historical novels alone cover periods of time such as Medieval, Georgian, Edwardian, Colonial, and wartime eras. Despite the variety, romance novels are considered by a more literary crowd as formulaic fluff. Critics of the genre have one major complaint: romance novels are not realistic. Champions of the genre often argue that hunger is not a game and the dead do not walk; however, when it comes to the lowly love story, no arguments satisfy the literary elite.

A personal favorite, the Regency romance novel is a sub-genre set during the British Regency or early 19th century. Regency romances are a distinct genre with their own idealistic and chivalrous plots, along with suitable period customs, conduct, and conventions. Often, readers who are addicted to this genre appreciate the extensive research, hierarchy groundwork, and descriptive imagery that elevates the historical setting and family pedigree. But, mostly, they just love the storyline. The hero starts out as tormented or misunderstood, but always as handsome as Apollo. Even though they might be of different stations, the heroine is the one person who makes his life complete. After a proposal that includes a confession of undying love and life-long fidelity, readers are treated to the infamous epilogue.

Actually, there is a not-so-literary and not-so-nice term for readers who are addicted to the epilogue at the end of a romance novel. These readers are epilogue junkies, and they never recover. No matter how much one is tempted otherwise, the reader must wait until the very end for a well-written epilogue. Afterward, readers can close the romance novel, hold the book close to their heart, and smile for a few minutes - thoroughly smitten, captivated, charmed, and entranced. In a Covid-19 world of elections, protests, and uncertainty, the unfailing surety of the epilogue provides a much-needed fix...if only for a few, fleeting moments. Despite cardboard characters with no depth or shallow plots or even too-bizarre-to-believe happy endings, the romance reader always returns to the billion-dollar industry for another fix - aptly defined as a thing or activity that gives a person a feeling of euphoria or pleasure that is difficult to do without. 

"You can't eat, you can't sleep, there's no doubt you're in deep." What better month than Romance Awareness Month to be addicted to love.

Monday, August 10

Hope in Uncertain Times

In all my life, I have never had a personal experience with suicide…until last week. A dear patron that was a frequent visitor at my branch committed suicide. After the initial shock, I reflected on the two times I had interacted with the patron in the previous week. Should I have noticed something different? But reflection offered no clarity. The two times were like the hundreds of times before over the last 10 years, nothing out of the ordinary. It got me to thinking about how we keep our deepest thoughts and feelings buried many times and do not seek help or advice when we are in a not-so-good period of life, many times painting a perfect picture to the world and our friends.

The last five months have been tough on us all. It is not surprising that many are concerned. There has always been uncertainty, but it seems like today there is more uncertainty than most of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. Normally, we post to our blog about novels or events or other entertaining items, but today I want you to know we have resources if you are struggling in any way. Before I began writing this, I searched our card catalog and Freading for books we have available. An obvious subject search is “depression” or "grief," but I also found a tremendous number of resources by putting “hope” and “happiness” in the subject search. In Freading, I found by putting “hope” in the search box, it was possible to narrow the results by clicking on “self-help” or “health & fitness” to filter the results. There are a wide variety of printed resources available through our library system.

To those struggling, talk about it with someone. Sometimes just vocalizing our thoughts to someone helps, and we may find our struggle is their struggle, too. To those that know someone struggling, listen and be patient; don’t judge, criticize, or minimize their pain.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has some excellent information. Below is a link to an article on their website about emotional well-being during the COVID-19 crisis. There is information about coping during community unrest, depression, and numerous other topics.

Supporting Your Emotional Well-Being During the COVIID-19 Outbreak

We are not alone. We are all in this together. Let’s help each other. I will remain HOPEFUL.


Wednesday, July 29

Operation Haircut

It was a stakeout. No doubt about it. Several younger gentlemen were sitting in their POVs (Privately Owned Vehicles) watching a local business. They sat there and they waited. Patiently.

I parked my car and looked at the time. I couldn't believe it. It was 11:55 a.m. There was no line. The pathway was clear. I got out of my car, walked to the door, opened the door and walked inside.

Then there was an immediate slamming of doors behind me, a stampede and the patter of many feet. I quickly found myself standing in the front of a line at a local barber/stylist shop. I registered at the desk, met my stylist, sat down in a chair and proceeded to get my haircut.

"Clipper guard, Number 2," I said. "If you see any gray hair, please cut it."

Then I sat back. 15 minutes later it was done. I thanked the stylist, paid for the haircut and walked through a large group of younger men still waiting and waiting and waiting.

How I miss the good old days.

Since this COVID-19 pandemic began I have resolved that I'm going to learn something new. It would be a dangerous undertaking full of mortal peril. I was going to learn how to cut my own hair. It seemed like a good time for it.

As a librarian I had full access to all sorts of information at my fingertips. I ordered a new set of hair clippers online, and a new set of clipper guards. I would have these items as a backup to the hair clippers and clipper guards I already had. I would also have access to Clipper Guard #8.

Clipper guards offer a way to cut hair so that it is not too short. They range from Clipper Guard 1-8. If I want to cut my hair really close, I would use a Clipper Guard 1 or 2. If I want to have the luxury of making fewer mistakes, I would use a Clipper Guard #8 which would allow for longer hair.

I talked to a few people about hair cutting techniques. I watched several YouTube videos. The moment had come. I turned on the hair clippers.

I paused and looked at myself in the mirror. What's the worst thing that could happen?

If I messed up, I could always wear a hat.

I began cutting my hair a little at a time. The result was not too bad. It will get better with practice and think of all the money I will save on haircuts.

So, what has changed in your life since this COVID-19 pandemic began?

Have you learned anything new?