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.