I’m Jennifer, a librarian in Minneapolis, MN. This site is a place for me to talk about the fascinating things I come across in the course of my own reading and conversations with friends. Expect links, book comments, blogs, and other good and fun things.
I work at an independent school in the Twin Cities (I work in the upper school, with grades 9-12). Over the years, I’ve used a number of tools to help encourage reading for pleasure, help faculty find resources and materials for projects, and to help me keep track of changes in the profession and technology world. This blog is a way for me to share some of that with others.
I’m a lifelong geek – though I’m far more interested in how people use technology than how the mechanical (or program) details work. I’ve used a computer since my parents got an Apple IIc in late 1984, and I’ve been on the web since slightly webpages could have some other background color than light gray. (To be precise, the fall of 1994, when I got to college.)
It took me a while to decide to be a librarian, though. In large part, that’s because I was trying to decide if I wanted to do something different from my family. (My father was a theatre professor, author, and performer, my mother worked at our local library and considered getting her MLIS, my sister is a library science professor at the University of Wisconsin, and my brother is a theatre critic and freelance writer.)
What do I read?
It’s been described as “anything that sits still long enough”, which isn’t far from the truth – I read widely and extensively. (And quickly, which helps at times – reading quickly is actually how my parents met, so it runs in the family.) My pleasure reading is split pretty evenly between various kinds of lighter non-fiction and a number of genre works.
In non-fiction, I’m particularly fond of what are called microhistories – books focusing on a particular topic, like salt or color or cod or honey or chocolate. I’m also really fond of narrative non-fiction – books that tell the story of something, or follow a group of people through a particular experience or event – whether that’s climbing Everest, deep-water diving to discover a lost submarine from World War II, or some historical event, like John Snow’s experiments with the water pump in the London cholera epidemic of 1854.
In fiction, I read a lot of genre work, as I said – fantasy, science fiction, other speculative fiction, and mysteries. In the speculative fiction realm, I read for character and setting far more than plot. I particularly enjoy urban fantasy that explores the numinous world in a modern setting – works like Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks or Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (both writers with strong Minneapolis ties), and much of Charles de Lint’s work.
In mysteries, I’ve got a great fondness for historical mysteries – something that lets me explore the world of the story, at the same time as an interesting story and events. Laurie King’s Mary Russell books are particular favorites, as are Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books (both are set in and after World War I.) I’ve long loved the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series (set in the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly around Egyptian archaeological explorations. And I recently discovered Alan Gordon’s Fool’s Guild series, which combine my beloved medieval period with a number of fascinating locations (Constantinople, various French cities, Denmark, and so on.)
A lot of my non-work time goes to my religious life, which I mostly keep distinct from my professional life. Other than that, particular interests include spinning (turning fiber into yarn), playing the folk harp, and spending time online.
I’ve been on the ‘Net since I got to college in 1994, and have a particular interest in how people use technology to connect in deeper and meaningful ways. Not that I don’t have fun, too – I’m a very casual World of Warcraft player, in part to keep up with friends on the East Coast I don’t get to see in person very often.