Rare Books in NON-ARL Libraries: THE SURVEY

Colleagues!

Do you work with rare books at a library that is NOT a member of the Association for Research Libraries? Please consider completing this survey about your experiences!

CONTEXT: Remember that Crowdsourced List of libraries that work with rare books that are not members of the Association of Research Libraries? It’s time to turn that list into action! If you added your library to the list, please consider completing the survey. Get counted!

Thank you.

 

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Book review: Hunger by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyHunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings for rape and body issues, both of which are presented in a straightforward but not euphemistic manner from the point of view of the person going through them.

This was a difficult book to get through because it is not comfortable (see content warnings above) but if you are ready to be uncomfortable, this is a book that can crack you open emotionally. How the reader fills in the cracks is up to them; part of the goal of this text is to force us literarily through that same process that Gay went through herself. This was a deeply visceral experience, both in the smooth, straightforward writing, and the reading of the text by the author in the audiobook edition.

I’ve enjoyed Roxane Gay’s other work, and I follow her on Twitter, so I had some notion of what I was in for. This volume is much less tongue-in-cheek and much more personal than Bad Feminist was. It is a great example of deeply affective writing that is deceptive in its perceived simplicity. It’s NOT simple in any way, shape, or form. This kind of writing comes from deep familiarity with both the form and function of language, and Roxane Gay is a master of it.

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Where to find me at WorldCon

WorldCon Approaches! Here is my panel schedule.

Friday August 17, 2018

10:00AM

Saturday August 18, 2018

11:00AM
1:00PM

Sunday August 19, 2018

11:00AM
1:00PM
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Book review: Reading, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book about psychological processes and how they work, specifically how we think, and the difference between “instinct” and “gut reaction” and “actual thinky thinking involving things like stopping to focus on math” (these are my terms–the author referred to them as systems 1 and 2 respectively).

One of the big issues I had with this book was that it emphasized, over and over, that more often than not, algorithms made objectively better choices in the aggregate than individual humans did in most choice-based scenarios. This was especially interesting to me because I had just finished Algorithms of Oppression, which talks about how systemic racism gets baked into algorithms as they are built. This book more or less ignores that, other than pointing out in passing (really handwaving) that many of the examples they use are predicated on dealing with people who are not socially or economically disadvantaged in some way.

Interesting book, I can see why it was popular with the evidence-based-decisionmaking folks, and I mostly finished it so that I’d have a better understanding of where they were coming from, and so that I’d build better algorithms/ assessment methods/arguments when decisionmaking that better account for systemic biases.

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Ep 171 – A Perfect Anniversary Match

New Verity!

VerityPodcast.com

It’s time for another “perfect match”! Join Erika, Katrina, and Tansy as we dig into Kat’s excellent choices: “The Five Doctors” and “The Day of the Doctor”. That pairing seems so obvious now that Kat pointed it out! We delve into the function of anniversary specials and multi-Doctor stories and take a look at how they work both then and now.

What do you think about these two stories? Any echoes we didn’t have time to mention that you want to make sure get some love? Tell us in the comments!

^E

Also covered:

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Book review: Managing Humans by Michael Lopp

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering ManagerManaging Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Michael Lopp

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read this on the recommendation of Kevin Sonney from the Productivity Alchemy podcast.

Very solid approach to laying out management skills and tricks for people who are from technical/engineering backgrounds. I don’t know that I actually found it that biting or humorous, but the simple explanations of why managers and processes are :necessary: for organizations larger than 20 people and the approaches to managing the information that managers have to be a conduit for (in multiple directions) was certainly useful.

If you’re a structural thinker/problem solver who is new to management, this might be very useful. If you’re already pretty strong in the people skills area, it may be less useful directly, but indirectly provides an insight to how your more structural/problem solving folks may view you and your work.

Also, it provided some descriptive frameworks for management/meeting techniques that I’ve actually seen my (quite effective) boss use, both in one-on-one and group meetings. I’m stealing some of them.

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Book review: After the Gold by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

After the GoldAfter the Gold by Erin McRae

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another stellar romance from McRae & Maltese. I ripped through this in a day, rooting hard for both characters the whole damned time.

Katie & Brendan have the kind of deep trust that pair skaters who routinely spend time physically close while having knives on their feet need to have. They’ve been partnered for over a decade, working day in and day out, and they have achieved their dreams: they just won an Olympic Gold medal.

They’ve had chemistry for years, but the last ill-fated attempt to be together romantically led to losing hard in competition. They’ve dated other people (Katie is explicitly bi), but those relationships never :quite: work.

They are about to announce their retirement from competition.

The things that drove their success — including Katie’s anxiety (which comes out in Olympic level perfectionism), and their Unrequited Sexual Tension on the ice — now threaten to overwhelm both of them as they figure out what comes next. After literally winning, and achieving the thing they’d spent their lives working towards.

They have to figure out who they are now, because everything they know about themselves is about to change completely. What happens once you WIN?

So this is a story where two people who know each other incredibly well have to figure out who they are — and what they want — as they become the newest version of themselves.

Things I loved about this:

Katie’s anxiety is just a fact of life, and there’s lots of examples of both she and Brendan using lots of coping mechanisms (both healthy and otherwise) that they have developed together to keep them functional as a team.

There is not a single moment where you doubt that Brendan has Katie’s back, but his massive skill at giving her space and time to think when she really needs it, and his deep commitment to articulating things beyond their shared shorthand when it’s important are key to making him a great hero. He works his ass off to show her who he is, and to communicate his feelings, without falling prey to a lot of toxic crap.

Katie also has Brendan’s back, and she trusts him more than anyone. The problem is really that she doesn’t trust herself– or the version of him that lives in her head, that hasn’t quite squared up with the person standing before her. And then she has to believe that she deserves to be happy. With him.

Highly recommended contemporary romance.

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Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this. Murderbot is a security AI for an expedition trip that is going horribly, horribly wrong. Come for the planetary exploration, stay for the wry wit of the AI that hates interacting with humans, wants to be free, wants the humans it has been assigned to to be safe, and is sighing about the whole thing.

Really, it’s as if Marvin the Depressed Robot from Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a trained serial killer who just wants desperately to be left alone to its own devices and watch some anime.

You’re welcome.

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Book review: The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

The Only Harmless Great ThingThe Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fictionalized riff on the execution of Topsy the Elephant and the Radium Girls. In which the Radium girls also include sentient elephants with their own collective song-based memory and an ASL-like mechanism using trunks to communicate with humans, most of which have never bothered to notice that the elephants are a) perfectly capable of communicating and b) see through the human bullshit.

Strongly written, touching tale of the horrors that humans wreak upon sentient species, both human and otherwise, across the planet, in pursuit of money.

In other words, Bo Bolander wrote this, and you should read it.

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Book review: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Check out The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars is a bit of a departure for Mary Robinette Kowal, who is better known in long form for her historical fiction with fantasy elements. This is a science fiction novel, set in the 1950s, positing a space race that is accelerated by a meteor hitting just outside of Washington D.C. It is set in the same universe as her Lady Astronaut novelette (it is, in fact, a prequel).

Although this was written before Hidden Figures, readers of that book will likely enjoy this one. Elma York works as a calculator for this universe’s version of NASA. She has a PhD and served as a WASP pilot; her husband, Nathaniel, is the chief engineer for the same agency.

Elma is smart, competent, and has an anxiety disorder. This version of the 1950s is still very much grounded in our universe, and Elma and her friends and colleagues are up against a lot of the same issues, to varying degrees, of being erased. Systemic sexism and racism and ableism are present in this universe, and they are also confronted using a variety of methods. This novel lays out the struggle of being simultaneously overly qualified and dismissed due to bias pretty well, on multiple vectors.

It’s also a story about friendships and relationships, and how the kindnesses we show to one another matter. So do the choices we make, the ways we inspire, and the way we view the world.

Fans of Kowal’s other work will still find a loving, supportive central relationship (with a LOT of rocketry puns), a strong, whole, complicated main character who continues to work towards being her best self, and really well executed action scenes.

Highly recommended!

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