Because I’m a librarian at a research university, authors and publishers often email me to promote their books… and article collections… and digital archives… and films… and even chapbooks of poetry or local history (!).
I also get lists of new books from our vendors, and catalogs from academic publishers. I see what other librarians at top universities are buying through our shared purchasing platform. I look at the book stalls at academic conferences, and of course I see books mentioned around the web or in my other reading.
There’s a lot out there. By some estimates, Americans publish a million books each year; 2/3 are self-published. 81% of Americans would like to write a book. Large academic presses publish around 15,000 academic monographs each year, and that doesn’t count smaller, international, or trade presses. I only have a few hours a week to spend building a collection… and if I’m looking to catch a book I missed, well, over 134 million books have been published since printing began.
This means that even if your book is brilliant and a great fit for my library, there’s no guarantee (more…)
I’ve been in Kazakhstan for the past two weeks on an exchange program, but just realized some friends don’t know much about it. Below, I’ve listed a few key facts you might store in your head and share with others:
It’s an enormous land.
Think of the world’s ten largest countries.
Is Kazakhstan on your list?
It should be. It’s the ninth largest country in the world. Its borders trace the heart of Asia, including Soviet gulags on the Siberian steppe, pine forests on the Chinese border, desert ruins and lush farmlands along the Silk Road, and Sufi mystics who once lived in caves along the almost dried-up Aral Sea.
Borat wasn’t filmed here.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s raunchy comedy was a fantasy filmed in Romania and America—and isn’t about Kazakhstan.
Instead, watch the funny coming-of-age movie Tulpan, or the warrior movie Myn Bala for free on Amazon Prime. Babies is on Netflix. It’s technically set in nearby Mongolia but looks just like a yurt with Kazakh babies.
Or… watch Rag’N’Bone Man’s new music video, shot in Kazakhstan:
Last week, a few friends gathered for games over pizza, and they ended up playing Puerto Rico, a board game in which each (in this case) white male player uses brown “colonist” pieces to amass wealth and take over an indigenous island.
I could watch one guy’s stomach turn in dismay. So many games have us mastering others (as in this great piece on New Zealand), but few make it so clear.
But other serious games have us enter into messy experiences to better empathize or change things for the better. Perhaps you’ve worked with friends to save the world from a Pandemic, or survived the Oregon Trail even after you’ve eaten all your buffalo and lost a wagon axle plus your smallest child. (more…)
Oddly enough, I started writing about bucket lists… and ended up exploring my thoughts on wills. So here we are. I suppose I felt I had to set bucket lists in the context of our wills, because I see both as a snapshot of our hopes and desires at a moment in time.
I’d like to see the world, we say, but also to give money to Jake and his donut shop. I want to make sure I have money in retirement, but I also want to go snorkeling in the Bahamas. Probably I’ll donate my house to the animal shelter, but what about petting a (very well-fed, very sleepy) crocodile in Africa first?
A will may be a way of passing on what we love to those we love… but a bucket list is a way of (more…)
Little Women is a Civil War-era novel of close friendship among four sisters, and in one of the more vivid scenes, Amy worries about her dying sister while trying to please her wealthy aunt… and resolves this tension around money, life, and death by writing her own will.
I could do that!, thought childhood me, when I first read the story.
So I pulled out my flowered stationery and wrote a list of everything I owned: several books, two American Girl dolls, $100 in the bank, and a small collection of music boxes. I willed each one to my friends, siblings, or parents… who I’m sure would have appreciated the return on investment in the form of a rotating ballerina.
But unless you stand to directly inherit a fortune (more…)
And when Amos gets home in half an hour, he’d find our laundry undone, our dishes undone, our bed unmade, our sink and counters dirty, the letters to his mum unwritten, his finances unplanned, his flights unbooked, and no one ready to listen as he unwinds from his day.
(And yes, this second shift of work still falls to women, as much as Amos and I try to share the load.)
I’ve been interested in genealogy ever since a childhood 4-H project, where I carefully wrote each ancestor’s name above a colored rhinestone on a poster.
And even now, I enjoy exploring the details of historical records, asking for stories, and helping others find out more about their families.
But some of the best resources cost quite a bit. Below are places to start searching, and ways to do so affordably.
Start by asking questions.
Before searching online, you’ll want to map out your family, including the names, locations, and important dates of people living before 1940. Once you get that far back, it’s easier to find public records that could help you link people together. (more…)