Cocky author writes a book #cbr6

The book is hard to write about without giving away some of the plot. Because that is the main attraction of the book, I’ll try not to reveal much. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was written by Joël Dicker, a Swiss writer, and won the 2012 Grand Prix du Roman de l’Academie Francaise. The French apparently LOVE this book. I thought it was fine when reading, but after a week of thinking about it … well…9780143126683_custom-eefd5935dbbad9ac94e138162eb68bde28d24bcb-s6-c30

Two stories are interwoven throughout the book. The first is a young successful author’s attempt to write his second great novel. While he’s trying to write and consistently failing he visits an old college professor and friend in a small New England town to help him “find his story”. In the meantime, his friend becomes the primary suspect in a decades old murder after a young woman’s bones are found in his yard (they are found while digging up an area for some bushes, which made me wonder how far you have to dig in the ground for bushes, but whatever). This brings in the second story of the the fifteen year old girl’s disappearance and, surprise!, her statutory rape-tinged romance with the author’s friend (hello, pedobear!). The author decides to help his former professor, because obviously he isn’t guilty if he was in love with the 15 year old, and in the process ends up writing his next great novel based on the case.

The book is definitely a decent mystery with a thousand twists and turns in the plot. The twists aren’t that hard to see coming though, and you realize that basically everyone in this small New England town is guilty of something, everything. It reminded me so much of some film or TV show I’ve seen where basically everyone ends up trying to kill a guy who is already dead (If you can think of what the show is, let me know). There are actual clues to what is happening in the story, which is kind of clever, but made me think I was making up a different story in my head while I was reading (keep a close eye on the mother).

In the US its translation has been getting mixed reviews. On Goodreads people seem to either LOVE IT or HATE IT. Admittedly, there were two things about this book I started to hate. First he begins his chapters with cliched writing advice (from the professor to the author), most of which sounds like it came from the pages of The Artist’s Way (writing is like boxing and more blah, blah, blah). Also, for whatever reason Dicker sets the novel during the 2008 Presidential primaries. I can’t really understand why except that he wants characters to spout off random inane political comments. Purpose? Maybe to show that this is a truly American novel. Or to make it more realistic? I did hear a lot of inane political commentary in that period. Anyway, it just seems misplaced and a waste of words.

But in the end, I thought the book was fine. Despite the main character’s over the top confidence in his abilities and tendency to mansplain to everyone (even male cops), I enjoyed the story. It is a good page-turner, but at the end of the day so are Dan Brown’s books (which is why I curse myself the entire time I’m greedily reading those dumb dumb books). And at least Dan Brown doesn’t have the pretension of being, you know, award-winning literature.

Serena Serena

Serena is one scary, scary woman. serena

I loved Serena by Ron Rash except on the nights after binge reading when I woke up from nightmares about jaguars and eagles and death. Yeah, not so much fun that. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is a brutal story, but not one that feels gratuitous like Game of Thrones can at times (After watching the Red Wedding I felt completely punk’d, but that’s a story for another day). It is a tragedy in the Shakespearean sense and, beyond its literary allusions, it is a gripping story.

Set in the Depression era North Carolina mountains, it is the story of a timber empire led by Serena and her new husband, Pemberton, and their machinations to become the most powerful (and frightening) couple in the forest. In so doing they compete with interests that would like to preserve the forests, as well as the surrounding impoverished community that is simultaneously beholden to the Pembertons for income and repulsed by their brutality. From the literary angle, there is a Greek chorus timber crew that comments on the action throughout while simultaneously trying to survive under horrific conditions (cold, falling limbs, death) where nature is an adversary and rarely a friend.

While it is almost impossible (for me at least) to relate to Serena, her husband is a much more sympathetic character. When he attempts to help his illegitimate child, he unfortunately stirs the ire of Serena, which leads the plot to its closing. At the same time that I can’t relate to her as a character, I absolutely loved reading this book and count it as one of my recent favorites. I can’t image Jennifer Lawrence as Serena in the upcoming film, but I will definitely be one of the first to see it. Here’s hoping it’s as good as the book.

The Essentials on #day100

I’ve been working on a class about data management plans and part of our assignment was to watch this video by Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism.*

While I know what he saying is truth, it was unsettling to hear it right now. I’ve been batting around some possible commitments and trying to figure out what is going to get a NO! So it was pretty timely to watch for that reason even if it threw me off a bit.

In addition it was timely because today I just finished #100happydays. If you are reading this post, I’m sure you know the meme. I just finished posting pictures for 100 days of things that made me happy. After watching the McKeown video, I realized that 100 happy days is a bit like the essential(ist?) approach. All of my posts were pictures of things things that I require for a good life. You can definitely see some themes: my husband, my family and friends, our cats, food, travel, government documents**, books, reading, students and teaching with some coffee thrown in. These are the essentials, the things that should get my time and attention. Without them, life is less happy.

So McKeown threw me for a loop because of the timing of his message. It is a good reminder though to remember what is necessary to life and what … well … can just get a NO. Now back to pondering those commitments.

* The connection to data management plans is a bit convoluted, but does it really matter?

** Not sure if it was so much the government documents as the problem solving aspects of working with a large project. I do love a good problem/project!

#100happydays and kyle's forehead

#100happydays and kyle’s forehead

Oh and for good measure, here’s a taste of my happy …


#100happydays and cats!

government documents and nuclear fallout #alaac14

I created a tumblr called A Docs Life to feature some of the fun, ridiculous, or cool government documents we have at the University of NC at Greensboro’s University Libraries. You should check it out.

Today I have a guest post from a display created by Kalan Davis at the Chester Fritz Library at the University of North Dakota. The display gives great advice on how to survive a nuclear fallout. Important information people!

Cardboard is great protection from radiation!

Cardboard is great protection from radiation!


yes I am going to be working in Vegas…promise. #alaac14 #alatt

Whichever wonderful soul decided to have ALA in Vegas gets mad props from me. I’ve never been, but that’s just it … I’ve never been!  Super excited. Want to travel now.

I haven’t been doing these posts lately, but I want to prove to my co-workers and family that I will be working … some :)  So here is my ALA schedule. I’ve reined my ambitious self in quite a bit this year. It will be gloriously low key compared to every other ALA. But if you know of something I should attend, let me know.

Thursday – Fly in and play … I mean network. Bar crawl while networking. Will get lots of business cards. ;)


  • 1 pm: GODORT Steering – I’m a co-chair of the GODORT Education Committee (Which recently put on this great webinar about sustainability and the government. You should check it out. Very informative.) Gotta go be a boss.
  • 3 pm: Emerging Leaders poster sessionCheck out these new awesome leaders!
  • 5ish pm: Conference kick off in the exhibit hall
  • 6 pm: GODORT social at Margaritaville (no joke. i’m going to order a margarita. just watch me.)



Monday – Going to the Hoover Dam!

Tuesday – fly out!

It is going to be awesome. What’s your ALA like?

Lots of Learning Part 1: Docs Librarians Keeping It Real

In the summer months I have more time for continuing education (and travel!) and have been attending a few meetings, conferences, and workshops. In the interest of sharing, I’m going to post some notes from the big ones. Enjoy!

On Friday, June 13 (scary), I attended the NCLA Government Resources Section’s annual workshop and business meeting. This is the group that puts on the most excellent webinar series ever! Check it! It was informative and a great opportunity to see some docs people from around the state.

FDLP Update

North Carolina’s Regional Depository librarian, Beth Rowe from UNC Chapel Hill gave an update on the happenings at the GPO. And oh those kids are getting a bit cray. At the Depository Library Council the GPO announced a National Plan for the Future of the FDLP. It is not an official document but more like a vision. You can read more about it here. Those slides go into quite a bit of detail. The highlights are first that the name FDLP will be changed to Federal Information Access Library Program. In addition besides regional and selective depositories, we will also have Affiliated Federal Access Libraries, which will be small libraries with under 10,000 documents. These are just some highlights. More information can be found in the document and a lot more is to come. There isn’t a timeline yet for implementation because the GPO is gathering comments and suggestions during the summer conferences. Let them know your thoughts!

State Documents Update

Jennifer and Denise from the State Library’s Government Documents Clearinghouse provided a lot of information. Again here are some highlights. An exciting addition to their site is a research guides page. The NC session laws page is especially nice. Another really cool project is the Symphony Stories. These are digitized programs back to 1947 from the NCS Kids Young People’s Concerts. They are also working on digitizing several serials like Wildlife in NC. Pretty cool stuff.

The NC agencies aren’t the best about sending their documents to the clearinghouse, so Denise Jones is the person tasked to acquire information and documents from state agencies. She is pretty active in that process. Next year she will be targeting the community colleges in NC for documents acquisitions.

Phil McDaniel – Online Mapping Made Easy

McDaniel from UNC Chapel Hill talked about two platforms for quick and easy data mapping: ArcGIS Online through ESRI and Google Fusion. ESRI primarily has a subscription account, but you can do basic mapping for free through ArcGIS online, while Fusion tables is also free but doesn’t benefit from ESRI’s map catalog. The cool thing about Fusion is that you don’t need latitude and longitude coordinates for your data as the program looks for geography within your table. Of the two Fusion has the most promise for my work, but it will take some playing around. Summer project! His materials are available to download from Dropbox.

NC Open Government Coalition

This was a fun session on the NC Open Government Coalition’s work. This coalition includes NGOs, local governments, universities and more (NCLA!) that are interested in open government and advocating for best practices in government transparency. The Director Jonathan Jones talked about NCGS 132-1 the law that defines public records and discussed some of the exemptions to the law and why those documents might be exempt. It was a great discussion and I encourage you take a look at their materials. You can connect with them through facebook and they have an app.  You can also email or call their hotline ( / 336-278-5506).