Love Letters

Dear Readers of the Wheelock College Library Blog,

Have you ever written a love letter . . . be it a note passed before gym class, a hand-written card picked just for that special someone, or a double-spaced, proofread, edited piece of perfection that expresses your thoughts just so?  I believe in the power of mail, particularly the variety on which you put a stamp, but electronic can be equally meaningful.  The entries I write here on this blog are my love letters to books; if someone picks up a book I recommended and feels something, my letter would have done its job.

Here listed for you are a few of my favorite epistolary novels, unscientifically chosen and in no particular order.

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Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:  Evil is real and its employees are legion.  Wormwood, a younger demon recently under such employ of Lucifer, receives advice from elder demon Screwtape about how to best torment Wormwood’s assigned human.  Lewis appeals to readers regardless of their beliefs; the idea of temptation, fall, and redemption are explored on a very human level.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker:  Letters also reveal the nature of good and evil in Alice Walker’s classic, though the tormenters in this novel are very much human.  Protagonist Celie writes first to God and then to her sister, about pain, sorrow, joy and hard-won triumph. Also available as an e-book!

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira:  This contemporary young adult novel begins with a school assignment: write a letter to a dead person.  Laurel picks Kurt Cobain because her late sister May loved him.  Laurel, inspired by the assignment, keeps writing letters to other famous people gone too soon.  Through Laurel’s letters, the reader moves with her from grief to the truth of her experience.

Why we Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman:  This book is written in letters, but it is really a book about a box.  Min collected all of the items that defined the moments of her relationship with Ed.  He dumps her, and so she dumps the box, along with her thoughts about its contents, on Ed’s porch.  Though heartbreak is fresh, there is a post script that suggest the hope of a new love.

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary:  Also a book about a school assignment, Leigh Botts writes to his favorite author over the course of several years, later keeping a diary of his thoughts rather than sending them.  In writing to Mr. Henshaw (both real and imagined), Leigh comes to terms with his parents’ divorce, a school lunch thief, and his own emerging desire to be a writer.  Leigh’s voice is pitch- perfect for a little boy, but appeals to anyone who has been forced to write to someone else, only to find him or herself.

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These five books are my favorite epistolary stories because they demonstrate how personal storytelling affects not just the reader, but the writer as well.  Letters start in one place and end in another; a good story takes the reader along for the ride.  These stories show love, lost love, despair, hope.  So often the movement from one to the other is not linear, rather the good and the bad are jumbled up together.  Clean lines are erased and roughly drawn, not unlike the pencil and eraser markings of a note from a friend.

Sincerely,

Adrienne

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Introducing Charles Owen

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Another new face at the Library!

Name: Charles Owen

Job title: Administrative and Acquisitions Assistant

Location in Library: Floor 2

Tell us what you do in 50 words or less: I order all materials for the library, reconcile all invoices, maintain serials, and anything else that I am asked to do.  Most recently, I have been working on compiling data for the school’s accreditation.

Choose one service that your department provides that you most want the Wheelock community to be aware of:  We do allow people to suggest titles to buy and often we do end up buying them.  If you have a suggestion they are always considered and if they are not purchased they still help to shape our understanding of the community’s needs.

What is a typical work day like for you? Depends on the day.  Usually I am ordering something, whether it be office supplies or books.  I also tend to do invoices at least once a day.  Otherwise I do not know what I’ll do on any given day until I’ve checked my email and found some urgent message.

What is your favorite website?  Wikipedia

What is your favorite book in the Wheelock Library collection?  The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

When I’m not at work, you can find me… Studying or working on group projects for my Master’s, traveling, or planning a travel adventure.

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Introducing Joseph St.Germain

There is a new face at the Library!

 

Joe St. GermainName: Joseph St. Germain, but most people call me Joe.

Job title: Access Services Librarian

Location in Library: Floor 3 to the right of stairwell 2.

Tell us what you do in 50 words or less: I strive to make sure library resources and services are useful and available to Wheelock College students, faculty, and staff by crafting user-friendly policies and procedures, educating patrons about the library’s varied offerings, and developing a service oriented environment at the front desk.

Choose one service that your department provides that you most want the Wheelock community to be aware of: Course reserves are one service I hope both faculty and students are aware of. Placing items on reserve ensures that students can access essential course readings, media, and other resources at their convenience.

What is a typical work day like for you? You can usually find me behind the front desk or at my desk on the third floor providing both direct and indirect support to staff and patrons through policy implementation, staff training and mentoring, resource selection, interlibrary loan facilitation, reference consultations, and similar tasks. Essentially, I am always working to make sure every patron’s experience at the library is positive, productive, and worthwhile. My goal is to ensure patrons get the information and help they need to succeed in their academic and personal pursuits and have a pleasant time doing so.

What is your favorite website?  Boston.com is my favorite website and the first one I read each day during my morning commute. It does a great job of balancing news, weather, and features and keeps me relatively informed about what’s happening in the city.

What is your favorite book in the Wheelock Library collection?  I would have to go with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Although it is a sad book, I like how the story emphasizes the fragility and wonder of life and love as well as how well-developed and realistic the characters are.

When I’m not at work, you can find me… walking around the Horn Pond Park in Woburn, MA. The park is full of trails and a great place to go to think, socialize, and appreciate nature.

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Failure in Fiction: Take Heart, Readers

In my last blog entry, I noted that I would be attempting NaNoWriMo; that is, I would try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  Succinctly put: I failed.  Utterly.  Miserably.  Horribly.  Failed.

Week one went well.  I wrote 10,000 words.  I don’t think that there was much plot, character development, or any setting of which to speak within the 10,000.  But oh there were words.  When week two rolled in, however, my little boy got sick.  Then I got what he had.  Then his sister got it.  And the thought of sitting down to write became so daunting I began actively avoiding nouns, verbs, a few adjectives, and most adverbs.  By week three I was so far in the hole that I wore my shame like a warm hug.  And week four?  Why do they even have National Novel Writing Month in November anyway?  It’s barren, freezing, dark, cold and flu season, and the gateway into winter holiday preparation!  Why would I have even wanted to finish?

The grapes of NaNoWriMo are very sour.

Nonetheless, I have 10,000 more words than I had at the beginning of November.  That’s something, as the good people of NaNoWriMo are quick to point out.  It is better to have written a few words than not to have written at all.  And for those like me who don’t always reach the goal on the first try, I give you a bibliography for reflection.  The books listed below demonstrate that if at first you don’t succeed (or even on the second, third, fourth, or fifth try), you still might be okay.

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1.    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

2.    Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Lloso

3.    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier ( J C815c)

4.    Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (J Sp4s)

5.    Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

6.    Taking Off by Jenny Moss

7.    Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

8.    Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

9.    Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

10.  I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

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