It Really Is the Little Things that Matter

This post is part of my effort to tell the story of my recent health journey.

I was heading up the stairs of the parking garage as I left work the other day. I prefer to take the stairs rather than ride the elevator, and I usually take the stairs two-at-a-time, not running up them but pretty fast. A coworker saw me and asked why I take the stairs that way. I responded that it’s an easy way for me to get a little bit of extra exercise into my day. They looked somewhat skeptical of this justification.

They’re right to be skeptical of that reasoning. In the grand scheme of things, assessed in terms of exercise, a couple flights of stairs taken two-at-a-time at a good clip doesn’t really accomplish much of anything. It doesn’t elevate my heart rate for more than a minute or so, it doesn’t burn that many extra calories, etc.

And yet, I’m convinced that taking stairs this way—and eschewing elevators and escalators when possible—makes all the difference in the world when it comes to my health and well-being.

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How Libraries & Librarians Can Promote Community Health

This is the first post in my effort to tell the story of my recent health journey.

April Roy is the branch manager at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. April is a 2015 winner of the “I Love My Librarian Award” from the American Library Association in recognition for her work at Bluford.

You can read an article about her work here:

KC librarian honored for transforming branch, community
by Donna Pitman (KMBC, January 20, 2016)

April and her staff are amazing librarians and they’ve done incredible things for their neighborhood. I’m exceedingly proud to be a part of the same library system.

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I’m Reviewing for Booklist Online Now

I’ve been rather silent on this blog lately. That happens sometimes. In this case, I’ve been worn out from working on projects around my house. Totally worth it, though, because I now have (among other things) a whole floor-to-ceiling wall of built-in bookshelves!

Pardon the wonky persepctive—I swear these shelves are actually straight & true. These are hand-built from a design that (as far as I know) was created by my dad. I grew up in a house with shelves just like them and I’ve always wanted to build my own. They’re a bit over 9 feet long and close to 8 feet tall. My wife & I used to have around a third more books than this, but I got rid of a significant portion of my collection when we moved from Chicago to Kansas City. Movers charge by weight, after all.

I’m also excited to announce that I’m now reviewing for Booklist Online. My primary focus for them will be adult SF with an occasional nonfiction title thrown in. So… not all that different from the kind of books I review here.

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Book Review: The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Cover of the book The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel
The Cold Between
by Elizabeth Bonesteel
Harper/Voyager, 2016

This review was first published by Booklist on February 15, 2016.

A passionate romance. A brutal murder. A conspiracy that threatens war on a galactic scale. Bonesteel’s debut sets the stakes impressively high. Commander Elena Shaw is shocked when her lover is accused of murdering one of her crew, and things only get more strange when the murder is tied to a past tragedy. The first half of the novel is a murder-mystery romance. But in the second half, the story blossoms into something much bigger, and the book really comes into its own as a work of far-future military science fiction. The mystery is compelling, and the action is nicely paced and exciting, with well-rendered and believable characters. Bonesteel’s writing is nicely nuanced and allows room for humor. Marketing for the novel compares it to Lois McMaster Bujold, which is apt. The first half might make it a good fit for mainstream mystery or romance fans who want to try sf for the first time. The strong female protagonist lends it intrinsic appeal. There are some scenes of graphic sex and violence, so be warned. Overall, this is a highly entertaining tale and a promising start to a new series.

In Praise of Formulaic Genre Fiction

A friend of mine posted this article on Twitter a couple days ago (via the New York Public Library):

What Makes Great Detective Fiction, According to T. S. Eliot
by Paul Grimstad (posted by The New Yorker, February 2, 2016)

I love knowing that no less a luminary than T. S. Eliot was a passionate advocate of early detective fiction. But more illuminating is this glimpse into historic perceptions of genre fiction:

Namely, critics have always dismissed genre fiction as low-brow and formulaic, as intrinsically non-literary, and therefore less worthy.

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