Reading by sunset

Binging with Books

binge-read [binj-rēd]

verb

  1. The act of reading large amounts of text in a short amount of time
  2. The reason you haven’t eaten, bathed, slept, or absorbed sunlight in the twenty-four hours following the release of the conclusion to your favorite series[i]

[i] “binge-read.” the EpicReads.com [glos-uh-ree]. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.epicreads.com/blog/epic-reads-glossary/

Used in a sentence: I stayed up through the night to binge-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after buying it at the midnight release party because I didn’t want to encounter any spoilers out in the world.

My joy of reading was first established as a child, racing through books after lights out with a flashlight under the bedcovers (I soon tired of the ever-present crick in my neck and convinced my parents to put a nightlight in my room that was bright enough to read by). Books that I refused to put down for breakfast as a child included Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, and Bridge to Terabithia.

As an adult, there have been plenty of books over the years that I did not want to put down to eat, sleep, shower, or work – whose characters stuck in my head to the point of distraction. I admit to having binge-read every HP title the moment they were released, I raced through The Hunger Games trilogy, and every new Sookie Stackhouse book (guilty indulgence, indeed), but these days, I rarely find myself sitting for hours by the nightlight in my room reading with that same kind of joy. Probably because I no longer have a nightlight. When I have taken hours out of my day to finish a book, it has been because I had to meet a deadline, but in those forced reading sessions, I discovered that same joy, quiet, comfort, and focus that reading, and binge-reading, has provided since I first picked up a book.

If you’re like me, you may have supplanted your binge-reading for binge-watching. I will admit that I have burned through the likes of Friday Night Lights, Weeds, and most recently, Amazon Prime’s Fleabag, so I’m not arguing against binge-watching, but I am making an argument to replace a television show binge with a book binge, at least once a month. Although it might be an indulgence, I think it would bring great joy to readers to carve out one afternoon a month to lose themselves in a book. Forget the dishes, the vacuuming, and the loads of laundry, just for one day, curl up in a cozy chair, and tackle that tsundoku. It is an indulgence I don’t think you’ll regret.

To get you started, here are five page-turners I could not put down this past year:

Cover of Rebecca Makkai's "The Great Believers"

The Great Believers

Author: Rebecca Makkai

One of the library’s Tough Topics Book Club titles in 2019, Makkai’s hard-hitting story about the AIDS epidemic’s devastating effect on a group of young friends in Chicago in the 1980’s has characters that will never leave me.

Cover of Ruth Ware's "The Turn of the Key"

The Turn of the Key

Author: Ruth Ware

Ware is an author whose books I’ve been binge-reading since her first title was released in 2015. She has been releasing a dark mystery every year since, and this 2019 title gave me physical goose-flesh.

Cover of Hank Green's "An Absolutely Remarkable True Thing"

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

This was a title recommendation from a fellow staff member, (thank you, Michaela!), that traces the story of a young woman who becomes an overnight media sensation. The circumstances surrounding her trappings were mind-blowing enough that I drained the battery on my device and gladly lost a bit of sleep reading it through the night.

Cover of Amor Towle's "A Gentleman in Moscow"

A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles

Every sentence and every scene in Towles’ 2016 is crafted with such beauty and grace, I was swept off my feet emotionally. The character development is rich and layered and it is a truly unique story that unfolds during a very turbulent period in Russian history.

Cover of Ann Rule's "The Stranger Beside Me"

The Stranger Beside Me

Author: Ann Rule

As a Murderino whose first foray into true crime was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, I knew I had to read Rule’s story about her personal connection to Ted Bundy after episode 61 (I am binge-listening to the podcast, and am catching up as quickly as possible). If you have the opportunity, listen to Ann Rule narrate the book on Libby or Overdrive.

Battling Racism with Books

February is well known as Black History Month, but by no means should we only expose ourselves to diversity during this month. One way that we can continuously expose ourselves to diversity without spending money or traveling is by visiting your local library. Your library houses books and media that contains stories written by and about people from different walks of life than your own. The library can support you in learning about history, and how it shapes our present and future. This can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience, but I challenge you to reflect on why you are experiencing discomfort. If you want to put a book down that is making you uncomfortable, I ask you to consider that you are only experiencing these stories for a moment, while others are experiencing these stories as the reality of their everyday lives. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and if you are willing to lean into the discomfort, give a new movie or book a try that will help you learn new things about other walks of life.

Other ways that we can expose ourselves to diversity:

  • Visit new places
  • Try new foods
  • Visit historical sites
  • Attend public cultural celebrations (i.e. Hmong New Year, Pow wows)
  • Talk to people and share what you’ve learned
  • Listen to other’s experiences
  • Reflect on how your background has shaped your experiences
  • Practice love and understanding

There are billions of people on this Earth. There is so much to learn from each other, and so many ways to embrace and celebrate our diversity.

Photo of ukulele

Ukulele for Beginners

Music brings people together. Playing musical instruments, on the other hand, offers an opportunity to engage the mind and express the soul. Bringing ukuleles to the community for the first monthly session of Ukulele classes offered in the Dabble Box extended this opportunity to adults and children in one room at the same time.

Brought together by curiosity and inspiration, folks of all ages joined forces to learn how to play the small versatile instrument. Grandparents, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, children, and enthusiasts held the small 4 string instrument, learning the basics of ukulele playing as a group.

Nicole Cook teaching our first Ukulele for Beginners Students

Strumming a ukulele with open positioning resonates a happy tone. Who wouldn’t want to pick up a small guitar shaped instrument and “tiptoe through the tulips” with a giddy in their step? Well, as silly as that sounds, I would like to offer you an opportunity to participate in our new class offering: Ukulele for Beginners. We hope to hear you soon!

February Goals

Okay, everyone. Don’t panic. February is here again. Last year, the month of February did its best to break our spirits through record-setting snowfall and feeling like the longest month ever, despite only having 28 days. This year it has 29 days, but it’s going to be okay.

February can be a trying month. The holidays are long behind us and somehow, it’s still winter. No matter what the groundhog says, spring is not visible on the horizon. We face a long, dull, plodding trek to warm sun and green grass. Odds are, you’re not as busy this time of year as you will be in a few months; that makes February the perfect time to cultivate some healthy habits.

A month ago, you may have set some New Year’s resolutions. Or, if you’re like me, you may have looked at your track record with resolutions and decided not to set yourself up for failure. Either way, February is to great time to either evaluate your progress or set some new healthy goals without the stress and gravitas of a New Year’s resolution.

Here are a few keys to good goal setting:

1. Set an attainable goal. Don’t expect to enact a complete lifestyle change overnight. Leave yourself some wiggle room, because you might have a bad day or a bad week, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You goal should be something you both want to do and are capable of doing.

2. Set a measurable goal. This is how you know whether you’re succeeding. Instead of saying you’ll work out more, specify that you’ll go to the gym three times a week or take a 30 minute walk at least four times a week.

3. Set a time to finish or re-evaluate your goal. Having a finish line to work towards provides motivation. If you’re trying to make long-term changes, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on whether you want to continue as is, make adjustments, or scrap your goal altogether for a new one.

If you’d like some inspiration to help you be healthier this month, the library has many resources to support your physical, mental, and emotional health goals. Try recipes from a healthy cookbook. Pick up a DVD to guide you through a work out at home. Listen to a meditation CD to help you de-stress. Create something in the Dabble Box. Join the adult winter reading program and set a reading goal.

You may think that February goal setting is nonsense, and maybe it is, but I’ve yet to share the best part: if you focus on achieving a goal this February, by the time you’re done, it will already be March.

About REAL ID

​If you plan to fly within the U.S., visit​ a military base or other federal buildings, the Department of Homeland Security will require identification that is REAL ID compliant (or show another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport) beginning October 1, 2020. Wisconsin DMV issues REAL ID compliant products (marked with a ✪) in accordance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. If you aren’t sure if you have a Real ID, you should contact the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

​​What it means for you​

  • If it’s time to renew your driver license or ID, you can upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant card for no additional fee (if the upgrade takes place at the same time as your renewal).
  • If your current driver license or ID will not expire before 2020, and you wish to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card, the cost of a duplicate card will apply.
  • Wisconsin offers both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards. The cards look similar; REAL ID-compliant are marked with a ✪, while non-compliant cards are marked “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.” Should you choose to continue to hold a non-compliant card, you will need another form of identification to board a plane or access federal sites.
  • If you have a valid U.S. passport or another acceptable form of federal identification, you can use that for identification, in place of a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card.  To view the list of Transportation Safety Administration approved documents, go to www.tsa.gov/Travel.

Use DMV’s interactive driver licensing guide to receive a personalized checklist of the required documents you will need to bring. It also allows you to pre-fill any required application(s), print and bring with you or submit electronically (if eligible). You may also be able to schedule an appointment for the DMV for faster service.

Driver Information Section
P.O. Box 7983
Madison, WI 53707-7983
Email Wisconsin DMV email service​​​
Phone (608) 264-7447
Fax (608) 267-3812

To get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, people must visit a Wisconsin DMV office and bring these original documents or a certified copy — not a photocopy, fax or scan:

  • Proof of name and date of birth, such as a valid passport or birth certificate.
  • Proof of legal presence in the United States, such as passport or birth certificate.
  • Proof of identity, such as driver’s license, military ID or passport.
  • Proof of Social Security number, such as Social Security Card or W-2 form listing your name, address and entire Social Security number.
  • Proof of address, such as driver’s license, college ID or utility or mobile phone bill.
  • Proof of name change, if applicable.

So, to summarize, if you are flying within the United States, you will need this federal stamp on your license. If not, you are required to also bring your passport, certified copy of your birth certificate, or the other allowed documents above, just to fly. There is no extra charge; the easiest way is when renewing your license, also bring to the DMV either your passport or birth certificate, along with a current W2 or pay stub.

As of October, 2019, only 36% of Wisconsin residents have applied for this REAL ID card, which means almost 3.8 million people have not yet applied. With this starting in less than 10 months, do yourself a favor; do it soon, as there is sure to be a mad dash next year.

Sawdust City Sounds logo

More Sweet Local Music!

Back in the spring of 2019, the library launched Sawdust City Sounds, an online platform to showcase amazing current local music to new audiences for FREE. We again called out to local artists to submit more of their music for the platform, and as of last month their music is now available for streaming!

While all these new albums have the fact that they’re local in common, you’ll be surprised at how diverse the sounds of each one is. If you’re looking to rock out, check out Stumpt’s Um, What? or Drunk Drivers’ It’s Always Weekend.  For more acoustic heavy sets, AncientMelody by Past & Present, Phase 1 by Jim Phillips Project, Exile Station by Adrian Klenz, and Dead Man Pickin’ by Rock Cree Song Dogs will fulfil that niche perfectly. Love Americana? Ben Shaw and The JahnyD Occurrence have you covered with their albums, Feet to the Fire and Agouti Groove, respectively.

Leading off with some more experimental music, the Nunnery’s We are the Stars is an awesome entry into music made with loops, if you’ve never heard that before (and go see here live if you ever get the chance). For some synth heavy sounds, check out Xavly’s Exit or Oddity’s Oddities Oddyssey.

Whatever you choose to listen to, you’re going to be blown away by the fact that these are all local musicians you might pass by grocery shopping. Maybe it’ll inspire you to make your own music, or maybe you already have music that you’d love to see on this site. In the coming year there will be at least one more call for local musicians to submit entries for Sawdust City Sounds, so stay tuned!

Local Produce

With New Year comes new resolutions, and a popular one for many is to eat better. A great way to do so is to join community-supported agriculture (CSA). Joining a CSA requires a payment and, in return, you’ll receive farm-fresh produce and possibly other items such as eggs or honey regularly during the spring, summer, and in some cases fall months. Even better, some insurance companies offer rebates for joining a CSA making it even easier.

Not ready to commit to a CSA? Local farm markets and food co-ops are a great low-commitment way to sample local, seasonal produce.  Some markets are also open during the winter; check their web pages to be sure.

The historical way to eat local produce is to, well, produce it yourself. The annual tree and shrub sale of local counties makes it easy to produce your own fruit and nuts in addition to beautifying your land. These sales generally require placing an order for a number of plants before picking them up closer to the growing season; if you don’t have much space, you may need to split some trees with friends. Note that you can generally purchase plants even if you don’t live in the county.

Serviceberry is a native shrub with appealing berries for wildlife and people.
County Deadline Notes
Buffalo January 31st Trees
Chippewa March 30th Trees, shrubs
Eau Claire January 31st Trees, shrubs, plants
Pepin April 5th Trees, shrubs
Trempealeau March 1st Trees, shrubs

The library is also hosting a seed library where you can pick up seeds for vegetables, herbs, and flowers all for free! The seed library is opening at the end of February and is located on the first floor above the Dabble Box display cases.

Looking for additional inspiration? The online catalog has more about local food and gardening. Or stop by Information & Reference on the second floor to locate or order new or hard-to-find books and DVDs.

New Year’s Resolution Goals!

If you’re like me, you are not all too fond of the traditional New Year’s Resolution. If so, you may have tried and inevitably failed or perhaps you were intuitive/pessimistic enough to know it would fail before even starting. It’s also possible that the notion of fixing yourself has rubbed you the wrong way. Then again, maybe you are not like me and you set the annual New Year’s Resolution and are resolute enough to succeed in your endeavors. To you, I say, congratulations. Keep doing what you are doing and may your future endeavors result in as equal or greater success. To those who can relate or are curious, please read on!

Image result for fun"

I’ll skip boring you with the dictionary definitions of resolution and its nearly synonymous use with goals. It’s all semantics. The point is in the implication of its use. Resolution implies there is a flaw to be fixed. If you Google anything on New Year’s Resolution, it will likely paint a portrait of your past failure and how you can work to improve yourself. Though we are all without a doubt quite flawed and could use a little improvement, we tend to inundate ourselves with these negative self-images. Maybe it’s time some of us look at those “resolutions” as goals instead. We don’t have to improve ourselves all of the time. Improve yourself at work or if you have a health condition that requires a lifestyle change. Otherwise, we should be allowed to be happy with who we are and simply do something for the enjoyment of it. Yes, pick up new hobbies or partake in new, energy-filled activities. But don’t do it because of what you lack, and instead, do it because you feel like it. I’m far more interested in taking up something if I actually want to do it. I will ALWAYS fail if it feels like a chore. I have enough chores to deal with. Why add more?

Rough Cat Face With
New Blender Sculpting

Luckily, the library has MANY ideas and activities for you to try out. For fun! Obviously, we have many, many books for new hobbies and other areas of interest. Check out the 600s for a variety of content on home improvement and building. The 700s are great for arts, crafts, and graphic novels. If you have had your fair share of books and want to try something new, stop in the Dabble Box during one of our open labs (Schedule may be found here). We have materials and equipment for a variety of activities including arts, crafts, and technology of all sorts. We recently obtained a complete set of digital drawing tablets that let you draw, paint, and sculpt on the computer. Along with that we have Corel Painter that imitates real-life painting and drawing and the recently updated Blender is an outstanding application for sculpting 3D models. If you just want to take a break, stop in at the Information and Reference desk on the second floor and borrow one of our board games for in-house checkout. There’s a little something for everyone here at the library.

Diversify Your Reading

The library will once again be offering customers a chance to fight reader’s rut. “Reading Challenge 2020” will help you diversify your reading, and win prizes! If you participated in 2019, we are so happy you are enjoying the program and hope you continue to find joy in your reading journey. If you are joining for the first time, welcome! We’ve made a few changes this year, taking into account the comments we received in 2019. Here is a quick rundown of how the program works:

  • Read or listen to a book from all 12 categories to enter the grand prize drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite at the end of 2020.
  • Stop by the library each month with your completed monthly Reading Slip to be entered into a monthly prize drawing for $10 in Chamber Buy Local Bucks.
  • Get a free book of your choice for each four Reading Slips you complete.
BYO Book Club

We are also excited to announce a new book club that will help you discover even more diverse books to enjoy. The Bring Your Own Book Club is a non-traditional discussion group for adults. Instead of reading a predetermined title, participants meet to talk about what they’re currently reading and get suggestions for new titles to try. Enrollment in the Reading Challenge is not required to attend.

The club meets on the third Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the Board Room on the library’s second floor. Whether you can’t wait to talk about your new favorite read or just want to listen in, readers of all stripes are welcome!

Register for Reading Challenge 2020 here. After you register you can pick up your Reading Journal at Information & Reference. It contains monthly Reading Slips for entering the drawings, reading inspiration for each book category, and is a convenient place to keep track of your thoughts about the new books you will discover.

FAQs

Can I Choose My Own Books?
Absolutely. You don’t have to pick one of the reading inspiration titles.

Can I Read Ahead?
Sure, but you’ll still need to drop off a completed Reading Slip each month to qualify for monthly prizes.

Can I Catch Up?
Yes, but only one of your completed Reading Slips will qualify for the monthly drawings.

Do My Challenge Books Count for Other Programs?
Yes! Books you read for the challenge also count towards your reading for our seasonal adult reading programs.

Adult holding a piece of red paper in front of their face with a frown drawn upon it.

Winter Blues

For many, the winter season can bring cheer, family connections, and gratitude. Winter is also known to bring depression, stress, isolation, sleep disturbances, and health issues. No one is completely immune to the stress that winter can bring, and each person has a different balance of the positive and negatives that this season brings. If you are finding that the negatives are outweighing the positives in your life this season, or just feeling more down or stressed than you would like, or maybe someone you know may not being doing so well, then keep on reading!

Here are some warning signs that you may be experiencing the winter blues according to Mayo Clinic:

  • Feeling more irritable with others
  • Not leaving the house as much as you used to
  • Eating more or less than normal
  • Sleeping more or less than normal
  • Having thoughts of wanting to go to sleep and never wake up
  • Having difficulty concentrating

If you or someone you know is feeling this way, do not brush it off! You can have a more enjoyable winter! Here are some of the things that you can do:

  • Talk to your doctor
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Talk to your family and friends about how you are doing, there is someone to help support you
  • Go for a walk
  • Try mindfulness, the library has books and kits to try out, or explore resources online
  • Develop habits; routines can bring people out of a rut
  • Be social; swing by the library for an activity or to ask staff for a book suggestion
  • If you are able, be kind towards others, check on your neighbors
  • Put yourself first; it is ok to take a break from family to read a book or do something else you enjoy

Your library is here for you and cares for our community members. Whether you are alone, or have your family or friends in tow, there are many programs that can be a part of your winter self-care that gets you out of your house and hopefully out of your rut. Make a conscious effort to opt out of stress and opt in to living your life.

If you have more questions about library materials and events, please visit the library’s Information and Reference staff on the second floor, call us at 715-839-5004, or email us at reference@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

If you want to get connected to community resources to support your social, mental, and physical health, please contact the Community Resource Specialist by stopping in or at 715-839-5061 or at libbyr@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.