Friday, September 29th, 2023

TinyCat’s September Library of the Month: DANK Haus German American Cultural Center

I had the pleasure of interviewing a wonderful cultural center for TinyCat’s Library of the Month, the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center based out of Chicago. Cultural Director Sarah Matthews was kind enough to field my questions this month. She didn’t hesitate to give much praise to volunteer librarian Chris Graves, who spends time every week helping out at the library! Here’s what they shared about their work:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”? 

The DANK Haus German American Cultural Center’s mission “is to preserve and promote German culture, heritage, and language through maintaining a center consisting of a museum, art gallery, library, and language school, and organizing educational and social programming focusing on and emphasizing the history, traditions, and contributions of Germans and German Americans.” The DANK Haus library is one important element of our center, and features a variety of German literature, both fiction and nonfiction. The books in our library are written in German and accommodate young adult and adult readers.

Tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community.

Another aspect of the DANK Haus is our school, or Kinderschule, where we offer children’s classes and adult language classes, and our library has the opportunity and ability to directly support our school. While the library on our fourth floor contains our young adult and adult literature, our children’s books are located on the third floor where the school classrooms are, so students can have these resources readily available to them. However, you do not need to be enrolled in the school to use our library! Anyone is welcome to not only visit the library, but check out books when interested.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

I love that our collection is tailored to a wide range of genres and reading levels. We offer books for a younger audience such as Schöneli und Schlau, which is a short chapter book that features small illustrations. I also appreciate our selection of cookbooks in German, like Brot und Brötchen. This way readers can not only explore the German language, but German culture, as well. Lastly, I am glad we have a nice selection of German language, grammar, and vocabulary books on hand for people to use, especially since a portion of our visitors and members are learning German through our school.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Currently, our in person engagement in the library is low. Groups pre-COVID-19 pandemic regularly used the space for library and language related events, but establishing that type of gathering has been difficult to accomplish again. DANK Haus would love to establish more regular, consistent hours of operation for the library, and offer more events in our space to allow for a wider audience to be reached and for our library resources to be used more frequently!

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

I really appreciate the ease and accessibility TinyCat offers. Especially for people who maybe don’t frequent library cataloging systems and online databases often, TinyCat’s cataloging system is easy to use, and people with varying technological skill sets can effectively search for what they are looking for. On that note, however, Chris, our weekly volunteer librarian at the center suggested one improvement could be to add a help link to show people how to search for books using the catalog, just in case visitors prefer to learn from specific, written instructions.

That’s a great suggestion. We have a Help page for patrons here, in the Help Wiki, but perhaps we should automatically show that within TinyCat. You can always link to it from your Homepage, if you’d like. I hope this helps!

Want to learn more about DANK Haus?

Visit their website at, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

Welcome Lauren!

LibraryThing is pleased to welcome Lauren (LibraryThing Lauren-at-LT, Litsy Lauren-at-LibraryThing) to the team, as our newest librarian and developer!

Lauren comes to LibraryThing with over ten years of experience working in libraries and technology. Her technical background includes Java and Python programming, test engineering, web and graphic design, and UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience). Lauren learned about the Developer position on, so she gets to keep the “Finder’s Fee” of $1,000 in books!

Say hello on the Welcome Lauren Talk topic.

About Lauren
After earning her MLIS from Kent State University in 2016, Lauren began her career in librarianship as a Youth Services Librarian. Since then, she has had the joy of working as a School Media Specialist in the K–12 system, and an Academic Librarian.

In 2022, Lauren decided to pursue her longtime interest in coding, and completed technical training to become a Software Development Engineer in Test. She will be working on, as well as our library products, Syndetics Unbound,, and TinyCat.

Lauren lives with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, and painting.

Favorite Authors: C.S. Lewis, J. Kenji López-Alt, Stuart Turton, and Mo Willems
Favorite Illustrators: Lorena Alvarez, Zachariah OHora, Vera Brosgol, and Dan Santat

LibraryThing Member: Lauren-at-LT
Litsy Member: Lauren-at-LibraryThing

Labels: employees

Monday, September 11th, 2023

An Interview with Jarret Keene

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with author Jarret Keene, who is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he teaches American literature and the graphic novel. His publications range across a number of genres, from his rock band biography, The Killers: Destiny Is Calling Me, to his travel guide, The Underground Guide to Las Vegas. He has co-edited a number of short story collections, including Las Vegas Noir and Dead Neon: Tales of Near-Future Las Vegas. His latest offering, Hammer of the Dogs, is a dystopian adventure set in an apocalyptic Las Vegas, and was published earlier this month by the University of Nevada Press.

Hammer of the Dogs has been compared by reviewers to such works as The Hunger Games and Divergent—both very popular works of dystopian fiction. Were these books an influence on your story? What were some other influences?

Yes, of course The Hunger Games and Divergent were an influence on Hammer of the Dogs: the books are so fun! But I went back into the past to study the darker, violent influences on these books: Koushon Takami’s Battle Royale, Stephen King’s The Long Walk, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Jack Kirby’s X-Men comics. The best dystopian YA stories tend to explore an intriguing premise: savage yet gifted kids under extreme pressure from corrupt government forces, forced to fight each other and survive lethal threats. Hammer of the Dogs picks up the conceit and cranks it to eleven, with the protagonist, Lash, armed to the teeth and ready to smash the world in order to save her friends and rescue her father.

Dystopian fiction has become increasingly popular in the last twenty years, within the wider world of speculative fiction. Why is that? Is it simply a reflection of our growing concern for the future of humanity and the world around us? What’s significant about this genre of storytelling, and what does it allow the writer to do, that they couldn’t otherwise?

In our teens, we realize that adult life is dystopian. Today the internet and social media amplify the anxiety of youth with “likes” and “comments.” Now young people run a terrifying gauntlet: tech inundation, college debt, unaffordable housing, COVID lockdowns, endless vaccines, school shootings. The reflection is crystal-clear, and the dystopian YA genre allows us to explore the full range of nightmares, and to give solutions if we’re interested. That’s why the genre continues to grow in popularity. Lash’s solution in Hammer of the Dogs is to pick up the deadly tech and refashion her environment. Passivity isn’t an option. Anyhow, it’s fun to wreck and rebuild. As long as you know how to rebuild.

Las Vegas features prominently in your work, both fiction and nonfiction, and is the setting for Hammer of the Dogs. What role, if any, does the city setting, and the wider Nevada landscape, play in your story? What made you choose the Luxor Hotel as the headquarters for Lash’s school? Are there other Las Vegas and Nevada landmarks that make an appearance in the book?

Las Vegas is a sinful, eyeball-seducing playground. Nevada is a frightening military playground. Yet the desert and mountains are gorgeous. Few realize this, and I wanted Hammer of the Dogs to depict Las Vegas in an unfamiliar way, as a site of desert warfare and twisted entertainment. But Las Vegas is also a blank slate of promise. Las Vegas has been this way since its inception, with the media and government masking its true potential. The book’s hero, Lash, eventually sees the city’s mask, and rips it away. So Las Vegas, plus the surrounding valley, is a character all its own. I chose Luxor, because I used to work there in the communications department. For years, I wrote employee newsletters in the bottom of a pyramid, spotlighting sous chefs and Cirque due Soleil acrobats and guest room attendants. Everything I describe in Hammer of the Dogs, from the employee dining commons to the Luxor Sky Beam, is how I experienced it. It was a world within a world, and we competed with other hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip in fundraising efforts, in physical competitions (including hot dog-eating contests), and we were subject to brainwashing by corporate management and the unions alike. It was easy to extrapolate and imagine gangs of teenagers housed in each hotel/casino—Bellagio, CityCenter, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur—plotting to kill all rivals using drone technology. I use everything in Las Vegas—Boulder City, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Speedway, Fremont Street Experience, the gypsum mines, The Shops at Crystals—as a background against which Lash wages war.

In your work as an educator you explore and teach about the graphic novel format. How has this impacted your writing? Would you say that your storytelling style is a very visual one, or that you have particular images in mind, when writing? What came first, when you were writing this book: ideas, words, characters, images?

Teaching the graphic novel inspires my writing, which is highly visual. I wrote Hammer of the Dogs as a “movie tie-in novel,” the kind that used to be abundant in the 1980s. Every fun sci-fi/fantasy movie (Krull, Tron, The Last Starfighter) back then had a novelization for sale at the mall bookstore. I “saw” the story unfold before I wrote down a word, which helped me accelerate the pacing and maintain the headlong momentum. So Hammer of the Dogs is, in essence, one revved-up cinematic set piece after another, until the very end where I intentionally let the story go off the rails. Lash isn’t patient. She wants to search and destroy, and I did my best to remove the boring parts so that Lash shines and sheds copious amounts of bad-guy blood. She wanted to fall in love with a bad boy, so I helped her with that as well. Lash made this book adventure-packed, fun, easy to write. So yes, images and ideas always arrived first—then character, then words.

As an educator, you work with younger adults, and your novel is aimed at that demographic (among others). What is important, when telling a story for this audience? Does awareness of the audience change how you write?

I wrote Hammer of the Dogs for a younger audience, sure, but I layered in Easter eggs for Gen Ex-ers and Boomers to savor. There’s a nod to postwar popular culture in every page, from Jack Schafer’s Shane to The Empire Strikes Back to Alice Cooper’s Constrictor. There’s a LOT of references to ’80s hard rock and glam metal, with Lash blasting her dad’s music on his old Walkman whenever she needs to get psyched for battle. I think it’s important to NOT condescend to readers by only presenting one generation’s cultural references. Young people are curious, old people are curious. People are curious to learn about pop culture from every era. So I believe it’s important to satisfy a young reader’s curiosity and take them places they’ve never even considered. I also wanted to take young readers on a mythic journey with Lash. That’s the awareness I brought to every sentence in Hammer of the Dogs: I want younger readers, older readers, any and all readers to be swept up in the momentum of Lash’s adventure. I didn’t change the way I write exactly, but I certainly laser-focused on what makes for full-throttle storytelling.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

If you visit my LibraryThing page, you’ll see my favorite books. But my office shelves are loaded with Jack Kirby-rendered comic books, books about Greek and Roman myths and ancient and classical warfare, and various versions and translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Because I teach American literature and world literature, I have so many favorites, including Stephen Crane’s The Black Riders and Other Lines, Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, Isabel Allende’s Zorro, to name a few. I love the classics, but I get a lot of pleasure from reading comics.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

I recently finished reading and highly recommend the following, especially if you have a taste for alternative, non-corporate literature and writing:

Stephen B. Armstrong’s rock history I Want You Around: The Ramones and the Making of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Backbeat, 2023)

Bernard Schopen’s Drowning in the Desert: A Nevada Noir Novel (University of Nevada Press, 2023)

Justin Chin’s poetry collection Burden of Ashes (Manic D Press, 2023)

Chris Mullen’s six-book YA Western series Rowdy (Wise Wolf Books, 2022-2023)

Ryan G. Van Cleave’s YA nonfiction book The Witness Trees: Historic Moments and the Trees Who Watched Them Happen (Bushel & Peck Books, 2023)

Labels: author interview, interview

Friday, September 1st, 2023

September 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the September 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 208 books this month, and a grand total of 4,215 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, September 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Finland, France and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Coyote StoriesThe Story of Your Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to Designing with Purpose and PersonalityCrowned with Glory: How Proclaiming the Truth of Black Dignity Has Shaped American HistoryThe Andromeda's CrewGeneration AnnihilationWith a Blighted TouchA Dugout to PeaceThe Last ImmortalHer Secret HopeThe Warsaw SistersCharlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics CollidedKnowing YouTo Spark a MatchRocky Mountain PromiseThis Passing HourGlass HouseEverything You Know About Dinosaurs Is Wrong!Time to Move South for WinterTransported: 50 Vehicles That Changed the WorldWe're Going on a Present HuntSanta Claus and the Three BearsA History of the World in 25 CitiesJust a Minor Threat: The Minor Threat Photographs of Glen E. FriedmanSummer of Hamn: Hollowpointlessness Aiding Mass NihilismCrimson WhisperRe: Apotheosis - MetamorphosisTales from a Teaching Life: Vignettes in VerseNative Knowings: Wisdom Keys for One and AllHow to Negotiate with Oracle: Proven Strategies to Help You Maximise Value and Minimise CostsBoobs of Steel - Decoding the AmazonYpHiTime MachinePoker, Politics & Presidents: How Card Playing and Other Games Impacted the Presidency—From George Washington to Joe BidenGhostly Demarcations: New Poems & The Pandemic PapersJust How EmptyDark Feminine: poetry, prose & the in-betweenThe Last Flight Out: New and Selected PoemsNovemberFlash Gardens and Other Short Fiction: Volume OneFlash Gardens and Other Short Fiction: Volume TwoTroubling the Water: The Urgent Work of Radical BelongingFalling from DisgraceFalling from DisgraceChasing Giants: In Search of the World's Largest Freshwater FishDrowning in the DesertBinky's Protectors: Bk II REVELATIONSA Tale of Five Balloons(IN)SIGHTS: Thirty Years of Peacemaking in the Olso ProcessRestaurant Review Travel Guide: Columbus, OH: We Review the Best Restaurants in the CityThe Toxic Female Gaze: Cue the 'Mean Girls' ReferencesThe Problem with the Male GazeWonder Woman 84's Mistaken Message to WomenSolomon's Pond18194 days in the life of a pigmanBoleyn TimeStorm ChaserThe Darkest StarsEarth Magic & Hot WaterCrown of Salt and BoneThe Order of the BansheeSummoned by DragonsDirty Leeds: Don Revie & the Art of WarLet There Be Light - Genesis: The Simple Meaning of the TextThe Prophets of Gentilly TerraceAlmond, Quartz, and FinchThree Adult LivesPocket Full of PoseysWalking on Divided PathsSudoku Stonkers 2When Light Breaks Through: A Salem Witch Trials StoryGemma & LucasUS Security Issues and World War IThe GlasshouseAnything But Yes: A Novel of Anna Del Monte, Jewish Citizen of Rome, 1749The Ones They TookDim Sum PalaceHans Christian Andersen Lives Next DoorHouse of Ash and BoneThe Relaxsaurus Bedtime Meditation Stories for Kids: A Collection of Calming Dinosaur Stories with Positive Affirmations to Help Children Fall Asleep with Beautiful DreamsHow to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy StepsMama's Sleeping ScarfThe SheBladefoot: ApocalypseHow to Negotiate with Microsoft: Proven Strategies to Help You Maximise Value and Minimise CostsNarwhal and Jelly: Super Pod Party Pack!PloofPrincesses Versus DinosaursThe Manor House GovernessMacroeconomics Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowServices Marketing Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowOrdinary People - Or Are They?The Ruffled OwlThe Abundant Life: Practical Theology for Abundant LivingA Mother's Gift: Ten Little ToesI Love You GoogolTen Little FingersSignaturesOne of Us Is GoneThe First UnicornA Footnote to PlatoI Am Changing Careers: Questions to Guide A Job SeekerThe Vanquisher of Kings IA Residue of HopePlease DO NOT Go To LondonPlease DO NOT Go To ParisBittersweet BreadcrumbsWe Used to Be Different: A Collection of Stories and MiniaturesPlease DO NOT Go To BangkokThe Road to MorescoPainting the Grand Homes of California's Central ValleyFar OutA Measure of RhymeThe PalisadesDeath DateKeyholeQueens of MoiraiPersonal DemonsEARTH MOVERS: Determined Kids Battle Evil AliensThe Other Side of the Looking-GlassEmbers in the WindThe Import SlotThe Prophet's Mother TrilogyBuried By SunsetMushroom CloudThe Pirate's Curse: Brigands of the Compass RosePlant-Based Meal PrepRiders in DisguiseJackson Haines: The Skating KingRebecca Reznik Reboots the UniverseBill's BytesJourneys of the Lost: The Saga of CaneConfronting Power and Chaos: The Uncharted Kaleidoscope of My LifeIn River CardinalThe Universal Rejuvenation Program and The Laws of Metabolic EfficiencyOf Light and NightmaresDressing for DreamtimeFirefaxPledgeAwakenedFaraway and Forever: More StoriesCubicle to Corner Office: The Ultimate Survival Guide to Your First Job!Eddie's WarA Heart Made of Tissue PaperMore Than TrumpThe Dayhiker's Guide to the National Parks: 280 Trails, All 63 ParksCoralee - A Mermaid's TaleA Counterfeit of DeathThe Air LoungeThe Road to MorescoSisters of the SoulThe Blizzard's SecretsWords with My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent TimesKindle Paperwhite User Guide 2023: The Perfect Kindle Paperwhite Manual for Beginners, Seniors, and New Kindle UsersSwapThe Book of Annie: Humor, Heart, and Chutzpah from an Accidental InfluencerThe Hand of God: From Oppenheimer to Hypersonics - A Crash Course on Nuclear Weapons and Humankind's Most Dangerous GameOpen for Interpretation: A Doctor's Journey into AstrologyWar Angel: Korea 1950You Are Not Alone—Understanding And Working Through Postpartum Depression: A Common Condition So Often MisunderstoodThe Well-Mannered Horse: Developing an Ideal Equine BuddyAnywhere for YouHarmonic DissonanceWars of the New Humanity: Collection OneThe Yawning GapThe Pike BoysThe Thief and the HistorianOverthinking Override: An Eight-Step Guide to Master Your Mind, Conquer Stress, and Break Free From AnxietyInconvenienceA Good Rush of BloodPlayin' Possum: My Memories of George JonesThe Mechanics of Changing the World: Political Architecture to Roll Back State & Corporate PowerThe Morgan Film: A JFK Assassination StorySolving the Climate Crisis: A Community Guide to Solving the Biggest Problem on the PlanetOcellicon: Future VisionsStrong in LoveCinders to DustQuantum Reaction8 Essential Steps to Inspire Others & Build A Thriving Workforce: The Servant Leadership AdvantageRide into RomanceEugene J. McGillicuddy's Alien Detective AgencyA Love Story: Ten Sturdy FingersFlames of EaderLiving SecretsThe Dangers of Being Brave & TrueThis Kind Goes Not Except by Fasting and Prayer: Breaking the Invincible Chains Blocking Your BlessingsShadow Work for Women: A Comprehensive Workbook for Self-Discovery, Emotional Healing, and Personal GrowthSacrificial Lamb ClubStrength Training for Seniors: Rewrite Your Fitness Journey Using Simple and Effective Exercises That Help You Improve Balance, Build Confidence and Boost EnergyAbby's FireKisses Don't LieThe Pen Thief and the Division of DestinyBiting Thorns Off RosesBelle and Chloe: Reflections in the MirrorI, AIPoetry for PupsCasting Out Demons for Fun and ProfitPeople Person: How to Talk to Anyone, Improve Social Awkwardness, and Communicate with Ease and ConfidenceThe Repurposed SpyWord PetalsWorkbook: The Silva Mind Control Method: The Revolutionary Program by the Founder of the World’s Most Famous Mind Control CourseThe Stroke Recovery Activity WorkBookThe Stroke Recovery Activity WorkBookFall Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereFall Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereWinter Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereHalf a Cup of Sand and SkyWinter Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereFrom Worrier to Warrior: Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Overthinking and Living Confidently

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

01Publishing Akashic Books Alcove Press
Anaphora Literary Press Beaufort Books Bethany House
BHC Press Bricktop Hill Books Broadleaf Books
Cardinal Rule Press Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC City Owl Press
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Cynren Press FTL Publications
Gefen Publishing House Greenleaf Book Group Hawkwood Books
Legacy Books Press Liz Fe Lifestyle Mint Editions
NeoParadoxa New Wind Publishing NewCon Press
Nosy Crow US PublishNation Revell
Sea Vision Publishing Simon & Schuster Soul*Sparks
Tiny Fox Press Tundra Books Underland Press
University of Nevada Press University of New Orleans Press University of North Georgia Press
Useful Publishing Vibrant Publishers Wise Media Group

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

LibraryThing Birthday Sale & Treasure Hunt!

It’s LibraryThing’s 18th Birthday! We’re kicking off the celebration with a sale on everything in the LibraryThing Store through the month of September, and we’re hosting a special Birthday Treasure Hunt!

Sale. Enjoy major discounts on everything in the LibraryThing Store including CueCat scanners and barcode labels for the classroom, laptop stickers, gorgeous LibraryThing and TinyCat enamel pins, and more!

The sale opens today, August 29, on LibraryThing’s birthday, and runs through the month of September.

Treasure Hunt. We’ve scattered a mint of birthday candles around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find a birthday candle. Each clue points to a specific page on the LibraryThing site. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s a birthday candle on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have just two weeks to find all the birthday candles (until 11:59pm EDT, Tuesday September 12th).
  • Come brag about your mint of birthday candles (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two birthday candles will be
    awarded a birthday cake badge. Badge ().
  • Members who find all 12 birthday candles will be entered into a drawing for one of five LibraryThing (or TinyCat) coaster sets and stickers. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

Labels: birthday, events, treasure hunt

Friday, August 18th, 2023

TinyCat’s August Library of the Month: The Monell Chemical Senses Center Library

TinyCat’s Library of the Month is all about the senses of taste and smell: introducing the Monell Chemical Senses Center Library! Associate Member and Chair of the Library Committee Danielle Reed, Ph.D., was kind enough to field my questions about the fascinating work their library assists with:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”? 

Our library supports a non-profit research institution called the Monell Chemical Senses Center. To unpack what our name means, Monell refers to the family that contributed to our institution’s founding and continues to support us through the Monell Foundation. The ‘chemical senses’ part of our name refers to taste and smell, which allow us to sense chemicals in our environment, on our tongue (taste) and noses (smell). We are a Center because we are the only institution in the world devoted solely to studying taste and smell. Our mission is basic research, which you can learn when you open a textbook, and clinical research, which has immediate practical benefits, such as testing a new way to treat smell loss. Our mission is important because while taste and smell do not get the same attention as vision and hearing, the loss of these senses with COVID-19 made many people more aware of their value. Many people regain these senses as they recover, but some people have not. 

What relevant timing for your work. Can you tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community?

We are a ‘subject library’ meaning that we only have material relevant to taste and smell, and we have early “hard to find” journals like Chemical Senses and technical reports from industrial groups like the Sugar Foundation. We also have dissertations from people who were among the first scientists to work at Monell, as well as books and conference proceedings. We even have a small cache of children’s books focusing on taste and smell. 

We are an appointment-only library, and while I care about books, I am not a trained librarian – but I know enough to help the scholars who want to come and work in our library and get professional help with cataloging. I am especially proud that I helped Nadia Berenstein ( find materials for her dissertation about flavor and flavor chemistry.

How very cool! Do you have any particular favorite items in your collection?

My favorite item in our collection is a book called Genetics of Perception and Communication, about why and how individuals differ in their taste and smell perception. Members of a species, from bacteria to humans, use chemicals to communicate, e.g., bacteria secrete chemicals called quorum-sensing molecules to let other bacteria know it is safe to expand and grow (or not), mice communicate their health and sexual status in their urine, and humans use chemicals in many ways to communicate, either consciously or unconsciously. This book has chapters written by scientists who are experts in their area, and it covers species from invertebrates, mice, rats, and humans. I love it because it is a rare book on an underappreciated topic. 

Your library clearly hosts a rich array of resources around taste and smell. Is there a particular challenge that your library experiences?

One challenge for our library is to keep our mission focused on taste and smell and ensure that we have a comprehensive collection but don’t amass books that are not directly in our topic area. We get many book donations, especially from retiring scientists, and while many books are a fit for our subject site, many are tangential. Another challenge is figuring out what to do with these just-miss books and where to donate them so that they do the maximum good for scholars and others interested in them. 

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

Our favorite thing about TinyCat is that it does the job we need at a price point we can afford, and we would love to see it expand to do archive cataloging. We are preserving documents of enduring value, especially those from our creation and early history, and TinyCat does not have archive features, e.g., Omeka.

You can already catalog custom media using LibraryThing’s existing fields—putting the name of an item or artifact in the “Title” field, adding tags or reviews as needed, etc.—and you can organize them under the “Media” field. See our blog post on cataloging custom materials for more information on this process. That said, we can certainly discuss anything further that you’d like to see! I appreciate the feedback.

Want to learn more about the Monell Chemical Senses Center?

Visit their website at, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

An Interview with Joanne Elliott

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with Joanne Elliott, an American-born author who has spent most of her adult life in Belfast, Hong Kong and on Inishbofin, a small island off the west coast of Ireland. The founder of the Kellett School, now the British International School in Hong Kong, she is the author of two books on childhood diabetes, as well as numerous short stories published in British, Irish and South African magazines, has written radio programs for RTE (Irish National Radio), and for seven years ran a local newspaper on Inishbofin. She has also taught at all levels, from preschool to university. Now, at the age of eighty-eight, her novel Love in the Shadow of Mao—the second she has written, but the first to see print—has been published by the London-based Austin Macauley Publishers.

You have said elsewhere that the idea for the story in Love in the Shadow of Mao came to you in 1978, while you and your husband were returning to Hong Kong after a tour of mainland China. Forty-six years later, your book is finally published. Did you work on it throughout this entire period, did you leave and return to it—what does the writing process look like, over the timespan of a few decades? What were the challenges of working on your story for this long, and did it have benefits as well?

The story was in my mind for many years after we left Hong Kong but I did not start writing it as my life was busy, crammed with other writing projects like the island newspaper, The Inishbofin Inquirer, which I started and edited for seven years. I am not an organized writer, have little discipline and tend to throw myself in projects, work frantically at them and then lay them aside for others.

You have described your book as a story of living in two worlds, something which would apply to many of your characters. You yourself might also be said to live in more than one world, marrying across national lines, and settling (multiple times) far from your childhood home. Would you say there was anything autobiographical in your story? What does it mean to live in two worlds, for you and for your characters?

As you say, I also lived in two worlds. Even though I left New York behind almost seventy years ago, when I need to know which way is East or West I imagine myself standing on the corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue. Then I know where I am.

Some of my characters and incidents are fleeting impressions over many years. When I lived in Arizona in the 50s I once saw a television interview with Hope Cooke, a girl who married a king from a little Himalayan country. The expression on her face struck me and the first note I made for the novel was the line “Julia was hiding.” Actually it was “Rachel was hiding.” I later changed her name because the Chinese have trouble pronouncing the letter “r.” The description of Jen Chiman came from a young oriental man I saw in a church I was visiting in Scotland when I was in Hawthornden Castle in a writer’s retreat working on the China book. Until I saw him, I had little idea how Jen looked. As soon as I saw him in a pew across from me I knew that he was Jen. My daughter who developed diabetes at age eight was, of course, a large biographical element for the character Catherine Lee. At the corner of our street in New York was a Chinese laundry. I never knew the people who owned it but certainly the background was Catherine’s. A man I once danced with at Columbia University’s International House was the image of Ben, recalled some 50 years later. (Warning. Don’t mix with writers. They use everything.)

As you say, I and also my characters lived in two worlds. Perhaps it gives us insight or tolerance and broadens our perspective. It also prevents us from fitting in completely. We are always on the outside looking in.

Your book is set during China’s Cultural Revolution, a time of great upheaval and terrible hardship for many. How much research was needed for the historical and cultural background of your story? What were some of the most fascinating things you learned, and what were the most tragic?

My only real glimpse of the Cultural Revolution was a tour of China taken in 1978. We waited 2 years for permission and saw mostly what we were permitted to see. Occasionally, we caught a glimpse of the truth, a dirty blood spattered jacket on a doctor when visiting the medical building of a commune. A sign saying “We Will Liberate Hong Kong” quickly whisked out of sight. The restaurant Catherine is taken to by Sung in the book is one where we had a feast on the last night of the tour. Since then I have spoken to many people who have toured China. They are all amazed at my stories. Things have changed so spectacularly.

Most of my knowledge of the period is from books, histories, biographies, novels. I have read several hundred of them, starting from Pearl Buck which I devoured as a teenager. I have always been fascinated by the Orient. I spent three years in Japan in the 70s as well as three years in Hong Kong. When I was a child I insisted on eating with chop sticks and cooked minute rice for myself.

The most tragic thing, when researching the Cultural Revolution, was to see how ideals of fairness and decency are impotent against the realities of power and human greed.

Your book is also a story of love. What does your story say about love, especially in difficult times? Does love conquer all?

The love that survives in my book is, of course, the love of Julia for the child, Ping. All other loves, no matter how strong, are dominated by circumstance. Jen was generous in his love because he had been given so much by Lily. I think we are all able to love if we have been in receipt of it.

You’re eighty-eight years young, and have published your first novel. What’s next? Are you working on a second novel, and will it also be a work of historical fiction?

I have been working on an autobiography which is at the moment an amalgam of all the stories I have written over the years. I found, to my amazement that I could follow my life in my own fiction. I wonder what that says about me!

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

My library is the heart of me. I remember as soon as I learned to read my favorite game was playing “library,” arranging my mother’s books, making little cards for each one and giving them numbers. I often recall the day we moved to a different neighborhood and my mother leaving the unpacking and the care of my baby brother to her sister so that she and I could find the local library. When I was about twelve my uncle died and left me his collection of classics from the Greeks and Romans through to Emerson and Thoreau. My father built two large bookshelves to house them and they have followed me around the world. I wouldn’t be myself without them. Since then I have added hundreds of novels, plays and poetry. In my study I have housed history, philosophy and religion, the stairs are lined with shelves of fiction, A to Z starting at the top. In the living room are floor to ceiling biography, autobiography, music and art. The China collection takes up a good deal of the space.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

At he moment, I am reading a fascinating novel by Amy Tan called Saving Fish from Drowning. Yesterday I bought a paperback of Any Human Heart by William Boyd. I had already read this on kindle but I wanted it on my shelves because I will enjoy it again when I can turn the pages. I’m afraid I am out of sync with all this technology and I fear very much for our civilization if reading continues to go out of style.

Labels: author interview, interview

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

August 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the August 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 166 books this month, and a grand total of 3,250 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Friday, August 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, Ireland, Spain, New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

But Still They SingJunk Science and the American Criminal Justice SystemBreak up with What Broke You: How God Redeems and Rewrites Your StoryA Darker Shade of Noir: New Stories of Body Horror by Women WritersThe Last ElectionLittle Pumpkin, Where's Your Light?Hammer of the DogsThe Bodies Keep Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We HealWe Survived the End of the World: Lessons from Native America on Apocalypse and HopeSugar BirdsSnakes in the ClassGoddess: 50 Goddesses, Spirits, Saints, and Other Female Figures Who Have Shaped BeliefThe Wind in the WillowsLove You Snow MuchLovesick BlossomsThe Big Bang and Other Farts: A Blast Through the PastWhose Poo?How Cats Say I Love YouAmerican Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the ChurchWhat We Remember Will Be Saved: A Story of Refugees and the Things They CarryNeed Blind AmbitionA Reason to RunTraitor CometWelcome to MonstervilleThe Bodyguard Unit: Edith Garrud, Women's Suffrage, and JujitsuRubiconsGrowing God's Way: 365 Daily Devos for GirlsGrowing God's Way: 365 Daily Devos for BoysVulgarian RhapsodyThe Unvarnished Gary Phillips: A Mondo Pulp CollectionThe Stone ChildDon't Want to Be Your MonsterUnleashed: Poems and DrawingsGrease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of DieselpunkThe Ballot and the Bible: How Scripture Has Been Used and Abused in American Politics and Where We Go from HereSolomon's PondThe Lost Boys of Barlowe TheaterMarshaling Her HeartJulia Monroe Begins AgainThe Devil's MountainThe African RosciusWar of SuccessionRoland Leong Ash Like VengeanceThe CageGibbous MoonCalifornia DreamingThe Bridge on Beer RiverFerren and the AngelLivingskyThe Lives Between UsThis Pact Is Not OursA Peek Under the Hood: Heroin, Hope, and Operation Tune-UpOf White AshesTorat Ahava - Loving Torah (Boxed Set)Putting God First: Jewish Humanism after HeideggerThe Celtic DeceptionNorth PacificThe Aliens Will Come To Georgia First: StoriesAmazing Mom: A Practical Guide for Moms with Babies 0 - 12 MonthsThe Pursuit of Joy: A Greek Philosophers’ Guide to Finding HappinessThe Anxiety Solution: 61 Practical Tools for Managing Stress and WorriesRewriting Your Story: Harnessing the Power of Positive AffirmationsI'm 39 Now: My Anxiety and Autism JourneyAnastasia To The RescueThe HutenghastThe Story of Virna BabineauxThe Time GeneLilithGhostlightPine Island HomeSharon, Lois and Bram's Peanut Butter and JellyAlmond, Quartz, and FinchBlack Joy Unbound: An AnthologyA Tale of Five BalloonsIn a CaveDreamageddon & Other StoriesDay of the TentacleRe: Apotheosis - AftermathAll In! The Atlantic Standup Paddle Crossing — 83 Days Alone At SeaTrue Crime Storytime Volume 7: 12 Disturbing True Crime Stories to Keep You Up All NightIn the Beginnings: Discovering the Two Worldviews Hidden Within Genesis 1-11Shadows and SageCrimson MelodiesRain Falling on EmbersTime Management Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowBusiness Law Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowThe Lioness and the Rat QueenThe Ones They TookStrange AttractorsUmbilicalIn the Lair of LegendsReturn to AlkademahThe Stroke Recovery Activity WorkbookLess ThanRide into RomanceBrighton AcademyFlames of EaderSketching RebellionThe Undulating ShadowsOne of Us Is GoneDid I Really Mean to Buy a Horse: What to Do When Your Horse Is Acting Like a Monster, and When (and How) to Call for HelpThe First UnicornThe Mire WitchThe Vanquisher of Kings IJackson Haines: The Skating KingExtinguishing ShadowsThe Last Man: A Novel of the 1927 Santa Claus Bank RobberyThe Dangers of Being Brave & TrueStraight up Tarot: Dating EditionStraight up Tarot: Single Parent EditionIf That Was Lunch, We've Had ItMindfirePeople Person: How to Talk to Anyone, Improve Social Awkwardness, and Communicate with Ease and ConfidenceThe Pen Thief and the Division of DestinyPapercuts: The Art of Self-DelusionThe Lord of Mist and MeadThe IcehouseArgren BlueI Am Changing Careers: Questions to Guide A Job SeekerThe Core of RageGodhunterOCELLICON: Future VisionsThe ABC's of Alzheimer's/Dementia CaregivingSpots in Your Love FeastsBeyond the Gloaming PassRahiEugene J. McGillicuddy's Alien Detective AgencyPoetry From the Porch & Other Writings: Pathway Through a PandemicDown a Bad RoadQuantum ReactionStone SoupFinancial Literacy for Young Adults Simplified: Discover How to Manage, Save, and Invest Money to Build a Secure & Independent FutureA Simple Tale of Water and WeepingBlood and WonderSee You LaterDeath's ReckoningHouse AretoliOlawuMaddie's GhostHer Dangerous Journey HomeBelle and Chloe: Reflections in the MirrorTo the StarsGameschooling on a Budget: Learning Through Games Without Spending a FortuneThe Last Movie StarThe Goodbye KidsTea Time With TollyThe Vitruvian MaskSevered RootsKing: An 8-Session Study of MarkDiscover the Power of Your Iphone 14: A Comprehensive Guide for Users of All Levels-Simplifying Technology for a Better Experience with Large Print and IllustrationsThe Keeper's ApprenticeNon-Fiction for Newbies: How to Write a Factual Book and Actually Kind of Enjoy ItHow to Feel Better... Realistically (UK Edition)Belle's RuinLife Scenarios and What To Do About Them (UK Edition)Bond and SongA Donnybrook AffairHope Verdad Presents: Short Stories for ThinersPaper ForestsThe Legend of Rachel PetersenCry Big Bad WolfK.I.S.S. Parenting: Beginners Guide for New Parents - What Really Matters with a New BabyBiting Thorns Off RosesThe Immortals ChronicleOut in the Dark: a queer road to mental health

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Alcove Press Beaufort Books
Bethany House BLF Press Boss Fight Books
Brazos Press Broadleaf Books Bronzewood Books
CarTech Books Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC City Owl Press
eSpec Books Gefen Publishing House Gnome Road Publishing
Hawkwood Books IFWG Publishing International Imbrifex Books
Legacy Books Press Lerner Publishing Group Mamaya
Mint Editions New Wind Publishing NewCon Press
Nosy Crow US Platypus Media PublishNation
Revell Rootstock Publishing Three Rooms Press
Tiny Fox Press Tiny Ghost Press True Crime Seven
Tundra Books Tyndale House Publishers University of Nevada Press
University of North Georgia Press Unsolicited Press Vesuvian Books
Vibrant Publishers Wise Media Group WorthyKids

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, July 19th, 2023

An Interview with Sandra A. Miller

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with Sandra A. Miller, an essayist and feature writer, whose 2019 memoir, Trove, chronicled her parallel searches for worldly treasure—$10,000 in coins buried somewhere in New York City—and a deeper sense of meaning, an answer to the sense of longing that was consuming her, despite an ostensibly happy and successful life. Miller’s debut novel, Wednesdays at One, released by Zibby Books earlier this month, is a work of literary suspense that follows the story of a clinical psychologist who is haunted by the mistakes of his past, as brought to light by a mysterious unscheduled client who begins to appear at his office every Wednesday afternoon.

Where did the idea for Wednesdays at One begin? Did the story idea come first, or did the characters?

The seed for the idea was planted twenty-seven years ago when my husband, who is a clinical psychologist, was stalked by one of his clients. She would come to our house and listen to our conversations through open windows, then bring that information into their therapy sessions. Without going into the details of what turned into a four-year nightmare for my family, I started thinking about what it would be like if a psychologist with a dark past had a client come into his office knowing something reprehensible that he’d done. I was interested in the idea of that role reversal–a vulnerable therapist and a client in the power seat. The idea stayed with me for decades in which I made a few attempts to tell the story from the female client’s perspective. It wasn’t until I got the voice of Dr. Gregory Weber—the guilty psychologist–in my head that the story really took shape.

The therapeutic process, and the relationship between therapists and patients, is a narrative element used in many stories, including your own. Why is that? Does it bring something important to your book, something that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, that the protagonist is a psychologist?

The therapy dynamic involves the exchange of deeply personal information that often no one else is privy to except the people in that room. There are clear parameters to protect the client who is disclosing that information, leaving room for trouble if the therapist steps outside of the professional boundaries and does anything even vaguely untoward or inappropriate. In Wednesdays at One, Dr. Gregory Weber does not maintain his professional demeanor, and that makes for a compelling and dramatic story. There most certainly wouldn’t be the same high stakes if Gregory worked in another profession—one that didn’t hold him to the highest of moral standards.

Your protagonist is described as having an enviable life, in many ways, but is afflicted by a secret sense of unease and dissatisfaction. This contrast between the outward and inward life is similar to the one explored in your memoir. Would you say that Trove was an influence on some of the themes of your story?

Absolutely. Several of the themes in Trove—Catholic guilt, classism, family dysfunction, and the conflict between our inner and outer lives—have reappeared in Wednesdays at One in a fictional form. Those were the most prominent themes of my childhood, and now I’ve explored them in my novel. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely finished with these themes, because they offer rich opportunities to create tension between characters and deepen the plot. Another key subject in Trove was my father’s illness and death—something which my protagonist Gregory must deal with in the novel. As a creative writing teacher, I tell my students they may find that they have a key story or theme that will find its way into all of their work. Losing my father when I was nineteen is that subject for me. It shows up, if only subtly, in nearly everything I write.

Your essays and articles have appeared in hundreds of magazines and journals, and you have a memoir under your belt as well, but this is your first novel. Did your writing process differ with this book, when compared to your other work, and if so, how?

I recently realized that I wasn’t able to write a novel when I was raising my two young children, because I didn’t have the space required to build a complex fictional world—not when my real family needed so much of my energy and attention. In those years, I had far more success with creative nonfiction inspired by personal stories from my own life. I could easily write about my son’s debilitating eczema, my mother’s protracted illness, my beloved sister’s five year battle with cancer (she’s fine now). Those stories poured out of me, and I could find plenty of markets to publish my writing. But in the pandemic summer of 2020, with both of my children independent, this novel came to me like a download, and I had the mental and emotional space to write it. I wrote 1000 words a day for three months and by the end of the summer, the novel was complete. It felt like a gift. Or maybe the story was building inside me, waiting for the right moment to emerge.

What was your favorite part about writing Wednesdays at One? Was there anything about the process you didn’t particularly like?

The writing process for this book was magical. In thirty years as a creative writer, I never experienced anything like it. I enjoyed writing all of the characters, which made them a delight to interact with on the page. I guess the hard part happened when I started getting feedback from my beta readers and had to go in and make some changes to the characters I’d gotten to know and care about as they were.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

I read pretty widely, but my weakness is for rich, emotional family dramas with some dark turns. Glancing at my shelves I see many books by Elizabeth Strout, John Irving, Annie Ernaux, and Jumpa Lahiri. I also read a fair amount of memoirs, as long as they have a strong narrative arc, such as Barbarian Days by William Finnegan or the heartbreaking, Know My Name by Chanel Miller.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

I’m really enjoying Long Bright River by Liz Moore and just finished listening to Viola Davis’s memoir Finding Me, which is one of my favorite audiobooks. Don’t miss that one.

With Milan Kundera’s recent death, I was reminded of how much I loved all of his books, most of which I read in my MFA program. But The Unbearable Lightness of Being is one of my favorite novels, and it taught me so much about structure and point of view. It’s a great book for readers to enjoy and writers to learn from.

Labels: author interview, interview

Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

TinyCat’s July Library of the Month: Les Fruits de Mer’s Soualibra Library

TinyCat’s Library of the Month goes to a wonderful non-profit, Les Fruits de Mer‘s Soualibra Library, which is focused on educating the public about all things St. Martin. (St. Martin is the northern French side of the Caribbean island shared with its southern Dutch counterpart, Sint Maarten.) Being a personal repeat visitor to the island, myself, I was thrilled to interview the association’s co-founder and volunteer Mark for this month’s questions:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

Les Fruits de Mer is a non-profit association based on the island of St. Martin. Our mission is to provide education on local nature, heritage and culture. We have a free museum, Amuseum Naturalis. We also publish books about local subjects. One of our goals is to give a book to every student on the island every year they are in school. To do this, we’ve been developing books for all ages on a range of local subjects. Last year we gave away over 7,500 books. All our books are also available as free downloads.

Volunteers at one of Soualibra’s local events.

What an incredible project! Can you tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community?

Our library is called Soualibra. It’s named after one of the Amerindian names for St. Martin, Soualiga. In 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed all the libraries on the island. Because we had a museum, students were coming to us when they needed to do research. We decided to start Soualibra as a research library. Our collection is focused on books about St. Martin. 

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

We have quite a few books by Lasana M. Sekou and other local poets that are currently out of print. They are a really great window into the cultural life of the island before I lived here. And really enjoyable. Ideally, they would all be back in print, but at least we have copies available to people who are interested. 

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

We would love to have every book about St. Martin, but some of the older ones are very hard to find. On the other hand, we have managed to track down many older books, even ones with very small local printings. This is one thing that motivated us to publish books, because they do survive. It’s the best way to ensure information is still accessible in 100 years.

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see developed?

I love that it is easy to use and for most books I can scan the barcode to add them. I don’t know if I need any new features, since we probably only use a fraction of the current capabilities. We have book clubs and a lot of book lovers on St. Martin and I wish there were more local reviews of local books. I am always looking for someone interested in reading and writing about St. Martin books and it would be great to integrate those local reviews into the catalog.

We could always consider allowing internal reviews for TinyCat libraries, down the line, thanks for your feedback!

Want to learn more about the Soualibra Library and Les Fruits de Mer?

Visit the library’s website at, Les Fruits de Mer’s website at (with all of their published books at, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat