Author Archives: Marissa Antosh

About Marissa Antosh

Librarian-to-be, artist, red enthusiast.

Not quite age appropriate…

I just read two GREAT BOOKS that aren’t quite right for their “target” audience. Don’t worry, nothing scandalous, but just a bit off the mark.

The first is called I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen. It’s a hilarious picture book about a bear who has lost his hat. There is a subtlety to it that may be lost on little ones. Also, at the very end, some particularly sensitive children might get sad, if they even pick up on what happens at all. That being said, I was laughing so hard at the end! If you appreciate a good picture book, see if your local library has it. There are other great reviews on the web, like this one from Wired‘s Geek Dad, or this one from the Calling Caldecott blog. Great story, but might not be right for the tiniest children.

The next is a young adult book called The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. The premise is this: It’s 1996, and the Internet is not in widespread use yet. Josh goes next door to his best friend Emma’s house with an America Online CD-ROM that came in the mail. Emma loads it onto her new desktop computer, and when she logs in, she finds herself and Josh on Facebook fifteen years in the future. I thought it was a clever concept, but no teen actually remembers getting those AOL CD-ROMs, or even what a CD-ROM is. I’m 28, and so I was 13 in 1996. I clearly remember using a dial-up modem, not being able to use the phone while online, not having a cell phone, and all those details that are essential to this book. They are pointed out clearly in the text, but I think it will go over the heads of most teens. Give this book to someone my age or a bit older and the connection to both the old and new technology is there. That being said, the story of being able to see into one’s future was cool, especially when Emma and Josh make slight changes to their current lives that make big waves down the line. Try this review from the LA Times for more.



Guidelines for gifting books

So November has flown by and we’re already past Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. As a book lover, I tend to give books to people as gifts for the holidays. However, I suggest the following guidelines for gifting:

1. Read the book. You wouldn’t suggest a restaurant to a loved one without eating there first, right? Same goes for books. If you can’t read the book (no time, it’s checked out of your library, etc.) try and find a good review. The New York Times is good, and they just came out with their 100 Notable Books of 2011. Other resources are Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. For the kiddos, look at The Horn Book or School Library Journal. Or ask your librarian. Librarians love to suggest books.

2. Spy on your loved one. Does your mom have a stack of romance novels? Is your boyfriend a horror fan? Peek at the bookshelf of the person you are buying for, or ask someone else to peek if the person doesn’t live with you. For example, my dad fancies himself a mariner, so I got him The Devil’s Teeth, about sharks. He loved it! Epic gift win. You can also look up a title they’ve enjoyed on Amazon, which will then suggest other books that are similar. You can also see if your local library subscribes to NoveList, or use free services like GoodReads or LibraryThing.

3. Shell out for a nice copy… Go for the hardcover, people. It’s easier to wrap, first of all, and just seems more gift-y than a paperback. Inscribe the book with a note. Cut off the corner that has the price on the dust jacket. “But then I can’t return it if they don’t want it!” you exclaim. If you successfully completed steps 1 and 2, you shouldn’t worry. They will love it!

4. …but don’t go crazy. Unless the person you are buying for is absolutely totally 1000% into a topic, you don’t need to go overboard. If your favorite uncle is a Shakespearean scholar and you found a first folio with Billy Shakes’ autograph, and you have a zillion dollars to buy it, then by all means go for it. However, if you go to your local library, they usually have an ongoing book sale and you can get very very gently used hardcovers for five dollars or so. This is also a great resource for buying children’s books.

Be merry, and be bookish.



It’s spooky time…

It’as getting quite autumn-y here in the Northeast. I stomped in a pile of crispy leaves the other day, there are pumpkins on the porch, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween. I was never a horror fan, although I can deal with small doses of Stephen King thanks to Amanda. I just read two odd-and-good-but-not-scary YA books: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Peculiar Children centers around a guy named Jacob who grew up with bizarre tales and photographs from his grandfather. Once Jacob sees something unnatural and terrifying attack his grandfather in the woods, he knows he must go to Wales to find the orphanage where his grandfather grew up– Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The book is peppered with photographs of the peculiar children, borrowed from vintage photograph collectors to illustrate the story. I got the chills in several places and was afraid to turn the page lest I see something scary. There is a SMASH-BANG twist near the end, and the book ends with no finality, which I liked. Ransom Riggs, please do not write a sequel– let that uncertainty lie!

The Name of the Star is the latest from Maureen Johnson. The main character, Rory, is from Louisiana but is spending a year in London at boarding school. Unfortunately, she arrives just as a serial killer starts killing women in much the same way as Jack the Ripper did in the 1800s. One night, Rory sees a man that no one else can see, and suddenly, her life and view of the world change drastically. This book has a great climax and will be part of a series. I am so looking forward to find out what happens next. The library-centered comic Unshelved reviewed The Name of the Star recently, won’t you take a look?

Finally, since it’s almost Halloween, it’s also almost time for All Hallows’ Read, brainchild of the awesome Neil Gaiman. Why give candy when you can give books?










Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

This week, September 24-October 1, is Banned Books Week—an annual celebration of intellectual freedom. It also serves to educate about the dangers of censorship. The American Library Association, and librarians in general, are pretty vehement about the freedom to read, asserting that it is up to the patron (or, in the case of young kids, the parent) to determine what they want to read. Librarians—superheroes of the First Amendment!


Here are some great, often challenged books that I personally recommend:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


More info about Banned Books Week:

Question: What do you think about book censorship?

Geek Out: Yarn

A more appropriate title for this might be Geek Out: Art and Craftiness, but I chose yarn specifically because it’s been on my mind, like, today.

I LOVE YARN. I have too much of it. I specifically like sock yarn because I love to knit socks. What is geekier than knitting socks? Not much, especially if you sit home weekend nights knitting socks and watching TV. I have so many socks that I knitted for myself that my sock drawer is FULL. If I lived in Alaska, it might make sense to have this many warm, cozy, handknit socks. But I live in Connecticut, where it is temperate most of the year.

I also geek out about sheep. Not in a weird, yucky way, but in a “AWW! SHEEP ARE SO CUTE!” way. Ask my friend Andrea, who made the mistake of letting me into the sheep building at the Big E last year. I think we were there at least an hour? Maybe two? And I pet the sheep and talked to all the knitting and yarn people.

So for knitting books, I highly recommend the always informative and hilarious Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I also (today!) started a book by Catherine Friend called Sheepish which describes her experience living on a sheep farm.

That’s just one of my geek-outs. Any other yarn fans out there?

Do you remember what you were reading?

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Ten years seems like a long time, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I’m sure a lot of people remember that day, but do you remember what you were reading at that time?

It seems like a silly question…almost “Who CARES what I was reading when 3,000 people died?” I think it’s important to reflect on past reads, though, because they shape us, no matter how subtly.

My grandmother kept track of what she read, and so I started to do so as my New Year’s resolution in 2001. And so, in the beginning of September 2001, I read 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley and Shakespeare’s King Lear (I was in high school AP English). Looking back, I remember how sad these two particular stories were and how there was a sense of hopelessness around them (they are essentially the same story, Jane Smiley’s is an updated version of Lear.) I remember finishing 1000 Acres and just sitting there like a lump, like, how much more sadness is there to bear?

I’m not trying to be a downer, I just find it interesting that what we read often reflects our environment at the time.

Do any of you keep a list of what you read? Do you remember what you were reading?

Hello Wisconsin…and elsewhere!

First, I want to thank Amanda for inviting me onboard. I feel like the fan who gets to get up on stage during a concert. I love the idea of a holiday that is all about reading, but I also think it’s so important to incorporate reading for fun into every day.

I found out yesterday that my mom has never read E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web. For my part, I never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn until earlier this summer. My sister and I are working through the 2008 edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, which is what got me to read Huck Finn.

Are there books that you’ve never read that you wish you had, or books that you think people would be surprised that you haven’t gotten to yet?