Author Archives: renata


Hello, here is a life update: IDK WTF I am doing!

For most of the last year I have been making elaborate plans to:

  • Quit my job in June
  • Temporarily move back in with my parents
  • Hike the 200-mile John Muir Trail in July–a multi-week endeavor whose timing would be difficult if not impossible to do while employed as a youth services librarian, where summer reading club requires all hands on deck
  • Find a job and move to Boston, possibly in reverse order

However, the friend who I’d been planning to hike the JMT with just canceled on the trip due to health concerns. Although I have been preparing physically, mentally, and legally (*Yosemite’s permit system is wild) for the trip for a long time, I don’t feel comfortable making that hike on my own. But I have already put in notice at my job and ended my lease on June 30, so in July I’m doing something. What? Who knows, man. If you are ISO adventure this summer please hit me up. Otherwise I might settle for a shorter, less mountainous backpacking trip on my own. Baby Cheryl Strayed steps.

Here are some questions you might have for me and their answers, to the best of my abilities:

OMG you quit a job with benefits with nothing lined up afterwards?! In this day and age?

Yep. And I love my job! And I love my coworkers! But I moved here right after grad school just because it was the first job I got offered, and it’s increasingly obvious that I don’t want to live in this location permanently, even though I have enjoyed my time here and met some extremely lovely people here! This is the longest I’ve lived any place since college and it feels like time to move on.

Also, I have been applying for jobs in Boston sporadically and been told by multiple people that public libraries in the Boston area are generally only interested in local candidates. So I’m hoping that if I make myself a local candidate, I’ll find something! I’m a very qualified, great librarian! And if not: I am a marginally competent cashier! I’ll find something! I have savings I can live off of and a Peace Corps-instilled low standard of living. If you are hiring in the Boston area please let me know!

Why Boston?

I haven’t lived on the east coast for an extended period of time before! A lot of my dearest friends live in Boston and I miss them! As a Broadway-obsessed soul I find the idea of being a bus-trip away from New York City very appealing!

When, exactly, are you moving?

My lease in Indiana is up June 30th so I’ll be out of here by then. As to when I’ll move to Boston–that’s a bit more up in the air. My dear parents have expressed flexibility regarding my (and Duarte’s) stay with them. I’ll be looking for jobs and roommates and I’ll be aiming to be out there in August.

Can I help you?

Sure: if you know people looking for roommates or librarians in the Boston area, starting around August, please put them in touch with me! Or just put some good vibes for me in your prayers/on your vision board.

This all sounds like a terrible idea.

a) that’s not a question and b) that’s fine, just keep that kind of talk behind my back, thanks! I know this decision might sound rash and stupid but it is something I have been thinking about and planning for a long time! Even if the plans have already altered significantly from my dreams, I am still excited for this next adventure.


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Not Artsy? Let Patrons Make Your Bulletin Boards For You

My fellow teen librarian Ruth and I are good at a lot of stuff! Totally good at stuff! But we’re not great at arts or crafts. That became something of an issue when our teen area moved into a new, larger space that came with a huge bulletin board area. It’s so big that it looks silly left empty, or used for just a couple of small posters like our old bulletin board. This one requires a full-on bulletin board. We tried, but honestly… we were not very good at the art of bulletin board. Our first few attempts looked pretty amateurish.

I don’t have pictures of our first few bulletin boards but you can imagine the bulletin board equivalent of this:

You Tried

Then, when winter reading club rolled around, we decided to make big review slips for kids to fill out. We’d post them (assuming they gave us permission–there was a spot on the review for them to allow us to post their review) along with a printout of the book cover.

Winter Reading Club

Winter Reading Club 2

Oh, also, we had teen volunteers cut out those snowflakes for the border. BAM: a fun project for all those kids who put off their required volunteer hours until the last minute and a seasonal decoration.

The posted reviews turned out to be really popular! Patrons loved looking to see what others had read, as well as finding their own reviews. It was interesting as staff to see the accumulated reviews too, because it really does show that our teens are reading all kinds of stuff, not just the most popular authors of the moment.

Unfortunately, winter reading club eventually ended, and we had to take down our beloved bulletin board and figure out some other way to fill that huge space.

You Must Choose!

You Must Choose 2

We asked ourselves, “What’s happening in the pop culture universe?” and came up with the Batman vs Superman movie. Also, we had recently learned how to use the Cricut machine. (Kind of? If you’ll notice, I accidentally used lowercase S’s and O’s but was not willing to recut them.) We came up with this concept where patrons could choose a shape, write their name on it, and cast a vote for their fave. The cute animal shapes + gritty DC superheroes mixture is a bit random, but it entertained us. Plus, it encouraged patrons to interact with us. (This is a picture from shortly after we posted it. In the end I believe Batman won, although it always stayed pretty close between him and Wonder Woman. I was actually on vacation when this got taken down so I don’t have a picture of the end result.)

Now it’s March, so… March Madness! This isn’t an original idea; I’ve definitely seen other schools/libraries do a book/author March Madness display on Pinterest and the like. But it’s the first year we’ve had a good space for it.

March Madness

We picked 8 prose book authors/series and 8 manga/graphic novel series. Sort of randomly–we didn’t look at circ stats or anything, we just thought about what we knew was popular and tried to pick a good balance of things. Ruth printed out the logos and ballots for voting. (I did the cricut letters and this time I learned the difference between the capital and lowercase letters!) We just put this up at the beginning of March so voting is still open for the first round. My hope is for Harry Potter to take it but I think Attack on Titan and Deadpool have a good shot at going all the way too. We’ll see at the end of March!

Anyway, I mostly wanted to share this because most of the displays that get shared online are beautiful perfect works of art. I applaud those! But also if you’re not that good at bulletin boards, it’s okay friend. It’s okay. Make your patrons do it for you and get back to doing all the other library work you gotta do.

Plus, it will give patrons–especially in our case teens–ownership over their library!

Michael Scott Win-Win-Win



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What the Tarot Card Reader Told Me

Last weekend, my book club had a tarot card reader come to our meeting and have sessions with each of us. I’d been excitedly talking about it, and a lot of people were curious about it. So I thought I’d post about it. (Plus: this way I can keep track of the predictions.)

So, first of all: am I a ~believer~ in psychics and tarot cards and the like? I think I can best characterize my feelings thus:

I Want to Believe

I have a mild interest in ghosts, psychics, and the like. I’ve been on at least three ghost tours in my life. I know most of this stuff is definitely fake, but it’s fun. And who am I to say that all of it is fake? I think everyone, myself included, knows at least one seemingly well-adjusted person who is 100% sure they have experienced a real ghost. Who am I to say they’re definitely lying?

Also, this tarot card reader is someone we know from her storytelling at our local The Moth storyslams, and she explains that the tarot and other readings are about identifying patterns and putting your own narrative to them. That makes sense to me! And I already knew she was a good storyteller, so I figured I’d be in for an entertaining session even if it was completely inaccurate. I’m not necessarily going to make any big lifestyle changes based on my tarot card reading, but it was a nice chance to reflect on my current life situation.

My Tarot Card Reading

Here’s my tarot card spread! It was done with regular playing cards, which I knew was a thing because Gambit from the X-Men does it sometimes. Here’s a random website about it if you’re curious. I don’t remember all the details of what each card means but here are some general things:

  • The diamonds are about money. If you’ll notice, my first four cards were all diamonds and she told me some pretty specific things that were true… three of diamonds means a raise or promotion, and I had just received a small (but appreciated) raise at work. The Ace of Diamonds is specifically about contracts and legal documents and that I should be careful with my taxes this year… I had just been thinking about how Worst Bestsellers made a small (but appreciated!) amount of money this year and I’m not sure how to deal with that, tax-wise.
  • Spades are about “digging deep”. (I see some other websites categorize spades as “warning”, eek.) She told me that I’m at the end of a 9-year cycle and that this year of my life should be about evaluating things and discarding things that aren’t working for me. (Very Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That’s actually a process I started last year but stalled out on, and have definitely been meaning to finish KonMari-ing my apartment. Guess this year is the year to do it!)
  • The four of hearts means a journey, and according to my tarot card reader, the Ace of Spades means Cancer, which is one of my birth signs. (I’m a Gemini-Cancer cusp.) She told me that those 2 cards in combination suggested that I push myself out of my comfort zone by traveling, since Cancer is traditionally a homebody sign. This is very true for me, particularly with the backpacking trip my friend Anna and I are planning for this spring. (Also, some of these other tarot card/playing card websites I’m looking at now say King of Hearts is Cancer, but hey, I’m not an expert, and whatever it is, the meaning she derived rang true to me.)
  • Jack of Spades means change, which goes along with the theme of discarding things that aren’t working for me.
  • I don’t really remember the top three cards. Doing some googling now, I see that the 9 of Spades is widely considered a super unlucky card, which was definitely not mentioned to me. WHAT IS SHE HIDING FROM ME. I mean, I’d say it’s probably because our tarot card reader was very chill and into spinning the reading as an opportunity for reflection and evaluation and there’s not much point in telling someone about their possible upcoming bad luck. Anyway, there’s no way to control luck, so it’ll come or it won’t, I guess!
  • Haha I’m totally fine and not at all worried about the 9 of Spades. *builds blanket fort for the rest of 2016, just for fun and totally not out of irrational fear*

Also afterward she addressed us as a group and said that we had a way higher than normal number of zodiac cusparians in our group and that could explain why we’re all drawn together! Our friendship is written in the stars.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and genuinely got some good food for thought from my first tarot card reading. If any of you reading this are local-ish to Louisville, KY, let me know and I will happily give you her name because I definitely recommend her services.


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Renata’s 2016 Reading Resolutions

In the spirit of RA For All and other bloggers, I’m setting some reading resolutions! I read pretty quickly, and I read a lot. People (especially non-librarian pals) are often impressed by my GoodReads totals. But, I’m going to take a moment to explain what goes into my reading life, because a lot of my reading is already necessarily locked into pretty specific books.

As a co-host of the Worst Bestsellers podcast, I’m committed to read 24 books a year (more or less). Pretty much all of those books are not things I would ever pick up on my own. Often, I think that’s a good thing for my life as a librarian–I think it’s valuable to read widely to be familiar with popular books of different genres. (I’m not saying, for example, that every librarian needs to go out and read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I know that after reading it I had a very different idea of what it was about and what its appeal factors are than I did from just reading blog posts about it.)

As for booktalk books–every month of the school year my co-worker and I go out and share books with the local 7th and 8th graders. Every month I need 3 new books to share. We’ll call that another 24 books a year. Three a month doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can be pretty tricky to find a diverse collection of books that are appropriate for 7th and 8th graders but also engaging. A lot of YA books with really compelling hooks are really pitched at high schoolers, and I don’t feel comfortable bringing them into 7th grade classrooms. And plenty of stuff that is appropriate sounds too “babyish” to compel 7th graders to go out and pick it up off the shelf. Plus, I like to bring in a good blend of books including stories with diverse characters (especially diverse characters on the cover, so I can hold them up and kids can immediately see someone who looks like them on the cover), nonfiction (a lot of young readers really prefer true stories), and graphic novels (a great grab for some kinds of reluctant readers). So to find three good books to bring, I might have to try out ten. (Sometimes I’ll DNF a book after a few chapters if it becomes immediately apparent that a book is going to have too much “YA” content.)

At the library where I work, we have a Reading Wildly book club where each month we have to read one book from a designated genre. This is another great way to make myself read outside my comfort zone, and also adds another 12 books/year to my personal quota.

Then, I’m in a book club that meets once a month-ish. We’ll call that another 10 books/year I have to read. (I mean I guess I technically don’t have to, but I’d get a little side-eye if I showed up every month and just drank wine without talking about the book!)

So, that’s a minimum of 70/books a year that I have to read, although as mentioned, it ends up being more just to find the right blend of junior high books. But, I read more than that anyway. According to GoodReads, last year I read 272 books. What are my reading resolutions beyond what I have to read?

  • Last year I signed up to do the Book Riot Read Harder challenge last year but stopped keeping track of it pretty quickly. I think I did complete the challenge, or at least most of it, but I just didn’t have a good place to keep track of it. This year I want to finish it and keep track of it, and having this shiny new blog should help out with that! That should codify practices I try to follow when reading anyway–I do try to prioritize reading books by women and people of color, as well as from a variety of genres and formats.
  • I prefer to read comics in bound graphic novel form–that way you get a whole arc at once. I’m not on board for the serialized format that some would argue is the point of comics. But I do like to support creators and characters I like, so I subscribe to a small number of comics digitally. I always put off reading these and end up with some weird guilt about not reading the comics I’m paying for. I’d like to read my digital comics at least once a month.
  • I’d also like to read more children’s/middle grade books. Last year the teen department I work in joined with the children’s department to become youth services (where as before it was with adult as part of reference services), and now I’m seeing more younger kids (and their parents) on the regular. I’ll put a number on this and say I’d like to read at least 30 children’s/MG books this year.
  • On GoodReads I set a goal of reading 150 books, which is over twice as many as I “have” to read. If my reading life is similar to last year, I’ll probably read more than that, but I don’t like feeling too stressed about the numbers. (Sidenote if any non-librarians are reading this and feeling stressed, as I have heard friends remark on my GoodReads goals–don’t compare your reading goals with a librarian [or other book professional]’s! Whatever reading goal that is reasonable and healthy for you is what you should do!)

So, those are my resolutions! I’ll possibly check in on them occasionally on the blog, or just at the end of the year. We’ll see how I feel!

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Hello, and welcome to the Worst Blog, where we write stuff sometimes!

If you’re here, there’s a good chance you know us, Kait & Renata, from our podcast, The Worst Bestsellers. Since starting the podcast, we’ve also tweeted from @worstbestseller and occasionally posted some extra essays and thoughts, written by us or friends, on the podcast page under the Extras tag. But we didn’t want to clutter up the podcast page with a lot of blog posts and things that were too far afield from our podcast’s fairly narrow focus (providing commentary on and readers advisory for popular books of questionable quality). And it turns out that no one is using Livejournal anymore, and we’re too old to really understand Tumblr, so we’re launching this blog!

Here are some things that might appear on The Worst Blog:

  • Essays and extended thoughts on books discussed on The Worst Bestsellers, written by Kait & Renata or by guests
  • Book reviews and booktalks on books not discussed on The Worst Bestsellers
  • Write-ups and thoughts about library programs
  • Personal essays about whatever happens to catch Kait & Renata’s fancy
  • Pictures of Renata’s cat Duarte
  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Duarte seeing himself reflected in literature

We hope you enjoy reading our stuff in addition to listening to it!

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