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My 2017 Review in Books: Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and Reading with Nieces Wrap-Up

5 Jan

It is now 2018, and I wanted to use my first post of the year to wrap up some of my 2017 reading.

I followed the 2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge last year (more about that here), and completed 13 out of the 24 tasks–a lot further than I’ve gotten in past challenges! It motivates me for the 2018 Read Harder Challenge, for which I have already read one book. I will discuss that in another blog post.

Two completed Read Harder Challenge tasks that I didn’t get around to writing up were:

  • Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative
  • Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme of other than love

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue


Behold the Dreamers, Mbue’s debut novel and the pick of the Mile Square City Readers Book Club that I co-lead in September, is about Cameroonian immigrant Jende Jonga and his family living in New York City before the Great Recession of 2008. It was well received and generated an excellent discussion among the group, in particular about Jende’s wife Neni who was a pivotal character. This book will pull you in with the characters’ secrets and some surprises.

Pearl translated by Simon Armitage


Pearl is an allegorical poem about a man grieving the loss of his daughter that dates back to the fourteenth century. The original Middle English text is printed on one side of the page, and the modern English translation is printed on the facing page. I admit to reading the translated side as Middle English was too daunting. The poem was a beautiful depiction of loss and mourning. Click here for examples of Old English, Middle English, and Modern English to see the differences.

Another reading challenge I assigned to myself was to read books with my nieces. My two older nieces had formal summer reading assignments, which I wrote about here and here, that I followed. My youngest niece Samantha, now in fourth grade, at first pushed back when I asked her to pick a book to read together. Then one evening she called and told me she wanted to read The Power of Poppy Pendle by Natasha Lowe.

Poppy Pendle was born on the floor of a bakery, which instilled in her a passion for baking. She is also a witch–her parents want to focus on developing her powers but she would much rather bake. This leads to a clash between Poppy and her parents, which causes her powers to go out of control.

The Power of Poppy Pendle by Natasha Lowe


Truth time: I didn’t get around to reading this book in the summer. After finishing the book in the fall I called Sam to get her thoughts. Turns out she didn’t finish the book! She told me that she “barely has time to do anything.” Oh, kids.

Even though Sam didn’t read much of the book, I see why she picked this title: recipes are included at the end! Sam loves baking. When we are together we bake. She is not as interested in cleaning up after baking, leaving the messes for me, but she is getting better in that area.

Maybe next summer Sam will have more time and we can read a book together. 🙂


By the way, this is Sam

I read lots of other things in 2017, but wanted to keep this post brief. I am active on Goodreads. Join me at either the Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books on January 17 and the Mile Square City Readers Book Club on January 23.

Happy Reading in 2018!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Staff Picks for Poetry Month: Part 2

17 Apr

Sharing Your Poetry and Getting Published

Literary Market Place


Once you have begun writing poetry, you will want to begin sharing it with others.  The library has some great resources for finding a literary home for your work.  Literary Market Place is a directory for all genres of Writing, but its subject index allows you to easily narrow your focus to Publishers of Poetry.  Literary Market Place provides addresses, phone numbers, website, and emails for contacting publisher.  It also includes some basic information about the publishers such as number of titles that are typically published annually.  Besides publishers Literary Market Place includes information on editorial services and agents.  If you are looking for contact information for publishers whose work you have enjoyed, Literary Market Place is a good place to look, however, it is always a good idea once you found a potential “home” for your poetry to do a bit more research on the publisher to familiarize yourself with them and learn more about submission guidelines.  The library has a copy of Literary Market Place on the second floor next to the reference desk.

Poet’s Market


Another excellent resource, Poet’s Market, is also located near the reference desk.  Poet’s Market focuses specifically on poetry and lists contests and grants in addition to journals, book and chapbook publisher. Entries include information on the type of writing that the journal publishes, contact information along with tips from the publishers.  Poet’s Market is a good choice for those starting out since it also includes articles for beginning writers like mistakes to avoid when submitting your work and how to avoid scams.  It will even give you useful tips like a template for writing a cover letter and how to calculate postage. The library has a copy of Poet’s Market on the second floor next to the reference desk.

The library subscribes to several writing magazines including The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and Poets & WritersPoet & Writers includes along with insightful articles for writers, a classified section with journals and chapbook publishers looking for submissions.  Sometimes publishers may be working on an anthology on a specific topic such as one publisher in the March/April 2013 issue that is searching for poems about superheroes.

Park Bench Open-Mic

Of course beyond publishing you may want to interact with other writers and readers in person.  The Poet’s Market and Poets & Writers are also a resource for workshops and organizations.  Although poetry is enjoyable on the written page it can come alive when read aloud.  If you would like to read your work to a friendly audience, than you will enjoy the library’s Open Mics which will be beginning on May 18th at 2:00pm.  You can contact Sacha at for more information about the Open Mics.  The Open Mics take place in Church Square Park across from the library and are a great way to share your writing with the Hoboken Community.  If you would like to discuss your work with other creative writers than consider joining the library’s Writer’s Group which meets one Thursday a month.  Our next meeting will be on May 9th at 6:00pm.  You can email us at for more details about the Writers Group.

– Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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