2019 in books – or the year of did not finish

2019 was my ‘worst’ year of reading for a long time. I abandoned more books than I finished. My bedside table has unread books on it from the start of 2019 and my various iPad book apps are loaded with books returned after a few pages or just left to automatically return without being finished.

I’ve spent a few days trying to pinpoint why this happened and haven’t reached any conclusions. My preferences haven’t really changed – fantasy, YA, fairytales, historical fiction, non-fiction…I am focusing more on female, LGBTQIA+ and non-binary stories and character.

I do know that my tolerance for stories about women being assaulted, treated badly, used as a crappy excuse for a plot device or any awful behaviour towards women (that goes for film and TV too) is zero. One of my last attempted reads of 2019 was a beautifully written book, however the sense of foreboding and impending doom of the main female character was too much and I had to stop.

Do I put it down a challenging year with not much head space left for reading for pleasure? Maybe.

What did I finish and love this year? Here are my best reads of 2019.

The Poison Song (Book 3 of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy) by Jen Williams. I’ve raved about this book quite a bit on Twitter and to anyone who will listen. Jen has written the perfect ending to a fantasy story I absolutely loved. There were many tears shed over this book, and the story if full of strong, feminist characters that take no shit. Glorious, funny, brilliant. 5 million stars.

The Binding by Bridget Collins. This novel that has stayed with me since finishing. I went back and re-read it straight away and have just downloaded the e-book. This story is beautiful, haunting and unexpected. Also 5 million stars.

That’s it! A slow year for me (and a very out of date GoodReads list…).

Got any book recommendations for me? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter!

Note: I started Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green on 1 January and finished it on 2 January and loved it. Fingers crossed 2020 will be year of more finished books!

10 career building tips for library students and new graduates

I recently spoke at an online careers evening, with two other library professionals. The central idea for my talk was “It’s Up To You” and I wasn’t surprised to hear the other speakers talk about taking control of their career post-study, reinforcing my theme perfectly! And I wasn’t surprised to hear that both speakers talk about seizing opportunities, making hard decisions around study, moving for work and joining special interest groups to network and learn.

Once you have graduated from your library course, the learning begins all over again. You might secure a role straight away and HELLO! time to learn all the things about your organisation and job. Or you may be job searching or learning how to maintain your enthusiasm and library knowledge whilst working in another industry. But how do you find the right people to connect with, find a mentor or learn more about the specific area of library/information you are interested in?

Before the information session started, I created a Google Doc to capture articles and links that would be useful for those attending, and of course I shared it on Twitter and the Turbitt & Duck Facebook group, with a request for my fellow library people:

The collaboration and knowledge sharing game is strong in the library and information world, so here are ten tips from the It’s Up To You Google Doc, Twitter discussion, information session and me!

  1. Join Twitter – it’s brilliant for following conferences from afar, connecting with people, finding resources and sharing knowledge.
  2. Brush up on your interview skills.
  3. Ask a colleague or friend to review your resume or use a resume review service. If it’s been a long time since you’ve updated this document, do it now.
  4. Join a special interest group. You will expand your networks and find opportunities very quickly!
  5. Be curious! Ask questions and read widely.
  6. Create networks. If you are happy to do this online, join Twitter, Facebook groups, participate in online chats. If face to face is your thing, find a local group or event or start one.
  7. Volunteer at GLAM events. You’ll meet people, hear from industry experts and flex your networking muscles.
  8. Professional development comes in many forms – articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, hands on learning, books, online discussions  . . . get creative!
  9. Spend time learning about transferable skills and how to translate what you already have into library and information terms.
  10. Don’t expect your employer to provide opportunities for you. It’s up to you to develop the skills, attributes and knowledge you need.

The “It’s Up To You” doc will stay open to all, so if you have something to add, please do! And thank you to everyone who has contributed, let’s keep adding and sharing!

Why podcasts are great for discovery and learning

Where do you find inspiration? Where do you go to learn about a new topic or to expand your knowledge? I love storytelling, conversation and voices so podcasts are go-to for learning and discovering new topics, books, people and ideas. Humour, stories, interviews, psychology, history, libraries, creativity, business – all inspiration and brain fodder for me.

Podcasts don’t have to have big production values or a huge international platform. Some of my favourites are small, niche and probably recorded in someone’s bedroom. That’s the joy of podcasts for me – anyone can do it which means the breadth and depth of topics is HUGE! I love finding them (comments in a long thread in a Facebook group, recommendations from a friend, mentions in another podcast – so many ways). And I love sharing episodes I’ve enjoyed or have induced an AHA! moment with friends (you know who you are, thanks for pretending you listened!).

In no particular order, these are podcasts I’ve enjoyed lately. Perhaps they’ll be your jumping off point, your springboard to discovering something new?

Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda – Judge Judy on How to Figure Out Who’s Telling The Truth. Alan Alda’s voice and his beautiful interview style…absolutely love this podcast and Judy Sheindlin is a force of nature!

Brave, Not Perfect – Kelly Roberts. Follow Kelly on Instagram, she is honest, fierce and funny.

Ways to Change the World – Jameela Jamil on banning airbrushing, the Kardashians and her traumatic teens. Have you seen The Good Place? Jameela Jamil is much more than her character Tahani.

Safe For Work – Resumes, cover letters and interviews, oh my! Sometimes I like to listen people discussing resumes, nothing wrong with that!

GLAM Research – Kim Tairi, Librarian, Lover of Brevity, Social Media & Fashion. Loved this thoughtful discussion with Kim and host, Adam Seuss.

Beyond the Stacks – Episode 24: Kim Dority, Alternative LIS Career Paths. The final episode of this great library podcast and it is an absolute cracker. There is life and fulfilment outside the library world!

Creative Pep Talk – 193 – How to Win Dream Opportunities (Side Quest Series Pt 2). Confession, I’ve fallen for this podcast hard. I love Andy’s pop culture references and his honest take on being a creative.

By the Book – The 4-Hour Workweek. Always honest, always thoughtful, I love hearing books being dissected by Jolenta and Kirsten.

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard – Mila Kunis. Engaging guests and long episodes make me happy, this one is a favourite from this show.

Why Won’t You Date Me? – Racism in Hollywood with Oscar Montoya. Nicole Byers makes me laugh a lot, definitely not safe for when a teenager hops in the car…or maybe it is?

And a bonus “haven’t listened yet but am itching for a long walk so I can” mention goes to Edgelands: Stories from the Russian Border.

What’s on your podcast list?

Why writing a values list changed everything

Episode 19 of Turbitt & Duck: The Library Podcast was a flipped episode. Clare Thorpe interviewed Amy Walduck and I about resilience, values, theme songs and perfectionism.. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and being interviewed and surprised myself by talking about my “values list” and why it has changed the way I feel about myself, my decision making, anxiety and confidence.

Defining my personal values was hard (who thought making a list of what’s important to you could be difficult? not me!) and as I mention in the episode, my first couple of drafts were completely off the mark and very focused on what I thought people wanted me to value or what they saw in me. Some of the values were superficial and on reflection, didn’t hold any meaning for me. However, once those twenty two values were on paper, it felt right, to see how I feel about myself reflected back at me. I had my “who and why”. I’ve kept the list with me for several years now and it has played a big part in becoming more resilient and self-aware.

What’s the point of a list?

For me, the purpose of the list was to identify the values I live by and then use it as a tool to navigate life. Mine is a list because the format works for me but I’m sure there are many ways of capturing your values.

How do I use it? When faced with a difficult decision, I use it to trigger a conversation with myself around “why I am finding it hard to decide?, what is making me uncomfortable? Does the project, opportunity, person reflect my values?”.

I use it when I am stressed, anxious or falling into perfectionist behaviour. That’s when I say to myself “Stop. Look at the list. What’s not in alignment with these values? Am I doing the opposite? Where am I pushing to fit when I don’t? How can I change that?”.

Are you wondering what my personal values are?

Authenticity. Integrity. Independence. Enjoyment. Empathy. Originality. Curiosity. Strength. Good Health. Honesty. Decisiveness. Fun. Generosity. Fairness. Belonging. Stability. Openness. Enthusiasm. Thoughtfulness. Happiness. Consistency. Self-Expression.

I can honestly say that having this list that I can open on my phone and ponder whenever I need to, has made me happier, more resilient and able to get to the root of unhappiness, anxiety and frustration quickly. I don’t need to ramble around in my head for weeks trying to figure out why I’m struggling or whether I should be doing something, or why I keep on avoiding a task, the answer is there for me. Even though I’ll do my best to ignore it sometimes, I’m there on the screen.

Have you got a list of personal values? Do you think it makes decision making easier? Do you feel more resilient and capable?