Why You Should Geek Your Library

A few weeks ago, I saw this sticker at my local library:

Geek the library
I’m already a self-proclaimed Word Nerd. Could I be a geek too?

My young friend Annika tells me that a geek is someone who obsesses about things like comic books, anime, or Sherlock. A nerd is someone with academic or intellectual interests and/or abilities. In other words, someone like me, who likes learning new things via the TED Radio Hour and Grammar Girl podcasts.

So, it seems possible that I can be a geek AND a nerd. I just don’t want to be a dork.

I was curious about this Geek stuff, so I checked out geekthelibrary.org. According to them, “to geek” is:

  • To love, to enjoy, to celebrate, to have an intense passion for.
  • To express interest in.
  • To possess a large amount of knowledge in.
  • To promote

Geek the Library is a non-profit promoting public libraries and encouraging funding for them. Their slogan “Geek the Library” reminds us that public libraries support all geeks, as well as normal people.

Public libraries play a critical role in our society by offering things like:

  • free public access to computers and the Internet
  • assistance with online job applications
  • help with homework or tutoring
  • special programing such as art classes, gardening tips, and music.
  • reading programs to encourage reluctant readers
  • resources and information on hundreds of topics
  • entertainment via books and DVDs

Many people are struggling because of the poor economy. Public libraries can fill in the gaps by creating a sense of community and providing valuable assistance.

They can’t do all this without funding.

Here’s where you come in.

  • Use your library to help you with what you geek.
  • Tell other people about available programs and resources at your local library.
  • Find out how your local library gets funding, and do what you can to help.
    • For example, I know my library gets money based on participation in the winter and summer reading programs, so I always sign up my family.
  • Get cool t-shirts and stickers from geekthelibrary.org that proclaim what you geek.  (I’d like an “I geek books” shirt, myself.)
  • Share what you geek at the geekthelibrary site.

I proudly geek my local library, as well as books, soccer, grammar, and Tolkien.

What do you geek? What do you do to support your local library?

Thanks for getting “geeky” with me. 😉


The Origin of “Hat Trick”

wondrous memeAll three of my boys play soccer, and a common phrase we hear out on the pitch is “he scored a hat trick!” If you’re not familiar with soccer or cricket, you might not understand why a hat trick causes so much celebration. I’m here to explain.

If you want to learn more about new and unusual words, join the fun with Bermuda Onion’s Wondrous Words Wednesday meme. Visit Bermuda Onion and/or write your own post and link up.

When a player in soccer, or other goal scoring sports, gets three goals in one game, people say he or she has scored a “hat trick”. But since when does “hat” have anything to do with three? Merriam-Webster had the scoop.

Hat Trick:

  1. the retiring of three batsmen with three consecutive balls by a bowler in cricket
  2. the scoring of three goals in one game by a single player
  3. a series of three victories, successes, or related accomplishments

The phrase comes from British cricket. When a player retired three batsmen with three consecutive balls, the club gave him with a new hat to honor his accomplishment. Hence, “hat trick”. The term expanded to include one player scoring three goals in any appropriate sport, and eventually it came to mean three major achievements in any field. It’s now sometimes used in baseball when a batter gets three hits during three turns at bat.

One of my favorite soccer players fighting for a "Hat Trick".  It's okay to grab an arm, right? ;)

One of my favorite soccer players fighting for a “Hat Trick”. It’s okay to grab an arm, right? ;)


Word Nerd Workout

Can you share another term from sports that has an interesting background? Check out my posts on the meanings of coach and compete. (Originally, “coach” was all about “carriages”!)

Thanks for getting nerdy with me.


Why You Should Read We Were Liars

we were liars

Have you ever read a book that you loved and kinda hated at the same time?  That’s where I am with We Were Liars by E Lockhart. I think of it as “Gone Girl for YA.”


We Were Liars tells the story of the Sinclair family, a wealthy bunch who summer on their own private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Their “smiles are wide, their chins square, their tennis serves aggressive”. But once you strip these beautiful people of their designer accoutrements, you find some ugly faults hidden underneath.

Cady, the protagonist, spends idyllic summers with her cousins, the Liars, swimming, boating, and falling in love. But during the summer when Cady was 15, something awful happened.  And she can’t remember what it is. Nonsensical snippets come back to her, along with painful headaches, but no one will explain because the doctors want her to figure it out on her own.

And, as astute readers might guess from the title, We Were Liars, Cady is an unreliable narrator, meaning we can’t trust everything she tells us.
All this makes for a page turning read.

I’m conflicted about this book because it is so well written, yet there are certain aspects of the story that leave me disturbed and unsatisfied. I also want to review it without spoiling it, because the end is critical. Let me tell you the good stuff first.

What I liked

  • Lockhart uses fresh, vivid descriptions for her characters and their emotions. For example, when Cady explains that her father abandoned her family because he couldn’t stand being with the Sinclairs anymore, she says

Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound…

On first reading, I foolishly took this literally, then realized Lockhart’s skill with description.

  • Excellent pacing – Lockhart carefully parcels out clues in short, snappy chapters that kept me engrossed.
  • Lockhart has a poetic style, which gives Cady a unique voice.
  • Cady jumps around in time as she tells her story, which adds complexity and interest.
  • Throughout the novel, Lockhart alludes to Shakespeare’s King Lear; the conflict between the king and his daughters perfectly compliments this story. There’s also a reference to Wuthering Heights.
  • The ending totally surprised me.

What I didn’t like

  • The ending.

True, I never would have guessed what happened, but I read the last several pages with my face twisted up like I’d eaten a lemon. Shocked and not necessarily happy about it. Perhaps that’s what Lockhart is going for. I don’t read many thrillers, but the few I have (e.g. Gone Girl) have also left me disturbed. I suppose to craft a truly surprising ending, an author has to strive beyond the expected. But I didn’t like where this went.

  • Although the characters are interesting, I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of them. The ending didn’t help. The plot drove my reading more so than the characters.


If you like a good thriller, such as Gone Girl, then you’d probably like We Were Liars. Actually, I liked it better than Gone Girl, which has too many ridiculous plot twists in the second half for my taste. This is a well written book, and one that got me thinking. It’s great for conversation.

Just don’t expect a happy feeling when you turn the last page.

Have you read We Were Liars? Please tell me what you think about it!  Can you recommend any other thrillers, especially for YA?

Thanks for stopping by!


Vocab from Phillis Wheatley: Retinue

wondrous memeIn my last post, I promised that reading and memorizing poetry would improve your vocabulary. Then the very next day I read a classic poem, via my Poem a Day emails, and I had to look up three new words! Told ya!

If you have new words from reading that you’d like to share, join us at Bermuda Onion for Wondrous Words Wednesday. Write a post with an interesting word and link up, or visit the posts of other word nerds.

On Saturday, Poets.org delivered On Virtue by Phillis Wheatley. This poem is in the public domain, so I may quote part of it here:

Auspicious queen, thine heav’nly pinions spread,
And lead celestial Chastity along:
Lo! Now her sacred retinue decends,
Array’d in glory from the orbs above.

Although I had to look up pinions and appellation too, the word I’m focusing on today is:
Retinue \’re-tǝ-nü\ noun from Anglo-French retenir to retain

  • A group of helpers, supporters, or followers.

In this poem, I think Wheatley pines for a closer connection to Virtue and personifies her as a glorious angel figure.

Why you should read a poem a dayWord Nerd Workout

Can you use retinue in a sentence? Here’s my try:

The young Leo DiCaprio always brought a retinue on location with him when shooting movies.

Thanks for getting nerdy with me!

Have you read a poem today?  It just takes a few minutes.

Why You Should Subscribe to a Poem a Day

Why you should read a poem a dayThe Inbox Dilemma

I guard my inbox with a double-sided battle-ax.  When the girls at Bath and Body Works ask for my email address, I say “No thanks.” Everyone wants me to subscribe to something. But I have four kids and plenty of email about soccer practice, swim volunteer jobs, PTA dances, and the latest youth group activities.

My subscription list must be selective. Can you relate?

Here’s something worth the precious space in your inbox. Something literary, intelligent, and thought-provoking.

A poem.

April is National Poetry Month, and every year the kids and I memorize at least one poem. It’s my way of exposing them, and myself, to poetry, and besides, it’s good for the brain. Memorizing poetry improves vocabulary, articulation, and appreciation of rhythm. It can also be used, as noted in the iconic movie Dead Poets Society, to “woo women.” 😉

This year I’m adding a new tradition: I read a poem a day.  The Academy of American Poets, via Poets.org, makes it easy. I give them my email address, and they send me one poem every morning.  I get previously unpublished poems from talented American poets on the weekdays and classics on the weekends.

I’ve already been impressed with some beauties.

Why You Should Read a Poem a Day

Poems are treasures of condensed language, wit and beauty rolled into carefully plotted lines. Poems challenge us to use words in unfamiliar ways.  And here’s a great quote from Naomi Shihab Nye, Academy of American Poets Chancellor:

When you live in a rapidly moving swirl, you can only view your surroundings with a glance. Poetry requires us to slow down, to take time to pause.

In a world spinning around 160 character long bits of communication, poems are short. You can read a poem over your lunch break, or to the family at dinner.  Come on Word Nerds, don’t you have five minutes a day?

I’m afraid that if I let April slip by without poetry, I’m gonna miss something precious, like blooming tulips or the giggle of my eight year old.

Poems to learn by heartCool poetry stuff

Don’t know where to find poems? Lemme help.

  • Sign up to receive a poem a day  via email from poets.org.
  • Check out Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy or Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies.  These lovely collections are geared towards children, but they have a wonderful assortment of poems.
  • Read your tweets as poems via Poetweet. Learn more about this fun app at J. Lynn Sheridan’s blog post, Just a Twitter of a Poem.
  • Sign up for updates from Suburban Haiku.  Peyton Price will have you laughing with her three line, 17 syllable commentaries on suburban life.

If you really want to get into the spirit of the month, you could join me and memorize a poem or two.  This year I’m revisiting For Katrina’s Sun Dial by Henry Van Dyke.

Can you suggest other ways to experience poetry this month? Where do you find poems that inspire you? Does anyone out there write poetry?

Thanks for sharing!


Vocab from The Ranger’s Apprentice: Taciturn

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday, a great way to improve your vocabulary. Visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion to find other cool words. Don’t forget you could write your own post and share in the learning.

All my kids, as well as my husband, have enjoyed The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. It’s middle grade fantasy, set in a world based on medieval England. I’ve recommended it to several moms for the 10-12 year old set and have gotten rave reviews in response. But I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read the books myself… until now! Audible has the entire series, and we are currently enjoying Flanagan’s stories on the hour ride (one way!) to swim and soccer practice.

Ranger's ApprenticeOne of the main characters in The Ranger’s Apprentice, Halt, is a talented ranger known for his grim and taciturn nature. Flanagan uses this word so often, I wanted to be sure I had it right.

taciturn \’ta-sǝ-tǝrn\ adj from Latin tacitus meaning silent

  • temperamentally disinclined to talk

This sounds like my hubby! People often misunderstand his taciturn nature as anger or pride. He’s the opposite of me, loquacious and chatty. We’ve got a good balance going on.

Word Nerd Workout

I’ve featured a few word nerd words that could be great synonyms or antonyms for taciturn. You should have plenty ideas to complete this analogy:

Loquacious: taciturn :: garrulous : _______________

Good luck, and thanks for playing.