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Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

"Minute to Midnight" by Gunter on

“Minute to Midnight” by Gunter on

Last week members of the Casti community gathered to brainstorm strategies for having a rich life as a pleasure reader. Here are the ideas shared by students and adults in our community. We would love to hear your strategies for finding time to read in the comments below!

Finding time to read:

In addition to the recent post, Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading, community members suggested:

  1. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library)
  2. Sit on the heating vent–very cozy!
  3. I schedule time on my calendar.
  4. I have a Goodreads account, so I can look for books that I want to read and mark books I have already read.
  5. I use Novelist (through the library databases page) to find new books, and the library Pinterest page, too.
  6. I am attempting to read 50 books in 2015–setting goals helps.
  7. Do the library reading challenges.

How to stop reading when the time is right:

    1. Don’t plan to stop at the end of the chapter. It will be a cliffhanger. Instead, plan to stop mid-chapter.
    2. Set a timer to ring when you need to stop. Leave it across the room, so you need to get up and turn it off. Put the book down when you get up to turn it off.
    3. If you are the kind of person who reads random pages in a book before you even start, read the end of the book when you know you are going to need to stop in the middle. That breaks you of the “need to know” and will allow you to enjoy the rest of the book at a reasonable pace.
    4. Read different types of books at different times-ones that are interesting but can be read in small chunks during the week/school weeks, a whole pile that I cannot put down for weekends/vacations.
    5. If you are eReading, use an app like Time Out to grey your screen and make you stop.
    6. Play some non-booky music. (Maybe set a device to start playing it when your reading time is up?)
    7. I always read over breakfast — it’s a short time span, with a hard stop, as I must get up and come to Casti! I’ve ceased worrying about making it to the end of a chapter, who cares.
    8. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library).
    9. Read in a public space like The Circle or a community area in your home like the living room or kitchen-where distractions will come up and you’ll be reminded to look up and smile at someone getting a snack, say hi to a family member, or admire the beautiful blue sky.
    10. When you want to stop reading, take a break to do a mindfulness activity (such as a short meditation, apps like Stop, Breathe, & Think can help; Headspace is another) to get yourself out of the book, calm your mind, and ready yourself to shift gears.

Sometimes, if I really need to read for relaxation, I:

  • Re-read books I have read before;
  • Read something that I want to read, but know will not hold my attention for long; or
  • Read humorous essays that are just a few pages long, short stories, poems.
  1. Opening the shades and get lots of light in the room.
  2. Set page limits.
  3. Put an action item on your bookmark–get up and get a snack, do ten jumping jacks; you can list all the things you want to get done.
  4. Put a timer on your reading lamp.
  5. Choose books with dense action–even when you read a bit, you feel like something happened!
  6. Read when I have time to sit down and do it!
  7. Read realistic fiction–there is no action, so no suspense!
  8. Come to the library, and leave the book there when you leave–what you read in the library, stays in the library.
  9. Read with a buddy, parent, sibling – you can discuss the book, and you won’t want to get ahead of the other person.
  10. Read aloud (as a family) over dinner.
  11. Stop reading when you feel tired.
  12. Read a mixture of different genres–poems, short stories, essays, and magazines (that you can now check out from the library) are all things that are short.
  13. Take the train to school! That gives you time to read in both directions!


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Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading

Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading

Reading!What does it mean to make an intentional practice of reading? For me, it’s a way of life. When I was younger, I absolutely loved to read all the time. In elementary school, after I finished an assignment I would tuck my latest read inside a workbook and proceed to read about the BFG while the rest of my class worked on multiplying. This didn’t always go well. “Alex, what is there to read in your math book?” my teacher would ask. “There are only blank times tables in there!” As I got older and my homework load increased, I found less and less time to read. I could no longer bank on free time during school or afternoons without sports practices. Instead, I had to make time, and my intentional practice of reading was born.

Adopting an intentional practice of reading is easier and more fun than it sounds! It’s about being thoughtful in your reading choices and planning ahead to enjoy your picks. Here are my five tips for trying it out:

1. Make a list

I often find someone will give me a book suggestion, and by the time I go to the library I’ve forgotten the title. Making a list of authors and titles is a great way to avoid confusion and can help you remember to check out cool reads you wouldn’t otherwise come across.

2. Try something new

One of my favorite literary discoveries in high school was the essay. No, it’s not what your thinking! I’m talking about reading essays – fun, interesting, strange, mystifying, awesome essays – which are, unsurprisingly, much shorter than books. You can also check out books that are essay collections, and read one piece at a time. For a fun introduction, I suggest Bossypants by Tina Fey.

3. Schedule

Once you’ve found a book, article, or essay, make time to read it! You don’t need to finish the whole thing in one sitting – 15 minutes before you go to sleep is plenty of time to dive in.

4. Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy

Explore different reading environments, like your local park, a new café, or even your own backyard to see what works for you.

5. Invite A Friend

Create your own informal book club! Discovering a great book is that much more fun when you can discuss it with a friend over snacks.

by Alex Z. ’15

Image sources: School Librarian’s Workshop; Pietro Magni – The Reading Girl (La Leggitrice), model 1856, carved 1861 (photo by takomabibelot on; Fragonard, Jean-Honoré French Young Girl Reading c. 1770 (photo by The National Gallery of Art)

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My Favorite Things: Date Range Filtering

My Favorite Things: Date Range Filtering

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 1.59.57 PM

Have you ever wished you could look at webpages on a particular topic…but only from the last month? Identify books about FDR, but only those written during his presidency? Find pictures of One Direction, but only those posted during their X Factor days?

Google’s Date range filter allows you to specify a time period from which you want content. It works in general Web search, Images, Videos, News, and Scholar, and comes with automatic settings for items ranging from the past hour to the past year. So, for example, if you want only the latest help pages for using Google Drive, you can limit them to the past year and not get information that was last relevant in 2011.

Even cooler is the Custom range option, where you can tell Google from exactly what dates you want to see pages. Custom range allows you to tell Google that you want to see content from between two specific dates, such as pictures of One Direction posted to the web specifically between July 23, 2010, and December 12, 2010. Your can select a range of a single day, decade, or century. So, you could look for mentions of President Obama, but only before he announced he was running for president. Or take a snapshot of the reaction from the scientific community on the very day when Stephen Hawkings announced he no longer believed black holes existed as we have been thinking about them.

Physicist Stephen Hawking announced a new position on black holes on January 22, 2014.

This tool came in very handy recently, when I was writing a blog post about cool things authors do in addition to writing their books. I wanted to look at author Scott Westerfeld’s first blog post about parasites.

(1) I knew Westerfeld’s web address, so I did a site: search for [ parasite], asking Google to only look within that one website for any pages containing the word parasite.

[ parasite]


(2) By clicking on the Search tools button at the end of the menu appearing below the search box, I open a set of options, which appear in a new row. In general Web search, I get: Any timeAll results, and my location.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] search tools

(3) By clicking on Any time, I open a list of possible time filters:

  • Any time
  • Past hour
  • Past 24 hours
  • Past week
  • Past month
  • Past year, and
  • Custom range

I click on Custom range.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] any time open

(4) A Custom range box pops up, and lets me chose the dates I want my range to start and end. Since I know that Peeps was published in 2005, I ask for any pages from Westerfeld’s site that mention parasites, and which Google found before 2006. Google will auto-correct who years entered into the To box to the last day of the year–in this case, 12/31/2006.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] custom range

(5) I am now only seeing pages Google found before December 31, 2006. It tells me that the date filter is on right there in the menus under the search box. Also, each result showing on the page now also tells me the date on which Google first visited it.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] custom range on

(6) Another cool option has now appeared: there is a Sort by relevance drop-down menu, which allows me to change the order of my results. Now, I can Sort by date, instead. Note that pages sorted by date will be in reverse chronological order, meaning that the most recent pages will come first.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] sorted by date(7) Finally, it is simply a matter of going to the final result, or the earliest page on Westerfeld’s website that mentions parasites. Note that Google found it on August 21, 2005, which was actually the same day it was posted to the web.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] earliest post

I find that I use date range filtering a lot when I search. It can help me isolate a desired point in time, and using the date range filter in combination with the Sorted by date feature turns out to b very useful if I am trying to find the original source of an idea or an image.

How might you use it?

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Need A Book Recommendation? Try Pinterest!

Need A Book Recommendation? Try Pinterest!

Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year! We librarians have already begun working hard getting the library ready for you. We have piles of new books, many of which are already on display on racks and shelves around the library. We’re excited to recommend some excellent reads for you.

Take a look to your right – see where it says “New Books?” That’s the feed from the Casti Library Pinterest account, and it will always show you four book covers that we’ve recently added to the library collection. Clicking on a book cover will lead you to the pin for that particular title. You can also look underneath the book covers and click on the little P. That will take you to our main page, where you can find boards dedicated to various genres and themes, like scary stories, books about to become movies or TV shows, mysteries, and more. All of the books on those pages are titles we have in our collection, so you can be sure to have access to them as soon as you see them and decide you want to read them.

What makes this even more fun is that once you are on one of our Pinterest boards, you can discover even more about books and the world of literature and publishing. Every book you click on will first pop up with an annotation to help you learn more about the book, including recommended grade levels. Then, once you click again, you’ll be taken off-site to see a video book trailer, read an interview with the author, visit the author’s website, or go somewhere else on the Internet that will allow you to get to know the book even better.

Pinterest is a great way to find out what books we’ve recently gotten in. Our New Books board will feature some of the most exciting new volumes, and still more will be on physical display when you come inside. We can’t add them to Pinterest fast enough!

We’re excited to offer this service to you for when you are looking for a book recommendation. But we can’t do it without you! Please come up and talk to any of your librarians about what you like about our Pinterest page and what you think is missing. We’ll always be adding new boards and new recommendations to existing ones, and we’d love to know what you’ve been enjoying lately. And don’t forget: we are always excited to talk with you in person and give you even more recommendations if you’re looking for something good.

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What Is Steampunk?!?

What Is Steampunk?!?

"LuftFlotte Steampunk..." by stephanie at

“LuftFlotte Steampunk…” by stephanie at

“What is steampunk, anyway?”

We got that question a number of times last year, so we are here to explain.

After looking at a lot of different definitions, one source sums it up handily:

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel— powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.

Often, steampunk is referred to as Victorian fantasy; stories take aspects of modern technology and adapt them to the Victorian age. It can be full-on alternate reality, like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, or it can simply be an underlying feature in a more realistic novel. Steampunk novels tend to have a dark feel to them.

Here is a sampling of the steampunk novels you can find in the library:

The Hunchback Assignments

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The Finishing School series

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The Lazarus Machine

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Fever Crumb

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.58.27 AM

Something Strange and Deadly and A Darkness Strange and Lovely

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.58.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 11.05.54 AM

The Leviathan Trilogy: Leviathan Behemoth Goliath

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Want to learn more about steampunk? Here is a good place to start.

Try out a new genre today!

Corrine M. ‘15 with Ms. Bergson-Michelson


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New Resources for Choosing What To Read Next!

New Resources for Choosing What To Read Next!

novplus200Just in time for summer, we’ve added two amazing resources for students and families searching for great reads. First, the new edition of our Recommended Pleasure Reading booklet is here! Just click on the Recommended Reading square to your right to view the booklet online.

Second, we’ve added an amazing new database to our collection of electronic resources: NoveList Plus. This fantastic tool is great for finding out more about books you’re interested in and for discovering new books based on what you love. You can find the link to NoveList Plus on the Databases page.

There are so many ways to use this database! You can search for particular titles the way you would search Amazon or GoodReads, but the results will include even more information, like professional book reviews, descriptions of the storytelling style, and “readalikes,” or similar books and authors. You’ll also be able to search for books that share an aspect of the book you already like, such as “intricately plotted” or “strong sense of place.” If you aren’t sure yet what you’d like to read, NoveList Plus can help you with that, too. If you click on Feature Articles, you can read guides to all sorts of genres, from romance to magical realism. And, of course, you can always do a keyword search for anything you’re interested in and then refine your results by audience, year of publication, theme, or genre. There is a lot to learn about and do in NoveList Plus. These video tutorials may help you, but you can also come into the library and ask us for help.

We hope you enjoy these new resources. Here’s to a summer full of books!

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