Book Riot #ReadHarder Challenge 2017

Here’s what I read for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge this year! My own rules for the challenge were to:

  • only read things that were new to me (except for that one challenge)
  • choose from the books growing dusty on my own shelves as I often as I could
  • read books with a Scottish slant whenever possible

You’ll see there are two still unticked – both very hard reads, for different reasons. I’ll finish them next year (Ulysses will even fit a challenge on the 2018 list!)

Book Riot Challenge 2017

Wilfred Owen, the Advocates Library and the Stevenson connection

To commemorate the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s visit to the Advocates Library I put together a small exhibition. This is the story…

Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency

One hundred years ago, on the 22nd October 1917, war poet Wilfred Owenpaid a visit to the Advocates Library to meet with Charles John Guthrie (Lord Guthrie). To commemorate this centenary I put together a very small, private exhibition in the Advocates Library. However, since we’re approaching Armistice Day, and it’s a sweet story, I decided to post something here too.

letter Wilfred Owen’s letter to his mother, 22nd October 1917 from ‘Selected letters’ by Wilfred Owen; edited by John Bell, 2nd edition 1998

From the end of June to early November 1917, Wilfred Owen was resident at Craiglockhart War Hospital, receiving treatment for shell-shock. His doctor, Arthur Brock practised ergo therapy, ‘the cure by functioning’. Brock encouraged his patients to work and explore outdoors, and to experience the local community and culture.

dulce et decorum est ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen. Written at Craiglockhart in the…

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Storytelling, cats & infographics

Back in the spring Helen was thinking about ways to raise the profile of the library. As a result of a 3am light bulb moment she came into work with infographics on her mind. Co-incidentally Jane had also been looking into this method of communicating information in a gorgeous and eye-catching manner. We got quite excited – posted on SLLG blog

In recognition of #librariesweek, Reader Services Librarian Helen Robinson and I co-wrote a wee post for the SLLG. However, I am so proud of our infographics, I want to post about them here too.

We started talking about this project in the spring sometime. It was wonderful serendipity that I had been noticing and thinking about infographics just when Helen saw them as an opportunity to market and raise awareness of our Library services, and of the staff who provide them. When she mentioned her idea to me I immediately jumped at the chance to get involved. I relish any opportunity to get to know new bits of software.

Staff are at the heart of the Advocates Library

Staff are at the heart of the Advocates Library

I looked at a few infographic sites but settled on because that platform offers excellent functionality and an impressively large amount of content for free (more is available with a subscription). Piktochart has a variety of pretty templates but, because my ‘story’ ideas are very specific, I like to start with a blank page and build up from scratch.

I have been having an indecently large amount of fun working on this project. I get to utilise my creativity as well as my technical skills. Also, I spend a few hours playing happily while producing something of legitimate value to my job. Although the presentation is always lighthearted and upbeat, I like to include something slightly daft in each one. To my utter joy, even the inclusion of a spurious cat one month was accepted as an obvious and integral part of the overall scheme. Incidentally, that infographic has probably been the best received (a not just because of the cat).

The industry driving our Enquiry Service

The industry driving our Enquiry Service

I particularly enjoy joining and layering the icons provided by piktochart to create bespoke shapes. I love that I can edit most icons to fit my custom colour schemes – and I adore my wee enquiry-train! (it took 8 separate parts to make that – and 3 for the pipe/tunnel!)

We’ve received very positive responses to this infographic series – certainly more than I’d expect if we’d circulated the data in purely text form. I hope that I get to play… that we continue to utilise infographics for a good while longer.

The proper order


An external enquirer asking for the case: Lord Hamilton v Glasgow Diary Company. “Ooh!”, I thought, “I wonder what that was about. Some salacious case of intrigue and scandal no doubt”…

Found the case. It’s the Glasgow Dairy Company (1933 SC 18). If there’s anything salacious in that I really don’t want to know.

To paraphrase the dearly departed Eric Morecambe, they used all the right letters, just not necessarily in the right order.

A tale of a Government cat — Open Book

The official kitty-cat of Parliament Square!!!

While the exploits of Whitehall Cats – Palmerston and Larry most recently – have been recently making the news, cats in Government employ are nothing new. In fact, here at National Records of Scotland, we have evidence of a feline curiosity – a cat tasked with protecting records more than three centuries ago. The Exchequer […]

via A tale of a Government cat — Open Book

Read Harder Challenge 2017

rhc_cover_pinterestI’ve decided to take part in the Book Riot reading challenge this year. I came to it rather late but I’d already finished several books that met various challenges so it’s achievable I think.

For the rest, I’ve been scouring my bookshelves and Kindle lists for items to fit the bill. I love that it’s encouraging me to read things which have been literally gathering dust until now. I’ve looked out books which have been languishing, for years in many cases, and added them to the ‘Book Riot Challenge pile’.

However, this is my personal reading and I have my own reasons for taking the challenge. Therefore, I may not stick stringently to the requirements in every case. For example, my pick for the ‘Central or South America’ challenge is likely to be a book about the Caribbean by a Cuban author – but it looks interesting and it’s already in my possession (also, there was some debate on the challenge forum about whether the Caribbean was or was not part of ‘Central America’. I have chosen to embrace that grey area). And, of course, there’s always going to be a Scottish slant to my choices whenever possible.

For those remaining challenges my current bookstock just can’t meet I’ll be utilising local libraries and the Scottish branch of Better World Books. A few of the challenges have me seeking books I wouldn’t normally consider reading at all – which is, of course, the whole point… But enough writing, I have reading to do! I just finished “an all-ages comic” so I’m off to pick my next read now. Which one to choose? Maybe that Caribbean one?… Or a banned book? So many choices!

FYI, here’s my list so far:

  1. Read a debut novelThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  2. Read an all-ages comicLobey’s the Wee Boy!: Collected Lobey Dosser by Bud Neill
  3. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your locationSaltire Invasion by John Ferguson
  4. Read a travel memoir – The Desert and the Sown: Travels in Palestine and Syria by Gertrude Bell
  5. Read a book you’ve read before – The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
  6. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your locationA Splendid Isolation: Lessons of Happiness from the Kingdom of Bhutan by Madeline Drexler
  7. Read a fantasy novel – The Obsidian Throne by James Oswald
  8. Read a superhero comic with a female leadThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
  9. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey –Warrior of Peace: The Life of the Buddha by Jinananda
  10. Read a collection of stories by a woman – Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland
  11. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color – Little Green by Walter Mosley
  12. Read a book about booksThe Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane
  13. Read a book published by a micropressThe Birlinn of Clanranald by Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (Alexander MacDonald), translated by Alan Riach, (published by Kettillonia)

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