2017 Ohioana Book Award Finalists

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Ohioana Library is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2017 Ohioana Book Awards. First given in 1942, the awards are the second oldest state literary prizes in the nation and honor outstanding achievement by Ohio authors in five categories: Fiction, Poetry, Juvenile Literature, Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature, and Nonfiction. The sixth category, About Ohio/Ohioan, may also include books by non-Ohio authors.

This year’s finalists include such notable names as Douglas Brinkley, Martha Collins, Sharon Creech, J. Patrick Lewis, Loren Long, Candice Millard, Donald Ray Pollock, Julie Salamon, J.D. Vance, and Jacqueline Woodson. Six authors are finalists for their debut books, while nine are past Ohioana Award winners.

Ohioana will profile all the finalists in the coming weeks. Beginning Monday, May 23, it will present “30 Books, 30 Days,” a special feature on its Facebook page in which one finalist is highlighted each weekday thru Friday, June 30.

Winners will be announced in July, and the 2017 Ohioana Book Awards presented at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Friday, October 6.

The 2017 finalist list of authors, titles, and publishers, complete with links:

Fiction

Poetry

Juvenile Literature

Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature

Nonfiction

About Ohio/Ohioan

*not from Ohio

In case you missed it: the Mercantile Library

posted in: History, Uncategorized | 0

The Winter issue of the Ohioana Quarterly focused on our good friend, the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati.

This library is one of the gems in the crown of the Queen City. It was established in 1835, according to the feature story written by Ohioana board member Bryan Loar. Its founders were merchants and clerks, hence the name. These young men of the city, who could expect a prosperous future for themselves as well as Cincinnati, placed a premium on learning and so created a place and an opportunity.

Can you imagine what a haven the library must have been from the rush and press of business in 1835? Cincinnati was hardly a backwater since it was a significant river port on the Ohio, with trade and a thriving meat-packing industry sending out salted pork all over the country. And can you imagine the despair over not one but TWO fires it endured, the first in 1845 and the second in 1869? Fortunately, most of the volumes were saved in both instances. And in 1904, the Mercantile Library found a home it has stayed in ever since.

The building is, of course, lovely. It has plenty of natural light, comfortable chairs, wood book shelves and cabinets, and works of art both venerable and modern. And it has kept up with the times. There are 80,000 books in the collection and membership has grown from the original 45 to the current 2,500. There are discussion groups, literary and other events, and even e-books.

As Bryan says in the article, “The Mercantile Library continues to support personal improvement and the exploration of contemporary ideas through an adaptive and open space, a notable collection, inspiring art, and extraordinary programs.”

Happy Spring!

It’s here! Spring is here! On Monday, did you run outside and beat on the ground with a stick to tell the earth to wake up? And some daffodils were blooming on Monday. Did you pick one and eat it?

No? *Whew!* Good move! They’re not edible! Although someone at Ohioana did indeed eat one and nothing bad happened. It was planted on top of a mound of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce (a Blooming Sundae — get it?) and she ate the bits you are supposed to eat as well.

But you needn’t feel slighted — there are plenty of other flowers to add to salads, soups, or main dishes.

In Edible Flowers: A Global History by Constance L. Kirker and former Ohio University professor Mary Newman, you can easily learn what to eat and why (Mary will be at the Ohioana Book Festival on April 8, by the way).

This nifty little book provides a history a edible plants from all over the world. It also provides a unique history of the world since plants found useful or delightful in one country are imported to other countries for propagation and use.

The book also makes the reader re-think the concept of a “flower,” which most of us consider to be a beautiful, fragrant, but perhaps useless thing. After all, what is an artichoke but the flowering part of the plant. We eat them. And the preferred part of the broccoli in North America is the stuff at the top, although some people reject the buds for the stem.

Authors Kirker and Newman always advice caution, reminding the reader that even plants considered medicinal can be bad for you if over-used. Even too much of a good thing will make you sick.

So when you’re at the garden center later this spring, you’re ready to check out with your cart full of flats of marigolds and nasturtiums, and the clerk asks you if you need some help getting them out to your car, you can say, “No thanks. I’ll just eat them here!”

Happy International Women’s Day!

Pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Nothing worthwhile happens overnight and change takes time — and work. Lots and lots of work.

In politics, Ohio can make a proud claim: Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) was the first woman to run for president of the United States. There’s some discussion about the legitimacy of her bid for office: Woodhull was under the age of 35 and of course women couldn’t vote so how could her bid for office be legitimate? Ooof. And some aspects of her personal life could be termed disorderly …  but when has that stopped members of the opposite sex from running for office?

Anyway.

Ohioana is sending love today to all of the women who write. Thank you today to Connie Schultz who writes about politics and who moderates a lively Facebook community. Thank you to Gloria Steinem, native of Toledo. Thank you Toni Morrison, for your amazing work. Toni Morrison won the Ohioana Book Award for Sula, and her mother, Mrs. George Wofford, accepted the award on Ms. Morrison’s behalf at the luncheon in 1975. Ms. Morrison also sent Ohioana a note in 1999, thanking us for honoring her:

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Ohio to be a gift to any writer’s imagination is high praise indeed. May we continue to serve as an inspiration.

 

The New Kid in Town

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

It’s so exciting to have a new bookstore in town! Gramercy Books in Columbus suburb city Bexley opened its doors just about six weeks ago.

What? Aren’t independent bookstores dead? Didn’t they get buried in the rise of the big box stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders? Yes and no. Borders, of course, is gone. And you can buy books at the grocery or drug stores (nothing new there). What about online retailers like Amazon? And what about the rise of the e-book?

True story: independent bookstores began returning after the Great Recession of 2008, which seems to defy explanation and logic. Per the American Booksellers Association, 2009 was the year when independent bookstores experienced a resurgence in numbers and popularity.

Turns out people like stores that specialize in books. Don’t you make sure to visit bookstores when you travel? Of course you do.

Columbus is part of the trend, which is gloriously reassuring. We’ve got craft beer, vibrant arts scenes in different parts of the city, tech innovation – and an indy bookstore!

What makes the whole thing even more special is that store owner Linda Kass is also a novelist. Her book, Tasa’s Song, about music, survival, and World War II, has been the source of musical inspiration. If you visit her website to learn more about her book, you can hear original music composed by Charles Wetherbee of the Carpe Diem String Quartet.

Book stores inspire as well. There’s nothing like the experience of stepping into a well-stocked space and meeting a new book, sure to be your new best friend.

Congratulations to Linda Kass! We look forward to many visits and many purchases!

Ohio is for book lovers

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The bad news: Valentine’s Day was yesterday.

The good news: Valentine’s candy is on sale and the cost of long-stemmed red roses is back down to pre-holiday levels.

The better news: In Ohio, love is always in the air.

February is still winter and the nights are still cold, speaking of the air. But you can warm up since Ohio is the home state of many romance writers. There are two state chapters of the Romance Writers of America, so it’s easy to find new authors if you want to combine your love of Ohio with your love of love. If you want to write romance novels or if you already do but would like some writer friends for hanging out and critiquing manuscripts, check out the Central Ohio Fiction Writers and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (NEORWA). These active groups host guest speakers, post frequently on social media, and have dedicated members who are published authors.

As we said, there are so many Ohio romance writers. Want to mention one of them here (wish we had space for everyone): Jenny Crusie. Jenny writes sharp, snappy dialogue and her stories are populated by equally intelligent heroines. Sometimes she writes on her own, but her collaborations are crackling good fun too! In Agnes and the Hit Man (doesn’t sound like romance is anywhere nearby, but it is!), Jenny wrote the dialogue for the female protagonist (Agnes) and her writing partner, Bob Mayer, wrote the male protagonist’s dialogue (the hitman). In addition to being a Wapakoneta native, Jenny’s won awards and earned her doctorate from Ohio State. Jenny also keeps up an active and engaging blog.

So even though the big day is over, the nights are still cold in Ohio. Warm up with a book about love!

 

McGuffey Readers

posted in: Uncategorized | 0
Scanned cover of McGuffey's First New Eclectic Reader. In center of cover is a black and white illustration of three children reading in a garden with a dog sitting nearby.
McGuffey Reader, 1857

Because of the holidays and the sub-zero temperatures that landed in Ohio last week, this is the first full week of school since mid-December for many Ohio students. We thought we’d mark the occasion by looking at a few McGuffey Readers from Ohioana’s collection.

William Holmes McGuffey was born in 1800 in Pennsylvania. In 1802 his family moved to the Ohio frontier, where he grew up. After graduating from college in Pennsylvania, McGuffey became a traveling instructor in Ohio, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania, where he would take part-time teaching jobs in subscription schools. In 1826 McGuffey became a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He went on to become president of Cincinnati College and Ohio University and later a professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, where he taught until his death in 1873.

Scanned page from 1879 McGuffey Reader. Black and white illustration shows a dog running outdoors. Text says "The dog. The dog ran."
McGuffey Reader, 1879

In the mid-1830s, during his time at Miami, McGuffey wrote the first edition of his Eclectic Readers. By the end of the century they had sold more than 100 million copies. Some historians believe the popularity of the Readers was due to their use of everyday objects (“A is for ax“) and text that both students and parents found upbeat and enjoyable. In 1879 Cincinnati artist Henry Farny redesigned the Readers with realistic sketches that closely followed the text and helped maintain the books’ popularity through the end of the century.

Altogether the Readers educated five generations of schoolchildren. Although their popularity waned in the early 1900s, people remembered McGuffey and his books with a sense of nostalgia. The first McGuffey Society was formed in 1918 in Columbus, Ohio by attorney John F. Carlisle and Edward Wilson, editor of the Ohio State Journal. In the 1930s Henry Ford republished the 1857 edition of the Readers at his own expense for use in company classrooms and had the log cabin in which McGuffey was born moved to his Greenfield Village museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Today memorials to McGuffey exist at his Pennsylvania birthplace and at several of the schools where he taught.

Banned Books Week 2013: Dav Pilkey

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

captunderpantsOhioan Dav Pilkey appears twice on the American Library Association’s list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009: at #13 for his Captain Underpants series, and again at #47 for The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby. Captain Underpants is also listed at #1 on the ALA’s Top Ten Challenged Books of 2012.

Pilkey was born and raised near Cleveland, Ohio. In elementary school he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia; he first created the Captain Underpants character during “time outs” in the school hallway. Although Pilkey’s teachers throughout elementary and high school discouraged his drawing, one of his college professors saw his work and encouraged him to try writing children’s books. His first book was published in 1987.

Pilkey’s book The Paperboy was a Caldecott Honor book; The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. He was recently selected to illustrate a picture book version of “One Today,” a poem written by Richard Blanco and read at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration.

Banned Books Week 2013: Toni Morrison

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

ToniMorrisoncoversOhio native Toni Morrison has three books on the American Library Association’s list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009: #15 The Bluest Eye, #26 Beloved, and #72 Song of Solomon. Beloved is also #10 on the ALA’s Top Ten Challenged Books of 2012.

Morrison was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio. After receiving degrees in English from Howard University and Cornell University, she worked as a university professor and book editor. She began writing fiction as part of an informal group that met to discuss and critique each other’s work. She went to one meeting with a short story about an African American girl who wished for blue eyes; this later became her first novel, The Bluest Eye. To date Morrison has written ten novels as well as children’s books, nonfiction, plays, and a libretto.

The president of the Ohio Board of Education recently criticized The Bluest Eye and questioned its inclusion on the recommended reading list for high school juniors. You can hear Morrison’s response and comments by Ohioana Library Executive Director David Weaver here.

Morrison won the 1977 National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon, a 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 for her body of work.

Banned Books Week 2013: Chris Crutcher

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Ohioan Chris Crutcher has three books on the American Library Association’s list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009: #41 Whale Talk, #44 Athletic Shorts, and #85 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.

Crutcher was born in Dayton, Ohio, but grew up in a small town in Idaho. After graduating from college, he taught primary and secondary school and spent nearly a decade as the director of an alternative school for at-risk students. He spent the next 30 years working as a child protection advocate and as a child and family therapist. Crutcher’s experience working with at-risk children shows in his books, which tackle difficult subjects with a mixture of gritty realism and sharp humor.

cc books

1 2