Tag Archives: reading

Let us set you up on a Blind Date – With a Book!

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It’s back! Time for Grey Havens Group Inc’s signature fundraiser – Blind Date with a Book. Last November, you gobbled up lots of good books for Grey Havens, but we’ve still got plenty more, and we love to share the joys of reading. Won’t you join us?

On Saturday, February 11th from 11 am – 4pm, come to Lucky’s Market in Longmont and choose a book (or two or three) to take home with you. Books are sorted by genre then wrapped in a Lucky’s bag to disguise their titles. In exchange for a donation in any amount, you can take home a reading surprise, just in time for Valentines Day!

All donations will be used to promote literacy, imagination, community and inclusion by supporting The Grey Havens Group, Inc. We hope you know by now that our nonprofit values creative and critical thinking and teaches philosophical inquiry. Grey Havens YA is our young adult chapter, but we also serve younger children, adults, and older adults all along the front range and beyond.

Right now, we are working on implementing our Philosophy in Public Spaces Initiative, increasing our young adult and kids programming, recruiting volunteers, and planning exciting new events for the community. We are also developing a podcast in order to share the benefits of Geek Philosophy with the world! This Saturday, you could help us to achieve these goals and enjoy a fabulous literary date in the process. We hope to see you there. Thank you for your support!

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May the Force be with you,
Kelly Cowling, Executive Director
Robyn Bosica, Deputy Director
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All we have to decide…

It’s been a busy summer already for Grey Havens YA and The Grey Havens Group, Inc. We’ve been a little silent on our blogs because we’ve been rebuilding from recent changes and planning for an exciting future. We always like to post fun things on our Facebook Page, though, so make sure you like us! And stay tuned below for a feelsy post about our amazing young adults.

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This May, six of our Grey Havens YA discussion group members graduated high school and set their sights on the world beyond. It has been such a privilege to get to interact with them these past two and a half years, and last month, we chose to honor our graduates through a party. In the party presentation, we posted fandom advice and life lessons learned through our favorite stories like Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.

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Once such inspirational quote we shared came from Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, and I want to talk a little more about it here. It is so central to what we do here at Grey Havens YA and the Grey Havens Group Inc. It’s also a great way to bring our graduates full circle, seeing as we started this group by meeting regularly to discuss The Hobbit.

The quotation comes from Chapter Two of The Fellowship of the Ring: The Shadow of the Past, and it was made even more famous by the 2001 film adaptation. I am going to quote both film and book because both are important to our young adults– they exist in a world where the two intermingle and both have merit.

In the book, Frodo speaks to Gandalf about the darkness growing in Middle Earth and he says, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” In the movie, he says, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

In both instances, Gandalf responds the same: “So do I … and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given [to] us.

Kelly used this quote when she made a certificate for me to recognize the Make Time for Kids Award (that truly belongs to both of us), and the words really stuck with me.

You’ve probably heard our stories before on this website or during presentations, but Kelly and I have both faced our own shadows of the past. Elements such as fantasy, imagination, and community brought us through to the other side, and that is why we do what we do. We want to help young adults (and old) find “light and high beauty” forever beyond the shadow’s reach.

That is what we have chosen to do with the time given to us. We have chosen to invest in these young adults, these teens who may have felt alone or strange or hurt or afraid. Though we ourselves have felt alone, strange, hurt, and afraid, we have chosen to create a community in which everyone is welcome to the table and hope and imagination flourish in a world full of darkness.

And we have not been disappointed. I will say it again: It is an honor to get to watch these young adults grow up. Not only do we get to see our seniors graduate and embark on new adventures, but we also get to see our middle schoolers enter high school for the first time. We get to watch new members join the group and feel like they’ve been there the whole time. In three years, we’ve watched how far these teens have come through a community of literacy, imagination, and inclusion.

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I firmly believe that one of the best things we can encourage in our young adults is confidence and security in who they are, and we get to see that blossom as they grow. We’ve gotten to watch the quietest ones speak up in large groups. My favorite times to just sit back and watch are at our Multi-Generational Discussions. As a teenager, I never would have spoken up in a discussion group that included senior adults and people my parents’ age. That’s because I would’ve never thought that my thoughts and opinions were valid or that they mattered enough in the grand scheme of things. But these Grey Havens Young Adults know that they matter, and they trust in the process of philosophic discourse so much that they are eager to add their voices to the mix.

I could go on and on about how proud I am of these teens, but if a little spark of confidence is all that I can say my time has brought to them, then I can say I have used that time well, and I am so happy that I get to keep doing it. Grey Havens YA, I hope that in times of strife, you can find comfort and encouragement in Gandalf’s words and carry on, my wayward son. I know with both my hearts that you will make the best use of the time that is given to you. My wish for you is that you stay nerdy and that your confidence and creativity only grows. I hope that you continue to think critically and imagine greatly, and know that you are, and will always be, magnificent.

In the words of a madman in a box: We’re all stories in the end, just make it a good one.

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite piece of fandom life advice?

See you at Panera! P.S. You’re awesome.

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A couple of posts ago, we talked about Bags for Change, a fundraising program at Lucky’s Market Longmont from April through June. We are dedicating the funds raised through this program to help out Grey Havens YA because Lucky’s has asked us to designate a specific Grey Havens Group, Inc project. In our post, we explained why books are so important to us and how having a consistent book fund would really help us out and benefit our members for the rest of their lives.

However, I want you to know that when you support Grey Havens YA through Bags for Change, monthly donations, or our April 25th Panera Fundraiser (keep reading for more info), you are doing so much more than just buying books for us. Books are necessary and important, and they are also quantifiable and tangible. It’s easy for us to talk about them because we can tell you exactly how much money buys exactly how many books that go to exactly how many eager young adults. What is harder to explain is how your support has allowed us literally to keep existing, which benefits not only our core members but the whole community at large.

For the past two years, we have run this organization successfully on borrowed time, in borrowed space, using borrowed equipment. We have no paid staff, no space to call our own, and two seriously aging laptops. And yet — and yet, your support has helped us to finally become an incorporated 501(c)3 NonProfit Organization. Together with The Grey Havens Group, Inc, we have provided quality programming and enriching discussion for children, teens, adults, and older adults all along the Front Range. We really mean it when we say we value literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion. We cannot thank you enough for your support in all of this!

On April 25th, Panera in Longmont is offering a super easy way for you to continue to help us. Simply stop by on Monday between 4:00pm and 8:00pm and present this flyer in print when ordering for dine-in, carry-out, or buying a gift card and 15% of your purchase will benefit The Grey Havens Group, Inc. If you have trouble printing the flyer, please contact us or look for us at Panera and we will be able to give you one. You can also join our Facebook Event Announcement to let us know you’re coming. We can’t wait to see you there for a night of yummy food and inspirational fellowship. As they say in the Grey Havens adult Tolkien branch, a star shines on the hour of our meeting.

Grey Havens Fundriser Flyer

Send us an owl: Why do you choose to support The Grey Havens Group, Inc and it’s young adult and family branch, Grey Havens YA?
P.S. What are you going to order at Panera???

(Nerdy) Bags for Change!

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At Grey Havens YA, we provide each of our young adult members with a free copy of the books we discuss, a copy that they can underline, dog-ear, or keep in pristine condition. However they choose to keep it, it is theirs forever!

martian chronicles booksWhy do we do this? Because, as enriching as they are, our book discussions are not the last word on the story. For the rest of their lives, we want our members to go back to the stories we talk about, engaging with them as they would with a living thing. We want them to experience and re-experience the stories, themselves, rather than replacing those experiences with the things we have said about them.

The problem is that, sometimes, when we finish discussing a book, we don’t know where the money for the next set of books will come from. This, and all of the other expenses that come with running a nonprofit that serves hundreds of individuals and families, is why we depend on our supporters. Every donation helps and, this spring, even a wooden dime can make a difference!

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Thanks to votes from members of our community (thank you!), Lucky’s Market Longmont has selected us as one of the spring recipients of their Bags for Change program. Shoppers who bring in reusable bags will receive a wooden dime representing a bag credit that they can choose to donate to Grey Havens YA through They Grey Havens Group. Those wooden dimes really add up, especially since Lucky’s Market matches every single one of them with a donation of their own!

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But wait–there’s more! We wouldn’t be Grey Havens YA if we didn’t find a way to put a nerdy twist on this exciting fundraising opportunity. We asked our members and supporters, not just to bring their reusable bags to Lucky’s Market, but to shop with the nerdiest reusable bags they can find! Use #SustainableNerds to share photos of your nerdy, geeky shopping bags on social media. We would also love to see photos in the comments!

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If enough people load up enough nerdy bags with bargains, we will know where a whole year of books is coming from–from YOU! Thank you to all the #SustainableNerds out there and keep an eye on our blog for more information about another exciting fundraising event coming up in the next few weeks!

Watch this video to learn more about how Bags for Change is changing local lives:

Psst! If you love Grey Havens YA but aren’t local, please feel free to check out our Support page for other ways to keep the magic going. We hope you’ll also participate in the #SustainableNerds challenge! Thank you.

Send us an owl: Show us your nerdy bags, of course! Also, what do you like to buy most at Lucky’s Market?

What A Nerd Looks Like: Embracing Enthusiasm, Embracing the Other

wp-1454298478123.jpgDid you know that Grey Havens YA has been around for two years and nearly four months now? It has been an incredible journey so far, and we are so proud of our members and our growing community.

Many adults have come up to us over these two years and told us how much they wish they had a group like this when they were younger. They understand how uniquely valuable a haven for literature, imagination, community and inclusion can be for young teens and old teens alike. They get it because they’ve seen it in action, so now I want to take a moment to try to describe it to you.

Grey Havens YA isn’t just a book club. It is more than just fun events and fandom programming. As you’ll see in our upcoming Geek Philosophy series, Grey Havens YA is about teaching young minds to imagine greatly, live enthusiastically, and engage thoughtfully with the world around them.

As we’ve been reading The Martian Chronicles over the past two months, we have discovered something about our group of geeks and nerds: while the humans in the Martian stories fear that great, insurmountable Other, we are drawn to it.  We want to know who the Martians were, how they lived, what they would have to say to us about our own lives… As nerds and geeks who explore the world and its stories with great enthusiasm, we are drawn to the Other points of view. We want to know more about how Kylo Ren thinks; we are heartbroken over the pains Draco Malfoy has been through; we are fascinated by the friendship between the Doctor and the Master; we crave knowledge of how “the other side” thinks and feels and lives.

At our recent Multi-Generational Philosophy Discussion in which we partnered with the Longmont Senior Center to discuss Geek Philosophy with both senior adults and our YA members, one of the senior adults said something very profound to our members. We were talking about the horrors of racism, and a YA member observed that her generation may not be as inclined to prejudice as those in the past. The senior adult replied, “You said that your generation is not as racially charged. I believe that, for you [Grey Havens YA members], because you are not afraid to be enthusiastic. When you embrace being a nerd, you are not afraid to be enthusiastic, and to live.” He mentioned the notion that “Joe Cool” can be cool all his life and then realize he never actually lived, but when you embrace who you are and embrace being a nerd, you stop being so worried about looking cool and you start really living.

wp-1454299663565.jpgTo the founders of Grey Havens YA, these two concepts are intrinsically related. We are drawn to other sides, to the viewpoints of those who are different from us, because we are enthusiastic about knowledge and about life itself. In one of our favorite quotes, John Green said, “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. … When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.'”

That is why we do what we do here at Grey Havens YA. We want to encourage young adults to be unashamed by their enthusiasm for the miracle of human consciousness. True, some of our members aren’t as enthusiastic all the time. Some of them struggle with depression and very real issues in their lives, but they still show up every week and they share in the enthusiasm of others. They show up every week and they discuss philosophy, darkness and light, science and art with the rest of us. They show up every week and feel safe to be themselves. It is quite a miracle itself to behold.

Grey Havens YA means so much to our members, and it means so much to us. We are so proud of these last two years, and we look forward to many more. We especially love adding to our community and watching our new members fit right in as if they’ve been with us all along. Grey Havens YA is full of  that special kind of magic. Will you help us spread it?

A star shines on the hour of our meeting,
Robyn and Kelly

Photos by Steve Eggleston

Discussing the Third and Fourth Planets

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What is normal? This is a question the members of Grey Havens YA have been exploring as we dip our toes into the strange Martian canals of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. In the first few stories, we see a Martian perspective of Earth:

“The third planet is incapable of supporting life. …  Our scientists have said there’s far too much oxygen in the atmosphere.”

“Blue eyes! Gods! … What’ll you dream next? I suppose he had black hair?”

In our introductory discussion, we introduced the postmodern and poststructuralist concept of signs and simulacra and Jean Baudrillard’s notion that “The sign is arbitrary.” It was wonderful to watch our young members slowly grasp hold of a philosophy that most students don’t learn about until their university years. Signs and symbols… what is normal? What does normal even mean? What do our words signify and why? Is it all arbitrary?

To the martians, brown skin and gold eyes are normal. Blue eyes — preposterous! Oxygen isn’t what you need to support life, it’s carbon-dioxide that you need.

To one of our members, having asthma was always the norm. Using an inhaler since she was a very small child, the idea of breathing freely made no sense to her mind. To another, lack of depth perception was her only way to see the world until new glasses drastically improved her vision. We spoke of color-blindness and the new Encrhoma lenses…

What is normal? The Martians certainly don’t seem normal to us. Bradbury goes to great lengths to show us just how different their life is: bubbling hot lava tables to cook your dinner, beds of mist, scarves in bottles, houses made of pillars of rain, flame birds to carry your canopy… And yet, and yet, something about those Martians seems hauntingly familiar. A husband and a wife, a troubled marriage, jealousy, murder– Is the fourth planet so very different from the third?

Today, we dive in deeper– we’ll read about the second and third expeditions. We’ll see how the Martians react to the Earth Men. Perhaps we’ll talk about war, or sanity, or xenophobia, or pride… Perhaps we’ll simply marvel at the beauty of the prose or shudder at the horror of the story. Perhaps that red Martian landscape will show us just a little bit more about ourselves, and we’ll come back here to tell the tale. Will you follow along?

 

Send us an owl: What has been your experience reading The Martian Chronicles?

Buy a Great Series, Support Grey Havens YA!

You can probably tell that here at Grey Havens YA, we love books, and that makes it pretty exciting when the authors of those books love us back! This holiday season, the brilliant Colorado author Stant Litore is offering readers a chance to buy some great books and support Grey Havens YA all in one transaction. Keep reading to find out how!

fb_img_1448597602611.jpgStant has been a constant supporter of the Grey Havens Group, and we consider him a member even though he doesn’t live in the area. He is a part of our community, and we are honored to know him. Some of you may remember that he was one of our guest authors at the Grey Havens Real Myth and Mithril Symposium last April. It was there that he really started to connect with and experience the magic that is Grey Havens YA. In a follow-up post about the event, he writes: “Talking with these teens who are fully embracing, unashamed, their love of the imagination — all I can say is that I would have given a great deal to be part of such a group when I was a teen.”

Stant is the author of many daring works, but it’s his first series that’ll hook you and reel you in as a fangirl for life: The Zombie Bible. These five* books re-imagine Biblical stories and ancient legends as if they were set in the larger context of humanity’s constant struggle against hunger…. and the hungry dead.

We don’t think we need to say any more than that, because we know you’re intrigued already — but we will! Reading Stant’s series will not only enrich your imagination and engage your philosophical thinking, but when you purchase the Silver Edition Digital Box Set before the end of December, 50% of the royalties will be donated to Grey Havens YA.  All for only $5.99, 60% off the individual price! What a great deal!

Read more from Stant’s post on his website:

GHYA is a shoestring-budget operation, and I want to help by giving them 50% of my royalties for The Zombie Bible: Silver Edition Digital Box Set to GHYA through December 31, 2015. Please help me by sharing the word and, of course, by buying the books! If I can get GHYA just $250, that supplies their book budget for the spring. If I can get them $500-$1000, they’ll be able to increase their membership, or perhaps get equipment to replace the truly archaic and at-the-brink-of-breaking computers and projectors they currently work with.

zombiebibleStant is an incredible human being, and we’re so glad to be able to offer you such a fun and easy way to support us this season. Who knew you could do your Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday shopping AND support Grey Havens YA at the same time?! Thanks, Stant! Click here to see the other ways you can support us.

*The Silver Edition Digital Box Set includes The Zombie Bible Volumes 1-5. Volume 6 will be released in 2016 — so go ahead and get caught up now! 😉

Send us an owl: Which is your favorite Stant Litore book?

High-Five a Librarian!

Today is High-Five a Librarian Day. Where would Grey Havens YA be without libraries and librarians? Where would the world be without libraries and librarians? For our partners at Carbon Valley Regional Library, Lafayette Public Library, Longmont Public Library, all the librarians in the Saint Vrain Valley School District and all the hard-working librarians everywhere, this is our version of the high-five. It is even better than a traditional high-five; it’s a sci-five! Live long and prosper.

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In December, Grey Havens YA begins reading The Martian Chronicles by the great Ray Bradbury. Here is what Bradbury had to say about how very much we need libraries. This quote was included in a beautiful post by Grey Havens YA director, Robyn Bosica, on banned and challenged books. Read the whole post here.

“Let’s imagine there’s an earthquake tomorrow in the average university town. If only two buildings remained intact at the end of the earthquake, what would they have to be in order to rebuild everything that had been lost? Number one would be the medical building, because you need that to help people survive, to heal injuries and sickness. The other building would be the library. All the other buildings are contained in that one. People could go into the library and get all the books they needed in literature or social economics or politics or engineering and take the books out on the lawn and sit down and read. Reading is at the center of our lives. The library is our brain. Without the library, you have no civilization.”

Send us on owl: What is the best thing a librarian has ever done for you? After you answer that question, head on over to the library and give the hardworking librarians and staff a high-five. They deserve it! 

Notes from an Extremely Geeky Week: Geek Fair and READCON 2015!

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Who shot first?

At the end of every Grey Havens YA meeting, we share what we call Fandom Moments, telling each other of the geeky and nerdy things that happened to us during the week. Over time, we have come to realize that our lives are replete with Fandom Moments but some weeks are even geekier than others. There is, for example, the time we went to Denver Comic Con and the time we spent a week LARPing Harry Potter for young witches and wizards beginning their magical educations. The week of Sunday, September 20 through Saturday, September 26 is right up there with the geekiest of our geeky weeks. What a time we had!

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It all started with Geek Fair, part of the Longmont Museum’s Cultural Resources Fair. Geeky artists and organizations came together from all over the Front Range to help us honor our community’s teachers with a show of geeky solidarity!

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The programming began with a panel of Geeky Educators, featuring two teachers, the leader of the Longmont Public Library’s Animé Club and a parent-child psychologist. They shared how fandom culture enriches their lives and work, helping them to relate to and inspire youth and their families. One educator spoke of the desire to dispel the stigma around intelligence and curiosity. Another told us that she tries every day to remind her students of the Doctor’s words, “In 900 years of time and space, I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” It is pretty clear why we ❤ ❤ geeky teachers. The conversation continues in our Geeky Teachers group on Facebook!

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The panel was moderated by Grey Havens YA members who talked about what their geeky teachers mean to them. 

After the inspiring panel, we danced!! We also sang fandom-themed songs, had a captions contest and answered some challenging fandom trivia questions. This was our first time presenting the full Fandoms Unite program for an all-ages crowd. We didn’t want it to end. It simply does not get any better than seeing members of the Society for Creative Anachronism dancing like Baby Groot in full medieval garb!

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While all this was happening, guests browsed tables hosted by local cultural organizations. The geeks were well-represented, including the Cerar Clan of the Mandalorian Mercs, The Barony of Caer Galen, the organizers of Myths and Legends Con as well as geeky artists, podcasters and entrepreneurs.

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    beyond the trope geek fair

By the end of the day, we had bonded in that way that geeks so easily bond, through shared enthusiasm and a love of the imagination. We rounded out the day with a kind of geek summit meeting, bringing together representatives from our guest organizations to share their geeky dreams. That conversation continues in our new Geeky Leaders of Colorado group on Facebook. Until we meet again, geeks of the Front Range, stay shiny and may the Force be with you!

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What do you want to do tonight? The same thing we do every night–try to take over the world (or just make it a little geekier)!

The Longmont Museum is a perfect partner for Grey Havens YA. The building is beautiful, flooded with light with plenty of space to play, including the highly interactive Robots Rising exhibition that continues through January. They are a local haven for imagination and creativity so, when it comes to geeks, of course they just get us!

You would think that Geek Fair would be enough geekiness for one week but it didn’t stop there! Just six days later Grey Havens YA was at READCON 2015 at the Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone. You can imagine our relief when we we were assured that all the libraries in the High Plains District are Vashta Nerada free!

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We stayed out of the shadows, just in case. 

We were proud to be part of the official READCON 2015 launch by helping to host the pre-READCON breakfast at The Brew at Dejalu Books. It’s such a great place for coffee, crepes, and books! Our members came in cosplay to greet guests, talk about books and draw free pictures for anyone who wanted a little fandom inspiration to take home. The walls were decorated with the works of Grey Havens YA artists and the atmosphere was thick with our particular brand of enthusiasm.

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A few butterbeers and a hearty Second Breakfast gave us the fuel we needed for more fun!

After breakfast, we headed over to the library. We were greeted, not only by library staff, but by a familiar blue box. We knew we were in the right place!

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Arriving at READCON 2015 in style. Allons-y!

Our members served as official judges of the genre book display competition and designed their own libraries using Minecraft. There were things to do and see all over the library, even outside, but, if you were looking for Grey Havens YA’s directors, chances are you would find them inside the incredibly clever “What Would the Doctor Read?” interactive display.

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So much to do and see at READCON!

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What WOULD the Doctor read? He would ask Grey Havens YA for book recommendations!

Just being at READCON was a joy for us but we were also thrilled to present a panel about our favorite books. Grey Havens YA members talked with insight and humor about all of their most beloved young adult fiction. The audience was very engaged and, after the panel, they could check out the books for themselves from the beautiful Grey Havens YA book display!

reacon displayreadcon audienceWe had a great audience!

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We tried to take a serious picture. We really did…

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… but it just didn’t work out that way!

We are tremendously grateful to Carbon Valley Regional Library for inviting us to be part of READCON 2015 at their warm and welcoming library. We can’t wait to return with more Grey Havens YA programming! This week, we will be returning to our regularly scheduled book discussions but our imaginations will linger a while longer at Geek Fair and READCON!

TARDIS photobomb

Best accidental photobomb ever! The expression on the face of the kid in the corner sums up our feelings about our amazing geeky week. We can’t wait for next year! Good thing we have a TARDIS!

Click here for a full slideshow of photos from READCON 2015. More from Geek Fair and READCON 2015 – including videos – coming soon! Make sure to like our Facebook page for daily updates and more photo fun!

Send us an owl: Did you attend Geek Fair or READCON 2015? Did you have as much fun as we did?

End-of-Summer Awesome!

New Doctor Who is materializing on TV screens this fall and, before that, the educational adventure will resume for those of you going back to school. Do you need some AWESOME to ease the transition? Here are books recommended for young adult readers by patrons of the Longmont Public Library, courtesy of the Awesome Box!

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The Amulet series is an exceptionally popular series of graphic novels that is recommended for readers as young as 8, but engaging enough for readers of all ages.

A very astute patron recommended the Doctor Who television series, entertaining imaginative teens since 1963! You might also want to get on board with Twelve Doctors, Twelve Stories, an anthology of stories by some very well-known Whovians. There is one story for each Doctor, except for the War Doctor, that is. Quick! Someone write some fan fiction!

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A very enthusiastic patron recommended The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter for “teens looking for a good read about the Greek gods.” She added that the book “involved love, mystery, murder, and tests!” School exams are nothing next to the seven tests our main character has to endure!

For another action-packed take on the supernatural, try The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, recommended for readers age 11 and up.

Watch this space for the final Awesome Box post–a round-up of all the best recommendations from the 2014-2015 school year from Saint Vrain Valley school district readers. When that first day of school arrives, strap on your best geek-themed backpack and allons-y!

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