Enter Witty Title Here About Librarians Trying to Take Over the World

So, if you didn’t already know, Half-Price books is one of my favorite places of all time. I first discovered them shortly after Kara and I were married when we were living in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m pretty sure I went there at least once a week, much to Kara’s chagrin. It’s not that she doesn’t like books – she does! – she just doesn’t like spending money on them. Kara would prefer to check books out from the library. You know, where you find books with boogers and other unspeakables in them. I would prefer to find a really good book and then buy it so that I can add it to my collection. I mean, it’s kind of hard to call yourself a bibliomaniac if you don’t have a book collection.

After a few years of being back in Illinois, a Half-Price Books Outlet store opened in Rockford. Oh yeah!! I didn’t get over there quite once a week, but often enough that when I told the kids that we would be stopping at the book store on the way home (even if it wasn’t on the way…), I would get moans and groans from all of them. It was hard to stay only a few minutes. I mean, a book store is not like the grocery store where you’re shopping for something specific, and you can just run in and grab what you need and then head out. A book store is the kind of place where you have to check each of your favorite shelves to see if they still have that book you’ve had your eye on, but you didn’t have the money for yet, or if they’ve added any new books that now you know you just have to have. Inevitably, this can become a rather lengthy process.

Half Price Books Outlet in Rockford, Illinois
Half Price Books Outlet in Rockford, Illinois

Now that we live in Oklahoma, I am relieved to find that we have three Half-Price Books stores within 20 miles. Unfortunately, none of them appear to be outlet stores, so the prices won’t be quite as amazing. But, hey, I’ll take what I can get. There are also three Barnes & Noble’s within 22 miles, but generally, I feel like Half-Price Books fits my budget just a little bit better.

Cover art for Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

So, back to finding boogers in library books…

I’m willing to bet that you didn’t know that libraries are evil. So evil, in fact, that they have successfully pulled the wool over your eyes so that you truly believe, deep down in your heart, that libraries are good places for people of all ages. They have, however, deceived you. Libraries are scary places full of evil librarians who would sooner brainwash you than teach you about the true nature of the world.

That’s just a small taste of the type of thing you will read about in the book the kids and I just finished: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. This book is hilarious!! The kids really enjoyed it! I really enjoyed it! I could even hear Kara laughing from the other room!

I know that Kara is a big fan of Brandon Sanderson, but this is the first of his books that I’ve read (in spite of trying to start the audiobook version of The Way of Kings of several occasions – more on that topic another time – see below, after the first quote). I have to say that if the Alcatraz series is a fair representation of Sanderson’s style and humor, then consider me to be a fan as well. Sanderson writes this book as though “Sanderson” is simply a pen-name for the main character of the book (you know, like as if he’s writing an autobiography). He narrates the story with a hilarious introduction to each chapter before launching back into the dialog.

Did I mention there are dinosaurs?


Now, I know that the following quotes are entirely too long, and eventually, I’ll probably be rebuked by a publisher for putting so much content from the book here in my blog, but these are quotes you don’t want to miss. They really give you taste for the flavor of this book, and to make them any shorter just wouldn’t make any sense.

Perhaps you have had other kinds of books recommended to you. Perhaps, even, you have been given books by friends, parents, or teachers, then told that these books are the type you ‘have to read’. Those books are invariably described as ‘important’ — which, in my experience, pretty much means that they’re boring.

p.49

I had to laugh when I read this. It reminds me so much of an “argument” that Kara and I have been having lately, where I recommend a book or audiobook to Kara, and she refuses to read/listen to it because “she’s not in the mood.” She then says, “you don’t read/listen to the books I’ve recommended to you!” By which she is referring specifically to The Way of Kings.

Cover art for The Way of Kings
Cover Art for The Way of Kings (looks like Oklahoma to me…)

If you know anything about this book, you know that it’s a BIG book. It would take me several years to read it manually, so I’ve attempted on multiple occasions to start listening to the audiobook. However, The Way of Kings is not a story you try to digest three minutes at a time (how long it used to take me to get to work). Now that I have a 30-minute commute in the morning, I’m going to give it another shot – right after I finish the last book in the Matt Cruse series by Kenneth Oppel. It’s not that I think Kara’s book suggestions will be boring, as the quote above would suggest. I simply don’t have enough time to read them all.

So, when people try to give you a book with a shiny round award on the cover, be kind and gracious, but tell them that you don’t read ‘fantasy,’ because you prefer stories that are real. Then come back here and continue your research on the cult of evil Librarians who secretly rule the world.

p.50

More hysterical laughter! I thought of my friends at Team Friendship Podcast. They read books that have won the Newbery award, and usually, those books have a big, shiny stamp on the front cover of the book telling you how excellent the book is.

Newbery Medal

Wikipedia says that the Newbery Medal is an “award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association” to authors who have made “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

In the context of what we learn from Alcatraz’s experience with librarians, I think it’s safe to say that Newbery award-winning books are the most likely to be filled with just the kind of brainwashing material the evil librarians would want your children to read. So you should definitely avoid those.

I’m just kidding, of course! If you haven’t already, you need to go check out the Team Friendship Podcast blog (you’ll find a link to their blog under the Blogs We Follow section on this page) and subscribe to their podcast.

Desire does not instantly change the world. Sometimes, stories gloss over this fact, for the world would be a much more pleasant place if you could obtain something simply by wanting it badly enough.

p.198

I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to be positive. Still, the idea that thinking enough positive thoughts about something will make that thing reality is, in my opinion, nonsense. Back when I was teaching middle-school n 2007, we watched this video about a book called The Secret that taught this very thing – that positive thinking is so powerful that thinking positive thoughts often enough and with enough force, a person could bring any desire to fruition. The video was warning us that while the message of The Secret sounds positive (see what I did there?), it completely misses the message of the Gospel, which is that real power lies with God, not within us. I do believe that choosing to think positively – to find the good in people and in circumstances – helps to shape your outlook on life and can be beneficial, but a Peter-Pan-like belief that good thoughts will make me fly is quite silly.

For those of you who just got all defensive and thought, “Well, what about faith-like-a-mustard-seed?” We’re talking apples and oranges. Believing that you can use some hidden power within you to bring about change in your life and your environment (sounds like the Force) is one thing, while faith is the belief that you can bring about change in your life and in your environment using the power of someone else.

OK, that’s a little deep for this blog. Let’s move on.

You could even scan to the end and read the last page. Know that by doing so, however, you would violate every holy and honorable story-telling principle known to man, thereby throwing the universe into chaos and causing grief to untold millions.

Your choice.

p.236

I laughed so hard when I read this! I am definitely part of the camp that says you should not skip to the end of the book to see how it ends. You should instead read through the book from the front cover to the back, so as not to spoil the story. You might think differently, but know this with absolute certainty – you’re a crazy person.

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians is a great read. If you’re looking for a book to read with the kids, especially one that is part of a series, this one should be on your list. It’s fun to read, it won’t make you think too hard, and it’ll leave you and the kids wanting to read more. I’d say that’s a win!

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