My Librarian: Virginia Johnson

My booklists  |  My reviews & blog posts 

I've been interested in history and writing since I was a kid. Thinking of being the next Marion Ravenwood, I earned a degree in anthropology from William & Mary. Upon graduating, I somehow managed to finesse an entry-level job at the Smithsonian, having done summer study at a Roman fort excavation in Warwickshire.

Despite enjoying the chance to stabilize (carefully clean and box) artifacts from Captain Cook's voyages and ornamental Japanese swords and guns, it was clear this job had no career path. It was back to being a local tour guide (Mary Washington, Eliza Kortwright Monroe, and I are well-acquainted) for a bit until the library took me under its wing.

A stretch at the College of Library and Information Science at the University of Maryland taught me many things, including the way of the storyteller and how to do a bang-up job on a pathfinder about King Arthur. Since coming to CRRL, I've migrated from Youth Services to Research to the Web Team, where I do a lot of writing and editing.

I have a tremendous interest in Virginia history, probably as a result of growing up in "America's Most Historic City." I particularly enjoy the odder stories from history, historical novels, magical realism, multigenerational sagas, mysteries, British fantasy and humor (often combined!), psychological horror--or Gothic, if you prefer, and novels set in other cultures.

Drop me a line. I'll find something good for you!

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Recent Booklists

Reviews & Blog Posts

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 12:45am
The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova

In 2008, a young woman from the Blue Ridge Mountains, who loves poetry and literature, arrives in Bulgaria. She’s been hired to teach English but has a month to explore on her own. Jet-lagged, at the wrong hotel and in need of rest and a shower, it’s not surprising Alexandra makes a terrible mistake while simply trying to help a family with their luggage. It’s not the first awful mistake she’s made, either.

In the late 1930s, a 20-something violin virtuoso, who has everything in the world to look forward to, slips back to his Bulgarian hometown on the eve of World War II. When the conflict is over, Stoyan Lazarov has very good reason to believe his talent will grant him fame. So what if he has to play second chair for now in a provincial orchestra? He has the love of his life, brilliant talent and enough patience. But musical genius though he may be, he has not factored in the crushing power of the political police.

In 2008, Alexandra’s and Stoyan’s paths will cross, and their separate, shameful secrets will be laid bare. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadow Land is at once a historical mystery and a modern thriller. There is true bravery and true love in this page-turner that spans decades, even as it illuminates an ancient country’s marvels and sorrows.

Monday, August 7, 2017 - 12:44am
Cover to Perseus retold by Geraldine McCaughrean

Sometimes it’s better to not know what the future holds. King Acrisius asks the oracle serpent how he will die. The answer frightens him: by his grandson’s hand. But he has no grandson. His daughter Danaë isn’t even married…. And now, the king is determined she never will be.

He builds an astonishingly tall tower just for her. Trusting him as she does, she goes to the top to see the view, only to find she is imprisoned. That’s the plan her father had for her. To let her grow old without ever knowing the comfort of a husband or a child. He thought he was being merciful—after all, he didn’t kill her, did he? She could have anything she wanted up there, as long as she stayed up there and away from everyone else.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 12:39am
Cover to National Geographic's Night Sky of North America

Take a look at this pocket guide from National Geographic before you go out for a gaze on a cloudless evening. Night Sky of North America is the perfect book to bring along with you anywhere a lack of light pollution permits you to see the stars, the planets, and more.

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