My Librarian: Virginia Johnson

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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, September 27, 2017 - 2:44pm
Cover to Full of Fall

Fall into the amazingly detailed double-page photospreads in April Pulley Sayre’s Full of Fall. This big picture book is perfect for sharing with small ones, either in a group or for a lap-sit story session. With glowing colors and simple rhymes, this book should absolutely be on your toddler’s or preschooler’s storytime stack.

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 1:35pm
The Maggie Bright: A Novel of Dunkirk

I watched Dunkirk when it came to the theaters this summer hoping for an outstanding movie, and I got one. A favorite actor, Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, In the Heart of the Sea), portrayed the desolation of the shell-shocked “Shivering Soldier.” There is a point to never formally naming those characters caught between the German onslaught and the English Channel. They are everymen in their terror, helplessness, and humanity. But, I wondered, who are they? Who are all the nameless ones upon the shore, waiting for deliverance? Who are their rescuers? What are their stories? What could be their stories?

The Maggie Bright: A Novel of Dunkirk, by Tracy Groot, begins in an English shipyard in 1940. Clare Childs has inherited a handsome 52-foot yacht from someone she barely knew. She’s tricked it out as a houseboat and makes a small living renting out its rooms as a sort of floating bed-and-breakfast. But Clare doesn’t intend to remain in the harbor forever. She’s saving up whatever spare change she has to sail around the world. For her, it will be the full escape she’s needed ever since she was orphaned at a young age and brought up in isolation by her skinflint uncle.

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 1:36pm
Getting It Together: How to Organize Your Space, Your Stuff, Your Time—And Your Life

How is back-to-school treating you? Are you on top of your assignments and after-school activities? Is your room a great place to relax and work, or is it a pile of piles—of clothes, of papers, of toys, of … stuff? It’s hard to relax, have a good time, and get decent grades when your chaos works against you.

Right now, it may seem as though it’s just too much to take on, but once you get in the habit of treating your time and space as valuable, you will find your days can be much less stressful. No more running late, losing important things in the piles of unimportant things, or procrastinating on projects. It’s not hard. It just takes consistency and a gentle push in the right direction.

Getting It Together (A Smart Girl’s Guide) shows you many of the habits that can depress your day and then tells you how to change them without ever being super judgmental. Whether you are a clutter queen or time management is your tyrant, this book can be a huge help in improving your day-to-day experiences.

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