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

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 2:02am
Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World

Making bread from flour, yeast, water/milk and whatever else goes into your recipe is one of the most satisfying things a person of any age can learn, and there are so many good lessons for homeschooling, too. There’s measuring, of course, but there are a lot of little things that baking reinforces. Patience: it takes time for a loaf of bread to rise. An eye for detail: how do you know when the bread is mixed enough? When it's done? Sharing: whether you’re sharing an Amish or sourdough starter or a complete loaf of bread, sharing can be the best part of baking.

Even with all those good lessons, author Elizabeth Harbison and illustrator John Harbison go it one better by including a cheerful history of bread making in their book, Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World. You’ll learn how people across the world and across time have made their bread. They might use different kinds of flour. They might not even use yeast. But it’s all bread, made to be enjoyed—and shared.

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 1:57am
Cover to Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story

With its simple, glowing pictures by Jill McElmurry reminiscent of folk art, Pat Zietlow Miller’s Sharing the Bread is a rhyming, picture-book distillation of the many good things about a shared Thanksgiving. All the family—aunt, uncle, mother, father, sister, brothers, grandmother, grandfather—help make the feast, and all the family enjoys sharing it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 1:56am
The Cornbread Gospels: Over 200 Recipes by Crescent Dragonwagon

People can be mighty particular about their cornbread. They have strong feelings about which kind of meal to use (yellow or white), what to cook it in, what to use for leavening, and what to add in for extra flavor—or not. From such regional and personal beliefs comes Crescent Dragonwagon’s The Cornbread Gospels, with delicious takes on this homespun favorite.

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the joys of cornbread, whether it’s a semi-soufflé of spoonbread for the Thanksgiving meal or something plainer to go with your New Year’s Day black-eyed peas, The Cornbread Gospels has your dish. Drawn from the recipe files of excellent cooks from across America and around the world, you’ll get a taste for different cultures as well as their preferred methods and flavors, with the talented wordsmith Crescent Dragonwagon as your guide.