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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 2:21am
Cover to A Christmas Return by Anne Perry

When readers of Anne Perry’s Charlotte & Thomas Pitt mystery series first met Charlotte’s grandmother, Mariah Ellison, in The Cater Street Hangman, she was an embittered shrew. She certainly disapproved of her headstrong granddaughter marrying a mere policeman, an occupation considered quite below her well-heeled family’s Victorian-era standards.

But time and some enlightening experiences, including those events taking place in another year’s Christmas novella (A Christmas Guest), have left Mariah finally coming to terms with the damage done by her extremely regrettable marriage. Alone at Christmas, she feels she is strong enough to make A Christmas Return to right an old wrong that threatens people she cares about very much.

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 2:16am
Cover to Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Georgie has had enough of being under her stepsister’s thumb. Binky’s wife Fig is determined to keep the castle colder than even its normal drafty self by not lighting rather necessary fires, and what food there is seems to be doled out in ever diminishing quantities. To top it off, Fig has found a way to save even more money with a scheme to use Georgie as an unpaid governess for years to come.

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.

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