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

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 1:44pm
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.

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 1:44pm
A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

They call her Mary Quinn now. The judge would have happily have called her hanged. That’s what happens to unrepentant thieves, which is what Mary was. Orphaned and growing up on the streets of Queen Victoria’s London, an eight-year-old gets by as best she can. If that means dressing like a boy and picking pockets or even breaking into houses, that’s what she’ll do. Did. For four years until she was caught.

Mary was resigned to an end to her short and brutal life. She wouldn’t give the judge, or anyone, really, the satisfaction of tears or an apology. Even so, it was a harsh situation. Condemned to execution within days. So why was the lady in the courtroom’s gallery smiling at her—as if it was all going to be fine?

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 1:46pm
Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See For Yourself

Many Americans are largely unaware of the fascinating Native American sites that dot our landscapes and can be visited by the public. From tall mounds, akin in function to the ancient pyramids, to haunting images etched in desert stone, there are many sites to see off the beaten tourist trails. They can tell us a lot about the people who made this continent their home hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago.

In his Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See For Yourself, author Kenneth L. Feder gives you a wonderfully friendly tour of 50 such sites. Some are located in state or national parks. Some are found as local museums. All are worth a look. As a professor of anthropology, Dr. Feder is extremely knowledgeable, but his conversational tone makes this is a genuinely accessible guide.