Ever have one of those days? You know the type where you feel like everything is just a bit off. You miss the bus even though you left five minutes early. You spill coffee on your new white linen, short-sleeve Oxford shirt. Your cell phone reception is nonexistent even though you’re standing in the middle of downtown. Maybe you’re just having a bad morning, or perhaps you’ve been secretly transported to an alternate version of Earth.

I love when a story seems normal, yet there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s not until I’m really engrossed in the tale that I figure out that the world is a different place from where I grew up. They’re not science fiction, per se, but contain just enough of a difference to be noticeable.  Here are a few of my favorite examples of these types of stories.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other by D. Travers Scott is a grizzly novel about four quadruplet brothers. When their dad commits suicide, they find out that one of them is NOT really a brother. Some quirks: travel by airship instead of plane, sorta-telepathic abilities. A bit of a mystery to try to figure out what was going on, and it kept me guessing all the way to the end.

The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko starts in a small country town. A teenage boy is confronted by his doppelgänger who offers him a trip to an alternate world. Turns out, the trip was one-way. He makes a life in the new world by inventing a new game called “Pinball,” but gets noticed by a shady corporation who wants to rule the world.

Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Translated from the Finnish, it tells the story of a guy who rescues and cares for a troll that has been badly beaten. The author does a great job of making it seem like trolls actually exist, and when the main character bites off more than he can chew, bad things really start happening.

Yesterday I bought my very first LP record. For Christmas I bought myself a new record player. It's actually one of those fancy cd/cassette/radio/record players that looks like it's an antique. While doing some window shopping on Hawthorne, I came across a tiny store that had odd things for sale. They had a stack of records, which I thumbed through enthusiastically. I came across a recording of Walt Disney's Fantasia, conducted by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Now the library doesn't own any LPs, but we do have a CD version of the same album. The artwork is spectacular, with vibrant color that mimic the film. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm sure it will transport me back to when I first saw the film.

The artwork from my beautiful new record actually reminds me of another item in the library's collection.  Children's author Jon Scieszka has retold the story of Alice in Wonderland, and the artwork inside is magnificent. The illustrations used in the new edition are by Disney Legend, Mary Blair. Known for her brilliant work as a conceptual designer for Disney, each page is uniquely painted and very stylistic. Her images and his story work together wonderfully.  She has a few other titles in our library system that are also visually stunning.

While I cherish my childhood memories of Disneyland, I'm learning to appreciate the time I spend with Disney as an adult. I think I've even found where I want my next vacation to be...

I've returned to work after a nice long vacation and snow assault. Stuck in St. Johns, I spent a lot of time curled up on the couch watching tv, playing card games, and eating too much holiday baking.  Sure I tried to leave the house, but waiting at the bus stop for 90 minutes inspired me to return to my warm couch and some cocoa.

After the snow started to melt, and about an hour of shoveling out the car, navigation through the icy city streets became quite the adventure. Chains in the boot, shovel in the backseat, and the newest Ratatat CD in the player, the drive was a welcome respite after a week stuck at home.

Now I've been a big fan of electronica music for as long as I can remember. Daft Punk is, of course, my number one listening choice.  However, last year I was turned on to Ratatat while relaxing with friends at the Oregon Coast. LP3 is the latest from them, and while their other albums are great, this one is practically perfect for driving around in a winter wonderland. I enjoy having a Ratatat cd playing in the background, as it helps me pretend I'm in a movie and they're part of the soundtrack of my life. It's very relaxing, and not as intrusive as some of the other albums I've recently been listening to.

If you've never given electronica music a try, don't worry. There are many different genres, and you're bound to find one that you'll like. Ratatat's LP3 is a definately a great place to start.

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