Meet the Staff: Larissa

There is a new O’Fallon Public Library staff person in the page section of the library: Larissa!

What jobs did you have before coming to the library?

I’ve been a tutor since I was in college. I also taught philosophy to High School students, worked at a bookstore as a cataloguer, as an assistant at the computer lab at SIU Carbondale, and I was a writer for a brief period.  

What are your favorite books or movies?

I’m an avid poetry reader. Although I have many poets that I adore, Mary Oliver is a current favorite. I love her poem “Wild Geese,” from her book Dream Work. What I admire in her poems is the subtle strength of her words:

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

These verses carry such a gentle metaphor that only grows in its strength the more you think about it. I read her poems as a form of meditative work, and I believe that good poems have enough beauty to carry us through different moments of our lives.

Larissa

When I’m not reading poetry I have a strong preference for short stories. I enjoy readings that lead to different interpretations and start a good conversation. I’m from Brazil, and there are many Brazilian authors that I love in this category. If I had to say one, Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star (A Hora da Estrela) is a work that always reintroduces itself into my readings. Lispector uses a character/narrator that is, undeniably, the author herself.

This character (Macabea) moves to a different state in Brazil and finds herself in a masterfully explored complex of themes, such as: migration, the woman’s condition, family, and death. It’s a story that exemplifies the Brazilian literature that I like to read. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Macabea’s story will haunt you forever.

I’m also a mother, and I have been finding myself falling deeply in love with children’s books. I think they are the most impactful literature—most of the picture books we read as a child will be carried within us forever in our hearts. Some are playful, yet others can explain the most complex or difficult topics to the most innocent beings. They are the key to enjoying reading and I think that’s super awesome.

My favorite children’s book at the moment is Where Are You From? by Camille Said Mendez. I’m an immigrant mother from Southern Brazil, and this book explores with kids what it means when someone wants to know “where are you from?” To belong is a powerful verb, and any child can learn about identity and self-acceptance in a beautiful way with this book—especially if you have immigrants in the family. I always choke up when I read this book to my child.

I can’t choose a list of favorite movies, but I’ve always liked anime, and Whisper of the Heart is my favorite Studio Ghibli movie. It’s a lovely story (for book lovers and artists it’s a must watch) and the animation is perfect. Speaking of comfort watching, my young self wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t mention Amelie, by Jean-Pierre Jennet. It’s a contemporary fairy tale with the best protagonist—the one and only quirky girl. The aesthetic of Amelie is just a world into which I could transport myself anytime. 

What do you love most about libraries?

I grew up in libraries. I knew the librarians at my city’s public library by name when I was 4-years-old. It was my second home and a refuge when I was in college. It’s the place I know my kid will start building meaningful memories in the shape of stories and friendships. It’s where the quiet lives. As an introvert, I appreciate spaces where it’s ok to be quiet. Libraries are for people by people. It’s part of the community—serving what is needed and what is wanted. Libraries are for the practical and the fun. It’s where freedom should live. I just really like libraries.

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