Welcome to my corner of the internet! I’m Chris Wolak and Stay Curious is a blog about books, libraries, and history. It’s a place for me to practice and celebrate my core value of lifelong learning which is fed by staying curious.
I’ve been blogging about the books I read, the libraries I visit, and other bookish topics since January 2010. I started this blog shortly after stepping down as a manager at Borders Books & Music after over ten years in a variety of positions (district marketing manager, community relations, operations, sales manager to name a few). Although I continued to work as a part-time bookseller for another two years until the company’s demise, I missed the daily interaction with books and book people. This blog helped fill that void.
I’ve spent most of my adult life working with or around books. In addition to my time at Borders, I’ve worked as a college English instructor and in both academic and public libraries. I’ve also held jobs in factories, hospitals, and served in the Marine Corps. My non-bookish interests include kayaking, exploring nature, and hanging out with my wife and our two dogs.
I’m currently pursuing a masters in library and information science with a focus on archives management at Simmons University. I have an MA in Literature from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a BA in English from Loyola University Chicago.
Willa Cather is one of my favorite writers. I’ve been on a mission to read everything she’s written. In 2012 I created the Willa Cather Novel Reading Challenge as a way to celebrate reading the last Cather novel on my list. I invited others to join me in reading all 12 of her novels that year, one per month. I’m currently reading one short story a month and invite you to join me in The Willa Cather Short Story Project.
The Book Cougars Podcast
In December 2016, my friend Emily Fine and I decided to start a book podcast after we’d driven eight hours, round-trip, to attend an author event. (Ruth Franklin talking about her new biography of Shirley Jackson at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.) We talked about books the entire time, or at least when we weren’t listening to Ruth talk about her book. Shortly after, Book Cougars: Two Middle-Aged Women on the Hunt for a Good Read was born.
You can listen to episodes directly from our website or wherever you get your podcasts. We talk about books we’re reading, have read, and want to read, as well as Biblio Adventures we’ve been on. We also have regular interviews with authors and other bookish professionals. Check out our guest list.
Other places to connect with me:
- Twitter: @chriswolak
- Instagram: @chriswolak
- Facebook: @chriswolakstaycurious
- LinkedIn: Chris Wolak
Thanks for visiting, and Stay Curious!
Hello. We have a small group on Litsy reading through Cather’s short story collection. We have already gone through all her novels, except Alexander’s Bridge. Anyway I wanted to comment here that one in our group found your Cather posts and they have become a major source for us. Thanks for this blog and all you and your group add to these stories. If you go on Litsy you can find us at #catherbuddyread (my handle is graywacke )
Hi Dan, thanks so much for taking the time to write and let me know you and your group are finding my posts helpful! It means a lot to me. Most of all, I’m excited to connect with more Cather enthusiasts. I have a Litsy account that I’ve let languish and will head over to connect with you.
I came across your blog while I was searching for Willa Cather related information. I’m a writer that lives in the south suburbs of your old stomping grounds, Chicago. I subscribed to your blog thinking that it might be a way to contact you directly, but I’m not sure if it works that way so I’m trying this post as well. I have a piece of Willa Cather memorabelia that I’d like to see go to someone who’d appreciate it. Feel free to contact me at my email address if you’re interested.
Hi Patrick! I miss Chicago. Due to the pandemic, it’s been over two years since I’ve been back. I’m intrigued by what memorabilia you have. I only see the email addresses of people who follow the blog and not names, so I couldn’t find your info. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to email me. Thanks for following my blog and for reaching out.
Thank you for commenting on my Larry McMurtry post! I was interested to see you’re going through library school, as I did that in the mid-90s and would be interested to see how things have changed (I learned how to make a web page in html and a relational database and also how to lay out a double-sided concertina-fold leaflet so was on the cusp between the traditional and the new!).
Chris: I have only recently come across your site and ‘library visits.’ Great stuff. I am a journalist-historian-college prof and have been visiting Carnegie Libraries as a way to break up long car trips between Texas and Michigan. Kind of a nerdy hobby that’s sorta taken over my life. I do Facebook posts about each CL, its town and history, and my FB friends seem to like them. Anyway, I wonder if I might pester you for a comment or two about Carnegies you’ve known — like in Plattsmouth. It’s on my next itinerary in late August. Cheers, and thanks, Mark McDonald
Hi Mark, thanks for checking out my library posts. I can’t wait to visit your Facebook page. Shortly after starting to write posts about libraries, I had planned on visiting all of the Carnegie libraries in Illinois, but then we moved. I’ve yet to develop a plan here in Connecticut, but it’s on my to-dos long list. I think there’s something magical about Carnegie libraries. Whatever one thinks about Carnegie the man, the impact he had on civic life, learning, pleasure reading in the US is astronomic. But you already know that. 🙂 I enjoy the variety of architectural styles and how they reflect their community. If you take internal photos of libraries, I’d be curious to see the inside of the Plattsmouth library. I’ve yet to make it inside to see the new addition.