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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

A New Year, a New Start

Whooooa. So much for posting more last year. I expected to have so much to say about my first job as a bona fide librarian, but as it turned out, I was so busy getting my bearings and learning how to do my job that I didn’t have much energy left to formulate sentences about that job. Well, as they say, there’s always next year. Or, this year, as the case may be. As far as resolutions go, mine are usually pretty nebulous, but I do hope to spend some of my free time in 2010 writing more, about my chosen profession, about living in Walla Walla, and about books.

I also hope to read more in 2010. More specifically, I hope to read more new fiction. As you can see, in 2009 I didn’t read much that was shiny and new. I re-read Harry Potter for the fifth or sixth time, and I even re-read the Twilight saga (at which point I realized just how sexist and messed up that story really is). Well, I’m making it a goal in 2010 to read at least one piece of brand, spanking new fiction every month. I’ve already started with Julie Myerson’s The Lost Child, which is so far quite good (though not fiction). And I just picked up Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, for which I have high hopes.

So here’s to hearing more from me this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll actually find interesting things to say.

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The podcast for the Banned Books panel we held last fall if finally up on the GSLISCast website. Ellen Giroud, Robie Harris, Penelope Johnson and Anne L. Moore, authors and librarians, spoke about their experiences with book challenges, the history of book challenges, and what you can do if you’re faced with a challenge in your library. This was a great event, one I’m really proud we managed to pull off, and I’m so glad these great speakers were recorded by the always helpful GSLISCast crew.

If you’re interested in book banning in the United States, even if you’re not a librarian, the podcasts are free and open to all, so please check it out.

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Feminist Books for Kids

The Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the ALA (wow, we librarians sure now how to complicate things) comes up every year with the Amelia Bloomer List, a list of great feminist books for kids. The 2009 list has been released! These books all showcase girls and women who go against the grain, stand up for something they believe in, are courageous and unique and cool. The books include fiction and non-fiction, and the list includes offerings for kids off all ages. This list is well worth checking out if you have kids (boys or girls), if you buy books for a library, or if you teach. Man, I don’t do any of these things and I still want half of these books.

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I found this list on a friend’s blog: It is a list created by the National Endowment for the Arts, and she writes that they claim most American adults have read only six of these hundred books. SIX! That is almost nothing. I tried to find evidence for this claim on the internets, but my librarian skills aren’t working very well this morning. I’ll update when I find something. Anyway, someone has turned it into a fun bloggy game.

Here’s what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible (um, how many people have actually sat down to read the Bible? Like, straight through?)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (the COMPLETE works? Really? No, but I’ve read a significant number of the plays.)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden-
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (Um, why is this on the list? My confidence in the NEA is faltering.)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (Again: Really? Bridget Jones get on here?)
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola (Hmm, not this one, but I’ve read tons of other Zola.)
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – A. S. Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom (Yeah, I concur with Katy: I’m not reading this, ever.)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (Many, many times.)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery-en francais, too
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (Didn’t we cover this one in the Complete Works? I’m starting to have my doubts about this list…)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Am I a snob because I’m surprised I’ve only read 49 of these?

Whatever, I have my doubts about the reputability of this list anyway. But I do love lists. And I have been reminded of some more books I really want to read.

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The Baby-Sitters Club

I stopped at a thrift store today, and started perusing the books, as I am wont to do. And much to my delighted surprise, I found a copy old copies of Baby-sitters Club books. The series was my absolute favorite when I was a kid, and when I found out a few years ago they were out of print, it made me kinda sad. Of course I had to buy them at the store today. So freaking awesome!

I’ve been reading real, grown-up books lately, too. I just finished Tom Perrotta’s most recent, The Abstinence Teacher, and liked it much more than I expected. I’ve always enjoyed Perrotta’s books, but never found them particularly thought provoking or moving. This new one, though…I can’t stop thinking about it, and thinking about the wave of religious fanaticism sweeping the country, which obviously inspired Perrotta’s book. I’ve actually been working on a more complete review, which I’ll get up here soon.

In the meantime, though, I think I’m going to have to spend an afternoon hanging out with Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey. And it will be grand.

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I picked up Everything is Miscellaneous to read while on vacation, and was promptly made fun of by my library school colleagues, because, apparently, it’s an assigned text in one of the cataloging classes. Well, I commend the person who’s assigning this book, because it’s really excellent. David Weinberger does a great job talking about complicated issues of information organization and changing knowledge structures in a way that is accessible and even entertaining.

Weinberger’s book discusses the ways that the new digital order is changing our innate drive to organize the world around us. He claims that humans have always been trying to bring order to an essentially miscellaneous world, and that the growth of the digital allows everything to remain in its miscellaneous state, while allowing each individual to order and access things in his or her own way. According to Weinberger, this frees people up for more higher-order work: innovating, thinking, collaborating, and creating, instead of organizing and ordering.

I think this book has some really fascinating implications for, most significantly, education. Weinberger only briefly discusses the way that students and teachers are using the digital infrastructure to learn and work differently, and I would have liked a little more depth on how students’ learning styles are changing, and how our educational systems are reacting to these changes. My guess is that they aren’t reacting nearly fast enough. I think it could be really interesting to spend some time thinking about how to bring this new disordered order into education, to take advantage of how people really learn.

So whether the book is assigned or not, I highly recommend it. I’m searching for some follow up blog posts, as I’m really interested to hear what other people have to say about Weinberger’s ideas. If you’ve read something interesting about digital organization, please send it my way!

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The Phantom Tollbooth

Ok, so this has nothing to do with libraries and the massive amount of finals work I’m doing now, but I just discovered that The Phantom Tollbooth, one of the greatest movies ever made (no, I don’t love hyperbole at all), is NOT available on DVD. This is a travesty, people. Thankfully, someone else agrees and has set up a petition to re-release the movie. If you find yourself as appalled as I am that you are unable to Netflix this childhood classic, go ahead and add your signature. The petition site is a little funny, and it’s quite likely that signing it will have no effect, but you don’t need to give them your email address or anything, so it can’t hurt, right?

In lieu of blowing off finals-related stress this weekend with that excellent movie, I’ll just have to try to find a copy of the book in the library this afternoon.

(I have been on a serious YA lit kick lately. I’m not particularly interested in reading anything new, though; I’ve been revisiting the classic and not-so-classic books of my childhood. Anyone else remember The Dollhouse Murders? On the list for the coming weeks: James and the Giant Peach, The Borrowers, Anastasia Krupnik, and The Pistachio Prescription.)

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