Monday, June 28, 2010

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

This book is a historical novel based on Romeo and Juliet. Maxwell moves the story to Florence of the 1480s and includes the Medici family in the work. Romeo and Juliet are 25 and 18 (respectively) and Juliet has been modernized and made into a feminist poetess.
I did enjoy this novel. I plan to try to do "If you liked this, then read that" book-talks next year when English classes finish reading their works. I found out about this book from a library journal. I would like to buy it for our library next year, but I am concerned about two scenes (p.126 and p.191-193). If you read this book, please let me know what you think about 14-year-old girls reading those pages.
Comment: Every time I read/watch Romeo and Juliet, I find myself thinking that it might work out this time. I know that is stupid of me, but I suppose that is the power of this story. I also feel that way about To Kill a Mockingbird. Question: Are there any books or movies that you feel this way about?

I am going to start including a link to the book's website (if available). The link for this book is at . By the way, this book is brand-spankin' new! I was the first to read it from the NPL.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson

This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
This book was given to all MNPS librarians by Dr. Susan Whitworth at our "End of the Year Celebration" in May. It had rave reviews about how funny it was. I didn't find the book as a whole that funny, but I did find some funny parts.
I don't read much nonfiction, so this was quite a change for me.
I am going to comment on this book by posting some quotes I found enjoyable; I feel they will speak for themselves.

  • Librarians' values are as sound as Girl Scouts': truth, free speech, and universal literacy (8).
  • Librarians are essential players in the information revolution because they level that field. They enable those without money or education to read and learn the same things as the billionaire and the Ph.D...They are the little "d" democrats (8).
  • Look at all you can do here! was the message patrons got when they walked into one of these places (45).
  • If you are out of diapers, do not open the soiled diaper, scoop out the turd, leave the turd on a shelf, and then ask the librarian to tape the newly cleaned diaper closed again...(63).
  • "This site draws its name from the Chivalric Order of the Duchy of Caledeon Primverness, and Members of the Order take vows of Literacy, Obstinacy, and Bibliomancy." Bibliomancy? It's defined for us a little further down: "Divination by jolly well Looking It Up" (155).
  • We are old, stooped-over people doing old, stooped-over things. They want us to lighten things up, they want the library to be active and hip, they want to pit in a cafeteria and schedule entertainments- they want us to join the modern age (199). Comment: This quote reminded me of the meeting of MNPS HS librarians at the main NPL branch downtown. A young, male, teen librarian talked to us about all of the rockin' things they were doing for teens and about how they all just wanted places to hang out. I told Gwen this discouraged me because we didn't have money to change our set up to please teens. She reminded me that we are an academic library at JOHS, not a public library. Thanks for the reminder, Gwen!
  • Information justice is a human rights issue; the public library must remain "the people's university" (204).
  • He finally found its three volumes, untouched, in the basement of the Boston Athenaeum research library. "You wonder who they bought these books for, anyway," he said to the librarian. "We got them for you, Mr. Basbanes," he was told (207).
  • Instead of "How to Use Online Databases," we offered classes like "Cookery 101."...We would talk about how to use the catalog or online database, but in the context of a subject (209.
  • I didn't know there was so much in there, waiting for us (211).
  • If we are helping build or create something, save a town landmark, fight for freedom, launch a field of study; if we survive a disaster or witness a miracle- if we do anything with our lives besides watch television- we might want to document it somehow and save the evidence (222). Comment: That is the purpose of this blog.

Here is a link to the book; you can click from here to read the first chapter:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

This books alternative non-PC title is Ten Little case you ever see a copy with that title.
This is one of Agatha Christie's most popular novels of all time. The other REALLY popular one is Curtain, Hercule Poirot's last case. FYI: Hercule Poirot is my favorite detective of all time. Agatha Christie herself did not like him and grew tired of him; however, the public liked him so well that her publishers made her keep writing novels with him as the lead. It is my opinion (and probably the generally accepted opinion because it seems so obvious...esentially, I am not taking credit for any great insight here) that the character Ariadne Oliver voices Agatha Christie's personal opinions about Hercule Poirot; look out for her if you read any of Christie's novels.
I've already admitted that Hercule Poirot novels are my preference and, I must confess, I have read this novel several times before. I listened to it on tape with my dad. It is my current mission to expose him to as many classics that he has never read as I can over the summer.
I read my first Christie novel as a teenager on the way to a family vacation at Reelfoot Lake. I read The Sleeping Murder. It is the only Christie novel that I have ever solved.
Observation: I also really like Christie's Peril at End House. Question 1: If you read Christie, who do you prefer: Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. Question 2: If you have read many Christie cozies (English mysteries), what is your favorite?
Observation: My love of Agatha Christie led me to start reading Agatha Raisin cozies by M.C. Beaton. Question 3: Has love of one author/work ever led you to the love of another author/work? If so, please elaborate.
Up next: Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

This is part 2 of (so far!) 8 books. This is one of those series, like Harry Potter, where you just wish it would go on and on.
I got in on Harry Potter at book 3. After that, I was hooked. I had to endure the years between books and I knew the exquisite impatience of waiting for another book to come out when I already knew I would have it read in a few days and would just have to wait again. That was OK, though, because the joy was worth the wait.
That's how I feel with this series...except I'm not having to wait. I'm just reading (listening, actually) and loving every minute of it knowing that when I'm done with this one, another awaits. That is, of course, until I get to book 8; then I'll have to wait with the rest of her fans! Oh, I can't wait to get there...or can I?
My friend Susan and I are reading them together and discussing them. We talk about the finer points of the books. I am enamored, however, with a less fine point. If you read this, pay attention to the references to hot water. I just love them!
Question: What is your favorite modern convenience?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Christmas in Plains by Jimmy Carter

Once again, this book is for the SPL summer reading program and Dad and I listened to it on CD.
I have no idea how many pages this is in book form, but I am sure it must be a novella. It was 2 1/2 hours on CD and it was read by President Jimmy Carter himself. He has a wonderful Southern accent. My favorite word to hear him pronounce was his wife's name, Rosalind, because he said it like rosin (tree sap).
In this book, the former president recounts a few Christmases from his childhood, his time in the navy, his time as governor of Georgia, and his time at the White House. Throughout all of these stories, he places great emphasis on Christmas' being a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Dad has read some of his other books and he admires Carter's Christianity as seen in those books. In fact, before the boys were born Dad wanted us to take a trip to Plains, Georgia (Carter's hometown), to hear him teach Sunday school. I wish we had done it. I don't know if he still teaches Sunday school, but I do know that trips are much harder now that the boys are here.
Topic: As previously stated, Carter read this himself. I think we should take advantage of our modern abilities and have recordings of important people like him reading their own works. Who is the one person (past or present) that you would most like to hear read his/her own works?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I am starting the summer reading program at the Smyrna Public Library. I have to read 6 books by late July. The boys are also participating; they have to read 30 books!...age-appropriate, of course.
Dad and I listened to To Kill a Mockingbird in the car when we were taking the boys on drives or going to Wednesday-night church. I'm not sure what inspired me to grab it from the SPL. I mean, I taught this book every year I taught English I (that's 6, not this last one). I just picked it up for us, I suppose, because I love it. When I got to the car Dad told me he had never read it. This should really have surprised me because I made it through school without reading it either. I read it for the first time when I had to teach it back in the spring of 2004.
Topic 1: I believe this is the greatest work of American literature. What do you believe is the greatest work of AMERICAN literature? (I am limiting this discussion because many of friends read mostly British lit, like me.)
Topic 2: What are some classic works that you did not read in school but feel you should have?