May 29, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Are Still Being Read in 30 Years

Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope Are Still Being Read In 30 Years

1. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling

2. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
It's visually and emotionally beautiful, so it needs to stick around.  I'm hoping the movie actually helps expose people to the book, but I fear that people will just choose the movie instead. 

3. Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan
Basically I'm hoping that 30 years from now some plastic looking, robot acting person doesn't end up jailing anyone who believes in gay rights, and people can still read this book.

4. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusack
 Because it is unique and perfect.

5. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
I already live by the rules of the Fey, so I'm hoping in 30 years there are some awkward girls out there who will do the same and end up the coolest women in the world.

6. Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, by Al Gore
Either this one or the Young Reader's Edition, or really any book that's about global warming and how to combat it.  

7. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
I just really liked it.

8. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems

9. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Not only is it a clever book, but if people are still reading it 30 years from now then it also means that people will still be interested in A Wrinkle in Time.  Not that they wouldn't be, but...

10. American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
Firstly, because it's a graphic novel and I really hope they're still going strong in the future.  Secondly, because it addresses prejudice in an interesting way and I think it's an always important topic to read about, like how you always have to watch Remember the Titans in school yearly (best day ever each year).

More Top Ten Tuesdays at The Broke and the Bookish

May 28, 2012

#TheList, No. 480: Five on a Treasure Island

The first rule of children's literature is Get Rid of the Parents.  Children like to read stories about other children going on adventures and if the parents are in the way, that puts a limit on the fun.  Who wants to read about Alice going through Wonderland with her Mom in tow telling her not to Eat This or Drink That?  Parents mean rules and if the parents become absent in literature, then the children characters are allowed to bend the rules or make their own, opening up the possibilities.  Obviously there are exceptions; characters can be in a school setting where there are also implied rules, but breaking these rules is less disobedience and more mischievous.

Anyway, on the first page of Five on a Treasure Island, the parents announce they're going on vacation and the children are going on a separate vacation.  Boom, it's adventure time.  No parents means that these kids are free to explore a shipwreck and find treasure.  Granted, they are under watch of their aunt and uncle, but Enid Blyton takes care to distance these authoritative figures.  The aunt is a bit of a pushover and the uncle is a terror written for us to root for the kids' rebellion. 

There's nothing super special about this book (which is apparently the first in the Famous Five series), but it works because it follows this children's literature rule.  Five kids end up sailing to an island searching for lost treasure.  It's actually pretty tame when it could be a lot more adventurous, but it wouldn't work at all if the parents were around.

 I'd say that this story is for kids around the 4th grade or any kid looking for a quick read and doesn't mind the 40's lingo.  I swear these kids talk like Pokemon trainers: "What's up? Have you lost your tongue?" or "You do look a sight."  

It's good for a summer rainy day.  If you wanted to make a program or quick project out of the series, you could have the kids make up their own treasure maps.  If you had more time to plan, you could make a treasure map and have an actual little treasure hunt in the library or some place near the library. 

May 25, 2012

Friday Five: Challenged Books of 2011

The American Library Association (ALA) keeps tabs on books that are frequently challenged throughout the year by reading news reports and challenged book forms sent to the ALA.  So obviously it's not the most perfect way to say that this book received exactly 501 challenges last year, but it's as close as you can get from the information people share.  Plus, librarians are usually on top of reporting challenges.  We got your back, America.

From the ALA's list of challenged books by year:

Top Five Books Challenged in 2011

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 
Basically, parents are afraid that their children will read these books and then talk like the characters,  Newsflash: they already did (past tense) and now they've moved on to new words.  It's cray cray.  But no, there's also sex and religious viewpoints that we think will taint their minds.  I can get on board if the challenges were just to move these books from a children's section to a teen section (the covers do look incredibly juvenile), but the series is reflective of pretty much a large chunk of teen lit.   

2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
Alright, I've never read (or heard of) this series before but the ALA lists "nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group" as the reasons the series is frequently challenged.

3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
One of the reasons listed for the trilogy's challenges is "anti-family."  The same reason popped up in the past about Harry Potter.  I can see how the Dursley's represent that (although when you lock a kid under the stairs, he's got reason to hate you and cast pretend spells in your direction), but where is HG anti-family?  Katniss volunteers for the Games to save her family.  I DON'T GET IT.  But, it's clearly the violence that is most objectionable which is understandable for a younger audience.  It's difficult to explain to a concerned parent that the violence isn't the focus, but it's what the violence represents.  They only hear "KIDS ARE KILLING KIDS!" 

4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
I realize that this is stereotypical, but I feel that the people who challenge these types of books are the ones who would benefit the most from giving the books to their kids.  Well, not if you want your child to learn the facts of why pushing a baby through your nether regions is God's way of punishing you for being born with ovaries.  But seriously, why can't we just let the books help!? If you're that uncomfortable giving your child a book, wouldn't you be that much more uncomfortable having an actual conversation? 

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
This book contains bullying, domestic abuse, racism, sex talk, and profanity.  Adding those together equals "Hide your kids, hide your wife."  But c'mon people.  This story is about an Indian boy moving from his reservation to an all white school.  Of course it's going to be a difficult story!!! Sometimes kids need to read difficult stories.  Sherman Alexie wrote an AMAZING response to the horrific WSJ article from last year that criticized YA lit.  When an 18 year old is old enough to go die for his country, but too young to be exposed to abuse and world issues in a novel, there's a problem. 

May 23, 2012

I Am A Pole (And So Can You!)

Oh Stephen Colbert.  You bring me so much joy.  I'll never forget the day I discovered your show and proceeded to Youtube the entire first series in one week to catch up.  Or the day that we high-fived three times.  True story.  You mouthed for me to call you, but then a cameraman walked over and blocked my view, so I never did catch your number.  I'm sorry for not calling.

Now you've written a parody of a picture book.  It's like you want me to truly know we are meant to be together.  I love picture books and I love parodies of picture books.  It's perfect.

I Am A Pole (And So Can You!) follows a pole on its rhyming journey to figure out what to do in its life.  The pole goes through different phases of pole-dom including, of course, stripper pole, barber shop pole, and even tadpole.  It keeps trying new things and is about to give up when it finally gets its happy ending and finds a purpose.

Let me stress that this book is intentionally bad.  The reason Colbert published it (following the epic interview with Maurice Sendak) is because children's books sell, no matter how ridiculous.  Every celebrity out there (including John Travolta, Madonna, and apparently Terrell Owens) seems to think that a few silly lines and some fast drawings make a children's book, which is an easy way to add "Author" to their resume. 

There are so many elements in this book that nod to typical children's books that sell: the medal on the cover, the quote from the famous children's author ("The sad thing is, I like it!" - Maurice Sendak), and the list of sequels (aka other books to buy). Once you dive into the content of the book, you get the horrible attempts at poetry and bland illustrations that make up most celebrity writing attempts. 

But with I Am A Pole, the intentional crappiness makes it funny and coffee table worthy (for me at least).  How can you not laugh at:
I maypoled for a month,
Learning pagans aren't my type...
I didn't cut it as a totem -
Me no smoke-um the peace pipe.
So if you like Stephen Colbert or you like making fun of children's books or you just like poles, then check out I Am A Pole

HOWEVER, do NOT think that this is a children's book.  I'm actually amazed at some of the reviews I'm reading by people who say that they like Colbert and actually thought that this would be an appropriate book for kids.  NO.  Look above.  I've already mentioned a stripper and smoking.  Unless you're into sharing all that stuff, reading this with your 4 year old is probably a bad idea.  

May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogs/Sites That Aren't About Books

Top Ten Blogs/Sites That Aren't About Books

1 + 2. What Should We Call Me? / / How Do I Put This Gently?
This is almost like cheating because these tumblrs are practically identical, but I frequent both daily and they always make me laugh with their pretty much 100% accurate descriptions of gifs from pop culture.

3 + 4. Lolbrary / / I Waste So Much Time
Again with the cheating, but both of these have a bunch of usually funny and/or awesome images.

5. 11points
I love lists (duh) so his weekly top 11 lists always make me happy.  Plus, the creator has that awkward, sarcastic humor that I love down pat.  It's also educational!

6. Playr
Sometimes you just want to play an old school video game when you have a million other things you could be doing.

7. Tom Haverfoods
This one is a bit old, but it still makes me laugh.  Actually, every fan created Parks and Recreation site is fantastical.

8. Huffington Post
I'm pretty liberal, so that's one reason.  The other reason is where else can you find out about the latest political scandal as well as "Kate Upton's Patriotic Bikini"?  Okay, anywhere really, but HuffPo is my favorite.

9. Pottermore
Okay, this is semi-about books, but technically it's more about the world of Harry Potter, so I'm counting it.  The site has new information about Harry Potter AND it officially sorts you.  I'm a Hufflepuff/Gryffindor mix who chose Hufflepuff. #represent

10. The AV Club
I love TV and I love analyzing TV episodes and I love reading other people's interpretations of TV episodes.

More sites at The Broke and the Bookish!

May 18, 2012

Friday Five: E-Reader Positives

Alright, I'm not the biggest fan of e-readers, but unlike some people opposed to e-readers, I do see the benefits of their existence.  They just aren't for me.

Five Reasons Why E-Readers are NOT the Worst Thing in the World:

1. They will not put libraries out of business
People are always surprised by this, but you can check out e-books from most libraries.  Yes, all of you agoraphobes can keep your bodies planted in front of your computer screens and have the books come to you.  You never have to set foot in a library again and yet, you'll be keeping them alive! Look into it at your library if you haven't already, it's completely worth it.  On that note, you can download audio books as well.  Try Tina Fey's Bossypants, she reads it herself.

2. They weigh less
I think this is a weak argument from people who say they can bring 8 books with them on vacation instead of 1, or whatever.  You shouldn't be reading 8 books on vacation.  Go to a museum and get cultured.  I never tell people not to read, but really, find something else to do. 

However, I do think that things like textbooks would be an amazing thing to have on an e-reader.  High-schoolers have terrible back problems, or at least the ones at my school did.  We had strict locker time rules: in the morning before homeroom, during lunch, and after school.  That was it.  Well, lunch is 4th period out of 5 periods and I always had the last lunch, which meant I got to walk around with 4 classes worth of binders and textbooks all day.  My right shoulder is significantly lower than my left.  True story.  E-book versions of textbooks would help alleviate some of that pain.  Granted it would be an extravagant purchase, but it would be useful.

3. Searches
For research purposes, electronic information is always valuable for fast searches.  Tables of Contents and indexes can only bring you so far.  Electronic searches can bring you right to the word.  However, I do think that makes a lot of people lazy and they end up not reading books or articles in their entirety and instead only search for the information they need.  So it's a useful tool to have, but I don't think it should stand in the way of reading things as a whole.

4. Reading Positions
Alright, this reason is one I'm actually jealous of.  Sometimes it's hard to find a difficult way to sit and read a really large/long book (*cough* Order of the Phoenix) whether you are sitting or lying down.  With an e-reader, you can pretty much lie down any which way.

5. Environment Friendly
My bookshelves are a reflection of so many trees cut down in their prime.  E-readers help cut that down a bit (see what I did there?). 

May 16, 2012

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak and Jean Craighead George

Two incredibly talented and inspirational voices in children's literature passed away over the past week.  It's depressing, especially for me, but it's a great opportunity to reflect on their work and pick up some of their books you may have missed.

#TheList, No. 745: Little Women

When I was in the fifth grade, we had an assignment called "Fiction Feedback."  Every term, we were required to read at least three fictional books and fill out a small worksheet.  For some of the...uhhh dorks, to put it gently, this assignment was treated as a competition.

We could choose the books ourselves and our teacher had a fairly sizeable collection in the classroom for us to pick from if we wanted.  I distinctly remember two books in this collection: R.L. Stine's Goodnight Kiss:

and Louisa May Alcott's Little WomenLittle Women was by far the largest book on the shelf; you had to get special permission to read it for Fiction Feedback and it counted as two books.  Naturally, all the dorks had to read this book so we could brag about this feat.

Now that I've reread the book without that competitive edge driving me forward, I appreciate it differently.  I actually see it as a great "classic book" for kids to read and enjoy from the way the novel is constructed.  The story definitely flows across the chapters, but every chapter can be read on its own as a mini short story.  Yes, I see that mini short story sounds redundant, but I'm sticking with it.  Anyway, the digestable chunks of story are the perfect size for children readers.  The chapters each have a solid storyline.  Read one or two chapters a day, and pick up the book again tomorrow.  There aren't any of the crazy cliffhangers to compel you to finish the book right then and there, except maybe the storyline about Beth's illness, and the chapter sizes and completeness help to understand the story better.

It's also a really good, simple story.  Four sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy) grow up in the late 19th century, and here's what happens to them.  Yes, it's schmaltzy here and there, but I didn't mind it as much as I normally do.  Plus, this line exists:
"...better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running about to find husbands."
I personally love that.  It's a dose of anti-Disneyfication of the Princess stories focusing on finding Prince Charming (not that I hate those movies, it's just hard to argue that that's not the case in many movies).

There are lots of books available to read after Little WomenLittle Women is actually the first of a series by Lousia May Alcott, so there are four more books you can read once you finish.  There's a "Portraits of Little Women" series written in the 90s that focus on the characters individually.  There's also a movie and a musical out there for your viewing and listening pleasure.  Seriously, Little Women is everywhere. 

May 12, 2012

Friday Five: Why I Don't Have an E-Reader

I do plan on doing a Friday Five defending e-books, but for right now:

Five Reasons Why I Don't Have or Want an E-Reader:
1. Things break easily
This morning, I accidentally stepped on my cell phone charger and broke it. Things happen and an expensive e-reader is not something I would want to own and accidentally break.

Also, when I'm reading a book and something happens that upsets me (something horrible happens to a character I love - Harry Potter - or the book is just terribly written - Twilight) I have a tendency to either a) drop the book in surprise; b) slam the book shut in disbelief; or c) throw the book in disgust. This may be a sign of anger issues and also may be an exaggeration.  Regardless, I can always pick the book up and keep reading.  Maybe some pages get wrinkled or torn a bit, but the words all remain and nothing stands in my way of finding out what happens next.

If I throw an e-reader (or drop it accidentally on the floor or in a puddle), there's less of a chance that I can pick it up and just keep going.  Not only would I not have the book that I was reading, but I'd lose everything else on there too.  So I'd have to replace the e-reader and then load everything back onto it.  #Hassle.

2. I'm a traditionalist
I just prefer turning physical pages. Plus, I often like to flip back to previous passages and having tried doing that on an e-reader and getting frustrated, I know that it's in my best interest to have a physical book in my hand for my page flipping compulsiveness.

3. My Bookshelf
I love staring at my bookshelf. I love organizing/reorganizing my books and I love knowing that they're there.  Yes, they take up space, but they are a part of my life and I don't feel the need to have downloadable files on an e-book be a representation of what I've read.

4. Choosing Books
Unless you know exactly what you're looking for, or you're one of those people who will read whatever is on the bestsellers list, it is so difficult to digitally browse for books.  I like to actually flip through a book to get a feel of how it's written, and you only get a smidgen of a preview to do that online for e-books. 

5. Money
Yes, e-books are technically cheaper than buying new physical books. But if you're buying used books, those prices always win.  PLUS, after I shelled out all the money for the actual e-reader, I would still need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to buy electronic versions of the many, many books I already own.  People often say that e-books are easier to travel with, which I don't dispute, but I often reread my books and I would rather  carry the extra weight than have to repurchase everything. 

May 8, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Quotes From Books

I tried, I really tried, but it's pretty obvious from the get go that a large chunk of these are going to be from Harry Potter.  If I could just count the entirety of the series as one long quote, I would, but alas, here are my

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Harry Potter Books:

1. "I enjoyed the meetings, too. It was like having friends."  
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

2. "Are you sure that's a real spell? Well, it's not very good is it? I've tried a few simple spells myself and they've all worked for me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, it's the best school of witchcraft there is I've heard - I've learned all the course books by heart of course. I just hope it will be enough - I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?" 
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling

(*Sidenote, I used to practice that line in the hopes that there would be an audition to play Hermione in the movie.*)

3. "Why are you worrying about You-Know Who? You should be worrying about U-No-Poo - the Constipation Sensation that's gripping the nation!" 
-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

4. "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love" 
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

5. "All was well." 
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

6. "There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C., when Saul and Delilah Korn's inadvertent discovery swept across Western Civilization.  (Before then couples hooked thumbs.)"  
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

7. "...better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running about to find husbands." 
- Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

8. “It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.” 
-Bossypants, by Tina Fey

9.  "A messy home sends a coded message to children: "I'm not loveable. Otherwise, Mom would dust."
- I Am America (And So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert

10. "I am haunted by humans."
- The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

More at The Broke and the Bookish!

May 2, 2012

Librarian Problems

Librarians have to deal with a lot.  Part of that includes people saying "it must be nice to sit around all day and read."  That's not what we do.  Part of being a librarian is making tough decisions.

A library is supposed to provide equal access to all information.  Well, what about super racist and prejudiced books? What about books that proclaim that the world is flat?  Or books that insist homosexuality is a disease that can be cured?

As a super liberal gal, I believe know that all of the above is wrong, but there are those who fervently believe in all of that and it's not a librarian's job to correct them.  Librarians are just supposed to provide them with the materials. Sad, but true.

But, we also have to make sure that our collections serve the needs of our community.  So, what happens when your library is smack dab in the middle of a KKK nesting area?  Do you make sure all of the civil rights books are locked away? Do you even have them available? If you do have these books on the shelves and they are stolen or vandalized to prevent others from using them, do you replace them, or use the library budget elsewhere? #SOMANYPROBLEMS!!!

That's an extreme example, yes, but issues like this are common.  Arizona schools banned ethnic studies, so should libraries contain these materials to help the students who lose out? [Yes] Schools in Tennessee aren't allowed to discuss homosexuality in grades K-8.  Should these students have access to books like And Tango Makes Three or Heather Has Two Mommies? [Yes]  Should libraries in secular towns hold titles that discuss intelligent design? [Yes]  It's difficult to find an appropriate balance of materials, but it's necessary because there is supposed to be something for everyone. 

So no, we don't get to sit around and read all day.  We have to think about this type of issue to make sure everyone is happy.  #librarianproblems

May 1, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'd Like To See Made Into A Movie

I usually cringe when I see movies made of books I love, but there are a few that I wouldn't mind seeing on the big screen.  
I'd still go all hipster on them when they came out with my endless proclamations of having read the book already, but here are my

Top Ten Books I'd Like To See Made Into A Movie

1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
The Tim Burton-ness of this book is just screaming to be made into a movie, but the photographs included in the book are so strong that it could diminish the work if they weren't replicated well enough.

2. The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson
The Jack the Ripper plot would be great onscreen and the movie would probably do well because as the book itself addresses, people are obsessed with the sensation that is Jack the Ripper.

3. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, by Judy Blume
It's my favorite Blume book and I think she's a character with whom many young children with overactive imaginations can connect. 

4. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

5. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
While I wasn't a huge fan of this book, I think it's got an extremely relevant topic (newsfeeds controlling us and choosing virtual over actual conversations) and would translate really well to the big screen.

6. 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
This one is intense and the acting would have to be perfect to pull off.  But I think it would be haunting to hear the casette tapes played.

7. Ender's Shadow, by Orson Scott Card
This one is tough.  It is actually being made into a movie starring the boy from Hugo, but it'll be difficult to get everything in there, especially because Ender is pretty much a fetus for a good chunk of the book.

8. Fifteen, by Beverly Cleary
This story is atrocious, but a great historical look at how times have changed since this book was published.  If this were made into a movie, with no changes, it would have a sort of Pleasantville vibe to it which would be interesting.

9. The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness
Even though I hated the rest of the series, this dystopian novel is great.  While I love females as the leads in these type of books, the male lead in this one evens out the playing field a tiny bit (but not really, because Katniss would destroy him in 5 seconds) and there's a female that's with him on his journey.

10. How I Paid for College, by Marc Acito
This book is hilarious and speaks well to those high school students about to (maybe) leave home for college and deal with adult burdens like money.  It would be a good summer flick to help them take their minds off of the stress for just a moment.