Quick Housekeeping

A couple weeks ago I thought to change my blog to http://radmusings.wordpress.com.  Well, I changed my mind.  Sorry to make everyone switch back and forth, but I couldn’t leave shoelessreader behind.

shoelessreader is here to stay.

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Maybe I'm Morbid…

I had to laugh that the comic book Bunny Suicides was challenged at a school in the United States.  Actually I am surprised that it was at a school, but I can see many kids loving it.  Especially boys.  This delightful little comic book shows images of bunnies trying their best to commit suicide.  Suicide is a dark subject, I’ll admit that, but for some reason seeing these cute looking bunny rabbits finding different ways to do it is funny.  My favorite is an comic where there is a line of bunnies outside an airplane, waiting for their chance to jump through one of the engines (propellers? – I don’t know planes well).  The image does not stop there, but continues as out the other side of the engine are pieces of the bunnies.  None of this is color though.

The parent does see that these are comic, but she does hope that the library will hold the book behind the circulation desk and allow only highschoolers to check it out.  That may be appropriate, but I can see that junior high boys would love it too.

#5 on NY Times Bestsellers

John Green’s book, Papertowns, is now #5 on the NY Times Bestseller list.  Knowing that it is John Green’s, and any writer for that matter, dream to be on the Bestseller list, a hearty congratulations to him.  Hopefully it will only go up on the list. If anyone hasn’t read the book yet, I do recommend it.  And though it is hardback, it is relatively inexpensive, only $17.99 (not $25 like most hardbacks are when first published). Or, just go to your local library and request a copy to read for free.  And if you can’t remember what on earth this book is about, go read my review at RedFence.

Calm Before the Storm

Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson

Tonight Brian and I will be going to Santa Barbara to see Marilynne Robinson.  Santa Barabara is reading Housekeeping for their city read.  Last year we went to see Jonathan Safran Foer as Thousand Oaks was reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  And while I’m glad that Pasadena chose Call of the Wild, there is something to be said about having good authors come and be able to talk about their books.

And sometime tomorrow we will be heading out to Oak Glen, to get fresh apples and cider.  Maybe even some barbeque. Next week I will be busy with a wiki project, mid-term, and a small paper to write, so I need to keep reminding myself that now is the time to relax before the storm hits next week.

Library Links|Dawning of a New Age

The Stiftsbibliothek, or abbey library, in the Swiss town of St. Gallen

The Stiftsbibliothek, or abbey library, in the Swiss town of St. Gallen

In the Guardian today, there are excerpts from letters about libraries and their ability to adapt to the new technological age.  Most of the quotes from the letters were positive.  Especially this one, as the writer explains that as the ability to get more information instantaneously over the internet the more the world will need librarians.  I think that this is true.  As long as there is information (and now with several different ways to access it) the world will still need librarians to navigate the mountains of it.  Which is also why librarians will need to learn good online searching techniques and be able to keep up with technology as it changes rapidly.

“The future of libraries is bright indeed if they can get through the next few years reasonably intact. By then it should be obvious to all that their – slightly modified – function is essential to society.

The reason is clear. The information society is in the process of taking form. Here the defining products are immaterial knowledge rather than concrete objects, production units are knowledge workers rather than machines in factories, and the raw material is information.

The amount of information involved is almost inconceivable. And the complexity of the task of managing and making available for all citizens this information will demand all the qualified professional help society can obtain, and more. We are going to need our librarians desperately.
Don Mac Donald
Oslo, Norway”

And with the future of libraries being bright and ever-so-slightly changing at times, one of the oldest libraries in Switzerland has received a grant that will enable them to put their Medieval manuscripts online.  Being that it is one of the oldest libraries surviving from the 9th century, it has a rich history that can attract many people, especially now over the internet.  As an expert who is overseeing the project of digitizing the manuscripts says:

“The library has become more visible,” Mr. Flüeler said. “On the Internet we now have more visitors than in the real library.”

While not all the manuscripts are able to be viewed yet, there are at least 144 manuscripts that are.  This is immensely helpful for those who have chosen to study Medieval Manuscripts as they can’t always get to a library that has Medieval Manuscripts in their holdings and if they do have a library close by, not always will they actually be able to see them.  With this library, students can study the manuscripts close up.  They can browse by age, signature, author, title and language.  Close ups of the facsimiles and bindings are available.  And even more important for the beginning student (like myself), there is a short history and description of the manuscript.

Many fear that libraries will be useless, but from these two articles today, they are far from becoming that.  But only if they are able to keep up with technology.

photo credit: NY Times

Morbid and light-hearted stories

In the end I was able to read three books for Teen Read Week (not including Twilight).  Out of the three books, I would have to say I liked the best was Unwind by Neal Shusterman or Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson was a light-hearted and quick read.  A girl receives a letter from her aunt commanding her to go to Europe on a scavanger hunt of sorts.  Essentially it is like the popular movie P.S. I Love You, except its an aunt saying good-bye to her niece and apologizing for not being there for her.  Along the way, the girl learns a little bit about herself, how to travel, and fall in love with a guy from England.  It is an idealistic travel tale of what it would be like to travel alone as a young female teenager.  I found that the more I talked about this book with Brian, or thought about it, the more I saw how the story had holes or was just naive.  It did have a couple good things for teenage girls to learn, so I thought, but the same lessons along the same line of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.

In The Book Thief, there is a deeper tale of love and fear as told from Death’s point of view.  Throughout the book, horrible things happen as it is set in Germany during World War II and yet the tale is hauntingly beautiful.  One scene in particular stands out where the girl, Lisel, has her first sip of champagne.  Her foster father, paints and in return receives two glasses of champagne for he and his daughter.  “In the basement, when she wrote about her life, Lisel vowed that she would never drink champagne again, for it would never taste as good as it did on the warm afternoon in July…At times, in that basement, she woke up tasting the sound of the accordion in her ears.  She could feel the sweet burn of champagne on her tongue.  Sometimes she sat against the wall, longing for the warm finger of paint to wander just once more down the side of her nose, or to watch the sandpaper texture of her papa’s hands.  If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter and bread withonly the scent of jam spread out on top of it.  It was the best time on her life.”

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The last book I finished was Unwind.  At first I didn’t expect much, especially as the premise was a future America where children could be chosen to be unwound (meaning that their entire bodies become donors) as a compromise between the Pro-life and Pro-choice movements.  I was quickly grabbed by the story’s main character, and hero, Connor.  As he races to evade the unwinding, he meets other children who have been chosen to be unwound.  The ideas are well-thought out and I could easily picture this futuristic America where teenagers don’t know whether or not their parents will choose to unwind them this day or next.  As the story continues, all three characters, Connor, Risa and Lev, become adults through the circumstances they are faced with.  It is a great dystopia novel for highschoolers as it deals with the idea of where consciousness begins, if someone has a soul, and the means of surviving when all odds are against you.

Next on the list are some children’s classics, like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, and Wind in the Willows.

Teen Read Week

It is Teen Read Week and to participate, I’m reading a variety of teen books this week.  I started late last week with Twilight, and plan on finishing Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  The list of other books I hope to read if I have a chance are:

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (choice inspired by the short story/novella in Let It Snow)

Red Glass by Laura Resau

and Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I’m being modest in my reading goals as I have two projects due this week for my classes.

Twilight was a disappointing start to the week.  I wasn’t hoping for much when I started the book, except to have at least a strong female character.  Instead, the character was goofy and not in an adorable way.  And her relationship with Edward was typical for any vampire story in that it always alluded to the sexuality of vampires.  Perhaps it was just reading Dracula, but I can’t help but to equate vampires with sex.  Besides the underlying sexuality, there was the typical teenage rebellion in not introducing her new boyfriend and sneaking out.  The high school relationships were typical, if but briefly noted as most of the story revolves around Edward and Bella.  As she becomes more involved with her relationship with Edward, the rest of the characters become scarce.

As much as Meyer tried to portray vampires in a good light, I couldn’t help but feel that the attempts were superficial.  Can a vampire really become a doctor and save human lives?  Can he ignore and control his undying thirst for blood?  Carlisle may be above all temptation, but it seems the rest of his family is not above it.  And in Carlisle being above temptation, is he then a vampire god?

There are better books for young high school women to read.  In fact, Let It Snow or Papertowns are much better books with great female heroines.  They can inspire acts of greatness and propel minds towards being developed more.  Twilight is candy.  If you have a taste for romance stories and want to only be entertained as you read, then it is your book.