Beautiful Libraries

Here’s a link to some gorgeous libraries.  It shouldn’t be surprising that most of the beautiful libraries exist in Europe.  Maybe I’m just a librarian because of the love I have for old library architecture (beginning in childhood with Pasadena Central Library).

The page is long and requires lots of scrolling, but it is worth it.  I have added some of these libraries to my list of “Must See”.

Librophiliac Love Letter:  A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries

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Creative Registries

As the time approaches to the wedding, I find myself thinking about it more and more.  I have to make effort now to think about something other than registries, Italy, or the wedding at all.  However, since its on my mind again, I thought I’d blog about it.

I went through our registries last week, taking off items no longer available and changing somethings.  This has probably been the best part so far of the wedding planning process because it involves so much creativity and dreams.  I have come to the conclusion that I love Crate and Barrel.  Some of my favorite items are on that registry; like the colorful apron (and adjustable too which is a must because most aprons just don’t fit me right), and set of Parker bowls (all different and vibrant colors).  We will have color in our kitchen; mostly a ‘cobalt blue’-like color with red and some green.  And as I read more of Edith Schaeffer’s What is a Family I really tried to choose items that will inspire future creativity in the kitchen.

One of Brian’s favorite items (and I think I can say this here) is the corn-holders and dishes from Crate and Barrel.  My family never used corn dishes or holders, but Brian’s family did.  The bright yellow dishes also adds lots of color.

We don’t have an apartment yet, nor furniture, but I hope that we will continue to develop a home that will inspire creativity.  More than a color scheme or certain style of dishes, I think that is what inspired our choices for the items we registered for (though things like shoe racks or vaccuums are just necessary).

Graveyard Book by Gaiman

I was pleasantly surprised by Gaiman’s latest book (and now award winning) The Graveyard Book. I liked it much better than Coraline, as it presented a lighter side of death.  Which is surprising for anyone who has read anything by Gaiman before.  Bod, whose name is Nobody, is a little baby adopted by ghosts and given the run of the graveyard.  By giving him run of the graveyard he is able to do some of the tricks they are in the graveyard only (like going through walls).  As anyone can imagine, being raised by ghosts can be odd (such as learning to read by reading gravestones), but the stories are endearing.  In the end there is a battle which can be slightly frightening for a younger reader.

Gaiman describes the book the best by saying one of his inspirations was The Jungle Books by Kipling, yet rather than being raised by the jungle obviously, his child is raised by ghosts.  In our culture today where death is a fascination (yet perhaps no more than any other generation), this retelling of sorts is appropriate.  A lot is left unsaid, and is perhaps left to be inferred, but Graveyard Book is a childrens book and not everything is always explained.  And perhaps the reader doesn’t really want an explaination.

Living

Besides picking out colors and flowers, I have been trying my best to do some reading as well to prepare for the next stage in life.  One of my favorite books thus far is What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer.  I put off reading it only because I thought it would be dry and difficult (and after reading theory? I know…), but I couldn’t enjoy it more.  One thing that was especially thought-provoking and immediately applicable was that there are no “Wedding planning time” or “School time” but that time generally runs in one line.  We don’t get the blessing of having boxes of time.  Life just happens.

And so it did last Friday when I got in a minor car accident.  I first wanted to complain because a car accident was the last thing I wanted while I am busy working, doing school, and planning a wedding.  That is when what I just read that morning came back to mind.  Thankfully it was a minor car accident and I should have my car back in a couple weeks.  Though I was able to have a rental car which is much nicer than my own, so I’m not sure I want my car back.

Stephen King & Twilight

For once, I love what Stephen King has to say, “I think that I serve that purpose for some writers, and that’s a good thing. Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”  It has been the buzz for many of Twilight’s young fans, this interview from USA Weekend. While many disagree still on the literary worth of King, I think it is safe to say that there are books of his that will be memorable (and are much better written the Twilight books), such as Carrie or The Shining.  More than just writing horror stories, King makes much effort to bring validity to the horror genre by writing the Danse Macabre for example. Stephanie Meyer, on the other hand, she just added another teenage vampire sex fantasy to the world (actually more than one, she added four).  From her own website she has no plans at the time to write anything more (at least not in the Twilight series, thankfully).  Marketing has helped her to become a phenomenon, which will pass away just like Erle Stanley Garnder (writer of the Perry Mason books) and others who I find in our library that were once bestsellers and now receive no library circulation (and not just because college students who have no interest in reading).

My other favorite quote from King on Meyer:

People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.”

The original blog/interview found in USA Weekend

Favorite news article on the buzz and stir of King’s comments

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Coraline slightly frightens
me. As I read the story, I couldn’t help but finish it as the suspense was great, but perhaps because of my experience (now being an adult), I found myself scared. Coraline is a story of a little girl who unlocks the door into another world where there is the “Other Mother” who kidnaps Coraline’s parents to try to force
Coraline to live in her “other world”. In the story Coraline meets three other children’s ‘shells’ — they are not really alive or dead because the Other Mother has hidden their souls so that she can feast off of them forever. One of the little children spoke old English, so the idea is that the children have been there for quite some time. Coraline then decides to make a bet with the Other Mother to free her parents and the other children’s souls. The question is, whether the Other Mother will keep her word and if Coraline will be able to find the children’s souls in time to save them.

One of the lessons to be learned from Coraline is a good and valuable lesson which is the sacrificial love parents have for their children. Coraline remembers a time when her father saved her from yellow jackets, and decides that if her father loved her that much to sacrifice himself, then she can overcome her fears and try to rescue her parents; no matter the risk to herself. And Coraline herself is quite a strong character as she is able to make strategic decisions to help her against the Other Mother. She does this all even though she herself is frightened because she loves her parents and she knows her parents would do the same for her (even though they were not been spending much time with her in the beginning of the story, she knew that they still loved her). So the general lesson from the story is a good one, but the events along the way are just a little creepy.

In Coraline, the breadth and knowledge about the world is explained little, which fits as it is a children’s story. From reading Coraline, the reader will know that there is one very creepy Other Mother who is able to transform things, but not create. She ‘feeds’ off supposedly of children someway, but it isn’t ever explained. What is explained is this [a child’s ‘shell’ is explaining this to Coraline]:

“The names are the first things to go, after the breath has gone, and the beating of the heart. We keep our memories longer than our names.”

“She [the Other Mother] stole our hearts, and she stole our souls, and she took our lives away, and she left us here, and she forgot
about us in the dark.”

“She fed on us until we’ve nothing left of ourselves, only snakes skins and
spider husks…”

Most children may completely read over this, and not see the
darkness of the story at all. It is better that not much more is explained as Gaiman’s other world seems to be controlled by a woman who is manipulative and creepy (like most of his villainous woman in his adult stories). And while the real fairy tales are slightly dark as well, this Other Mother seems to build and create her world off of children’s spirits and lives. The reader can’t believe that she wants Coraline as a daughter, but instead wants to use her to help fuel her and her world. This is in my mind makes the tale very dark, even with the touching lesson of sacrificial love.

Coraline is a well-written tale but perhaps for older children, such as teenagers. Especially in light of other dark tales that have been recently written, like Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Dead and the Gone by Pfeffer. The question for these stories is how dark should children’s stories be and when is it the appropriate time for them to read such tales?

Future Books 2009

Coming out in June 2009, is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: “The Classic Regency Romance — Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!” (follow the link — the cover of the book is worth it).

Yes, this is a real book (or will be in 06/09).  Another adaption of the famous novel, but perhaps not your typical romance story.  Most Jane Austen adaptations are awful, especially since they are just fantasies of young women who wish to be living in a Jane Austen novel, but this may be one I’d actually like to thumb through.  If anything, just for the ridiculous cover (the link is worth it).

And of course, it is written by a man who attempts to “transform a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read”.