Friday, September 14, 2007

Buns and Boots

A couple of the library blogs I read have been all a flurry with a story out of New Zealand. Apparently, just before that countries version of the ALA conference there was much ado about the fact that Paula Ryan, a fashionista, would be delivering a workshop on how librarians could update their wardrobe. New Zealand's TV3 has a video of the story here. There was a "How dare she!" uproar surrounding the event.

While I can understand why some people would be offended by the idea that a non-librarian was selected to speak about what a librarian "should" try to wear, my thinking on this amounts to a single phrase."So what?"

So what if there is a librarian wardrobe stereotype? So what if some librarians want to break out of the Marian mold. So what if some librarians want to and/or need to stick to their comfy wardrobes and shoes. Does it really matter? Every job has it's stereotypes. I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Then again, in the interest of full disclosure, I happen to be one of those young, "hipster" librarians. I wear the knee high boots. I wear the flirty dresses. I can rock the jeans and cute top. I can and do dress outside of the "comfort only" realm of my wardrobe. (My roommate Jennifer always feared I'd revert to pajamas and sweats... much like I did during college.)

I freely admit, I look more like some wearing J.Crew and H&M. But, then again, I also love my bun. It's so darn useful and it keeps the hair out of my face. Sometimes, I like to wear the comfy shoes because I know I will be on my feet all day.

So call me Marian if you want. It makes me smile.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Book 51: The Reader's Advisory Guide to Non-Fiction

NUMBER: 51
TITLE: The Reader's Advisory Guide to Non-Fiction
AUTHOR: Neal Wyatt
STARTED: Not a clue - at least a week ago
FINISHED: September 5, 2007
PAGES: 319
GENRE: Reference / Books about Books

FIRST SENTENCE: Welcome to the world of non-fiction - a heady, vibrant, and often overwhelming realm inhabited by various types of readers, writers, and reasons for reading; a world of uncharted territory we are only now beginning to explore.

SUMMARY: [From ala.org] Navigating what at she calls the “extravagantly rich world of nonfiction,” renowned readers’ advisor Wyatt builds readers’ advisory bridges from fiction to compelling and increasingly popular nonfiction to encompass the library’s entire collection. She focuses on eight popular categories: history, true crime, true adventure, science, memoir, food/cooking, travel, and sports. Within each, she explains the scope, popularity, style, major authors and works, and the subject’s position in readers’ advisory interviews.

Wyatt addresses who is reading nonfiction and why, while providing RAs with the tools and language to incorporate nonfiction into discussions that point readers to what to read next. In easy-to-follow steps, Wyatt
  • Explains the hows and whys of offering fiction and nonfiction suggestions together
  • Illustrates ways to get up to speed fast in nonfiction
  • Shows how to lead readers to a variety of books using her “read-around” and “reading map” strategies
  • Provides tools to build nonfiction subject guides for the collection
This hands-on guide includes nonfiction bibliography, key authors, benchmark books with annotations, and core collections. It is destined to become the nonfiction ‘bible’ for readers’ advisory and collection development, helping librarians, library workers, and patrons select great reading from the entire library collection!

REASON FOR READING: It came across my desk at work... and I have an addiction to anything that makes book suggestions

THOUGHTS: This book was a reference volume, so there really is no characters or plot to discuss. Wyatt does a fantastic job of keeping her writing and logic clear and concise. The organization of this book was also fantastic. I walked away with a full sheet of titles to check out at some point. This was a good read for anyone who is interested in nonfiction as a genre and why some books work the way they do.

MISCELLANEOUS: It's a good thing I work in a library...

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Book 50: Act of Treason

NUMBER: 50
TITLE: Act of Treason
AUTHOR: Vince Flynn
STARTED: August 25, 2007
FINISHED: September 3, 2007
PAGES: 415
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The motorcade rumbled down the cobblestone street.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] An attack on his motorcade lost Vice President Brian Baxter his wife but gained him the White House as sympathetic voters joined hands to give him a landslide victory. In the aftermath of Baxter's surprise ascension, one man is nursing grave doubts about the apparent assassination attempt. That one man is Mitch Rapp.

REASON FOR READING: I have a character crush on Mitch Rapp.

THOUGHTS: After hearing Vince Flynn speak at the National Book Festival last year, I found myself struggling to disconnect the author from his character, Mitch Rapp. There was just something in the tone of the writing and pacing of this book that had me thinking that Flynn was writing a book that was more "If-I-was-a-Super-Alpha-Military-Man-Who-has-my-Fingers-in -Politics" than a novel unto itself. While the book was entertaining, I struggled to recover the adoring love I once had for this series. Instead of gaining in strength, I believe the Rapp series is slowly going downhill. I think Flynn has been too swayed by his own political leanings and the current (political) mood of the era to actually write a decent, stand alone series. This saddens me because I do think that Flynn has a genuine talent for the political thriller genre. Despite my problems with this particular entry in the Rapp series, Flynn keeps his plot imaginative and his writing is, for the most part, taut and suspenseful.

Just as in the last Rapp book, Consent to Kill, I felt that the shades of gray were no longer present. [You hear me Flynn? Go grayer man! Bring back the fuzzy middle ground.] The books were more interesting when the good versus evil theme didn't wallop you over the head. Oi! I get it. Terrorists are bad - you don't have to drill it into my head anymore. Once again, Flynn writes Rapp as being the penultimate good guy. Since Rapp's "ends" are good and true, his "means" must be as well - even if said "means" are torture and murder. As with Consent to Kill, it took until the very end of the book for the shades of gray in the plots and characters to appear. I wish Flynn would write his books, then chop out the first 200 pages before editing and adding new content.

I also feel that the series' secondary characters are getting the short end of the stick. Rapp takes over the story and, while I understand that the series is about him, he was never the arrogant "celebrity" he comes across as in this book. Instead of Act of Treason focusing on Rapp, it is dominated by him. The secondary characters become mere set pieces for Rapp to use and dispose with at his pleasure. It was not until the very end of the book that CIA Director Irene Kennedy, one of the better characters in the series, did anything noteworthy. Most of the characters readers of the series have come to know simply flounder around in this book. These characters are better when their given breathing room and grow organically with the story instead of being imposed into the plot.

Despite all my misgivings, Flynn left enough enticing open plot lines to leave me wondering how things are going to pan out. The need to know even has me overlooking the obvious flaws in the slow and, sometimes, awkward pacing of this book. Even if I have problems with the book, if I want to read more, there must be some redeeming qualities to the story. I'll definitely read the next volume in the series - but I'm no longer chomping at the bit to get my hands on it.

MISCELLANEOUS: Matt Damon's Jason Bourne vs. Mitch Rapp in a fight to determine who is the most badass... I think it's an awesome idea.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Book 49: If This Bed Could Talk

NUMBER: 49
TITLE: If This Bed Could Talk
AUTHOR: Liz Maverick, Kimberly Dean, and Lynn LaFleur
STARTED: August 25, 2007
FINISHED: August 30, 2007
PAGES: 309
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the first story] They say you only get a few seconds to make a good first impression.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Agent Provocateur by Liz Maverick: A deadly agent is assigned to prepare an exotic beauty to be the ultimate seductress and perfect spy - lessons that will require long hours of personal instruction to perfect her ability to pleasure a man and, ultimately, conquer him.

Unrequited by Kimberly Dean: After years of secret longing for his brother's wife, Tyler rejoices when she is set free and ripe for new love - though it may take a prolonged seduction to convince wary Trista to open herself up to pleasure once more.

Victim of Deception by Lynn LaFleur: When a woman moves into an old house, she is suddenly tantalized by erotic dreams that cause her to shed her every inhibition leaving her vulnerable to the very real, very irresistible ministrations of the man who'd once broken her heart.

REASON FOR READING: It was on my shelf, taking up space.

THOUGHTS: Maybe this will be the book that finally reminds me that I don't really like romance anthologies and I really have to be in the mood for erotica to enjoy it. I like my books to have depth and development. There was nothing endearing about the stories in this volume for me. Then again, that might be because I really do hate anthologies. I wish I would learn that before I waste my time. So, in all fairness, my dislike of this book was more of the "It's not you, it's me" variety.

MISCELLANEOUS: I don't want my bed to talk. That would scare the dickens out of me.

RATING: 1/10 [Don't waste your time]

Book 48: Winter Garden

NUMBER: 48
TITLE: Winter Garden
AUTHOR: Adele Ashworth
STARTED: August 21, 2007
FINISHED: August 24, 2007
PAGES: 344
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: The cold, late-November wind slapped her face and whipped her lightweight skirt against her legs as Madeleine DuMais stepped down from her hired coach and onto solid ground at Winter Garden.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] In 1849, a celebrated French beauty-and British spy-risks her life to expose smugglers with the help of a dashing earl. But it's her heart that's in danger when the local gentry spread gossip of their illicit partnership. Because beneath the veil of secrecy lies a very true passion.

REASON FOR READING: I only heard good things about it.

THOUGHTS: I need to learn to review books within 48 hours of completing them. I don't remember anything about the books in the "meh" range of my mind after that time period. This book wasn't horrible, but it definitely wasn't fantastic. Nothing really jumps out at me save for one thing: the characters talk too much. It seemed that all Madeleine and the British guy (I can't even remember his name) did was talk... or think about talking... or talk to themselves in internal monologues. I wanted to scream "Do something already!" at them. I like it when characters act. The guys didn't act, they talked a lot and it drove me a little insane. Also, the plot was so overly contrived at times that I just had to cringe.

Aside from that, the book was at least mildly entertaining as I read it.

MISCELLANEOUS: I gots nuthin.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Slacker!

I feel like such a slacker. Every time I log into my blogger, I just look at the draft entries of books I've read building up and building up. Last Tuesday, I started a new job at my library and have not really had any time to sit down at my desk, let alone blog. And, despite the bags under my eyes and the massive amount of yawns I seem to produce during the day, I continue to read into the night. Therefore, I have a ton of books to talk about, just no time to talk about them. Oi!

I promise to talk about books soon. I should have a full set of staff hired by the end of the week which means I get to spend more time doing my job (at my desk) and less time running around the library like a shelver on speed.

Oh, what is the new job, you may ask?

I am now the Stacks Supervisor of the main university library. Clearly, books need a chaperon.