Friday, November 30, 2007

Patron of the Moment: Starbucks Fix

I am so far behind in my book review right now... so instead of doing those, I'm going to tell you about my "Patron of the Moment."

Technically, said patron visited the library before Thanksgiving, but things were so busy that I'm just now getting a chance to share.

First, the backstory: Our library used to have policy where all beverages had to be in sealed containers (Screw tops, flip-caps, etc.). This meant that your typical Starbucks or Caribou coffee plastic lid cup was not allowed in the building. Last semester, we learned that we were flighting a losing battle. The University now has a Starbucks so we've basically forgone that rule.

Now for the patron: This lady came back to my office to ask me where she could find Starbucks. I gave her directions to the student union (though it's really a conference center but that's a whole 'nother can a'beans) where the Starbucks is located. She said she didn't want that one. I told her that was the closest Starbucks to the library. We then proceeded to have the following conversation.

Lady: I mean the Starbucks in the library.
Me: There is no Starbucks in the library.
Lady: There are a ton of Starbucks cups in here.
Me: They're from the Starbucks at the student center.
Lady: No, they're not. You don't allow cups like that in the library. They bought their coffee here.
Me: We no longer enforce that policy. Those are from the Starbucks in the student union.
Lady: You're lying. There is a Starbucks in the basement.
Me: I'm sorry ma'am, but the only Starbucks on campus is at the student center.
Lady: *stares me down* Fine. I'll find it myself.

If only all my conversations were so amusing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Book 62: Blindspot

TITLE: Blindspot
AUTHOR: Kevin C. Pyle
STARTED: November 6, 2007
FINISHED: November 6, 2007
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: When I heard we were moving again I don't remember being particularly upset.

SUMMARY: [From] Dean and his friends have created an entire world in the woods behind their suburban housing development. In their army fantasy, they’re at war, and Dean is the daring captain leading his troops through episodes of intrigue and danger. But no fantasy can last forever. A run-in with a homeless man in the woods snaps the boys back to reality, and little by little the real world pervades their imagined universe and drives them apart.

REASON FOR READING: It was on display at the library.

THOUGHTS: Eh. This was just a quick read. The art was decent, but I wasn't wowed by it or the story.

MISCELLANEOUS: Now I want to watch Band of Brothers.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Book 61: The Crucible

TITLE: The Crucible
AUTHOR: Arthur Miller
STARTED: November 4, 2007
FINISHED: November 6, 2007
PAGES: 150
GENRE: Drama

FIRST SENTENCE: A small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, Salem, Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692.

SUMMARY: [From] I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history," Arthur Miller wrote in an introduction to The Crucible, his classic play about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller's drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town's most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence. Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror Miller uses to reflect the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch-hunts" in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing "Political given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.

REASON FOR READING: It won the Reducing Mt. TBR poll

THOUGHTS: I probably should not have watched the movie version before I read the play. I could not get the scene of Daniel Day Lewis screaming, "It is my name!" out of my head.

I enjoyed Miller's work - mainly because it felt real. The characters came alive in their dialog. I've never read Miller before so this was really a treat for me. He writes with passion and depth and this came out in the text. The play felt rich and while the plot is well known, I still felt connected to the story, as if I was reading/seeing it for the first time.

MISCELLANEOUS: Now I want to see this play on stage.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Book 60: Sorcery and the Single Girl

TITLE: Sorcery and the Single Girl
AUTHOR: Mindy L. Klasky
STARTED: October 30, 2007
FINISHED: November 3, 2007
PAGES: 394
GENRE: Chick Lit

FIRST SENTENCE: Once upon a time, I thought being a witch would make everything easier.

SUMMARY: [From] Those TV witches have got it made . . . Wiggle a nose. Dinner's on the table! Hop on a broom. Next stop, Tahiti!

Unfortunately, nose-wiggling doesn't cut it in real life. So witch or not, Jane Madison must deal with her insane work schedule, best-friend drama and romantic dry spell like everyone else.
But now the exclusive Washington Coven wants Jane to join. This could be a dream come true for the magical misfit, or it could be the most humiliating experience of her life. Either way, the crap's gonna hit the cauldron because Jane is about to be tested in ways she's never imagined -- and, pass or fail, nothing will ever be the same.

REASON FOR READING: It's the second book in a series I started awhile back.

THOUGHTS: Klasky hit a sophomore slump with this book. While the story itself was still very interesting, the writing and characters took a turn for the lazy and whiny. At this point, I think the only reason I would read the third book would be see if Jane ends up with her Warder, David.
I just couldn't get past the unbelieveable parts of this story. The whole costumes in the library thing I could overlook in the first book but it really irritated me in this one. Also, Jane dissolved into a selfish, simpering fool instead of being purely human in the first book.

MISCELLANEOUS: I still want a familiar.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Librarian News

Things like this make me happy.

I really enjoyed this section of the commentary:

Q. Hey Library Man: I always seem to find very attractive librarians working the reference desk, but I'm intimidated by how smart they are. Do you know any good librarian pickup lines I could "borrow"? -- Bo

A. Dear "Bo" (if that's your real name): The librarian mystique -- prim, proper and brainy by day, but transforming into wildcats after sunset -- can be intimidating. But don't be too bashful. Remember, Laura Bush was a librarian, and she settled for a smarmy frat boy who never read anything thicker than a Cliff's Notes pamphlet. His opening line was probably "Are you with me or against me?" or "If it's a date you want, bring it on."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book 59: Self-Made Man

TITLE: Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again
AUTHOR: Norah Vincent
STARTED: October 20, 2007
FINISHED: October 28, 2007
PAGES: 290
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Seven years ago, I had my first tutorial in becoming a man.

SUMMARY: [From] Norah Vincent became an instant media sensation with the publication of Self-Made Man, her take on just how hard it is to be a man, even in a man's world. Following in the tradition of John Howard Griffin (Black Like Me), Norah spent a year and a half disguised as her male alter ego, Ned, exploring what men are like when women aren't around. As Ned, she joins a bowling team, takes a high-octane sales job, goes on dates with women (and men), visits strip clubs, and even manages to infiltrate a monastery and a men's therapy group. At once thought- provoking and pure fun to read, Self-Made Man is a sympathetic and thrilling tour de force of immersion journalism.

REASON FOR READING: It was the November 2007 This Cake Has A Hole In It selection

THOUGHTS: This is one of my favorite books of the year. The writing and "storytelling" itself are nothing special, but this book has radically changed the way I look at gender (and the male gender in particular). Since this book was November's selection for my book club, I do not want to give a full review. Therefore, I will give just a quick list of things that struck me as I was reading.

1. There is far more to gender than anatomy. Vincent discusses how her transformation into the mask of a male required far more work with the social constructs of gesture, action, and voice than actual physical change. People will see what you want them to see - as long as you can "act like a man" people will believe you to be a man. I love people watching and, as I was reading, I found myself picking up on people's gendered body language more and more.

2. Men have it rough. I never realized how I treated men as "guilty before proven innocent" until I read this book. Women may call men pigs - but I don't think we see how hard we make things on them. Vincent discusses how we ask so much of the the men in our lives without realizing that what we're asking them to be can be two exact opposite things at the same time.

3. This book has me looking at men/their actions in an entirely different light. I don't see them / their actions as any "better" or "worse" than before, but I do read things differently. Actually, this book has me trusting men more (or at least seeing them "at face value" as opposed to reading their actions as something other than they are).

4. Men are "men." There are certain guy stereotypes that just ring true. And, yes, that is why we women give them a harder time than they deserve.

5. Sex and "sex" are two different things. For men, there are two(ish) kinds of sex. The "animalistic urge" sex and the "you mean the world to me" sex. Having the first type of sex does not necessarily negate the sacredness of the second type of sex. For men, sex and emotion are not intertwined as they are for women.
5a. I can now understand the wearing/rationale behind the wearing of veils/burkas.
5b. Boobs are boobs.
5c. If a guy can turn off the need to jump you, it means he really likes you.

6. Men can like another man in the first instance they meet. Men are the more genuine of the two genders. Most women need a warm up period. Seriously, watch two women meet for the first time - you can't help but see how fake the greeting is once you know it's there.

7. Men are more emotionally needy and complex than most people think. I also think that this book proves that men have varying levels of intelligence that they turn on and off according to the specific situation.

8. In regards to Vincent's method, I think she spent much of her time in a specific socio-economic area of "manhood." I wonder if her results would have been different if she had "infiltrated" different communities? Also, while my roomie and I both dislike how Vincent reveals her true self at the end of each "experiment," I think, in doing so, Vincent can more directly show how people react toward gender. We treat people according to their gender and seeing the switch in action was fascinating.

I highly recommend this book.

MISCELLANEOUS: I would have trouble passing as a man. Too much hip sashay.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Thursday, November 08, 2007


*begin Victory Dance to end all Victory Dances*

I've finally done it! MUHAHAHAHAHA.

It has only taken me a few years, but I finally secured myself first edition, hardcover copy of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Tis my favorite book and my paperback copy is looking the worse for wear. There are actual creases in the spine - which I never do.

My friends and I were killing time before heading to a bar for another's friends birthday. We were strolling around the bookstores of Dupont Circle when we wandered into Second Story Books. That store is like coming home to me. It just feels so comforting to walk in there and be surrounded by all the used books. It reminds me of the used bookstore I used to work at... with fewer piles on the floor.

I've haunted Second Story for a couple of years now, and I always keep an eye out for certain titles, namely Black Hawk Down. Ever since I read the book back in high school, the book snob in me has wanted to own it in hardcover. As a first edition. In almost pristine condition. And I didn't want to pay a gazillion dollars to get it.

Clearly, that is not to much to ask.

So, every time I was near Second Story, I would pop-in and peruse the military section. Usually to no avail. They had copies, but not that all perfect copy I was looking for.

Then, last Friday, there it was. In fact, there THEY were. That's right - suddenly, Second Story had two first edition copies for me to choose from. Victory.

I sat and compared the copies for condition. I ended up walking out with the slightly more expensive copy because it did not have foxing on the edges of the pages.

Now, it's mine. All mine. And that makes me a very happy lady.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007