Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book 58: Developing Library and Information Center Collections

TITLE: Developing Library and Information Center Collections: Fifth Edition
AUTHOR: G. Edward Evans and Margaret Zarnosky Saponaro
STARTED: Not a clue
FINISHED: November 16, 2008
PAGES: 472
GENRE: Library Science

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] This latest edition continues to cover all phases of collection development--from needs assessment, policies, and the selection process (theory and practice) to publishers, serials, protection, legal issues, censorship, and intellectual freedom. Each chapter has been extensively revised to reflect changing practices, policies, and technologies and, in some cases, completely rewritten. A new addition is a CD containing supplementary material; a companion Web site is maintained to ensure URLs referenced throughout the text are kept up-to-date.

THOUGHTS: I read this cover to cover for class... and learned nothing.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]

Book 57: The Tale of Despereaux

TITLE: The Tale of Desperaux Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
AUTHOR: Kate DiCamillo
STARTED: November 17, 2008
FINISHED: November 19, 2008
PAGES: 270
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: The story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] This is the story of Desperaux Tilling, a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl with a simple, impossible wish. These characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and ultimately, into each other's lives.

And what happens then?

Listeners, it is your destiny to find out.

THOUGHTS: This was a fantastic, moralistic fairy tale with just enough whimsy. (Seriously, who doesn't love soup?) I enjoyed teh way that DiCamillo was able to craft a story that felt current and timeless at the same time. Desperaux embodies all the qualities you want in a fairy tale hero. He also has just enough fear and cowardice in him to make his character feel relateable. Even the villians in this tale come across as sympathetic. There are bad guys but they aren't all bad. Instead of crafting a black and white fairy tale, DiCamillo was able to craft a story in shades of gray.

The one drawback I saw to the story was the DiCamillo seems to rely on stereotypes (i.e. Weight can tell you how good a person is). This frustrated me a little, but there was enough gray in the story that this issue did not cloud the whole book.

I can't wait to see the movie - I have this feeling that they will keep the essence of the story as well as be able to successfully expand it into a full length feature film.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seen on the Metro: Winter White

This woman was gorgeous and had the fashion sense to match. Said lady was pale, but in that blushing Snow White, alabaster skin sort of way. Her white-blond hair was tucked neatly under a white, floppy beret with black piping. Her coat was a pristine winter white with a peter pan collar. It reached to her knees and was cinched with a wide platinum black belt. She was wearing dark, fitted jeans and what looked black, knee-high stiletto boots.

Needless to say, I envied her outfit.

I noticed her because of her clothes. My best guess is that she was in her early 40s - I only hope I look that good when I'm her age.

Said woman, however, became my hero when she pulled Twilight out of her black, patent leather bag. I was able to see that she was on page 14.

I haven't read the book (and I have been told that I would both love and be frustrated by the series) but I adore the fact that such a fashionable, intelligent looking woman would be reading what is typified as juvenile literature.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book 56: The Children of Men

TITLE: The Children of Men
AUTHOR: P.D. James
STARTED: November 10, 2008
FINISHED: November 17, 2008
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Early this morning, 1 January 2021, three minutes after midnight, the last human being to be born on earth was killed in a pub brawl in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aged twenty-five years two months and twelve days.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.

THOUGHTS: The movie was better. Far better. In fact, the movie and the book were nothing alike... and the movie was still better. The novel lacked the drama and deeper meaning that was conveyed in the film.

If you want a good story, go watch Clive Owen. This book was rather pointless to read since the film was a much greater story.

RATING: 4/10 [An "okay" book]

Book 55: Seducing Mr. Darcy

TITLE: Seducing Mr. Darcy
AUTHOR: Gwyn Cready
STARTED: October 30, 2008
FINISHED: November 10, 2008
PAGES: 374
GENRE: Romance
FIRST SENTENCE: "Did you say Mr. Darcy's pants?"

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Mr. Darcy just isn't Flip Allison's style. She prefers novels with hot sex on the bathroom sink to the mannerly, high-tension longing of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. That is, until she pays a visit to Madame K, who promises a therapeutic massage with an opportunity to "Imagine Yourself in Your Favorite Book." Somehow, on the way to a sizzling sink-top session with a Venetian Adonis, Flip lands right in the middle of Regency England -- and dangerously close to handsome Mr. Darcy. So close, in fact, that she discovers a side of him even Jane Austen couldn't have imagined.

Waking from her massage, Flip is on top of the world and ready for her upcoming book club -- that is, until she notices a new scene in which Darcy and spunky heroine Lizzy Bennet are arguing over...Flip Allison? Her rapturous liaison with Darcy has had disastrous consequences for Austen's characters -- not to mention millions of Pride and Prejudice fans! Flip has twenty-four hours to put the story back on course, and Magnus Knightley, a sexy but imperious scholar whose brooding good looks and infuriating arrogance are decidedly Darcy-like, is the only one who can help. The only problem is, Flip can't keep her hands off him, either.

THOUGHTS: Great idea. Poor execution. Cready tried to take on too much with this one. There were about 8 plot lines floating around. She should have trimmed to two and flushed those out to get a better, more emotionally connective story. Also, there was no chemistry between the leads. At all.

RATING: 4/10 [An "okay" book]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book 54: The Bell Jar

TITLE: The Bell Jar
AUTHOR: Sylvia Plath
STARTED: October 23, 2008
FINISHED: October 29, 2008
PAGES: 296
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I don't know what I was doing in New York.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] The Bell Jar is a classic of American literature, with over two million copies sold in this country. This extraordinary work chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful - but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time. Step by careful step, Sylvia Plath takes us with Esther through a painful month in New York as a contest-winning junior editor on a magazine, her increasingly strained relationships with her mother and the boy she dated in college, and eventually, devastatingly, into the madness itself. The reader is drawn into her breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is rare in any novel. It points to the fact that The Bell Jar is a largely autobiographical work about Plath's own summer of 1953, when she was a guest editor at Mademoiselle and went through a breakdown. It reveals so much about the sources of Sylvia Plath's own tragedy that its publication was considered a landmark in literature.

THOUGHTS: I can't say that I enjoyed reading this book. On the other hand, I also can't say that I didn't like reading this book. The Bell Jar is a tough read. The text itself is easy enough to follow (far easier than I thought it would be), but the emotions and physical reactions I had while reading this basically ensures that this will be a one-time only read for me. There were too many times I cringed, felt uncomfortable, or sick to my stomach over the course of this book. It reminded me of scenes in a movie where I felt like I had to turn away or risk being sick.

For being a book about a woman's decent into madness, I found that text logical, steady, and remarkably easy to follow. That leads me to believe that Plath wants the reader to be in the shoes of Esther. She is insane simply because she believes her decisions to be healthy and logical. I was surprised by how even keeled Esther seemed - in some ways, I grew to admire her because she knew what she wanted and was rarely distracted from her path. Esther may have been insane, but her willpower was strong.

Honestly, I don't know what scares me more: the fact that this book made me shiver in disgust or the fact that it made me feel a sense of empathy with Esther.

Luckily for me, I did not read this alone. My book club is tackling the text tonight - I think we'll be having one hell of a discussion.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Useful Things: Veteran's History Project

Today is Veteran's Day - or Armistice Day depending on where you leave. First: Thank you, grandpa and grandpa. Second: Thank you every veteran.

Every veteran has a story - one that deserves and, indeed, needs to be told. The Library of Congress is trying to collect as many veteran's stories as possible through their Veteran's History Project. The goal of the project is to collect first-hand stories from veterans, specifically those who fought in conflicts from World War I onward.

This objective is getting harder and harder to achieve as veterans from WWI, WWII, and Korea are beginning to pass away at greater rates every day. The Library of Congress' website allows you not only to read/hear/see stories from veterans but also help add to the collection.

If you know a veteran, please thank them today (and every day) and encourage them to tell their story.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Libraries: They Do Exist

The Boyfriend found this ages ago. I'm reacting with a mix of "Are you kidding me?" and [Drop head on desk].

Comments like this scare me; they have me thinking that there are more people out there who have never been introduced to the library. As an institution with a hallowed and lengthy existence in this country, I do wonder if the library is loosing out Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Libraries are slowly incorporating technology into their daily existence (as evidenced by the fact that even the most rural libraries have OPACs and computer terminals with internet access) but is it fast enough? We just cannot compete with Fortune 500 companies with seemingly unlimited marketing budgets.

My University is offering a libraries and marketing course this semester (possibly because I asked for it). Unfortunately, it meets on Saturdays... Saturdays where I already have obligations... so I cannot take it this semester. I hope the course is popular and they offer it either this summer or in the Fall. If not, I may humble myself before the Dean and ask for it again.

So, if you ever find yourself with a friend who spends lots of money on books, please help your local library and spread the word.