Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Great Expectations: Howl: A Graphic Novel

I've been reading graphic novels lately. I'm on this librarian committee that chooses the best graphic novels for the year for grades 6-12. It's called the Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. I thought it might be interesting to blog about one of the graphic novels we are looking at for the list. We have several that would be intriguing, but I thought something by Allen Ginsberg would be great.

I don't know anything about Allen Ginsberg. From what I have heard, it's poetry. I wonder how they will make it into a graphic novel. From the cover, it looks like it will be made into a movie. Again, I wonder how they are going to do that.
Now, I know it sounds like I have no idea who this person is and what he is about. This is one of the reasons I am participating in this blog. I want to learn. I want to read. I want to see what I'm missing.
If you want to see what other graphic novels I'm reading, follow this link and see what else is on the nomination list. We will have the official 2011 list out by December 1st.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

I tried. I tried to read this book for months. I couldn't get through it. I was kind of hoping that everyone would forget that I was supposed to read it and maybe I could get away with not reading it at all. It didn't really happen that way.

Let me tell you what I did like about it. It's not a regular book. It's told in interviews and really has no plot, just stories that people tell about this person. I really enjoyed that view into his character and the way people thought about him and what he had done.

Now, let me tell you what I didn't like. Everyone in the book had a different name for the guy. It would be like interviewing my mom and her calling me one thing (I won't tell you her nickname for me) and then talking to my best friend about me, who calls me something completely different, and then asking my co-workers about me, and they use my proper name. It was very confusing.

Then there are these little symbols after the names of the people speaking. They aren't really explained and I didn't really know what they were doing there or what they meant.

I think I might not be a Chuck Palahniuk fan. I know, it's a curse to not like such great literature, but it's something I think I can live with. I promise, one day, there will be a book I will like.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Great Expectations: Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

We got a request for one of us to read Rant by Chuck Palahniuk, along with several other things that I had already read, but Sunny hasn't, so I took this book. Now, I have read this author before. I read Choke, which was a great read. I haven't read Fight Club, but I saw the movie. I know, the books are always better, but sometimes having things shortened and acted out by Brad Pitt is nice.

From what I can gather, Rant is an oral history. This format of writing is fascinating to me. Storytelling is a big part of the human experience. When you look through history, some of the greatest stories started as in the oral tradition. An example of this is The Odyssey of Homer. Other books have been written in this type of format. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a great example of this. It's well written, suspenseful, and a great read.

I'm looking forward to this book, although the cover is really freaky. I like Chuck Palahniuk, most of the time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This is a romance for people who don’t like romances. I really did not expect much when I started reading this, but my thanks go to Matt for recommending it. I really love epic stories that span lifetimes such as the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Kavalier and Clay, so this was right up my alley. This is the kind of book that you hold off on finishing because you don’t want to leave the characters and you’re sad that you will never experience this book for the first time again.

The Traveler’s Wife is the story of Henry and Claire. Henry has chrono-displacement disorder, which means that he time travels, but unfortunately has no control over where he lands. He keeps visiting his wife as a child and teen. The story unfolds in fragments and the pieces fall into place later. Throughout the book, you root for them to be together “in real time,” as it were. The book is told through both Henry and Claire’s eyes.
The characters are believable and very likeable. Henry is seen as a bit of a misfit rebel and Claire seems to be the stabilizing force in his life. I don’t want to say too much for those who haven’t read it, but I am really sorry that I took a dim, dismissive view of this book before actually reading it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Confessions of a Shopaholic

*Spoiler Alert* I will tell you the whole plot in this post!

Chick lit is a great escape for those of us who read a lot of different books. I have to say, sometimes I really like to read books that I don't really have to think about. This was not one of those books. I did not like this book at all.

Rebecca Bloomwood is dissatisfied with her life, her job, and, well, pretty much everything. She starts the book badly by getting credit card bills that she can't afford. At this point, I'm sure I'm supposed to feel sympathy for her, but I can't. She decides that to fix this, she needs to buy more things and the book just gets worse from there. She dates a guy who she hates just because he has money. Then she looks through his checkbook while at dinner. Again, I'm sure I'm supposed to feel sorry for her, but I don't. She consoles herself by spending more money. She has no idea how to fix her problems and does not succeed in doing anything but getting herself in deeper with her problems by running her mouth and not listening to anyone. Oh, and running up her credit cards.

In the end Rebecca Bloomwood is a girl I would never be friends with, can't identify with, and grew to dislike. I'm sure Sophie Kinsella didn't mean for this to happen. The only redeeming quality of the book was that is was easy to read and fairly well written. I am sure she has written other things that I might enjoy. Perhaps I will pick up one of those someday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Great Expectation: The Time Traveler’s Wife.

This request was brought to us by my Internet pal, Matt. The only thing I know about this book is from the trailers of the movie. I imagine that I am going to have Brad Pitt in my head throughout this book. I was informed by a friend that I was thinking of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and that I am an idiot. So I don’t really know anything about this book, only that it may be a romance. Therefore, I honestly have no expectations at all, which is often a good thing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Great Expectations: Confessions of a Shopaholic

It's summer. For me, this means root beer floats, fudgecicles, and silly books. I call these books brain candy, meaning, you don't have to really think about them and they leave you wanting more.

For my summer read, I am choosing Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. First off, the cover is pink. As you know, I like cover art and pink is my favorite color, so it appears it will be a match made in heaven.

I have seen the movie and I thought it was cute and funny. It wasn't Oscar worthy, but then again, what is? (That's a completely different blog post for another time) I expect the book to also be cute and funny. On of my co-workers indicated the series was one of her favorites and went to pick up the newest one while I checked out my copy.

I hope it lives up to it's reputation!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average

First things first: Do not read this book if you are about to have surgery! Some of the statistics are frightening.

This book has a lot of overlap with Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outlier’s, and if you enjoyed that book, you will enjoy this one as well. Both books discuss “flattening the authority gradient;” where one person is not allowed to be seen as a god in a life or death situation and teamwork is encouraged. Examples include pilots and surgeons. Gladwell’s book goes into much more detail about this theory, where Hallinan sites more statistics.

The chapter on gender differences was fascinating. He makes the announcement that some stereotypical gender differences in the way men and women drive are in fact true. He is careful to note that this is not always the case and when it is, is usually because of the way that we are raised.

One of the main themes of the book is that we cannot multitask with our simple, ape-like brains. Hallinan lists talking on phones while driving as one way that we try to do this and fail.

I did have a problem with a couple of minor points in the book:

The author states that sporting teams that wear black get more fouls called against them than other teams. The author seems to imply that the calls are the fault of the officials, I would argue, however that the color the team is wearing is making them more aggressive.

In chapter six, the author mentions the Grocery Game, but fails to mention that this site is a service you must pay for to utilize. He implies that the site is free.

Other than that, this was a great, fun read and I am glad it was recommended to me. Thanks!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Ether by Nick Flynn

Part of the reason I love reading is that you get to bring into the story all the life experiences you've had. Your baggage becomes a part of the work. How you feel about specific topics, like feminism, comes into play when you read a book. Things you may be horrified to read could comfort someone else. This book was like that for me.

I won't go into details, but my childhood was not the easiest or the best thing ever. This book touched my heart in a way that nothing has in a long time. There were poems of situations and feelings that were so familiar to me that I could have written them myself.

It took me a while to get through this book. Not only was it difficult for me to read because of my emotional baggage, it was also one of those books that needs to be savored and studied. It was haunting and wonderful. Nick Flynn does an excellent job putting his thoughts and feelings in the imagery and the overall feeling of the poems he writes. Like any fine piece of literature, you don't want it to be over.

This book reminded me that life is what you make of it. There are choices and actions and consequences. I don't know if that was the author's intention, but that's what I got out of it.

If you're interested in more information about him, I found an interview at the Poems Out Loud website. It's not about this book, but it is still pretty interesting.

I now need something new to read. Preferably light and fun, please! Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Great Expectation: Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average.

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average.

When this book was suggested to me, I wondered if the suggestor was trying to tell me something. Do I make a lot of mistakes or something? Judging by its cover (I know, I know, I shouldn’t do that), the author does not seem to take the subject matter too seriously, which means this will be a fun summer read.

I am looking forward to this book, although I tend to be a bit more critical of non-fiction books that claim to be scientifically based. By the way, three errors were found in this post when I spell-checked it; the person who suggested this might be on to something.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen, who lives in District 12 in a post- apocalyptic world where a central area called the Capital supplies all the districts with food. Once a year, as a reminder of the Capital’s power and influence, a teen boy and girl are chosen from each district to fight to the death with other districts in an Arena, in a huge televised event. One blogger referred to it as “Battle Royale meets Project Runway.”

I am normally not big on the post-apocalyptic setting or fantasy, for that matter (although it might be a hard argument to call The Hunger Games fantasy), however Katniss and Peeta are so interesting and engaging, that it is hard not to get involved in the plot. Katniss is a wonderful character. She is strong and smart and the reader does get a strong sense of the difficult decisions she has to make. She is a breath of fresh air compared to recent teen heroines of late; though she has difficult choices to make, she stands by her decisions and is not controlled by anyone else. Even though she is a likable character, you never get the sense that the author would not kill her off if the story called for it, which makes the story more suspenseful than if you know there is a happy ending in store.

The criticisms against reality television and the vacuity of fashion are hard to miss. It is interesting that this book is aimed at a generation who has never been without such programming.

I was really impressed by this book. It made me a little jealous because the writing of teen novels has come a long way since I was a teen. It makes me want to return to the genre. In fact, I read the next book in the series right away and I am already looking forward to the third book. I have recommended this book to many friends and it has led to many interesting conversations. Please make room on your “to read” list for this one.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Great Expectation: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My first response when I was recommended this book was “This book is about what??! Oh my god. And it's for teens? Dear god.”

I tend to be a bit of a snob about youth literature, as though the Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman books I just read show a lot of sophistication. Adult Harry Potter fans seem like the biggest literary snobs in the world and Twilight fans seem… “special.” Both of the groups seem as though they are a part of a cult. So when someone recommended this book and I saw the uproar over Suzanne Collins at the Texas Library Association Conference, I was intrigued. Could this be the book to break me out of my snobbery?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Great Expectations: Some Ether by Nick Flynn

This book came as a recommendation by e-mail. If you have a recommendation, e-mail us at As you can see, we will actually read your requests.

Some Ether by Nick Flynn was recommended to us by a customer at our library who also happens to be getting married to one of our employees. She claims she has read this book of poems at least 30 times. I was sceptical about this claim and then I realized that I have also read books many times over. I still read my very worn copy of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I've been reading that one every year since I was in the 4th grade. It's still a great book.

I'm not really into poetry, except for the romantics, funny haikus and children's poetry. I love Shel Silverstein and William Blake. It's an interesting combination, I know. I've also been exposed to some really bad poetry, mostly from boyfriends who can't write poetry, but try really hard.

I have little to no expectations for this book of poetry. I don't know if there is an overall theme. I don't know if he's any good. What I do know is that the cover is blue and white. I like blue. Maybe I'll like this book. Is that too far of a stretch?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Doulas Adams Part II

I read it. I read it on the plane going to Las Vegas. Let me tell you, the person sitting next to me did not appreciate the peals of laughter coming from my seat. I'm not quiet when I laugh either. I'm sure the whole plane hated me by the time the book was through.

This book was the funniest thing I've ever read in my entire life, and I've read a lot of books. Douglas Adams took a boring idea and made it into something wonderful. The book starts off with Arthur Dent trying to save his house from a demolition crew. I don't want to say anything I shouldn't, but Arthur pretty much loses his house due to bureaucracy. Which is why it's so funny that our planet is destroyed by the same type of thing.

The characters in this book are rich and funny. They are stupid and smart, naive and worldly all at the same time. They include a president that is really only a figure head that steals a one-of-a-kind spacecraft, a robot that is clinically depressed, and Arthur's best friend, who happens to be an alien. They really emulate all the things humans experience when they have no idea what is going on and are just trying to make it through.

The one thing I loved about this book is the way the author makes you feel like you are a part of the action even through you are really just an observer in this insane world.

I highly recommend this book for those that love science fiction, humor, or laughing out loud.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Great Expectation: The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

You would think a sci-fi geek like me would have read all of the books in this series, but I haven't. You would think that I would already know the plot line and some of the jokes because I hang out with sci-fi geeks, but I don't. The only thing I know about this book is that it was made into a movie and that it is supposed to be funny. I'm pretty sure it might be funny based on the fact there is a green planet looking thing on the cover sticking it's tongue out at me.

I'm actually looking forward to this book. It should be an interesting read. I hope that I enjoy it as much as other people seem to. I have a teen at the library who loves this series. He won't tell me anything about it. He said I have to read it myself to understand and then he started to giggle, which makes me think it's either a great read, or it's horrible and he wants me to suffer. I guess we will find out!