20.10.08

I don't like Mondays...


(tell me why)




(รพ: my assistant)

Notable Quotes

He thought marriage was an endless conversation. From the beginning, he sensed that we would be lifelong friends. You have to change together. If you can do that to understand one another, you can have a lifelong marriage.

19.10.08

It could have been worse

One of my personal rules as a school librarian is that if a student wants me to read a book - even if it's not in my "comfort zone" (eg, not a genre I like, or a graphic novel) - I will. Several years ago one of my students came running in to the library at MFPOW, very excited about a book he'd just read. Now, this student is dyslexic, so I knew that reading wasn't that easy for him. If he was excited about having read a book, I absolutely had to read it.

The book? City of Ember.

Even though I'm no longer at that school, we've kept in touch and when the movie was released, we decided to go see it. This morning I trundled down to NYC to meet him and see how the book-to-movie translation had gone.

Our verdict? It could have been worse. We didn't remember several of the "set pieces" that the movie provided (for example, the unraveling of the map didn't take place in the generator room), and at times it was a little too much like a Raiders chase or a Disney ride. Granny's role was truncated in the movie, and the mayor's expanded. Maybe because we knew the plot we didn't find it that suspenseful... and we thought that the director's opening sequence ruined the discovery of what the City of Ember was and why for the viewer.

Still, it could have been worse. And we're hoping that People of Sparks isn't made into a movie - we didn't like it (neither of us read Prophet of Yonwood as a result).

(Side note: saw the trailer forInkheart and, well, it seems that they've compressed the trilogy into one movie. Not sure how I feel about that.)

If I could turn back time...

Last night I finished reading Val Ross' oral biography of Robertson Davies. I've been a Davies fan for years (thanks to PET for introducing me to his work!) and reading about his life from the perspective of friends, family and colleagues was interesting.

More than that, though, it made me wish I could re-discover his stories. The characters he created and the worlds they inhabit are so real, so alive. I feel jealous of those that have not read about Salterton or Deptford (or met Samuel Marchbanksn and the other books/people) and the joys they have to encounter.

Maybe, one day, when Mt. Bookpile is down to one year's worth of reading, I'll re-read (although I do have fears about re-reading and losing the magic).

For those of you that have not yet read this remarkable man's novels: GO FIND HIS BOOKS AND READ THEM NOW.

14.10.08

Memento Mori

Years ago, I watched a Masterpiece Theatre dramatization of Murial Spark's Memento Mori (a book I later read). In it, a group of old people are terrorized by anonymous phone calls during which the other party only says, "Memento Mori". While at first this is seen to be a threat, eventually one realizes that it's merely a reminder. After all, everyone must die.

I've been thinking about this book, and possibly re-reading it (something I rarely do thanks to the size of Mt. Bookpile). Why? Because I just finished Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes, his memento mori. Unlike Sparks' fiction, Barnes gives us what are almost brief essays, some pertaining to his family, some to his "non-family" family of writers and influences and friends, all in one way or another about death. It's not as morbid as it sounds.

It's also tied into a discussion over on SpareOom about C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed, a book I first read shortly after the horrific events of September 11. While the discussion has been more about whether or not this was autobiographical writing on Lewis' part (the vote seems to be "thinly veiled fictionalized autobiography"), some of the comments have been about the power of the book to capture the overwhelming grief one feels when a loved one dies. Another book I might just have to re-read soon.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm in a depressive mood, thinking about my death or the death of others! It's more of a confluence of reading and discussion that have made me reflect and memento mori.

13.10.08

Notable Quotes

Memory is identity. I have believed this since -- oh, since I can remember. You are what you have done; what you have done is your memory; what you remember defines who you are; when you forget your life you will cease to be, even before your death.

3.10.08

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Biography:
The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers Harry Bernstein Memoir of growing up Jewish in pre-WWII northern England
Hole in My Life Jack Gantos Gantos' story of his time in jail, following a drug deal (of sorts) that went wrong

Children's/Young Adult:
The Revolution of Sabine Beth Levine Ain Decent historical fiction about the American Revolutions ideas, and their effect on a young French aristocrat
Unraveling Michelle Baldini In so many ways I identified with Manda and her problems
Being Kevin Brooks Robert is different. Really, really different.
The Good Neighbors Holly Black Good plot, but needs to edit those anachronisms
Masterpiece Elise Broach Cute animal story, but just didn't do it for me
Martyn Pig Kevin Brooks Martyn hates his alcoholic father, and when Dad dies, Martyn makes some very bad choices
The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk, Bowser the Hound, The Crooked Little Path and The Adventures of Unc'Billy Possum Thornton W. Burgess I still don't know why Burgess' work is out of print...
Steinbeck's Ghost Lewis Buzbee I was worried that the two stories (about the closing of the Salinas PL and the mystery behind some of Steinbeck's stories) would be a problem, but my students seem to really love it
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins This'll be huge. Just huge. Read more here
Lamplighter D. M. Cornish Once I got used to the changes in the language, it was enjoyable. But any book that comes with a glossary is just too much work to start with
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party Ying Chang Compestine Based on Compestine's life growing up during the Cultural Revolution
Not Like You Deborah Davis Yawn
Where I'd Like To Be Frances O'Roark Dowell Reminded me a bit of Sensible Kate
Underground Jean Ferris Historical fiction about the slaves who discovered/mapped Mammouth Cave
The Girl Who Could Fly Victoria Forester Yawn. Been there. Read that.
Jerk, California Jonathan Friesen A must read.
The Possibilities of Sainthood Donna Freitas I wasn't sure if my students could relate to this story of a girl growing up in a Catholic house, but they did!
Death by Latte Linda Gerber Just stay away
The Ghost's Child Sonya Hartnett Been there... and Who Was Victoria did it better.
My America: Our Strange New Land, Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book One Patricia Hermes Good for younger boys
Brooklyn Bridge Karen Hesse Turn-of-the-century Jewish family that helped popularize the Teddy Bear
Do Not Pass Go Kirkpatrick Hill How do you deal when your father is in jail?
The Mouse And His Child Russell Hoban Possibly charming once upon a time, but no longer
The Foretelling Alice Hoffman Too many disjointed elements to be really interesting
Fallout Trudy Krisher Read too much like The Loud Silence of Francine Green
The Devouring Simon Hunt Not scary enough.
Warriors: The Lost Warrior Erin Hunter I don't get why this series is so popular with my Middle School boys, but it is!
RuneWarriors James Jennewein All too obviously the start of a series, and not necessarily worth a follow-up
Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls Lynne Jonell Cute, and worth it for younger Middle School girls
Belle Teal and A Dog's Life: The Autobiography Of A Stray Ann M. Martin The former didn't impress me, but the latter made me cry
Spindle's End Robin McKinley Not quite the Ella Enchanted of the Sleeping Beauty story, but good all the same
Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 Patricia C. McKissack Historical biofiction that left me disappointed in the end
Gods of Manhattan Scott Mebus A mash-up of Un Lun Dun, Neverwhere and the Percy Jackson series, with New York's history thrown into the mix
Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de' Medici Carolyn Meyer I'm guessing that the hope is to interest people in the life of Catherine, but I'm not sure that this is the book to do it. Good historical fiction, though.
Harlem Summer Walter Dean Myers Pair it with Dave at Night and you have a winning combo
Friends Everywhere Donna Jo Napoli Words just fail me
The City in the Lake Ruth Neumeier I thought my students would like it. I was wrong
Melting Stones Tamora Pierce The latest from Pierce. 'Nuff said
Sovay Celia Rees Unbelievable. Really - it's that bad
When the Finch Rises Jack Riggs Another in the "been there, read that" column
The Maze Of Bones Rick Riordan Not sure that the conceit behind this series will sustain readers interest; reads like a slightly older version of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Shanghai Shadows Lois Ruby Did you know that Jews escaped the Holocaust by going to Shanghai? Life wasn't much better there, apparently. Read and learn.
The Cabinet of Wonders Mari Rutkoski Another obvious start to a series, and another question why
The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick Great drawings, so-so story, interesting way of tying the two together
Demon Thief Darren Shan Good sequel to Lord Loss and a definite hit with Shan's fans
Blue Jasmine Kashmira Sheth Another girl immigrates to America, this time from India
Skinned Robin Wasserman Who is Lia, really? Along the lines of Being and The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Shadows over Lyra Patricia C. Wrede Great trilogy, seemingly unconnected but with the world of Lyra at their heart
Larry and the Meaning of Life Janet Tashjian Larry doesn't quite know what's going on: is Gus for real? a scam artist? a mixture of both? The answer might surprise you
Tadpole Ruth White So much unrealized potential in this book
The Pit Dragon Trilogy Jane Yolen Need I say more?

Fiction/Literature:
The Steep Approach to Garbadale Iain Banks Dysfunctional, powerful family saga with the Banks touch

Mystery:
A Dedicated Man and Gallows View Peter Robinson With Ian Rankin letting go of Rebus, this is the perfect what-to-read-next
The Vows of Silence, The Risk of Darkness and The Pure in Heart Susan Hill Mysteries that aren't always resolved, and a detective that rivals Dalgliesh in complexity. What's not to love?

Non-Fiction:
Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?: The Play-at-Home Companion Book to the Hit Fox TV Quiz Show! Michael Benson
The Dangerous Book for Boys Conn Iggulden
The Acadians: A People's Story of Exile and Triumph Dean W. Jobb Already reviewed

Number removed from Mt. Bookpile this quarter: 65
Number added to Mt. Bookpile this quarter: 56
Net loss: 9
Status of Mt. Bookpike: 335 books to go!