Archive for February, 2013

Link Round Up: February

The Power of Young Adult Fiction

This one is almost a year old, but I just recently came across it.  The New York Times Room for Debate section included a handful of essays concerning different aspects of young adult fiction.  I don’t agree with every opinion, but they are definitely worth checking out.  Lev Grossman’s essay in particular really captures why I love YA so much.

 

Why Online Learning is Vital to Improving Education

As a former online student, I really appreciated this look at the benefits online education can have.  There is such a stigma against it, but I really feel like my program had any advantages, including such a focus on technology and advances in the field.

 

Book Nerd Problems

Snuggly Oranges blog has started a new series about book nerd problems.  They’re so true!  I think every reader has encountered these at some point.

 

Carl Sagan on the Great Library of Alexandria

This clip from Carl Sagan’s 1980 television series discusses the ancient Library of Alexandria and what it contained.  It’s a great look at such a fascinating period of history.

 

 

 

Requesting a Book Review

Since I have recently been receiving several requests from individuals requesting that i review their books, I decided to implement some review request guidelines.  These guidelines can be found here.   If you have a book you’d like reviewed, I’d love to check it out.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine where bloggers can highlight upcoming books they’re excited to read.  My choice for this week is:

 

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Light

1930s America, southern high society: Part love story, part coming-of-age novel, this is the moving, raw and exquisitely vivid story of an uncommon girl navigating a treacherous road to womanhood.

Thea Atwell is fifteen years old in 1930, when, following a scandal for which she has been held responsible, she is ‘exiled’ from her wealthy and isolated Florida family to a debutante boarding school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. As Thea grapples with the truth about her role in the tragic events of 1929, she finds herself enmeshed in the world of the Yonahlossee Riding Camp, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty and equestrienne prowess; where young women are indoctrinated in the importance of ‘female education’ yet expected to be married by twenty-one; a world so rarified as to be rendered immune (at least on the surface) to the Depression looming at the periphery, all overseen by a young headmaster who has paid a high price for abandoning his own privileged roots…

Expected publication: June 6th 2013 by Tinder Press

Why I’m Waiting

This book contains so many elements I love: the south, boarding school, a tragic scandal, Depression-era narrative.    I’ve also seen it compared to Tigers in Red Weather, which I absolutely loved.   I’m trying to get back into reading more adult fiction and this seems like a great addition.

Oh, Deary

If you have any interest at all in libraries, you’ve probably come across an article quoting children’s author Terry Deary’s opinion* on the future of libraries – namely that there isn’t one.  Unlike the glut of other authors who are supporting the campaign to save libraries, Deary believes that libraries “have had their day” and are  “cutting [the] throats” of authors and that this “is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature.”   Deary claims that he isn’t attacking libraries, but rather the concept behind them.  I would argue that he doesn’t understand the concept behind libraries at all or how they fit into a successful society.

 

1. Libraries introduce readers to new books, which is good for authors.

I would argue that very few people only find new books by buying them.  Many people end up buying a large portion of the books they own because they have already read that particular book or have already read a book by that author or part of that series and enjoyed it.  Books are expensive to buy, difficult to resell, and hard to judge based solely on a cover blurb.  If readers were forced to purchase every book they read blindly, there would be much more balancing of cost vs. potential enjoyment, which could lead to many readers simply choosing not to buy books.  When readers are allowed to “test drive” books first by checking them out in the library, they are able to explore and learn more about their own reading tastes, therefore making them more confident in buying books.  Deary was the seventh most borrowed children’s author in UK libraries last year.   That means that thousands of children were introduce to his books.  It’s likely that many of those children would not have heard of Deary or read his books without access to a library.  Deary might think libraries are the enemy of author’s profits, but he’s wrong.  Libraries aren’t the enemy, obscurity is.

2. Libraries offer more than books.

Deary’s argument seems to be based on a rather outdated view of libraries.  While the library might have originally starts to connect individuals with books, that is far from their only purpose now.  Libraries offer multiple items, including movies, magazines, CDs, databases, computer programs, and even items like seeds.   Additionally, libraries provide a myriad of services.  They offer job hunting seminars, tax prep, tutoring, crafting programs, movie nights, ESL classes, computer classes, printing and copying needs, access to the internet, game nights, and music programs.  They serve as museums, meeting rooms, art galleries, archives, study rooms, and cafes.  The roles a library can play in a community number in the hundreds and only a part of them have to do with lending books.

Additionally, Deary claims that we do not expect other entertainment subsets to give out their materials for free, but it’s  a faulty comparison.  For one, as I mentioned before, libraries do offer movies, music, and games for lending.  Also, when comparing books, songs, and movies on a strictly cost basis, books will lose.  If I want to see a new movie, I can do so for $5.  If I want to buy a new song, it will cost me $1-2.  If I want to buy a new book, most of them are going to cost me considerably more than that.

3. We do have a responsibility to offer access to information and literature.

Though some might not agree with this claim, I would argue that we do still need to fulfill our responsibility of allowing all users (“impoverished” or not) access to reading material and needed information.  For many individuals, the library is the only way they are able to access the internet, to find materials to read, or to get the information they need.  To deny anyone the ability to do this is incredibly classist.  An informed society is a better society and libraries are needed to keep society informed.  We can’t simply rely on the internet, because the internet isn’t curated or verified.  And, anyway, relying on the internet is pointless if individuals can’t afford to access it and not longer have libraries to do so.

In an era where literacy is much, much lower than it should be, libraries provide a vital service by connecting readers to books and offering tutoring and other literacy services.  American isn’t the only country with this issue; the UK has problems, as well. If 15% of the UK adult population is reading below the level expected of an 11 year old with libraries in existence, how do you think they would fare without them?  If only 40% of England’s 10 year olds have a positive attitude towards reading now, how many of them will have one if they have to pay exorbitant amounts to do so?  Reading and literacy are both linked to education, personal, professional, and societal success more than almost any other factor.  Why would anyone want to make it harder for individuals to do it?

4. The concept of receiving a service for tax money isn’t exclusive to libraries.

Deary argues that libraries are offering a service for free at the expense of tax payers and this is a negative thing.  However, that is the entire point of paying taxes.  We are able to use roads for free because we paid taxes.  The workers who built those roads are paid royalties every time I drive over them.  We are able to receive schooling because we paid taxes.  Teachers aren’t paid every time a student asks a question.  In the UK, citizens like Terry Deary are even able to receive healthcare for free because they paid taxes.  Society is getting a valuable service in exchange for a small portion of the money they make.  In the UK, authors are even paid a special royalty for the books that are purchased by libraries.  It isn’t as if the library is paying $20 for a book and the small percentage that goes to the author is all he will get.   The author receives 6.2p every time one of their books is borrowed, up to a cap of £6,600.

5. Libraries are not killing bookshops.

Deary attempts to back up his claim that libraries are harming bookshops by stealing their sales.  This argument holds very little water considering both libraries and bookshops have existed for hundreds of years side by side.  Independent booksellers are definitely hurting now, but that isn’t because of libraries.  It’s because of chain stores or internet sellers like Amazon.  It’s because e-books are becoming more popular.  And, ironically enough, it’s because book pricing issues caused by publishers and authors makes it difficult for small shops to compete.  Getting rid of libraries will not help those bookshops, but it will hurt the community.

 

Luckily, there are many other authors, bloggers, librarians, and politicians out there who do not agree with Deary and are willing to fight to preserve the much-needed libraries.  For more reading, check out:

Why Terry Deary is Wrong

An Open Letter to Terry Deary

Why We Shouldn’t Ignore Terry Deary & 5 Ways to Help Your Library Right Now
 

*Deary has since tried to “clarify” what he was saying, but I’m not buying it.  Those quotes were not mercilessly edited; they were pretty clear.  His response just seems like a lot of backpedaling now, coupled with a very, very outdated view of libraries.

Waiting on Wednesday: Light by Michael Grant

Through a blog I enjoy, I recently learned about Waiting On Wednesday, a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine where bloggers can highlight upcoming books they’re excited to read.  I think that is such a neat idea and a great way to discover new books!  I decided to participate and my choice for this week is:

 

Light (Gone #6) by Michael Grant

Light

It’s been over a year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

In the time since every person over the age of fourteen disap-peared from the town of Perdido Beach, California, countless battles have been fought: battles against hunger and lies and plague, and epic battles of good against evil. And now, the gaiaphage has been reborn as Diana’s malicious mutant daughter, Gaia. Gaia is endlessly hungry for destruction. She yearns to conquer her Nemesis, Little Pete, and then bend the entire world to her warped will. As long-standing enemies become allies, secrets are revealed and unexpected sacrifices are made. Will their attempts to save themselves and one another matter in the end, or will the kids of Perdido Beach perish in this final power struggle?

Light, the sixth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Gone series by Michael Grant, creates a masterful, arresting conclusion to life in the FAYZ

Expected publication: April 2nd, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Why I’m Waiting

The Gone series has been a bizarre, complicated, super fun ride so far and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he concludes it.   How will they survive in the regular world?  Can they even survive at all?  What will happen to the mutant animals and people?  So many questions!  Given everything that has happened to these kids and everything they’ve done, I have no idea how he’ll resolve it and I can’t wait to find out.