Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Return of the Book Club

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! The return of the book club is here! In Cold Blood by Truman Capote was the book up for discussion this month. Next month I chose Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Since we hadn't met since October--I had to pick the book by myself.

Usually I pick out and print the summaries of 3-4 books and our loyal members choose which they'd like to read. I'm afraid I was pretty off my game this past week, and all my summaries fell flat. Good thing Tanja was there to pick out Ana's Story by Jenna Bush. There aren't any questions for the book on, so we'll have to come up with our own list of questions. Good thing we got a volunteer for that!

Why join a book club?? It's fun when you read a good book to have someone to discuss it with. It's good when you finish a bad book to have someone to commiserate with. Some of the books we've read have been well liked, others not so much. Every time we get a bad one, they all blame me and bring up The Time Traveler's Wife. They all hated it. I had raved about it. It has become the standing joke when talking about what books we're going to read. I don't mind. I've also picked out some really good ones. Cold Rock River by J.L. Miles and Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen were also books that came highly recommended by me and that the book club members all loved. And yet; I'm remembered for Time Traveler's Wife, which they hated. Oh well.

A book club brings you along to books you otherwise may not have picked out. A book club will bring you outside of your comfort zone. A book club gives you an opportunity to discuss the highs and lows of the book of the month, and gives you the chance to change someone else's mind about any given book (barring the Time Traveler's Wife, obviously).

We meet the last Wednesday of every month at 6:30. We generally pick out books a couple months in advance, so that we can order them in time to pass the new book on at the end of our monthly meetings. You don't have to come every month, and obviously you don't have to love every book. You don't even have to finish the book. Or read it at all. But there is always coffee and generally some really good dessert to go along with it!

We passed out the copies of Life Of Pi that we had on hand, and more have come in since then for others should you get the hankering to join us!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I don't have time to read!!

Many people are baffled by the number of books I read. I ALWAYS have a book to read. I read a little bit of every kind of genre out there. People who are not in the habit of reading generally give one excuse. "I DON'T HAVE TIME TO READ!!" If you ask me, that's a load of malarkey. I'm guessing you made time to play a couple games of Bejeweled Blitz online today, or took a few minutes with the Angry Birds on your iPhone, checked out the statuses of your friends on Facebook, or sat in front of the TV watching a program or two. If you didn't do any of those things, I apologize. If you did take some time to do those things, then your excuse can no longer be that you don't have time to read. It should be that you don't take time to read.

I don't chunk out sections of my day to read. I read a bit here and there throughout the day. During breakfast, during lunch, during commercials, while waiting for my 3-year-old to finish playing in the tub, waiting in doctor's offices, and on road trips where I'm not driving: these are all great times for me to have a book on hand. I generally don't leave the house without one. You never know when you're going to pick the slooooowwwwwwest line at the grocery store. It is more important to me than my phone (you're right, I don't have an iPhone).

I have heard of some people who CAN'T read, because then they have to read until they finish the book. That's something I don't quite understand. What do they do when they have 5 minutes here and there through-out the day? I suppose I could sit and idly ponder my thoughts, but WHY?? I could, I just choose not to.

I once read that a true test of how comfortable you are in your own skin is to sit down at a restaurant and eat a meal. Without a book or anything else to occupy yourself. I did that once. And, I wondered what exactly I was proving. Another time I went to a restaurant by myself with a Terry Pratchett book. Now there is a showing of how comfortable I am in my own skin. I was guffawing over my soup, salad, and bread sticks. At one point I was laughing so hard I was crying. Were people giving me strange looks? Probably, but I was too busy drying my eyes to notice.

While we're on the subject of books that are laugh-out-loud funny, I should wish a happy belated birthday (February 11th) to Mo Willems--my favorite laugh-out-loud funny author. (I know; he'll never see this, but he's still my favorite.) His
pigeon is a creature to behold. If you don't have time to read, these are kids books and should only take a minute or two--they're pretty short. But; like a kid, you may want to read it again as soon as you finish.

If you in any way disagree with me, or are offended by me--let me know. This is intended as a conversation starter--not a put-down. Feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books vs. Movies

I had an interesting discussion this afternoon with one of our younger patrons about movies based on books.

"It was like they only read the summary for The Lightning Thief."

Can't say that I've seen the movie, but the book was good. I've heard that the book and movie differ quite a bit. I did read and watch How To Train Your Dragon--those were two totally different stories.

"Every book I've ever read that has been turned into a movie: the book is waaayyyyyyyy better."

Although that is often the case, I can't say that every book is waaaaayyyyyy better than the movie.

"The book is ALWAYS better than the movie!"

There have been some books that I've struggled through (Friday Night Lights) and have thought the movie was better. (Of course, I haven't actually seen the movie--but it would certainly take less time to finish the movie than the book.)

It was getting to be a heated discussion.

"They did good with Harry Potter though, stayed pretty true to the story-line."

It's been a long time since I read and watched Harry Potter, so I couldn't reply to that statement.

"I like the Wizard of Oz movie better than the book."

Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Maybe it was for this young adult, but I much preferred the book to the movie.

It was interesting to have this discussion with a person under the age of eighteen. It was interesting that he'd read enough and seen enough to draw the same conclusion many book lovers come to; namely, that the book is better than the movie. Any kid can find movies based on books. It isn't hard to find kids who have seen many of those movies. It's a bit more rare to run into kids who have also read the book. It's seems almost impossible sometimes with all the bad press kids get about their lack of reading to find kids who often read the book before or after seeing the movie, and for the kid to see how amazing a book can be compared to what you watch on a screen. There are lots of kids around who have see How To Train Your Dragon, and there are quite a few who have read the book. It makes for an interesting conversation. I highly recommend it!

As long as we're on the subject of movies. . .

When your child comes to the library and decides to check out a rated R movie, we can not prevent them from checking it out. As much as we may want to, we can't. According to the American Library Association Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights in reference to Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials:

Parents—and only parents—have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children—and only their children—to library resources. Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their children. Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child.

Hunh, couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

We're past the first rush of budget cut talks. What's going to be cut? Money is tight at the federal, state, and local levels. I don't really know anywhere in government that money isn't tight. Suck it up and do the best we can with less, right? We have a responsibility to our communities to make the best use of the money available to us. We have to be creative with our resources. We have to make sure our priorities gel with what the community would like to see.

For people who aren't library users, libraries may seem like a waste of money. Our small town is hurting. Library non-users here and in other communities often think that cutting library hours or eliminating libraries completely would be a great answer to all the money problems faced by their communites. WRONG! The way libraries work, the money that funds your local library belongs to libraries. If your local library closes, the money that used to go to it now gets put back into the pot and spread out among OTHER LIBRARIES. Close your library and your taxes will not go down, the city will not have more money to spend on other things; things will be just the same as they were--you just won't have a library in your town.

I do not have a library sciences degree. I don't understand the ins and outs of the law. I couldn't even begin to comprehend how the "powers that be" spend/allocate/receive money. All I know is that the library is "safe". Yes, they can cut our budgets by a bit. Yes, we may have to make some cut backs on what services we offer. Yes, we won't be getting EVERY James Patterson book that comes out. (What?? He puts his name on at least 10 a year lately.) Yes, we don't have any art-work on the walls. Yes, we're hoping for better times ahead. No, we didn't get into the library business for the big paychecks.

With the recent recession, we have seen an increase in library usage. When people come in for the first time in decades, they're often surprised by what the library has to offer free of charge. Computer usage, books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, audio books, and generally someone who is excited to help you find what you're looking for. (Not always, mind you--we have off days too.) Your taxes help fund all of this. You already bought that movie. Granted now it's stored at the library and anyone can check it out. You already have that book. Granted, it has a bar code on it that gets scanned every time someone wants to read it. You already bought that newspaper. Granted, it wasn't delivered to your door. Why are you buying that audio book again? Granted, you may have to download some software before loading it onto your MP3 player.

February is Love Your Library month. Money is tight. Maybe you can't make any sort of monetary donation to your library, but there are other things you can do. Send off an email to your local/state/federal government officials expressing your support for local libraries. They need to understand how important libraries are to our communities. Stop in for a chat about what the library means to you and any improvements you would like to see. Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Come to a board meeting and see how it all works. Spend an afternoon seeing what the kids do in here after they're done with school.

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. I know I would be in a world of hurt if I no longer had a library to use!

I'll get off my soap-box now.