Thursday, September 30, 2010

Will libraries survive?

These librarians say, "We will survive!" (Thanks, Marg at Intrepid Reader.  I love this video!)

If you enjoyed this energetic video, watch the longer version.  I love how it clearly shows the effects of budget cuts.

What's happening at the library in your town?  Go ahead -- pay tribute to your library in the comments.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Earth's Children series ~ by Jean M. Auel

Marg (in Australia) did a spotlight feature on the Earth's Children series for Historical Tapestry, saying,
"September 30 is the 30th anniversary of the release of The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel, the first book in the Earth's Children series."
Wikipedia, on the other hand, says the publication date in the United States was May 4, 1980.  At any rate, it's been ages since I read the first book in the series.  I have on my shelves the next two in the series, but their thickness (544 pages and 723 pages, respectively) keeps stopping me.
  1. The Clan of the Cave Bear, 1980
  2. The Valley of Horses, 1982
  3. The Mammoth Hunters, 1985
  4. The Plains of Passage, 1990
  5. The Shelters of Stone, 2002
  6. The Land of Painted Caves, 2011
The series is about Ayla, a Cro-Magnon girl adopted by Neanderthals, who later searches for her own people.  Beyond that, I'll let you read what Marg has to say.  But first, tell me how many of these you've read.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contemporary worship

One of my grandsons has played his guitar in the contemporary worship service at a local church.  His father used to play keyboard at the early service of a different church.  The picture here, which doesn't show my grandson, comes from an article Keeping it fresh by Mallory McCall:
"Today, contemporary worship is all about participation. Many Christians of all ages no longer find it satisfying to go to church and sit through a service; they want to be part of it. The informality of these modern services gives congregants the freedom to participate in worship in a more personal way."
He asks, "But what does it mean to be contemporary in worship?"  To many people, it's all about the music.  The article quotes C. Michael Hawn, professor of church music and director of the sacred music program at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas:
"The way we sing affects the way we think about God ... I think our worship, regardless of style, needs to have a lot more kinesthetic permission ... It will keep young people involved, plus it says this is more than a head-trip; this is a whole-body experience."
Kinesthetic, the sensation of movement, freedom to move around, to be involved.

Does your church have a contemporary service, a traditional service, or a mixture of both styles?  Which do you prefer?  Why?  What do you think it means to be contemporary in worship?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Books of the decade ~ top ten

I found a Top Ten Books of the Decade (2000-2009) on LindyLouMac's Book Reviews.  She got it from LoveReading, which designated fifty to choose from.  How many of these have you read?  I've indicated those I've read.

Number 1
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger, 2003

I've read this one, but haven't reviewed it.  Dewey, who chose it as one of her books for the Something About Me reading challenge, said:
"I just adore this book. In some ways, I identify with the main character, even though he's a guy. Although he time travels, his normal life takes place in Chicago, where I grew up, during about the same time. You know how it's just cool to have a character in a book doing the things you did and going to the places you go? Aside from that, he has a really deep connection with his wife, and in a lot of ways, it feels reminiscent of my relationship with my husband, except that he's not always time traveling out of my life. The book doesn't read like a sci-fi book, which is what you'd normally expect from a book about time traveling. It's more about relationships and trying to be yourself even when who you are doesn't always make sense to other people."

Number 2
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini, 2003

Don't you think this cover is perfect?  I read this one several years before I started blogging and reviewing books.  Read about it on my Banned Books blog.

Number 3
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak, 2005

I like this cover, too, but haven't read the book ... yet!

Number 4
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne, 2006

This cover is for the movie version.  I read this one with my online Book Buddies, but I haven't written a review.

Number 5
Girl with a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier, 1999

I read this too long ago to attempt to write a review now.

Number 6
by Joanne Harris, 1999

My favorite of her books was Five Quarters of the Orange. Dewey reviewed Chocolat here.  It's so nice to find Dewey's reviews scattered about, since her blog was taken down after she died.

Number 7
The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold, 2002

I read this years before I started blogging and reviewing books.

Number 8
We Need to Talk about Kevin
by Lionel Shriver, 2003

I want to read this because Dewey put this at the top of her list for the Something About Me reading challenge, saying:
"I'm reading this book for the second time right now. The narrator is the mother of a boy who has committed a Columbine-like school shooting/mass murder. I teach high school. I was teaching high school the day the Columbine shooting happened, and we all stopped what we were doing in class and watched the news in horror. This book really freaked me out the first time I read it, because I'm also the mother of teenage boy -- a white, middle-class, suburban boy, which is what these school shooters tend to be. Although the narrator is really hard to like, I just feel for her anyway, because I can not even imagine what it must be like to be the parent of one of these boys. Yet I have to keep in mind at all times the possibility that something like this could out of the blue happen in my classroom at any time."

Number 9
The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 2001 (translation, 2004)

I bought this book, but haven't read it yet.  It's the very last book in my fiction section, which I shelve alphabetically by author.

Number 10
Small Island
by Andrea Levy, 2005

This book won the Orange Prize, so I really should read it.

Kiki's Caturday ~ finally

So it's no longer Saturday. It's not my fault! Bonnie had to post all that stuff about Banned Books Week, on this blog and on her Banned Books blog. Then she read all the book blogs she likes to read. And then, after all that, she used the computer to grade papers and answer emails from her writing students. Just thinking about it made me tired, so I had to take a long nap. When a neighbor dropped by, I couldn't use the computer because I was too busy schmoozing and trying to get treats and attention. Then it was bed time. So my Caturday is today, no matter what the calendar says.

This is the book I told you about last week.  I've read a lot more of it now.  I got to a chapter or two where the author (Vicki Myron) told us the history of her town:  Spencer, Iowa.  I wanted to know about Dewey, the library cat, not about her town.  But then I got it.  Dewey made a difference to the whole town.  Everything was going downhill (do they even have hills in Iowa?) and farmers were losing their farms.  Towns were dying.  People were moving away.  Then came Dewey, and people began to smile again.  Hurray for Dewey!  Then I began to wonder how he knew people needed to laugh and smile?  Maybe it was just the usual cat-ness at work.  You know, where we make you people happy because we allow you to hold us while we sleep or encourage you to feed us or act so happy about being given catnip that you can't help laughing.  Maybe that's it.  Whatever.  Dewey made people happy.

More next week.

Kiki, signing off

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jumping on the "banned wagon"

First edition cover
Mark Twain once said of his detractors: "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

Twain knew about censorship.  His Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most challenged and banned books ever.  Most object to the language, though the original detractors weren't bothered by the racial slur that people today find offensive.

Banned Books Week, sponsored annually by the American Library Association since 1982, starts today.  The title for this post comes from Sheila, who used it on her Book Journey blog this morning.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On the eve of Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week starts tomorrow. Click here for a list of books I suggest for this week's reading.  Or check out my Banned Books blog, where we've have 242 visitors today.  Have you read any books that were ever challenged or banned somewhere in the world?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Speak ~ by Laurie Halse Anderson ~ is NOT pornography

Laurie Halse Anderson wrote on her blog:  This guy thinks SPEAK is pornography.  It caused a ruckus!  Today, Laurie posted The Power of Speaking Loudly.  Here's where I reviewed Speak.  Why don't you "speak up" during Banned Books Week, starting this Saturday?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Six (more) books today

Six books arrived today, one left on my front porch, the others from the library.  One book almost didn't make it; I've been so busy that my library had already pulled it from the hold shelf to be sent back when I dashed through the raindrops to pick up my holds.

Dream When You're Feeling Blue is a novel by Elizabeth Berg (2007).  From the dust jacket:
"New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg takes us to Chicago at the time of World War II in this wonderful story about three sisters, their lively Irish family, and the men they love. As the novel opens, Kitty and Louise Heaney say good-bye to their boyfriends Julian and Michael, who are going to fight overseas. On the domestic front, meat is rationed, children participate in metal drives, and Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller play songs that offer hope and lift spirits. And now the Heaney sisters sit at their kitchen table every evening to write letters–Louise to her fiancé, Kitty to the man she wishes fervently would propose, and Tish to an ever-changing group of men she meets at USO dances. In the letters the sisters send and receive are intimate glimpses of life both on the battlefront and at home. For Kitty, a confident, headstrong young woman, the departure of her boyfriend and the lessons she learns about love, resilience, and war will bring a surprise and a secret, and will lead her to a radical action for those she loves. The lifelong consequences of the choices the Heaney sisters make are at the heart of this superb novel about the power of love and the enduring strength of family."
My Name Is Mary Sutter is a novel by Robin Oliveira (2010).  From the dust jacket:
"In this stunning historical novel, which opens on the eve of the Civil War, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head­strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine -- and eager to run away from recent heartbreak -- Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens -- two surgeons who unwittingly fall in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering -- and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital."
Sophomore Switch is a YA novel by Abby McDonald (2009).  An American party girl and a studious British control freak are both eager to flee their own campuses.  As Publishers Weekly said, "A global exchange program seems the perfect escape, but creates more problems than it solves."  I'm more interested in what the author says on the back flap:
"I wanted this book to explore what feminism can mean to a new generation of teenagers.  Through their exploits, Tasha and Emily learn to make conscious decisions about their futures; they discover different sides to their personalities -- and feminist identities -- despite social pressures and expectations.  Claiming that kind of autonomy is one of the most powerful things a young woman can do."
A Short History of Women is a novel by Kate Walbert (2009).  It's the large-print edition, the only one in my library system.  I like what Valerie Sayers of The Washington Post said about this book:
"Walbert's books have all dealt ... with the lives of women, but this one is her most ambitious and impressive. The novel shuffles geographies and eras ... as if to reflect the non-linear progress of feminism. Walbert also utilizes compression and flashback to sweep through time, her style reminiscent of a host of innovative writers from Virginia Woolf to Muriel Spark to Pat Barker ... A Short History deals with complicated women living in complicated times, and if it is empathetic, it is also disturbing, as all moral conundrums are. It is a witty and assured testament to the women's movement and women writers, obscure and renowned."
The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories (1980) reproduces the journal Daphne du Maurier kept while planning her novel Rebecca.  Chris at Chrisbookarama wrote about the book in such an interesting way that I immediately put it on hold at my library.  I'm sharing the YouTube video that was on her blog, partly as a way of remembering all this information -- since I rather doubt I'll find time to read this book before the end of this very busy semester.

This I Believe (2006) is an inspirational book based on the NPR series of the same name.  Studs Terkel wrote the Foreword, and the book was edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman.  I mentioned this book three weeks ago, when I found This I Believe II (2008) at my library.

Confession time!  I haven't completed ANY of the books I wrote about on September 1st.  You do remember I said (at the top of this post) that one book had already been taken off the hold shelf -- it was The Rebecca Notebook -- which happens also to be the book I don't think I'll find time to read.  Maybe I'll have to get ALL of the library books again later, when I have time to read again.  This last book is mine and will definitely have to wait.  I have, however, read more than half of Janisse Ray's Wild Card Quilt, a library book I told you about on September 8th -- besides textbooks, it's the only book I've been reading.

What books are newly arrived at your house?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Caturday collaboration

When I wasn't busy eating and sleeping, I've tried very hard to find cat dreams in the book called Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, which I started reading last Caturday.  It's a people story!  The book is about people.  I complained to Bonnie about that, "Meow, meow, MEW, meow!"  And she said she could have told me that, if only I had asked.  So I asked.  I said I wanted a book about an animal, preferably a cat.  Please.  I added "please" because Bonnie is more likely to do what I want when I say "please" and say it nicely.  This is the book she took down from a high shelf.  (Anything over two feet is "high" to me.)

It's a book about Dewey, a cat who lives in a library.  Here's the whole title:  Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.  It's by Vicki Myron, the librarian in the small town of Spencer in northwest Iowa.

I especially like the last words in the first chapter.  The library people had found a freezing kitten in the drop box, shivering and dirty and trying to keep warm with piles of books falling around him.  Somebody asked Vicki Myron,
"What should we do with him?"
"Well ... maybe we can keep him."
That's on page 13, and that's as far as I've read.  Already I think this is a great book, with people in it who take care of a poor, cold kitty.  And I can imagine what the kitten is going to discover in the library.  I used to be a bookstore cat, back when Bonnie and Donna owned a bookstore.  Donna's cat, Sammy, was there too.  Click here to see Sammy, who is a scaredy cat.  I'm the one who always went out to greet the customers, but Sammy would peer around corners to see who was there.

This cat named Dewey will live around lots of books, the same way I have lived around lots of books, especially in the bookstore.  And even now, because we -- Bonnie and I -- have books in every room.  I need a nap right now, but I'll read more this week and tell you next Caturday whether Dewey has any adventures.  I used to be an outdoor cat, and I found drains that went under the store and into sewers.  I saw lots and lots of cars on the busy streets, and unfortunately I saw a cat who didn't make it across a side street.  I don't go outside anymore, and I don't guess Dewey wanted to go back outside once he found a warm place to live.  I'll let you know.

Oh, are you curious about that word "collaboration" in the title?  I put it there because Bonnie and I came to an agreement.  Since I can't have a blog of my own, Bonnie says I may write on Caturdays whenever I choose.  She even let me put my profile picture at the top today.  I won't remind her tomorrow to change it back, and maybe she'll forget.  So today, I'm top cat!

Kiki, signing off ....... (yawn)

Friday, September 17, 2010

1001 books you should read before you die

According to 1morechapter's list of 1001 books:  "There are now three editions of the 1001 list, with 1294 titles on [the] three lists."  I'm not going to post all 1294 books, but here are the ones I've read.  My list is almost a tenth of the 1001 we "should" read.

1. Home ~ by Marilynne Robinson
2. Half of a Yellow Sun ~ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
3. Never Let Me Go ~ by Kazuo Ishiguro
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ~ by Mark Haddon
5. The Namesake ~ by Jhumpa Lahiri
6. Family Matters ~ by Rohinton Mistry
7. The Corrections ~ by Jonathan Franzen
8. Life of Pi ~ by Yann Martel
9. Atonement ~ by Ian McEwan
10. Disgrace ~ by J. M. Coetzee
11. The Hours ~ by Michael Cunningham
12. The Poisonwood Bible ~ by Barbara Kingsolver
13. Memoirs of a Geisha ~ by Arthur Golden
14. Fall on Your Knees ~ by Ann-Marie MacDonald
15. The Reader ~ by Bernhard Schlink
16. A Fine Balance ~ by Rohinton Mistry
17. The Shipping News ~ by E. Annie Proulx
18. Possession ~ by A.S. Byatt
19. Like Water for Chocolate ~ by Laura Esquivel
20. A Prayer for Owen Meany ~ by John Irving
21. The Color Purple ~ by Alice Walker
22. The House of the Spirits ~ by Isabel Allende
23. The Name of the Rose ~ by Umberto Eco
24. Burger's Daughter ~ by Nadine Gordimer
25. The World According to Garp ~ by John Irving
26. Song of Solomon ~ by Toni Morrison
27. The Dispossessed ~ by Ursula K. Le Guin
28. Fear of Flying ~ by Erica Jong
29. The Bluest Eye ~ by Toni Morrison
30. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ~ by Maya Angelou
31. Them ~ by Joyce Carol Oates
32. 2001: A Space Odyssey ~ by Arthur C. Clarke
33. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold ~ by John Le Carré
34. The Bell Jar ~ by Sylvia Plath
35. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ~ by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
36. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ~ by Ken Kesey
37. Stranger in a Strange Land ~ by Robert Heinlein
38. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie ~ by Muriel Spark
39. Catch-22 ~ by Joseph Heller
40. To Kill a Mockingbird ~ by Harper Lee
41. Henderson the Rain King ~ by Saul Bellow
42. Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris ~ by Paul Gallico
43. Doctor Zhivago ~ by Boris Pasternak
44. The Last Temptation of Christ ~ by Nikos Kazantzákis
45. Lord of the Flies ~ by William Golding
46. Invisible Man ~ by Ralph Ellison
47. The Old Man and the Sea ~ by Ernest Hemingway
48. Barabbas ~ by Par Lagerkvist
49. Nineteen Eighty-Four ~ by George Orwell
50. The Plague ~ by Albert Camus
51. Animal Farm ~ by George Orwell
52. The Little Prince ~ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
53. For Whom the Bell Tolls ~ by Ernest Hemingway
54. The Grapes of Wrath ~ by John Steinbeck
55. Nausea ~ by Jean-Paul Sartre
56. Rebecca ~ by Daphne du Maurier
57. Of Mice and Men ~ by John Steinbeck
58. Their Eyes Were Watching God ~ by Zora Neale Hurston
59. Gone With the Wind ~ by Margaret Mitchell
60. Man’s Fate ~ by Andre Malraux
61. Brave New World ~ by Aldous Huxley
62. Cold Comfort Farm ~ by Stella Gibbons
63. All Quiet on the Western Front ~ by Erich Maria Remarque
64. The Sound and the Fury ~ by William Faulkner
65. Lady Chatterley’s Lover ~ by D. H. Lawrence
66. The Sun Also Rises ~ by Ernest Hemingway
67. The Castle ~ by Franz Kafka
68. The Great Gatsby ~ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
69. The Trial ~ by Franz Kafka
70. Billy Budd ~ by Herman Melville
71. The Magic Mountain ~ by Thomas Mann
72. Siddhartha ~ by Herman Hesse
73. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ~ by James Joyce
74. The Good Soldier ~ by Ford Madox Ford
75. Ethan Frome ~ by Edith Wharton
76. Heart of Darkness ~ by Joseph Conrad
77. The Awakening ~ by Kate Chopin
78. The Time Machine ~ by H. G. Wells
79. The Picture of Dorian Gray ~ by Oscar Wilde
80. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ~ by Mark Twain
81. The Death of Ivan Ilyich ~ by Leo Tolstoy
82. The Brothers Karamazov ~ by Fyodor Dostoevsky
83. Little Women ~ by Louisa May Alcott
84. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ~ by Lewis Carroll
85. Silas Marner ~ by George Eliot
86. Great Expectations ~ by Charles Dickens
87. A Tale of Two Cities ~ by Charles Dickens
88. Walden ~ by Henry David Thoreau
89. Moby-Dick ~ by Herman Melville
90. The Scarlet Letter ~ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
91. A Christmas Carol ~ by Charles Dickens
92. Ivanhoe ~ by Sir Walter Scott
93. Candide ~ by Voltaire
94. A Modest Proposal ~ by Jonathan Swift
95. Gulliver’s Travels ~ by Jonathan Swift
96. Robinson Crusoe ~ by Daniel Defoe
97. The Thousand and One Nights ~ by Anonymous
98. Aesop’s Fables ~ by Aesop

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Redefining hero ~ a book review

I am discussing The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (2010) with my online friends at Book Buddies.  If you've read it, drop by and leave comments about the book.  Click this link to see our first set of questions.

Iris James, the postmistress, is listening to "that gal" on the radio, as Frankie Bard redefines what a hero is.  This long quote (from pages 119-120) was one of my favorites:
Iris had come to a stop in front of the radio perched on the shelf in the sorting room of the post office above the hot plate and her teakettle.

"Waiting and watching.  Weeping into your sleeves -- these are not the traits of heroes, neither Ulysses, nor Aeneas, and not Joshua.  Think, rather, of Penelope.  Think of all the women down through the years who have watched and waited -- but who, like the boys with their horse, wept and picked themselves up and went on -- and you will have a small sense, then, of the heroes here.  The occupied, the bombed, and the very, very brave.  This is Frankie Bard in London.  Good night."

Iris reached for the knob and slowly turned it to the right.  She didn't, as a rule, like the sound of that gal's voice, didn't like the undercurrent that seemed always to run through it that she held the truth in her hand and everyone better damn well take a look.  Nonetheless -- Iris stood back from the radio and crossed her arms -- she was fairly sure that the radio gal had just redefined the nature of a hero.  She considered the black box.  Yes, she was certain that that was what Miss Frankie Bard had done.
The book captivated me.  What would happen if a postmistress chose not to deliver the mail?   It made me feel that I was there with those experiencing World War Two in Europe and on the home front in the United States. The video below shows many pictures and headlines from that era.

I rate The Postmistress an 8 out of 10.  It's a very good book.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kiki Caturday ~ animal books

I looked over the books in our house and the books Bonnie has reviewed online.  Bad news.  We don't have enough animal books.  I did find a few, if you call a goose an "animal," but I am not sure the animals in these books are the main characters.  Here's what we had on shelves I could reach:
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hall
Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
Wolves are too much like dogs, and I have to listen to those barking dogs who live next door.  Horses are too big for me!  When I lived with Carol, before Bonnie and I became friends, I lived with three horses, two dogs, and a bird who lived in a cage.  A goose is just a silly bird, so I'm not interested in that book.  Okay, I guess I'll start reading Animal Dreams.

I hope the book has some cat dreams in it.  Maybe some day I'll tell you about my dreams.  I have some really great dreams!  Have you read Animal Dreams?  Is it any good?  What kind of animals are in it?  (Besides human animals, I mean.)  Any cats?

Oh, no! I didn't notice the book about wolves has a picture of horses on it.  But that's okay.  I don't want to read about horses anyway.

Kiki Cat, signing off