Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not Liking Movies

After a five-star review from my mother and several other people whom I cannot recall at this particular moment, I watched 500 Days of Summer yesterday.

And I did not like it.

And then, because I felt bad for not liking a movie that had been so highly recommended to me, I tried to rationalize why I didn't like it. Here's the list I came up with:

1 - It bugged me that Zooey Deschanel's character, Summer, was always dressed in blue. Supposedly it was to bring out her eyes, but come on. She is so not Alice in Wonderland.
2 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, Tom, kind of bugged me, too. Come on, dude, get over it. Stop dwelling. Don't be so emo.
3 - I wanted to know more about Tom's friend Paul, whose screen time did nothing to flesh him out.
4 - Haha, Autumn. Get it? It's, like, ironic and stuff! Haha! No.
5 - Sometimes I like nonlinear storytelling. Sometimes I don't. This time I really didn't.

And then, because all of these things really did bug me about the movie, but because all of them combined don't really make me feel as though I've adequately described why I did not like the movie, I decided that maybe I don't have to describe it.

I decided I don't have to justify why I don't like a movie. Or a book. Or shrimp. Or anything else for that matter. Not liking something can be enough.

Maybe it's dumb, but it feels pretty liberating.

Help! There are (zombies/demons/vampires/etc) in my literature!

I've talked about literary zombies and other creatures of their ilk on here before. Quirk Classics has really made a name for themselves in a relatively short amount of time because of their smash mash-up hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. They are not, however, the only publishers who are currently waxing demonic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Covers are Cool

Yesterday I went with a library school friend to a lecture/talk by Chip Kidd, book cover designer extraordinaire. He's done some pretty cool covers, many of which are definitely on the way to becoming iconic (if they aren't there already). Even if you've never heard his name before, I'm sure you've seen one of his covers. All you'd have to do to see one is walk in a bookstore. Or go to the library. Or be in an airport.

Anyway, he was a really funny guy. He told a great story as the introduction to his talk, during which he shared with the audience his new mantra: "Bitch, I don't know your life!" (Think this quote in a heavy New York accent, in a KFC. Want more details? Ask me in person.) He suggested integrating that phrase into the vernacular. Will it work in the middle of Indiana? It's really funny either way.

He also had a serious takeaway thought: Graphic design (what he does) is problem-solving, in that it neatly packages whatever needs packaging. Art, on the other hand, is problem-creating, in that is essentially is a constant reopening of Pandora's box. Meditate on that for a while.

Moral of that story, if you ever get the chance to hear Chip Kidd speak, go. Even if you're not that interested in graphic design, or (heaven forbid!) you don't care about books, go. It'll be a good time, guaranteed. Also, I'm pretty sure he was drinking beer throughout the entire talk.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Evidently bibliotherapy used to be all the rage. Instead of medication or perhaps more traditional therapeutic techniques, persons with some sort of mental and/or emotional issues would be told to read certain things. Seeing the characters navigate their own quote-unquote stormy waters would, at least in theory, provide the reader with opportunities for reflection and closure.

Emma Thompson, that great British actress, has talked a bit about how writing the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility was pseudo-bibliotherapeutic. And there does indeed seem to be a school of thought that Jane Austen in particular has remarkable self-healing properties.

What about you? Do you indulge in bibliotherapy? What books do you self-prescribe?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Case of the Missing School Librarians

This week (National Library Week), students at a Bloomington-area elementary school are putting on a productive of a play they created: The Case of the Missing Librarian. The play is a direct response to the recent news that the Monroe County Community School Corporation, due to budgetary concerns, decided to reduce the district-wide school librarianship duties to one. That's right.

One. Single. Librarian.

Sad, yes? But not too sad, if it's an isolated phenomenon? I mean, this can't possibly be going on all over the place, can it?

The bottom line is, more and more students in American schools are going to be without the additional academic and literacy support that they need in order to succeed in life. School libraries supplement the school education, and school librarians provide instruction in vital information literacy skills that classroom teachers are often not prepared to teach. We need to solve this case of missing school librarians, and quickly.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Digital Natives

Today I heard the term "digital natives" for the first time. I suppose it's not so surprising that I hadn't heard the term before, seeing as I myself am not a digital native.

What is a digital native? Rather, the question is "who?" A digital native is a person who has grown up entirely in a world rife with digital things: computers, cell phones, iPods, &c. As a result of coming of age in a digital environment, digital natives are those people for whom doing things digitally isn't just an option, but the norm. (Some people have evidently defined digital natives as those born in 1988 or later; thus why I didn't include myself as a digital native.)

Digital natives are going to be much more comfortable with the idea of reading a blog than digital immigrants. Digital immigrants are going to consider digital mediums for their needs before they consider traditional ones; you know how everyone keeps talking about the demise of the print newspaper? Well, when readers are used to digital...

Get the picture?

I read this interesting article that talks a bit about how our education system isn't set up to educate digital natives; at least, not to a point where we help them achieve their aptitude. Example: now it isn't if students use calculators, but how. That's a pretty big shift in perspective.

Which gets me to wondering: how do I, as a librarian, integrate the idea of the digital native into my work? How to I help children achieve intellectual curiosity and information literacy when their tech-savvy is pretty much always going to outstrip mine? Will the goals of intellectual curiosity and information literacy even stay the same?

It's definitely something I'm going to think about.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another argument in favor of real (not e-) books

The New York Times had an interesting chart available today. It compares, ecologically speaking, the green-ness of e-readers as compared to actual books.

I, and librarians everywhere, will be adding this eco argument to our (long) list of why print books are still relevant and necessary even in our current reading landscape. Read a real book!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

Some friends and I had Easter dinner Saturday evening before the Easter Vigil mass. We had salad, baked ziti, roasted vegetables, and garlic bread, and I made Nigella's Easter Egg Nest Cake for dessert.

Think flour-less chocolate cake topped with chocolate whipped cream and Cadbury Mini Eggs.

Eight years and seven cookbooks in, Nigella has yet to disappoint. Something tells me she's just not going to.

Have a happy, relaxing, and lovely-weathered Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

National Poetry Month

My extremely writing-talented friend posted on her blog today a reminder that April is National Poetry Month. I whole-heartedly concur with her recommendation to read a poem a day this month, any poem at all.

I also encourage trying a great library poetry activity: book spine poems. What wonderful, crazy poems can you come up with using books on your shelf or in your library? I'll try to share a few of my own throughout the month.