Archive for July, 2009

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Different and interesting to read how a young person of today describes her feelings, life and story of taking on the difficult task of cooking all dishes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child to fill a void in her life. Julie Powell describes herself as “superficial” (true) and demeans her work life as a “temp” and “secretary” clearly telling all she is dissatisfied with her life as it is. Her choice of expletives did ruin the book for me. However, remarkable changes come about as she fulfills a promise she blogged on her computer and takes on making all of Julia Child’s recipes in the year she turns thirty.

The author gives us excerpts from Julia Child’s life in a touching way. One thing is obvious; both Julie and Julia’s husbands are so devoted to their wives. Eric, Julie’s husband, actually cleans up after her. WOW! It’s also nice to read about the happy ending; recognition as an author and cook.

This Duchess of Mine by Eloisa James

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Summer Reading Review by Chrisitne L.

duchess

This Duchess of Mine delivers regency with a medical twist.  The hero has arrhythmia and the book explains how they discovered digitalis which is refined and in use today.

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Shelter me by Juliette Fay

A refreshing, interesting and down-to-earth account of a young widow’s first year after the sudden, accidental death of her husband is detailed in an honest, believable story by the author. The heroine’s family supports her 100%, yet her Mom is ensconced in Italy and replaced by her aunt as chief support and baby-sitter for her five year old son and infant baby girl. I loved stories involving her cousin, Cormac and his girl friend, Barb at their bakery. So enjoyable are the family scenes with descriptions of goodies and emotions.

Tales of her son, Dylan’s emergence from a stunned, silent boy who goggles all the time to an outgoing boy of five with a best friend and great experiences highlighted by his birthday party are most appealing. Her Catholic background and soul to soul emotional tie to the parish priest is enlightening about how the ordinary soul sees mass, communion and the religious. The heroine, Janie, is just your average, middle-class working girl who learns the right balance of love in life.

The gift of a porch from her husband arranged before his death turns out to be structurally superb, and the builder falls in love with Janie. The interaction is so believable and wonderful. I really loved the story and highly recommend it to readers of any age.

Joan Badie

Summer Reading with Sue N.

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Susan N.

Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Long Lost by Harlan Coben

me-emma

Me & Emma was my favorite of the three with Plain Truth a close second.  I would not recommend Long Lost.  It was easy to read, but I kept hoping it would get more interesting.

The Peep Diaries by Hal Niedzviecki

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

“Our societies and communities have changed.  We live in an anonymous society of single-family dwellings, lonely car commutes to work, and tenuous social connections that we have to work harder and harder to maintain. And we are transient-we move from place to place quickly and easily, shedding identities and pasts, endlessly reinventing ourselves.

As a result, we are desperate to be noticed by our friends, families, and authority figures.”

Does The Peep Diaries adequately reflect the current state of social human existence?  Unfortunately, for some oversharing individuals, the answer may be yes.  I think the real difference is where the “desperately striving to be noticed by our friends, families and authority figures” is taking place – online rather than in person.  Teens have always rebelled to seek attention.  The alienating forces of today’s societal structure may extend the need to seek attention to other demographic groups.

 “The Peep Diaries reflects upon the aspirations and confusions of the growing number of people willing to trade the details of their private lives for catharsis, attention, and notoriety.” 

I am a user – a technology tool user. I caved in to patron and peer pressure to join Facebook.  In contrast, I joined Twitter for fun because there weren’t many complexities to the system.  I do not need to “jump on every new technology” unless I see it as having potential to enhance my personal or professional goals.  I see how it would be possible for individuals to get swept up in the groundswell of interaction social media provides.

None of these services have provided the level of personal satisfaction I felt when I received email responses from West Deptford Adult Summer Reading program participants who submitted short reviews with names and titles of books they have read online.  Why?  I have met these people in person.  They are people who are using library services in my library.  They are sharing books I may want to read or share with other library users.  These readers are part of my real world community of library users regardless of whether I connect with them online or in person on a regular basis.

I tend to follow folks on Twitter because I think they can promote change in certain social and professional spheres.  It is only fair to acknowledge I find a light entertainment quality to some of their posts.  Following them energizes my creative flow and reminds me that the potential change is alive and well.  I do not connect any deep relationship development to following folks on Twitter.  Twitter serves as a broadcast medium and fact finder for me at this time.

 The best parties include an element of surprise and the author’s Facebook party is no exception.  I have mixed feelings about this book, however I fully agree with Hal Niedzviecki’s concluding statement, “Peep is good when its feeds that which is uniquely human:  our capacity to care without needing to know why.”

Links of interest:

Los Angeles Times
Privacy Today Slideshow
In some ways, Peep culture is nothing new.

I viewed Hal’s First Video Blog an hour after completing this review and felt a strong urge to rewrite it.  Seeing Hal made me feel concerned about his plight of loneliness.  Now that is interesting!

In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. It sounds so simple; and yet….. I’ve been reading books over the last year or two that deal with eating slowly, eating locally, etc. so this book fit that theme. Michael Pollan’s manifesto is so easy to remember and should be easy to follow. He spends the first two thirds of the book explaining why most of us in the West are no longer eating ‘food’ and the negative impact this has on our health and culture. The final section of the book describes how to overcome this problem and this is where the difficulty lies. Pollan lists a set of sensible rules for each phase of his manifesto. Rule #1: Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. His example for this rule is Go-Gurt Portable Yogurt tubes but there many, many other examples that can be found in the aisles of any supermarket. His final rule: Cook, and if you can, plant a garden. Even this seemingly easy rule is hard to apply if your time and energy are in short supply. If home gardening is not practical, here in the Garden State it should be easy to eat locally grown food from a farmer’s market or CSA (community-supported agriculture) box. However, when you factor in the time and fuel to get this food it can be more of a negative than buying whatever is on hand at your local supermarket year-round. There are stumbling blocks for each of his rules that will require a change in attitude and lifestyle for most of us. I would recommend In Defense of Food to anyone interested in thinking about food in a different light. It is a challenge to all of us to mend our ways.

Platform for happiness?

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

 

Last night, while watching the The Holiday, I noticed something I had not noticed when viewing the film in the theater in 2006. Google plays a pivotal role in the film. Google is the platform for happiness. In the movie Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet play characters let down by the loves of their lives that connect online via Google.

 

They decide to swap residences for an extended vacation, a getaway from the daily grind. Who comes to the rescue? Google – the platform works with a message board network to connect the two characters. Connecting is what Google does best. The Google connection eventually spells happiness for the two female leads and most of the cast.  The music is also wonderful.

 

 

This example aligns itself with Jeff Jarvis’ insights in What Would Google Do.

Googlethink perceives the power of enterprise to be found in the ability of the venture to serve as a platform for users. The book is a worthwhile read for anyone who desires to move forward in the online realm.

Passages for reflection on this Sunday morning:

At Google we are God and data is our Bible.  p. 87

Where does free will fit into the religious studies?

You need to encourage employees to suggest new ideas.  p.111

This focus holds promise for the future of libraries.

Get out of the way.  p.116

Yes, however lonely libraries are not fun online or in person.

Books are holy.  p.137

I cannot imagine a librarian who would argue the point.

The network is becoming more efficient than the corporation.  p.151

 

Scalability and tech development fuel the engine.

Jeff Jarvis makes a good case for startups and established organizations to strive to be more Googly. Google currently sets the pervasive standard and the standard is high.

I hold strong in my conviction that is was easier to create Google before Google was created. New platforms spring up daily creating new ways to manage and market information.

I find it interesting to see how freely the author showers Google with anthropomorphic qualities. Consider the ten things Google has found to be true.

Google is made up of a vast number of very talented individuals who develop as a team. Libraries will grow by implementing forward thinking team strategies.

What Would Google Do?

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

My first inclination is to hate this book.  Jeff Jarvis targets many opportunities for change. 
Google think means hard work for many professions including librarianship.

 Back in 2007, while attending my first national library conference, I stood in awe surveying the vast exhibit area of the conference center.  I was quickly drawn to the Google display at the far side of the conference hall.   Brightly lit color monitors, positioned to accommodate standing data input, were fully occupied by individuals who were furiously typing data into the myriad of identical workstations.

A stylish, yet beautifully understated, young woman approached me.  “Would you like to try Google Search?”  At the time the scenario reminded me of something from a Star Trek movie where “Resistance is futile.” 

I responded, “What I really would like is for Google to display a nice banner add on their homepage to validate the important role libraries play in the information game.”

Emotion drained from the Google saleswoman’s beautiful face. There was no immediate hit for this Google search. 

“Ummm, well, see Google doesn’t advertise.” 

I recall thinking over and over again, “Is she kidding?” 
This encounter has resurfaced in my psyche many times. 

I strongly believe everyone can learn something from my response to this encounter.  Since that day, I struggle to trust Google.  Google does great things; however that specific saleswoman’s chance response affects my comfort level while accessing Google Docs, to this day.

Google, please don’t spam me now.  Consider building my trust again. 
The American Library Association is presently holding its annual conference in Chicago, Illinois.

It would be so much fun to see the Google home page logo validate the important role libraries play in the information game for one day of the conference.  I suggest Google staffers support the hard work ahead.  Be visible cheerleaders for libraries! 

Consider adding a little library panache to that Google logo for a day or two during the ALA 2009 Annual Conference!

I will finish up my thoughts on Jeff Jarvis’ book tonight. 

In the mean time, I will wait and wonder “What Will Google Do?”

Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

public-enemies-bryan-burrough-book-214x300

 “They stayed in Chicago just long enough to visit a divorce attorney; as soon as Billie could end her marriage she and Dillinger planned to wed.  Afterward they drove south to St. Louis, where Dillinger wanted to visit a large auto show.  There they bought a new V- 8 Ford, checked into a downtown hotel, and spent an evening dancing in its roof garden.  Then they struck out west on Route 66, looking forward to a vacation in the Arizona sunshine.”
 
This passage could be pulled from any romance novel on the WDFPL library shelves.

Public Enemies is a book full of a large cast of characters from the infamous John Dillinger, and legendary Bonnie and Clyde Barrow, to “Machine Gun Kelly,” the most hen-pecked husband.   Raids, shootouts, hideaways and investigations fill the pages of Bryan Burrough’s work.  I like the author’s History Channel delivery of a complex fact-filled overview of the crime wave of the early 1930’s.  The volume includes enough detail to push readers back in time.  The descriptive passages on wild nature of the criminal minds and haphazard planning styles of many criminal characters develop in sharp contrast to the organized pursuit of J. Edgar Hoover’s G-men, or do they?
  
“None of the FBI agents and the St. Paul police who descended on the neighborhood had any idea who was doing the shooting.  One agent telephone Washington to say the suspects didn’t match the descriptions of anyone in the Barker Gang.  Not until two hours later, when agents finally stormed Apartment 303, did the FBI realize who it had found.  Inside, amid an arsenal of pistols and submachine guns and drawerfuls of men’s suits and ladies undergarments, they found three photos.  One showed a baby boy, the other a teenager.  The third was a Navy sailor with a crewcut and a familiar crooked grin.  It was Dillinger.  Fingerprints taken from a Listerine bottle confirmed it.  And from the drops of blood agents found in the hallway outside, they guessed he had been hit.”

Criminals of the 1930’s caused fear and needless death and destruction without the use of high end technology, though the automatic weapons substantially increases the criminal bravado in the minds of many of the main characters.  Public Enemies enlightens readers on the impact media had on events of the time.  “In its May 7 issue, Time portrayed it as a board game set in a Midwestern “Dillinger Land”; GAME STARTS HERE, read the notation about Crown Point.  The Time spread went out of its way to categorize Dillinger as an all-American anti-hero.”
 
Be forewarned, Public Enemies is 592 pages long, though the pages include very cool maps, great photos, a well-written epilogue, notes, selected bibliography and, my personal favorite, the acknowledgements.   In the acknowledgements,  readers will find the usual kudos to all those who made the work possible along with the list of libraries from New Jersey to  Wisconsin, from Texas to Illinois along with many historical associations across the country that collectively held the key to much of the historical content of the book.
  
I highly recommend the book and also will drop a few words in the comments section of this blog after I see the movie.  It is interesting to think about how this crime wave would play out with today’s infusion of tech tools at the fingertips of both sides.  I hope the disconnection from today’s technology does not affect popularity of the book or the movie.  The time frame and actions of the 1930’s may not create the same adrenaline rush as a scene from Transformers, The Revenge of the Fallen, on movie theaters touting large screens and digital sound systems.   On the upside, Public Enemies does star Johnny Depp and a large cast of very talented artists who are committed to bring documented history to life. 
 
If you get a chance to read the book or see the movie, stop in the library or post your opinion on the work.  If your only comment is something like “I don’t read much, but I love Johnny Depp.”  That’s just fine.