January 27, 2013

Winter Reads 2013...We want hoverboards!

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Ah, Science Fiction, second only to my love of Fantasy.  Because I'm a nerd, and that's what nerds love... unreality.  Why do we love stories about times and places that don't exist?  Is it due to escapism?  We love reading about places that aren't our own to escape the dull, mundane life that we have here?  But how can we call this life dull?  We have cell phones that travel to space and tell us the weather, what the Kardashians are doing, what band is playing near us, how the traffic is, tell us what our family and friends are eating, etc.  We travel by air, by train, by hot air balloon.  We fight wars with drones!  We have cured diseases. We can talk to our friends from Abu Daubi face to face.  We have cars that run on solar power and vegetable oil.  We have 3D TV.  And we have Ikea.  This is all Science Fiction.  Things from stories I've read.  So why do we want more?  Cause it's awesome.  We are dreamers, and love good stories that explore the unknown and the possible.  That's why we love Science Fiction, because it could be, and already has been, and we want hoverboards.

So this is the story of Pia, unknowingly trapped in a prison to protect her.  For she is the first human in a long line of experiments who is immortal.  She can't die, her skin can't be pierced, she is wicked smart and fast, and has amazing endurance.  Oh, and of course she is beautiful...perfect.  Yet, when one night she escapes the world she has always known she finds immortality comes at a great cost.  This book has it's weak spots, but it is full of beautiful moments, and some pretty suspenseful moments too.  It is definitely a YA book, and I do wish it could have been a bit more sophisticated at times.  The ending was predictable, but good.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Live, long, and prosper.

January 19, 2013

Ukulele Lady says "Books are NOT dead"

I'm typing this with my ukulele next to me contemplating the question I get constantly..."Are books going to go away?"  I guess it's because I'm a librarian, but I get this question a lot.  By students, parents, coworkers, friends, etc.  In some ways I'm flattered, it means I'm an expert on something other than witty comebacks and ninja stars. In other ways it terrifies me that I live in an age that this question is on everyone's mind.  Because this question comes up so often I think about it constantly.  Much of that has to do with job security.  No books=no job.  Or does it?

Will books go away because of the invention of ereaders and tablets?
My short answer is yes.  In 20-30 years a majority of physical books will go away.  We will all have tablets to read from.  Been in Barnes and Nobles lately?  It's a Nook factory.  Think about cell phones...no one had one 5 years ago.  Now EVERYONE has one.  Almost everyone has a smart phone.  Because they are cheap, easy to use, and the world is developing apps to use your smartphone in new/progressive ways everyday.  This will happen with ereaders.  Especially in schools.  E-versions of textbooks are a heck of a lot cheaper than physical text books.  Also, along with reference materials (i.e.-encyclopedias) online versions can be updated quickly and cheaply.  Schools are always looking to cut costs.  Textbooks for one subject for one year for a typical school cost about $45,000.  That is a lot of hot dogs people.  And these textbooks are out of date as soon as you buy them.  E-versions will be much cheaper, and interactive.  So for non-fiction ebooks will take over.  Especially when ebook readers are now as cheap as $60!!!  And so many books are available for free or much less than a physical book.
However, not all books we read will be ebooks.  I really feel physical books are part of our culture.  Fiction and children's books will be enjoyed with physical books for decades to come.  I can't imagine books not here.  Even with technology improving our communication and the accessibility of information nothing has improved the book.  It is still the best way to read.
Will books go away because of competition from non-reading activities.
There are so many things to do besides read.  Have you watched television?!  It's awesome.  And movies are getting better and better.  Plus video games...um Skyrim completes me.  But will this take over reading?  Many say yes.  I say NO!  I posted awhile ago about the PEW research about reading today and it is not going anywhere.  If anything reading is at an all time high, especially with young adult readers.  There is so much more out there to read, more accessible, new genres, more exciting, and more venues are promoting reading.

You need to realize that reading is part of American culture.  Our First Amendment right is freedom of speech. This includes the written word.  It has always been important that we express ourselves through words.  It's who we are.  We have been reading and writing since we got off the boat, and we always will.  Physical books are also a part of our culture. I once worked with a custodian who was from Mexico.  Before he left to go back he made me promise I would eventually go to Mexico and help him get his family/people to read for fun.  According to him, they don't, even his sister who is a principal doesn't read for fun.  There is not a culture of reading, like there is here.

And as for job security, you still need someone to suggest a book, to help you find what you need, and to help you wade through the fields of information.  That's right, your friendly neighborhood librarian!
Visit one today!

January 15, 2013

The Best Book of 2012 or why this author owes my family an apology.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
 That's right, a YA book is the best book of 2012...and why not.  It is simple, beautiful, has unforgettable characters, and will leave your heart gaping open.  I couldn't put this down.  Yes, John Green you are the reason my children and husband were neglected for a time.  One of the coolest things about this book is one of my favorite students EVER suggested it to me.  I love that.  Once again proving that kids today are amazing.  I think we liked this book about a terminally ill girl not because it was gut wrenchingly sad (which at times it was) but because it was gut wrenchingly beautiful and full of dreams and friendship and hope and love.  

Why all the hype.  Why is it TIME's #1 Fiction book of 2012, listed by Entertainment Weekly as a MUST Read, Amazon's Best book of January 2012, and a starred review from Booklist?  Well, simply put it's about Hazel.  A girl with cancer that will not get better.  She is in a slight remission due to a miracle drug.  She is depressed because she is going to die.  So her mom makes her go to a cancer support group with other kids.  There she meets Augustus.  A boy with a story and a smile.  From there it's just...magic.

 See, the summary doesn't do it justice.  It doesn't.  I've had meals that sound more interesting than this.  But the bottom line is, read it.  It rivals my love of The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian, that says a lot.

Next time...Origin by Jessica Khoury...