Thursday, February 17, 2011

Entertain your idle thumbs today!

Your mission: 

1. Click here. (will open our podcast page in iTunes)
2. Give our podcast a five star rating.
3. Leave a comment.
4. Listen to the next show to hear a shout to you from The Library book club!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The "Real" Culver Creek

I just had to share this video of John's for those of you that do not follow the vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green's YouTube channel. In this video John visits his old high school boarding school, which is the school that Culver Creek (the setting for Looking for Alaska, of course) was very closely patterned after.

This is perhaps my favorite vlogbrothers video. If I could ever put my thoughts into words as elegantly and articulately as John Green does - well, I'd be able to capture a little bit of my understanding of the world and share it with others. Maybe someday.


Controversies regarding Looking for Alaska

Hello Library friends!

On the last episode of The Library Show we discussed Looking for Alaska, by John Green. We touched briefly on the fact that this book is often considered controversial. I wanted to give us some space here to discuss such controvery.

The website frames Looking for Alaska as pornographic, supposedly alerting parents to the dangers within its pages. It counts the number of times inappropriate words are used within the book, not distinguishing any sort of gradient for the level of inappropriateness – so words like “hell” and “fuck” are counted as the same. Thus has calculated that Looking for Alaska has 1.3 inappropriate words per page. (Of course personally, that just makes me proud of this book) The website then goes on to list a few passages from the book – the two sex scenes that it contains. Of course these scenes (just like the inappropriate word list) are given no context at all. Out of context, I can see why these scenes might scare some parents… sex seems to be treated so flippantly.

However! Anyone who has read the book knows that these scenes are quite different from each other – one is decidedly unsexy (that is the whole point) and the other, while being significantly less explicit, is quite a bit sexier. This brings me to my entire point of this post – context matters. All of the pages and words surrounding these passages and the words listed in the inappropriate word list make it so that we can see, and understand, why these elements are in this book. We can see why it is necessary to tell this story with these words – why it matters that Pudge’s friends at Culver Creek drink, smoke and talk about sex all the time. We can see how a book that uses the word sex 28 times, apparently, is not actually about sex at all, but about emotional relationships and coming to grips with love and loss. Without these elements the story, and the wonderful themes that we can draw from it, would not be possible.

With that said, were you surprised at the content of this book? Did it ever make you feel uncomfortable that a “Young Adult” novel would contain characters that drink and smoke and talk about sex? Or rather did you feel as though these things grounded these characters and made them more real for you?

Also, for your viewing pleasure, I feel like it is appropriate to share John Green’s video blog regarding this subject. Personally, I feel he is well spoken and inspiring as ever:

Soooo, what do you think?


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Machine of Death

I wanted to pass along a book recommendation that doesn't really fit well for our book club discussions on the show, but is more than worth your trip to your local library(yay!):

Machine of Death: A collection of stories about people who know how they will die
(sounds morbid, right? It's good. Read on.)
The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. No dates, no details. Just a slip of paper with a few words spelling out your ultimate fate -- at once all-too specific and maddeningly vague.

A top ten Amazon Customer Favorite in Science Fiction & Fantasy for 2010, The Machine of Death is an anthology of original stories bound together by a central premise. From the humorous to the adventurous to the mind-bending to the touching, the writers explore what the world would be like if a blood test could predict your death. description

It's a collection of crowdsourced short stories edited by Ryan North, David Malki, and Matthew Bennardo.

The idea: The guys solicited short stories from people online for four months, they chose the manuscripts they liked from the nearly 700 submissions, paid the writers of the submissions, and put everything together in a book.

Thanks to a clever internet campaign, the book jumped to #1 on Amazon, and beat out Glenn Beck's latest book for the top spot, prompting a wonderfully ill-informed tantrum from the right-wing pundit on his radio show.

If that's not a reason to read it, I don't know what could convince you, really.

I bought the book for my Kindle the other day, and it's been an incredibly fun, and rather refreshing read thus far. If you're reading Episode 3's book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you'll probably need a breather about halfway through... I recommend this for a small palette cleanser.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Library #2: Looking for Alaska

In this episode, we're reading and reviewing Looking for Alaska by John Green, and LA Candy by Lauren Conrad. 

Episode spoiler alert: we loved one book, and felt violated by the other.  Points for any correct guesses as to the titles.

Upcoming books are The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Kardashian Konfidential by um... the Kardashians.  

Call (646) 926-READ and leave us a voicemail with your reactions to Looking for Alaska, some feedback about the this show, or (as always) suggestions for books to read in the future!

Follow us on Twitter for updates! We're @thelibraryshow.

Music Credits: Alex EastThe Twelves, and a very camp version of Carmina Burana