2018 Reading List: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Every day, I look into the big endless depths of my dog’s eyes and I wonder what she’s thinking. I imagine that she’s grateful to have a warm, loving home. I imagine that my parents’ dog is her best friend. I imagine that she gets annoyed when we’re late coming home from work. She can’t articulate these things, but I write the story of her thoughts in my own mind, anthropomorphizing her.

I love books that do the same, in the same, realistic way that I would write it myself.

To be honest, I picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, at the library because I thought it was a book about greyhounds (which should be written, by the way). Instead, the “racing” was referring to car racing. But the book itself was still written from the perspective of the family dog. And it was perfect. Continue reading

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2018 Reading List: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay

I went to the library to get the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I wanted to get into the Christmas spirit, to remember gratitude and appreciation, and to relive childhood memories of decorating the tree with this black and white film playing in the background.

I found the movie, but I also ended up checking out this book, titled Not That Bad: Dispatches for Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay.

Perhaps I was compelled to pick it up since I’d just done a self-defense workshop a few days before. Perhaps I’ve been feeling frustrated with reports of sexism and sexual abuse that seem to permeate the news. Whatever the reason, I opened this book, which was featured prominently on a stand near the library entrance, and I read the first few pages.

I wasn’t sure how to write this “book review” or if I should even write it at all. I was worried about whether my opinions would come across too strongly for this smattering of book review readers I have here. I was worried that the word “rape” might scare people off or worse, instigate a fight, a defense, a discussion.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that that’s exactly what we need, to change this rape culture. We cannot be afraid of the word “rape.” We can’t be afraid to talk about it, or voice our opinions. I hope we all have the same opinions. That rape is wrong, that no means no, that silence means no, that drunk girls aren’t asking for it.

I wrote a little essay of sorts in my journal after I finished this book, so I’ll write it for you here. Because whatever my thoughts are, those might be the thoughts of someone else too. And they just might be the thoughts that someone needs to hear. Continue reading

2017 Reading List: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This next title on my list of books is part of our office book club. This is the book we chose after none of us could get through “The Invention of Nature.” Quite the contrast.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini, is a young adult work of fiction. It was made into a movie in 2010, a movie which I have not seen.

When I first read the plot summary of this book and some reactions about it, I was under the impression that it was, actually, going to be a funny story. I thought there would be some dark humor, some funny quips, some comedic relief. Maybe some people saw it, but I didn’t. I just found it to be a somewhat sad story of a boy with depression.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

We started a book club at my office. There are about 10 avid readers who are excited to read something new, get together during lunch, and talk about books. So this next book on my Reading List is not something I would have picked out on my own. Our first BarkleyREI Book Club book was American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

You may have heard of this book because of the TV show on Starz. But I hadn’t.

I was a bit dubious when I heard that this would be our first book. Our group has some diverse tastes and everyone likes a wide range of subjects and styles. I looked up the synopsis of the book and I could barely follow it. It seemed complicated and weird.

But wouldn’t you know it, it must be the most popular book in the country right now, because I had to put my name on a hold list for a digital copy from the library. There were 25 digital copies available and every single one was checked out. And I was 90th in line. I ended up getting a hold at the “real” library. Every book in the whole county was checked out. But at least I was next in line. Continue reading

Discovering the Digital Library

librarymagic

When I was younger, the library was a place full of magic. The endless rows of books held so many stories and tales and lives and characters that I couldn’t consume fast enough. The warm quiet of the building was a welcome respite from the chaos of a large family. I could wander through the stacks for hours, skimming titles and reading covers. I gathered books in my arms to check out while I perused, until I had so many that my muscles shook and books were tumbling off the pile.

I would check out five or six books at a time, piling them next to my bed. When I was younger, all I needed was a book and cozy nook to curl up for hours, lost in a whole new world.

I loved the smell of old library books. I loved the way the pages were a little yellow and the plastic cover crinkled when you opened it up. I loved the books with water-warped pages because I could imagine the reader sitting on the beach, not realizing how close the waves had crept up until they were upon her. I especially loved the books with a comment card paper-clipped to the back cover, where previous readers wrote their thoughts and noted their surprise or sadness or anguish over characters. I would sometimes choose a book based on these comments alone. I felt like I had a connection with the other anonymous readers – like we were, in some small way, the same, because we had both shared this book’s great adventure.

Then technology came and changed it all.

Continue reading