Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I went to the American Library Association's Annual conference last week, and surely did have myself a blast. I've always been psyched about my choice of life's work, but I'm even more so after the conference. I know there are plenty of burnouts (I knew one, and it was a sad thing), but being around all these people who love what they do shows me that if you can tough out the rocky parts, the rewards are numerous.

In honor of the fun I had, here is a quick ALA 3BT in the tradition of Clare of Tunbridge Wells. Go see the original.

1. Librarians a couple of years away from retirement who were still genuinely and passionately interested in issues like censorship, emergent literacy, bilingualism, attracting kids to the library, and all sorts of other stuff. Show me where that happens in the business world. Yuh-huh. I thought so.

2. Eating lunch with Debbie of Akron, Ohio, who just got a shiny new young-adult librarian and doesn't know what to do with her, so she picked my brain, apparently on the assumption that being as close to young-adultness as I am, I'd have some idea. Also, on the strength of an hour's acquaintance, she gave me her card and said, "Contact me if you ever feel like working in Columbus (her old library system, and apparently a crackin' good one) and I'll get you connectd." Wowzers.

3. Walking into the expo center with a purse and walking out with two bags that bulged with posters, books, candy, pens, pencils, notepads, business cards . . . ALL FREE. Yeah, buddy, you heard it here, FREE BOOKS. Snazzy-cool advance reader copies, because if you get a regular person hooked on you, you've sold a few books max, but if you get a librarian hooked on you, they'll be pimpin' 'til the cows come home because we want the world to read.

I also met up with Beth, of Beth's Blog a.k.a. Sum of Me fame, and we went to see the Taste of Chicago, which is a big fest with all sorts of food from all over the city, from deep-dish pizza to hyper-spicified Indian food. If you're in Chi-town around this time of year and you don't go . . . well, you're just silly, that's all. We had some adventures, recounted here, but all in all it was a good time, and I wish I'd been able to shoehorn some more hangin' out time into my weekend. We got to talking about censorship, and stupid book-banning reasons, and I thought, "I need to do a blog entry about that!" But I won't just yet, because I still need to research. Just know it's coming up.

Also coming up: more recs! I promise! Besides another book about knights 'n' stuff, there's a movie and a TV series that I think everyone should be watching. Having tantalized you, I shall now sign off. Muaha.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

C'est moi! And that's about all the French I know, but that's okay, because this post's book comes from the U.K.

Book: Doing It
Author: Melvin Burgess
Published: 2004 (in the U.S.)

No, this is not a heartwarming history of the Nike Corporation. And don't we all thank God for that.

Meet Jon, Ben, and Dino. They are teenage boys, which means they have exactly one thing on their mind. But how . . . how . . . how to get it? Dino goes after Jackie, the most popular girl in school who unfortunately will do everything but it. Jon attempts to deny his attraction to his friend Deborah, for the basic reason that she's rather plump. And Ben's actually getting plenty . . . from a teacher. All together now . . . euwwwwwwwww.

As each boy sinks himself deeper in his own personal quicksand, they learn that there's a lot more to doing it than just . . . well . . . doing it.

This book has gotten a lot of negative press for its provocative title, graphic scenes, and what some people feel is an unsympathetic and one-dimensional portrayal of the teenage girls. My answer to one and two: Burgess is not attempting to titillate. Both stem from honesty. As for three, I was actually surprised at how that honesty extended to his female characters, even though he focuses mainly on the development of the blokes. This isn't a story just about sex, but about how sex (and dealing with its peripheries) affects teens and adults.

All the way from Ben's twisted and tangled relationship with Miss Young, to Dino's shooting himself in the foot, and Jon's desperate concern over Mr. Knobby Knobster (take three guesses), Burgess reveals a range of comedy and drama as well as a genuine understanding of, and compassion for, the sheer thorniness of emerging sexuality and oncoming adulthood. If you're not going through that process right now, take a moment and remember it before you pick up this book. Yes, the story is frankly X-rated, but wasn't high school?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

This post has very little to do with books either. Well . . . peripherally. (And now I'm looking at that wondering if it's spelt right.)

This is an idea I got from Beth's blog, to list your various links and why you linked them. Considering how new my links are, and how dreadfully random they are, as a group, I thought it would be a good thing to do.

My website - Like it says, shameless pimping. I just want more traffic. It's my webspace for the many fandoms for which I write fanfiction. Want to know which ones? Guess you'll just have to visit. See that there? That was sneaky, wasn't it?

The Feel-Good Librarian - As many of you may (or may not) know, I'm studying to be one of these. A librarian, that is. And this is the blog of a public librarian who loves to share stories of the reference desk. Some of them are hilarious, some are brain-boggling, and some are touching, but all are worth reading.

Three Beautiful Things - This blogger has taken it upon herself to note three things each day that give her pleasure, and to share them with the world, or at least that portion of it that visits her blog. Which you should do.

The Vampire Librarian - The blog of an academic librarian who works the graveyard shift at a big university, and consequently gets all the . . . errrr . . . interesting people.

The Laughing Librarian - Again with the librarian blogs. What can I say? I'm single-minded. Just library humor to give you a giggle.

Fetu's Lantern - My pal Andi's brand-new blog, in which she writes about writing. And Phantom of the Opera. But more about writing.

Sum of Me - Beth's blog about . . . stuff. Beth stuff. Another writing pal.

Romancing the Blog - A blog all about writing and reading within the romance genre.

Teenreads.com - A site that spotlights some of the best stuff around for teens these days. And there's a lot of good stuff. Bear in mind, folks, that you do not need to be currently undergoing puberty to enjoy YA fiction. You just need to remember it, even a little.

So now that you've seen what I like, do you all out there in blogland have any suggestions for me? I welcome them. The comments section works and everything.

Yes, that was shameless pimping again.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I did promise you knights 'n' stuff, didn't I?

Book: Pagan's Crusade
Author: Catherine Jinks
Published: 2003

The time: 1187. The place: Jerusalem. The events: the Crusades. Here comes Lord Roland Roucy de Bram, the dashing Knight Templar, one of the glorious and heroic guardians of the holy places and the pilgrims that come to see them . . . and here comes Lord Roland's squire, muttering and swearing and generally snarking on everything in sight. Meet Pagan Kidrouk, the most unlikely Monk of War since, well, ever.

From the moment I met sixteen-year-old Pagan, with his irreverence and determined cynicism, I had to keep reading. Note this exchange, early on when Pagan is signing up for the Knights Templar. "Birthplace." "Bethlehem. . . . Don't worry. It wasn't in a stable." Hehehe! And yet Pagan's not rock-hard, either. Even as he decries the unbelievable stupidity of what he's doing, he finds himself bonding with Lord Roland, who really is as good as he seems, and learning that there are some things worth laying down your life for. Just not the ones everyone says.

Like Pagan, the book itself is a strange blend of hilarity and seriousness, with Pagan's opinions on greedy pilgrims trying to make a buck off each other juxtaposed with graphic descriptions of siege warfare. Catherine Jinks is reportedly a medieval scholar, which I believe, because this is not a sweet and fuzzy, noble and heroic portrait of the times. It's gutsy, gritty, bloody, and confusing, with people who complain, steal, lie . . . actually, it feels a lot like today, except without indoor plumbing.

Jinks utilizes something close to a stream of consciousness technique, with first-person present tense, so it feels as if you're actually sitting in Pagan's head, listening to his thoughts. It may bother some hardcore nitpickers that Pagan and his companions have such modern sensibilities and speech, but for me, it made it more immediate and real.

Pagan stars in two more books, Pagan's Exile and Pagan's Vows, and appears in one more, Pagan's Scribe. Go out and find them!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Okay, this isn't a proper booky post either. I have a literal backlog of good books, but for some reason haven't sat down to blog them.

Most of the reason is right here--my personal website. I've had a site dedicated to my fan writings on Angelfire for, oh, eons nows. It was only about half-built, and usually updated whenever I visited and went, "Geez, this is old!" Anyway, a few days ago, I decided that I was going to buy myself some webspace and not subject my readers to Angelfire's addy evilness anymore.

This I did. And this is also the reason why I've had time to read, but not to blog. Because, frankly folks, I would rather read than blog. I really truly would. There are just those times when I come across a book that turns me into a bibliovangelist for a short period of time, and that's when I post for you all.

Also check out my new fave links on the side there. My success with HTML on my own site went right to my head, and I got wacky with the HTML from Blogger.

Coming soon: Lots o' teen and kids' books, featuring knights 'n' stuff. I promise. Honest.