More From DBRL...
My librarian pal Hilary and I just had the pleasure of presenting to groups of area teachers, letting them know all about the free online learning tools for the kids they teach, as well as for their own professional development. The boatload of incredible information available to you if you have a library card and Internet access is pretty amazing. Here is just a handful of the online tools you should be using.
Education and Elearning tools from Lynda.com
Want to take a course in deploying 1:1 iPads in the classroom? How about project-based learning or flipped classrooms? Need to get up to speed on a certain software, like Blackboard, Excel, Keynote or PowerPoint? These and so, so many more courses are available from Lynda.com. Your students can take courses, too, on topics like basic code-writing skills, time management, information literacy and research paper writing.
Test preparation with LearningExpress Library
SAT, ACT, TOEFL, AP Exams, GRE, HiSET – prepare for these tests and more with up-to-date courses and practice tests. LearningExpress has career help as well, with prep for occupational exams (Praxis, Civil Service, EMT Certification) and skills building courses (business writing, popular Microsoft software).
Language learning and ESL help from Transparent Language Online
Transparent Language Online provides an effective experience for learners of all levels looking to build their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in a foreign language. This learning program provides courses and supplemental resources for over 95 languages, including English as a Second Language (ESL) materials for native speakers of 26 languages.
“Maine” is a story about three women, all related, who find themselves in different situations in their life but sharing their family vacation home in Maine. The women look back at events in their lives, how they’ve reacted to situations and built or destroyed relationships and what shaped them into the people they have become (or could have become if it weren’t for the structure and history of their family). This is a great summer read; the chapters are all built around the three main characters and move along at a quick pace. It’s a bit bittersweet, though, and not just because of the characters’ lives unraveling. It makes you realize that summer vacations come to an end, and we have to return to our lives.
Two words that describe this book: poignant, bittersweet, fun
You might want to pick this book up if: You’ve ever taken a family vacation or even thought about it.
Your story doesn’t end on this day, but Summer Reading does. August 15 is the final day for participants of all ages to claim rewards and enter into the final drawings for Summer Reading incentives.
Those who have completed the Teen Summer Reading Challenge can claim their free book at any of our three libraries or bookmobile stops. Finishers’ names will also be entered into a drawing for a Kindle E-reader (black and white) and other surprises!
If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment, email us at email@example.com or call (573) 443-3161. It has been a pleasure for our staff to work with the over 300 teens who participated in this year’s program!
Originally published at Summer Reading Ends August 15.
As the summer heats up, many of us find that a great way to cool off is to head to the water. The swimming beach at Stephens Lake Park is a favorite place for my family to spend the afternoon, and we also enjoy canoeing at Finger Lakes State Park. In a figurative sense, one can cool off by reading great books about traveling on water, and the library has many that fit the bill. Let’s take a look at a few new and classic titles.
In the spring of 1834, Richard Henry Dana Jr. was a young man recently dropped out of Harvard University because of poor health and looking for something to do while recuperating from his illness. He signed on with the Pilgrim, a ship that launched from Boston. Dana recounted his experience in arguably the greatest work of maritime nonfiction, “Two Years Before the Mast.” The Pilgrim spent a great deal of time on the coast of colonial California, and Dana’s writing about these explorations is one of our best documents of the very early settlement period there. Dana also examines at length the injustices imparted upon common sailors. “The captain, in the first place, is lord paramount. He stands no watch, comes and goes as he pleases, and is accountable to no one,” writes Dana.
Dana was also obsessed, as were most sailors on these multi-year voyages, with the offerings of food and drink. “Food at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine From Ancient to Modern Times” by Simon Spalding is a detailed look at the history of food found on ocean-going vessels. On a ship like the Pilgrim, the fare was described in the following way by a common sailor: “the mush is never cooked, the beans are awful, and the Cape Cod turkey, or in plain English, the codfish, is the meanest mess of all.”
Dozens of books have been written about Ernest Shackleton and his expeditions to the Antarctic, but two stand out in the crowd for their uniqueness. The first is the graphic novel “Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey” by Nick Bertozzi. Historically accurate and concise, grabbing from Shackleton’s and other expedition members’ diaries, this thin volume will delight readers young and old. “Shackleton’s Boat Journey” authored by Frank Worsley, the captain of the Endurance, is also of note. In order to save his crew, Shackleton made a harrowing journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island. Shackleton’s eight men almost miraculously made it across this stretch of the Southern Ocean in a 12-foot boat, mainly due to Worsley’s uncanny skill at navigating by dead reckoning. This ocean journey is an accomplishment with few modern corollaries and was indeed performed near the apex of Antarctic winter. As Edmund Hillary wrote in the introduction: “It only confirmed the view of his friends that Shackleton was ‘the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth, bar none.’”
On a more local level, for a look at the historic navigation of the Missouri River, I suggest “Wild River, Wooden Boats” by Michael Gillespie. Gillespie says: “The untamed Missouri was as close to a living thing as a river could get.” In the chapter “Sudden Death” Gillespie catalogs a whole range of terrible ways that human beings could perish on steamships: “The steamer Big Hatchie blew her boilers at Hermann, Missouri on July 25, 1845. Thirty-five unidentified victims are buried in the cemetery there.”
Modern day Missouri has an incredible network of smaller rivers and creeks perfect for boating. “A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri” offers lots of information about these waterways. This handy guidebook was created by the Missouri Department of Conservation, and it includes a full listing of navigable rivers and streams in the state. It even has mile markers, maps and difficulty ratings for each section of the river run. Happy paddling this summer!
After the breakup of her engagement, Sarah Booth Delaney embarks on another case. This time she is investigating threats against a local blues club. The story takes many twists and turns, and Sarah Booth’s friends – Tinkie, Cece and Coleman – are instrumental in solving the case.
I love the Sarah Booth Delaney series because there is always a good mystery that keeps me guessing, but also because of the characters. The relationships between the characters are really what keep me coming back to see where they will go next. Especially Jitty, the ghost that does her fair share of complicating life for Sarah Booth, as well as providing some comic relief.
Three words that describe this book: mystery, Southern, adventure
You might want to pick this book up if: I found this series by looking for something similar to the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series. While this one is similar in that the characters that become private investigators weren’t actually trained for that profession and they also get themselves in a fair amount of trouble, the series itself is a bit more serious than the Janet Evanovich books. Other similarities are strong female characters, the relationship development among the characters and the mystery aspect.
Sports are big business. The athletes are treated as commodities, and they are salesmen. They aren’t just coached on how to play their sport, but also on how to speak to the press. (It’s in cliches and non-answer answers. Really riveting stuff.) Sometimes it seems the true measure of an athlete’s accomplishments isn’t how many rings they win but the number of sponsorships they get.
Beneath this veneer of brand-spokesman blandness, corporate PR and the talking hairdos on 24-hour sports networks, something weird is still going on. The rules are arbitrary, the feats of physical accomplishments are freakish, and this slick business culture is built on a simple obsession over games. Yes, the fans can get obsessive, but the athletes themselves? They need an intervention. Ridiculous salaries for a few can make us forget how many people there are still playing their sport for very little. How many players in the Minor Leagues are sharing small apartments with teammates compared to Major League players with shoe contracts? Or Olympic athletes training early in the morning before work? It gets under their skin, and they have to play the game. Weird.
“The League of Outsider Baseball” captures some of that obsessive weirdness. Author and Illustrator Gary Cieradkowski has put together a collection of beautifully illustrated profiles of baseball players. Some are household names, like Babe Ruth, but most are lesser known or forgotten players, like the ones you meet in the chapter, “The Could-Have-Beens.” Some of these players could have been household names too, but dumb luck or bad life choices derailed their promising careers. Take Pistol Pete Reiser, whose combination of physical skill and unbridled enthusiasm for the game gave him a penchant for playing through serious injuries and running into outfield walls. Once he was knocked unconscious so long a priest performed last rights. The chapter, “The Oddballs” is populated with unlikely contributions to baseball history from a one-armed pitcher, a hunchbacked orphan, one team composed entirely of brothers and another from an apocalyptic sect. This is the scruffy underbelly of baseball, and it’s fascinating reading.
This project started for Cieradkowski as a way of coping with the loss of his father. Swapping stories of obscure baseball players several times a week was one way they stayed connected. When his father died unexpectedly, Cieradkowski realized he didn’t have anyone to share this obsession with. He started a blog, The Infinite Baseball Card Set, to honor that relationship with his father and share his passion for these forgotten players with the rest of the world. Reading “The League of Outsider Baseball” is akin to a friend sharing their prized collection of baseball cards with you.
A few more books that give you a tour of baseball’s scruffy underbelly (The titles say it all):
“Outsider Baseball. The Weird World of Hardball on the Fringe, 1876-1950,” by, Scott Simkus.
Wii U Family Game Night
Thursday, August 6 • 6:00 p.m.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 2015″ or a gold cup winner in “Mario Kart 8.” Snacks provided. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome.
Originally published at Wii U Family Game Night in Ashland.
If you have not registered for the library’s Adult Summer Reading program, you can still do so online or by visiting any of our locations. Once you sign up, you are automatically entered in the prize drawings. Also, don’t forget to submit book reviews to increase your odds of winning. There are three drawings left this summer, so keep reading and sharing your reviews with us!
The August LibraryReads list – the top 10 titles publishing next month that librarians across the country recommend – includes plenty of novels for summer’s last hurrah. (And for you true bibliophiles out there, columnist Michael Dirda delivers “Browsings,” a charming collection of essays about reading, genre fiction, book stores, famous pets in fiction and even library book sales!)
“Best Boy” by Eli Gottlieb
“What happens when someone on the autism spectrum grows up, and they aren’t a cute little boy anymore? Gottlieb’s novel follows the story of Todd Aaron, a man in his fifties who has spent most of his life a resident of the Payton Living Center. Todd begins to wonder what lies beyond the gates of his institution. A funny and deeply affecting work.” – Elizabeth Olesh, Baldwin Public Library, Baldwin, NY
“The Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny
“Louise Penny set the bar high with her last two books, but she had no trouble clearing it with this one. All our old friends are back in Three Pines where a young boy with a compulsion to tell tall tales tells one true story with disastrous results. But which story is the truth and why is it so threatening? Exquisitely suspenseful, emotionally wrenching and thoroughly satisfying.” – Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
“A Window Opens” by Elisabeth Egan
“Alice Pearce has a pretty great life. She has a loving family and works part-time as an editor for a magazine. When her family’s financial situation takes a drastic turn, Alice finds that she needs to step up to the plate and contribute more, and she finds this comes at a cost. I think many women will see themselves in Alice’s character. I recommend this book to moms who need a little time to themselves; they might realize that maybe things aren’t so bad for them after all.” – Rosanna Johnson, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ
And here is the rest of the list for your holds-placing pleasure! Be one of the first people in line for these anticipated titles.
- “The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman
- “Everybody Rise” by Stephanie Clifford
- “The Fall of Princes” by Robert Goolrick
- “In a Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware
- “Black Eyed Susans” by Julia Heaberlin
- “Lord of the Wings: A Meg Langslow Mystery” by Donna Andrews
- “Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books” by Michael Dirda
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
With the end of summer fast approaching, I wanted to share all the ways the library helps you stay connected to the books and services you love most. All you need is an internet connection, an email address and a library card.
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/YourDBRL.
Download an eBook or audiobook through Overdrive.
Whether you enjoy reading on your iPad or Kindle, or listening on your smartphone, this service provides you with free titles to download at anytime. View a list of devices compatible with this service, or download the iOS or Android app.
Watch movies or stream music through Hoopla.
Through our newest online service, you can watch movies and TV shows, or listen to music and audiobooks with your computer or mobile device for free. Download the Hoopla app for iOS, Android or Kindle Fire HDX to begin enjoying thousands of titles from major ﬁlm studios, recording companies and publishers.
Borrow digital magazines for free through Zinio.
With your library card, you can access over 100 free digital magazines on your computer, tablet or smartphone such as Seventeen, ESPN, Girl’s Life, Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, Popular Science, US Weekly and many more. Get the app for your iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Blackberry, Nook HD or Windows 8 mobile device.
Subscribe to our teen book eNewsletter.
Get a monthly email newsletter focusing on the most popular new releases in young adult fiction.
Join an online book club.
Each weekday you will receive successive five-minute selections from the beginning of a current teen book. By the end of the week, you’ll have read 2-3 chapters.
Register for our monthly teen program update.
Receive an email each month with a listing of our upcoming programs like writing workshops, book giveaways, art contests and teen gaming nights.
Sign up for DBRLTeen’s blog updates.
Get library program reminders, contest announcements, as well as book reviews and recommendations delivered directly to your inbox.
Originally published at Stay Connected @ Your Library.
“The Ingenious Mr. Pyke” is a biography of the brilliant and eccentric Englishman Geoffrey Pyke. He applied his intellect to the problems of the first half of the 20th century, especially the conflicts that erupted across Europe and the world over and over again during those years. The author organizes the material so that readers understand how Pyke framed questions and searched for answers. This is the story of a hero, in keeping with the theme of this summer’s reading program, and the book even includes a few “Superman” panels, yet Geoffrey Pyke was not a superhero but a complicated man living in difficult times.
Three words that describe this book: thought-provoking, interesting, well-written
You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in creativity, history, political theory, narrative non-fiction and accounts of adventure and travel. I think that anyone who found the film “The Imitation Game” engrossing would also appreciate the book.
Superheroes have leapt out of the comic book pages and into our lives in recent years through movies, TV shows and merchandising. Check out these docs that give a glimpse into the past and present of the superhero phenomenon.
“Comic-Con: Episode IV, A Fan’s Hope” (2012)
This film by Morgan Spurlock explores the cultural phenomenon that is Comic-Con by following the lives of five attendees (one of which is Columbia, Misssouri artist Skip Harvey) as they descend upon the ultimate geek mecca at San Diego Comic-Con 2010.
This film is a compelling look at the company that created the modern superhero, produced with unprecedented access to the archives of Warner Bros. and DC Comics. It explores 75 years of DC Comics, the characters of its universe and the artists and writers who brought them to life.
“Superheroes: A Never-ending Battle” (2013)
Originally broadcast on PBS, this three part TV show examines the dawn of the comic book genre and its progenitors, as well as the evolution of the characters that leapt from the pages over the last 70 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact.
Be sure to register online by Friday, August 7 if you plan to take the September 12 ACT exam. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our online guide to ACT/SAT preparation. The library also has a wide selection of printed ACT and SAT test guides for you to borrow.
Our most popular resource for test-takers, though, is LearningExpress Library. Through this website, you may take free online practice tests for the ACT or SAT exam. To access LearningExpress Library, you will need to login using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call (800) 324-4806.
Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!
Originally published at August 7 Deadline for September ACT Exam.
Do you like to read weird things? I suspect anyone who has read more than one of this gentleman’s posts probably does. Granted, I write in the conventional, easily parsed and comforting voice of a modern nobleman, but I often recommend novels wherein there is at least a modicum of the weird: perhaps there is a murderous tortilla chip or a ghost delivering a message to the wrong twin or a carnival full of haphazardly genetically modified human attractions. But this time I’m going to get real weird with it: I hereby recommend Southern Reach, the gripping trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.
Is it weirder than murderous snacks? Yes. After all, I sometimes feel, particularly after a sixth sack of candied bacon, that my snacks have it in for me. But I’ve never been on a classified expedition into a mysterious wilderness surrounded by a force-field that obliterates anything that touches it unless it enters through one particular (and invisible) entrance. Once there I’ve never encountered a “tower” that extends underground rather than above it, its walls harboring a massively creepy, moderately comprehensible never-ending sentence etched in otherworldly fungus. Nor have I taken a closer look at that fungus only to inhale a spore which imparts a “glowing” feeling and increasingly takes hold of my mind and body. Likewise, I did not later discover the harrowing extent of the hypnotic cues imparted on me before I began my journey. Never have I discovered that a previous expedition had ended in a bloodbath caused by its highly trained members turning on each other. Not once have I ventured to a lighthouse to find evidence of carnage and a tremendous cache journals whose content is more disturbing even than the fact that there are significantly more of them than the official count of expeditions into “Area X” would account for. And I have not experienced any of the other strange shenanigans that populate the remaining two books in the trilogy and which, as is my custom, I will not spoil.
However, if you prefer to have your reading material more thoroughly examined, I will provide a link to this glowing review. Here, have another. Want someone to more thoroughly elucidate what’s weird about this trilogy? Fine.
The book jackets and reviews compare this trilogy to “LOST.” One of the above reviews says it’s like “LOST” if H.P. Lovecraft had been brought in as a script doctor. And while there is an unfortunate lack of a jump-kicking Matthew Fox, I daresay anyone that enjoyed the show for any length of time will delight in these books. But, again, there is no jump-kicking Matthew Fox; maybe I am wrong.
There is more to recommend this trilogy than its strange and startlingly fun content. For one, there is an abundance of pretty nature writing: nature lovers might be inspired to lace up their nature boots for a more tangible look at nature. It could be argued (and is argued in one of the linked reviews) that there are some fancy metaphors embedded in this series. Also, while other authors harangue their readers for being too eager for the next volume in their massive book series, VanderMeer published this trilogy in two month intervals, which gave readers respites to digest the content and crave more. And, delightfully, at this point all three are published and you need not exercise the same restraint as some doctors recommend be paired with candied bacon.
Project Teen: Heroic Journeys
Friday, August 7 • Noon-1:30 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library
The very first tales were hero tales. They were written in clay, on papyrus and performed before huge crowds in open theaters. The heroes of ancient myths are still present in the books and movies of today. Join us for activities based on heroes old and new. Free pizza lunch. Ages 12-18.
Originally published at Project Teen: Heroic Journeys.
“It’s raining cats and dogs,” my husband said.
“It sure is,” I said, still – after all my 25 years in America – trying to envision what raining animals would look like.
Pouring rain is common in Missouri, and some years, mowing a lawn once a week no longer cuts it (excuse my pun). Yet this summer the grass hasn’t seemed to grow like crazy, while the rest of our plants have.
One day, after work, I walked around the house and realized that our property has turned into a jungle: the trees have spread their branches as if trying to swallow our house, the plants beside our walk have oozed onto it for about a foot, and our deck appears much shadier than I ever remembered it.
The result looks spooky, reminding me of a book I read some time ago – “The World Without Us” – which postulates that plants could cover all traces of human existence within about a hundred years or so.
“Do you have the feeling that everything is encroaching on us?” I asked my husband.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “But I do have a feeling that we’re under attack.”
“What attack?” I said, but before I finished my question, something hit our living room window.
“That’s a bird crashing into our window,” my husband said. “It’s been doing that all day. I’m surprised you didn’t hear it in the morning.”
“A-a-h, that’s what that racket was about,” I said. “I heard something in the bathroom, but I thought it was a woodpecker.”
“It’s a cardinal,” my husband said. “I had the same problem with a robin in my old house. I had to spread glass wax on the windows to stop him from attacking them.”
“We’re not greasing windows in our living room!” I said firmly, conveying that whatever solution he had found before he married me would not be used now. However, at that moment, something struck the dining room window, too.
“Why is it doing that?!” I said.
“Some birds gather in flocks, but robins and cardinals are territorial. The males try to chase away competitors, so, when they see their reflection in the window, they attack it,” my husband said, and a series of loud collisions echoed his speech.
This isn’t the first time that nature has altered my American dream. Deer were the first culprits. They ate everything in our yard. I tried to fight them with “Deer-off” and folk remedies like moth balls, strong-smelling soap, human hair (one of my friends is a hair stylist) and a concoction of pepper, hot sauce, and ketchup. In the end, I gave up and planted boxwood bushes everywhere – which deer don’t eat.
Over the years, we’ve also had squirrels digging flowers out of flower pots on our deck (I now have artificial flowers there), groundhogs building burrows under our porches, and raccoons trying to get into our basement. And now, we have cardinals trying to destroy our windows – two of which we just replaced for $1500!
“If you don’t like glass wax, what do you suggest we do?” my husband said.
“I don’t know. Maybe we should get a scarecrow. A toy owl or something,” I said.
Several days later, a large inflatable owl appeared behind our dining room window, looking very ferocious and scaring me every time I accidentally looked at it. The cardinal took notice, too. It stopped striking the window directly in front of the owl and concentrated its efforts on the rest of the window.
“We should change its position,” I offered. “Like it’s moving.”
We did, and I can report that the cardinal never hit the exact spot protected by the owl – just the space immediately around it.
Then I had a Eureka moment: “Let’s put our window screens up!”
“I don’t like screens …,” my husband started to say, but a series of direct hits against his study window changed his mind, so he headed to the garage to look for screens that he had put away years ago because they “obstructed” his view.
These screens didn’t solve the problem completely, but they sure helped – the constant attacks were replaced with occasional sallies, and the sharp blows were replaced with the dull thumps.
Yet the upper, arch-shaped part of our living room window had no screen, so it became the cardinal’s main battleground.
“Does anybody have problems with birds flying into windows?” I asked my colleagues the next day.
One answered. A winged kamikaze flew into her window and killed itself.
“They don’t see glass,” she said. “So, they just fly through it.”
“What are you going to do?” I said.
“I heard that Songbird Station sells a spray that makes glass visible for the birds, but people don’t notice it much.”
This product, which is advertised as a “UV Liquid,” comes in a small canister filled with a whitish translucent substance that is spread in thin lines on the window in decorative patterns – the picture on the package shows a heart. To my dismay, these lines were very visible to us. In fact, we seemed to be the only creatures who noticed my husband’s messy drawing. Our cardinal ignored it completely.
Next my husband bought a stick-on strip of translucent film that he applied to the glass – also from Songbird Station. Now we had two spots the bird avoided: a piece of stained glass, which replaced the inflatable owl, and the strip underneath. The rest of the area became the cardinal’s last stand.
As I’m writing this story, the bird is still crashing into our windows, while my husband contemplates covering them with translucent strips from top to bottom. (He has already smeared glass wax on the doors to the basement and the garage.) The latest development is that we have become so used to constant banging that I sometimes stop worrying about our window (or my headache) and start worrying about whether the cardinal has any time to eat or do other birdy things. But that doesn’t usually last long.
So, what’s the lesson of this story? I don’t really know. It could be a warning about the power of nature. Or it could be a lesson about futility. After all, don’t we humans do the same sort of thing cardinals are doing – endlessly repeating the same fruitless attempts, marrying the wrong kinds of people, or doing other self-destructive things? In fact, it could be me who behaves like that cardinal when I try to promote my book, constantly hitting my head on the obstacles imposed by the publishing industry. Should I stop? Should all of us stop trying? What are our chances of success?
Well, I guess, if we don’t try, we’ll never know.
Svetlana Grobman is the author of “The Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of Growing Up in Cold War Russia.” See Svetlana’s interview with Paul Pepper at “Radio Friends with Paul Pepper.”
The post “Nature Red in Tooth and Claw” ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson appeared first on DBRL Next.
If you have not registered for the library’s Adult Summer Reading program, you can still do so online or by visiting any of our locations. Once you sign up, you are automatically entered in the prize drawings. Also, don’t forget to submit book reviews to increase your odds of winning. There are four drawings left this summer, so keep reading and sharing your reviews with us!
This is a reminder to all our blog readers that August 15 is the deadline for submitting your photos for the “Every Hero Has a Story” Teen Photography Contest. Winners will receive a gift card to Barnes & Noble and their artwork will be posted at teens.dbrl.org. Be sure to review the complete list of contest rules and submission guidelines before capturing your images. If you have questions regarding this contest, you can speak with a librarian by calling (573) 443-3161 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, check out this list of photography resources available at your library!
Originally published at Entries for Teen Photo Contest Due August 15.
“The Girl With All the Gifts” was written with by a screenwriter, and it shows. The action unfolds like a movie in the best dystopian sci-fi tradition, beginning with the very limited worldview of Melanie, a genius-level 10-year-old who knows only her classroom and her cell. As Melanie’s understanding of her world grows, so does the reader’s, assisted by short chapters that bring in other characters’ points of view. By the end, the whole horrifying picture is clear, yet unlike so much of the literature in this genre it manages to not be completely depressing. After the first 25 pages or so I was completely hooked and basically just had to put the rest of my life on hold and finish it.
Three words that describe this book: engrossing, horrifying, hopeful
Usually, when people throw around the term fanfiction (fanfic for short), they mean the stories you find on websites such as fanfiction.net or quotev, pieces written by fans of an original comic/novel/movie/TV show, using characters from that universe, and shared with other fans. The quality of the writing can vary wildly, but the level of enthusiasm remains consistently high. In the past couple of years Kindle Worlds has allowed fanfic authors to garner pay for their work through a licensing structure that keeps everyone on the legal side of the copyright line, something that can be a nebulous issue. Legalminimum supplies some good guidelines for using established fictional characters. Since most fanfic is created out of a desire to celebrate and promote the original, rather than to make money or compete with it, many writers are happy to allow their characters to lead alternate lives.
Though the Internet has helped to popularize fanfiction, storytellers have been borrowing from their forebears for century upon century. Mark Twain wrote fanfiction. Yes, it’s true. In “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” he used recognized characters from Camelot in a new tale of his own. William Shakespeare often repurposed figures from Greek, Roman and Celtic legends to populate his tales. Think of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest.”
In the past fifty years or so, many established authors have found publishing success by continuing this tradition of literary borrowing. “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire takes an adult look at L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz, providing a sympathetic portrayal of the Witch of the West. Totally fanfiction. Similarly, Jean Rhys took up the cause of Jane Eyre’s antagonist, the purportedly insane Mrs. Rochester, in her 1966 novel, “Wide Sargasso Sea.” The continually growing spate of Jane Austen spin-offs contains too many titles too list. Meanwhile, James Deaver and others are keeping Ian Fleming’s James Bond alive.
My point is, if you enjoy reading and/or writing fanfiction, don’t be shy about it. Don’t feel it’s something less worthy than “real” literature. You’re in the company of Mark Twain and Shakespeare, after all.
Note: Why yes, there is a list in our online catalog.