Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Maps on Google

One of my new favorite internet discoveries is that I can create customizable maps on Google Maps! Neat-o!

So, without further ado, my map of favorite bookstores. Most likely to be added to as I think of other bookish spots to add.

View Larger Map

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Literacy vs. the Internet vs. Books vs. Kids

An interesting article on literacy, the internet, and child/teen readers in the NYTimes today. It's a tricky debate--whether reading online is as beneficial as reading a book, whether it's helping or hindering kids.

Obviously, I think that reading books is vital. But that belief doesn't mean that I think online reading is detrimental. It's different. I found myself a little irked by one quote in the article:
“Learning is not to be found on a printout,” David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, said in a commencement address at Boston College in May. “It’s not on call at the touch of the finger. Learning is acquired mainly from books, and most readily from great books.”

That seems an extremely elitist position to take. After all, I read this article online. (Okay, yes, I'll be printing it out to save, too.) Lots of learning is acquired from books. But much of the learning I did in college was from xeroxed articles or printouts from online journals. And I'm sure that current students are relying on those means even more than I did. We can read thought-provoking arguments, debates, ideas, stories in any form. We learn if we take the time to digest and mull over them. And if we can talk them over with other people. What the internet hinders is the time to digest and absorb what we read online. It's so easy to click onto the next thing, or to become distracted: it’s your turn in Scrabulous! there’s another interesting article! ooooh, there’s a new post on your favorite blog! a friend is im-ing you! But what the internet helps is finding more people to discuss and debate the ideas with. Ultimately, isn’t the internet a tool, and we can use it how we want to? We can’t really blame it for kids reading or not reading books. It may not be the problem, but how we think of it could be.

It did worry me, though, that the teenage girl in the article said she wanted to major in English and be published someday, but didn't see the point of reading books. The best advice that can be given to aspiring writers is to read, read, read, so they can see how other people are doing it and what works or doesn't work.

This article, too, talked about what kids read during their leisure time, but in the same breath about testing scores. So are they really concerned with the leisure time reading? I mean, I'm a grown-up, avid reader, former English major, and editor, and when I read in my leisure time, it's to be swept away by a story.

Also, I was caught by the line about the internet having no beginning or end. Does that make the internet God?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Literary Jewelry

One of my favorite Esty shops is Brookadelphia, who have hip, bookish necklaces. (I have the "read." one.)

But in timely fashion, they've added a few new ones since my last visit:


Monday, July 21, 2008

Actually listened to Radio Lab in a timely matter this week, during a Very Hot run in the park this morning. It was on emergence--how societies can become complex and function even without leaders.

It started off with an amazing visual image of fireflies in Thailand that end up blinking together rather than randomly. Besides "firefly" being one of my favorite words, it also reminded me of the end of Criss Cross, which always warms my heart and makes me feel better about the world.
Someone opened the jar. The lightning bugs knew what to do. They flew out into the night air, every last one. Blinking, "Here I am."

But besides that, the idea of emergence struck me as one that applied to revising. They talked about how you can't take one ant out of the ant society and have it work, or how you can't take one neuron out of the brain and have it contain a whole thought. It's all in how every ant or every neuron works together. A manuscript is made of individual sentences, but they can't function alone. A really great revision won't simply pull out a problem in an individual sentence and fix that, but will see how that sentence fits into the whole, how all of it comes together to form a complex and working story.


A new Threadless t-shirt design! So cute!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Big Read

According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list.

The instructions:
Look at the list and:
Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.
Underline the books you LOVE.--I couldn't do this so mine are starred.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen*
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling*
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee*
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte*
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (Oh, come ON! I've read 11 and seen 11.)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger*
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald*
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen*
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis*
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (well, I skimmed a lot, but I did go the whole way to the end)
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (this book made me angry)
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce*
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt*

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare (but I've seen it!)
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

38 . . . that's not too shabby!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's what's beneath the cover that counts

Forget the cover controversy, because inside the New Yorker is a great article about the formidable Anne Carroll Moore vs. Stuart Little. I love getting the behind-the-scenes scoop on the industry like this, seeing how children's books came into their own, with the help of such legendary women as Anne Carroll Moore and Ursula Nordstrom (and many others).

My favorite detail, though, might be the "Not recommended for purchase by the expert" stamp. Such power!

I hope people keep talking away about how offended/not offended they are by the cover, so that more and more pick it up and stumble across this article.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Artists take on lapel pins

Courtesy of the NYTimes, various artists and illustrators design lapel pins for Obama.

Peter Sis's:

Monday, July 14, 2008

I think I heart Cory Doctorow

Not only did he write a riveting, sort of terrifying but hopeful, page-turner of a book (Little Brother--if you haven't read it, go get it now!), but he also wrote a fantastic column for Locus, about writing for young people. And he gets it.

He talks about books being markers of social identity for young adults, which is a thought I don't think I'd ever put into the right words before, but this is totally it. He says:
That's one of the most wonderful things about writing for younger audiences — it matters. We all read for entertainment, no matter how old we are, but kids also read to find out how the world works. They pay keen attention, they argue back. There's a consequentiality to writing for young people that makes it immensely satisfying.

He also points out that literature may be one of the few escapes left for young people today, with how much fear there is about getting hurt making it hard to live. Which is, too, a major theme of Little Brother.

Since I think one of the most obvious differences between adult and YA literature is that YA lit has HOPE, I'm glad that Cory Doctorow--and many others--are there for teens.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Guilt Trips

When I was at the BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conferences last week, there was a mixer one night with local authors. For whatever reason right now, the Provo area has an amazing amount of gifted writers who are also fantastically nice. Shannon Hale is one of them, but she couldn't make it to the mixer, which made the other editor, Stacy Whitman of Mirrorstone, and me sad. So what did we do? We emailed her a picture of our sad faces. And it worked! She dropped by the next day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stories and Believing

I've taken to listening to podcasts at the gym, and two of my favorites are This American Life (obviously) and Radio Lab. I am not at all orderly or timely about listening to them, so I'm always behind and out of order. The Radio Lab I listened to over the last 2 gyms visits was from January, the "War of the Worlds" episode.

There's a lot about the topic that's intriguing, but what I've taken away is the question of why people can fall for this sort of thing again and again. After conversation with a psychologist Robert Krulwich said:
"People are suckers for stories; we just cannot help ourselves. . . . The thing is we do go in, we all fall into these stories, he says, it's just the way we are built. For hundreds of thousands of years, our memories, our friendships, our sense of family, our kinship, we build our identities form stories. Stories that we tell, and stories that we hear."

We seem to be built to believe in things. Because it's hopeful. Because who wants to go around not believing? Even if it's believing in small things, not big ones. We'll fall for things because we learn so much from the stories that saturate our lives, perhaps. Stories show us that there's always something to believe in.

Comfort Books

Alice Sebold wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times last summer that had a great sentiment I wrote down for my quote collection, and part of it says very much why I'm a big re-reader of books:

"It is comfort, company, a way to buffer oneself form the pain and isolation of the everyday. It is the peace I find by visiting my closest friends. I have given up thinking I'm deranged for discovering them between the covers of a book."

Perhaps I would not necessarily call my books my closest friends, but I do certainly think of them as friends. They're familiar and engrossing and give something to me every time I open them, regardless of whether it's the first time or the twentieth. And some of them have been with me since my childhood. They have not only their own stories inside them, but pieces of my story, my memories.

And so, my favorite comfort books, the ones that are as welcoming and comforting as old friends, the ones that make me feel that all will be right in the world...

The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Persuasion by Jane Austen