20 May 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Welcome Tuesday Thingers!
I read a wide variety of blogs and discussion boards, but only joined in on five of them on LibraryThing. I spend such a large amount of time online that I wonder what I would do if I was stuck on a desert island - oh wait, read! I read a few posts and I agree with many who have said how nice everyone seems to be in the LibraryThing spaces. The latest thing I have "joined" in anticipation of some discussions is DailyLit where you can get classis emailed to you in daily installments free. (I was so grateful to see a reference to this site on one of the LibraryThingers blogs because I had seen it once before, but could not remember the name). Still the discussions there do not seem very robust.

100th post book giveaway contest!

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18 May 2008

18. Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers follows the narrator, seventeen year old Richie, from high school graduation in the heart of New York City to the Viet Nam war. Like other African-American youth, Richie had his reasons for joining the military. One thing was sure, like many others, Richie had no idea what was in store. Rich in descriptive narrative and emotion, Myers provides an authentic account of the experiences of many.
As I began this book, I was concerned that the war would be sugar-coated, that the author would not be able to convey how awful it was - for the young men fighting and dying, for the families at home, for the Vietnamese. I graduated from high school in 1971 and people I knew would serve and die. People I knew would come home to a country that did not see them as heroes. Some people I knew came home, but never left Viet Nam. I didn't want these stories to be trivialized. I wanted to read about what I already knew and hope that young adults today would learn some truths from the book. I was not disappointed.

I would like to share a few passages that were meaningful for me. After one of the first battles, Richie writes:
We began coming down, but it wasn't easy: stepping around the bodies, turning away from the stench, from the reality of the death around us. I stopped for a moment to look at the bodies of two old men, their arms around each other in death. I saw them even after I turned away. We could have killed as easily as we mourned. We could have burned as easily as we put out the fires. We were scared, on the very edge of control, at once trying to think of what was right to do and hating the scene about us. I think, if Simpson [the Captain] hadn't been there, it would have been worse. Much worse. He calmed us down, brought us back to ourselve. He let us be human again; in all the inhumanity about us, he let us be human again. p. 178

Finally Richie is able to write to his little brother. It must have been very difficult for the soldiers who felt this way in the midst of a war:
I just told him that the war was about us killing people and about people killing us, and I couldn't see much more to it. Maybe there were times when it was right. I had thought that this was was right, but it was only right from a distance. Maybe when we all got back to the World and everybody thought we were heroes for winning it, then it would seem right from there. Or maybe if I made it back and I got old I would think back on it and it would seem right from there. But when the killing started, there was no right or wrong except in the way you did your job, except int he way that you were part of the killing. pp. 269-270

And finally, after being thanked for saving another soldier's life, a soldier says:
We're all dead over here. We're all dead and just hoping that we come back to life when we get into the World again. p. 300

Some came back to life and some did not. It was a difficult war. Black and white served together, suffered together, and hopefully learned something they needed to know about the other. Meyer brings in the civil rights issues of the time, the sadness, the pride, the sorrow. Excellent book.

TITLE: Fallen Angels

AUTHOR: Walter Dean Myers
PAGES: 309
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: Absolutely, everyone should read this

13 May 2008

Tuesday Things

I am a librarian at a very small specialty library - Curriculum Materials Library in Northwest Florida. We collect books, multimedia, realia, manipulatives, textbooks, etc to be used for K-12 education students and preservice teachers. I love my job because we only have eight desktop and four laptop computers, so I get to work very closely with our many, many students in the library. Prior to this I worked in the main library on campus and other than attending a million meetings, I did not have the opportunity to work with too many of our students. In addition to research assistance, we provide technological assistance, assemble our yearly book order, some cataloging and a multitude of other tasks.

My educational background is a little more diverse. My undergraduate and first graduate degrees are in history - specifically Eastern European history between 1918 and 1945. I always laugh when someone asks me an American history question and I have to guess! Everything is so specialized. I completed my MLS at FSU only a few years ago. I encourage all of our education students to go to library school - better employability, especially in Florida where the budget is abysmal and jobs are scarce.

My husband also works at the main library. We have four children - with the youngest graduating from high school this Saturday. So this is a big week. My oldest daughter just graduated from college with a degree in Social Science Interdisciplinary - talk about trying to find a job in field! My oldest son is married with two sons - making me a very happy Nonnie. My middle son is married and hopes to have children soon.

What takes up all of my time? I teach an online class in Marketing Resources. I love to read - almost anything. I have been slowly teaching myself to crochet, but wish I had a Nonnie to show me how instead of trying to learn from pictures. Now the big time drain - we have many dogs...Chihuahuas! They are so much fun, but a lot of work. When my husband and I get home, we spend most of our evenings playing with them. The best thing about the dogs is that they seem to be perpetual puppies - not to say that that can not be a problem at times as well. Our surprise puppies are about 8 weeks old in this picture. They are a mess!

I look forward to "meeting" all of you. Thanks for creating this new network of book friends.
Flusi LibraryCat

12 May 2008

Pay It Forward

If you would like a chance at winning one of five new books, check out the Pay it Forward contest at the following url:

1% sounds so simple

The goal of this challenge is to read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. For you non-math people, 10 out of 1001 is approximately 1%, hence the title. The challenge will run from May 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009.

Here are the ten books I am selecting now - that may change!

1. Vanishing Point - David Markson

2. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer

3. The Emigrants - W.G. Sebald

4. Wild Swans - Jung Chang

5. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien

6. Sexing the Cherry - Jeanette Winterson

7. The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

8. Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell

9. Amelia - Henry Fielding

10. The Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan
Think about joining us - if I finish these ten I will be up to a whopping 7.59% of the 1001 Books You Should Read Before you Die. According to the chart, I need to read 35 of these books each year to get them done before I die - or have an exceptionally longer than average life!

Book reviews

While waiting for my latest ARC book from LibraryThing, I have been reading all of the bookish links. Here is a fantastic link for HOW TO WRITE A GOOD BOOK REVIEW. Thanks to the blogger who posted this and linked to it for all of us to read. One of my most difficult assignments in Library School was writing a 200 word book review of a children's book. It would have been easier to write an essay - but to pare it down was more difficult.

Wishing all happy reading!