Books

Put on Your Crown

One word could sum-up this well-intentioned book, and that word is meh.

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Queen Latifah’s Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom. Though I’ve been a huge fan of both her films and music—I was a big Living Single fan in the ‘90s, if that tells you anything—I’ve always felt like the actress has always received the short end of the stick; that she’s so awesome, lovely, and talented, but she always ends up with roles that are way too small or, in my opinion, beneath her talents. I’ve never really read anything that she’s written, and figured I’d give her book a whirl.

Sean Stephenson, "Get Off Your 'But' "

Whenever I pick up an advice book, be it a book on self help, business, productivity, or whatever, the first thing I do is read the introduction carefully.  A lot of people skip the introduction to books; this was once my bad habit, as well.  But I have learned that you can find out almost everything you need to know about a book just by reading the introduction.  The introduction sets the tone and parameters, and lets you know what kind of ride you're in for.

I didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up, except that Amazon kept saying I would like it.  Amazon's recommendation engine can be a little wacky at times, and I'm not generally that interested in straight up self help books.  But I noticed that I was seeing the book on bestseller lists and book store end caps as well, and thought it was worth having a look.

Why are There So Many Twihards?

“Do you like Twilight?”

“Of course not!”

“Thank you! I don’t understand it. My boyfriend and all his friends love it and I thought I was the only sane person left in the world because I can’t stand it. I tried it, but isn’t it for kids?”

“Exactly.”

______________________

I have a little theory that the Harry Potter books and movies gave adults (especially women) the permission to enjoy kids’ books and movies. Since the Twilight series is a combination of what every woman secretly lusts for (Vampires and dangerous romance in books that can be read in a day or two), women across the US have seemingly lost their collective minds over Twilight.  

Mary Roach, "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife"

Mary Roach's first book, "Stiff," is one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time.  It has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelves, and if you know what a fanatic I am about decluttering and "culling the herd" and selling old books to buy new ones, you would realize what a place of honor that is!  I have to admit that I didn't enjoy "Spook" quite as much as I enjoyed "Stiff," but it was still a great read.  

Make a Splash and READ!

It’s that time of year again. The kids are out of school for the summer and it’s time to find things for them to do to keep them busy and their brains working. If you live in Oregon go check out your local library and join them in Make a Splash and Read. Each summer Make a Splash and read is organized by the Oregon Library Association and The Oregon State Library. It’s a great reading program for kids of all ages so if your little one isn’t quite reading on their own yet, that’s not a problem. Along with the reading are new arts and crafts and activities every week that you can sign up for or just show up. The best part is that it is all 100% free and goes all summer long.

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, by Michael Dorris

The secret to a good story is good characters. Wait, that’s not true. The secret to a good story is to have a little mystery mixed in with the action, to never tell everything all at once, to keep the reader or the listener guessing so that thaey always want to go to the next page with you. Maybe.

Whatever the secret is, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water has it. The book tells the story of 3 women: Rayona, the grand-daughter, Christine the mother, and Ida the grandmother.  Three generations, each tied to their tribe’s reservation. The compelling thing about the book is that it is told from the first-person perspective, one woman at a time. The first 250 pages are Rayona. The second 150 Christine, and the third 100- Ida.

Pirate Potter: Unauthorized Chinese Harry Potter Knock-Offs

I'm familiar with the term "piracy" as it relates to eBooks - either genuine eBook files being distributed online, or regular books where someone has sliced off the binding and fed the whole thing into an automated scanner.  These things are bad, agreed, but they seem so… pedestrian… compared to the Chinese unauthorized Harry Potter books!

Turns out, Harry Potter is as popular in China as he is here in the United States.  And Chinese publishing companies are not about to waste that opportunity!  This hilarious article looks at 11 different Harry Potter pirate manuscripts.

The Problem With EBooks

I'm a fan of eBooks and eBook readers in general.  And I dislike the fetishization of books as objects.  This particular critique of eBooks isn't going to wallow in the supposed luxury of walls of books, or the smell of the paper, or the ability to jot notes on the flyleaf.  As far as I'm concerned, the most important part of a book is the words.  The physical book is just the box the present comes in.  And also, I would like to point out that eBooks can't get mildewed or basement-y.

However, in thinking about eBooks lately, I have come across two potential problems.  I find these troubling indeed.  We may not be able to stop the wholesale rush to eBook gold, but we should start discussing these problems now before it's too late.

Problem #1: EBook Readers Aren't Free

Read in the Bathtub Day

Is there a better holiday on Earth than Read in the Bathtub Day? For bookworms like yours truly, this is akin to Christmas. In fact, for some of us, it may be even better than Christmas (unless Christmas comes with some great book gifts and time to read them, which becomes a commodity as we get older). If you love to read, schedule in some time to do so this February 9 (or better yet, all month long!). Here are some things you might want to do to celebrate.

Mark your calendar. Make it a date with yourself—one that you can’t back out of with any excuses. Tell your family members to expect you to have the evening (or morning, or whenever you have the time) to yourself and to use the other bathroom! If that’s not feasible, try just an hour or two while everyone else is asleep.

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