Category Archives: books

Guardian

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WARNING: Contains Spoilers.

 

Went with Mom to see Hunger Games last night. I’d already seen it and enjoyed how the book was interpreted for the screen. I thought they made certain assumption about the level of familiarity with the content from the books and felt it could lead to confusion for the unaware. I was right. Mom hated it. She didn’t have enough of the back story to really appreciate the subtlety of the story. So, all she saw was the barbaric Hunger Games, the result of 74 years of oppression in the districts as to offer up their children and the excess of the shallow, insipid Capitol. She did not see what I saw.

I loved the characters and the story. I loved the complexity of the crossed plots and the maneuvering. Even in the first book, you could tell there was a LOT more at stake than just the Hunger Games. But more than anything else, I love Katniss.

Katniss’ nearly fatal flaw is her overblown sense of responsibility for everybody. This is something with which I can closely identify.

She sacrificed her own safety to hunt outside the fences for her family. She volunteered as Tribute to protect her little sister. Yes, she had to kill but it was always in defence. She was NOTHING like the District 1 & 2 tributes who were predatory. She looked after Rue. If she were a heartless murderer, she would have taken her out as easy prey. Same thing with Peeta. He was already wounded – why not just let him die or, out of mercy, kill him quickly. But she didn’t do that. Instead, she played up the whole romance thing in order to get sponsors to send what she needed to save Peeta. It would have been faster to the finish line if that’s all she really cared about.

She didn’t love Peeta. She didn’t really want to go along with the star-crossed lovers scenario. The book does a much more thorough job explaining the inner conflict she had with the idea. And the book didn’t make such a meal out of Peeta’s infatuation; the movie over-dramatised that part so she looks much more deceptive. Peeta knew all along she had a thing for Gale and he accepted their actions as a ruse for the cameras. But, because you hadn’t read the book, you didn’t know all that.

She made a number of very calculated risks to survive and protect the people for whom she felt responsible. A very high-stakes game of poker. She paid a very high personal price; as do all guardians. It would have been easier to refuse to fight and be killed right off but she felt like she should at least try and survive in order to get back home to her little sister and Gale. Then she picked up Rue and then Peeta she felt compelled to protect. In the end, she survived. But it’s not until subsequent books do you get the full picture of what her victory would mean for the 12 districts.

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Waiting for Superman

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“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda, Nazi Germany

I read Waiting for Superman and…you guessed it…it made me mad.  Will there ever be a day when we can have a logical conversation about education in this country: Communities and school districts on one side of the table – GOVERNMENT on the other side.  What will it take to realize schools and school districts are NOT the bad guys?
It is so easy to point the finger of blame at “schools” for “failing kids.”  But, the reality is this: For a long time now, people hundreds and even thousands of miles away are legislating how teachers teach and how districts write curriculum. They grade them on some moving target standard that assumes all children have the same motivation, early learning experiences and levels of parent involvement.  They assume all children are going to be college-bound when that has never been the case but they deny funding to schools, do mass firings of teachers who don’t conform to the State and even shut down schools who don’t meet these impossible standards. 

They pit school districts against each other in a ratings cage match, reducing the CHILDREN in the buildings to data points on a color-coded chart all for the sake of some rating.  This is a travesty. 

All because some education lobby got in front of the legislators and told them this was “best for children,” when, in reality, they were saying, “this is best for ME.”  What do they know about MY children?  What do they know about our teachers?  NOTHING.  So, why have we allowed them to have so much power over something that should be solely a local decision? 

Do I believe there is inequity in the education system?  yes.
Do I believe there must be a way to hold schools accountable for educating children? yes. 
Do I believe there will always be people in the wrong job?  yes.
Do I believe schools sometimes make mistakes? yes.
Do I believe some POLITICIAN should tell me how my child should be educated?  absolutely not.
Do I believe there is a conspiracy to dismantle public education in this country?  absolutely.

Book Post

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What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?

Next to the bed:
The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization’s Best Bits (hilarious and I’m actually learning something)
A book about Egypt – I just like looking at the pictures

Next to the Couch:
Neverending Story
City of Ember

In the bathroom:
Wizard of Oz

Thursday Book Post

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Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

My earliest memory of the library would have to be the little Belton public library or the Central Elementary Library.  I still attend the same church as the librarian.  She may not even remember me after all these years but I wonder sometimes if she realizes she remains one of my favorite people in the world because she helped me discover so many wonderful books. 

Then there is the library at Belton Junior High, where I discovered books like Valentine (I think that was the name) or Beauty: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley. 

The high school library was a source of research when I went on a kick about the 1960s. 

I remember crying the first time I ever stepped into the library at UMHB – I’d never seen so many books.  Imagine feeling that way all over again as a freshman at Baylor University.  The library at Baylor held a singular fascination for me – their enormous collection of opera on video and videodiscs (remember those things – like giant DVDs).

I have always had a love affair with books.  My entire life, they offer a free (or nearly) escape from whatever else was happening in my life.  And libraries were the gateway to getting my hands on those little vacations until I could afford to haunt wonderful places like Barnes & Nobles, Books-a-Million or Book People.

another post about reading

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“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

  1. Through a Glass Darkly
  2. Book Thief (I wept.  I laughed.  I wept some more.)
  3. Thirteenth Tale
  4. Books of Rachel
  5. Neverwhere
  6. Fairy Haven & the Quest for the Wand – the first long chapter book I read Munchkin
  7. Goodnight Moon
  8. The Hobbit
  9. Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
  10. Book of a Thousand Days
  11. The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch (the way she has to totally rebuild her life after the sudden death of her husband rang so familiar)
  12. Breathing Room (although this is a silly chick-lit novel, it was perfectly timed with events happening in my life)
  13. Eve: a Novel of the First Woman
  14. The Witching Hour
  15. A Clockwork Orange (not because I enjoyed it but because of the controversy it caused in my household)

 

Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that  you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?

Pillars of the Earth.  I hated it.  absolutely HATED it.  Threw it in the kitchen trash.  I have NEVER thrown away a book.  If it wasn’t against fire code, I would have BURNED it. 

a post about reading

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  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?
  • Depends on my mood.  I’m currently reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and it’s touching and beautiful and poignant.  It is laced with a lot of humor but it’s not the side-splitting “har har” stuff… 

  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?
  • doesn’t matter

  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction?
  • fiction – definitely.  non-fiction generally loses me somewhere after the lengthy acknowledgements… *yawn*

  • Poetry? Or Prose?
  • Prose

  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies?
  • biographies – generally somebody on the outside looking in is not as defensive

  • History? Or Historical Fiction?
  • historical fiction

  • Series? Or Stand-alones?
  • You know, that’s a funny one because I say it doesn’t matter but then find myself REALLY disappointed to come to the end of a WONDERFUL read only to realize that’s it… 

  • Classics? Or best-sellers?
  • Best sellers.  I find the classics demand a more dedicated pursuit than I am able to commit most of the time.

  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?
  • fruity, baby!  I like the juicy details that paint the picture for me.  Stark prose doesn’t pull as much. 

  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
  • definitely plots.  stream of consciousness makes me dizzy. 

  • Long books? Or Short?
  • depends on how good it is.  You know what I mean by this too – good books you want to go on forever.  Bad books, you’re thankful when they are short. 

  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?
  • I love the trend toward the graphic novel.  Affirms those pictures in my head. 

  • Borrowed? Or Owned?
  • Owned.  I dread loaning my books out (even though I do it all the time) and am terrible about becoming attached to a story or characters and assimiliating a really good find into my collection.  As a result, I very rarely borrow.

  • New? Or Used?
  • doesn’t matter AS LONG as they aren’t written in.  I can’t STAND writing in books!!!!  (yes, I’ve done it but it makes my heart ache to deface a book; even if it’s mine and it’s a wonderful non-fiction resource)

    fridaynightgirl

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    I have laughed more in the past months than, maybe, in my entire life.  Life is happy.  Life is good. 

    I’m reading a crazy book called Good Omens.  It’s by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett.  It’s taking simply FOREVER to get through.  I mean, sheesh – I bought it two weeks ago and I’m STILL not finished.  I think that means I am just not into it.  I’m ready to be finished with it so I can move on.  I have a new book that I want to dig in to. 

    Hey, I can add a poll?  How cool is that?!  Ok, a poll. 

    Ok, that was random.  *laugh*  dinnertime!

    twilight

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    I like the book.  What can I say?  JK Rowling is out of business and we Potter-philes are desperate for good fiction.  So, along comes Twilight.  Star-crossed Edward and Bella.  Sweet.  Bring on the angst. 

    *laugh*