List of Links August 2018

Below are links to interesting articles I found during the month of August 2018. An interesting theme appeared this month: libraries, book, and reading. There’s also a couple of spy stories and a republished cookbook that can teach you to cook like a suffragette! Enjoy.

‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

While excavating in Cologne, the remains of the oldest public library in Germany were discovered in 2017. Initially unsure what had been uncovered, the realization that the niches were designed to hold scrolls led to identifying it as a library. I’ve been to Cologne twice, and always loved exploring the city…now there’s something new to see.

The Weirdest Libraries Around The World

Think you know what a library should look like? Think again!

10 Animals Who Have Broken Into the Library

For something fun! Plenty of critters have found their way into libraries.

Buddy, The Library Isn’t A 7-11

But that doesn’t stop patrons from acting like it is…

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books

I love a good mystery so, although I’m sure I’d get quite agitated with the minimal clues some patrons give, I’d probably enjoy the hunt to find answers to the questions these librarians are asked.

Being A Victorian Librarian Was Oh-So-Dangerous

Most of my life the majority of librarians I’ve known have been women. But in the mid- to late- 19th century, women were expected to stay home, and this article talks about the traumas that awaited women who worked in libraries.

Who Decides What’s Tacky Anyway?

The origin of the word “tacky”,  how it came to define bad taste and why that word became associated with the fashion of the 1970s. I’m old enough to remember the 1970s…anyone else?

The Draconian Dictionary Is Back

A dictionary deemed “subversive”? That’s what happened in 1961 with the release of  Websters Third New International Dictionary. Read to find out what the kerfuffle was all about.

French Bookstore Invites Its Instagram Followers To Judge Books By Their Covers

The photos they share are fascinating – take a look!

Reading A Book Takes Time – Deal With It

Would you rather have your books released as a serial, one “episode” at a time? That is a trend developing, and if it encourages people to read then I am fine with it. The author of the article, however, takes exception. I will add that some days I’m doing good to get one chapter read. Then there are the days when I have more time and get pulled into a book and read for hours. I would hate to lose the ability to do that.

“Pie For A Doubting Husband”: How To Cook Like A Suffragette

Cookbook lovers take note: A cookbook released in 1915 to raise money for the suffragette movement has been reissued.

Why More Boys Don’t Read Little Women

This is a long article, but I encourage you to take the time to read through it. It about much more than Little Women not being assigned reading anymore.

The Way We Read Now

PBS has an initiative going on, “The Great American Read”, which released an alphabetical list of the 100 favorite works of fiction. What is interesting, according to this article from the Wall Street Journal, is that few works of what is often considered the height of American literature made the list. It seems, the article suggests, that Americans are more interested in reading a good story than what is considered “great” writing. (Note to self…make sure when I write I tell a good story!)

Clothing Britain’s Spies During World War II

During WWII, spies sent to another country needed to blend in, and in a time before mass-produced clothes, each country, even each region, had their own way of making clothes. So Britain used clothing produced by refugees to meet the demand.

The Women Code Breakers Who Unmasked Soviet Spies

I enjoy puzzles, but breaking code is far above anything I can do. This is a fascinating look at the women involved in Cold War efforts to break codes and find Soviet spies. While many of the men involved have been profiled, the women have not. As the article notes, most of them never talked about the work they did.

Writers Have Always Loved Mobile Devices

I enjoy moving to different locations to write and have a bag set up with many of the tools I will need. Turns out, long before there were laptops and tablets, other writers had their own version of a mobile workspace.

Can Crime Fiction Help Combat the Opioid Crisis?

As I writer, I want to think my work can make a difference, be it educating or entertaining. The article writer hopes that focusing on the opioid crisis in her crime fiction will bring attention and solutions for the drug problem devastating her home state (and the country).

 

Libraries and Me

Public Library Camden Arkansas

I have used the library most of my life, starting with the Public Library in Camden, Arkansas.* Momma checked out books for me until, when I was about seven or 8, she took me to get my own library card. We climbed the steps to the red brick building, pushed open the heavy door, and stepped inside. As always, I immediately noticed how quiet it was, hearing only the sounds of hushed voices and the librarians checking in and reshelving books. Approaching the desk, Momma told the librarian I wanted to get my own library card. She smiled, took my name, completed the paperwork, and handed me my card with a reminder to bring it with me when I wanted to check out books.

I then headed to the children’s section to slowly look through the shelves of books. While I had books at home to read, the library gave me a larger selection to explore, and I believe having access to them helped grow my interest in reading. Finally selecting a few new ones along with some favorites, I carried them to the desk and handed them and my card to the librarian. She removed the check out cards, stamped them with the return date, and handed the books back to me, telling me to enjoy them. I walked out feeling very grown up.

As I got older, there were fewer trips to the library. I amassed quite a collection of Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, which I read and reread, and romance novels. By high school, English classes required reading many classic works, and with other homework, left little time for pleasure reading. This situation only worsened when I was in college and graduate school. By now, trips to the library were to conduct research for school projects. This was the 1980s before you could find information with an internet connection and a few clicks of a computer mouse. I would wander through the stacks for the books I needed, carefully checking what was located on either side of it, a tip I learned from a professor that I continue using today. Sometimes what I needed was stored on microfilm or microfiche, or was located in a specialized library elsewhere on campus. Other times the resource wasn’t available locally but could be obtained through interlibrary loan, another wonderful service offered by libraries. I cannot count the hours I spent researching and studying in libraries as a young adult. The quiet atmosphere, which I had first noticed as a child, was the perfect change to department study rooms or cramped student housing. Living in England for a year, I researched my Master’s degree thesis in a nearby library, soaking up the history that surrounded me.

In my mid-30s, I moved to a new city as a stay-at-home mom with a four-year-old child. I had time to read for pleasure again, and went to the local library to find books for both of us and to pass on the tradition of exploring shelves to find new things to read. The nearest branch was located in a converted 1903 school building. Our footsteps echoed as we walked down the wood floor until we reached the old door that creaked as we opened it. Inside was the room that housed the library. While small in size, it offered a good selection that was regularly rotated with other books from the library system, as well as Children’s Story Time every Wednesday afternoon. Several years later, a new branch was built, replacing the cramped space in the school building and providing a larger selection of books, plenty of room to sit and read, and ample parking. It was wonderful to be able to find more books close to home, yet I missed the coziness of the previous location, perhaps a reminder of the small library I had frequented as a child.

Moving to Daytona Beach, I quickly got a library card and took advantage of other City Island branch, Volusia County Librarythings the local library offered: free wi-fi when my apartment didn’t have it, a quiet place to work, and DVDs to borrow and watch. Even after I moved and had internet access, I continued using the library, both in person to check out books, and from my computer at home to download books to read on my Kindle. Like many things, I took it for granted, thinking the library would always be there. Then Hurricane Irma blew through in the early morning hours of September 11, 2017, the rain and tidal surge flooding many buildings downtown, including the local library that I use. Seven months later, it is still closed, and I have missed having a library close by, being able to stop in and check out books to take home and browse the shelves of books for sale to find new treasures for my collection.

The latest report is the library plans to reopen in May. I hope so. Libraries have always been in my life, playing a variety of roles as my life has changed. I hope there is always a library nearby.

What role have libraries played in your life?

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*The photo of my hometown library in Camden, Arkansas was taken in late December 2010. Six months later, the library caught fire one night and was destroyed. The library was rebuilt in a new location.

 

Book or Movie – Which Do You Prefer?

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A River Runs Through It was on TV recently. I have always enjoyed this movie, for its gorgeous images of fly fishing in Montana rivers, and for the story of a father and his sons connecting while fishing those rivers. As I listened to Robert Redford narrate the closing line – “I am haunted by waters” – I remembered I had not yet read the book. The next day I logged into the local library and downloaded the book.*

What a wonderful read! Norman Maclean is a gifted storyteller, and the written version surprised me with the humor he used to describe people and events, a talent I hope to develop. This is one instance I enjoyed both the book and the movie, which is not what I usually experience.

A couple of years ago, I came across Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity ebook on sale. I enjoy the Bourne movies and wondered what details the book could supply to fill out the story. While I did get more information, I also found the book moved slower than the movie, with much of it involving Bourne and Marie talking through things, trying to help Bourne regain his memory. I have to wonder how I would have felt about the book if I had read it prior to seeing the movie. Would my opinion of both been different?

I read each book in the Harry Potter series before seeing the movie version of each. I loved the world created by J.K. Rowling in the books, and while I enjoyed seeing that world come to life in the movies, I also knew how much had been left out, how scenes had been shortened so the movies were kept to a reasonable length. I always left the movies wondering if people who had not read the books fully understood what was going on.

So why bother watching the movie version? Because I am a visual person, and I love physically seeing the world created by an author. While it isn’t always what I had imagined in my mind, it still appeals to me to see how a story is portrayed in a film. If I read the book after I see the movie, I visualize the scenes based on what I saw in the movie. Yet, I will also continue to read the book that movies I enjoy were based on, to fill out the story, get details left out and understand the characters better.

Do you prefer to read the book or watch the movie? If you do both, do you prefer to do one before the other?

*The book is titled A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, which consists of 2 novellas and a short story.

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Reading Banned and Challenged Books

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My senior year in high school, we were assigned to read The Canterbury Tales in English class. Mrs. Hendrix, our teacher, handed out our copies and a list of Tales we could choose to read from. Among these were The Knight’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and The Monk’s Tale; in other words, the tales that were more virtuous, the tales that would teach us values. Then she told us we were absolutely, positively NOT to read those that were not on the list. You know, the vulgar ones like The Miller’s Tale.

It was a brilliant move. Being typical teenagers, we immediately began reading those that were “banned”. We may have thought we were getting away with something; who would know if we read the ones we were not supposed to? As a result, we read at least twice as much as we were assigned. And of course, that was why she so vocally told us not to.

Eighteen years later I am living in England. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses is published, followed by the Muslim outrage over its content. It was when the Ayatollah issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie that I really took notice. There were protests outside British bookstores, book burnings were held, and even bombings of bookstores. I wanted to read the book, to see what all the fuss was about for myself. And to be a bit rebellious.

The act of challenging or banning books removes them from access, often before many people become aware of them. This is why shining a light on titles that have been banned or challenged is so important. Get the word out so people are aware of books that are published, but which they don’t have easy access to. Let them know that someone, somewhere thought the books were inappropriate and therefore made sure that NO ONE would be able to read them.

We need to make some noise about the books that are challenged and banned, and not just during one week in September. We need to be more vocal all the time. Remind people that there is still a danger that they cannot read what they want because books continue to be challenged and banned. Remind them of all the books that are on the list of banned books, maybe even ones they thought they’d like to read. Remind them to get a copy and read and decide for themselves what they think of it. Remind them to act like rebellious teenagers.

In that spirit, I am going to do what I did not do in 1988. I am going to finally read The Satanic Verses. I hope you will join me. What banned book have you been meaning to read, but not gotten around to? Why not read it now?