Modern epics and movie adaptations

 

 

ImageI am still reading The Goldfinch, and it has transformed me already. It begins with an accident that alters the trajectory of his life. The reader follows him throughout the years. It is told from the perspective of future Theodore Decker, much in the fashion of Catcher in the Rye‘s Holden Caulfield. This book raises a lot of important existential questions. I feel like a qualifying title could be (What if?)

I am headed to the theaters in two short weeks to watch Divergent, and I can’t wait!

What are you reading?

POETRY app by the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation created a new app called POETRY that enables users to create custom searches on topics such as “insecurity” AND “youth,” “insecurity” AND “love,” and “contentment” AND “life.” 

You then tap “spin” and a list of poems appear that are related to your chosen search. It is amazing. I don’t have enough money to buy all the poetry books in the world, and I find it difficult to keep up with poetry on the internet. This app is perfect for keeping up, and it’s also great for a little pick-me-up on the go.

It’s available on Android and iPhone.

“Grief pounded over me in waves”: Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch”

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I’m taking a break from the Divergent series to read Donna Tartt’s critically-acclaimed novel The Goldfinch. I have been wanting to read it for a while, but I can’t get myself to pay $28 for a book. (I buy 95% of my books from used book stores and thrift stores.) I was positively ecstatic when I learned it was $7.99 in the Google Play store for a limited time. 

This book is crushing. It reminds me of the good parts of Salinger, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Saul Bellow. It takes place in New York and follows a thirteen-year-old boy, Theo, and his mother during a terrorist attack at the Frick and the days and months following.

Tartt captures death so perfectly for those affected by it. She is incredibly insightful, sensitive, and honest. I can only handle this book in small doses because it is so heavy, but it has been a therapeutic read for me so far. I really needed to read it right now. I’m only about one-quarter of the way through, so I will be back with a review soon.

What we’re reading over here

Since starting school, much of my reading is comprised of library-related topics. Nevertheless, I have still found time to fall utterly and completely in love with a new series.

Nicholas Sparks could write a novel about my relationship with Divergent by Veronica Roth. It is all I can think about. I vacillate between wanting to devour it and wanting to stretch it out as long as possible. I finished Divergent, the first in the series, last week, and I am about three-quarters of the way through Insurgent. I think Roth is incredible at capturing tension in climactic events. Tris is a strong female character, but she’s also incredibly believable.

I love a good dystopian novel, and Divergent does not disappoint. It has received a lot of comparisons to Hunger Games for good reason, but I find the writing to be much stronger.

Jack the Cat stayed up all night reading. He gives it two paws up!

Jack the Cat stayed up all night reading. He gives it two paws up!

 

Tips for success in an online program

As an English major, I always had a particular disdain for group work. Every person has his or her own writing style, and no one wants another person to knock it off balance. However, I have been a part of a few successful team projects, and they all occurred when we had similar expectations that we expressed at the project’s start. For example, I was part of a team whose job it was to create an online magazine. During the first meeting, we assigned roles and brainstormed topics. We set goals for our publication that were in line with the project guidelines. Because of this collaboration and careful planning, this was one of the most successful group projects I was a part of during my undergraduate studies.

Dr. Ken Haycock emphasizes the importance of collaboration and planning in his colloquium talk entitled “Working in Teams.” He advises the need for acknowledging goals at a project’s or semester’s start in creating an effective group. As he notes, this makes it much more difficult to fall into the trap of the five common team dysfunctions. These include a lack of trust, “a fear of conflict,” “a lack of commitment,” “avoidance of accountability,” and “inattention to results.” Dr. Haycock’s advice is especially important as I begin this program. In the past, I have been guilty of the first two dysfunctions, so I often take on more than I need or should. First, this is not the right attitude to have. Second, it is virtually impossible when I have a full time job.

As Enid Irwin points out in, “The Monster inside Library School: Student Teams,” attitude is one of the key determining factors for a successful team. I need to evaluate my attitude before I begin a project. Frustration is an easy trap to fall into, so I need to remind myself of the importance of teamwork. I am aware of the reality of it in the workplace since I team teach in a preschool classroom. I love my teaching partner; we have great communication, and we always sit down at the start of the semester and the school week to discuss classroom learning goals.

Since I work full time, I know that organization and time management will be key in my success in this program. Both online assessments stress the importance of these two components. After completing San Diego Community College’s online assignment, I can see that I am on the right path. I am comfortable with technology, and I am extremely self-motivated. My only problem will be making sure that I do not overload myself or work too hard. Although I work every day from 7:30 to 5:00, I keep my evenings free to complete my work. In “Tips for Success,” it expresses a concern for reading and eye fatigue due to online readings. I have a printer at home, so I try to print out as much as I can and read it throughout the day. I also wear reading glasses, so I have taken adequate steps to overcome this.

Overall, I feel prepared for this program. I am aware that it will be difficult and time consuming. I am also aware that I will need to take part in many team projects. I am thankful for the advice of both Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin, as well as the online assessments.

Welcome and my #1 YA Novel of 2013

Welcome to my blog! My goal for 2014 is to delve deeper into both the classics and young adult literature. I read a few great young adult novels this year, and I want to read many more this year as I prepare to become a librarian.

 

I can say without hesitation that Eleanor & Park was one of my favorite YA books of 2013. In fact, it may have been one of my favorite books period. Rainbow Rowell grasps the life of the “other” in this novel, and that is something that other young adult authors haven’t accomplished as easily. We all know or have been an Eleanor and a Park. Eleanor appears cold and calloused, as if the snide comments and outright bullying don’t bother her, but they do. Unfortunately, she has much worse things to worry about, things that she wants to keep hidden. I appreciated Rowell’s respect for these characters, however fictionalized they may be. We are purposely kept in the dark about the past and future, meaning that we have to learn to live in the moment. It’s a big lesson for a YA novel, but it’s one that many other books try to peddle. Rowell leads by example in this instance. We feel the pain, the excitement, and the anger as it happens. She knows how to create the tension and head over heels feeling of teenage love, and she is good at it. I give Eleanor & Park five out of five stars.

 

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