Sorry, Guys

I know, it's been what, 4 days?  Five days?  I know I missed at least one Teaser in there.  Who's counting anymore.  I feel like ass.

I've been up late and running around all week, hand-sewing stripes on an over-sized orange sweatshirt, so my boyfriend and I can be completely without-a-doubt secured to win the prize for the greatest Halloween costume of 2009: none other than Calvin and Hobbes.  A boy and his tiger.  Of course, since I know how to thread a needle, I am going as Hobbes.

(And I just wrote "sewing" as "sweing" three times in a row.)

So now all the pressure is getting to me and I have come down with some variation of swine flu, or maybe it's just the common cold.  I am taking Zicam and drinking tea.  I bought some soup.  I will not miss Halloween.  However, I still need to sew (count 4 for "swe") all the stripes onto the back of my costume.  I have till 6pm EDT tomorrow, right?  Right.  Stickin' to it.

Anyhow, I decided to catch up on my blog reading while I sip ginseng tea from this gigantic mug, and found a link at Turtlehead leading me back to a link at Kate...Tells Stories with a pretty sweet bookish meme all about "stories that stick."  You see, Kate is an author, who just finished a book called The Dread Crew, and you even have a chance to win a copy of her new book if you fill out the meme!  Of course I totally filled out the meme.

Holy crap, and I just hit Publish Post without even being ready to Publish Post.  Ok, one meme and I am going to bed.

Without further ado..."Stories That Stick":

1) You are facing an epic journey. You may choose one companion, one tool and one vehicle from any book or film to accompany you. Or just one of the three. It's up to you. What do you choose?

Companion: I would pick Charlotte from Charlotte's Web, because she is sensible, smart, has lots of common sense, and is kind and encouraging.  However, she is a spider, and will probably not live for more than a year.  So I choose Jill from Katharine Kerr's Deverry Series...she is all those things, plus she is human.  And she has magic.

Tool:  Probably Harry Potter's wand.  (Turtlehead: How about I filled out my own answers before I read yours...we are so in sync. ;) )

Vehicle:  Elphaba's broom.  Why not Harry Potter's broom?  Who can say.  Or maybe I would borrow Rhodry Maelwaedd's dragon for awhile.

2) You can escape to the insides of any book. Where do you go, and why?

I'm pretty much a wimp, so I don't think I'd go anywhere too ridiculous or dangerous.  In fact, I think I'd like to hang out near Elizabeth Gilbert's stomping grounds in Eat, Pray, Love.  Italy, India, Indonesia.  Sounds like a vacation to me!  Oh man, or in Ramona Quimby's house.  I always wondered what her parents said when she wasn't around.

3) You can bring one literary character into your current life. Who do you choose, and why?

Tough.  I'd choose Brett Ashley from The Sun Also Rises.  She's strong, and I think I'd love listening to her stories.

4) __The Outsiders__ is my go-to book. I could read that book fifty-seven times in a row without a break for food or a pee and not be remotely bored. In fact I've already done that but it wasn't fifty-seven times. It was sixty-four.

5) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most enviable?

Enviable, huh?  I have to say I did envy Claudia Kishi from The Baby-sitter's Club series.  She was beautiful, smart (although she did have trouble in school), cool, had some great fashion taste, and she was artsy.  Everything I wanted to be growing up.  My favorite book in the series was Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph.  It was such a great plot, and that's where I learned the word "facade."

6) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most frightening?

Who was scary?  I don't know if any character in a book or movie ever really frightened me as a kid.  Everything always worked out in the end, like I could predict it would.  If it didn't work out, it would at least resolve.  Certain scenes were scary, maybe.  What happened was that I got a lot of nightmares as I got older and started reading more sophisticated, real D.M. Thomas's The White Hotel.  That book gave me the worst case of the creeps.

7) Every time I read _America's Women_, I see something in it that I haven't seen before.

8)  It is imperative that ____The BFG_____ be made into a movie. Now. I am already picketing Hollywood for this-but if they cast ____Robin Williams_____ as __the BFG___, I will not be happy. I will, however, be appeased if they cast __James Cromwell___.

9) __The Devil Wears Prada__ is a book that should never be made (or should have never been made) into a film.

Ok, this is only half true.  I thought the book was spectacular, and I was so excited to see the movie after I finished it.  The visuals were so good, it seemed perfect for the big screen.  But the movie just...sucked.  The book was worlds away.  So much was left out of the film...and it was the first book I read that actually seemed like it was also MADE for film.  I realize they were shooting for 90 minutes, but it could have been executed so differently...and better.

10) After all these years, the __refugee boat__ scene in the book/movie ___Children of the River__ still manages to give me the queebs.

11) After all these years, the ___last sentence where you finally see the frame story___ scene in the book/movie ___The Outsiders___ still manages to give me a thrill.  (sorry to use this book twice, but I LOVE it.)

12) If I could corner the author ___K.A. Applegate___, here's what I'd say to them one minute or less about their book, __the Animorphs Series__:

"Your books got me so interested in fantasy and science fiction writing.  I laughed, I cried, so thank you so much for introducing me to a genre I never knew I could love."

13) The coolest non-fiction book I've ever read is __To Full Term__. Every time I flip through it, it makes me want to __either jump up and down (seriously) or just sit down and read it cover to cover.  It makes me want to recommend it___.

And there you have it!  My version of the Stories That Stick meme.  Have fun filling in your own!

Shout Out

Just wanted to send a quick note of congrats to my friend at Fickle Words, who successfully completed Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon this evening.  Way to go, girl!  I doubt I'd be able to avoid falling asleep, even for books.  Could be a nice goal for next time, though, thanks for sharing!  I'll be sure to mark the web page.

Nice job!

Classically Challenged

It has recently been preying on my mind that I am not very familiar with "the classics," especially the ones written by popular female writers.  You know -- the books that are categorized as the novels "Every Girl Should Read."  They seem to be popping up everywhere, in the most peculiar forms.  From Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the movie I just rented, The Jane Austen Book Club (cute, in that chick-flick, straight to TBS sort of way), "the classics" are pervading my every thought lately when it comes to books.  I tried reading Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights when I was in gradeschool, but couldn't wade my way through.  Now that almost a decade has passed since then, I've decided it's high time I get around to reading these beautiful works by their beautiful authors.  In high school, our substitute AP English teacher told us we'd never make it through college without reading Jane Eyre.  Well, I made it.  Or did I?  No wonder Wide Sargasso Sea never made any sense.

Anyway, that's what I'd like to find out.  Did I really make it, having skipped these so-called "life-changers"?

Next on my list of books to read: A Classic.

Get Ready

November is going to be a wild ride for all of us.  I have one week to get over myself and suck it up.

(Why am I being so mysterioso?  Because it's fun!  But if you're really impatient for surprises, like I am -- I couldn't even wait 9 days to turn this post into something more transparent and sensical -- click around a little.  There's a big clue somewhere close-ish.)

These People are Serious

Browsing Google Reader today turned up a post at myliblog, which happened to mention nothing other than a good ol' fashioned, annual Halloween book burning.  Annual.

The North Carolina Baptist church, Amazing Grace, will be hosting a book burning/barbeque (who knew that spiritual cleansing could double as the social event of the season?) on October 31 to destrroy what the congregation believes to be the works of Satan and the perversions of God's Word.  That allows for any religious books or works that are not the old version of the King James Bible...meaning the new version of the King James Bible is gonna be choking on smoke.  The believers will also burn samples of most genres of music, including contemporary Christian and Southern gospel.

Now, I am not writing this post to criticize these people's beliefs (although I really do have to openly and respectfully disagree with their position.  I don't believe burning the offensive material is really accomplishing anything, especially in 2009, when probably 3,000,000 more copies of the "perversions" have already been distributed by the time you've dug the fire pit.  But, I guess it's the principle of the thing).  I was really just sort of surprised that people are still out there burning books.  Like really, truly, burning them.  I mean, who does that?  I've never been to any kind of burning, not even a bra burning.  Should I have met people like this by this point in my life?  So I'm more intrigued by the idea of book burnings and the history behind them.  It's very Farhenheit 451.  Time to consult my dear friend Wikipedia.  And Google, too.  There's always room for you, Google.

Amazing Grace claims their tradition is just that -- a Christian tradition.  They quote Acts 19:18-20 as their basis.  Wikipedia says:

Book burning (a category of biblioclasm, or book destruction) is the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, one or more copies of a book or other written material. In modern times, other forms of media, such as phonograph records, video tapes, and CDs have also been ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded. The practice, usually carried out in public, is generally motivated by moral, religious, or political objections to the material.

(Really, I can't stand it with the hyper-hyperlinking.  Why did we ever give up on books?  I long for a simpler time.)

Apparently there have been a great many traumatic book burnings throughout history.  Wikipedia cites several major book burnings that have happened over the course of centuries, the most famous probably being the Nazi book burnings (these were carried out by chapters of the German Student Association, which I did not realize).  All citations refer to book burnings as horrific acts of war, as forms of violence against a people and culture, and "emblematic of a harsh and oppressive regime."  They are efforts to suppress a viewpoint that challenges the prevailing order.

The earliest reference Wikipedia has to a book burning is from 367 AD, commissioned by the bishop of Alexandria.  How many years ago was that?  And we're still lighting matches.

Anthony Comstock founded The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1873, and boasted the destruction of "15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds of plates for printing such 'objectionable' books, and nearly 4,000,000 pictures."  His reasoning?  They were lewd.

In 1842, early books coded with braille were burned in Paris, France.  At the city's school for the blind.  

In 2001, a church in New Mexico invited its congregation to a book burning party.  The guest of honor?  Harry Potter.  And God.  The pastor hadn't read even one of J.K. Rowling's books.

What is it that gives books such power that we are so motivated to destroy them?  They have to have power, because power is what makes us feel threatened.  And what makes us so eager to blame the books?  Why are the books the first thing we seek out when we're looking to quash ideas?  I personally think it's because they are the physical manifestation of a person's opinions, theories, and maybe sometimes facts.  Pieces of knowledge we don't agree with.  And a book burning has got to be the easiest way to hurt and humiliate an author.  Even today, it's not enough for people to just speak their minds.  Humans are a species of action.  We have to get as close as we can to destroying our perversions at their source.

But I guess author burning would be illegal.

Teaser Tuesday!

Thanks again to MizB at Should Be Reading for coming up with this meme.  And thanks to for providing me with the sweet new background!

Ready?  Go!
  1. Grab your current read.*
  2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
  3. Share with us two (2)** "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  4. Share the title and author of the book, so we can investigate on our own if we like the teaser you've given!
  5. Please avoid spoilers!
*To keep this feature periodic, I will be using both teasers from current reads, and from books I've read before, but haven't discussed on this blog.

**Quantity of sentences may vary, depending on how long it takes to finish the thought within those line parameters. Teasers should still make sense!

This week's Teaser Tuesday showcases Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (a book I started, but never finished...and hope to someday pick up again):

Mrs. O'Dowd said that her 'Glorvina was not afraid of any man alive, let alone a Frenchman,' and tossed off a glass of beer with a wink which expressed her liking for the beverage.

And how cool is this?  As I was flipping through my copy of this book, I came across two pictures of me with each of my parents.  I love these pictures because we are all cracking up in them.  I thought they'd been lost for 2 years.  Literary classics to the rescue!

You'll have to excuse the poor positioning...these pictures were taken long before the digital age...and time is still standing in B.S. at my house (Before Scanners).


I was watching an episode of Sex & the City today -- "Cover Girl."  The girls are in a bookstore, helping Carrie research ideas for her new book cover while they browse for their own purchases.  Charlotte is looking for a copy of Starting Over Yet Again, while Miranda searches for a book with a title like "How to Lose That Baby Fat While Sitting on Your Ass."  Miranda settles on From Fat to Fit, but then decides against buying it when the sales clerk advises her to start Weight Watchers instead.  Charlotte, nervous about being seen in the Self-Help section, decides to order her book online.

The episode got me thinking: we've all read something to make us feel uncomfortable.  What books have I been embarrassed about reading in public?  And why?

In college, my roommate and I took an LGBT-awareness class.  Our first assignment was to buy Brian McNaught's Now That I'm Out, What Do I Do? somewhere other than the campus bookstore.  The purpose was to put us in a place outside of our comfort zone, so we could understand what the LGBT community, their parents, and their friends go through when they go to buy the same books.  My roommate shared with me that she did in fact feel a little embarrassed walking around the bookstore with it.  She felt like she was being looked at differently.  I remember being proud of myself for getting through the assignment with little to no feelings of shame.  Now that I look back, I know I should have tried harder to put myself in others' shoes.

For me, the most recent book I can think of makes me ashamed to even bring up the story.  Not because of the book itself, but because of the very fact that I was embarrassed to be seen with it.  I am embarrassed for my embarrassment.  Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America, by Ellen Chesler, should not have caused these feelings to bubble up in me.  I usually have no problem admitting to anyone, even strangers, that I consider myself a feminist.  Yet there I was, keeping the book huddled against my chest every morning as I made the walk from the parking garage to my workplace.

It's amazing how once you're out of the safety of a college campus, all your ideals have to become...private.  Inoffensive.  The issue with me this time had to do with exactly that -- offensiveness.  It was the abortion topic...or at least, that's how I was perceiving people perceiving me.

Honestly, my thinking was in line with Margaret's.  I believe women should have a choice when it comes to their bodies, which is why I was so excited to find this book on the shelf.  I was enthralled with Margaret Sanger and her story when I learned about her in my Philosophy of Women class.  Her movement spoke to me.  Her struggle to make birth control accessible and normalized for all women was something I could really look up to.  Reading her biography, which promised to be just as accessible, would be like icing on the cake.

But reading the book about Margaret soon became my own struggle.  The book was not as "readable" as the cover proclaimed.  But not only that, I was finding out a lot about Ms. Sanger that was spoiling my idea of her.  Who knew that role models could be human?

Anyway, it wasn't so much Margaret's personality that made me duck the book under my armpit as I walked the streets of Cleveland.  I may be a feminist, but I know Margaret Sanger is an obscure enough name that no one would be offended by that alone.  No, it was the rest of the title that I was hiding: The Birth Control Movement in America. 

But why?  Why did I care?  I still can't explain it.  Maybe it was the stereotypes.  Maybe it was my own self-righteous opinion of myself.  I did not want people to see me as a baby killer.  Because I know that's not what pro-choice means.  But the simple people on the street, they didn't.  I am such an ass!  I can't believe myself.

I stopped reading Woman of Valor.  Not because of the embarrassment.  It truly was just too hard to get through.  The writing was too elevated.  But the shame I feel now when realizing how embarrassed I was for reading that book is still going on.

I sort of meant to make this post more light-hearted.  You know, talk about the trashy romance novels I also take care to hide in my purse when making the commute to the office.  Or the fantasy fiction novels I enjoy with the dragons on the cover.  But I think it was more important to make this other, more serious point to myself.

They say that if you assume something, you make an ass out of you and me.  I found that it's true...and to be embarrassed about my reading choices just makes an ass out of, em, me. Releasing Your Books into the Wild...or, The Blogger Who Loved Parentheses

I stumbled upon this online "book club" today at Should Be Reading. The idea of the site,, intrigued me, although I'm not quite sure how comfortable I am with the idea of following through. But then I said screw it, and I signed up. Can't hurt, right? (Right. I was made even more uncomfortable by the fact that I was forced to enter my home address to fully register. Now these potential book-loving Internet stalkers know where I live. No. I must get over my paranoia. For the love of books.)

The basis of the club is "releasing your books into the wild." It's organic, and promotes such a wonderful, communal sentiment. You register a book you own (aka, do not use library books) into your "shelf," at which point the site generates for it its own unique BCID (BookCrossing ID) number. You write the BCID number in ink on the inside cover of your book, and make a corresponding journal entry on If you'd prefer to make labeling more official, the BookCrossing online store offers a selection of merchandise, including labels with the BookCrossing logo. Then, you quite literally set the book free. It's for good karma or something.

The site advocates leaving the book almost anywhere to be discovered, never to be seen by you again...but, thanks to the BCID number, the book can now be used as a roadmap back to the BookCrossing web site. Finders with your BCID can post their own journal entries about the books that are traveling the world. The cornerstone of this site is the "journey."

Being myself, I am full of both apprehension and delightful anticipation. Fueling my anticipation: How cool would it be to actually find a book like this on the side of the road one day? And then it's yours. For keeps. And how cool would it be to see a book you released be discovered by another book lover? Who loved your book? Warm, gushy feelings.

But fueling my apprehension: here's what I don't get. The site advertises itself as earth friendly, what with all the recycling and sharing of books that goes on. Supposedly. MizB from Should Be Reading admitted her books were not being found --or found and written about -- as often as she'd hoped would happen.

As I think more about this, if I did see a random book lying somewhere, like a coffee house or in a restaurant booth (hey, these are good ideas -- chalk 2 more up to delightful anticipation, I guess)...anyway, would I really be morally able to pick them up and claim them as my own? I was raised not to touch things that aren't mine, and definitely thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt turn in lost items at the Lost & Found. Thou shalt leave that alone, that's not yours. Shrug. Maybe I've got the world all wrong. Maybe everyone is just a thieving, greedy bibliophile.

But back to earth friendly. Granted, books are made out of paper, and paper is biodegradable...but ew, what if it rains? No one is going to pick up an abandoned, wet book. Except -- in this scenario only -- maybe me. Abandoned, rained-on books would probably evoke much sympathy on my part, and I would lovingly pick it up, dust it off, and tell it how lucky we both were for me to have found it.

BookCrossing does defend its convictions on its FAQ page:

Q(11): Hey, wait just a minute... aren't you promoting littering here, by suggesting that everyone just leave books lying around all over the place? You should be ashamed!

A: Aw, come on. Books promote literacy, enable the transfer of knowledge and can bring inspiration, hope and joy. Is that bad?
Hopefully, nobody considers books "litter". And BookCrossing provides all that by just giving away books to someone who is lucky enough to find one in the wild. Consider it a gift that can change your life for the better.
Also, it's nearly impossible to throw a book away; it's just one of those objects with some special kind of intrinsic value that tells you it's to be saved, to be treasured.

So lighten up! What's the worst that could happen... you might see a few books on park benches, or bus seats, or diner tables? Make the world one big library! Or take the safer, more conventional route, and give your books to friends, or to charities, or trade them in at a used book store, or whatever... just pass them on so they can touch more lives.

I am not sure how to handle that response. I have bad feelings associated with the "lighten up" jab...of course, I've never before heard it used when referring to a worldwide book sharing program. Also, I wouldn't be so quick to agree with the argument that the probability of people throwing books away is "nearly impossible." Just ask Half Price Books about that.  Then you've got books waiting in a landfill.  Biodegrading.  Wishing they were home.  ::Sob!::

All skepticism aside, I've decided to give this a whirl. The biggest problem will be finding a book to give up. It's like Sophie's Choice up in here. I really do get some sick sort of joy out of seeing all my paperbacks lined up neatly on their shelves.

I'll let you know how it goes...and if you're feeling adventurous yourself, be sure to let me know how it goes for you, too.

Leaving books behind on purpose. So deliciously(?) taboo!

Celebrity Book Sighting

So I'm sitting and watching the Parks and Recreation episode I missed two weeks ago while I began the first long drive of my vacation. It's Episode # 203, entitled "Beauty Pageant." The plot in brief: Leslie Knope, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation, serves as a judge for the local Pawnee beauty pageant. The subplot thickens as she discovers the police officer who is interested in dating her is not quite familiar with her real-life female role models -- specifically, Madeleine Albright.

It's the last scene of the episode, and I almost closed my full screen view so I could push on to view The Office episode I also missed, when...could it really be? Yes! It is! What do I spy in the background but a copy of Gail Collins's America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines! My favorite history book of all time!

America's Women on Leslie Knope's bookshelf:

America's Women on my own bookshelf:

I love this book with all my heart. It was the first book I ever read, at the ripe old age of 22, to really get me interested in, and sometimes fascinated with, history. From the era of the very first colonists up to the 21st century, Gail Collins, an editor at the New York Times, explores the common life, struggles, victories, failures, political activism, and overall history of American women. She includes many races, backgrounds, and classes in one of the largest compilations of diary entries, articles, books, and journals I've ever seen. According to Amazon, "...some of these women -- from the justly famous, like Clara Barton and Harriet Tubman, to the undeservedly obscure, like Elizabeth Eckford and Senator Margaret Chase Smith -- will not only make any woman proud to be a woman, they will make any American proud to be American."

I am absolutely smitten with this book. Admittedly, it took me a whole summer and then some to get through it...the amount of content is just so vast, and I'll confess that not all of the stories held my attention equally. At first, it's even a little befuddling. I thought I'd try to take notes in the margins, but there are so many stories about so many women, I'd already lost track by the 3rd chapter. I had to learn to let some 'characters' go, because they rarely turned up again later. You kind of have to let what stands out to you really stand alone, and let the rest fall where it may. Let me clarify. It's all so interesting; so many of the stories me. But I think it qualifies as a great re-read because I'd bet you'd learn something new every time. Really, you have no idea how much she fit into this little 608-page book (yes, 608 pages will seem ridiculously minuscule when you think about how much she probably didn't include).

The book was such an important discovery for me. It really did make me feel closer to my heritage as an American, and as an American woman. When I saw it in the background of last week's Parks and Recreation, I was so ecstatic. I feel driven to share how much I love this book every time I think about it. I'm surprised this whole blog hasn't had at least one mention of it by now. Well, I'm finally saying something. Go pick up a copy of America's Women by Gail Collins, and learn. Endorsed by Leslie Knope.* It's what it was written for.

*Not an actual endorsement.

Teaser Tuesday!

Time to play!

Here's how:
  1. Grab your current read.*
  2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
  3. Share with us two (2)** "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  4. Share the title and author of the book, so we can investigate on our own if we like the teaser you've given!
  5. Please avoid spoilers!
*To keep this feature periodic, I will be using both teasers from current reads, and from books I've read before, but haven't discussed on this blog.

**Quantity of sentences may vary, depending on how long it takes to finish the thought within those line parameters. Teasers should still make sense!

This week's Teaser Tuesday showcases Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (my current read):

"Listen," he said.
"I don't have to listen to you. You're a fucking clown."

Gotta love the swears. Tune in next week for another Teaser Tuesday!

Do this on your own blog, and leave a link in the comments here...or just leave a comment with your own teasers and titles! Super fun.

Meme courtesy of MizB at Should Be Reading.

REVIEW: 'The Forever War,' by Dexter Filkins

When my good friend left for the war in Iraq, I hadn’t really done any reading about the situation over there. I did not know what to expect when he left, what the climate was across the sea, or even how to approach him without making a joke. Dexter Filkins’s book, The Forever War, has finally given me some small perspective on the war…and especially on the people who live through it every day. As Filkins mentions at the end of his book, I now know enough to realize I will never be able to truly understand the war unless I have been to Iraq or Afghanistan. But Filkins’ writing has at least paved the way for a tiny beam of essential illumination.

It is still hard for me to believe that some of these things are going on in 2009. I feel like the American government has done a tremendous job of keeping the war distant from us civilians at home. Filkins’s narrative changes all of that. His reporting is honest and for the most part unbiased. Most of the narrative is taken from his published articles, but is rewritten in a different form for the book. The most enlightening realization for me seems to be that the war isn't between just American and Iraqi anymore. It's American vs. Iraqi vs. Iraqi vs. Palestinian vs...everyone. There are a thousand smaller wars, civil wars, going on over there. We just umbrella them under "The Iraq War."

Filkins is a correspondent for The New York Times, and his reports of the people are what impacted me most. The divisiveness of everyone, American and Iraqi, Iraqi and Iraqi, American and American, was astounding. In a kind of Tim O'Brien-turned-reporter style, Filkins excellently documents the sentiment of everyone he interviews. And everyone’s sentiment is so different. From the American corporal who refuses to throw Iraqis in the Tigris river; to the woman who spits at Filkins, “I voted in order to prevent my country from being destroyed by its”; to the woman who cried, “I love you, I love you,” as she fled Baghdad; to the American soldiers who make decisions between letting women and children live, or killing the insurgents who attack them every day; to the officers who will do anything you could think of to protect their fellow soldiers from the media; to the soldiers who die playing a part in helping the media tell their story; this book is one large contradiction. But it’s not supposed to make sense. My professor, the Hemingway scholar, would say (as I believe did another soldier from the book): “It’s war.” What are you supposed to do?

Filkins made me realize that nothing is black and white, no matter how much you think it should be, or could be if we tried to make it that way. Nothing is black and white. Especially in wartime. I appreciated his recording both the stories of the American soldiers, and the Iraqi civilians, soldiers, and government officials. It certainly helped highlight the theme.

I got to see my soldier friend and his wife today before I came home. He is home for 10 days before he goes back overseas. We got to eat at Skyline, and ride in a Volkswagen. I thought about this book while I was talking to him, and whether I should bring it up or not. Maybe I’ll mention it in my next letter to him. I’m sure that any spare time he gets for reading he likes to dedicate to the letters from his family and friends anyway. He doesn’t need the book, he’s living The Forever War. But we do. We need it to remind us. And maybe to teach us something, too.

Next up: Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

October is a Busy Month

Just a short post here, as I need to get back to my book!! and the Internet connection in this beach house is sketchy.

President Obama named October 2009 National Information Literacy Awareness Month. I could dedicate this whole post to covering why I'm going to add "Holiday/Month Namer" to my list of dream jobs (following Street Namer and Menu Writer), but I'll focus on the positive here instead.

The long title really did help me break down what the month will be all about, however. This is no ordinary war on illiteracy. Drawing awareness to the issue of illiteracy in the United States is a great step forward, and one we can all support. There is no downside. But extending support for information literacy (and for now I'll just umbrella that under "evaluating Internet technology," because even I need to bone up on my information) really knocked into me how much the world is changing.

When I was in first grade, we had the Book-It! program. What do kids today have? How are they learning to succeed, and what tools are going to be more useful to them? The ALA is encouraging Americans (and I'm encouraging everyone) to visit their local libraries and really reap the benefits of the information services provided there. I have always been one to live in the past, but it is so important that we all know how to navigate through the jargon. With the growth of the Information Age, we need to adapt our literacy skills, no matter what our age. Please read the President's statement, linked above, and let's commit ourselves to matter the shape, form, or variety.