Saturday, April 6, 2013

Teens Only | Up Close and Personal

We have so much to be proud of in San Joaquin County. And one thing we can be very proud of is artist and poet Richard Rios. He will be speaking at the Cesar Chavez Central Library on Monday, April 8th at 6:30 pm as part of the Live from Cesar Chavez! series sponsored by the Library & Literacy Foundation for San Joaquin County.

Mr. Rios will talk about his new memoir, Songs from the Barrio, which details his growing up in Modesto with his Mexican-born mother and five siblings, finding his way out of the barrio through his art, and coming to understand his mother's request to "never forget you are a Mexican." 

Copies of Mr. Rios' book will be available for purchase and signing at the end of the program. 

Mark your calendar to come hear this wonderful presentation and be inspired! 


Books On Film | Jurassic Park

Welcome back Dinos!

Universal Pictures has just re-released Jurassic Park (originally released 1993) as an IMAX 3-D movie. It's a PG-13 scifi action film about a group of people stuck on an island where dinosaurs, who have been cloned from fossilized DNA, get loose. 

The movie was wildly successful when it was first released. Since then there has been several sequels and it's become an amusement park ride at at Universal Hollywood theme park.

It's based on Michael Crichton's book Jurassic Park. The movie closely follows a lot of the plot from the book, although much more happens in the book than the movie. The book is also much creepier than the movie. While the movie can be enjoyed by audiences of most ages, the book is definitely meant to be read by teens and adults.

As a child, I really enjoyed this movie. They spend a good amount of time just showing off the dinosaurs before all of the action starts happening and there are children characters in the film. If you or your older child have never seen it, do so! If you enjoy suspense novels, then definitely pick up the book and it's sequel, The Lost World, pronto.

Covers Courtey of LibraryThing

Friday, April 5, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | The Number Cruncher

Well, this week has been another challenging week as far as my schedule goes.  On top of this blog, my kids, my full time job, and all of life's general ups and downs, I have been preparing to take the GRE Standardized Test as well.  Actually, I have been off and on semi-preparing for the test for years!  There are two issues I have with this test.  First, I have been too scared to pay for it ($185) until I was confident I would score well.  Second, I have never been confident I would do well because it has been twelve, yes, TWELVE years since I took any sort of math class.  Wow, typing it out just made me feel a whole lot older.  When I started college, I took Statistics right away (and got an A, might I add). My math requirement was done and I spent the rest of my college career focusing on English/Written Communications.  So, imagine my horror when I took a practice test for the GRE and many of the questions were Algebra, Geometry, Statistics (and maybe even some Trigonometry---I don't even know anymore!).  This stuff wasn't hard for me when I was actually in school doing it on a daily basis, but now it is what nightmares are made of.
The Challenge
Relearn advanced math skills.

The Process
I started out by checking out a bunch of the library's GRE test prep books.  We have other test prep books as well from SAT, ASVAB, LSAT, TOEFL, AP, to career and civil service test booklets. They were great, and very helpful in some ways, but clearly, whoever wrote these books assumed that the person reading them remembered anything about advanced algebra.  I am not that person.  In fact, reading these books made me even more frightened than I was when I started.

I thought about doing a lot of things; including taking a class, hiring a tutor, paying an exorbitant amount for some online GRE prep courses.  However, I realized, "Why am I stressing out about this so much?". Every week, I find a skill, check out a book, and learn it.  Does college level algebra have to be any different?  NO!  So, I walked over to the 510-519 section of the library and grabbed some books.  I started at the beginning, checking order of operations, solving for x and y, factoring, simplifying, and lo and behold, it slowly started coming back to me.  Our books reminded me of being in school again - starting simple, doing the problems, and working my way up to the harder stuff.  I covered my desk with scratch paper and did each and every problem from beginning to end until I felt confident at what I was doing.  I did algebra while cooking my kids dinner. I studied geometry after everyone went to bed.  I did word problems while eating breakfast.  I have spent nearly every waking minute relearning these skills. One night, I had a dream about being in my middle school Algebra class.  Even my unconscious was studying!

The Result
I am still going through the books, but thanks to the library, I finally feel confident.  After years of putting it off...

I am scheduled to take the GRE on April 29!  Wish me luck!!!

Blog hint---Someone asked me if I link the books I use for my blog.  The answer: Yes! Always!!!  Just click on the blue words above to go to either the books I used or the library catalog search term to find them.  

By the way, next week I will write about GRAPHOLOGY, or HANDWRITING ANALYSIS!  I have anonymous handwriting samples from library staff!  It should be fun! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Bucket List | The World Until Yesterday

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, books by Jared Diamond were a staple on my bookshelf because they were assigned so frequently in my coursework.  (I still consider The Third Chimpanzee one of my favorite books.)  In the last few years though, I have not read nearly as much non-fiction as when I was in college, but still have a soft spot for anything anthropological.  So when I saw Diamond's The World Until Yesterday, I was eager to read it without having to write a paper.

The World Until Yesterday explores aspects of current traditional societies that would benefit the Western
world.  Diamond gives an example of this as people living in hunter gatherer societies have only extraordinarily rare rates of diabetes, compared to the high rates among the West.  Diamond is using this example as a reason why unhealthy diets are unnecessary and should be avoided.  Diamond also explores child rearing, the treatment of the elderly, and conflict resolution.  What interests me about these subjects are the reasons and processes behind the differences between modern and traditional societies.

 However, many academics have problems with this book.  Some state that Diamond only uses evidence that supports his arguments and ignores different examples as it suits him.  Other activists and members of traditional societies themselves claim that Diamond characterizes all traditional societies as violent, which is a misconception many societies are trying to fight.  Like most popular science, there are, and will always be, opposing viewpoints, but half the fun in reading it is seeing whether or not you agree.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

4 Kids | Interview With a Reader

So I'm trying something a little different today. I'm interviewing a reader. And full disclosure: it's a reader I've known since the day she was born. It's my 12 year old niece, Madeline. I thought I would get Madeline's take on some great books. So here goes!
Me: What are you reading right now?
Madeline: Starlight by Erin Hunter. (That's Book 4 in Warriors: The New Prophecy series. It's the story of when the warrior cat Clans arrive at their new home and set about exploring and fighting over the unfamiliar territory.)
Me: Are you loving it, liking it, or not sure yet?
Madeline: Liking it.
Me: Do you read for fun everyday?
Madeline: Um, no.
(At this point I fainted (almost) and had to get a grip before continuing. The niece of a librarian not reading every day? What would people say? So I took a few deep breaths, and continued with the interview.)
Me: (hopefully) Every other day?
Madeline: Well, every once in a while.
(She must have heard the pain and despair in my voice. She quickly added.)
Madeline: I've been really busy raising my dog.
(Ok, truth be told, Madeline is a huge animal lover, and takes really great care of her animals. I'm going to let her slide on the not reading every day thing.)
Me: What is your favorite book ever?
Madeline: The Lost Heir by Tui Sutherland. (That's Book 2 in The Wings of Fire series. Here's the blurb from our library catalog: Overjoyed to be reunited with her fellow ocean-dwelling dragons, Tsunami the SeaWing continues efforts to end the war for Pyrrhia in spite of a dangerous assassin who is threatening all their lives.)
Me: Why is that your favorite book?
Madeline: "Number one, it has dragons. Number two, it has battles. And number three, it's about family."
Me: What's your favorite subject in school?
Madeline: History.
Me: Not English or Language Arts?
Madeline: History.
Me: Are you sure?
Madeline: History.
(I figured I needed to move on before angering my interview subject.)
Me: Off the top of your head, recommend a book to me that you think I will love. (I think I already know what the answer will be.)
Madeline: "Warriors, 1st series, book 6. I can't remember the title." (That's The Darkest Hour, by the way. And here is the blurb about this book, also from our library catalog: ThunderClan's darkest hour is upon them and Fireheart, the warrior cat, must protect his clan from a threat unlike any the forest has ever seen, as the time comes for prophecies to unfold and heroes to rise. )
(By the way, most of these books are in the teen section of the library. However, my niece isn't the first "pre-teen" who has read and loved these books. And funny thing, "Erin Hunter" is actually a pseudonym for several authors, one of whom is Tui Sutherland!)
Me: Why is reading important to you?
(I was rather thrilled that she didn't hesitate at all when answering this question.)
Madeline: It's helps me get lost, takes me out of my mind and whatever I'm thinking about. (I LOVE this answer!!)
(Worrying that she probably had animal duties to attend to, I thought I should bring this interview to a close. I already had quite a few books added to my "to read" list. I hope you do too! And I am totally looking forward to talking to her about them when I finish. But one more question.)
Me: Who's your favorite aunt?
Madeline: (giggling) That's hard to say. I can't decide.
I could have changed that last answer. I thought about it. But that's Madeline. She's so kind and so fair. And I'm so very, very proud of her.
So there you have it: recommendations from a (wonderful) 12 year old reader.
Happy Reading!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Life & Style | Word Magician

I have a love affair with words.

I have been that way since I can remember.

I am addicted to beautiful words and phrases. When I encounter one, I am lovestruck and powerless. 

The satisfaction that I get from reading a beautiful sentence is just unexplainable. No No, it is  just sublime.

I am envious of those masters who can create the most beautiful phrases in a blink of an eye. I call them word magicians.

Here is a good example written by Brene Brown.

"Believing that you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic."

A word magician can transform the most mundane words in to extraordinary phrases.

I love words, I love beautiful meaningful words.

I have read them in Persian, in English, in French. They are all magnificent and more powerful than the sharpest blade.

They can crush your heart one day and inspire and motivate you the next. Words are majestic and everlasting.

Words can lead us to heaven and hell. Words are what make this life journey worthwhile. 

Here are some of my loves:

"What is a rebel? A man who says no." by Albert Camus 

" In love, one and one are one." by Jean- Paul Sartre  

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." by Gandhi

"Courage is only an accumulation of small steps." by George Konrad

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." by Henry Ford

And some books on this topic:
Words that matter : a little book of life lessons

Life : selected quotations

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha