Wait and See Pudding

When I was in library school, there were a few things I heard over and over again in the school library teacher program. Some of them actually led to a serious student identity crisis about halfway through my time there–I was incredibly frustrated by what I saw as constant emphasis on how difficult administrators, parents, and students themselves can be.

But as I sit in my new library, among the printer carts and trophy cases stored here for the summer, staring at another stack of books telling me all about those wacky West Germans and the rise of modern America (copyright 1935), it’s a different refrain that keeps ringing in my head: Don’t try to get anything done in your first year.

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July 24, 2009 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

What I’ve Been Reading

It’s been one of those months, apparently.

The Catcher in the Rye: Note to self: never read this on the Harvard campus again. Slash, in public. People seem to think that seeing you reading Catcher in the Rye is some kind of invitation to idiotic conversations. I love J.D. Salinger, but I’m aware that my love for him is extremely tortured. Also, this is by far his weakest work.

Escape: A friend recommended this to me. It’s not terribly well-written, but goodness is it compelling. I was struck a lot by the number of things Big Love seems to have lifted from real life, although if this book is any indication it didn’t lift any of the truly terrifying parts of life in the FLDS. Note to self: next time, get a recommendation for something lighter. Fluffier, even. Maybe puppies and unicorns.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary: I heard some people on BBYA talking about this title and realized I still hadn’t read my galley from Midwinter, so I read it in maybe two days. The ending was abrupt and annoying, but the book still really spoke to me. Though it would be nice to have a proofread version, since many of the galley hiccups were distracting.

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing: Another I own and reread when I’m feeling particularly tortured. Dog this is a beautiful book.

July 23, 2009 at 1:10 pm 3 comments

Why Does History Have to Be So OLD?

Yesterday was my first day in my new library. I’m my own department head, overseer of a collection for 900 high school students, and I’m mildly terrified.

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June 30, 2009 at 5:44 am 1 comment

What I’ve Been Reading

The Few, the Proud: Women Marines in Harm’s Way: After a Feministing thread sparked a new blog on the military from a feminist soldier’s perspective, I had to pick jane’s brain for some good reads on women in the military. This was one of them. Sheldon embedded in Iraq in 2005 when she was already 70, so her narrative is often just as compelling as the stories women in the military tell her.

It’s Our Military, Too: Another jane recommendation, this time a series of essays on a wide variety of women’s experiences in the military, from the history of military nurses to being a lesbian soldier.

It Sucked and Then I Cried: I love dooce, so it’s no surprise that I loved this book. Much of the general content I’d already read on the website more or less as it unfolded, but it was really touching to re-read it all, and heartening to read Armstrong’s candid prose about her own depression and anxiety as I struggle with my own again.

White Mule: I picked this out completely on a lark from a used shelf at the Harvard Book Store. William Carlos Williams is one of the very few poets I can stand, and until that day I hadn’t even known he wrote any fiction, so I was excited about this one. Slightly less excited when I realized it’s part of a trilogy and not entirely free-standing, but now I’ll just have to track down the other two.

June 20, 2009 at 9:35 am 1 comment

Engagement Through Gaming: Teamwork

One thing that has really been fascinating for me to watch as I work with my wonderful group of sophomores is the social dynamic of gaming. I’ve done plenty of social gaming, but I’ve never been a fifteen-year-old boy, so this is new territory for me. And I’d always suspected that the competitive camaraderie of gaming would actually raise the bar for everyone in the group, but I worried that this environment might also be a breeding ground for things like misogyny and homophobia.

Imagine my delight when I discovered the missing variable: me.

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May 31, 2009 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

What I’ve Been Reading

Kind of a slow reading week or two. Gotta work on that. My ARC pile isn’t getting any smaller!

Animals Make Us Human: I love Temple Grandin’s work, but this time around I decided to just read up on the chapters that were most relevant to me–cats and dogs. I was particularly interested to read her opinion of alpha rolling (which seems like a hugely bad idea to me, though her description of using it very gently with puppies to assess personality, not to establish dominance, is really intriguing to me) and hear a bit about frustration in animals. I also learned that it makes sense that Moneypenny is her lovable self, because apparently black cats are more sociable in general. Who knew?

Things I Learned about My Dad (in Therapy): I’ll admit that I skimmed a couple of the essays toward the end, but overall I loved this read, and completed it in a single chunk. Made me think about my own dad the whole time.

May 31, 2009 at 9:38 am 1 comment

The Trouble with Meg Cabot

Earlier in the school year, I decided to take on a massive project: creating a bunch of fiction booklists, more or less from scratch, to put on our library blog. (Creating a booklist may not seem like such a huge undertaking, but you try categorizing over 2000 titles, many of which you’ve never read!)

My motivation at first was to familiarize myself with the collection. I was tired of not knowing the right answer when students would come in looking for something like Criminal Minded. (Indeed, the street lit list was the first one I made–these are our most popular books, and they’re constantly out whenever someone comes looking for them.)

I had also hoped to ultimately link the lists with the catalog (because it’s really frustrating to have to check every book on a list against the catalog to make sure it’s actually available), but that turns out to be a whole ‘nother story.

Anyway, I’ve been plugging away at my lists, adding summaries from other catalogs as I go to flesh out our records a little, adding new categories here and there.

And then I got totally stumped–by All-American Girl.

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May 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm 5 comments

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