Category Archives: Books

The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky

The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky

Chatto and Windus, 1935

Find this book at your local library

This book tells the story of the Karol family. Boris, Bella and their daughter Helene move from Kiev to St. Petersburg to Finland to Paris as the events of World War I and the Russian Revolution unfold and force the family to flee their homes.  This book is a wonderful study of filial relationships, financial hardships and just how deep levels of denial can seep throughout a family.

Some have said that this book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s life. If its that’s the case, it breaks my heart. The young girl in the story is ever searching for love and acceptance from her parents. Her father is distant, gambling and turn a blind eye to her mother’s affairs. Her mother, is cruel, unloving and always out of arm’s reach. The only person that makes young Helene’s life bearable is her governess, Mademoiselle Rose.

The character of Bella was the most interesting. There are a number of commonalities between Bella and Anna Karenina. The unfaithfulness, the self-indulgence, the lack of maternal instincts, the narcissism and the negative consequences of their actions on the family. A character as complex as Bella must have been something of a novelty at the time this novel was written. Bella defies the stereotypes of happy housewife. She lives for pleasure, luxury and contentment. Lonely Helene merely gets in her war. As the novel progresses, we see Helene age, mature and begin to define herself within the world her parents have created. Her character development is given the most attention, as most of the novel is told through her perspective.

This is a very deep and thoughtful account of a very dysfunctional family. The era in which it takes place adds extra layers of complexity to the characters and their struggles. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. And to think, I picked it up on a whim at the bookstore all because of the Eiffel Tower on the cover. It’s actually quite misleading, as very little of the book takes place in Paris. It’s mostly Russia and Finland. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful novel.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Library Stories from August

Library news round-up. A random collection of funny, introspective, and thought-provoking stories about libraries from August. You can go here for a larger list from OEDb.org.

  1. 10 books about libraries and librarians
  2. 15 incredibly specific special collections
  3. 10 Remarkably Free Digital Tools for Educators and Students
  4. 10 Best Wearable Tech Devices for Back to School
  5. 7 Things Librarians Are Tired of Hearing
  6. 7 Scenes from Great Literature in Legos
  7. All the Big Five now offer ebooks to libraries
  8. The secret libraries of London
  9. IFLA report on worldwide ebook lending
  10. How to make a makerspace
  11. Assessing flipped and gamified instruction
  12. K–12 librarians you should follow on Twitter
  13. 200 years ago: The burning of the Library of Congress
  14. 62 of the world’s most beautiful libraries
  15. Giant medieval manuscripts
  16. The public library wants to be your office
  17. This Librarian Is Not Impressed With Your Digital, No-Books Library
  18. What belongs in the children’s library?
  19. Teen services in a rural library
  20. 10 people the library can’t live without
  21. Working abroad as a librarian
  22. Bigger programs are not always better
  23. Ferguson library becomes a refuge
  24. Digital citizenship and public libraries
  25. The first audiobooks
  26. Services and programs for children with disabilities
  27. 10 libraries to visit with Google Street View
  28. Streaming media and the future of libraries
  29. Librarianship unplugged
  30. So you want to be a corporate librarian?
  31. Deciphering the Next Big Thing | Leading From the Library
  32. NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition
  33. Take the Library Disaster Readiness Test
  34. Timeline of the history of information: 2,500,000 BCE through 2014 AD…!

Book Review: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3)

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Disney Hyperion Books, [2013]

Find this book at your local library

******This review may contain spoilers if you have not read books 1 or 2 of the Heist Society Series.*****

If there is any one book where I could just insert myself into the narrative and partake in all the fun and glory, it would be the Heist Society series by Ally Carter. You can click on the links to read my reviews for books 1 (Heist Society) and 2 (Uncommon Criminals).

Katerina Bishop and her crew are back in yet another heist caper. It’s another high stakes game, but this time its Hale caught in the crossfire after his grandmother passes away. At the start of book 3, Katerina and Hale have finally proclaimed their feelings for another despite their incredibly different upbringing. Katerina in a world of thieves and Hale in a world of luxury. When Hale’s grandmother dies and he is given responsibility of Hale Enterprises, Katerina’s instincts kick in, as she determines that Hale is the mark of a con. Now its up to her and her friends to figure out how to save Hale, without telling him and breaking his heart at the truth.

Just like the previous books, this one is full of wit, teenage angst and frustrations, adventure and mystery. I think of the three, this one is my favorite. They keep getting better and better. The plot never went the way I expected it to. The ending took me by surprise, and all the twists and turns were incredibly fun to keep up with. I think I read this book in an entire weekend, I really didn’t want to put it down. This one definitely delves more into the character development of Hale, and there is a lot of Uncle Eddie. It’s a nice change of pace from the previous Katerina-centric books. Either way, it’s a fun Ocean’s 11 series for teens and adults. My only question is when will we see the movie?

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Dutton Books c2012.

ISBN: 9780525478812

Find this book at your local library

Really…what am I going to say about this book that hasn’t been said already? This was my first John Green book. Thus far, its been the only John Green book. I may be in the minority here, but I wasn’t totally swept up in the book. I can give you one reason. Peter Van Houten. I was totally into the story, into the characters, very much involved with the story until they went to Amsterdam and met him. Everything fell apart at that point.

So, for those who haven’t read the book yet, here is a brief summary:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. (Goodreads summary)

Augustus and Hazel are incredibly well written and complex characters. Their developing love story is tragic but surprisingly uplifting to observe. That these two kids can be dealing with something so serious as cancer with a balance sense of humor, fear, and compassion is very touching. Told mostly through the perspective of Hazel, the narrative reads more like a series of journal entries. I liked Hazel as the narrator a lot. She felt very realistic to me. Overall, I think it’s a really well written book with a wonderful story to tell. It didn’t blow me out of the water, but I am more curious about Green’s other books. I’m just not sure which one to jump into next.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Flirting with French by William Alexander

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart by William Alexander

Algonquin Books, Sept 2014

Find this book at your local library

William Alexander has a desire that many, many Francophiles share with him.

Some Americans want to visit France. Some want to live in France. I want to be French.

Thus, this book chronicles his attempts at learning French, learning to play boules and understanding the people and the culture. What I appreciated the most about this book is that it totally different from every other I-want-to-be-French memoir I have read. And I have read plenty. What makes this book so different are the lessons in linguistics and the history of language that are laid out throughout the book. Alexander is an incredibly charming narrator. He has a sly, self-deprecating wit that makes this book very relatable. Its like having a conversation with a friend. He’s a happily married 57-year-old going on 58 who wants to learn French. The fact that his wife is indifferent to the whole situation is amusing to me. That most of his struggles and hardships of learning the language at home, and not in France make the book all the more approachable.

He goes through a number of obstacles in his attempts to learn French, including some very serious heart conditions and surgeries. Although he touches upon this subject lightly and with good humor. He learns the language through a number of formats. He studies by book at home, with the Rosetta Stone, with immersion classes and French pen-pals. He joins a French meet-up group in his local New York. He even goes to France for a 2-week all French immersion class with a rather random group of travelers. He covers a lot of group with pop linguistic history as well as discussing how and why human being are able to learn language. This is an interesting and informative read. Anyone learning a language can very easily relate to Alexander’s experiences, frustrations and achievements. This is a great book, and not just for Francophiles, but for anyone learning a new language.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

All the books I did not review

You might start seeing a deluge of book reviews here. Although I told myself I’d take a hiatus from this blog, I just can’t seem to quit it. But, because of my reviewing break, I’m now behind on 9 book reviews from this year. So you’ll see more in the next couple of months that you have all year. Just to help me keep track of it all, these are the titles I need to review:

Unplug Every Day: A Journal Unplug Everyday: A Journal by Chronicle Books

Confessions of a French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips, and Recipes Confessions of a French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips and Recipes by Peter Mayle

A Town Like Paris: Falling in Love in the City of Light A Town Like Paris: Falling in Love In the City of Light by Bryce Corbett

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Eleanor & Park Elanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The President's Hat The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior

Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3) Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally Carter (reviewed 9/11/14)

The Fault in Our Stars The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (reviewed 9/9/14)

Weekend Cooking: The Egg Cookbook

The Egg Cookbook: The Creative Farm-to-Table…    

The Egg Cookbook: Fresh Farm to Table Guide to Cooking Eggs

Healdsburg Press, 2014

The Egg Cookbook is a wonderful guide with dozens of recipes covering topics from quick and easy eggs (scrambled, poached, etc) to sauces (hollandaise) and appetizers and snacks (grilled egg stuffed mushrooms anybody?). Prior to getting my hands on this book, my egg expertise consisted of simple scrambled eggs and poached eggs. This book helped add many new recipes to my kitchen. It’s particularly helpful with a toddler on board, who loves eggs, but gets bored with the same meal. He is human afterall.

The book is divided into 2 parts Part 1: Understanding Eggs discusses the nature of eggs, basic cooking and preparation tips. There is a lot of time dedicated to raising chickens, which will be helpful as that is quickly becoming a growing pastime. A friend of mine in Portland had chickens in her backyard and often raved about the eggs they laid. Part 2 covers a wide range of recipes. There is a nice selection of vegetarian and paleo-recipes, so no rock has been left unturned. Everyone will find at least one recipe that meets their needs.

Sadly, I think this book is only available as an ebook right now. But it is incredibly easy to navigate, with quick links on the sidebar to take you exactly where you want to go. I highly recommend this book for anyone feels like they want to expand their skills from the basic scrambled eggs.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Being A Better Online Reader

July 16, 2014
Being a Better Online Reader
By Maria Konnikova
 

The contrast of pixels, the layout of the words, the concept of scrolling versus turning a page, the physicality of a book versus the ephemerality of a screen, the ability to hyperlink and move from source to source within seconds online—all these variables translate into a different reading experience.

Maria Konnikova lays out a wonderful description and explanation of the differences between online reading and reading a tangible book. Although she doesn’t really delve into how to be a better online reader. She does cite a number of different studies and report that discuss the negative impacts of digital reading and the loss of overall reading comprehension and deep reading.

When Ziming Liu, a professor at San Jose State University whose research centers on digital reading and the use of e-books, conducted a review of studies that compared print and digital reading experiences, supplementing their conclusions with his own research, he found that several things had changed. On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.

Skimming is the new reading. But I wonder if it’s really knew? In high school, 15 years ago, well before the Internet was the juggernaut of information it is today, I was taught to skim on reading throughout my textbooks. Read the headline, read the first sentence and there ya go. Look at the highlighted text and glossary and that should give you a preview, or a rough idea of the content of the text. Is this very different from how we read online today? I think the biggest difference is that its much easier to get distracted and jump from hyperlink to hyperlink when online, losing that traction and concentration that you can’t avoid when you have an actual book right in front of you.

We see the studies and reports almost weekly know. The number of people reading is steadily dropping. The number of people reading online is steadily increasing. We, as librarians, need to be aware of these shifts and be ready to help with the transfer, but still trying to figure out how to bridge the gap on comprehension levels between the two methods. Libraries are investing more and more into ebooks, which is what the community wants. We should be aware of the repercussions of supporting this movement.

This post was originally published on The Novel World on Monday 08/18/2014 at 10:00am

The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre

The trouble with boys : a surprising report card on our sons, their problems at school, and what parents and educators must do

The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre

Peg Tyre provides a sobering look at how the modern school system is failing boys. Boys nationwide, across all lines of wealth and poverty are straggling behind girls. Boys are less motivated, less inclined to participate in school activities. This goes from homework to extracurriculars (not including sports). Since so much effort has been put into supporting and promoting female success at school, the success of the boys has fallen by the wayside.

One of Tyre’s main points is that this is a highly controversial topic. How do you discuss supporting boy curricula without is coming across as anti-girl? Boys and girls learn differently. Tyre discusses that in-depth in her book using a number of examples and studies. She visits schools and speaks with teachers and administrators across the nation. As it stands, boys are suffering. Boys are constantly trying to be reformed to be less aggressive, more docile and that is not cohesive with the developmental milestones. Boys are squirmy, they are wiggly. They cannot sit still for hours on end. Schools are cutting back on recess and lunch hours, and in the end, boys are being misdiagnosed with ADHD all because they don’t have the space or time to exert their extra energy. It’s very troubling to me, a mother of a young son. I already worry about his education in California (one of the worst ranked in the nation), but to add this on top of my other concerns is just disheartening. Tyre does end each chapter with advice for parents, teachers and administrators. The book is about 6 years old, so I do wish she would update this edition. I’d love to know what the state of the national school system is now, particularly with the introduction of the Common Core standards.

This is a great book for parents of boys, especially the highly active ones. I feel like I am more on-alert about his proclivities and personality. I feel more prepared for whatever future discussions I’ll have with teachers about his classroom participation.

© 2014 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Nurtureshock : new thinking about children

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Alternative title to this book could be:

  • All Your Instincts About Parenting are Wrong
  • This is How We Unknowingly Harm Our Kids

Nurture Shock has been a New York Times Bestselling title and made a number of waves when it was first publishes. Bronson and Merryman discuss a myriad of topics and parental instincts that are actually damaging to our children. Some of the notable elements are:

- Call our children smart. This forces smart kids to cut back on effort for fear of failure. Praise their efforts and see their grades and comprehension rise.

- The entire concept of the US school system is designed to be convenient for adults, not the kids. School starts early so that teachers & parents can avoid traffic. All that testing done to get your kid into preschool has no merit and is not a fair assessment as kids mental capabilities are not linear.

- Educational shows produce more aggression in shows that regular TV. Why? Because of the large number of insults, jests and nuanced bullying that is unresolved. Most American TV shows are centered on witty rebarbs and smart comebacks. While that may well work for adults, children don’t really understand the difference. They see someone be insulting without any reprimand. Just look at DW in the TV show Arthur.

Other topics discussed are: lying, self-esteem, teen rebellion, sibling relationships, how kids view race, aggression and language acquisition. To say that I really enjoyed this audio book is an understatement. What Bronson and Merryman do is dig through an enormous amount of studies to give us the main bullet points. Much of what is good for our kids is counter to our natural beliefs and counter to the society that has been established for these kids. The language acquisition segment was perhaps my favorite and I have been trying many of the suggestions made by Bronson’s and Merryman’s observations with great success with my son. I just really wish that his focus hadn’t been on mono-lingual girls. I’ve already heard that boys have a slower language acquisition rate, and after this book, I’m still wondering if that’s true. What about kids who are raising in a bilingual home? Where does their rate of language acquisition fall? Other than the fact that by the age of 1, children have filtered out all other language to focus on the ones they hear daily, I don’t know much about this topic. Maybe there are no studies done on it, but learning about rich girls learning to talk eloquently at 15 months does not relate at all to my situation.

This is a great book for parents and falls into the topic of parenting books that I generally like to read. Fact-based discussions of scholarly social studies.

If you liked Nurture Shock, then I readily recommend these titles as well: