Not Twilight…but close…

If you find yourself reading and re-reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, you might want to try some of these fantasy love stories:

Swoon by Nina Malkin
Dice tries to help her cousin whose body is inhabited by a ghost. She accidentally frees the ghost and so needs to kill him before he destroys the whole town. The problem: Dice falls in love with the ghost.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Grace loves watching the wolves behind her house. Sam is a wolf-by-winter and human in the summer. While human Sam meets Grace and falls in love...Sam then struggles to remain human as winter approaches.

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant spends the summer on a small island with her mother. She meets Leo, falls in love with him, and then realizes he might be a mermaid.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Aislinn unlike other teenagers can see faeries. One of the fairies, Keenan, wants Aislinn to become his queen, and he is determined to make this happen at any cost.

Looking for a Christmas Read?

In previous years, I've suggested popular fiction for holiday reads. This year I have decided to concentrate on two of my favorite genres: Romance and Mystery.

Recently, I buried myself in Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower Series. The final book in this 5 part series is Wallflower Christmas. Once Lillian Bowman and the other Wallflowers are settled with beaus, it's time to find her elder brother Rafe a wife. If romance, action, mystery, and the supernatural meets your interest, try Kerrelyn Sparks' All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire part of the Love at Stake Series. If short stories are your thing try this Christmas compilation: Wish List with stories by Lisa Kleypas, Lynsay Sands, Claudia Dain, and Lisa Cach.

For good Christmas mystery reads try Deck the Halls and it's sequel He Sees You When Your Sleeping co-written by bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol Higgins Clark. Regan Reilly, Carol Higgins Clark's dynamic young sleuth, meets Alvirah Meehan, Mary Higgins Clark's famous lottery-winning amateur detective, and both embark on a desperate search for Regan's kidnapped father and then reassemble in the sequel to help a family reunite during the holidays. Additionally, there is the short story collection Wolfsbane and Mistletoe with tales by talented authors such as Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur, and Carrie Vaughn.

For more suggestions of Romance, Mystery, as well as other Fiction Christmas reads, Check out:

Beatnik Chicks

I didn't want to write another blog about a graphic novel, but.... it's the end of the semester, and they make a nice genre to read in between work and writing papers.

Harvey Pekar is most famous for his long-running comic book American Splendor, but he also writes interesting little graphic histories of topics that are near to his heart, usually falling at the intersection of radical politics and great American literature. Students for a Democratic Society is an anthology spear-headed by Pekar with graphic vignettes about the SDS and its place in the counter-culture of the 60's.
Now, he has given us The Beats:A Graphic History: a similar collection of short historical pieces about key figures in the Beat Movement. Written by Pekar himself and a group of other writers, the book of course treats the main figures of the movement like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. These biographical pieces are brief, so I agree with many reviews I found online that complain of the thinness of the material. But I would say that it gave me a view of the beat landscape and definitely conveyed Pekar and his cohort's passion for their writing. Honestly, I have not read a lot of the books of these iconic writers, but Pekar's short biographies made me curious to know more about the wild lives that they lived and why their work has been so influential. I was especially glad to know more of some of the other names from the movement: Phillip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Michael Mcclure, Amiri Baraka, Philip Lamantia as well as many others. This is not a comprehensive history of the beats, but not a bad place to start.

But, why did I title this blog "Beatnik Chicks"? Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner writes a section about the women of the movement who, as often so sadly happens, are not given proper credit for their contribution. Knowing how famous these men are, it is refreshing to know about the women who were part of this vibrant artistic scene and lived expressive, passionate lives. Women like Diane Di Prima, Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, Hettie Jones, and Jay DeFeo seem like fascinating people, and Brabner's short but fiery tribute to them is well worth the read.

If you know someone looking to know more about the Beats, tell them about Pekar and Brabner.

Helping Hands -- Parent Magazine Update

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It takes work to be a responsible parent, or even just a responsible adult. This month's parent magazine update focuses on magazines that give advice -- because we all need a little help now and then.

Home Education Magazine has advice for any parent who wants to be a little more involved with their child's education -- including an article on the National History Day contest, a guide to running a book club for boys, and a list of good books for teaching teens about money.

Working Mother Magazine features a list of the 100 most family-friendly companies to work for, a guide to purchasing life insurance, and an article on how to rid your home of scary chemicals often found in paint, upholstery and even toys.

American Baby Magazine provides a guide to recognizing signs of autism spectrum disorders in children and seven tips for managing tantrums.

The Case for Books

Did you catch it? NPR's The Diane Rehm Show aired an interesting interview with Robert Darnton, director of the Harvard University Library and author of The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future, which just came out in October. Darnton and Diane discussed the history of the book, from scrolls to codices to kindles, and Darnton's predictions for the future of books and e-books.

AADL has some excellent books about books. The Coming Of The Book, Art Of The Printed Book, and A Short History Of The Printed Word are all first-class books for learning about the history of books starting with the invention of printing in the middle ages. If you are interested in even earlier books, our Ladies' Library Collection has some beautifully illustrated books about manuscripts. I found the plates in A History Of Illuminated Manuscripts really amazing.

Feast for eye and mind

If you haven't yet visited The Future of Our Past: The Evolution of Multicultural Children's Literature, do it before this magical exhibit closes Nov. 29. Among books on display are In the Beginning: Creation Stories From Around The World and More More More Said The Baby: 3 Love Stories. This joint exhibit of AADL and the University of Michigan Special Collections Library includes books from the UM Children's Literature Collections and material highlighting world cultures. The exhibit is in the glass cases on the lower level of the downtown library. Don't miss it!

Young People’s Literature Award announced by NBA

Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice was given the 2009 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. This biography tells about African American Claudette Colvin who at age 15 refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. Her action in 1955 was nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to give up her bus seat.

Author Phillip Hoose told the audience it was “his job to pull her story out from under history's rug”. Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history. Ms. Colvin now 70 years old joined Hoose at the podium to accept the award.

World Fantasy Awards

Created in the mid-1970s, the World Fantasy Awards, associated with the annual World Fantasy Conventions were established as a fantasy counterpart to the SF-oriented Hugo and Nebula Awards. If you enjoy reading/watching/writing fantasy or science fiction, the annual conventions are definitely for you! Think about attending the 2010 convention. It will be close by in Columbus, Ohio on the weekend of October 28-31. A great way to celebrate Halloween by dressing up as your favorite fantasy character- a Volturi anyone?

Here are the winners for best novel:

The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford: In the wake of a classmate's disappearance, a sixth grader and his older brother observe strange events in 1960s Long Island, including the appearance of a man in a large white car and the deteriorating mental state of the school librarian.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan: A young woman who has endured unspeakable cruelties is magically granted a safe haven apart from the real world and allowed to raise her two daughters in this alternate reality, until the barrier between her world and the real one begins to break down.

Best Anthology:
Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, by: Ekaterina Sedia, ed.
A collection of urban fantasy stories featuring cities--whether real or imaginary and throughout history--and how they affect the lives and experiences of their inhabitants.

Best Collection:
The Drowned Life by: Jeffrey Ford: In this mesmerizing blend of the familiar and the fantastic, multiple award-winning New York Times notable author Jeffrey Ford creates true wonders and infuses the mundane with magic.

Teen Stuff: Feed by M.T. Anderson

This weekend at a U of M hockey game I sat behind someone that texted, talked, and googled non-stop on their phone for the entire 2 hour game, not once looking up to follow the live action on the ice. This is not a commentary, merely an observation. But I couldn't stop thinking about M.T. Anderson's novel, Feed, which follows a futuristic group of teenage friends, all of whom have 'The Feed' implanted in their brains from a young age.

The Feed functions like a search engine, complete with instant message capabilities and streaming advertisements catered to (or shaping) their personal interests. The characters live their lives unquestioningly until Violet enters their scene, sans Feed, and illuminates the unsettling cost of information overload. Listening to the book on CD is especially engaging, since part of the narrative is the sound of The Feed, channeled directly to the listener.

Master of the true story

Today, November 12, is the birthday of writer Tracy Kidder who was born in New York in 1945. When he returned to the States after serving as a lieutenant in Vietnam, all he wanted to do was write. And he's been producing highly readable, insightful books on a variety of topics ever since. From The Soul of a New Machine to Mountains Beyond Mountains, Kidder has given us intimate portraits of the people behind significant cultural, political and social movements. His latest, Strength in What Remains, is a moving portrait of Deogratias, a medical student from war torn Burundi who arrives in the U.S. almost penniless but with determination and the kindness of strangers, continues his education and helps his people recover as he too must recover from the traumas of war.

Note: Mountains Beyond Mountains was the book chosen for the 2007 Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program.

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