Welcome to my bookshelf

I am a voracious reader who is constantly found with her nose in a good (although sometimes not so good) book. I felt the need to share my experiences and suggestions, so here it is. Recommendations and comments are most definitely desired.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Men of Many Faces

Currently Reading: Disclosure

One of the things that is so cool about authors like Margaret Atwood, Michael Crichton, and Stephen King is that even though they ultimately write books in one "genre", how they present that idea can come in many surprising ways.  Disclosure has nothing to do with DNA, dinosaurs, aliens or scientific subterfuge so who'd have thunk it would be as awesome and thrilling as some of the classic Crichton tales?  There are a few others as well, Airframe and Rising Sun come to mind, that show Crichton's meticulous talent for research and providing such supportive details that the story really rings true and speaks appropriately of the subject at hand.

In Disclosure, we follow along with a manager who is sexually harassed by a superior.  What makes this story different is that the superior is a woman and the underling is a man.  The injustice that he is faced with is quite disheartening.  As a woman myself, I am grateful for all the advances we have made in the workforce, but as our modern society continues to change and grow, perhaps some of the laws or norms need to adapt to these changes.  There has been a lot of talk regarding affirmative action as well.  Shouldn't a scholarship be given to the best candidate rather than the one who helps you meet certain understood percentages?  It is a tough subject to tackle and I'm not sure exactly where I stand on the issue.  Yes, I hate it when unqualified people are granted positions that they so don't deserve.  As a teacher, an incredibly protected profession, I see so many inadequate employees that can't be fired and are stuck in the system.  I want there to be some sort of way to deal with this.  At the same time, what if I have a group of low-achieving students?  Does this mean I am a bad teacher?  It kinda makes me glad I am merely a bit player in the game, rather than someone in a decision making position where placating the political agenda is first and foremost in terms of importance.  It's hard to say what we would do in that position.  All too often we complain about the high salaries of CEOs and superintendents, but seriously, sometimes the worry and gray hairs caused by all the responsibility deserve the rewards.  I am glad that my own little world is all I have to worry about at the moment.

And the moral of the post is that I have absolutely no answer to the questions posed by this novel, but am oh so glad that I was able to read it and have another side of the story presented.  That is another one of the many great things about books.  They open our minds not only to new worlds and different characters, but to unique ideas posing interesting questions for our minds to chew on.  Mmm...  I plan on continuing to look for more "meat" to gnaw and will most definitely share the tasty bits.  Speaking of sharing, comments and your thoughts on equality and all that jazz would be much appreciated.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

All in Favor, Say Aye

Currently Reading: Supreme Courtship

Pg 255: "I tried prayer, Sil.  Prayed for the Skins over Miami.  Looks like God is dead, after all...Funny!  I prayed for Miami...Won twenty bucks.  I'd say God is great."

Christopher Buckley is the master of Washington satire.  I haven't been keeping up with his latest stuff and so was tickled pink when I stumbled again upon his wit and dry humor all poking fun of political pundits and those other D.C. wheelers and dealers.  Back in the day, I read Little Green Men and of course, Thank You for Smoking, both hilarious, yet sobering, and I am glad that I decided to pick Buckley's work up again.  And what a busy boy he seems to have been.  I am now going back and working my way through his more recent tales, having just picked up another one at the library today.  The best thing about these types of books is that it allows the layman to get a glimpse at the inner workings of political regimes, while still being entertained and having the opportunity to laugh out loud at its insanity.  Something that is often needed in these times when it seems like regular fellows have absolutely no chance of piercing the Washington inner circles.

I enjoyed the Supreme Court angle of this book.  I think that the judicial system is one of the most overlooked players in the political scene today.  People are ever focused on the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, but fail to realize that it is really the court who decides many things that affect our everyday rights.  At the moment, women's issues are on the tip of every politician's tongue, but in actuality, these rights are granted by the court and the decisions of the nine supreme court justices.  They have the power to overturn or support precedents set back in the day.

In this story, there is an opening on the court during the first term of a highly unpopular president.  He is unpopular partly because he and the legislature do not agree on anything what with the speaker being his immortal enemy.  After having nominees shot down again and again, the president offers up a television judge, who just happens to be an attractive lady.  In the end, silliness, sex, and snafus are abound, much to the dismay of the speaker and many of the other supreme court justices.  I recommend this book for anyone, whether they are seeking some timely reading, a hilarious break from reality, or even just a interesting cast of characters immersed in an intriguing plot line, Supreme Courtship delivers completely.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Books, Glorious Books!

Currently Reading: The Borrrower

So from the title of my post and the title of the book, you can probably surmise that this one is about a library.  It is really more about a librarian and a precocious young lad who frequents her place of employment.  The poor boy is being brought up by parents who are have fallen for the lies of a born again preacher.  He is one of those men who "had fallen into sin" by being gay until he found Jesus and now preaches about how you can simply accept god into your life and therefore be gay no longer.  This young reader, Ian, has his book choices censored by his mother, much to the dismay of the librarian, Lucy.  Ian runs away and hides at the library.  Lucy, intending to take Ian back home, ends up on a cross country road trip with Ian, causing her to rethink some of her own life choices all while hoping to instill in Ian a sense of pride in who he is and what he likes.  (Ian is most definitely gay).  In the end, through the help of her father's Russian mobster friends, Ian makes it back home and Lucy moves on with her own life, but not before leaving Ian with a list of fantastic stories he needs to make sure to read at certain stages in his life.  Whether or not Ian is able to thwart his parents and get his hands on such forbidden tomes such as "The Hobbit" is left up to the reader.

This novel spoke to me in many ways.  Firstly, I can relate to Lucy, a young woman with loner tendencies and an appreciate for literature, both great and not so great (yet oh so entertaining).  I can also lament for poor Ian in that he is not allowed to fully emerge himself in the wondrous worlds provided by such literary greats such as the aforementioned Tolkien.  I was lucky in that my parents encouraged reading from a very young age.  They also allowed me to pick my own books, never dictating what could and could not be checked out from the library.  My mom took myself and my brothers to the library regularly, where we would stock up on books about any and everything, from picture books to young adult mysteries, both non-fiction narratives and fictional tales.  Ian describes to Lucy another type of sticker that should be placed on the spines of books telling not so much the content, but rather the emotions evoked or the type of ending the reader will be left with.  As he is describing many of the stories, I was brought back to my childhood of reading and couldn't help but agree with many of his labels.  There should most definitely be a warning on "Where the Red Fern Grows".  It is too sad to take on unaware of the tragic events!!

As a teacher, I try to encourage all my students to frequent the library and to read as much as possible, varying their choices so they can experience new things.  This may sound like a weird thing for a math teacher to do, but really, as much as I love math, I love learning of all sorts and you can learn something not only by reading a math textbook, but by delving into fictional worlds as well.  Because really, all fiction stems from some nugget of truth in the heart of its author.  Hooray for books!