Monthly Archives: September 2013

Love for Art, History, and NYC Combined

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/marc-hermann_n_3942186.html?utm_hp_ref=arts&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

Anyone who knows even a modicum of New York City history knows that the great city has gone through a lot in its day.  Everything from fires and arrests, to deaths and gangsters, is all in this wonderful city’s past.  

And now, people can place the past right next to the present in a beautiful photography series done by Marc A. Hermann.  It is a eye-opening juxtaposition of the chaotic occurrences throughout history placed next to the present-day, peaceful scenes.  The way Hermann blends these two images into one is extraordinary and it really brings another viewpoint through which the public can understand history.  

It’s definitely worth a look-through because, if not anything else, it is a mesmerizing angle into the city.

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Keeping It Real

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/better-book-titles-kids-books-dan-wilbur_n_3757131.html

Did you ever wish book titles were a bit more transparent?  Well, The Huffington Post posted a funny entry a couple of weeks ago, in which they spoofed classics we all know and love.  Everything from The Velveteen Rabbit to the Harry Potter series has been ‘re-titled.’

Although the post is clearly just for fun, I think they bring up an interesting idea of how and why books are titled a certain way.  The public eye can notice that children’s picture books are named in an innocent, light manner, whereas books geared towards the older reader, create an air of mystery and curiosity.

Let’s remember that the world of literature, especially today’s modern-day version, is a business.  Publishing companies are trying to SELL these books for a PROFIT.  And the cover dictates how much they will make.  Every single minuscule detail is planned, made, and remade until all the ‘bigwigs’ are happy.

The title is most definitely a piece of that industry’s puzzle.  It is a way to lure the possible reader into taking a pause, picking up the book, and possibly even buying it.  Now, one must wonder, if titles were a bit more blunt in nature, and simply stated (clearly) what the book is about, would there be more or less readers participating?

Even though the “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying is a good sentiment, we must be honest with ourselves–most of us do.

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30 Books to Read Before You’re 30

I have to admit–I’m a sucker for the 20 things to do before you’re 20, 100 places to see before you die, etc, etc type of lists.  This link features the 30 books you should read before you’re 30.  Once again, I find myself wanting to read the ones I have not completed yet.  Many of them are rather new, but there are quite a few that are older as well.  I think this list has something to offer to every type of reader, and the books featured don’t necessarily have to be read by only the 29 or younger crowd.

Take a gander and see if any of these titles pique your interest.

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September 23, 2013 · 10:28 am

Setting of Beowulf Found?

Archaeologists in Denmark may have discovered the location off which the famous hall from Beowulf was based.  This, if true, would be an AMAZING discovery because the epic poem itself is from the later half of the first century.  Thus, the hall they excavated would be even older!

Of course, anyone who has read Beowulf is probably wondering how much truth can actually be found within this discovery and consequent claim, because of the mythical monsters throughout the work.  However, the article explains:  “Experts have long speculated that, leaving its monsters aside, the action of that poem had a real-world basis somewhere in Denmark. The recent excavations at Lejre have confirmed that surmise.”  (huff.to/1aVVFpL)   So the setting itself could be very real, and these Denmark archaeologists may have hit the literary and historical jackpot!

 

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September 19, 2013 · 10:03 am

You’ll never hear nursery rhymes the same way again…

This video created by Buzzfeed has officially ruined the calming, soft nature of nursery rhymes. It breaks down the historical references in multiple popular nursery rhymes that we all know and love. Within seconds, the viewer realizes that these fun, little songs we sing to children are actually about horrible situations like execution, plague, war, religious persecution, and murder.
It definitely makes you think twice before singing these again.
However, with the creepy factor set aside, it is truly intriguing to see how these songs came about. It is interesting how people of the past have taken such horrible events and turned them into sweet melodies. Language is a very fluid tool–especially when put to music.

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September 17, 2013 · 2:44 pm

Literature Parodies: Yay or Nay?

Back in 2009, I was introduced to my first literary parody:  Nightlight (http://bit.ly/17w1eGy), which was a comedic version of Twilight, the popular YA novel.   It was The Harvard Lampoon’s creation–but in all honesty, I found it to be mediocre.  Later on, there seemed to be multiple movies that were poking fun at the Twilight series as well.  It became a punchline in almost everything for a couple years.

Then came on The 50 Shades of Grey and all of its sweeping popularity–everything from the novel, to its newest hired lead actors for the movie seemed to cover every news outlet in some shape or form.  Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody (http://bit.ly/1aHtr26) is now a play currently running.  It seems to be in the same style of Nightlight, except now it’s live on stage.

Now, just today, I heard of The Hungry Hungry Games, a parody of the popular YA novel, The Hunger Games (http://bit.ly/15Xw120).  It seems to be in the same general style of Spank! in that it is a comedic play spinning off of the original novel.

So, what is your opinion of this new fad?  Does it add to the original piece of literature?  Or is it just another way to profit off of the sweeping trend?

What are your ‘reviews’ of any parody?  Yay or Nay?

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Reading and Social Media: Both In and Outside of the Classroom

Reading and Social Media:  Both In and Outside of the Classroom

Social media has taken over so many aspects of life. There are news reports about what is happening on sites such as Facebook and Twitter–it is nearly inescapable!
So how to books fit into this? How does the tactile written word, which seems archaic as technology sweeps by, stay relevant?
Well, sites such as GoodReads and The Copia help make books ‘tech savvy.’ GoodReads, as I like to affectionately refer to as the “Facebook for Books,” is wonderful, and has the same sickeningly addictive effect as other social media sources. GoodReads is rather user-friendly and easy to use. You pretty much set up an account and start adding books and friends. You can create an entire network on GoodReads based off of your readings interests alone. If you are absolutely obsessed with Beautiful Creatures (or YAL in general) you can not only ‘add’ and ‘review’ the book, you can create an entire page dedicated to how much you love that particular novel or the genre entirely! It’s great and I think it has a lot of untapped potential.
The Copia is something I have recently discovered. It is similar to GoodReads, in that you can add books and comment and review, while creating a network of ‘friends.’ But, The Copia seems to have more features. You can create chatrooms and have literary discussions on a more advanced level through this website. You can take a hightlighted section from a book (of your choice), and start an analytic group review of it all at your fingertips!
Now, as a school librarian, I like to think about the educational possibilities of literary social media such as these. What can we do to place a finger on the pulse with the younger generations, and make literature a part of there highly tech-savvy world? I think sites such as GoodReads and The Copia help answer this question.
I can see a school, especially with access to tablets and/or eReaders, adopting a section of their curriculum strictly dedicated to technological dialogue. Educators can download a classic piece of literature (which is what most school curricula consists of) onto eReaders and tablets and have their students read them digitally. Then, they [students] can go onto literary social media, and create online classrooms. They can create chat rooms, highlight text, have debates, and so much more all online. These types of activities can be small homework or classwork assignments or they can expand into culminating projects–the possibilities are endless!
I think, we as educators, need to not shy away from technology, but rather EMBRACE it all! Our students are always young, but let’s face it, we are getting older. They will always be a step ahead of us in terms of the ‘next big thing,’ but we can stay relevant and run along with them. I think these types of steps will not only engage students through a technological forum (that they are becoming more and more comfortable in), but also allowing education to be available around the clock.

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September 11, 2013 · 2:33 pm