Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eliminating the Pile....Somewhat

A couple of days ago I finished reading my hundredth book of the year. That's way earlier than normal, thanks in part to audiobooks on the iPod. I should be able to finish 2008 with somewhere around 120 books, which again, is a lot for me, a fairly slow reader. Of course I'll post my Best of 2008 lists in fiction, non-fiction, YA/J-Fic, etc., but what I wish I'd kept up with this year is the number of books I've given up on. It's gotta be at least 25 books and maybe closer to 40.

Why? Life's just too short to be stuck in a bad book. But to be fair, some of the books I've given up on are not bad, they're just not the right book at the right time.

To alleviate this problem, I've gotten into the habit (and it's too early to tell whether it's a good or bad one) of checking out books from the library, reading the first chapter or two, then making a note of whether it's something I want to keep reading, something I'd like to come back to, or something I never want to see again.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago I checked out Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate by Kathleen Jaimeson and David Birdsell, which early on is fascinating. The same can be said for the more recent Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future by Newton Minow and Craig LaMay. Yet with less than one week to go in the election, I know I'll be more inclined to read both of these in the coming months.

Maybe that's why I currently have 14 books checked out from the library and another 7 on hold. That's really not too bad. I have had both in the double digits, so I'm sort of in a slump.

But no, I will not (You can tempt me with candy corn, but it won't work.) reveal which books I gave up on because they....well, stunk. But maybe I'll tell you the ones I should have given up on.

We'll see. It's only October...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dirda on Books

Lately I've discovered the wonderful and very addictive live online discussion of books by Washington Post writer Michael Dirda, only to find that the discussion ended on October 1, 2008. But never fear, the Post will launch another book discussion group soon. You can check out the above link for information on the new group and access archives of the past nine years of book discussions.

I've purchased two of Dirda's books, Bound to Please and Classics for Pleasure, both of which are delightful ways to pass the time when you feel like taking a break from the novel or short story collection you're reading.

I should point out that there are two huge problems with reading Dirda:

1. Like his online book discussion, his essays and reviews of books are highly addictive.

2. Your list of "Books to Buy" will increase by leaps and bounds. Be warned.

Dirda has the amazing ability to not only display a ferocious excitement for books, but to also infect you with the same level of excitement. The other night I was reading Dirda's review of The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857 (1980), selected, edited and translated from the French by Francis Steegmuller. Blast Dirda. I've never read any Flaubert, Madame Bovary or otherwise, yet after reading Dirda's review, I must read both the novel and Steegmuller's volume.

Every bit of both Bound to Please and Classics for Pleasure is like that. Both need to go on my "Banned Books" list immediately.

Dirda has been writing about books for a long time, but unlike most other book critics, you can tell he still gets excited about reading. And when you read Dirda, you can't help but get excited too. Plus the guy is a champion of quality speculative literature. Bound to Please includes a nice Science Fiction Reading List. You can sometimes find Dirda at the local sf/fantasy con Capclave, or if you don't get out much (like me), check out his work in The Washington Post Book World in print every Sunday and online. Enjoy, but don't blame me when the books start piling up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Perfect Halloween Read Pt. II

I'm still in search of the perfect Halloween read, but thanks to several recommendations (mostly from Facebook), I've got several to choose from. Among those suggested:

Ghost Story - Peter Straub
Saw the movie, never read the book.

Anything by Robert Westall
Got Demons and Shadows: The Ghostly Best Stories of Robert Westall and The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral from the library.

Anything by Stephen King
There's still quite a few King books I haven't read, but right now I'm just not in a King mood.

Anything by H.P. Lovecraft, especially "The Rats in the Walls"
Maybe. I do have an ex-library copy of Tales from the Library of America, so I'll probably read at least that story. With me a little Lovecraft goes a long way.

Of course, there are always a few titles that have been sitting around on my shelf that I might finally get around to reading:

Acquainted with the Night - Barbara and Christopher Roden, eds. With one of my favorite covers by one of my favorite artists, Jason Van Hollander.

All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By - John Farris

The Werewolf of Paris - Guy Endore

So many choices.... I may not have time to come up with a decent costume....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Islam: The Religion and the People (NF 2008) - Lewis & Churchill

Islam: The Religion and the People (NF 2008) - Bernard Lewis and Buntzie Ellis Churchill

An overview of Islam in under 250 pages certainly sounds like an exercise in futility. Just imagine an overview of other broad topics such as The History of Western Music or American Political Thought in under 250 pages. It’s impossible. Yet Lewis and Churchill, with 167 pages of actual text (The rest of the book’s pages are devoted to the appendixes “Some Practical Matters” and a fairly large “Terms and Topics.”), give it a pretty good shot.

The authors generally do a good job of covering the basics of Islam such as the pillars of Islamic faith, the Koran, significance of mosques, the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, Islam and the economy, women in Islam, war and much more. Just exactly what is the difference between Islam and Christianity and where does the divergence begin? Why is it that reform and Islamic law just don’t mix? And is Islam really a religion of peace or one of violence?

I applaud Lewis (widely acknowledged as the West’s leading scholar on all things Middle Eastern) and Churchill for producing a badly-needed summary of Islam. Even though it’s not perfect, I hope many Americans will read it and that they will read it as a starting point, not as an exhaustive treatment of the subject. Some issues in the book need further clarification, such as the vast history of Muhammad, the spread of Islam since the 7th century and how things changed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And although the spotlight on Islam during the last seven years has been covered in many other books, not enough attention is given to it here.

The unencumbered writing style and short chapters make for fairly rapid reading and the authors sprinkle several photos and examples of (apparently rather dated) Islamic humor. The “Some Practical Matters” appendix covers much of the Arabic language, but could have greatly benefited from examples of actual Arabic letters. The “Terms and Topics” at 44 pages reiterates several definitions included in the actual text, but omits other important terms from the text such as jihad and mosque. That might be a little picky, but for book browsers with little or no knowledge of Islam, the “Terms and Topics” section might be the first place they turn, only to find common terminology missing.

Still, Islam: The Religion and the People is a valuable starting point for anyone interested in understanding the complex world of Islam.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Buy/Read This Now!

My good friends at Daedalus Books, always bringing you the best in excellent books, music and film, offer a true gem in Octavia Butler's Wild Seed. Sure, it's a Science Fiction Book Club edition, but who cares? SFBC titles tend to be better than the run-of-the-mill book club editions and anytime you can get your hands on an Octavia E. Butler title, do it. Especially this one.

Butler is one of the writers I bring up to people who say "I don't like science fiction." I have never met anyone who was not thrilled with Butler's skills and in particular the skills on display in Wild Seed. Here's what I wrote about the book a few years back:

Very few African Americans write science fiction. Fewer still are African American women. Octavia Butler knows how to write great science fiction, but more importantly, she knows how to write and tell a great story. I encourage you to read just the opening paragraph from the "Look Inside" section. After reading the paragraph, I dare you to NOT keep reading!
In that first paragraph, you've got a very mysterious event, subtle foreshadowing, wonderful description, and a pretty good sense of who your main character is. And most importantly, you want to read on.

Doro is an extremely complex character who has been alive for hundreds of years, breeding slaves endowed with special powers. They are obedient only to him. It's simple; if they won't obey, he'll kill them. Doro has the incredible ability to take over the bodies of others (thereby killing the host) even at a distance of many miles. His power is immense. But he meets in Anyanwu a formidable opponent. (Or will she become a trusted friend?) Anyanwu (who has also lived for hundreds of years) is a healer who is able to adapt her body to any living form - mammal, fish, bird, or another human. Anyanwu's main concern is the safety of her children. Doro's main concern is exploiting them as breeding stock. Doro and Anyanwu certainly have different goals, but they each learn some hard lessons throughout the course of the book. So do we.

Butler's characters and landscapes are so well drawn and so real that you really never think about the fact that you're reading science fiction. In fact the term speculative fiction is really a better term for this story; there's very little science in the book, but there is a plethora of examinations of human nature (even if those humans live for hundreds of years).

Wild Seed is a completely absorbing, unforgettable book, made even more so by Butler's fascinating ability as a writer. It's been a long time since I read a book with engaging characters, vivid description, tension, mystery, and emotion. Wild Seed met all my expectations and then some. A powerful novel from one of America's most talented writers.

279 pages

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sometimes It All Comes Together

This doesn't happen very often. I started a story yesterday about a birthday party during Halloween, having no idea what it was going to be about. Now the "having no idea what it was going to be about" part does happen often, but this morning it all came together in a way that's never happened before. I have no idea why. If I could replicate the factors leading to this revelation, I'd sure do it.

Maybe it's because I was tired of revising my never-ending YA novel and wanted to start something new (and short). Maybe it's because I'm listening to Western Swing, which makes even an embarrassing Cowboys loss seem something less than tragic. Maybe it's because the coffee maker decided to actually work this morning. But something clicked and I understand the story.

Now I've got to keep going without screwing it up.

Now that I think about it, I think I was inspired by the idea of a candy corn latte. When's someone going to invent one?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Short Thoughts on a Few Books

I've been sick for the past few days, which on the positive sign means reading a lot, but it also means coughing and sneezing a lot. Plus my voice sounds like a bad Brando imitation. But anyway, a few brief thoughts on what I've read:

Midnight on Mourn Street (2008) - Christopher Conlon

Earthling Publications specializes in horror, dark fantasy and suspense, so when I pre-ordered this one, I guess I was expecting something of a speculative nature. There are some somewhat strange goings-on, but nothing you could really call speculative. The story concerns Reed, a forty-something and the runaway girl Mauri that camps out outside his Washington D.C. apartment one rainy night. Both characters have something to hide and both have a confrontation coming. Conlon's first novel has a lot of good things going on. Mourn Street's characters do some pretty awful things to each other then try to put the pieces of what's left of their lives together. The ending wasn't what I expected and left me with a creepy, disturbing feeling (perhaps Conlon's intention), but all in all this is a good first novel.

Consolation of Philosophy - Boethius

If I've ever read any real philosophy of any length before this, I've blocked it out of my head, so I suppose you could say that this is my "first contact" with philosophy, thanks to some of my buddies who've studied this stuff for many years. I think this is a good introduction for the uninitiated like me: fairly straight-forward language and digestible, yet fascinating and extremely thought-provoking. (Read more about it on Amazon.)

Eye of the Crow (J-Fic 2007) - Shane Peacock

Eye of the Crow is an entertaining tale of the first case of a thirteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes. Told in the present tense (which drove me crazy), Peacock does a fine job of introducing young readers to 1860's London as well as the world's most famous detective. He also knows how to keep the pages turning without abandoning the quality of the story. Recommended for young readers who may not be quite ready for the Arthur Conan Doyle stories/novels. (Also check out the sequel, Death in the Air.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Perfect Halloween Read

Okay, maybe I'm not really looking for the perfect Halloween read, since such a thing probably doesn't exist, but a really good Halloween read. It doesn't even have to be about Halloween, but some element of horror should be present. It can be a novel, a collection, an anthology, or even a single short story, although I would prefer a novel. This morning I started Glen Hirshberg's The Snowman's Children, which early on looks excellent, but I suspect I may finish it well before Halloween.

So, whaddya got?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ultramarathon Man (NF 2005) - Dean Karnazes

Dean Karnazes is either a freak of nature or just a freak. On his 30th birthday, Karnazes hits a mid-life crisis (a little early, perhaps) and decides to turn his life around. Immediately. "I'll go running," he thinks, "a mile for every year I've been alive." It doesn't matter to him that he hasn't run since high school or that he's just gotten blitzed at a local bar. He's going running.

And he does.

That's the least impressive story in Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. Not only does he begin to run marathons, Karnazes tackles 50-mile runs, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles through California's Death Valley), the Western States Endurance Run (another 100 mile run through mountainous areas of California), and (get this) a marathon at the South Pole.

Did I mention that Karnazes also single-handedly completed the 199-mile Providian Saturn Relay? Six times.

Clearly the man is out of control.

Cindy and I had already seen the documentary Ultramarathon Man: 50 Marathons, 50 States, 50 Days (2008), which takes place after the events described in the book, so I knew that Karnazes was a little, shall we say, different. But come on!

Ultramarathon Man is an entertaining and often inspiring look at personal achievement, passion, drive and commitment. The fact that Karnazes can successfully complete any of these events is incredible, but even more incredible is the fact that he holds down a full-time job and has a wife and kids.

I wanted to know more about how Karnazes balances running and work, running and family life. He spends a little time talking about how his family supports his passion for running, but very little about how it affects his job. This has to take an enormous toll on his family. Even if he quit his job (which he possibly has done by now, with all of his endorsements), how does he have time for his family? Does he have any time for friendships, even inside the running world? Does that bother him? We never really find out.

The book ends with a detailed recounting of the 199-mile Providian Saturn Relay, a race Karnazes ran by himself with no other "team" members. Maybe it was because the event was such a grueling contest that Karnazes felt compelled to sprinkle lots of comic relief and cuteness on nearly every page, but I found this section just too sticky-sweet. There are lots of family scenes here, but they feel too manufactured and scripted.

Yet the book is very readable, interesting and inspiring. It's certainly made me want to run more, although I'll stick to 5Ks and five-milers, thank you. Yet as a look inside Karnazes, it doesn't go far or deep enough. Still I recommend the book, especially for anyone interested in running or getting in shape.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle begins with a cocaine-blitzed porn star wrecking his car, resulting in severe burns covering much of his body. While he recovers in a hospital burn ward, the unnamed narrator is visited by a strange woman named Marianne Engel who claims that they were once lovers. In the 14th Century.

What follows is a Scheherazade-like telling of various stories by Marianne Engel, some of which reveal her past in a German convent, others that seem only to help relieve the narrator's excruciating physical, mental and emotional pain. But for some reason which the narrator can't understand, Marianne does not come to visit every day. When she doesn't, the narrator is filled with dread and despair over what's left of his mostly incinerated body and soul. Other characters (mostly doctors and nurses) appear, none of which offer anything close to the benefits of Marianne Engel's tales. But nagging thoughts overwhelm him. Is Marianne Engel delusional? Insane? Or is she who she says he is? And if she is, then who is he?

The Gargoyle is a real toss-up for me. I liked the initial premise and wondered if this was going to a redemption story, a quest, a romance, a retelling of Dante's Inferno, all of the above or none of the above. Then you've got a completely unlikable narrator who may be getting exactly what he deserves.

Then there are the tales. I found myself enjoying Marianne Engel's tales more than the the story's main narrative. Some of them are extraordinary, so much so that I was disappointed when Davidson returned to the present-day story. After a few stories, I found myself trying to wonder how they all tied together, not really caring what the narrator was going through in his recuperation.

Davidson's first novel is indeed ambitious. Much of it works, but two things soured it for me. There's a subplot of the narrator's "bitch snake," a satanic-like voice living in his spine that whispers nasty little things when there's not enough morphine coursing through the narrator's system. The "bitch snake" really wears thin after awhile and I began to wonder about the importance or even necessity of the device.

I was somewhat prepared for the ending, but the closer I got to it, the more I hoped I was wrong. Unfortunately I wasn't. To tell you any more about the ending would be unfair, so I'll leave it at that.

So again, I'm not really sure how I feel about The Gargoyle. Davidson obviously has done a lot of historical and medical research for the book and knows how to keep the pages turning (especially during the tales), but the end result was something of a disappointment. Yet I liked it enough to pick up the next thing Davidson writes. He's definitely a writer to watch.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember (J-Fic)

Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember is one of those books you can imagine kids staying up all night to read, then going to the library the next day asking “Where’s the next City of Ember book?” After reading the first few pages, it’s easy to understand why.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you that Ember is a city of darkness, lit only by electric light, although the populace is largely ignorant of what makes it work. The city experiences a series of black-outs, yet the government assures the people that everything is just fine, despite rising prices and escalating shortages of food and non-perishable goods. (Sound familiar?)

Even before her school’s Assignment Day, in which children’s careers are determined literally by drawing from a hat, Lina senses that something is wrong in Ember. After just a few days working as a messenger, Lina knows that the situation is growing critical, despite the mayor’s “All is well” speeches. Lina finds a cryptic message and enlists the help of Doon, a boy whose new career as a pipeworker may help them discover the secret behind Ember.

Many questions are unanswered in City of Ember, questions about the origins of the city, it’s structure, it’s science and technology (or lack of it) and more. Perhaps those questions are answered in the sequel The People of Sparks. Regardless, I was captivated by DuPrau’s story and in particular the lessons that Lina learns along the way. It’s clear there’s much more to learn, not only about Ember, but about herself.

The movie version of City of Ember opens nationwide tomorrow. I’m not very impressed with the trailer, so play it safe: read the book first!


Roger Ebert's review of the film confirms what I'd suspected. Stick with the book.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

September Books Read

After a whirlwind trip to Chicago and trying to get caught up for a couple of days, here's my (very late) list of September Books Read. (Sorry, no pictures this time.) Here we go....

Too Many Women (1947) - Rex Stout
Archie goes undercover investigating a murder, working for a Wall Street firm that's filled with, of course, women. One of them knows something about the murder. Maybe all of them do. Continuing my second expedition through the Nero Wolfe books.

Notes from Underground (1864) - Fyodor Dostoevsky
A great (and not terribly long) introduction to Dostoevsky for those (like me) intimidated by the size of works like Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Possibly the first novel of Existentialist fiction, Underground Man's story of trying to fit into and understand the society around him is fascinating reading. And terrifying - I saw myself in him more than a few times.

Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons and Other Pop Culture Icons (NF 2002) - David Dark
Cindy picked up this one for me, thinking I would enjoy it. I did, but I was expecting a light read, which this is not. Can Dark really find examples of sacred thought in The Simpsons? Very thought-provoking, highly recommended.

The Outsiders (YA 1967) - S.E. Hinton
Talked about briefly here.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) - John le Carre
This has been called one of the best spy novels of all time. I must confess I can't make any judgment on that statement and probably shouldn't even include it in this month's Books Read; I made the mistake of listening to this on the iPod, sometimes with several days between listens. But I was amazed at what le Carre could pull off largely without explosions, chases and the typical Cloak & Dagger stereotypes we see in the genre in its worst moments. Instead, we get from retired spy George Smiley lots of essential backstory, examination of documents and hours spent in silent speculation. Again, I should probably read it again and probably in as few sittings as possible.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations (NF YA 2008) - Alex & Brett Harris
This book codifies many of the concepts I tried to stress during my years of teaching band. The majority of young people will meet your expectations, whether they be high or low and when they are high, you can witness some amazing things. These brothers Alex and Brett know this and know that most adults expect very little from teens. Even worse, many teens expect little from themselves.

Both boys are Christians and while their Christian message may prevent some teens from picking up the book, I advise them to at least sample the first few chapters.

The Scarlet Letter (1850) - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Lately I've read (and enjoyed) several of Hawthorne's tales, so I'm somewhat used to his writing style. Yet I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. I suppose I had a preconceived notion of what was going to happen in it; everybody knows what the book is about, right? Maybe not. I really had a tough time putting this one down. Lesson: Read more Hawthorne.

The New York Trilogy (1985, 1986) - Paul Auster
Another book I really enjoyed and hope to read again soon. More about it here.

Coronado: Stories (2006) - Dennis Lehane
In a word: bleak. This one is a real toss-up. I think the collection's final story "Until Gwen" is a definite home run. I also like the tale of class resentment "Gone Down to Corpus," but most of the characters in the other stories are so unlikable that I just found myself not caring for them or their stories. Lehane's novels are also a mixed bag for me: I loved A Drink Before the War, but wanted to throw Shutter Island across the room. To each his own.

A Welcome Grave (2007) - Michael Koryta
My pleasant surprise of the month, recommended by my book-savvy niece Erin. (Thanks, Erin!) If you like Michael Connelly, give Koryta a try. He's not as well known as Connelly, but this crime/detective novel is smart, intriguing and a true page-turner. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

September Books Bought

I think I did a pretty good job of keeping it under control in September, only purchasing a few. You be the judge. Here we go....

Midnight on Mourn Street (2008) - Christopher Conlon

Okay, this is a little embarrassing. I pre-ordered this book months ago from Earthling Publications (who produce some pretty impressive books) and completely forgot about it until I received an email notification a few days ago. Plus the book arrived today. And it's signed! Gotta watch those pre-orders.....
Trade Paperback - Price: $16.00

Islam: The Religion and the People (NF 2008) - Bernard Lewis and Buntzie Ellis Churchill

From everything I see and hear, Bernard Lewis is the dude to read if you want to know about Islam. I saw this ARC from the Amazon Vine program and decided it might be interesting to compare it to another book on Islam I'd read earlier in the year, Islam at the Crossroads.
Hardcover Advance Reader's Copy - Price: $0

The Summer Tree (The Fionavar Tapestry, Book 1) (1985) - Guy Gavriel Kay

I read Kay's stand-alone novel Tigana in 1995 and loved it, but never could get into any of his other books, including this one, which I tried about a dozen years ago. I saw it a few weeks ago and decided to give it another shot. Hey, everybody deserves a second chance.
Trade Paperback - Price: $1.99

Life in a Medieval Castle (NF 1974) - Joseph and Frances Gies

Life in a Medieval City (NF 1973) - Joseph and Frances Gies

Found both of these at a local Goodwill (always a dangerous place to hang out). I don't know much about this period, so how could I not buy them? It's part of my education, you know. Plus the price was right.
Trade Paperbacks - Price $0.75 each

Total Book Expenditures for September = $19.49

With our Chicago trip coming up on Friday and a full day of work tomorrow, I probably won't get to the September Books Read post until next week. Until then, go read something.

Want to Keep People Away from the Library?

Here's one way to do it:

First of all, this did not happen in the library system where I work, but in another county. (If you know where I live, it's not hard to figure out.) Second, I write this not so much to rant (although I probably will), but to question policies that, to put it as kindly as I can, make no sense.

I was walking through said library, mainly looking for new audiobooks and new YA titles. Finding nothing much new in the adult and YA audiobook sections, I walked into the Children's section and found a few J-Fic titles on audio. Then I saw the Graphic Novels in the Children's area and gave them a look. Again, I'd just picked up three J-Fic audiobooks, so I thought I'd take another look at the YA graphic novels, then the adult (seeking a little balance, ya know).

I saw a few interesting books in the YA graphic novel section, but nothing we don't already have at home, so I went to the adult graphic novel section.

There wasn't one.

I went to the Info. Desk and asked the lady behind the desk where to find the adult graphic novels. She smiled. "It won't be easy. Let me show you."

She takes me to the end of the adult hardcover fiction and starts scanning the bottom shelves. "Like I said, it's not easy...." She bent down to find several copies of The Walking Dead, Book 3, filed under W. Nothing else was on the bottom shelf.

"So all the graphic novels are on the bottom shelf?" I said.

"Oh no, that would be too easy," she said. "Look for the little (Translation: tiny) red 'graphic novel' label along the spine. They're all mixed in with the fiction."

"That's insane," I said.

The librarian nodded, like she'd heard this every day of her life. "Tell me about it. It makes no sense at all." She kept hanging around, apologizing for something that wasn't her fault and I told her not to worry about it, I just wanted to browse anyway.

It gets better. I started at A and found a graphic novel version of Paul Auster's City of Glass, which I'd just finished as part of Auster's New York Trilogy. But wait a minute. The Walking Dead was filed under W and the author is Kirkman.

I kept looking, finding about one graphic novel per forty or fifty books, sometimes filed by author's last name, sometimes filed under the first letter in the title.

So tell me why in the world would you not separate your adult graphic novels if you do so with children's and YA? There were plenty to fill a shelving unit. Why would a library not do this? Laziness? Some other reason?

Okay, here's the rant. Sorry, couldn't help it. Does this library realize how enormously popular graphic novels have become? Does it realize that graphic novels are the only books that some teens (and maybe adults, too) will willingly read? Don't you want to bring those people into the library? Don't you want to take advantage of any tool you can use to get people reading more?

It was obvious I wasn't the first person to ask this librarian this question. She'd been through it before and she'll go through it again unless something changes. Want to keep people out of libraries? Do two things: Purchase items they have no interest in reading. Then place the items they are interested in reading where they'll never find them. Then shut off your computers for a day or two and let me know your door count numbers.