Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Potter Generation

Jacket art of Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsImage via Wikipedia
The end of an era has begun. That's right Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was released two weeksago to mixed reception by fans and critics alike (see the related articles at the bottom of this post for reviews).  I was at the midnight showing with a group of like-minded Potter-fans (excluding the two boyfriends who got dragged along). I have to say I was impressed with the accuracy of the movie as compared to the book; they even kept the George's "holey" joke.

The downside of following the book so closely was that the film inherited the problems of the book as well.  First of all, the cast was really lacking. Very little Snape and Hagrid, no Dame Maggie Smith aka Prof. McGonagall,  and a whole lot of Harry and Hermione moping in the woods, though I must admit that I loved seeing all the landscapes of Britain.  Second, plot is sparse with explanations (how does Ron actually find them) and the extended camping trip does not lend itself to excitement. Finally, there is no recap, so if you haven't read the books or haven't seen the movies in awhile then it's hard to remember what happened.  Now the last is a bit of a double edged sword because by not re-reading the seventh book before seeing the film, it gets rid of all the plot-spoilers so I was able to enjoy the movie more.

Now granted there were a few gratuitous cinematic liberties (why Ginny couldn't have asked Hermione to zip her dress up upstairs I will never know) and some missing info (I had no idea what the mirror shard was until I started re-reading), but overall the films have matured just as the books have.

And that's what I love about the series; we grew up with it. When the first book was published in 1998 (U.S. date) I was 9 and when Pottermania really took off I was about 12, the same age as Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  With each successive book the material got darker and more serious, in effect we grew up with the characters (though Harry is actually close to 30, you can figure it out with the second book and the date on Nearly Headless Nick's death-day cake - yes, I'm a dork, deal with it) and then the actors, who are my age.  We waited through midnight book releases and movie showings just to continue on with the story.  We embraced that magical world buying into all the commercialization and trying to recreate that world in this one.   We've even made it our own through parody (for laughs watch the two clips at the end of this post) and fanfic.  We are truly the Potter generation.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Of Reading

Sir Francis BaconImage via Wikipedia
Earlier this semester, my descriptive grammar professor had us come with a word that filled a void in the English language.  One of my classmates attempted to come with a viable option for the third person singular plural pronoun: "thair." I was not a fan.  The best one I heard was "freeper," a facebook creeper or one who "freeps."

My contribution to the English language was "snack-lit," a term that describes contemporary fiction that falls somewhere between "literature" and form-fiction, like Harlequin romances.  Books that would fall into this category are mainly from those authors featured on the New York Times Best Sellers list, or are often serialized.

There could even be stratifications within snack-lit ala Francis Bacon's "Of Studies" essay: health food, literary fiction that makes you think a little, to candy bars, form-fiction that really only takes a day to read, and everything in between. Dear readers, please aid me in this endeavor to make snack-lit a commonly used term. So spread the word, literally!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Daughters of Jane: Darcy's Passion

cover of Darcy's Passion

The whole interest in Austen spin-offs was in part inspired by Denise, friend and co-worker at the UGL, who sent me various quotes from horrible internet Austen fan-fiction.  So, whilst I was shelving, I stumbled upon Darcy's Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes by Regina Jeffers and checked it out.  As my first spin off it wasn't too bad.  Jeffers incorporated quite a bit of the actual book and her language was pretty authentic.  Of course she does take the story past the wedding (and yes, Darcy is good in bed), but her additions, such as Anne de Bourgh an Col. Fitzwilliam marrying and Georgiana finding someone as well, don't really detract from the original.

My only complaint is that Darcy the enigma disappears.  Mr. Darcy is the ultimate heartthrob because of his brooding darkness that women just love to pry into and try to fix in some way.  Trying to put emotion behind the Darcy's facade comes out a little fake; there are a lot of tormented emotions that do not seem possible in a man as contained as Darcy. Also a lot of embracing occurs between the whole Darcy family in a way that Austen probably would not have written it. It's just a little too sappy, however ti wasn't bad enough to sully the original for me.
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vamping the Bookshelf

I'm just going to admit it - my literary guilty pleasure is paranormal fiction.  I do like the, ahem, steamier moments and the epic battle scenes, but what really interests me is all the different mythologies about paranormal creatures, especially vampires.  I know it's kind of playing into the whole Twilight thing, but there are a lot of other series out there that are better written and more creative.  Here are some of the series that I have read and enjoy.

cover of Bullet
Laurell K. Hamilton -- She actually has two series, and both are high on the steamy meter. One about Anita Blake, an animator (someone who raises zombies) and a vampire executioner, who has a very complicated love life and is lives under the threat of being annihilated by various powers of evil.  The second is about Meredith (Merry) Gentry, an American Faerie princess, who also has a very complicated love life, has the threat of an evil queen's machinations, and moonlights as a private investigator.  There are other similarities between Anita and Merry, mainly physical build and the propensity to be the tough girl, but each series has me coming back for more.  I just want to find out what happens.

cover of Demon from the Dark

Kresley Cole -- Her series is called Immortals After Dark and is straight up paranormal romance.  The focus is a coven of valkyrie and a coven of witches who find their fated mates, werewolves, vampires, and a couple of demons.  I have no excuse for liking this series except that the characters are rather endearing and the mythology behind it is incredibly interesting.

cover of A Bite to RememberLindsay Sands -- Her Argeneau/Rogue Hunters series, more paranormal romance, is about a family of immortals (vampires) who are all finding "lifemates."  Her take on the vampire myth is one of the most original I have read: immortals are survivors from the fall of Atlantis who had "microbes" introduced into their blood stream to repair any injury and cure any disease and their fuel is blood, but the microbes work too well as the body is constantly sustaining damage (i.e. the sun).  The immortals need to ingest blood so their bodies evolved fangs; in the modern world they drink bagged blood.  Hilarity ensues as the "lifemates" are usually mortals who only know the traditional "damned, soulless creature of the night" myth.  Also the titles are great, Vampire Interrupted and A Bite to Remember are two of the better ones.

Death in the Family cover

Charlaine Harris --She writes the Sookie Stackhouse series, the basis of the HBO series True Blood. My roommates began watching the first season and I got hooked, so I did the English major thing and read the books.  There are quite a few differences between the book and TV series, mainly that Tara, Eggs, Andy Bellefleur, and Lafayette are not main characters.  The books are a lot more humorous, especially Eric.

Changes cover

Jim Butcher -- He is the author of The Dresden Files, which feature the Chicago's only wizard in the yellow pages, Harry Dresden.  Harry looks like a bit of a ne'er-do-well, but is a great guy who fights on the side of good and makes the tough decisions. My favorite battle is when he necromances Sue the T-Rex to life and rides her into battle.  The last books, Changes, ended with a huge cliff hanger and I still cannot wait for the next book to come out in March, ironically on my birthday!  His wife Shannon is also a paranormal author, but her series is a romance.

Silver Borne cover

Patricia Briggs -- Her Mercy Thompson Series is based in the Tri-Cities of Washington state and focuses on Mercy Thompson, a coyote shape-shifter who was raised by the leader of all American werewolves and falls for the local alpha.  Mercy is a smart-alec mechanic who can talk to the dead and gets in trouble with the fae. The series is well-written and and smart with a sexy alpha too boot.

Dead Witch Walking cover

Kim Harrison -- She writes the The Hollows series about Rachel Morgan, a witch turned private investigator who lives with a vampire, not yet turned soulless. I like her spin that the paranormals have always been living with us, but didn't come out of the coffin, so to speak, until a virus in tomatoes killed off the majority of the human population.  There are also so cute titles; my favorite being The Good, the Bad, and the Undead. I am quite a few books behind in th series; there was a big gap between the books coming out and I couldn't get back into the swing of the plot.

Master of Swords cover

Angela Knight -- Her Mageverse series is the other incredibly original take on the vampire myth, mixing the paranormal with Arthurian legend.  Merlin was an alien that turned the round table and their ladies into vampires and witches respectively.  He also created werewolves as a check for the Magi, as the vamps and witches are properly called.  This series teeters on the line between romance and adventure, but definitely leans more toward steamy romance.

These are by no means a comprehensive list, but they are the ones I have read.  I really need to branch out; I've heard P.N. Elrod is good, and here is a list from GoodReads that I have to look into.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Introducing the Daughters of Jane!

After much deliberation I have decided to create a recurring all-things-Austen segment as part of this blog.  It will be called "Daughters of Jane" as an allusion to the Sons of Ben, the group of Ben Jonson's young poet proteges.

Let Austen-mania commence!  There are so many Austen inspired movies, chick-lit novels and spoofs that there is no way to cover all of them, but what I encounter I will blog about.  So most of the novel spin-offs will be coming from a lecture my comparative world lit. professor mentioned in a lecture devoted entirely to Austen spin offs.  So look forward to more posts about Austen-esque novels, movies, and spoofs.

Speaking of spoofs ... Enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog...

Recently I have been considering the idea of branching out in the blog-sphere and writing another blog.  Do not be alarmed my few and faithful followers, I will continue to spout my mind's junk onto this blog, but recently a lot of junk has been building up in one specific category and I need an outlet.  The category is this: Jane Austen.

I realize that as a female English major, loving Austen is somewhat cliche, but I confess that I do love her wit.  But what kind of fascinates me is the cult of Austen that sprang up in the 1990s and continues today.  There are countless spin offs and published (and not published... thank you Denise, my eyes still burn) fan-fics as well as movies.  Not to mention the blogs!  So hear is the question, should I add my voice to the multitude out there already spouting their love of all things Austen or should I simply make them a recurring segment on this blog?

Please report back.  And to entertain you... from Kate Beacon's Hark, A Vagrant, I present Jane Austen!

Hark a Vagrant comic strip

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumnal Blush

Autumn is my favorite season, mainly because of the color palette.  This season I have noticed all of the half-turned trees that are multi-hued and they are gorgeous!  See what I mean...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Update on Summer Reading List

Way back in May I created this post about my aspirations for reading this summer.  Needless to say, it did not go as planned, but here is the update of my journey so far.

1. The Dresden Files -- Read them, loved, them, and so obsessed that I found almost all the short stories that go in between the books.  For my immediate reaction after reading Changes see this post.

2. Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy -- I have been trying to find them all summer, however they are constantly checked out as they seem to be the IT books of the summer.  However, Tony, the library specialist from the Modern Languages Library is on the look out for their copy for me.  He's such a nice guy.

3. Devil in the White City -- I started it in May and just finished yesterday (7/31).  It isn't really that long of a book, it just moves a little slowly and is rather jumpy going from the architect to the serial killer to the insane assassin.  Also, each chapter tries to end with a mini cliff hanger which gets tiresome after awhile.  But all in all I really liked it, especially the little bits of sarcastic humor Larson threw in every once in awhile,

"No one saw Twain.  He came to Chicago to see the fair but got sick and spent eleven days in his hotel room, then left without ever seeing the White City.
Of all people."  (285)

I think my favorite quote about it was the Chicago Sun-Times one on the back of the book, "Larson is a historian with a novelist's soul."

4. Kathy Reichs' series -- I have started Deja Dead, the first book of the series and so far, I am unimpressed, especially in comparison to Bones.  The characters aren't very engaging so far and it's a little too graphic for me.  I will at least finish it, but if I don't end up liking it, I'm not going to read the others.

Update 8/11: I got through most of the book and just didn't care what happened. It's probably because I love Bones so much, but Reichs' characters seemed kind of flat and the attention to detail was a little too much for me.

5. Orwell's 1984 --  It's in my bag right now and I plan to start it today, as soon as I finish the other book I am currently reading (I'll get to that a little later).

Update 8/11: 1984 just stayed in my bag. I'm just not in the mood for disturbing, dystopian novel, as I'm already bummed enough that classes are starting up and my relative summer freedom is coming to an end.   

6. A.S. Byatt's  Possession -- I have it checked out from the library and will get to it, but it's a HUGE book, so I am not sure I will be able to finish it before classes start.

7. Italo Calvino -- I am currently reading the revised edition of The Path to the Spiders' Nests (finished 8/2) and so far it's okay.  It reminds me For Whom the Bell Tolls a little. I prefer his more experimental fiction so I also checked out If on a winter's night a traveler.

8.  The Woman in White -- I still have to catch up to Renae.

At least I have most of the books, and no those aren't all the Dresden Files.

As mentioned in the May post, my reading this summer was not limited to the above list.  In addition to the list I have read Namaah's Kiss and Namaah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey (just get past the sex goddess thing and it's an epic tale), Mercedes Lackey's The Sleeping Beauty (see this post), the graphic novel version of Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, and a few trashy romances to rot my brain. 

I really don't think I did too badly, considering all the time I've been at work, plus the TV I've watched as well and the blogs I read daily.  But hopefully, I will finish the rest of the list in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How To: Appliques on Canvas

After one of my roommates moved out at the beginning of the semester, she took her photos with her that had been our sole decoration in the living room.  I stared at the blank walls for a few months and finally decided I had enough and started to think what I could do about it.  I was immediately inspired by all the HGTV I've been watching recently and decided to cover some canvases with fabric.

I wanted something floral and swoopy (you, know vines running all over and making swirly patterns).   This is the fabric I found at JoAnn's:

Sorry about the wrinkles.

It was a little more pricey than I wanted to spend, but it was the closest match to the ideal fabric-in-my-head.  Once I had the fabric and looked at the pattern, some of the individual flowers were interesting enough to stand on their own, so I decided to do some decoupage appliques on canvas too.

Supplies for both projects:

Fabric covered canvases -- fabric of your choice cut to dimensions that will cover and wrap around to the back of the canvas and push pins or a staple gun

Appliques on canvas -- fabric you want to applique, canvas, plain tea bags, Modge Podge or similar product, sponge paintbrush


The fabric covered canvases are fairly easy to figure out, so I won't bore you with the details.

The appliques are a little more complicated, so here it goes.

Step 1:  Boil some tea bags in a small pot of water.

Step 2:  After the tea has come to a boil, carefully pour into shallow pan or baking sheet. Place canvases face down, to die the tea.  When they reach the color you want, remove from the pan and allow to dry.

Step 3:  While the canvases are soaking/drying, pick out which flower(s) you want to feature and carefully cut them out.

Step 4:  Use Modge Podge to affix the cut out to the dry canvas.  Brush the paste over the back of the cut out.  Then place flower, glue-side down, and completely cover the canvas with a coat of paste so that the fabric doesn't unravel and there is a consistent look to the canvas.

Step 5:  Let paste dry...

...and Voila!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tales as Old as Time

I just finished Mercedes Lackey's The Sleeping Beauty (I know, I know, it wasn't on the summer reading list, but there was a lot of flexibility in that list and I have been pretty steadily working at it as I have finished the Dresden Files). It was good, but about the same as the other books in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, which is not up to the standard of the Valdemar universe or even her Elemental Masters series (I highly recommend both).

The basis of the Five Hundred Kingdoms is that there are all these, well, kingdoms that are guided by this omnipresent and unintelligent force, the Tradition, that seeks out people whose lives closely resemble a fairy tale, saga, or myth and force events to replay that same story over and over again.  So if you have a deceased father, a stepmother, and two stepsisters who are ugly in some way, you turn into Cinderella (the basis of The Fairy Godmother, the first book in the series).  However that is not always the case because what is the Prince Cinderella is supposed to fall in love with is two years old, or eighty-five years old? Then there is all this Traditional magic that builds up around the almost-Cinderella that could be used for good or evil.  This is where the Fairy Godmother comes in, an individual who guides (read 'manipulates') the Tradition to a non-evil ending.  Basically, the book is full of allusions to tales - Grimm's, Anderson, and the Greek and Norse myths.  It's a creative way to deal with the fact that "there is no such thing as a wholly original work of literature," (Foster 29).

If you didn't follow the last link, the book I am referring to is Thomas Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor, which is actually a really good and fairly easy read about how to pick apart some of the inner workings of books.  Anyhoo, Chapter 5: Now, Where Have I Seen That Before? examines the intertextuality of literature, whether it be from direct references, allusions, or reworking stories.  Though I don't completely agree with his "big secret" that "there's only one story" (Foster 32), because that seems a little simplistic and too broad, the the idea that stories build upon one another and are constantly referring to each other is completely wrapped up in fairy and folk tales.  I mean think about it, how many versions of Cinderella have you seen or read? I estimate at least 20, but that seems low because, in essence, most chick-flicks play on that theme.  There is just this fascination with happily-ever-after that never seems to leave us from our first introduction through the safety of the Disney-ified versions of the stories to the humorous modern interpretations to the dark and dangerous "originals."

Here are some of my favorite re-tellings, fairy tales and other wise:

  • Bill Willingham's Fables series -- They're graphic novels that put all of your favorite characters in a modern setting, complete with inter-dimensional travel, epic battles, and sex.  Great storytelling and concept. Rated PG-13 for language, images, and sexuality. See my earlier rave post on this very subject.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms series -- Again, not up to her usual standard, but these romances have a great concept and they are entertaining.  I also like the fact that she features different traditions of tales in each of the books.  Start with The Fairy Godmother.  Rated PG to PG-13, depending on the book for mild sexuality.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series -- This universe is set in Victorian era Britain for the most part and combines the basic plot of fairy tales with elemental magicians.  They are less simplistic and a little darker than 500 Kingdoms; my favorites are Pheonix and Ashes and The Serpent's Shadow.  Rated PG-13 for mild sexuality, violence, and mature themes.
  • Anything by Robin McKinley --  She writes mostly for young adults and has a feminist twist (rated PG). My favorite is Beauty.  The only adult story I've read of hers is Deerskin and it was okay.  Definitely check out her original fiction as well, The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. 
  • Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and Once Upon a More Enlightened Time by James Finn Garner -- Humorous, modern re-tellings of all your favorites.  It's been awhile since I read them, but I think I would rate them PG-13 for some mature material.
  • D.J. MacHale's Pendragon Series -- It's an older children to young adult series of a modern-day hero of the Arthurian legend.  Great story-telling.  Rated PG for some heavy action. I haven't finished the series, so shh! Don't tell me what happens.
Some other popular fairy tale re-fashioners include Gail Carson Levine of Ella Enchanted fame (G), Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame (definitely R) and Angela Carter (R), but really almost all writers pull on these various traditions and you can find fairy tales tailored to almost any philosophy from feminism to Marxism to Nazism (I kid you not, the Nazi party re-wrote Grimms tales to better reflect Arians and put down Jews). 

The possibilities are endless and I love seeing what has bee added to the literary tradition. I can't wait to read more fairy tales and add a little magic to my life.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Good Book Feeling

It's part warm  fuzzy, part shock and awe, and part anticipation/satisfaction.

It's confusion and exhilaration and a mind-numbing emotional roller coaster that leaves you speechless and shaking.

I am experiencing that feeling right now, and I can't believe how long it has been since I last felt this way.

There are now words to truly describe it, but I think it's about as close to an orgasmic experience that I will be for a while.

You just have to experience it for yourself.

If you are wondering what book did this to me, read the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and just pray you get to, the twelfth book, Changes; it's Harry Potter for adults without the final letdown.

Thank you Emily, for making me read this series.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Life as the Broadway Musical

The theater, the theater, what happened to the theater? I wish that for at least one day, my life would be like a Broadway musical.  I know that I already expressed this wish in a previous post, but I have renewed the idea because I have found the perfect staging scene: The Hallene Gateway Plaza.  It's this great landscaped area on the edge of campus by the alumni center.  Follow me on a quick sketch of my vision:

So this is the proper entrance for the Plaza:

Nice, right? Kind of park-y but with some great architecture.

Speaking of architecture, here is the building, the Alica Campbell Alumni Center, behind the arch. Notice the great second story balcony; perfect for dramatic scenes or dimensionality.

This shot was taken from the Alumni Center's patio. The fountain is a nice touch right?

Here's a panoramic shot of the fountain with the Alumni Center in the back. Notice the nice short, wide stairs in the background that would be great for a dance routine.

Okay, did you notice the nice curve of the fountain/planter rim? It's really wide and flat, so another great spot for dancers. There is also a secondary ledge around the outside, so even more stage area!

There are even picnic tables ... Think High School Musical "Status Quo"number.

Now, I realize that my dream will most likely never come true, but I have the set and am on the lookout for the signs that a big song-and-dance showstopper is about to occur.

1. The clothing of people around you is all in the same color scheme or similar in some way.  The people also have to be diverse: ethnically, professionally, and physically.  It's a sure sign that the chorus has gathered and is about to let it rip.

2. The people around you start walking or moving in formations.  I'm talking about dance formations, with people equal distances from each other, or an attempt to look randomly placed but they leave enough of a personal bubble that it's not quite normal.

3. This is possibly the most obvious sign: music begins to blare over hidden speakers and everyone knows the song, even if you have never heard it before.  This phenomenon is explored in Disney's Enchanted.

4. If you haven't caught on after those signs, meaning you are incredibly dense, when everyone around you begins to dance and you have the uncontrollable urge to join in, you are there.

Other giveaways:
The marching band that arrives for some unexplained reason I'm sure that the Marching Illini would help me out.
The fountain (a la Sound of Music) How great is the Hallene Fountain?
An open space where lots of choreography can happen Notice the patio, the broad walkways, and the grassy spots

Here's another example that meets all the above requirements.

Another fun example is Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet" music video. I LOVE that song!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Summer Reading List

The beginning of summer: a time for freedom from homework and academic pressures. But about two or three weeks in I start getting bored, even though I will be working almost 40 hours a week.  This summer I am being proactive about what to do in my free time, so I am planning out what to read.

1. Beginning the list is Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files.  My friend Emily has been hounding me to read this series, and I am intrigued.  The premise is that Harry Dresden is a modern day private investigator/wizard and he fights all sorts of bad guys.  I've read the first book Storm Front, and was not impressed.  But Emily assures me that they get better after the first three (there are 12), so I remain hopeful, plus I read his Alera Codex and was blown away. 

2. Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.  It's a crime series and I don't know anything more about it, except for the fact that they always pop up on Amazon as suggested reading and the titles are intriguing.

3. Devil in the White City by Eric Larson. My mom has been trying to get me to read this book for a while.  It's about the architect of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893 and a series of murders that occurred at the same time.

4. Kathy Reich's series about Temperance Brennan.  Ever since I found out that Bones is based on a book series, I have wanted to read it.

5. 1984 by George Orwell.  I read Animal Farm and liked it and have had tons of people tell me to read it.  So I am.

6. Possession by A.S. Byatt.  Two of the Ellens took an class on A.S. Byatt and Margaret Drabble; they couldn't stop talking about it.

7. I took a comparative world literature class and had to read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It was an awesome book and I want to read more by him.

8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  I first heard about the book when it was alluded to in The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  Setterfield was less than impressive, but Collins sounded interesting, so the next time my friend Renae and I were at Barnes & Noble we both picked up the book and said we would both read it.  Well that didn't go as planned, but now she's started to read it and loves it so far.  Now I have to catch up. 

That's the list of what I definitely want to read.  I will of course read other books, most likely trashy romance novels and snack lit, but the above list WILL be read this summer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bemoaning Buy-Back Season

The end of finals week is upon us and the season of textbook buy-back has begun.  Now, any college student has seen the numerous advertisements for the campus book stores: "The best buy-backs in town" or "55% buy-back, more than any other store."  And sometimes, they're right, but most of the time you can do so much better.

So here are some steps to get the most money for your ex-textbooks:

1. Check the buy-back prices at the campus stores.  I realize I just warned against it, but just check and take note of how much they are giving back.

2. Check major online book sellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and halfpricedbooks.com.  I personally use Amazon because I know its reputation and have had great success buying and selling.

3. Now compare the prices and remember to factor in shipping costs. I also factor in convenience, so if the prices between the books stores and the online sellers is so close, I go to the campus stores -- it's just easier.

4. When selling to the campus bookstores always remember any reward cards or any coupons to get an extra $2 on your buy-back -- every cent counts.

Now, go sell and get some of the hundreds you spent back.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Library Lament

Ok, so the resolution is not going so well as this post is already three days late, but better late then never.

Anyway, I've been on campus for the past week and have been working full-time at the library and it has really driven home all the pet peeves I have about this job. No job is perfect and I am planning to have a career in the library, but I have to rant.

Patrons who walk right in front of the desk and make you think they want help, but really they're just walking by. Let's just say I am a helpful person. I want to make people's lives easier. So, when I see someone approach the desk I go into super-informed-and-helpful-Liz mode only to be let down by those people who are too lazy or rude to walk around the rope barriers.

Patrons who assume that since I work at the library I should know everything about the computers. I have no background in IT and am almost computer illiterate for a person of my generation, but I try to help as much as possible. But sometimes, patrons just don't get that we don't have an IT person just for our library. They also don't get that our computers are public ones and don't allow a lot of downloading or saving for long periods of time. (Can you tell I had an issue like this today?)

The deluge of returns that occur right before closing time. It never fails that within the last hour and a half before closing time (which usually only happens two times a week as we are open 24/5) everyone suddenly remembers that they have material to return and rush up to the desk and hand everything over. We have so much time during the day to shelve, yet we leave for the day with at least two carts of material to shelve.

Professors who don't know how to put material on reserve, check out material on reserve, and give out the incorrect information about reserves to their students. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but has a simple fix. I propose that we offer an hour class/seminar to all the professors on campus on the reserve system. I'm sure that IPM (Information Processing Management) would thank us and would even have someone there to help run it.

Trying to shelve in the compact shelving. There isn't anything I can do about this, but having to step out of the shelves and wait for a patron to find the items they want, and since all the graphic novels are there, it takes a little time. I usually go to another section and shelve for awhile, but sometimes, like today, it was one after another who wanted to get into the shelves.

The fact that somehow as soon as someone starts looking for a DVD all the glorious shelves of perfectly straightened DVDs look like an earthquake has occurred. I will admit that our shelves are slippery, as are the newer DVD cases, but ... really, can they just clean up after themselves?

The creepy middle-aged, male patrons who watch porn on library computers and try to hide it. Don't kid yourself, we all know what you're doing, and it's gross. The only reason you come to the library is because you don't want your wife/girlfriend to know how many porn sites you subscribe to or you don't want viruses on your home computer. Just stop, no one else wants to see you, so go home and enjoy yourself in privacy.

Patrons who just plop materials on the desk. It's just rude, and I can't read minds so I don't know if they want to check out or if they are returning items. A nice "Hello" would be nice or even just a "Hi," but to just stand there waiting ... ARGH!

That's all I can think of right now, and I think I covered everything, but I may be adding later. In the meantime, enjoy this awesome video: