Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Reading isn't just words

I had a problem at the library today. We had a kid’s program in the morning, and even though I get anxious and flinch more than usual around large groups of children, that was not my problem.

My problem was a boy that kept bringing graphic novels up to the desk only to have his mom take them back and tell him to “get real books.” We have some short chapter books that are about Spiderman and Yoda and all those characters guys like no matter what age they are, but even those didn’t pass her scrutiny of the authentic state of “book.”

Eventually the kid got frustrated, threw his arms out and said, “What am I supposed to do, I’m not interested in anything else!”

To which I think his mom said something along the lines of “Well, get interested in something else.”

I’m with the kid here. Granted he was calling them “comic books” which is fine and I doubt his mom would have been swayed by the slightly snobby-sounding “graphic novel.” Unless maybe I said it with an English accent... Anyway.

So what if the kid isn’t reading Hawthorne yet? If you start telling him some books aren’t real and things he’s interested in aren’t put in books then he won’t want to read when he’s older.

And seriously. Look around at all the books in the children’s library… books about police cars or how bulldozers work or bat-eared foxes. Books on colors and numbers and feeling sad or making decisions. Getting dressed, saying please, sharing with others.

Up until we’re teenagers (and probably beyond that into adulthood) we use books to learn how the world works, and most importantly how we feel and interact with our world.

Reading is psychological, social, emotional, and intellectual. So maybe some people feel that authors can cram their agenda or people blindly follow the protagonist’s lead without contemplating how they really feel, but at least there’s an opportunity to explore how you react to situations and social schemas.

Let the kid get swept away in a comic book if he wants to. He’ll be interpreting the images just as much as the words. He will find moral dilemmas, be incited to use his imagination, and give his range of emotions a little workout in a safe place between paper pages. Which is exactly what any other “real book” does.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Matilda Loveshack!

Hello and welcome to my co-author and alter-ego Matilda Loveshack here on ATJK! We've got lots of new topics coming up so stay tuned. But if you're in the mood for some reading check out Matilda's short story "A Knothole in the Window" for free download via Smashwords.

Or download the almost-novella "What Happens in Purgatory" for .99 at Smashwords or in the Kindle store.

And if there are any topics you want to discuss/see a post on, shout it out!

Any other questions/comments/baby zebras you may have for me, direct to one of the following:


Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sexiness and book...iness.

Time for too-much-info confession of the day! I secretly try to vamp up my subtle-but-sexy librarian skills when shelving. Even if I am but a lowly clerk and my skirts brush past my knees, damnit, I am a sexy librarian!

The topic I’m attempting to segue into here is a literary pinup calendar in association with artist Lee Moyer that goes to help Worldbuilders.

There’s a bit of a hubbub surrounding the work (as much of a hub or bub that can be generated in the literary world…) about whether the calendar is great or terrible. Thus far the arguments have been pretty balanced: half of the input says the calendar is cute, sexy, fun, and interesting and half say it is offensive, cheapens literature and no one should enjoy looking at pin up images.

Well, this is my blog, so this is my opinion.

If you are turned off by any part of the pin-up girl concept, then you won’t like the calendar. And trust me, I’ve been in enough male-occupied garages to develop a strong distaste for a lot of stuff that the modern pin-up has evolved into.
I can also tell you that this calendar is nothing like that.

First off, I think these are really tastefully done. Even the Twain one, set to be more provocative is very cute in my opinion. No gratuitous side-boob, and she’s not set in a position where you can see both cleavage and a full view of her derrier somehow simultaneously. (I don’t know how a model ever gets into this pose ever, but it’s pretty popular from images I’ve seen.) The outfits are beautiful in themselves and honestly are not that revealing for being pinned as pin-up (See what I did there.) I saw much more the last Halloween party I went to, and there was no intelligent irony to be found. And the women look fairly normal. I mean, yeah they are mostly thin and done up, but they still look real.

Second of all, these images contain a lot of details. I haven’t seen the full calendar, but some are very subtle and you have to look for clues about the books. Which brings me to point three: this wouldn’t work if you didn’t know about literature. Certainly you don’t have to have read the complete works of the authors presented to get it, but the cleverness emerges with the interpretation of the literature.

So, I mean, really, why can’t literature be sexy? Or intelligence, or love of classics? I’ve always held the position that we live in a sex-visible culture instead of a sex-positive one. And right now I’m pretty sure Fifty Shades of Gray is the most reserved book in our collection. People have gone bat-lunatic because it’s all edgy and erotic and crazy and right now holds the top 4 on the New York bestsellers list.

And, honestly, if we are paying homage to literary works through sex, I would much rather have this calendar on my wall than badly written erotica on my shelf.

Showin' some love for Herman ;)