Sunday, March 26, 2017

Historical Fiction Annotation

Image result for the invention of wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Title: The Invention of Wings
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2014
Number of Pages: 384
Geographical Setting: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Time Period: Throughout the 1800s.
Series (If applicable): No series

Plot Summary: 

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

The novel begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
Subject Headings:
Grimk√©, Sarah Moore, 1792-1873 > Fiction. Antislavery movements > Fiction. Feminists > South Carolina > Fiction. Women's rights > Fiction. 

Appeal: "World-building" is crucial in historical fiction. Historical fiction requires accurate historical facts. Readers discover a wealth of details relating to the setting as well as to characters and events. The frame, constructed with facts, is the first element readers respond to. Story lines generally emphasize either a particular time or event or they follow the lives of characters in a time. Characters can take center stage, and the lives of the protagonists are more important than the individual events. 
3 characteristics of genre:
  • There is a wealth of accurate historical detail relating to setting
  • The mood of historical novels runs the gamut from rollicking to somber
  • Story lines may focus on a particular historical event or time period

3 Read a-likes:
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  • When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi
  • The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

Week 11 Prompt

Ebooks and audiobooks are a part of our landscape. What does the change in medium mean for appeal factors? If you can't hold a book and feel the physical weight of it in your hands, how does that affect your knowledge of the genre? How about readers being able to change the font, line spacing, and color of text - how does that affect pacing and tone? How about audiobooks? Track length, narrator choice, is there music?  For this week, I want you to think about how ebooks and audiobooks affect appeal factors - also think about appeals that are unique to both mediums. Please feel free to use your own experience and that of your (anonymous of course) patrons. I look forward to reading these!

The shift from physical books to ebooks and audiobooks causes a change in the appeal factors for readers. While the two mediums are wildly different, they both mean changes for the appeal factors.

Ebooks are books meant to be read on any electronic device. The most popular devices are tables, e-readers and phones. Ebooks are an interesting medium and fitting for the technology age. The appeal of ebooks lies more in the convenience factor than the changing of the appeal factors. A reader can carry hundreds of books on one device, making it easy to carry around multiple books at the same time. I personally use ebooks during vacation, because packing ten books makes it difficult to make weight restrictions on flights. Being able to edit the font size and text appearance can make the pacing of reading easier as well. I find it easier to read larger text, and with physical books, that is not possible to change. The downside to ebooks for me is not being able to get the satisfaction of finishing a physical book. I love reading the last page of a book and it is not as satisfying with ebooks. I normally read physical books, but there are times I like to pick up ebooks when I do not want to carry around a large physical book.

Audiobooks also are a vastly different medium than physical books. Audiobooks are books either on CD or downloaded from various sources. Audiobooks affect appeal factors in a number of ways. First, audiobooks are only listened to, not read. Readers cannot see the words, and rely on the audiobook to read every word. This can be a positive and negative for readers like myself. I listen to audiobooks on my drive to and from work. It gives me a way to enjoy reading when I cannot physically read a book. The main problem with audiobooks is when I "zone out" and miss a section of the book. It is easy to reread the book when I have a physical copy, but it is difficult to rewind the CD in the car. I also enjoy listening to audiobooks when I am working, but the same issue can happen. It is easier to find my place on my phone however, than going backwards on a CD. Audiobooks are controversial as some can consider reading audiobooks as "not reading." While it is not reading in the traditional definition, I still believe it to be reading books.

Both ebooks and audiobooks are great for different types of readers. Readers can read strickly physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks, but the most common is a combination of two or three of these mediums. The appeal of these different mediums are different for a number of reasons, but all three should be considered reading. I welcome any format that allows books to be read, because it allows books to reach new readers who may not enjoy reading physical books.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Club Experience

For this assignment, I visited a monthly book club at a small town library. The premise of this book club is a provided lunch with the book discussion. This month’s novel was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I have read this novel, so I thought I would sit in as a participant and engage in the discussion when possible.

The first thing I noticed about this discussion group is the age group of the readers. The book club starts at noon on a Thursday, making way for the elderly population who no longer work. They were all women above the age of 55. While I expected this, it still is disheartening to not see a diverse group for the book club. I have not been to a discussion during the evening to see if the age group is younger and more diverse so I decided to ask the library employee about it. She said the book club groups are all similar to the group at this book club, even during nights and weekends.

Right away, I realized that the book would not be the main topic of discussion for the group. The group consisted of 7 women who come to the book club every month. The first 30 minutes of the book club did not deal with the book club at all. The ladies talked to each other about their lives and new around the town. Then, they all got up and got food the begin the discussion. The food was provided by the leader, an employee of the library. It was definitely enough for lunch, which was nice.

The leader, Joann, asks questions and lets the others answer first. She asks mostly yes or no questions, but I think it is because the members can continue the discussion afterwards. The discussion flowed easily, but there was one member who did overtake the discussion a lot. Joann did not do anything to facilitate this issue and it seemed like others wanted to answer but could not get a word in. It was unfortunate because I got the sense that this is an issue during every book club discussion. Everyone did have time to input their opinions after she was done talking, but she did talk for a couple of minutes after every question before anyone else could talk.

The group normally discusses books that were recently best sellers. They are able to receive books through Evergreen Indiana, and there are multiple copies available. At the end of the book discussion, the members can pick up the book for the next month. They also discuss new books to read for the book club.

While it was not the best discussion group, the atmosphere was really fun. It was located in the library’s meeting room and had plenty of space for everyone. The tables were set up in a rectangle shape, so everyone could see each other and that made the discussion flow better.

The main takeaway I had was that this book club is not entirely a book club, and at times it was hard to feel a part of the group. The group has been coming to the library for this book club for over a year and most of them have not missed a single month. They asked me questions about myself for a minute, but they really enjoy their tight knit group. Joann was great at talking to me about the novel and ourselves while the rest of the group were talking to each other before the discussion began. I think the discussion overall went well and everyone had at least one chance to input their opinions.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Special Topics: Graphic Novels

Comics have been an American staple since the initial popularity began in the 1930s. Graphic novels are comics in a bound form, like other hardback or paperback books found in the stacks inside libraries. A graphic novel is simply a novel in comic-strip format. The graphic novel format consists of bound books with pictures and text bubbles on top of the pictures.

Graphic novels are not a genre; they are a format. While many perceive graphic novels as superheroes and villains, graphic novels fall within every genre. April Sheppard, an advocate for graphic novels, “Comics are no longer simply men in tights— many graphic novels deal with current issues, serious subjects, and learning” (13).

Libraries are beginning to include graphic novels in their collections, but there is still a tendency to believe graphic novels are not real literature and a waste of the small budget libraries have. Despite public perception, graphic novels have a valid place in the library for many reasons. One of the most compelling arguments is the power to get unenthusiastic readers to read willingly.

Sheppard, A. (2007). Graphic novels in the library. Arkansas Libraries, 64(3), 12-16.

Women's Lives and Relationships Annotation

Image result for something borrowed book

Author: Emily Giffin
Title: Something Borrowed
Genre: Women's Lives and Relationships
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 322
Geographical Setting: New York City, USA
Time Period: Early 2000s.
Series (If applicable): Darcy & Rachel

Plot Summary: 

Rachel and Darcy have been best friends since fifth grade from a small town in Indiana. Rachel is now lawyer living in Uptown Manhattan on the brink of her thirtieth birthday. Darcy has become prominent in the PR world in Manhattan and is engaged to Dex, who Rachel introduced. Rachel has been the rule following, good girl but that all changes on the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel and Dex sleep together after Rachel's birthday celebration. Rachel is contemplating why she slept with Dex, since she is Darcy's Maid of Honor in their upcoming nuptials just a few months away.

A few days later Dex calls Rachel, much to her surprise, and confesses feelings for her. Rachel and Dex begin a relationship behind Darcy's back. Before Rachel and Darcy's time share begins in the Hamptons, Darcy sets Rachel up on a date with Marcus. Rachel enjoys the date, but cannot get Dex off her mind. Rachel joins Darcy, Dex, Marcus and friends in the Hamptons, but soon realizes that she cannot deal with Darcy and Dex flirting. 

Rachel finally decides to give Dex an ultimatum, her or Darcy. When Dex finally decides on Darcy, Rachel goes to London to visit a friend from school and to get away from her heartbreak in Manhattan. Rachel returns to New York to discover Dex waiting for her in her apartment building. Dex tells her he ended the engagement and wants to be with Rachel. Darcy shows up and the doorman allows her to go up immediately. Dex hides in the closet while Darcy confesses to having an affair with Dex's best friend, Marcus and is pregnant with his baby. The first book in this saga closes out with Dex and Rachel being together, and Darcy being with Marcus. Rachel and Darcy are no longer on speaking terms and they are both contemplating their lifelong friendship. 
Subject Headings:
Triangles (Interpersonal relations) > Fiction. 
Risk-taking (Psychology) > Fiction. 
Female friendship > Fiction. 
Single women > Fiction. 

Appeal: The appeal of the genre is the intimate glimpse into the lives of the protagonists. While to tone ranges from more melodramatic to realistic or provocative, it sets up the emotional link that readers want and expect. These are novels written by women, and they explore the lives of female protagonists while they focus on her relationships with family, friends, and lovers. Novels in the genre examine themes of concern special to women.
3 characteristics of genre:
  • The novel offers a generally optimistic outlook.
  • The protagonist and author are female.
  • Story lines reflect the issues affecting women's lives and portray women facing difficult situations.

3 Read a-likes:
  • Can you Keep a Secret by Sophia Kinsella
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  • Four Friends by Robyn Carr