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Turn Off Your Smart Phone: Make a Goal to Read More Books

8 Aug

Summer Reading is winding up at the library as I write this and as I logged my reading, I’ve realized I have been reading less lately, which isn’t completely accurate since I’ve been reading tons of news and blogs and such online, but I’ve certainly been reading less books.  This isn’t just true of myself – I’ve realized as I’ve talked to others.  The phones most of us carry now are more like mini tablets than a means of communication. They constantly demand to be checked for the latest social media update or what latest political scandal has occurred in the news. And that paperback book on my bedside table isn’t constantly sending me push notices, instead it sits there patiently as I renew it for another two weeks and think “I’ll read it tomorrow”.  Ruminating on it now I realize I’m missing out – though since there are entertaining and some high quality things online, there is also a lot of shallow click bait that wastes my time and doesn’t add to my enjoyment of life or increase my understanding of the world in a positive way.  So I’ve decided to put my phone away at the end of the day and read more books.  I hope you’ll join me; let’s keep that pushy electronic device waiting for an hour or two and instead get lost in a good book.

Here are two books I read this summer that I enjoyed curling up with while my cell phone was tucked away in a bed side drawer.  Both deal with frequent vacation destinations that are anything but ordinary.

The Last Cruise
by Kate Christensen
LastCruise
I hadn’t read any of Christensen’s writing before, but after reading The Last Cruise, I definitely want to check out more of her fiction and nonfiction. The Last Cruise was beautifully written with the kind of lush language and imagery one would expect to find in poetry. It is set on an old cruise ship making one last trip to Hawaii.  The three main characters: an elderly Israeli musician, an up and coming chef, and a farm wife on a life changing vacation, were all complex and I liked the emotional journey and development that occurred for the three of them over the course of the book. I’m looking forward to taking a cruise next year, so I’m hoping the many disasters that befall the ship and its passengers are not likely to occur in real life. At the very least – not all at once – from the comfort of my own home it was exciting to see how the characters fared through the many challenges they faced.

Tricks For Free
by Seanan McGuire
TricksforFree
I enjoyed this urban fantasy book a lot as I have the other books in the InCryptid series about a family that protects the monsters secretly living among us. Tricks for Free is the second novel focusing on Annie, the youngest of the Price siblings, and though I think I prefer her older sister as a character, I thought this novel was still fast paced and interesting. Tricks for Free is set at a Disney like Amusement Park, which was so well thought out that it felt real. It even had well-detailed associated fictional movies, songs, and characters; I’d love if McGuire crafted the stories that she based these on as they sounded so interesting. I’m looking forward to the next book when it comes out, which also follows Annie and her friends. Tricks for Free included a novella at the end focusing on Annie’s Aeslin Mice (talking mice that worship the Price family) and her boyfriend during the time she is on the run and has to leave them behind.

See the Latest Books Available at HPL
Want to see what is new at HPL?  You can always see what new books we have by browsing the shelves near the first floor circulation desk where they feature the new nonfiction and fiction.  Or you can find lists of new books and other items by going to https://catalog.bccls.org/polaris/custom/whatsnew.aspx?ctx=61

Hoboken Residents Can Have 10 Interlibrary Loan Requests
We appreciated everyone’s patience during the state’s recent interlibrary loan delivery issues, but are thrilled that we can again offer Hoboken Library Residents up to 10 loan requests from other BCCLS libraries at a time so even if something you want is out here, we can request it for you!

Written By:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Reads: The First Half of 2018 with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group

11 Jul

The first half of 2018 has been filled with a lot of enjoyable books for our Science Fiction and Fantasy Group. We hope you can join us for future discussions.  On Monday, July 23 we will be discussing Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster in honor of the summer reading theme of “Reading Rocks.”  We always welcome input into what books the group reads, so we would love to hear your suggestions!  Email hplwriters @ gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.  If you are a Hoboken Resident be sure to sign up for our summer reading program.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente
Girlwhocircumnavigatedfairyland
You may remember I wrote about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making in a previous post about books that were originally published online.  I had loved the novel, so I was excited when one of the group members had suggested it.  There was some discussion of it in comparison to other children’s books we had read – such as the first three Oz books.  The story has a very retro fairytale feel to it which some of the group enjoyed.  Before the book discussion we watched Labyrinth which Valente has said was very influential to her in the author interview that was included at the end of the book.  You can read more about Labyrinth in a previous post I had written in honor of its 30th anniversary.

Mote in God’s Eye
by Larry Niven‎ & ‎Jerry Pournelle
Mote in God's Eye
image from Amazon.com
We had previously read two of Niven’s books as well as the Niven/Pournelle collaboration Inferno.  While the group thought that Pournelle’s influence was felt more heavily in Inferno, overall Mote In God’s Eye seemed more reminiscent of the Ringworld books by Niven we had read previously.  I found the book a little slow moving at first, but found it picked up and had me enthralled by the end with its story of first contact between humans and an alien race.  We paired the book with a screening of the Start Trek movie, Wrath of Khan which the group enjoyed.

The Magicians
by Lev Grossman
magicians
My first experience with The Magicians was its adaptation on the SyFy channel so I was curious to compare it to the book series.  Both feel like a modern and more adult take on Children’s Classics, most notably Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Once and Future King all of which we had read in previous book discussions so we had a lot of talk about them in comparison.  The group felt that although this was an interesting setup with all the borrowing from other works it felt more referential than innovative.  We also watched the first three episodes of the TV show.  I enjoyed both and this may be a rare exception where I did not necessarily like the book more than its adaptation.

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
ReadyPlayerOne
The group was curious to read and discuss Ready Player One since its movie adaptation was making its big screen debut.  I think this is another example of where the movie and book are very different in some ways, but both enjoyable and the changes for the movie felt on the whole necessary due to the more visual medium.  I’d definitely recommend the book, if you only saw the film. Ready Player One relies heavily on 80’s nostalgia, but we found interestingly the references did not resonate for some of the older members of the group who experienced the 80’s as adults rather than children, since many of the references are about video games, toys, and cartoons.  I had been curious to see if it was necessary to get all the references to still enjoy the book and film, but the group members who weren’t as knowledgeable still seemed to like the work.  We also watched Existenz beforehand, which the group felt had some interesting concepts about reality, but did not enjoy some of the intense visuals that are a hallmark of many Cronenberg films.

Scythe
by Neal Shusterman
scythe
One of the group members mentioned that she had been hearing a lot of buzz about the award winning Young Adult novel Scythe by Neal Shusterman so I was curious to check it out. The novel is interesting since in some ways it depicts a world which many people would see as a Utopia where disease and injury can almost always be cured and nanites in people’s blood prevent pain and depression.  Yet there is something that seems dulled in the society where death only comes by the hands of designated Scythes who “glean” in order to keep the population numbers down.  I found the book a bit slow in the early chapters where it focused on world building and typical teen concerns, but found it picked up with action and intrigue in the second half.  Beforehand we watched Ghost Rider which on the whole the group found over the top but enjoyable.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
fahrenheit 451
HBO recently debuted an adaptation of the Science Fiction classic, Fahrenheit 451, which had been on our “to be read” list for a while.  We viewed the 1966 movie adaptation before the discussion.  It was interesting to see how relevant the book was to our current world situation where censorship and mass media are both hot topics.  The group had a great discussion about how Bradbury’s four walls of viewing screens seemed very relevant with VR, Augmented Reality, and people constantly being glued to their cell phones.  We had a large turnout for the 1966 movie adaptation which had an interesting stylized look that to me kept it from feeling dated.  I especially liked that in the movie the protagonist’s wife and a young woman he meets, who seem to be positioned as mirror opposites of one another, was played by the same actress.  The novel is definitely a work you should check out!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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