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The 5 Books I Plan to Read for Summer 2017

16 Jun

Nothing makes a librarian happier than recommending books to others, so I was delighted when my niece FaceTimed last week to ask for summer reading suggestions. She starts high school in the fall and is required to read a nonfiction book and a fiction book during the summer, which she will do while she is away at camp. This also inspired me to think about my own summer reading, so I will tell you about the books I suggested for my niece, and what I plan to read.

(Don’t forget that the Hoboken Public Library is here for all your summer reading needs, with print books, eBooks, audiobooks, and more. Our Summer Reading Programs for all ages kick off Thursday June 22, where what you read this summer puts you in the running for prizes! And of course, we will celebrate our reading successes once summer ends.)

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My niece: isn’t she a cutie? ❤

Recommendations for My Niece

My suggestion for nonfiction was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (Click here to find this title in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, large print, and eBook.) This book about Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose still-growing HeLa cell line has been used in more than 60 years of scientific and medical progress, has been a sensation since it was first published. It is a hybrid of biography about Henrietta, her family, and where she grew up in rural Virginia; history of racist practices against poor blacks in medical settings (Henrietta’s cells were taken during a medical exam and used in research without her or her family’s knowledge and consent); and science writing that is accessible and makes the reader think. This book is absolutely brilliant, and ranks among the best nonfiction I have ever read.

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This book assigned in high school classes, and a friend that teaches high school science gave this book a thumbs-up for teens. I think it will be a challenging and educational read for my niece. However, she is forbidden from watching the recent HBO movie adaptation that stars Oprah instead of reading the text. (This Librarian always prefers the book to the movie.)

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For fiction she wanted straight YA. I first suggested The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which I am currently reading. Starr is a young African American woman straddling two worlds–her gritty urban neighborhood and her pedigreed suburban private school–whose childhood friend Kahlil is shot and killed while unarmed during a traffic stop by a police officer.

The heavy subject matter yielded a nose wrinkle from my niece, and I understand her feeling. Most people want to read light, fun books in the summer. (As you read further into this post, you will see that I am not one of these people!) This book is intense, and has moved me to tears a few times while reading, but The Hate U Give is an impressive debut by Angie Thomas.

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My next YA fiction suggestion was When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (available in print and as an eBook). I haven’t read this book, about two Indian-American teens whose parents are planning an eventual arranged marriage for them who meet in a summer program before college. Rebecca and Liberty from Book Riot’s All the Books podcast say that this book is adorable, and I plan to read it myself. My niece may like the romantic elements and the teen characters. 

I will be writing letters to my niece at camp to check in on her reading progress, and to talk about what she ultimately chose to read.

Next up are books I want to read this summer.

Inspired by the American Crime Story Anthology Series

I watched American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson last year and was riveted. Perhaps the series resonated because I remember the Bronco chase broadcast live on TV in 1994 (and was miffed that the chase interrupted ABC’s TGIF lineup) and the extensive trial coverage. 

In 2018 there where will be two more installments of the American Crime Story series, and I may change my cable cord-cutter status to watch them. The first is about the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace in August 1997 that was part of a killing spree by Andrew Cunanan. (Filming for this series is underway, and photos of Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan are online.) The source book is Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Manhunt in FBI History by Maureen Orth, which reports on Cunanan’s crimes leading up to his encounter with Versace. I love a good true crime story (click here to read my review of The Lost Girls by Robert Kolker) and want to read about this case before the show airs.

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The next American Crime Story will cover Hurricane Katrina. I have written about media inspired by this devastating storm, so I am very interested in this story. The source text is The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley. This is a well-researched, dense volume that will likely take me all summer to get through. I am reading the first chapter now, which discusses the establishment of New Orleans as a port city, its flooding history, and how the vulnerable Louisiana coastline has eroded over the past 200 years.

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In case you are wondering, the source for American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson was The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin.

A Wildcard Pick

My father will happily tell you that he has been exposing me to 1960s music since my early childhood. In the car, the radio was always tuned to 101.1 FM, which was New Yorks’ Oldies station. Now that he’s upgraded to satellite radio, he always listens to the 60s on 6 channel, and sometimes First Wave (the 1980s alternative channel, which is my influence on him).

This exposure has definitely fostered my appreciation of 1960s music. In particular, I am a fan of Otis Redding. This past spring Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life by Jonathan Gould was published. I want to read this well-reviewed biography to learn more about one of my favorite artists, who died in a plane crash before his signature song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released in 1968 and became a hit.

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So, this is my summer reading list. I am also duty-bound to read the books for the Library’s Mile Square City Readers Book Club, the Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books, and the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge I’m following. So I have no shortage of books to read!

Tell me reader, what are you reading this summer?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

When Fanfiction Becomes Canon: Twilight; Life and Death: A Reimagining of the Classic Novel, My Little Pony Equestria Girls, Adventure Time’s Fionna and Cake, and Supernatural

30 Sep

Fanfiction where fans of books and TV shows expand on the characters and the universe to create their own spins has become a huge part of Sci-fi and Fantasy fandoms especially with the ease of sharing content on the internet.  Many of the reviews of the recent Harry Potter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which depicts many of the characters from the main series as adults along with their own children, have claimed that the play reads a bit like fan fiction, which had me thinking about times when fan fiction ideas and creations have made the jump to becoming canonized as part of the actual series.

Twilight; Life and Death: A Reimagining of the Classic Novel, by Stephenie Meyer

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In honor of the 10th Anniversary of Twilight last year, Stephenie Meyer released a double book with her Young Adult novel starring the vampire Edward and human Bella on one side and bound on the opposite the story told with the gender roles reversed so that it is the story of a human male who falls in love with a female vampire.  She was inspired by fan fiction about the characters. Meyer had also released online a portion of Twilight rewritten from Edward’s perspective.  Infamously also the very adult Fifty Shades series began as Twilight fanfiction; E.L. James also published Grey, with her first book told from Christian Grey’s perspective in 2015.  Borrow all of the Twilight series and Life and Death from BCCLS libraries.

My Little Pony Equestria Girls

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As a little girl I loved My Little Ponies–both the TV movies and the pastel colored toys.  The ponies have since went through several different incarnations.   The most recent series centers on Twilight Sparkles and her five new BFFs, who learns about friendship when Twilight takes up residence in Ponyville.  I wasn’t sure about the new series based on my beloved childhood memories, but the fact that Twilight Sparkles loves books and resided, in the beginning of the series, in a library inside a tree won me over.  The surprising thing about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was it wasn’t just little girls this time becoming fans of the show, but also young men who enjoyed the clever animation.  There wasn’t just fan fiction springing up but remixes of the music in the episodes, a vast variety of art, and more.  My Little Pony Fan Conventions popped up across the country.  At the Cons fans often dressed up as human versions of their favorite ponies which were also depicted in some of the fan art.  This inspired Hasbro to create movies based on an alternative universe where the ponies all have human counter parts.  You can borrow the Equestria Girl movies Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games from Hoopla.  BCCLS libraries also have the first in the series Equestria Girls and many of the cartoon series and movies that have appeared through the years.

Adventure Time’s Fionna and Cake

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Although I am totally behind in my viewing of it Adventure Time about the last human boy, Finn, and his magical transforming dog, Jake, living in post-apocalyptic land with a candy kingdom, flying unicorn, and a crazy ice king is another cartoon with a lot of adult fans.  Quirky characters and an intriguing story line make it fun for the whole family.  The creator Pendleton Ward was inspired by Dungeon and Dragons (something I loved playing with my Dad and sister as a kid).  My husband and I enjoy watching Adventure Time with our son, who is still a bit too young for D&D.  Like Twilight its fan fiction moment that became canon comes from gender swapping the characters.  Natasha Allegri who worked on the show created some sketches of Finn as Fionna and Jake as a female cat Cake.  Not only were fans charmed, but so was Ward and Fionna and Cake have appeared in several of the episodes of the show.  Fun fact: Neil Patrick Harris performs the voice of Prince Gumball (in place of Princess Bubblegum) in some of the gender swap episodes.  You can borrow seasons One through Five of Adventure Time from BCCLS Libraries.

Supernatural

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Some fantasy series start out strong and then burn out fast, but Supernatural has lasted for over ten seasons and survived the jump from the WB to the CW network.  The show follows the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, on their endless road trip fighting demons and saving the world time after time.  Having been on so long there are few myths and legends the series hasn’t at some point focused on.  The series has acknowledged fan fiction in several stories.  Season 10’s fifth episode is even titled “Fan Fiction”; the episode focuses on a teacher’s disappearance at an all girl’s school, where they are performing a musical based on the Carver Edlund’s comic book series which is the story of the brother’s adventures.  In earlier episodes, in a metafiction twist, Edlund was revealed as a sort of prophet, who  has visions about the brother’s journey.  These episodes allow the show to lovingly poke fun at some of what has become standard in both the series’s fan fiction as well as the series itself.

Have more examples of when Fan Fiction became Canon?  Let us know in the comments!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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