A New Book by John Green (finally!)

New York Times bestselling author,  vlogger, movie producer,  do-gooder. A man with many hats, but a pretty simple name: John Green.

If you read YA fiction, you already know this guy.  Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns,  and the meteorically popular The Fault in Our Stars – it can be hard to find these books on our shelves because they’re constantly checked out. And he hasn’t written a new book in five long years. Finally it was announced that a new John Green book, Turtles All the Way Down, would be released October 10,  2017.

Why the long drought since 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars? One reason is he was involved in the film adaptations of both TFIOS and his earlier book, Paper Towns. He’s also involved in multiple online projects. He’s the frontman for the Mental Floss  and  Crash Course YouTube channels, co-creator of VidCon, (an annual conference for the online video community in that takes place every year in the Los Angeles area), and heads the Project for Awesome, a project in which YouTubers dedicate two days to make videos promoting charities or non-profit organizations.

Not to mention the online project that started it all, a little something called Vlogbrothers. John and his brother, Hank, started the project as an experiment on YouTube back in 2007 with an experiment to only talk to each other via video blogs for a year. This lasted from January 1 until December 31, but they’ve continued posting to the vlog twice every week, and have over 3 MILLION subscribers.  The Vlogbrothers channel was the first in what would become a larger network of YouTube channels created and developed by the Green brothers, creating a flourishing community of fans known individually as Nerdfighters, with the motto DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome).

Add in that he has two young childen, and one can see that it might have been challenging to find the time to write recently. About his new book, he’s said: “This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal”. Green has talked about dealing with OCD and anxiety in his own life, and in the new book , 16-year-old Aza Holmes grapples with mental illness as she investigates the disappearance of a billionaire.

Place your holds now – and DFTBA!

 

Resources:

http://www.johngreenbooks.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Green_(author)

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/09/the-teen-whisperer

It’s National Keep Kids Creative Week

September 24st – 30th, 2017 is “National Keep Kids Creative Week”. The holiday was started in 2003 by author/illustrator Bruce Van Patter to restore children’s innate ability to “think outside the box, not “in front of the box.”

 

During National Keep Kids Creative Week, parents are encouraged to eliminate or at least cut down on kids’ screen time, and help them brainstorm creative activities instead. Write a story or create a recipe together. Challenge them to come up with their own superhero, cool invention, or fun game to play.  Bruce Van Patter’s website has some great ideas to get the ball rolling.

Cheshire Library has a lot of resources to encourage creativity, too, as you might imagine. Let’s get those creative juices flowing!

Art Lab for Kids : 52 creative adventures in drawing, painting, printmaking, paper, and mixed media by Susan Schwake

The Artful Parent : simple ways to fill your family’s life with art and creativity by Jean Van’t Hul

You Can Write a Story! : a story-writing recipe for kids / by Lisa Bullard

150+ Screen-free Activities for Kids : the very best and easiest playtime activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! by Asia Citro, MEd

Tinkerlab : a hands-on guide for little inventors by Rachelle Doorley

365 Things to do with LEGO Bricks by written by Simon Hugo

ChopChop : the kids‘ guide to cooking real food with your family by Sally Sampson

Reliability is Overrated – 10 Books With Unreliable Narrators

Recently, I was discussing two of my favorite television series’ of the past year, “Mr. Robot“, and “Legion“, when it occurred to me what I found compelling about both of them – they are both told by unreliable narrators. The narrative characters in each show have major difficulties perceiving reality, which means the viewer sees the story through their skewed lens, often having to puzzle out what is real and what is not.

It’s a challenging concept, relatively uncommon in television, but more often used in literature. In the literary device of the Unreliable Narrator, the character who leads the reader through the story cannot be taken at face value. The reason could be because this character is lying, insane, or simply seeing events from a very limited viewpoint. In every case, though, it leads the reader to form conclusions beyond what is being disclosed in the narrative. A puzzle of sorts, where questioning what everything really means becomes part of the reading experience.

As I thought about it, I realized that many of the novels that have stayed with me long after reading them have had some kind of unreliable narrator. I remember finishing some of these books, and immediately starting them over again, looking for the “tells” that would have clued me in to the real truth of the tale if I had recognized them the first time. Here, with as few spoilers as possible, are some of my favorite unreliable narrators, (and a few whose heads I could not wait to get out of):

1. Silver Linings Playbook – When we meet the  point-of-view character Pat,  he’s being released from a mental facility into the care of his parents. That’s the first indication that situations in the story may not be exactly as they seem. As Pat’s repressed memories start to come forward, we’re able to piece together exactly why Pat was institutionalized in the first place.

2. Flowers for Algernon –  Charlie Gordon is a learning disabled man who undergoes an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. The novel is told through entries in Charlie’s journal, and the reader is able to see the improvements in self-awareness and intelligence through those entries. Then, too, we witness his deterioration as the long-term effects of the operation make themselves known. Bring a hankie.

3. Life of Pi – A fantastical tale of a boy set adrift after a shipwreck, with a tiger sharing his life raft. It’s a beautiful and uplifting story, until it is revealed that it may be what the narrator’s chosen to believe rather than what actually occurred.

4. Room Told from the very limited point of view of a five-year-old boy, Jack,  who has spent his entire life in an 11-square-foot soundproofed room with Ma, his mother. When Ma devises a plan for Jack to escape, we experience the exhilaration and confusion the world for the first time along with him.

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – The engaging narrator of this book is an autistic teen, so we perceive the events in the story the way he would. When he comes across a neighbor’s dog stabbed with a fork, his obsession with Sherlock Holmes takes over to help him solve the mystery.

6. Fight Club – Whether you’ve seen the movie or read the book, the twist that’s revealed about the identities of characters in this story packs a real punch (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

7. Shutter Island – In this gripping psychological thriller, nothing is quite what it seems. It starts out as an investigation into the escape of a mental patient, and well,  to say more  would be too spoiler-y.

8. Lolita – A compelling and beautifully written book told by a pedophile who is as charming as he is perverse. His justifications and attempts to win the reader’s sympathy are as fascinating to read as they are icky.

9 & 10.  The Girl on the Train  & Gone Girl – I’ve lumped both of these together even though they both contain different types of unreliable narrators (a blackout drunk and just plain liar) because they came out close together, are both murder mysteries, and if you’ve read one, you’ve probably read the other. I couldn’t wait to close the covers on both of them, though, the characters were just too unlikable for me to want to spend much time with.

Dog Days of Summer

How our four-legged friends amuse, instruct, and inspire us! Many dog owners have been sufficiently inspired to write books dedicated to their canine companions, and their stories appeal to dog-people and non-dog-people alike. The bond between humans and their dogs is complex and unique, the power of an animal’s ability to change lives is uplifting and hopeful – a perfect combination for summer reading.

Keeping a Reading Log

Do you keep a reading log? People who read a lot inevitably find themselves at the point where they pick up a book and wonder, “Did I already read this?” I know I do! If I had to rely on my memory, I’d be in trouble.

What are the best ways to keep track of your reading? Some write down titles in a notebook, others use index cards. The trouble with those is that it can be cumbersome carrying a big notebook or box or cards around the library or bookstore. That’s why I prefer a digital log.

There are several good ones to try. The following are available as mobile apps as well as desktop sites. That way you can always have your reading log with you!

GoodReads [mobile apps available for Apple & Android devices]. This is the one everyone knows. A free “social cataloging” site where you can search people’s shelves, participate in book discussions, etc.

LibraryThing [mobile app available for Apple devices]. LibraryThing is a little more serious than GoodReads. The social aspect takes a back seat to your bookshelves. Free for up to 200 books, then there is a fee.

aNobii [mobile apps available for Apple & Android devices]. A community for readers allowing you to catalog your books, share reviews, and connect with other book lovers.

Libib [mobile apps available for Apple & Android devices].  A free cloud service that will let you store up to 100,000 titles for free. If you have more than 100,000 books in your home library, better get the paid version.

You can also keep an automatic log of the books you check out from Cheshire Library. Sign in to your account from our website, then select Reading History, then “Save Reading History” from the options in your account. You can sort the list by title or author, even export or print it out.