Douglas has a cheeky (if somewhat cynical and over-bearing) sense of humour; the kinda guy you might wanna go for a beer with. He's also incredibly hoDouglas has a cheeky (if somewhat cynical and over-bearing) sense of humour; the kinda guy you might wanna go for a beer with. He's also incredibly honest about his flaws and the unkind thoughts he has on the job (which we all have working at the public library, no question). He's also insightful and sensitive, attempting to recognize and respect people's humanity and dignity. Where he succeeds he manages to do so without being too preachy or coming off like a self-appointed saint.
His anecdotes are enlightening and hilarious (sometimes a little depressing), but reminded me in a good way why I love to do this job; because it isn't always easy or fun. People can be rude, scary, or downright bewildering. There are days you just want to pack it all in; Douglas shows us why we don't and why being a librarian isn't such a stupid thing after all, it's actually pretty cool.
I don't agree with many of his observations and generalizations about librarians (especially that none of us read)! For the record, I work in an environment surrounded by library staff who are dedicated readers. And they're reading by choice and for pleasure, not because they think they should. I also know that the people who suffered through the trenches of library school with me and have now gone on to work at libraries scattered all across Canada, are dedicated readers.
I could definitely appreciate his unique point of view though. Working in an underfunded American public library in a city with social and economic problems really has to impact on the job and your co-workers. I'm only thankful that I work in a downtown public library in Western Canada in a city with a population of less than 300,000. I face problem patrons everyday, but at least homelessness, mental illness, and youth violence are at a minimum. Most patrons are wonderful and appreciative of our help. My co-workers are wonderful and people I feel blessed to know.
A generalization I would make about library staff is that the majority of them are dedicated, love their job, and 90% of the time are trying their best.
I re-read this book every few years. It's a comfort and inspiration. Funny and insightful. A real solace. The subtitle says it all: envy, fear, distraI re-read this book every few years. It's a comfort and inspiration. Funny and insightful. A real solace. The subtitle says it all: envy, fear, distrations and other dilemmas in the writer's life. ...more
Very sentimental, sweet engaging story combining two of my favourite things: the public library and cats. The writing is a little schmaltzy and melodrVery sentimental, sweet engaging story combining two of my favourite things: the public library and cats. The writing is a little schmaltzy and melodramatic, and Myron imbues Dewey with an almost saintly, omniscient presence, but cut her a break because she is blinded by love. The ending broke my heart, which I knew it would. ...more
My generation's Love Story. Really enjoyed this one, and despite the fact that more than half of Sheffield's musical references were over my head, theMy generation's Love Story. Really enjoyed this one, and despite the fact that more than half of Sheffield's musical references were over my head, the book still moved me. Sheffield has written a manifesto for all us mix tape geeks and I thank him for it....more
This book was okay and I found certain passages more than a little amusing (I did laugh out loud several times). Unfortunately, Borchert is a one-noteThis book was okay and I found certain passages more than a little amusing (I did laugh out loud several times). Unfortunately, Borchert is a one-note guy and I found the book as a whole to be a superficial treatment of public libraries. What Borchert has essentially done is string together a bunch of colorful anecdotes (librarian "war stories") but offers very little insight into what makes the job so great and why public libraries are so important to their communities. He hints at it, but never really gets there. I know his goal was to make us laugh, perhaps even shock us, but I found the lack of real substance disappointing and uninspiring....more
Booooo!!!! Hisssss!!!!! and shame on Lisa Rogak! Through countless interviews, personal essays, and a best-selling memoir, Stephen King has been quiteBooooo!!!! Hisssss!!!!! and shame on Lisa Rogak! Through countless interviews, personal essays, and a best-selling memoir, Stephen King has been quite transparent over the years about his personal life and his vices, his fears and his passions, his writing and that of others. I cannot imagine what a third-person biography would have to offer that we haven't already heard from the man himself. In short, nothing, that's what. This effort by Lisa Rogak smacks of a cheap sensationalist ploy to cash in on King's gargantuan fame.
But maybe I'm being too cynical. For King novices and general interest readers, a general biography isn't the worst thing, is it? Having said that, Rogak's superficial treatment of her subject (drawing exclusively upon previously published material) offers no insight and fails to present anything original about the man, the times in which he lives, and the storytelling that has captivated millions of readers from all around the world. Don't waste your time with this classless piece of shite; read King's memoir On Writing -- it is much more rewarding, informative, and inspiring. ...more
I figure this little gem is going to be my constant companion from now until November 30th. [May 2009 review:]: So I've finally committed to taking thI figure this little gem is going to be my constant companion from now until November 30th. [May 2009 review:]: So I've finally committed to taking the NaNoWriMo challenge this November, and I figure I need all the help (and inspiration) I can get! Click here for more info on NaNoWriMo.
Regardless of whether or not you plan on ever participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge, this is essential reading for frustrated would be novelists attempting to overcome the hurdles of "the first book". Baty's voice is full of wit and warmth, and all of his heartfelt advice comes from intimate experience. His exuberance and passion are extremely contagious and the perfect antidote for fear, procrastination, and the dreaded writer's block. Methinks I will be rereading this more than once to get ready for November. ...more
I've been on a memoir kick lately and this one by Jennifer Boylan is quite enjoyable. Boylan's irreverent wit knows no boundaries, and her candid descI've been on a memoir kick lately and this one by Jennifer Boylan is quite enjoyable. Boylan's irreverent wit knows no boundaries, and her candid descriptions of what it was like to grow up as a boy wishing she was a girl revealed to me a heretofore unimagined life. Boylan's plight struck me as heartbreaking - yet her courage and perseverance are ultimately inspiring. What is this life but our search to uncover who we really are and who we really want to be? At its core, Boylan's memoir is an unconventional coming-of-age tale you won't soon forget.
I did not know quite how to assimilate Boylan's numerous encounters with spirits, mists, and otherworldly bumps in the night. In hindsight, even Boylan questions if she really experienced something supernatural, or if it was herself she was haunting all along:
Was it possible, I thought, as I looked at the woman in the mirror, that it was some future version of myself I'd seen here when I was a child? From the very beginning, had I only been haunting myself? (249)
Whatever the case, whether you take the hauntings as literal or metaphorical, Boylan's honesty about her experiences gives the memoir a unique texture that left me questioning my own beliefs in the possibility of an afterlife. ...more
Okay, I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It was amusing in parts and Jacobs has a delightfully quirky writing style that kept me engaged and reaOkay, I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It was amusing in parts and Jacobs has a delightfully quirky writing style that kept me engaged and reading. He's a bit of a geek -- who suffers from mild OCD -- but he's also an all-around "nice Jewish boy" doing his best to be a good husband and father. Hence, his dubious ambition to live biblically for a year -- the logic being perhaps living a literal interpretation of the Bible will make him a better person, bring him closer to a God that he cannot admit exists, or at least add an element of spirituality to an otherwise secular life.
It's difficult to take Jacobs' approach with any seriousness -- after all, the changes he makes are temporary and ultimately superficial, because at the bottom of it, all that effort is to serve the writing of another pseudo-memoir that hopefully becomes another NYT bestseller. Let's face it -- this is a bit of an ego trip in a quest for fame that's hardly genuinely holy (and to his credit, I think Jacobs realizes this).
In spite of it all, Jacobs' heart is in the right place and after living his biblical year with gusto, he actually emerges from the experience changed for the better. Not fundamentalist changed (thank God, cause we need another one of those like we need a hole in the head) but a little more thoughtful, patient and thankful for the little things. That's a kind of spirituality I can relate and aspire to.
Jacobs' experiment reminded me that the Bible remains a bedtime story for me -- an interesting, bemusing, text that's caused the world as much grief as it has provided humans comfort. The problem with the Bible is that its messages are too easily twisted to support evil agendas, promote intolerance, and justify cruelty. I'm not a practicing anything and live a pretty much secular life. I think organized religion is fraught with risk and does little to nurture genuine faith and spirituality. But I do long for a more spiritual existence and I imagine to have real belief in a higher power must be very comforting indeed. ...more
Written in a simple almost childish style, but nevertheless, a compelling, heart-breaking account of life inside the FLDS. The stuff of nightmares actWritten in a simple almost childish style, but nevertheless, a compelling, heart-breaking account of life inside the FLDS. The stuff of nightmares actually. Parts of this book made my blood boil and left me feeling so helpless and frustrated. This is not a book you “enjoy”; rather, one to inform....more
Thoroughly fun, thoroughly enjoyable. A quick little read that delivers on some big laughs. Yes, it's gimmicky --even kitschy-- but still worth readinThoroughly fun, thoroughly enjoyable. A quick little read that delivers on some big laughs. Yes, it's gimmicky --even kitschy-- but still worth reading because you will forget about life for awhile .... and laugh, oh my how you will giggle and smirk and snort....more
I love the Post Secret phenomenon. Who knew the act of baring one’s deepest secrets anonymously on a post card would resonate with so many people allI love the Post Secret phenomenon. Who knew the act of baring one’s deepest secrets anonymously on a post card would resonate with so many people all over the world? These sometimes quirky, sometimes tragic, always heartfelt confessions astound me in their beautiful simplicity. Every card is a canvas, where text and images unite in powerful, unassuming ways. Do you have a secret to tell?...more
I don't read celebrity gossip rags or keep track of who's marrying / divorcing / screwing who at any given time (not that there's anything wrong withI don't read celebrity gossip rags or keep track of who's marrying / divorcing / screwing who at any given time (not that there's anything wrong with that people!). I definitely didn't pick up this memoir of one of Hollywood's all-time pretty boys hoping for a salacious tell-all about who wears women's underwear or who includes small animals in their sex play.
So why the hell did I pick up this book? Several reasons top the list:
1) Reviews promised it offers a poignant, self-deprecating coming-of-age tale in the long shadow of the Hollywood sign (I'm happy to report that's mostly the case).
2) Rob Lowe: yes, I did crush on him when I was a teenager, and lo and behold these many, many years later, I was curious to see what kind of a man he had grown up to be. Not ever having seen one episode of The West Wing or either Austin Powers movies (a ridiculous gap in my pop culture history), I lost track of Mr. Lowe somewhere in the late 80's.
3) I'm a sucker for memoirs that focus a lot on the making of movies. Don't ask me why -- I don't act, have never wanted to make a film, but I love movies as only a fan can and every so often a memoir will come along that captures the magic of movie making in a way that enthralls me. I'm one of those geeks who will listen to director's commentary and "the making of" extra features, not for every movie, but always for the films I love. Should you care, my favorite memoir of this sort is Bruce Campbell's If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor. Bloody brilliant!
So for all of these reasons, I knew pretty early on Rob and I would be spending a few evenings together. I went with the audio version and am so glad I did. Rob's voice is lovely, but he also offers up a pretty decent impersonation of almost every person he has crossed paths with. Not all of them are great, but most are funny, and a few are so spot on they had me rolling with laughter. He certainly had Patrick Swayze down cold. I particularly loved his wry assessment of his super energetic co-star: "he makes Tom Cruise look lobotomized".
I had no idea Rob's early life included close friendships with the Sheen and Penn family. His one anecdote about the first time he meets Martin Sheen is hilarious -- considering Martin is just returned from the jungle and the two year Apocalypse Now drug-induced, frenzied insanity that was that.
There are no earth-shattering confessions. Much of the book reads like a love letter to his long-time wife (a rarity in Hollywood for sure) and children (two sons), and for a man approaching 50, that is as it should be, and I was glad to hear that he chose the road of sobriety and sensibility. Heaven knows it could have gone the other way -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ciFGqXIUPU&feature=relmfu...more
This is the Life. Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten any of it. ~Life, Keith Richards
Well now, there you have it. Who'd have thunk "Keef" would h
This is the Life. Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten any of it. ~Life, Keith Richards
Well now, there you have it. Who'd have thunk "Keef" would have lived so long -- he certainly won't be leaving a beautiful corpse when he finally does kick off, that's for sure. And that will probably be from natural causes at this point in his life on the eve of turning seventy, but who the hell knows with this guy? Sure he's laid off the dope, but he's still managing to fall out of trees hard enough to put a crack in his skull, or find himself reaching for a giant tome on the top shelf of his home library and subsequently getting buried under an avalanche of falling books (that one caused him a few broken ribs).
This cat has got more lives than can be counted. Yes, he should be dead, a looooong time ago. That he's not, is astounding. That he can remember most of his life, even the heavy drug years, is more astounding still. That his telling of it should be so engaging and insightful, raucous and unflinching and funny ... well, that astounds me most of all.
I’m not a raving Stones fan, that isn’t what brought me to this autobiography. Sure, there are about 35 of their songs I can sing along to and like many people, there are another 10 I consider to be some of the best rock songs ever written. But I wasn’t born early enough to come of age during the Stones golden era when they were young, ferocious and unstoppable. I wasn’t a “Mick girl” or “Keef girl”. For better or worse, I missed the 60s and 70s, but that doesn’t mean that time in music history doesn’t interest me. It interests me quite a lot actually.
Rock histories and music retrospectives on particular times and places endlessly fascinate me. It’s not enough just to listen to the tunes, I want to know the where, when, who, how and why something was written, recorded, and imbibed. The birth of rock n roll? I want to know the characters, the causes, the culture that spawned it. I want to know when it learned to walk, and then I want to know who made it run. Who was in the engine room? I love hearing about all the little asides and anecdotes about who was where, who saw who perform and then started their own band – the roots of the roots (stretch it back as far as you think you can).
I came to this book hoping I would get a glimpse into that engine room, at all the characters huffing and puffing, fighting and fucking their way along in there, keeping this beast coined Rock n Roll running. Rock n Roll will never die if everyone in the engine room keeps doing their job. In that vein, this book did not disappoint. The first half is a fairly detailed portrait of what was going on in the world of music at the time the Stones stepped onto the world’s stage, how the times were a-changing and people were ready for something different. It’s ironic that what the Stones started out doing was Chicago blues -- what was “different” is that it was now reaching a white audience.
Richards has a very definite opinion on how everything unfolded in his life and in the life of the band (i.e. he didn’t steal Anita from Brian Jones, he rescued her). It may not be the complete truth, but he’s not bullshitting the reader either – it is the truth as he believes it to be. In a lot of ways this is a long conversation with the man that you start in the middle of the afternoon over coffee and don’t finish until dawn the following day when the empty wine bottles lay strewn about you and you have the beginnings of a nasty headache coming on. It’s intimate, forthright, and in your face. There were times I flinched and felt like screaming: “TMI Keith! For godsake, TMI”
I was appalled to hear him so blithely recount his and Anita’s epic drug years, strung out on smack, with two small children in their care. Even after many arrests (and car crashes), it didn’t seem like there was ever any threat of having their kids taken away. When a third baby is born and dies in Anita’s care of supposed “crib death” my stomach rolled over with nausea. Maybe that’s all it was, but maybe it was from junkie neglect. Thank heavens Keith at least had the sense to send his little girl Angela to his mum to love and raise in England. Despite the extremely unconventional upbringing, Keith’s eldest son Marlon seems to be pretty well-adjusted these days with a family of his own. His few reminiscences that are included in the story are not filled with bitterness or anger, but rather with a sardonic humor and a deeply expressed loyalty to his father.
The music bits are really really good and if you’re a guitar player, you’ll even get some awesome tips. Keith’s descriptions of the songwriting process are fascinating too, as well as the realities of recording albums in the pre-digital age. My favourite portion of the book might just be the time the Stones spent in France recording the double album Exile on Main Street. I’ve since found out that a documentary has been made on this very subject called Stones in Exile that I now HAVE to see.
The book does become a bit of a slog in the third act. There are places where Keith begins to ramble a bit and the narrative loses focus. I mean c’mon, you’re not that fascinating bro, how about a little nip and tuck here and there; isn’t that what an editor is for? But overall, I remained completely immersed for the two weeks it took to listen to this unabridged version read by Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley and the man himself. And what begins as a charming and enchanting coming-of-age tale and a young man’s love letter to the power of music eventually does descend into the pit of hedonism and rock star excesses. How could it not? It’s Keith Richards after all. But through all the shit, there is pure, unadulterated love for the music. That I can admire, that I can respect....more