I can't even talk about this yet. I am both saddened nearly to paralysis and inspired to work ever more diligently, with Mr. Stevenson's noble and comI can't even talk about this yet. I am both saddened nearly to paralysis and inspired to work ever more diligently, with Mr. Stevenson's noble and compassionate voice in my conscience.
I'm taking this as my number one choice to promote as our community's One Community, One Book. ...more
Powerful. Only takes an hour to read, but if you're looking for a new career path, this may decide it for you. I may not know how to keep kids out ifPowerful. Only takes an hour to read, but if you're looking for a new career path, this may decide it for you. I may not know how to keep kids out if these institutions, but I've got a better idea than the federal government on how to keep them from returning. Any thinking person does. So why do we allow this to continue? We have to change the prison economy if we want to change the prison system.
"Research shows that youth confined for longer periods of correctional confinement are no less likely to reoffend than youth confined for shorter periods."
"On any given day, approximately 70,000 young people are in juvenile detention or correctional facilities each night."
"The cost for a typical stay in a juvenile detention facility is $66,000 to $88,000 to incarcerate a young person for 9 to 12 months."
"The state of California spends $224,712 annually to house a juvenile in the new "green" Oakland facility. Oakland spent $4,945 on the education of a child in the Oakland public school system."
"Except in cases where juvenile offenders pose a clear and present danger to society, removing troubled young people from their homes is expensive and often unnecessary -- with results no better (and often far worse) on average than community-based supervision and treatment."
Pair this text with Ross' powerful photos, images of our American youth traumatized and abused by our correctional system, the system we pay for, and you'll gain an understanding of the infinite downward spiral of America's most vulnerable populations. This is your problem just as much as it is theirs; the difference is that your voice might be heard....more
I finished this book almost two weeks ago, but I've struggled in how to write this review. This book was a personal treasure to me, and writing my thoI finished this book almost two weeks ago, but I've struggled in how to write this review. This book was a personal treasure to me, and writing my thoughts on it feel almost too intimate, too vulnerable, to bare to the world. And that's strange to me, because this is not high literature, no one will be studying this in a classroom, and it likely will never be a bestseller, but it spoke to me, or maybe echoed to me, all the things I try to say about what drives me and what I want to do with my life. We are all on this planet for a reason, or it helps to think we are, and my reason is to be the kidnapping librarian. The narrator, Lucy, is scatterbrained and self-doubting, uncertain of the values she's inherited and infuriated by the values she's confronted with that aim to block and submerge any sense of self-awareness. But she's certain that a reading life opens doors we didn't even know were blocking the view, and if she can pass on anything at all, it is that knowledge, that there are worlds and beliefs and perceptions on the other side of the door. This urgent belief is framed inside a charming plot -- charming not in action, but in how Lucy chews through her thoughts and shares or doesn't share with her 11-year-old charge, Ian. By the end of this narrative we understand that this is only the beginning of the journey for Ian, and a difficult one it will be, but Lucy provides in the best way she knows how, by suggesting the titles that can see him through each year of young adulthood -- the books that will help him to see himself. What an awesome gift, and what a tribute to the work of all the best librarians, booksellers and English teachers. Isn't this why we do it? As inglorious as a kidnapping, shelving, stickering, endlessly recommending, reading aloud...in the end it's nice to think we're busy mending souls. ...more
I spend a lot of my time thinking about my education; thinking about how smart I am (or not), how educated I am (or not), in relation to others and inI spend a lot of my time thinking about my education; thinking about how smart I am (or not), how educated I am (or not), in relation to others and in relation to my own expectations. I have a bachelor's degree from a fairly well-respected university, I've dabbled in graduate courses, alternate bachelor programs, both at the same university and it's little brother community college. My parents were well-educated, and I was raised to expect a college career. I sell books for a living. At a chain. A nation-wide leader in book sales, but a store in the mall, after all. I read what I sell, I love what I sell, but I'm just selling it, not teaching it, not editing it, and not writing it. And my paycheck comes, whether or not I sell it exceptionally well or just well enough. Although it happens fairly rarely, I love answering the question "What have you read and loved lately?" Unfortunately, I am more often asked "Where is your non-fiction section?", and this by seemingly mature, well-educated patrons whom one would assume had a fair acquaintance with the varieties of non-fiction and the basic layout of any bookstore. Even more disheartening is the frequent puzzlement in the face of the customer unfamiliar with the definition of "non-fiction." "But it's a history of dragons. It's research!" Of course I cannot claim to be an expert in every field for which I sell a book. If you require a medical text or the latest research on peak oils, I am happy to use the database before me along with any details you can supply, and I will defer to your judgment of the best title available. But, unlike selling shoes or novelty beer steins, I am daily confronted with products of knowledge, a vast array of the world's information set down on paper for the ages, from what we as a people feel is innovative, worthy of remembering, entertaining, elucidating, smart, or funny. From fixing your plumbing to elevating your soul (be it Dante or Bombeck), I am selling it. Thinking about how much I know is something I do every day.
And here comes Professor X. Neither is he at the top of the educated elite, not a tenured professor, nor even on the tenured track. He has not published the novels he expected he would, has not lived the academic achievements he had once envisioned for himself. And yet he's spent his career teaching his passion, although he's done it in community college basements and dark high school classrooms after hours, and usually to students unwilling to be there. He posits that the majority of his students, enrolled because they need the artificially inflated certificate to pursue their career, have no business in a college writing course; they did not meet high school writing standards when they graduated, and they will not need college writing standards to become nursing aids, police officers, and mechanics. Their money, time, and energy are wasted on skills they do not need and do not have the academic background to accomplish. This critique, at first, seems harsh and oh so un-American. Obama himself is preaching the need for higher education available to everyone. But Professor X, through persuasive comparison, observation, cited statistics and a bit of personal memoir, convinced me that his job as adjunct is a filler for the huge gap between optimistic American opportunity and the too-true fact that not everyone is college material. But everyone can easily acquire massive amounts of student loan debt, whether they graduate or not, and, in community college, most do not. Professor X compares this education "bubble" with the housing crisis of the last decade, as the Bush administration pushed the middle-class towards home ownership -- affordable housing for all, heedless to the fact that one shouldn't own a home one can't afford. It's so obvious, but we refused to see! But if feels so good to offer a beautiful home to a well-intentioned family, as it feels good to offer previously inaccessible educations to well-meaning, aspiring young people. At times, Professor X's writing got a bit circular, as he covered the same laments from a dozen different angles. His tone ranges from empathetic to cocky to whiny. But his thesis is persuasive, and I feel his pain. As long as the Mexican standoff continues between colleges vs industry vs under-prepared students vs American idealism, at least Professor X has job security, where most of us don't, even with certificates and diplomas in hand. I've got my share of certificates, but I keep going back for more, as this retail gig looks a bit tenuous these days. We'll keep selling copies of Catcher in the Rye to nursing students, Don Quixote to forensic aid students, and, now and then, a copy to someone who wants to read it. And now I'm working towards a graduate degree in library science. After 11 years in bookselling, I'm wondering how much the degree will make me a better book-person, teach me information I couldn't learn on the job, but in this job market, I can't even get an interview in this college town without a degree. I chose an English degree back in the early 90's, when earning a useless degree didn't much matter, as long as you earned something. Nobody asked me, "Just what do you think you'll do with an English degree?" Reading books seemed a cozy way to get through the 4+ years I was expected to endure. I was able to pay my tuition with only a handful of aid, paying term to term, with part-time work, in a way that is unfathomable today. A senior in high school today better know just exactly where they're going before those bills start coming in. There's no time for lazy English majors now. So what do I expect for my kids? I can't expect them to pay for it term to term; I won't be able to do it, either. Will a bachelor's degree be worth the price paid? Will it make their lives easier or more burdened? Can I practice what I preach and allow my sons to put off college (perhaps forever) until they know what they want, like I wished I had done? Non-traditional, middle-aged students are becoming more common than ever, as jobs require more certifications, companies downsize, adults switch careers in the middle of their lives, excessive debt requires promotable skills or second jobs. Professor X makes some surprising conclusions, perhaps some that are controversial or inconsistent, but he's raising some issues we all need to think about, as students, as parents, as optimistic Americans who may have an unrealistic view of what we are capable and what we desire. ...more
Wow. This was exactly the book I was searching for -- a book that brings the beauty of the Romanian landscape, the consciousness of the contemporary RWow. This was exactly the book I was searching for -- a book that brings the beauty of the Romanian landscape, the consciousness of the contemporary Romanian with all the poetic perspective that comes so naturally through the language, with an American sensibility to honestly portray the harrowing daily trials of life under tyranny, and wraps it all up with an uncharacteristic dollop of hope. I use the word "uncharacteristic" because there are so few Romanian authors brave enough (American enough?) to evoke hope in their writing. After forty years of communist suppression, Romanians still don't even feel comfortable talking with an American about the daily specific fears, sacrifices, and pain of life under Ceaucescu, or the unstable years following his execution. Not that people didn't have these fears, but it had been illegal for so long to express them. Poets and writers became accustomed to using their language, rich with metaphor and poetry, to express their thoughts indirectly. Radulescu is one of only a few authors I've so far discovered who is disclosing the inner consciousness of the contemporary Romanian honestly, staring into the face of contemporary history, unflinchingly placing herself within it. Her bittersweet love story had me crying in public as I read. Her chapters on her experience as a political exile, her identification with refugees of all nationalities, her ability to "miss" a country she'd only ever read about, her refusal to seek out other Romanians in exile, and her troubled marriage all shed valuable insight I hadn't considered before. Radulescu calls this a novel, but it's so fluent and naked, I can't help but think it's almost all memoir. I've heard she's about to publish a second book, Black Sea Twilight, but I can't find it yet on any American sites. Sign me up for that release; I'll go anywhere Radulescu takes me....more
So I'm attempting to read (and collect) the over 400 books in the New York Review of Books classics series. The first one (since Stoner, which sparkedSo I'm attempting to read (and collect) the over 400 books in the New York Review of Books classics series. The first one (since Stoner, which sparked my interest in the series) that I am devouring is Names on the Land, written by George R. Stewart. What a world of magnificent writing I've discovered! And it is a full world, as Stewart didn't write about just one topic, but has written over a dozen books, both fiction and non, over innumerable topics. Names on the Land studies the origin of place names in the United States, but also studies the histories that created those names. I'll write a full review when I've finished it. But I've also been drawn to his other titles, and picked up Earth Abides with eagerness. It's the story of the world after 99% of its population has died of an infectious disease. But not only is it the story of the end of modern civilization, but also the story of the creation of a new one. Stewart's love of place, geography, is obvious in Earth Abides. Stewart is an artist, thoughtful and intelligent, sensitive to all aspects of life, from humans to rats to ants to corn, he considers the fate of all. He considers the nature of human motivations to create government, religion, education. Every sentence is thought-provoking and insightful. Connie Willis writes the introduction to the most recent reprint, and comments that this book continues to live with you, and she's absolutely right. The ideas that our narrator values, intellect, the knowledge of the the centuries, logic, these values must be re-evaluated in the face of a new civilization, and, even though it is painful, some must be discarded. As a book-lover myself, it's hard to digest, but Stewart makes it make sense. This is brilliant writing. I'm so grateful to have discovered this author....more
How I wish George R. Stewart was still alive, so that I could actually respond to his request for letters on names of the land. How grateful I am thatHow I wish George R. Stewart was still alive, so that I could actually respond to his request for letters on names of the land. How grateful I am that he found the process of naming so fascinating, and that his passion poured out in every sentence he wrote. A friend of mine recently read Moby Dick, and her review considered -- damn, this guy really likes whales -- and though I don't believe whales topped her list of fascinating obsessions, she appreciated the passion with which Melville spoke of them. The same is here; I do enjoy the contemplations of names, their evolution through history, but Stewart's passion makes the act and process of naming an art form. I cheer with him when he deduces that Oak River (or Creek, Stream, Brook, Valley, whatever) was named because it had few oaks, not many, and thus the descriptor was specific to its uniqueness, not what was common. Or when he leads us through the evidence that Oregon is really a misreading of the word Wisconsin?! I wish I had a photographic memory so that I could recall at a moment the absolute ton of onomatolgy trivia packed in these pages. I am in awe of the goodreads readers who have claimed this book is boring; I have found this book to be the most engaging way to learn my American history, as I can associate historical events through the names they left behind. There is no end to the creativity, ingenuity, and melting-pot amalgamation of the naming of this country -- how can that be boring? It's our story! Thanks to NYRB for keeping this book in print. ...more
Required reading for every booklover. I had to wait a day before writing this review so I wouldn't gush too embarrassingly. The book contains a trite,Required reading for every booklover. I had to wait a day before writing this review so I wouldn't gush too embarrassingly. The book contains a trite, amusing little mystery, interesting in it's parallels to current history and acts of terrorism. Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword, and I wonder if the secret service keeps an eye on copies of Team of Rivals and Lush Life, Obama's recent reading picks.
But the book is magnificent when Morley lets Mr. Mifflin rant. At times I felt I was reading current blogs on bookseller sites: "She asked for The Passing of the Stone, and it turns out she wanted Shelters of Stone; it was blue; it was on this table last year; it has a vampire..." Do booksellers supply the demand, or create the demand? I've always believed that booksellers do not deal in "merchandise", though my beliefs are strongly challenged after repeated inquiries for Twilight, Charlaine Harris, and Lost Symbol, just as Mifflin is discouraged by "that book about the boy raised by Monks." You mean Tarzan?! I like his idea that the uncommon customer acts as our "unconscious agent of book-destiny," leading us to an author we haven't yet met. I'd like to call myself an agent of book-destiny, shedding light on the books that hold up despite a lack of advertising. Sounds rather angelic, no? This is the first time I've ever been tempted to read a book a second time right away. But the pull of book-destiny will assert itself too strongly, and I know I'll be led, instead, to read a handful more Morley titles as I can find them (why are they going out of print?!) with, perhaps, a few more readings of the first through third chapters, for some phrases to keep in my head as the next person asks me for "that history of Masonism" or "Dear God, it's Vodka."...more