Four years. It’s been four years since I started this blog (I totally missed my blogaversary in October. Whoops.) It’s also been four years since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. And, on Tuesday, he’ll find out if he’s going to be President for another four years. Whatever your particular political persuasion, I hope those of you 18 and older take the time to vote on Tuesday. Voting is one of the fundamental privileges of being an American and besides, if you don’t vote, then you don’t get to complain about who won, who lost, and why the country’s going to hell in a hand-basket.
Since voting takes about five minutes and election day is loooooong (chances are good it will actually be Wednesday before the election is officially decided), you’ll need something to keep you occupied while watching state returns and trying to figure out just how the electoral college works (don’t ask me – I have no clue). So here are some suggestions for how you can “Read the Vote:”
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American Government – why not start at the top? Since time travel has not yet been perfected so you can go back to 10th grade U.S. history, pick up any of the “complete” guides to American government. Sure, you could read The Declaration of Independence, Alexander Hamilton’s The Federalist Papers and other primary sources. But those won’t have fun little boxes with nifty facts and sections such as “The Buck Stops Here” (that’s the POTUS, by the way.)
- America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction – Jon Steward. The writers of The Daily Show. Naked Supreme Court justices. Do you really need any more reasons? Okay, well how about a whole chapter on Congress (a “quagmire of freedom”) which doesn’t actually describe what Congress does and a thoughtfully added chapter dedicated to the rest of the world? Plus, Samantha Bee not-so-helpfully injects from time to time with notes about how things are done in Canada, that delightful sort-of-like-us country to the north.
- I Am America (And So Can You!) – In the interest of keeping things fair and balance (since Jon Stewart is clearly an evil liberal heathen), read Stephen Colbert’s book for another perspective. You’ll be 25% more patriotic just by opening the cover! (It says so right on the cover.) You’ll also learn why your opinions are wrong and Colbert’s are correct, so it’s a learning opportunity as well.
- In The President’s Secret Service – Forget the guys who got elected. The ones with all the real dirt are the ones in dark sunglasses carrying a concealed weapon. Culled from hours of interviews with retired Secret Service agents, this behind-the-scenes look at the Presidency gives readers tons of salacious gossip about the various residents of the White House and why it doesn’t matter if you like the guy or not – you still protect him. (It’s the office, not the office-holder.)
I can’t guarantee that you’ll actually learn anything of substantial value from these suggestions, but you’ll have a lot of fun in the process and that’s really what reading is all about. (Just don’t go running for any elected office based on the advice found in these books – you might actually win and then you’ll have to explain what you really meant.)
And remember – vote on Tuesday!
Welcome to another weekend, bookworms. Slowly, but surely, we are creeping into spring. Boston is running it’s annual marathon on Monday (also known as Patriot’s Day, some obscure Revolutionary War holiday that only Boston celebrates, because that’s how we roll) and I’ll be out cheering for my cousin, who’s running her very first marathon. I’m proud of her, but I’m mostly glad I’m not the one running 26 miles. A reading marathon? I am there! Running? Eh, not so much. Here’s the book news:
- The biggest news this week is probably the news that the Department of Justice is suing Apple and five of the six Big 6 Publishers thanks to an investigation over e-book price fixing. And that is the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I know it’s important – I’m an e-book buyer myself – but I don’t really understand all the legalese surrounding the case. Thankfully, Smart Bitches has a primer with several links to smarty-pants people who explain the whole hoopla in terms even I can understand.
- Apparently, some people don’t like Hunger Games and Mockingbirds. Earlier this week, the American Library Association released its 2012 State of the Libraries report which included this year’s Most Frequently Challenged Books list. The annual top ten list was compiled from more than 300 reports of attempts to ban or remove books from libraries across the country. Suzanne Collins’ mega-popular The Hunger Games made the list, as did Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The number one spot went to a series of books by Lauren Myracle, who – unfortunately – is no stranger to controversy.
- Harry, meet Barry. After an April Fool’s Day bluff, there’s now official (and real) news about J.K. Rowling’s new adult book, due in bookstores in September. According to Rowling’s publisher, the new book, titled The Casual Vacancy, will revolve around the untimely death of a middle-aged town councilman named Barry. His demise will set his small town on fire as secrets are revealed. The Casual Vacancy will be Rowling’s first book for adults, after the culture-changing Harry Potter series.
- Winter is coming – and so is seasons three! In a move that’s not at all surprising, given the popularity and ratings for the first two episodes of season two, HBO recently announced that Game of Thrones, the passion-stirring TV show based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novel series, will return for a third season next year. The show recently started it’s second season, based on the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. Martin must be feeling good. In addition to the pick-up news, his most recent Westeros novel, A Dance with Dragons, was recently named a finalist for the 2012 Hugo Awards.
- Fun stuff! At last weekend’s White House Easter Egg Roll (which is, apparently, a real THING and not just something The West Wing invented), President Obama gave a dramatic and theatrical reading of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you he roared during the wild rumpus part, so luckily, there’s video. And if you need something to entertain you during a slow moment, here’s a list of words that are fun to say. I’m fond of using discombobulated from time to time myself. Which one is your favorite?
As always, happy reading.
Welcome to another Saturday, bookworms. Today, I am putting my life on the line and learning to snowboard. It is entirely possible that I return home this evening with one of my limbs missing, though I obviously hope this is not the case. No doubt I will reward myself for hanging on to all of my limbs with a good book in front of a fire tonight – since I suspect that’s all I’ll be able to do. In the meantime, here’s this week’s book news:
- There’s a reason Philip Pullman is a best-selling author (besides writing great books) and this is why: in a speech in Oxfordshire, Pullman pleaded on behalf of libraries and decried the greedy capitalistic circumstances that have led to such drastic cuts in funding for libraries across the U.K. and the United States. At the close of his eloquent and passionate defense of libraries, he said, “Leave the libraries alone. You don’t know the value of what you’re looking after.” How very true – many people look down on libraries without fully understanding just how vital they are to society. Read Pullman’s speech and then figure out a way to help save a library near you.
- I can hear the praise chorus no. A new website created by Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon is focused on encouraging diversity in middle grade and young adult literature. The site spotlights new books, authors and writers who highlight the very obvious fact that we are all different and the whole “one-size-fits-all” thing doesn’t actually work well in the real world. There will be a DIYA author tour in May as well – and bonus! One of the stops is Boston!
- Emperor Franzen strikes back! The Freedom author, who was snubbed by the National Book Awards, comes roaring back into the news as a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle award. The finalists in all the categories (which, sadly doesn’t include children’s or young adult literature – shame on them!) were announced last week. The winners of the NBCC Awards will be announced on March 10th. After that, all that’s left is the Pulitzer….
- Mark who? The Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week and even though Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for The Social Network, based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires, was nominated in the adapted screenplay category, my heart belongs to Colin Firth and The King’s Speech. Not surprisingly, it received the most nominations – 12 – and it too was adapted from a book. The Oscars will be handed out on February 27th.
- Yup, I’ve already got plans for March 23, 2012 – because that’s the anticipated release date for the Hunger Games movie. Though the cast isn’t finalized and filming hasn’t started yet, there is a director and a casting director, so bigger news can’t be that far behind. Considering that nine days prior to the movie’s release is a pretty big (i.e., depressing) birthday for me, I’m glad I’ll have something to look forward to.
- Lastly, Jane Eyre isn’t a hero?! Since when?! On Salon.com, Laura Miller defends the noble Ms. Eyre against naysayers who think Bronte’s classic novel is all about the romance (it’s not, really – it’s more about Jane growing up and coming into her own.) In a celebrity death match, Jane Eyre could totally take on Becky Sharpe – hands down.
- Quick link: the “anonymous” author of the much-buzzed about “Obama novel,” O, is revealed to be a former aide to John McCain, Obama’s one-time presidential rival. This revelation does not, apparently, make the novel any better (the NY Times called it “trite, implausible, and decidedly unfunny” – ouch).
As always, happy reading!