Until we meet again…

Well, this is it. My last Rice Library blog. Since I graduated on Saturday May 4, it means that it’s time to hand over my blog to someone else. It’s been a great ride, doing blogs on everything from poems to money to kids’ books to roadside attractions. I hope that I have helped you to see what our entire library can offer you, and maybe pointed you in the direction of some new things. I know that I’ve learned a lot. I never knew that our archives had USI yearbooks dating from 1970 to the late 80s, I never knew that we had such a variety of fiction, and books about pop culture, and such a great collection of classic black and white movies. Maybe some of you found new things on your own, maybe you found the things that I did, I just hope that you at least looked around, because I promise, there are plenty of places to explore here! Thing have not changed all that much since I started writing the blog-  I still run on coffee, I still love tennis and cats on the internet and mint ice cream. But other things have changed. Looking back at my blogs, I can’t believe that I have already finished a semester here. It seems like just yesterday I was picking out which Facebook picture of myself to use in my first blog (in retrospect, maybe I would have picked one with a prettier background), and trying to figure out if I would actually have enough to say to fill up over a semester of library blogs.

Turns out, I still have way more to say, just not enough time to! There is so much to talk about here, but not enough blog space! But I’m not worried. Just because I’m graduating and moving on doesn’t mean that the blog is moving with me! Whoever my replacement is, I bet that they will do an even better job than I did (fewer spelling errors? Less obscure movie references?), and the blog shall go on! Still, I can’t lie and say that I won’t miss writing it. As excited as I am to be moving on, I have had some great times here in the library, and getting books somewhere else just won’t be the same. But, I am glad that I have had this opportunity, and I look forward to seeing what our next blogger comes up with! Maybe one day, I can come back and see you all again. So, for the last time, this is Clare Pratt, with your Library Blog, reminding you to keep on exploring, keep on learning, and keep on reading.   — CP


Summer Time Reading List

Welcome to summer time! Barbeques, beaches, and lots of reading by the pool! But what to read? Well, as I near my final few days of school, I feel like it’s my job, no, my duty, to leave you with a few summer-themed books and stories. As much fun as summer is, and no matter how busy you might get, it’s always important to take some time to read. So try out a few  of our enjoyable titles, for some summer-themed fun in the sun, be it on a beach, by the pool, on your work break, or just on your back porch.
                                        Summer at Tiffany  by Marjorie Hart
What was the best summer you’ve ever had? Have you ever had a summer job? This book is the true story of two women’s best summer ever, and one of the coolest jobs ever: working at Tiffany & Company in New York City in 1945. Our heroine, Marjorie Hart, and her best friend Marty leave their sorority house at the University of Iowa to travel to the big city, after hearing from a friend that there are great jobs available. They more or less stumble into a glamorous job at Tiffany’s, becoming the first women to work on the sales floor. Marjorie writes about all the exciting people she meets, her romances, her friendship with Marty, and even being on Times Square when the end of WWII was announced. For all that the book is fun and light, there is still the background of the second World War, and it’s interesting to read about it from the point of view of two college girls on the home front. It’s a god look at NYC during what many people think of as its Golden Age, and a great story of how much fun can be had with a friend thanks to landing the perfect summer job.
             Turtle Summer   by Mary Alice Monroe
Turtles! They’re cute, their green, they’re slow! They’re turtles! This kids’ book is all about those little baby turtles you see on TV, told through the point of view of a mom making a scrapbook for her daughter, with each section talking about how the big sea turtles lay their eggs, and how the baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean. Adorably so. It’s filled with pictures of shells and beaches and flowers and all kinds of fun summer stuff. Being around for a turtle hatching sounds like a great way to spend time at the beach, especially if you’re a little kid. Kids and adorable sea turtles. Add in pictures of birds and starfish and beaches, and you have a great little summer book. It ends at night, when the baby sea turtles hatch, and crawl out into the ocean, ready to make their way in the world. The mom imagines being there again with her daughter, years from now, when these same turtles are grown so that they can lay their eggs, so that mother and daughter can have another great, turtle filled summer together.
Ready for a summer road trip? Love some rock and roll? Then check into this e-book, as you travel through North America, to find great (and odd) landmarks of rock and roll history. Head out to California and see the actual Burger Stand that The Beach Boys were singing about in “Fun Fun Fun”, drive down to Georgia to see the first radio station to play music of the Godfather of Soul James Brown, then zip over to Texas to see visit the high school that inspired the classic 70s rock ode “Dazed and Confused”, then head up East to drive down Springsteen’s own Thunder Road. It’s not all about Madison Square Garden and big studios, it’s about the little places that have changed music history. It’s a perfect companion to a music lover’s road trip, plus a whole lot cheaper than Disney World.
It’s just a few days before summer break, and that means extra free time. And what better way to spend that free time than with books; they’re way cheaper than cable, especially if you get them from your library! Head out to the pool, and get reading about fun summer days. These are just a few examples of great books to read here, so let’s get reading as soon as possible. Celebrate the end of the year (and finals) by learning about summer jobs, turtles, and the general joys of summer time and summer reading!

Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The JOB

Now that the semester is almost over, it’s time to start that summer job search! Or, even worse, you can be graduating and need to join the job market! The horror! Interviews, job searching, resumes, student loan repayments! Even if you’re nervous about the job hunt, don’t worry. We have books to help you create a resume, use your various social networks to market yourself to future employers, and find the job that’s perfect for you. I know the job market seems scary, but everyone needs to join it, and once you have, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Just do some research, be prepared, and you will be just wonderful! So prep that resume, dust off that fancy brief case, and get hunting!

Been told time and again that your social media use can hurt your future career prospects? Well, maybe those pictures of you doing jello shots off your neighbor’s stomach won’t do you many favors, but there is another way! This book shows how to use social media to find work, and make you look better. Every chapter focuses on utilizing a different aspect of social media, like using Facebook and Twitter to connect with future employers, and make yourself look more professional. You can create a good description of yourself and your abilities for employers to look at that will invite making connections. The book also talks a lot about LinkedIn, a site that connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do, so you can imagine how much that can be helpful. Don’t be afraid of social media, embrace it! You can even take a second to giggle about the inclusion of MySpace in all this. Oh MySpace, you are just so quaint.

            Resumes for the Rest of Us   By Arnold Boldt

Got your Facebook and Twitter cleaned up, your connections made, and your old MySpace page ignored? Time for that resume! Subtitled “Secrets from the Pros for Job Seekers with Unconventional Career Paths”, this book specializes in people who face challenging job searches, like stay at home parents returning to work, people changing careers, and those with gaps in their work history. Each section deals with resume writing for specific groups of job-seekers. And I mean more than just making sure your grammar works out! It looks at the cover letter, the references, everything you need to make yourself sound good. It is also filled with general tips on how to make your resume sound better, no matter who you are or what you are exactly applying for. Resumes can be tricky, so give this a look, and see how much you can improve yours, and continue working to make yourself look good to employers! And don’t forget to double check that grammar.

                                 You Majored in What?   By Katharine Brooks

“So, what are you going to do with that major?”
A question that I, as an English major, have gotten plenty over the years. And I can imagine that I’m not the only one. Many a communication, art, and philosophy major has probably heard the same thing, and if you don’t have a plan right away to tell the questioner, then suddenly you’re wasting time on a “joke major” and should immediately run over towards the nearest business class. Heck, business majors hear it too! So does everyone really, under this idea that, when you pick a major, you have maybe three possible career paths, pre-ordained the second you sign your name on the sheet that  declared your major. But wait! This book takes a different attitude. It goes through a number of majors, and discusses the many ways you can use them to pursue a whole multitude of careers, and how to market yourself on those career paths. I like the style of this book, it’s fun, likable, and easy to read. Plus, anyone willing to help a Liberal Arts major find a job outside of Barnes and Noble is OK by me!

Finding a job, especially in this economy, ain’t exactly easy. When you’re in school, or have just graduated, you might feel rather overwhelmed. But you don’t need to panic. There are plenty of resources out there for you, including books like these. I’ve just talked about a few, but there are many more examples of books to help you use social media to market yourself to employers, write a great resume, and find a job that you love which will hopefully pay your Netflix bills. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of job hunting, whether it is for a part time position, or a stepping stone to your future career, just don’t panic. Everyone has been there. So sit back, edit your Facebook page, work on that resume, and get searching, as you fondly remember when you had a MySpace page.   


The Summer of Books and Blockbusters

Yep, I’m talking about adaptations again. Look, I’m about to graduate, I love movies and books, and I’m running out of excuses to write about them, so just sit back and enjoy. Because the dry spell is ending! We are almost to summer blockbuster season! To me, the months of about January to April are something of a cinematic no man’s land. Oscar contenders are out of theaters, summer movies don’t start until May at the earliest, it’s the season of “meh”. Granted, there are usually a few good ones in the mix, but mostly it’s just a time when Scary Movie 5 can actually make a tiny bit of money. But now, summer is coming, with its great movies! Big! Splashy! Explosions! Last year’s summer was a major one (The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Ted) and this year hopes to give us even more. And several of the movies this year happen to be based on books! So let’s take a peek at some of the upcoming summer movie spectacular adaptations, and hope that they are more Lord of the Rings and less His Dark Materials. 
                               The Great Gatsby
The big one. One of the most famous books in American history is now going to become one of the biggest movies of the summer, with a big budget, all-star cast, and a pretty awesome trailer. For those who aren’t in the know, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the definitive novel of the roaring 20s, a deconstruction of the American dream, and a romance story gone horribly wrong. It tells the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy and mysterious young man living in New York during the 1920s, who throws fabulous parties, but seems to have some dirt in his past. It’s told through the eyes of his neighbor Nick, our narrator, who gives us his perspective on the wealthy, debauched lives of the rich and powerful in the middle of the Jazz Age. One of my favorite books, this movie was just begging to be adapted into a modern day film, full of the dark secrets that lie behind the glitz and glamor of the fabulous people. This book was already adapted once in 1974, with Robert Redford as Gatsby, which was…alright. Not really bad, but not as great as this novel deserves. This upcoming film has a great cast (Leo DiCaprio in the title role is pretty inspired casting), a lot of hype, and an interesting director (Baz Luhrmann, who also made Moulin Rouge!) at the helm, so I am hoping that this movie will give one of my favorite books the treatment it deserves.
                                                      What Maisie Knew
Let’s take a break from the big budget, glitzy flicks, and look at a more quiet and indie minded one. What Maisie Knew is based on the 1897 book by Henry James (Daisy Miller, The Turn of the Screw), in which he showed his contempt for British society at the time through the eyes of a young, but perceptive child named Maisie, who is caught up in the divorce of her irresponsible parents. Like Gatsby, this book is very relevant to our contemporary era, despite being written years ago, with its themes of dysfunctional families, child welfare, and the importance of education and knowledge. So it makes sense that creators would update this story to be set in modern day Manhattan, with Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard as the parents, which already gets me interested. It has a solid cast, classic (although not as well known) source material, and a lot of good buzz already– plus I always like seeing little girls as main characters in dramas like these. If your eyes start hurting from all those blockbuster explosions, try out this movie as some substance for your summer.
                                 World War Z
I’ll admit it. While we don’t actually have this book (but the local public library has plenty of copies), its film adaptation is coming out this summer, and I really want to talk about it. The novel by Max Brooks is a VERY different take on the zombie genre. The story actually takes place after the zombies have been more or less beaten back, and instead of focusing on action, it focuses on a UN worker traveling around the world, talking to all sorts of survivors of the zombie outbreaks, around a decade later. He talks to politicians, mercenaries, soldiers, civilians, loners, astronauts, anyone and everyone who has a story to tell. It’s all told through these interviews, showing what is, I think, the most realistic look at what would actually happen in the event of a zombie invasion, spanning the entire world. It’s a great book, one that would make a difficult, but really interesting adaptation. Get tons of great actors for short, individual vignettes, from the zombie fighting cowboy, to the Japanese fan boy turned ninja badass, to the Samoan warriors, to Nelson Mandela– and just so many great stories, I can’t even talk about half of them. It’s scary, sad, but ultimately hopeful for the future of humanity. The movie I have seen in trailers and in press releases though…is not Brooks’ World War Z. It looks like yet another action flick where Brad Pitt is the nice, heroic American white guy main character who is called in to save the day, but he just wants to get back to his generic wife and cute daughters, and it’s a race against time and blah blah blah. Ok, perhaps I’m being too harsh. I haven’t even seen the movie, and it could actually be really good. I hope it is, and Brad Pitt may actually be a solid choice as the main interviewer. But, from what I have seen, they have done the thing that all fans of books fear from adaptations: dumbed down an interesting story to please the Lowest Common Denominator. They made a movie that looks like every other mediocre movie that audiences will swallow up. I am an adaptation apologist, I know how much needs to be changed to make a story work, but you need to have SOMETHING from the original there! While I look at the first two movies here with optimism, I look at this one with worry. I hope the film can prove me wrong, but I rather doubt it.
Whew, needed to get that off my chest. But, in all honesty, I’m excited about this summer’s crop of movies. We have almost escaped the sad cloud of mediocre movie season, and gone right into the sun-kissed time of blockbusters, as well as the occasional quiet indie film that always pops up at some point. And if any of these movies, whether they turn out great or crash and burn, can inspire people to go check out the source materials, then all the better. Watch a movie, read a book, and celebrate summer.