Tuesday, April 24, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 17

Well, there's a good chance some of you are still finishing off the book that was more than 500 pages (after all, you've got assignments to work on and stuff to do - you can't sit around reading all day!).

You'll be pleased to know that this week's challenge is considerably smaller:

17. A book you can finish in a day

It can be a long book that's a light read, or a short book packed with stuff.

Now, I am (of course) going to suggest that you might want to raid the Curriculum Collection for this challenge. It has many wonderful books that can be read in a day.

However, we've got some real gems in the Main Collection. For example, Your Book of Corn Dollies* is only 48 pages long. It's neighbour in the "weaving unaltered vegetable fibres" section of our library (746.41)** is Kete Making (traditional Maori woven bags), and it's only 32 pages long.

You could easily read those in a day. And then maybe try your hand at making traditional British or Maori straw-crafts. Bring in the earrings - we'd love to see them.

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

*Not our only book on making Corn Dollies.
**Not actually the name of a section of our library.

P.S. We have quite a number of fascinating books about art and traditional crafts up in the 700s - you should come up and see them some time.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 16 - A book with over 500 pages

Sometimes it's good to sink your teeth into a nice long read. Of course, what you think is a long book, and what the person next to you thinks is a long book might be completely different, but I think we can all agree that you can't comfortably read 500 pages in a couple of hours.

Unless you're a freak. Or you have super powers. Or both.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, the challenge for this week was to read a book with over 500 pages. Handily, this challenge fell in lecture recess, so if you were looking for something to do instead of finish your assignments, it was perfect timing.

Brenda Carter read Middlemarch by George Eliot. 

Over the years I have found that watching a TV serialized version of a long novel has inspired me to tackle the 500+ pages required. This practice can be fraught with disappointment when the series and novel don’t live up to each other but in the case of Middlemarch by George Eliot, I wasn’t disappointed.

Set during the Industrial Revolution in provincial England, Middlemarch explores the opportunities, tensions and challenges produced by the conflict of new ideas and cultural conservatism. These ideas are explored through ideas concerning parliamentary reform, medical knowledge, religion, economics and gender roles. Eliot has created a wonderful collection of well-developed characters, several of whose stories intertwine (it is a provincial town after all), to convey her themes. There is a nice balance of realism, tragedy and inspiration in the characters and plot. While you probably won’t read it in a week, Middlemarch is a satisfying read and I highly recommend it.

Nathan Miller read The Thin Red Line by James Jones.

I read this novel whilst living in Japan teaching English. In my workplace were lots of Americans and (obviously) Japanese people, which made it interesting. This novel being such a heavy topic of individual soldier’s experience in what is considered one of the most brutal theatres of combat in World War 2 was tough going. The horror and grimness is driven home when you realize this is based on the author's actual combat experience in the same place, so the horror is more realistic.

The book (found at 810 JON 1C THI) is basically 531 pages of some of the most grim, depressing yet riveting reading I have ever done. The book was later made into the movie of the same name, and like the book it isn’t really a war story but an exploration of peoples inner experience of something as shocking as warfare and the meaning of existence.

Would I recommend this book? For me, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up and continued reading it, if there was other reading material- there was a significant lack of English books in Japan. That I read it while homesick during a Hokkaido winter (they sometimes get below 20 degrees Celsius, and you generally feel bummed out) is a sign that it can be read. What did I get out of it? Old clich├ęs of war is horrible and highlights the best, worst and, most apathetic and foolish aspects of humans - and no one can guess how each person will react. It’s like a non-ironic and non-sarcastic Catch-22, and will suit only some tastes.

Sharon Bryan read The Once and Future King, by T. H. White.

This is one of those books which is actually several smaller books smooshed together, but as White actually went back and revised the original books to fit together comfortably in one volume, I think I can safely call it "a" book (which can be found at 820 WHITE 1C ONC).

Athurian tragics will know that the first book in the tetralogy, The Sword in the Stone was the inspiration for the Disney movie of the same name. They'll also be able to tell you that a lot of what we think of, when we think of Arthurian myths and legends, came from either The Once and Future King or the works of Alfred Tennyson (both were based on Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, but put in a lot of extra bits that we are highly familiar with today).

Across the four books, we join Arthur at different points in his life: his discovery of his destiny when he was a boy, his seduction by his half-sister as a youth, his best friend stealing his wife, and then his son/nephew plunging the whole kingdom into civil war and eventually leading to Arthur's ambiguous death (assuming he did die...). Yeah, in spite of the Disney connection, it's not a kid's book.

The books were written across a couple of decades in the 1930s and 1940s, (then revised into a single work in the early 1950s), and they contain their fair share of commentary about totalitarianism, communism and fascism. The work, as a whole, is still a rollicking read, though.

World Book and Copyright Day - 23 April

Capt. John Severns, U.S. Air Force
UNESCO has proclaimed that World Book and Copyright Day is celebrated annually on 23 April, the date in 1616 that Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died.

According to UNESCO

... historically books have been the most powerful factor in the dissemination of knowledge and the most effective means of preserving it... All moves to promote their dissemination will serve not only greatly to enlighten all those who have access to them, but also to develop fuller collective awareness of cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire behaviour based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

You can find plenty of enlightening print and online material to read in the JCU library collection via Onesearch or why not check out the library's recent purchases? The Library also provides a wealth of information about copyright to help you respect intellectual property ownership and comply with licensing agreements. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 16

And now for one of the biggest challenges of the 52 Book Reading Challenge:

15. A book with over 500 pages.

That's right, friends and readers, we are challenging you to read a long book. You may recall that we actually gave you advanced warning about this a couple of weeks ago.

In that post, we mentioned that we can't actually help you search for a book based on the number of pages, but we can tell you how to use One Search to see how many pages are in the book.

We're sure you remember, but just to refresh your memory we'll repeat it. And just to amuse ourselves, we'll repeat it in a bad approximation of Elizabethan English.

We'll also get a bit "fresh" with you and call you "thou" (even though that's the way to talk to someone you are very familiar with) because it sounds fancier - and besides, we're all friends here, aren't we?

  • Click, thou, upon the word "Preview", which appeareth at the bottom of the record thou dost desire.
  • Thereto shalt thou find the word "Pages" and, verily, (should the information thou dost seek be held within our humble records), thou shalt find the number of pages there listed.
Godspeed, good gentlefolk, and may the odds be ever in your favour.

(P.S. Sadly, The Hunger Games is just shy of 500 pages, at 454. But you'll be able to use it for the challenge in Week 34, which involves a series of books).

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reading Challenge Week 15 - A book someone else recommended

Have you ever had a book recommended to you - or read a book recommendation somewhere - and thought "I should totally read that one day?"

This week's Reading Challenge was to read A book someone else recommended, and we've rustled up a few that were recommended to us. But would we recommend them to you? Read on to find out.

Brenda Carter read Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook: Little Exercises for an Intuitive Life, by Gill Hasson

A recommendation hot off the press is the ebook Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook : Little Exercises for an Intuitive Life by Gill Hasson. It’s easy to become stressed and even overwhelmed by life’s demands, concerns and commitments. Emotional intelligence is all about using your emotions to inform your thinking and using your thoughts to understand and manage your emotions.

The more in touch you are with your own feelings, the more able you are to understand and relate effectively to others. Developing your emotional intelligence can not only help you manage difficult situations and live a happier life, it can also help you engage the ‘feel good’ emotions to inspire and motivate others.

Emotional intelligence pocketbook is a helpful read for so many reasons. At only 120 pages and available 24/7, it’s a good one to dip into when you or others need a lift.

Scott Dale read Journey to the End of the Night, by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

I was too slow with this novel for last week’s true story Reading Challenge. Luckily it fits in with this week’s challenge of a book recommended by someone else. In this case the book was actually recommended by Charles Bukowski, many years ago. No, not in person, I did not meet “Hank”.

I’ll start by being a little over the top – although it is true. Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote Journey to the End of the Night (840 CEL 2C VOY) and changed French literature forever. The influence of Celine’s novel went far beyond France itself, influencing writers all over the world.

I want to say that I do not endorse the artist as a person by reading their work (you can find out why one might want to use this qualifier by researching Celine's politics).

This book is not for everyone (but it is for me).

Journey to the End of the Night (Voyage au bout de la nuit) is a novel that has been labelled as emetic (I had to look it up), vulgar and as a masterpiece. The story follows the travels of the largely autobiographical antihero, Bardamu, from the fighting in the First World War, to colonial Africa, the United Sates and Paris. Along the way we hear much obscenity and much of what is wrong in the world. There is not much sign of hope or goodness from people and the systems and cities they create.

Ok, this is a dark book – the journey is to the end of the night, not toward a new day or to the light. Whatever followed later with the author, he seemed to revile all peoples equally in this book. But I enjoyed this journey. Yes, you will get your hands dirty along the way but there is a lot of humour (dark, of course) and insight amongst the muck and ellipses.

Sharon Bryan read Playing Beatie Bow, by Ruth Park.

This is another book that was recommended to me by a teacher back when I was in school (you can read about the other one I've reviewed here).

Actually, the same teacher recommended it to me more than once. I have to admit, though, that I judged it by it's cover and decided it didn't look like my kind of book. And then, sometime later, I read another book by Ruth Park - Poor Man's Orange. That book didn't exactly fill me with a burning desire to go out and read Park's other works. Mostly, it just made me grateful I live in a time and place where I don't have to douse my bed with kerosene on a semi-regular basis to get rid of bed bugs.

So, yes, Playing Beatie Bow was a long time coming. And I have to say it's something I really would have enjoyed reading back when I was in school, so my teacher was right.  This, by the way, was the same teacher who also recommended Seven Little Australians, so I really should have listened to her more often.

The book features a teenage girl called Abigail (although that's not her real name) who finds herself involved in a playground game gone horribly wrong, in a most unexpected fashion. While babysitting her neighbour’s kids, she notices a strange young girl watching the children playing a spooky game called “Beatie Bow”. Abigail follows the girl and ends up 110 years in the past.

Is it a ghost story? A fairy story? A time-travel adventure? All of the above? You’ll have to read the book to find out. In doing so, you’ll learn a thing or two about working class Victorians in Sydney in the 1870s. Entertaining and informative!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Readings - Drop-In Space

Readings is the new platform for hosting subject-specific links to digitised resources for students. With semester 2 not far away, the library is offering drop-in sessions for staff who would like help creating or modifying readings lists for their subjects and linking them to LearnJCU. You can bring your own device or login to a computer in the room to work in your own account.

When: Thursday 2pm - 4pm
Recurring: Every week until 13th Sep 2018
Room 18.229, Building 18 - Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, James Cook University, Townsville
Room B1.016, Building B1 - Library, James Cook University, Cairns

You can find more information and help for Readings in the Readings libguide.

52 Book Challenge - Week 15

Did you know we were 15 weeks into the year already?

Time flies when you're having fun. Or even doing when you're not having fun, if we're being honest.

But of course we're having fun and you're having fun because we're reading books! All thanks to this lovely 52 Book Reading Challenge!

For those of you who are new to the challenge, each week we'll challenge you to read a book, and we'll find a few in our collection to read and review.

This week's challenge is:

15. A book someone else recommended

We've all been there. Someone has recommended a book to us, and we meant to read it.  Really, we did. It's just that we haven't gotten around to it, you know?

Well, now's the time! Pick a book from that long list of recommendations and read it!