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Category Archives: Books

Building the Foundation: A Daughter’s Love for Reading


Looking to the futureSo many things you hope to pass on to your children. Some of the lessons you have learned the hard way, or the experiences you have endured so they will not have to, and an appreciation for things that you discovered. The challenge is to explain to them the importance of the little things that may not be relevant in their world today. Figuring out how to share with them what it was like to have to use imagination to see color on a black and white television with a screen smaller than the laptop on their desk, can be a difficult task. Instead of video games, we had board games and action figures where the “stories” came from our imagination. Explaining there was a time when the only way to see a movie was to leave the house and go to the movie theater, or in the alternative, watching a movie at home meant seeing it years after it was released, with commercials, on one of the five television stations. (Just saying that makes me feel like I grew up in the Stone Age.) So many things have changed since I was my daughter’s age. The one thing I can share with her is my love for music and reading, especially those special books that are such a part of my childhood.

At the age of five, my daughter started reading all the books that covered the bookshelves in her room. Like her older sister, she has a natural aptitude for reading and sounding out words. As her skill level increased, she moved into chapter books, and this was when the fun truly began. I introduced her to one of my favorites: The Boxcar Children. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of reading were of these orphaned children and how they were able to survive on their own, while living in an abandoned boxcar, until they discover the kind hearted Mr. Henry was their grandfather. I slipped the first book of the series in with her summer reading stack, not really expecting it to catch her interest amongst the likes of Magic Tree House, Bunnicula, and Clarice Bean. I was happily surprised when she devoured the first book and asked for the next in the series.

I would not say I was too surprised that these tales still hold interest for the beginning readers. Even though today’s bookstore shelves are filled with television based stories books, the enduring story of independent children embarking on an adventure, inspires the imagination for children who feel like adults control their every move. The author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, wanted to use children’s desires to be unsupervised to appeal to the age group the series is directed towards. And even though the series was originally created in 1924, it still holds the same appeal to children over 85 years later.

Someday, my daughter will wander over to the dark side of the book shelves to read, what we refer to the as the “bratty child books”, as I am also sure she will someday move to more modern styles of pop music. At least I console myself with the fact she will have a good foundation from listening to the music of The Beatles, The Who, and Queen and reading Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children.

What are some of the first book series that you remember reading as a child?

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Related links: A Reason for Hope: To My Daughter, Will You Read To Me?

© 2011

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Books, Children, Family, Life

 

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Locke and Key, the Graphic Novel


 

Locke & Key Vol 1

Joe Hill's Eisener Award Nominated Series

It was a quaint little shop among the rest of the artsy shops up and down a five block section of town. My wife and I were enjoying some post-wedding time off and disappearing from the grind of everyday life as we explored the window dressings lining the street.  As we approached one particular boutique, we both reached for the door to explore what was  inside. The window displays showed comics and graphic novels of all designs piquing the curiosity within.  I will admit, I haven’t been a huge fan of comics or graphic novels, as they are known of late. Superheroes were never my cup of kryptonite tea. However, after watching the initial season of The Walking Dead, we wanted to see what they had. What we discovered was not our daddy’s comic book store.

The shop was laid out in a classy way, reminiscent of the specialty book store that it turned out to be. The staff was helpful in not only showing us where the collection we were searching for was located but also with recommending other series and authors that might interest us. This is when I discovered something that has been dragging me back into the city for the past few months, a series called Locke & Key.

Locke & Key is a monthly graphic novel which brings a psychological twist to the normal genre of graphic novels. Authored by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, it follows the Locke family as they work through the tragedy of their father’s murder and moved back to his family’s home, in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. The Locke family estate, Key House, holds many secrets that are slowly revealed through the finding of keys scattered through the New England mansion. Each key has mystical attributes that push the storyline along with new developments.

What makes Locke & Key such a great read is that the story is so character-driven that you can’t help but be drawn to each panel. The Locke children bring a life of their own to the story. Tyler is the oldest of the children who has his own baggage to carry from the events that drove them to seek the sanctuary of Key House. Kinsey seems to present a maternal feel for the youngest Locke as she struggles with her identity. Though, of all the children, Bode steals the show. His curiosity is the driving factor of the story’s progression. The innocents he brings to the developing drama, encourages you to turn the page. Joe Hill brings the character development from his novels into the shorts of the graphic realm.

I, for one, am a person that has always enjoyed the novels; the long story which brings not only the plot but characters to life in ways that only a good book seems to build. I have been known to refer to comics as literature with training wheels for those that are too unimaginative to read a “real” book. I will admit, here in public, for all to read, that I was most certainly incorrect. The story that Joe Hill and the artwork of Gabriel Rodriguez produce in Locke & Key has the suspense and page turning appeal of any of the novels that I have read.  The plot grows, the artwork is fantastic and the characters are people you want to cheer for as they struggle through the discovery of their world.

When you are in your local book store searching for something new, give the graphic novel section a browse. If you can bring yourself to jumping into that world as I did, then please, give Locke & Key a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Visit the author at: http://joehillfiction.com

For a look at the wonderful graphic novel boutique, Star Clipper, visit them at: http://www.starclipper.com

Until next time…

Jb

© 2011

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Books, Graphic Novel, Review

 

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Love at First Sight


We go everywhere together. Since my life was blessed with her beside me, I wake up with her, go to work with her, spend my lunch enjoying her company and curl up for the last moments of my day enjoying her. My wife doesn’t seem to mind my constant companion or my eagerness to play with her. I feel smarter in her company and deeply regret when she runs out of energy on a day I pushed her too hard. My Nook© and I are soul mates.

The Nook

My constant travel friend

Personally I am not a “speed” reader. I read often, for long periods of time, often many books simultaneously. However I have not been known to fly through a 500 page book in one day, like quite a few of you out there. So, my snail-pace reading means that I see so many more books I want to read, knowing that may take me at least a month to get through them all. The online Nook© eBook section at the B&N site, allows me to look through all the possible titles, and for a small amount of money, order many books at once, while I  put others on my wish list. I can order the books from my list next month continuing to feed my addiction. The average cost of a hard-cover book is about $25 USD. The cost doesn’t include the space needed to store the book once it is read, which is another $50 USD for the book shelf will fill up in a few months, or even the cost of the new addition to the house when the library overruns every corner of it. The cost of an eBook, about $10 USD and it fits in one little paperback sized, bundle of pleasure, along with 900 other titles. Need more space, archive the books that you have read to the online storage at B&N, and download more. If you don’t want to trust your precious book to the internet, add memory to your Nook©. All of these wonderments are possible with my dynamic, loyal, little piece of wonderfulness.

I know there are other products like my Nook out there and each of them are great for one major reason, people use them to read. Whether you prefer the Nook©, or its relatives the Kindle or Sony Reader, all of these products help to build a generation of readers. Kids are experiencing the joy of reading with these little electronic gems. I have found that even though I have always been a reader by read constantly, I now read even more than ever. I can carry my Nook© with me wherever I go. I take it with me for those long waits at the doctor’s office, to lunch at the closest fast food establishment, in the car when driving for a long distance (though not when I am the driver), and even for those moments when the movie is paused for a snack break. I read more than ever and those who have similar devices will probably agree, eReader have made reading more accessible and fun. Who wants to take an extra 2 lbs book in their carry then get on a flight, only to finish the book halfway through your trip?

Before there is an outcry about Apple’s new wonder, the iPad and how you can do more with it than with a Nook© or Kindle, I want to say, that is my point. If I wanted another traveling computer with a backlit screen that does everything my laptop can, then I would just use my laptop to read books. I sought out a way to have more accessibility to the books I thoroughly enjoy without the eye strain from backlighting. I look at a computer all day long and would rather not have to use my computer screen during my relaxing reading time. Though, this could be said about the color versions of the Nook©, I prefer the e-Ink technology that does not have backlighting. So, keep using your iPad to play your Angry Birds while I enjoy my latest zombie fiction and adventure stories.

After using my Nook© for the past two years, I have grown very fond of her. I am glad my wife hasn’t expressed jealousyyet, though I did notice her frowning at it the other night, I am sure she understands and appreciates my addiction. She also appreciates that my book shelves have stopped spreading through the rest of the house. Now only if I could convince her to get one for herself, I won’t feel so self-conscious and guilty.

Until next time…

jerry b

© 2011& 2013

 Related Article:  Building the Foundation; A Daughter’s Love for Reading; The Age of Audio Books

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Books

 

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The Hills are Alive with…Zombies?


October 31st, 2010 was a historical television moment. For the first time, a television series was brought to the small screen based on those loveable, flesh-eaters we refer to as zombies.  Enter the new AMC series, “The Walking Dead”. This six episode season, based on a graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, follows a small group of survivors outside Atlanta, Georgia as they attempt to find some hope after the world has been overtaken by the ever-hungry living dead. Their survival depends on not only out lasting the foot-dragging zombies but also holding on to their humanity as the world they know is turned upside-down. This is not your average horror movie, (though the makeup team pushes the envelope to get the feel of the graphic novel) but a character-driven story line that brings philosophical questions to the audience. How would you act if you woke up one morning and the world as you know it had been transformed into Chez Zombie and you are the main dish?

AMC-The-Walking-Dead

AMC brings zombies to your livingroom.

What is our fascination with the zombie lore? These mindless, representations of our more basic selves seem to be present throughout history in folklore and fantasy. It took a vision of George Romero in his 1969 movie “Night of the Living Dead” to bring the modern mythology to life as we now know it. His movie showed the base of how we now view the living dead; the continuously hungry, slow-moving lesser part of the used-to-be-human race. Could this be an analogy of our fears of what we could become if all of our morals and conscious were removed?

In most modern mythology, the world ends with an infectious virus that causes death and then reanimation. Only a small group survives and fight against all hope of having what is seen as the essence of humanity. The setting is a place where the dead, or not so dead, walk the earth without a belief in anything except for their need to satisfy their craving for food, in this case, living flesh. In most of these stories, the only way to kill the undead is trauma to the brain. Most prefer the single shot from a Dirty Harry sized weapon. This begs the question:  does everyone become a crack shot once the world ends?

The renewed craze in everything zombie has also had a few positive impacts on the real world. Organizations like the Zombie Squad have been popping up chapters across the country. They combine the fun and appeal of the zombie apocalypse with disaster preparation. The organization uses the fictitious (or is it?) end-of-the-world scenario as a springboard to educate communities on the importance of preparation for natural disasters. Their idea is that if one is prepared for an attack of killer zombies then they will be prepared for anything that might come along. I feel a little safer with the Zombie Squad patrolling my neighborhood, how about you?

Though vampires are all the rage these days, zombies bring more social reflection than the recent sparkling blood-sucker box office hits. It questions our society, the need to survive, and what makes us human. Part of our desire to connect with this unlikely foe is our need to belong to something larger, a need to feel emotionally connected to world around us.  If you are worried on how to survive, maybe some research is needed. One recommendation is to watch Zombieland (2009) for helpful hints and 32 rules, such as #4:  Doubletap. You won’t be disappointed.

the-walking-dead-poster

Catch AMC’s “The Walking Dead” Sundays at 10 p.m.

Whether you are a fan of the genre or just a passing observer, this dramatic adaptation of The Walking Dead is something to check out. The story draws you in, the cast makes you want to root for the living, and the effects feel like a big screen movie. Catch the first season Sunday nights at 10 pm on AMC network.

Until next time…

What are your favorite zombie movie moments? Over the next few weeks, I will delve into some of the zombie movies and mythology. Why? Because nothing can be as much fun as a mindless, undead eating machine.

jb

© 2010

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Graphic Novel, Television, zombies

 

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The Age of Audio Books


Discovering a new method to enjoy books.

There are many ways to get your reading fix throughout the day. In our modern age of technology, there is something to be said about the ability to listen to a book while driving along through rush hour or to be sitting with your computer and reading your favorite novel on the screen.  Now, you don’t even need your computer to read eBooks, since the release of items like the Kindle and Nook.

About 13 years ago, I was working in the music industry and the artist that my company was managing was signed by a label that also owned an audio book company. It was the first time I had seen them and through our meetings, we were allowed to get a few books for ourselves. I have always been an avid reader but this was the first time that I had listened to a book. I was reluctant to try the books on tapes so I stored them back on the shelf for a couple of years. Then I had a position that required me to drive for over an hour a day and I found that the books came in handy. This began my journey to a new obsession.

Audio books added a new depth to the stories. I found that stories that ordinarily wouldn’t intrigue me in the written word from were somehow fascinating when I listened to them.  Perhaps one of the main reasons for this was how the narrators brought the story to life. It may have also been that since my eyes weren’t engaged and I was only listening, I could slip into the author’s world easier than following it on the pages. The only drawback I found was that the media of cassette tapes was frustrating when it came to checking them out from the library. After listening I would listen to seven of the eight cassettes and becoming completely engrossed in the story, the final tape would invariably break or be ejected from the player, leaving me with a trail of black audio tape mess, a broken heart and no conclusion to the story.  After a few of these let-downs, coupled with and a shorter commute, I lost interest. In time, another technological improvement came along, the iPod.

It took me a few years to see the benefit to these devices beyond listening to music. It wasn’t until I discovered the website Audibles.com that I slipped back into the audio world of stories.  With a small monthly fee, I was able to download a book a month for the cost of lunch and listen on my way to and from work. I would find myself disappointed when I would arrive at my destination because I would be lost in the moment of the story.

This year alone, I have covered more books, by listening, then I would have had time to read. In addition to the printed novels that I have experience, I have covered over six book series and went back to many classic works that I didn’t have time to read the traditional way. It has opened up a new time to enjoy authors, my drive time.

So, if you are looking for a way in increase your ability to enjoy more books, getting lost in a story, I would recommend you give audio books a try. With the narrators giving depth to the story, the ability to use time that might have been lost, and the accessibility to stories that you might have missed all make this medium a nice addition to traditional reading.

Until next time…

© 2010

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 17, 2010 in Books

 

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