Archive for category Books

Freedom Writers

Reading an amazing book on loan from Kristie Wilson called The Freedom Writers Diary. It’s probably a familiar story by now, but it’s a compilation of diary entries from a group of high school students in Long Beach, California in the mid-nineties. A student teacher steps up and challenges the kids to become better people than their rough environment normally produces–gangs, violence, teen pregnancies, absent parents. The kids kept diaries throughout their four years in high school, and although they’re obviously heavily edited, it’s amazing the way they relate teacher Erin Gruwell’s “tolerance” themed curriculum to their own personal lives and try to better themselves through the stories of people who are also suffering.

I really just wanted to make note of/share a quote from one of the students who predicted, mid-semester, what his–or her, the entries are fairly anonymous–final grade in the course would be. He predicted an F, due to a rough home life. “Ms. G” pulled him into the hallway. “Do you know what this ‘F’ means to me? It’s Fuck You, Ms. G, and fuck everyone who’s ever cared about you!”

While I completely love the teacher telling her student this, the best part is what the student took away from it.

“What she showed me today is that a truly self-reliant person takes action, leaving nothing to chance and everything to themselves. She showed me that excuses will not bring about success and that adversity is not something you walk with, but something you leap over. The only obstacles are the ones you allow. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A truly self-reliant person finds his weak link and strengthens it. I want to be a self-reliant person, now and forever.”

I would love to expand on this, make it relate to my own life….but wow. It already does. I guess I need to figure out my weakest link…although as soon as I strengthen that, there will be another weakest link to take its place. I suppose this is what you call a “work in progress.”

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Dickens Impersonator Contest

The Philadelphia Library is hosting a Charles Dickens Impersonation Contest. I think Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, so I’m totally interested. Although the contest is on a Monday at 10:30 am, so that kind of counts me out for viewing and participating.

Here’s what contestants have to do:

Part 1: Present a brief monologue as Charles Dickens
To begin the audition, we will ask that each contestant presents to the panel a brief monologue as Charles Dickens. The monologue can be invented or taken directly from his personal commentary and reflections, and should last no more than two minutes.

Part 2: Act out a scene as one of Charles Dickens’s well-known literary characters
An avid performer, Dickens undertook a series of dramatic public readings where he assumed the roles of his characters. Each contestant will be asked to perform a brief scene from one of Dickens’s works as he would have.

Part 3: Q&A from celebrity panel of Judges
Each contestant will go through a fast-paced Q&A session conducted by celebrity judges. Questions will range from general information on Dickens’s life and works, to ways in which he will make literature exciting for new audiences and generations to come. Contestants should come armed with a working knowledge of Dickens facts and information.

Love it! Although on further inspection, the activity is actually called the “Dickens Idol Contest,” inspired by American Idol. Maybe not so cool. But a fun idea anyway.

Here are the details on the Free Library of Philadelphia‘s Blog!

http://libwww.freelibrary.org/blog/index.cfm?srch=3&postid=1403

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Why yes, it is

In Manayunk

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Book Review: Vittorio, the Vampire

A vampire love story written nearly 10 years before Stephenie Meyer’s beautiful undead caused mass hysteria among teenage girls with their sexy eyes and undying love (hah).

I’ve never read Twilight, but this sounds just like it. A beautiful vampire falls in love with a human. Set in Tuscany during the 14th century, sixteen-year-old Vittorio’s family is killed but he is spared because one of the “young” vampires falls in love with him. Take a guess at what happens.

It was weird. I didn’t really get it. The setting intrigued me, and the descriptions of the castles, villages and society were charming and vivid enough to really bring into mind Italy during the Renaissance, but I didn’t quite follow Vittorio’s line of thinking sometime. And Ursula, his vampire-slash-lover, was just strange. Beautiful, but strange.

Registered at Bookcrossing.com. Posted on PaperbackSwap but will probably wild release.

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Book Review: Charms For the Easy Life


I loved this, and I haven’t been able to say that about too many books lately!

From the perspective of Margaret, a teenager of the Lost Generation, and her grandmother Charlie Kate, an old-fashioned “medicine woman” who healed the sick in dirt-poor rural North Carolina during the Great Depression. Margaret observes Charlie Kate deal with a tough life with tough love, and contemplates her mother’s struggle with being too smart to be a rural housewife and too poor to join high society. And while at first she’d rather not, Margaret comes of age with confidence that Charlie Kate has figured life out .

Fascinating characters, although I would say not “chick lit” exactly. Margaret’s dry, affectionate observations of her grandmother’s practical insanity and her mother’s independent wistfulness are both funny and poignant. Fast read.

Handing this off to my friend Janice; I know she’ll love it 🙂

Registered on Bookcrossing.com

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