Tag Archives: political

It’s All Over but the Preachin’

17th August 2011

I picked up a book last night (shocker, I know) and began reading. It’s really a fascinating book about the housing styles throughout American history and how they reflect the lifestyles of the time. However, about a third of the way through reading it, I interrupted it to post:

Because the dude is talking about conservation and environmental affairs, and heck yeah, I’m on board. I will NOT, however, build my house out of hay. I will also not NOT have air conditioning when it’s like 100 million degrees outside. So there. Then, one of my wonderful Twitter followers posted this:

Have I mentioned how much I love you witty people? Because I do. Touche, @scarletncream, touche.

Here’s the deal: Do I think books, non-fiction or fiction, should avoid politics, current affairs, and moral issues? Of course not. Look at me. I’m a teacher. I don’t go in for censorship. Obviously, I’m not telling you I want my books devoid of such things.

HOWEVER. I also really don’t like being hated on for an entire book because I use a computer or turn a lamp on when I go to bed. The premise? The author is talking about different housing styles and how each evolved and why. I could see a couple well-placed statements in the Intro (which, coincidentally, are there). But the author never misses an opportunity to tell me what an awful person I am for owning an iPod or getting in my car to drive to work. I am a human being in the 21st century. Scratch that. I am a human being who lives in Texas in the 21st century. People die in this heat. So, come on. If I can, you know, not die because of central air, I’m good with that.

These thoughts all converged this morning, particularly because I find the subject matter, outside of the harping, really interesting. And I thought to myself: when is too much too much? Is it the writing style I find offensive more than anything?

The answer to this, I would say, probably differs reader to reader. For me, it isn’t usually bothersome unless it’s blatant, which this is. However, I know I have read blatant political statements in books (Sarah Vowell comes to mind) without really being annoyed.

So, I’m curious – have you ever read a “preachy” book? What constitutes too much preaching in your book?

An Open Letter in Support of Libraries*

1st March 2011

*Forgive me, dear reader. In the midst of all this political insanity, I had to take a minute to talk about libraries. If you have anything to add, I sure wish you would in comments.

Seattle Public Library received this from a young supporter.

 

Dear Legislators:

This nation is in a financial crisis. At this point, you would have to be one of my freshman college students (I say this with endearment) in order to be oblivious to our debt. I also understand you have to find ways to cut back, but I urge you – no – I plead with you to reconsider the massive public library budget cuts.

Growing up, my public library was a magical place. My mom would take me for story time, and I will never forget walking into the sizable children’s section where there stood a circus cage with all manner of stuffed animals – giraffes, bears, monkeys. Even though I had to be incredibly young, I still feel that wholesome rush when I step back into that library all these years later.

We moved several times when I was young, but the library was a constant. The librarians knew the names of all my family members, and my mom’s huge tote somehow managed to carry all the books we checked out. My biggest problem at that age was the checkout limit or the missing Babysitter’s Club book 12 from the series. Where was that book? What insufferable pre-teen had not returned it?

One night during the hot, humid Texas summer, the librarians hosted a lock-in. I still think their sanity may have been compromised, but oh my goodness, was it fun. All activities were library themed, and any movies were adapted from beloved books. I, though, didn’t go in for the popcorn and Coke float crowd. No, I wandered the aisles, finding books and curling up in my sleeping bag to read. It was a dream come true. I won the summer reading contest that year and several years after.

As a high school, college, and graduate student, libraries became pragmatic, a means to an end. In fact, after graduating with a Master’s degree in English, having checked out over 100 books from the university library to complete my thesis, I was finished for a while. I appreciated what the library had done for me, but I didn’t want to be anywhere near it.

Then this past year, I was an adjunct instructor at a local university, and as secondary education suffered budget cut after budget cut, I again returned to the library. I had very little income, and I had no money for entertainment. The books I had so loved purchasing were now out of reach until I remembered all those happy days spent at the library.

I marched down, signed up, and checked out almost a dozen books. The librarian seemed surprised, and I told her she hadn’t seen anything yet. Nearly a year later, I am still at the library every couple of weeks. I have struck up friendships with the men and women working behind the desk and in the stacks. I bring paperback books to donate as I cull through my personal library, as well as DVDs I will never watch again.

As an adult, what strikes me most is not story hour or lock-ins with sugar-hyped children running around. No, this time around, I am astounded by the other purposes for the library. My library downtown is a place for those with no Internet access. They can pay bills, catch up with family members, or file taxes on the computer. There is a large contingent of homeless people who sit in the chairs quietly with a magazine or a book, resting tired feet and enjoying the heat or air conditioning the building provides. Children dressed in mismatched clothing and worn shoes eagerly look through the shelves to find a book to take home for a little while.

Of course, there’s me, loading up on new releases and filling out requests for books I cannot find among the shelves; however, the library does not and should not exist for people like me alone. The library also provides much-needed services, teaching literacy and language courses, offering book club times for those who want or need company and community.

That is what makes libraries so vital; they exist for those who love to read and those who don’t, for those who can afford to buy books and for those who would not read without the library. They exist for the man who cannot read and the man with a desire to teach him how to read. They exist for students to have a safe haven to study with no distractions from home and television and noisy dorms. Libraries exist, not for profit, but to provide information. Its civic duty, as well as yours, is to educate citizens.

Take my library away, and even with my limited income, I will still read. However, take a library away from a society, and watch as your citizens plummet further into ignorance.

Sincerely,

jenn aka the picky girl who will get a heck of a lot pickier if you close my library

*end rant*