Friday, June 17, 2016

Anna and the French Kiss review

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins
December 2010

First line: "Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge."

I put off reading this book for so long because I was a little bit afraid that it couldn't possibly live up to the hype. But it does! It really does! This is a completely swoonworthy book. I knew the main character, Anna, a senior in high school is from Atlanta, and I had imagined that more of the book would take place in the South. That's not the case - her parents ship her off right away to a boarding school in Paris. I was prepared to immediately hate Anna for being a whiny brat about having such an awesome opportunity. That was the problem that I saw with Falling in Love with English Boys, by Melissa Jensen about a girl who has to spend a summer in London. Gee, wouldn't you love to have these girls "problems?" Happily, Anna did not seem too bratty to me. Her father is basically clueless - a less functional version of the real-life Nicholas Sparks, the famous author of badly-written, bestselling melodramatic romances.

When Anna gets to Paris, she's not on vacation - so she doesn't spend a lot of time jetting around, seeing the sights. Mostly, she's trying to get settled in her new dorm, meet friends, and figure out enough French to handle the basics, like ordering food in the cafeteria. She meets Etienne St. Clair, a total dreamboat, but of course, he has a girlfriend, and half the school is crushing on him anyway, so she knows she doesn't stand a chance. They do end up becoming good friends though, and spend the year getting to know each other, developing various in-jokes and so on. I was about 
¾ of the way through the book, and Anna hasn't even kissed anyone yet. I was beginning to get worried - maybe the titular kiss would be on the last page? Fortunately, St. Clair soon realizes that his relationship with his former girlfriend just isn't working out, and Anna 'fesses up and admits her sort-of boyfriend back home isn't in the picture either. After they become a couple, Anna helps St. Clair confront his father who has been cruelly keeping him away from his cancer-ridden mother. It sounds more melodramatic than it plays out, and while I don't think high school romances often work out, I could totally picture Anna and St. Clair moving to Berkeley together, getting married and living happily ever after. I hate to say that this is a "When Harry Met Sally" story, since I think that reference will be lost on a lot of younger people, but it is a really good comparison. They're really sweet together, completely right for each other and have a really solid foundation because they were platonic friends for so long before the rest of their relationship developed.

Compare to:
The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen
Meant to Be - Lauren Morrill
Audrey Wait! - Robin Benway
Just One Day - Gayle Foreman

I purchased this book.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Do you still do summer reading?

I was at a dinner party recently, and one of the guests, upon hearing that I am a librarian, innocently asked, "Oh! Yes! The library! Do you still do summer reading?"

I am still so gobsmacked by this question. I just don't even know where to begin. Yes! We are totally doing summer reading. My life is dominated by summer reading! We do summer reading for kids, and for teens, and now for adults, too. We do programs, and displays, and we offer so many prizes, and we do so much outreach to promote it. This is a monumental effort. Summer reading feels like the raison d'etre of our library lives. We literally start planning next summer's reading program as the current summer is ending. Yeah. We still do summer reading.

It really got me thinking... on one hand, this is exactly the same kind of question that falls in the category of, "Do you still use the Dewey Decimal system?" (Answer: yes) or, "Do you still use those card catalogs with the drawers?" (Answer: no) Probably people mean it as a harmless, light conversation starter. But, my number one takeaway when I hear something like this is that, this is a person who has not been to a library since they were a child. And this is the kind of person who imagines that if they are not at the library... then probably nobody is in the library. And they just don't know. They don't know how busy we are. They are nonplussed when they get to the library and they have to wait in line... not to check out a book, or get a computer, or ask a staff member a question or for anything. Because how could that dusty, quiet place be so bustling? It doesn't make sense to them. The same way that, "Do you still do summer reading?" doesn't make sense to me.

I know there's a segment of the population that we don't always reach - working adults in their 30's and 40's don't come to the library as often. They are too busy. Even when we offer evening or weekend hours they may not make it in. Our core users are retirees, stay at home moms, and economically disadvantaged. Still, it's worrying when I hear reactions like these - there's a whole universe that they are missing out on!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Read in May

Last month I read the following:

1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail - Cheryl Strayed
2. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life - Henry Cloud
3. Moloka'i - Alan Brennart
4. Becoming Grandma - Lesley Stahl
5. Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

picture credit:  Mihrap by Osman Hamdi Bey, 1901


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