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GEPL Teens: Holden Caulfield

teens-blog-bannerCatcherSo I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Holden Caulfield.  And as weird as that sounds, this isn’t actually abnormal for me.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Holden Caulfield.  In fact, I had a pretty big crush on Holden when I was a teenager (crushes on fictional characters are totally real and totally legit guys!  Despite the fact that your crush will clearly go nowhere.)

But what brought on this most recent round of Holden-centric thought was a conversation I had with a family friend last week.  This family friend – about my parents’ age – recently re-read Catcher in the Rye, and found that she didn’t like it.  At all.  This was a surprise because she remembered reading it as a teenager and loving it.

There tends to be a sharp divide about Holden.  Most people either LOVE Catcher in the Rye, which usually means they love Holden despite his faults, or HATE Catcher in the Rye because they can’t stand Holden.  The complaints usually include some or all of these issues: that he’s whiny, he’s over-privileged and unappreciative, that he’s as phony as the phonies he complains about thus making him a hypocrite, that he’s just plain annoying, and more.  Interestingly enough though, I agree with most of this – but it doesn’t make Holden any less interesting or likable to me.  I love him because when I’m reading about him, he’s real.  I love him because he’s deeply damaged but still tries to reach out to other people and form connections.  I love him because for all his whininess and privilege, he’s also funny and compassionate and smart.

But I also think the reason some people like him and some people don’t simply has to do with when they read the book (like my friend who loved the book as a teenager and couldn’t stand it as an adult,) as well as – ultimately – how much the individual in question likes teenagers.  I’m not in any way saying that all teenagers are like Holden, or that all teenagers will like Holden.  But so much of him is directly related to his adolescence, to the conflicting forces of change and nostalgia in him, and to the fact that he is trying to figure out who he is and what he wants his relationship with the world to be.  Plenty of teenagers can’t stand Holden either, but I still think that whether or not a reader can understand and sympathize with Holden’s difficult adolescence makes a huge difference in whether or not a reader will like Catcher in the Rye.

So I suggest giving Holden another chance, and giving Catcher in the Rye another chance.  Even if you still don’t like Holden, the book is a masterpiece, and absolutely worth your time.  And if I can’t convince you, maybe John Green can:

John Green discusses Catcher in the Rye (Part 1)

John Green discusses Catcher in the Rye (Part 2)

John Green discusses Catcher in the Rye (Part 3)

What do you think?  Have you always loved Holden?  Have John Green and I convinced you to give him the benefit of the doubt?  Or are you still on the “whiny and obnoxious” side of things?

Posted in GEPL Teens

Glen Ellyn Public Library Offers Members a Frugal February Challenge

news-blog-bannerThe Glen Ellyn Public Library challenges the community to participate in Frugal February, a month-long program designed to recover from the costs of holiday bills by eliminating all non-essential spending during the twenty-eight days of February.

The GEPL has developed a series of programming designed to maximize an individual’s financial resources:

The community can learn how to cut down food waste with simple meal planning tricks during Nutrition Bang For Your Buck: How to Eat Well and Spend Less on February 6th at 7pm.

Anyone with questions about health insurance in 2014 can learn about their options from Lori Martin, President of Envision Benefit Specialists, during an informative discussion about healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act and Medicare updates. This program, Your Health and the Affordable Care Act is scheduled for February 19th at 7pm.

Individuals can learn valuable money saving tips from Certified Financial Planner Joe Orsolini as he teaches how to develop a budget and savings plan designed to reduce worry during the Understanding Money and Wealth program on February 20th at 7pm.

Additionally, the Glen Ellyn Public Library offers numerous ways to trim expenses from monthly budgets by substituting the average costs of common non-essential purchases with free library alternatives.

 Average Cost: Going to a movie: $10 per person

Library Alternative: Renting a movie: Free!

 

Average Cost: Reserving a New Release on Red Box: $1.20

Library Alternative: Reserving the same New Release on the GEPL catalog: Free!

 

Average Cost: Downloading an album on iTunes: $9.99

Library Alternative: Downloading tracks on our Freegal database: Free!

 

Average Cost: Purchasing a CD: $9.99

Library Alternative: Checking out the same CD: Free!

 

Average Cost: Purchasing a Book: $16.99

Library Alternative: Checking out the same book: Free!

The Glen Ellyn Public Library encourages members to visit gepl.org to discover additional February programming including the Winter Olympic series and the Winter Reading program.

Posted in GEPL News

Teens Blog: Valentine’s Day

teens-blog-bannerBlah blah blah Valentine’s Day blah blah blah.

Actually, I’ve always kind of liked Valentine’s Day.  Mostly because I like chocolate and paper hearts (really – my eighteenth birthday party involved making valentines with construction paper, crayons, and stickers.)  But it can get a little overwhelming with all the romance stuff for a whole month.  Unfortunately, I’m going to add to that!  Don’t worry, this will probably be my only V-Day related post this month.  But I thought I could at least acknowledge the holiday with a list of some of my favorite bookish couples!

Image 11.) Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy!   Yes, yes, everybody talks about them.  Plus, I would be the first to argue that Jane Austen novels are not romances at heart, despite the fact that they contain romance.  And honestly, Pride & Prejudice isn’t even my favorite Jane Austen novel (that honor goes to Emma.)  But Lizzie and Mr. Darcy have such an amazing relationship.  There’s so much more going on than just a “they meet, they hate, they love” kind of arc.  They challenge each other constantly, they better each other, they can be their best selves around each other.  Even when they initially dislike each other, they engage on an intellectual level that neither of them gets a chance to with most of their friends and family.  They force each other to look past their prejudice and pride (and they each have plenty of both!) and become better versions of themselves.  They fall in love only after they have each undergone personal growth, and learned to truly respect each other.  They are a wonderful couple, and I love them SO much.

Honorable mention for another Jane Austen couple goes to Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion.  That letter at the end!  I swoon every time.

Blog Entry 27 Image 2 2.) Katsa and Po from Graceling.  I actually like Fire and Bitterblue both better than Graceling, but there’s no denying that Graceling is a better introduction to the world, and Katsa and Po are definitely Cashore’s most exciting couple.  They are such a perfect match for each other in every way.  Po is physically the only person in the world able to match Katsa (even if ultimately she’ll win all their spars.)  Po’s calmness and Katsa’s fire complement each other.  Their willingness to fight for each other is beautiful, but so is their mutual understanding that as much as they love each other, some things are more important than their romance.  I love that Po understands and supports Katsa’s non-traditional decisions about children and settling down.  I love that Katsa uses her stubbornness and strength to bring Po out of darkness.  Katsa and Po were made for each other, without a doubt.

Blog Entry 27 Image 3-1 3.) Eleanor and Park.  I realize that this is the super trendy thing to say right now, but there’s a reason – because this book is incredible, and the relationship between Eleanor and Park is delightful, heartwarming, heartwrenching and so, so real.  Each character shines on their own, but together, they make something spectacular.  Watching them learn to like each other, then love each other, was one of the best journeys I’ve been on.  Seeing how their love saved Eleanor in an almost literal sense made me feel like anything is possible.  And the intensity of their affection, despite the questions about the future of their relationship, was something I’ve felt before.  Feeling it again was a powerful experience.

Blog Entry 27 Image 4 4.) Maddie and Julie from Code Name Verity. No, they are not a romantic couple.  But Maddie and Julie, the two narrators of Code Name Verity, are certainly a couple.  And their friendship is every bit as exciting and wonderful to read about as any of the romantic couples on this list.  As Julie says, “It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”  And what best friends they are!  In almost every word written by either girl, their love for each other shines through.  They prop each other up when necessary, they have fun together, and they make incredibly difficult decisions and sacrifices for each other.  And that’s love – whether romantic or platonic.

You may have noticed that Hazel and Gus are conspicuously absent.  That is because thinking too much about Hazel and Gus makes me weepy, and I try to avoid crying at work.  But I never promised a comprehensive list – just a list of some of my favorite literary couples!  Who are your favorite book couples?  What do you love about them?

Posted in GEPL Teens

Folk Singer Dean Milano to Headline GEPL’s Open Mic Night

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Back by popular demand, folk singer Dean Milano is set to headline the February 5th installment of the Glen Ellyn Public Library’s Open Mic Night at Shannon’s Irish Pub (428 Main Street).

Milano, whose incredible musical style ranges from folk, country, rock, Latin, bluegrass and pop, has been performing since 1966 and has opened for Bo Diddley, The Kingston Trio and Cab Calloway.

Milano is a student of rock an roll, recently publishing a book called The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s and has appeared as a guest on Rick Kogan and Nick Digilio’s WGN radio shows and on the WGN TV news.  His music has been featured on WXRT, the WDCB Folk Festival and the WFMT Midnight Special.

Open Mic Night is a great venue for performers looking to test new material and for art admirers to discover local creative artists. Acoustic musicians, singer-songwriters, poets and wordsmiths are invited to sign up or a performance slot. Signup begins at 6:30 pm with the first act starting at 7pm.

Posted in GEPL News, GEPL Teens

GEPL Seeks a Consultant to Develop a Comprehensive Strategic Plan

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The Glen Ellyn Public Library seeks a consultant to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the library. Interested candidates can find details and instructions in the Request for Proposal: Strategic Plan.

Posted in GEPL News

What I’m Reading Now: The Tyrant’s Daughter

teens-blog-bannerBlog Entry 26 ImageIn a fun twist on “What I’m Reading Now,” I’m reading a book that hasn’t been published yet!  I scored an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The book won’t actually be published until February 11, but don’t worry, it’s already on order and will be on the shelves at GEPL soon!

What I’m Reading Now: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

What’s It About (Jacket Description): From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs. 

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.

Do I Like It: I definitely like it, though it’s one of those books giving me “doom” stomach knots right now.

Thoughts: I read a lot of good reviews of this book before I lucked into a chance to read it early, so I was excited to get started.  What I found is a book that’s both exactly what the reviews promised me, and not at all what I expected.

What I was expecting, and got, is a portrait of a girl struggling to define herself after her life changes completely.  What I was not expecting was the tenseness of wondering what is going on with Laila’s mother and the CIA.  I was also not expecting that the focus on Laila adjusting to the United States would be less about culture shock and clothes and independence, and more about making friends and learning to connect with people in a real way rather than through the layers of privilege, power and half-truths that surrounded her in her old life.

But despite all this – the CIA, the friends, the family – it is Laila who drives the book.  She is a fantastic character, likable but believably naïve and flawed.  Despite circumstances that I certainly will never experience, she struggled with issues I think anyone can recognize – having to re-think her view of her parents and her world, being thrust into completely new life circumstances, how to make and keep friends.  What makes Laila so wonderful to me is that she is unafraid to change, unafraid to adjust her own ideas and identity.  Although it is difficult for her to learn the truth about her father, she doesn’t hide from it or deny it, and she acts similarly about other conflicts.  Though she worries about and fears many things, she faces the changes in her life and herself with courage.

I can’t wait to see how Laila’s story ends, and I have a feeling that The Tyrant’s Daughter is one of those books I’ll be thinking about for a long time after I’m done reading.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Heat Up Your Winter Nights at Contra Dance!

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Do you have cabin fever? Wishing the frigid temperatures would go away? Stop by the Glen Ellyn Public Library and heat up your night with Contra Dance!

Contra Dance (sometimes called New England Folk Dance) is a family-friendly event featuring live music, dance instruction and group dancing led by a caller.

No experience is necessary and it’s open to dancers of all ages.

Contra Dance for Everyone is scheduled for 7pm on Thursday, January 30.

Click here to register!

Posted in GEPL News

Teens Blog: What I’m Watching Now

I decided to take a slightly different route from my “What I’m Reading Now” posts, and thought I’d try a “What I’m Watching Now” post.  Though since I tend to get invested in entire series at once, and don’t get around to a lot of movies, these will be a little rarer than my reading-focused posts.

What I’m Reading Now: Dr. Who (currently on the first season of the 10th Doctor)

What’s It About (description from IMDB.com): The further adventures of the time traveling alien adventurer and his companions.

Do I Like It: SO much

Thoughts: Well, obviously that description is a little light, so I’ll try and give a quick synopsis of the show.  The Doctor (just “The Doctor”) is a human-looking alien who can travel through space and time in a spaceship that looks like this:

Blog Entry 25 Image 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He periodically regenerates into a new body, which is how he can go from looking like the Ninth Doctor:

Film Title: Doctor Who - Christopher Eccelston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Tenth Doctor:

Blog Entry 25 Image 31

In just the two seasons I’ve been exposed to.  He takes a human companion or companions on his travel, which is fortunate for us watching, since it gives him somebody to explain every wacky thing that’s happening to.

So…obviously it’s kind of a trippy sci-fi set-up to this show.  Which I love.  I love that we can go from modern-day London to Victorian times to billions of years in the future (and to, apparently – I haven’t gotten to this episode yet – dinosaurs!) with the Doctor and Rose, who is his companion for all the episodes I’ve watched.  It’s so fun to see historical events re-interpreted, to see the weird, and sometimes creepy and/or HILARIOUS, aliens and all these different versions of earth and the universe.

But…what makes Dr. Who so special is the emotional core of it.  The Doctor has been through some stuff.  He’s a complex, complicated guy.  In the re-booted version of the show (from the Ninth doctor onwards) he is the last of his race.  He cares passionately about humans, but he has also seen and done so much more than they could ever comprehend.  He adores Rose, but he can also treat her like a child at times.  He can be a straight-up jerk to some people.

So watching the relationship between the Doctor and his companion grow and change, watching each of them develop on their own, watching them get through tough situations and handle difficult choices – that is what makes the show special.  These emotional and human things that could be present on any show set totally and completely in our reality.  Even though the sci-fi elements certainly help to drive the plot, and add a lot of interesting ideas and situations to the character development, the reason I love this show absolutely comes down to the characters, not the setting.  Though the exciting mysteries and battles on spaceships and stuff certainly help!

Obviously everybody who already watches Dr. Who already knows this, but it’s still new to me.  And I’m LOVING it.

Posted in GEPL Teens

Parents Blog: Mind FULL or Mindful?

parents-blog-bannerToday, GEPL’s Early Literacy Librarian Jill Eisele shares her thoughts on mindfulness:Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 2.05.33 PM

Mindfulness.  The ancient eastern practice of purposefully being in the present moment without holding any judgment.  Focusing all of your attention on a moment-to-moment basis.  A simple concept, but one that is difficult to achieve in our fast-paced world full of rigid schedules.  We know that practicing mindfulness is healthy for us.  It can help reduce stress, improve focus, and boost happiness.  However, it seems impossible not to constantly be thinking (and/or worrying) about what we need to do next month, next week, or even the next minute.  Imagine the benefits if as adults we all worked just a little but more on grasping the concept of mindfulness.  Imagine if we encourage children, who already have a natural tendency to be in the moment, to practice this art! Mindfulness is a life-long learning process; why not get a head start?

I recently read the book The Power of Validation:  Arming Your Child Against Bullying, Peer Pressure, Addiction, Self-Harm & Out of Control Emotions by Karyn D. Hall, PhD and Melissa H. Cook, LPC.  One of the chapters touched on children and the practice of mindfulness and how it can contribute to a strong sense of self.  While reading it, the thought occurred to me that as a parent of a young son, I enjoy my time so much more with him when I am practicing mindfulness.  When I don’t invite distractions and just allow myself to fully engage in the moment, whether we are walking down the street together or waiting at the dentist’s office, I feel so relaxed, so involved,  and so.…happy.  I’m also being a positive example for my child.  It truly is a win-win situation for both of us.

As parents and caregivers we often encounter moments when we observe our children unknowingly practicing mindfulness.  A child who is quietly watching a worm crawling through the dirt, sitting in the backseat of the car fascinated by a long train going by, or studying the details of a picture in a book.   In that moment the child is completely absorbed in his sensations and thoughts.  Some serious reflection is going on, right?  So go with it.  Slow down.  Let the meditation be, however many seconds it lasts.  Let him experience his senses and emotions.  In this moment, the child is working on developing and preserving a healthy practice that he can use throughout his life! Yes, we have schedules to adhere to and places to be and that is just reality.  However, keep in mind that these moments of mindfulness are often fleeting, yet so important.  So if you can, try letting the “moment” your child is having fade away on its own.  It will be gone all too soon, so why interrupt it? Encourage it, and enjoy it! The present minute, the mindfulness, is happening before your eyes, and you can be a part of it.  Now that is a beautiful thing.  Yes it is.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 2.07.40 PM

 

Jill Eisele is the Early Literacy Librarian at Glen Ellyn Public Library.  Her young son reminds her every day about the beauty of being in the moment. 

Posted in GEPL Kids, GEPL News

Thank You to Our “Swinging Thru the Stacks” Sponsors!

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The Glen Ellyn Public Library would like to sincerely thank all our wonderful Swinging Thru the Stacks sponsors:

1st Choice Advisors

Saylor & Murphy Orthodontics

Armbrust Plumbing

AXA Equitable

Drs. Belke & Borello, D.D.S.

The Bookstore

Chiro One Wellness Center

Community Bank Wheaton/Glen Ellyn

Delta Controls

ELARA

Engineering Solutions Team

Fire + Wine

Ford Wealth Management LLC

Friends of the Glen Ellyn Public Library

Glen Ellyn Public Library Foundation

Glen Ellyn Public Library Board of Trustees

Glen Ellyn Bank and Trust

Image One Facility Solutions

Image Systems & Business Solutions

Jay Company – Investment Management

Jeffrey J. Waters CPA

Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.

Leland Lewis Consulting

LFI – Library Furniture International, Inc.

Martin and Barbara Johnson

Marré Development

McAdam Landscaping

The Meadows of Glen Ellyn

Meyers & Zima Grandchildren

Michal Brunell

The Nolan Agency

Perkins Pryde + Kennedy Architects

Precision Payroll of America, LLC

Product Architecture + Design

Rational Technologies, Inc,

Schauer & Associates

Wintrust Wealth Management – Scott Park

SERVPRO of Wheaton/Glen Ellyn

Shales McNutt Construction

Sign Identity

State Mechanical Services

Today’s Business Solutions, Inc.

Posted in GEPL News