Monday, November 24, 2014

Stories that can't wait to see

As the film industry is gearing up for the holiday and coming awards season, new movies are hitting the theaters weekly.  There are a few that we are very excited; movies that tell a story worth telling.
Here's a preview of what's coming up and the books that you can read to get you prepared.
The Theory of Everything - If you have yet to see this trailer, watch it.  This movie is the first to really tell the story of Stephen Hawking, brilliant scientists extraordinaire.  It follows his life and relationship with his wife before and after being diagnosed with a debilitating illness that has left him wheelchair bound and unable to use much more than his mind.  Hawking, despite his physical challenges, has changed the

Foxcatcher - This is an incredible story, both disturbing and fascinating.  The movie follows the 1988 Olympics US wrestling competitors.....  And if that wasn't enough to intrigue you, this movie stars Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mark Ruffalo.  Yes, we know, there's little more to say after hearing this crazy line-up of stars.  It is going to be incredible.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed came out in print just over two years ago.  Since its publication, this book has not left the NY Times Bestseller list, and for good reason.  It is brilliant, moving, insightful, and a book for everyone.  After the death of her mother and collapse of her marriage, Strayed decides her life needs something...direction, focus, major change, so at the age of 26 and desperate for something new, she packs whatever she thinks she will need and heads to the start of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Encountering elements, animal life, and human experiences she was unprepared for, during the journey through California and Oregon, she finds answers.  She finds truth.  And she shares every bit of this adventure with her readers in the raw, brutally honest way only Strayed can.  The film of this adventure, with Reese Witherspoon playing the part of Strayed, comes out in a few weeks.  So you have plenty of time to check out the book first.

The Imitation Game - coming out soon starring the incomparable Benedict Cumberbatch is the story of genius British codebreaker/writer Alan Turing.  Turing created what today we call the enigma code, but did so ...   based on Alan Hodge's book Alan Turing: the enigma will capture you from the first few pages and sweep you away into another era and the life of a man who overcame more than most of us can imagine and changed his life.

And then there is of course, Unbroken - Rather than tell you all about it, I'll let you read what the author has to say about her book (captured from Amazon's author page).
"Eight years ago, an old man told me a story that took my breath away. His name was Louie Zamperini, and from the day I first spoke to him, his almost incomprehensibly dramatic life was my obsession.
It was a horse--the subject of my first book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend--who led me to Louie. As I researched the Depression-era racehorse, I kept coming across stories about Louie, a 1930s track star who endured an amazing odyssey in World War II. I knew only a little about him then, but I couldn’t shake him from my mind. After I finished Seabiscuit, I tracked Louie down, called him and asked about his life. For the next hour, he had me transfixed.
Growing up in California in the 1920s, Louie was a hellraiser, stealing everything edible that he could carry, staging elaborate pranks, getting in fistfights, and bedeviling the local police. But as a teenager, he emerged as one of the greatest runners America had ever seen, competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he put on a sensational performance, crossed paths with Hitler, and stole a German flag right off the Reich Chancellery. He was preparing for the 1940 Olympics, and closing in on the fabled four-minute mile, when World War II began. Louie joined the Army Air Corps, becoming a bombardier. Stationed on Oahu, he survived harrowing combat, including an epic air battle that ended when his plane crash-landed, some six hundred holes in its fuselage and half the crew seriously wounded.
On a May afternoon in 1943, Louie took off on a search mission for a lost plane. Somewhere over the Pacific, the engines on his bomber failed. The plane plummeted into the sea, leaving Louie and two other men stranded on a tiny raft. Drifting for weeks and thousands of miles, they endured starvation and desperate thirst, sharks that leapt aboard the raft, trying to drag them off, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon with waves some forty feet high. At last, they spotted an island. As they rowed toward it, unbeknownst to them, a Japanese military boat was lurking nearby. Louie’s journey had only just begun.
That first conversation with Louie was a pivot point in my life. Fascinated by his experiences, and the mystery of how a man could overcome so much, I began a seven-year journey through his story. I found it in diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs; in the memories of his family and friends, fellow Olympians, former American airmen and Japanese veterans; in forgotten papers in archives as far-flung as Oslo and Canberra. Along the way, there were staggering surprises, and Louie’s unlikely, inspiring story came alive for me. It is a tale of daring, defiance, persistence, ingenuity, and the ferocious will of a man who refused to be broken.
The culmination of my journey is my new book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I hope you are as spellbound by Louie’s life as I am."
This is a fabulous read, well recommended by the Library staff.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A night you won't want to miss

What a movie should do…
A good movie should make you smile, laugh, cry, distract you, entertain you.  Every film does this on some level.  The good ones, the great ones, do more than that.  They give you something to take with you.  Sometimes this is because they have moved you, disturbed you, or taught you a lesson.  Sometimes it is because they have left you with a moment that you dream about, that you ponder, that you keep coming back to.  And then there are the ones that tell us important stories, stories that we need to know, stories that make a difference.  They are stories of real and everyday people who are amazing or have gone through events in their lives that are more intense and incredible than you or I have had to deal with but somehow still teach us something about who we are and how to survive our own stories, our own struggles.  Last year, one of the best films Hollywood produced did all of that.

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, and Stellan Skarsgård star in 2014’s historical film The Railway Man.  This film is based on the true life story of a British soldier who served during WWII.  Firth and Skarsgård served in a unit that surrendered during the Fall of Saigon.  British soldiers surrendered under the belief that they would be treated humanely.  However, the Japanese army used those men to build their railway in one of the most brutal treatment of POWs in history.  The Railway Man tells the story of these men, who years later are trying to live their lives.  They survived war, they lived through hell, and now have to learn how to come to terms with the everyday. Firth thinks he has this down until he meets Kidman and finds his life turned upside down.  He must confront and deal with his past before he has a hope for a future. 

This is a movie about war.  It’s a movie about love.  But, it is about much more.  Today, our culture has become quite familiar with the term PTSD, but what it does, how to deal with it, and its long term consequences are very intangible to most.  This movie looks at the aftershocks of war in one of the most beautifully crafted films we’ve seen in a long while.  The story of healing and raw courage is inspiring and moving, to say the least.  This is a film that you will not want to miss.  It will remind you of the difference between surviving and getting through life and actually living.

Come join us for a free screening of The Railway Man Wednesday, November 19th at 7 p.m. in the TVCC Science Center.  Come.  Bring a friend.  Everyone is welcome.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Art of being thankful

The last couple of years have seen an influx of talk, books, videos, blogs, and service projects all centered around the idea of taking the time to be thankful, to acknowledge aloud or in writing what you are grateful for.  The month of November is often considered the month where we acknowledge our thankfulness.  So, I want to share a little bit with you about thankfulness.

In 2008, the book titled The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch took the world by storm.  In the broader world of academia, universities often ask well-known and respected professors to give a "last lecture"...basically, it is meant for them to share what they would with students if it is the last chance they have before death to speak.  These lectures are typically very thought-provoking and challenge the audience with profound questions.  Pausch did not give a typical lecture.  Instead, he spoke about living life now and to the fullest.  His advice is fun and witty while still teaching his audience some things he learned about life.  Prior to giving this lecture, Pausch learned that he had a terminal illness and died a couple of months after the lecture. The lecture was then recorded in a book and published.  The wisdom Pausch shares in this speech has touched and changed lives dramatically. 

One statement he made was, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand”.  He proposes that it is the way you live your life that is important.  It is how we connect with others that truly matters.  “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” Pausch is right.  It is a simple thing, and yet it is an act acknowledging something good in yourself, your day, or someone else.  There is power in that. 

In 2010, corporate executive John Kralick's life was falling apart.  He was miserable, depressed, and struggling in a life that many of us strive for.  Kralick embarked on a campaign of gratefulness.  His book, 365 Thank Yous: the year a simple act of gratitude changed my life, chronicles a year of writing thank you notes to someone each day.  These notes were for big and small things, but each was an acknowledgement of something that someone else had done or just for who they were.  This practice changed his life. 

These are just two of many examples of how the act of saying Thank You or sharing what you are grateful for shifts and changes one's outlook on life, success, and overall happiness.  Last year, the Library launched our first ever Gratefulness Project where we created a space for you to write each day what you were thankful for.  The student/faculty/staff response was phenomenal and overwhelmingly exceeded our expectations.  We received hundreds of responses in the one month that we ran this for.  This year, we wanted to see how much more we can do.  So, we are launching this November, a year-long gratefulness project.  We will be putting together your responses and sharing the project with campus in hopes of encouraging each other in this campaign.  We would love to have you all participate in the project as often as you would like.  Here's how:
- visit us in the Library and write a note and leave it on our Gratefulness board.
- email us a thought or pic from your phone of what you are thankful for.
- Post your thought, pick, or comment on our Facebook page, or Gratefulness Project Board on Pinterest, or here on the blog. 
- Tweet what you are thankful for @LibraryTvcc #gratitudechallenge

We are excited to see what you do with this project this year.
And one last thought from Randy Pausch...

“It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life, ... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”

Friday, October 31, 2014


This word, bullying, has become a very common phrase that we hear socially, in the news, in classrooms, and across our social media platforms.  But what does bullying mean to you?
This is an important question.  The problem that happens is once a term is used and repeated often, it loses its value when we hear it.  All too often I have heard students here or parents in the community comment on how there aren't really bullies any more, that some kids should toughen up, or witnessed shrugs disregarding the issue.  Next week on campus, we are exploring what this word really means and who it affects. 
The effects of bullying are much more relevant to you today than you might imagine.  Please join us for two free community events this  week that will be eye-opening and conversation starting.

On Monday night, November 3rd, at 7 p.m. in the Science Building, the Library will be showing a special screening of the documentary Bully.  This award winning and highly controversial film is both moving and disturbing.  It follows the lives of some children, chronicling the aftermath of bullying from the perspective of victims, the bully, teachers, parents, and administrators.  It is an important film and well worth watching.

On Thursday night, TVCC Student Activities is hosting R.J. White, from AMC's Breaking Bad, in another free community event.  White will discuss his life before and after the show, what it was like to grow up with a physical disability, and how bullying affected him in a special presentation called Breaking Boundaries.  This event will be in the Weese Building at 7:30 p.m. on the 6th of November.

This is an issue that is important, relevant, and these are both events that you will not want to miss.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I cannot resist

Yes, this is going to be an entire blog post about nothing other than the incomparable, amazing, Caitlin Moran.
Were to even start...well, to be honest, I could go on and on about her, but many of you, I suspect, have not yet been introduced to Moran.  Today is indeed your lucky day.
A friend gave me a copy of Moran's book How to be a Woman just over a year ago and it has not left me since, though I have shared it with many.  I laughed out loud until tears came to my eyes more than once while reading this book.  It is quite possibly a terrible book to read in a library, coffee shop, or other such places where quiet or some level of reserve is expected.  The looks you will get...but that's part of what makes it beyond fabulous.
This book  is not a novel but rather one outspoken British comedian's rendition of what the modern woman is, or should be.  Moran takes on the delicate and indelicate topics about women as a whole, addressing everything from shaving to the pornography industry with an easy aplomb that will leave you smiling, angry, and impassioned to make this world that we live in a better place for woman as a whole.  A few tidbits from this book are pictured here. 
But why am I writing about Ms. Moran today?  Well, because her next book is finally here!  And like the first, it is taking the world by storm.  This summer, a couple of us had the marvelous pleasure of reading her first novel, How to Build a Girl, and were definitely not disappointed.  It's anxiously awaited print debut is here. It's in the Library.  You can check it out in print or audio format.  Don't wait, run to the shelves now and get your copy.

Oh wait, you want to know what it is first...can you feel our excitement about this book?  The main character of this novel, 14 year old Johanna, is actually a typical teen struggling with a family that is struggling in its own rights.  As the oldest daughter with an out-of-work father and a mother struggling with depression, she finds herself drowning under the weight of caring for her younger siblings and trying to make her life look more like something that she wants it to be.  Johanna does what so many of us have always wanted to do.  She takes off and builds a new life from scratch, including giving herself a new name, image, identity, and a cause to fight for.  "I want to be a self-made woman. I want to conjure myself out of every sparkling, fast-moving thing I can see.  I want to be the creator of me. I'm gonna begat myself."  This witty, sarcastic, tale of a girl becoming a woman in her own way is full of grit, tenacity, and hilarity.  Johanna's journey will shock you, endear her to you, and feel all too familiar as she speaks with a voice that rages aloud the thoughts and ideas that have been in your own minds.  It is absolutely not to be missed.

And of course, we love Caitlin Moran because she understands just how important reading and libraries truly are.  To read more Moran, check out her weekly column on The Times website.
If you like her, we also recommend the following books:
The Year of Yes by Maria Dahvana Headley
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And more about the banned....

There is so much I could say about this week.  To put it simply, there is too much beauty in the world, in shared experiences, in small moments, in the pain and life of the everyday experience that you or the person standing next to you to ignore.  Books capture this.  Writers capture this beauty.  They inspire us, challenge us, delight us, and teach how to make it through or to be better.  And sometimes, a book simply turns a large mirror onto a truth that we do not want to face. When a book does all of or even some of this, there are those out there who fear it.  The reaction to ban it, to deny others access to it has resulted in what we now celebrate as Banned Books Week.
And I say, what these books capture, bring to light, show us time and again is beautiful.  Just like one of the picture that I came across this week made for the celebration of the freedom to read.

Check out more of these beautiful pics about Banned Books compiled by Huffington Post.

Or take a moment this week and watch a video on the ALA Virtual Read-Out channel.  I just cannot get enough of these videos.  There are so many fabulous ones.  If you like books, authors, comedy, or pretty much if you are breathing, you will enjoy these.  Scroll and find your favorites...
Some of the best that we liked:
Markus Zusak - of course!
Sherman Alexie - best job of pointing out the ridiculousness of book banning in true Alexie style
Laurie Halse Anderson - fabulous
Khaled Hosseini
Ellen Hopkins and Laini Taylor are both worth watching.
And this year would be totally incomplete without hearing Lois Lowry and Jeff Bridges.
...this list could get really quite fast. 

Or Better yet, come any night this week at 7 p.m. to the Library and listen to some live banned book reading.  I know you'll enjoy it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week!!

Every year, the TVCC Library joins with the American Library Association and libraries across the United States in celebrating Banned Books Week. This year, BBW is September 22nd thru the 26th.
What is Banned Books Week? Most of us have heard of banning books or burning books in an historical context... something you may have read in a history textbook yet doesn't seem relevant today. What many don't realize is the practice of banning books (removing them from libraries and school curriculum) still happens today. Not only does it still happen, but it is happening in the United States.
Part of our American character is that this country was founded on certain fundamental freedoms we all have which are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.  As a society we celebrate those freedoms, stand on them, defend them. One of those freedoms is the Freedom to Read, which means the freedom to read, to think, to speak, and to choose. Book banning defies that freedom by removing access to books or other materials because individuals may find some of the content offensive.
The list of books that have been challenged or removed from library shelves over the years is astounding. For example, the American Dictionary was removed from a library because some of the words defined were deemed inappropriate to all readers. Little Red Riding Hood by the Grimm brothers was removed from school libraries because,
"The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol."

This week please join with us in celebrating your freedom to read and choose for yourselves what you like to read.  What to expect...
  • You will find lots of information about banned books and a great selection of them in the Library.  
  • We will be hosting a public read-aloud event each evening Monday thru Thursday in the Library from 7-9.  Come listen to live reading by some of our TVCC staff and faculty or read yourself from your favorite banned book.  
  • Watch the ALA YouTube channel to hear other banned book readers and authors in the Library throughout the week. 
  • Enter the Library's BBW contest here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or in the Library itself and be entered to win prizes throughout the week!