That is…What Would David Bowie Read?
As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, the musician David Bowie passed away over the weekend. He was cool for a million different reasons, and if you want to talk about all of them, stop in an chat. For this post, I want to focus on one. He was a reader.
David Bowie’s READ poster for ALA
In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London created a special exhibit called David Bowie is, which showcased his music and fashion. The curators of the exhibit also put together a list of David Bowie’s top 100 favorite books.
We don’t have a whole lot of them here in the library. But we do have a few. So, if you want to read like Bowie, here are a few titles to start.
From left to right: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1984 by George Orwell, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, As Lay Dying by William Faulkner, and The Iliad by Homer. Not exactly light reading, but definitely interesting books.
But it made me think…can we come up with the Hill Top 100? What are the 100 books that we as a community would recommend to others? That we feel had the greatest influence on us. Stay tuned for a survey to hit your email in the next week or so.
As part of digital citizenship week, today we’re talking about Safer Internet Day. There’s some great stuff out there that’s being done – by kids! – to make the internet a safer place to be. One of my favorite recent stories is of Trisha Prablu and her Google Science Fair project.
And you know I need to include a book as well. Actually, we just got a bunch of new books in the library that touch on digital issues. Today seemed like a good day to talk about Random by Tom Leveen.
Tori has been accepted into the “cool kids” clique at school. She gets to hang with the cheerleaders and the jocks. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for her old friend, Kevin, who isn’t quite cool enough to hang and becomes the target of her new friends’ online harassment. When Kevin takes his own life, Tori’s Facebook page becomes the key evidence in a cyberbullying case against Tori and her new friends. The night before the trial begins, she gets a phone call from what seems to be a wrong number. The stranger on the phone tells Tori that he is going to kill himself unless she can convince him otherwise before the sun comes up.
I really enjoyed this book (Leveen also wrote Sick about a zombie virus which is so much fun). Tori really has to think about her role in the attacks on her friend. She needs to examine her relationship with her brother and her one friend who is still standing by her. It’s really interesting and gives you something to think about.
Today’s book suggestions actually come from Callie’s mom. She sent me an email yesterday suggesting some good “storm” reading.
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It trilogy is a different kind of dystopia. Instead of some evil government or organization dividing society up (a la The Hunger Games or Divergent), or some environmental catastrophe, this is a dystopia with some astronomical roots. At the beginning of the first book, everyone is excited to watch a meteor that is about to come really, really close to earth. In fact, it comes as close as the moon…and pushes the moon closer to earth. At first, everyone thinks it’s really cool. But think about it. The moon has control over our water, and we’ve got a lot of water. If the moon’s out of whack, it’s going to pull a lot of things out of whack with it. The weather changes severely. Volcanoes erupt. Blizzards happen. People are stranded in their homes for months with no electricity or means of communication (no video games…no computers). It’s really kind of a scary scenario.
I first read this a few years ago, right after the earthquake hit in DC and right before Hurricane Irene hit us. It left me a little freaked out. Might not be the best reading if you fear you might lose you power again. But then again, maybe it’ll make you appreciate that it’s only out for a day or two.
I’ve only read the first book, but I know lots of people who have read the trilogy and say it just gets better and better.
This week, Hill Top is participating in The Hour of Code. I had a blast yesterday helping some angry birds crush some evil pigs and helping some zombies stomp some plants.
Of course, there are some great books with coding at their heart. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline is the first one that comes to mind. The story begins when the creator of OASIS, a virtual reality world where most people work and play, dies with no heirs. But, as a true child of the 80’s who was raised on Atari, he has left three easter eggs in OASIS. Whoever finds them first, will inherit his legacy. The battle is on between the gamers, who are pure in their quest, and the corporations who are seeking dominance in the OASIS. This is a great book with lots of really fun 80’s references, which I will be happy to explain to anyone.
Feed by M. T. Anderson has one of my favorite opening lines, “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” Imagine all the digital information you could want installed in a chip in your brain. Need to call someone? Just bring them up in your thoughts. Like that sweatshirt your friend is wearing? The feed can show you where to buy it and how much it will cost. But what happens if you have an inferior implant or if someone is able to upload a virus to your feed? (This book gets bonus points for sending kids to school to learn how to make their beds!)
Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is an updated version of George Orwell’s 1984. When a group of gamers are caught on the streets of San Francisco during a terrorist attack, they’re taking to Alcatraz (aka Little Gitmo) and questioned by the government. Even after being released, they’re still being tracked and watched. In oreder to find out what happened to a friend who didn’t return from Alcatraz, Marcus (aka W1n5t0n) sets up the XNET, a subnetwork that is not monitored by the government that runs off XBox. Lots and lots of good gaming, coding, and hacking content in this story. Best of all, if you enjoy reading on an ereader, you can get a copy of the book for free from Doctorow’s website (you can actually download all of his books, including Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother).
Finally, there’s James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds. Michael and his friends are known in the VirtNet for being serious gamers and hackers. Their skills are so well known that when another hacker starts kidnapping and killing people in “the sleep,” VirtNet Security recruits them to find the rogue hacker and stop him. Dashner is fantastic at telling a story and knows how to build tension really well. I’m in the middle of the audiobook right now and I’m totally hooked. The only downside is that this is the first book in a series, and the next book doesn’t come out until next year. Ugh.
Since last Thursday, one of the big news stories has been the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela. If you don’t know much about him, he’s worth getting to know. The library has a few biographies of Mandela, the most interesting one being Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book. It was released in 2005 by the Nelson Mandela foundation. My favorite quote is from Mandela’s introduction to the book, “You know that you are really famous the day that you discover that you have become a comic character.”
Later this week, look for books related to The Hour of Code!