Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 12 Prompt

    Haunted Indiana 3 by Mark Marimen
Published 2001 Thunder Bay Press.

Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
  • A mix (combines highly narrative moments with periods of fact-based prose)

What is the subject of the book?
  • The books contain ten true stories of haunted places in Indiana.  The locations are from all over the state. 

What type of book is it?
  • The book contains historical information about the specific haunted place in each chapter, including past owners and situations that led up to the reasons for the supposed hauntings.  The historical information is then followed by eye witness accounts and folklore about the hauntings. 

Articulate Appeal.
What is the pacing of the book?
  • This is a quick read.  Each chapter various between 15-20 pages.  This is a good pick up and read book in one sitting or a book that can be read in short sessions since each chapter tells a different independent story.

Describe the characters in the book.
  • The characters in the book differ based on the story.  Some are characters are Indians, police, hotel guest, school children, just the average country folks, etc.  Considering the limited number of pages for each story the book does a good job describing the people involved in the history of the location and the hauntings.  There is not a lot of details into the personalities of the people, but enough historical facts are given to breath life into the characters.  

How does the story feel?
  • It feels like a book of short horror stories about haunted places mixed with historical facts.  The stories do not fall into the true sense of Historical Fiction, because the characters and facts are all supposedly true; the stories  are very short, the language used is modern no matter the time frame, and the characterization of the people are not deeply involved.  However, it does have a very light overall feel of historical fiction. 

What is the Intent of the author?
  • The author wants to entertain and educate about different historical hauntings in the state of Indiana. Author Mark Marimen grew up and still lives in Indiana.  The last page of the book is a personal request from the author to contact him with more Indiana folklore that he can investigate, research, and write up in more volumes.  There is a volume 4.

What is the focus of the story?
  • The focus of the story is to present historical information about different haunted places in Indiana.  Each story starts out with historical facts and a description of the place followed by what events caused the haunting.

Does the language matter?
  • Yes, it is very important. It tells historical facts in a short story setting.  While there are dates and names of people involved in the events the book does not feels very academic.  The language is more in a narrative style.

Is the setting important and well described?
  • The settings are a major part of this books.  Considering the short number of pages, the settings are described nicely and adds to the eerie feeling of the book.

Are there details and, if so, of what?
  • There is an abundance of details in this book.  Each story has details about the location, people who lived there, eyewitness accounts, and the events surrounding the hauntings.  This includes dates, names of people involved in the event that caused the haunting, and what eyewitnesses have seen. 

Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials?  Are they useful and clear?
  • There are no graphs or charts.  However, there are a few photographs of tombstones and the outside of houses and buildings.

Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
  • The book explains in detail the haunted experiences that the eye witnesses have come in contact with. 

        Why would the reader enjoy this book?
  1.      Easy pick up and put down pacing of the stories.
  2.      Interesting facts about local history.
  3.      Feels like a books of short horror stories.   


Monday, March 27, 2017


The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
By Amy Schumer
Published 2016

In this book Amy Schumer shows that she is more than a comedian who likes to talk about sex and degrade herself for a joke. She has lived a difficult life dealing with her parents’ divorces, her father's battle with the disease multiple sclerosis, helped mentally challenged people, has been in abusive relationships, and cares very deeply for her sister. These parts of the book are an insight into her personal life and how her experiences have shaped who she is and her strong opinions about people and life in general.

Characteristics of Nonfiction: Autobiography/Memoir

This book is less of an autobiography and more of a collection of memoirs with a few central themes.

There are chapter headings that explain the general overview of each chapter.  However, there are one or both overwhelming subjects that find their way into every chapter.  These subjects are family issues and sex.

The tone of this book various greatly.  At some points it is very sad and somber when Amy is recalling facts about her volunteering at a summer camp for mentally challenged adults and at other parts it is hilarious when she is reviewing old diary entries from her childhood.

The writing style varies.  It can be very straight forward when Amy is discussing her views on gun control.  This is done in lecture style writing.  In other parts of the book her style changes to a friendly banter between old friends; like when Amy is using abbreviations like J.K. for just kidding. The different writing style may bother certain readers, because it does not flow naturally from one topic to another.  However, the audio book read by the author does help this issue.

The pacing in the book has highs and lows. Some of the chapters about her family issues are slowed down to such a slow pace that it feels longer than it is.  Other times the pace is more upbeat, especially when recalling stories about good sexual experiences and fun outings with her sister.

This book does a great job of relaying to the reader how Amy feels about the different characters in the book.  She makes you feel sad for her broken relationship with her mother and angry at the boyfriend who physically abused her.


Publishers Weekly: “Her prose, like her popular comedy act, is plucky, forthright, hilariously raunchy—and honest.... Amid ill-fated dates, alcohol-induced blackouts, and late-night eating binges, Schumer, in these candid, well-crafted essays, wears her mistakes "like badges of honor."

Chicago Tribune: “What [Schumer] offers here is a better, more deeply felt life-so-far book than most I've read...Schumer weaves a brave, vulnerable tale without falling into the usual celebrity traps of neediness and defense.

Emily Yahr from the Washington Post writes: “This is not solely a breezy beach read. With little notice, the essays whiplash from hilarious to grim as Schumer lays bare some of the most traumatizing moments of her life.

Associated Press: “Readers will laugh and cry, and may put the book down from moments of honesty that result in uncomfortable realistic details from her life. More important, the essays challenge readers to harness their own stories and rest in the fact that they’re good enough. Experience the world. Be bold. Love your body. It’s OK to fail and make mistakes. And lower-back tattoos can only make you stronger.

Good Reads gives this book an overall rating of 3.38 out of 5 stars.

Kirkus Reviewer: “A hilarious and effective memoir from a woman with zero inhibitions.”


Yes Please by Amy Poehler. (2014).
Bossypants by Tina Fey. (2011).
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. (2011).
Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. (2007).
Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy by Ophira Eisenberg. (2013).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week Eleven Prompt: E-Books and Audio Books


Ebooks are growing in popularity. In 2011 E-book sales increased 117.3% (Copeland).  However, a report in the New York Times from 2015 states “E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers” (Alter, 2015).  So, does this mean that E-books have reached its peak and we will all go back to reading hard copies of the stories we love? Hardly.  According to a report from Fortune magazine the reason for the decline is that the AAP has tried for years to allow them to set process on E-books from vendors such as Apple and Amazon.  This has finally occurred and the higher prices has surprised consumers and resulted in less sales.  The article goes on to explain that independent E-book publisher sales continue to increase, because they did not participate with the AAP in price setting (Ingram, 2015).

Price is an important factor of E-book usage for students.  A college student can save a lot of money when they rent the book instead of buying it new or even used.  Modern software allows them to highlight passages and write notes.  However, this learning style does not work for everyone.  Some students find it easier to learn by making tabs and highlighting passages with notes in a physical book.  I like using a combination of E-books and physical books when doing my graduate work.  I sometimes get flustered with bouncing though several open tabs on my web browser and would rather use post-it notes as page indicators in hard copy books.  On the other hand I find it much easier with locating phrases, subjects, and terms in an E-book by doing a simple search. 

The other advantage of E-books is space.  I have a library at my house.  Roughly just over ½ of the books are mine with the rest being my wife’s books.  When she told me the other day that she was going to donated her James Patterson and Janet Evanovich books to the charity organization PAWS I offered to box up the books and take it to the store for her.  Is it because I am a good husband? Yes, and well…I want more space in our library for my books.  I love hard copy books.  I love the feel of the paper and seeing the left side of the book increase in size as I read.  It is like a self-accomplishment that I do not get from Ebooks.  I have several copies of Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol.  However, my worn out copy is still my go-to copy. On the right is a picture of my book.  It just feels right and I have so many memories reading from this particular copy.  The other reason I love hard copy books is the type of books I read.  In my library about ¾ of my books are art books.  I find that the images of the books look better in hard copy form than in electronic form.  Also, art books that I have used in the art studio as guides or examples are covered in paint and other art materials.  I feel that an art book with paint on it is a loved art book.  While I can zoom in on e-images online I still print up a copy to use in the art studio.  Then again, as I stated earlier the search functions on E-books makes locating artist or art work so much easier.

I also have about 13 full short boxes of comic books.  I much prefer reading graphic novels in hard copy form.  It is easier.  I do not like having to zoom in to read the text or move around the images to see all the pages in detail.  For me, this seriously takes away from the graphic novel experience.  However, big and little comic book publishers have been working on ways to bring the hard copy graphic novel feel to E-readers.  This does not mean that I do not read comics online.  Some comics are created to be read on line and are more sensitive to the E-reader format.  Comic Rocket is a free website that currently has over 40,000 different independent comics in a large amount of genres and sub genres for all different ages.  A majority of these books cannot be purchased in hard copy.  Currently, I am reading a funny series on their website called Menage a 3.  A quick summary of the story is having traits similar to a modern day version of the television  series Three’s Company, but with more adult content and nerd culture jokes.  Here is the URL for Comic Rocket https://www.comic-rocket.com/explore/ .

As for novels I like my E-reader over hard copies.  I have found that the ability to enlarge text, change font, back lit display, and how many books my Kindle holds to be a major advantage.  Caring multi-volumes of book in E-book form is so much easier and lighter in by backpack.  I also like to try free E-books from Amazon.

So, in the end I do believe that the physical aspects can affect how someone feels about reading hard copy versus E-version.  Beyond the physical advantages and disadvantages of each it seems more psychological to have likes and dislikes of the appeals based on the reading device.  The six elements of appeals found in books: pacing, storyline, characterization, frame/setting, tone/mood, and language/style should have the same affect on the reader, because the words have not changed.  However the psychology of experience, comfort, and familiarity does make a difference.  As stated earlier have several different copies of a Christmas Carol and have read them along with an online copy from Project Gutenberg.  However, my ragged old copy of the book just seems better, because of the memories and familiarity I have with it.             

Audio Books

I have on average a 45 minutes to 1 hour drive in one direction to work.  So, I love listening to audio books.  They are a great way to pass the time and catch up on some good reading (listening).  Also, with places like LibriVox, https://librivox.org/, and many Old Time Radio show (OTR) websites have free downloads of stories for free.

An advantage of audio books is that a person can listen to them on the go.  They are available in CD, audio cassette, and digital downloads.  However some people do not like this audio book format.  An example is my wife.  She has tried many times, but has a hard time concentrating on the stories when they are read to her.  She would much rather read the stories herself. 

There are different types of audio books when considering likes and dislikes.  The first are abridged versus unabridged audio books.  Some people like the story read word for word while others like a shorter condensed version that gets right to the heart of the story.  Another way top look at it is that some people like stories with a lot of descriptive language while others do not.

The next kind of audio book attribute to consider is who reads it.  A bad narrator can ruin a wonderful story.  However, what one person considers a bad reader may sound great to someone else.  The voice of the narrator is a personal preference.  When an author reads their book it can bring insights into the story that another narrator cannot.  The author has an intimate relationship with the story.  Their changes in tone of voice can add another layer to the audio book.

Another kind of audio books is one that has some sound effects and a few different readers.  These audio books can have music and a few sound effects to enhance the story.  It could have the same reader changes his voice to sound like two or more different people when reading the story.  Another option is to have more than one person reading different parts of the books.  Some people like this format and other people find it distracting to listen too.

My favorite form of audio book takes the story and re-writes it into a play.  These are often called full cast dramatizations.  I am a HUGE fan of Old Time Radio shows (OTR) from the late 1930 to the present day.  The golden age of radio shows is the 1940s to mid 1950s.  I have collected and researched OTR for several years.  I also have over a thousand OTR episodes on cassette tape and CD format.  It was common during the golden age of radio dramas to take popular books in the genres of mystery, science fiction, horror, comedy, drama, westerns etc. and turn them into radio programs.  These shows have full sound effects, music, and actors.  The advantage of these shows is that they are very elaborate.  However, the plays are only interpretations of the story and are often edited for time and to fit into the play format.  So, if someone likes their audio books immersive then this format is for them.  However, for someone who wants to listen to the story read to them then this format will not be what they are looking for.

The good news about OTR shows is that a majority of them are no longer in copyright and can be found Free online.  They still make new radio dramas today using modern technology for sound effects and editing.  Some of these are also available or free online.  On a side note, I have written and directed several live radio plays in the style of the OTR years.    

Cited  Sources

Alter, A. (2015). The plot twist: E-book sales slip, and print is far from dead.  New York Times.  Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/media/the-plot-twist-e-book-sales-slip-and-print-is-far-from-dead.html?referrer=&_r=1

Ingram, M. (2015). No, e-book sales are not falling, despite what publishers say.  Time Inc. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2015/09/24/ebook-sales/

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Club Experience

Book Club Experience

Data Overview
Date: February 13, 2017

Time: 1:00pm-2:30pm.
Place: Library Meeting Room.
Book: Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne. 
Facilitator: The books are decided a few months ahead of time.  The facilitator of the month picks the book to read.  Each month is a different facilitator.  The order of facilitators is chosen by people volunteering for certain months.  The same person cannot be facilitator two months in a row. The role of facilitator is optional and is not required to be a member of the book club.    
Number of Attendees: 14 plus me.
Gender: All female, except for me.  There are 2 more regular members who could not make it and they are also female.
Estimated age range: mid-40s to mid-60s.
Format: The group used 7 hard copies and 7 e-readers.

Before the meeting I was given a copy of the book club’s rules:
“The Facilitator’s Role:
 -is expected to bring in several leading questions to stimulate a discussion
-may supply information about the subject matter or author before the discussion begins
-No one HAS to be facilitator if she is uncomfortable in the role.
-are expected to bring 1-2 reactions/questions and/or talking points about what they read.
The Hostess:
-will provide an easy snack.
Meeting time:
-2nd Monday of each month.”

Before the book club meeting I contacted the leader of the adult book club at the library.  For the sake of this paper let’s call her Katy.  Katy works the circulation desk at the library where the book club is held.  She took over as the head of the book club when the previous book club head, Barbara, retired from the library last December.  However, Barbara still attends the book club as an active member.  Barbara also belongs to other book clubs.  Katy gave me  the previously mentioned book club's rules.  I asked her a few questions in order to get a feel for the normal operations of the book club.  These questions are covered above in the Data Overview section.  An issue that Katy and before her Barbara  have come up with is finding available popular titles that are the current rage. When a book is turned into a movie or has been mentioned a lot in social media it peaks the interest of readers. This makes getting multiple copies of the book harder through inter-library loan.  While there are some book club editions available these are often requested by multiple books clubs around the same time.

Another issue the book club faces are those members who want to purchase the book as digital download.  Even though the book club members are able to get a hard copy from inter-library loan some people would prefer to download it to their e-reader.  If the book is newer it may cost more to download and this has caused the group to change book titles until the cost of the book goes down.   

Book Club 
When I arrived to the library’s meeting room 12 ladies were already there socially talking and eating.  They were discussing their husbands, children, grandchildren, television shows, and other topical subjects. The atmosphere in the room was very jovial and light.  It felt like these people are old friends who are catching up with each other.   
Even though it is the job the current month’s hostess to supply food other members brought additional food and desserts for the group.  The food included cookies, cakes, brownies, and veggie tray with dip.  There were also a few two liters of different kinds of pop and coffee.  Small paper plates, napkins, and plastic forks were provided.  

As I sat down someone said “hey we have to behave the observer is here.”  In return another lady said “this is us behaving.”  A big laugh was had by all in the room.  A couple minutes later two more people came in and the book club started.  I was asked by Katy to introduce myself which I did.  I explained that I am just observing for my MLS class and asked them to pretend that I am not even in the room and act normally.   Someone chimed in by saying “this is us acting normal and if you had not noticed you stick out like a sore thumb.  You are the first male we have had at our book club in a very long time,” and again more laughter.  I felt that they the group is really friendly and comfortable with each other.   In fact, some of the ladies are in different books clubs together.

The month’s facilitator, Leah, told the group that it is time to start and began with a simple open ended question.  Throughout the book club discussion there were not any simple yes or no questions.  Leah asked, “What did you all think of this book?”  This lead to several people taking turns expressing their overall general opinions of the story.  After this Leah asked about the personalities of certain characters in the book starting with her own interpretations.  After that others joined in with agreeing and disagreeing with each other.  Even when people disagreed with each other there was mutual respect. From here the conversations was aimed about different situations in the book.  This is where the tone in the room changed; it become more somber and very serious.  The ladies began talking about their personal view points about murder and if someone should be allowed to use insanity or post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) as an excuse.  This was a drastic change in the aura surrounding the room.  They started giving examples of murders they read in the newspapers or saw on the television news. Then they started discussing if anyone of them knew anyone who committed murder.  This being a small town the discussion of actual names of local families involved in murders were discussed.   There were several small conversations going on at the same time.     

The topic of murder, law, and personal experiences went on for about 15 minutes until Katy encouraged Leah to draw the group back together and asked if they wanted to know the psychology explanations for PSTD.  The group agreed as Katy opened the book DSM-5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  After Katy finished reading a few passages from the book Leah urged the group to go back to discussing the different scenes and character relationships from the book. At this point the somber atmosphere returned to being more cheerful and chipper.  This continued until the end of the book club. 

At the very end I was asked to take a couple of pictures of the group.  I happily agreed and took a few photographs of the group.

Personal Observations:
I found the overall experience of this book club enjoyable.  The group works well together and seems to really enjoy discussing books.  However, I also feel that the book club comes together to be social and just catch up with each other. In short, the book club is the reason they come together, but the social interaction is why they stay.

I have helped Leah many times at the reference desk.  She is shy, soft spoken, and awkward around other people.  This shown through as her role as facilitator in the book club.  A couple of times I saw Katy nudge her and motion for her to wrap up a discussion topic or to start a new topic.  Leah told me after the book club that she was nervous, because this was her first time as a facilitator.

I have worked with Katy before.  She is ultra conservative and has very strong viewpoints.  However, when talking to her about book titles that the group has chosen in the past her response surprised me.  Katy said that the group has chosen a large variety of topics, such as historical fiction, horror, comedy, romance, mystery, and more.  She admitted that she likes to read things outside of her normal reading area.  This totally surprised me, because Katy has tried to get books banned from the library that she feels goes against her family values.  She freely has admitted in the past of judging a book by its cover instead of actually reading it, however during the book club she was open to discussing ideas different from her own without judgement.

I was also surprised how personal the conversations were about the topic of murder.  Some book club members felt strongly for or against mental disorders and capital punishment.  This seems like a touchy subject to me.  However, this could also be a good sign about how close the book club members are with each other.