Archive for January, 2011
Selling used books to BookJingle is so easy, the only task that’s required of you is to ship your books to us. Since BookJingle always pays the shipping cost, this is super easy, too. Here’s what to do:
1. Print BookJingle’s free shipping label.
2. Pack your books into a sturdy cardboard box. If you’re shipping fewer than 3 books, a bubble mailer might be sufficient, but if you have more than 3 books, a cardboard box is the way to go. This way, your books will be protected and arrive at BookJingle in the same condition as they were when you had them. The condition of the books can affect their value, so make sure to do a good job packing the books. Use a corrugated cardboard box, not a single-layer box such as a cereal box or shoebox. A copier paper box is a good example of a sturdy box that will protect your books.
3. Use packing material such as crumpled newspaper or plastic grocery bags to cushion your books so that they will not shift during shipment. It is very important to be sure the books will not move around within the package.
4. Affix the BookJingle shipping label, and your package is ready to go!
Sell used books for cash to BookJingle!
All parents want their children to succeed in school, and becoming a good reader is a vital part of academic success (and, I might add, success in life). What makes a good reader? A good reader must possess more than just the ability to read; a good reader must be a fast reader, a comprehending reader, and an avid reader. There are many ways a parent can encourage a child’s reading proficiency. I believe the best way is to encourage a child to develop a reading habit. Here’s how:
- Make reading to your child or reading with your child part of your daily routine. Whether it’s in the morning, at bedtime, or sometime in between, reading time has to be part of the daily schedule or it just won’t get done. Some families like to read while dinner is cooking, or after dinner. Many families prefer bedtime. Since my children are homeschooled, we have two thirty-minute reading times each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. A child who can read well can read aloud while the parent cooks dinner, folds laundry, etc.
- Keep it fun. There’s no need to read to your child for more than 15 minutes at a time unless your child enjoys it and you have the time to spare. Sit in a comfortable place to read. Sometimes providing a small snack during reading time can help to keep the child engaged (and in the case of my two-year-old, sitting down in one place).
- Always carry a book. A fun story or picture book can keep your child occupied while waiting at the doctor’s office, in line at the bank or post office, or even while you do the grocery shopping (if the child is small enough to ride in the cart).
- Turn off the television and computer. It is nearly impossible for most children to concentrate on a book when the TV is on. If you choose to have music playing, keep it soft in volume. Instrumental music is less distracting than other kinds.
- Make regular trips to the library and used book store. Let your child choose books from age and reading level-appropriate sections. Children aged six and above may be responsible enough to have their own library card. All children should have a special library tote for carrying their own books.
- Let your child see you read. Even if it’s only on weekends, seeing a parent who enjoys reading will encourage a child to take an interest in books.
Give reading a place of importance in your home and before you know it, your child will be reading with ease and enjoyment.
I’m a little overwhelmed right now. See, I thought it might be fun to check out some recommended reading lists in search of some new reading material, so I did a search on the internet. In doing so, I came across something that truly astounded me: a list of 1,001 books you must read before you die (or so claims the list-maker). Now, I must confess, when I first saw this, my brain had a little blip and read it as 101 books you must read before you die. Cool, thought I, this is just what I’m looking for, and I clicked on the link. After a few minutes of scrolling down the screen and thinking, good grief, where’s the 101 books, I realized my mistake. 1,001 books! I eventually got too bored to even scroll down the entire list. It consisted of pages and pages and pages of book titles, many of which I had never even seen before.
This experience has me thinking, is it possible to read 1,001 books in a lifetime? How many books have I read in my life, not counting children’s books? 1,001 seems astronomically high when it comes to the kind of lengthy books I usually read, but is it really unrealistic? This requires some simple math. If I read an average of 3 books a month (much higher some months, maybe lower some months), that equals 36 books a year. The current life expectancy for a U.S. citizen is 78; subtracting 15 years to cover my childhood, that leaves 63 years for me to possess adult reading proficiency (assuming I don’t end up with dementia). The grand total of books I will have read: 2,268 books! Wow. And that figure doesn’t even account for the enormous number of books I read in college or the books I read to my children. That is a lot of books.
So I guess the 1,001 books-before-you-die people are really onto something. Not only do I have time to read 1,001 books, I probably have already read that many (and more) in my lifetime. Whether the books on their list have any value, I cannot attest to, but I definitely plan to check it out. I’ve probably got a few decades left and I want to put them to good use.
If I had to compile a list of my top five favorite books, I think it would take me the rest of my life to look back over what I’ve read, weigh the pros and cons of each book, and decide which ones provided me the most reading enjoyment. Luckily, no one has asked me to select my top five favorites, so instead, I am going to tell you a little bit about five of my favorite books, five books that have been on my mind lately, five books that are, in my opinion, unforgettable.
1. Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen.
This long, elaborate piece of historical fiction draws you in right at the beginning. The tale of early 1700s England mixes innocence, romance, greed, corruption, lust and longing, and follows a young noblewoman through a heartbreaking descent from naivete to disillusionment. Reading this book is like savoring a box of very good chocolates. You feel indulgent, a little bit guilty, and totally satisfied.
2. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts.
You probably saw the movie starring Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman, but if you haven’t read the book, you’re totally missing out. Like the best films, this one began as a novel and was made into a movie script. I enjoyed the movie, but it is only an appetizer compared to the novel, which is a full course meal. The book’s heroine, Novalee Nation, makes a secret home inside an Oklahoma Walmart store and gives birth to her daughter there. You seldom find such well-written prose paired with a unique and fascinating story.
3. Terror by Dan Simmons.
The title of this book might be a little misleading: it’s not a horror novel. It is a fictionalized story of the real-life 19th century Franklin expedition; Terror is the name of one of the Arctic expedition’s two ships. Although this is not a horror novel, it is chilling in every way. Read this story in the heat of summer and you will keep cool vicariously, I promise you. I have never felt so cold just from reading a book. This story gets under your skin!
4. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb.
I’ve re-read this book three times in the last five years. This gripping story of identical twin brothers, one of whom is schizophrenic, branches out in so many directions and covers so much emotional territory. Normally, I do not like to read really sad stories, those “true life” stories that are too dark and depressing. In some ways, this book could fall into that category, but Lamb’s writing is so masterful, and the story’s rays of sunshine are so perfectly timed, that I consider this book to transcend its category.
5. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King.
Okay, I’m cheating here. Yes, this is a series of novels, seven to be exact. But since these are among the best books I’ve ever read, and since you cannot read them independently, I have to list them together. Roland Deschain, the ideal hero, embarks upon a journey that is out of this world. Literally. These books have everything and would be hard to classify as science fiction, horror, comedy, adventure, or anything else. This series is the pinnacle of King’s career.
The influential 19th century English poet, Lord Byron, aka George Gordon, is considered to be the prototype of literary Romanticism. In honor of his birthday, January 22, 1788, let’s take a brief look at the life and work of this legendary man.
Any English geek is well-acquainted with Lord Byron, whose poetry was very highly rated to his contemporary audience. In fact, Byron was so famous and sought-after that his wife, Annabella, coined the term “Byromania” to describe the frenzy surrounding him. After his death, artistic opinion turned against Byron, and he is commonly ranked as the least consequential of the great Romantic poets. Even so, his works, notably Don Juan, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and poems such as “She Walks in Beauty” are read by all students of English literature, and Byron remains one of the most widely read English poets.
Poetry alone would not be sufficient fuel for the wild, rock-star like fame that was Byron’s. Indeed, Byron was well-known for his melancholic, eccentric, and controversial character, as well as for a series of illicit romantic affairs. While living in Venice in the fall of 1817, Byron claimed to have been involved in a chain of frenzied love affairs with more than two hundred women. Eventually bored by his promiscuous lifestyle and the fame that he had previously welcomed, Byron retreated from public life, spending the last eight years of his life away from England and out of the public eye.
Let us conclude with my favorite Byron poem. Yeah, it’s pretty sentimental. Sometimes we all need a little romanticism.
“When we two parted”
When we two parted
In silence and tears,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.
The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow –
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.
They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me –
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well: —
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.
In secret we met –
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee!—
With silence and tears.
You probably know that you need a book’s ISBN in order to get your quote and sell used books to BookJingle. But what, you might wonder, is an ISBN?
The ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, was developed by the International Organization for Standardization in the 1970s. All published books are assigned an ISBN, although privately printed books may not have one. Until 2007, all ISBNs were 10 digits; books published in 2007 and later have 13-digit ISBNs. A new ISBN is assigned to each edition and variation of a book (except for reprintings).
The purpose of the ISBN is simply identification, a kind of serial number for each book. The ISBN digits can be analyzed by what they identify. The first three digits (for 13-digit ISBNs) are the same for all books, 978, denoting book publishing. The subsequent numbers indicate the group identifier (basically, the language or country for which the book was written), publisher code, item number (meaning the book’s title), and a check digit (this one is complicated, but it’s basically there to detect errors in the other digits).
So, now that we know what an ISBN is, let’s cover where it is. The ISBN can be located in a few different places. Normally, the ISBN is located on the back of the book, on or near the barcode. It is the 10 or 13-digit number that follows the word “ISBN.” On some books, it is found on the inside of the dust jacket. Almost all books have the ISBN on the copyright page.
BookJingle uses the ISBN in order to provide an instant quote for buying used books. Just enter the ISBNs for the books you want to sell, and BookJingle instantly lets you know how much money your books are worth. Selling used books has never been so easy. Thank you, International Organization for Standardization!
Well, that just about covers everything the average person would need to know about an ISBN. So, grab your used books to sell, find those ISBNs and plug them in at www.bookjingle.com.
In My Opinion
A Book Review of Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson
My only son is still an infant, so we have a long way to go and many obstacles ahead in raising him. I have a feeling I will be re-reading Bringing Up Boys many times during that process. I really like and highly recommend this book to parents striving to raise a boy to be a godly man.
Bringing Up Boys, first published in 2001, is certainly not low in controversial content. Like all of Dobson’s books, it is written from a conservative Christian perspective, and Dobson does not mince around the issues. He takes a firm stand on gender, childrearing, and social questions. This is not a book that would appeal to mainstream America. Some of the subjects tackled include biological (hormonal, neurological, and physical) differences between boys and girls, the importance of fathers in the raising of boys, advice for mothers, family dynamics and their impact on a growing boy (including divorce, remarriage, two-career families, and emotionally distant fathers), advice for single parents, the education of boys, and disciplining boys.
Dobson’s explanation of his reasons for writing the book is sobering. According to Dobson, boys are in serious trouble today, particularly when contrasted with girls. Just watch the evening news. “Boys, when compared to girls, are six times more likely to have learning disabilities, three times more likely to be registered drug addicts, and four times more likely to be diagnosed as emotionally disturbed. They are at greater risk for schizophrenia, autism, sexual addiction, alcoholism, bed wetting, and all forms of antisocial and criminal behavior. They are twelve times more likely to murder someone, and their rate of death in car accidents is greater by 50 percent. Seventy-seven percent of delinquency-related court cases involve males.” Dobson also relates that boys are more likely to commit suicide and to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Boys also are suffering in school, receiving lower grades than girls, and the number of men in college and graduate school is dropping every year. These and other troubling facts are the basis for Dobson’s claim that today’s boys are in a crisis, and he traces the issues to their roots within the family and the poisonous atmosphere of modern culture.
Reading those sections of the book puts a chill in a parent’s heart, but fortunately, Dobson comes through with many practical suggestions, remedies, and guidelines for parents to counteract these negative forces. As always, Dobson’s advice is directly rooted in scripture. This is why I value Bringing Up Boys and its counterpart, Bringing Up Girls, so much. These books are easy to read, peppered with colorful real-life illustrations, and clearly outlined by topic. I see them as a Christian parent’s how-to manual for raising healthy, adjusted, Christ-centered children.
A lot has been said on this subject; in fact, entire books have been devoted to it. There seems to be a substantial feeling in the Christian community of negativity towards the Harry Potter books because of the use of magic and the terms “wizard” and “witch” contained therein. I have already revealed that I am a Harry Potter fan and an advocate of allowing children to read the books. Now I will reveal the reasons why, as a born-again Christian with a generally counter-culture perspective, I believe Harry Potter is okay for Christians.
- The inclusion of magic in a work of fiction does not automatically imply Satanic forces, nor is it the same as contemporary witchcraft as practiced by the Wiccan religious movement. In a literary context, magic is used creatively, to stimulate the imagination of the reader, and to create a fantasy. The characters in the Harry Potter books are not Wiccan, nor Satan worshippers. In fact, religion is conspicuously absent from the books. They do have, however, a strong sense of morality, which I will discuss below.
- There is a tradition of magic in literature, especially children’s literature, which has always been considered innocuous. Examples of classic books containing magic are numerous, including The Wizard of Oz books, The Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. All of these examples feature characters who use magic for good purposes, and characters who use it for evil. This leads me to my next point…
- The Harry Potter books have a strong dichotomy between the forces of good and evil which supplies a moral center for the stories and is beneficial to children. The stories have an obvious villain, Voldemort, and other characters who choose to follow him and walk the evil path. The stories also have good characters who serve as a moral compass to the youths in the story: Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, to name a few, are adult characters who use magic responsibly and stand for what is right and true. In a culture that hesitates to label anything as right and wrong, I find this contrast quite refreshing. This leads me to my next point…
- Christian parents can easily use the battle between the books’ good and evil forces as a springboard for discussions about real-life issues. Voldemort and his followers are an easy metaphor for Satan and for sinful decisions (although I don’t believe this was at all the author’s intention), and a young person reading the books may develop a lot of questions about evil in our world. In fact, this is precisely the journey young Harry makes in the books, as he must decide what he believes is right, what kind of person he endeavors to be, and which side he will serve. Harry makes some mistakes along the way, and the consequences of these mistakes provide great opportunities for discussion between parents and children. Ultimately, Harry demonstrates what it means to sacrifice for one’s beliefs.
- Nowhere in the books is magic presented as something that readers should attempt to imitate, practice or learn. In fact, it is very clear that all readers would be classified as “Muggles,” or non-magic people, within the world of Harry Potter, and would be completely unable to perform magic. I cannot imagine a child reading a Harry Potter book and using it as the basis to learn about witchcraft or Wicca in the real world.
I could probably go on, but I will let these points suffice. Obviously, I am very pro-Harry Potter, but even so, I would always urge parents to do one simple thing before allowing a child to read any book: read it yourself first! Children can learn an infinite number of things from reading, but there are many books out there that are inappropriate, dirty, trashy, or just worthless. Help your child find good reading material by taking an active role in his or her reading choices. It will also give you something to talk to your child about, and that is always valuable.
I read a lot of books, but I would be hard-pressed to name any book, single or series, that I’ve enjoyed more in the last decade or so than the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Sometimes when a book explodes into a giant commercial franchise, as the Potter books have done, I fear that many people are turned off by all the hype and reject the book merely on principle. If this has happened with Potter, it is terribly sad, because I am convinced that these books are instant classics, a rare breed of book that appeals equally to children and adults, and the books are here to stay.
In no particular order, here are my thoughts about why the Harry Potter books are an essential part of the contemporary literary canon, and also some ideas for introducing them to children:
- The books have adventure. From breath-taking Quidditch matches to secret deeds and battles fought on the grounds of the wizard school, Hogwarts, these stories are absolutely packed with action. Some children (boys in particular) have a hard time sitting still to read or be read to, but I guarantee that even the most boisterous child will become engrossed by all the adventure found in the Potter books.
- The books are comforting and rich in detail. Rowling provides descriptions of food, clothing, smells, and the general appearance of things, helping a reader create the wizard world entirely in one’s mind. One of my favorite parts of the books is that no matter how tired, wet, muddy, or frustrated Harry becomes, he can always go to the Hogwarts dining hall for a hot shepherd’s pie or something along those lines.
- The characters are memorable and irresistible. There’s no way you’ll be getting names mixed up and having to backtrack several pages to remember who is who. Rowling’s characters are distinct and incredibly real.
- The books are about magic, and best of all, about an ordinary boy who discovers that he can do magic. This is an ultimate childhood fantasy, and even for an adult, it is so satisfying to live vicariously in a magical world, even if it is only in a book.
- The stories progress in maturity. Harry started at Hogwarts as an 11 year old boy, and the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, shows him at an age-appropriate level. Although it is subtle at first, each book becomes more complex in plot, more involved in frightening storylines, and (obviously) longer. The first book is 309 pages, while the last book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) is 759 pages.
- There are seven books in the series, one for each year of Harry’s education at Hogwarts. This arrangement (and the progression of maturity explained above) creates a perfect set-up for introducing the books to children. Parents who fear that the violent, darkly-themed conflicts of the later books would be inappropriate for their young readers could allow their child to read one Potter book per year of school, probably starting around 9 or 10 years of age. Once the child reaches a suitable age of maturity, say 14 years, this restriction could be lifted and the child could finish the entire series.
- Harry is an ideal hero for the modern child. Far from perfect, he is nonetheless indelibly likeable and I can’t imagine a reader who would fail to bond with him on some level. Rowling allowed Harry to make mistakes and to suffer their consequences, and this is an important element of children’s literature that can have real-life applications for young readers.
- These are the perfect books to read aloud to a child. Perfect. The chapters are short enough to cover one or two at a sitting.
Well, I think I’ve said enough on this subject for one day. I could go on and on. I’m a Potter fan, and you can bet that my kids will be someday, too.
I’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss books lately. I’m sure most parents have been here in Seussville before, where you find yourself muttering “I do not like them, Sam I am / I do not like green eggs and ham” as you go about your daily routine. I cut my baby teeth on a hardcover copy of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, and when my first child was born, we purchased about half a dozen of the most well-known Seuss titles. But I am just beginning to realize the incredible size of the entire Seuss body of work. I thought we had read most of the Seuss books, but then I found several more at the library, and then several more on a return trip, and then yet more on our next trip. I decided to find out once and for all how many books were authored by Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Geisel, aka Theo LeSieg.
The answer is more than 60 published books for children. The exact total depends on how you count them: some of the books were published as Dr. Seuss, some as Theo LeSieg, some illustrated by Geisel and some illustrated by others. More than 60 books! My family has barely made a dent in the collected works. This is really good news for us because we love the Seuss books. I like them because they are fun to read aloud, they are quick to read (this in spite of the high number of pages in books such as Green Eggs and Ham), they are humorous, and there is something very classic about these children’s stories. Perhaps because they were read to me as a child, I feel like I’m passing something valuable and enjoyable along to my children when we read them. My kids like the Seuss books because of the crazy, funny illustrations, the repetitive and often-rhyming text is easy to follow, and they have the Seuss magic. The simplicity of the words and the repetition allows for young readers to handle the text, and the books are so much more fun to read than many other “early reader” books.
So, Seuss it up! I have only read about a dozen of the 60 books in the Seuss body of work. I’m setting a goal to read the rest by the end of 2011. I bet your New Year’s resolution isn’t as much fun as mine. And though I’ll be chanting Green Eggs and Ham in my sleep, it’s really melodious and rather soothing. In a culture where Bratz and Hannah Montana dominate, I’ll take Dr. Seuss anyday.