Arcade, Well-Played

Today’s post is a guest essay from Megana children’s library assistant at the East Liberty branch. You can learn more about her, and the other Eleventh Stack contributors, on the About Us page. Enjoy!

It’s never too late to pick up a good book, but now is a perfect time to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, if you haven’t already. Naturally, you can get it from the library.

If you grew up in the 80s, love video games, pop culture, Dungeons and Dragons, or just enjoy unique stories full of awesome puzzles and clues, you’ll probably devour this book. I know I did.

The story is set in a bleak future where most people’s only escape is a virtual reality universe called the OASIS. It brings together the world wide web, games, shopping and entertainment. Thousands of places from movies, games and TV are re-created and ready to explore. Many people even work or attend school in the virtual world.

When James Halliday, the ridiculously wealthy creator of the OASIS, dies, he leaves his fortune to whoever can find an “Easter egg” he hid somewhere in the online universe. Of course a lot of people want to find it, including a corporation that hopes to take over the OASIS and commercialize it, charging a fee for access.

The story is told by a dedicated “egg hunter” named Wade, who lives in his aunt’s trailer with 14 other people. The money would change his life, but it’s just as important to him that the OASIS not fall into the hands of a company that would monetize it, cutting off millions who can’t afford to pay.

Finding the egg will require not only cleverness, but a deep knowledge of 80s culture and games. Halliday was a teen in the 80s, and he made it clear that sharing his obsessions is the only way to win. Wade spends all of his free time studying these subjects. We readers can enjoy the book without that level of dedication, but the more references you get, the more fun it is.

It's kind of like that. Photo taken from The Dragon's Lair Project - click through to visit site.

It’s kind of like that. Photo taken from The Dragon’s Lair Project – click through to visit site.

Read it before the movie gets made. Before the sequel comes out. Bonus points if you read it before Cline’s next book, Armada, is released this summer.

What can you do to maximize your enjoyment? I don’t want to spoil anything, but you may want to brush up on your arcade and Atari games, 80s shows, movies and music. Thankfully, the library has you covered!

Read about 80s music

Listen to 80s songs

Read about arcade games

Or browse the catalog for the album, movie or show of your choice. We’ll hook you up. The rest is up to you. Are you ready?

Tell us in the comments if you’ve already read it, or report back once you do. We’d love to hear your opinion, but no spoilers please.

–Megan

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Action, Adventure, Monsters! or Some Comics I Want to Read

Since mid-December, I’ve been neck-deep in the process of buying a house and then renovating it. This has severely cut into my comic book reading time.

To keep me from going insane with all the (hopefully) good books I’m missing, I’ve compiled a want-to-read list.

Fables Volume 20: Camelot by Bill Willingham and various wonderful artists
fablesFables starts out with showing how fairy tale characters have adapted to life in present-day New York City, but has morphed into something much deeper and more epic over the ten-plus years of its run. The past few volumes have been beautifully devastating, so I’m both excited and scared to find out what happens next.

Fatale Volume 5 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
fatale5I’ll read anything by Ed Brubaker. He does crime noir so well, it’s like he invented it. This particular series mixes the femme fatale and horror genres to create a dark, twisted mystery.

 
 
 

Ms. Marvel Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson

msmarvel1When Marvel announced the new Ms. Marvel would be a shape-shifting Iranian immigrant Muslim lady, and that it would be written by a real live Muslim woman, I was psyched. Sales for this have been going steady, so I’m thinking it’s going to be even more awesome than the concept alone implies. I suggest following author G. Willow Wilson on Twitter–she posts interesting tweets about religion, social justice, and of course, comics.

Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and various artists
ratqueensLike a Dungeons and Dragons quest, only with ladies kicking butt. Need I say more?

 
 
 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

-Kelly

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Little Golden Memories

The acts of reading, and being read to, hold a cherished place in many people’s hearts. Today at Eleventh Stack, the blog team shares some of their earliest memories of reading, being read to, and–in some cases–reading to their own children.

Ginny

George and Martha Tons of Fun

My first memory of having a favorite author whose name and work I knew well is definitely James Marshall. I was a huge fan of the George and Martha series, which chronicles the adventures of two doofus hippopotamus friends, and The Stupids, which chronicles the adventures of an entire doofus family. (The Stupids books were written by Harry Allard, of Miss Nelson fame, but were illustrated by James Marshall).  These extremely silly books and their simple, child-like illustrations captured my imagination and were a big part of why I started writing my own picture books (My mom still has a copy of my opus, Can You Find the Turkey?, if you’re interested).

Jess

20150317_193545

’80s vintage.

When this topic was proposed, I immediately thought “Little Golden Books!” Sadly, the two titles that I remember best are not in our catalog. First, The Sesame Street Together Book – where the gang helps each other on their endeavors, from a finding a straw for drinking a milkshake to a providing a sled for sliding down a hill (I re-read it with my nephew recently – he loved guessing what the characters needed!). Second, The New Baby – all about, you guessed it, a new baby in the house. My sister showed up 28 years ago this month (Happy birthday, pal!), so three-year-old me got a lot of mileage out that one.

We now have Diane Muldrow’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book to relive those Color Kitten-shaded memories. As the editor for Little Golden Books, she knows what’s up (her 2013 essay is also a great read).

Kayla

The first book that I remember reading was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This book will always have a special place in my heart. I remember reading it in school and I loved it. The experience combined two of my favorite things: reading and food. I always loved the illustrations in the book. They were so colorful and cool. Every time I see the book; it makes me smile. I think that every child should read this book and maybe get a snack afterwards because they might be hungry after reading it.

Ross

I decided to pose this question to my coworkers and here’s what they had to say:

“I remember my grandmother reading to me every night Dr. Seuss books, specifically Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.” – Laura

“I can’t recall the very first book I ever read, but I do remember when I first started visiting our school library in second or third grade. There was this series of books called Childhood of Famous Americans.  Reading about what it was like to grow up during an earlier era was so fascinating to me. One title that I remember to this day was Dolly Madison Quaker Girl.” – Marian

“As a child my first books that I remember reading were the Dick and Jane books also the Spot books and Puff the Kitten.  I enjoyed them and would read them over and over again.  So I decided to check our catalogue and found them in the library.  Some of the titles were Dick and Jane Away We Go, Dick and Jane Play Ball and I also found one Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends.  It brought back to me memories of my childhood days.” – Michele

monsterAs for me, books were an integral part of my early development. I remember watching Reading Rainbow as a child and writing down the titles that I thought were interesting and going to the library once a week to get them (all right, so I didn’t write them down, my mother did. Thanks, mom). Some of those titles were Arrow to the Sun and Anansi the Spider. At Christmastime, I remember my mother reading me a lot of Hans Christian Andersen, heartbreaking beautiful tales like The Fir Tree and The Little Match GirlI think my actual first book memory is probably The Monster at the End of This Book. I remember my mother reading it in a pretty spot-on Grover impression. I checked the book out recently and read it to my mother while we were sitting in traffic, using my own “Grover voice”. It was a nice moment.

Kira

This probably isn’t the very first book I ever read, but my earliest reading memory is my mom reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to my brothers and me before bed. I think at that point all three of us could read, but sometimes she read to us anyway. Unfortunately, Mom’s tendency to fall asleep on the couch meant we weren’t getting through the story as fast as I wanted. One night she fell asleep in the middle of a chapter so I picked up the book and kept reading on my own.

The next night when Mom asked where we left off, I said “Edmund let Lucy down!” Apparently I had gotten to the part where Edmund denies having been to Narnia so no one will believe Lucy. Since no one else had read that far, my first reading memory is also my first memory of “spoiling part of a book for someone who hasn’t read it yet”. Oops.

Melissa F.

C is for CupcakeMy love affair with books started with Eddie.

And Betsy.

And Billy, and Taffy and Melissa Molasses, and Star and Cupcake.

And their creator, Philadelphia author Carolyn Haywood (1898-1990) who wrote and illustrated 47 books for children. Among them were B is For Betsy; Here Comes the Bus!; C is For Cupcake and Away With the Balloons. My favorite was Taffy and Melissa Molasses, a book that my mother eagerly pulled off the shelf of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Fox Chase branch because in 1975, Melissa wasn’t a common name – much less one seen in print – and a character with my own name IN A LIBRARY BOOK was A Very Big Deal.(So big of a deal that I would write my first-ever fan letter to Carolyn Haywood when I was six years old. All these years later, Carolyn Haywood’s genuine letter in response is still something I treasure).

Betsy and Billy and Eddie’s stories were my stories; they had the same problems (being nervous about the first day school, dealing with a younger sibling) as I did.  Carolyn Haywood’s books were special. I couldn’t wait to read them and I checked out every single one, over and over again. On tiptoe, I stretched and placed them, as if precious diamonds, ever so carefully on the library’s circulation desk. The due date was stamped in the back, and Betsy and Billy and Eddie and Melissa and I were ready for all kinds of fun … if only for a brief time.

Joelle

Enjoying her first favorite book - photo by Joelle

A picture is worth a thousand words: my daughter enjoying her first favorite book

suzy

Go Dog Go graphicIt is hard for me to choose one memory as my “first” book memory. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love reading. I remember the first time I heard The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (my 3rd grade teacher read it to my class.) I remember the first time I read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. It was the also the first (but not last) time I read a book in one day! I loved Cinderella and weirdly, Rumpelstiltskin.

However, hands down, no question about it, the book that still makes my heart smile, is Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman. I actually already wrote about it once on here. If you think his illustrations are distinctly Dr. Seuss, you would be correct: Eastman was a protégé and colleague of Theodor Geisel. It isn’t heavy on plot: a bunch of dogs zooming around on bikes and in cars and wearing funny hats. (Or from Wikipedia: “The book describes the actions and interactions of a group of highly mobile dogs, who operate cars and other conveyances.”) I adored the scene with the dogs partying in the tree and I’m still pretty sure I’ll get invited to a dog tree party someday.

I also really think the dog in the car illustration would make an excellent tattoo!

Leigh Anne

I don’t remember my first book, but I do remember the first book I got in trouble for reading. I was in first grade, and we were droning on through Dick and Jane, and it was a huge snore. So I brought Charlotte’s Web to school, hid it in my textbook, and read it during silent reading period.

When I finally got caught, my teacher said, “You can’t possibly be reading that.” When I protested, she made me stand up in front of the class and read out loud. I think she thought she was going to shame me or something; you should have seen the look on her face when I launched into my reading, using different voices for each character. My school life–and reading life–got considerably interesting after that. Thanks, Charlotte, for rescuing me from literary purgatory, and starting me on a lifelong path of public mischief.

Richardengine

The first book where I remember the story and internalized the message is Watty Piper’s (aka Arnold Munk, the book’s publisher) The Little Engine that Could. Let’s face it, it has all the essential factors to be great literature; an absorbing plot, trains, toys, the outdoors, angst juxtaposed with optimism, and perseverance.  At every reading I was on that train, wondering if the little blue engine would succeed again. At that age, you take nothing for granted, even the ending of a book. I’m happy to say that it’s still available in stores and at the library.

Sheila

The first book I remember choosing to read on my own was from old Woods Run branch on Brighton Road the summer after I finished 1st grade. It was a biography of Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret as children – sorry I can’t recall the title. The royal sisters had a life-sized playhouse and a bunch of dogs I think at Windsor Castle. I talked about that playhouse for weeks.

Then one day, later that that summer of 1957, my mother told me she had a surprise for me that night. I was so sure I was going to get a real playhouse of my own for our back yard. I can remember the anticipation, waiting for daddy to come home, thinking he’d have it! Boy was I ever disappointed when instead, the surprise was that Debbie Reynolds was going to be on the Eddie Fisher TV Show that night to sing the theme song from her movie Tammy.

Megan

I remember many books in my early life, but I don’t know which came first. I do remember one in particular that I returned to over and over: a nonfiction book about space. The title and author elude me now, but I pored through that book, obsessing over the names of moons. My parents gave me a poster of Saturn with all of its satellites labeled. My mother bought styrofoam balls and paint, and together we made a mobile of the solar system. I’m sure she did most of the work. When I added a cloud to Earth, I obliterated Australia.

 *****

Your turn, constant readers: do you remember the first book you read? The first book somebody read to you? Any other memorable “first” attached to books or reading? Tell us your story in the comments section!

 

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Most Likely To…

As an institution serving a wide range of people, neighborhoods, and interests, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is lucky to have the support of a diverse group of community members and organizations alike. Some of these supporters are nominated by library staff (or other advocates!) to receive our annual Community Advocate Award. We wish we could give each and every nominee an award, but because there can only be one, we decided to use this post to give some honorary superlative awards in order to highlight contributions that have been made to CLP in the last year. If you want to wish these advocates well or see who was selected as the Advocate of the Year, you’re welcome to attend the Library’s Annual Public Meeting at CLP-Squirrel Hill on March 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Advocate of the Year Nominees:

Name: Rebecca Altes
Honorary Award: Library BFF
How they’ve contributed: A long-time member of the Friends of CLP-Lawrenceville, this Vice President of the Friends Council and member of the External Relations Committee of the Board of Trustees can always be counted on to work tirelessly to ensure library access for all.

Andrea Coleman-Betts is a fixture at CLP-Hazelwood.

Andrea Coleman-Betts is a fixture at CLP-Hazelwood.

Name: Andrea Coleman-Betts
Honorary Award: World’s Greatest Grandma
How they’ve contributed: When Andrea Coleman-Betts saw a need for a grandparents support group, she didn’t sit around and wait, she started one at CLP-Hazelwood. Andrea’s nominator put it best: “When CLP-Hazelwood needs community support, we reach out to Andrea; when Andrea needs resources, she finds them at CLP-Hazelwood”

Name: Jennifer Duffy
Honorary Award: Library Super Mom
How they’ve contributed: Jennifer is an online advocate, a supporter of CLP, and a cheerleader for other parents who want to make sure their children utilize the library’s resources to the fullest extent possible.

Name: David Hills
Honorary Award: Shelving Machine
How they’ve contributed: David volunteers twice-per-week at CLP-Squirrel Hill and makes such an impact that he’s been described more than once as a “shelving machine.” His attention to detail and dedication to the Library has made him an invaluable part of the team.

Name: Michael Janakis
Honorary Award: Most Likely to Know About Advocacy Options
How they’ve contributed: An active member of the Library Outreach and Community Advocacy Leaders (LOCAL) team, Michael is always ready to volunteer for an outreach event or to tell his teammates about advocacy initiatives through the American Library Association or the Pennsylvania Library Association. He’s also a devotee of CLP-Hill District! His nominator described him as “one of the most passionate library advocates I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting!”

Name: Julia Jordan
Honorary Award: Children’s Reading Advocate
How they’ve contributed: Julia is a power volunteer who helps out at CLP and the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. Julia’s been known to get more than 100 books prepped and ready for the shelves in one afternoon of volunteering at the Children’s Department at CLP-Main.

Name: John B. McNulty
Honorary Award: Biggest History Buff
How they’ve contributed: As the president of the West End History Club and a member of the Friends of CLP-West End, John recognizes community in the library. He believes in the importance of libraries and through his tireless advocacy, he has helped to expand the scope of CLP-West End’s renovation so that it will remain an anchor in the West Pittsburgh community for years to come.

Emily MacIntyre poses with a homemade bobblehead at CLP-Carrick

Emily MacIntyre poses with a homemade bobblehead at CLP-Carrick.

Name: Emily MacIntyre
Honorary Award: Most Likely to DIY
How they’ve contributed: Emily is an invaluable presence within teen programming ant CLP-Carrick. A talented and creative person, Emily has helped with everything from redesigning the teen space, co-directing a teen movie project, leading designing work on the annual haunted house, teaching knitting to an inter-generational audience, and more!

Name: Amosizinna Scott
Honorary Award: Homewood Hero
How they’ve contributed: Amosizinna has been an outspoken supporter of the Library, is an active in the community, and constantly draws attention to the Library in community meetings. Her second honorary award might be “Most Likely to bring Cake,”  because we all look forward to the treats she contributes to events.

Name: Michael Smilaek
Honorary Award: Most Likely to Support Pittsburgh Veterans
How they’ve contributed: Mike’s taken his extensive career in technology and funneled his skills into providing outreach at Veterans Place alongside CLP librarians. He’s become a necessary piece of the puzzle of providing needed skills to local homeless veterans, empowering them to move forward.

You know how actors always claim it’s an honor just to be nominated? Truly, it’s an honor that we have so many people to nominate. Thanks to these Advocate of the Year nominees and everyone else who adds their voice to the chorus of Library supporters in Pittsburgh.

-Ginny

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Examinations and Revolutions

Two things I’ve recently checked out over the last month or so have struck me as particularly worthy of passing on to the Eleventh Stack family.

Examined_Life_documentary_poster

One is a film called Examined Life by Astra Taylor. This film looks at issues of philosophical inquiry from a variety of different angles. It includes Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor on the subject of interdependence, gender and disability, Kwame Anthony Appiah on cosmopolitanism, Michael Hardt on revolution, Martha Nussbaum on justice, Avital Ronell on meaning, Slavj Zizek on ecology, Peter Singer on ethics and Cornel West on truth. Like any philosophical discussion, there were moments for me when I was puzzled, excited, in agreement, and in disagreement. It’s worth watching, worth a ponder and, if for no other reason, the Cornel West parts are great.

hell-and-good-company-9781451696219_hr

Second, a book by Richard Rhodes called Hell and Good Company: the Spanish Civil War and the World it Made caught my eye. I’ve read a bit about the Spanish Civil War (and written about it on this blog!), and it never ceases to grab my attention and amaze me. Rhodes is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and it shows in this volume. It’s not so much a political polemic, as a well-organized historical discussion. It’s good, and I recommend it!

As Pittsburgh thaws, get thinking and get moving! These two are a great start!

Eric

-who is currently navigating the cultural, social, and political vicissitudes of moving up to the Over 40s division in his old-guy soccer league for the Spring

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Fat Bottom Revue

As most regular internet users know, Leonard Nimoy passed away recently. And while he was best known for his role as science officer Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek, he enjoyed a long and successful career across several artistic fields. I was recently introduced to one of his photography books: The Full Body Project.

This is how most of us remember Leonard Nimoy.

For those most familiar with Nimoy through his Trek performances, this project may seem dissonant. Particularly given Spock’s emotionally detached demeanor and his close bond with Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy does not naturally lead in one’s mind to naked women. Despite this, the photographs in this book demonstrate artistic and technical skill as well as obvious respect for their subjects. The Full Body Project is a collection of photographs of large women, minimally costumed or nude. Most of the subjects are drawn from a San Francisco-based “Big Burlesque” troupe who performed together in the Fat-Bottom Revue. The models are sensitive, playful, elegant, and proud. They dance and pose and look, very intently, at the camera and the viewer.

One image from the book. The next page shows these women in the same pose, without the costumes.

In a culture where fat is stigmatized, pathologized, and fetishized, these pictures were unlike any I had seen before. But the bodies in them are very familiar to me. That is what dear friends look like, and relatives. That is how the room looked at my first fantasy convention, as we sang along full-voiced to “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Those curves, dimples, lumps, and stretch marks all appear on my own body. Bodies that look like this are not normally presented as pretty or compelling, and the people whose bodies look like this are not normally made to feel pretty or compelling.

If you are interested in more resources that respectfully illustrate and address full bodies, try some of these:

The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and other Incendiary Acts

The Fat Body (In)visible

Stacked: A 32DDD reports from the front

Read My Hips: How I learned to love my body, ditch dieting, and live large

The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life

Health at Every Size: The surprising truth about your weight

Fat Politics: The real story behind America’s obesity epidemic

Fat: The anthropology of an obsession

What’s Wrong With Fat?

The Fat Studies Reader

Big Big Love: A sex and relationships guide for people of size (and those who love them)

Hot & Heavy: Fierce fat girls on live, love & fashion

Bountiful Women: large women’s secrets for living the life they desire

Two Whole Cakes: how to stop dieting and learn to love your body

Learning Curves: living your life in full and with style

–Bonnie T.

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Following The Following

When it comes to popular TV shows everyone always mentions the obvious ones like The Walking Dead, Scandal, Game Of Thrones, or Orange Is The New Black (I watch most of these). One show that I rarely hear come up is The Following. If it weren’t for intrigue based on seeing trailers for the show or word of mouth via Twitter or my Netflix queue, I probably wouldn’t ever know about the show. I’m glad that I know about it now.

The show centers around former FBI agent, Ryan Hardy, (played by Kevin Bacon) who is roped back into a case surrounding serial killer Joe Carroll, who killed fourteen girls. Carroll was an English professor and author with an obsession with Edgar Allan Poe. It then launches into a game of cat and mouse with Hardy trying to find Carroll, but Carroll is always a few steps ahead. Carroll is never alone in his plots. He has a cult of followers who help him by doing various things including committing more murders.

This show is full of terror and suspense. Sometimes you can least expect what’s going to happen next. The show directly references multiple Poe works including “The Raven“, “The Tell Tale Heart“, etc. This show should be getting more attention than it does. It is intriguing, exciting, unpredictable, and sometimes scary. The first two seasons are available in our catalog. The current season airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Kayla

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