It is the end of the year, which means it is time for one of my favorite activities…making Top Ten lists!
I did not read as much as last year.
Total Fiction: 43
Total Nonfiction: 20
Total Graphic Novels: 16
Read on iPhone/Kindle Keyboard: 9
Average per month: 6.6
Best Month: February, March, April – tie at 11
Worst Month: July, November – tie at 3
Top 5 Fiction books read this year:
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
- Tenth of December by George Saunders
- TransAtlantic by Column McCann
- All That Is by James Salter
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Top 5 Nonfiction books read this year:
- Becoming A Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett
- Running with the Pack by Mark Rowlands
- The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto by Pico Iyer
- Thrive by Brandon Brazier
- Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson
This was a good year for film. There were many movies that I liked a lot and wish I had more space on my list. I think that this is the first year I’ve included so many documentaries too.
- Upstream Color (dir. Shane Caruth)
- Before Midnight (dir. Richard Linklater)
- Computer Chess (dir. Andrew Bujalski)
- Blue is the Warmest Color (dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)
- Spring Breakers (dir. Harmony Korine)
- Stories We Tell (dir. Sarah Polly)
- American Hustle (dir. David O. Russell)
- To the Wonder (dir. Terrence Malick)
- Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (dir. Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin)
- Much Ado About Nothing (dir. Joss Whedon)
Honorable Mention (alphabetical order):
- The Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)
- Blackfish (dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
- Don Jon (dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
- 12 Years a Slave (dir. Steve McQueen)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (dir. Martin Scorsese)
**I still haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis or Her yet. They are two of my most anticipated of the year and my list could change once I see them.
Articles & Blog Posts
In 2013 we said goodbye to Google Reader and I opted to let my RSS feeds slip away rather than transfer them to another application – a reboot of my information consumption. In light of that, I did not read as many articles or blog posts this year. Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorites:
- Cosmopolitans: It’s not just me, you and everyone we know. Citizens of the world have moral obligations to a wider circle of humanity by Nigel Warburton, Aeon Magazine
- Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes by Slavoj Žižek, The Guardian
- Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
- What the Hell Are We Doing Here Peter Ludlow interviewed by Richard Marshall, 3A.M. Magazine
- Tennis With Plato by Mark Rowlands, Aeon Magazine
- In the Belly of the Beast by Paul Solotaroff, Rolling Stone
- Thanksgiving in Mongolia by Ariel Levy, New Yorker
- Why Even the Worst Bloggers Make Us Smarter by Clive Thompson, Wired
- Treme as a New Kind of Television by Adam Kotsko, An und für sich
- The Fuzzy Now by Jamais Cascio, Open to the Future
- An Ultrarunner’s Long Road Back by Rachel Levin, Outside Magazine
I’m excited to share that I have accepted the position of Assistant Director/Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Wood Library in Canandaigua, NY. I will be starting in late January and am looking forward to working with the director and staff to help integrate technology into the library going forward. We are going to do some awesome stuff there and I can’t wait!
The last year and a half at the Sidney Memorial Public Library has been fun and a great learning experience. I wish everyone I worked with and met there the best of luck and success in the future.
I miss Yann Martel’s fantastic What is Stephen Harper Reading project. His battle to encourage reading in our leaders, or to start young people as readers in order to make them great leaders, is inspiring and, I think, one of his greatest contributions to literature. Even though I don’t care much for his writing, I have tremendous respect for Martel as a thinker and appreciate his efforts to promote literacy.
I can not see how you can be a thinking person who is head of a government without having accessed what fiction can give you. It makes you be someone else, somewhere else, during the duration of the book. And that’s very very useful. It helps you get beyond the confines of your narrow life. Overall, the cumulative effect over time tends to bring down blinkers, tends to increase tolerance.
This month I’m indulging and pushing some of my favorites.
In less than one week, on June 8th, I will have turned in the last of my school assignments. On June 11th, even though I’m not attending the commencement, I will officially be a MLIS graduate. Working on this degree over the last year and a half has, at times, been inspiring, frustrating, boring, emotional, difficult, fun and challenging.
My last semester at Binghamton University, where I double-majored in Philosophy and Pre-Law (PPL), I wrote a meta-philosophy paper as part of an independent study. I wanted to know exactly what I had just spent four years of my life thinking about and studying. Was it really important? What, if anything, did I learn from the experience?
My paper was really not that impressive and essentially said that philosophy is important even if it does not provide concrete answers because it still asks questions, advances the dialogue, blah, blah, blah. It was very abstract and, looking back, relied on a lot of weird rhetorical and creative flourishes that did not necessarily make sense and that I would never have attempted in a class assignment as it would have been a sure way to receive a poor grade in a department full of ethical philosophers.
So, the paper kind of failed on a philosophical level. However, it still is one of the most important tasks that I undertook while at BU. It was only a semester long but it was mostly self-directed. I got reading suggestions from my advisor and was allowed to write and explore in whatever way I chose. I gained a lot personally from this paper and it made me really think critically about the degree I was receiving and what it meant – and would mean – in my life. Those were the things I could not write about – yet they may be the most important.
Now that I am at the end of my MLIS I find myself wishing that I was given a chance to explore the degree in the same way. What would a meta-MLIS paper look like? It is difficult to really think critically about the MLIS degree from inside of it. Drexel is on the quarter system. So, I took five 10-week quarters starting in March 2010 and ending June 2011. The breaks between quarters I spent catching up on things that would get pushed aside during the busy 10 weeks before it. There was not much time to look inward and assess what I was learning.
But now that I am graduating and facing an unsure job market I suspect that I will have some free time for just such an endeavor and I plan to document it here. More than just writing about LIS education, I really want to figure out what I gained from it on a different level. Sure, I learned about metadata and information architecture and web design. But what else? What did I learn that is not specifically taught? How has the last five quarters changed me?
I think that a blog (specifically, this one) is a good way for me to start exploring the thoughts I touched on above. I am not necessarily saying this because I think that what I have to say is profound or even important to anyone but me. But blogs allow for conversation – even if that conversation is only perceived. They are dialectal in nature. Lacking any sort of advisor or professor as I had during my undergrad, a blog is a decent substitution.
Claire Creffield recently said this much more eloquently:
Blogging might seem (has always seemed to me) like a hideously public way of conducting personal reflection, but its saving grace is its joyful acknowledgement of the inescapably communicative nature of thought. Blogging puts into practice a recognition that, if a private language is an impossibility, so, too, it is impossible to pursue self-knowledge by means of a wholly private use of language.
In addition to blogging about my MLIS experience, I also hope to write more about education in general and comment on some of the ideas that Michael Stephens brought up in his recent LJ column.