Thursday, January 31, 2008

NHS Students are Reading More! What are You Reading?

Perhaps due to SRR or perhaps due to my blog (less likely, but one can hope), students are reading more at Norton High School! How do I know this? I took a look at the circulation statistics from September through January of 06-07 and the same months in 07-08 and discovered that 171 more books circulated this year than last year. That's a substantial difference under ordinary circumstances but since I see fewer of you each day due to the elimination of studies, I think it's monumental! It seems that when students are given time to read for pleasure they remember that they do actually enjoy it! Teens are so busy with school, extra-curricululars, and work that they just can't fit it all in and reading for pleasure is often one of the first things to go. SSR is giving this back and it is being embraced by many of you.

So what are you reading right now? I know this might not be the best time for this question as I hope you're all reading It's Not About the Bike, but what else are you reading, or what have you read recently that you would recommend to others? I am reading Son of a Witch. I was a huge fan of Wicked (I know, not everyone agrees) and I'm enjoying the sequel. I'm taking my time because I really don't want it to end. Let's hear what you're reading.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Books!!

Due to budget constraints I was not given any money at all for new books at the end of last year so I had nothing new when we returned to school in Septmember. I expected that this would be the case all year so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was given a budget in late fall. Though I received much less than usual, I was able to order some great new books, some of which arrived this week. I am working on processing these books so that they can circulate and I have rushed a few through because students and teachers were already asking to check them out, but the majority are still being processed at the circulation desk. Come by to see what's new and let me know if there are any titles you'd like to see added to the collection. I don't know when I'll have money again but I'll put them on the list.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I just finished Next, by Michael Crichton. I always enjoy his books and learn something from them, and this was no exception. In this book, Crichton takes a look at the many possible legal, ethical, and scientific ramifications of the completed Human Genome Project. Some of the issues raised include the dilemas associated with universities and companies owning patents to genes, ownership of human tissue, genetic testing as a basis for denying heath insurance and influencing custody cases, and advertising in nature using genetic manipulation. The novel is fast paced with extremely short chapters that bounce between many characters and subplots - some connected and others not. The main story involves Rick Diehl's start-up biotech firm, BioGen, and it's recently acquired license for the Burnett cancer fighting cell line, Jack Watson, his ruthless, manipulative financial backer, Frank Burnett, the man whose cells were sold to BioGen without his knowledge or consent, and his attorney daughter, Alex. In addition to these characters we also meet Dr. Robert Bellarmino, self promoting lead researcher at NIH, researcher Henry Kendall and his transgenic humanzee son, Dave, Josh Winkler and Tom Weller of BioGen, a pair of bounty hunters, and a host of others. Comic relief is provided by a transgenic parrot named Gerard, a bilingual orangutan in the Sumatran jungle, and a host of press releases about the impending extinction of blonds. With about 100 pages to go I found myself wondering how it was all going to come together and be resolved by the end. As it turns out, much is left for the reader to imagine, though we can assume a great deal of litigation will be involved. As for the main characters, we do get some resolution, and some poetic justice. Though not one of his most well written novels (some characters are introduced only briefly then never mentioned again, simply to introduce another possible result of genetic testing) I still enjoyed it and recommend it. Next is available here at the Norton High School Library.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One Book, One School

As you know, this year's One Book, One School selection is Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike. Armstrong's story is both inspirational and humbling. Obviously his survival and triumph over cancer is an amazing story but I found the parts about training and racing to be particularly intersting. I have done a few triathlons (sprint distance, although there was no sprinting involved on my part) so I was interested in his training programs (just in reading about them, not attempting them). I had no idea that he started with triathlons. I really only knew his post cancer story before reading the book. I currently have one copy in the library but it is checked out. Mr. Barth will be donating several more copies to the library (thanks Mr. Barth!) and I will let you know when they become available, however, I don't recommend waiting. Check out Amazon or eBay for used copies at great prices. In the meantime, check out these links to some clever Lance Armstrong Nike commercials (sent to me by Mr. Brassard, an avid cyclist). I think the ESPN one is my favorite.