Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review: Methland

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding

I keep reading books about meth, and I keep finding myself engrossed in the stories. Methland starts where Beautiful Boy and Tweak leave off. Those books are excruciating personal family stories, one written by the father (David Sheff), one by the son (Nic Sheff), about the son's addiction and the repercussions on the lives of the family members as well as the addict. Set mostly in the Bay Area of northern California, they chronicle Nic's descent from healthy, successful college-bound high school student to the life of an addict in and out of rehab.

is an investigation into what meth is doing to rural America, who the culprits are, and who the heroes are. Methland addresses the problem of what the culture of the drug is doing to small towns and also to America as a whole. Reding investigates how meth infiltrated one small town in Iowa (and across the nation), what the government is and isn't doing about it, Mexico's role, the food industry's role, and the local people who are giving their careers and lives to try to stop this controversial epidemic. He develops relationships with addicts, politicians, and cops over a few years (2005-8) and lets readers meet these people and learn how their issues came to be. An engaging book, this should be read by politicians and citizens interested in the ramifications of addiction to meth on the American Dream.

My only complaint is that Methland doesn't have an index. That would have made it more helpful for future researchers. Otherwise I highly recommend Methland, as well as the books by David and Nic Sheff. David Sheff was an author and journalist before writing Beautiful Boy, which is evident by the writing, and I recommend it to adults. Tweak, written by the son Nic, isn't as well-written, but it is exciting to read the tale told by the addict. I would recommend Tweak to high school juniors and seniors (it is sexually explicit, so it would depend upon your community). Methland is good for 11th grade and up.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Better World Books

We weeded hundreds of books from our collection this year. We removed a lot of reference books, books that haven't been checked out in a decade (or so), books that aren't relevant anymore. It was a slow process, because we took all year to do it, only weeding when we had time - and space for the weeded books.
What do you do with your weeded books? At ALA in Anaheim last summer, I found out about Better World Books. From their site: "Better World Books offers a no cost program to help you manage your discarded and donated books. We make the most of your books by selling them on over 18 online-marketplaces and sharing the proceeds with you and one of our nonprofit literacy programs. "

It takes time, but there is something very satisfying about sending discarded books to BWB to be either sold or recycled. Each book, after being weeded from our catalog and OCLC, had to be pre-screened through the BWB portal. If the book was accepted it went in one box, rejected books went in another. Sometimes students helped us with the project, but one of our librarians ended up doing the bulk of the work. By the end of next week, we will have sent approximately 35 boxes of books to BWB. They supply the boxes, they pay for the UPS shipping. They don't make us remove the library book pockets, barcodes, etc. We have received just a little money back, but just knowing the books won't be in a landfill gave us reason enough to use BWB this year.

The rejected books went to Goodwill. Where do you send your weeded books?
Better World Books is also a great place to buy used books. Read about how they are even doing well in this economy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Today I ate a perfect plum - the first plum of the season. Plums signify summer to me. When I was growing up, my friends had a plum tree next to their pool. Wearing our matching Snoopy bathing suits, all four of us, 2 sets of sisters, would eat plums while in the pool, the juice trickling down our tan arms and ending up in the pool. No need for napkins. Plums are my favorite fruit probably due to those memories!
Although it is actually drizzling in Los Angeles today, my students are finishing finals and my children are anticipating the last day of elementary school tomorrow. I am wondering how I will spend my free time this summer. What will be the plums of this summer?

I am hoping to read some great books from Yalsa's Teens Top Ten nominees, but also I want to read books for adults. I want to spruce up this site and the one I have for my students. I am thinking of starting another blog too! I want to get better at using Jing, Skype, WebNotes and a few other tools I probably haven't even heard of yet!

But I also want to exercise, ponder, cook, garden, organize my closets, and that is just in my free time, while my kids are at day-camp! I am always excited to be a stay-at-home mom for the summer. In June the summer seems so long, but my mid July (when this year I will be in the Outer Banks with my husband and children) I realize I have to whittle down my expectations of what I will accomplish. And I wonder, will feeling that I accomplished something or learned a new gadget be like those plums I ate in the pool? I don't think so.

What will be the plum, the sweetest memory, of this summer? And how can I make time to relax and just let it happen? How do you get away during those fabulous months off from work and make time to discover the plums?

Have a wonderful summer everyone! Take time for yourself and your family. And enjoy the plums!