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There is a thing that has shown up on a few of my friends’ facebook statuses where they post a picture/list of their top 10 most influential books, so now I am doing the thing.

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Here is a garbage-y phone photo of some of my top influential books I’ve ever read. I’m gonna go ahead and list them and explain some of my reasoning here. Bottom up.

1. This is Who I Am –  Rosanne Olson
My mom gave me this book because she is fucking awesome. It is a coffee table photo book with naked women in it of all kinds of shapes and sizes and colors and it really went a long way toward affirming a belief I was trying to cultivate in myself about body positivity and loving all kinds of bodies including your own.

2. The Brendan Voyage – Tim Severin
I went to a private Christian college and I read this book shortly after I returned from studying abroad and it is such a deep reflection of my love of celtic monks and their constant search for isolation and how futile that search tends to be. It also reminds me that science and history are constantly in question and we should never take the things we are taught in school for granted as absolute truth. In Search of Sacred Places by Dan Taylor was also a huge influence in my life but I am trying to be representative of many interests. 🙂

3. The Various Haunts of Men – Susan Hill
This choice is a bit more representative of a style than a direct influence. I love mysteries and they are an enormous influence on my opinions and choices that I make in my life. This is the first book by Susan Hill I ever read and I bought it on a whim at a book sale.

4. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Though I may not always agree with Mr. Adams’ personal opinions as such, I love love love his books and his style of writing. They teach me every day that books can be absurd and bonkers and fun while still being intelligent and questioning your opinions and ideas.

5. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
The book that made me fall in love with Gaiman. All of his books are wonderful to me.

6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
I read this book many years ago now and as I read it right about the same time that I read Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, it impacted me in a way that it might not have otherwise. It haunts me in the best possible way with its portrayal of grief and the way people work through the big horrible horrors that sometimes happen in a life.

7. Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot
The most dogearred, underlined, deeply felt of all. It is my life in four poems.

8. HP and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Representative of the entire Harry Potter series. My first online fandom and my first experience in seeing the ideals of a book carried over into real life philanthropy and community hell bent on making the world better and kinder. There are fans doing so much good in the name of a book. They are sending so much love into the universe. What higher aim can we possibly have?

9. Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Lee O’Malley
My first comic book I ever read or bought that gave me confidence that comics were for me, too, and I didn’t have to catch up on all the years of comics that went before. I can start where I want and read what I want. It also lead me to search for more and more online comics creators who I am now able to read in their own printed comics at the library!

10. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
I read it so that I could understand Lord of the Rings when I read it. I never looked back.

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I read a really frustrating article today written by a man who seemed to think that libraries are easily replaceable by the presence of the internet and as such are completely unnecessary in our current society. I disagree on a whole host of levels, but I’m just going to address the ones that immediately come to mind with a minimal amount of thinking.

Libraries are FREE to use. You don’t have to pay to be a member, you can check out as many books as you like, along with DVDs (movies and shows), Blu-ray, CDs, audio books (sometimes digital AND physical), ebooks, comic books, books in other languages, childrens books, books about gardening, cooking, coin collecting, books about goddamned anything! While it is true that there are several books available for free online, it is actually very few compared to the amount of free and available information that you can obtain at the library.

Contrary to what the writer of this particular article seems to think, the internet is by no means free. Whether you pay through data on your phone or with a router at home, you are paying for the internet. Even if you go to a cafe or restaurant and use their “free” wifi you are paying in a number of ways. You are either using a laptop that cost money, paying for food/coffee (many cafes out there will only provide the password to paying customers) or if you are able to find an internet cafe, you are paying per use. And hard as it is for some to believe (apparently), not everyone can afford a computer in the first place. Nearly all libraries have computers that you can use, get this, FOR FREE. This was invaluable when I was traveling aboad and computers available to use for cheap or free were hard to come by. Every single library we approached allowed us to use their computers for free.

Another resource that I think people tend not to think of is that many libraries have a NOTARY on staff. When I got married and later bought a house I had to have several documents notarized for legal reasons. Whether it was a letter regarding a property I had lived at or when I was trying to change my name on my out of state bank account, having a notary that I could utilize for FREE was a life saver both in terms of time and convenience and above all money.

That’s just the free stuff that I can think of off the top of my head, not to mention services such as printing, copying, and faxing (these often cost a nominal fee).

The library is such an amazing resource and it makes me feel so sad and frustrated for the people who are missing out on so much just because they “don’t read”. The library is so much more than that

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2008:

Learn to play and sing “So do I love you”
Go to a lot of shows
Write a lot
Send said writings to publishers
Write a song
Travel

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Oh Thanksgiving conversations. How I love them so. We had a fantabulous Thanksgiving and we all ate way too much food. Except Kirsten and Dave. They had the flu 😦  . After dinner we had a little pre-desert entertainment when a group performed a scene from 12th Night. We basically had Thanksgiving in this awesome manor house that I pretty much got lost in every day. The first night Eve, Luke and I took a look outside and it was so creepy I was sure there was going to be a ghost popping out at any moment, but alas no ghosts.

We’ve also seen a few King Arthur related sites as of late. Awhile ago we went to the ruins of the church where he was buried, and as luck would have it, JESUS visited there too. People also think that thats where Avalon is. We also visited King Arthur’s birthplace and the round table. Since we have regular access to internet here I’ll try to get some newer pictures up since I haven’t since oh about Paris. I’ve been a little isolated lately.

Hopefully I can remember some more travel related news to post soon, but in the mean time I’m gonna go.

Love and miss you all
April

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Debilitating Addictions are Rough

The first step is admitting that you have a problem, right? So here I am, confessing. I have a problem. My name is April and I am addicted to books. Yesterday I bought four and today I bought another one. I’m out of control. I can’t turn down a cheap book. Mostly because it’s nearly impossible to find cheap books back home unless you go to Walmart or something. And even then you can’ t get a used book for $ 2. Bethany just got a copy of The Philosophers Stone for £ .99 ! If only I were so lucky.

To move away from my book addiction, I guess I’ll talk about Stratford-Upon-Avon. We’ve been having the majority of our theater classes here. We also got a “voice lesson”, got to do scenes with a teacher from a drama school in London. Yesterday Eve was a man, Joe got severely beaten about the face, and Alex was a pretty girl and an old man in the space of half an hour. It was a good time. On this trip to Stratford we have also seen Henry V, which was amazing – during the battle scenes the actors erupted from beneath the stage (from the trapdoors) and the French always came down on trapeze swings. We saw Henry IV part 1 and tonight we’re seeing Henry IV part 2. It’s really cool that we’ve been able to see these three plays in such short succession because we get to see a character’s (Henry V) evolution from a wild prince to the more mature King. This is especially true of our viewing because the RSC is doing all of the history plays (8 of them) so we get to see 3 plays directed by the same person and with actors playing the same people. Best idea ever in my opinion. The other day we got to have a Q & A with the guy who plays Fluellen in Henry V and also Richard II and III.

I have to get going right now because Eve and Jen want to finish reading Henry IV part 2 and I have parts to read. Not sure how much internet I’ll have for awhile, DT says that we don’t have any internet in the next place.

Love and miss you all
April

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Rabbie Burns

I’m back in Scotland!!!! Thank God. Paris was ridiculously stressful and expensive. It was also incredibly beautiful and I got to see (and take pictures of) paintings by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and Degas. I went to the Musee d’Orsay (the Impressionist art museum) twice! I also went to the second level of the Eiffel Tower, which was 700 steps – that’s 100 more than it took to get to the top of Skellig Michael. Hope and I stayed up there until the sun went down and saw it light up and sparkle. I also got to have coffee and croissant everyday. I know what you must be thinking, that doesn’t sound very stressful, right? Well I’m getting to that part. The stress came when I had to get from my hotel in the middle of Paris to the airport outside of Paris, check-in, etc, ALL BY MYSELF!!!! Gahhhh. I hated it and it totally freaked me out, but I’m still alive. Right now I’m enjoying getting to hang out with my mommy and having my lappy back for awhile. That being said, I have fairly regular internet access until I go back to London on the 2nd so email loads, because I’ll be able to reply!

Even though I’m not with the England Term group right now I feel like I’m still on a literary tour. Yesterday we went on a boat ride on the Sir Walter Scott – on the lake that inspired the poem “Lady of the Lake”. Today we drove to the “Birks of Aberfeldy” a place that Robert Burns wrote about, and ate dinner in the oldest inn in Scotland. On the wall they have a sheet of plastic protecting a poem that Robert Burns pencilled on the wall. I just can’t escape literary history. I love it!

love and miss you all!
April

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Ireland

We are back in England again after two weeks in Ireland. Ireland was wonderful. I bought too much stuff, all of which was worth it. I got some Christmas shopping done and I saw a poster from the Quiet Man at a B & B in Sligo. Also in Sligo we saw the Lake Isle of Innisfree (from afar) and went to a place called Holywell. At Holy well there is a tradition where people hang pieces of cloth or other items on trees as a prayer for the people they belong to. In Galway I bought a Claddagh ring in Galway at the store that owns the copyright for Claddagh rings. We also got to see Giant’s Causeway which has huge columns of natural hexagonal stones. The same day as the causeway we got to go across a rope bridge which was a bit scary but still fun. Photos soon to follow, but for now I must relinquish the computer to Hope.

Love and miss you all!

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