Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Wonderful World of Ebooks

If you're new to using our library or just starting to think about possibly diving into electronic books, this blog is for you.

At the Decatur Public Library, we are currently a part of Camellia Net. Which is supported by a company called "OverDrive".
In order to see our entire collection on Camellia Net, you can go to this website and sign in with your library card number in the top right hand corner. There you will be able to search our collection and see what's available to you to download right then. If an item is not available at the current moment, you can put a hold on the item. You will have to provide an e-mail address so they can e-mail you when the item is available.  At that point you will have around 2 days to download it.

If you have any questions about your electronic reader device, Overdrive Help probably has something for you. They have tons of videos that are all about setting up a specific device, downloading, and returning items. You may also e-mail the systems manager at the library to see if they can help you at decaturoverdrivehelp@gmail.com

Sunday, September 9, 2012

HOT off the Press: “50 Shades of Grey” Read-A-Likes & Review

Opposites attract in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY when innocent college student Anastasia Steele meets wealthy and handsome entrepreneur Christian Grey.  Even though she is shocked by what she learns of Christian's troubled past and particular erotic tastes, Ana can’t resist him.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, the opening novel of the wildly popular trilogy by E. L. James, is (as the above blurb suggests) first and foremost a romance. However, the novel is also being media hyped, hot and heavy, as especially provocative and sex filled. For some readers, this may be all you need to know; other library patrons may be curious for more information or be looking for other similar books. 

Before listing some specific read-a-like titles, I would encourage readers to link to The Sensuality Rating Guide http://www.likesbooks.com/kissburn.html on the All About RomanceAAR website. This rating system ranks Romance authors as to the amount and type of sexual content and sensuality in their books via an escalating “Blush Factor” scale. This information is quite helpful in choosing appropriate romance novels within a reader’s individual comfort zone of interests and tastes. If 50 SHADES OF GREY is not for you, please consider some of the other authors and levels of romance fiction as reviewed on the AAR pages.

FYI: according to the AAR criteria50 SHADES OF GREY would be at the highest “Burning” level, and classified as “romantica”, a hybrid of romance and erotica. This level features writing which is extremely explicit as to sexual feelings and desire; the details and description can be graphic, and may include some of what is considered kinky.

Decatur Public Library offers our patrons a wide selection of Fiction, and there are other books in our collection similar to 50 SHADES OF GREY. While these Read-A-Like books are not “just like” 50 SHADES OF GREY, they all share elements in common with it. Following is a sample of related materials available for checkout.

CamilliaNet, our digital library, offers other titles of erotic fiction (available in various downloadable formats); these include:

Anne Rice’s (writing as A.N. Roquelaure) Beauty seriesTHE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, BEAUTY’S PUNISHMENT, and BEAUTY’S RELEASE.  First published in the 1980’s, this fairytale based trilogy of sexual fantasy reads as far more explicit and kinkier than 50 SHADES OF GREY.

ECSTACY by Bella Andre. A contemporary romance about a writer of erotic fiction.

n anthology of erotic fiction by various authors.

ANTHOLOGY OF FETISH FICTION edited and with an introduction by John Yau; may read online or as a downloadable PDF via Ebsco Host’s e-book collection.

On our Fiction shelves, look for these novels which incorporate aspects of Dominant/Submissive relationships as part of the storyline:

COURTSHIP by Catherine Coulter. Regency romance which includes a mild whip switch ofDiscipline.

TOPPING FROM BELOW by Laura Reese. Contemporary murder mystery which uses BDSM as part of the plot, conflict and character.

GORDON by Edith Templeton. A psychological novel of obsessive sexuality and submission; perhaps somewhat dry and dated now, but was widely banned when first published in the Sixties.

For yet more related reads, try these titles of classic literature (also often banned or challenged for their sexual content):

LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER by D.H. Lawrence. Banned, burned, and the subject of a landmark obscenity trial, a classic tale of adulterous love and discovery.

 LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov. Tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for a young girl.

TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller. A bawdy fictionalized memoir about life in Paris as a starving but liberated writer.

Additionally, many contemporary genre authors infuse their novels with frequent and fairly explicit sex scenesSuch authors in the Paranormal genre include Laurel K. Hamilton (Anita Blake series)J. R. Ward (Black Dagger series and others), and works by Lora Leigh andSherrilyn Kenyon. Or look for works by Urban Fiction authors like Zane, Alison Hobbs, Sister Souljah, and Nikki Turner.

Lastly, of course, we also have Stephanie Meyer’s TWILIGHT series, which was the tamerYoung Adult source material for the fan fiction that became 50 SHADES OF GREY.

Shady secrets and 50 SHADES OF GREY review:  

Secret #1: I was very reluctant to read 50 SHADES OF GREY. I’m not against sexual content inlibrary books or for my own recreational reading. However, I’m not interested in poorly written books of any kind, and had perused enough critical reviews of 50 SHADES to suspect that is what I’d find. However, since this trilogy has gained so much popularity (or maybe justmisplaced notoriety), I felt I couldn’t write a related library blog without actually having read the book.

Secret #2: I am a hypocrite. I’ll admit to having rolled my eyes when patrons requested 50 SHADES OF GREY and even (most unprofessionally) snickered when at least one added that the book request was being placed “for a friend”.  But “Hey, I read it for RESEARCH.” :/ 

Secrets #3: While I usually decline to include this information on my resume, disclosure here seems somewhat amusing and relevant. I once worked for over a year at an adult bookstore in San Francisco, and later was a member of an erotic fiction writers group, of amateur and professional authors, in Nashville TN.  So, I suppose I do know something about this particular genre.

Not So Secret #5I didn’t like 50 SHADES OF GREY. While this may be romance fiction with quite a bit of sexual content, in my personal opinion, the novel is not nearly as edgy as all the hype would have one believe.  The kink aspects, supposedly a major part of the story and its impact, seemed to be used primarily for superficial shock value. Beneath a sprinkling of sex toys and spanking, this is a conventional formula romance. I read a lot in the genres of science fictionand horror; somehow, I find the idea of an impending zombie apocalypse much easier to acceptwith the required suspension of disbelief than I did this book. The author was not able to makeme believe in her clich├ęd characters or care about their relationship.  James writing is filled with repetition; she grossly overusecertain phrases in description and dialogue (and then goes in the opposite direction with a noticeable lack of proper nouns or even adequate euphemisms in her sex scenes).

At most, 50 SHADES OF GREY may appeal to some readers aspassable escapist romantic fantasy. However, the over the top unbelievable characterizations, poor writing, and sloppy editingreally cooled off any “Burn” for me.

--Heather Whiteside
Reference Dept. / Library Assistant