Interview with Iron Guy Carl of Boys Rule Boys Read!

by Daniel Johnston on November 12, 2014 · 1 comment

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Hi guys, today I’ve got an interview with Iron Guy Carl, a librarian who blogs over at Boys Rule Boys Read! I’ve been trying to do an interview with him since the beginning of the year, but since technology didn’t permit, we eventually decided to do a text interview. Here it is!

1.How did you become a librarian?

I wanted to work for the library and volunteered a lot, doing things like storytelling. The library people knew I was looking for a job, so they let me know when one came open. Remember that when you all get old enough to look for jobs.

2.What kinds of things do you do in your day-to-day work?

You mean when I’m not bench-pressing 200-lb. books to maintain my MANLY physique? Actually, I do a bit of everything. I work at a small library, so everyone has to be able to do all the things librarians do—check in books, check out books, look for books, put books on shelves, etc. I also sit at the front desk and answer questions. I’m also one of the children’s librarians, so I do a lot of storytimes—and clean up the children’s room after programs! I also do some specialized things. For instance, I coordinate the volunteers for the library.

3.What is your favorite part of your job?

Writing for the blog and doing storytime. Both are a lot of fun.

4.How did you get the nickname Iron Guy Carl?

I wanted to call myself “Iron Man” but some comic book company beat me to it.

5.Your blog is called Boys Rule! Boys Read! Do you also help at the library with girls? :)

Of course! That’s what MANLY MEN do—help those who need help. Really, I’m always happy to help anyone find what he or she needs. It’s rewarding to see anyone, boy or girl, find the right book or resource.

6.What kinds of books do boys enjoy the most that you’ve seen?

Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, My Weird School, The 39 Clues, the Hunters, Seekers and Warriors series by Erin Hunter, James Patterson’s Maximum Ride and Daniel X books, and Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books.

Boys also like books by Dan Gutman, Gordon Korman and Dav Pilkey. Also nonfiction about military things, sports and animals.

7.What books did you like most when you were a boy?

Wow. It’s been a long time since I was actually a boy. (some say I’m still a 10-year-old at heart) To give you an idea how long, Kennedy was president when I was a boy. (go look that up and see how long ago that was!) I read a lot of nonfiction at first, like a lot of guys back then, especially books on battles throughout history. Then, one day, the librarian at my school told me to, “Get out of the numbers” (meaning the Dewey Deciaml numbers for nonfiction) and read some fiction. She handed me a copy of The Three Seater Spaceship, one of the Spaceship Under the Apple Tree trilogy by Louis Slobokin. I was hooked and read a lot of sci-fi after that. When I got to be a teen, I read The Lord of the Rings and was knocked out I’m still under its spell. Nowadays I read a bit of everything as you see from the blog. I bet you couldn’t find any of the Spaceship Under the Apple Tree books anymore except on Amazon. But I’d like to check if they’re available on my Nook. 

Note: Here is The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree on Amazon :)

8.You’ve been running your blog for a number of years. What made you decide to start it  and what has made you keep it up?

Back in 2006, the Web 2.0 came out and our library system taught us how to use it. One of the new things in Web 2.0 was blogging. I’d always wanted to find a tool to help boys find good reads and blogging was perfect because it’s interactive. That’s how I came up with the idea of writing reviews and getting boys to write in as well. I’ve kept it going because it’s been so much fun and I’ve found so many great books. And I really like it when boys tell other boys about terrific books.

9.Who do you think is the main target audience for your blog; kids, parents, or both?

Both. I started this blog to reach boys but a lot of grownups picked up on it over the years. So, even though I’m writing primarily for boys, I know a lot of grownups read the blog and I keep that in mind because they’re the ones who buy the books for their boys or for their schools or their libraries.

10.You’ve featured a number of reviews from kids on your blog. What has your experience been with these kid reviewers?

It’s been great! We had several guys like cyber kid 303 and Michael who wrote in regularly. You can find some of their reviews if you look in the 2006—2009 section of the Blog Archive. They wrote some great reviews and we had a lot of fun. I think they’ve aged out now but I hope to get more guys write in. (hint, hint!)

11.What changing trends are you seeing with libraries as things are becoming more digital and what do you think is the most important thing for them to remain the special places that they always have been?

You’ve asked what we used to call the $64,000 question. A lot of people are trying to figure that out now so that libraries don’t go the way of the dinosaurs. And I think it’s already happening. Libraries are becoming community centers. I don’t mean the type of community center where you go and shoot basketball; I’m thinking of a safe place in which people can access computers, especially people who can’t afford computers, or where they can study alone or in groups, get information or help finding information they couldn’t find anywhere else, gather together and work on community issues and, of course, find books movies, music, etc. Will all books, movies, and music become digital some day? Possibly. People will still need libraries, though, in some form and I really believe that libraries will adapt to whatever changes take place.

Thanks so much!

Thank YOU, Daniel!

Thanks again to Iron Guy Carl for providing us with this insightful and interesting interview. Make sure to check out his website Boys Rule Boys Read!

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Review

by Daniel Johnston on October 1, 2014 · 0 comments

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I’m always (usually :)) open to book recommendations, so when my cousin recommended to me the book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher I thought I might as well give it a shot.

Summary

This was a famous book several years ago when it came out in 2007, and I can see why. It’s young adult and deals with a lot of complicated themes, such as alcohol, rape, and most majorly suicide.

This book does some things cleverly well, especially in writing style. The story is centered around a girl named Hannah who committed suicide. A boy named Clay gets a package one day, and it turns out they are thirteen tapes detailing thirteen different people and the ways in which they made her commit suicide (except Clay, who she says is ok). Clay represents the model of how the author wants us to be, although is character is a little bit artificial.

Throughout the book, we follow Clay around as he visits the spots Hannah talks about, reliving her life since she moved to the town. The author does a very good job recreating those emotions and stories, and there is a lot to be learned from this style of writing.

Note: Here is my video review.

Basically, the gist of the story is that Hannah moved into town a new girl, but very soon gets labeled all kinds of bad things. There are rumors swirling around about her that she had sex with a boy, when all she did is kiss him. Following this, a whole series of bad things happen that eventually leads her into deeper and deeper despair and eventually she decides to leave the world. The thirteen reasons why are the thirteen people who she says made her kill herself.

Basically, the whole point of the book is that if people had reached out to Hannah more and helped her, then she may have not killed herself. So we should all go out of our way to be nicer and not label people like Hannah was.

Negatives

However, there are also a lot of negative things about this book, and to me they outweigh the positives.

First, this whole book consists of people acting extremely wildly. There is a rapist and people who are allowing his actions. People are breaking each others windows, drinking a ton, spreading crazy lies. One boy even takes notes out of Hannah’s “good wishes” box or whatever it’s called just to get back at her. I don’t know if I’m naive, but that kind of stuff simply doesn’t happen. Not once have I ever witnessed people in real life acting so outrageously as in this book.

A more apt title for this book may be, “Thirteen reasons why not to act like animals.” This outlandish behavior makes the book very unrealistic and greatly reduces the power of its message. If it was able to show Hannah being effected by more common behavior that we might actually do, then it would make sense. It may actually be inspiring to try and view how you’re treating other people. But it’s not helpful to tell us to not act like a rapist.

Although we get in touch with Hannah’s emotions a lot, we never really can fully see the connection between those and suicide. The implicit connection is that feeling so alone and mistreated was what made her kill herself, but we never really get to so that. This is really not a book about suicide. The suicide is used as more of an attention-getter to get us to pay attention to what was causing Hannah pain. The main problem is seen as twofold: That she never asked for help, and that good people didn’t try hard enough to give her help.

The book also doesn’t hide the fact, however, that Hannah brought a lot of this on herself. She let herself be treated poorly, be cast as a person she’s not, and at the end of the book even lets somebody have sex with her who she absolutely doesn’t want to. The real problem is Hannah and everyone around her acting very stupidly.

Do I Recommend this Book?

This book is a crazy mess of all kinds of complicated themes that leaves us with no clear idea what is going on, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The message at the end of the book is to reach out and be nice to people because you don’t know what they’re going through, but this doesn’t really tie into the rest of the story super well. Also, it’s unrealistic because nobody is going to walk around trying to help people with their problems. It is good to be a nice person, but that isn’t going to save Hannah.

Thirteen Reasons Why does do a very good job of encouraging readers to look beyond what they normally thought of people as, and instead give them a fresh chance. In this book a gross misunderstanding of Hannah contributed to her misery and eventual suicide. This one of the things the book does best and it does a very good job driving this point home.

This book has vastly positive reviews, but I believe that is mainly because it deals with such emotional topics. Not many people have ventured to write a young adult book about things like suicide, and the author must be commended for trying. But I think a lot of people like the book just because it brings up deep topics that they haven’t really thought about or understood too much. The fact that there are many flaws in the way Asher deals with the subject matter is lost to them. They may be overwhelmed with the way the book throws the whole kitchen sink at them, or they think that any book that brings up emotional topics has to be a good one. I bet if my cousin were to read this book again, now that she’s older and more sophisticated, she wouldn’t be so impressed by it.

So in the end, there are many positives and also many negatives for this book. It is worth reading simply because it is written very well and the author manages to conjure up tremendous imagery that makes you feel like you are right in the story. Still, there are many flaws in the story that make it fall far short of the impactful book it could have been. I wouldn’t give it to anyone younger than 14, and would probably recommend waiting until 15 or 16 so they don’t get completely blown over by the book. In any case, it’s definitely one that will you get thinking.

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7 Lessons Learned from 4 Months away From Blogging

September 28, 2014
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Hi everyone, as you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything on this site since I graduated high school back in May (yay!). I’ll share more about what’s going on later, but I’ll definitely be writing more regularly now. So I’d like to share some of the biggest things I learned from my four-month hiatus: […]

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Life’s Secret Weapon by Daniel Johnston (New Short Story!)

May 16, 2014

Hi everyone, I’m super excited to share a new story with all of you today. It’s yet another one about life, which I think will probably continue for a while. It’s my favorite subject these days! This one is about sticking through rough experiences and coming through them stronger, and it emphasizes feeling good about […]

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Everest by Gordon Korman Review

May 14, 2014
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Gordon Korman has written so many good books that it’s always been hard for me to decide which one is my favorite. Sometimes I’d think it was Swindle, sometimes MacDonald Hall, and other times Everest. Korman did three action trilogies (each book is about 150 pages, so they’re quick reads): Island, Dive, and Everest. In Island, a group of kids […]

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The Look of Life by Daniel Johnston (New Short Story!)

May 8, 2014

Hi everyone, I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, and I’m super excited to share with you one of my new stories! I got the inspiration to write this story when I was having a tough couple of hours. I’ve been super happy lately so it made me think about how other people might […]

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The Last Shot by John Feinstein Review

May 5, 2014
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Everyone loves mysteries. Everyone loves sports books. What about a book that combines both? The Last Shot is the first in a series of sports thrillers written by John Feinstein. His writing is awesome and the books are entertaining and instructive about sports while also providing a lot of suspense and action. Summary At the beginning […]

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Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee Review

May 1, 2014
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After the school year of seventh grade ended, there was only one school thing left for me to do: Summer reading. You’d think this would be easy for me, of course. After all, I’m a great reader! The books on the list didn’t excite me, however. They all looked like some kind of weird romance […]

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I’m Stronger by Daniel Johnston

April 29, 2014
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Hi everyone, thank you so much for checking out my website. I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, and today I’ve got a new short story to share with you. First, I wanted to announce that I’m working on a short story collection that will be released sometime during the summer. Many of my […]

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Cahills vs Vespers Book 6: Day of Doom by David Baldacci

April 28, 2014
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Here it is. The end. One way or another. Amy and Dan have been fighting against the evil Vespers for some time, but it wasn’t until the end of the last book that they realized the truth: Vesper One is trying to create a doomsday device to destroy the world. For those of you who don’t […]

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