Monday, March 26, 2007

Book Review

My Forbidden Face. Growing up under the Taliban: A young woman's story by Latifa is an eye-opening book. The author, who has written under the psuedonym of Latifa, escaped Afghanistan in 2001 with her parents. Growing up under the Soviet occupation of her country, life was relatively "normal" for this young woman until civil war developed between the army of General Massoud and the Islamic extremists (Taliban) supported by Pakistan. Latifa's description of life under the Taliban and what it meant to women in Afghanistan are truly horrifying and almost unbelievable. She decribes the rules implemented by the Taliban as "the total negation of women". Unable to work, be educated, seek medical help, shop for basic necessities, or even go out among society without the accompaniment of a man, were just some of the rules women had to endure.

I enjoyed reading this book because it provided a perspective on life in a country most Canadians know little about, and yet is now a part of the daily news. Like other reviewers on, I found the book to be very difficult to follow. The history of Afghanistan is complicated and unfortunately, is presented in a rather disjointed fashion. The author opens the book with the events of the Taliban entering Kabul, where she lives, in 1996. Latifa then has pages of recent Afghan history strewn throughout the book and it's difficult to understand how everything fits together. A second detailed chapter on the history of Afghanistan would have been a more effective way of dealing with the events that preceded those in the opening chapter and would have provided a platform for discussing the events in her family's life. Other comments made throughout the book, such as how Afghani's viewed American foreign policy, might have been discussed in detail.
Nevertheless, I recommend this book. The author's style is readable and she has some valuable insights into the effect of the Taliban on the Afghan people. It would be interesting to know how Latifa is doing today and whether she has returned to her native Afghanistan.
My Forbidden Face. Growing up under the Taliban: A young woman's story.
Editions Anne Carriere, 2001

Friday, March 23, 2007

Library innovation from delicious

Well, I have been searching delicious lately and I've found a few interesting sites that I've decided to bookmark.
One in particular (check it out)seems like it would be especially useful for our university libraries which are undergoing restructuring and renovation. Based on some of the items on the above website I have some suggestions for purchases the library might make to enhance both staff performance and the library environment.

1. This first idea would be very useful for those involved in library management. It is the conference bike. Since there are many changes planned for the campus libraries, what better way to have staff meetings, planning meetings and even interviews! According to the webpage, the conference bike builds intimacy and lowers inhibitions. Perfect for those meetings where you're trying to sell a new idea that's sure to garner lots of resistance!

2. For any future library renovations, and I'm thinking of the Thode Science and Engineering Library in particular, the addition of slides to move from floor to floor would be sweet. Of course, these would be open only to staff. After all, the slides would be installed to enhance the efficiency of staff and the work environment of the library and NOT for the enjoyment of library users.

3. Another useful piece of library furniture is the bibliochaise. These could be utilized throughout the library in designated quiet areas. Perhaps we could have a bibliochaise for various subject areas; a math bibilochaise or CSA standard bibliochaise.

If you have any other innovative ways to restyle our campus libraries, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I have been investigating the social bookmarking service, and yes, I think it's divine but I remain unconvinced that I would want to continue using this service. For one thing I have tons of favs saved on my computer (all very organized) but some of them are personal interests (ie. political websites for example) that I don't care to share with the rest of the world.

The "delicious" buttons were relatively easy to install on my browser at home although I installed these one day and then the following day was informed that I had to reinstall them because a new version was now available. That was slightly annoying.

I chose a few of my favourites to place on delicious and then I chose to edit the titles of some of the links because I lengthy webpage titles. Let's make it short and sweet.

I also wanted to place delicious on my sidebar in a manner similar to what I did with mylibrary. I needed to find the necessary code, so I selected "link" under Blog at the bottom of my delicious webpage.

This leads to a help page ( in delicious which produces html/javascript code to be used in your blog. This page also allows you to style how this widget will look on your blog. You can choose the number of items to display, whether you want tags or notes displayed and so forth. You must be signed into delicious to use the template. After you have tweeked the widget the way you want, simply copy it by highlighting and right clicking.
You can then place this widget in your blog by selecting the template, add a page element, and selecting html code element. Once the html code box is open, paste the code from delicious into the box and save.

A word of warning though to those of you who are using Wordpress. Wordpress does not allow the use of javascript in widgets on its site. I believe this is because it can be easy for those people who are interested in making life difficult for the rest of us, to alter the code and redirect visitors to other sites.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More social stuff

I made an interesting discovery this past weekend and it's called LibraryThing and I LIKE IT! LibraryThing is an online service that allows you to catalogue your personal book collection using tags that choose. You can catalogue up to 200 books for free and if you've got more (and apparently, ALOT of people have ALOT more!) you can choose a yearly or lifetime subscription. According to the website, which has been around since 2006, "LibraryThing uses Amazon and libraries that provide open access to their collections with the Z39.50 protocol." Your books can be arranged on a virtual shelf or as a list.

This site allows for a great deal of social networking. Once you enter a book into your library you are told how many others have copies of that specific book. You can then link to those libraries. You can check out other libraries on the site and submit comments about their libraries. There are forums for people with similar book interests and you can recommend books to others.

I've posted a link to mylibrary on the sidebar of this blog. It randomly pulls up 3 books from my library.You can click on the mylibrary link and view the books in my library. I have about 100 books entered. I was astonished to learn that some libraries on this site have thousands of books!

I was impressed with the many different forums and also with the possibilities to discuss some of my favourite books with people I might otherwise never come into contact with.

Check it out.

Monday, March 5, 2007

More of Nancy Pearl

Okay someone (I am eternally grateful to Olga N) was kind enough to send me a link to more pictures of Nancy Pearl. The situations she gets herself into .<tisk, tisk>
If you want to get a very good picture of the action figure go to this link. If you want to see Nancy Pearl in action go here.

And, here's a taste of what you'll find:

(Thanks to Shelley S who posted these at Flickr)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Domenic's War by Curtis Parkinson

In this post I would like to review a book I just read entitled, Domenic's War by Curtis Parkinson. This book is fiction but the author arrived at the idea for the story after listening to a friend recount his experiences as a teen in Italy during World War II. The story deals with a specific time frame, that is the Allied campaign to remove the German Army from the monastery of Monte Cassino. Monte Cassino was a German stronghold and a barrier to the Allied army's move northward into Italy and ultimately up towards the rest of Europe. Parkinson's novel focuses on events in two (fictious) teens lives, Domenic Luppino and Antonio. Domenic lives on a farm and courageously helps his father during the War, while Antonio has a more difficult time as a young man who has lost everything and is forced to work for the Nazi's.

I felt that this YA novel presented an accurate portrayal of the physical hardships and emotional distress encountered in an occupied country during WW II. It also touches on the controversial bombing of the beautiful and sacred monastery of Monte Cassino where the tombs of Benedictine founder, St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica are located. The Afterword contains information on the mind-boggling numbers of soldiers from various countries who died in the battle for Monte Cassino as well as information on the Allied strategy.

This book would appeal to especially to teen boys and those teens interested in WW II historical fiction.

Book details:
Domenic's War. A story of the Battle of Monte Cassino
Curtis Parkinson
2006 Tundra Books
191 pages
Silver Birch Awards Official Selection