In This Issue:
Borders: A Love Story
By Leanna Waldron
Some of my earliest memories revolve around reading.
I remember feeling extreme
envy that my older brothers got to go to school and I
I would steal their
textbooks and pretend to read them and do homework.
the boys were at school, I used to follow my grandma and
my mom around the house while they were trying to do
housework and ask them to read to me.
They eventually took on the
“Teach a man to fish” mentality and took turns teaching
me to read.
love of reading started in childhood and only got
stronger with time.
Unfortunately, we were
never very well off, so it was rare that I actually got
new books to read and the number of books that I owned
was not exactly high.
I did get books from the
library often, usually having to bring them home in
And when the town-wide
garage sales were held, I was there with my quarters and
my bags, ready to pick through the boxes of books.
And while this was all well
and good, these books never felt like mine.
The ones I got from the
library obviously had to be returned when I was finished
with them and the books I got from garage sales often
had other kids’ names written in them already.
Maybe this is why bookstores are so inviting to me.
There are so many books,
copies nobody else has read, just waiting for me to buy
A trip to the bookstore was
always a special treat when I was younger.
The first bookstore I ever
visited was Barnes & Noble in Bloomington, Illinois.
I remember going over to
the children’s section, pulling three or four books off
the shelf, and sitting in a bean bag chair in the corner
while my parents shopped.
Our trips to the bookstore
were always few and far between while I was growing up,
but I savored every one of them.
I got older and got my driver’s license and a job, I was
drawn more and more to the bookstores.
I still did not go that
often because the nearest bookstore in Bloomington was a
45 minute drive from my house and more often than not my
weekends were filled with work and homework.
However, once I started
going to Heartland Community College, which happened to
be in Bloomington, I was able to go to the bookstore on
my breaks between classes.
I strayed from Barnes &
Noble and started exploring the miraculous building that
was Borders Bookstore.
The first time I stepped into Borders, I was smitten.
It had the best Young Adult
section (my favorite genre of fiction) I had ever
seen—about five times the size of that in Barnes &
There were tables full of
“Buy-One-Get-One-50%-Off” and racks and racks of the
infamous “Bargain Books.”
I quickly became loyal to
Borders and never looked back at Barnes & Noble (unless
I had a gift card to spend, of course).
It just felt cozy and
comfortable and right, like home.
Needless to say, going to
community college became very dangerous for my bank
attachment to Borders might seem silly to some, but as
many bibliophiles can attest to, there is really
something magical about a bookstore.
I walk in and instantly
feel relaxed and happy, even if I’m only there to buy
something for school or for a gift for someone else.
Even now, when I have no
money, I love walking into Borders and looking around.
I take pictures of books
that I want to read on my phone and add them to my
(ridiculously large) to-read list when I get home.
I have many happy memories
in that store; I spent a lot of time there by myself and
with my mom who, once I had control of my own money,
could happily spend hours with me in the store.
When I recently heard that Borders was having some
financial issues, I did some research.
I was devastated to find
out that about 200 Borders are going to be closing
nationwide within the next few months.
Approximately 15 of these
stores are in Illinois and one of them is in
It might seem silly, but I
actually, literally cried at this news.
suppose I should view this as a blessing in disguise—it
will be easier for me to save money once Borders is not
a routine stop during my trips to Bloomington, I can buy
used books online and get more for my money while
helping the environment at the same time and I don’t
have to worry about my boyfriend getting annoyed with me
when I drag him into the store and spend an hour and
I’m still sad, though.
Borders was my first taste of what a bookstore truly
be and I’ll miss it when it’s gone.
I know that, melodramatic
as it sounds, every time I drive by the space where
Borders used to be, I’ll get a little pang in my heart.
The Borders in Bloomington,
Illinois will always be the first bookstore I ever truly
loved and, although the relationship is ending and I am
forced to see other bookstores, I will never forget the
way I felt the first time I stepped through those double
I am studying in Florence, Italy for a semester
as part of the ACM Program through Monmouth College. I could spend
four semesters' worth of Printing Press issues talking about my one
month in Florence so far. But I won’t. If you want to see what my
life is like right now please check out my blog:
European Son at
http://alex-europeanson.blogspot.htm. Instead of telling you my
various adventures here in Florence, I’m going to take this time to
tell you about one of the things I have learned in my time here.
I wake up
every morning, look out my host family’s kitchen window where I can
see the golden orb of the top of the Duomo. I stare at the golden
orb and remind myself that that building is impossible. It’s the
definition of ‘impossibility.’ Yet there it stands. It’s stood there
for more than five hundred years and with luck it will be there even
longer. That’s something worth remembering. There are places in the
world worth seeing just for this reason. It’s worth leaving the
cornfield to see the marketplace. If you’re lucky, you may see
someone. You may bump into them and say, "Mi scusi" and they’ll say,
"Prego" and then you will both notice how beautiful the day is and
you’ll say, "La giorno e bella!" and they will say, "Si si. Bella e
magnifico." Then you’ll notice that the person you’ve bumped into
was coming out of a restaurant and you’ll smell the delicious food
inside and your mouth will water instantly and you’ll say, "Mi
scusi, ma questo ristorante e un bene?" And they will say in
response, "Il ristorante e il migliore in tutta Italia!" And you’ll
think to yourself, Wow. The
best restaurant in all of Italy is right before my very feet!
And you’ll thank the stranger, tell them, "Buon giorno," and go
inside the restaurant and you will eat the best meal you’ve ever
eaten in your entire life.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
Doesn’t sound like stuff out of fairy tales? But the strange thing
is that it’s real. Or it can be. The possibilities available to you
are a result of how far you are willing your imagination to search.
In my youth I was afraid of
change. The idea of being put outside my comfort zone scared the
beegeezus out of me and whatever it was, I was against it. But now,
having gone through many changes since my childhood and high school
years, I have grown to like change and actually look forward to it.
You cannot let fear drive your life and desires simply because you
don’t know what else is out in the world. The world is a lot bigger
than Monmouth, Illinois and anyone who takes a step outside of it
may be closer to discovering something about themselves that they
never knew. You discover a lot when you’re outside your element. You
become a minority and your mission is to find some way of
identifying with the locals. So you go out and you explore and you
see what interests you and I guarantee you’ll find something that
you never knew you liked before. For me, it was graffiti. When I
lived in Galesburg, I was subject to many passing freight trains,
all of which bared an ungodly amount of terrible, ugly graffiti. It
was like being forced to watch a loud horrendous train-wreck of a
movie that just kept going and going and going… I had no
appreciation for street art of any kind. But now, here in Florence,
I cannot get enough of it. I’ve followed artists, taken pictures of
over one hundred pieces of art from tiny cartoons to huge murals
basking in a candy-colored orchestra of words and characters. I have
actually found one artist that I have followed will hopefully get to
meet him before my stay here is over.
This is something I can’t do in
Monmouth. But here I can. I found something that I didn’t think I
would like. And that feels good. Don’t you want to feel good? Then
my suggestion to you is to reconsider your plan (if you even have
one, because God knows I didn’t) and set your sights to something
unexpected and unlikely. Escape and find something new. I recommend
the study abroad program- any program, any destination- because it
changes the plan, and if you were like me and hated change once but
now are pining for it: this ticket is for you.
Side of the Chalkboard"
By Fannetta Jones
Last semester, I student taught
at United High School. I taught a lot of wonderful classes, met some
great people that I was proud to call colleagues, and taught some
truly amazing and gifted students. It was tough at times but I made
it through and was able to grow from the experience. However, unlike
most student teachers (well, the ones who are not English majors, at
least), I still had to come back to Monmouth for one last semester
of college. I knew it would be a little different but I did not
expect the challenges that came with it.
to Monmouth as a student was a surprisingly new experience for me.
Though I never left campus while student teaching, I was barely a
part of the “college” experience.
nights were filled with grading papers and trying to find a way to
explain to a student why “because he was a g” is not an acceptable
answer as to why we should study Frederick Douglass. There were many
long nights filled lesson plans and preparing for the next day, but
it was my “norm.” I grew to enjoy and appreciate it. However, I was
looking forward to coming back to campus and having a bit of a
“break,” so to speak, in expectation.
My first week on campus, this
semester, was a whirlwind of experiences. I felt like I was the “new
kid” on campus. I underestimated how long it took to get from one
building to another. I was having a hard time reorganizing my
schedule. It was tough. The biggest ordeal was developing a schedule
for myself. When I was student teaching, I knew I woke up every day
6:30, out by 7:05, made it to school by 7:20, taught two classes,
then a break, taught one more, then lunch, another class, then break
again, then two more classes. I was out of the school by 3:30, back
on campus by 4, dinner at 4:45, then I would grade or write lesson
plans for the rest of the night. The day was very structured and
repetitive and I loved it. But now? Now, I start at 12pm, but only
on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, because Tuesdays and Thursdays
I start at 9:30am. Then I had to get re-accustomed to having 75
minute classes on those Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s just all so
varied. It is a little strange getting used to all of those things
all over again.
Getting back into the mode of
being a student in general was trying as well. I was on campus for
two days before I realized that I hadn’t even gone out to get school
supplies! Although I don’t have too heavy a load of classes, it was
still strange having classes that were so varied. I taught all
English classes and some of the same classes more than once a day.
Now I had to be concerned with English classes as well as the likes
of Citizenship. I felt out of my element. Then, once the assignments
started pouring in, I began to really doubt myself as to whether or
not I could do it. It was a challenge to keep up with the readings
and I was staying up to all hours of the night trying to finish
other assignments. It was my own small version of Hell and I was
burning faster than I ever had before.
Luckily though, I started
getting the hang of it again. I was able to factor in how to wake up
at a decent time every day so that I was used to being awake for the
particular classes. I reformatted my schedule so that I had adequate
time to complete my work for classes. I even started getting back
into “campus life.” I attended events put on by ASAP and joined
friends for fun on Friday nights. Things were starting to return to
some form of normal. Though I can’t stay I exactly feel
“comfortable” on this side of the desk now, I can at least say it no
longer feels so foreign. Plus, I’ve only got another 3 months or so
of this ahead of me, so I think I can tough it out.
What is the best book
you've read so far in 2011?
It's not necessarily the best,
but it's one that I want everyone to read:
How can you go wrong with a Tourettic
protagonist, a shady monk, and a killer the size
of a glacier?
So far this year the best book
I've read is
The Kite Runner
novel I've read this year, by far, has to be Joe Hill's
It's a devilish revenge thriller of friendship, love,
tragedy, and betrayal. Truly great writing, and by far
the most sympathetic characters I've ever seen.
by Kate Chopin
Lucky by Alice
I'd have to say my the by-far best book
I've read this year was The Hunger Games by Suzanne
Collins. It was absolutely brilliant and I devoured
the book in about a day.
My favorite book of the semester is a
nice leisure read. It’s a modern take on Jane Eyre,
Daphne Du Marier, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Lady Audley’s
Secret). It’s kind of a gothic/sensation novel hybrid
and a real page-turner.
Living in Italy has given me the excuse
to finally read Homer's Odyssey. It was a great work of
literature and I've found a lot of paintings and mosaics in
Italy depicting some of the episodes in the poem.