“Imagine Wanting Only This” – Book Review

Kristen Radtke’s graphic novel Imagine Wanting Only This is an enlightening piece, and memorable. She offers a historical perspective that connects the similarities between the ruins of ancient civilizations and modern abandoned cities, buildings, and towns. But that’s just the bones of the book. Interwoven between the reflections on ancient Egypt, the land of the Incas, and contemporary abandoned mining towns is a personal narrative that is not only one of sorrow, but one of introspection and questioning.

Many images of the empty cities, minus pedestrians and rush-hour traffic, will resonate with those who’ve experienced pandemic lockdowns. I could relate to the haunting images of quiet metropolitan landscapes, empty highways and the feeling of alienation that Kristen portrays. (Note: The book was published in 2017, before the pandemic.)

“What is permanence? . . . There are things we know about the lives we make. I painted this room. I bought this table. I washed the sheets and made this bed. We forget that everything will become no longer ours” (272)

Radtke, Kristen. Imagine Wanting Only This. New York City, Pantheon, 2017.

Ratke expertly braids reflections on who we are and how we live and how we dream with those of our ancestors. What is happiness? What is contentment? And how do we connect with others? 

Two things come to mind that make this book unique from most others that I have read.

1. As a graphic novel, it is a perfect primer for those unfamiliar with reading a book in this form.

2. Categorizing this book into a specific writing genre is an impossible task. Those who attempt to box the book into a storytelling genre (see NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky’s Wanting More From ‘Imagine Wanting Only This) will be disappointed. Is it non-fiction? memoir? creative non-fiction? essay? It is all of these, and multi-dimensional. It can not be squeezed into one box.

Scientists tell us the many villages, towns and cities on this earth will one day soon be covered in water. Where will we rebuild? Who will examine our abandoned homes and skyscrapers? What will they think of us?

This book sticks with you like a dream you can’t quite remember. And in the end, the significance of the title — “Imagine Wanting Only This” — is revealed.


Ebooks Available for Checkout from the LRC

Facebook Cover Photo_Enjoy eBooks Did you know that the LRC offers free eBooks to students and teachers?  We have books in a variety of subjects including classic fiction,  current fiction, and popular nonfiction titles. The LRC Digital Library can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere in the world by visiting the following link: http://dahs.lib.overdrive.com

How to check out an eBook from the DHS Digital Library

Go to the  Digital Library Website http://dahs.lib.overdrive.com/ Continue reading “Ebooks Available for Checkout from the LRC”

New Biographies in the LRC

New Biographies in LRC         If you’re interested in reading about fascinating people in fascinating times, come check out the new, never-been-opened biographies in the library. Read about celebrity Justin Bieber, environmentalist Rachel Carson, composer Leonard Bernstein, President Barack Obama, and female aviator Beryl Markham. Check out the memoirs that include the life story of a woman who hiked, solo, on a 1800 km journey, a man who made his living as an artist, modern-age golfing heroes, a modern archeologist, and a South African writer of the independence era. Check out biographies to read about real people, with real challenges, who influenced the world.

Libraries: Expanding Print Text to the Digital World

The other day a student came into the library looking for a copy of a literary classic. I pulled a copy off the shelf, excited to get a requested book into the hands of a young reader. I couldn’t help but notice, however, the tiny print and the yellowed, discolored pages. I thought to myself, “I’d rather read this book on a clean computer screen.”

A lightbulb switched on in my bibliophile brain.

projectgutenbergMany works in the public domain (no longer under copyright law) are freely distributed online. One site that has been invaluable for educators and students is Project Gutenberg, which offers more than 40,000 free ebooks for download in Kindle, epub, pdf, or html format.

The student happened to have her Macbook with her, so I showed her how search for the book at Project Gutenberg, highlight the html text, and copy it into a Word document to save on her computer. The entire book was on her laptop in less than a minute. When she opened the book on her laptop, her face lit up. She was happy to see that not only could she change the background color of the page, but she could also adjust the font size and text typography of the work, using the “highlight” and “comment” feature in Word to make notes as she read the book. She also noted how to decrease the light on the computer screen to make it easier on her eyes. Best of all? The book was hers to keep: no need to return it to the library.

Check out Project Gutenberg, which offers free, digital books that were previously published by bona fide publishers. Here you can find books by Dickens, Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Thoreau, Ibsen, Kipling, Agatha Christie, the Bronte sisters, Sophocles, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (without illustrations, unfortunately), the Works of Edgar Allen Poe, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and even the illustrated version of Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”.

When downloading ebooks, I suggest making a folder to keep your collection handy, easy-to find, and easy-to-manage. In addition, iPad/iPhone apps such as Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks allow some free ebooks to be read on hand-held devices. Kindle offers access across platforms such as iPod, iTouch, iPad, iPhone, Macs, Blackberries and Androids.

In the end, the yellowed paperback was put back on the shelf. It felt strange to encourage a student not to read a print copy of a library book. But since part of the mission of our library is to “promote the life-long habit of reading”, I couldn’t help but think that connecting our students to the wide array of online options is a way of preparing them for the world-wide trend of moving books from print to digital form. E-books don’t replace the traditional library collection of print books. Instead, they enrich the collection, adding a vibrant and dynamic way to encourage young readers to access books in an environment that they are comfortable navigating.

It behooves us all, especially those of us in love with the printed page of a hardbound book, to be open to new options. After all, our job isn’t to educate our students for our past, but to prepare them for their future. Like or not, digital books are not only future; they are the present.