Monday, May 28, 2012

Gearing Up for 2012-13

And so it goes… I have begun to meet with the newest cadre of RAs for the 2012-13 academic year.  Once again, I will meet with the new NYUAD RAs hired from our NYU pool in addition to the 160+ new RAs from NYU Washington Square.  I am always amazed at the depth of their thinking, goals, aspirations, and journeys on this earth.  Each one brings a unique perspective to why they are who they are as individuals.  Their family heritage, personal challenges, and secret indulges are thoughtful, sometimes funny, but always honest.  Today I was asked what percentage of students I meet with say they know what they want to do with their lives. I’d say it has dropped a small bit, but it still seems to be in the 60-70% range.  I met with another newly hired RA who discussed how smiles have changed her approach to life.  I am always amazed at how much the little things in a student’s life impact their decisions and also their drive.  So next time someone asks you “you have a minute?” know that one minute could actually be one that changes another’s life!  Let’s start the new reading year with some great books.  Happy reading all!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring RA Book Club: The Shadow of the Wind

For the Spring 2012 RA Book Club, the RAs chose to read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  This book quickly became one of my favorites!  Below are the reviews from the RAs.

Malina - What a wonderful adventure! A mystery, romance, coming of age all in one beautifully crafted novel. This book was a joy to read, it was easy to read and quickly enraptured the reader. This book is written beautifully in a stylistic but again, understandable and easy to relate with way. This mystery will quite literally keep you turning the pages. Re-discover what it felt like to be innocent and to fall in love from the pure mind of Daniel, as his life entwines with the surreal Julian Carax, an author of a very important novel. There is nothing more I can say without urging a reader to pick up this adventure and enjoy it. I hope you love it. 

Katherine - I absolutely love Shadow of the Wind. Though there were some minor flaws in the book--the ease with which Daniel obtained information, Fumero's consistently evil character and the drastic personality switches throughout the book--I stand firm in giving it a 9 out of 10. Even if the content fell short, the lovely imagery and language kept up intrigue which is all the more impressive for a translation. And personally I don't even believe any of these flaws  negatively impacted the content because I was always interested to read more. Especially towards the end, when I could not put the book down at work and kept making gasping sounds. I'm so glad this book was chosen!

Justin - Shadow of the Wind instantly became one of my favorite books.  The beautiful and expressive language of the author coupled with the intriguing plot of mystery and romance made this one a page turner; I could not put it down.  The story unfolds like an elderly person gingerly opening a beautifully wrapped gift with each and every page revealing a new part of this masterpiece.  The twists and turns magnify the character's personalities and highlight the keen word and theme choices by the author.  Overall, this was an amazing book and something that I would recommend to anyone looking for a truly magnificent read.

Nafeesa -  Shadow of the Wind was an exciting, fast-paced, fantastical novel that had many enjoyable moments. However the book seemed to be unable to make the jump out of fantasy into something tangible and relatable. While I enjoy escapism, the writing was too overtly poetic, as was the plot, for me to find myself immersed in it. I found myself always on the outside, being told a story rather than living the story myself. I appreciated many elements of the novel but I think Zafon would benefit from employing subtlety and perhaps a little less dramatic fan fare than this book exhibits. It was nonetheless a quick, page-turner that will no doubt thrill, scare and move the reader to tears.

Addie - The Shadow of the Wind was one hell of a whirlwind-  a story about forbidden longing, dishonesty, the love of books, and the realization that no one is immortal. My favorite character was probably Fermin because although he went through so much pain and suffering in his past, his love for life and his resilence was so potent and genuine. I also think he was one of the most developed characters. Overall, I gave this book a 8 1/2 out of 10 because it really was able to captivate me to delve into this ever-twining story of multiple stories, which were all told so beautifully.

Maria - The Shadow of the Wind was an absolutely beautiful read. It encompassed everything you could want in a good book: history, mystery, romance, complex characters, beautiful imagery, and the like. I thought Zafòn developed his characters beautifully, and Daniel's growth from a lovesick boy to a interesting yet sometimes difficult to like character seemed to perfectly capture the maturation process of a boy growing up during the Spanish Civil War. Daniel was the epitome of a teenager throughout, talking back to his father and falling in love quickly, but also encompassed all of the qualities of an independent adult due to his unique upbringing. He was often curious to the point of being manipulative, but he had a strong support system around him that put him in check when needed.
The Shadow of the Wind is incredibly relative to almost anyone and, judging by the almost-universal love of this book by our book club, everyone can gain something from it. It was an excellent choice!

James - Despite its eloquent language and well-developed main characters, The Shadow of the Wind concocts a storyline too complex to have any chance at making its author’s hand invisible.  The story twists and turns down the streets of Barcelona, following a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of a forgotten author.  Throughout his journey, he encounters a multitude of “throw-away” characters, and after a short while the story becomes too fantastical as everywhere he turns he uncovers exactly what he is looking for with ease.  There are no roadblocks along the way, causing the author to instead implement his own sort of obstacles to almost prove to the reader that this young boy is getting as far as he does.  Despite the unrealistic nature and transparency of the text, at the end of the day it is still a story, and a good one at that.  Some of the sentiments and “life lessons” that come up along this young boy’s quest – particularly those regarding love and loss – truly speak to the heart, and this story can be an emotionally moving one for some.

Ashwini - While Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón was indeed a novel filled with murder, mystery, and romance, it fell short for me. Though the premise, a young Daniel falling in love with a rare book someone is bent on destroying and tracking the history of its obscure author, was quite interesting, the storytelling had distracting character pitfalls. The author took shortcuts by conveying important developments in the story as flashbacks, letters, or manuscripts rather than as actual events or conversations between characters. Though I did find myself very engaged while reading these parts, I think this freeze-framing of the characters while major parts of the mystery unfolded resulted in underdeveloped characters. The story failed to believably account for the actions of the primary antagonist, Inspector Fumero, which at the end, resulted in a plot hole. Though I’m still glad I read the book for some of the conversations it sparked, I wouldn’t recommend it with enthusiasm.