Monthly Archives: August 2017

Required Reading




When I named this blog “required reading”, I was referring to the books you may have been required to read in your high school English class. I am not saying this blog is required reading but hopefully you will continue reading!

When you were in high school were you required to read certain titles for English class?  The philosophy behind requiring an entire class to read a particular title is that it forces the student to sit down and read and in turn they will develop reading skills they will need in life. It is said that the readers will see the similarities between problems of the past and the present. Do you agree that the reading of the titles helped you develop as a reader and person?


Did required reading just turn you off to reading?  Did you feel that you couldn’t relate to the times and characters in the required reading titles. Did you feel that an old teacher, who knew nothing about you, knew enough to select reading material for you?  Do you feel that any of the titles listed below have any relevance to life in 2017?

These books are often found on required reading lists.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1925

Lord of the Flies by William Golding published in 1954

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee published in 1960

1984 by George Orwell published in 1949

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne published in 1850

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger published in 1951

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck published in 1937

Animal Farm by George Orwell published in 1945

After I question the value of being forced to read any of the above titles, I will let you know that the Central Penn Library does have all of the titles. We also have DVDs of some of the books. If you did not have to read the titles in high school, you can rush to the library to catch up with them now. You can find most of the books in the 813 area of the library.  You may have no desire to catch up with the books listed above but please browse the 813 section for plenty of leisure reading. I hope that you can either continue your love of reading for pleasure or discover that reading is enjoyable and a great escape from your required textbook reading.

We would love to hear your thoughts about required reading vs. reading for pleasure? Are there specific titles you would recommend for required reading? Are there titles you would like to recommend for pleasure reading? Would love to do a blog on books recommended by YOU.


Coming to your sky on August 21st….


partial-solar-eclipse-1154215_640On Monday, August 21st, the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth creating a total solar eclipse for parts of the United States. Here in the Harrisburg area, we will experience a partial solar eclipse. About 75% of the sun will be obscured by the moon. The partial solar eclipse is to begin here at 1:17 pm on August 21st. The maximum eclipse will be at 2:40 pm and end at 3:58 pm. Of course, we are at the mercy of the weather since heavy clouds would block out the event.
So what is the big deal? The last time the United States had a total solar eclipse was in 1979 and that was only visible in the northwestern corner of the country.
If you want to observe a total eclipse and not travel a great distance, you will have to wait until April 8th, 2024. Here in the Harrisburg area, about 92% of the sun will be blocked by the moon at 2:05 in the afternoon. If you travel to Erie, PA you will be able to see a total eclipse in 2024.
One very important thing to remember in observing an eclipse is to never look at the sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without wearing protective eyewear. The sun’s radiation can burn the retinas of your eyes leading to permanent damage. Sunglasses do not qualify as protective eyewear. I noticed that stores such as Walmart and Lowe’s offer special glasses for viewing an eclipse. Another option is to make a DIY card projector. It really is simple. You will need two pieces of stiff white cardboard such as two paper plates. You will also need a thumbtack, sharp pin or a needle for making a tiny hole in the center of one of the paper plates. Make sure the hole is round and smooth. Hold the paper plate with the pinhole above your shoulder with your back to the sun. The second paper plate will act as a screen for you to observe what is happening behind your back. Hold that paper plate in front of you so you can see the inverted image of the sun projected onto it through the pinhole. To make the image of the sun larger, hold the screen paper further away from the paper with the pinhole.


Since the eclipse is an unusual event you may want to take a photo using your phone. You cannot expect to take spectacular pictures due to the limitations of the smart phone lens. Also remember not to look directly at the sun. It is recommended that you take photos of the projection that you have after making a pinhole projector. You will need to get a friend to help you unless you have more than two hands!
Let’s hope for clear skies on Monday, August 21st so we can observe a partial solar eclipse which is not an everyday event!