EL本棚紹介(64) The Best of Archie Comics, Archie Comic Publications

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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There is something special about any popular culture that continues for over 70 years. Archie Comics is one such example, and this book contains some of the most popular stories from between the 1940s to the 2010s. One reason that Archie has survived for so long is because the story is so timeless: most stories center on a group of middle class teenagers having fun and dealing with growing up. Another reason that Archie has survived so long is that the artists keep writing fun stories: sometimes the characters are little children, sometimes they are hunting dinosaurs millions of years ago, sometimes they encounter aliens or superheroes or magic, and sometimes it is a serious drama. Archie Comics also has many spin-off series, like Sabrina the Teenage Witch (about…a teenage witch) and Josie and the Pussycats (about a girl band).

Many of the stories in this collection touch on social issues of their time. In addition, the characters’ personalities, concerns, and even fashion are all connected to the years the stories were written. Of course, the art style has also evolved over the years with different artists and writers. Finally, this book is divided into decades, and the short introductions do a really good job of explaining American culture at that time in history.

My two cents: This is a good book to flip to a random page and start reading. Maybe find a decade you are interested in and start reading there.

EL本棚紹介(63) No One is Too Small to make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Greta Thunberg is a climate activist—she tries to get people to fight climate change. She began by protesting when she was just a teenager. She protested by refusing to go to school and protesting directly to her country’s government. Many other children joined her, and she became internationally-famous for her fight.

This book is a collection of speeches Greta has given to politicians, business leaders, and other high-profile groups. It is a little book, and each speech is very short. She writes in very short, simple sentences, so it is easy to read. She also uses simple metaphors to emphasize her point. For that reason, this book may be good for lower-level English readers. On the other hand, advanced learners can learn about the rhetorical style of activism from it.

My two cents: Because each speech repeats the same topic, I recommend reading just one or two instead of the whole book.

EL本棚紹介(61) Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Neil Gaiman, author of Stardust, Coraline, and Dream Hunters (all on the English Lounge bookshelf), is one of the most celebrated fantasy writers in the world today. This book, like Coraline, is very much a fairy tale. There are witches, a unicorn, magic, flying through the sky, goblins, etc. But it is also creative, charming, and quite unique.

Stardust is the story of a Star who has fallen from the sky in a fantasy world. The Star is being chased by several princes (who need her to become king), some witches (who want to eat her heart), and a young man from England (who promised to bring a fallen star to a girl he is in love with). There are many surprises and twists and turns in the story, which keeps it interesting. The language is also not especially difficult.

Stardust was also made into a movie. You can see the trailer here: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi4018471193/?playlistId=tt0486655&ref_=tt_pr_ov_vi

My two cents: The movie and the book are quite different. You can learn about Hollywood values by seeing what was changed…but for English practice, I recommend watching the movie first and reading the book second.

EL本棚紹介(60) Zits: Screentime, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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This is a comic about being a typical teenage boy in the US. Many of the jokes connect with stereotypes about teenage life. For example, the main character Jeremy sleeps late, hates school, eats a huge amount of food, thinks his parents are really boring, likes cool cars, is obsessed with his girlfriend, and has really big feet. Maybe you can relate to some of these stereotypes? Maybe they seem weird or surprising to you?

Zits, like Pearls Before Swine, is a comic that has been running in newspapers for a long time—since 1997, in fact. Unlike the Pearls volume in the English Lounge, this book of Zits is very recent, from 2020. Where Pearls’ humor is often dark and mean, Zits is light-hearted and kind. Where the former is notorious (famous, in a bad way) for its simple, ugly art style, the latter has gorgeous and complicated pictures inspired in part by Calvin and Hobbes (also in the English Lounge). These two books are interesting to compare.

My two cents: You might be surprised to see one or two political strips in this book. Even though comics are fun for both children and adults in the US, the artists sometimes include serious messages, too.

EL本棚紹介(59) Pearls Before Swine: BLTs Taste so Darn Good, by Stephan Pastis

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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When I was a child, Saturday morning cartoons on the television were very popular. However, I was not excited about them. Every week, I looked forward to reading the comics in the Sunday newspaper. On Sunday, comics were in full color (not black and white) and covered two whole pages of the newspaper. These are the “four-panel comics” (四コマ漫画) famous in Japan—although many comic strips, like Pearls Before Swine, are only three panels, and the Sunday strips are often longer.

Pearls Before Swine has been running for almost 20 years. Its humor is a little dark and often mean, but there is nothing too extreme for children to read. Each comic is just one joke involving character archetypes. An “archetype” is when a character has one or two defining characteristics. Rat is selfish and cynical. Pig is kind, but very, very dumb. Goat is smart and helpful. And Zebra is in a constant battle with the Crocodiles, who want to eat him. Open the book to any page, read a few strips, and see what you think.

My two cents: Understanding humor is a good way to understand part of another culture. Not all Americans like the same humor, but if Pearls has been successful for 20 years, a lot of people must think it’s funny.

EL本棚紹介(58) The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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You know Donald Duck, one of Disney’s most popular characters. Do you know Scrooge McDuck, Donald’s Uncle? Scrooge is so rich that he swims in a giant room full of gold coins. However, he was nor born rich. This book tells the story of Scrooge’s adventures traveling around the world and having many adventures, all while trying to get rich.

Each chapter of this book is a complete story about a different adventure, so you can easily just choose one instead of reading the whole book. As Scrooge travels the world, many of the characters speak world English (or with silly accents), so this book contains some interesting language. If it is too difficult, though, you can just read a story set in America, where most people speak American English. One important issue is that Scrooge encounters several “natives” and “aboriginals” in some of the stories. Because this is an older book, it uses some orientalist or racist stereotypes.

My two cents: This story is part of the American capitalist mythology of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” It is all about working hard by yourself to earn a lot of money—you decide for yourself if the ending is “happy” or not…

EL本棚紹介(57) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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This is a very silly book. Earth is destroyed because aliens want to build a space highway and Earth is in the way. The President of the Galaxy has two heads and three arms. He rides a flying sofa and is incredibly stupid. And Arthur Dent, the last (maybe) human alive, goes on a crazy space adventure with his best friend Ford Prefect and a spaceship that makes the most mathematically improbable things happen.

Hitchhiker’s Guide is a classic and is the first in a series of very silly books. Like other SF titles, this book is full of weird alien names and cultures, and therefore may be difficult read. Also, there is some British English and a very few cultural references that you may not understand. I often tell students to do “extensive reading”(多読). However, this might be a good book for “close reading” (精読). Choose one chapter or even just a few pages and try to understand 100%. Adams is a skillful writer, and you can learn quality English from reading his work.

My two cents: This book is a cultural “touchstone.” When people mention “the number 42” or “babelfish” you will know what they are talking about!

EL本棚紹介(56) Batman: Earth One, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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Batman: Earth One tells the story of how Bruce Wayne becomes the superhero Batman. Of course, there are already many comic books about the origin of Batman. This is an example of how American comic books rewrite the same stories in interesting ways. This version of the story introduces a lot of interesting characters, showing how “Batman” is not just about Batman alone.

Like several other comic books in the English Lounge, this story jumps back and forth in time. Although this might sound confusing, it is not that bad. The artist uses different colors and settings for the present and the past. Just be warned: there are several violent scenes and some implied violence against children.

My two cents: This is a short book that tells a complete story, and you probably already know at least one or two of the main characters. Give it a try!

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7/14 International Hirodai/Sankaku Dialogue – Rethinking Families – Rethinking families: Realities of rainbow families in Japan

Rethinking Families – Rethinking families: Realities of rainbow families in Japan

表題: English Lounge Forum: International HIRODAI

内容:イングリッシュ・ラウンジでは、外国語、留学、異文化理解、また外国語能力を活かしてのキャリア形成を考えるきっかけとなる、5回の講演シリーズを企画しています。

弘前大学学内、また学外より多彩な講師によるトーク、また直接質問できる機会を通して、自分の進路を考えてみませんか。講演は、英語及び日本語で行われます。

詳細:

〇場所 イングリッシュ・ラウンジのセミナールーム/Teams (Teamsコード:zaaqshd)

〇日程 7/13 Wed. 13:00~14:00  [Prof. Yamashita Azusa Office for Promotion of Gender Equality]

10月以降の後期授業開講期間に4回企画されています。

〇その他 登録不要、途中参加・退席OK

提示期間: 2022年7月5日~2022年7月14日

保存期間: 2022年7月14日

EL本棚紹介(55) Jughead with Archie, by Stan Goldberg

[Welcome to the EL Book Introductions series. These posts are all short (<180 words) introductions/reviews of books in the EL library. They focus on telling you what we think will be interesting for you, a college student and English learner, so use them to help you find the right book for you. You can also use the tags to find books about topics you might be interested in.]

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The characters Jughead, Archie, Betty, and Veronica used to be as popular in the US as Sazaesan or Doraemon in Japan. I even remember seeing Archie Comics being sold in the grocery store when I was a child! Jughead is a class clown, Archie is the popular guy who is good at sports, Betty is honest and sweet, and Veronica is rich and daring. Although they might not be that popular anymore, Jughead with Archie is an example of a classic American comic book…and with no superheros!

This book is full of very short stories about Archie, Jughead, and their high school friends. Each story is usually only 1-2 pages. They are all silly and most of the jokes are easy to understand. This is a good, light, read for just about anyone.

My two cents: Because this is a real comic book, there are some advertisements inside that you might find interesting, too.