Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Insanely Busy!

Yes, I know I've been gone ever since last week. Sorry all! But I had a super busy (and fun!) 4th of July weekend and then returned to the office to discover our most productive and awesomest attorney in the firm is quitting so we've all been super super extremely busy. I promise I'll get back to posting soon. I just can't right now :(

Hope you all are doing well and reading lots o' books!

P.S. - I have what I think is a pretty interesting post planned regarding Shakespeare and women coming up. Stay tuned :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

June Reading Round Up

Every month over at What Red Read, my friend, Red, does a monthly “reading wrap-up” where she kind of shows the stats of what she has read for that month. I’ve always thought this was pretty cool and I’ve kept saying again and again “I should do this” but I’ve never ACTUALLY done it. Well heck, I’m doing it this month! Yay me!

Unfortunately I picked one of my slowest reading months to actually kick things off but oh well. Here goes nothing…

# of Books Read:
3 (sheesh!)
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Total # of Pages Read:
1,053 (okay that’s better)

% of Fiction Read:
100% (oops)

% of Female Authors:

% of White Authors:
66.6% (the female author was also African American)

% of U.S. Authors:
66.6% (with one British dude in the mix)

% of E-Books:
0! (more on this later)

Books by the Decade:
2000s: 1
1980s: 1
1950s: 1

Well, if I had been keeping track of this stuff all along I could tell you that this was an off month. For one, I know I usually read books way older than just the 1950s, and more than a total of 3 books in one month (I mean really, 3?!?!). Actually, all month long I’ve been trying to get through The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton but it’s been slow going. Not that I don’t like it, just that it’s one of those slow-reader books. I’m over halfway done. And I’m over halfway done with King Lear as well. But I SHOULD have finished Wharton by now.

So, if I had, my numbers probably would’ve looked a lot more like my normal months. I’d have had 50% for female authors, one e-book in there, a book written in the 1900s decade and a whole lot more pages (though Kindle only tells me the percentage I’ve completed so I’m not really sure what that would be…I’m at about 60% right now so I think the normal book is around 480 pages so that’s…288 pages I’ve read so far…what’s with all this math I’ve been doing lately!).

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my monthly wrap-up. Thanks Red for inspiring me to finally do this. I’m going to TRY and make it a monthly thing, but don’t hold me to that :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Math Time

Well, the good folks at Booking Through Thursday decided to make me try and do some math this week. Whomp whomp. Actually I’m quite good at math I just don’t like it, not one bit!
So this week on the blog hop I was asked:

"What’s the largest your personal library has ever been? What’s the greatest number of books you’ve ever owned at one time? (Estimates are fine.)
Is your collection NOW the biggest it’s ever been? Or have you down-sized?
What’s the fewest number of books you’ve ever owned (not counting your pre-reading years)?"
Hmm…this is when I decided to break out my handy dandy calculator! You see, my books are kind of scattered about my apartment. So, let’s work with nice round numbers and try and add it up, going place by place, to get a good guesstimate. First there are my two teeny tiny bookshelves. They really aren’t fit for an avid reader and blogger like myself but I’m poor so they’ll have to do for now. They’re only three rows high and each shelf has about 15 books on it…so that’s 90 books on my shelves. Then there are about 10 or so on my nightstand…so that brings the total so far up to an even 100. I have a nice wicker basket in my living room where I’ve been storing my recent bookstore purchases (they don’t fit anywhere else) and I think that houses a good 15. Plus I know I remember seeing 3 lying on my kitchen counter this morning…so we’re at 118. Are we counting Kindle books? I own about 60 Kindle books (all free, woohoo!)…so that’s 178. Oh and one book is tucked away in my purse right now for me to read at lunch (King Lear).

So that’s a total of 179 books. Not too shabby for someone always proclaiming to be broke and have no space!

As far as the fewest number of books I ever owned? Well that was probably back in college when the only books I bought were for school. But still, I was a history major and you had to buy at least 10 books per course per semester (at the end of each semester I’d sell the books back). Taking a total of 4 classes each term that still put me at around 40 books.

So what’d your book math add up to?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review for You - Bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey
5 stars
Do you ever have that problem when you like a book so much that it becomes hard to talk about? Therein lies the dilemma I face with Bossypants. I know my reviews normally follow a specific pattern: first half I summarize; second half I give my response and analysis. Well, this isn’t going to work for this book because well, it’s just a different book. My whole response to this book was emotional and I loved it.

I guess you could call Bossypants a memoir. Most of it is about Tina Fey’s life. Her early childhood all the way through her rise to tv stardom. But it’s so much more. Yes, she talks about her family and her time working at the YMCA in Evanston (hey, that’s my hometown!) and her interviewing for the writing job at Saturday Night Live, but she also has a whole chapter where she addresses random internet comments that say negative things about her in a lovely sarcastic humor that just rolled right off the page.  Then she has a chapter where she basically creates a list of things she wants to tell her daughter. Funny yet sincere and heartfelt. Oh and I can’t forget the chapter where she finds out all the possible things about her body that can be “incorrect” and she lists them off. So you see, this book doesn’t follow the normal bookish patterns.

I knew before buying this book the Tina Fey was a feminist but I was not expecting this book to be SO feminist, if that makes any sense. It was enlightening to say the least. It was infused in almost every chapter. She hits on topics such as breastfeeding, being a woman in show business, dating and more. And by adding some light (and sometimes not so light) humor in at times it really makes for a well-balanced book instead of just feeling like you’re being force fed someone’s political agenda (which even if you agree with their point of view can get annoying).

Honestly, I had no intention of buying this book. I had heard the reviews and everyone had written about how funny it was but I tend to shy away from bestsellers. As much as I love Tina Fey I figured I’d probably borrow it from the library a few years down the line, once the hype died down. However, the book kept calling to me. All the other bloggers seemed to be reading it so I grabbed it. And I’m so glad I picked it up. It was so much more than just a funny book. So so much more.

As I said, this is a hard review to write. I’m sure I haven’t really given you all much to go on other than me gushing over how feminist the book was and how I loved it, but trust me, it’s a good one. I never spend more than $10 on a book and I bought this hardcover in the airport at full price ($26!!) and I don’t regret it at all. I guess to sum up I’ll just leave you with some humorous quotes:

In response to one of her internet “fans” who commented that she was an “ugly, pear-shaped, bitchy, overrated troll:”

“I hate for our correspondence to be confrontational, but you have offended me deeply. To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.”
In the chapter The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter:

“O Lord, break the Internet forever,
That she may be spared the misspelled invective of
her peers
And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel
V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.”
And from that same chapter:

“And when one day she turns on me and calls me a
Bitch in front of Hollister,
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a
cab in front of her friends,
For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.”

Commenting Update!

My blogging buddy Laurie over at What She Read has been talking to me to try to help me out with this whole commenting mess. As a lot of you probably are aware, there has been a problem with Google Friend Connect and Blogger lately where some people cannot post comments. This obviously SUCKS. Well Laurie said the problem seems to go away if I change my comments to the pop-up format. So I just did that and hopefully this works. As you all know I love comments (and you guys!) and would hate to have anything get in the way of you all being able to comment on my blog. So we'll try this out and *fingers crossed* hopefully everything will work out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some Feminist Reading Perhaps?

Well I’m having a pretty busy day at work (the other legal assistant where I work is on vacation, lucky girl!) so I figured I’d just post some links (feminist links, hooray!) for you all to check out when you had some time.

This is what I’ve been looking at around the interwebs as of late:

As a lot of you probably know it’s Pride Month and also New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the marriage equality bill into law last Friday. So that’s pretty kick ass. But there’s still more to go, as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand points out here.

Then there’s the world according to doucheface, Scott Adams, otherwise known as the man behind Dilbert. Apparently men rape women because it’s a “natural instinct” and it’s all really society’s fault now. Bad society! Oh, but if you don’t get his point you’re just bad at reading comprehension, so there.

Finally, I’ll point you over to HuffPo where Lisa Bloom is talking about her new book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World. Really interesting piece.

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reviews To Come...Get Excited!

Hello all my lovely loyal followers! And how are you on this dreary day? Well at least it’s dreary in the dull state of Illinois. I say dull because it’s rained for probably the last 8 out of 10 days, or at least looked as though it’s about to rain. Boo I say!

Anyway, I thought (since I’m soooo behind) I’d give you all an update on what to expect out of me review-wise in the coming weeks. I’ve finished about five books that I have yet to review and that’s just a few too many in my opinion. Sure, I like to be about a book or two ahead, but five?!?! No thanks. I’d like to promise that in the next week or two I’ll be doing more than one review a week in order to catch up, but that’s a guarantee I’m not willing to hold myself to, haha. But I will TRY.

So these are the five books I have slated for my awesome review treatment:

Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Just as a heads up, these books were all pretty good. One was mag-freakin-nificent even! But you’ll have to wait to see which one that was. And of course, who doesn’t want to actually READ my in-depth reviews, which are just awesome sauce in and of themselves?

So stick around folks :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review for You - The Husband

The Husband by Dean Koontz
2.5 stars

Every once in a while you need to sit back and read something that will not really take a lot of effort. That’s the perfect time to pick up a Dean Koontz novel. They’re thrilling and intense, but not too intense so that you have to do a lot of heavy thinking.

The Husband is a pop-fiction mystery thriller about a landscaper named Mitchell Rafferty. He’s basically an all-around nice guy that has married his dream girl and is trying to put away a little money at a time working in his nice little self-made business. But everything drastically changes for him when he gets a call that his wife has been kidnapped. They want one million dollars or she’s dead. And to show they mean business they kill a man walking his dog right in front of him.

But how on earth is he ever supposed to raise that kind of money? He’s just a small-time landscaper. The kidnapers must know this. His mind races as he runs back to his house to search for his wife. There he finds a gruesome scene. The kitchen is smeared with blood. It’s obvious that, as the kidnappers told him, his house has been staged to look like he had murdered his own wife. With a police detective hot on his trail asking lots of curious questions, Mitchell goes to seek the help of his older brother, Anson.

Anson was always the smart one in the family. He adhered to the strict and very strange teachings of their weird parents and excelled. Mitchell is sure he can help. Anson is sure he can too because he’s helped many of his siblings when they were in jams before, albeit not as horrible as this. He’s made a fortune in his lifetime and thinks he can get the money together to pay the ransom for Mitchell’s wife. But will it be in time? Terrifying events unfold as Mitchell fights to find and rescue his wife and he learns the true reason behind her kidnapping.

I will not say this is Koontz’s best novel but it was definitely a fun read for what it was supposed to be. The twists and turns are very quick and it kept me very much entertained. Like most of Koontz’s work, a few of the plot twists I saw coming but a few of them I did not. And in the end one has to kind of suspend disbelief a little bit in one instance. I remember kind of rolling my eyes a little bit and just wanting them story to finish up when I was about 20 pages from the end point. But overall it was good. Nothing great, but good.

The problem is that I know Koontz is capable of more, where he ensnares the reader from the get go and you really don’t see any of the twists coming. So this was only an average outing for a Koontz novel. A good book to pass the time with but nothing more really.

One good thing about this that I can share is that the wife, Holly, is a pretty good heroine. She doesn't play the victim and is a thinker. The whole time while she is kidnapped she isn't thinking "oh, poor me," she's trying to analyze the situation and get herself out of there. She uses her brain and cunning and shows that even though she's a technically a victim she's not in fact helpless. I liked that part a lot.

P.S. Blogger won't let me upload pics right now so no pic of the cover for you :(

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Love the Blog Life!

Happy Blogoversary The Broke and The Bookish! If you all don’t know about this blog and this great weekly meme, Top Ten Tuesday, you should hop over there now and check it out. As part of their one-year blogoversary they’re doing some special posts and also hosting a great couple giveaways (I entered and so should you!).

This week’s Top Ten is something I think we can all relate to: Top Ten Reasons We Love Book Blogging!
1. The people I’ve “met.” The book blogging community is serious awesome sauce (that’s a term I notice I’ve been using a lot lately). We’re all so nice and supportive of each other. And we’re just fun! It’s great to have people to talk to all the time about my great love: books! We talk via comments on each other’s blogs, Twitter, Shelfari, Goodreads. It’s just wonderful :)

2. I read more. I mean okay, I was always a reader. But now thanks to this blogging business I’m reading even more. A day without reading is like…well I don’t know what it’s like because I don’t do it.

3. It’s created an outlet for me from my horrible job. I’ve said it on here before and I’ll say it again: I do not like my job. Not even a little bit. But she pays the bills. However I do love books and talking about books so blogging about them seemed like a natural step. And this blog and helped pass the time or clam me down when my job has been slow or super stressful. Super super helpful in those regards.

4. It has made me realize possibly what I want to do with my life. That would be something with books of course! Now, I haven’t narrowed this down entirely but I’m thinking something in the publishing industry. I just don’t really know how to get into that field. Like what do I need to go back to school for? English? Journalism? But I’m excited at the possibilities.

5. All the cool things I’ve learned! Being in this great book blogging community, you learn things, like interesting news tidbits and what have you, that you otherwise would probably never hear about. When I’m on Twitter all my friends post these great links to these great articles or giveaways or I’ll learn that one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out and I didn’t even know about it. I’m so connected now. I’m just super awesome.

6. Surveys, lists and memes! I know it sounds silly, but I think these things are really fun. Am I a huge dork? Probably. But I seriously love taking surveys and analyzing lists and participating in interesting memes. When I see a new list out I cannot help but get excited thinking about how I can input it into my blog and make it fun for my followers.

7. It’s helped with my writing. I love to write but a few years ago I kind of just stopped. Very serious case of writer’s block. But because of the blog I’m obviously back into it. Most of my actual writing is very serious in tone (so not like my blog at all) but at least with my sarcastic funny blog I’m exercising my creative energies again. And with that comes the other writing.

8. Reviews, reviews, reviews! I love reviewing books and I thought my reviews were pretty good when I started this whole blogging thing. Boy, I don’t even like looking back at the first few I did. Now I like to think mine are much more complex and just, well, better (and hopefully that growth will just continue). And I love writing a review and getting a comment from a follower that says how much they appreciated the time I put into reviewing this book and how it maybe helped them decide whether or not to read it. Also I get to read reviews on other blogs that really help ME seal the deal on a book that I maybe wasn't too sure about. Because I really trust my blogging buddies. That’s what it’s all about people!

9. My precious followers. Yup, I’m sentimental when it comes down to it. I just love you guys! It really does make me feel special when I get comments and shout-outs and whatnot. I never thought when I started this blog a mere five months ago that I’d even HAVE this many followers. You’re all awesome!

10. Um, I just love books. That’s obvious right? Any excuse to talk my butt off about books is alright with me. Books books books. And while I AM getting more people in my real life interested in the world of literature (they’re bending to my will), I think they’d be bored to tears if I talked to them about books as much as I talked to y’all about all stuff literary. As I said in my post about my overflowing TBR pile on Thursday last week, I’m simply an addict when it comes to books. And I’m okay with it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

30 Harshest Author-On-Author Insults

Hahahaha! I cannot contain my laughter as I read through this really hilarious collection on Flavorwire of 30 great author-on-author insults. It’s simply fantastic and I had to share it with you all. As Emily Temple states, authors nowadays simply “don’t insult each other like they used to.” With such elegance and creativity behind their words, it’s like it used to be a sport!
Please take a little bit of time to click through this article and find some good ol’ insults. Let me point out two of my favorites:

William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway: “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

So enjoy my precious followers! And pass it on :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

You're Kidding Right?

Okay, it's blog hopping time! Woohoo!
This week, the good people over at Crazy-for-Books are hosting this great hop with a really fun and ridiculous question:

“How many books are currently in your To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile?”
Seriously?!?! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! How do I even begin to answer this one? Legends have been told about the great pile that is my TBR pile. It haunts my dreams the magnitude of this stack. And yet I keep adding to it! Every single day! There are just too many books.

The most accurate count of my TBR pile is probably on Shelfari where the approximate number is 183. But even that is pure rubbish. I carry around a little notepad in my purse in which I am constantly jotting down books I want to read one day and those don’t normally make it to the website. Then there are all the books on the shelves of my parents’ house. So many books! Basically all of those are in my eventual-TBR, it’s just a matter of time before I steal borrow them.

I try to tell myself I’ll stop adding to my TBR list. One day I’ll just cut myself off. Like someone with a serious drug habit or something. I need to see someone about this problem. Do they have some sort of rehab facility I could check myself into? I’ve seriously said to myself “okay, I’m not going to add anything else to my TBR for this whole summer.” And lo and behold, the next day there are 5 shiny new books in the pile. It’s like I blacked out and it just happened! I don’t even know how!

So really let’s just round up to a nice even number…1,000. No no. That’s too small. 3,000. That sounds more accurate. Oh, just found another one to add. 3,001.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Help Please!

Just a quick post here...I need your help. I'm looking for classic literature written by authors that are NOT English or American.
As many of you know I am one of the administrators of the Shelfari group Who Doesn't Love a Classic. Well, one of my main tasks in this group is to pick an author for our bi-monthly group read (I switch between male and female authors each time). But I mostly only know of classic authors from England and America, and of course some Russians (but they intimidate me, shhh don't tell!). But I'd really like to branch out. Other countries, ethnicities, etc. Now, we mainly go for works written in the early 1900s or before. I just really don't know where to start and need some good suggestions. I figured asking you all would be a good jumping off point :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review for You - Unwind

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
4 stars
Connor, Risa and Levi are three teens who are about to be unwound; however all three handle it extremely differently. In this YA novel set in the not-so-distant future, unwinding is a procedure that was reached as a compromise between the pro-life and pro-choice camps after a bloody war. While abortion is now illegal, parents have the option of “unwinding” their children once they reach the age of 13 (this option expires once the child turns 18 however). Unwinding seems to appease both sides because it’s a way to live on forever while not actual being truly alive. In a sense, the children forcefully donate every single piece of their body, organs, limbs, skin, everything, to other humans. Though apparently this compromise was originally intended as a joke but somehow ended up being taken seriously. Eerie indeed.

Connor is a trouble maker. Always was. He accidentally found his unwind order in his father’s drawer. He’s pissed. He runs away. Risa is a ward of the state. Almost all those kids get unwound at some point. She knew this long ago. Unless they’re exceptional in some way. She tried to be exceptional at the piano, but it wasn’t enough. She’s on her way to the unwind facility (known as “harvest camps”) when her bus gets into an accident and she escapes and meets Connor. Levi is a tithe. He’s the tenth child in his very religious family and he’s just turned 13. He’s known all his life he was special, born to be given away as a gift (because, as very religious people do, you give a tenth of all you have to the church). He’s going to the unwinding facility full of excitement and purpose. But then he gets pulled out of his car by Connor and kidnapped. All of this happens very quickly and suddenly the three of them are together in the woods.

The three teens (Connor and Risa are older than Levi) don’t exactly have a plan but Connor and Risa are determined to keep going and hopefully make it to their eighteenth birthdays. Once they do they know they can no longer be unwound no matter what. But Levi feels cheated. He was supposed to be sacrificed and now it’s all ruined. But throughout their travels they learn a lot about each other and they all change in ways they never imagined, Levi possibly most of all. And what happens as they all REALLY start to deal with the repercussions of them becoming AWOL unwinds is where it gets incredibly interesting...and dangerous.  

I never really read YA books but this was very interesting. I guess you could tell it was YA in that the sentences weren’t as elaborate or descriptive as a lot of the other books I read but that didn’t detract from the reading experience. While the subject matter was very heavy the writing focused much more on intense action scenes to keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. However there were definitely a couple of thought-provoking lines by the main characters that got me to scratch my head. It would make me wonder at times whether the author himself was pro-life or choice. But in the end I think that either way the reader had to come to their own conclusions about the story in that regard and that was part of what made it intriguing.

One quote that I wrote down that I found particularly biting was this:

"People shouldn't give away babies that get left at their door," Lev finally says.
"People shouldn't stork their babies," Risa responds.
"People shouldn't do a lot of things," says Connor. He knows they're both right, but it doesn't make a difference. In a perfect world mothers would all want their babies, and strangers would open up their homes to the unloved. In a perfect world everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn't a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is.

I think that last part is so true and can be applied not just to the pro-life or choice fight, but to so many other things going on in the world.

Plus, as a bonus that I almost forgot to mention, the main female character in the novel, Risa, is pretty kick-ass which is awesome. It's great to have a book for younger people that has a good female lead. She's incredibly smart, independent and resourceful. A great positive for the book!

Overall I gave it 4 stars, which for a YA novel is pretty impressive coming from me. And I think this works for someone on either side of the fence when it comes to this tricky topic. A definite recommend.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Reading!

Well, it’s almost officially summertime. Hooray! Summer is my favorite season. I love love love warm weather and in Chicago it’s kind of hit or miss whether or not we actually GET a summer or not. Last year: yes. The year before: nope. So far this June has been rather annoying. We had a couple days of killer heat (and I mean killer! it was in the 90s with blazing sun. that’s even too hot for me) and then it sunk back down to the 50s and 60s and rain rain rain. Yuck! It seems like it’s slinking back up to the 70s and 80s soon though but I still see a bunch of rain in the forecast. Boo.

Anyway…with summer for a lot of people comes some fun reading. Time to catch up on some books you’ve been meaning to get to or participate in some summer challenges or just sit back with some beachy-type reads.

For me it’s the first two. As you all know, my TBR pile floweth over. One book I really really want to get to this summer (okay, it’s really a play, not a book, but whatever) is King Lear by Shakespeare. I’m always ashamed when I claim to be a huge Shakespeare fan but yet I have to admit I’ve never read that one. So this summer, come hell or high water, I’m going to get to it!
Then I’m also participating in a fun summer reading challenge with a group I’m in through Shelfari. It’s not the group I run, Who Doesn’t Love a Classic, it’s another one where I’m just a lowly member, but that’s okay ;)
It’s the Bibliophile Reading Group and the challenge is like this:

1. Read 3 books that are Book-of-the-Month’s from June-August (this group has about 3-4 books each month that they read so there will be a bunch to choose from).
2. Read a book that has a summer theme on the title (For example, The Beach by Alex Garland)
3. Read a book that has at least 400 pages.
4. Read a book that starts with the letter of your first name or last name (this would be “L” for me).
5. Read a book that has at least one of the summer colors on the cover: red, yellow, and orange.

And the trick is you can only use one book per number. So even if I read a book that would work for say #2,3 and 4, I would have to choose which number to use it on. So you have to read seven books total. And there are mini-challenges posted along the way too.

I think I’ve figured out most of the books I’m going to be reading to fit in with the numbers, aside from the Book-of-the-Months that is. For #2 I’m going to either read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island or Aldous Huxley’s Island (get it?). I’ve already done #3 because I just recently finished The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk which was well over 400 pages. And for #5 I’m going to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon because the cover is entirely reddish-orange and I just bought it (oh, and I’ve heard great things).

The only one I don’t know about is #4, the “L” book. Maybe Liza of Lambeth by Maugham? Not sure yet. Any good suggestions?

What are your summer reading plans? Any good challenges? Taking it easy? What’s going on with you all :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Are You a Light Reader?

Do you do any "light" reading?

A friend of mine made a joke the other day when I mentioned I was reading The Color Purple saying "oh, just a little light reading to start your summer?" (and if you've read The Color Purple you'll get the joke). Well, it got me to thinking that I never actually do any light or breezy type of reading. I mean, even my "light" reading is usually a thriller or murder mystery of some sort. Even the books that I pick up thinking it's supposed to be just a fun ride (i.e. Bossypants) turn out to be really thought-provoking in ways I never expected. Those books that are described as just "fun" reads or "beach" reads don't seem to ever be on my TBR. I always seem to sway towards the heavier stuff, or at least more gritty. Stuff with a punch!

Am I alone? Am I missing out?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Me? Buy Books?

Hmm, last time I decided to participate in a blog hop on a Thursday the whole bloggerverse went crazy and then I went into self-banishment mode for several weeks. So why oh why oh why would I ever want to attempt this crazy Thursday blog hop nonsense ever again? Have I gone bonkers? Am I losing my senses? Well Blogger, I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if YOU are…

So without further ado, here I am participating in this weeks Booking Through Thursday! The question:

“All things being equal (money, space, etc), would you rather own copies of the books you read? Or borrow them?”
Okaaaaayyyy. Well. I am a very very active member of the Chicago Public Library. It is not often that I do not have a book (or three!) on hold. Right now I have two CPL books at home on my coffee table (that reminds me, I need to return them before Monday). However, the main reason for this is because I am broke. Yup, I’ve said it many times before on this blog and I’ll say it again: money, she is tight. So I borrow books whenever I can. I steal borrow them from my parents. Would I prefer to own all my books? OF COURSE!! Well, the ones I actually like anyway (if they stink I prefer if they never grace my bookshelves again). But that would be fiscally irresponsible. And I’m Jewish, that’s just not our way. However I did go on a book buying splurge last Friday. Whoops! Sssh, don’t tell anyone…

Shakespearean Cologne Anyone?

This link was passed on to me by a friend that knows I am a diehard Shakespeare lover and I thought you all would appreciate it as well. It’s a website called Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab that sells perfumes and colognes but the fun thing about it is that all the scents are named after characters in Shakespearean plays! Neat huh (yes I said the word neat)? I think they also have scents named after other classic novel works and characters but I like the Shakespeare thing the most. I mean, if you just read the descriptions of each perfume it’s perfect. Like this one:

Lady Macbeth: The essence of ambition, covetousness and manipulation: sweet Bordeaux wine, blood red currant, thyme and wild berries.

Oh and this one:

Yorick: Grave dirt, bone, decay, angel's trumpet, and moldering scraps of shroud: the essence of finality.

Aren’t those great?!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Musings on Beloved...Continued From the Other Day

Does anyone actually like, I mean really like, the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison? I ask this after our discussion on dialect being used as a storytelling device the other day. It got a lot of feedback and most of that feedback that involved this particular book was negative. I’m not going to say it necessarily surprised me because I didn’t really like the book either, but it was curious. So I wanted to discuss it a bit further. And by "it" I meant this book.  
Now, I thought Beloved was a very important book to have read. I was glad to have read it. But I couldn’t say that I liked it. Interesting how that stuff works, isn't it? It's only happened with a few books. It was a very challenging and disturbing read. Any of you who have read the book I'm sure can understand what I mean. It's about a fugitive slave woman that kills her one daughter and attempts to murder her other children when she's caught by authorities and then spends the rest of the story haunted. See? Disturbing. And the dialect was very difficult to get through. More difficult than any other book that I can recall right now actually. But I cannot say that I particularly liked it.

But, if I recall correctly, the reason I picked up the book in the first place was because it had gotten so much critical praise. I mean, it won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Times declared it to be the one of the best works of fiction in the last 25 years. It said these things right on the back cover.

But almost everyone I talk to thinks this is certainly NOT one of Morrison’s best works. So that begs the question then, what do the critics see in it that almost everyone else does not? Is it the subject matter? But it’s not like Morrison’s other books don’t deal in grim and disturbing subject matters as well. What do you all think? Or who out there agrees with the critics? Who thinks this IS her best book? All opinions welcome!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dialect or No Dialect?

Quickly now, because I don’t have much time…how do you all feel about books written in dialect? I know some people that simply refuse to read books that are written this way which I think is ultimately a shame because they miss out on some sure winners but at the same time I understand because they can be difficult to read.
I recently (as in today) started The Color Purple by Alice Walker and so far so good, but of course it’s written using dialect and at first it was rather difficult to settle in. Now I think I’ve adjusted to this type of writing in the book so I understand what’s going on more but I must admit that the first several pages were somewhat of a blur.

I remember when I read Beloved over a year ago, that was some of the most difficult dialect writing I’ve ever come across. So, like I said, I can understand why people would avoid books that utilize this device of storytelling. What are your feelings? Do you like it because it makes the book feel more authentic? Do you feel it’s an unnecessary annoyance? I’m curious :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

VS Naipaul and a Healthy Dose of Sexist Garbage

I just have to share my frustration…. It’s not even anger because I feel like this guy is really really trying to pull out the “look at me, I’m not politically correct and say what’s on my mind, aren’t I awesome?” card and that’s just…well annoyingly dull. It’s been done, as they say. But I still had to share.

Many of you have probably heard of VS Naipaul, a Nobel laureate from Trinidad who seems to constantly be trying to get on everyone’s last nerve. Well, last time I think it was the Muslims he was pissing off, now it’s women. Yup, the whole lot of us. In this article over at The Guardian, Naipaul claims that there is no woman, living or dead, that can parallel him in terms of writing. He’s just that good people. Oh wait, also it’s because women “unequal to [him]” and have a “narrow view of the world.”

Well that settles it! Women writers are sucky and male writers are just awesome-sauce. Especially this guy, who apparently we should all bow down to because he’s such a literary genius. Glad we have that sorted out.

He also goes on to state that “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me." Isn’t sexism fun everyone? The Guardian even has this fun little test to see if YOU can be as cool as Naipaul. Give it a shot. I got 5 out of 10 right.

So, there’s my rant of the day. Hope you enjoyed it. Oh, and if you’re a female writer you might as well give up now.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My TBR Alphabet

Okay, well I got this from over at Book World in My Head, but I’m changing it up a little bit. She’s doing hers as a challenge but for me I think it would just be fun to see if I could come up with a book/author for each letter that I wanted to read!

So, my A-Z list goes like this: the letter has to correspond to the author’s last name and it can be any type of book I want it to be (fiction, non-fiction, bio, whatever! my blog, my rules!). Let’s see if I can come up with a TBR list as long as the alphabet…

A – Atwood, Margaret: The Blind Assassin
B – Butler, Octavia: Kindred
C – Chopin, Kate: The Awakening
D – Du Maurier, Daphne: My Cousin Rachel
E – Eggers, Dave: Zeitoun
F – Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary
G – Grann, David: The Lost City of Z
H – Housseini, Khaled: The Kite Runner
I – Isben, Henrik: A Doll’s House
J – Junger, Sebastian: A Death in Belmont
K – Krakauer, Jon: Into Thin Air
L – Larson, Erik: In the Garden of Beasts
M – Maugham, W. Somerset: Liza of Lambeth
N – Nitsch, Gunter: Weeds Like Us
O – O’Brien, Tim: The Things They Carried
P – Plath, Sylvia: The Bell Jar
Q – Baaaah! I can’t think of one :(
R – Rand, Ayn: Atlas Shrugged
S – Shakespeare, William: King Lear
T – Toole, John Kennedy: A Confederacy of Dunces
U – Uruburu, Paula: American Eve (this was a tough one!)
V – Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughterhouse Five
W – Walker, Alice: The Color Purple (I’ll be starting this soon)
X – Xinran: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother (wow, I actually had an x!)
Y – Oh no, no y’s either?
Z – Zamyatin, Yevgeny: We

Well, that was tough in some spots. I ALMOST got a complete list. Anyone know any good ones for Q and Y?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Short Story Standout: The Other Side of the Hedge

Okay, even though Short Story Month officially ended yesterday, since I took an extended blogging absence I didn’t actually get a chance to post about any of the short stories I read. For shame! Well just because it’s June now doesn’t mean I can’t talk to you about one short story I found particularly awesome.

It was The Other Side of the Hedge by E.M. Forster. Now, it’s really a very short read but I found it truly remarkable. The gist is that there is a man walking down a road, he decides to go through the hedge and ponders his journey. Oh but it’s so much more!

I’m not religious at all so I could tell I was definitely not getting a lot of the intended symbolism, but even to me I got the feeling that this story was about the journey of life and the passage into death. And I guess some could see this as a passage into heaven, though since I’m not religious I saw it as much more grim. There was an eerie chill while reading it.

After reading the story (which had a great little twist at the end which I won’t spoil), I wanted more information. I started googling and found this great little synopsis: (there are many others on the web but I really liked what this person wrote). Reading this made me want to go back and read the story again because I feel it would have even more meaning the second time, especially with some more knowledge in my belly.

If any of you come across this wonderful short story, please read it, you won’t regret it. I had never read anything by E.M. Forster before but now I’m eager for more!

I'm Back!

Argh, I'm really sorry to have disappeared on you all for so long. I could come up with some fancy excuse like I’ve had amoebic dysentery or something, but that would be a lie. In truth, I just got fed up with Blogger after that incident several weeks ago where it erased my posts and comments for a few days. It was annoying to me especially that something I do for fun, such as blogging, was being ruined by the stupid interwebs. And then also I realized that I had started taking this all a bit too seriously seeing as how it does not provide me any sort of income whatsoever (though I seriously do love blogging and talking about books in general but I would love it more if I was a rich person and didn't have to concern myself with silly things such as money). My job was getting more intense and so I had to make the choice to focus more on that, even though I despise my job.

So I decided weeks ago to take a little bit of time away from the blogosphere (sorry I didn't inform you all). At first it was just going to be a couple days, but then I realized that my nights were getting very very busy and when I wanted to come back to Blogger I simply didn’t have the time. Then when I did have the time my creative mind wasn’t really flowing to come up with good posts or reviews for you all to enjoy. Did someone say Catch 22?

All in all, I was just spent. But, as the title indicates, I’m back now. And even though I wasn’t posting these last few weeks, I WAS definitely reading. But now I owe you all who knows how many reviews. One day (one day!) I’ll be caught up. I predict around 2017…

In conclusion: hope you missed me; I missed you all; I’m back.

Friday, May 13, 2011

WTF Blogger?!?!

So, I did something yesterday I don't normally do, I participated in some blog hops. That's right, more than 1. I did 2! And I had fun! And silly me, I didn't save my posts in Word like I should have because now...Blogger has gone and erased them both!!!

I'm really really really ticked off. People had already commented on them too but those are gone. Blogger even erased the comments people had made on my review for The Remains of the Day on Wednesday.

What is going on?!?!

Is anyone else having this problem? Please don't let it just be me. BEYOND FRUSTRATED.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Literary Blog Hop - Literary? I Think Not!

Second blog hop of the day (I'm on a roll!) is from over at The Blue Bookcase.
For this week's Literary Blog Hop the question is:
What books have you read that have been hyped as literary and, in your opinion, were not?
So I don’t know why this book didn’t pop in my head immediately, but it should have because I’ve complained about it enough. Atonement by Ian McEwan! I read it about a year ago and I remember being very excited about it at the time. My mother recommended it to me because it was one of those books that everyone was talking about as “will definitely be a future classic” and she knew I was a re-born classic enthusiast. She said the language and descriptive text was beautiful. The story was breathtaking. And so on…so perfect fit right? Wrong. I was not a fan. Maybe I’m the only one but I thought it was simply trying too hard to be literary and “classic.” Maybe it was because at that time I was reading actual classics but it just rang completely false to me, I don’t know. But I found myself rolling my eyes throughout most of the book. Needless to say, I’m not picking up another McEwan anytime in the near future.

Booking Through Thursday - Your Reading Range

So I'm blog hopping it today (yes that is to a thing!) and I figured I'd stop by the Booking Through Thursday hop. The question this week is:
Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?
Well...I think, for the most part, I read books within my age group. I mean, I’m a classics-lover and I’m in my late (oh the misery!) twenties now so I’d say that’s the right age group for that stuff right? I mean, when I was supposed to be reading most of this stuff in high school I would argue that I was too young to really appreciate and understand a lot of it (hence why I DIDN'T actually read the books assigned in class). But now, reading the books on my own, I love them!

I mean, I do occasionally delve into a YA if I get a really good recommendation from a friend. And I must say that then I am very rarely disappointed. Like recently I read the YA novel Unwind by Neal Shusterman. It’s a dystopian novel (which, as most of you know, I thoroughly enjoy) and I think it was very well done. My review on that should be coming soon.

Also, being a lover of classic novels, I do also pick up the occasional children’s classic. I mean, how can one go wrong with those? You can’t!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review for You - The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
4 stars
This third novel by Kazuo Ishiguro starts by Stevens, an English butler at the distinguished Darlington Hall, deciding to take a motoring trip through the English countryside. He does this for a few reasons. One, he has never really seen much of the country in which he has lived because he has spent his lifetime dedicating himself thoroughly to his employers. Two, his current employer, Mr. Farraday, is an American and will be out of the country for some time and as Mr. Farraday has pointed out to him on numerous occasions, there is no point in Stevens staying around to tend to an empty house.

But the main reason Stevens decides to go on the trip is to visit Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper of Darlington Hall. Currently Stevens has realized that the Hall has somewhat of a staffing problem and he decides that Miss Kenton is the solution. And her last letter to him suggested that she did miss Darlington Hall and that her marriage had basically ended. Although Stevens spends many days re-reading the letter again and again and over analyzing every word.

During his travels Stevens reflects on the old times at Darlington Hall and his former employer, Lord Darlington himself. His memory in many places seems to play tricks on him but soon it seems Stevens is trying to convince himself, as he’s obviously run into this problem before, that his old employer was not an anti-semite. That those horrible rumors were not true. That Lord Darlington always treated Stevens with respect. Whether he is actually convincing or not I guess is up to the reader.

Also as he nears his meeting with Miss Kenton he reflects on his time with her in Darlington Hall. He admits that their relationship started off on rather a rocky footing, actually very rocky, but soon grew to a very mutual respect. But throughout Stevens’ constant quest to obtain the persona of a dignified butler at all times, something Stevens talks about at length, it is obvious that he misses certain social cues from almost everyone around him, most of all Miss Kenton.

This was the second book I have read by Ishiguro, the first being Never Let Me Go, and I think the best one so far. There is a constant longing throughout the novel that is impossible to miss. However it was very muted, which I thought was perfect for a book that was written from the point of view of an English butler. It really did feel as though I was reading an uptight butler’s journal. It was very very sad because I would want Stevens to, just once, break out of his tightly wound shell. At times it would make me struggle for breath.

The chemistry between Miss Kenton and Stevens was undeniable and yet very depressing because it was never to be. And then the scenes that dealt with the anti-semitism were very well done and actually caused a great deal of emotion to stir up inside of me, which I was not prepared for.

There was an obvious struggle as Stevens reflected upon his past. You could sense his tiredness and his difficulty rectifying some things in his world. Ishiguro was able to deal with a lot of very meaty topics in an interesting way that did not make you feel as though this had turned into some philosophical novel, which could certainly have been a danger.

I don’t think this book is for everyone because I could definitely see how it could read slowly for some. There is not much action and Stevens’ pacing could take some getting used to. But if you’re an Ishiguro fan I think this would be right up your alley. I also hear the movie with Anthony Hopkins is very well done!