Sunday, June 29, 2008
I've been chipping away at The Book of Lost Things since a breakfast run around 8:00. Here's the rundown thus far for the whole challenge:
Books finished: 2 - The Shadow of Ghadames and Blood and Chocolate
Books dabbled in: Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore; The Complete Crumb, by Robert Crumb; The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly
Pages Read since my last post: 33
Total pages read in the challenge: 452
Amount of time spent reading since my last post: 45 minutes (on and off)
Total amount of time spent reading in the challenge: 380 minutes
It's a pretty darn poor showing for my first RAT, but I do hope I can improve on these numbers next time. As I mentioned in my previous post, I will make some big changes to the way I do things in order to free up more time, locations, and types of reading material. Audiobooks are a must for the next attempt.
If I do read some more by the end of hour 24 I'll update then. For now I have no idea how much more time I'll have at my disposal. Gotta crank out some revisions for the next Bibliobuffet column!
Thanks so much to Dewey and her cohorts for all of their fine work in setting up the RAT. This has been a blast. I will definitely be doing some more cheerleading before it's all said and done.
1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Ummm, sadly, hours 12-24. But "real life" had a hand in that.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Definitely Blood and Chocolate.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I thought the mini challenges were executed wonderfully!
5. How many books did you read? 2 *sad face*
6. What were the names of the books you read? see above
7. Which book did you enjoy most? I enjoyed both, but definitely Blood and Chocolate the most. It was so good, in fact, I had a hard time getting another book to "stick."
8. Which did you enjoy least? Probably Crumb comics. I love Crumb, don't get me wrong, just not for a read-a-thon.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? NA
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I will DEFINITELY participate again! You'd have to beat me away with a stick. I would love to remain a reader. I don't think I'm talented enough to read and cheerlead full-time.
Note to self: the next time I do this, sequester myself more, have more caffeine and junk food on hand, let someone take even more care of the dog. Daisy's crate is in the living room, so I knew if I did stay awake after my nap I would've kept Daisy up and ended up traipsing around the yard at 4am.
SOOOO, B is in the shower, and when he gets out the hours from 8-noon are mine to salvage a little more reading. I'll still be working on the Collected Crumb Comics.
I did win a prize in my sleep, though! A BEAUTIFUL bookmark!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
1. What are you reading right now? About the crack the cover (figuratively) on Crumb Comics
2. How many books have you read so far? 2
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Hmmm, not sure. I've been eyeing Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen. But I have to say, right now, I'm reallyyy in the mood for a graphic novel.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I warned B. ahead of time, and he's been looking out for Daisy most of the day.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Nothing major...an errand, dinner, a couple of walks with the dog, conversation with B.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How slowwwly it feels like I'm reading. While the hours are flying by. Ironic and odd.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope! It's incredibly well done.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Have more caffeine and junk food in the house.
9. Are you getting tired yet? YES! I'm not usually a night owl, so this might be ugly.
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? I have no wisdom other than, change up the reading. It keeps things fresh.
The RAT stats so far:
Books finished: 2 - The Shadow of Ghadames and Blood and Chocolate
Pages Read since my last post: 143
Total pages read in the challenge: 419
Amount of time spent reading since my last post: roughly 2-2.5 hours
Total amount of time spent reading in the challenge: 320 minutes
In not so great news, I'm getting SLEEPY, and it's wayyyy too early for that. I just took a couple of Excedrin for a mild headache, and luckily for me they happen to have caffeine in them. Woot!
Now that I've finished Blood and Chocolate, I think I'm going to press on to graphic novels. I have The Complete Crumb Comics, vol 17 and the first in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series here next to me. Let's see what sticks!
Pages Read since my last post: 48
Total pages read in the challenge: 266
Amount of time spent reading since my last post: 35 minutes
Total amount of time spent reading in the challenge: 200 minutes
Blood and Chocolate just keeps getting better! I have to say, it's REALLY sexual. It's a teen novel, I get it, but it's really overt. I can tell I've been reading Stephenie Meyer for a while, and she's so understated when it comes to the nookie (embroider that on a pillow).
It seems like I'm making really slow progress. The waffling over Francine Prose or Annette Curtis Klause cost me some time, as does breaking to rest my eyes. Many more hours to go! Wheee!
Still reading Blood and Chocolate. It's no Stephenie Meyer, but I have to say, Klause's writing is alluring in its own way.
Last hour was largely uneventful. I probably only read for about 30 minutes. Took Daisy out for a bit of a walk, puttered around, visited some blogs. Now I'm back to reading.
Number of books read since I started: 1 - The Shadows of Ghadames
Pages Read since my last post: 38
Total pages read in the challenge: 218
Amount of time spent reading since my last post: 30ish minutes
Total amount of time spent reading in the challenge: 165 minutes
Number of books read since I started: 1 - The Shadows of Ghadames
Pages Read since my last post: 63
Total pages read in the challenge: 118
Amount of time spent reading since my last post: 45 minutes
Total amount of time spent reading in the challenge: 90 minutes
Mini-Challenges completed: 1
Total amount of time spent blogging: not much!
Time spent visiting other people’s blogs: heck if I know! Probably 30 minutes or so. Lunch took more time than anything!
The Shadows of Ghadames was a good book. It's a children's novel about life in Libya. Specifically a little girl named Malika and the trials and tribulations of growing up in a society that is largely closed to women. It was sort of a weird mix of subversions as the father was the progressive one that wanted his daughter to read while the mother was staunchly against it. While the father is gone on a trading trip across the desert, the man's two wives, as well as Malika, take in a strange man that they find injured in the alleyway outside their home. The man heals and teaches Malika to read.
It's a good message for children certainly--women are equals--but it falls into the trap that historical children's fiction so often does by prescribing 21st century values and attitudes to historical characters. Not terribly realistic, but a good read nonetheless.
Without further ado, I'm going back to The Shadows of Ghadames.
Number of books read since you started: half of this one!
Pages read: 55
Amount of time spent reading: Roughly 45 minutes
Mini-challenge this hour: Darcie's Intro Meme (see below)
Other participants visited: Several! Chris, DebNance, AndiLit, and on and on...
Prize you’ve won: Nada!
I would've made more headway this hour, but my mom called, and we talked for a good 15 minutes. B. and I are off to grab a fast food lunch, so I'll be back at the book shortly.
Where are you reading from today? My living room! The boyfriend is watching TV, the dog is asleep, and I can only hope it stays that way long enough for me to get some reading done!
3 facts about me …
1. The majority of my books are packed away, so I might have to go box diving before it's all over!
2. I've hardly gotten to read for more than a 1-hour stretch since we got our puppy in February. I'm really glad she's beginning to nap more!
3. I feel sort of guilty spending 24 hours reading when I'm set to move Wednesday of next week. Maybe B. will still consider this quality time.
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
There are 7 next to me, but I have several hundred packed away. The sky's the limit!
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
I tend to consider myself a slow reader, so I don't have any set pages. I hope I can get through at least three to five books barring distractions. We'll see!
Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
No idea! I'm new myself, and I'm so glad I got in on it this time!
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Welcome to the Ark, by Stephanie Tolan
Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen
The Shadows of Ghadames, by Joelle Stolz
Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose
A Severed Head, by Iris Murdoch
Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Do you see a YA pattern here? Yep, me too.
I spent some time packing the majority of the books for my move last night, but I can get to those easily in case these don't float my boat.
I'm so excited!!!
Friday, June 27, 2008
I do believe he's right.
In other news, Dewey's Read-a-Thon starts tomorrow at 9:00am pacific (noon eastern)! 24 hours of pure reading time. Since I'm leaving town next Wednesday, I have some packing to do this weekend, but I hope I can get a big chunk done in the morning so I will have plenty of time to lounge with a book during the 24 hours. Expect reasonably constant updates on the state of things.
I wish I could say I've planned out lots of great reading choices, but I feel certain it'll be one of those situations where I wander up to my shelves, pluck whatever looks good and is short, and dive in. I've been eyeing my children's and YA shelves mostly, with a few sideways glances at graphic novels and novellas.
Wish me luck!
I'm off to finish packing my office and go through these towering stacks of paper!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
It's tough saying goodbye to this place and the people I've come to hold dear. I just have to keep reminding myself that no matter how hard it is, ultimately it's the right thing to do. It's scary, for sure, but everything I've ever done that was scary turned out to be a positive experience in the end.
Because it's a little late in the summer to get a teaching job for fall (I've hardly seen any advertised), I'm putting my hat in the ring for a boatload of library positions. I'm also scurrying to get my application in to the University of North Texas so I can start part-time on a Library Science degree in the fall (online). I feel really good about it, and unlike my other degrees, I'm not really in too big of a rush this time. I'm going to put my toes in the water, see if I like it, and go from there. I've also applied for some writing, marketing, PR and HR jobs in the Dallas area.
Lordy, I have eight miles of books to clean out, organize, and pack. A good bunch of them will be going on the "free stuff" cart here in the English department. I hate getting rid of my lovely books, but some I will NEVER read, and there's only so much room in the back of a Prius--even if the seats are folded down.
While I'm off trying to get myself organized, check out this week's Bibliobuffet. My piece is on the role of reading in relation to grief. It's probably the most personal piece I've written for them.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I'm making surprisingly good headway on The Book of Lost Things. It's one of those books that grabbed me by the nosehairs right from the beginning. I love those books. My nosehairs don't love it so much, but they don't get a say in the matter. Given my penchant for fairy tales this one is right up my alley (how many cliches can I use today?), and the writing is just lovely. It's a very cozy read, and today was one of those overcast, nasty-lookin' days when it's nice to stay inside with a book.
As many of you already know, I shy away from chunksters. That is, books that could be used in any of the following capacities:
- for pressing flowers
- as a doorstop
- to stave off a burglar
But so far The Book of Lost Things is the best kind of chunkster--one that doesn't feel slow. Yay!
Last night I started Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair, and what a funny freakin' book this shall be. I giggled aloud several times. B looked at me funny. I expect this will be one of those easy reading memoirs that keeps me company when my brain is too tired for anything else. Last night I could barely keep my eyes open, but I just wasn't ready to give it up for the day, so it was a perfect choice. Woke me right up.
For now I'm off to throw together some pizza and wings for dinner. Nothing like junk food overload to top a day off.
See you all tomorrow. I'm feeling a resurgence of motivation to blog. Watch out!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Another Dirt Sandwich, by Ray Friesen - A humor graphic novel with all the fixins: Swindling! Mustard! Cacti jokes! Birds wearing hats AND birds wearing spats! This book will have you laughing your head off on the very first page! (actually, that's the copyright information, try the second page). This book chronicles the rambling adventures of inept ostrich outlaw Tbyrd Fearlessness, and his sidekick Hopalong Cassowary in their search for fame, fortune, and lunch.
Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian, by Scott Douglass - For most of us, librarians are the quiet people behind the desk, who, apart from the occasional “shush,” vanish into the background. But in Quiet, Please, McSweeney’s contributor Scott Douglas puts the quirky caretakers of our literature front and center. With a keen eye for the absurd and a Kesey-esque cast of characters (witness the librarian who is sure Thomas Pynchon is Julia Roberts’s latest flame), Douglas takes us where few readers have gone before. Punctuated by his own highly subjective research into library history-from Andrew Carnegie’s Gilded Age to today’s Afghanistan-Douglas gives us a surprising (and sometimes hilarious) look at the lives which make up the social institution that is his library.
Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair, by Laurie Perry - If you've ever been dumped, duped, or three minutes from crazy, you'll love Crazy Aunt Purl. Side-splittingly funny and profoundly moving, Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair is the true-life misadventures of Laurie Perry, aka Crazy Aunt Purl, a slightly neurotic, displaced Southerner trying to create a new life after her husband leaves her to "get his creativity back." (Whatever the hell that means.) But will she get her groove back in a tiny rented apartment, with a mountain of boxes, visible panty lines, and a slight wine-and-Cheetos problem?
Mister Sandman, by Barbara Gowdy - One of the most audacious and talked-about novels of the season, "Mister Sandman" is set in Toronto in the mid-1950s and concerns the Canary family: their immoderate passions and eccentricities and their secret lives.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, by Jeremy Scahill - On September 16, 2007, machine gun fire erupted in Baghdad's Nisour Square leaving seventeen Iraqi civilians dead, among them women and children. The shooting spree, labeled Baghdad's Bloody Sunday, was neither the work of Iraqi insurgents nor U.S. soldiers. The shooters were private forces working for the secretive mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide.
This is the explosive story of a company that rose a decade ago from Moyock, North Carolina, to become one of the most powerful players in the War on Terror. In his gripping bestseller, award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill takes us from the bloodied streets of Iraq to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to the chambers of power in Washington, to expose Blackwater as the frightening new face of the U.S. war machine.
Friday, June 20, 2008
I'm considering a change of direction career-wise. I've long thought of doing a Library Science degree as there are several in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that are accredited and offered mostly online. If I go full time, I can probably finish up in just over a year (or so the website claims), or I might spread it out. No idea yet. At any rate, it's more money in the long run, and there are far more library gigs up for grabs than community college teaching gigs. I would much rather teach, but I'm leaving this one up to a higher power than myself.
I have to say, I am really upset to be leaving NC, but at my core I am an optimistic person, and I know it'll all work out somehow. There's an eery tendency for jobs to fall out of the sky and into my lap just when I need them, so I won't worry too much about anything. Just move forward and do the best I can.
I will live with my mom until I get back on my feet and Daisy and I can find our own place, and I'm looking forward to it. My mom is a nut. Watch for a full post about her coming up soon.
Wish me luck getting everything ready in the coming weeks. Say a little prayer or cross a few parts. I need all the good thoughts I can get.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The news of his death comes at a time of mounting uncertainty for me. A favorite aunt passed away a few months ago from the complications associated with a brain tumor. Another favorite aunt is barely getting by, her health failing her daily. My grandparents are gone, but these people I'm losing or have lost are the ones that were there to pick us up in the wake of both my grandparents' deaths in 2002. They've been with me all my life...my company, my inspiration, the loves of my life.
And where am I? I'm halfway across the country while the people I love most in the world waste away.
I haven't felt this homesick until lately. Up until now I've been trucking right along, working, getting the job I want, all that stuff that seems really important until something like this happens and reality and priorities kick in.
I suppose what makes Ryan's death such a powerful thing (aside from the obvious fact that it's a tragedy to lose him) is that as a result of it I've heard from some of the family members I lost along the way. My cousins Carla and Alissa are two other fixtures from my childhood. Whenever I visited my dad's family (I was closer to my mom's) they were there, happy to see me, and we had a great time. It never mattered how much time had passed, we picked up just where we left off. In the days since Ryan's passing I've gotten calls or e-mails from both Carla and Alissa wanting to reconnect, and I desperately want that, too. Somehow we lost touch along the way. We became teenagers, we all had rocky relationships with our fathers, and e-mail was relatively new and unknown when we began to take our individual paths in life that have led us to this moment.
Last night my mom attended the visitation at the funeral home, and she got to see the mass of Millers. My dad passed in 1999, but he left behind 8 siblings all with children and many with grandchildren. I'd say in all there are probably upwards of 100 Millers in the immediate family. Mom knows how homesick I am right now, and she said every single one of them--aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents--all asked about me. Wanted to know the details of how I am and what I'm doing.
Family is a powerful thing, and I have to brag on both sides of mine and their involvement and caring. I have the most amazing, massive, wonderful, funny cheering section in Texas. No matter how lonely I get I know they're always there, they always care, and they always wish the best for me. And no matter how badly I feel sometimes, how often I focus on my failings, they will always see me as successful, respectable, and someone to be cherished and celebrated. There is great comfort in that, but...
It makes life profoundly lonely to be away from them and their fellowship. I miss Easter egg hunts, birthday parties, and basketball games. I miss the daily communion and the company that's available when family is present.
I guess I just have to admit, I want to go home.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
- I was craving spice one night last week, and I had leftover turkey sausages, shrimp, and plenty of veggies and spices. What better fix for a hungry girl, than this off-the-cuff "Kitchen Sink" Jambalaya? This might be my very first totally original recipe. Enjoy!
- 10 Medium shrimp
- 2 Turkey sausages
- 1 c. Frozen vegetable mix (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
- 1 c Quick cooking brown rice
- 1/2 Red onion
- 1 c Chicken stock
- Tsp celery salt
- Tsp Old Bay
- 1/3 Tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 a beer
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Dab of butter
- Put the rice on to cook in chicken stock and set aside.
- Over medium heat, in a large skillet, add dab of butter and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Add frozen veggies and red onion to the pan and cook until they begin to caramelize lightly.
- Add pre-cooked turkey sausages.
- Add cayenne, celery salt, and Old Bay to taste.
- Cook until flavors begin to blend and sausages brown.
- Add 1/2 a beer to deglaze pan.
- Add uncooked shrimp and cooked rice.
- Cook until shrimp turn pink.
- Serve with crusty bread and a fire extinguisher depending on the amount of cayenne you used.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
First, I picked up Sarah Addison Allen's first novel, Garden Spells, at Osondu Booksellers when I visited Waynesville, NC on vacation a month or so ago. When I was packing readables for my conference trip to Illinois, I happened to think of it, and I realized it might make good plane reading. I'm a horrible plane reader--bad concentration skills when I'm feeling cramped. Anyway, I started Garden Spells the moment my plane took off from Raleigh en route to Detroit for a layover, and by about 4:00 that afternoon I was lounging on a very large bed at the Chateau Hotel and I was done as done could be. If it's rare that I read on a plane, it's even rarer that I finish a book all in one day. I didn't really know what to expect from Garden Spells, but given that Nancy enjoyed it, I felt like I was in good hands.
The book is about sisters Claire and Sydney Waverly. Their family is considered weird in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. The Waverly's have...abilities...you see. They are not witches, just gifted. In the back yard of her big old Victorian home, Claire Waverly grows flowers with the power to affect the emotions of their eaters. She is a caterer and often crafts meals with the host's intentions in mind. Want your guests to focus on the good things in life? Fall in love? Just have Claire whip up some cupcakes topped with sugared violets or some ice cream with rose petals mixed in. Claire's sister Sydney hits the door running at the close of her adolescence and years later finds herself at the mercy of an abusive husband with a young daughter, Bay, to care for. Fates collide when Sydney returns to Bascom and the friends who once snubbed her, and Claire must learn to open up to people--her sister and the increasingly interested art professor next door.
This book reminded me very much of Alice Hoffman's writing in many ways. It's full of juicy, tactile details. I could almost taste, and could definitely imagine, all of the wonderful things Allen described. The smell and look of the garden, the roving eyes of the hot neighbor. You get the picture. In many ways the comparison to Hoffman extends past the style to the storyline as well, as Allen's plot reminded me very much of the movie version of Practical Magic. Not in the particular details, but in the feeling and flow of the story overall.
While it was pretty darn predictable, I really didn't care. I was totally immersed in Allen's world and the concerns of her characters. It certainly grabbed me by the nosehair and wouldn't let go until the final page. That's a high compliment! I'll be counting this one for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge since the fantastical elements were so strong. It definitely goes further than magical realism, in my opinion.
I was surprised to find Ceridwen Dovey's first novel, Blood Kin, at my door last week, and I was really excited. I heard about this one on NPR's Books podcast a while back, and the premise grabbed me. It's the story of a coup told from the outgoing President's barber, chef, and portraitist. The respective workers detail their lives caring for the president and their experiences when they're caught and imprisoned along with him as the regime changes. In addition to the workers' points of view, we also get additional information from the women in their lives.
I guess you could classify this book as something of a fable given there are no names and few details. It's an imaginary country and an imaginary political system, and it's plenty troubling in spots. I guess my big disappointment here was not so much in the style or premise, but specifically in the ending. There should've been a big ta-dah! type moment--a twist--but I was pretty let down by it. It didn't surprise me or impact me much, and I can't figure out if that's a by-product of the nameless characters and a lingering sense of distance from them, or if I just didn't get into the book as much as I normally would because I was in the midst of traveling. It's definitely not a warm and fuzzy story like Garden Spells, so it was harder to get involved.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm at the end of the novel, I appreciate Dovey's writing, and I think it's a great first effort. I'm looking forward to whatever else she comes up with. She seems a really interesting person, so take a few minutes to explore her website (linked above) and read her bio. She's incredibly accomplished at a relatively young age (my age, she makes me feel like a slacker!).
Check for a fuller review in the July issue of Estella's Revenge.
In an unexpected twisted of reading fate, I picked up the first in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series last night. I need something shortish and quick since Galatea 2.2 is so cerebral, so it seemed like just the thing. I'm making a play to finish up Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge and I need to make some headway on Dewey's Graphic Novels Challenge, so this one fits the bill perfectly. And it's been on my shelves for a good five years now. So far, so good! I hope to finish it today or tomorrow at the latest.
I hope you all have a great Sunday full of books!
In good news, Daisy is doing very well in the wake of her "alteration." She has a heck of a suture line down the middle of her tum, but she's keeping it very clean and not chewing, so she hasn't even had to wear the big Elizabethan collar. And while her instructions say to "restrict activity for 5 days" I'm really thankful she was inertly boarded at the vet for 3 because she is a WILD CHILD at home. Given, she's been doing her fair share of sleeping, but she's done a good bit of jumping around, too. Which makes my butt pucker, but we won't go into all of that detail.
My conference was fantastic. I got to see several women I attended grad school with, and I got to meet several new students to the grad program. We ate, we drank, we talked, we giggled til we cried. A very good time was had by all. Ever had a strawberry Long Island iced tea? That's a new conference discovery, and it was amazing. The food in Bloomington was definitely worth two thumbs up and a tub of celebratory fireworks. I started off at Le Radis Rose, the French restaurant in the Chateau Hotel (click and look at the site, it's swanky and wonderful). I had a tame lunch special of chicken salad croissant, homemade potato chips, and fruit the first day, and the first night was Chicken Oscar. Yummmmm! Not to mention the "orgasmic pork chops" (our title, not theirs) and bread pudding with white chocolate sauce at Biaggi's restaurant on Wednesday night. If you ever get a chance, GO! It's a chain, but who the hell cares when it tastes THAT GOOD.
Oddly enough, I actually got a chance to read on my trip. I figured I'd be so busy I wouldn't have time, and I'm a notoriously bad plane reader, but the reading fairies were on my side apparently. I read almost all of Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells on the flights to Bloomington, and I finished it up when I got checked into the hotel. Susan was a few hours behind me, so that pod of reading time served me well. On the way back--including all the layover time--I finished Blood Kin, by Ceridwen Dovey. Both interesting books in different respects. I'm tired and sleepy right now, but you can expect full reviews for tomorrow's Sunday Salon.
During my five hour layover in Detroit I dipped in and out of The Solitary Vice: Against Reading, by Mikita Brottman, and I finally settled on Richard Powers' Galatea 2.2. I'll give you the skinny on those tomorrow, too.
While Susan was touring me around Bloomington-Normal and the ISU campus, we stumbled into Babbit's Books. It's a chain of used and rare books in central Illinois, and I LOVE IT. It was cozy, stacked to the ceiling (literally), and the people there were knowledgeable about books! Who knew! I picked up a hardcover copy of Galatea 2.2 and another hardcover, Burning Your Boats, the collected short stories of Angela Carter. Now if only they'd branch out into North Carolina. I think I'll start that campaign now.
For now I'm off to grab a popsicle to stave off this 95-degree heat, and I might take a nap. Shhhh! Don't tell B. See you all tomorrow for the Salon!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
But, before I go, I thought I should tell you what I thought of Green, Greener, Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life, by Lori Bongiorno. It was great! All I expected and more. The book is split into chapters on Food, Beverages, Personal Care, Babies and Children, Home Building and Improvement, Energy and Water Conservation, Apparel and Furnishings, Cleaning, Pest Control, Backyard and Garden, Transportation, and 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
In addition to the chapter breaks, each individual chapter has an introduction to the topic at hand, as well as some sub-categories that fall within the larger chapter headings and the "green, greener, greenest" tips. This really and truly is a practical guide for those who wish to live an environmentally responsible lifestyle. There's no judgement in this book, only tips and tricks for little changes, bigger changes, and biggest changes that one might make in everyday life to help the environment.
While some of the info between these covers was a repeat for me--especially the food section as I just finished Animal, Vegetable Miracle and Why Animals Matter--a good bit of it was brand new. I especially love the fact that Bongiorno includes tons of helpful websites from various governmental bodies and independent foundations and organizations to hit up for more information on topics the reader might find especially important. I'll be looking into more organic cotton clothing, organic cleaning products, and I need to try to find some more organic farmers in my area. I actually plan to keep this book on my shelves for reference since it lists so many fantastic online and print resources.
No matter what your interest in environmentalism, you can find something that fits your lifestyle in Green, Greener, Greenest. Bongiorno is quick to point out that you don't have to go out and buy a new car or build a new home to be environmentally responsible. The little things we do every day impact the environment in a big way, so this book is more about encouragement than anything else. Two thumbs up!
I'll be sure to toast all my bloggy buddies when I'm hunkered down over a too-expensive meal in the hotel restaurant or a too-expensive cocktail in the hotel bar. Cheers to booze, food, and good friends. They're the best part of a conference.
"See" y'all Friday!
Note: Pardon any leftover typos. I've already published this twice (sorry feed readers)!
Monday, June 09, 2008
While I should've been revising my paper for the upcoming conference, I spent yesterday reading Green, Greener, Greenest. It is super fantastic, and I can't wait to review it for you all! If you're even the slightest bit interested in environmental issues, I think you'd adore it. Very clever and informative.
I'm poised and ready to stimulate the economy. My stimulus check arrived today, and that biatch is going in the bank. I might spend it on something fun, but I haven't decided what that might be just yet. *coughKindlecough* Probably not a Kindle, but it's tempting!
I'm lusting after a slew of new-to-me books. I updated my iPod with all of the podcasts I'm behind on, and I spent my commute today listening to The Bat Segundo Show. Among the interviews I've heard today, Cynthia Ozick, Tobias Wolff, and Sloane Crosley. The books I want:
Dictation: A Quartet, by Ozick. She's one of those authors that's been on my TBR for a long time now. I have copies of The Shawl and Heir to the Glimmering World thanks to the recommendation of a professor in graduate school. He's the same one that got me hooked on Philip Roth, so I can pretty well trust his judgement without too many questions. From listening to the Bat Segundo podcast I learned that Ozick has a really slow, torturous writing process. She will not move on to a sentence until the previous one is absolutely perfect. Obviously we all write sentence by sentence, but most of us draft, too. I can't imagine working that slowly and laboriously through the process. Holy crap. Can't wait to read Dictation and the other two on my shelves.
Blurb: Cynthia Ozick's new work of fiction brings together four long stories that showcase this incomparable writer's sly humor and piercing insight into the human heart. Each starts in the comic mode, with heroes who suffer from willful self-deceit. These not-so-innocents proceed from self-deception to deceiving others, who do not take it lightly. Revenge is the consequence — and for the reader, a delicious, if dark, recognition of emotional truth.
Our Story Begins: Selected Stories, by Tobias Wolff. Wolff is one of those names I know, but I haven't read a single thing he's written. After listening to the interview, I think I'm game. It sounds like his stories are right up my alley.
Blurb: His first two books, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs and Back in the World were a powerful demonstration of how the short story can "provoke our amazed appreciation," as The New York Times Book Review wrote then. In the years since, he's written a third collection, The Night in Question as well as a pair of genre-defining memoirs (This Boy's Life and In Pharaoh's Army), the novella The Barracks Thief and, most recently, a novel, Old School. Now he returns with fresh revelations — about biding one's time, or experiencing first love, or burying one's mother — that come to a variety of characters in circumstances at once everyday and extraordinary: a retired Marine enrolled in college while her son trains for Iraq, a lawyer taking a difficult deposition, an American in Rome indulging the Gypsy who's picked his pocket. In these stories, as with his earlier, much-anthologized work, he once again proves himself, according to the Los Angeles Times, "a writer of the highest order: part storyteller, part philosopher, someone deeply engaged in asking hard questions that take a lifetime to resolve."
I Was Told There'd Be Cake: Essays, by Sloane Crosley. I think I've actually requested this one from the publisher before, but I'm not surprised that I haven't received a copy given all the boatloads of good press it's gotten. I'm sure they don't need another fantabulous review. However, I shall have my hands on it! It's on sale at Powell's, so this little baby is mine. It's been far too long since I read a kickass essay collection, so I have high hopes for this one.
Blurb: Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory. From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions-or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character that's aiming for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is. I Was Told There'd Be Cake introduces a strikingly original voice, chronicling the struggles and unexpected beauty of modern urban life.
On a totally unrelated note, I drop Daisy off to be "fixed" tomorrow at 8am. I hate to! She's going to board for a few days after the surgery while I'm in Illinois and B is out of town. I hate to leave her, but you can bet your butt I'll be callin' to check on my baby. I would've added pics, but my stupid memory card reader isn't working. Wish her (and me) luck!
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I was trucking right along with Edward Hardy's Keeper and Kid, but then I hit a road block. I have to say, I genuinely enjoyed Hardy's writerly voice....the writing just sounded good. However, I got to about page 56 and the situation that put the child in the hands of his father was just so contrived and clunky that I decided to put it aside. I don't know if it was a case of underdevelopment leading to Keeper's moment of discovery of his son or what, but it just didn't work for me. Sadly, I will not continue with the book, but watch for it in an upcoming giveaway. It's a nice signed hardback, and I know several bloggers who really enjoyed the story, but as it turns out, it's just not my cup of caffeine free diet coke.
In case you're interested, here's the accompanying blurb:
"In this humorous and poignant novel, Edward Hardy explores the depths of modern love, parenthood, and compromise. Keeper and Kid is the story of how a normal guy receives an unexpected gift and in turn must learn to ask more of others and himself. A coming-of-age story for the guy who thought he had already grown up, Keeper and Kid is a sharp and witty account of what we do for love."
On to other reading adventures.
Right now I'm staring at a stack of potentially tasty unread books. Among them, Lonely Werewolf Girl, by Martin Millar; The Solitary Vice, by Mikita Brottman; and The Collection, by Goia Diliberto. What I really should be staring at are the books I've already started: Blood Kin (Ceridwen Dovey) and Green, Greener, Greenest (Lori Bongiorno).
I'm experiencing a serious case of jumping bean syndrome, reading a handful of books, dipping into a handful of others, and generally lusting after anything I'm not actively reading. I'm a readerly adulterer if you will. Oh well, there are worse things.
I've been peeking at my sidebar and I'm feeling pretty guilty about the state of things as far as my reading challenges go. As is generally the case, I'm wayyyy behind on the 2008 TBR Challenge. That's also the case for every other challenge, really. The first one that's wrapping up is Carl's brilliant Once Upon a Time II. It finishes in just a couple of weeks, so expect to see me diving headlong into some fantasy soon. I also expect I'll make some headway on Dewey's Graphic Novel Challenge when the Read-a-Thon kicks up. There's nothing to keep me reading for a whole day like a quick, enthralling graphic novel.
I hope you're all having a stellar Sunday! Enjoy it...Monday is just around the corner. I'm off to do some more reading and blog hopping. I'm woefully behind on both!
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Now that I'm not so damn stressed, I'm on the fast track back to Normalville. Yeah, I feel very much like myself these days (finally!), and that means increased reading time. Right now I'm lovin' Keeper and Kid, by Edward Hardy, and I'm dipping in and out of Green, Greener, Greenest when I don't have a lot of time or motivation. I can read it in snippets with no problem. I'm also still listening to Spook on and off, and I'm enjoying it so far. The first section, on reincarnation, got a bit cumbersome toward the end, but overall it's a good time.
Yesterday I received a review book that I'd pretty much given up on: Blood Kin, by Ceridwen Dovey. I heard about it on NPR a while back and lusted after it HERE. I put in a request to the publisher to review the book, and I really thought I probably didn't have a prayer given the fact that the book has gotten really good press. But, surprise surprise, there it was in my mailbox.
In other bookish news, I discovered a forgotten Barnes & Noble gift card today when I was ruffling around in our home office. My mom gave me the card for Christmas, and I was saving it for just the perfect purchases. And I forgot all about it. So now I have $30 to blow on books (and an economic stimulus check on the way!).
I just signed up for Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. I didn't get to participate last year, but I'm SO IN this year! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go read more HERE. I'll be preparing my potential list in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Check out the latest "Finicky Reader"--a discussion of what it's REALLY like to be a Children's Literature scholar.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Not bad, but it could be better. Looks like I have some reading to do!
Note: The title in green is one I've partially read, and I insist I should get SOME credit for that.
I managed to finish After Dark yesterday while I was outside enjoying the view from my front porch. The view being Daisy chewing on a bone and chasing bees. She hasn't caught any, thank God. I can just imagine the results of a stung tongue. It would probably throw me into flashbacks of those first few days after I got my tongue pierced when I was 18. Not pretty at all.
After Dark is another Murakami winner. It's a review book for Bibliobuffet, so you can expect to see the full review pop up next week, but for now I'll just tell you, it might be another fave for the year. It's SO HARD for me to explain how great Murakami's style is because there's nothing terribly outlandish or unique about it on the surface level. It's really experimental but really readable at the same time, and I guess that's what makes it such enjoyable reading for me. Generally I don't think of those two qualities going together necessarily, but they really do in Murakami's case. Thank goodness I have another day or so before I write the review because this one will be a doozy to put into reviewy words. As you can see from all the crap I just wrote. My apologies for the nonsensical burbling. Really. hehe
As for the miscellaneous I mentioned in the title, I'm still wishing I had more time to blog. In fact, I'm planning to cut my writing responsibilities down to the bare minimum in coming days. I'm still editing Estella's Revenge of course, still doing my column at Bibliobuffet, but I refuse to put pressure on myself to review new books for this blog, and I'll probably have to cut out another reviewing commitment or two. I hate to, but sanity is pretty crucial at this point.
There will probably be some changes afoot in my everyday life. Nothing for anyone to worry about, but I do find it necessary to pare down my responsibilities in general in an effort to feel more at ease. I'm sick of feeling rushed and overwhelmed. I realize I do the rushed and overwhelmed thing to MYSELF more than anyone else could, so I have to turn the pointy finger around this time.
I found out the other day that I'll be teaching a couple of hybrid courses, an online class, and working in the Writing Center again in the Fall, so that's woooonderful news. I really get a ton of reading time and planning time in the WC early in the semester before it gets busy, so that's a good thing for sure.
In upcoming weeks you can expect I'll be stressed for the following reasons:
- I'm leading that damn book group discussion on June 9th. I've got to re-read What I Loved before then. And you might remember I'm a leeetle nervous about what the group's reaction will be.
- Hot on the heels of the group discussion, I have a trip to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. I'm attending the International Conference of the Children's Literature Association (hosted by Illinois State University). I'm pretty nervous about that particular presentation seeing as I need to do some HEAVY revisions on the paper between now and the 11th of June. I'm getting a little panicked-breathy just thinking about it.
Enough whining. Daisy is napping at the moment, so I think I'll take a few minutes to read. I'm starting Keeper and Kid, by Edward Hardy. It looks like a good one. Stay tuned!