Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Saturday, April 5


Truer words were never written on cotton and made into a t-shirt, people.

Sunday, March 16


"Most people seemed satisfied with the thin decorative glaze and the artful stage lighting that, sometimes, made the bedrock atrocity of the human predicament look somewhat more mysterious or less abhorrent. People gambled and golfed and planted gardens and traded stocks and had sex and bought new cars and practiced yoga and worked and prayed and redecorated their homes and got worked up over the news and fussed over their children and gossiped about their neighbors and pored over restaurant reviews and founded charitable organizations and supported political candidates and attended the U.S. Open and dined and traveled and distracted themselves with all kinds of gadgets and devices, flooding themselves incessantly with information and texts and communication and entertainment from every direction to try to make themselves forget it: where we were, what we were. But in a strong light there was no good spin you could put on it."
-- The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

Friday, January 10

Tuesday, December 31

Just one more

I met my personal book challenge a few books ago (I was aiming for 55 and I hit 57), but I really, really wanted to finish off The Book Thief before the new year. Mission accomplished. 58, bitches!

And what better way to ring in the new year than crying over a great book? Good times.

Thursday, September 19

I think we might have a problem here

So, I've long been a fan of Stephen King -- I stayed up all night in high school reading The Stand. I devoured the Dark Tower series. Hearts in Atlantis made me cry. But I've never gotten around to reading The Shining. Until now.

The only problem as I see it is this: I'm reading it on my Kindle. I don't think I'm supposed to put that in the freezer.

Friday, July 12

Quite simply, yes

I think we all know that I am so there. As J.R. put it, they had me at Felicity + Jane Austen. Also, where can I get me one of those sweet I [heart] Mr. Darcy bags?

Monday, March 11


Short stack
I can only go so long and then I have to buy stuff. Preferably books.

Tuesday, February 5

Challenges revisited

I've been challenging myself with book projects for awhile now -- finish reading War and Peace, read all of Jane Austen, finish off my to-read shelf, read more non-fiction -- but why do I always focus on books? Because it makes me seem smarter? Sure, that's one reason, but perhaps it's just habit. Or avoiding the stigma of saying, "I think I should watch more movies." (I can't really say I should watch more TV because I think we all know I watch plenty. And occasionally re-watch Dawson's Creek with my almost step-daughter because she must learn the joys of Pacey Witter as soon as possible. Bygones.) The point is this: I don't watch enough movies. Although my Netflix queue has always been long, I usually had a fairly decent turnover, and I went to the actual movies pretty regularly. Now I go to the movie theater once every couple of months, and Netflix rentals languish at my house for months, almost years. (I apologize if anyone was waiting for Young Adult since last March. I finally returned it! No, I didn't watch it, but it's available on Instant now.)

So my challenge is this: I want to watch more movies, and pare down the 504-DVD-long queue on Netflix. (I'm not too worried about the 87-movie long Instant queue, because there's a lot of crossover.)

Sunday, January 6

Well read

In 2011, I read 53 books, and I was pretty pleased with that number. I blew that out of the park in 2012 with a total of 79 books read. I'm pretty sure this number is unlikely to be matched this year, as I can credit last year's explosion in reading to getting a lot of mystery novels on the Kindle and blowing through them (Charles Todd and Robert Crais, I'm looking at you). My favorites were Nightwoods by Charles Frazier and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. (My least favorite was Maisie Dobbs  -- the writing was so atrocious I wanted to gouge my eyes out at several turns.) Apparently, my longest book last year was Skippy Dies at a whopping 661 pages (luckily, Skippy didn't have to contend in the year I read War and Peace).

I can't say that I have any major goals for reading this year, but I have set a personal challenge to myself to continue going through all the old books on my "to-read" list, and I would like to try to read more nonfiction. And read at least 50 books in the year, of course. Typically, this post is accompanied by a picture of the stack of books I got over the holidays, but this year I only got a cookbook and a copy of The Invisible Bridge. So my reading list is wide open, people. All recommendations welcome.

Sunday, November 4

Oops, I did it again

Powell's stack I went into Powell's flying blind -- no list, no ideas, just see what I see. And I came away with even more books than usual. Including a couple of non-fiction books (I'd be more proud of myself for that, but I'm holding off until I actually read them).

Saturday, September 8

Challenged, part 857

I've decided my next book challenge is going to be finally reading all the books I put on my Goodreads "to-read" list 8,000 years ago. There are 20 books on there, and I'm pretty sure at least one of them I'm unlikely to actually read cover-to-cover (Best American Short Stories 2007, I'm looking at you). But I'm trying! First up: Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music. I bought it after my initial Motherless Brooklyn high, and I haven't picked it up since. Wish me luck, people. I'm pretty sure I'm going to need it.

Wednesday, July 18

Mysterious ways

I've been on a mystery-reading kick lately, and I've been plowing through the Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais as well as the Inspector Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd. (It helps that they're available for the Kindle from my library, which keeps me from spending $7.99-$13 on a book that I'll read in a day, but this is perhaps slowly crippling the economy, for which I feel incredibly guilty. Bygones.) I was thinking I should write up a little list of my favorite mystery authors, because I love lists and I love books, and I enjoy forcing my opinions on others. Here's what I came up with off the top of my head:

1. Elizabeth George (Inspector Lynley series)
2. Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone)
3. Charles Todd (Inspector Ian Rutledge)
4. Robert Crais (Elvis Cole/Joe Pike)
5. Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum)

And then I thought, wait! That list is not just my top five -- it's my only five. Do I read any other mystery authors? How could I forget Kate Atkinson? I love her Jackson Brodie series. And Tana French's creepy but compelling Dublin Murder Squad series! Love those. And what about Lisa Lutz's hilarious Spellman mysteries? And then I thought: This is why I don't do lists of books. Unless it's books that I had to read in high school that I hate and have scarred me for life, in which case that list goes:

1. Moby Dick
2. An American Tragedy
3. The Scarlet Letter

Sunday, May 6

Just a little mini-break

More booksWe went to Portland for a long weekend, and you can't go to the Rose City without a trip to Powell's. And I can't go to Powell's without buying a metric ton of books to read. This should hold me over for a week or two.

We also hit the Oregon Zoo whilst we were there, and I shot roughly a bajillion photos with my new fancy camera because: a). I love taking pictures of adorable animals; and b). I haven't really had a chance to try out all the fancy features of my camera. True, I still don't know how to use many of the fancy features of said camera, but now I've got pictures of a polar bear to make up for it.

Sunday, March 18

Spring cleaning

It's not quite spring yet -- in fact, it's just snowed here, however unlikely it is to stick around -- but I've still been feeling the urge to clean house, to organize and eliminate, to change things. All in small steps, of course. Like finally reading my Cooking Light magazine from last November, marking recipes that I'd like to try. Clearing bookshelf space for all my Christmas acquisitions. Tackling the random pile of jeans that I've kept despite the fact that they are all either ripped or no longer the right size.

Such things also tend to meander toward that internal clean-up, introspection. Luckily, I never get too far with that crap before I find something more interesting to do. Like finish reading Charles Frazier's Nightwoods. Fantastic. Spare. Simple, but in the best way. The kind of book that makes you stop and take a breath to let the writing sink in.

Saturday, January 14

My annual book review

The weeks aheadAnother year has come and gone, and so it is time for my annual book re-hash. In 2010, I read 50 books, and last year, I read 53. Not a huge jump, but that's an average of a book a week, so I can't complain. (And there's some discrepancy on the number. GoodReads says I read 53, but AllConsuming has my number at 56. I won't quibble, or spend the time comparing the two lists to see which is more accurate. Because I'm lazy like that, bitches.)

I don't have a favorite book from 2011, though I did discover a few authors that I really like: for mysteries, Robert Crais and Charles Todd; for romance/humor, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I finally read Middlesex (loved it), and Cutting for Stone (also loved). I re-read Jane Eyre. I'd like to say that I have a goal of beating 53 books for 2012, but I think it's a pretty decent number, and I'll be happy to match it. Now, of course, I've got to get to work on the stack of fabulous books I got for my birthday and Christmas this year.

Thursday, October 6

Sweet Jane

Last night, I watched the latest production of Jane Eyre, and I was blown away. It was a beautiful movie -- from the writing to the acting to the way it was filmed. I was totally engrossed in this world, and even though I knew the story (no self-respecting English major hasn’t read the Brontes), I was still eager to see what would happen next because of how well they played up the gothic-mystery element. Mia Wasikowska did a fantastic job as Jane, as did Michael Fassbender as Rochester. When it ended, I almost wanted to start it all over and watch it again. (I haven’t done that since watching Priest twice late one night in college. And no, not the horror-flick Priest, the one that was about grappling with religious issues and homosexuality with a surprisingly hot Linus Roache.)

Bygones. I feel like I should re-read Jane Eyre now, but I fear I won’t love it as much as I loved this movie. I've always been more of an Austen girl than a Bronte-lover. Plus, I vaguely remember having to slog through a lot of orphan-girl-being-treated-badly before we got to the good stuff, and the movie did a beautiful job including that backstory with short flashbacks. Also, for some weird reason, the only copy I own is so old the binding is nothing but tape -- perhaps I should take this opportunity to upgrade my library?

Thursday, August 18

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading

I've noticed a trend in the books I've been reading lately: The novels are made up of intertwining stories that don't really all come together until the end. I'm sure it started before the Quentin Tarantino movie, but it's still the Pulp-Fiction-style novel to me. Don't get me wrong; this can be an effective way to tell a story. I think it worked particularly well for Await Your Reply, which had an element of mystery to it but was mostly a dark look at what "creating yourself" can ultimately mean.

I think it worked less well for A Visit From the Goon Squad, which used the same technique to tell related stories but each chapter felt a little stand-alone. (And, much like epilogues, I hated the futuristic chapter -- it was definitely the weakest part of the book for me.) In the end, I still enjoyed both books because, whatever their narrative style, their writing was unquestionably good. Now, however, I'd like to read a book with a more linear narrative. So I'm going with Swamplandia! I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've voluntarily read a book with an exclamation point in the title, but I'm rolling with it. Change is good.

Friday, June 10

The wonderment of words

I want to say I am feeling quotidian this week, and I while I pretty much always feel ordinary and commonplace, what I mean is: full of quotes, eager to quote. Like this passage from Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping:
And any present moment was only thinking, and thoughts bear the same relation, in mass and weight, to the darkness they rise from, as reflections do to the water they ride upon, and in the same way they are arbitrary, or merely given. Anyone that leans to look into a pool is the woman in the pool, anyone who looks into our eyes is the image in our eyes, and these things are true without argument, and so our thoughts reflect what passes before them.

Tuesday, June 7

This writer's life

Every now and again, I check in on the blog of one of my favorite writers, Dani Shapiro. And much like when I read (or re-read) one of her books, I am never sorry.

There's a danger in romanticizing what it means to be a writer. Because what it really means is hard, hard work. It means tearing your hair out. Feeling like your head is about to explode. It means enduring periods of time during which you have no idea what you're doing. It means rejection, failure, disappointment and confusion, only occasionally tempered with acceptance, triumph, joy and clarity. From a distance, it can look good—I know this as well as anyone—but if you get up close to a working writer, what you can see and hear and even smell is the steady thrum of tension and despair that is necessary to get the words to fall onto the page in the right way, in the right order, and with the possibility of lucidity, even poetry.

And while she's talking about writers, sometimes I think that steady thrum of tension and despair applies to everyone's life, to life in general, to the world.

Sunday, May 8

Oops, I did it again

Many books
Two trips to Powell's, people.