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Showing posts from March, 2011

On Anarchists, and I Buy Too Many Books

I've been feeling overly maudlin the past few days, so when I realized Friday was the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Factory Fire, I thought that was the perfect time to indulge my feelings and just get out and out sad about something legitimate instead of the fact the latest episode of Parks and Rec just wouldn't seem to download. Cornell has a really good archive of information about the fire here , and most of my time was spent there. Then Saturday and Sunday I traveled downstate to visit my parents, and CNN had an amazing HBO documentary about the fire, which I watched twice (again, indulging maudlin state). In the course of the documentary, they mentioned Rose Schneiderman, who is this piercing young lady right here   and so I started reading up on her, but while I was reading I kept listening to the musical Ragtime , as anything about early 1900s labor strikes reminds me 'The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square.' A quick skip from that song, and I spe

Book Blogger Hop! Again!

If you could physically put yourself into a book or series, which one would it be and why? When I was five, I was convinced I could get to Narnia if I could find the right doorway. I remember looking quizzically at and then pondering a soccer net and the circle of light made on the ceiling by a lampshade. But then, of course, I started thinking about how there always seemed to be something bad happening in Narnia, so I had to specify in my mind that I WASN’T going when the White Witch was in charge and it was always winter but never Christmas, and I wasn’t going when King Miraz reigned or when it was about to be invaded by a lot of bad people. I’d go during the nice times. Then I believe I started thinking that skipping around the forest with fauns would get boring pretty quickly, and since I wasn’t a very imaginative child, that was pretty much all I could think of to do there. So I abandoned the idea altogether. Nowadays…that's a hard question. From the books I’ve read this y

In Which I Speak of Austenian Things

I am currently doing a reread of Northanger Abbey , as I reread one Austen per year and NA’s time had come. I’ve only read it once before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as a kind of ‘rough Austen.’ It was the first book she wrote, in 17…I don’t know, 98 or 93 or something, and no, the writing isn’t perfect, but I love Henry Tilney more than Mr Darcy because he’s funny , and it’s just a generally hilarious book. Anyway, what I have most recently discovered is that, apparently, for rich 19 th century dudes, tea sets were like…I dunno, stereo systems today. Wait, that’s probably more 1992. Ok, tea sets were like iPhones? I guess? Sure. So the general, who is Henry Tilney’s father, starts talking to the heroine about his tea set and while talking about it informs her that “this was quite an old set, purchased two years ago. The manufacture was much improved since that time; he had seen some beautiful specimens when last in town, and had he not been perfectly without vanity of that kind, m


I have just received this: in the mail, and am exceedingly happy about it. NEW SARAH VOWELL, PEOPLE! Read her books! Do it! At least if you have any pretensions to an interest in history. If not, forget it. But if you do, read them allllllll. And by all I mean Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates , as I am not as into her essay collections. She's coming to Oak Park in April for a book signing and I am there . When I did a five week program in France, I was desperately homesick because I'd never been away from my family for that long, plus I wasn't awesome at ze French speaking. I brought The Partly Cloudy Patriot and Assassination Vacation , and they totally got me through by promoting a healthy (i.e. not unreasonably zealous) love of America. Anyway, she's speaking at the Unity Temple, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Look how Frank Lloyd Wrightesque it is: So exciting. She is awesome. Go love her now.

Top Ten Tuesday! On a Wednesday!

Minor personal life digression -- I am eating less and working out, in a desperate and possibly futile attempt to combat my life of fatty, delicious foods (especially during the cold, dark months of winter in Chicago). This has caused my body to become something of a tiredness factory, a phrase that might not make sense if you really think about it, but it does to me. The above to explain why my Top Ten Tuesday is, in fact, being posted on a Wednesday. Why it's five instead of ten is just pure laziness. Top Five Bookish Pet Peeves 1. Series cliffhangers. If your story’s compelling, I’ll buy your next book. Don’t end it with something like “But – but he can’t be the murderer! Not—“ It's dumb and manipulative. I will stop reading your series immediately. 2. Inaccurate characterizations. When I was a teenager, I read every novel about Elizabeth I that I could find (mainly to see if they had hot Robert Dudley/Elizabeth action). One of them mainly involved her communing

I'm Humor. YEAH.

You Are Humor You love to laugh at life, and if possible, get others to laugh along with you. You believe there's always a humorous side to everything. And your sense of humor ranges from upbeat to very dark. You are outrageous and very honest. You're often the only one willing to say what everyone else is thinking. You are witty and verbally talented. You like to play with words and say things in interesting ways. What Kind of Book Are You? Damn straight.

Book Blogger Hop, Pt II

All right. The question for this week is:  "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?" Oh-ho my. I have an issue with book commitment. I start a new book, and it's exciting and fresh, and I get really jazzed about it, and then 20% of the way through, almost without fail, I start getting bored and want to start another book. I once had seven books going at the same time, because I kept getting bored and starting new ones. It's a sickness. Right now I'm being pretty good and working on The Monk , Northanger Abbey , Kissing the Witch , and I'm about to start Waiting for the Barbarians since my friend lent it to me. But The Monk and NA are basically books I only read when I'm at work, so I don't see it so much as working on four books, as having books in different locales. Yes. This entry wasn't as good as some of the others, but I shall rally on the morrow. Yes I shall.

Books I Haven't Read, But Display On My Shelves

I need to work on my TBR Challenge, as I've read 3/12 for the year, but they were kind of the easy ones, and I'll fall behind if I'm not careful. Also, that's the best challenge ever, because I have an embarrassing number of books that I own and have not read. Just off the top of my head, here're some books I'd like to actually read this year that I've had on my shelves for a while (or, y'know, just bought): Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Portrait of a Lady Wigs on the Green Opera and Its Symbols A History of the Wife Rats, Lice and History Mayflower The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Founding Brothers   There's some other stuff, like my grandmother's copy of The Golden Bough , which I'm mainly into because it was hers and reminds me she was both smart and awesome (I can tell myself this, as she's the only grandparent I never met and thus I can make up things). But I'd definitely like to make a dent in the number o

Contemporary Books Are Not the Devil

I am totally pro-updating this all the time. Mainly because it's not like livejournal where it clogs up your friends' friends page, and I know that when I'm trying to slack off, which is most of the time, I'm delighted when people post frequently, and more often than not annoyed when they don't. "The last entry is STILL the one from yesterday?? What could they possibly have to do other than update this??" Let's make today's topic Contemporary Books. I used to hate them, and have only as of late begun to entertain somewhat lukewarm feelings for them. After reading a series of trashy novels when I was 11 (no one should read The First Wives Club or A Will of Their Own ), I swore off anything written after 1950, believing it all to contain gratuitous sex and bad writing. Yes, I was slightly pompous. And yes, I am slightly still that way, but I have transmuted it into a much more socially acceptable form. This decision meant that my teen years were

My Quest

I enjoy quests. They liven up the otherwise repetitive and generally boring Chicago-in-winter atmosphere. Quests in summer are fun too, as one can go more places without feeling like the elements are waging war on humanity and you, yes you, have been especially targeted, but there's more to do in summer and they thus lose some of their specialness.   My latest quest -- and I should warn you in advance, it has no happy questy ending -- began on a whim, as all my quests do. I decided, one day last week at work, that I wanted to read at least the first of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy (it's now much more than a trilogy, but that's beside the point). It seemed delightfully trashy, and I've been reading too much serious stuff. So off I went to check the Chicago Public Library's website. Do they have the first one? No. They had, what I would encounter again and again on my travels and soon consider to be something along the lines of "the Gorgon impeding m


And now, a new segment I shall call 'Books That Looked Interesting But That I Then Said Nope To Upon Discovering a Fatal Flaw.' I'll make it more concise later.   I saw this in a Waldenbooks downtown and thought 'Hey, ok, looks maybe not like the best book ever, but Regency England + sci-fi? Yeeeeeeeah!' I put it down after skimming it and finding there was a character called "Mr. Dercy." Come on, people. Come on.

Apparently I Mainly Do Memes

But they're so EASY. So I guess every week, this is just 'what books are you waiting on?' I'll just do 'em all now so I don't have to inflict this on people every week. 1. Unfamiliar Fishes Sarah Vowell's newest book. I don't really care about Hawaiian history, but I trust that I will while I read this book. Why? Because Sarah Vowell is awesome and can make me interested in anything. 2. The Kane Chronicles: Throne of Fire I guess I should be ashamed of being a Rick Riordan fan? But whatever, I am and he's awesome, and a lot of my reading last year was devoted to catching up on his books. This one's coming out in May, which is too far away. I thought there was a third one, but I totally can't remember it. So there we have it. A book about Hawaii and a young adult fantasy novel. Look upon my intimidating choices, all ye, and despair.

Books I'm Not Reading

Make a stack of all the books you're either 1) currently "in the middle of" reading (no matter how long that's been the case), or 2) have on deck to read soonish and post the list. [include a photo if you feel like illustrating your post / comment] I'm one of those horrible people who checks out a ton of books from the library on a whim, renews them until she's not allowed to anymore, and then finally returns them unread. I currently intend on reading these. But I probably won't (the thing on top is my precious precious Kindle).   Just so people won't think I'm some sort of Philistine, I've read Goblet of Fire before, but I have this probably-not-going-to-happen goal of finishing my HP re-read before the last part of the last movie comes out. I got stuck with GoF last year and have left Ron and Hermione angry with each other at the Yule Ball for about a month now.

To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

Before starting this, I should state that I own a Kindle. So this isn’t so much a ‘should I buy a Kindle’ post as a ‘This is how I justified buying a Kindle’ (without actually going into how I paid for it, which was a combination of gift cards and a willful ignorance of my bank balance). First, let me say that I have not totally lived up to these initial reasons. But I believed them at the time. 1. When I travel and inevitably fill my suitcase with actually unnecessary but what I at the time term 'just in case' items, a Kindle would be better to have and slip into my purse than five books, which I won't have room for. 2. I won't need to buy books, because they have classics for free. So now instead of buying some ratty paperback Dickens at a used bookstore which I wouldn't want to keep anyway, I can just have it on my thin, super-light Kindle, AND bonus, no big heavy books taking up valuable shelf space. How this has actually played out is I've

Musing Mondays, I Guess?

All right. So here's another meme (I like memes and there's nothing anyone can do about it, except maybe tell me they hate them. I give into peer pressure a lot). What book(s) are you most excited about right now? I'm basically too tired to be really excited about anything except stars in Austrian musical theatre (oh, they're so interesting!), but the books that currently raise my exhaustedness to a less exhausted state would be the following: 1. The Color Purple Ooh, I've never done formatting like this without html. I am overly happy. Anyway, I had no intention of reading this, because the movie makes me bawl to an extent I find both embarrassing and painful. Some might say painfully embarrassing, but no, they are two distinct feelings. I recently started it, though, and it's amazing and wonderful and I would kiss the ring on Alice Walker's finger if I were to happen upon her somewhere and she were wearing one. 2. Inseparable: Desire Between

I Rescued a Book

I went to one of the many Borders that're closing here in Chicago. It's in the mid-state of being picked over, and I was able to go through all the Fiction/Lit in about 20 minutes. In the course of my perusing, I noticed that they had Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford. This book has cropped up no less than three times in my life in the course of the last week, whereas before that I'd never heard of it. I thought 'Oh, well, you know the library has it, so just leave it there and save yourself $12.' But as I wandered through the rest of the bookstore, I kept thinking 'But what if some horrible person who won't appreciate it, its subject or its delightful cover buys it?? What if, drawn in by the discount pricing, they just shove it in a pile with a bunch of other books and then either resell it to an even nastier person or leave it forgotten on the lowest, darkest shelf of a dingy bookcase, never to see the late night light of a Mighty Bright or be cared abo

Book Blogger Hop

I guess there's a thing called the Book Blogger Hop, which I approve of if only because it gets the song At the Hop stuck in my head. So. The question that was supposed to be answered on Friday, but I'm late for everything this week, is: "Who's your all-time favorite book villain?" My boring answer would probably be Dolores Umbridge, because she causes an impotent rage to fill my churny insides whenever I read Order of the Phoenix , but let's go with Rosalie Murray from Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. Rosalie Murray is a bitch. I mean this in the most forgiving way possible. She just is. Agnes has a horrible life as a governess, and the one happiness she has is this relationship she's forming with the curate Edward Weston, and Rosalie tries to steal him away. My hand unconsciously curled into a fist while reading one particularly infuriating chapter. If I could punch Rosalie Murray, I would.

Top Ten Tuesday, Which I Am Posting on Saturday

Since I started my blog on a Friday, I feel like I should be licensed to do this meme which is only apparently supposed to be done on a Tuesday. I have a buying compulsion as regards books and DVDs. After buying them, I tend to not take the important next step of reading/watching them. This recently led me to the mortifying realization that I possibly have more unread than read books on my shelf. So this meme is perfect. Top Ten Books I Just HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Bookshelf We all have them. That book that you needed to buy so badly and had every intention of reading it as soon as possible...but they're still on your bookshelf collecting dust or sitting in a pile on the floor. 1. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell : I have not one, but two copies of this book. A friend visiting from out of town finished it while en route and left her copy with me. The reviews for it basically acted like it was the second coming of Dickens, but Dickens with magic added. And

The Brontës – What’s Up With Them?

You’re a 20something girl who says she likes to read. Maybe you majored in English and’re now working in a completely unrelated field, because honestly, what real use is it being an English major? The point is, chances are you’ve read books by at least two of the three Bront ë sisters who made it to mature adulthood. That family reminds me of sea turtles. Sea turtles lay a bunch of eggs because they know that not many of them’re gonna make it, what with crafty seagulls and other seashore animals I’m not going to research right now pilfering their eggs or eating the babies as they try to scurry to the ocean. According to Wikipedia, which I just accessed (and which confirms my seagull idea), approximately one sea turtle out of a hundred survives. The Bront ë parents started out with six children. Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. I would like to point out that they were born between 1814 and 1820, making their mother a saint and their father the devil (nah, he wa

This was a worthy first post

I expect everyone finding this blog to get ‘Reading Rainbow’ stuck in their head for forever. “Iiiiiiiiiiii can go anywheeeeeeeere!” Anyway. All these awesome people have book blogs, and I felt hugely behind the times for not having one, so here we are. I don’t tend to have insightful comments on what I read; it’s more ‘this sucked’ or ‘this was way amazing.’ But now I can be like the awesome people by posting things online! "Take a look/It's in a book/A reading rainbowwwwwwww!"