Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2011

You Know How Sometimes Your Office Gets Out Early and You Blog But It's Not Really About Anything?

At this moment, I am listening to Judy Garland singing On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe with a beatific smile on my face. It resembles this:




And while I wanted to blog about this and wonderfulness that is Judy Garland ROCKING a song, this is a book blog and it got me thinking: do you have any books that cause you to have such a smile? One of mine is the oft-loved Possession. It's amazingly beautiful. I buy copies to give to people. Well. By "I buy" I mean once I was at a yard sale and they had four copies (???) and I bought them all and slowly handed them out. So I'm not as munificent as that other sentence might make me look.
The other's probably Harry Potter. But that's a given. One of these days I'll find a book that strikes an emotionally resonant chord within the depths of me that doesn't have a similar effect on literally a million billion other people. I AM A UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE.

Reading Rambo: Origins

You know how other book blogs actually, like, review books? Yeah...

Gather round me, all ye, as I weave you a tale of academic misfortunes, misgivings and fantastical happiness. It is the tale of Alice's Journey Through the Land of Complit.



Complit, or, written out by unlazy people, Comparative Literature, is not only the best major possible, but it produces the best people possible (*coughs loudly*). The abbreviation used to be C Lit (thanks, University of Illinois), but someone finally decided that despite the stellar maturity and gravitas those at the U of I came to expect of the undergrads, maybe it would be better all around if they changed it to CWL (Comparative & World Literature). The 'World Lit' part was a giant cop-out, which I will explain in a moment. First, let me take you back! Back to the year 2003! A carefree time when I purchased my first iPod, listened to Christina Aguilera and still wore shirts primarily from Hot Topic.
I needed to pick a major, and it …

Wherein I Discuss Literary Agendas and Why They Suck

I don't always do the Literary Blog Hop, because, frankly, it's challenging and requires me to actually think, as opposed to writing about how hot I find certain 19th c. authors. But last week's topic is one of my favorite ranting subjects, and why would I deny myself that? Fiddle-faddle, stuff and nonsense, I'm not scorning that sort of opportunity. What-ho and so forth.


Should literature have a social, political, or any other type of agenda? Does having a clear agenda enhance or detract from its literary value?

Here's my deal with questions: they never have a straightforward 'yes' or 'no' answer. There are always going to be areas of grey. But that's boring if everyone says "Well, let's look at several sides of it..." and if it's not a way important issue like nuclear things being proliferated, I think it's much more fun to take a definite stand.
My definite stand is that "literature" with an agenda is shit. I don…

Do Not Be Intimidated By the Works of Literary Prowess I Tackle

I've been reading a book, maybe you've heard of it...THE DA VINCI CODE?
Yeah, so I'm like seven years late to the party. But since I'm reading it post-college, at least I don't have to have every sorority girl in the immediate vicinity come up to me and say "OH you're reading The Da Vinci Code? I just read it and looooved it. Have you read Angels and Demons?"
I refused to read it when it came out because of two reasons. One, everyone on campus had it as their favorite book on facebook, which annoyed me; two, I looked at the first chapter and the writing sucked. It didn't help that I was reading Possession at the same time, which is basically one of the most beautifully written books ever.
So here it is, way later, and I figured 'Eh.'
This book is ridiculous. If it seriously makes you lose your faith, I dunno, man, maybe take some night classes or something. Almost everything Brown says about Church and medieval history is wrong. Yeah, I'm …

Yet Another Guy I Would Marry (Although This One's Dead)

"In short, the almost torpid creatures of my own fancy twitted me with imbecility, and not without fair occasion."
And with that, I fell in love with Nathaniel Hawthorne. I'm not talking about that fricking lame "I fell in love with Tuscany last autumn" kind of love. I'm saying I would literally make out with Nathaniel Hawthorne and have his babies. With possibly some stuff in between.
I mean, I'm really glad he was happily married and all, and I'd still pick John Adams over him if the option presented itself (that's a whole other thing), but were I to be transported back in time to 1850 and he wasn't married, I'd be known as that brazen Illinois girl who was constantly throwing herself at Mr. Hawthorne and tying her bonnet in a shamelessly beguiling manner.
Here's the thing: House of Seven Gables sucks. I read it before I went to Salem last year to see 'the house that inspired the book,' and both the book and the house were kin…

A Book With A Chapter Entitled 'King Liver and Bile-Bouncers'

I have spent today being emo, but also journeying to the outlying suburbs and purchasing things. Things of amazingness!
My grandfather lived in Geneva, Illinois, which is a small, perfect suburb of Chicago. It's about an hour out on the Metra train. There's a river and tiny shops and a chocolate store and a festival called Swedish Days, as apparently there's a big Swedish presence.
I met up with my second cousin Esther, who directed me to a basement antique shop called The Antique Market. It's one of those places that has stuff from the last 100+ years spread out in a seemingly haphazard fashion. Bakelite dollhouse furniture next to old cookbooks and costume jewelry, etc.
Letting me loose in that kind of place is tantamount to putting Ferdinard the Bull in a florist's shop — he'll just never leave. After I bought my first round of items, I discovered there were two OTHER parts of the store I had somehow missed, and they also had things I obviously needed.
Among th…

Disturbing Trends, Books Other People Said to Read, and So Forth

I haven't updated this in too long. Too long! So you're getting a pondering post instead of a riotous, well-thought-out post. At least it's something to distract you from that thing you don't want to do.
There seems to be an odd trend to what I'm reading right now. As is usually the case, I've picked up way too many books at one time. These're the titles:
Waiting for the Barbarians Devil in the White City The Monk The Da Vinci Code The Face That Stopped a Thousand Bullets
Some might remember the latter referenced in a post where I was searching for the name of a bad urban lit book and then found that one. The title's so amazing I got it from the library. And it is living up to expectations, my friends.
Back in whenever, maybe 2004, I swore never to read The Da Vinci Code. But now I'm older and slightly less dumb/obstinate, and yeah, okay, it's horribly written, and kind of inaccurate with its Church history, but it's compelling, damnit.
Anyway. I don…

Book Blogger Hop, Wherein I Reveal the Companion of My Future Life

All right. The question for this weekend is:
Who is the ONE author that you are DYING to meet?I'm assuming this cancels out all dead people, so I don't have to try to say something about Charlotte Brontë — although now would be the time when I admit that when I was 16, she was pretty much my imaginary friend and I'd show her around my parents' house and explain what the newfangled inventions were. Yeah. Or maybe 'never' would be the time to admit that.
Of people alive, I'm going to have to go with Steve Hely, author and co-author of How I Became a Famous Novelist and The Ridiculous Race. He also writes for 30 Rock and had a cameo on there as Jerem:



Basically I want to meet him so we can get married. Because that's obviously going to happen. He loves museums, I love museums; it's pretty much destiny.
And if any of you haven't read How I Became a Famous Novelist, DO SO NOW. It's another of the few books I recommend. Well. Few contemporary books. T…

Things Learned from The Scarlet Pimpernel

This stupid book is now triumphantly finished, and I can attest to the following valuable lessons nestled within its pages:
1. The French suck.
2. They also hate Jews.
3. French peasants particularly suck.
4. Aristocrats are way awesome, especially the British ones.
5. Women looking/acting like children is super-hot. (wait — what?)
6. England is beautiful and free.
7. The only lower class British citizen worth mentioning is one who's a devoted servant.
8. The Scarlet Pimpernel is basically Tony Stark v. 1.0.
9. Baroness Orczy assumed her readers were really, really dumb.
10. They apparently were.

The Scarlet Pimpernel Makes Me Ashamed of the Past

So I'm doing a TBR challenge that I found from Salon.com (it's over at Adam's Roof Beam Reader). This challenge is basically what made me create a book blog, so, y'know, blame that. But it's great, because at last count, I had appx. 150 unread books on my shelves. Yeah. I suck. But this challenge should eliminate at least 12 of them! I've stayed on track thus far by reading the easy ones, so I'm five down, seven to go, BUT I'm more than halfway through The Scarlet Pimpernel, so if I finish that soon I shall be WELL on my way to being ahead of the game.
Anyway. Scarlet Pimpernel. This book is ridiculous. RI-DICULOUS. And if you have no idea who he is and for some reason want to read the book and be surprised, read nothing more of this entry. Every brief summary I've read of the movie/book has immeeeediately said who he is, so I'm now regarding it as not-that-big-a-deal.
Okay, so this was published in 1905, which basically explains everything. 1905…

That YA Article Everyone's Freaking Out About

All right, so the Wall Street Journal published an article that has made a lot of people upset. Basically it seems to say that YA lit is too dark nowadays and the Youth of America should be reading something else.
The thing is, in the wake of Twilight, there's been a whole lot of dark, shitty books for teens out there. Personally, I don't read teen books. It's basically either 19th c. lit or books for 10 to 12-year-olds. From what I've seen of it, teen lit seems to focus on immeasurably stupid themes. If I ever have a teenager daughter, books with titles like The Lipstick Laws will be banned from the house. I don't have a problem with banning books if they're banned for being idiotic. "I'm sorry, sir, your book is...too dumb. Way, way too dumb. And we just can't have our children reading that, can we? I want smart children in our country, how about you, sir?"
There are going to be people saying things like "Oh, but if dark things happen in …

Printers Row Yields Unheard of Bounties

Every year in Chicago we have something called the Printers Row Lit Fest. It's usually unbearably hot, but you go anyway, because you can potentially find cheap books.
Basically, booksellers from the Chicago area set up little vendor tents and people browse. And it's hard to walk and people seem fond of standing in the middle of the already-narrow passages between tents and everyone's pretty smelly. They have bands performing and people selling bottled water. It's kind of like Taste of Chicago, only without cops always on the verge of breaking out their riot gear, because the attendees tend to look like this:


I went in the middle of the afternoon, so when it was hottest really, because I have some skills, but thinking logically is not counted among them. I walked around for about an hour, and was holding three books in my hand at a bookstall when the wind picked up and the guy manning the stall  started frantically throwing things in bags while saying "STORM'S M…

Follow Friday, Where I Inform You of Awesome Blogs

I've never done a Follow Friday post. You can click on Blogs I Follow (er, I think you can, anyway) and pretty much all of them have something awesome about them. HOWEVER. I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to at least check out two blogs of people I know for realsies. They're extremely different from each other, and neither is about books, but they are both super-fun and amazing.
The first is by my friend Katie. Katie works where I work, and she helps stop me from wanting to shoot myself as I sit at the reception desk all day every day. She's funny and wicked-smaht (we all watched the Poehler commencement speech vid, yes? ugh, DO IT right now). Anyway, she writes down hilarious stories from her life, and if they're not hilarious, they're interesting. Side note: I like how 'interesting' has become one of the most boring words in our language. But its true meaning is for REALS here. Because she writes about deadly spider bites and getting peed on on…