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Showing posts from April, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday, The Mean Girls of Literature

I was going to do this last night when I was kind of buzzed, but alas, that did not happen. So now you have to deal with my completely sober commentary on the women I have chosen for my top ten mean girls of literature. I'm sure I've read books with way meaner ladies, but this is what I came up with after very little thought. I don't have time to contemplate these things, people. I have other, more important things to devote My Brain to. Like focusing on the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler Baby Mama DVD commentary, which is really just okay at best, but now I know, don't I?


Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
AGGGGHHHH THIS WOMAN. OotP is my favorite because hating her is so cathartic. She fills me with impotent rage and she's just awesomely done. JK Rowling, you're such a badass writer.

Rosalie Murray, Agnes Grey
I've written about this horrible girl before. If I could punch ANYONE in literature, it'd probably be her. She sucks.

Becky Sharp, …

In Which We Learn Why I Will One Day Be Crushed to Death by Old Newspapers

I looked at my bookshelves over the weekend and thought ‘…I can’t get rid of any of these.’
I’m something of a minor hoarder. On the few occasions I’ve seen one of those shows (I have Netflix Instant and refuse to pay for cable), when I hear the ever-ready “No, I might need that someday,” issuing forth from one of the deranged people who apparently thinks she might “need” a ceramic statue of a basset hound some day in the future, well, it sounds familiar. Because yes, my shelves are rapidly filling up with more unread than read books, so it’s somewhat justifiable not to throw out the unread ones, but the read books I own I like! You know, at least kind of. And what if one day I’m feeling particularly in the mood for a few pages of one of those books, but – ! I remember that I’ve given it away, and therefore that itch shall remain unscratched!
Okay, when it’s written out, I guess that would just be a minor inconvenience and not that big a deal, but it still remains nigh impossible for me…

In Which Kindles, Pandas and Libraries Are Discussed

I have a lot of downtime at work, and not to sound all creepy and stalkerish or anything, but today I’ve been using that to read basically all of Karen’s past entries at Books and Chocolate. She’s awesome and you should follow her. Being somewhat new to the book blogging world, I have not struck up any firm friendships with other book bloggers, and therefore I do not know the people whose entries I read, BUT, after weeks of wading through crap after crap blog, I have found a small number of them I like greatly, and hers is one. Anyway, so she discusses in some entry how she’s trying to get through only TBR books this year, i.e. the books we all buy and then just kind of leave on a shelf because something new and shiny catches our eye. I decided to go through my goodreads list for last year and see how many of the books on it were library books. The answer was almost all of them. I've already discussed how for me the library is essentially a house of prostitution which causes me to …

The Book of Deuteronomy Always Gets That Song from 'Cats' Stuck in My Head

I just looked up "thunder bible" in google image search, looking for...I don't know, some kind of picture of God with impressive looking storm stuff around him, but instead I got this picture of Zeus, so that's what you're getting:




I'm an iconoclast, but I'm not one of those nasty iconoclasts who breaks into your 14th century home with a mallet and starts smashing up all your lovely pictures of the Virgin Mary. I am just personally not into having images of God around. Except obviously in blog posts.
I had a purpose to this post, but got distracted by Zeus's weird, kind of elfin headpiece. And I mean a real elfin headpiece, not the kind this dude over to the right's wearing. Because that's just for silly Christmas elves, not badass Tolkien ones. 
So I'm trying to read through the Bible in a year. Other people have done it, so why can't I? Turns out because other people obviously had a longer attention span and a greater endurance for Exod…

Top Ten Tuesday: Rewind Edition, aka Alice Gets to Choose from Past Topics

So of course I picked Favorite Fictional Couples. There're probably spoilers in here. But whatever, I don't think they're a big deal in this case.

Will Ladislaw/Dorothea Brooke - Middlemarch I was 19 when I read this and basically freaked out about Will and Dorothea. Why? Because Dorothea’s the most admirable character ever (I mean, you could say that like Beth in Little Women is, but Dorothea’s not a milksop) and you think she’s all impenetrable, but then she loves him and it is sooooooo wonderful. Reading this bolstered my conviction that, if alive today, George Eliot would do things like write West Wing fanfic. Only she wouldn’t ship Josh/Donna, because she’d know they’re not equals. JOSH/AMY FOREVER.
Ethan Frome/Mattie Silver - Ethan Frome DOOMED ROMANCE. I’ve heard people make fun of this book, and they suck. It is amazing and cathartic and kickass. Ethan and Mattie are awesome for trying to do the right thing.
Nan King/Florence Banner - Tipping the Velvet I didn’t think I’…

Another Review! Wherein We Discover Why I Don't Get Paid for This

Water for Elephants
Ok, so I started loving this more than basically anything else, but at about the halfway point my rating went down from 5/5 to 4/5 because:

1. Jacob is emo ALL THE TIME. It was the Great Depression, but it was also the time of the musical 42nd Street, which features songs like 'Young and Healthy.' Which he is. But he's always enraged or crying or being smacked around by someone, which causes him to get mad and cry some more.

2. Variations on a theme: IT IS SO DEPRESSING. Like, even ignoring EmoJacob, it reminds me of short stories I wrote in middle school after my English teacher told the class that happy endings were "unrealistic," so at the end of all my stories, everyone was dead.

But the first half is amazingly awesome. I also could've done with some more in-depth stuff about Marlena, but the book IS from Jacob's perspective, and I liked it even without a super-present female character, so it pretty much has to be good…

Readathon! Kind of!

That's it. I missed the Read-a-thon last weekend, so I'm doing my own sad...alone...not actually 24 hour long...readathon. It's going to be more like "What happens when I DON'T sit in my apartment, eating hummus and watching tv on netflix instant?"
I'm totally going to write updates which will be either utterly hilarious, or deathly boring. I haven't decided yet if I'm bringing my laptop, as I am bringing way, way more books than I will be reading, as I cannot handle limiting my options.

Where are you reading from today? My apartment. It’s like 50 degrees and rainy out. Then I shall be moving to my parents' club in the afternoon, where I've gotten permission to sit in their kickass library, which has big comfy leather armchairs and a fireplace and is usually pretty uninhabited, as I guess Big Chicago Businessmen don't like to read.
3 facts about me …
1.The giant ground sloth is my favorite animal.
2.I eat hummus almost every day and have for…

Book Blog Hop! And Way Awesome Plans.

 "Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her."
Since I spent most of last weekend reading Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw, I’m gonna talk about Jesse Austin.
Jesse starts the novel just having come in second in some Olympic ladies’ swimming event. I never watch the Olympics, so I have no idea what it is. The one where you swim to the end of one side of the pool, then swim back. I’m not gonna get into my feelings about how this seems kind of stupid, but okay. I like Jesse enough to be happy she’s really good at something.
So, the novel flashes “forward” to 1990, which is like 20 years later, and shows where she would’ve ended up by choosing something different three times in the same situation. Her sense of self and calm varies, but overall she stays a pretty strong person who’s kind of lost and has a horrible relationship with her mother. She never gets really dependent in a relationship, which I like, and stays an individu…

In Which I Bought Another Book, But It's Probably Gonna Be Way Awesome

In what could very well have been a financial misstep, when browsing at Books-a-Million with my very awesome friend Katie (whose anecdotal, hilarious blog you can find here), I decided to purchase Sara Gruen’s next book after Water for Elephants, Ape House.

I have no interest in people who study monkeys. Well. Aside from Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. So maybe I do have an interest in people who study monkeys. But it’s not something I would seek out information on like Liz Lemon.
Oh, I was just reading about gorilla researchers for a sketch we're doing making fun of them. For devoting their lives to the jungle and its noble inhabitants.”
But I bought her next book, because I am experiencing an overwhelming love for her first book, which I’m not very far into at all. If Sara Gruen were right here, in the corporate office in which I work all day long every day, I would kneel at her feet and say “TEACH ME YOUR WAYS, WORDSMITH.”
Only maybe not, because I’m one of those lazy people who doe…

Floridian Reading Time

I have not been lazy about updating this. Rather I have been in Florida, absorbing vitamin D, which will hopefully help my hypochondriacal self to believe all my hair is not, in fact, falling out.
I optimistically brought a stack of books with me, despite knowing that I was going in order to visit my best friend who, in all likelihood, would rather drink than sit down and do some side-by-side reading. She plays in an orchestra down there, and so I had some time on my own while she did some concerts, and that was my main reading time.
The main reading focus was Aquamarine, by Carol Anshaw. I had never heard of this book, and how it came into my possession was thusly: my church, which is the best church of ever, has a large GLBT population since it falls under the "More Light" category (translation: we're way into gays). There are two older women in the congregation named Gail and Gerri who I like to refer to as our flagship lesbian couple. They've been together since th…

Unfamiliar Fishes - A Thoughtful and Awesome Review

I’ve never cared about Hawaii. Like…ever. They were the 50th state brought into the Union, that’s all I knew. And a Brady Bunch movie had been set there. And its people liked to surf. Oh! and Dog the Bounty Hunter lives there, which is awesome.
I was vaguely aware that we’d overthrown their queen, Liliuokalani, but I never really thought about it, or about what the people of Hawaii felt about that.

I was a bit uncertain as to how I felt about this book until the end. I’m generally a big fan of tangents, but Sarah Vowell seems to go off on so many that I was struggling with the chronology of events (I’m big on chronology). Somehow, though, in the last few pages, she pulls it together and I felt like it had been a truly worthwhile reading experience.
That’s the brief summary. Now for some specific thoughts.
The nice thing about really liking a certain author and being willing to read whatever she writes is that you can be exposed to things you wouldn’t have searched out on your own. So whe…

Sarah Vowell, Pt I (i.e. pre-finishing Unfamiliar Fishes)

I have a strong affection for Sarah Vowell, stemming from a five week stint in France at the age of 21. I had had four non-consecutive semesters of French prior to going (my high school offered Spanish) and was promptly placed with a host family that did not speak any English beyond the 17-year-old Jean Pierre being able to inquire “Do Ah ‘ave an accehnt?” and the mother proudly proclaiming “Apple pie!”
Missing my family, my friends (the kids in my program were goobers), a steady internet connection, DVDs and an American keyboard (my first e-mails had no apostrophes, as I could not find that key), I sank into a week-long depression which involved me crying every day, usually on the steps of, or inside, something grand and historic.
Back in America I had optimistically opted to only pack two English books. “I want to IMMERSE myself,” I told my parents. Little was I to know that soon, the sound of someone speaking English would cause me immediate happiness and joy, and a desire to hug the…

Of Manatees and Book Reviews

So twice a year, apparently, there's this thing called Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. It's what it sounds like -- you try to read for 24 hours (although plenty seem to break for sleeping/showering/whathaveyou). As I am into things that have rules, I would be all for it, BUT the first one of this year is taking place on the very weekend I am visiting my totes bff Audrey in Florida, and I feel like she might be insulted if I say "I know I flew all this way to spend time with you and that you're being awesome by letting me stay in your house, but I can't talk to you for 24 hours as I have to participate in this online challenge I read about last week."

So. That will not be happening. Instead I shall be gazing with delight upon the majestic manatee and his fellow denizens of the sparkling waters of the Gulf.

I am ALMOST done with Sarah Vowell's newest book, Unfamiliar Fishes, and just in time, too, as she's speaking in Oak Park in two days and I would like …

A doorway!

I have found a meme that seems to be a doorway to truly awesome blogs, for which I am extremely thankful. It is this:








Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon? Discuss the effect you believe a book’s “status” has on your opinion of it.


I’m definitely predisposed to like them, and I’ll tell you why, meme. It’s because every century churns out an almost infinite amount of crap literature, and then a tiny bit of good. Undoubtedly, some of the good stuff gets left out of the canon, and some of the bad stuff inexplicably worms its way in, but overall if something is canon I tend to assume it’s there because it’s timeless (er, to a certain degree) and has a piece of human truth in it. This has led to me reading the amazingness that is Middlemarch, and the death knell that is Romola (really, George Eliot? really?). It led to Ethan Frome, which made me sob at 2 in the morning for the…

Challengey Things!

I've been reading a lot for the GLBT challenge, which has been enlightening, to say the least. Also I've discovered that I love Emma Donoghue a lot and a lot. And I'm rather 'meh' on Jeanette Winterson. Her writing is extreeeemely devoid of detail (can something be extremely devoid? whatever, it can now) and I am not a fan of such things. But I'm not gonna call her bad, as she's one of those authors where one is perfectly aware that they're good, but they might not appeal to everyone. Example: I also do not like Hemingway, for a similar reason. I remember feeling super-clever in 6th grade, because my hippie English teacher Larry said Hemingway was great because "he only used the number of words he needed" and I replied "No, he only used the number of words he THOUGHT he needed." Because really, I could use a lot more in his books.

Ok, to be fair to Hemingway, I haven't even glanced at his works in years and I'm only 25, but I …