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Showing posts from December, 2011

Wherein We Discover That Some Opera Scholars Are Dumb

Oh man, you thought I wasn't going to update today, but you were WRONG. Because my friend Hannah and I started setting up our January/February book club and I now have to talk about it.
I believe one day a month or so ago, Hannah and I essentially said "We don't know enough about German history. Let's read somethin'." For me, this was motivated by reading Sophie's Choice and it's like "Yeah, the Nazis were the clearest modern depiction of evil, but WHY were they that way whyyyyyyy?"
So we found a book called Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. And we formed what Hannah has dubbed 'Alice & Hannah's Book Club of Super Fun.' WHICH IS THE BEST NAME EVER. Aren't you just automatically like 'Bam! I want to join that book club. But I can't, because I am not Alice or Hannah.' *sadface*
In other news, I have two and a half days to finish my 2011 TBR Challenge (link to Adam's blog found on the ri…

Norwegian Wood: The Planning Post

You all remember this?


So, after some panicking on my part, and the over-taxed Chicago Public Library taking weeks and weeks to send my copy (it's been in transit for about three or four weeks now), I finally caved and bought it on Kindle (even though the Kindle price is more than the paperback -- COME ON PUBLISHERS).
Tuesdays worked well last time, because then you get to panic on Mondays and not Sundays that you haven't done the reading. Makes the weekend more relaxing. But if people want to do Wednesdays instead because of Top Ten Tuesday being such a big meme, let me know and I'll shift everything forward a day (except the 31st, because I REFUSE TO GO INTO JANUARY). Here's the schedule:
January 3rd: Intro posts. How do you feel about Murakami/have you read anything of his before/whatever you want to say; I am merely your faciliator.
January 10th: Chapters 1 through 4
January 17th: Chapters 5 & 6
January 24th: Chapters 7 through 9
January 31st: Chapters 10 & 11
If y…

Post-Christmas Posting!

Excuse me while I pause from my frantic attempt to finish three books in the next five days (do we all remember how long Sophie's Choice took? yeah, this is something of a Quixotean quest for me).
But look at the book-related stuff I got!:

Ok, so two of those I asked for (thank you, Rayna at Libereading, for recommending Ex Libris), but the ones in the center were given to me by my oldest brother. I got a shitload of Doctor Who-related items this Christmas — SO SURPRISINGand Chicks Dig Timelords is a collection of DW-related feminist essays. Daaaaamn. And, of course, 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth is a collection of comics by The Oatmeal.
I obviously wish you all lived near me so we could play Book Lover's Trivial Pursuit.
Now. Nabokov. I've maligned him somewhat in the past week, but Speak, Memory is actually really good and you all should kind of maybe sorta read it.  That's as strong a recommendation as I'm going to give him, because I'm …

Light of My Life, Fire etc etc etc

Have you ever read Nabokov? Here's a sample sentence: "This slow, somewhat somnambulistic ascension in self-engendered darkness held obvious delights." That's about him as a child walking up some stairs with his eyes closed.
That's actually one of my favorite sentences of his in recent memory, because you look at each word and it's like "daamn, self-engendered darkness -- that's EXACTLY what it is."
That being said, I both like and really don't like him.
I've mentioned before that in college I took a course on him because my favorite professor was teaching it. We read eight -- EIGHT -- of his books, a fact by which I am still outraged because it's more than I've read of many authors I quite like. And now with Speak, Memory, I'm just adding to that number. Boo.
But as with anything you're over-exposed to, I have a weird fondness for him. I'll say an affectionate "Nabokov, you bastard" when he decides to write his…

YEAH. More Top Ten Things. Everyone Loves Those.

Some people would say I already did a 2011 wrap-up, but to them I say IT IS STILL ONLY THE 21ST LEAVE ME ALONE.
I'm gonna do a top 10 list, 'cause I love that shit.
Best Books I Read in 2011
I'm not gonna think too hard about this, so it's probably at least kind of incorrect. But trust that these books were all awesome and should be read.
1. The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Yeah, I didn't read it when I was little. Yeah, it's still awesome if you read it in your 20s. Yeah, I called the local library of Wethersfield, CT and asked if they had any kind of sites to see in their town related to the book. 2. Middlesex - If you don't know by now that everyone thinks this book is awesome, why are you reading book blogs, because you obviously don't absorb information. 3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - Yes yes, it's very good. 4. Sophie's Choice - There's no way I'm not listing this. 5. The Family Fang - This has just kind of stuck with me? I really liked it. …

My Photoshop Abilities Are Obviously Beyond Compare

The fine Julie from Contractually Obligated to Like Books, friend, food companion and LOTR-marathoning-buddy, has a birthday today. Let there be much rejoicing. Her blog is both funny and smart and you should all check it out. If I had a friend with a shitty blog, I wouldn't recommend it, people. I have STANDARDS. But it does help that Julie has gone to a Tina-Fey-recommended Greek chicken place with me not once, but TWICE. FOOD BUDDIES FOREVER.
As for Top Ten Tuesday's "Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings" topic, the answer is ZERO. I WANT NO BOOKS. I HAVE TOO MANY.
Wait, that's a lie. I want Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947, because my friend Hannah and I decided we don't know enough about Prussia.
BAM. List DONE.


edit: Book PURCHASED by my mom. I now want no books.

Christmas Is in Six Days and I'm Going to Be Happy, Damnit

Can we talk about books I love the pants off of?
It's almost Christmas, joyful time of the year, etc etc. So these are books that make me joyous. Or about which I literally flail.


House of Mirth. Someone on tumblr posted a graphic from the movie and I instantly remembered HOUSE OF MIRTH I LOVE YOU AND LILY BART YOU ARE AMAZING LET ME GIVE YOU A HUG. I first read HoM when I was 15, and while I've never "technically" re-read it totally, I chose to write a Complit paper on it in college and rediscovered its layers upon layers of meaning. Wharton, you are a genius. Just for that, I'm reposting my graphic of you accompanying Henry James to a gay club (which you would totes do if then were now):

Middlemarch. This is entirely due to my preoccupation with Will Ladislaw and Dorothea Brooke. Also Dorothea Brooke is my favorite literary heroine ever because I RELATE TO HER. Mainly because I too used to have the jackass, Christian school opinion that I wanted to marry a great m…

Sophie's Choice. It...Is...Done.

Yeah. I did it. I finished Sophie's Choice. It's basically the saddest book ever, so this will be gif-heavy to try to balance the Holocaust + domestic abuse goin' on. First: HURRAY IT'S DONE!

But then there's also the whole "Oh it's done." *sadface* Because, and despite what I am going to say regarding its IMMENSE SADNESS, it is amazing. William Styron is a Writer Who Can Write. He's all "LOOK AT THE MAGICAL MIXTURE I MAKE WITH WORDS! I have a CRAFT and I do it well." He kiind of reminds me of Nabokov (whose autobiography I still have to read this year), because both pay SUCH careful attention to which words they're going to use, so you never feel like they were just trying to use whatever to communicate an idea — no, each word is important and chosen for a reason.
This can also be maddening because, knowing that, it can take forever to read if you really want to appreciate it.
Oh, right, what is Sophie's Choice about. Essentially i…

French Things, It's Friday, and I Hate Austenland

I AM SORRY I HAD TO.

You guys. Have you read my friend Katie's review of Stephen King's 11/22/63? You should, because it's hilarious.
My mom just called and told me that some people are going into K-Marts and paying off other people's layaway bills for Christmas toys. I am now teary. How is this related to books? IT ISN'T GET INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT EBENEZER.
I have precisely 12 pages of Sophie's Choice left, and it's just kind of sitting there next to me, which makes me the worst reader of all time. I've also, not kidding, done this when I've had two pages left of a book. "Yeah, I'll get to that later on." I'm a bad enough reader that I probably shouldn't have a book blog, but then where would I post gifs? Google+? We know that's not an actual option.
In other news, I have started La Comédie humaine by Balzac. I'm a third of the way through La Maison du chat qui pelote, and what's happened so far is young Théodore is…

2011 Wrap-Up Despite 2011 Not Being Over

Have you all noticed that EVERYONE is updating today? Like, to the point where I almost didn't. But then I said "Screw that! I'm adding to everyone's feeds!"




You know what I enjoy? Ridiculous categories. Let's create some.

Book I Most Expected to Be Horrible But Which Exceeded My Horribleness Expectations: Twilight. What a piece of shit that book is. All I have to say is: "I would have been angrier if his laughter wasn't so fascinating."
Classic That Is Actually Eye-Poking-Out Bad: The Scarlet Pimpernel. I have a tag for that book. And it's not "OMG THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL IS AMAZING." Because I am not a dirty liar.
Lesbian Book Everyone Loved But Which I Don't Get Because It Is SO VAGUE: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. You know who sympathized with me about this book? My 15-year-old cousin Kathleen, who had to read it for school. SHE got that it was maddeningly vague. When I picked it up I was all "Hurray! A book with sexy lady…

Pay Attention Emily Brown Is the Bee's Knees

Welcome to I-recommend-a-book-and-yeah-I'm-kind-of-biased-but-it's-WAY-AWESOME.
My mother is one of those Force to Be Reckoned With people, and that is not said idly. People come away from her shaken and awed. Nurses in hospitals (she has some health issues) quail before her imperious gaze, and those who try to patronize her emerge from the encounter a husk of their former self.
She wrote a book for children!
Two of my three brothers have had attention issues, and a very long time ago, my mother wrote a poem called Pay Attention, Emily Brown. My brother Carl, who is a super-weirdo artist, finally said he would illustrate it, and behold!:

Yeeeah, I know what you're thinking. 'GOOD LORD WHERE CAN I PURCHASE THIS FOR A CHILD IN MY LIFE?'
The answer would be "A bookstore." Come unto me, for I have the answers, my friends!
An example of the kind of talk you unfortunately will not find in the book (although you will find a message of love and patience and generally a…

In Which I Am Too Chummy With People I Don't Know

I'm going to briefly go into love for authors as people despite one not knowing them, BUT FIRST, I want to relate something my friend Stephanie said, because it's one of those times you realize your friends know you better than you know yourself.
CASE IN POINT being that today I bought a drawing of the Doctor and River Song from Doctor Who -- yeah, a drawing -- and I sent Stephanie a link to it and this is how the conversation went:
Stephanie: I feel like this is the beginning of the end. Me: beginning of the end of what! S: the beginning of the end of your obsession. Me: why! [I don't use question marks when I'm indignant] S: Because it always starts winding down after you purchase the most ridiculous item.
And then I was shamed into silence. Because that is an accurate statement.
NOW. Authors. I tend to ignore them if they're still alive, and sometimes I avoid as much biographical detail about them as I can, because they carry with them an air of douchiness (ex: Dickens)…

Lesbian Pop Culture and Masculine American Men

First off, are you all reading Dorothy Snarker? You know how gay men comment on pop culture a lot? (shut it, they do) Well, this is a gay lady and she is HILARIOUS and has provided me with hours of reading material. And even though I don't watch Glee, I find myself fascinated by some kind of two-characters-didn't-kiss-or-did-they controversy over what constitutes kissing, part of the argument of which involves what she calls "The Great Neck Nuzzle of 2010." Love. LOVE. And best blog name award, it goes to her.



Sorry. Right. Book blog. But HILARIOUS NEW BLOGS, I am so fond of them.
I haven't been reading this week, due to having the toothache and the headache and the stomachache and other body part + ache combinations. Also the general problem of me being addicted to things like Tumblr and staying up too late looking at them and then just sitting there like an especially lumpy lump at work the next day, too filled with a general malaise of dumbness to even open my K…

Children's Books Are the Best and I Shall Hear No More About It

All right. I was trying to give you all a brief respite, but today's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is too good, so you only get Monday off from me. Here, to make it up for you, is THE BEST GIF OF ALL TIME:




top ten childhood favorites
It seems a matter of debate as to when childhood was, so I'm just gonna choose books up until I was...I dunno, 13? Sure. That. And I know I'm gonna forget a lot of influential books, but oh well. Let's get all the terrible series books out of the way first.
1. The Babysitters Little Sister - Yeah, I read these. A lot of them, too. I specifically remember the woman at the bookstore saying I probably wasn't old enough for Babysitter's Club, so I should read this. Hopefully I wasn't like ten but stupid-looking. Anyway, I loved these, but they're what prompted my mother's rule for my childhood that she would buy me whatever book I wanted so long as it wasn't dumb (these counted as dumb).
2. Goosebump…

LET THE 2012 CHALLENGES CONTINUE

I promise this is the last one I'm signing up for. And I'm kind of re-using some books from one of the other TBR challenges I'm doing, BUT this is the challenge that caused me to create my blog, so I have feelings of fondness towards it.


All right. The other ones I picked kind of at random, but these are books I LEGIT want to read and get off my shelf:
1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke - I mentioned before, I have two copies of this, and it's just...it's just GIANT and intimidating, but also has the best blurbs I've ever read on the back of a book. And the hardcover version takes up so very much space on my shelf.
2. The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor - I tend to hate it when people get into series because they have the same name as the heroine, but...well...it's not my fault; my mom's collected Alice in Wonderland things since I was born. And this looks cool. So I bought it ages ago but never read it because I suck.
3. Henry VIII: The K…

FINAL READATHONING POST

Yeah, it's 10:30. I was going to read about Minnesota, and then I said screw it and went to get on my computer.
So, I spent this week saying (to myself) I wasn't going to be reading Sophie's Choice for the readathon, annnnd that's pretty much most of what I did. But I now only have 142 pages left, which is SO exciting.
I'm discovering so many awesome authors through State by State. I never read essay collections, but since this was about Things That Make Us Different But Still Unified, I had to get it. Because I fall for that every time. Anyway, John Hodgman wrote about Massachusetts: Emerson said there is a "wise silence" inside all of us, and in it, a kind of divinity—an intuitive personal spirituality, that when we are attuned to it, makes all of reality an echo of our soul. Or something. No one really knew what he was talking about. In honor of Massachusetts, here're pictures from my pilgrimage there last year for my 25th birthday (I have plans to mar…

Readathon, Post the Third, i.e. GIF Time

I don't know about you guys, but I am thoroughly enjoying this readathon. Amanda, this was an excellent idea. May all baked goods be given unto you.
I'm slowly wending my way through Sophie's Choice, but after all these weeks THE END, SHE IS IN SIGHT. I am so excited. But it's mixed emotions, because the writing is SO good, but it's also a billion pages with hugely long paragraphs and I'm like Styron, come ON, man, but he keeps doing it.
I've read about some more states in State by State. Today seems to just be Sadness in Books Day, because there's Sophie talking about being beaten by her high-on-cocaine boyfriend and then recounting her time in Auschwitz (...yeah, that's pretty much the whole book), and then the essay on Louisiana is all "LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT KATRINA" and I was like "Nooooooooooo!" but it did anyway.
By far, my favorite read today was Maine by Heidi Julavits. It has such wonderful sections as this: "Because my…

Images of Class (Readathon Update Numero Dos)

Did I mention I don't drink a lot? And that sparkling grape juice is delicious? Although come to think of it, doing a drunk readathon would be kind of totally amazing.
So. I've read almost nothing. BUT I just got back from my voice lesson, which required me to take a half hour train ride each way, and then I had to go "LA LA LAAAA" like Babe the Pig. Only BETTER. Yeah, suck it, Babe, I own you.
I've read a tiny bit of Sophie's Choice, and State by State taught me that Kansas' state song is Home on the Range. Which was a surprisingly good Disney movie.
Excuse me, I have to go eat everything and read more about the Holocaust.

Readathon, Technically Hour Two But I Haven't Actually Started

I can't wake up on time for readathons. It's impossible. They always start at 7 or 8 a.m. and I always stay up too late refreshing tumblr over and over again, leaving me sleepy and irritated when my alarm goes off. "SCREW YOU, BOOKS!" I cry as I turn off said alarm and go back to sleep.
BUT! I am posting because our intrepid leader, Amanda at Dead White Guys has a birthday today, which I just learned, which is why this looks the way it does. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WOMAN!

I'm gonna go read Sophie's Choice and State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, both of which are excellent but which have significantly different vibes, since one is essays about states and one is..y'know, about the Holocaust. Then I have a voice lesson in the suburbs BUT THEN I SHALL BE BACK AND SHALL UPDATE ON BOOKS AND FOOD.
*flounces off*

Readalong Poll Results!

All right. It was seven to four, I'm sick of my banner being brown, so I'm deleting the post and calling it.




Yeah that's right WE'RE READIN' NORWEGIAN WOOD. This better not suck, people. I'm counting on your judgment here.
So rather than me stretching this out to a billion posts, let's have the sign-up post here. No, this isn't a hard and fast commitment (you know those people who can 'find' people over the internet?...I am not one), but YAYY LINKY. 
As always, ignore the leave a comment thing; Mr. Linky writes that and I cannot change it. Do what you want, because by God, you are a human being with a soul and free will! Make your commenting choices for yourself! Seize the day and so forth.