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Showing posts from January, 2014

World War Z is a damn fantastic book.

World War Z is a damn fantastic book. 

 TRUE I am realizing this years after its publication, but better now than when I'm 90.

Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, and evidently an immensely talented individual, put together over 300 pages of survivor accounts of a zombie apocalypse and made it awesome.


I'm not a zombie apocalypse planner. I sat in my room in my ground floor apartment the other day and suddenly realized that if zombies showed up, I'd be dead in fifteen seconds because of the sheer indefensibleness of my situation. Again, ground floor, and there're giant windows everywhere. I'd have to somehow get to the Sears Tower, which probably wouldn't be TOO hard because it's like a mile and a half away, but I'd have to bring a weapon, and all we have is an aluminum baseball bat and a two by four. Also I've been spending the winter eating McVitie's Digestive Biscuits, so my preparation has been more for staying warm during hibern…

Bleak House Readalong Reminder HAVE YOU STARTED YET

The Bleak House readalong's first post is in ONE WEEK. ONE WEEK TO READ ELEVEN CHAPTERS. IT CAN BE DONE. 

That's less than two chapters reading a day, suckahs. You put this off til the last second and you're gonna miss some damn spiffy sentences. THIS IS DICKENS'S BEST BOOK; THAT IS WHY WE ARE READING IT. Don't treat it like some lameass sophomore year English assignment.


ADVICE. Would be to create a list of characters. There are a MILLION characters in this book, and if you have problems keeping people straight, make a list. Write things like "Tulkinghorn - Dedlocks' lawyer; wears breeches in 1852 -- weirdo." (he is)

Speaking of breeches, I love the pants off this book. It is awesome. But also I haven't read it all the way through since I was 18. So I'm quite excited about this readalong. QUITE.


So write down which characters you like, what you don't get yet, who seems to be an asshole, what you think Dickens is trying to do with his silly…

Behind the Candelabra: Sure, this seems factual

Last summer, I got monstrously drunk at Pride, went back to my friend's apartment, and passed out on her couch (if you follow me on Twitter, behold my profile pic). When I woke up and felt disgusting, she suggested we watch a movie, and AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, the HBO adaptation of Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace was on On Demand, and I had JUST seen Patton Oswalt giving it rave reviews.



I got through like an hour before passing out again, and when I woke up, everything had gone to hell and Matt Damon was strutting around in furs, yelling at Michael Douglas. Needless to say, I was totally on board to read the super-short book this thing was based on.


So obviously the main problem with reading one person's side of a relationship is it's never accurate. You don't know what the other person was thinking all the time. You're hurt, because it's over and you had FEELINGS wrapped up in it, which cloud your judgment. And there was a giant lawsuit that the a…

Minnesota: Where I did nothing but quote Drop Dead Gorgeous the whole time

So sometimes in life, it's late. And you're on OKCupid. And you see a girl's picture and think she's pretty and then find out she's in Minnesota because OKCupid is dumb about geography, but ALSO SOMETIMES you message her anyway and then you email for a month and then she visits you for New Year's annnd then you're in Minnesota and she's your girlfriend.


I was in Minneapolis/St Paul! For the first time! People had accents and said "about" in a weird, Canadian-American hybrid sort of way. Also, you know how you read about  how People of the Past used to be all "There're wolves in the woods and they'll eat you!" and you're like "blah blah, no longer something to worry about"? That is BULLSHIT, because Minnesota woods look like they are wolf-infested, and if someone told me to go into them and gather firewood so Ma could make griddlecakes, I'd say hell no, I'll get eaten by the wolves that are obviously there…

1927: A lot happened that year and Bill Bryson is ON IT

One Summer: America, 1927 is the first Bill Bryson I have finished. I have now come to the conclusion that while I am not so much a fan of Bryson travelogues, I am a devotee of his collection-of-random-facts books. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

He starts with the murderess Ruth Snyder, switches to Charles Lindbergh, then jumps over to the Great Mississippi Flood. In the first three chapters. There is so much information in this book, it just makes me go 


DID YOU KNOW that of the 120 million people living in America in 1927, half still lived on farms or in small towns? And that now that number is 15%? So we've become a much more urban-focused society and that is FASCINATING and how has it changed our ways of thinking I don't knowwww but we should maybe think about it.

Also skyscrapers have "pointed masts" on top so that we can tie AIRSHIPS TO THEM. But then airships didn't really take off (ahahaha), so instead we just have a bunch of pointy buildings sittin' around…

Late night historical lady talks

Maybe it's 1 AM, and maybe I drank some Coke at midnight, and maybe I need to talk about Medieval Women by Eileen Power for a sec.

And also Christine de Pizan — WHAT? What? Christine de Pizan, who even are you? You're writing in like 1405 and you're attacking misogynists and defending women as intelligent beings who are just as human as men? WHAT? In 1405?? HOW. I feel like I missed something, OR the 1400s weren't as shitty as I thought, OR Christine de Pizan is basically the greatest human being ever.

She wrote Book of the City of Ladies, which is basically like "Oh, women are evil? Here's a list of A MILLION AWESOME WOMEN WHO WERE NOT." And then men were like


...I assume.

But EILEEN POWER even. I've had this book Medieval Women kicking around since I was in high school. I remember bringing it on my high school's spiritual emphasis retreat and while trying to read it, arguing with my History teacher (whom I obviously sat near on the bus) and then end…

Minithon: The Endening

I LOVE THE MINITHON SO HARD.

IMO, you definitely want a readathon to end when you still want to be reading, as opposed to painfully pushing yourself to keep going, watching the clock with a barely suppressed groan as you realize you're nowhere near the finish line. As the clock ticked down to 6 pm (CST), I found myself rushing to pick up books I hadn't touched yet. "No! I need another hour!"

This is one of many reasons why the Minithon is the best. Along with the snacks and GIFs and minithon hashtag stalking.

HOW TO EVEN SUM UP THIS MINITHON. The minithon of January 2014. Extra-delightful because it is cold and I had no wish to leave the apartment. First off, the ladies were, as always, a cause of sheer joy. I do not know how various book blog people actually find each other, but I feel honored — NAY, BLESSED — to be in their company and seeing pictures of their snacks.

I FINISHED Bill Bryson's America, 1927, which was great and wonderful and I shall most def review …

MINITHON POST THE SECOND

Halfway through the minithon and I have:

1) Gone grocery shopping.

2) Eaten an orange and the remaining hummus I made yesterday.

3) Taken a shower.

4) Read the first chapter of Bleak House, almost to the 2/3 point of Behind the Candelabra, and am 30 pages from the end of Bryson's 1927.



Plan for the rest of the thon is to finish 1927 (yayyyyyyyy), read the first excerpt in The Essential Feminist Reader, and start like three other books. Just 'cause.



CARRY ON, MINITHONERS

MINITHON SO EXCITING

Ah, it is time for the minithon, hosted by the completely awesome Tika at Reading the Bricks. We love Tika.


SO. The minithon is eight hours, and we mainly are just going to eat snacks (be on twitter) and read books we have justified somehow as mini. HERE'S MY STUFF:



THAT LIST, for those who don't want to squint at spines, is:

Notre Dame de Paris, Hugo
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
Wigs on the Green, Nancy Mitford
The Essential Feminist Reader, ed. Estelle B. Freedman
What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal, Zoë Heller
Medieval Women, Eileen Power
One Summer: America, 1927, Bill Bryson
Bleak House, Dickens

Notre Dame de Paris has a tiny goat in it! Wide Sargasso Sea is a mini reinterpretation of Jane Eyre! Wigs on the Green I have no idea! Essential Feminist Reader is made up of tiny little mini essays and things, and I have now run out of justification powers. BUT THEY ALL WORK, WHATEVER I NEED TO START READING.

I plan to finish 1927 and this eBook I'm reading — Behind the Candelabra…

Bleak House in February

THE TIME HAS COME.

Some of you have not read Bleak House. Which is a silly state of affairs, because it is the greatest. SO. In the dreary month of February (and also half of March), we shall read (or re-read) Charles Dickens's best novel! And it will be the funnest and full of overly emotional GIFs and OH how excited I am.


Posts are on Tuesdays and start February 4th. We'll skip intro posts and just jump right in with a schedule I will post later in the month, possibly here.  SIGN-UP BELOW; BE THERE OR BE SQUARE THIS IS GOING TO BE SUPER-FUN BECAUSE I LOVE THIS BOOK MORE THAN CHIPMUNKS LOVE RAISINS.

February 4th - Chapters I through XI
February 11th - Chapters XII through XXI
February 18th - Chapters XXII through XXXII
February 25th - Chapters XXXIII through XXXIX
March 4th - Chapters XL through XLVIII
March 11th - Chapters XLIX through LV
March 18th - LVI through LXVII

The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd: Lady abolitionists and attempted slave uprisings

Sue Monk Kidd's new book, The Invention of Wings, does not have a cover that would make me want to read it.


But when Penguin asked if I wanted to review it, I gleefully said yes, SOLELY based on the fact that I saw the movie The Secret Life of Bees and thought it was damn fantastic. I trust Sue Monk Kidd. Also I have a fondness for books set in the South, and oh my, does this deliver in that regard.

While Secret Life of Bees was set in the 1960s, The Invention of Wings goes all the way back to early 1800s Charleston, South Carolina. I've BEEN to Charleston, and let me assure you, it is kickass.



The Invention of Wings alternates narratives between Sarah Grimké and one of her family's slaves, Hetty (or "Handful"). This device could remind one of The Help, only The Help turned out in the end to be all about the Southern white lady and her problems and not so much about the actual help, whereas Kidd has no problem making Sarah's issues seem comparatively insignifica…

Feminist Theory from Margin to Center: This is gonna be a fun one

The wind chill is currently -21, and for the first time in memory, work is shut down because it is too cold to go outside. So let's discuss feminist theory!


In 1984, bell hooks wrote a book called Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, which is what you name something when you really want it to GRAB the reader, y'know? But Anita Sarkeesian said to read it, and I do what that girl tells me.



Feminist Theory is split up into 12 essays, the majority of which explain why bourgeois white women (see: me and pretty much everyone who reads this blog) co-opted the feminist movement and aren't addressing needs beyond their own. WHICH WAS A LITTLE HARD TO HEAR, but true nonetheless.

She kicks it off right at the beginning by addressing Betty Friedan's groundbreaking work, The Feminine Mystique, and calling it bullshit because 

In the context of her book, Friedan makes clear that the women she saw as victimized by sexism were college-educated, white women who were compelled by sexist …

TBR Challenge 2014 -- Sure, why not

I think I completed Adam's TBR Challenge one year. Once. And I have tried since to reach such heights of glory, with nary a shadow of success. It is, however, what started me having a book blog and for that I will forever view it with affection.

Medieval Women, Eileen Power. I've owned this for years. Years. I brought it with me to read on a trip in high school but instead ended up playing ping pong. I will read it.

Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld. She's supposed to be good, right? And I really wanted to read this. And then I bought it yeears ago, but I still have not read it. I find that ridiculous.

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole. Do eBooks count? Because I've owned this for like three years, and I REALLY want to read it and it just hasn't happened. But I KNOW IT'S GOOD. I know it's really good. But nope. Not yet.

Wigs on the Green, Nancy Mitford. I bought this when Borders was going out of business. And then my prediction came true. Except instead of t…

2013 Wrap-Up: Books.

2013 was SO WEIRD. Can you believe the stuff not read at the beginning of the year that has now been read? GAH. My mind can almost not fathom it. ALMOST. Anyway. Here's a survey I stole from Alley.

Number of books read in 2013: 62. I would've beaten 2011 instead of tying, but someone pretty from Minnesota decided to start dating me, so. That took up some reading time.




1. Best Book You Read In 2013? Ok, I read a ridiculous amount of non-fiction this past year (17/62), and of that, the best was almost definitely the unfortunately-titled survey of romantic friendship from the 1600s to the 1970s, Surpassing the Love of Men by Lillian Faderman. It led to so much other research AND made me read Diana Victrix, which is SO good. Best FICTION, though...agh. I am not sure. Visit from the Goon Squad? Valencia? There were a lot of excellent books discovered this year.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? NIGHT FILM, DAMNIT. Still bitter about t…