Thursday, March 31, 2011

Does a book's status affect your opinion?

It's Thursday which means it's another literary blog hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase! The question for this hop is: 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 affect you believe a book's status has on your opinion of it.

I want to start off apologizing in advance in case this post turns out to be rambling and incoherent. I got home late last which means I didn't get much sleep and lack of sleep tends to make be babble. I'd like to say the lack of sleep is cos I was out celebrating my birthday, which is part of it. Those of you who follow me on Twitter also know that some jackass coming back from the Knicks game puked all over the car I was in on the LIRR, which meant we got to hang around Queens for some time while that got cleaned up. (See what you're missing if you don't follow me on Twitter! It's all gold like that.) Really, learn to hold your liquor or stay off public transportation.

Anyway, the question! I do find myself forming a tentative opinion of a book before reading it and sadly it's usually negative. Or at least wary. I'm not exactly sure why I do this. I've read plenty of "classics," both ones that I thought were wonderful as well as ones that made me wish I was reading a phone book instead of this piece of "great literature". I'm not sure why I almost always go into "classic" books assuming it's going to be a painful experience but I know it's certainly the case. Take for example Pride and Prejudice. I just recently read the original book. I've read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a couple times and you better like P&P if you're going to give the zombie version a shot. And yet, when I finally got around to reading P&P (which took some convincing) I still thought I wasn't going to like it. I don't know why, other than I'm very stubborn. I'm currently doing it with Jane Eyre. So many people say it's their favorite book. My favorite series begins with the book The Eyre Affair. I have a copy of the book and yet I'm really struggling to get myself to just start it.

I try to repeat to myself that a good story is a good story and not to be intimidated by the status of the book. I'm not going to say I've loved or even liked every classic I've read, but it's even enough that I really need to get over this knee-jerk reaction.

What about you? How does a book's "status" affect your opinion of it?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Apart We Are Together

I've just recently finished up Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey. Fforde is one of my favorite writers, but he's a difficult author to describe to those unfamiliar with him. His books can fall into so many categories and so many genres, it's hard to say who would enjoy him. I've told people his work is "absurdist literary humor". A fellow Fforde enthusiast, The Book Stop, recently reviewed the latest book from the Thursday Next series and begins her post trying to describe Fforde's writing. Because she said it better than I did, I want to quote her directly:
No one writes like Jasper Fforde. He's been compared to Douglas Adams but even that's kind of a stretch. His books are kind of the adult version of The Phantom Tollbooth, with adventure and time travel thrown in. Bottom line: if your tastes range from fantasy to science fiction to classic literature humor, these are the books for you.
 She was directly referring to the Thursday Next series, but this fits for his other books as well.

Like the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series, Shades of Grey takes place in its own world but is the first of his works that is a dystopian novel. The new world is called Chromatacia and social hierarchy is completely determined by how much and what color you can see. The world is dominated by "the Rules", which dictate every part of life, from the micro (" Slouching is not permitted under any circumstances" [location 5249]) to the macro (" In order to maintain the quality of breeding stock and to maintain public decency, complementary colors are absolutely forbidden to marry." [location 522]) and a series of "Leapbacks" means inventions as simple as the light bulb are not available, even though people can't see anything after twilight. It's not entirely clear when this is taking place. It's sometime far in the future of our own world, but information about "the Previous" is withheld, so it's never clear exactly when this is or what happened to destroy our current civilization and create this new selectively hued humanity.

This took me longer to get into than the other Fforde books simply because becoming familiar with this completely new world is difficult when you have to search for clues as to what's going on. Believe me, I prefer this to a narration dump, but it does mean it's a little harder to find your narrative footing. Once I have an idea of the world and our main character Eddie Russett makes it to East Carmine, the story really takes off. It has what you expect from a dystopian novel: oppressive government, an unbending society that does not deviate from the rules, and people trying to subvert the stasis to make the world a good, fair place. As much as the word of Munsell wants to simplify the world into a series of black and white rules, the world is full of shades of grey (see what Fforde did there? pretty clever) for people who want to acknowledge them.

Despite the dystopian setting, this is by Fforde and is in no way as dark as a 1984, Brave New World or The Handmaid's Tale. It is a smart, funny, absurd story that deals with heavy topics in a light way. Here are a couple quotes to demonstrate Fforde's sense of humor that is imbibed throughout the book
"Constance had refused me a tango on the grounds that it was a 'gateway dance' to something bolder, such as a lambada" (location 2376)
"She laughed. The sound was lovely - yet quite out of character. It would be like hearing a fish sneeze." (location 3957)
"First, time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted. Second, almost anything can be improved with the addition of bacon. And finally, there is no problem on earth that can't be ameliorated by a hot bath and a cup of tea." (location 4261)
I'm excited to see that this is the first in another Fforde series. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as Thursday Next, but still, I can't wait to read the next books in the series when they come out. It deals with heavier themes and thus doesn't have the same lightness and easiness that comes with TN or NC. It's sadder and darker and wonderful.

Title quote is repeated throughout the book as the motto for the Colourtocracy.

Fforde, Jasper. Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron. Viking Adult, 2009. Kindle edition

It's my birthday!

My Shades of Grey post will be coming this afternoon but I'm in a loud mood this morning which means I wanted to share with everyone that it's my birthday. They say a lady never shares her age, but I looked up the definition of lady and I think I qualify for the label anatomically only, so I may as well tell you I'm 27. I also share because I look about 17, judging from all of the times and places I get carded. It's also my Grandma's birthday but as she is a lady I'll keep her age a secret.

To keep this post book related I wanted to share 2 things. 1 is a piece written by Dan O'Brien over at Ben from Dead End Follies posted a link to it on his site as well, but I want to make sure everyone sees it. It's called 5 Things They Never Told Us and it's really about all of the things you're never told while growing up about being an adult. Especially the "you don't become an adult, you just suddenly are one". Regardless of what it says, I'm still kind of waiting for some big moment where I go, "right, now I'm an adult."

The second thing is stolen from llevinso from Sarcastic Female Literary Circle, who also recently had a birthday. Here are some famous people who share my birthday with me. (Yes, it's my birthday that they're sharing with me. They can word it however they want on their own blogs.)
-Francisco Goya
-Vincent Van Gogh
-Anna Sewell
-Eric Clapton
-MC Hammer
Quality talent, indeed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Authors who deserve more recognition

It's Tuesday, which means the group over at The Broke and the Bookish have a new top ten list for us: what are the top ten authors that deserve more recognition.

I went back and forth about whether or not to take part in this. I know I won't come close to listing out 10 authors. And the authors I'll list are ones I've talked about and talked about almost ad nauseum. I don't want to include authors if I'm not familiar with a few of their books. A single book isn't enough for me to recommend an author. A book yes, but the author, no.

On the other hand, I do love these authors and want more people to check them out. And I figure I'll be hopping around to see what other authors are out there people want to spread the word on, so I may as well take part. If you are a regular reader, you already know who I'll say so feel free to skip over this.

Jasper Fforde - I have a post about his book Shades of Grey planned for tomorrow, so you'll see some fawning then. Fforde writes absurd, literary humor that doesn't easily fall into any genre without sticking a toe into several other pools. He has 3 series: Thursday Next, Nursery Crime and Shades of Grey. Thursday Next is about a Literatec agent who spends time policing literature in both the real world and the book world. My favorite series which has my favorite book (The Well of Lost Plots) and stars my favorite character (Thursday Next). Nursery Crime is a spin off of TN, and is a hardboiled detective working in a Nursery Rhyme world. And then there's the latest series Shades of Grey, which I'll go into in tomorrow's post.

Christopher Moore - He seems to have a fairly substantial following so he might be on the fence as to an author that needs more recognition but I figure I'll include him anyway since I've yet to read a book of his and not enjoy it. Another author with an absurd sense of humor though without the literary aspect of Fforde. Don't think that means the stories aren't smart, it just means there are less allusions to classic literature and scenes with jerking off.

Octavia E. Butler - I've only read one series of hers, Xenogenesis/Lilith's Brood,  but it was 3 books so I'm counting it for these purposes. She was an African-American female (obviously) science fiction author. A minority within a minority and she turned out some fantastic, literary science fiction. Writing literary science fiction pretty much adds another level to that minority status.  She should not be over-looked.

Alright so that's really all I've got. There are other books I've enjoyed, but I can't recommend an author based on a single book. Then there are the other authors I love, but I'm pretty sure Stephen King and even Bill Bryson don't need that much extra push from me.

So what are some authors you think need to get more recognition?

If you're curious to see some posts I've written about the above authors, check out the links below!
Jasper Fforde
The Eyre Affair
They keep an eye on...overtly thespian interpretations.
We try to make art perfect because we never manage it in real life.
You're Upsetting The Wo'rms! They're Starting to hy-phe-nate!

Christopher Moore
Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story
It was as if vampirism carried with it a crampless case of rattlesnake PMS
Coyote Blue
For a guy that maintains a low profile, you've built quite a little snowball of resentment
You can't just go around breaking people's legs like some Mafioso fairy godmother
We're all Fate's bastards
You Suck: A Love Story
You shouldn't kill a guy without asking. It's inconsiderate.

Octavia E. Butler
Lilith's Brood trilogy
A cancer growing in someone's body will go on growing in spite of denial.
Humans persecute their different ones, yet they need them to give themselves definition and status
Helpless lust and unreasoning anxiety were just part of growing up

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Sunday Word Cloud...on Monday

I started off making fun of how pointless word clouds are. Form over function. But much like Twitter, once I start using it, I can't seem to stop. I've posted 2 word clouds in the past, but I've kept them on the weekend since I figured there were less people checking stuff on then. I was going to post something this weekend and obviously I didn't. I don't really have any excuse save for I was being lazy yesterday. I got a new phone so I was playing with that and then there were some really important things I needed to watch on TV, like the movie Runaway Jury and then The Simpsons and American Dad. See, important plans.

I'm just about done with Shades of Grey (92%! Thank you Kindle count) so rather than post in the middle I figure I'll just wait till the end since I'm almost there. I had a lot of train time this weekend so I got a decent amount of reading done. This also means I have nothing else planned to post so I thought I'd put the word cloud up here, pointless or not. You can always count on me for quality...

If you want to see it larger, just follow this link.

The cloud makes it look like I'm a more well-read author than actual. Thanks Radcliffe list! I see Hemingway and Fitzgerald showing up large enough for me to read even in the smaller version. I've never read any Hemingway (though I want to rectify that) and I've only ever read The Great Gatsby and even that was a few years ago. Otherwise I'm still not quite sure what to take from this, other than I should say "just" and "actually" a lot less.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I love lists...

Darlyn over at Your Move, Dickens found a list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, as selected by Radcliffe College publishing students for a publishing course list. I'm a sucker for lists so I decided to see how I stacked up against the list they've put together. Bolded are the books I've read

1. "The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. "The Catcher in the Rye," J.D. Salinger
3. "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck
4. "To Kill a Mockingbird," Harper Lee
5. "The Color Purple," Alice Walker

6. "Ulysses," James Joyce
7. "Beloved," Toni Morrison
8. "The Lord of the Flies," William Golding
9. "1984," George Orwell
10. "The Sound and the Fury," William Faulkner
11. "Lolita," Vladmir Nabokov
12. "Of Mice and Men," John Steinbeck
13. "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White
14. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," James Joyce
15. "Catch-22," Joseph Heller
16. "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley
17. "Animal Farm," George Orwell

18. "The Sun Also Rises," Ernest Hemingway
19. "As I Lay Dying," William Faulkner
20. "A Farewell to Arms," Ernest Hemingway
21. "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad
22. "Winnie-the-Pooh," A.A. Milne
23. "Their Eyes Were Watching God," Zora Neale Hurston
24. "Invisible Man," Ralph Ellison
25. "Song of Solomon," Toni Morrison
26. "Gone with the Wind," Margaret Mitchell
27. "Native Son," Richard Wright
28. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Ken Kesey
29. "Slaughterhouse Five," Kurt Vonnegut

30. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Ernest Hemingway
31. "On the Road," Jack Kerouac
32. "The Old Man and the Sea," Ernest Hemingway
33. "The Call of the Wild," Jack London
34. "To the Lighthouse," Virginia Woolf
35. "Portrait of a Lady," Henry James
36. "Go Tell it on the Mountain," James Baldwin
37. "The World According to Garp," John Irving
38. "All the King's Men," Robert Penn Warren
39. "A Room with a View," E.M. Forster
40. "The Lord of the Rings," J.R.R. Tolkien
41. "Schindler's List," Thomas Keneally
42. "The Age of Innocence," Edith Wharton
43. "The Fountainhead," Ayn Rand
44. "Finnegans Wake," James Joyce
45. "The Jungle," Upton Sinclair
46. "Mrs. Dalloway," Virginia Woolf
47. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," Frank L. Baum
48. "Lady Chatterley's Lover," D.H. Lawrence
49. "A Clockwork Orange," Anthony Burgess
50. "The Awakening," Kate Chopin

51. "My Antonia," Willa Cather
52. "Howard's End," E.M. Forster
53. "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote
54. "Franny and Zooey," J.D. Salinger
55. "Satanic Verses," Salman Rushdie
56. "Jazz," Toni Morrison
57. "Sophie's Choice," William Styron
58. "Absalom, Absalom!" William Faulkner
59. "Passage to India," E.M. Forster
60. "Ethan Frome," Edith Wharton
61. "A Good Man is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor
62. "Tender is the Night," F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. "Orlando," Virginia Woolf
64. "Sons and Lovers," D.H. Lawrence
65. "Bonfire of the Vanities," Thomas Wolfe
66. "Cat's Cradle," Kurt Vonnegut
67. "A Separate Peace," John Knowles

68. "Light in August," William Faulkner
69. "The Wings of the Dove," Henry James
70. "Things Fall Apart," Chinua Achebe
71. "Rebecca," Daphne du Maurier
72. "A Hithchiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Douglas Adams
73. "Naked Lunch," William S. Burroughs
74. "Brideshead Revisited," Evelyn Waugh
75. "Women in Love," D.H. Lawrence
76. "Look Homeward, Angel," Thomas Wolfe
77. "In Our Time," Ernest Hemingway
78. "The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias," Gertrude Stein
79. "The Maltese Falcon," Dashiell Hammett
80. "The Naked and the Dead," Norman Mailer
81. "The Wide Sargasso Sea," Jean Rhys
82. "White Noise," Don DeLillo
83. "O Pioneers!" Willa Cather
84. "Tropic of Cancer," Henry Miller
85. "The War of the Worlds," HG Wells
86. "Lord Jim," Joseph Conrad
87. "The Bostonians," James Henry
88. "An American Tragedy," Theodore Dreiser
89. "Death Comes for the Archbishop," Willa Cather
90. "The Wind in the Willows," Kenneth Grahame
91. "This Side of Paradise," F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand
93. "The French Lieutenant's Woman," John Fowles
94. "Babbitt," Sinclair Lewis
95. "Kim," Rudyard Kipling
96. "The Beautiful and the Damned," F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. "Rabbit, Run," John Updike
98. "Where Angels Fear to Tread," EM Forster
99. "Main Street," Sinclair Lewis
100. "Midnight's Children," Salman Rushdie

I've got 23 read. I was doing pretty well in the beginning, and then as I went down the list I had read fewer and fewer and nothing at all after Hitchhiker. I wonder how the order was decided. The students had to select 100 books out of a list of 400 for the list, and then a group of instructors put those lists together, so perhaps the books at the top were the ones that showed up the most times on each list. In that case, it makes sense that I'd read more of the ones at the top of the list. Those are the, in general, most popular books. I have no idea if that's actually how the order was decided but makes sense to me.

So how's your list look?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do you give up on books?

Remember how I said I was having trouble getting through Bate's Soul of the Age so my solution was to read an age, read a different book, come back for another age, repeat until I finished? And I even said in my last post about the book how things were looking up and getting more interesting? At least I'm consistent in my failing to keep up with promises to myself, because I've already failed. This is why I stay away from challenges.

I finished up the Lover age, read Christopher Moore's You Suck, and then I was all prepared to pick up Soul of the Age again. (This is going to seem like I'm just rambling, but I promise you, it does come back to books.)  Since I now work from home and live in the suburbs without a car, I spend a lot of my time hanging around the apartment and Saturday was so beautiful, I decided I needed to get out. Boyfriend had to work and they didn't have anyone to take pictures of the game, so I volunteered my services to be the photographer for the women's lacrosse game. I do this sometimes if they don't have someone else, and they let me because I work for free and have my own equipment. It's actually probably good they don't rely on me, since when we got to the university I realized the memory card was in my other camera. I could have gone back and gotten it, but they were fine without pictures, and I'm lazy. Instead I hung around campus for awhile and just watched the game. And by watched the game I mean I randomly looked up from my book to see why there was cheering.

This is the point I wanted to get to: I brought You Suck and my Kindle with me. Had I actually remembered my memory card, I would have had a lot less reading time, and therefore wouldn't have finished You Suck and wouldn't have needed another book. But that's not how things went, and I finished You Suck and needed something else. So I bought an ecopy and started reading Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, which I've wanted for awhile but was originally waiting for it to come out in paperback. Thank you Kindle, for allowing me to purchase things I'm too impatient to wait for.

I do plan on making it back to Soul of the Age but it seems like it's going to take longer and longer to complete that one. So I have a couple questions:
Do you ever stop a book in the middle? What makes you stop?
Do you have any books you stuck with and in the end you were happy you kept with it?
Do you have a book you finished despite your better judgement and regretted it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Bookish Pet Peeves

This Tuesday's Top Ten hop, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, asks what are your top literary pet peeves? Anything from things that bug you in a story to things bookstores do to the physical book itself, what bothers you?  Here goes:

In the story
Eye dialect - The Blue Bookcase, in their own book hop, asked a question about literary pet peeves and this is the number one thing that drives me nuts in an actual story. Eye dialect is when an author writes a character's dialog phonetically so you get the feeling of what the person actually sounds like. If it's done well, it can add depth and realism to a story. However, usually it's annoying and the only way to understand what's being said is to actually read those parts aloud. And personally, that makes me sound stupid and/or really racist.

Stream of consciousness - I always like the idea of stream-of-conscious writing, but I've yet to enjoy it in execution. I'm looking at you, Joyce.

At the bookstore
Hidden books - I love those tables with new releases or recommended books or whathaveyou. They usually have some good books I probably wouldn't have found if they were just in the stacks. However, if I'm actually looking for a specific book, I usually can't find it with the author's other works and I have to go hunt down all of those tables to see if it's hiding there.

Trying to find non-fiction books in a big box store - OK, this might just be the fact that I never know how these things are organized, but I can never find books like Freakonomics at the store. Fiction is simple but non-fiction usually means a book could be in any one of several places. At this point I'll go check one of those computers that are normally around the big box stores and while those are helpful in telling me if the book is hidden somewhere in the store, but it doesn't tell me where.

On the books
Man-handled cover - I hate to see someone bend the cover of a book back. I don't personally write in books but it doesn't pain me to see someone else taking notes. But this makes me die a little.

Stickers on the cover - This just goes along with not liking to see the cover hurt, but I hate when stickers are on the cover cos I have a need to yank it off. And that many times takes a part of the cover with it.

Apparently I'm less annoyed by things than I thought I would be.  Or I'm just having a mental block right now.

What are your bookish pet peeves?

Update As I've been checking out other people's posts I've seen some other bookish things that drive me nuts. I'm going to stay away from some story features because for the most part it's a matter of the author being a bad author and I don't want to blame the tricks or techniques if the problem lays in an untalented writer. Eye dialect and stream-of-consciousness annoy me regardless of if they're "done well" or I've never seen an example of it working.

Series that don't announce they're a series - I obviously just mentioned I read You Suck before realizing it was the second in the series. It'd be nice if there was something to indicate I was about to start in the middle of the story. The Thursday Next series does this too. I didn't realize it was a series and was just lucky enough that I picked up the next book in the series instead of jumping around.

Messy bookshelves - This goes along with that OCD I mention around bending book covers. The shelves don't have to be organized in anyway other than however you like it, but essentially, if it looks like the books are about to be damaged I'm going to freak out in my head. And if I know you well, out loud, while I fix things. While on the topic of messy bookshelves

Mismatched series - I really don't care if your sets don't match, but I have conniptions if mine don't. See my Harry Potter "set" over there. I picked up the second book at an English language bookstore in Rome and really didn't care about the cover. Then I slowly collected the other books and was sad the set didn't match. I actually went out of my way to buy the 6th book in a format that looked similar to the 2nd book. It's an "adult cover" copy of the book and I was just happy I didn't end up with some weird HP slashfiction.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You shouldn't just kill a guy without asking. It's inconsiderate.

After reading Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story I had to continue through the series, so it was onto You Suck: A Love Story. I'm pretty sure I've said this 100 times so apologies for the repetition but I've read this one before. However, I didn't know who Christopher Moore was at the time or that this was the second in a series. I was drawn to the title and the description on the back cover, as well as the fact that it was in the clearance section of a bookstore and I was on vacation and out of books. I wasn't hindered by the fact that I hadn't read the first part of the story, but it was much funnier this second time around.

*You Suck picks up right where Bloodsucking Fiends left off, so if you haven't read that and are particularly worried about BF spoilers, you should probably just skip down to the quotes at the bottom of the post. Now that I think about it, there will probably be some spoilers about You Suck as well, so you're probably safest just ignoring this whole part. Why did I bother writing it then? Excellent question. Well, off we go then*

I was going to write the typical review of the book, but I thought that wouldn't be all that fun. I will, as way of intro, tell you I enjoyed this book even more than BF. It was published over 10 years later, and right between 2 other Moore books I love (A Dirty Job and Fool) and it feels like one of those latter works. The story is more focused on the characters and their development and less on the evil-vampire plot, which the first book focused on. The characters are really Moore's forte so instead of going on anymore about how much I enjoyed this, I figured I'd give you a description of the characters and let you decide if you think these guys would populate a book you would enjoy.

First, our returning cast
Jody - Our red-headed fledging vampire from the first book. She's learning to love her new sense of power, especially now that she can walk the streets at night without the fear she had grown so used to. Not only does she have someone to share the sound of shapes with, but she also has someone who figured out a way for her to get her (blood-laced) coffee.
C. Thomas Flood - The aspiring writer who has a lot more time to write now that Jody turned him into a fellow bloodsucker, with the body and mind of a nineteen year old. It's taking him some time to get used to his new condition, but he did find them a new minion using his knowledge of Byron, so that's something.
Elijah Ben Sapir - The vampire who originally turned Jody is encased in bronze as we last left him in BF and is making a killing both as the statue performance artist and of course, in the literal sense. Going from owning a million-plus dollar yacht to killing people for their track suits will make some people a bit annoyed.
The Animals - Tommy's old crew at the grocery store who helped catch Elijah in the first place. Stoners, slackers and in general good guys, though they don't have the best financial sense.
The Emperor and his men, Lazarus and Bummer - My favorite characters from the last book are back and helping to capture the vampires slowly taking over the Emperor's city of San Francisco. Unfortunately, these guys are not in the story nearly as much as BF but otherwise they're fun.
Rivera and Cavuto - The two detectives from the previous story are back to solve more suspicious murders happening around town as they watch their dreams of owning a rare bookstore and golf fly out the window. Why couldn't the vampires have just left the city?
Steve - A minor character in the first book, he shows up with more oomph this time. He's a biotech student that not only figures out a possible to solution to Tommy and Jody's condition, but also deduces a way to bring down the vampires, sun or no sun.

And our new editions
Blue - She's an escort the Animals picked up while in Vegas, spending the money that they got selling Elijah's extensive art collection. Why's she called Blue, you're asking? To distinguish herself from other hookers, she dyed her skin blue. Why'd the guys pick her up and give her the better part of $600k? Well, they decided they all wanted to bone a Smurf. She sees herself more as Snow White and now she just needs her seven dwarfs.
Abby Normal - Now that Tommy can no longer be Jody's bitch and do her daytime bidding (that whole bursting into flames when in sunlight is causing some trouble), the vampires have picked up a new minion. A goth teenager with regrettable moments of perkiness, her PoV make up chapters here and there. She would annoy the hell out of me in real life, but her chapters are hilarious.

*I kept that pretty You Suck spoiler free, so if you want to go back and read it, you're safe. Why didn't I just go back and amend what I wrote above? Another excellent question! Now onto some quotes to keep giving you the flavor of the book. I will keep these spoiler free!*

"I was going to be an awesome hunk of muscular man-meat."
"No, you weren't. You wanted to be a writer. You were going to have little stick arms and get winded when you hit the back-space key more than three times consecutively." (8)

"It turned out that superhuman strength came in handy when shaving a thirty-five pound cat." (29)

from the Abby Chonicles
"Even as I sit here at the Metreon Starbucks, writing this, the froth slaves seem to move like silver-eyed zombies and my nonfat, soy Amaretto Mochaccino has gone as bitter as snake bile. (Which is like the most bitterest bile you can get.)" (164)

"I am like the poor cabron in that book The Pearl, where by simply trying to take advantage of some good fortune, I have lost all that I care about. Okay, I did get drunk for a week and my pearl was a blue whore who fucked the chimichangas out of me, but still, pretty sad. He thought these things in Spanish, so they sounded infinitely more tragic and romantic." (208-209)

"unless Ninjas are also Japanese, in which case I will have to look some shit up for metaphors because the only thing Chinese I can think of right now is Dim Sum, and I believe it's disrespectful to refer to your soul mate in terms of finger food" (276)

I've already gone ahead and picked up the third book, Bite Me: A Love Story so this won't be the end of Moore's vampire tales.

Title quote from page 2

Moore, Christopher. You Suck: A Love Story. Harper, 2008.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A sonnet is a crystallization of the emotion of a moment

I'm still making my way through Jonathan Bate's very dry Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare.  I said in my other post about this book that I was going to read an age in this book, read  a different, interesting book, come back to tackle another Shakespearean age*, etc. I hate stopping a book in the middle and besides, this was a gift from Boyfriend, so I'm going to be able to say I tried. I spared you a post after reading the Schoolboy, which is, I'm sure, super interesting if you're familiar with Latin.  Especially Latin puns.

The Lover has started off on a stronger foot than Infant and Schoolboy.  It begins with a story about Elizabethan condoms as invented by Gabrielle Falloppio, he of the fallopian tubes. Really, it's this line that got me: "Known colloquially as an overcoat, the device was eight inches long and tied at the base with a pink ribbon to make it more acceptable to women" (149).  Oh Fallopius, always thinking of the ladies.  This section is helped along by the fact that I'm extraordinarily immature.  And thus to we segue into Shakespeare's home life, marriage and 3 kids before the age of 21, and his depiction of love and lust in his plays and sonnets.

Perhaps because the topic itself is more based in human emotion than a recitation of the Latin and Greek history Shakespeare would have received, I've been more drawn into this age. Or perhaps the references are clearer to me. The entire book thus far seems to require the reader to already be familiar with not only Shakespeare's life and works but also others plays, poems and general life of this time. I am not well-versed enough to follow some of the references and allusions used in the first to ages but apparently I've taken enough Shakespeare and 16th Century Lit classes that the Lover made sense to me.

Bate blends Shakespeare's history, general history of the time and Shakespeare's work to put together a biography. He's not looking at Shakespeare's work as autobiographical, but simply to find parallels between the Elizabethan age and the plays and sonnets.

The Lover is split up into three parts: we start, as I mentioned before, discussing what is known about Shakespeare's own married life. Bate looks at statistics from the time to see the average age of a first marriage, the stigma, or indeed lack of, surrounding pregnant brides and the actual court records and marriage license of a William Shaxpere and Anna Whateley.

Next up comes the Bawdy Courts which were essentially the Real Housewives of Elizabethan England. A woman's reputation was the most valuable thing she had and these courts gave her the chance to defend herself when called things like "maggoty whore," "tinker's trull," "common as a barber's chair" (168) and other names that are even more fun. Bate connects the Bawdy Courts with the court scenes in his plays.

Lastly there is The Perplexities of Love, which examines the sonnets, their historical Petrarchan position and use in the royal courts. This section contains a lot less name calling and syphilis remedies but I liked this section the best. It looks at how other poets of the time used sonnets, especially the blason, and how Shakespeare turned the traditions on their head ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" Sonnet 130).

I'm still going to take a break and move onto a different book after each age. I liked this one but I've been hurt by the previous two. But I'll keep coming back to this until it's finished. I'm not sure it that's tenacity or just plain stubbornness.

*The book is divided up in the ages from Jacques' "All the world's a stage" speech from As You Like It. In case you're unfamiliar, it is Infant, Schoolboy, Lover, Solider, Justice, Pantaloon, Oblivion.

Title quote from page 187

Bate, Jonathan. Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare. Random House, 2009.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Céad Míle Fáilte

Happy St. Patrick's Day! My original plans for the holiday involved seeing Dropkick Murphys, as is my usual, but now that I'm no longer in Boston plans have changed. I totally would have made it on stage this year too. A friend of mine is currently in Ireland, which I'm very jealous of. The festivities are actually bigger Stateside, but I just haven't been to Ireland in a long time and would love to go back. I may not be Irish myself, but my red hair lets me blend in.

Anyway, I was trying to come up with a topic for today. Should I do what I did for International Women's Day and include links to my posts about Irish authors?  Well, I just did that AND I currently have only one post for that list, which is a little pathetic. A lot pathetic. I could skip over St. Paddy's Day and answer the Literary Blog Hop question, but I can't think of a good answer. Certainly not an honest one. I could tell you about the Dublin Writers Museum except whenever I've been in Dublin I've failed to convince people to go with me, so I can't actually tell you what it's like. I have been to the Guinness Storehouse a couple times, but that's not exactly book related. So what to do?

I realized there are a couple other book bloggers out there who have actually done something for the holiday, so rather than come up with something half-assed (more half-assed than what I've already done) I'll send you their way!

The Reading Life is hosting an Irish Short Story week, which Lifetime Reading Plan and Short Story Slore are taking part in.

Sara Reads Too Much and Short Story Slore (very in the spirit!) are both taking part in a Lucky Leprechaun giveaway.

In so many words... has a list of some fantastic Oscar Wilde quotes, which really makes me want to pick up more of his stuff. The Importance of Being Earnest perhaps?

Are there any books by Irish authors I need to get to? And if you're going to say Joyce just know I will probably ignore that suggestion.

If you're curious the title of the post Céad Míle Fáilte means "a hundred thousand welcomes" in Gaelic. The only phrases I know in Irish are that one and  Póg mo thóin which means "kiss my arse".  I can welcome you and insult you. And of course, I can cheers you while drinking (Sláinte). So really I have the important things down and anything else would just be icing on the cake.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage

I just finished Pride and Prejudice and my happiness with the story was sustained through Part III when you finally see Darcy and Lizzy get together*.  Loose ends are tied up, people are paired off, happily ever after, etc etc. And there's the scene where Lizzy pisses off Lady Catherine. It's fantastic. Lady Catherine is a great character I'd never want to run into in real life, but man, is she fun to watch be a bitch. Since I don't have too much more I wanted to look at with the text itself, I figured I'd look at just a few of the plethora of book cover options.


1. Twilight-esque - If this wasn't associated with Twilight I think I'd like it more. I like the simple flowers against the black background, regardless of if it has anything to do with the book at hand. Hopefully some Twilight fans picked up the book and actually enjoyed it. And I can laugh at those that picked it up expecting something along the lines of sparkling vampires and were disappointed.
2. Ostentatious - OK, I don't actually think the room is that bad but wow that is a huge, overly decorated space. I'm just going to think of it as Rosings Park, Lady Catherine's place. I'm sure it could Darcy's as well, since that seems to be the style at the time. Not my favorite cover, kind of boring.
3. Lovely Ladies - My copy of Sense & Sensibility has this type of cover. Not my thing but there are a million cover options for P&P that have the same style artwork as the cover, so obviously some people like it. It's not my aesthetic style, not what I picture Jane and Lizzy to look like (I assume that's who that is) and overall pretty dull.
4. Busy Wallpaper - I feel like this one is somewhere just past 2 and 3. It's along those lines, with a background pattern that would fit right in #2's room and it includes a couple portraits like #3, albeit in a more modern style. I like the styling more and I'm a fan of that pattern so getting better.
5. Burn-Your-Retinas Green - This is the cover I have, not because it's my favorite but because it was the cheapest copy at B&N. If I had my Kindle at the time I would have just gotten an e-copy. That said, I don't actually hate the cover because it is so green and so bright. 
6. Tim Burton-y - This is my favorite cover. It actually looks like this cover belongs on this cover, it's silhouette style, which was actually popular during the time the book was written and set, yet the style of Lizzy, Darcy, the trees, the house is very modern.

So which is your favorite or least favorite cover?  Is there another one you love or hate that I didn't include here?

*I'm sorry if that was a spoiler for anyone but it really shouldn't have been. Not even because of the age of the book. Seriously, you had to know how this was going to turn out when you started reading. The journey, not the destination, is the fun part.

Title quote from page 359

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If you could choose your literary family

This week the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish ask us to pick 10 literary characters we wish could be part of our family.  As per usual, the only order to this list is the order I came up with the characters.

1. Thursday Next from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde - I'm fairly certain Thursday has been on about 1/2 of my lists but what can I say? I love the character and I'd love her to be an aunt of mine.

2. Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - I finally got around to reading the original Pride and Prejudice so the Bennet family is fresh in my mind. I'd love to have a sister like Lizzie. She's witty, kind and even within such a restrictive time period, seems free to do and say mostly as she pleases.

3. Biff from Lamb by Christopher Moore - Funny, sarcastic and extremely loyal, I'd love to have Biff as a brother. He seems like a pain to his siblings when he's young, but really, who isn't a pain in the ass to their brothers and sisters at that point. So I think I'd want him to be the older brother.

4. The Weasley family from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling - Yeah, I'm counting the whole family in this one, cos really if you take one you have to take them all. The family is so loving without being sappy, how could you not want to join them? Plus they can do magic! Besides, I already have the hair to blend in. I'm thinking they'd be fantastic to have as aunt, uncle and a mess of cousins.

5. Jonathan Strange from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - While we're on the subject of magic and how awesome that would be in (the right) family members, I can't forget Jonathan Strange. A gentleman that knows magic. He'd be a fun uncle

6. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee - Atticus is full of so much wisdom I would love to have him in the family and have access to his brain whenever I need advice. This is to say nothing of my dad, but if I'm going with a fictional one, it'd be this guy.

7. Scout Finch from To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee - And while we're on this subject, I'd like to have Scout Finch as a little sister or younger cousin. She's not precocious like Oskar from EL&IC, who I thought of adding to the list but realized he'd bug the hell out of me. She's a normal but very bright and loving kid.

Well I made it to 7. Most of the characters I like to read are not ones I'd want anywhere near me, so I had some trouble coming up with ones I'd actually like to be related to.  Who's on your list?

Monday, March 14, 2011

But vanity, not love, has been my folly

I've finally gotten around to reading Pride and Prejudice. I've mentioned this before, but I've read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a couples times, so I figured it was about time I read the original. Now I can quit feeling guilty. Here's the thing, I think I might like the zombie one better. Now before you start bludgeoning me with your Complete Works of Jane Austen* let me explain. The story, the characters, the plot of Austen's Pride and Prejudice are what primarily makes up the story of P&P&Z. The zombies are really secondary. If you don't like Austen's text, you'll never like the zombie version. I'm actually surprised Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been so popular. I'd think the cross section of people who like Austen and people who like zombies is very small. So the zombie version is just Austen with a little something extra. Something extra that is absurd.

I don't want to spend this whole post talking about zombies though. I do want to talk about Austen's work, which is brilliant. Even after reading the zombie one, I was still a little worried going into this that I'd find the work boring. I know, I know, I just finished saying that if you don't like Austen you won't like the zombie version. While I liked Austen's language and story, I wasn't sure if the zombie scenes were getting me through some of the parts that would drag more in the normal version. I've read Sense and Sensibility before and wasn't crazy about it. I have been pleasantly surprised. I've hardly been able to put the book down. Austen creates wonderful characters that are so smart and so well developed. They behave in a way that is true to their personalities and it never feels like they are doing anything as simply a means to progress the plot.

Lizzy and Darcy are wonderful characters. The scenes where these two are together sparkle. There is so much wit and pride between them that it is a joy to read their interactions, and anytime they were separated I found myself flipping ahead to find out when the two would share the page again. Their love is clear early on, but obviously they must be kept apart for the duration of the book or else the story would be very short and boring. The events that keep them apart don't feel contrived, which means I don't have to spend the whole book thinking the main characters are morons, as is the case with most romantic comedies.

Even the ridiculous characters make sense and feel real. Sure, Mrs. Bennet is obsessed with getting her daughters married off, but her worries are not unfounded. Her family will be very likely turned out of their home when Mr. Bennet dies and women didn't have many options for making their own way in the world. Marriage was essentially their only hope. I can laugh at Mrs. Bennet, but at the same time I can understand her worries.

I'm happy I finally got around to this book. Not only because it's long overdue but because it gives me at least one book that is a) not written by an American author and b) written pre-1970s. I'm not quite finished with the book so there's a possibility of a second post coming up.

*As soon as I typed that I started to imagine different book related homicides. I bet those metal book marks could do some damage.  Or maybe millions of paper cuts and then the victim falls apart, a la that laser scene from one of the Resident Evil movies. See, I start writing about Pride and Prejudice and then just segue right into book-deaths. This is why the zombie version worked for me.

Title quote from page 199

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Signet, 2008.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Archives!

I've finished another age (schoolboy) in Bate's Soul of the Age and in continuing with my plan of reading a new book in between each age, I've moved onto Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I've read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies twice now, so I figure it's about time I read the original. Plus it fits into my goal of reading more lit that is by non-American writers from a time earlier than the 1970s! Still not winning the non-white author game, but it's a baby step.

In the meantime, I wanted to let people know I have a page that lists out all of the books I've reviewed/written about/etc as well as links to those books.  There's a page called Book Archives! (yes, it is exciting enough to need the exclamation point) right over on the left side of the page, under the follow list.
Ideally I'd like to add images to the page, but I've been having a wee-bit of trouble getting the formatting to not look like I tried to set up the page while drunk. So it's a work in progress. 

Does anyone else keep an archive of your past books?  If so, how do you do it? What do you find works best and keeps things neat?

Update: I bet it would also make things easier if I included a link to the Archives right here, so here you go: Book Archives!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We kick the pedestal out from under Shakespeare and make him accessible once again to the grubby, semiliterate, easily distracted masses.

I wrote in my book post on Monday that one of the problems I was having with Bate's Soul of the Age is that he goes off on tangents and I was having trouble staying focused. To try to rectify this problem I decided to take Bate's book in stages and read something else in between. So while trying to figure out what to read next I decided why not give in to my short attention span and read Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention-Impaired [abridged] by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, two members of The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Granted I've read this before. A few times. But I love these guys, I love this book and it's a quick read.

This book isn't just a biography of Shakespeare. That's just one small part because, as has been said, there isn't really much to truly be said about the man without making wild conjectures. The majority the book focuses on the plays because, of course, "the play's the thing". They describe the histories, tragedies and comedies in general and then they provide a plot summary for each of the plays with notable quotes and ratings. It's like super cliff's notes. They also list out movie versions of the plays and rate them based on how well they work as movies. It is a fantastic catalog with some of my favorite movies listed (Scotland, PA anyone) as well as some films I've yet to see. The sonnets and other poems also get their own section, with Martin and Tichnor's top 10 sonnets printed here. 116 is included (my personal favorite) so another win.

Shakespeare's work makes up the bulk of the book, as it should, but there is one other section that is a lot of fun: Who Wrote This Stuff?: A reduced look at the Shakespearean Authorship controversy. Plus betting odds. I believe Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare but reading the anti-Stratfordian beliefs are fun. Also if I had to go with someone other than Shakespeare I'm going for Kit Marlowe because that one involves a faked death and spies! If I'm going to go with something ridiculous, I'm going all the way.

The book is wonderful for people who want to learn more about Shakespeare as well as his ardent fans. For those unfamiliar this is a perfect introduction, like The Idiot's Guide to Shakespeare (which I also own) but wittier. Between this and the other Reduced Shakespeare Company's work The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged] (which I previously wrote about), I prefer Complete Works [abridged].  But honestly, this is a close second for an unpretentious and funny foray into Shakespeare and his canon.

Title quote from page 3

Martin, Reed and Austin Tichenor. Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention-Impaired [abridged]. Hyperion, 2006.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day/Link Collection

This is a little sad but I had no idea about International Women's Day until 2006.  I was studying in Italy at the time and my Italian professor asked the class if we had plans for March 8th. The entire class just looked at her confused.  Plans for what? (At least I wasn't alone.) She looked around the class with a look that was just as dumbfounded as the one we were giving her. "Festa della donna, certo!" "Women's day, of course!" I think there was an implied "Duh" in there as well. The town celebrates the day, though primarily with flowers and cake. I like both of those things, especially free, so that was pretty sweet. Of course the day should be more than that, a reflection of things women have accomplished and the strides we still need to make towards equality. And since this blog focuses on books, here are some (not enough) posts I've written about books by female authors.

Sloan Crosley I Was Told There'd Be Cake
As most New Yorkers have done, I have given serious and generous thought to the state of my apartment should I get killed during the day
One day you turn around and "social studies" has become "Chilean fiefdoms of the fourteenth century" and that's when you know you're in college

Susanna Clark, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
In short, he wished to know why there was no more magic done in England
As everybody knows, no one with red hair can every truly said to be handsome
I believe Mr Strange will do very well in the war, sir. He has already out-manoeuverd you
"I am sure you are a very different sort of magician from Mr Norrell," [Stephen] said. "I hope I am," said Mr Segundus, seriously
Think of me with my nose in a book!

Octavia Butler, Lilith's Brood Trilogy: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago
A cancer growing in somebody's body will go on growing in spite of denial
Humans persecute their different ones, yet they need them to give themselves definition and status
Helpless lust and unreasoning anxiety were just part of growing up

Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism
Boston Book Festival, Full Frontal Feminism and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Dad always said a person must have a magnificent reason for writing out his or her Life Story and expecting anyone to read it
We are under an invincible blindness as to the true and real nature of things

Chelsea Handler, My Horizontal Life
I prefer to do my walk of shame in the evening, when it's not so bright

Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
I am getting better at smiling when people expect it

Toni Morrison, Sula
Outlaw women are fascinating
But she had gone on a real trip, and now she was different

Emma Donoghue, Room
If Room wasn't our home, does that mean we don't have one?

Monday, March 7, 2011

All the world's a stage

I'm a bit of a Shakespeare fan. I've taken a number of Shakespeare classes in high school and college, I go to see the plays when I can and I've managed to accrue a decent library of books about the man and his work. I've even blogged about Shakespeare related works a couple times* and I'm about to add another book to that list: Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare by Jonathan Bate.

What can this biography tell me about Shakespeare's life that the others (Will in the World by Greenblatt, The World as Stage by Bryson, Reduced Shakespeare by Reed and Tichnor) leave out?  Probably nothing. Shakespeare didn't leave a lot to go on so most biographies are about 10 pages of fact and then a lot of speculation. That (obviously) doesn't stop me from reading them! Bate decides to explore the seven ages as described by Jacques in As You Like It to explain the soul and mind of Shakespeare. The biography will not necessarily go in chronological order, so the "schoolboy" age includes both Shakespeare's time at King Edward's Grammar School but also jumps to a discussion about Prospero from The Tempest.  Bate explains "Because of the power of memory and imagination -- two of Shakespeare's greatest gifts -- the mind does not obey the same rule of time as the entropic human body" (xviii).

Bate does acknowledge that you can't read the plays or sonnets as autobiography but that clues hidden within the text can help shine light on the man. When he does this, connects the plays to parts of Shakespeare's history, the text comes to life. I want to keep reading, to find out more. However, this type of analysis requires a lot of research, and unfortunately it appears Bate wanted to make sure you knew just how much research he did because he often goes off on tangents that are so marginally connected to Shakespeare you could skip that and not be missing anything about the man. I like the connection between Shakespeare's son-in-law, the doctor John Hall, and the change  in tone Shakespeare takes towards doctors, from the comedic to dignified, in his plays. What I don't like or particularly need are examples of Hall's recipes for enemas. The problem is there are a lot of moments like this, and I find myself checking how many pages are left or staring out into space instead of, you know, reading. So here's what I'm thinking:

I'm going to continue to read this book. However, I'm going to read other things in between because this is just not sucking me in. My plan is to read one stage of life, read a different book, come back and read another stage of life, then a different book and so on and so forth. If suddenly Soul of the Age changes direction and really grabs hold of my attention, I'll keep reading it. So far that hasn't happened, but I'm not giving up!

As it stands I've finished stage one: Infant. When Bate talked about Shakespeare, it was good. When his writing wandered from the topic, my mind wandered from the book. I hope the other stages are more interesting, but I'll find out after I read something else.

Title quote is from As You Like It

Bate, Jonathan. Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare. Random House, 2009.

*If you want some more Shakespeare related posts I've done
Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged - I think you showed a lot of heart, a lot of courage, a lot of -- as Shakespeare would say -- "chutzpah"
Othello - The Law of Transitives and...Othello?
My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare - [Maybe] I'll find the meaning of life in a sonnet
Fool - We're all Fate's bastards
Favorite Shakespeare Quotes

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Word Cloud!

I know last time I posted a word cloud I mocked people for relying on them for qualitative analysis, so you'd think that mean I wouldn't keep making them.  Well, I still mock those people cos really, it's not very good for reporting analysis. On the other hand, pretty colors! So I made another one. I know they're kind of pointless so I'm keeping these posts to the weekend.
Here's my word cloud for the posts on my homepage. If you want to see this word cloud larger check out this link and if you want to make your own check out Wordle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Can good literature be funny?

I know it's been awhile but this week I'm taking part in the Literary Blog Hop hosted by The Blue Bookcase. I haven't really been able to answer the last few questions with anything interesting and rather than post something I didn't like, I decided to skip the hops. But I'm liking this week's question: Can literature be funny? What is your favorite humorous literary book?

I'm actually not sure how to debate that literature can't be funny. Of course it can. Many times comedic works are overlooked in favor of a more serious topic, but that hardly means that literature must be stoic in order to be worthy. Shakespeare has an entire collection of comedies and some of them are actually funny! A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, hell even A Comedy of Errors has its moments, and that one can rely on a lot of slapstick. But maybe for this the plays don't count. A Comedy of Errors isn't half as much fun to read as it is to watch. But that's fine. I can step away from the Bard and find other examples.

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is hilarious. Yes, it has the schmaltzy story that has been told time and time (and time) again in about a million different adaptations, but most of those lose the comedy in it. I've written before about the humor in A Christmas Carol because growing up on those adaptations made me think Dickens, and other literary writers, weren't funny. They were serious and stodgy.  And then I actually sat down and read the book and I realized these versions don't know what they're doing*. Literature doesn't have to be stuffy, it can be fun and what else is hiding out there from me?

Granted, most literary works are more serious or else they temper the comedy. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close had fantastic comedic moments in it, even if that majority of the story was somber.

What do you think? Can literature be funny? What are some literary works you find especially humorous?

*Except the Muppets one because they got most of the humor covered in their version of A Christmas Carol. Muppets always pull through.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Reading Wrap-Up

At the end of January I decided to start posting a monthly wrap up report, to see how my reading has been going and if there are any trends I'm noticing.  So here are my stats from February

Number of books read

Total Pages Read

Percentage of fiction read

Percentage of female authors

Percentage of white authors

Percentage of authors from the US

Percentage of eBooks read

Percentage of re-reads

Books written by decade break out
2010s - 17%
2000s - 33%
1990s - 33%
1970s - 17%

I'm doing pretty good on the number of pages read and even the female/male distribution. However, the books I read are still mostly by white authors (Toni Morrison is the 1 exception here) and mostly by US authors (Emma Donoghue is from Ireland). I'm not too worried about so little non-fiction being read. I expected as much and I actually have a non-fiction book I'm reading now. As long as there's a little bit of non-fiction I'm happy.

I do think I need to work on my time period spread.  Everything is written within the last 50 years. I think I should probably throw something a bit older in there. Perhaps it's time to finally give Pride and Prejudice (no zombies this time) a whirl?

How are your own reading stats looking? Happy with the way things are going? Need to change things up a bit?