Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Women's Fiction Prize

The fact that this is necessary irks me a little, but then another part of me thinks this is really cool. Maybe having different prizes is a way that we can appreciate differences-as long as we're clear that we're only getting a limited perspective. It's nice to see some of these authors getting attention (even though Hilary Mantel doesn't need it).

Here's the Long List for the Women's Prize for Fiction, formerly the Orange Prize.

Should we have an American prize for women writers? What do you think?

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Numbers Don't Lie...

5. Contact by Carl Sagan

Contact is Carl Sagan's elegantly written love letter to math and the mysteries of the universe and the probability of life on other planets.

Ellie, or Eleanor Arroway, spends her life dedicated to contact-with life on other worlds. After her father dies young, her contact with the other inhabitants of her own planet is fleeting and insubstantial. The story is primarily Ellie's, the story of a dedicated, determined young woman who achieves her greatest dream. But it is also the story of a nation and a planet. Sagan explores how Earth, circa his imagined late 1990s, would react to proof that life on other planets exists. The religions, the politics, the international tensions. The science. The disbelief. The security concerns.

The aliens themselves are somewhere between E.T. and War of the Worlds on the friendliness scale. Perhaps a little bit like the mice from the Hitchhiker's Galaxy, if not quite so murderous. Not very Vulcanesque either. I'll say frankly, I'm not satisfied with the aliens, but I don't think that's the point of the book at all. I myself often read science fiction because I'm interested in the aliens, in all the possibilities of being different, but Sagan, for all his wonder, is very much concerned with humanity.

That's the book's greatest strength-or its greatest failing, depending upon your preferences. Contact is, above all, a character sketch, of one character in particular and the character of humanity in general. The best comparisons are probably to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, rather than Asimov or Bradbury. For those who wonder about the universe, but wonder even more about home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Books at the Top of My Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesdays-I will stop lying to you about my TBR lists. What I'm really going to read this spring will be articles and books related to my M.A. thesis-oh and books and articles for classes too:

1."The Country-House Poems of Lanyer, Jonson, Carew, and Marvell: Emblems of Social Change in the Seventeenth Century" by Diane Batchelet Gill

2. Women Writing of Divinest Things: Rhetoric and the Poetry of Pembroke, Wroth, and Lanyer by Lyn Bennett

3. Writing Women's Literary History by Margaret Ezell

4. Penshurst: The Semiotics of Place and the Poetics of History by Don Wayne

5. "The Gender of Religious Devotion: Lanyer and Donne" by Michael Schoenfeldt

6. " 'Let Us Have Our Libertie Againe': Aemilia Lanyer's Seventeenth Century Feminist Voice" by Lynette McGrath

7. " 'Whom the Lord with love affecteth': Gender and the Religious Poet 1590-1633" by Helen Wilcox

8. "Aemilia Lanyer and the Politics of Praise" by Su Fang Ng

9. " 'Owning' in Aemilia Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum" by Audrey E. Tinkham

10. Anything by Barbara K. Lewalski

Anyone care to hazard a guess as to my thesis topic?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Steal

My university's library held a book sale last week. On the final day, hardbacks went for $1 and paperbacks for 50 cents. Not to miss out on the bloodbath, I braved the musty stairs into a dimly lit room. I came across gems, such as a book of Saxon Medieval Poetry, a compendium of the works of sixteenth-century Spanish composers, and a tempting biography of George Sand. While I made it my mission to find the lowest-brow possible fiction, others squabbled over a copy of Orlando Furioso (Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah, I all but heard the winner exclaim) and required boxes to cart out their loot.

I emerged with:

1. Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

I hope I like it better than her other book, but man, she does a great job choosing subjects I'm interested in that hardly anyone has written about.

2. Jane Austen: A Life by David Nokes

Okay, it's kind of academic, but it's not in my super-specific area, SO it counts as pleasure reading.

3. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley and Stephens Mitchell

I really liked Gone With the Wind.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Ten Series I'd Like to Start But Haven't Yet

At first, I thought, what a great Top Ten Tuesday topic! I feel like there are so many series that I hear about that I haven't gotten a chance to start. But to narrow it down? And what about all the stand-alone books I want to read? So here are a randomly selected ten series I'm interested in reading...

1. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

The first book, Shadow and Bone, sounds like a lot of other YA/dystopian fiction that I have enjoyed lately.

2. Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

An alternate Britain where they mess around with classic novels? This has a lot of awesome potential (and potential to make me angry, but I've heard good things).

3. The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thusand Kingdoms (the first book) has been on my list forever. I need to get on this.

4. The Dreamblood Duo by N.K. Jemisin

And, in the meantime, she's started another well-received fantasy series...

5. The Ship Breaker series by Paolo Bacigalupi

Another well-received YA/dystopian series, this one seems to have gotten more literary recognition, probably because of the author's more literary first book.

6. A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell

This 12-volume "book" written and set in mid-20th century Britain seems like it may be my cup of tea.

7. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

This seems to be a fantasy/alternate history classic at this point, and particularly interesting to me because of that overlap.

8. The Promethean Age novels by Elizabeth Bear

Now that I've established I like her writing style, I definitely want to read her Elizabethan-related books!

9. The All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness

I've heard it described as a grown-up Harry Potter and I've glanced over some sumptuous descriptions of libraries in the first book.

10. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Mayer

Still need to read Cinder, and Scarlet just came out last month.