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Showing posts from 2012

Best Books of 2012 Survey-From Boston Bibliophile

How many books read in 2012? 51, as of December 28th. How many fiction and non-fiction? 8 non-fiction and the rest fiction. That's an unusual amount of non-fiction for me! Male/Female author ratio? 19 male and 26 female authors. I had a feeling I'd read more women this year, but didn't know it was that many more! Favorite book of 2012? Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and/or The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak. Least favorite? Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why? Not that I can remember. Oldest book read: Plato's Symposium , written between 385-380 BCE. Newest? The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll came out in November 2012. Longest and shortest book titles? The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making ; Symposium Longest and shortest books? I think Lorna Doone was the longest, not sure about the shortest, maybe Symposium again or

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2013

1. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer I like what I've heard and the bits I've read of Cinder , though I need to read that first. 2. Tarnish by Katherine Longshore Gilt was one of my favorite reads this past year, though I'm a little more skeptical there's anything new to say about Anne Boleyn. 3 The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan I tend for some reason to like these "story behind the painting" type books. 4 Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende (English translation) She's one of my favorite authors, even though I haven't read her in a while. 5 Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon I can't resist Arthurian history, and I'm hoping that I'll finally find a historical thriller I can enjoy. Also, the cover caught my eye. 6. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin I realized I don't know anything about Charles Lindbergh's wife-and it seems there is a lot to know. There's not anything else coming out that I'm

The Girl Who Ate Fairyland

This is a more *traditional* review that I wrote for a class and hoped somebody would like to publish, but no takers yet: 46. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente Children’s fantasy is traditionally filled with tempting foodstuffs-from Turkish delight to Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans-but when one finds oneself more engaged with the “great orange-chiffon pumpkin soup with candied almonds…and a chocolate cake so rich and dense and moist it shone black” than the heroine’s exploits, what does that say about the sustenance of the plot? Part of the fault lies with Catherynne M. Valente’s nearly unparalleled linguistic flair and her preoccupation with transforming or surpassing the conventions of children’s literature. Her prose is literally delicious and her daringness is charming-until you’re more than halfway through and the heroine, despite encountering various and sundry folks and enjoying numerous meals, is still unsuccessfull

Catching Up on The List

44. Henry IV Part I by William Shakespeare Falstaff. Prince Hal. Hotspur. I read this a couple months ago for a class and that's mostly what I remember, these three characters. Buddies Falstaff and Hal are complex, violent, and continually at one another's throats. Both blame each other for their licentious indulgences in drink, women, and robbery and it's hard to tell who's at fault. One can't help agreeing with the earthy Falstaff's defense of living through deceit (because appearing to be alive when dead is the greater deceit) and rooting for Hal when he gets to redeem himself in battle. Hotspur is just Hotspur, hotblooded, violent, and angry, but he makes an interesting foil for the supposedly less honorable Hal. And what does one do with a character that succeeds in battle, but doesn't know how to live without it? I've been warned off of them, but the more of Shakespeare' s histories I read, the more I wonder why they aren't read or

Favorite Reads of 2012

This week's Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish . 1. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak 2. Gilt by Katherine Longshore 3. The Coldest War by Ian Tregellis 4. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler 5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 6. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 7. Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman 8. The Dwarves by Markus Heitz 9. God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet 10. Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore

Top Ten Favorite New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2012

The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesdays . Top Ten Favorite New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2012 1. Ian Tregellis One peek got me not only to read a book ( The Coldest War ) I'd had no intention of reading, but review it. 2. Eva Stachniak From way back in January, I knew The Winter Palace was one of the best books I'd read all year. 3. Katherine Longshore I thought Gilt was so fresh and funny, and it defied both my disappointment with the oversaturation of Tudor fiction and my annoyance with the YA voice. 4. Sophie Perinot She took less recognizable historical figures and both contextualized them well and made them into real people. Plus, The Sister Queens had very applicable lessons about human relationships, historical and present. 5. Catherynne M. Valente I thought the first Fairyland book was quirky and adorable, was less enthused with the second, but definitely want to go back and read her adult books now. I've never read anyone who uses lang

Last Night with Lauren Weisberger

43. Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger I'm disappointed in Lauren Weisberger. The Devil Wears Prada continues to be some of the most incisive, luscious writing I've ever read, despite concerning a niche (the fashion world) and plot I couldn't care less about. The characters, while not very sympathetic, are fascinating and at least relatable. Brooke Alter is, if nothing else, extremely relatable. She's a nutritionist who's spent five years supporting her musician husband, Julian. What's not to love? But that's the problem. Brooke is always too reasonable, too understanding, too nice. I don't like arbitrary drama and I hate when female protagonists are stupid, but Brooke doesn't even get angry when she has legitimate cause. Like Prada revolves around the fashion world, this one revolves around the music world. However, Weisberger's knowledge of this world is skin deep. It feels not only fabricated but simply...sparse.

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind for Hanukkah

This week's Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish. 1. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz 2. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum by Aemilia Lanyer Ed. Susanne Woods 3. Shakespeare's Common Prayers by Daniel Swift 4. The Joys of Love by Madeleine L'Engle 5. Epic: Legends of Fantasy anthology 6. The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack 7. Wild by Cheryl Strayed 8. The Queen's Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray 9. Four Sisters: All Queens by Sherry Jones 10. Sequels to The Dwarves by Markus Heitz

Ten Authors I Am Most Thankful For

I'm a week behind on Top Ten Tuesdays . Not sure if I'll catch up, but here's the Thanskgiving post. 1. L.M. Montgomery 2. Louisa May Alcott 3. Madeleine L'Engle 4. J.R.R. Tolkien 5. C.S. Lewis 6. Susanna Clarke 7. Jane Austen 8. William Shakespeare 9. Aemilia Lanyer 10. Elizabeth Cary 11. Margaret Cavendish

Ready Player One

42. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Of all the serendipitous books that have been #42 on my annual reading list, this is the most appropriate. Arguably even more so than the Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, because this book is all about references. Ready Player One is infused with every geeky or nerdy or dorky tidbit that you could possibly conjure. I wish I had more time to do it justice, but this is the book that I'm recommending to every science fiction fan I know. This should have been the theme book for Dragon Con. Besides the impressive breadth of references, spanning Star Trek to the Whedonverse to Pac-man and Mario, Tolkien to Lewis to Douglas, Hughes to Spielberg to Goldman, the characters are just so darn likable. Wade Watts, the protagonist, is positively adorable. He's a savvy kid in a bleak vision of the future, who is, obviously, up on all of the above geeky types of knowledge, a loyal friend, and charmingly naive as a would-be lover. (Confession: If I we

Top Ten Books I'd Want On a Deserted Island

I'm a little late for Top Ten Tuesday this week. After this post, I'm taking a medical leave of absence from the blog for an indeterminate period of time in order to catch up from a medical leave of absence in real life. 1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien 2. The Complete Works of Shakespeare 3. Harry Potter 1-7 by J.K. Rowling (series are counting as one book because I say so, okay?) 4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the real one and maybe the one by Douglas Adams too) 5. Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, and A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery 6. Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott 7. Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle 8. C.S. Lewis' space trilogy 9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 10. All of Jane Austen's novels Okay, I cheated, and there are still way too many books I want to bring. Can my deserted island have a library? Pretty please?

Beyond Good and Evil

41. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche I read this for a class, but I didn't have the time to devote to it that it clearly deserves. The prose is beautiful, but together, I'm not sure what it all means-and many think that was deliberate on the part of the author. If you want to find justification for murder here, you can. If you want to find atheism here, you can. If you want to find any way of looking at the world differently, of looking at the world the way you've always felt it should be or never realized before now it could be-this is the apple you want to bite. "You want to live 'according to nature'? O you noble Stoics, what fradulent words! Think of a being such as nature is, prodigal beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without aims or intentions, without mercy or justice...think of indifference itself as a power-how could you live according to such indifference?" (Section 9)

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish . Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines (aka The Usual Suspects) 1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games 2. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter 3. Katsa from Graceling 4. Beatrice Prior from Divergent 5. Jo March from Little Women 6. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables 7. Art3mis from Ready Player One 8. Polgara from Polgara the Sorceress , the Belgariad , and the Malloreon 9. September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making 10. Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time

Art or Forgery?

40. The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro What is a forgery? Where does the fault line between artwork and forgery lie? Or, as Claire Roth, the protagonist of B.A. Shapiro’s elegantly layered new novel The Art Forger might say, the craquelure . In 1990, thirteen paintings were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The museum has offered a $5 million reward, but none of the paintings have ever been found. This much is true, the rest is Shapiro's fiction. The Art Forger opens in 2011, at the South End studio of young Boston artist Claire Roth, who makes her living as a painter of high-quality reproductions. Dubbed “the Great Pretender,” by her peers, Claire has more than a little to prove when she is asked to make a copy of a Degas painting in exchange for a one-woman show at a prestigious gallery. When the painting she is to copy arrives, she recognizes it immediately as one from the Gardner. While the moral dilemma is a problem for Claire, there’s a greater se

Top Ten Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by the Broke and the Bookish . There was a similar post last October, so it's more of a challenge to think of some new ones! 1. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente The main character, September, loves fall and pumpkins and her favorite color is orange. There's a memorable autumnal feast and several weird, wacky characters. 2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak Max's costume brings him to a land of wild beasts... 3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis The scene where the Witch captures Aslan with all of the various ghouls and evil people helping her feels very Halloween-ish to me. 4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley The main characters are all mystical and use all sorts of disguises, and memorable events take place on Samhain, the Celtic originator of Halloween. 5. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux A man in a mask is the central

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me

39. This Case Is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova I received this for review from Tor paperbacks and read it recently in one feverish night. While legal dramas are not really my cup of tea, this one has a most intriguing premise-imagine a world ruled by Vampires, Werewolves, and Alfar (Elves). Linnet Ellery is a human raised in a vampire household who scores a job at a top law firm. Of course, only men can be partners since only men can become vampires, but it's a big break for a human woman. However, when her boss is killed and it's looking like she could be next... Yeah, it's that kind of story. But the world is fantastic-I'm dying to know more about it and the little snippets that Linnet gives are absolutely worth the mediocre plot and (at times) stunningly banal language. Bornikova has a wicked imagination, I just wish she knew how to package it better. On the Acknowledgments page, Bornikova thanks Ian Tregellis for "many great ideas about the world

Hilary Mantel Wins Second Man Booker Prize!

I must admit, I'm not surprised that Mantel won again-I think she's incomparably brilliant (though yes I'm biased toward the subject matter) and clearly the heavyweight among the shortlisted authors. Only Eng had even been in the running before, and Will Self's Umbrella isn't even available in the US yet ! Still, I am so so excited and need to finish Bring Up the Bodies as soon as I possibly can, after I get out from under this pile of graduate reading... And, combining my two favorite artistic genres: Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are going to be stage plays AND a BBC costume drama! Get me to London, quick!

Top Ten Favorite Authors in X Genre

"Top Ten Favorite Authors In X Genre (Ex- Top Ten Favorite Science Fiction Authors, Top Ten Fave Contemporary YA authors)" is this week's topic for Top Ten Tuesdaus hosted by the Broke and the Bookish . Top Seven Favorite Science Fiction Authors 1. Frank Herbert 2. Ursula K. Le Guin 3. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 4. Margaret Atwood 5. Octavia Butler 6. Douglas Adams 7. Robert A. Heinlein Top Three Favorite Biographers 1. Antonia Fraser 2. Alison Weir 3. Charles J. Shields

Mini Reviews

I've kept up with my reading, but not with my reviews. Only so much leisure time in this busy grad student's life. After these mini-reviews, I may stop posting reviews for every book I read and instead post reflections on literary happenings and movements, responses to other reviewers and bloggers etc. *These posts are assignments for a journalism class that I'm taking, which are first and foremost for class and will be posted on the blog only after being used for class purposes.* 33. Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings I finally read the third book in David Eddings' genre fantasy cycle The Malloreon , which follow some of the same characters in the same fantasy world from the earlier series The Belgariad . These books feel a lot darker, which is perhaps appropriate as the characters explore the realm of Mallorea, formerly the dominion of evil god Torak and discover that the "bad guys" are just as complex and fractured as the "good guys."

Used Book Sale

Ever since I moved here, I've been overwhelmed with events; academic, artistic, community, personal. But when I saw there was a used book sale this weekend, I couldn't resist. And when I saw that it was $1 for a paperback and $2 for a hardback, well... Some of these are old favorites that I didn't actually own, like Certain Women by Madeleine L'Engle, Gloriana's Torch by Patricia Finney, and The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares. Others are from known and beloved authors such as Philippa Gregory and Alexander Pushkin. Similarly, the Allende and the Erdrich are sequels to books that I've already read. I saw the Barbara Pym book and thought I'd try it out, since I know Boston Bibliophile is a fan. The MLA Handbook I thought might come in handy; A Passage to India is a classic I've wanted to read for a while. A Traveler in Time , however, is my big gamble. I've heard neither of the book nor the author, but the title and cover

Top Ten Most Unfortunate Character Names

This week's TTT over at the Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Tuesday REWIND (pick a past topic that we've done that you missed or just want round 2 of!)" so I chose "Top Ten Most Unfortunate Character Names." 1. Lee Fiora from Prep If only it were Leigh, or even better, Leia. But no. Lee Fiora's name is bland, short, and implicitly incorrectly gendered. No wonder she's unhappy. 2. Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye Seriously, what kind of a name is Holden? No wonder he hates his parents. 3. Blue Van Meer from Special Topics in Calamity Physics There's a cool reason for this and all (her mom could only catch blue butterflies), but it's not worth the color jokes. 4. Amber Brown from Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon Also a major issue in these books. Don't name your kid after a color. Period. But especially with a last name like Brown. 5. Dobby, Winky, and Kreacher from Harry Potter Now, I love Dobby with all my heart

Top Ten Older Books You Don't Want People To Forget About

This week's TTT at the Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten "Older" Books You Don't Want People To Forget About (you can define older however you wish. Basically just backlisted books you think are great. Basically the point is to share books that could be forgotten about in the midst of all the new releases)." I feel like I've been overwhelmed with new releases lately. I make a point of keeping up with them and my TBR list is filled with them. But it's also nice to lean back, take a break, and recall all the great books I've already read. I'm going to try to list older books that are lesser known, not classics that have already stood the test of centuries. 1. The Seventh Princess by Nick Sullivan I read this in third grade and I've never forgotten it. It's about a girl who falls asleep on a school bus and wakes up as a princess-in a kingdom that's had its share of princesses. 2. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak It's

On Aging Out of Series

30. The Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville 31. Dark Whispers by Bruce Coville 32. The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville Do books, or should books, have age limits? While there are no hard or fast rules, I think most readers can agree that your average adult doesn't need to be reading The Babysitters' Club books or Animorphs (exception granted if you're reading to a child). This question is more complicated these days for two reasons: 1) The proliferation of book series and 2) More widespread acceptance (or at least practice) of adults reading YA fiction (See Harry Potter and Twilight). How do book series affect my query? Well, generally, books in a series do not all come out at once. The Harry Potter series, for example, was released over a period of ten years, from 1997 to 2007, during which time I emerged from elementary school, tackled the rigors of middle and high school, and entered college. Now, Harry Potter is a series that aged remarkably well or rather, grew

Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic at the Broke and the Bookish: "Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished (because either you didn't like them, you just have procrastinated, etc.)" 1. The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman I read the former, but not the latter. 2. The Babysitters' Club Who could read all of these? Seriously. 3. American Girls I LOVED these as a kid, but I'm too old for the later ones. 4. Animorphs Okay, I aged out of these, but they were getting worse and worse. 5. Replica See above. I really liked the premise-a girl who finds out she's a superhuman clone. Did anyone else actually read these? 6. The Abarat I read the first two, and actually own the third, just haven't read it yet. 7. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth I'm getting to it, I swear. 8. The Dwarves To be fair, I only recently finished the first book. 9. Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies I haven't finished the seco


29. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert A three-in-a-row nonfiction streak! I think this is a new record for me. I'll confess, I never read Eat, Pray, Love . Maybe I'll get around to it one of these days. But this book has a much more interesting premise for me: What would you do if you had to get married? Let's back up. I'm not talking arranged marriage or marriage for money. Not even accidental pregnancy. Elizabeth Gilbert's situation is a little more unique. See, she's in love with a guy from Brazil with an Australian passport whom she met in Bali. He and she swore eternal love, they've been living together all over the world, and they've also sworn never to get married. Why? Both are survivors of bad divorces and don't trust the institution. Okay, so one day they arrive in the United States together and her Felipe, her love, is taken away. He's been coming to the US too often, it appears that he's in fact (gasp!) de facto living there

Tolkien and Lewis

I apologize-I have moved to Chicago and had no Internet in my apartment until this weekend. There are lots of posts to come! This was one I'd mostly written and hadn't scheduled yet before becoming Internetless. Headed by a Tolkien scholar, three children's authors, and moderated by a self-described "Inklings fan," (again, names are lost due to my as-yet-unfound notes) the panel on Tolkien and Lewis explored the following questions: Why did Tolkien and Lewis decide to write for children? What was it, either about the nature of their works or their own goals that made them write for children? The moderator began with a poll. Who was there for Tolkien, who for Lewis, who for both, and who for neither? Most of the room was there either for Tolkien or for both, a smattering of hands for Lewis alone, and one or two "unwilling captives" (there with friends). The moderator went over the respective histories of Tolkien and Lewis, which I was mostly fa

Top Ten Books That Make You Think

This week's Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish . An appropriate topic for the anniversary of September 11th. It was a Tuesday morning. I will never forget. 1. The Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking 2. Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood by Barbara Demick 3. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert 4. Night by Elie Wiesel 5. The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal On his deathbed, a Nazi soldier asks a Jewish prisoner to forgive him. What would you have done? 6. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler 7. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer 8. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins 9. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli 10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer After his father dies in the September 11 attacks, nine-year-old Oskar searches for a lost message that his father left him. But the true question of the story is, who are we and how do we define ourselves? "War,&q

Sex and Romance in SF(F)

Alas, I lost my notes on who the panelists were and immediate thoughts I had on the panel. In fact, I've lost all my notes, which is why I've been slow on posting, in the hopes of finding them. Either no such luck, or they will turn up as soon as I post this. The central questions of the panel: What is the role of sex and romance in science fiction and fantasy? Do they even belong in science fiction and fantasy? The panelists included four women and one man, all of whom were authors. One writer writes romances as well as sci fi romances, one writes primarily sword n' sorcery adventure, one was a short story writer who writes erotica and children's stories, one fiction, I think, and the man writes fantasy, I remember (I really wish the website had left up the schedule so I could get these people's names). In any case, their collective answer to the second question was a resounding yes. The romance writer in particular was emphatic that she wa

Even More Books

So in the week leading up to and during DragonCon, I went book crazy*. I picked up some used books at Capitol Hill Books in D.C. before I left: They have quite an impressive collection of Bradbury and Heinlein in the basement, if one is interested in such things. And quite amusing handwritten notes (depending on your political affiliation) scattered throughout the store. I also scored a free book from T.C. McCarthy, the one science fiction author on the Transhumanist Panel at DragonCon: Unlike the other panelists, he was interested in the darker implications and dangers of self-directed, mechanically enhanced evolution. Since this is a book blog, I'm not going to talk too much about it, but audience members brought up some really insightful questions about who will own or control the technology, what people have a right to do with their own bodies, and what constitutes "you." Several people did suggest science fiction books on the topic, including Singularity Sk

A Variety of Books Acquired in a Variety of Manners

Meanwhile, I've been extremely promiscuous with literature lately: Books Acquired in the Library: Books Acquired for $1 each at the Decatur Book Festival ,which took place the same weekend as DragonCon: Books Received for Review (from Tor on the left and Algonquin Books on the right):

DragonCon Overview

DragonCon is the largest science fiction/fantasy convention in the world, and this year I got to go. This was my first convention and definitely not my last! I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go. In particular, I was very impressed with the demographics-boys and girls, men and women of all ages attended. There were so many panels I wanted to go to and so many people to see and things to do, I didn't get to nearly half of them. I'm going to list the panels I did attend, some book-related and some not-so-book-related. For the book panels, I'll do some follow-up posts so I can have a chance to respond to them. I do wish there was more time for the audience as well as panelists to discuss issues, not merely listen or Q&A. The picture is of " A Night in Bree." DragonCon Panels I Attended: Friday Top Ten Things I Wish I'd Known [As a Writer] with Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta Writers Talk: David Gerrold Sex and Romance in SF Sa

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesdays are over at the Broke and the Bookish ! I've been bad lately and acquired all kinds of books in a variety of manners (some at DragonCon , which I attended this weekend and plan to write more about over the next week)! HOWEVER, as I am moving to Chicago in just over a week now (!), I think I'll focus first on library books. 1. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (this is sort of cheating, I already started this.) 2. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson 3. The Last Unicorn Hunt by Bruce Covey 4. Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings 5. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz Coming out this month! I'm excited to learn more about Yunior and to read more of Diaz's unique style. 6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth Yes, I know this was also on my spring list, but now I have it, so I'm really going to read it! 7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell 8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline This may also have been on my spring list, but now I own it

Is Multiculturalism Really Worth Fighting For?

28. Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood by Barbara Demick I'm on an upbeat kick lately, oppression in a closed religious community and a city under siege for refusing to cooperate with aggressive nationalism. Lots of laughs, no? All kidding aside, I feel privileged to have read such poignant appeals to humanity and a little amazed that I happened upon them so close together. Barbara Demick is the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea , which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and a groundbreaking look into lives shrouded in mystery, based solely on the testimony of refugees. Before that, Demick was a journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer , and lived in Sarajevo from 1994-1995, chronicling the lives of neighbors on one street in besieged Sarajevo: Logavina Street, home to Serbs and Croats as well as Bosnian Muslims. Logavina Street was first published in 1996, but it's been re-issued in 2012 with a new preface, final c

Top Ten Bookish Confessions

This week's Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Bookish Confessions (Anything! You dog ear, you hated a book but said you loved it, you have $500 library fines...anything goes!)" 1. More than a hundred of my books are still in boxes from moving out after graduation-last year. 2. The brand new bookshelf that I got for Hannukkah (again, last year) is still in my parents' basement... 3. Even with the new bookshelf, I still wouldn't have shelf space for hundreds of books. 4. I own more books that I haven't read than I can count. 5. I still buy new books anyway... 6. I don't use the library nearly as much as I should and last time I went I paid $26 in fines. 7. I hate Faulkner. 8. I read barely any poetry-and barely any of that is contemporary. 9. I still haven't made a dent in my "list of seminal works to read," which was my reading goal for 2011. 10. I haven't completed (or started) any challenges

Bookseller's Last Stand

Yesterday was my last day as a bookseller-at least for a while. Shortly, I will be on my way to Chicago to get my MA and, if all goes well, on the path to my PhD and cozy tenured professorship (one can dream right?) I'd been gathering a stack of perspective buys in anticipation and an attempt to ameliorate the specific brand of torture that is the constant passing and shelving and handling of books that you would love to own, but shouldn't buy if you want to keep within your budget (not to mention bookshelf space, but I passed that bar a while ago and never looked back). Anyway, for my last chance to use my employee discount, and with the aid of birthday gift cards, I decided to splurge. A digital portrait of my loot: 1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 2. Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger 3. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Conner McNees 4. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares 5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth 6. The Girl Who C

Top Ten Favorite Books I've Read While Blogging

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic at the Broke and the Bookish : (I'm only counting books I read for the first time during the lifespan of my blog). 1. Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman 2. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende 3. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss 4. Elizabeth I by Margaret George 5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 6. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke 7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz 8. The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay 9. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 10. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Unorthodox Reading

27. Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman I have so much respect for Deborah Feldman. Born into the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism in Brooklyn, New York, she left the community with her young son at the age of 24. The amount of willpower and independence that a decision like that took, for someone in her position, is truly staggering. Although I've been paying attention to some of the buzz around the book, I had no idea until reading it how unusual a person Feldman is and how grossly oppressive her life was. As a Jew, I have considerable familiarity with the religion as a whole, somewhat less with Hasidic culture, and none whatsoever with Satmar in particular. However, Feldman skilfully orients the reader to the Satmar culture through the eyes of an eleven-year-old child. Her first person, present tense narration feels just right for the baffled reader, who may recognize familiar literary characters (Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth from Pri

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

26. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl Recommended to me years ago, I've been meaning to get to this book. I've got the "advance uncorrected proofs" procured from Bookmooch, but I assume it's essentially the same as the published novel. While I knew from the start that this really doesn't having anything to do with physics-it REALLY doesn't. This novel is the unusual life story of Blue van Meer, culminating in her senior year of high school and the mysterious death of her teacher. What can I say? I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories, especially those that promise to be clever, witty, and wicked. The Table of Contents is billed as the Core Curriculum, structured into three parts, sub-divided into chapters, and concluded with a Final Exam. The references come thick and heavy, and are the core of the book's charm. A twelve-year-old who fancies herself in Wuthering Heights , and a seventeen-year-old who comfortably alludes to


25. Doppelganger by David Stahler Jr. Have you heard of the doppelganger? A whole new class of boogeymen, doppelgangers are creatures that feed off human society. No, not vampires. Doppelgangers, look-alikes, shape-shifters. Doppelgangers can take on the form of any human they wish-that is, any human they kill. It's just a way of being, as natural as spiders killing insects, or wolves killing sheep. So claims the mother of our nameless hero. But "he" is different. He can't even stand to kill a fly, much less the puppy his mom brings home for the purpose. Can this young doppelganger defy his nature? This book is sweet and cute while simultaneously haunting. It's a very simple story of a teen coming of age, but a teen with a dark and unique power that has unusual consequences. I read it in one day, and enjoyed it. Though a fast read, it has some deeper issues to contemplate. In what's becoming the traditional YA novel, it blends tough issues such as abu

Top Ten Tuesday-Two for One!

Since I missed last week's Top Ten Tuesday , here are both lists: Top Ten Romances I Think Would Last Outside the Book 1. Fanny and Edmund from Mansfield Park I've always thought Fanny and Edmund are the most similar in background and temperament of all of Austen's lovers. I can see them having a very agreeable long life together. 2. Calvin and Meg from A Wrinkle in Time This is kind of cheating, because L'Engle develops their relationship over the course of several books, and all but said Meg and Calvin were based on her and her husband. 3. Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter The tension between Ron and Hermione is on from book one. I'll never forget the line in the fourth book where Hermione tells Ron (I'm paraphrasing), "Next time you can ask me [to the ball] first and not as a last resort!" and Ron sputters, "Well, completely...missed the point," or something to that effect, while Harry thinks Hermione had quite gotten "