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Showing posts from 2015

Book Review: Statisticity by Yaron Glazer

68. Statisticity by Yaron Glazer What first strikes me about this book is the beauty and ease of its presentation. I don't usually read e-books. This time, I received the e-book from the author for review. I never expected to say this about a digital book, but it is a work of art. It has "pages" that turn forward and back with the click of an arrow on either side. Each page contains only the amount of prose that comfortably fills the screen and not an iota more (I read on a laptop, so I can't speak for tablets or e-readers). The best part of the setup, though, integrates well with the content of the novel. The story is set in a dystopian future China and uses both futuristic and Mandarin-derived terms that would be unfamiliar to the modern reader. Although many of the terms can be deciphered from context, especially for the habitual science fiction reader, readers of Statisticity don't have to suffer through the disorientation that led me to put down novels

Book Review: Wild

66. Wild by Cheryl Strayed After I finished Wild , I had a profound desire to go and buy Adrienne Rich's The Dream of a Common Language. It is the one book that Strayed does not burn for fuel during her months-long hike on the Pacific Crest trail. She doesn't even need to read it so much as finger its pages, dreaming of what she already knows is inside. Wild is not a perfect book. It is very much in Elizabeth Gilbert's vein of done rather than perfect. Strayed's lyricism and authenticity is shown to its best advantage not in her memoir, but in the columns she wrote as Dear Sugar printed in Tiny Beautiful Things , which was my favorite of the two books. Yet, while I was reading Tiny Beautiful Things , which I bought because I already knew I liked the Dear Sugar columns, I decided to finally read Wild as well. I meant to read it when it came out, and then I meant to read it when the movie came out, and then I read so many negative reviews about how whiny the book w

Books Read in December

 Elizabeth Gilbert's  Big Magic came out this year, and fit with my slew of reading books about writing. Once I had finished, I knew I could no longer put off her bestseller:  Eat, Pray, Love. I bought Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed at the same time because I enjoyed the Dear Sugar columns (the book is a collection of the columns, originally published online ),  and after that, I finally had to read her memoir, Wild . Gilbert and Strayed both discuss writing and life and spiritual awakening, and though their perspectives differ, they are similarly inspirational. Reviews to come. 64. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 65. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed 66. Wild by Cheryl Strayed 67. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. I've finally gone over to the dark side: my parents got me an ereader for Hanukkah. At this point I've been tempted for a while, and between all the free classics available in eformat and so many books for review that are only available in eformat, I couldn't resist. I always thought I would get a Nook, since I used to work at B&N, but Kindle won out for reasons, and my main objection, that they used to not accept any formats but their own, has since changed. So far, I've managed to get it set up and "purchased" a free copy of Under the Lilacs ; regular use has yet to commence. 2. To my everlasting relief, I managed to get my library card renewed after all . I went back to the library and talked to a different librarian, who was perfectly happy to renew my card using my work ID that proves I still work in the county. Crisis resolved! 3. Per the last two items, once I figure out how to borrow ebooks from the library, THERE WILL BE NO STOPPING ME! MUA

Top 15 Best Books I Read in 2015

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish! I couldn't choose just ten, so I chose fifteen of my favorite reads this year. Each of these books changed my way of thinking this year and continues to linger in my thoughts. Many carried over from my list halfway through the year , and some I read in the past couple months. 1. Kindred by Octavia Butler 2. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg 3. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard 4. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore 5. Dispatch from the Future by Leigh Stein 6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo 7. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 8. The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts 9. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen 10. Brave New Girls Ed. Mary Fan and Paige Daniels 11. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss 12. Cinder by Marissa Meyer 13. The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen 14. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 15. I Cap

5 More Absurd Ways to Judge Books or More of What I Learned from Paring Down My Library

1. All the books with Queen Elizabeth I on the cover made it into the keep pile. 2. Almost all of the philosophy went into the discard pile, with the exception of Wilde's Soul of Man Under Socialism. 3. 41 books I have never read made it into the keep pile, although Ms. Kondo advises that unread books will continue to go unread. The truth is, I have picked up and read (and loved) books after having them for years, so I'm not ready to give up those that still bring me joy. 4. I have now given away every book from my course on eighteenth century British literature except Belinda by Maria Edgeworth. Although I got rid of a few books recently, Pamela and Moll Flanders were flung out the second the class was over. I don't know why, but while I love sixteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth century British literature, the eighteenth gives me the heebie jeebies for the most part (or just makes me yawn). 5. Books that were given to me by people who are no longer in my l

Winning NaNoWriMo

I won! I'm a winner! I wrote 50,364 words in 30 days...actually, in 28 days. It's been incredible to learn, to prove to myself, that I can do this. I can write 4,000 or 5,000 words in a single day even, if I have the time. This is not to say that what I wrote was good. It's an Anne Lamott-esque draft , as I mentioned before . But, as Elizabeth Gilbert says, better to be done than perfect. Not that I'm done. After I won NaNoWriMo, I read Gilbert's Big Magic and I'm now almost done with Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things . These books offer such different pictures of being a writer and yet they jibe in a way that makes sense. I am not done. The novel I began on November 1 is not finished. It's not a novel that is meant to see the light of day, but it is meant to be finished. I set a goal to finish 75,000 words by Dec. 14th. Right now, I don't know if I will meet it. My draft currently sits at around 60,000 words. but no matter what happens...6

Books Read in November

Since I was focusing on NaNoWriMo for most of November, I didn't get a huge amount of reading done and it was all nonfiction, except for books I finished at the very beginning of the month. Therefore, I got in both an sf book for Science Fiction Month ( Ancillary Mercy ) and a few books for Nonfiction November. I'll let you know in December, but I have also probably finished Book Riot's Read Harder challenge and Popsugar's 2015 Reading Challenge . I heard about the latter toward the beginning of the year and decided to see if my reading would complete it without purposefully doing so. I only saw Book Riot's challenge more recently, but I think I will similarly have completed at least most of it without trying. 61. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg I started reading this awhile back, in slow stages, and finished as I was beginning NaNoWriMo. It's a series of vignettes about writing, life, and Zen Buddhism that are helpful for putting you in the

What I Learned from Paring Down My Library or 5 Absurd Ways to Judge Books

As you may know, I recently reduced my personal library from 700+ books to 449, using the KonMari method from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Although Ms. Kondo whittled her own books down to a Hall of Fame of 30, this number feels comfortable to me. I always wanted a substantial home library, and I feel better knowing that I consciously chose each one of these books, and can continue to do so. As I went through my books, I kept tally marks of books in each genre, paperback and hardback, and also wrote down the names of those books that especially touched me, my "Hall of Fame." My Hall of Fame consists of 46 books, so if I ever need to reduce my collection further, I know what I want to keep. I also learned a number of other absurd facts about my preferences in books, which I will share for your amusement and edification. 1. I dislike Dover Thrift editions. Every single Dover Thrift edition I owned ended up in the discard pile. 2. However, I am extremely attac

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. I'm more than 70% done with my NaNoWriMo word count!!! I think my novel may need to go over the 50,000 words, but it looks like I'm going to win on my first try! I rigged it a little, since I've purposely avoided doing it until such year as I had enough time. Also, I got some advice from a friend who's done it in the past that really helped. She told me to get as far ahead as I could in the first few days, and that even if I write, say, 4,000 words in one day, don't use that as an excuse not to write the next day. When she told me that, I laughed because I thought there was no way I could write 4,000 words in a day, but I surprised myself by writing 4,000 words the very next day and over 5,000 on one other day. Keep in mind, this is definitely an Ann Lamott-esque first draft, but 38, 769 words and counting! 2. My library reduction project has been started and completed! Using the KonMari method as outlined in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , I went from