Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

1. Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest is my...well, it's my Moby Dick. I've started it, restarted it, researched it, spend hours glaring at it's cover. I just can't seem to read past the first 50 pages. It's not even that I don't like the story, or what I've processed of the story. It's that it's just so big. Now I'm sometimes one to shy away from high page counts but that's not what I'm refereeing to here. Infinite Jest is so large that it physically does not fit into 95% of my purses. It's actually heavy. I have a hard time getting comfortable when I'm reading it. All these things make it a bucket list goal.

2. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Ages 10 through 18 were spent in various theaters. Vacations revolved around what plays we could see. I spent countless hours working on productions from Beauty and the Beast to Much Ado About Nothing. I fell in love with Shakespeare my freshman year of high school. It's always been one of my goals to actually read through his complete works. As it I've read/seen a large chunk of his plays but I rarely feel the urge anymore to seek out ones I haven't read. Sorry

3.Have a Year where I can feasibly read somewhere between seventy and one hundred books
Since I've been keeping track (2009) I've consistently read between 2 and 60 books. That 27 was a really bad year for me, but I remember fighting to pull off 60 while going to school and reviewing everything. Now I don't want reading to ever feel like work to me but I would really enjoy a year where I set a new record.

4. Find a literary awards list (Pulitzer, National Book, Booker, etc) and read through it
I get excited come bookish award season. I follow the long lists, the short lists, the author interviews and thrive off the excitement in the community. Every year I realize just how few 'award winners' I've read. I'd love to actually pick a list (even as I write this I've come up with pros and cons for each) and add those books to my rotation.

Short and simple, right? I'm happier when I'm writing. Lately it doesn't seem to matter what I'm working on, posts for this blog, short stories, the occasional fanfic, I feel better after writing. I'd love to actually finish a sizable project, but I guess more importantly I'd love to know that this will always be a part of my life.

6. Make a sizeable dent in my TBR jar
This is pretty self explanatory, right?

7.Take trips just for the sake of visiting unique bookstores of libraries
I love to travel. I love books. I would love to combine the two. A lot of times my vacations focus around something major like seeing a friend or going to a specific museum. I'd like to add old libraries and indie bookshops to my destination list.

8. Get back into bookbinding
I took a bookbinding class while I was in college and absolutely fell in love with it. Unfortunately the stuff I really enjoy working on requires equipment I don't have. Recently I have been looking into paper arts studios around here that offer classes and free studio time. I just have to find the time and money to restart this hobby.

9.Start a book club
I don't care if it's online or in real life I want to run a honest to God book club. One that actually reads books and talks about them, not just consumes copious amounts of wine and whines about exes. As of now I'm working on a Harry Potter readalong for this year so we'll see if that can turn into something.

10. Find a way to incorporate my love for books into my work
I'm one of those awful millennials that magazines love writing think pieces on. I'll work for a paycheck, yes, but I'm tired of watching everyone around me be miserable because they hate their jobs. I'm currently in the process of getting into a Library Sciences program and hopefully that will finally put me in a situation where I can combine something I love with something I have to do.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hoo Hoo Big Potter Blowout

Boy do I have an announcement for you! 

Starting April 1st and going through October 31st I will be hosting Hoo Hoo Big Potter Blowout! Now I know what you're thinking! What is Hoo Hoo Big Potter Blowout?
To answer your question HHBPB is an all encompassing Harry Potter extravaganza. I invite you to read, reread, or even listen to the series with me. We're going to be reading one book a month starting in April so dust off your copies of Sorcerer's Stone!

To go along with the readalong I'll be posting Harry Potter related content weekly. Characters, magical objects and dream locations from each book will be explored and histories will be shared! We're talking invisibility cloaks and family trees here! It's the most fun you can have with Harry and his friends outside of Universal Studio's!

While I'm not doing reviews for this readalong that doesn't mean you shouldn't! Once we get into the swing of things there'll be a link page for you to share your own Harry Potter posts! If you have any questions or just want to be a part of my huge Harry Potter extravaganza don't hesitate to comment.

Much love and excitement,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Spring TBR

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR list

1. A Replacement Life - Boris Fishman
I just got an ARC for A Replacement Life and let me tell you I am PUMPED! Okay, it may not actually belong on this list because I started it two days ago, however I'm only seventy pages in, sooo, yeah. So far it's reminding me of all the good parts of Everything is Illuminated so I'm looking forward to speeding through the rest!
2. Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
I know, not a new release! I read Eleanor and Park last month and I absolutely loved it! I'd initially stayed away from Fan Girl because it sounded like it would hit a little too close to home. Now that it's light past five and there is actual promise of above freezing weather I think I can sink my teeth into Rowell's second novel.
3/4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling
My love of all things Rowling is no secret on this blog. I'm currently in the works for a massive Harry Potter readathon/masterclass. In preparation I did just finish Sorcerer's Stone. Chamber and Azkaban are definitely going to make it into my April and May reads.
5. The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugendies is from Michigan. I'm from Michigan. He writes well received apparently wonderful stories. I like critically acclaimed, well written stories. Why haven't I read Jeffrey Eugendies? I need to fix this grave error this spring!
6. The Bobcats and Other Stories - Rebecca Lee
I'm a sucker for short storie collections. I bought The Bobcat with one of my Christmas gift cards and I look forward to leisurely absorbing it's pages while hopefully sitting outside in the sun.
7. The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
I know this came out last fall. And that it was on my fall TBR. And my winter TBR.  And now it's on my spring TBR. I swear I'll actually finish it before summer. My life should be settling down soon and maybe then I can tackle Tartt's latest masterpiece. At the very least I'm going to Toronto at the end of April and have a four hour car ride there and back.
8. Clever Girl - Tessa Hadley
Clever Girl is my only other new release on this list. Sorry, I'm bad at including recent releases on lists like this, I just tend to find them when they come out! However I am really excited about Clever Girl. It sounds like just the sort of character study I live for. I can't wait to get my hands on this book!
9. Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis
Ellis is another author who constantly pops up in bookish conversation. I feel like fraud never having read him. I feel like Rules of Attraction is a safe, springy place to start.
10. Brideshead Revisited  - Evelyn Waugh
Last year I read Vile Bodies and loved it. I'm a sucker for period pieces (and classics!) when the weather starts to warm up. I'm all for old estates and brooding characters.

Those are my top ten Spring TBR's. Just making this list has gotten me super excited for warm weather and the benefits that a few extra hours of sunlight can bring!

Nobody Belongs Here More Than You - Miranda July

Nobody Belongs Here More Than You

Miranda July

Nobody Belongs Here More Than You is Miranda July's 2007 short story collection. While July has made a name for herself as a screenwriter, actress, director, artists, her short story collection provides a very narrow scope into her style. Here she uses short stories to craft quirky women, and the occasional man, and takes every chance to throw them in equally off beat situations.

July's stories felt like ill timed Portlandia skits.  Her characters, who all spoke with the same voice regardless of gender, circumstance, or even narrative perspective, and that made the transition between stories seem almost meaningless. This brings me to my major problem with July's story collection. With very few exceptions July's stories start and stop at random. They feel more like ideas she's started to expand on but hasn't quite finished. There is rarely a satisfying ending and this combined with the stagnant, odd for the sake of being odd characters lets most stories fall flat.

That's not to say I disliked everything I read.  Of the sixteen stories in Nobody Belongs Here More Than You I have gone back and read three a second time. The Man on the Stairs, Mon Plaisir and How to Tell Stories to Children all grabbed my attention and reminded me what I truly love about short stories - which is that they can be as powerful as a novel and contained in under 20 pages!

I'm still a Miranda July fan, I'll just stick with her films (Me and You and Everyone We Know is on Netflix!) and various other forays into the arts. I don't think I'll need to read her prose for a while.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Authors I've Never Read

Top Ten Popular Author's I've Never Read

1. Zadie Smith
Given my reading taste I should be all about Zadie Smith. I've tried to read a few of her books but I've always given up within the first few chapters (thus I don't count her as an author I've read, even if I've attempted to read her work.) I'm honestly surprised I haven't forced myself to read White Teeth. I should really get on that.

2. Gillian Flynn
In my February in Review post I talked about how I accidentally ordered Gone Girl in Spanish. This incident caused me to make this face for hours. I wasn't able to return the rouge copy and have since considered learning Spanish just so I can avoid spending another 20 dollars on a book I already tried to buy. These are my less than literary reasons for not reading Gillian Flynn

3. Michael Chabon
Chabon is another author who should fall right into my wheelhouse. If one were to make an author cloud he would definitely fall right in the middle of my favorites. I actually just discovered that I do own two of his books, so that's half the battle right there!

4. Roald Dahl
When everyone talks about their favorite childhood reading memories inevidably someone brings up a Dahl classic. The only problem is that 100% of the time I haven't read it. Matlida, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach. None of these books were a part of my formative years and I feel like I'm a little too old to get into them now. Maybe if my parents had been bigger readers I would have found my way to these young classics at the right age, but alas they weren't and I didn't.

5. Stephen King
I don't like horror movies. Therefore when I saw a trailer that was said something like "From the mind of Stephen King" I made a mental note to stay far away. Now that I'm older and have friends who absolutely adore Mr. King I should probably revisit that policy, but the truth is when I look at some of his plots I'm just not interested.

6. Agatha Christie
My grandmother loves a good mystery novel. My grandmother loves Agatha Christie. I, as of yet, have not turned into my grandmother.

(that is not to call all Christie lovers old, or grandmothers, I'm just not a big mystery fan.)

7. David Foster Wallace
It goes against sense that I made it through my bachelors degree without finishing one DFW collection. I have half a shelf dedicated to his work. Okay, Infinite Jest takes up most of that shelf, but I do have a few of his short story collections that I've never touched.  I've always been a bit intimidated by his work. He's supposed to be so brilliant and I haven't found myself up for the challenge.

8. Bret Easton Ellis
He's a modern day classic. I think he's a hilarious person. I just haven't gotten around to his books.

9. JRR Tolkien
For as much as I love Harry Potter, A Game of Ice and Fire and all the current YA series that are flooding the market it seems a bit strange that I've never gotten into Lord of the Rings. The movies irritated me. My friends fangirling over Frodo put me off everything hobbit related. There are few things I am more sure of than the fact that I will never read Lord of the Rings.

10.C.S. Lewis
Can't I just watch the Narnia movies?

When I started this list I thought "there are so many popular authors this has to be easy! It turns out that I'm really good at reading 'it' books as soon as they come out. Who knew?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

February In Review

Twenty eight days has never felt so long. Seriously, what happened February? Did someone spit in your coffee? 

February was a weird month for me. Here in Southeastern Michigan it only spent a handful of days above freezing. The roads were full of pot holes and the entire population fed up with anything winter. Even as I type this it's snowing. I know it may seem like a bit over dramatic to give the weather so much credit over my mood, but I've been living in an eternal winter and i don't see any Ice Castles anywhere. Honestly I'm waiting for white walkers to come and destroy us all.  

I started the month off strong. I finished Elanor and Park within the first few days. I loved it! I'd just gotten a ton of books in the mail! My friend was starting Gone Girl and I was going to read with her...Only the copy of Gone Girl I ordered was mysteriously in Spanish. By the time I'd discovered this error I couldn't return it. I spent and entire night making a sour face. 

This was the start of my short month downfall. I toyed with a few other books but never really got over my disappointment of not being able to read the book I wanted RIGHT THEN. By the time I was ready for my next Book Jar read I was fed up with the weather and my own inability to commit to a book longer then a hundred pages. Unfortunately I picked out an Austen novel that just didn't fit my mood. Then I went to Chicago. I had a great time. More snow meant more one on one time with my best friend, however even a three hour Amtrak delay couldn't get me to finish my current read, Northanger Abbey. Actually an extra week and plenty of free time couldn't get me to finish it. It's been on my To Do list for weeks. 

So farewell February, I'm not sorry to see you go. Tell March I'm ready for some amazing things. It better not let me down. 

Books Read: 2
8. Eleanor And Park - Rowell
9. One More Thing - Novak

American Authors: 2
European: 0
African: 0
South American: 0
Asian:  0

Male: Female: 1

New Releases: 1

Jar Books: 0

Challenge Books:0

When I have months like this I just think back to two years ago when I wasn't reading at all. It puts a lot, like a busy month where I only finished two measly books, into perspective.