Thursday, June 28, 2012

30 x 30

I have a long list of books I want to read. A really long list. Right now, goodreads puts that number at 213, but that doesn't count all those books I've taken note of over the years and tucked into a little wrinkle in the brain. So do I prioritize? If so, how?

Well, for me, the answer to the first question is YES - I want to prioritize. I want a plan. I don't want to say, in another three years, I still haven't read anything by Murakami. I want to feel like I'm making progress with my reading. I know to some people that will sound silly. Reading should be fun! Just read what you want! It doesn't matter! Truly, it doesn't matter. I encourage everyone to read what they want, what they enjoy. But part of my enjoyment is tied to crossing certain books of a mental checklist.

Haruki Murakami
I've joined several challenges throughout the blogosphere, and this personal goal will overlap with those. At the same time, the books I've chose are ones that I consciously chose based on being able to say I've read them before I'm thirty. Ones that I've been meaning to get around to for far too long. Ones I need to read again, now that I'm not am immature high schooler. Ones that will teach me something. The "Thirty" deadline gives me just under two years. Plenty of time to make a dent in that never-ending TBR pile.
  1. Things I've Been Silent About, Azar Nafisi
  2. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  3. Something by Haruki Murakami. I don't really care which book.
    1. Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (done)
    2. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (done)
    3. The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank (done)
    4. Beloved, Toni Morrison (reread)
    5. A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf
    6. Invitation to a Beheading, Vladimir Nabokov
    7. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
    8. The Illiad, Homer
    9. The Odyssey, Homer
    10. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
    11. Candide, Voltaire
    12. The Golden Bowl, Henry James
    13. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (reread)
    14. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread)
    15. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    16. The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (done)
    17. Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth
    18. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
    19. Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway
    20. The Education of a British-Protected Child, Chinua Achebe
    21. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
    22. If Not, Winter, Sappho
    23. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
    24. The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz
    25. The Power Broker, Robert Caro
    26. Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine
    27. Emancipation Betrayed, Paul Ortiz

    Thursday, June 21, 2012


    Written by MK Reed
    Illustrated by Jonathan David Hill

    I had such high hopes for this book. It's a graphic novel exploring the theme of censorship - restricting people's access to certain books deemed "bad" in some way. It's about two boys, friends, one gay, who are incredibly into a female-fronted fantasy series that's all about family and honor and doing the right thing.

    It started to go downhill when the "evil" parents were over the top monsters. That seemed false. Yes, I know there are religious fanatics (um, I was raised by one). However, flat and static doesn't work in a character. Dynamic, three dimensional - that's what I like. You don't get a pass because your book has pictures.

    Then, came this:

    This is one of the main characters in the book. A good guy. A guy who's recently been turned on to "cool" music. And the lyrics smack of classism and fat shaming. 

    But it gets better!
    Yay, slut shaming! Love it! Um, not really.

    Do I expect all books to conform with my personal viewpoints? Of course not. I'm not telling anyone to ban this or any other book. But this is a great example of a book where you might agree with the main theme, but still take serious issue with some of the other views presented. And here, it felt like the author had an agenda. She was beating it into you: Censorship bad! Books good!

    It just didn't work. Too bad. Like I said, I had high hopes.

    Want more like this? Try:
    • Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451. The classic book on limiting society's access to book. Which, um, I still haven't read. But I will! Promise!
    • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis and Persepolis 2. Two graphic novels with a nuance, multilayered examination on living in Iran, during and after wartime - censorship and all.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    International Short Story Day

    Today is June 20th, the longest day (and hence, shortest night) of the year (for the northern hemisphere, anyway). It's also International Short Story Day!

    I'm usually a full length book reader, but I do like a short story on occasion. Here are excepts from and links to two of my favorites:
    Katherine Mansfield
    stamp, New Zealand, 1988

    Katherine Mansfield, "The Garden Party"

    Away Laura flew, still holding her piece of bread-and-butter. It's so delicious to have an excuse for eating out of doors, and besides, she loved having to arrange things; she always felt she could do it so much better than anybody else.

    Guy de Maupassant, "The Necklace"

    When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: "Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?" she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.

    What's your favorite short story, or story collection?

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

    Just in time for summer sunning season, the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish are having this week's Top Ten Tuesday participants list 
    10 Great Beach Reads

    Well, what is a "beach read"? They have the reputation for being easy breezy books, not requiring much thought, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. I want something that I care about, that sucks me in and makes me forget that I'm baking in the sun. Here are some ideas:

    The City of Thieves, David Benioff. Compelling story about a Russian teenage boy on an impossible wartime mission. The constant tramping through the snow will make you appreciate the heat.

    The Phantom Tollbooth, Norman Juster. This childhood book stands up to an adult rereading, and could be finished in an afternoon by the water.

    The Thief of Always, Clive Barker. Creepy and suspenseful, you won't want to stop until you find out what Holiday House is hiding.

    The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. This super popular series certainly sucks you in, but you might be inspired to get off your towel and play some volleyball or practice open water swimming to build skills and endurance, lest you get caught up in the reaping.

    Salt, seaside.
    The Taste of Salt, Martha Southgate. I did read this on the beach last summer - and that was before I knew the main character, Josie, was a scuba diving marine biologist! Very fitting setting.

    A Salty Piece of Land, Jimmy Buffett. Of course a Jimmy Buffett book is going to be good on the beach. And bonus: you learn about old lighthouses.

    Life of Pi, Yann Martel. You'll be glad you're safely on land.

    The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger. Fun, snarky glimpse into the world of high fashion.

    Tell Me Lies, Jennifer Crusie. Here's another light-hearted novel that's got a little mystery to boot.

    Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie. You'll be glad this is one boat ride you missed! A ton of characters end up dead in this Hercule Poirot mystery.

    Be sure to go check out other people's choices for this week's topic :-)

    Sunday, June 17, 2012

    Sunday Salon: Happy Fathers' Day

    Me & My Dad, circa 1986
    First, I'd like to acknowledge that these days recognizing certain people we're "supposed to" have good relationships with are very stressful for some people, whether it's because those relationships are strained, nonexistent, etc. Or, the day might be painful because the person is no longer with you. You may notice that there's no Mothers' Day post on this blog. So I get it.

    I am glad to say that I do have a good relationship with my dad. My parents divorced when I was very young, but I remember him always being in my life. I'd go over to his house every other weekend.

    For quite a while, we had a routine. He'd pick me up on Saturday morning. We'd go to breakfast, then head to his house. He'd realize he had nothing in the fridge to feed me the rest of the weekend, unless I was to subsist on OJ and pickles. Yeah - he was quite the bachelor.

    We'd also go to the bookstore. There, I'd buy two books - one for Saturday, one for Sunday.

    Now, my dad didn't have a lot of money, and I was probably a bit of a brat, insisting that I needed two brand new books every two weeks. But he made it happen. He didn't give me a hard time about curling up on the couch and reading, even though he was more of an outdoors, social guy. He's take me to the park, where he would be meeting a friend to play tennis. I'd find a shady spot and read. I can't imagine what a foreign little creature I must have seemed.

    Thanks for accepting me for the kid I was, daddy!

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Going to a Party

    You may have noticed, but there haven't been many reviews on the blog lately. I just haven't felt very inspired to write about books. Work has been kicking my butt, and it's all I can do some days to get myself home, eat something halfway nutritious, and veg out watching old episodes of Grey's Anatomy.

    I need some inspiration. I found it in a most unlikely place - The Great Gatsby. Basically, this dress caught my attention. It's beautiful - not something that I'd ever even try on, as I'd immediately write it off as a style that didn't look good on me, but beautiful nonetheless. It immediately evoked the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, and the decadent, grotesque parties central to Jay Gatsby's way of life. I out together these pieces imagining if I were invited to a Gatsby revival type party today. I'm sure there are going to be some in NYC - not so sure about where I'm living now. Hmmm, maybe I'll have to host one.

    I have to admit, I'm not actually a fan of the book. Back in high school, when I read it, I found it bleak and hopeless. But hey - I ended up creating an account on polyvore just so I could put this set together. I'm excited about it. I'm thinking now maybe I'm even excited enough to read Gatsby again - after all, the new movie's coming out soon ;-)

    Gatsby Party

    Gatsby Party by stackwanderer

    What clothes evoke The Great Gatsby for you? Feel free to create a set and share!

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Hemingway Daiquiris, Finally

    So, yeah. I had planned to make these daiquiris back during the Trish's Pin It, Do It challenge, but I couldn't find maraschino liquor anywhere. Finally, the brilliant hubby suggested I call Total Wine. I hadn't thought of them, as there isn't one super close to me, but I figured I could combine a stop there with some other places I needed to go. Of course, they carried two varieties! I went with the cheaper one, since it's just a mixer. It was $16. The expensive one was $30. Also, the super helpful sales guy pointed me to an $8 bottle of white rum that he said was comparable to a Bacardi. I think he felt he had to throw me a bone since he also talked me into an eighty dollar bottle of single malt Scotch...

    Hemingway Daiquiri, from The Kitchn
    Anyway, on to the daiquiris. Yummy yummy yummy. Light, not too sweet, and you know you're drinking alcohol. Rum, maraschino liquor, fresh grapefruit, fresh lime. Tumbler full of ice, sunny day, time to relax by the water with a book. I think Papa would approve.

    Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. Go check out what everyone else is talking about this weekend.

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday Rewind

    This week the fine bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish have
    invited Top Ten Tuesday participants to "rewind" and blog about a previous topic. I had wanted to participate the week of "Top Ten Childhood Favorites" but somehow the time got away from me. I'm happy to take to opportunity to post some old favorites now.

    The Berenstain Bears, Stan & Jan Berenstain. I loved this series, especially The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food. I still overdo it with the junk food and make myself sick on occasion. You think I'd have learned my lesson by now!

    Beauty, Bill Wallace. What can I say - I was one of the completely horse-obsessed girls growing up. I dreamed of being able to spend the whole summer with a horse of my own.

    The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. I've mentioned this book on other lists, but this is one it really needs to be included on. Something about the sparse drawings and the simple, sad story have always captured my imagination.

    Ferdinand the bull sits in a field enjoying the breeze
    The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf. Okay, I read this book not long ago and I realized how absolutelycompletelyridicuously unrealistic it is. A pacifist bull goes out of control when he's stung by a bee, but sits calmly while he's provoked in a bull ring? I think not. Still, the illustrations are beautiful and I have fond memories of reading it when I was younger.

    The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Kathyrn Jackson. My favorite Little Golden Book! The poor saggy baggy elephant is all alone and in danger until he finds more of his kind.

    The Nancy Drew series, Carolyn Keene. Enough said.

    The Babysitters Club, Ann M. Martin, Enough said, redux.

    The Little Princess, Frances Hodgsen Burnett. A privileged little girl loses everything, but stays sweetly uncomplaining, and is rewarded in the end.

    The Velveteen Rabbit, Beatrice Potter. Who doesn't secretly hope their favorite toys come to life?

    The Billy and Blaze books, C.W. Anderson. Did I mention the love for horses?

    I could go on - how did I not include anything by Marguerite Henry? Or Madeline L'Engle? Or, or, or... you get the point. I've always been a reader :-)

    What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    May In Review

    May. What a month. I was officially hired at my new job as of May 1st, which is totally awesome. I managed to chip away a bit of my classics challenges by reading The Rover, a play by Aphra Behn.

    There should be a DID THIS button on Pinterest...complete with loud applause when you click it.I completed Trish's Pin It, Do It Challenge (barely!). I'd only signed up for the "Timid Pinner" level, which I thought would be no problem to complete. I ran into some unexpected challenges, like hard to find ingredients, but managed to have fun and keep myself busy. Here are the projects I chose:

    Corner Bookmark
    Cheddar Pecan Crisps
    Tile Coasters

    And here's a breakdown of what I managed to read:
    5 books total
    5 fiction                100%
    0 nonfiction          0%
    4 female authors  80%
    1 translated           20%
    I've got some serious reading plans for June, including participation in Allie's Victorian Reading Celebration. I just need to find the copy of The Mill on the Floss that I bought when I was in New York. I've also checked out a couple books from the library that I'm itching to read.