Fat Books & Thin Women


30 Day Book Meme, Day 25
August 26, 2011, 7:33 pm
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A character who you can relate to the most:

I already kind of covered this, but to be more serious: I’ve always identified with Hermione Granger. (I know! Just when you thought I wouldn’t mention Harry Potter again.)

I’ve always been the sort of person who is always reading a book. At times it’s easy to feel persecuted for this, especially when you’re a kid (who should be playing soccer) or a Peace Corps Volunteer in a country where there isn’t much of a reading culture (who should be watching a dubbed soap opera). I’m sure Hermione has gotten questions like, “Why do you read so much?” or comments like “You know that it’s bad to read that much – stop, now!” and even in her more obnoxious moments in the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I’ve felt for her. By the end of the series Hermione’s actions are the best defense of her reading – it’s because she reads that she’s able to do things neither Harry nor Ron can, not in spite of her love of the written word. It’s nice to see a female heroine, nicer to see one who reads as much as I do.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people have read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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30 Day Book Meme, Day 24

A book that you wish more people have read:

When the Coen brothers’ True Grit adaptation came out late last year, Charles Portis’s novel jumped to the top of bestseller lists. It got a special movie tie-in cover. I saw a few reviews of it on blogs not written by me. Awesome!

I just wish everyone who took the time to read True Grit would look into Portis’s other works. The man is a god as far as I’m concerned; funny without ever cracking a joke, writing characters who are absurd and sympathetic at the same time, revealing the whole of a personality in one or two lines of dialogue.

I’ve done a poor job this month of limiting myself to the one book title most of the prompts ask for (even if I do choose just one, I can’t stop myself from detailing the runners up), and don’t expect me to change now. If I could force just one book on someone…well, it would be something by Charles Portis, either Gringos or The Dog of the South or Norwood or True Grit. Portis is, I am convinced, one of the best writers America’s produced, and while The Believer or The New York Times will occasionally honor him with an article, I rarely find someone who has heard of him, let alone read him. Let me beg you all, as I have a few times before: read Charles Portis! read True Grit if you want, but then read one of his other novels! you will not regret it! (I promise.)

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people have read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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30 Day Book Meme, Day 23
August 24, 2011, 5:23 pm
Filed under: 30 Day Book Meme | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A book you’ve wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t:

If you’re wondering what happened to Day 22 of the meme (favorite book you own), I skipped it. Because, duh, my favorite book I own is the same as my favorite book, period. Wouldn’t it be better to ask about the favorite book you don’t own? (Just because I’ve thought of that question, though, don’t expect me to answer it.)

If I were to write down all the books I have intended to read for years but have yet failed to touch, this post would never end. It is a lot easier to buy books than it is to read them, and I suspect that some in my possession (say, the complete works of Dostoevsky) may never get read.

Gotta choose one, though, so it’s Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, by which I pretty much mean the entirety of In Remembrance of Things Past. Bought the first three volumes a few years ago when I first tried to write a personal statement for grad school, focusing on “time and memory” in literature and thought, “Shit, I’d better read about those madeleines.”

Unfotunately, like Lorelai Gilmore (who was loaned Swann’s Way by early boyfriend Max Medina [the man who makes me think teaching high school English might be the career for me]) I’ve proven incapable of finishing even the first sentence of Swann’s Way. I’m about two years into my three-year reprieve (see: why I didn’t pack any Proust when I left for the Peace Corps), and things are going to have to get serious when I’m back in the States. I am going to finish that first sentence.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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30 Day Book Meme, Day 21
August 23, 2011, 5:54 pm
Filed under: 30 Day Book Meme | Tags: , , , ,

Favorite book from your childhood:

Roald Dahl might be my favorite YA author, as well as the one whose works I’m most likely to revisit, but it’s Nancy Drew who defined my childhood. I spent the better part of my youth holed up with the classic yellow hardback mysteries and later the romance-fueled Nancy Drew Files and craptastic Nancy Drew on Campus series. Despite the habit of Nancy’s attackers to clamp chloroform-soaked rags over her nose, the bland Ned Nickerson, the single-feature lives of her friends Bess and George, and Nancy’s seemingly endless supply of lives, something about the series was so fresh and exciting to me when I first read them. Nancy may have some pleasingly conservative views and conventionally pretty looks (always mentioned!) but she still went out there and solved mysteries that others were either unwilling or unable to. And without Nancy Drew, the world never would have seen my earliest short stories, all Nancy Drew-style mysteries told from the point of view of the criminal element. (Well, I guess the world still hasn’t seen them. Moot point.)

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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30 Day Book Meme, Day 20

Favorite romance book:

I don’t consider myself a real “girly” reader, so when I saw today’s prompt I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that would be shelved in the romance aisle, and however open I may be to reading other genres (thriller: awesome! sci-fi: awesome! fantasy: awesome! mysteries: awesome!)…I am not real interested in reading the guidance counselor’s novel from Ten Things I Hate About You.

Close-minded? Sure. I will totally fess up to that. But I guess “romance” isn’t limited to books that will be shelved under “romance” in the local library. E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View is a romantic story on top of a penetrating look at Edwardian society and the changes that were occurring in ways of thinking, particularly in how women (Lucy) viewed their lives. But I wrote about this novel earlier, and it’s time I push myself to not answer every question by talking about Harry Potter or Nabokov or Forster.

My favorite romance, other than A Room with a View? The Time Traveler’s Wife. Though Niffenegger’s book is part of the unfortunate “The [Male Character]‘s [Something]” titling trend, and the movie was mediocre, the book is gorgeous for infusing a classic love story with elements of science fiction. It’s heart-rending to watch Clare and Henry repeatedly pulled apart by time and to know that Henry’s death may come at a time Clare can’t even be part of; but Niffenegger realizes that the best love stories are the ones that don’t quite end happily, but in which there is still some hope. Even after Henry dies we know that his younger self remains somewhere in the aging Clare’s future, if only briefly.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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30 Day Book Meme, Day 19

Favorite book turned into a movie:

This isn’t even a question that needs to be asked of a twenty-something occasional fantasy fan, is it? There are books-to-movies I have to watch with my mom every year (the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice), there are movies I have to watch because they came out while I was on my visit home (Harry Potter), there are ones so good they send me back to the book for a reread (the Coen brothers’ True Grit), but there’s no film adaptation that I thrill to quite as much as Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien wrote the fantasy that no one could follow (though many have tried), and Jackson did the adaptation and fantasy films that no one can follow. Judging by the latest Harry Potter film, it’s near impossible to do a fantasy film today without echoing some element of Jackson’s imagery.

Besides, he gave us this:

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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30 Day Book Meme, Day 18
August 19, 2011, 5:04 pm
Filed under: 30 Day Book Meme | Tags: , , , , ,

A book that disappointed you:

I never quite made it off my ass long enough to write a review of Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife. This is partly because when I read it I had a pinched nerve and spent all my time laying on the floor feeling sorry for myself, partly because I was getting ready to travel to the States for vacation, partly because I found the book so underwhelming that I couldn’t think of much to say about it. I think the Obreht disappointment has been pretty well-documented by Greg at New Dork Review of Books and Sasha from Sasha & the Silverfish, so I’m not going to get into too much detail here. (Also, I am still too lazy to think up much to write about the novel.)

Like so many novels that are hyped up the wazoo by all five remaining newspaper review sections, Obreht’s novel almost couldn’t help failing simply because it could never be as good as we were promised. The Tiger’s Wife, set in an unnamed country of the former Yugoslavia (it’s Serbia), is overflowing with sometimes gorgeous details and stories. There’s the deathless man and the three times the narrator Natalia’s grandfather meets him, the story of the escaped tiger living in the mountains above her grandfather’s village and the story of the Muslim butcher living in that village and the nearly innumerable ways in which his life has let him down. The story that claims to be the backbone to Obreht’s story, that of Natalia’s attempt to find out why her grandfather disappeared just before his death, is weak, though; if anything, it’s this framing narrative that serves to distract from the otherworldly beauty of Natalia’s grandfather’s stories.

In Natalia’s story Obreht tries to give some motion and energy and purpose to the novel. The problem is that the best parts of the novel are those that have nothing to do with that ragged plotline, and that the novel is never able to feel like something more than a cobbled-together book of family stories and fairy tales. The Tiger’s Wife is promising more for what it suggests Obreht is capable of doing in the future than for what she is capable of doing now.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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