Archive for August, 2013

My First Award!

Deweydecimalsbutler has nominated me for a Liebster award! I’m so excited!!!

Liebster Award

The rules of this award state that in order to accept, I must:

  1. Link back the blogger that tagged you
  2. Nominate ten others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you
  3. Ask ten questions for the bloggers you nominate
  4. Let your nominees know of their award

So here we go!

The Questions

I realize that I don’t talk about myself very often on this blog, so answering these questions should provide a nice opportunity for all you readers to get to know me a little better. Here they are, with my responses:

1. What made you decide to blog in the first place?

This is an easy one, as I’ve already written a post on it. You can find it here.

2. Where would you live other than where you are currently living if you could?

Interestingly enough, that’s a question that I’ve recently been considering myself, since I’m entering my final year of college. After graduation, I may move to the nearest larger city in order to find a good job, but I am also considering the possibility that I may end up moving somewhere else entirely. Having lived my entire life (besides living on campus during the school year) in the same small city, it’s difficult for me to say where else I might like to live without a lot more serious thought.

3. What kind of super power would you like to have and why?

I’m going to answer with might be considered a total cop out and say that I would not like to have any kind of super power. With great power comes great responsibility. It can also corrupt. But the most compelling reason is that I don’t believe that I was meant to have a super power. I try not to mention this often, but I am quite religious, and I trust that God created me exactly as I should be. Not that I can’t understand why others may think that having a super power would be really cool.

4. What do you think about schools not teaching cursive anymore?

I’m fairly certain that the school I attended still teaches cursive. My handwriting is terrible and I prefer to type, but I do use cursive from time to time. I think that it’s important to learn cursive, if only for the purposes of being able to read it and to sign your name using it.

5. Kindles – yes or no, why?

Yes! I actually own a Kindle, and I enjoy using it to read all of the free e-books that Amazon is willing to give me. They offer a fairly good selection when it comes to older classics, which is just fine for following the 1001 list. Of course, I must admit that I also use my Kindle for playing the occasional game. 🙂

6. What character would you like to see step on a Lego?

I’m one of those people who tries to make it a policy not to wish any sort of harm on others (even fictional characters!), but, in keeping with the general tone of the question, the character that I think I like the least would be… Hm… Can I actually go with several characters from Beloved? You know, the slave owners and the men who worked for them. They really did some despicable things and brought complete misery to the lives of many people.

7. Texting – do you use correct grammar or not? Defend.

I very rarely text at all, but when I do I try to use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. That’s a personal preference because it annoys me to see these things incorrect. However, I do break my own rules sometimes because, since my phone doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard and I hardly ever text, it takes me forever to tap out even the shortest message. As a result, when I’m in a hurry I tend to use abbreviations and lop off the odd period, simply for the sake of convenience.

8. Which Middle Earth race do you most readily identify with?

My first thought would be the elves, although I’m not completely sure why. My personality just seems to match with them better than the others.

9. Does it bother you that I ended #8 with a preposition? Explain.

No. I am a stickler for proper grammar, but not that much of a stickler. Not when it comes to that particular rule, anyway, which is probably because none of my teachers ever enforced it when I was first learning. And I had one English teacher who strictly enforced absolutely everything else.

10. Breastfeeding in public, what are your thoughts?

This isn’t a question that I’ve really thought about. I suppose the best answer is to use your best judgment and be discreet?

My Nominations

  1. Blessed Mama from Wonderfully Wired
  2. maaikevdplas from Boekentips
  3. David Allen from Allen Fiction
  4. thoughtsofliterarylove
  5. Lina from Eccentric Chai
  6. Whatimeant2say
  7. Cult of Otis from The Blog of Otis
  8. PaulinaEmCee from Double Exposure and Bludger Control
  9. laughing.loving.eating
  10. Lucy’s Football

My Questions for the Nominees

I apologize for the complete and utter randomness of the following questions. I never claimed to be any good this. But maybe it’s more interesting this way! I look forward to reading the responses.

  1. What’s your favorite color?
  2. What aspect of blogging do you like the most?
  3. Do you like pancakes?
  4. What is your favorite part of the average week?
  5. If you were a plant, what type of plant would you be?
  6. If you could meet one celebrity of your choice, who would it be?
  7. What is your favorite Disney movie?
  8. If you could live in a video game, which one would it be?
  9. You’re at a party full of people you’ve just met. What story about yourself do you tell them to get the conversations going?
  10. What question would you like to have been asked in this interview? Answer that question!
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August 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment

The Most Memorable Thing

Today, I’ve decided to play a little game. I’m going to take the list of the books I’ve read from the 1001 list (the ones that currently have no review) and name off the first thing that I remember about each one. Sounds kind of fun, right? But I’m also hoping that it will reveal what is really memorable about each one, the one piece of the story that has really stuck with me.

And if you’ve read any of these, you can feel free to play along, too, in the comments section. Or write your own post with the books you’ve read and tell me about it. It would be interesting to see whether we all remember the same elements.

Of course, I’ll also be trying to keep this completely spoiler-free, so no worries!

Here We Go!

Things Fall Apart

Okonkwo. I remember that it took me a while to figure out how I should pronounce his name, and, after that, every single time I read it it just stuck out. On the more substantial side, I also remember the character himself: all of his traits, the way he made decisions, and the way he reacted to the events around him. I hadn’t read of any character quite like him before.

Pride and Prejudice

The scene where Elizabeth walks all the way to the Bingley’s house, even through the mud, just to visit her ill sister. I suppose it’s one of those scenes that really defines the character. Other scenes come to mind as well, like the hilarious proposal of Mr. Collins. Good stuff.

Jane Eyre

Jane’s departure. Not to spoil anything for those who haven’t read it, but I think that those who have know exactly what I’m talking about. Another big character moment, at least I thought so.

The Great Gatsby

The green light! And the color green in general, just for the huge importance it has in terms of symbolic value for that book. I can also never forget the scene where they all go to the city just to hang out and drink some mint juleps. They keep mentioning them over and over, and nobody ends up actually having one. Just a little detail that I personally thought was kind of funny.

Lord of the Flies

The skin-crawling war-dance thing that the boys did for hunting pigs. Complete with the chant. Ugh, I did not like that part, or that book, but it’s got a kind of savage power to it that I can’t quite explain.

The Scarlet Letter

Pearl the Faerie Child! Even though they never actually call her that in the book, it just fits way too well to pass over. Pearl is certainly a unique character, and not one to be forgotten.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Why is it that I can only think of the ending? I mean, I remember the rest of the book, but the ending just sweeps everything else out of the water.

Brave New World

The bottled babies! The happy pills! The ritualized celebration of lust! Just all of these disturbing aspects of Huxley’s dystopian future. And more. Let’s not let the world turn into this, ok?

To Kill a Mockingbird

I really remember the way all the little gifts kept appearing inside the little hole in the tree. I’m not sure why I remember that over all the other things that happened, but maybe it’s because I was kind of young when I read it. I’m not sure that I really got the full impact. Or it could just be because the tree was pictured on the cover of the edition I read. You know.

Life of Pi

Tiger in a boat. Seriously, that’s the entire story. The end. Yeah, I’m joking, but, still, I found that book to be pretty boring. I guess if I had to pick a second it would be that really weird island where the ground at night was like acid and there were all those little mammals running around. I want to say meerkats, but I’m pretty sure that’s not right.
Correction, actually, a quick Google search reveals that I’m exactly right. Go me!

The Things They Carried

The water buffalo. Don’t ask. Just go read it and you’ll totally understand.

1984

I’m going to have to go with the ending on this one, too. In my opinion, it’s just the crowning point in the story about a very messed up world.

Cry, the Beloved Country

Believe it or not, what’s sticking out for me at the moment is not a character or a piece of the plot but rather the passages that seemed to stop to have a chat. That’s really the best way I can think of to describe them without actually posting a full quote. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy handy. So yes, it’s basically the language of them and the way they pause the story and yet somehow also manage to really tie it all together. A technique that I have never seen used elsewhere.

The Pit and the Pendulum

In a short story like this there aren’t as many options, so I’m going to settle for the obvious choice. The pendulum. Who reads that story and doesn’t remember it?

The Purloined Letter

The ultimate reveal. Meaning the location where the stolen letter has been hiding undetected from a thorough police search. But, of course, I can’t spoil that.

A Modest Proposal

I’ve always particularly liked the line that makes a jab at the English landlords: ” I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children.” I love a good satire.

And… the end!

I think this post has gotten to be quite long enough. But if this post is popular enough, I might make another one in the future for a few more of the 1001 books I’ve read. Let me know what you think.

August 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm 3 comments

Fangirling

I’d like to start this post by talking a bit about One Direction: Harry, Louis, Liam, Zayn, and Niall. No, I am not a fan. I just happen to know all of their names because my younger sister has told me all about them. On multiple occasions. Niall is Irish. Liam is afraid of spoons. Louis once said that he would like to date a girl who eats lots of carrots. And I know all of this in spite of the fact that I really do not care.

She is what’s apparently called a “Directioner”. She listens to the music, she writes fan fiction, and, most importantly, she gets inordinately excited whenever anything that has anything to do with them pops up.

This is one of the walls in our shared bedroom. Think she has enough posters?

This is one of the walls in our shared bedroom. Think she has enough posters?

Of course, this is all perfectly normal for a teenage girl: obsessing over cute singers and actors and celebrities in general. And, in a more broad sense, lots of people display this kind of passion for something. Some people become fluent in Klingon and Elvish. Some people paint their entire bodies the color of their favorite sports team to watch the game from the stands. Some people shell out thousands of dollars to gain a complete set of their favorite collectible.

And you can bet that when it comes to their favorite person/group/thing, they all go over the top in expressing their love and adoration and undying affection. They stand in awe of his/her/their/its sheer force of excellence. There is nothing in the whole wide world better than their object of affection, and they will tell you so. For hours. Or days. Weeks? I wouldn’t put it past some of them.

Which brings me to my point: I am not one of these people. Once, while watching Jeopardy with my sister, a question about One Direction came up, and, just like that, she got excited. As in, we couldn’t hear the end of the question because of her reaction. She called it a “fangirl moment”. I called it “freaking out.”

Isn’t there anything I really like? Well, sure, but I have never felt that urge to squeal or scream or gush on and on about something for hours. When you ask me what I think of something I really like, I will tell you that I really like it, in those words. And then, in a calm voice, I will tell you about the reasons why I really like it and end by recommending that you give it a try sometime.”Fangirling” must make sense to all the fangirls, but to me it just looks crazy.  And I think that this attitude probably shows here on my blog.

Just take a look at my book ratings. I hardly ever give out fives, or even four and a halfs. In fact, the average rating is currently 3.06. Or look at my reviews. I rarely say big glowing things like “this book is amazing” or “this guy is one of the greatest authors who ever lived”. I may explain what I liked about certain aspects, but when it comes to making a comment about the book as a whole, I tend to be very sparing with my compliments. A four star read (The Hound of the Baskervilles) was deemed “pretty fun”. A very rare four and a half star read (The Yellow Wallpaper) earned the praise “a really good short story”. Three stars usually falls somewhere around “average”, and it all goes downhill from there.

My ratings on LibraryThing. The average is a bit higher. I blame the fact that the 1001 list failed to include the seven Harry Potter books.

My ratings on LibraryThing. The average is a bit higher. I blame the fact that the 1001 list failed to include the seven Harry Potter books.

This isn’t because I don’t like books. I love books! Why else do you think I’m going through all this work to blog about them? It’s just a reflection of the sort of person that I am. When I read something, I always stop to think before deciding how to describe it. Is it the best book ever? Well, hold on, you’d better be really sure before you say something like that, I’ll tell myself. Are you absolutely sure that another book isn’t going to come along twenty years from now that will completely blow your mind? I’m always thinking “What if?”, always hoping for and even expecting something bigger and better just around the corner.

Besides, if I use up the word “amazing” on this one, what word will I use when I do find that something better? And if I start doing it all the time, what do I do when I discover something on the caliber of those rare five star reads? Instead of going on for pages and pages in an attempt to convey an accurate sense of how much I really, really loved it, I would prefer to say “I really, really loved it” and have that really mean something. I don’t fangirl, but when I get somewhere close to it, you know that it’s a very special circumstance.

I could read three star rated books all day long. I could even be perfectly happy reading a bunch of two and a half star books, simply because that’s how much I love reading. But if you prefer more excitement in your blog reading, you could always try imagining how my blog articles would read if I was a fangirl. Change all the “good”s into “great”s. Add three exclamation points after every positive comment. Imagine me squealing with joy as I review a three star rated book. Picture me jumping up and down and cheering at the four stars. And for the five stars, try imagining my sister meeting her favorite member of One Direction in person.

August 11, 2013 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

Well. That’s Intense.

I wasn’t expecting to do a post about Neuromancer until I’d actually started reading it. But then, as I was opening up the book to find the first page, the writing inside the cover caught my eye.

“In the recent history of science fiction, there has been no book like Neuromancer, no writing career like that of William Gibson.” It “won all the major science fiction awards of its year”.  “It engendered ‘cyberpunk’… If it was inevitable that the late twentieth century would eventually produce a literary form that linked high technology to the punk esthetic, artificial intelligence with the Sex Pistols, it’s equally true that until Neuromancer it hadn’t been done before– and despite many attempted imitations, nobody has done it since. Here it is. If you haven’t read it, you’ve missed a piece of your lifetime. It will fry your brain and break your heart.”

Wow. Does anyone else feel like that’s a lot of pressure to put on your reader? I feel like the book is shouting at me, “You’d better love this book because if you don’t it means that you’re a total idiot!” And I haven’t read a single word.

I was really just planning on, you know, reading it and deciding for myself whether or not it’s any good. And… that’s what I’m still going to do, no matter what the cover has to say.

August 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment

Taking a Break Can Sometimes Be the Most Important

I’ve just finished my 67th book on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, the 8th from the list this year. At the end of 2012, I resolved to aim for 25 more books from the list by the end of the year. It’s August, and I’m way behind.

But, for at least a week or two, I’m about to take a break. This is because, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I’m trying to work my way through the list of books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time now, and not all of those are on the 1001 list.

But that’s ok. I wouldn’t want to follow the list if it meant that I couldn’t take the time to read what I want. While there are a lot of great books on the list, there are also a lot of great books that aren’t on it. If I kept pushing myself to read as many list books as possible, not only would I miss out on all of those great books, I would also start to grow tired of it.

I think that, in the pursuit of any goal, it’s sometimes most important to know when it’s time to take a break. So I’m going to read Neuromancer, and Out of Silent Planet, and possibly even The Crucible. And then we’ll see how it goes. Because, while I do want to finish the list, I really just want to enjoy the ride.

August 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

The Drowned World

Another one I’ve been meaning to read for a while. The Drowned World takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in which the world has heated up to average temperatures of well over 100 degrees as a result of solar flares. The ice caps have melted and drowned out the cities of the world, rendering them almost completely uninhabitable. In order to escape the heat, the survivors have moved to the Arctic and Antarctic circles. The novel follows Robert Kerans, a scientist with an exploratory team studying the lagoons that have sprouted up over the remains of the city of London.

I found this book very interesting because I really liked it without completely understanding why. Something in the way it was written just appealed to me. I can’t remember the last time something like that has happened, but I’m really enjoying it.

I can tell you that I enjoyed the level of detail and description, particularly when it came to the images of the fantastical mixing of decaying modern cities and natural Triassic landscapes. I also thought the slow transformation the character’s undergo was handled particularly skillfully by the author, especially the psychological aspects. I know that for myself, as a reader, it really put me into an interesting and unusual perspective on the events, particularly those near the end of the novel.

Another thing that I noticed was strong symbolism, which was sometimes even stated explicitly. In my opinion, this made the story easier to follow and to engage with. Plus I had so much fun trying to catch as much of it as possible as I read. Although that may just be me.

As far as the characters go, I thought that they were fine overall, but I was kind of disappointed with Beatrice. I was just expecting her to… do more. You know, actually do something to help instead of letting the male characters control basically everything. I don’t know if it’s because of the year it was published (1962) or if it’s just weak character development. Or maybe it’s supposed to be some kind of huge character flaw? It’s hard to tell since she’s the only woman in the novel, but she seems more like a token woman than an actual rounded character. Kind of like Erewhon‘s Arowhena.

But all of this is a bit secondary to me. When I think of my enjoyment of the book overall, I just keep going back that thing I mentioned in the second paragraph. I can’t explain it, but I liked it.

three and a half stars.

August 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment


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