Posts

Showing posts from July, 2012

Books I Would Never Read Again

Image
I have strong feelings about books I have read, but rarely do I assign them to the "untouchable" pile. However, there are a few exceptions, and I will share them with you (in no particular order).

Coincidentally, every single one of these books has been made into movies — and in some cases, Hollywood has taken some liberties — and I can hope that it helped. (Not for myself, but for others.)
Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. If he was trying to reinforce the horrors of animal testing, he more than did it. I had thumbed through it once or twice, then I gave a copy to my friend Carole — who, one evening, asked me cautiously, "Have you read it?" Oh, no, I assured her, but Richard Adams wrote Watership Down, so I figured he was trustworthy. When Carole described the story to me, I declared that I would recycle my copy so no one else would suffer through it. Thankfully my reading was superficial, or I fear I would have never recovered.
Hannibal by Thomas…

Stephen King Universe: It's a Scary, Fantastic Place

Image
Despite my misspent youth with Stephen King, I found a few surprises in here. Now I need to go back and read the ones I liked most. (Let's hope I don't resort to religious jewelry again after reading 'Salem's Lot.)

(Click here to see the original, larger image!)
Image
Woman Feeding Chickens
Her hand is at the feedbag at her waist,
sunk to the wrist in the rustling grain
that nuzzles her fingertips when laced
around a sifting handful. It's like rain,
like cupping water in your hand, she thinks,
the cracks between the fingers like a sieve,
except that less escapes you through the chinks
when handling grain. She likes to feel it give
beneath her hand's slow plummet, and the smell,
so rich a fragrance she has never quite
got used to it, under the seeming spell
of the charm of the commonplace. The white
hens bunch and strut, heads cocked, with tilted eyes,
till her hand sweeps out and the small grain flies.
by Roy Scheele from A Far Allegiance © The Backwaters Press, 2010.  Courtesy The Writer's Almanac

Releasing Books Into the Wild

Image
I buy books for a few reasons. Sometimes I want to read the books, and other times I want to share them with my bookish friends.

Occasionally I duplicate what's in my library, and those books are given to friends and the Lunchroom Lending Library at work.

Then there are the books I purchase because they sound too delicious to pass up and, frankly, someone needs to read them.

My friend Carole is a trouper, reading quite a few titles in the last category. She was unfortunate enough to read part of Plague Dogs, a book that was so gut-wrenching I not only asked her to stop reading it, but to return the book so I could recycle it. (That is the only book I have doomed to that fate, and I'm not sorry.) On the flip side, she read The Heroines, a novel in which an owner of a bed and breakfast encounters the heroines of English literature. I can't wait to read it!

With used bookstores and thrift stores in my path, I find many books that simply need to be shared. After a while, …

Happiness, Books

Image
Just ask the reader at the end of a book-buying spree! Like me! Thank you, Amazon!

Rap and Elements of Style

Image
Only a love of language and grammar could bring English teachers to create a rap song about The Elements of Style.

How can you not chuckle at lyrics " Write for the New Yorker, papers marked up in scarlet / I spin webs with words like my name was Charlotte"? (Wait, does the question mark go inside the quotation marks? See what this does to me?)

Without further ado, and to save what's left of my sanity, I give you rapping E.B. White and William J. Strunk, Jr., the authors of The Elements of Style.


The Elements of Style from Jake Heller on Vimeo.

The lyrics are pure poetry:

My name is Strunk
And they call me White
Here to teach you how to put the pen down right
I see that your writing is a little bit wild
These are the Elements of Style.
Will Strunk in the house but don’t call me junior
Grammatical genius. Number one word groomer.
I teach English 8 at the school of Cornell
Choose your words carefully or I’ll put you through hell.
E.B. White on the mic, former student o…

It's the Only Kind of Hangover For Me!

Image
Is it true, or is it true?

Who's got one now? What's the book? Tell us!
Image
Sunday June 17, 2012. Fathers Day.  Bicentennial Park Beach, Indian Harbor Beach, Florida I saw a man on the beach. A  man with skin was so black it shone blue in the sun, Streached tight  and smooth over hard lean muscles. He was not a handsome man but his smile lit up his whole face. He walked the beach tall and confident in jams and flip-flops, Surrounded by a flock of young multicolored children. Their skins were brown and tan and pink, Their heads covered in hair of black and brown and gold Children laughing up at him, Vying for his attention. Hanging on his legs and back like limpets, Swinging from his hands and arms like monkeys. Him swinging them around and trying not to trip, Laughing back down at their turned up faces.  None of the children shared his deep black skin, None had his face lighting smile. Just from looking I do not know if any of those children were his. Just from looking it doesn't really matter. All I know of this man is just what I saw when he walked down…

Summer Reading: Reward Offered

Image
Okay, I'm throwing down the gauntlet: the person who reads the most books this summer wins a prize: a book of her/his choice.

Here's all you have to do:

Send me your reading list, or post it in the comments below. (Karen and Stacy already submitted their wish, er, reading lists.)Keep a tally of your books by telling us how you're doing, what you finished, what you liked and what you skipped. (Submit blog comments, e-mail me or tweet me your progress.) Myself, I have posted my progress report on this blog.When autumn equinox arrives, we'll count our reading booty and see who managed the most books.
To be fair, huge, whopping books will count for more than a single book. (I mean, Drood would be worth at least two, don't you agree?)

Thin tomes still count as "a book," but beware: if you read lots and lots of novellas, you'll get a reputation for being a lightweight and all the other readers will kick sand in your face. (Look, I'm not saying it&…

And I Feel a Little Dirty Afterward

So, I went to Barnes and Noble this week. Twice.

I was lonely.

A friend had given David a gift card. I kept getting their constant, invasive e-mails that told me nothing of interest: buy a Nook, buy a Nook, and get a coupon for your Nook. I don't own a Nook, so seldom were there useful coupons for me.

But I needed a bookstore, a bona fide bookstore. I had trolled the thrift stores, come home with piles of books (some I might even read). I was full — but not content.

I like seeing what's new, what is coming up. I like to touch hardbacks, flip through softcovers, peer at the cover, look at the typeface. I like to be surprised: I want to exclaim: a new Vincenzi already? So that's what Mark Haddon's cover really looks like! I want to find a deal, whip out my coupon for the one I want, buy an extra paperback to leave in the car.  I want to participate.

Amazon is cool: great service, fantastic selection, incredible prices. I have gotten rather spoiled by Amazon: no matter wh…

Everybody Should Believe in Something

Image
Me, too.

Check out BelCastro Agency's books. I think I found a few I simply must read!

Declaration of Independence is Poetry

Image
The United States of America is one long-term experiment. We really are revolutionary. Watch this video produced by Declare Yourself and pause to think about it.

Then do something brave. Remember, if we do not hang together, we surely will all hang separately.
Happy Independence Day.



If you can't get to the National Archives, take a gander below: here's what the Declaration of Independence looks like:

Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Image
So yourself a favor and go buy Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Stop what you're reading, even if it's The Bible or Shades of Grey, and read this memoir instead.

Got it? Start reading, then I challenge you to put it down.

I put mine down — when I needed to catch my breath from laughing too hard!

Okay, there was the time when Jenny Lawson talked about her father shoving his hand up a squirrel's — er, never mind. I did have to take a break there. I am so not into taxidermy.

Then there was the chapter about her reproduction that, even though she told us how it would end, still made me tense, so I read it with one eye open while clutching my kitten to my bosom. (I was in bed, so I could use only one hand to hold the book.)

And yet I didn't pause when reading about her dog. Or her first girls' weekend ever. Or —

Okay, that's enough about what's in the book. Now, let's talk about how The Bloggess can write about something that isn't in the…

Good Fortune: What's the Price of Admission?

This weekend, the mid-Atlantic area was hit with a whopper of a storm. In my previous home, we'd see lights flicker, but that was about it. Only once, after a hurricane last decade, was the power out for an appreciable amount of time.  This time, in our new-to-us (but older than me) abode, the massive trees around the neighborhood took down lines and crushed cars on our street.

We were fortunate: my office had power, so David and I were able to go there. (Thank heavens: I had work to do, the "essential personnel" I am, and finding a building with power was not as easy as it one would think.) The cat stayed in the cool basement. Temperatures were in the triple digits, but between the Kennedy Center (in our workout clothes, how embarrassing, but necessity is a fashion statement), Hard Times (dress code: dressed) and work (dress code: emergency), we were covered. We also could take advantage of local municipalities' "cooling centers" and electrifi…