Adventures in Reading

Pen pal? Anyone?
December 4, 2008, 4:10 pm
Filed under: thoughtful

So, anyone interested in being my pen pal? I’m serious! I love writing and sending letters (a.k.a. snail mail) and rather than sign up for an anonymous personage through some letter-exchange-system, I thought it would be a nice idea to see if any of my fellow book bloggers had a similar interest. Let me know!


December already?
December 2, 2008, 9:29 am
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , , , ,

When did November creep by? I expected long and snuggly autumn days and it’s December already. With the holidays (I went to the zoo), being ill, working in retail, the end of a semester (oh my!), and a particularly exciting paper titled “The Grammar Delusion: Breaking Students’ and Tutors’ Misconceptions of Grammar in the Writing Center,”I haven’t even had a moment to check my email. I’m going to spend the next few days catching up on reviews, but it’s likely I’ll be absent for another week or so as I finish the current semester of school.


Over break I spent some time reflecting on my reading habits of the past year and am pleasantly pleased that, excepting any unexpected pitfalls, I should have read at least 150 books this year. This is 51 more books than last year and though I know I could try to beat this number for 2009, I think I’m going to try something different.

I have found it frighteningly easy to fall into the habit of reading books to enjoy, but to also increase the number of books I’ve read. For next year I’m ignoring (as best as I can) the quantity of books I’ve read in exchange for a bit more quality. In 2009 each month I’m going to focus on a different author:

January for Julia Alvarez, February for Roddy Doyle, March for Willa Cather, April for Haruki Murakami, May for Toni Morrison, June for Albert Camus, July for Joyce Carol Oates, August for F. Scott Fitzgerald, September for Banana Yoshimoto, October for Dave Eggers, November for Virginia Woolf, and December for Kurt Vonnegut.

I picked these authors because I own a lot of their books and I will endeavour to read three to five books at least for each author. This doesn’t mean that I won’t read works by other authors, but I’m very much attracted to this idea of focusing.

And that’s enough about me: How was your holidays? Do you have any reading plans set for 2009?

Nonfiction: Writing Women in Central America by Laura Barbas-Rhoden, 2003

“Weapons, plots, violence. Lush landscapes and guerrillas. Central America is a site of danger (again), but not because of its revolutions. The danger is in words–the words of women.”

If you’re interested in feminism, literary criticism, women writers, historical perspective, and/or Central America, Laura Barbas-Rhoden’s Writing Women in Central America: Gender and the Fictionalization of History is a feast of information on the Central American authors Claribel Alegría, Rosario Aguilar, Gioconda Belli, and Tatiana Lobo and how these women reinterpret history through their fictional works.

Reading Barbas-Rhoden’s book was peculiar as I’ve never read any of the authors she critiques, but I was very attracted to the subject matter and I enjoy reading literary criticism. Though people frequently ascribe a stark contrast between nonfiction and fiction, Barbas-Rhoden’s book explores how the novel disrupts and adds to historical narrative, and frequently expresses the the silent Other: often women and indigenous populations. (This idea actually played a large part in a paper I wrote about Jane Austen.)

Not being familiar with the authors that are discussed was a definite draw back in that I had no point of reference. On the other hand, Barbas-Rhoden introduced me to some great and thoughtful women writers from Central America.

¡Pillaging Blogrolls!
November 22, 2008, 2:42 pm
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , , , , ,

necromancyOnce again I wish to expand the territory of my Google Reader and this time as a result of the Terror of Lake Effect Snow (Duh duh duh!). For those of you missing out on the wonders of the Great Lakes, yearly we are inundated with great swathes of blustery snow and the never ceasing Lake Effect Warnings. I turned to the blog of my fellow Ohioan Necromancy Never Pays to discover a wealth of new links.

Tortoise Lessons


Novel Readings


Maud Newton


Guys Lit Wire


Box of Books


Bookmark My Heart


Spring Cleaning: Help me help you
November 21, 2008, 4:14 pm
Filed under: maintenance | Tags:

Mid-November seems to have turned into a proverbial spring cleaning for my blog. I’ve organized my reviews by author, I’ve begun sorting out defunct/unhelpful categories and tags, and I am now on to dusting off my Links’ list.

And this is where I need your help:

Please take a moment to visit my Links’ list to make sure your blog is listed correctly and that it actually links to you.

Also, if you read and have linked to my blog but I’ve yet to link back remind me please! Visit my Links’ list and leave a comment with your address and name you care to be listed by.

Thanks for your help!

More on reviewing the unfinished
November 20, 2008, 11:42 am
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , , , , , ,

Yesterday I posted an inquiry into people’s opinions on posting reviews, or thoughtful commentary, on why they didn’t finish reading a book. But I thought, “Why not do utilize that dandy poll feature WordPress offers?” And here it is in all of its glory:

Reviewing the unfinished
November 19, 2008, 11:35 am
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , , , ,

For those of you who don’t have secret crushes on film critic Roger Ebert or who don’t want to adopt him, you may be out of the loop on some recent occurences known as Minutegate. In short, Ebert wrote and published a review on the film Tru Loved; a film he notes within the review that he didn’t finish:

Full disclosure. I lifted the words “San Francisco to conservative suburbia with her lesbian mothers” straight from the plot summary on, because I stopped watching the movie at the 00:08.05 point. IMDb is also where I found out about Bruce Vilanch’s dual role. I never did see the lesbian mothers or my friend Bruce. For “Tru Loved,” the handwriting was on the wall. The returns were in. The case was closed. You know I’m right. Or tell me I’m wrong.

Q. How can you give a one-star rating to a movie you didn’t sit through?

A. The rating only applies to the first eight minutes. After that, you’re on your own.

This got me thinking about my own little world of reviews and the times I’ve commented on books I simply couldn’t finish: Branchwater, The Turtle Moves!, I Am A Cat, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Forgery of Venus, and The Witches of Eastwick to name a few. Reasons to not finish a book range from reader’s block to a book just being sucky (in my opinion). But how do people feel about this? Thumbs up or thumbs down on explaining why you couldn’t make your way to the last page of a book?