30 Days of Books – Day 23 – A Book You’ve Wanted to Read for a Long Time but Still Haven’t

Whooo that’s a long title for what is sure to be a very brief entry. Not a lot one can say about a book one hasn’t read, eh?

In my queue since high school (trust me, it’s been long enough for that to be notable):

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (this is entirely due to The Police’s hit “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”)

The Stranger, Albert Camus

Since early college I’ve had a policy of trying to alternate reading books that are “good for me” with ones that are purely fun to read, balancing the All-Bran with the Lucky Charms of literature. This began at Barnes and Noble with their candy-colored copies of the classics in paperback. So far these four haven’t popped up at a price point under ten-dollars, and I can be a real skinflint when it comes to books I’ve never read.

I do have a copy of The Grapes of Wrath, procured at the local used bookseller, just waiting for me to finish the two Whartons I picked up along with it (and probably the two books on Celtic ritual I bought for researching my novel).

Top Ten Tuesdays – Books I’d Like to Give a Theme Song

For the past few Tuesdays I’ve been reading top ten lists over on The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh, on topics put forth by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week I like the theme so much I just had to join in.

Presenting the top ten books I’d give a theme song.

1. The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton – Jill Sobule “Supermodel”

The lyrics of this song really get at the core of Undine Spragg’s character: shallow, striving, delusional. I see it as Sofia Coppola/Marie Antoinette style combination. Bustles and Louboutins, formal balls and fashion shows.

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Florence + The Machine “What the Water Gave Me”

There is a very literal link between the lyrics of the song and the content of the book, but there is also a moody wildness to the sound that suits the tone of the novel. Windy cliffs and slate-dark seas.

3.  Uglies/Pretties/Specials by Scott Westerfeld – Nine Inch Nails “The Hand That Feeds”

Would make an excellent hoverboarding song, and is up to the Specials’s level of physical scariness.

4. Feed by M.T. Anderson – Nada Surf “Popular”

I imagine this playing during one of the parties, as people are dancing with the draggy elbows and twitching in fugue on the floor. It has that sort of lethargic malaise (is that redundant?) Titus becomes aware of the longer he is with Violet.

5. Strange Attractors by William Sleator – Broken Social Scene “Two Girls”

Warning: this song is kiiiinda dirty.
Eve basically is two girls, and Max digs it.

6. White Oleander by Janet Fitch – “Wonderwall” written by Oasis, as performed by Ryan Adams

Astrid keeps hoping for rescue, though she knows deep down it isn’t coming.

7. Summer by Edith Wharton – Toad the Wet Sprocket “All I Want”

Oh Charity Royall, “and it won’t matter now, whatever happens to me. Though the air speaks of all we’ll never be, it won’t trouble me.”

8. Carrie by Stephen King – My Chemical Romance “Teenagers”

They could care less, as long as someone will bleed!

9. Paint it Black by Janet Fitch – Yeasayer “Madder Red”

Warning: This video is probably too weird for a lot of people.
I imagine this as Michael’s respone to Josie’s searching.

10. Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks – Comsat Angels “Falling”

Poor Cadel, all science and no philosophy.

30 Days of Books – Day 21 – Favorite Book From Your Childhood

Finally an easy one! There is a book I liked so much from my childhood, for its story and illustrations, that I bought a copy on E-Bay while I was in college. Note: this was necessary because one day while I was in junior high my sister took a bunch of my books and Strawberry Shortcake videos and gave them to the daycare she worked for. I was very upset. She was always giving away my books. Scowl.

I scowl a lot. In fact, I am quite the grumpy bear. Which is probably why I was such a fan of The Magic Words, a Tale From the Care Bears. This literary masterpiece was penned by Maria B. Murad in 1984.

Being a grumpy bear, this tale of friends who hit a rough patch that can only be resolved by a Grumpy Bear/Love-A-Lot Bear double team really resonated with my young self. It hit all of my favorite points: kids on a swing on the cover. Check. Big fan of swingin’ over here. Fast bikes. Check. Picnics with PB&J. Check. Magic bears with fat tummies that shoot rays of powerful emotion? Check, check, check.

Did I read better books as a kid? Absolutely. Did I have ones with nicer illustrations or less pedestrian stories? Sure. But I loved this one.  

Loved it.

30 Days of Books – Day 17 – Favorite Quote from Your Favorite Book

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Words I live by.

30 Days of Books – Day 12 – A Book You Used to Love but Now Hate

First of all I’d like to apologize to anyone who might be following along with me. In addition to my alpha reader’s hospitalization (she is now over the worst of it and back home), I had family drama and began a new job this weekend.  hope to stay on track for the remainder of the thirty days.

It is worth noting that I am loyal to a fault. That means that when I really love a book, woe unto the person who tries to change my mind. No matter what aspersions you might cast, horrible secrets about the author being a cake-sitting furry who likes to bathe in pudding you might dig up, or morally suspect symbolism you might point out, I will stubbornly continue to love it. Don’t trouble me with the facts, my mind is made up!

However, there is an exception to every rule and mine is probably The Baby-Sitters Club created by Ann M. Martin.

I never thought these books were great literature but there was definitely a period in elementary school where I checked out huge stacks of them from the library, devouring them one after another, trading copies of the few I owned with friends who had volumes not yet consumed. The stories were simplistic and often bizarre, a group of 13-year-old girls with boyfriends allowed to hold massive events like day-camps and schoolwide slumber parties for kids only one or two years younger than they were with nary a parent in sight. Still, I was rushing off to the B. Dalton to plunk down a month’s allowance for the latest Super Special (which I would read in a day) while my brother pumped quarters into the vast array of racing games in the mall arcade.

The books have not aged well, late-eighties/early-nineties children’s sensibilities  seem to have little in common with those of the current era. While I appreciated Claudia’s artistic ability, Kristy’s ambition, and Dawn’s laid-back style (being California Casual myself) all my nieces want to read about are  pretty girls who lie a lot and humiliate (or kill) people while wearing designer duds. Not too long ago I heard about an effort to update and re-release the BSC books, but I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed as it should have, making way for a brave new world of iPhone apps and internet celebrities.

30 Days of Books – Day 11 – A Book You Hated

Well, I feel like it would be dishonest to include Moby Dick, Cry the Beloved Country, or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance because I didn’t make it to the end of any of those books.By that criteria, it’s no contest. I really really hated


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I hate this book so much that it’s hard for me to even think about it. It is dull and dreary and lifeless, and Rochester is a despicable douchebag. Jane is a doormat with no self-esteem…ugh. Ew. No. I just can’t talk about this book anymore. Hate it. I am no fan of Wuthering Heights, either, but I can at least understand how some particularly dramatic person might enjoy that stormy doomed love. Jane and Rochester are awful, and what’s worse, boring.