Category Archives: Blogging

Orange Prize Project Update – Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

The first book I sat down to start reading for this project was Lord of Misrule, Jaimy Gordon’s National Book Award winning novel about horse racing and the people whose paths cross at the racetrack. I’ve promised myself to make it through at least 50 pages of each of the Orange Prize winners, but I can’t seem to get any further in Lord of Misrule. So, I’m going to take a page out of Jackie’s book and ask you: is it worth powering through?

I like the writing, but I can’t really connect with any of the characters other than Maggie. It’s a difficult book to read, but a beautiful one. There are passages that have taken my breath away, but there are a lot of pages in between these passages.

What do you think? Should I finish?


TSS – The Classics Club

So, as far as I can tell, my last Sunday Salon was in December 2010. I was a religious Sunday Saloner, but, and this is a running theme in my life, I got lazy and a little burned out about having a non-review post each month. Now, though, I have the opposite problem. I have so many things to talk about and none of them are reviews. I’m done writing reviews about books that are just OK. Excellent books? Yes. Horrible books? Absolutely. I used to want to write a review for every book I read, but there are just some books I don’t have an original thought about. See every John Green book ever and Kavaleir and Clay.

In any case, I think I’ll reinstate my weekly Sunday Salon posts. For whatever reason, I’m currently obsessed with creating reading lists and setting myself up for failure. After all these years of blogging, I know myself. My reading lists and goals, like the recent Orange Longlist goal, are things that I would like to finish, but I never really beat myself up about it if I don’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished a reading challenge I set for myself (see: recent TBR Dare failure), but I’ve also never stressed out about it. So when Jillian’s Classics Club was announced… well, it was the perfect opportunity for me to make yet another list that I may or may not finish.

Essentially The Classics Club is a list of classic books you would like to read in 5 years. You need to choose 50+ classics , set an end date, and then comment on Jillian’s blog.

And now, my list! I apologize in advance: I did not alphabetize this list. I just wrote it as I thought of books I wanted to read or saw them on various other lists.

Start Date – 3/10/12
End date – 3/10/17

Rereads

1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
2. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
4. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
5. Something Wicked This Way Comes –  Ray Bradbury
6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
7. The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
8. Howl – Allen Ginsberg
9. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead – Tom Stoppard
10. Hamlet – Shakespeare
11. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Edward Albee

Poetry

1. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas – Dylan Thomas
2. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats  – W. B. Yeats
3. T. S. Eliot: Collected Poems1909-1962 – T. S. Eliot
4. H. D.: Collected Poems 19-12-1944 – H. D.
5. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes – Langston Hughes
6. Birthday Letters – Ted Hughes
7. Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
8. Ariel: The Restored Edition – Sylvia Plath
9. The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay – Edna St. Vincent Millay
10. Selected Poems (William Carlos Williams) – William Carlos Williams
11. Selected Poems – Gwendolyn Brooks

Prose 

Pre-1700

1. The Illiad – Homer
2. The Odyssey –  Homer
3. Something by Shakespeare
4. Historia verderdera de la conquista de la Nueva España – Bernal Díaz del Castillo

1700s

1. The Monk – Matthew Lewis
2. A Vindication of the Rights of Man – Mary Wollstonecraft
3. The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
4.  The Expedition of Humphry Clinker – Tobias Smollett
5. The Mysteries of Uldolpho – Ann Radcliffe

1800s

1. Emma – Jane Austen
2. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
3. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson – Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
5. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
6. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
7. The Origins of Species – Charles Darwin
8. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
9. Tess of the D’Ubervilles – Thomas Hardy
10. The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
11. The Haunted House – Charles Dickens et. al.
12. The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
13. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain
14. Shank’s Mare (Tokaidochu Hizakurige) – Ikku Jippensha and Sadakazu Shigeta
15. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
16. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
17. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
18. Los pazos de Ulloa – Emilia Pardo Bazán

1900s

1. I Am A Cat – Natsumi Soseki
2. Respiración artificial – Ricardo Piglia
3. Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin
4. Dust Tracks on A Road: An Autobiography – Zora Neale Hurston
5. Gigi – Collette
6. La muerte de Artemio Cruz – Carlos Fuentes
7. El aleph – Jorge Luis Borges
8. Woman in the Dunes – Kobo Abe
9. Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids – Kenzaburo Oe
10. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
11. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway
12. Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
13. The Painted Veil  – W. Somerset Maugham
14. The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
15. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
16. The Waves – Virginia Woolf
17. Orlando – Virginia Woolf
18. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
19. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
20. O, Pioneers! – Willa Cather
21. My Ántonia – Willa Cather
22. Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
23. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
24. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier



This list comes in at 69 books, so I’ll have to read 14 a year or so. I can see future-Lu laughing at my ambitious Spanish reading plans, but I’d like to read more books in Spanish to keep up my language skills, so this is the perfect opportunity. I’m excited to get started! And look, I just barely made this in before Sunday ended.


March Reading

Back in 2009, the very first challenge I ever hosted was a celebration of Women’s History Month. For the month of March, a few bloggers and I only read books by women. I’d like to do the same thing this year, but with a twist: I’m going to read the entire Orange Prize longlist.

Two of the books are not available in the US and two others I have read, so this is the final list:

  • Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg (Quercus) – Swedish; 1st Novel
  • The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (The Clerkenwell Press) – American; 4th Novel
  • The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue (Picador) – Irish; 7th Novel
  • Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail) – Canadian; 2nd Novel
  • Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (Quercus) – American; 4th Novel
  • Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (Bloomsbury) – British; 3rd Novel
  • Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (Faber & Faber) – British; 2nd Novel
  • The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – British; 2nd Novel
  • The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy (Jonathan Cape) – British; 6th Novel
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker) – American; 1st Novel
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury) – American; 1st Novel
  • Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (Atlantic Books) – American; 7th Novel
  • There but for the by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) – British; 5th Novel
  • The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard (Alma Books) – British; 2nd Novel
  • Tides of War by Stella Tillyard (Chatto & Windus) – British; 1st Novel
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman (William Heinemann) – American; 1st Novel

That’s 16 books. I expect that this will take me at least through April, if not later, but it also depends on how soon my library holds come in. The Night Circus, for example, has an extensive hold list. I don’t expect to be getting that one for at least a couple months. I’m starting this adventure by reading Lord of Misrule and Foreign Bodies this weekend.

Related Links

Melissa @ The Feminist Texican Reads is spending March posting about women’s studies and women’s studies | KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month


February Round Up

Ah, February. You were so blissfully short. You see, January was one of the longest months of my life. It dragged on and on and I thought I would never see the other side of winter, mild one that it is. Then February came and went like it was nothing and I’ve never been so happy to see rainy, miserable March. I don’t know that I’ve ever so eagerly awaited spring and summer, even when I was a student. I can’t wait for warmth and walks in the sunshine and a garden on my balcony and trips to the beach.

All in all, though, I would say this was a lovely month for reading, if not for reviewing.

Books Read

1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – I conquered Moby Dick and now I see cultural references to it everywhere I look. I feel like my eyes have been opened to something I was missing before.

2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon- I’d been meaning to read this one for forever and it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed it, though I don’t know if it’s really one of my favorite novels. I had some problems with it, structurally, though I loved the story. I do think that Chabon is one of the most talented and interesting writers publishing today and I would like to read everything he writes.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This was easily my least favorite book of the month. I read it for book club and while I enjoyed our discussion, I probably never would have finished this book on my own. I know it’s a lot of people’s favorites, but it just wasn’t for me.

4. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – I didn’t expect to love this one as much as I did, but I just adored it. I thought the sisters were wonderful characters and I loved how much of a presence the town had. I am also very excited to see what Eleanor Brown writes next. I think she’s a wonderful writer.

5. The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor – This one was a recommendation from Ana from eons ago, because Philip Larkin plays a big role in the novel. I liked the book, but it took me a long time to get through it. I can appreciate the very Victorian tropes on this side of finishing the novel, but I’ll admit it frustrated me at times and I was a little disappointed by the “big reveal.”

6. Vita Nova by Louise Gluck – As much as I love Louis Gluck, this poetry collection did not work for me.

7. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey – This, on the other hand, was poetry perfection.

8. Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages by Elizabeth Little – This is the book I broke the TBR Dare for! But… I couldn’t resist. I hope CB James will be able to forgive me. I have to admit, it was totally worth it. I really loved this book.

On the Blog and Around the Blogosphere

The Read More/Blog More Poetry event went swimmingly again. Kelly and I would like to do more throughout the month to promote it, but I think February got away from both of us. That being said, we still had an excellent turnout and I loved reading everyone’s posts. Slowly, poetry is becoming more and more prominent in my life and on this blog. I am reading it more and I feel the need to post about it more. I hope you’re okay with that. You can find the wrap up post and Mr. Linky for this month’s Read More/Blog More Poetry Event at Kelly’s blog.

There were a lot of intelligent, fascinating discussions going on around the blogosphere this month, but I mostly stayed out of them, except for a comment here or there.

Maggie Steifvater’s post on book reviews (“The Only Thing I’m Going to Say About Book Bloggers in 2012″) ignited a passionate and excellent discussion on various book blogs. Some of my favorite posts about the subject:

Nymeth from Things Mean A Lot in the post “On Objectivity, Again.”

Iris from Iris on Books in the post “On Celebrating Subjectivity

Bettina from Liburuak in the post “The Review Continuum

In My Life

I finished a huge freelance fact checking project that I’m glad to have behind me. I’m always grateful for the experience and the extra work, but it was a lot of extra work and not a lot of sleep. I’ve been a much happier (if much lazier) person since I finished. I went home for the weekend last weekend and I really loved my stay, though it was so short. I miss my family a lot and I hope they’ll be able to come visit us soon.

Exciting news: my sisters are coming into the city to go to the Hunger Games with me the weekend it comes out! I’m so excited!

Looking Ahead to March

Now that I’ve completely destroyed the TBR Dare (What? I gave it a valiant effort!), my reading seems a little bit more wide open. I’m currently in the middle of a ridiculous YA novel that is a lot of fun, though I’m embarrassed to say I’m enjoying it. Obviously, not because it is YA, but because it is just so cheesy. After that, I will be reading Quiet by Susan Cain for my book club. My goal is to read two books off my shelf for every other book I read, so that means I’ll need to pick 4 from my shelves to make up for those two.

I’d really like to get more reviews up, but I’m also preparing a lot of posts for April, which is National Poetry Month.

I’m going to a book launch party for Kevin Young’s new book The Grey Album this week. I’m really looking forward to it!

Well, I think that’s enough rambling. I hope everyone has an amazing March! (It’s almost spring!)

 


Quick reminder

This is a (very late) reminder that the Read More/Blog More Poetry Event post for February will go up tomorrow. You can sign up with your link over at Kelly’s blog. I can’t wait to read about the poetry you read in February!


January Round-Up

I used to do a round up each month of my reading and blogging, but I gave up on it probably two years ago. There was some debate about whether this was a useful kind of post. Did it really provide your readers with any information that they didn’t already have? Was it productive? Was it spam? Also, I am lazy. Pulling that commitment left me time to do other things with the blog. While getting rid of the monthly round ups was, at the time, the right decision, I’ve realized that I missed the posts. I like seeing everything that was accomplished in one month and I like having all the books I’ve read in one place. It gives you a big picture glimpse into my reading and what I’ve liked. Plus, then at the end of the year it’s easier to go back and see what I’ve done for all the year-end lists we all love so much.

I’m sure that’s way more information than you needed about why I stopped writing a monthly review post. And, now, look at me, it’s almost March and I’m just now getting up the January one. It doesn’t bode well for a new start, does it? Oh well, there’s always next month.

Books Read

1. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3. Proust Was  A Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
4. How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by Chris Boucher
5. So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
6. On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad

I think my favorite book this month was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, though it wasn’t my favorite novel by Green. The strangest book I read was most certainly How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. None of the books were disappointing. I liked all of them.

The only disappointing thing about this list is the fact that I spent most of the month reading one book that didn’t make this list because I finished it on February 1st: Moby Dick. I also spent most of the month posting about Moby Dick, so I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of reviewing this month. Is there a book on this list that you’re dying to see a review of? Otherwise I will probably just do mini-reviews.

On the Blog

January was an excellent month for blogging. First, there was the Moby Dick readalong, which went swimmingly, hosted by The Blue Bookcase. I loved participating and I’m so glad I read this classic. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The first month of The Read More/Blog More Poetry Event was a hit. I’m so proud of how well this went and I sincerely hope we see it happen again this month.

Finally, I participated in the 50 Years, 50 Blogs book tour for A Wrinkle in Time, an event I was thrilled to be a part of.

In My Life

Things were pretty quiet after the holidays. Just a lot of work and freelancing and a lot of Friday Night Lights. I am working on two big crochet projects that January-Leslie will be disappointed to learn I’m still working on. The weather really got to me in January, but now that it is almost March, we can accurately say that spring is around the corner… right?

Next month (read: in nine days), I’d like to also include my favorite links from around the community, though I was much too disorganized to make that happen in January.


January and February were busy!

Oh, hey there!

I feel like I always start off my first post after a break with these words, like we’ve just randomly bumped into each other on the street. Totally random, right? Fancy you here! How’ve you been?

Me? Oh, I’ve been doing this kind of ridiculous freelance project. I’ve been fact checking, which is a fine side job, but is also one that has taken up the bulk of my time that I wasn’t at work.  I finished the project on Friday, though, and after two days of sleeping in and doing a whole lotta nothin, I”m ready to get back into the swing of things. Things being watching Friday Night Lights, crocheting, and blogging. Oh, and reading.

Since I have the subway rides still, I’ve been reading. I finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which was great. I’m also in the middle of The Book Thief, which is not so great, but it’s for book club, so I will power through. There is also The Weird Sisters, which I’m finding completely charming.

I have a lot of books to review, since January was taken up mostly by reading Moby Dick. Now that I’m participating in Tasha’s The Project Gutenberg Project, I see a lot more classics in my life. I’d like to do a more thorough write up of this blog in the future, but you should definitely go check it out. I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any reviews written up to post right away, but thankfully there are bloggers like the wonderful Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made On, who tagged me for this meme, which is just what I needed! Basically, Chris asked me 11 questions and I have to ask 11 other people 11 questions. Fun, yes?

1. What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2012?

I feel like I’ve read a lot of middle of the road books. They’re good, not bad, but just almost great. Nothing I’ve read stands out immediately, but I guess if I had to pick I would say it is a tie between The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. If I’m honest with myself, though, neither of those will probably grow to be lifelong favorites. They were great, don’t get me wrong, but not personal favorites.

2. What’s your most anticipated book of 2012 so far?

These are the books I currently have on pre-order, so I’m very much anticipating them:

The Chameleon Couch: Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa
Secure the Shadow: Poems by Claudia Emerson
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

3. What’s your favorite song or album of 2012 so song (doesn’t have to be from this year)?

Lately, I’ve been picking a song of the week and listening it on repeat until I’ve totally killed the song. So far this year I’ve fallen in love with Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye, Half-Acre by Hem, Bloodstream by Stateless, I Want to Break Free by Queen, Keep Yourself Warm by Frightened Rabbit, Naive by The Kooks. Wait, was I only supposed to pick one?

4. What’s the best thing to happen to you so far this year?

Pilates! I’m in love with my pilates class. It’s a very difficult class, but I always miss it when I don’t take it.

5. What’s the worst thing to happen to you so far this year?

This winter has been so dreary. No, it’s not all that cold and there hasn’t been a lot of snow, but I feel like I’m always in my rain coat, wishing for just a bit of sun.

6. What’s the best piece of news you’ve heard not concerning you so far this year? This could be a political event, a news item that made you smile, something that happened to a friend, etc.

A friend of mine is making a huge change in her life and I’m so proud of her for doing it. I am going to miss her, but she is so brave and wonderful. I know it’s going to be amazing for her.

7. What’s the best thing you’ve cooked/eaten/best recipe you’ve saved so far this year?

I haven’t felt very inspired by cooking lately, but I think one of the best meals we’ve eaten that I’ve cooked this year was a spare rib ragu.

8. What’s your biggest goal for this year and how’s it working for you so far?

To find one small thing that makes me happy each day. I haven’t always been successful, but it’s good to have that reminder.

9. Have you discovered any new to you blogs yet this year that you’re loving?

I haven’t really made any new discoveries yet this year! But that’s something I’d really like to do this year. If you’re a new-to-me blogger, stop lurking!  I promise I”ll visit your blog.

10. What’s your favorite thing you’ve seen on the screen so far this year? This could be a tv show/music video/movie/documentary, etc.

I am currently obsessed with Friday Night Lights and The Vampire Diaries!

11. Do you plan on doing any gardening in 2012? Come on it’s me…you knew there’d be some gardening in here :p

Actually, yes! We have a balcony that actually gets decent sun. We’re going to start planning out what/when/in what to plant this week or next. I’m pretty excited! I don’t have much of  a green thumb, so it will be nice to see how it goes and if I can successfully grow things!

Now for my questions!

1. Tell us one thing that we don’t know about you!
2. Is there one book you’re always recommending? Which book is it and why.
3. Have you convinced anyone to read said book? Did they like it?
4. What do you do besides read?
5. Are you crafty?
6. Whom do you miss right now?
7. What are you going to eat for dinner?
8. What is the one book you’ve been dying to read but you haven’t yet?
9. I need some new music recommendations! What have you been listening to lately?
10. If you could go back to any time in your life and live through it all again, when would you return to?
11. What’s one goal you have for this year?

Now, who shall I tag? No pressure! Do this if you like, but my feelings won’t be hurt if this isn’t your thing. I understand.

1. Jenny at Jenny’s Books
2, Teresa and Jenny at Shelf Love
3. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
4. Ash at English Major’s Narrative
5. Debi at Still With Nothing of Importance
6. Meg at Write Meg!
7. Sara at Wordy Evidence of the Fact
8. Clare at The Literary Omnivore
9. Jenn at The Picky Girl
10. Memory at Stella Matutina
11. Bettina at Liburauk 

I apologize if you’ve already been tagged! Otherwise, have fun. Have a great week! Hopefully you’ll be seeing some reviews up soon.


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