BBAW: Catching Up Already

I was so wrapped up in reading all of your wonderful author interviews yesterday that I COMPLETELY forgot that there were new, lovely BBAW things to discuss! So, we’ll being with the topic from Wednesday, shall we?

The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for–this is the week to connect!

Alright. So, to begin with, I should probably explain that I feel a little different about the book blogging community than, I’m guessing, many others do. I’ve actually been blogging for a number of years (I think five, now?) but because it’s always been so off-and-on, I’ve never quite felt fully enmeshed in the great community of bloggers out there. But, I also know that it takes time to build great friendships. So I keep at it. And, whenever I do stick my head back around the corner and into my blog, the people who do read are always wonderful – insightful, funny, and full of recommendations! Probably the best thing that I do that keeps me involved in the community is to just keep reading, reading, and reading! I’m on my Google Reader daily, looking at who is posting what and keeping track of what some of my absolute favorite bloggers are up to in real life. I’m not the greatest at commenting, but when I find something I especially agree with, or a book that just sounds out of this world, I always offer my own take! I also think it’s really, really, SUPER important to respond to the comments people leave on my blog. After all, that’s how conversations begin! Ultimately, thought, I tell myself think that blogging, for me, is form of personal gratification. I LOVE all of you to pieces, but my blogging doesn’t stop because I don’t get one-bajillion comments or no one wants to participate in some giveaway I’m doing. Because, at the end of the day, it’s about the books. Reading the books, writing about the books, and, ultimately, growing closer as a community – over the books.

And now for today’s wonderful topic!

Book bloggers blog because we love reading. Has book blogging changed the way you read? Have you discovered books you never would have apart from book blogging? How has book blogging affected your book acquisition habits? Have you made new connections with other readers because of book blogging? Choose any one of these topics and share your thoughts today!

OHEMGEE how much has my reading/book aquisition style changed?! How different are day and night? I mean, I’ve always loved reading and talking about books. But there is a HUGE difference between talking about a book with someone who doesn’t want to talk books (i.e. most of my non-bookish friends) or talking about a book that’s been assigned (i.e. with mostly hipster pretentious English majors who would NEVER EVER EVER (but totally secretly have) read the Twilight books). Book blogging is the perfect half-way point. I’ve had to read in a way that allows me to understand a work and develop and opinion. And a reason why for that opinion – “it was good because I liked it and it was pretty”, while true, doesn’t always make for the best blog post. But there is also a sense of fun amongst book bloggers – outside of challenges and read-a-longs, no one is telling you what to read or when to read it. It leads to a number of individuals who, all with their own tastes, contribute to a larger conversation.

As far as books I find myself reading now that I would be otherwise, I’d have to say that most of my non-fiction reads are probably due solely to the fact that all of you non-fiction readers out there make them sound so fantastic! Before blogging, I mostly thought of non-fiction as the kind of dusty old tomes that no one reads in libraries. Since then, however, I’ve been led to some of the coolest books on some of the most random things (cancer! small town life! Civil War re-enactors!) all through your fantastic recommendations. I’ve also had to adapt the way I keep track of books I want to read, now that there are so many (owing largely to the fact that my Reader is so huge!) that writing them by hand in my old comp notebook just doesn’t seem wise anymore. I now make great use of the “star” feature on Reader, marking books I want to come back to. Then, once a week or so, I’ll do a cull and see what, of those books, my library has. From there, it’s all reserving and picking up, baby!

Thank you so much, all you wonderful bloggers out there, for making BBAW – as well as every other week – as fantastic as they can be! Hope you’re all feeling the e-love, and happy reading!

BTT: NOT Coming to a Theatre Near You

And–the reverse of last week’s question. Name one book that you hope never, ever, ever gets made into a movie (no matter how good that movie might be).

This BTT is a little tougher for me. Mostly because, if I had my way, there wouldn’t be all that many book-movie crossovers! I think, for the most part, the art on the page is best left to the page and the art on the screen is, you guessed it, best left on the screen! To more specifically answer the question, though, there has always been one book that a small part of me has wanted to see turned in to a movie (because FRACKING A it would be a bad-ass movie in every sense of the word) but the larger part of me has always cringed at the though at, mostly because FRACKING A is it like one of the best books of all time. Seriously. What book, you ask? Well, it wouldn’t be a BTT without a picture, so…here it is…you ready for it…it’s coming…right now…seriously…hold on to your hats…:

Yeah, that’s right. Could they do the action? Sure, as long as it’s George Lucas and not Michael Bay (see: Pearl Harbor vs. Star Wars). Could they recreate the Ender that sent me in to girlish squealy giggles and funny below-the-waist tingly feelings? No. Most definitely no.

BTT: Judgement Day

  CAN you judge a book by its cover?

What a good Booking Through Thursday question! I don’t think that the question is can you judge a book by it’s cover, but should you judge a book by it’s cover. And while I don’t necessarily think that you should, I have to admit that I often do. I’m sorry. I know that the story inside may just be absolutely wonderful, and that maybe I’m missing out on a book that will change my life, but sometimes I just can’t get over how the book looks on the outside. It doesn’t help that I do a lot of my reading in public and while I’d like to, ideally, say that I don’t care what the cover of my book looks like, there are certain times and occasions where I think the cover is either too inappropriate for reading in public (this happens, I find, more when I’m reading gay/lesbian fiction or really gruesome horror novels) or, to be frank, just too embarrassing. What do I consider too embarrassing? Let’s have an example, shall we:

      

I’ve even read two of these books (Pet Sematary and God Emperor of Dune) but I just couldn’t do it with these covers. I couldn’t. Uh-uh, no sir, no way no how! What about you? Will you search out another cover if the one you find is bad? Or will you suck it up and allow Fabio or a very penis-like snake peak out of your purse? Happy reading!

Library Loot, April 18-22

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

I was SHOCKED when I went casual shelf browsing at my universitie’s library (I’m stuck reading out of their ‘recreational reading’ section because of some silly fine-clearing issues at the local library *read:: I’ve paid them, they’re just wicked behind on getting accounts updated* which ususally means I’m lucky to leave with a book or two. But yesterday might as well have been manna in the desert for book selections, and I was SO HAPPY to pick up not only books I’ve heard some great things about in the blogosphere, but also some that are so new, they’re still on the shelves at the bookstores!

    

Bossypants by Tina Fey : I mean, come on! Not only has this one been getting press like mad, but I fracking LOVE Tina Fey (like, lesbian crush worthy love)

Crash Into Me by Liz Seccuro: This one just sounded too emotionally important to miss (a woman is confronted years later by the man who raped her, after which she decides to continue to press the charges she tried to press right after the original incident)

      

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card: For the Once Upon a Time V Challenge

Great House by Nicole Krauss: I LOVED The History of Love but have heard just so-so things about this one, so I figured no better way to come to an opinion than to read it myself!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in to Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn: This book not only has endorsements from some of my favorite people/writers (Khaled Hosseini, Fareed Zakaria, Anne Rice, George Clooney) but is trying to bring attention to some of the most challenging and horrible events happening to women worldwide:

sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

Needless to say, this book will be a powerful one, and I’m looking forward to learning even more about issues that, as a woman, are near and dear to my heart on a global level. Theres a website, also, that disucsses not only the book, but also the larger forces behind the Half the Sky movement.

And that’s it for the library loot! Thanks so much for stopping by, and don’t forget to go leave your own library loot over at the Mr. Linky!

 

TSS: Snowbound and Fajita-Fed

This Sunday brings even MORE snow and ice to Lawrence, and with the exception of a brief sojourn to the Mexican restaurant just down the block (at which time I was able to eat my weight in chips, salsa, and chorizo-and-chicken fajitas, much like a squirrel bulking up for winter) I’ve been mostly snow-bound for most of the weekend. And while usually I would just dive wholeheartedly into one book, I’ve been feeling a little antsy these past few days, so I’ve used the time to lay foundations into a small number of books, instead.

For the Art History challenge, I’ve picked up The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, which is set in Florence right at the end of the Medici reign, when France invaded and the country was swept with a violent religious fervor. The book is told in the first person by Alessandra, a bold and intelligent girl who loves art and desires nothing more than to be given the chance to apprentice a painter to improve her skills. Her intelligence is such that it makes it hard for her to make a decent marital match, however she is eventually able to with the noble, refined, yet older Cristoforo who is busy hiding secrets of his own, secrets that could bring about his own death as well as hers if they were to be discovered in the newly religious country.

The writing style is addicting, full of the lush and vibrant beauty that one might expect about a book focused on the end of the Medici reign – a family known for its love of beauty, art, literature and decadence that spawned some of the most notable painters of the era – Botticelli, for one. The story is gripping and the chapters short enough that the book really has a lot of energy to it, and it’s hard to put it down. However, along the same lines, there are certain scenes that almost seem to get bogged down in the heavy language, especially some of the longer passages that seek to describe the art and artistic process in a great amount of detail. It’s beautiful, but like really awesome chocolate cake, it’s so rich that it can really only be handled in smaller doses. I’m excited to see what happens, especially as Alessandra is forced to deal with issues of not only her own intelligence, but also the secret that her husband possesses, which now has the potential to destroy Alessandra’s life as well.

On a completely different track, I’ve also gone ahead and gotten about 50 pages in to the Ayn Rand chunkster of a novel Atlas Shrugged. For anyone who doesn’t know the immortal first line “Who is John Galt”, the book is basically Rand’s 1,000+ page outlining of her philosophy of objectivism – in which all positive and negative aspects of humanity are due to the application (or lack thereof) of rationality, so that everything from justice to honesty to independence to integrity all stems from the use of rational thinking. The book also touches on certain tenants of Marxism and critiques the Christian religion, all while following the story of Dagny Taggert who watches the whole of society collapse around her while all of the highest ranked members of society, such as John Galt, slowly begin to disappear.

Needless to say, Ayn Rand isn’t exactly a light, frivolous read that you just pick up on a whim, but it seems like quite a bit of the reading I’ve been doing lately has been light and fun. There is nothing wrong with light and fun reading, but after a while even enough cotton candy can make you sick. Ayn Rand is like the steak of reading, and, as nerdy as it might sound, I’m really excited to get the chance to mentally dig in to the twisty philosophy that makes up Ayn Rand. I’ve read The Fountainhead before with fairly productive results, although Atlas Shrugged supposedly takes a much more philosophical stance, so I’m hoping that this reading goes well.

It’s a little odd to switch back and forth between the warm and rich world of 15th century Florence and the colder world of Ayn Rand’s psuedo-Communist block, the contrast between the two does keep them from getting too easily mixed up in my mind. I’ve also gotten about two pages into Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half a Yellow Sun, although I’ll hold off on talking about it until I’ve got a little bit more of something to talk about. All in all, a not-too-disappointing investment of reading time this wonderful wintry Sunday. Happy reading!

BTT: Winter Olympics

You may have noticed–the Winter Olympics are going on. Is that affecting your reading time? Have you read any Olympics-themed books? What do you think about the Olympics in general? Here’s your chance to discuss!

My roommate and I, for a number of reasons, don’t have cable TV, which means that most of my involvement in the Olympics has to do with the score updates that the New York Times lists on it’s homepage! So, needless to say, it hasn’t really encroached on my reading time all that much! As far as Olympic-themed books, it truthfully never crossed my mind to look for a book centered on the Olympics, probably because every Winter Olympics my family and I do the hallowed and treasured movie-marathon of Miracle (about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team), the second Mighty Ducks movie (featuring the wonderful acting skills of one Mr. Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson at his pre-pubescent acting finest) and Cool Runnings because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to watch the world’s greatest movie about Jamaican bobsledders? However, even with these wonderful cinematic landmarks, I have to admit that I’m a much bigger fan of the Summer Olympics than the Winter Olympics. I like the unity-centered idea behind the Olympics in general, but come on, which would you rather see – buff guys in tiny swimsuits or buff guys in huge parkas? With the exception of Shawn White, there’s just more there in the Summer Olympics. But damn that Shawn White…

TSS: A Brief Repose

Hello all! This Sunday brings, yet again, even more snow (although the snow here is in no way as bad as they’re getting it out East, or so my friends who live in DC tell me!) and the chance to catch my breath, grab some tea, and revisit my long-neglected, sad little blog. I wish I could say I had some kind of excuse for not posting these past weeks, but I really can’t – the semester picked up, I found a few new hobbies (which will be explicated upon in detail in a later feature I’m starting called “Nerdgasm”, in which I will talk about all my non-bookish related obsessions) and the blog unfortunately fell by the wayside.

But never fear! I’m planning on introducing two new segments to the blog (in addition to “Nerdgasm”, I’m also planning on coming up with a “Word Wanderlust” series in which I’ll discuss poets, poems, and poetic miscellanea which I can never really seem to find a way to talk about!)  and I’m confident that I’ve finally found that lovely balancing point that must be discovered each semester in which both class reading and fun reading find their home in my schedule! I wish that I had more to talk about on this lovely Sunday (the first in a while, actually, that I haven’t had filled with  coffee dates, meetings with faculty, study groups and editing sessions) but I don’t! In the upcoming week I can *hopefully* promise the first two installments of “Nerdgasm” and “Word Wanderlust” in addition to a review for the “Read the Book, See the Movie” challenge, a review of Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree and maybe even the admittance of a book failure. And, if you’re really lucky, maybe even an update on the BookMaven’s love life! Happy reading!

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