Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Days 5 and 6.

September 26, 2010

Started a job yesterday and posting slipped my mind. Here’s a combo makeup post.

Day 5: A book you hate.

1. Twilight, by Stephaine Meyer. Yep, I said it. This is the only book on this list of books I hate that I think is actually damaging to young women, versus just not being to my personal taste. I do not understand people who say these books are a good example to teenagers. Is premarital sex really that much more important to people than abuse and control? Such a gross book.

2. Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis. I’m not normally bothered by a self-involved protagonist, but Martin Arrowsmith is painfully self involved. I found nothing to like about this, it was seriously difficult to finish.

Day 6: Your favorite writer.

1. Jonathan Safran Foer. I started reading his books after I saw him on The Colbert Report promoting Eating Animals. I thought it was great, so checked Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close out of the library as well.

2. Kazuo Ishiguro. I read Remains of the Day for Academic Decathlon in high school, as well as 3 other novels by Ishiguro. I kind of forgot about him as an author until last year when Never Let Me Go was my favorite novel read in 2009. I’m a little afraid to see the movie though.

3. Kelley Armstrong. Her books aren’t as *deep thoughts* as my other two favorites, but I love how she writes a strong female character. She’s also an author I’ll spend time tracking down otherwise marginal anthologies to read her short stories.


Day 4: Only the most difficult question of the bunch.

September 24, 2010

Today’s prompt: Your favorite book ever.

I find this an incredibly loaded question. My favorite book ever? I have so many favorites, and they change from day to day, or with my moods. This prompt makes me feel like I need to select something deep and important, and while there are Capital I Important books that I love, I think to be a favorite, a book has to be something I would pick up over and over, to read until it was worn out. So, I think I’ll go with a selection of books I have read so many times they are literally falling apart.

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams. This is an example of great book/traumatizing movie. Seriously, do not show this movie to an overly sensitive eight year old. Nightmares, so many of them. The book, however, I absolutely love.

2. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. My favorite Judy Bloom book. An excellent book about grief and loss, and finding your way out of it. There are parts that are a little dated now, but I think the themes still ring true.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I could read this every day.

Day 3 – Am I on a roll?

September 23, 2010

Prompt for day 3: Your favorite recent book.

Hmm, I’m not sure if this is supposed to be my favorite book I read recently or my favorite book that was released recently. I’ll give one for each I suppose.

Favorite new release: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This book came out in February of this year, but it took until September before I was able to get a copy from the library. Totally worth the wait. Part biography, part book about medical ethics, I found this super interesting.

Favorite not new release that I just read: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It’s a YA book narrated by death, what’s not to like. I thought this was a very impressive execution of story telling. You find out within the first 50 pages how the story ends, yet the ending still manages to be shocking and heart wrenching.

Book meme day 2

September 22, 2010

Day 2: A book that you wish more people had read.

1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I think this is my favorite book so far this year. Same author as Everything is Illuminated, which I also liked, but not as much as this one. I’m not going to say anything about the plot, since I think the idea of this prompt is to get you all to read it.

2. The Value of Nothing, by Raj Patel. It’s a snarky political economics book. I think I probably got more out of this than the average man on the street because of my degree in political theory. I’ve already read most of the authors he references; Smith, Hobbes, etc. What was different in this was really the sense of humor.

3. The Dark Side: The Inside Story on How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer and Blackwater: Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill. These books complement each other greatly, being slightly different angles on the same events in recent history. They’re a hard read, but I think it’s important as an American to know what is being done by my country.

Book meme

September 21, 2010

My friend Kathy started this meme and I thought I’d play along. It’s just 30 days of answering questions about books, which will hopefully get me back in the habit of updating here. (and I swear I’ll have something to say about knitting soon, I just really need to take photos of things)

Day 1: Your favorite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)

The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling – There’s not much to say about these that I didn’t say about a month ago. I find them incredibly moving, especially for books ostensibly written for children.

The Women of the Otherworld Series, by Kelley Armstrong – Wonderfully fluffy series about werewolves, witches, vampires, etc. The things I love about the series are the revolving main characters, and the way Armstrong writes strong female characters. They might not always know what they want, but once they figure it out, they’re going to get it. There have been some ups and downs with the series, but I’m hoping its back on track after the most recent book.

Those two are probably my favorites, but I read several series currently. J.D. Robb’s …in Death, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse are all in progress. It’s to the point where I need to stop picking up new series because I don’t have time for the non-fiction and non-serial novels I want to read.

Here’s the list of the schedule for this meme, I’ll only be including this today because it’s going to make my posts way too long otherwise.

Day 01 – Your favorite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)
Day 02 – A book that you wish more people had read
Day 03 – Your favorite recent book
Day 04 – Your favorite book ever
Day 05 – A book you hate
Day 06 – Your favorite writer
Day 07 – A writer you don’t like
Day 08 – Your favorite work in translation
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book you’ve read more than twice
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book
Day 14 – Favorite male character
Day 15 – Favorite female character
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure book
Day 17 – Favorite trilogy or tetralogy
Day 18 – Favorite book cover
Day 19 – Best ensemble of characters in a book
Day 20 – Favorite kiss or love scene
Day 21 – Favorite fictional romantic relationship
Day 22 – Favorite ending/climax
Day 23 – Most annoying character
Day 24 – Best quote
Day 25 – A book you plan on reading
Day 26 – OMG WTF? plot
Day 27 – Favorite non-mainstream writer
Day 28 – First book obsession
Day 29 – Current book obsession
Day 30 – Saddest character death

Yes Virginia, I am a Harry Potter fan.

August 23, 2010

I recently discovered a great blog, Mark Reads Harry Potter, where the author is reviewing the HP books one chapter at a time as he reads them for the first time ever. It got me thinking about HP, and how I relate to books in general. I read a lot. Seriously, a lot. (If you’re on Goodreads I’m on there as jessimuhka) Books have always been a big part of my life, and what was going on in my life at the time is indelibly linked to the first time I read that particular book. Here’s a sample of that effect, and what Harry Potter means to me.

The HP series is something that broke me out of an incredibly childish way of dealing with pop culture. My feelings of being an outcast and never quite fitting in had led me to a way of thinking that was something like this:

– people suck
– people like Random Thing Z
– by the transitive property, Random Thing Z sucks

I was very opposed to reading HP, although I had seen the first movie, which I thought was alright. Then, the summer of 2002, College Boyfriend came back from a trip with a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for me. Honestly, I was kind of annoyed that he’d decided a book I’d expressly said I didn’t want to read was an appropriate gift, but if someone gives me a book, I read it. And I read it in an evening. I very clearly remember laying on my mattress on the floor of my first off campus apartment, and reading it in one sitting. Him, “So, you liked it?” Me, “It was less bad than expected.” Him, “You read the whole book in under 4 hours.” Me, “I’m a fast reader.” (I actually read most novels in one sitting, which is why I eventually had to make the decision to never start a book after 8PM. There are many times I have stayed up all night reading a book. Many, many, times.)

Some time passed, and I pestered him about the rest of the books. Eventually I checked Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire out from the library, and then when I loved them, picked up paperback copies from Target. Goblet of Fire was a particularly filthy large print edition that weighed approximately 18 pounds. It was annoying how often I had to turn the pages, but I finished it in record time.

Thus began my reluctant love affair with Harry Potter. I didn’t get Order of the Phoenix the day it came out. Instead, I picked it up at Costco that summer, just after moving in with College BF. And I sat on our only piece of furniture and read the whole book in one go starting at about 6PM. He had to wave a hand in front of my face to get me to hear him ask about dinner, which hadn’t happened to me in a long time. The ending destroyed me.

Half Blood Prince I actually went to the midnight release for, with my friend Megan. Some friends of hers were having a read aloud party right after they got the books, but I have no patience for reading aloud. I went straight home and was finishing the book just as the sun came up. And again, the ending was made of tears and WTF.

Deathly Hallows I just pre-ordered on Amazon. I’m getting a little old to wait until midnight for a book to come out, and oh yeah, had this thing called a day job. Of course, Amazon lost my order, and it took a few days for my book to show up. Somehow this cooled my desire to read it, and it sat on my bookshelf for ages. I think I didn’t want it to be over. Finally I got my act together and had half a day to devote to reading. Honestly, I don’t remember the book super well, probably because I blew through it too fast, wanting to know OMG, what happens, tell me now! (Patience is not my strong suit.) I was fairly satisfied with the ending, though I thought the epilogue was crap.

Actually, come to think of it, I think I need to read all the books again. The first Deathly Hallows movie comes out November 19. That’s plenty of time in which to go through the series, considering it will probably be difficult for me to stretch it out longer than a week. What about you guys? Harry Potter fans? Do you have memories of what was happening in your life when you read certain books? I want to know.

SDCC Day 1

July 25, 2010

I got a lot of knitting done on day one of Comic-Con. This is what my Lune shawl looked like when I got home:

Lune shawl - Day 1 SDCC

This was the most knitting I got done any of the days, because I think I may have overdone it a bit. My shoulder hurt a bit overnight, so I scaled it back the next two days. The Lune shawl was absolutely perfect Comic-Con knitting though, easily worked on with minimal attention. I didn’t really see any other knitters beyond the ones I already know though.

Thursday I went to 6 panels: Danny Elfman, Iron Man and Rocket Men, Spotlight on Charlaine Harris, Showtime’s Anti-Heroes, Dexter, and Transcending Trauma: From the Birth of Batman to the Rise of the Red Hood. The Danny Elfman panel was okay. They pitched a new huge box set – albums from all his movies with Tim Burton, coffee table book + CD – coming out around Christmas, and he told a couple stories about starting out working with Tim Burton. I left once the Q&A started, as man were there a lot of inappropriate questions.

Leaving that panel early wound up being a good thing, as there was a line (!) to get into the Iron Man and Rocket Men panel. I have some friends who are involved in the San Diego Space Society and Space Up, which were both represented on this panel, which is why I decided to check it out. Basically, it used the idea of Iron Man and Stark Industries as a jumping off point for talking about space tourism and advances in space travel. Fairly interesting, although one of the guys came off as kind of a jerk. The takeaway was basically that space tourism wasn’t going to happen until there was a way to get into orbit with a significant reduction in fuel costs.

Next was one of my two favorites of the day, which really surprised me. Spotlight on Charlaine Harris wound up being a great panel. I was a little worried, because two (or 3?) years ago I went to the True Blood panel they had before the show premiered and was kind of squicked out by it. I think it might have just been the moderator though. This one was great. Ms. Harris is sweet and funny. She told a story about Anne Rice sending her a facebook message and how taken aback she was by that (she’s a huge Anne Rice fan). The Q&A was actually pretty good. She says she doesn’t actually have much involvement in the show, but she loves it, and views the books and shows at totally different creative entities. She also talked about embarrassing fan questions, including a woman who told her every time a book comes out she copies all the dirty bits with her husband. Charlaine Harris asked us to please not tell her those kinds of things. No real spoilers or upcoming plot developments, except an answer to whether Sookie would ever become a vampire and Eric’s opinion about that. (I can add that in later if people want to know.)

Then I wandered the show floor until I remembered I hate wandering the show floor. It’s just too crowded for me. I hopped in line for assorted Showtime panels, and laughed at some people who thought they could get in line for Ballroom 20 less than 30 minutes before what they wanted to see. The Showtime Anti-Heroes panel was kind of a weird thing to have at Comic-Con. None of the shows really fit within the themes of comics/sci-fi. Still, it was fairly interesting, and David Duchovny was hilariously incoherent. Only a few inappropriate comments here too. The Dexter panel was okay. The teaser reel they showed was exciting, but the questions asked were pretty much all exactly the same – variations on “do you find the character sympathetic” – and not that interesting. I left early because there was a very loudly fussing 3 year old in the audience, which was both annoying and inappropriate. Don’t take your small children to panels about graphically violent shows people. I shouldn’t have to tell you this.

My last panel of the day was my other favorite. Last year, a group of forensic psychologists had a panel called Unlocking Arkham, about Batman Villains and the definition of criminal insanity. This panel featured the same doctors discussing reactions to trauma and whether various heroes and villains showed signs of PTSD. They talked about resiliency in the face of trauma and social and personal factors that increased that, and some specific character studies. It was really interesting and a great way to end the day. Next year they’re proposing a panel about Green Lantern.

All and all, a great first day at Comic-Con.