Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
AUTHOR: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
STARTED: February 12, 2009
FINISHED: February 15, 2009
FIRST SENTENCE: The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of the night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit–he has purchased hundreds of women–he asks a madam for her assistance. The fourteen-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with this sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known.
THOUGHTS: I think I need to read this book again. It wasn't a "keeper" per se, but the story left me thinking that, upon a second read, I would understand the characters and the themes better. Memories is about finding love at the end of life - but I think it goes deeper than that. Marquez explores what it means to age and be on the cusp of death. If you find love at the end of life, does that mean you're desperately trying to hang on to that love or life itself?
As I was reading this book, the story flew by quickly. I found myself confused in a few spots, trying to keep names and actions straight. It was not until after I finished the text that I began to think about the themes and philosophy Marquez presents in his work. I liked how Marquez makes the reader think about death and what it means to age. More importantly, I found it very intriguing how he made his unnamed narrator so emotional while retaining an aura of emotional distance. Here is a man who is ninety. He is written is such a way that he sounds like a callous bastard who had no attachment to anything. And, yet, as the story progresses he grows on you and you emotionally connect to him as he goes through those latest years in life. When the narrator finally explodes, it's jarring but not unexpected.
I think I may put this book aside and read it again. I stretched out this read over a few days, so I wonder, because it is so short, what I would learn if I read it in one sitting.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]
Monday, February 16, 2009
I believe the undergrads are attempting to make this work. It's midterm time and I've seen more students face planted into their material than normal. It's really fun to walk by them in heels. The youngins - they startle so easily.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
When I read the Sunday Post I have a routine. That routine ended with my perusal or Book World. I can't say I read it cover to cover, I can't say that everything I read struck me with awe. I can say that I liked reading reviews. I liked scanning the upcoming local book events. I liked clipping out titles so that I could track them down later. I really liked seeing what titles were selling like hotcakes in the DC area.
Best of all, I liked reading Book World curled in bed, coffee in hand. I can't cozy up to my laptop. I'm too rushed to really read the reviews in the weekday papers. Sunday was my time to snuggle and soak up the print edition of the paper.
Washington Post Book World, I bid thee farewell. *tear*
Friday, February 13, 2009
AUTHOR: Marlena Di Blasi
STARTED: February 7, 2009
FINISHED: February 11, 2009
FIRST SENTENCE: The small room is filled with German tourists, a few English, and a table or two of locals.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] He saw her across the Piazza San Marco and fell in love from afar. When he sees her again in a Venice café a year later, he knows it is fate. He knows little English; and she, a divorced American chef, speaks only food-based Italian. Marlena thinks she is incapable of intimacy, that her heart has lost its capacity for romantic love. But within months of their first meeting, she has packed up her house in St. Louis to marry Fernando—“the stranger,” as she calls him—and live in that achingly lovely city in which they met.
Vibrant but vaguely baffled by this bold move, Marlena is overwhelmed by the sheer foreignness of her new home, its rituals and customs. But there are delicious moments when Venice opens up its arms to Marlena. She cooks an American feast of Mississippi caviar, cornbread, and fried onions for the locals . . . and takes the tango she learned in the Poughkeepsie middle school gym to a candlelit trattoría near the Rialto Bridge. All the while, she and Fernando, two disparate souls, build an extraordinary life of passion and possibility.
Featuring Marlena’s own incredible recipes, A Thousand Days in Venice is the enchanting true story of a woman who opens her heart—and falls in love with both a man and a city.
THOUGHTS: Di Blasi has written her sweet (I mean that in every way possible) story in vivid and emotional language. I can't say I would up and marry a man who only saw me in profile, but its this utterly romantic feeling which makes the book highly enjoyable.
Curiously, Di Blasi rarely uses name in her text. In some ways, that makes the story seem more like a fairy tale than a second-chance romance. Di Blasi's paramore is first The Stranger and then My Husband. Even in the rough patches of their life together, there is romance. It's enviable. This romance is a first for The Stranger but is Di Blasi's second marriage. They are an older couple, well-established in their own lives and their romantic bliss turns everything upside down. I find it utterly fascinating that two people could meet and marry like this couple. It truly is a fairy tale.
The language of this text is decadent. Dear god - I wanted to eat every morsel of food that is described in this book. What is it about books set in Italy that make me want to quit my job and just eat all day? It must be the sun. It makes the food look shinier and, therefore, more delicious. I should not read books that describe food in mouthwatering detail before bed. It makes my mouth water, my tummy rumble, and my dreams turn to smorgasbords of delectable bites.
[Random note: I typed smorgasbord wrong and spell check turned it into orgasm. Sounds about right.]
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Librarians have been typied as stuffy old women. We have pencils through the buns in our hair, cat-eye glasses, and sensible shoes. While I will own up to the bun (it keeps the hair out of my face, deal with it) and the occasional sensible shoe wearing day (you would too if you were running around shelving books all day), I am not your stereotypical librarian. I like skirts that show of my curves and heels that highlight my gams. I also like to wear fun colored clothing (namely tights - I've got some hot pink ones for Friday).
In truth, I wear the clothes to knock down the stereotype. I like walking around seeing the undergrads think, "She's a librarian?!?!"
It probably helps that I'm really young (and remarkably cute if I do say so myself).
As a marketing scheme, clothing works wonders. Is there any better way to get people into the library by allowing them to see that we're not all shushers?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
E-mails about this book have been flying around between my (female) friends and I for a few weeks now. We're all Austenites who have read the non-undead version of the text, and we're all incredibly excited about this new book. The image of Mrs. Bennet being chased by a rotting being makes me giggle profusely. Tall roomie says that it may be hard for Mr. Darcy to stride, broodingly across the fields if his arm keeps falling off. (Titter.)
I've been trying to find a way to get The Boyfriend to read Pride and Prejudice. (Shh... he doesn't know.) This book offers the possibility of Mr. Darcy being devoured by a guy looking for a brain to snack on. That might just do the trick.
Monday, February 09, 2009
My fellow red line rider was deeply engrossed in Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. She had her head tipped into the text, so far so, that her gray,quilted bucket hat obscured her face entirely.
Since it was rush hour, she had a rather large purse and laptop bag piled in her lap. Bonus points to the reader for thinking of her fellow riders who needed seats.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
AUTHOR: Brian K. Vaughan
STARTED: February 6 2009
FINISHED: February 6, 2009
GENRE: Graphic Novel
FIRST SENTENCE: Well, that's unexpected.
SUMMARY: [From dccomics.com] Yorick Brown's long journey through an Earth populated only by women comes to a dramatic, unexpected conclusion in this final volume, collecting issues #55-60 of the critically acclaimed series.
THOUGHTS: I was a little disappointed in the conclusion to this series. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly was not this. I think part of my disconnect was that I did not reread the entire series before moving onto the last volume. In the future, I think I may re-read the whole series in one sitting and see what that does for my opinion.
Also, part of me wanted everyone to die. But I blame that on the fact that I wanted to see what that would look like in the artwork.
RATING: 6/10 [Good.]
Saturday, February 07, 2009
AUTHOR: Neal Stephenson
STARTED: January 26, 2009
FINISHED: February 4, 2009
GENRE: Science Fiction
FIRST SENTENCE: The bells of St. Mark's were ringing changes up on the mountain when Bud skated over to the mod parlor to upgrade his skull gun.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Stephenson's fourth solo novel, set primarily in a far-future Shanghai at a time when nations have been superseded by enclaves of common cultures ("claves''), abundantly justifies the hype that surrounded Snow Crash, his first foray into science fiction. Here, the author avoids the major structural problem of that book-a long lump of philosophical digression-by melding myriad perspectives and cogitations into his tale, which is simultaneously SF, fantasy and a masterful political thriller. Treating nanotechnology as he did virtual reality in Snow Crash-as a jumping-off point-Stephenson presents several engaging characters. John Percival Hackworth is an engineer living in a neo-Victorian clave, who is commissioned by one of the world's most powerful men to create a Primer that might enable the man's granddaughter to be educated in ways superior to the "straight and narrow.'' When Hackworth is mugged, an illegal copy of the Primer falls into the hands of a working-class girl named Nell, and a most deadly game's afoot. Stephenson weaves several plot threads at once, as the paths of Nell, Hackworth and other significant characters-notably Nell's brother Harv, Hackworth's daughter Fiona and an actress named Miranda-converge and diverge across continents and complications, most brought about by Hackworth's actions and Nell's development. Building steadily to a wholly earned and intriguing climax, this long novel, which presents its sometimes difficult technical concepts in accessible ways, should appeal to readers other than habitual SF users
THOUGHTS: This book wasn't bad. It really wasn't. In fact, there were many places where I was sad that I was falling asleep. I wanted Diamond Age to grip me. I wanted to lose myself in it. Instead, I kept yawning and found myself able to read only a few pages at a time. The book didn't move slowly. The writing was fine. I think this is just a case where I was not in the mood for science fiction.
Since I was not in the mood to read this type of book, I know that I did not give it my full attention - the type of attention this work deserved. As a result of that, my view of this text is rather scrambled. Concepts and huge chunks of plot went over my head. Normally I would go back and re-read pages that I had found myself daydreaming or skimming over. In this case, I just let it go.
The world Stephenson develops is truly fascinating. It's fully realized and, scarily, is not at all unbelievable. The characters are all interesting an play a vital role in the text. The themes of modernity, family, and education in Diamond Age are threaded fully into to the text. I could have learned a lot from this book. Instead, I just didn't have the presence of mind to stick with it.
I'm sure this is a truly fantastic book, but it just wasn't my time to read it.
RATING: 5/10 [Meh.]
Friday, February 06, 2009
AUTHOR: Liz Carlyle
STARTED: January 14, 2009
FINISHED: January 23, 2009
FIRST SENTENCE: She was an old woman now.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Set in Regency-era London, this book chronicles the adventures of Catherine Wodeway, a vivacious country widow who has recently come to town, and Maximillian de Rohan, an enigmatic Westminster magistrate. Despite their disparate social backgrounds he hails from a family of Italian vintners and she's a lady Max and Catherine share a scandalous kiss in Hyde park. A few days later, the two meet again when a murder among the aristocracy takes Max to the home of a mutual acquaintance. Caught up in her desire for Max and her curiosity about him, Catherine seeks to seduce him, but Max's inability to trust may keep him from giving up his heart. When Max isn't puzzling over his emotions, he's fending off his meddlesome grandmother and working to solve a murder. Although Max is no gentleman according to the standards of the time which were defined by Lord Chesterfield's The Fine Gentleman's Etiquette, a book Max tries and fails to read he is an extraordinarily well-developed and believable romantic hero. Catherine is also a strong heroine, and together, they make this one of the year's best historical romances.
THOUGHTS: Umm, what happened? I think I zoned out for the majority of this book. I felt no connection at all to the characters or the story. Considering that I've loved Liz Carlyle in the past, there's a chance my numbness had more to do with me and not the book.
RATING: 3/10 [Poor, Lost Interest]
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day. But with great shiny things, come great responsibility.
The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I'd like to acknowledge the following awesome blogs that I stalk daily.
Misadventures of Super_Librarian
AUTHOR: Sarah Vowell
STARTED: January 5, 2009
FINISHED: January 12, 2009
FIRST SENTENCE: One night last summer, all the killers in my head assembled on stage in Massachusetts to sing show tunes.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other--a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.
From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue--it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and--the author's favorite--historical tourism.
Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are lighter diversions into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult.THOUGHTS: Remember when I promised an update about this book? Here it is... in all of its shrunken-from-the-original-thoughts-in-my-head-glory-because-I-was-too-lazy-to-post-a-review-right-after-I-read -it.
Vowell serves up a romping good time - or at least as romping as can be had when the subject of her work is presidential assassination. (Seriously, you'll want to hug Lincoln's son after you read this. Poor fella.) Vowell somehow manages to keep the text above the somber tone that surrounds most books about death, dying, and other bad deeds. In that way, it becomes more about her journey and the people she meets on the road as opposed to a dramatization of assassination.
I found that I liked this book for the storytelling. The facts are nice, the recounting of history is worthwhile, but the story is what had me flying through the pages. What I liked best: Everyone around Vowell didn't just indulge her project they supported her and they added to the road trip that is this book. (Her nephew is awesome.)
Kathleen, however, is right. This book could have done so much more. There were numerous instances where Vowell alights upon a serious idea (the melding of church and state in the way where the state is the church) and then skips right off into another matter. When someone does write a research-based book about public monumentation as religion and the deification of presidents, I'll read that too.
RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]
Case in point:
Stop it people. Reading, no matter what you are reading, should not make you feel ashamed. If someone is making you feel ashamed, don't ditch the books, ditch the person. If you love romance novels say it loud and proud. There are people in my life who have made fun of my voracious appetite for the romance genre. I then kick their asses in trivia games because of all I've learned from these books.
Aside from the burgeoning jeopardy skills, romance novels are a balm for my soul. I enjoy reading them. What other reason do you need to read a book or love a genre?
This need to shame romance novels reminds me of the ad that ran on the DC metro system awhile back. Pshaw I say.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
When Captain Sullenberger's plane went down in the Hudson, Sully's library book went with it. Instead of saying, "Meh." Sully informed they library of their loss. In return, the library is (rightfully I might add) waiving all lost and damaged fees.
Sully for President 2012!
In all seriousness, I truly does make my toes tingle with joy whenever I hear about someone stepping up and returning a severely lost / damaged / replacement book to a library. Too often we hear about people denying their problems or mistakes. I'm looking at you Blago.
Just remember folks, we librarians can be tough.