Archive for October, 2009

YABM – Yet Another Book Meme. ;)

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Stole this from a friend – I can never resist a good book meme!

What books are your comfort reading–the ones you slink back to in times of stress?
Books are a bit Turret’s like for me—if I read something kind of awful, my own life seems better by comparison, I guess?  So when I’m really stressed, I like to read books about hard times, like Joanne Greenberg’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, or The Joy Luck Club.  That said… I might always lean towards no-brain fun, too.

What was your favorite book as a child, and why?
Mmm… let’s see.  When I was very small it as Who’s a Pest? a book by Crosby Bonsall about a little boy who everyone insists is a pest—even though he says he’s not.  It’s a strange, funny little book, that involves everything from mean sisters to talking animals, and an all-consuming pit.  It’s hard to explain, you’d have to read it.  When I was a little older, though, I was a big fan of Mercer Mayer books, and the Alexander books by Judith Viorst (especially Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday).

What was your favorite book as an adolescent, and why?
Undoubtedly Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume.   That book almost single-handedly got me through the break-up with my first (and second, really) best friend.  Stephanie Hirsch was the first fictional character who I really saw as a reflection of my life—or what my life could be.  She was what Rory Gilmore would be in a few years down the line.  This is also the book that got me serious—at age eleven—about writing young adult books.

What is the most unread category of books gathering dust on your bookshelf–the books you’ve bought but just never get around to reading?
The ones I buy but haven’t read?  Are probably mainly in the non-fiction genre.  There are certain periods of history that I love—love, love, love, like the American Revolution and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and so I have a few books that I own that cover those periods, but I haven’t read any of them.  Also under that list would be anthologies.  I have a few either from classes (writing on music, etc) and gifts from friends, but I just don’t jump into them very often.

What kind of books would you like to say you read, but never do?
There are a few of them.  I tend to get very comfortable either in classics or in young adult or children’s fantasy… so almost anything outside of that is (embarrassingly) kind of a gray area for me.  The ones that I’d really love to say I read are mystery novels—I feel like I’m missing out on a great genre, and the ones I’ve read I’ve enjoyed, but I just don’t go looking for them.  I’d also like to say that I appreciated a good Grisham—because really, everybody is supposed to like Grisham, but all I’ve read was The Pelican Brief, and that was enforced (high school book report).  I’d like to say I’d read Michener, too.  My mother loves his novels, and I love the look and the idea of them… but I’ve never so much as opened one.

What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read?
Does The Host count?  Because I have likened parts of that novel to a Miyazaki film on crack.  Outside of the illustrious Miss Meyer, however… I would have to say… actually, no.  I really think The Host might be the oddest book I’ve read.

What book were you never able to get through,despite the recommendations of people you respect?
I can’t think of one off the top of my head.  Possibly Wicked?  Maybe Eragon as well.

What’s the book it took you a couple of tries to get into, but was as good as promised once you finally made it?
I don’t do this very often.  The only one I can even remember is Jane Eyre.  Which I started for the first time when I was twelve—I hated the childhood section of that book, and so I kept putting it down.  It remains to this day the only book I’ve ever literally thrown across the room (more than once, I believe) in frustration—and my ugly little orange paperback bears the marks as proof.  It took me months to get through Lowood.  Once I got to Thornfield, though, I was hooked, hooked, hooked, and it is almost definitely my favorite book of all time.

What’s your favorite short story–or do you even have one?
I’m not very good at reading short stories, I’ll admit.  There was one in a literature book of mine in high school, though, called “Chasing Summer,” that I really loved, all about a couple who, after a thermo-nuclear war, chase the patches of light that make their way through the nuclear winter sky.  I also really love “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury… actually, I love his “A Sound of Thunder,” also.  Reason why I’ve always wanted to read more Bradbury (that should go with Grisham and Michener, above).

The desert island. Three books (and collected works don’t count. If you want the Lord of the Rings it’ll cost you all three slots). Go:
1. Jane Eyre… it’s a debate between this and Persuasion, but as yet Jane Eyre continues to have the smallest of edges.
2. Great Expectations—maybe.  Not because it’s one of my favorites (it’s kind of not) but just because I think analyzing it would last me years.  😛
3. Fingerprints: Payback by Melinda Metz.  At least I think I’d pick this one.  One of the last three, at least.  It’d kill me not to have the full series, though.  Mindless fun—well, mostly mindless.  And one of my biggest fiction OTPs.  Yes, I know you’ve never heard of it.

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1000 Words a Day Initiative!

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I’ve decided I’m doing NaNoWriMo.  (That’s National Novel Writing Month, in case you don’t know).  50,000 words in one month.  Really the idea is to write a 50K novel in one month, from beginning to end, but I never quite play by those rules.  Instead, I use it as a means of boosting my daily output and holding myself accountable.  The problem is, NaNoWriMo starts November 1st, and that’s a whole two weeks away.  Meanwhile, for the first time in some time, I have a little bit of the freedom required to really start tying myself to a daily word count, and I wanted to take advantage of that.  By chance, just as I was starting to hear the first rumblings of NaNo chatter online (I would have forgotten it entirely until October 28th or something, if it weren’t for Twitter) I also re-stumbled across the 1000 Words a Day Challenge, presented byInkygirl of Inkygirl.com, an online comic/blog about writing.

This, as it so happens, was exactly what I was looking for.

I know what you’re thinking.  I do.  “Gee, Lisa… why couldn’t you just decide to write 1000 words a day on your own?”

Well, I already sort of had.  Is the badge really going to hold me accountable to this?  Maybe not as much as I’d like.  But that’s why I’m writing this post, a manifesto if you will.  Now that my life is (somewhat) reasonable, I hereby declare that I will do all that I can to write a bare minimum of 1000 words per day.

Why?  Because forcing yourself to write is one half of the battle sometimes.  Because the more you do write, the easier it is to write, even though as writers, this pertinent fact seems to slip through our fingers like sand the minute our back is turned. I’ve already seen proof of this.  I started this challenge on Thursday (the 15th), and subsequently started a folder titled “The Experiment,” wherein I will keep a document of the words I write every day.  My first day wasn’t so good—I only managed 566 words.  I’m not too upset with myself for this—my grandmother was in the hospital and I was trying to straighten the house up for her coming home.  The second day, almost as busy, though, I ended up with almost double that number of words.  It may have taken until one in the morning, but it got done.

Today it’s half-past six and I already have well over 800 words.  Of course I’m including this post in that number (I reserve that right!) but by the end of the night, I probably won’t have needed to.

It’s a simple, almost silly thing, but it’s gotten me done with one chapter in my novel, and well on my way through another, unsticking me when the only real reason I was stuck was because I was letting myself be.  The truth is, if I’m ever going to make it as a writer, I can’t afford to let myself be.  And it’s about time I got that through my stubborn little head.

Besides.  I’ll be writing over a thousand words in November anyhow, right?  That’s the objective, at least.  This is just gearing up for it.

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Some bookish thoughts.

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I can hardly believe it thanks to the way my year started, but I almost think I have a shot at this 52 Books in 52 Weeks goal.  I’ve gotten behind on reviews here, since a lot of books I’ve been reviewing for Tales From the Hollow Tree anyhow, and my life has gotten sadly chaotic lately—not that that’s much of an excuse, life has a tendency to do that every time we turn around, doesn’t it?

I’ve worked myself up to having read 4o books this year, though, just a dozen books shy of my ultimate goal—with that exact number of weeks left, as a matter of fact, so you see, I really do have a chance here, especially since I’m well on my way through a few books at this very moment.  I’ll let you wander over to the Hollow Tree if you want to read about YA Fantasy books, but these are a few of the other things I’ve been finishing off lately:

c-windy1aAnne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

Still really enjoying browsing slowly through the Anne books.  This was about the point where my attention would wander when I was younger—Gilbert wasn’t in it at all, and in my first, single-track-mind reading of this series, that was all I wanted to pay attention to.  It amazes me how many kinds and types of people L.M. Montgomery was able to write, though.  The latter part of this book, especially, feels like little more than a sampling of every-day humanity, though, and I think that’s why Montgomery’s books are as lasting as they are, because people don’t really change all that much, and Anne’s view of the sweet to the absurd is such a clear, kind way.  It’s like what I heard the actor who played Kirk (the town oddity) on Gilmore Girls say once about the creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, that she loved each one of the characters, even the odd ones, and that’s what made the characters so great.  I think the same is true for Montgomery.  She and Anne both love the range of humanity they’re presented with, and it shows.

A Book of Luminous Things edited by Czeslaw Milosz luminous

I’ve been trying my best to get back into reading poetry this year. In fact, the only New Year’s Resolution that I can actually remember, was to read a poem a day.  I failed pretty miserably in this, considering  Milosz’ book is the same one I cracked open on January 1st and it took me until mid-September to finish reading through it.  I’m glad I finally did, though.  This book was given to me in high school as a Christmas present from a good friend of mine, and every once in a while I’d open it up and read a poem or two, but I’d never have the forethought to actually read the thing through, which is a shame, because it is organized beautifully.  This was, quite honestly, the first collection of poems I’ve read straight through that wasn’t from a single author, but Milosz has it divided into segments, or “chapters” with introductions, that make it a truly enjoyable read.  I admit, too, that part of my love for it has to do with the fact that so many of the poets included are California poets, and there’s a certain flavor to Californian poetry that simply doesn’t  come from anywhere else, just like there’s a flavor to Russian novels or Italian opera.  It just is.  And that little taste of California is something that I always have, and always will love.


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I had to give in to this one, once I saw the commercials for the movie start to show. The idea was to read it in time to see the film, and while I did that, I haven’t seen the movie yet.  That’s okay with me, though, I’m sure I will in time.  This book… hm.  I can understand completely why so many people recommended it so highly to me, because it’s a beautiful read.  I enjoyed just about every moment of it, because it swallows you up and keeps you in Clare and Henry’s world pretty fully, and Niffenegger’s handle of language and even more so of the timelines involved in the story—an impressive feat in and of itself.  I have to confess myself a little disappointed by the ending, though—I can’t tell you exactly what disappointed me, as it’s a big-time spoiler, but let’s just say I would have hoped more for Clare.  Really a gorgeous book, though, all in all, and definitely worth the read.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This was one of those books that I was dying to read when I first heard about it… but then I kept passing it up at the bookstore for other things.  Or maybe I’m the only one who ever does that.  I admit, being broke and book-loving does not always mix supremely well together, so sometimes I run into conundrums like this.  The minute I saw this at the library, though, I snapped it up as quickly as I could.  I was due for some Austen-spin-offy fiction, having just read through the gamut of the master herself, and this fit the job nicely.  It was a bit odd that the focus was so much on Colin Firth as Darcy, rather on Darcy as Darcy, (like the outtake from Bridget Jones’ Diary where Bridget interviews Colin Firth as Colin Firth—if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend) but maybe I only feel that way because I think Mr. Firth is much more like Darcy in the book in… well, almost every P&P-ish adaptation movie I’ve seen him in, than he is in the actual BBC production.  But that’s just my own personal thing. I can’t get too excited about Dracy jumping into a lake—I thought that scene was actually pretty silly.

Really, though, this was a fun book, all about a girl who treats every relationship (even the passing, childhood ones) as if they’re going to end up at the alter, and the Darcy-esque fellow she snags by the end is a perfect combination of stuffy and sweet.

Now I’m going to duck and hide as all the BBC Pride and Prejudice fans throw old vegetation at me.  Ah well, I stand by my words.  Colin Firth continues to get better and better, that’s all I’m saying. 😛

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