Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Salon: Breaking All the Rules

This month has been very bookish despite the fact that fall semester has started for me out here in California. So even though I have almost no spare time to read that hasn't stopped me from acquiring books in any way that I can. Which really sucks since just last Saturday I signed up for J. Kaye's Ban-on-Spending Book Challenge. The premise of the challenge is not to spend another dime on books until you read the books you already own that are on your TBR list. I tried, I really did. But within a couple of days I had books in my mailbox from Paperbackswap and Amazon. Having a $1 bookstore just down the street from where I live doesn't help matters either. Every single book in the store is only one dollar and you can always find great finds.
Friday I promised my younger siblings and my kids that if they behaved well while we were school shopping, I would take them to our local $1 bookstore. Mind you, I forgot all about the the ban on spending. We went in and I came out with seven books for myself, which brings this month's total of books bought or traded to 26, a record for me. But can I really complain when I acquired Munro, Welty, Lutz, Smith, O'Brien, Hoffman, and the many other book covers you see throughout this post for one dollar each or for free? You will hear no complaints from me.

I felt guilty for about three seconds before hugging my new books protectively and pushing the thought out of my mind. I'll try the challenge again September 1st. Not a day before.
Too bad none of the books fit into any of the challenges I signed up for this week: Lambda Challenge and Carl V's 3rd annual Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Challenge. The Lambda Challenge is an ongoing challenge based on the Lambda Literary Foundation awards. Every year the foundation gives out awards to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender literature. Since this is a genre I totally forgot about, I'm in. I have no idea what I'm going to read yet.
Carl's R.I.P. Challenge is one of my favorite challenges. Every year I count down to fall and the chance to sign up and read as many scary stories as I can. I'm a chicken so I read more mysteries than thrillers. Because my list of potential reads is long, I won't list it here. You can read it here though.
This week I managed to finish three books and a couple of essays. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt by Nick Hornby is a collection of essays about the books he's read for The Believer magazine. The collection is smart and funny, a great collection for any book lover's shelf. I've read several books by Hornby including About a Boy, How to be Good, The Polysyllabic Spree, and currently High Fidelity. You cannot go wrong reading Hornby.

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg was this month's re-read. It's a pretty simple story about a woman named Nan who leaves her husband, home, and life as she knows it to figure out who she is and what she wants. Along the way she talks to strangers who are almost always women to see how their own lives turned out and are they living the life they want. Written as letters to Nan's husband and also as diary entries, the book is a quick and enjoyable read.

Also read this week was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet. This was required reading for my British Lit class, but I'm glad I read it. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is thought to have been written in the 14th-century by an anonymous writer. It's about a mysterious, huge, green knight coming to King Arthur's court to challenge any knight to a game he had in mind: he would let them strike a blow to him with his large, scary axe in exhange that in one year and a day that same knight will find him and stand a blow from the green knight. There's a lot of embrassment because no one was stupid enough to volunteer. Arthur ended up volunteering and before he could strike a blow to the green knight, his cousin Sir Gawain, offered to take Arthur's place. Gawain cuts the knight's head off thinking that would be the end of the game only for the green knight to pick up his rolling head, tell Gawain who he was and the name of his manor, before riding on his large green horse with his head in his hands. The rest of the poem had to do with Gawain's journey and what happens. I have to thank my professor for requiring this and holding my class's hands through this. For a minute I thought about changing my major from English to accounting.
Yesterday I started reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. I was kind of wary about reading it since every book after Twilight hasn't been as fulfilling. But Breaking Dawn is proving to be as much of a page-turner as the three books before it. I plan on finishing this morning so I can start on my many pages of homework. I'll post my review later on this week.
Okay this post is so long. So I'm off to drink too much coffee and read while shouting at Bella to quit being so selfish. Have a great week.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

R.I.P. Challenge

It's back!! Carl's annual Readers Imbibing Peril or R.I.P. Challenge is back. I have been waiting for this challenge all year long. I am so happy.

The R.I.P. Challenge runs from September 1st through October 31st. The theme is to scare yourself silly reading books from the mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, and/or supernatural genres. You can even start reading now if you wanted to.

This is my favorite peril. I plan on reading at least four books from my pool of potential reads.

1. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
3. I am legend - Richard Matheson
4. Dracula - Bram Stoker
5. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer
6. Fragile Things - Gaiman
7. 20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill
8. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
9. We have always lived in the castle - Shirley Jackson
10. The Haunting of Hill House- Shirley Jackson
11. The Best American Mystery Stories of 2006 & 2007
12. Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
13. Lasher - Anne Rice
14. Hellboy Vol. 1 - Mike Magnola
15. Y: The Last Man Vol. 2
16. The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1 - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The 2008 Ban on Spending Book Challenge

School has been keeping me so busy the last two weeks. One semester ended and another one began. I've barely had time to read books that aren't required reading, let alone write about them. But I have found the perfect book challenge for me right now. J. Kaye is hosting the 2008 Ban on Spending Book Challenge. Perfect since I just bought about ten books, received three from pbs, and have four more on the way from pbs. The rules are:

1. No purchasing books for yourself until all the books listed are gone. No purchasing books for other people with the intention of reading them after they are finished. Library or other borrowed books can’t be listed.

2. Any books won in a raffle or given to me as a gift will be added to this list.

3. Books to be reviewed for promo companies, other blogs, authors, etc. do not count and are not added to this list.

4. Start anytime and list as many or as few books as needed. Once all books are checked off from the list, the ban is lifted and the spending can begin again.

5. The ending date for each person can vary to a few weeks or months as long as it does not exceed December 31, 2008. This ban can be lifted earlier if all books listed have been read or donated.
My books are:
1. Housekeeping vs. Dirt - Nick Hornby
2. My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead - Jeffrey Eugenides
3. Sinners Welcome - Mary Karr
4. Easter Everywhere - Darcey Steinke
5. The People's Act of Love - James Meek
6. Giraffe - J.M. Ledgard
7. Away - Amy Bloom
8. Memory - Philippe Grimbert
9. Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs
10. One Writer's Beginning - Eudora Welty
11. The Scent of God - Beryl Singleton Bissell
12. The Water will hold you - Lindsey Crittenden
13. The Best American Spiritual Writing 2007 - Harvey Cox
14. High Fidelity - Nick Hornby
I'm so excited to start. Now I can finally give myself a reason why I can't buy anymore books.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Best Time of the Day

Cool summer nights.
Windows open.
Lamps burning.
Fruit in the bowl.
And your head on my shoulder.
These the happiest moments in the day.

Next to the early morning hours,
of course. And the time
just before lunch.
And the afternoon, and
early evening hours.
But I do love
these summer nights.
Even more, I think,
than those other times.
The work finished for the day.
And no one who can reach us now.
Or ever.

Raymond Carver

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Book Meme

I had so many things I wanted to say but instead I'll just answer a meme I found on Wendy's blog.
What are you reading right now? I just finished Flight Volume 2. And now I'm tackling Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr, which is Karr's fourth collection of poetry.
Do you have any idea what you'll read after that? I have a large stack of books waiting for me at the library and on my bookshelf that I want to get read before fall semester starts in 11 days. I think I'll have a personal read-a-thon this weekend to celebrate my birthday and get these books out the way. They are:
The Canning Season - Polly Horvath
The Montague's Tales of Terror - Chris Priestley
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
Animal's People - Indra Sinha
The Year of Disappearances - Susan Hubbard
No one belongs here more than you - Miranda July
Her last death - Susan Sonnenberg
People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks
The Odd Sea - Fredrick Reiken
Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 - Brian Vaughan
What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now? None.
What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read? I don't remember what it was but I do remember it was in 10th grade English.
What's the one book that you recommend to just about everyone to read? There are so many: Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor and All of Us: collected poems by Raymond Carver.
Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first-name basis, don't they? I rarely ever talk to the librarians. I already know what books are checked on or where they're located. But the library clerks do know me by name.
Is there a book you absolutely love but for some reason, people never think it sound interesting, or maybe they read it and don't like it at all? Go to the recommendations question. No one reads poetry anymore.
Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you're on the computer? While you're having sex? While you're driving? I try to read books while I eat but the kids so mess with me. Now I'm trying to get them to read while they eat. I definitely read while I'm in the tub, watching movies and TV, and listening to music. Not while I'm on the computer, but I have tried reading while having sex. It was okay. I don't drive but when I do, I am not reading. I kind of like life.
When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits? No, but they were in awe of it.
What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn't put it down? Last night rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.