Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Make My Day Award

I'm so happy! Jill at The Magic Lasso has tagged me for the Make My Day Award. She's made my day. The premise of the award is to pick 10 blogs that make my day, so here goes.
1. Jill at The Magic Lasso. I love reading her reviews on books that I love and ones I've never heard of. I always end up adding one more book to my TBR list.
2. Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project. Since March 2006, Gretchen has been on a mission to "test-drive every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study" that she can find about happiness and reports what works and what doesn't on her blog. Her blog is funny and her advice practical.
3. Kimbofo at Reading Matters. The girl is the ultimate book monster, posting a new book review every couple of days. She's who I want to be like when I grow up. Because Kimbofo is an Australian who lives in London, I find out about so many books that I overwise wouldn't know exist. I found this blog just by chance.
4. Kristin Dodge at Books for Breakfast. I love her book reviews. They're funny and honest, by letting you know exactly what went right in a book and what didn't.
5. Sam Houston at Book Chase. This blog is about books, people who love books, book situations, country music... I really like this blog. I can't put my finger on it exactly. Just go and visit already.
6. Wendy at Caribousmom. Wendy is one of my book people, though I've never met her in person. She's one of the nicest people you'll ever know. She also runs the Yahoo group ANovel Challenge, which is a group for people who participate in online reading challenges.
7. Dana at Think Pink. I really like Dana, so that's enough reason to put her blog down. She's another funny woman who is also smart.
Okay, that's it. That's all I have. Now off you go, to explore the great blogs that I just told you about. If I remember any more blogs, I'll be sure to tell you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What we talk about when we talk about love

From What we talk about when we talk about love

by Raymond Carver (1981)

I love Raymond Carver the poet, but I had no clue to who he was as a short story writer. I'm glad to say that I'm learning. "What we talk about when we talk about love" is a classic short story. The story is about four friends who are having a conversation about love. Mel and Terri and one couple, who carry the battle scars from their last marriages, and Nick and Laura, newlyweds who are still very much in love. Mel tells through vignettes about Terri's ex-husband Ed and an elderly married couple, what he thinks and feels love is.

My favorite character in the story is Mel. He reminds me of the Jim Casy/preacher character in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Mel philosophizes about love, wanting to know what is love, how can love come and go with various people, and is it more than just a memory. But in the end he admits, "I don't know anything."

A great short story.

"The Isabel Fish" by Julie Orringer

The Isabel Fish by Julie Orringer from
How to Breathe Underwater (2003)

I picked up this book after reading Nick Hornby's recommendation in The Polysyllabic Spree. I was awestruck by this story. The Isabel Fish is about a girl named Maddy, who is the sole survivor of a car accident that claimed the life of her brother's girlfriend, Isabel. Maddy deals with her older brother Sage and his cruelty as everyday life.

"Crime and punishment. That is the pattern between my brother Sage and me. A quiet private criminal justice system is what we've created, with Sage as judge, jailer, and executioner. Our system has no checks and balances, and it allows multiple punishments for the same crime. If, in a real court, I'd been proven guilty of killing Isabel, I would have gotten my punishment and been left to live with it. In the world of Sage and me, however, I must pay and pay-even though Sage is guilty in some ways himself."

A great story that is simple and very real, as if Orringer was just a teenager not very long ago.

What now?

The last eight years of my life have been very hard. I went to college, had a child, dropped out of college, was homeless on and off, and had more kids. I was hoping that this year would be different from the last ones. I thought that this would be my year. Though this is only January, I'm starting to feel as if this is just one more year of monotony. I know in my head that there is still so much time to change the everyday, but in my heart I don't feel it. My dream of going to school seems as though it will be one that will be going unfulfilled for a while longer. This is not what I wanted for my life. I'm like most people. I just want simple things. I want to go to school, find a great job, and take care of my family without worry. Why is that so hard to do? Is it not my destiny? Do I need a stronger will or do I just let go? I have no idea. So now, I have to figure out what to do with myself. I feel stuck. Books no longer give me the pleasure that I've known my whole life. Music no longer sounds the same. So what now? What is there for me to do?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Persepolis: The story of a childhood

Persepolis: The story of a childhood - Marjane Satrapi
Published in 2000
pages 156
Rating: 5 out of 5

I read Persepolis: The story of a childhood for the Graphic Novel Challenge. Persepolis is Satrapi's memoir on growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The book is engaging, entertaining, and funny. Satrapi teachs the reader the history of Iran while showing her childhood. You learn of Satrapi's childhood relationship with God, how the father of the Shah came onto the throne, her beloved uncle Anoosh, and the many Iranian causalities of the Islamic Revoltion.

Personally I know almost nothing about Iran. A couple of years ago I learned that Iran was more than fundamentalists and black veils. The 2003 Nobel Laureate was Shirin Ebadi, who was featured in O magazine and showed many Americans a face and a voice for Iranian women. After reading the article about Ebadi, I didn't really give Iran and its women another serious thought. But thanks to Satrapi's memoir, that has changed. I think this is a book that people should really read. I'm not someone who reads graphic novels, but this book is so much more than that. I think anyone will enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kate's Short Story Reading Challenge

Challenges, challenges, challenges. I can't get enough of them! Here's my list for Kate's Short story reading challenge.
1. My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead - Jeffrey Eugenides, editor.
2. The Book of other people - Zadie Smith, editor.
3. Cheating at Canasta - William Trevor
4. I am no one you know - Joyce Carol Oates
5. Breathing Underwater - Julie Orringer
a maybe 6: A Good man is hard to find - Flannery O'Connor

Man Booker Challenge

Of course the brilliant and funny Dewey had to host another challenge this year. So, of course, I signed up for it. For the Man Booker Challenge you have to read 6 books that have won the prize, was short-listed, or long-listed. This challenge is also for the whole year of 2008 and you can change your books at any time. My list:

1. The Gathering - Anne Enright

2. Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre

3. Life of pi - Yann Martel

4. Arthur & George - Julian Barnes

5. Never let me go - Ali Smith

6. On Beauty - Zadie Smith

Graphic Novel Challenge

I spent yesterday on the web, finding more reading challenges and I came across this one. Dewey is hosting the Graphic Novel Challenge. The challenge runs from January 2008 to December 2008. The rules are that you read 6 graphic novels. The books can overlap with your other challenges. My picks are:

1. Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

2. The Contract with God - Will Eisner

3. Jimmy Corrigan, the smartest kid on earth - Chris Ware

4. Good-bye, Chunky Rice - Craig Thompson

5. Fun home: a family tragicomic - Alison Bechdel

6. ?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Triple 8 Challenge

Here's another challenge I signed up for. The Triple 8 Challenge is a challenge that you read 8 books in 8 categories in 2008. You are allowed 8 overlaps and can change your list or category anytime. Here's my list:

Banned Books
Are you there, God? It's me Margaret - Judy Blume
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
The earth, my butt, and other big round things - Carolyn Mackler
Brokeback Mountain - Annie Proulx
Tommyknockers - Stephen King
Balzac & the little Chinese Seamstress - Dai Sijiie
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
The Lorax - Dr. Seuss

When I was a little girl...children's books
The Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
Stuart Little - E.B. White
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbitt
The Book-eating Boy - Oliver Jeffers
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney
Flower - John Light

Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett
The grapes of wrath - John Steinbeck
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Love and Living - Thomas Merton
The Sea, the sea - Iris Murdoch
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Dracula - Bram Stoker

Books I can escape to
Devil in the blue dress - Walter Mosley
Gone, Baby, Gone - Denis Lehane
Rare Encounters with ordinary birds - Lyanda Lynn Haupt
All the pretty horses - Cormac McCarthy
Living to tell - Antonya Nelson
What she saw in... - Lucinda Rosenfeld

Size doesn't matter : Novellas, short stories, and poetry
A Blind man can see how much I love you -Amy Bloom
The Braid - Stanley Kunitz
Collected poems - Howard Numerov
A good man is hard to find - Flannery O'Connor
The flash of lightning behind the mountain - Charles Bukowski
Breathing Underwater - Julie Orringer
I am no one you know - Joyce Carol Oates
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead - Jeffrey Eugenides

It was a dark and storm night: Creepy tales
I am Legend - Richard Matheson
Falling Angel - William Hjortsberg
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
Without Blood - Alessandro Barrico
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Gone, Baby. Gone - Denis Lehane

Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
The Seventh Wall - Fred Wander
The Voyage of the short serpent - Bernard du Boucheron
Emil and the detectives - Erich Kastner

Everything but the kitchen sink: whatever I feel like reading
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
The Devil Wears Prada -
Julia's Chocolate - Cathy Lamb

Monday, January 14, 2008

From the Stacks Reading Challenge


I love this challenge! Before November, I had about 20-30 books on my bookshelf that were just sitting there, waiting to be read. I started this challenge and now I'm on a roll. I've read:

Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman rating: 4 out of 5

The Devil Wears Prada 3/5

Astrid & Veronika - Linda Olsson 4/5

Stardust- Neil Gaiman 4/5

Riding in the bus with my sister - Rachel Simon 2/5

My first challenge of the new year done!

After a long vacation...

I am finally back. It tooks months and months, but I'm here. It seems like the longer you are away from the web, the longer it takes you to get all caught up with your favorite blogs and web buddies. I had 1059 emails waiting for me this morning. I've already signed up for several reading challenges this year. Now I just have to get it altogether. I'm glad to be back.