$4 For a Bag of Books? Count Me In!

June 17, 2011 2 comments

Two weeks after my last post stating that I was not going to purchase any more books until I had read the ones that I own I went and bought a bunch more…  Well at the time I kind of forgot about the Public Library’s annual fundraiser: The Friends of the Library Annual book sale!  Today was the last day and also the $4 bag of books sale.  Well I HAD to take advantage of that!  I already broke the rules last week.  I did buy a Stephen King novel at the airport.  And I started a book I borrowed from the library.  Let’s just say my previous post was more of  “guidelines” for my summer reading….

Anyway I would like to share the list of books that I purchased!  (Alphabetical by Title)

A Drink Before the War – Dennis Lehane

An Instance of the Fingerpost – Iain Pears

Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier

Deception Point – Dan Brown

Dog Soldiers – Robert Stone

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Hearts in Atlantis – Stephen King

Marriages and Infidelities – Joyce Carol Oates

Mating – Norman Rush

Paradise – Toni Morrison

Rose Madder – Stephen King

Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison

The Balance Within – Esther M. Sternberg, M.D.

The Book of Daniel – E.L. Doctorow

The Bourne Identity – Robert Ludlum

The Bourne Supremacy – Robert Ludlum

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger – Stephen King

The Passion of Artemisia – Susan Vreeland

Underworld – Don DeLillo

Up in the Air – Walter Kirn

White Oleander – Janet Fitch

What an awesome deal.  Except if I move again I will be kicking myself.  And when in three years I have still only read 4 of these I will be kicking myself again.  Oh well, at least its not becoming some sort of problem…or addiction or anything….

Well at least it is a cheap problem!  I am not addicted to buying new books.  Though if perhaps I had a large disposable income I would be.  I will be aware for whenever I have a larger income not to go crazy in B & N!

Oh wait, I forgot one because it is still out in my car.  I also got Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.  I am already reading the first book on the list because I love Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro books 🙂

Maybe I should just make myself frequent this website so I don’t act on my” urges” : http://bookshelfporn.com/

Summer Reading June 1, 2011 – August 31, 2011

June 1, 2011 1 comment

Summer is the best time to crack through the books!  I already have a goal on Goodreads that I will read 50 books in 2011 and I think I have read 17 so far.  Not too bad.  I think I will aim for one book a week through the summer and vary it with longer and shorter novels, bestsellers with classics.  I am also going to try and limit myself to books that I already own but have yet to read.  Who does that?  Buys books for the joy of owning books but doesn’t read them for 3 years?  None of you bibliophiles out there I am sure 😉 Ok and I also plan on reading Harry Potter 4-7 before the film comes out on July 15th but am not going to list them here.

1. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)

2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811)

3.  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)

4. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898)

5. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (2003)

6. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory ( 2006)

7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)

8.  Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)

9. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (2002)

10. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

11. A Kestral for a Knave by Barry Hines (1968)

12. Moonlight and Sword by Isolde Martin (2002)

13. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

14. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

 

Categories: Lists, Literature

“Correcting” our Miserable Lives

I just finished The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I found my attention wandering the duration of the novel but somehow I kept on reading it until the end and rather enjoyed seeing what miserable thing was happening next to the characters.  I was interested in what happened to them but felt there was something missing in my connection to them.  I may have just disliked them.  I don’t know.  I did like them as well.  I did like the book but it just isn’t really my favorite style of literature.  Perhaps I should have taken a pencil to this book to alleviate some confusion but I just didn’t feel all that interested in digging very deep.

The ending was somewhat promising except for poor Alfred who at the end of his life just wanted death to take him.  I felt kind of bad that Enid, at 75 was just beginning her life of freedom and I would like to know if she was able to find happiness in her life.

Franzen’s imagination for situations his characters must endure is to be applauded.  As we traveled through each character’s life something new and unanticipated always happened.  Most of the time I was bewildered at what I was reading.  Not sure if I am totally in agreement with modern literati hailing this as one of the best novels of recent years.  But then again I am just not totally into modern literature nor am I qualified to review it.  Like in one of my recent posts I have decided to focus more on recent literature.

I can obviously tell the difference between The Corrections and the next book I started, The Lottery Winner by Mary Higgins Clark… The plot of the mystery stories are so laughable and simple.  I kind of like trying to figure out a  good whodunnit novel once in a while.  But more along the lines of Denis Lehane than M.H.C.   I only chose this one because I wanted an easy no-brainer after Franzen’s novel but all I had in the box of books I was unpacking were this one and a bunch of  hefty 18th and 19th century British novels that I knew I could never focus on at the moment.

So I guess the point of Franzen’s novel was that our lives are spent in the pursuit of happiness.  Wow…  I have never read a book with a theme like that before.  There never was a more American theme in modern literature than that one.  Well this was one of the better ones I suppose and told with 5 truly unique perspectives from a modern American family.  I wonder if he was trying to write T.G.A.N (The Great American Novel).  Will people ever stop pursuing this?  Doubt it.

 

What is the Current State of Literature?

I asked my friends on the popular Duluth blog Perfect Duluth Day (PDD) what they thought the current state of literature is. I was pleased to find 35 responses to this query, though it turned into a bit of a debate over e-readers, which I did not really intend to start…Here is my initial post and some of the good responses.

“What is the current state of literature?
By stephaniejt on May 11, 2011 in Bitching

I am asking all opinions on the state of literature today. Does it exist? Is there a difference between Literature and what most people read today (if they do happen to read).

It makes me sad that many men see reading as a “women’s” activity. Don’t we all appreciate a good story? Why is any novel that has an “Oprah” symbol on it now seen as weak fluff that is not suitable for men to read?

I hate buying books that have the movie cover on the book. Most of the time I have never even heard of a really good book until it is set to come out as a movie. Is that the only way books actually sell?

I am not sure if I will ever own an e-reader but I know I will never give up my books.”

Response:

Literature does exist today. Very much so.

Finding great literature is a lot like finding great music. You have to actively seek it out — find sources you trust and follow them. You can’t wait for the entertainment industry to dole stuff directly to you, otherwise you’ll end up reading the literary equivalent of Katy Perry.

Who knows about the stigma of the Oprah O and what that even means. If you avoided that, you’d avoid one of the best novels of the past few years, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Franzen actually denied the O the first time around because of exactly what you’re saying. Eventually he caved.

I’m biased, but check out Minnesota Reads for perspectives on what’s being published these days. It’s a site for voracious readers, so you’ll find everything from literary fiction to graphic novels to celebrity memoirs.

Barrett Chase | May 11, 2011 | New Comment

 

Response:

Good questions, Stephanie! Re Oprah — I do not see her book club choices as fluff at all. In fact, her novels oftentimes are a little too intense for readers. She loves to read books about people going through tough, tough times. Her choices are sometimes too dark for me. For instance, Toni Morrison is not an easy read, by any stretch of the imagination! And contrary to Barrett, I hated Freedom, but I may have been influenced by a personal encounter with Jonathan Franzen. But that’s a story to be told over lots of liquid refreshment, not here on PDD.

In terms of finding good books, I’d check out the DNT’s Sunday bestsellers list, which they get from the Midwest Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Booksellers Association — both are organizations of independent booksellers in the Midwest who report the books selling best in their stores. Since indie booksellers choose their inventory (rather than someone in NYC doing the selecting) and often handsell the books they most love, this list always has some amazing reads on it. If you want to know what’s a good read, ask your local independent bookseller, I say. I always ask some indie booksellers I know whom I trust, like this one bookseller in Milwaukee who is always spot on.

And I so agree with you about e-books. Not my thing at all.

Claire

Response:

Literature exists…more so than most of can probably fathom. But you have to seek it out, hunt it, search in deep dark places for it.

Pretty much, we – human beings – live in societies were we are inundated to the max with media, advertising, marketing, economic influences, social pressures, trends, blah blah blah (we started out as foragers that spent less than 4 hours a day gathering our quota of calories. Imagine that..4 hour workdays? No wonder were now overpopulated, huh?) Anyways, this mass blast of information that comes our way, totally overloads our cognition and gives us undesirable societal problems such as mental illness and postal shootings.

It also distracts us from things of the past, like great literature. And while I don’t know who oprah is, and can’t knock him, I’m sure he is a product of the mass media conglomerate and the books that his club pushes are potentially wish wash that the marketing dept at penguin thinks is a great money maker (no knock to you, Barrret, either. When I think ‘O’, I think Million Little Pieces…and I cringe – hard..real hard).

Sooo, the moral of the story is: seek out great literature in places where you wouldn’t expect to find it – garage sales, basement used book stores, friends, musty professors offices, the amazing alonzo, that huge antique shop next to the Acoustic Cafe in Winona, etc.. The older, the less pop hysteria will influence you to read it for the wrong reasons. The best book I have ever read, by far, is ranked 24,129 in sales on amazon. Either I suck, or go figure (rhetorical)?

And props to the previous comments. I’m bad at keeping up on whats current. Considering literature has been around ~4500 years, I put myself in a fickle as to where to even start. Nice thread.

Blazer | May 11, 2011 | New Comment

 

 

My Response:

You guys are fantastic. I love all the answers and suggestions and the conversation that has been started. I feel like one day the only people left who read are going to be this underground group who secretly hoards and trades books. Because all books are out of print and there are no more trees for paper…this may be coming from my liking of post-apocalyptic novels….haha.

I think it is great that Oprah has reintroduced so many people to classics and it just makes me a little mad that she gets negative feedback from it. I am actually reading Freedom by Franzen right now and had looked up the history on the whole Oprah thing. I am about 200 pages in and I just can’t imagine what is going to happen over the next 350 pages. Is there really that much to talk about? We will see I guess.

I actually LOVED the YA series The Hunger Games but I am kind of disappointed that it is going to be a movie because those who only like it because of the movie aren’t really “real fans” of the written story.

I was an English major as well and always had the good stuff presented to me. Now I have to dig around for the really great stuff on my own.

I heard some really interesting stuff about gender during childhood and in school and how boys will start doing poorly in school because doing well in school is a “girl” thing. Probably similar with reading. Sad.

stephaniejt | May 12, 2011 | New Comment

 

 

To view more of this post and other amazing Duluth, MN conversations visit: http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2011/05/11/what-is-the-current-state-of-literature/

 

 

 

 

Great Authors to Read Before They Die

May 9, 2011 5 comments

Here are some of the great living American authors I would like to read more of before they die.

Don DeLillo (b. 1936)- Haven’t read yet but would like to read: White Noise (1985)

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933)- Have read The Road (2006); would like to read No Country for Old Men (2005) and Blood Meridian (1985)

Toni Morrison (b. 1931)- Have read Jazz (1992); would like to read Beloved (1987) and Song of Solomon (1977)

Thomas Pynchon (b. 1937)- Have read The Crying of Lot 49 (1966); Would like to read Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

Philip Roth (b. 1933)- Have read The Ghost Writer (1979); would like to read American Pastoral (1997)

My Sister’s Keeper? Meh…just glad to be done so I can get back to Twitter and following Paul McDonald!

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult kept me mildly interested when reading it.  I got a new computer when I was 1/3 into the book so that took my attention away from it for 2 weeks.  I am just stuck to the computer now and am not reading as much as I was when my old computer wasn’t working!  There are just so many interesting things on the internet to be learning about.  Oh yeah and checking my Twitter all day.  Now I am not only following Paul McDonald on Twitter, I am following all of his fan Twitterers…which is at least 10.  Some are called @PaulyMcDsGals, @fansforpaul, @PaulMcDLover, @PaulMcDsArm, @PaulMcDsTeeth, @PaulsSexyVoice and so on. 

 It is quite amusing actually and I find myself getting sucked into the realm of fanatacism.  Really people…they are just people who happened to be lucky and talented enough to get on T.V. and made into overnight national celebrities.  I do really like Paul though…he has some major talent as depicted from my T.V. screen.  And of course pretty damn easy on the eyes as well.  He is so adorable and I think that plus his singing really gets the ladies and the fangirls going.  I downloaded this wallpaper and now have it on my background…I know…pathetic.  But it is just so fun! 

I voted 47 times last week….and Paul was in the bottom 3…I must do better this week!

History is Disturbing in so Many Ways

April 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I just saw the movie Amistad (1997) this evening.  I cried my frickin eyes out during several parts of the film.  When Cinque remembers what happened on the Tecora and the Amistad I could hardly stand it.  A few weeks ago I watched In the Heat of the Night (1967).  I could barely stand that either.  Racism and the subjugation of people makes me so angry and sad about humanity. 

I have been doing some research on slavery in America, the slave trade and abolitionists.  I came upon some historical documents and found this one.  It is quite lovely…yeah right.  Is it wrong if I blame Christianity for causing so much suffering in the past 2000 years?  The whole religious paradigm people live in directs their whole vision of the world.  Ever since I had a Native American teacher for U.S. History in high school have I hated seeing Jackson’s face on the $20 bill.  Here is a tiny part of why:

Andrew Jackson’s Second Annual Message

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; to enable them pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization and religion?

The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection. These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.
A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908, Volume II, by James D. Richardson, published by Bureau of National Literature and Art ,1908

All of my highlighting, obviously.  The words are such utter bullshit I can hardly stand myself and I am literally laughing over it.

Articles found here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/index.html