Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Offical Reading List- Fall Semester 2008

So I did it. I read 43 books this semester. Yeah. And I wonder why my grades suffered this semester (it's my worst semester academically yet). Though in my defense I did have to read at least 30 books for my YA lit class, so technically it was just this class that screwed me. I did find a couple books out there that I love and some that were not worth my time and should not have even been published, but I'm glad I'm done "speed reading". My quota on average for the semester was roughly 2 books per week. Crazy. Now I just have to explain to my parents who are paying for my schooling why I'm now going to have less than a 3.0. Joy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Inacuracy of Sparknotes

This is part of a passage that I found on Sparknotes.com about The Crucible when it is talking about the different themes and ideas that are present in its pages. However, I seem to disagree with one of the viewpoints that they have on empowerment when it comes to Abigail Williams. It continues as thus:


The witch trials empower several characters in the play who are previously marginalized in Salem society. In addition to being thus restricted, Abigail is also slave to John Proctor's sexual whims–he strips away her innocence when he commits adultery with her, and he arouses her spiteful jealousy when he terminates their affair. Because the Puritans' greatest fear is the defiance of God, Abigail's accusations of witchcraft and devil-worship immediately command the attention of the court. By aligning herself, in the eyes of others, with God's will, she gains power over society, as do the other girls in her pack, and her word becomes virtually unassailable, as do theirs.

No, I'm pretty sure that Abigail is practically the spawn of Satan, and it wasn't John Proctor that seduced Abigail, it was Abigail who seduced Proctor. I'm sorry but the way the Abigail's character is written in the play, she is too much a manipulative witch (no pun intended, though I mean to replace a different letter) to have Proctor being the one to take away her virginity and "innocence". If Abigail Williams is innocent when it comes to sex then I'm a $50 whore (and I've been told by a co-worker that this is the price paid for the cheapest bottom-of-the-barrel "lady of the night").

Similarly I've seen Sparknotes say that Hamlet has an Oedipus complex. Excuse me, what?
The motif of incest runs throughout the play and is frequently alluded to by Hamlet and the ghost, most obviously in conversations about Gertrude and Claudius, the former brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are now married. A subtle motif of incestuous desire can be found in the relationship of Laertes and Ophelia, as Laertes sometimes speaks to his sister in suggestively sexual terms and, at her funeral, leaps into her grave to hold her in his arms. However, the strongest overtones of incestuous desire arise in the relationship of Hamlet and Gertrude, in Hamlet’s fixation on Gertrude’s sex life with Claudius and his preoccupation with her in general.
Anyone who has read Hamlet know that this accusation of an incestous relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude is ridiculous- Hamlet is concerned that his mom has completely forgotten the memory of his father a month after he died and that she married his uncle because she wants to stay in power and keep her cushy life- I'm pretty sure he's not concerned that she's now having sex with his uncle now step-dad and not him. Let's be honest here. That's a little creepy. And I'm sure that Shakespeare couldn't and didn't write creepy stuff like that. He left thatkind of writing for the Marquis de Sade to tackle a couple hundred years later.

What I want to know is what is Sparknotes' fascination with sex and getting the story line wrong? Do they insist on getting the entire plot of a story wrong so that when an inscestous relationship actually shapes the plot of a story, they leave it out? Like saying that Oedipus actually didn't have sex with his mom and that the former phrase an "Oedipus Complex" is nothing more than a lie? The thing that I find stupid is that professors and those who believe they are God's gift to the world when it comes to interpreting literature read much more into what was written and try to fill their meaningless jobs with things to do such as finding new meanings for why Hamlet is upset that his mom is now shacking up with his uncle a month after his father's death, or calling John Proctor a pedafile. Thanks for letting me make my own interpretations of what the great authors have written, and ruining the literature experience for me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fat Girl Books

So I've been in the mood lately to read books that have the protagonist as "fat" or one could say a "normal" size. Here are a couple of books that have the main character as heftier or chubbier and my scale (ha- pun not intended) of whether they're worth reading or not:
scale= 1-5 with 5 being the highest

Artichoke's Heart
- 2 1/2
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things- 3
Squashed- 3 1/2
Jemima J- 4 ( though it is an adult book and is a little dirty but it is still a good read)
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging- 5 (very very funny and the main character is a well endowed, hilarious, narrator)
The Sugar Queen
- 3 1/2
My Cup Runneth Over- 4 (I haven't read it but my roommate thinks they're pretty good)
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes- 4
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp- 4 1/2
Fairest- 5 (I'm pretty sure that she's slightly bigger)

"Fat girl fiction" has seemed to take off and these are only a few books out there with main characters seen as fat by the general public.

Speed Readers

So I have a roommate who speed reads. Let's just say that I'm jealous of her and I want to kill her (in a loving way). Not only does she read a ton in a shorter amount of time, she reads all of the books that I want to read but can't because I'm human. At least twice a week I come home with a pile of books for her to devour- it's gotten to the point where I actually have to scour the shelves for more books because all of the ones that come in the back room she's already read, or are already in her looming pile. I felt like a drug dealer at first, but now I feel like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel to find things that are a) clean b) entertaining and something she'll like and c) one she hasn't read yet. Let me tell you- it's hard work. However, it's good for me because she's like my reading filter. I find books that look interesting to me, bring them home, tell her to read them, and then get her opinion and a synopsis of it 2 days later. It's great when I don't know whether or not I want to invest my time into each book, because I've already made her do it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

This Norwegian fairy tale is one of my favorites and I've read two versions that have been good spins on the classic tale. Edith Pattou's East and Jessica Day George's Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow both tell the same tell, but are different in many ways that you wouldn't think that they were originated from the same tale, except for of course the key elements that claim it as the classic. Both books were entertaining, and I recommend them to everyone. It's refreshing to read a fairytale once in a while that hasn't been slaughtered by Disney (not saying that Disney ruins everything, they just enhance/create new stories). When I read both books I couldn't help but finish them once I had started. Though I pretty much knew how both were going to end (it is a little predictable because it's a fairytale and so you know it's going to have a happy ending) but it's the journey that it took to get to that happy ending.

Just in case you were wondering, the basic gist of the story is that the main character is the youngest of several children, born to a family that is struggling to survive. As she grows up she learns that something greater is awaiting her in her future, which is about the time that a great white polar bear shows up at her front door demanding that she live with him. Realizing that her destiny is awaiting, and with the prodding of her parents to embark (due to the bounteous riches she and her family will gain if she goes) she decides to leave. She ends up in an elaborate castle with anything and everything she's ever wanted, though at night when she lies down to sleep, a man gets into bed with her (not like THAT) and sleeps beside her. She is plagued by the mystery of who the man is because it's too dark to see him each night, and each morning when she wakes he is no longer there.

I don't want to tell anymore of the story because if I do I'll give the second half of the story away, but just know that both books are phenomenal and great reads.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Young Adult Lit Class

So I'm taking a YA lit class at BYU and we have a set of in class reading that we have to do as well as guidelines for our outside reading. Here's a list of what we have to read this semester:

The Outsiders
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Buried Onions
Robert Cormier book- (we had to choose a book from a list of Cormier books which were, I am the Cheese, Tenderness, After the First Death, The Chocolate War, Tunes for Bears to Dance To, or Rag and Bone Shop. I chose Tenderness, which was the "worst" of them. By worst I mean it was the grittiest and had the least hope for mankind compared to the rest. If you've ever read Cormier you know that you're not in for a "light" read.)
Running Loose
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Out of the Dust
Blue Skin of the Sea
Howl's Moving Castle
Make Lemonade
American Born Chinese

We also have required "elective" reading which is:

Read at least one YA book by each of the following authors:
Laurie Halse Anderson
M.T. Anderson
Kevin Brooks
Lurlene McDaniel
Gary Paulsen
Paul Volponi
Jacqueline Woodson

Read at least one YA book from each of the following categories:
audio book
fantasy, science fiction, horror, or suspense
old time 'juvenile' fiction (pre-1920)
LDS author: [choose one] Crowe, Ellis, Heuston, Hughes, Leavitt, Plummer, Rallison, Randle
graphic novel
Printz Award winner or honor book

The good thing about the elective reading is that you can double dip or kill 2 birds with one stone by listening to a romantic fantasy book, which kills three items. I'll make a list of what I've read once I've got most of them read. I'm telling you, I really wish I could speed read to get in everything that I want to read.

Summer Reading Reality Check

So here's an update on what I actually read from my summer reading list. Though of course I didn't get to every author on the list, or at least some of them, I did make the attempt.

Sharon Creech: Heartbeat

C.S. Lewis: Prince Caspian

Meg Cabot: Ready or Not

Janet Evanovich:
One for the Money

Two for the Dough
Three to Get Deadly
Four to Score
High Five
Hot Six
Seven Up
Hard Eight
To the Nines
Ten Big Ones
Visions of Sugar Plums

Gail Carson Levine:

Ella Enchanted
The Fairy's Return
For Biddle's Sake

That was as far as I got as to reading things by authors on my summer reading list. I do make that list bigger than I could possibly ever read, but I like to have variety. I must say thought that Janet Evanovich captured most of my attention- especially since the protagonist has two main love interests.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't Worry, I'm Not Dead. But My Computer Is.

Yes, it has been a very long time since I have written- I have yet again been plagued by the computer destroying fairy and so have not had access to my laptop. ( I do have access to computers all around me, though I've been too lazy to make the trek up to BYU to use said computers). I do have plenty of books that I want to write on though and throughout these dark weeks have written down comments that I want to write in each post. Hey, when I shelve for 20+ hours a week every week and don't listen to music because my ipod has a battery life of 1 1/2 hours, I think "deeply" (cue sarcastic laughing).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Best Baking Cookbook

I always check out cookbooks from the library with good intentions of trying out some of the recipes, but when it comes to actually cooking something out of it, I fail miserably. However, I actually came across this cookbook (Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Baking) as I was shelving one day, took it home, actually figured out how hard it would be to make each recipe, and followed through in making several of the recipes. (It must be because I love bread, and there are tons of great bread recipes.) I highly suggest this cookbook above all others; I have made more things from this cookbook than I have any other.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Summer 2008 Reading List Thus Far

Sharon Creech
Meg Cabot (I know, I'm still in middle school)
Terry Pratchett
Douglas Adams
Chuck Palahunik
Frances Meyer
Christopher Moore
Lemony Snicket- I need to finish 10-13
Nick Hornby
Joanne Harris
Anita Diamant
Gail Carson Levine
C.S. Lewis
Jerry Spinelli
James Patterson
John Grisham
Janet Evanovich- I hear from old people at the library all the time that her Stephanie Plum series are hilarious
Eoin Colfer- I still need to read the Artemis Fowl series- I've been putting it off since roughly 6th grade

Right now I'm working on reading Fight Club- I'm about a 1/4 in, Ella Enchanted (which my student teacher Mrs. Spaulding never finished reading to us in Mrs. Foster's 5th grade class), Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, which I just started today, and am finishing up the latest book in the James Patterson Maximum Ride series. Crazy.

I'm On the Fence About This One

My friend came into work the other day and returned the book Dairy Queen, which I then asked if it was any good. Her response took a couple seconds, and then said (more or less), "Yeah...it was okay. There's nothing too special about it; I didn't really think it was good, but then there were times as I was reading it that I found I couldn't put it down. I mean, I knew that it wasn't that great, but for some reason I couldn't stop reading it. I guess that means it's good." I was intrigued and so instead of reading all the other books that were (and still are) piled on my desk, read this one instead. I found that her recommendation of this book pretty much sums it up. To give you a brief synopsis of what it's about, here goes: a girl who has 2 older brothers who play football, and a younger one who is destined for NFL greatness is set among a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She (D.J.) is forced (for lack of a better word) being the only one in her family who can milk the cows and take care of the farm due to her father's bad hip and her brothers' star careers in sports. As the book goes on D.J. ends up training the star quarter back of the rival high school's football team all summer and learns how to overcome her social awkwardness, inexperience with boys (other than her jock brothers), develops a voice (in the literal sense; she rarely talks), and learns to embrace herself and try out for her high school's football team. The first half of the book was mediocre, but once D.J. made the decision to try out for football, things picked up. My friend's opinion of the book sums up perfectly how I felt once I finished it. However, because the second half of the book showed promise, I'm now reading the sequel, The Off Season. I know. Go figure.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Newbery Award Winners (winners and honor books)

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Holes by Louis Sachar
The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White
The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Cathering, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Shabanu, the Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
Knee Knock Rise by Natalie Babbitt
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I've read all of these books and love them all. There's no specific order to them, but they all are entertaining to read.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Life of Marilyn From Her Own Mouth

As I was shelving books a couple weeks ago I came across this biography of Marilyn Monroe that caught my eye for three reasons: it was thin, had a pretty cover (yes, I judge books by their cover- you do too), and was written by Marilyn herself (with the help of a professional writer). I seldom like to read biographies or autobiographies just becuase I hate reading about facts and dates. However, I picked it up and started to flip through and found that each chapter is a little story and that there are no dates or typical "biography formatting" (cross references, footnotes, etc.).

I'm not a Marilyn Monroe lover and she has never been my idol (for dressing or acting like her), but after reading her autobiography I was surprised at how "normal" she is. The book covers roughly from her earlier childhood until her earlier stardom; I knew that she came from practically nothing, but I had no idea that when she reached her stardom she still had little to nothing and lived her life in humility (somewhat). I understand that this is one-sided being from her point of view, but I couldn't help but sympathize with her as she was seen only as a sex kitten which was forced upon herself and from which she tried to shy away. My heart broke as I learned that in the home of one of her foster parents, a tennant molested her and no one seemed to care to hear what he did.

I recommend reading this book- it puts another spin on Marilyn's life that gives her a more down to earth quality. It was a fast read, and the way that she jumps from story to story with each new chapter are like different flashes of memories.

Books I Can't Put Down

Adult Books
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Other Boleyn Girl
by Phillipa Gregory
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier
Angels and Demons (which is so much better than The Da Vinci Code) by Dan Brown
Women of Genesis series by Orson Scott Card

Teen Books
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Snow by Tracy Lynn
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley by Ann Rinaldi
Anne Frank and Me by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld
Alanna series by Tamora Pierce

Kids Books
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
From the Mixed-Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech
The Giver series by Lois Lowry
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
The Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan
Shabanu series by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White

All of these books or series have either made me read them until the wee hours of the morning and/or have made me angry at the person who made me stop reading them to answer their quesiton/unimportant task they need me to accomplish. All of these books are phenomenal and heave resonated with me look after I put them down. I'm sure there are other books like that that have had the same effect on me, but I just can't think of them right now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On the sixth day, there was a book blog...

So I finally broke down and decided to create a blog of all of the book lists that I have so that everyone I recommend books to can understand my reasonings for the suggestions. I plan on posting my lists of recommendations for books that I think you would like if you've read a certain book and want something along the same lines. Basically, it's like Amazon or a library's book recommendations based on certain interests, but what sets me apart from them is that I've pretty much read or want to read everything that I list and suggest. Also, it saves people from actually calling or stopping by and asking me for book ideas. Just kidding.