Aug 26, 2011

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!

Children's Books

Adorable children's book trailer.


Autostraddle gives me one more reason to hate New Jersey & FOX news but to love Sherman Alexie. Read Autostraddle's article, "Conservatives Can't Handle the Reading Rainbow, "Lesbian Orgy" Books Taken Off NJ Summer Reading List", then go read Sherman Alexie's eloquent and passionate Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy article "Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood".
  • "I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed."
Why Accredited Colleges Online should have this list, who knows, but check out "20 Celebrities With Stunning Home Libraries". While you're there, you might as well also check out "11 Literary Friendships We Can Learn From" - not so much for the learning but for the literary friendships themselves.

An interesting selection of books recommended on the Rosie Says blog: "Books for Dudes by Chicks".

On the topic of book lists here are "10 Books for a Summer Field Trip". I've requested Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams from my library.

For a laugh - "40 Publishing Buzzwords, Cliches, and Euphemisms Decoded" as compiled on the blog One Minute Book Reviews.

Essay/Short Story

An oldie but a goodie - a 2003 piece Sherman Alexie wrote for The New Yorker entitled "What You Pawn I Will Redeem".


Booktracks is a new company that has developed a way for e-readers to have soundtracks. Read about their new start-up here. This may almost be worth getting an e-reader for. Almost.

Scout Books: Little Books for Big ideas


This video hits two categories in one: Typography & Book Trailer of the Day 

Okay, 2nd Book Trailer of the Day

Just one more reason got love Jane Lynch.

And last but not least, just one more reason to love Dorothy Allison as she talks about why being a writer still matters.

Aug 19, 2011

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!

Children's Books

Subcategory: Spoofs

Twilight: 4 books in 1 Minute

The Harry Potter story told by someone who only saw the last movie and didn't read any of the books.


Flavorwire's "Cool New Websites Every Bookworm Should Bookmark"

"Overrated: Authors, critics, and editors on 'great books' that aren't all that great" by Juliet Lapidos at Slate

Autostraddle has a round-up and discussion of Lesbian Pulp Fiction, beginning in the 50s and 60s and leading up to the series written by Monica Nolan today.

Flavorwire's "The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults in History". My favorites:
15. William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
14. Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

The Good Men Project, one of my all-time favorite blog/websites, features an impressive list of "The Best LBGT Books of All Time," reported as 5-title lists compiled by some leading contemporary LBGT writers.

Websites is a book recommendation website modeled after the Pandora model - by comparing the elements of book content such as description, pacing, density, perspective, and dialog, and what an individual prefers in each category, book recommendations are made to fit your reading tastes.

Book-related Products You Don't Need but Are Fun to Have

Out-of-Print Clothing is a company that "celebrates the world's great stories through fashion. Our shirts feature iconic and often out of print gook covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art."
My one question for them - why you gotta have different shirts for men & women? What if a man wants to buy a P&P shirt or a woman wants to buy one that isn't so form-fitting? Despite being socially-conscious and partnering with Books for Africa, a project that donates books to children in Africa without access to any, Out-of-Print needs to become a little more gender-conscious in their offerings (in my humble opinion).

Kate Spade has a line of book clutches(like the one you see here). Pick yours up for a tidy $325 with these titles to choose from:

Long Live the Book 
Abe Books's response to the "I Hate Books" Facebook page.

Aug 16, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'm Surprised I Enjoyed

The Broke and the Bookish, a brilliant book blog, 
hosts a weekly top ten list meme.

I like this meme because I like lists. I like this meme because it reminds me of the Top 5 lists from High Fidelity (by Nick Hornby as a book, starring John Cusak as a movie). And I like this meme because it causes me to think long and hard about book-related topics. So here goes:

Today's list is a freebie, so I've chosen to do  
Top Ten Books I'm Surprised I Enjoyed

1. The Violin Maker: Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop by John Marchese

I picked this up because I liked the format of the book - slim, long like a violin, with a well-designed cover. It was well-written in a chatty, informative style that was reminiscent of reporting without being convoluted. It wove between the history of violin-making traditions and the present Brooklyn-based workshop. All-in-all, it was quite lovely and a nice change to read some literary non-fiction.

2. Tepper Isn't Going Out: A Novel by Calvin Trillin

A friend in college handed this to me. She was a New Yorker, from the Village, will live and die there, and as I'm not of that ilk, I wasn't thrilled to have a book about those sorts of New Yorkers recommended to me. But Mr. Trillin is hysterical in a sly, witty, dead-pan, describing an everyday scenario in the most tongue-in-cheek and reasonable way that I was instantly hooked and now devour everything he writes, fiction and non.

3. Three Night in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager by Buzz Bissinger

Though I've written about my love of baseball before, I also believe I've written about how I like to let baseball knowledge come to me via second sources (also known as eavesdropping on conversations around me). I honestly don't know what made me pick this book up, but I'm so glad I did. The drama, the rush of excitement, the tension between teams, the anecdotal baseball knowledge, and the high-quality writing makes me appreciate baseball so much more than I ever did before.

4. On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar

Written by women, for women, this book doesn't dumb it down but instead lays it all out there - what you need to know about your money, how to manage it, how to save for your goals, how to spend it wisely, etc., step-by-step. I think every high school graduate and college graduate and grad school graduate should receive one (and yes, hopefully on each occasion so that if you make it all the way through grad school, you'll have read this 3 times over and maybe some of it will have sunk in).

5. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

I read this way before Eat, Pray, Love was published which is why I was SO disappointed in that book and put it down after 10 pages. HERE is a smart, funny, introspective novel about a modern, independent woman of a certain age traveling the world in a thoughtful and intelligent manner and if she happens to find some romance somewhere, good for her because she's not all giggly about it and instead values the importance of thinking for herself and not in relation to how others will see her.

6. Knock Yourself Up: No Man? No Problem: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom by Louise Sloan

First, let me just say I hate the cover of this book and the middle subtitle "No Man? No Problem". This made me all the more surprised to enjoy the writing, the information, the discussions of pros, cons, outside pressures, internal pressures, society expectations, and ultimately choosing your own way through the quagmire that is having a baby in America, single or not.

7. A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson

In all honesty, I was way too young to be reading this book and not because it described sex or alcohol or drugs or abuse or anything of that sort but because I'm not a middle-aged woman questioning my marriage and living Kate Chopin's The Awakening by taking a vacation from things in my life and moving away to the sea. And yet there was something about her introspection that really pulled at me, as if it was giving me a taste of what would or could happen in my own life if I didn't get my act together and really get to know myself now. Sad but inspiring, too.

I have no idea. The wordplay maybe? The incredibly well-done film version? The huge ampersand on the cover? I don't know why, I just love it.

And to switch things up, here are two books I thought I'd like, but absolutely abhor instead.

9. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I apologize in advance to Ms. Emily Crowe for this, but I really couldn't stand this book. Also, full disclosure, I put it down after about 80 pages so can't speak to the full text. In the short piece I read, I thought the voice of the narrator was supremely unauthentic as a man tried to write as a man writing from the point-of-view of his mother whom he didn't ever know. In addition, it seemed that in terms of the storyline itself, all the parts I wanted to know about were the parts glossed over or missing. Then there were the incredibly detailed surgical descriptions which I thought were unnecessary to the story. Lastly, though this normally doesn't bother me, and yes, I know the young woman was a nun, but the constant Catholic, God, Catholicism, religion, etc. references were way too heavy for my enjoyment. It was the sort of experience where, because I have a friend that loves it and had heard so much about it, I kept checking the cover, title, author, and ISBN to make sure I had the correct book in hand because my reaction was SO drastically different from all the recommendations. I'm sorry to say this simply wasn't the book for me.

10. American Shaolin by Matthew Polly

It's difficult for me to speak, talk, write, or even think about this book without using strong language, but basically if you're going to be a self-centered American prick about it, you shouldn't get to write a book about your experience with a different culture. Take an Anthropology class and learn how to be culturally sensitive, you arrogant fuck. Also, if you get off your fat ass and actually practice some of the training and dedication these monks were kind enough to let you view, then maybe I'll have a little bit of respect for you, you piece of shit poser. There, don't say you weren't warned.

Aug 12, 2011

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!


"The Best 100 Closing Lines from Books", according to UK's Stylist.

Flavorwire's "10 Real-Life Places That Inspired Literary Classics". Also, don't miss Jen Ross's beautiful photographs of the house that inspired the house in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fizgerald. The house, sadly, was torn down.

Thoughtful and provocative article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "We Can't Teach Students to Love Reading". Even though I'm of the mindset that I can still find the right book to entice anyone, I do believe we can't teach everyone to love reading the same way I do (and probably you do).

The Hairpin's "Favorite Books of the Secretly Jerky". My favorite:
  • Secretly a Blubbering Manchild: Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
    I'm not saying this is a bad book. This is a pretty good book! I'd still like to raise two points. One, when a dude says it's his favorite, I automatically think "So he hasn't read anything since tenth grade English." And two, any time a person over the age of 18 tells you how much they identify with Holden Caulfield, it's a warning sign. Like a warning sign with flashing lights and shrieky sirens and a third alarming thing. I mean, I'm not telling you how to live your life, ladies. I'm just letting you know what you're walking into. Do it with your eyes open.


The Hairpin is a women's general interest blog that reminds me of Ladies' Home Journal, if the Ladies' Home Journal suddenly became more feminist. They do have a books section, one article of which is listed above in the "articles" section.

Jen Campbell over at This Is Not the Six Word Novel has a series of posts entitled "Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops". As a former bookseller I can attest to the truth in these.

Book-related Products You Don't Need but are Fun to Have

Personal Library Kit

I Read a Book pad (no, I don't mean for your child, I mean to give to the teenager or college student in your life)

BookBook - the laptop case that looks like a book - my personal favorite.

How many ways can you reuse old library cards? According to Etsy you can make notebooks, Save-the-Dates (don't miss adding a book page to the inside of an envelope), and even gift tags.


Street Books is a "bicycle-powered mobile library for people living outside" in Portland, OR.

Aug 9, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Underrated Books

The Broke and the Bookish, a brilliant book blog, 
hosts a weekly top ten list meme.

I like this meme because I like lists. I like this meme because it reminds me of the Top 5 lists from High Fidelity (by Nick Hornby as a book, starring John Cusak as a movie). And I like this meme because it causes me to think long and hard about book-related topics. So here goes:

Top Ten Underrated Books 

1. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Not only a charming movie starring Frances McDormand, Ciaran Hinds, Amy Adams, and Lee Pace, this was originally a book published in 1938. It is one day in the life of a woman who pretends to be a social secretary. A fabulous slice-of-life look into the lives of women of many social standings in the late 1930s.

Sadly Nora Hague's only published novel, this is an epistolary novel taking place in the 1860s that spans two continents, and discusses race relations, slavery, socio-economic standing, early feminism, Europe's fashionable obsession with the spirit world, and interracial love among many other topics in this incredibly researched, well-written, dual-narrated epic.

3. Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott

I think this YA novel got lost somehow among all the other more paranormal books coming out in 2008, but this fantasy novel features a very strong female protagonist who not only kicks butt, finds love, saves her man rather than the other way around, but matures to lead the people she was born to lead.

4. Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume

This stand-alone middle grade reader is perfect for all audiences charmed by the National Book Award winning series The Penderwicks. A little quieter, yet equally engrossing, this book tells the story of lonely Cornelia who befriends Ms. Somerset across the hall and hears all about her amazing adventures with her sisters. In retelling these stories, soon Cornelia makes friends of her own age. Encourages travel, independent young women, imagination, and friendship.

5. M.A.S.H.: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker

Though the movie version starring Donald Sutherland is a scream, the short story chapters contained in this novel are equally hilarious and worth the read.

6. Alexandra Ripley as an author

You knew I was going to sneak this in here. Yes, she's the author of my favorite book, Scarlett, and though that was originally a New York Times bestseller when first published, no one remembers it now. They don't remember it almost as much as they don't remember Alexandra Ripley wrote several other books, too, and they were just as good. 

7. Nicola Griffith as an author

I don't read much "lesbian fiction" and in fact, picked up my first book from this author without knowing the main character or the author was gay. What draws me to the series Nicola Griffith writes about Aud Torvingen are the complexities of her characters, the noir feel of her writing, and the setting descriptions that enable me to see the place without having her give me a drop-by-drop description of the weather conditions. I absolutely recommend her for gay and non-gay readers alike.

8. You by Charles Benoit

I firmly believe every person who has a teenager in their life in any way should read this book. Especially those who have teenagers who "showed so much potential" but seem to have lost it along the way somewhere. Read this. Understand what might be happening. Work to change it.

9. Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

Despite what you may think, working in a bookstore does not mean you get to sit there and read all day. I picked up this book intending to only read enough to know what it was about to recommend it, and 100 pages later got a scolding because I was still standing in the same place at the cash register completely enthralled. Spine-tingling but not nightmare-inducing, this is Christian Moerk's only novel published in the States, and in fact, may be his only novel published in English, which means I now need to go learn Dutch so I can read everything else he's written.

10. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Last but not least, this is a heart-wrenching and heart-warming memoir about the lifelong friendship between Ann Patchett and her BFF. It really reveres female friendships and discusses how they change as people grow up and move away and yet still are connected to those we love.

Aug 5, 2011

Friday Round-Up

Each week I round-up all the (mostly book-related) articles/blog posts/book reviews/websites/videos that entertained me during the week. Enjoy!


"10 Action Librarians" featured on The Mary Sue. Need I say more?

NPR Books recommends "Laugh Yourself Cool: 5 Funny Books to Beat the Heat".
I'm one of those readers that forgets completely where she is and really does laugh out loud, even if I'm in my office or on a crowded train car. I'll have to add one or two of these to my list.

Having recently pimped my own ride, "Reading and Its Rewards," an article by Maile Meloy (doesn't that sound like an Agatha Christie character?) from the New York Times about reading to earn a bike was a sweet trip down memory lane to my own childhood book reports (though with no bike as incentive - I just happened to be the child of academics who thought summertime book reports would help me later in life. As much as I hate to admit my parents were right, they did.).

"Favorite Snacks of the Great Scribblers" by Wendy Macnaughton over at the New York Times made me think what my writing snack is. Admittedly it's been a little while, but if I'm feeling really indulgent, probably chocolate and peanut butter-covered pretzels. 

To counter last week's Hipster Lit article, here's Flavorwire's "Yuppie Lit: Books About the Filthy Rich".

The world's first waterproof book - discuss.

Not gonna lie, I stole this entire thing from Shelf Awareness:

Good Advice: Live with More Books than You Read

"He should live with more books than he reads, with a penumbra of unread pages, of which he knows the general character and content, fluttering round him. This is the purpose of libraries.... It is also the purpose of good bookshops, both new and secondhand, of which there are still some, and would that there were more. A bookshop is not like a railway booking-office which one approaches knowing what one wants. One should enter it vaguely, almost in a dream, and allow what is there freely to attract and influence the eye.

"To walk the rounds of the bookshops, dipping in as curiosity dictates, should be an afternoon's entertainment. Feel no shyness or compunction in taking it. Bookshops exist to provide it; and the booksellers welcome it, knowing how it will end." —Economist John Maynard Keynes, as quoted in a Canberra Times piece headlined "Bookshops about more than just purchasing."


The Book Cover Archive: An Archive of Book Cover Designs and Designers

I totally want to team up with the folks at Little Free Library. Maybe after my next carpentry class, I'll build my own.

Help Ex-Borders Employees. And that's all I'm going to say on the subject.

Can't find a book at the library? Even if it's the BPL, a fantastic library system, that sadly can't always keep up with my eccentric tastes? Check out Paperback Swap.


Want to drool over fonts all day? Sign up for emails and a hardcopy mailed right to your house of fonts produced by House Industries' Photo-Lettering (aka PLING). While you're at it, you should also sign up for the House Industries email.