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October, 2009

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Writers’ Wednesday

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I love, love, love The Writer’s Almanac. I listened to several podcasts in a row on the way home yesterday, sometimes paying attention, sometimes just letting Garrison Keillor’s voice wash over me without trying to focus on what he was saying so much as how he said it. One quote, however, jumped out at me, and I wanted to share it here.

“What I find to be very bad advice is the snappy little sentence, ‘Write what you know.’ It is the most tiresome and stupid advice that could possibly be given. If we write simply about what we know we never grow. We don’t develop any facility for languages, or an interest in others, or a desire to travel and explore and face experience head-on. We just coil tighter and tighter into our boring little selves. What one should write about is what interests one.” – Annie Proulx (emphasis mine)

I’ve personally balked against the “write what you know” idea for some time, partially because the only things I know seem mundane and commonplace and who wants to read about anything that can be described in those terms? Really though, writing, for me, isn’t about what I write – it’s about what I learn from what I’ve written. More often than not, my writing is full of questions. Perhaps not so much here, but my more personal writing, my raw and unpolished and unpretty writing, almost always pleads for a new level of understanding, a moment of clarity, an epiphany. And sometimes, I even get it – through a process that begins with putting the questions down on paper. Certainly the revelations don’t always come right away, but often enough they jump out at me upon revisiting the piece a week, a month, a year later. So am I writing about what interests me? I guess I am – I’m interested in answers. To everything. All the time.

As book bloggers, we’re all readers, sure, but we’re writers, too. What are your thoughts on the above quote? Do you have a favorite quote about writing?

And, while I’m at it, I’ve decided this will be a weekly topic. Because as much as reading was my first love, writing is my passion. It deserves a day all its own. I’ll create a button for it and everything :)

Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Technically this isn’t my “current” read because I finished it on my lunch break, but close enough. And given the book, I want to offer something tantalizing without giving anything away… So hard for a title that’s been all over book blogs for months! Today’s teaser comes from page 115 of Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire, sequel to The Hunger Games, which I re-read over the course of the read-a-thon. I went out and picked up Catching Fire the very next night after having planned to put it off until they were both in paperback. Um, just kidding. Anyway, moving on to your teaser for this glorious Tuesday!

“I don’t know exactly what my mother means by things starting again, but I’m too angry and hurting to ask. It’s registered, though, the idea of worse times returning, because when the doorbell rings, I shoot straight out of bed.”

I really enjoyed this one, and couldn’t be happier that I re-read The Hunger Games; I was pretty hard on Collins in my initial review, and think I needed some time and space from reading Battle Royale before I could give it a crack at standing on its own. (Also, I feel like I’ve said this in ten or twelve different places this week/end; see what a 24-hour read-a-thon can do to your mental faculties???)

How about you, whatcha readin’? Wanna share a couple of sentences?

Read-a-thon wrap-up

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

dreamstime_readathong

And here we are, on the other side of my first 24 hour read-a-thon. What an incredibly enjoyable, educational, and humbling experience! My stats aren’t as thorough as most readers’, primarily because I signed up at the last minute and decided I was just going to read and observe this time around. I think that was the best thing I could have done, because knowing myself, I would have set some pretty high expectations as far as books completed and pages read and been disappointed rather than having tons of fun and gathering lots of great info for future read-a-thons.

Books completed: 3

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg; 162 pages.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; 374 pages.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl; 154 pages.

Books abandoned: 1

Hood by Stephen Lawhead. I started with this one and quickly realized that it would take a HUGE dedication of time to get through it; I left it at page 45. I may or may not give this another go another time… It wasn’t really grabbing me.

Books not completed: 1

The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer. I’m enjoying this one, perhaps not as much as I expected, but enough to keep working on it today. I’ll probably borrow the sequel, but don’t know if I’ll buy the series. We shall see. Concluded the read-a-thon on page 173 of this one.

Total pages read: 908. Huh, not as low as I expected. Not as high as I expected before the day began, but I’m a bit of an overachiever that way :)

Hours slept: 3. I crashed for two hours in the middle of the day, and an hour around 2:30 this morning. I only got about three hours of sleep Friday night, so I’m positive I could have lasted the whole time if I’d managed more than that!

Mini-challenges completed: 6

Trending on Twitter

Where in the World is the Read-a-thon?

What books do you reread, and why?

Wisdom of Age

Children’s books “Gimme Five”

Turn to page…

I would have loved to do so many more of them, and probably would have if I’d been at home. I felt a little disoriented though, even though I only moved from here less than a month ago, and mostly just wanted to hunker down with the books and the cats.

I received so many comments from great cheerleaders along the way, and can’t wait to go through and check out your blogs and watch the count on my feed reader grow and grow, so that’s what I’m off to do once I’ve refilled my coffee mug :) I hope everyone’s day of recuperation is going swimmingly, and thanks to all who made the read-a-thon such a wonderful event!

Gimme five!

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

dreamstime_readathong

This mini-challenge was practically custom-made for me; between its similarity to High Fidelity style top five lists and my love of children’s books, definitely right up my alley. I’m trucking along with my reading, though, so I’ll make this brief and link to the books at a later date.

1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Everyone knows what they’re like, and sometimes it just feels good to be cranky about them, darnit!

2. Eloise. My best friend and I both love Eloise’s quirky randomness and mischievous antics; we’ve plans for Eloise tattoos someday. No joke.

3. Matilda. Being a precocious kid and the quiet, readerly nerd in my youth, Matilda was an easy character for me to relate to, and that hasn’t changed in twenty-odd years. Go figure.

4. The Poky Little Puppy. My favorite golden book, it always makes me happy inside to see or read it.

5. The Giving Tree. I love all of Shel Silverstein’s work, but this book will always strike a chord in me.

As for the reading, I’m in part three of The Hunger Games and hoping to finish it before the midway point of the next hour. I’m probably going to go back to The Time Travelers for another hundred pages or so, then pick up a re-read from the children’s/YA books here; James and the Giant Peach and The Lightning Thief are options, though I may go for Susan Cooper to read something new instead.

Keep up the great work, readers and cheerleaders; we’re in the home stretch!

Update time…

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

dreamstime_readathong

Am just under a hundred pages into The Time Travelers; will return to it later, but need a break from the story and have seen so many Twitter updates about The Hunger Games that I’m going to give that a re-read. I’d pulled Battle Royale, which has a similar premise, as a possible book for the readathon, but I know it’ll take up several hours’ worth of reading at a fast clip. I’d rather hold off and give that one a luxurious read (if one can say that about a gruesome and psychopathic book).

Just got out of the shower; think it helped lift my lids a bit so I shouldn’t start flagging again for a while. Am trying to avoid coffee, but may have to indulge this afternoon. All it means is that once the caffeine starts really flowing, I have to keep it up, right? I can do that. :) Anyway, back to it – hope everyone is making great progress and having fun!

Brief readathon update!

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

dreamstime_readathong

OK, we’re entering the sixth hour, and I am feeling like a SLACKER! I’ve finished E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, started Stephen Lawton’s Hood but ditched it after four chapters because it just felt too historical-fiction-y for me (I have a desperately hard time keeping track of all those rulers and lands and alliances), and am beginning The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer. I also have The Time Thief if this proves to be a winner.

Would love to hear anyone else’s progress – drop a link to your own update post here, or come follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/aglaia531 – and I’ll follow ya back to keep up :) Happy reading, everyone, and thank you so much to the hosts and cheerleaders; you all are making this so much fun!

Trending on Twitter!

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

The readathon has been on the Twitter trending topics all morning from what I can see; so much fun! I think I’m spending more time refreshing my Echofon view than reading… Oops. At any rate, for this hour’s mini challenge, we’ve been asked to provide a Twitter screenshot of #readathon trending; here’s one from my iPhone app for my contribution.

twitter

The image links to my Twitter page; come watch if you wanna see what’s going on with my day of reading. Whew, this took longer than I had anticipated – must get back to a book already!

Book List

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

So my book selection for the readathon isn’t very varied as far as genre and reading levels go, but I think I’ve got a good chance of getting through quite a bit if the books are as good as I’ve heard they are. Nearly all of these have been highly praised on LibraryThing, and the only re-read on the stack is Takami’s Battle Royale. I’m also a little under a hundred pages into John Grisham’s The Associate, and have the Harry Potter books on standby if I just can’t get into anything at any point.

in no particular order

Given that (a) I’m not on my own computer, so the absence of my LibraryThing cache and the presence of a new-to-me browser would slow me down, and (b) I heart my iPhone, I’ll be using Twitter and/or Facebook to update along the way. I’m going to unlock my Twitter account (aglaia531) for the readathon, and will add you on Facebook (Kirsten Griffith) if you state in a message sent with your friend request that you’re along for the readathon ride.

And on that note, I’m going to veg with my kitties and some NCIS before getting a few hours of sleep to prepare for the big event!

Read-a-thon? Why not?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I’ve been hesitant to commit to Dewey’s read-a-thon, primarily because my life has been so crazy that I can hardly find a solid hour, let alone twenty-four of them, to dedicate to reading. However, the timing has worked out so that I will be house-and-cat-sitting and therefore unable to make progress on my own unpacking and settling project, so what better excuse?

http://24hourreadathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/dreamstime_readathong.jpg

I’m not going to have my own library on hand, so I’ll go through my ex’s books tonight and select a stack of titles she kept that I’d like to read but haven’t yet; those will be my main focus, and I’ll probably go with YA fantasy series for fillers if I get in a rut. My goal, though, is to complete books and not skip around so much as to leave several in various states of completion. I’ll also make sure to have lots of snacky foods and beverages at the ready, though I’ve become quite adept at reading and cooking simultaneously over the years :)

Are you participating in the read-a-thon? Is it your first time, or are you a veteran? Got any tips for a last-minute newbie?

Hidden in plain view Thursday

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

From Tutu’s Two Cents, a blog I started reading because of our geographical connection; she’s a Mainer, and I’m a former Maine…. resident. :) I like the idea of choosing a random book to single out, as I often forget the answers to the very questions she asks about the title highlighted by the random generator for this weekly.

Welcome to the weekly feature where we use Random.org to pick a book from our library shelves (real or virtual) and bring it out into daylight.  To join in, pick a random book from your library and tell us:

  • title, author, #of pages, edition, (tags, and collections if LT)
  • why that book is in your library, (how and when you acquired the book)
  • whether you’ve read it or not
    • if so did you like it and why;
    • if not, do you plan to read it?

My LibraryThing catalog view is set to 100 books per page, so I first chose a page (5) and then a book on that page (55) and came up with… Loser, by Jerry Spinelli; paperback, 224 pages, YA fiction. My review (which is brief because, well, you all know I hate writing reviews): This book had me in gasping, gut-wrenching sobs for the first half, and wondrous contemplation for the second. A simple, swift read, but one that brilliantly captures the soul of a child as he leaves the emotional safety of a loving home and comes in contact with the world around him, its cruelties immense and looming.

I wish I could remember where I got the recommendation; I really need to start using the private comments in LT for that. At any rate, I loved Spinelli’s prose, was absolutely enamored of Donald (the protagonist), and will certainly be reading more by this author (have already purchased Stargirl but – say it with me, now – haven’t gotten to it yet).