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Free-form Friday

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Prompted by a post by a close friend on a topic very near and dear to me, I think I’m going to make Fridays my “learn a little about Kirsten” day as opposed to learning about the books I’m reading. I’ll provide a link to a post, or create my own, about something related to my identity, my community, my little piece of the world. Maybe it’ll be deep and thoughtful, like today’s, or maybe it’ll be a photo-journal entry of my and Rachel’s most recent visit. Maybe a rant about the latest injustice in the workplace, or a rave about the new cosmetic product I couldn’t resist. Hopefully it’ll be interesting, fun, and enjoyable in some way for you.

Today’s link is to my friend’s blog entitled The Sartorial Butch (pictured above – isn’t she dashing?). This particular post is a bit off-topic from her typical stuff, but it really resonated for me and made me reflect on the ways misogyny is not reserved for males/men. I hope you’ll take a moment to read this thought-provoking post, and let me know what you think. How can you relate to the topic even if the language is different from what you’re accustomed to in your community and daily life? Is this something you’ve thought about considerably and have opinions to share? Something you’ve never really stopped to think about, but can come up with instances where it applies?

Head on over and drop a note, and let the SB know I sent you – take a look through her past posts, too; she’s got a fun blog with lots of useful hints and tips even for the non-butch-IDed among us.

Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

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Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Today’s question is a good one – it sent me to my LibraryThing catalog in search of a book I rated highly, by an author I haven’t heard, read, or seen much about in all of the places I do bookish things.

I picked up a remaindered copy of D. M. Cornish’s Foundling on a whim, and found the book to be far more intricate, richly illustrated – both in word and artwork – and thorough than I had anticipated. I happily purchased the second book, in hardcover no less (but with a coupon, of course), shortly after finishing the first in this series, called Monster Blood Tattoo. While both Foundling and its sequel, Lamplighter, are considerable in length and complexity of language, I found them to move swiftly and with  great momentum. I’m looking forward to the third installment, and have only found one other reader in my on-line and real world travels who has read these books, as well.

My reviews for both books can be found on my reading challenge post for 2009.

What author do you think deserves more attention than he or she receives from mainstream booksellers, reviewers, and publishers?

Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

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Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

It depends on why I’ve picked up the book. If it’s something that caught my eye but I’ve not heard of, I’ll read at least the first few sentences of the flap. If it’s been recommended by a friend or blogger, I typically get enough information from them and prefer not to gain any additional details from the blurb. I don’t rely on the flaps to decide whether I’m going to enjoy a new writer, as they’re not written by the author him- or herself; I’ll read the first page, or flip to somewhere in the middle and read a few sentences to get a feel for their voice.

How about you, how much do you like to know about a book going in? Do you go on intuition or get the details from the blurb, reviews, other sources?

A-Z Wednesday

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

My hunt for a Wednesday weekly was aided today by Joy, who introduced me to A-Z Wednesday hosted by Vicki at Reading at the Beach.

Simply select a book from your library whose title begins with this week’s letter and post a photo, title and synopsis, and a link, then swing by Vicki’s blog and drop a line directing everyone to your entry. Don’t forget to share it here, as well!

This week’s letter is “W,” and I went with The Westing Game (I didn’t see rules about articles counting or not counting for title beginnings, so I made up my own *wink*) by Ellen Raskin.

I first read this in elementary school, and didn’t realize it had been around for so long. I re-read it a couple of years ago, so forgive if my synopsis is vague or even imperfect in its details! The basic story is that a group of seemingly unconnected individuals and families all move into a new housing complex and are informed that they are beneficiaries of the recently-deceased multi-millionaire, Sam Westing. Westing has devised a competition for his fortune and set it forth in his will; the sixteen invited individuals are paired off and pitted against the other teams in a challenge for the inheritance. Raskin’s characters are brilliantly realistic, and her plot twists not reduced for an elementary reading level. Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys a cleverly written puzzle novel.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you have a good “W” book on your shelves? Tell me all about it!

Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

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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!

“Grease-Paint Avenue! I saw it instantly and it was marvelous, a street set out like a make-up box, with narrow, gilded houses, each one with a different coloured roof; and ours would be number 3 – with a chimney they colour of Kitty’s carmined lips!”


This comes from page 61 of Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet, which I’m reading for either the second or third time. Waters is perhaps my favorite writer at the moment, though I can’t say for certain that she’s my favorite author. Definitely in the top five, or even three, but it’s more her voice, her way with words, that captivates me in every single sentence of every single novel than the story she tells. I enjoy all of the tales and plots, and count Fingersmith among my top books of all time, but I haven’t loved all of her books as fiercely thus far.

How about you, whatcha readin’? Want to see if you can topple over Mt. TBR by throwing another one on the pile with your teaser?

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

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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?

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).

Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, October 20th, 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!

Today’s teaser comes from Larry Kramer‘s Faggots, part of my LGBT Literature Survey at City College of San Francisco. We’ve covered some really amazing novels, poems, and plays so far, and while this one has been a real struggle for me, I’m grateful for the exposure to something pretty far afield from what I usually read, and the insider’s look into a part of my gay brothers’ past. So without further ado…

“Fred danced and danced, like the crazy happy man he was. Dinky was back, had called, they’d dance together, these past Methuselah weeks of Dodger the Lodger always answering the phone: ‘He’s still away on business,’ what business?, I said I loved him, and he’s called!”

Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

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When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

I went through my entire library about two years ago, and purged all of the books I either (a) had read and knew I wouldn’t re-read, or (b) had never read and had no intention of reading (most of which I had no idea how I came by in the first place). I traded them primarily on BookMooch and also a few on PaperbackSwap, being more particular about the books I acquired through the same. It was the first voluntary book purge of my life, and it was painful, but necessary.
Since I joined LibraryThing and have been more deliberate about my reading selections, I’ve considered a second purge; having just moved myself, this is an ideal time. I have to go through my LT catalog and remove those books which were Mare’s or which she elected to keep that were ours, have those migrated to her new account, move the ones I’d like to replace to my Wish List collection, all that jazz. So, it’s going to be a huge project, but a very comforting one, a la Rob’s vinyl reorganization in High Fidelity.

Howsabout you?