Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hello, and welcome, and good to meet ya!

Hi y'all,

This is just a quick note to serve as an introduction to my website. It was briefly a book blog in the summer of 2013, and has since remained untouched; I encourage you to take a gander at the posts beneath this one, highlighting my saunter down memory lane as I discuss all the books I have "been involved with" throughout my life. It was a lot of fun, and if you should feel the need to do the challenge yourself, there is a post with all the lists at the very beginning (end?).

Thanks for stopping by! Despite the fact this website isn't much of a blog anymore, it nevertheless serves as the best home for my online self, and I'm happy to have you here. Check out my contact me page to get to know me better. This website is sorely out of date.

Cheers,
Sam

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Book I Admired for its Body

I have other plans for this blog, I swear.

It's just right now...my whole life is revolving around books. I had a huge pile--probably 40+--of books I hadn't read yet (I know, I know, there are others out there with way more than that; my problem wasn't nearly so advanced as some) but to me that number was still a disgrace. So I have been concentrating on reading and reading and reading, especially this summer--flying through all these books, hoping to get to the end of the pile before the end of the year. (Fun fact: I found a receipt in one of the books I read earlier this year dated from 2010...yeah, that's when I bought it.)

And now I'm down to only thirteen! Everybody say, YAY!

But unfortunately that means I only have one thing on my mind, and consequently only one thing to blog about: more books. I haven't even been writing this summer (silly of me since summer is when I have the most time, but then I get lazy and writing looks a lot like work, and it's easier to pick up someone else's book than to think about my own). But just because I haven't been writing, doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about writing; it is both a blessing and a curse to pick up a book and read it as a writer; it's an entirely different experience, I tell you. And there are some books where the writing is noncommittal but I focus on the story; there are other books where the writing itself is what grabs me; and always a mixture of the two.

And then there are the books that captivate, fascinate, intrigue, and impress me, based solely on their craft, their construct, alone. It's like admiring a man for his body over his personality , forsaking the face for the love of those sweet, sweet abs.

Which isn't to say that a book with a great body doesn't also have a great personality. In fact, the one I'm thinking of right now is quite the opposite--it's got it all. A fascinating plot-line, a deep, jarring, sometimes uncomfortable look into the human psyche and what makes us human, as well as some just good stories--but what really gets my heart beating faster with this baby is its execution of all those things.

Want to know which one it is?

  
World War Z by Max Brooks

If you've seen the movie and think you know what this book is about, forget it. You don't. (Don't get me wrong though, I enjoyed the movie, existing as something separate and unrelated to the novel.) It says it there on the cover--an "oral history"...that is, the entire book is conducted like an interview between the author and men and women who survived the war--and it's not just one person or a group of them, with intertwining stories. They are all separate and different and unique, and the only thing linking them is their encounter with the living dead. It's basically like a collection of short stories, except they're not told in the normal narrative format.

Imagine it: a book without a cohesive story arc (well, there actually is, sort of--Brooks bends the rules but doesn't always break them), without a proper protagonist, without one person to get behind and root for the entire way, and with a barely sentient group of antagonists! Where's the main character? Where's their personal enemy? The one overall goal? The single storyline? None of that exists in this novel! (Is it even a "novel"?)

But it works. Anyone can tell you that. I've barely begun to question why because I can't stop admiring it. I can't imagine what it must have been like trying to write this, each "interview" at a time, separate but related, mismatched and all over the place, each time introducing a new character, a new way of speech and thought, a new setting, a new problem. Sometimes these people aren't even sympathetic or likeable at all, but the book sure is! I'd love to have a nice long chat with Max Brooks about his methods and notes and first drafts and his craft in general. It's a glorious approach, and I love the way he's broken down all the constructs of the traditional narrative.

Want to know a secret? I haven't even finished the book yet. I'm only halfway through. But I was so smitten by the way it was written (oh, rhyme not intended but now that's it's out there it's staying) that I couldn't wait to finish it before I posted about it; I had to tell everyone right now about this book with the beautifully sculpted body. Yowza.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Books I Confused with My Real Life

All right, I know the book challenge thing is over. But that doesn't mean I can't stop posting about books, does it? Certainly not!

Shopaholic Series, by Sophie Kinsella

And I cannot let these books go by without a word of farewell. If you recall Day 31: The Book that Made Me Laugh Out Loud, you will remember me telling you about Becky Bloomwood, of Confessions of a Shopaholic. And I mentioned that I felt a reread coming on--and a reread is what happened, after which I promptly began to work my way through all six of these glorious books, one right after another after another, until the lines between novels blurred, and the lines between her life and mine blurred even more.

I can honestly say as I was reading these novels, my spending went up, because every time I went out I had Becky on the brain, and started to think like her--and she always goes for the purchase (yikes!). I was not merely a reader of these books, I was a part of these people's lives. For example, when I was reading Shopaholic Ties the Knot, I switched my ring to my left hand and pretended it was an engagement ring. And when I was on Shopaholic and Baby, well...

But sadly, I just closed the cover on the last page of the last book (for now) in the series. Sophie Kinsella has left it open for another whirlwind adventure, but the most recent one came out in 2010 and so far I can see no announcements for a seventh, to my utter dismay. Now, at least, I can get my life (and wallet!) back. But no other books I've ever read have ever helped me escape so much as these. And as I reluctantly move on to other books, I feel as if I am losing friends. Goodbye, Becky. Goodbye, Luke. Goodbye, Suze, and Tarkie, and all the rest of you. And thanks so much for letting me spend time, and money, with you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

35: The Book I Keep Coming Back To (And Always Will)

So, here we are, at last.

This is the post I was most excited for, because this is the book I am most excited about. I have probably read this book at least ten times--my paperback copy is in tatters and I can quote certain pages line for line--nearly every year since eighth grade, each September, when the new release in the series comes out. Sometimes, when I'm feeling adventurous (or if I'm scared on an adventure), I pretend to be Jacky Faber (when I'm not pretending I'm Indiana Jones, that is). If I could be anyone in literature, I would pick her. No hesitation.

 
Bloody Jack, by LA Meyer

These are my favorite books in the whole world, and like I've said, I've been reading them for almost ten years...they aren't as well known as they should be, and it's a darn shame. The main character is witty and daring and charming, the plot compelling--and don't think I'm missing those little literary nuggets you're throwing in there, Mr. Meyer! (In this novel she has a run in with the street gang from Oliver Twist and later in the series she meets Ishmael aboard the Pequod very briefly). It's historical, it's educational, it's entertaining, it's literary. It's beautiful.



And with that, this list ends. It's been a heck of a time, folks, and I'll always be on the lookout for more books to post about. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for other exciting creative endeavors and blog posts! Just not, you know, every day...but if you've been following this, don't stop! I'd check back at least once a week if I were y'all! 

 
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

34: The Book I Admire from a Distance

...and then suddenly I blinked, and the weekend was over.

We were supposed to be done by now, folks, and I'm sorry to drag it out! Haha. But I hope you guys had a lovely weekend spent off-line, and a great father's day, to boot!

All right, the second to last post about my relationship with books: it's that one I keep gazing at longingly, the one I sometimes hold in a bookstore, but put it down and run off without every time. The book I spy on sometimes, like you would your crush in the hall, watching and admiring but never actually approaching; it's  the book I sometimes flip through but will never, ever read.

 
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo 
UNABRIDGED

This thing is massive! I tell you, I have Bibles at home smaller than this. So next time you're in a bookstore, find this book. Make sure the copy you're holding isn't the abridged version (it totally doesn't count), take a long look at it, and then decide to read--and finish--it all. Go on, I dare you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

33: The Book I Loved Once, But it Didn't Work Out

Wow, this thing is winding down! I can't believe there are only two more days to go!

To start the countdown, I will be starting with the relationship that failed: Doctor Who books.





Let me make one thing very, very clear: I bloody love Doctor Who.

But seriously. I do. I could go on for hours, so if you want to talk Doctor Who, you know where to find me. It was a few years ago that I was just beginning to really grow obsessed. I had to get my hands on all things Who and fast. (To this day I still have a ton of memorabilia.) And one thing I started in on with a particular relish were the book adventures. My two great loves combined, right? Doctor Who and books could not equal a greater love.

And it is true that the stories are not bad, or even poorly written. They're decently told and actually quite entertaining, but don't let the fact that it comes bound in proper book format and is sold in proper bookstores fool you: all it is is glorified fanfiction. (Which, as a girl who got her start in writing in Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings fanfiction, I will never condone or mock fanfiction--it's the heart of every fandom.)

It's just that, well, there are infinite Doctor Who books out there and it's hard to stop once you've started (I had to have read thirty or more; they're quick reads, too). The reason these are "the books I loved once" (because, oh, how I loved them--I'd go to the library and check out each one I'd never heard of, have a stack a foot high, work my way through them, go to the bookstore and buy all the new ones, every time I bought more, I just couldn't stop) "but it didn't work out" is because eventually I got sick of them. One day I thought, "you know what? I haven't read a real book in awhile" and picked up something else and never looked back. Months later I still had maybe two or three straggler Doctor Who books leftover that never got read, and I realized then they never would be. I simply wasn't interested anymore. I had burnt myself out on them.

I certainly haven't been burned out on the television series, of course--but there's where Doctor Who is staying, at least for me. Inside my TV, and from there, through all of time and space. But between the pages of a book he will never again appear, because every time I remember all the ones I've read (though it's hard to remember them; they're easily forgettable!), all I can do is lament all the time wasted that I could have spent reading...anything else.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

32: The Book I Ran From

This sounds odd. Let me explain.

Have you ever known a book you hated...without having ever read it? Without, even, having a reason at all? I certainly have!
 To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

This is one I disliked but without explanation why; one that, furthermore, I point-blank refused to read. Unlike most of my friends, I was never required to read it for school. And even though they all loved it, I still maintained that it was dumb and stupid and lame (perhaps like all required books are supposed to be? although that's certainly not true!). I never had a reason. I didn't even know what it was about. It was eighth grade and I didn't like the title; don't ask me what I was thinking because I probably didn't even know back then.

But, it is this stubborn, blind refusal that I am referring to when I say that I "ran from" this book. I didn't like it, I didn't know why, and I didn't want to know about it, so I turned tail and headed the other way and never looked back.

Until the day I did.

Just like I have no idea why I hated it in the first place, I can't say exactly when I decided to change my mind and give it a try--but the day I picked it up on a long bus ride was a great day. And you know what--I finished it on that bus ride! I devoured every word with a relish like I couldn't believe. Sometimes I could hear all my eighth grade buddies in my head saying finally and I told you so over and over again. But mostly I just heard the sweet, sweet music of a mockingbird.