‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘reading

End of Summer Reading Review:

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The end of the summer is here and I thought it would be nice to list everything that I’ve managed to read over the summer.

This has been one of the slowest reading summers in quite some while. I usually manage to read a bit more than this but being at work so much of the summer I sometimes struggle to read. Also, for most of July I was unable to read anything. I just found myself unmotivated and uninterested in everything I picked up. A reading summer-slump.

I have so many “half-started” books as I like to term them, chapters two and three being popular points of abandonment. Woolf, Lancaster, & Whitehead were some of the best works that I read this past summer and I recommend them to everyone. I’ve linked to the various postings and individual reviews.

Still, despite the fact that I fell into a bit of a summer-slump, I enjoyed this summer’s reading variety. Cheers.


Written by thebeliever07

August 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

“Imagined Reading”

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I’ve mentioned on this blog at various times how I frequently wander over to the Washington Post Book Section and how I am a member of Michael Dirda’s “Reading Room”, a forum for all things literary. Each week Michael poses one or two threads about various aspects of reading:

  • What books get you through tough times?
  • What works shaped you as a reader?
  • Snacking while enjoying a good book.
  • Do movie ruin a good book?

And etc. For those as passionate about reading and literature as I am, it is a great resource for those: What would you put on your top 5 or 10 lists.

Recently Michael Dirda posted a thread asking “What are your ‘Get Well’ Books?” The following is from his post and I felt it was worth blogging and asking with my fellow readers: download

Hi, Reading Roomers. (Every time I write “Reading Roomers” I imagine semiologists trying to decipher the subtext of the latest gossip.)  I’m still in Ohio with my Mom and— in the way of these things—have just learned that my middle son has broken his leg playing basketball. It’s not the worst break in the world, but it’s changed the complexion of Mike’s summer. Right now he’s been reading through The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes instead of getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail. When you are sick or your life strands you in a place where you can’t really do much, what books do you imagine reading? Under what conditions would you like to recover as you read them?

So, let me piggy back off of his discussion, what are your ‘imaginary reads’?

I think that if I knew I was going to have a fairly long recovery time in a bed or a hospital (*knocks on wood&), that I would attempt some of the larger literary giants that have up until this point scared me off, largely due to their length: The Brothers Karmazov by Dostoevesky, Les Miserable by Hugo, Gravity’s Rainbow by Pynchon, The Regulations by Gaddis. These are all 500-700+ reads and while I’ve read books of that length before, these authors tend to be fairly well known for being dense. How about you Erin, in what imaginary future do you foresee yourself starting and finishing Oblomov or The Kindly Ones? Some day eh….someday 😉

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I recently participated in that loathsome atrocity of the Internet that is known as a “meme”. Thank you for time-wasting activities Faith. 😉

The meme in question asked people to list 30 books that come to mind that they consider impacting on their lives, books that we “carry” with us everywhere, you know, those books that we consider foundational to our personalities. At least those of us who consider ourselves avid readers, bibliophiles if you will.

A number of people cited the standard canonical English Lit. Canon, and there is much in that list that deserves mentioning and most of us have at least 1/3 of our list devoted to such titles. books

One thing I saw absent from a number of people’s lists though were children’s books. Often times I think we forget how important those first few books, those first “giant” (or at least what we thought of as giant) reads were and how they subsequently shaped our entire reading future.

I thought I’d list off a few books from my childhood that I know helped shape who I am as a person and my passion for reading.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

This book is cliche to the point of tackiness. As if someone jumped into Norman Rockwell’s mind and said to him: “I want an image of Americana set in the mountains about a young boy and his love of dogs and the outdoors.” Rockwell projected his image into Wilson Rawls and there we have it. [ Reading that back I realize how stupid that comparison sounds, but it works somehow. ]

I have a worn out copy of this somewhere in a box and I mean worn, the pages are starting to fall out from having been read so much. I think that all children go through that phase where they desperately want for a young puppy. This book captures that feeling admirably and if you’re looking for a very simple and clean story, this is worth picking up, and it is about a day’s worth of reading.

A young boy who comes from a poor family that cannot afford any puppies, so the young boy listens to some common advice: God helps those who help themselves. And this is exactly what he does, works hard at his chores and at odd jobs so that he can save up enough to purchase the dogs himself.  A simple enough story but it’s full of adventure, violence, love, death, so much more. Check it out. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

June 30, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Jodi Picoult and the Tragic:

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reynold47Reading an article in the New York Times about Jodi Picoult and the Anxious Parent, a look at a recent book trend:

THE ENDANGERED OR ruined child has emerged as a media entity within a culture that has idealized the responsibilities of parenthood to a degree, as has been exhaustively noted, unprecedented in human history. The more we seek to protect our children, the more we fear the consequences of an inability to do so. Increasingly over the past decade, writers of crime fiction — Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane among many others — have made a recurring subject of children violated by predation, abandonment, neglect.” […] ““I think I gravitate toward these subjects because I’m looking for answers and I don’t have them,” Picoult told me. “But mostly I think it is superstition. There is a part of me that believes that if I think about these issues, if I put myself through the emotional ringer, I somehow develop an immunity for my own family.”

Picoult’s thoughts on putting herself “through the emotional ringer” is something that I often think about when reading literature. I’ve had many different discussions with my friends, most of whom are as passionate as I am about literature and one thing that consistently comes up is how the stories that resonate the most with us, as people, are the ones that are often the most violent, most emotionally crippling, or tragic.

There is no doubt that we all enjoy light comic reads from time to time, but personally, the stories that I re-read over and over again center on the tragedy. Two books that I can read over and over again, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien both rely heavily on tragic and often destructive story lines that take characters into intense and often destructive places. Yet, I turn to these books whenever I seek comfort because I take comfort in these characters and their ability to face these situations, whether they win or lose.

It seems that literature often depends on the Tragic, a way of working through these issues. Random thoughts.

Written by thebeliever07

June 23, 2009 at 8:48 am

“The strangest thing I’ve signed is a woman’s artificial leg,”

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To Marty, This bespells doom! A recent reading in Manhattan at the Strand bookstore by David Sedaris, whose most recent book is “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” may have offered a glimpse of the future. A man named Marty who had waited in the book-signing line presented his Kindle, on the back of which Mr. Sedaris, in mock horror, wrote, “This bespells doom.” (The signed Kindle was photographed, but its owner’s full name is unknown.)  CLICK FOR MORE:

To Marty, This bespells doom! A recent reading in Manhattan at the Strand bookstore by David Sedaris, whose most recent book is “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” may have offered a glimpse of the future. A man named Marty who had waited in the book-signing line presented his Kindle, on the back of which Mr. Sedaris, in mock horror, wrote, “This bespells doom.” (The signed Kindle was photographed, but its owner’s full name is unknown.) CLICK FOR MORE

Written by thebeliever07

June 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Reading Reflections

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Just started The Road by Cormac McCarthy and my first thoughts; I’m truly blown away by the style of writing (sparse and fragmented) and how McCarthy is able to place the reader alongside the two traveler protagonists. Glad I settled on this after Sag Harbor, needed something dark to get away from the happy go light summer read that was Whitehead.

Written by thebeliever07

June 13, 2009 at 11:51 am

“The most thrilling of all known pursuits!”

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Here is a list of authors I have wanted to read but for one reason or another I have simply not had the motivation to pick up:

  • John Irving
  • Ian McEwan
  • Gabriel García Márquez
  • John Updike
  • Sherwood Anderson
  • Joseph Heller
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Flannery O’Connor
  • Amy Tan
  • John Galsworthy
  • Saul Bellow
  • Toni Morrison
  • Thomas Mann
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Harper Lee
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Somerset Maughm
  • P. G. Wodehouse
  • Gustave Flaubert
  • Henry James
  • Agatha Christie
  • Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Octavia E. Butler
  • Daphne Du Maurier

I have a few of these authors on my shelves but I have just not had the inclination towards picking up these authors. I am sure many of you know this feeling as at times you just have to be in the right frame of mind for the right kind of book and author. These are all authors that have made a name for themselves and I have heard only the best of their works, but still for one reason or another, I have been unable to pick them up. Ah well, here’s hoping. I have a long life ahead of me, I hope, and I plan on checking these authors off as the years roll by. Feel free to make your own list and share them with me, cheers.

Also, I just discovered one of the most hiliarious web comics. Check out Wondermark.com


Written by thebeliever07

June 7, 2009 at 10:53 am