Monday, July 7, 2008

Down and Dirty with Gorgeous Genius

So, I was in the mood for some alliteration, hence the title of this post. In addition, I've also recently finished Ian McEwan's In Between the Sheets. Now, let me just say before I get in to the review, that this book IS NOT for everyone. Theres no way it can be. But it was for me. I loved it, absolutely, despite, or perhaps because, of the few minor flaws I had with it.

This book is kind of gross. Thats probably the first thing to know. Its not what I, nor probably others, were expecting when I picked it up. There really is very little romance, very few love stories. At least, not in the way those things are commonly thought of. But this book is inventive, short, and absolutely beautifully written. A book of short stories about the sexually grotesque doesn't usually make the top of anyones list, but this one should. The stories (I believe there are 5 or 6 in all) are all strikingly different, yet, because of McEwan's prose style, fit together unbelievably well. The stories I found most touching were the ones about the man who, after two nurses discover that he's sleeping with both of them simultaneously, decide they're going to fix that problem - for good, and the one about the man who falls desperately in love with a store manequin, takes her home, and then leads himself to believe that she is cheating on him with his limo driver. Is that normal? Absolutely not. It is the kind of thing you'd think first to write a short story about? Absolutely not. And THAT is why this book is as good as it is - because its one of the few book I've read in a long time where I've gone "I would never even think to write that." And, as a budding writer, I know how hard that is do to, so its immediately something I admire. Also, I love Ian McEwan. Like, kind of an unhealthy amount. So, all in all...I wouldn't suggest this book is kind of creepy, kind of sadistic things don't intrigue you. However, if you're looking for stories that you probably won't read anywhere else, go ahead and give this one a try. Who knows...maybe theres a darker side just waiting to be found!

In other news, roomate assignments have been sent, and there is oh-so-much preparation to do for move in, which will, of course, be in just a few weeks. Add to that the fact that I have the United Students Against Sweatshops conference in Boulder, Colorado from the 10th - 12th, and then I move in early on the 13th to help clean house/set up for the executive board, and things between now and then are busy busy busy busy busy! So up next on the nightstand: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, a book I've read countless times but still love a little more with each turn of the page! Until then....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Poisonwood Bible and City Life

I finished The Poisonwood Bible last night in a frenzied fit of reading, and even after having enough time to reflect and come to terms, I'm still a little muddled and disappointed about the whole thing.

Perhaps the hard part is that I really, really WANTED to like the book. My mother loves it, my friends who've read it like it, and it was an Oprah's Book Club Book (something I usually would have ran from but, for some reason, decided to trust this time). Or perhaps its that there were parts of the book that I did like. I loved certain scenes (the tribe-wide hunting scene or the Adah monologues) and a lot of the prose really got me thinking about my own writing style, something I really love in the books I read. But, even with all that, I still didn't really like the book as a whole. There was all of this buildup to the pivotal tragedy, and then it occurs and then....things just continue. I know that this is how life is, and there is a bit of admiration to be had for books that attempt to echo life. But, after tragedy and the sisters and mother leave the village, there really isn't any more impetus to keep reading. It becomes reading for readings sake, something I hate to do. The stories became so dull that, I admit, I left the last two chapters unread. It was just that I mentally couldn't do it - each page felt like it weighed a ton! But, the book had a few meritorious points, so I wouldn't completely trash it. Just make sure that you're in ready for a looooooonnnnngggg book that feels like a lllloooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggg book.

Since then, I've moved on to Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. I don't know. I guess that because I liked the Twilight series so much, I thought I'd go back and read the pinnacle of all vampire novels. Its a step out of my usual genre, but I'm hoping it pays off. I'm a dozen or so pages in, and there is some of that intensity missing that I loved so much about Twilight, but I just keep reminding myself not to compare the books to one another - they're completely different canonical works!

Other than the reading (which I LOVE having plenty of time to do!) the vacation to Chicago is going well! Lots of swimming and the hotel, lots of talking on my sisters balcony, and lots of play time with my niece, the most adorable girl in the world who, at this moment, is laying next to me asleep, one of her hands curled around my toes. Its adorable. Tomorrow is off to the city for some sight seeing (hello, Sears Tower! Hello, Theater District! Hello, Navy Pier!) and some much deserved adult time (hello, Second City Improv!) And, of course, some much deserved time with Anne Rice!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lessons Learned

Here are the things I've learned since coming to Chicago (we're here, visiting my sister for the week, in her tiny apartment in Des Plaines, Illinois, about a ten minute train ride from downtown):

1.) I love cities, but couldn't handle that kind of traffic. It may have to be small-town life for me, after all.

2.) I have a serious, SERIOUS case of library envy. The Chicago Public Library is four stories and in an old brick building that looks like something straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Olathe (or Lawrence) public library just doesn't hold up in comparison.

3.) Books are heavy. And when you only get one suitcase total, its possible to wear the same shirt more than one day in a row if it means packing The Fountainhead.

4.) Never underestimate the love you have for tea until it's suddenly not available every morning.

5.) Insurance actuarial science is really, REALLY boring. My sisters boyfriend is giving a presentation tomorrow, and has picked me to practice on. Sweet God.

6.) Family is priceless. In the way of a diamond, or an old garbage dump.

7.) I love, love, LOVE Vitamin Water. It gets me through those long, sickening car rides (I would reccommend XXX or Strawberry Kiwi)

8.) I love reading on the porch in the early morning. I do wish we had a porch.

And, mostly, the two things I realized the most are


10.) My niece is THE CUTEST little girl I've ever seen. EVER. EVER EVER!!!!!

And now, back to the last few pages of The Poisonwood Bible with a review to follow! Yay for Chicago!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vampires and Forests and Lust...oh my!

EDIT (Again with the spoilers. Don't come crying to me if you ignore it!) :: I finished reading Eclipse, the final (so far) book in the Stephanie Meyer saga of Bella and Edward. The next book is due out in August with the last book due out after that. Hopefully I'll have the whole series by Christmas. Anyway, I was a much bigger fan of this book than of New Moon, mostly because Edward was finally back in this book. He was back to being devestatingly sweet, overwhelmingly neurotic, and just a tad too overprotective for my taste (thats right, I said it, I found a flaw with Edward. A small one, but still - its a flaw). Jacob was just as sweet as ever, making it even harder to choose between the two. Unfortunately, some pretty underhanded manipulation in the later half of the book made it just a little bit easier to cheer for Team Edward (not that I wasn't already there, anyway). All in all, I loved all three (obviously) but I also kind of wish that I would have spaced them out a bit. Not only would I then have had time to really absorb all the books, but all three got to be a bit much back to back. That immediate satisfaction was awesome when reading the books, but I kind of like the suspense being built up by not having the fourth one quite yet. Anyway...its off to Chicago with The Poisonwood Bible and about a dozen other books from the local library!

EDIT (Possible spoilers. You have been warned.) :: So, I finished New Moon as of yesterday, and I feel a little slighted. I mean, the book was, again, excellent, but I wish that there had been more Edward. I know, I know, Stephanie had to do what she had to do for plot purposes, but still. I missed the fact that he was gone for probably a good 3/4 of the book. Every time Bella heard his voice, I heard it too and felt almost as bad as she did when the voice went away. I guess thats just a testament to the fabulous characters Stephanie has created. I'm just saying that as much as I liked Jacob (and believe me, I do like Jacob) I'm just so glad that Edward is back and ready for action. I just can't believe that after ALL they've been through, when Edward proposed she actually said no. Crazy bitch. far so good on Eclipse, but I'm going to be pissed if Bella isn't turned in to a vampire by the end and we have to listen to her whine...more.


So, I just finished Stephanie Meyer's must-read Twilight and am, like, 100 pages in to the sequel New Moon. Let me just say that I originally had NO intention of reading this book. My mom brought it to me, set it down on my desk and said, "Read it. You'll like it." The following conversation ensued:

"Read it. You'll like it."

"What's it about?"

"A teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire and has to fight between the two worlds."


"Just read it."

"Its about vampires."

"It's hard to put down. You'll love it, and it's really well written."

"It's about vampires."

Yep. It is indeed about vampires. But, after realizing that I had NO intention of doing any of my summer class reading (who wants to read Socrates and Virgil at the pool?) I was left with few options (being flat broke and all) other than the vampire-romance book. Now, I haven't always been against vampire books. I used to love them. And now I remember why.

This book was FABULOUS! Like, at a loss for words kind of fabulous. Not only did I blast through its 500-some pages in about a day, but its just a good book. Although not a mythical character, I too have had times when my head tells me one thing and my heart tells me another. Its logic versus passion, essentially. And the main characters, Bella (I love that name!) and Edward (I love that name now) deal with that general argument every day. Bella longs to be with Edward (who, despite the list below, has immediately become the number 3 guy on my list of most attractive fictional male characters. He has the hotness of Marcus Flutie, and the brooding quality of the pre-confession of love Darcy with the tortured soul of Cassandra Claire's Draco trilogy and Heathcliff). Its just a beautifully written story of love and passion and TRULY star-crossed lovers. It's brilliant, and I just wish that there were more books!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Its Tough Being On Top

Well, things have been absolutely crazy since the Jayhawks took National Champs against Memphis (and what a crazy time it really has been - 45,000 people in less than 10 city blocks all at once, streakers, over-turned cars, people scaling buildings, and all in less than 24 hours!) and, because of the impending madness (and plethora of pep rallies) the school work definiately suffered, as did the general reading. Things, hopefully, look as though they're finally getting back on track, however, as my term papers for both Spanish and English have been turned in (at least, their rough drafts have) and my sociology project is beginning to shape up.

Another recently large development is my tentative decision to enlist in the Peace Corps after graduation (which, at this point, is still a long way away). I've become so involved recently with the campus efforts of Amnesty International, UNICEF, as well as United Students Against Sweatshops and the Lawrence Fair Trade Coalition, that I just don't see myself going to grad school without really sitting down and getting in to the world, attempting with the power that I have to make it a better place. As of now, with only a little research put in to it, I'd love to go to Sudan or southern Darfur to help with AIDS programs, or eastern Chile and Argentina to help with community building. Then, there is a lot more time to decide that kind of stuff.

Because of this desire to do good, and on kind loan from a friend, I'm reading The Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival by Jen Marlowe, Aisha Bain, and Adam Shapiro, a team of three young humanitarian workers who also produced a documentary of the same name. The book is the telling of the three as they travel to Dafur at the beginning of the Darfur genocide, as they cross border lines and talk to some of the most powerful leaders of the SLA (Sudanese Liberation Army, the prinicipal rebel movement) about the Janjaweed and influence of the Sudanese govenrnment. In addition, they go in to quite a bit of description about the refugee camps they visit: their need for schools and educational materials, their complete lack of time to build a steady infrastructure, and their disagreements with their Chadian neighboors, who see the refugees as a drain on their economy. I could go on, but I'm not done with the book yet, and I'm not entirely sure anyone would want me to, anyway!

As they say, being on top (both as Champions and as Americans) can be tough. But its not nearly as tough as being on the bottom.

Monday, April 7, 2008

This Is...

I only have two things to say, so be prepared for a short update:

1.) I am head-over-heels-in-love-obsessed-so-nervous-I-might-puke-but-still-can't-wait-for-tonight-excited for the NCAA championship tonight. On it's 20th anniversary, the only thing I can hope, pray, wish, and wait for is a KU victory over Memphis. ROCK CHALK!!!

2.) Fuck you, Samuel Beckett. Fuck you.

Have a good day, and if you're a prayer, send a big please for victory to whatever higher power you talk to!

Monday, March 31, 2008

James Joyce and Mild Pretention

I've concluded that pretty much everyone in my British literature class is more than mildly pretentious. I don't know if its because we're reading some more-advanced stuff, or because their very natures as English majors cause them to put themselves above those who are less literary in lifestyle, but there are times when I feel like I'd be strung up for my ankles if I ever admitted that I have, indeed, read The Devil Wears Prada.

Other than dealing with that particular group of people, I will say that I am thoroughly enjoying James Joyce's Dubliners, which I'm reading for my term-paper. Although I'm not usually a fan of reading "day-in-the-life" kind of books (as a daily liver of life, I find it rather pointless to do such), this seems to be a different case. Perhaps its because it is a day in the life so different than mine. Perhaps it is because Joyce writes with such a vivid passion. Who knows. Here are some of my favorite passages:

"The journey laid a magical finger on the genuine pulse of life and gallantly the macheinery of human nerves strove to answer the bounding courses of the swift blue animal."

"He knew he would regret in the morning but at present he was glad of the rest, glad of the dar stupor that would cover up his folly."

"Experience has embittered his heart against the world. But all hope had not left him."

"He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He had bought them in his bachelor days and man and evening, as he sat in the little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one down from the bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But shyness had always held him back, and so the books had remained on their shelves. At times he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him."

Even in the mundane, there is a way that Joyce is able to craft and twist to create a story that I find myself falling more empassioned for with each turned page.

About Me

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I'm a 24 year old newlywed, getting my library science degree all while working in a bookstore and trying to find some of the big answers in the big books - and the small books, while I'm at it. I'm interested in all types of fiction and personal non-fiction, all procedural cop dramas, and a fair portion of the TV that airs on the BBC3! I care about sustainability, agricultural ethics, independent documentaries, and admitting freely that I don't have all the answers - and may never - but I'm trying to have fun while I figure it out!