Haul(s) and ereaders

Apologies for the erratic posts. I’ve been busy having summer fun and looking for a job. And sleeping–a lot. Also, reading a lot! And, what brings us here: I’ve been buying a lot of books. For me, anyway. I already have a lot of books so I try not to buy very many books unless I absolutely need to. The thing about summertime, though, is that there are so many great opportunities to buy books!

First–I went to the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library book sale in Newtown, CT, in July, where I got these books:

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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison [If you remember from my last post, I bought Beloved at my local library’s book sale. I can’t decide which one to read first, since I’ve never read any Morrison before.]

The End of Alice by A.M. Holmes

Cherry by Mary Karr

Black Boy by Richard Wright

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg [This one was not from this particular book sale, but was given to me by my brother, who had to read it for a class and was trying to get rid of it. I got it around the same time as the others so I included it in the same photo]

I go to a lot of library book sales during the summer time, and the C.H. Booth book sale is the one I look forward to the most each year (this is truly a small haul compared to years past). It’s a huge sale. If you live nearby I definitely recommend checking it out next July.

Last week I took a trip to the Book Barn in Niantic, CT with my friend Andy. It was my first time going there, and it was awesome! It had almost every book you could possibly want. I go to book sales because I can’t afford buying books in book stores, but I love the physical experience of browsing for new books. I have deep appreciation for used book stores like the Book Barn that are around all year long and provide a book store experience for cheap. There’s also a myriad of cats that live on the premises. I can’t wait to go back! Here’s what I got this time:

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Candy by Mian Mian

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Native Son by Richard Wright

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Selected Stories by Alice Munro

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde [the only book in this haul I have already read–I felt like I should have a copy since it’s one of my favorites!]

Ulysses by James Joyce [I am terrified to read this!]

The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting by Phillip Hensher

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origin of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera

I bought the Kundera book mostly because the message written on the title page made me laugh:

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Oh, Peter.

So that’s all for the hauls–I know this might be small for some people, and if you asked me a few years ago, I would have agreed. But when you only have one bookshelf and no place to put new books, you’d understand how I like to keep my hauls to a manageable size, only including books I know I really want to own. I’m really excited to read some of these! I’ll try to review as many as possible, but as you can tell, sometimes I’m lazy about reviewing the books I read.

I have been reading quite a bit lately, though. Right now I’m doing research about ereaders. Yep, I’m finally giving in. I know I’ll always prefer reading actual pages, but I think it’s impossible to ignore how convenient ereaders are. I’ll probably wait until Christmas and ask for one, but I want to make sure to get a good one. Right now I’m thinking either a Kindle Fire or something like a tablet that can be used as an ereader, like an iPad mini. Although it seems like it’d be rife with distractions, an ereader/tablet I can easily read a book and browse the internet on would be ideal, so I can use it to read articles and blogs online. So, those of you with ereaders–what do you have/prefer? Tell me all about your experience in the world of ereading in the comments!

*****

Goodreads challenge: 42/70
Currently Reading: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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Recapping

Let’s just get the sorry-I-have-been-bad-at-blogging part out of the way. Sorry I have been bad at blogging. This semester has been hell on earth, but now it’s summer, which means I have more time to read and review books when I’m not job hunting or curled in the fetal position somewhere, opening weeping with my right hand buried deep in a jar of peanut butter.

How are you all?

Since I haven’t reviewed any books since January (not really, anyway—I have written a sentence here and there on Goodreads), I wanted to go through the ones I have read over the past three months that I feel are worth discussing.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Rating: 3/5 Stars

A little dull, in the way “classics” sometimes are, and not at all romantic, Wuthering Heights, at least, was a good wintertime read. I read it in the first few weeks of the semester this past January, mostly with a cup of tea by my side. Nice in theory, but I was glad to be done with it when it was over. Now I can say that I have read it and move on to something else.

The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Rating: 4/5 Stars

I’ve been quite into graphic novels lately, and this was the first I read in 2013. Persepolis offers a wonderful historical narrative with lots of heart and personality. I only gave it four stars because I felt it dragged a little towards the end, but this may have been because I read it in about two sittings, and its longer than the average graphic novel as it combined four volumes in one. But, still, I recommend it, especially if you’re not very familiar with graphic novels and you’d like a good introductory text.

Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Continuing on my graphic novel kick, I read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. I was completely floored by this one, and I very much recommend it, especially if you are interested in graphic novels, women’s autobiographical narratives, LGBT lit, stories about family and the father/daughter bond or lack thereof. Or, you know, if you like to read good things. Definitely check out Fun Home.

Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody
Rating: 5/5 Stars

I had to read this for a class, but this book should be required reading for high schoolers, in my opinion. It’s an autobiography of a woman who was an activist in the civil rights movement, most notably taking part in the famous lunch counter sit-ins in Mississippi. It’s very unsentimental and powerful.

Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Anders Nilson
No rating

Kind of a scrapbook of sorts that Anders Nilson put together of pictures, letters, notes, etc in remembrance of his fiancé, who died of cancer. I didn’t rate it because it felt too personal of a book for that, but it made me cry like a baby and the love inside its pages makes this book a precious thing.

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Oh boy. Oh man. I have the biggest literary crush on Jeffrey Eugenides. He’s just great, that’s all. I really regret reading this in the middle of the Semester from Hell, because I wish I had written a full review. Now it’s kind of a blur to me, although, like all of Eugenides novels, there are scenes and characters and sentences that have stuck with me, living inside my bone marrow, probably, because oh boy, oh man, Jeffrey Eugenides.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Rating: 1/5 Stars

I wanted to like this, I really did, especially since Levithan’s half of Will Grayson, Will Grayson was my favorite part—but I just did not like this book at all. I can’t remember not liking a book so plainly in such a time. I feel like it was dumbed down in a way that it should be illegal for YA books to be dumbed down. Not in themes, but in language, characterization, etc. I wrote in my Goodreads review that everyone should read Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno instead, and I stand by that. That book has the same kind of youth counterculture (that seems way too cool to be true) while offering a lot more than just the selling point of Teen Punk Rock and Kissing, which seemed all there was to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist—that and a lot of emptiness, like packing peanuts.

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Bryan Lee O’Malley
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I don’t know why I read two novels that eventually turned into films starring Michael Cera back to back. Probably because I have seen both films before I read the movies, and you know, I liked them enough. I liked this little graphic novel. I read it in one sitting. It was cute, and hip without being annoying. I’ll be reading the rest of the series this summer.

Willful Creatures, Aimee Bender
Rating: 4/5 Stars

I was recommended one of the stories in this collection by my creative writing professor. I ended up reading the entire book in the span of one night. It reminded me a lot of Miranda July, whose collection No One Belongs Here More Than You is my favorite collection of short stories and one of my favorite books, period, so I think I was just happy to find it. These stories can all be classified as magical realism, with a kind of whimsical, sassy bent. I tend to not be into magical realism, and some of these stories lost me a little by getting a little too absurdist, but for the most part, it was a perfect balance.

Office Girl, Joe Meno
Rating: 2/5 Stars

This novel broke my heart, I swear to god. I love Joe Meno. He’s one of my favorite writers, The Boy Detective Fails is my favorite book, and his short stories are transcendent. Office Girl, though, I can only review with a sigh. Sigh. Office Girl herself turns out to be one of the most blatant and flimsy Manic Pixie Dream Girls I can ever recall reading about. The novel starts off with the main female character’s point of view for the first hundred pages or so, and then the male character is introduced and suddenly it’s all his thoughts, his feelings, his perception of this totally out of this world queen of quirky adorableness. She’s always just about to leave town—but not before stealing the male lead’s heart and changing him for the better. Gag. Please, if you’ve never read Meno, don’t start with this one.

Embroideries, Marjane Satrapi
Rating: 4/5

This is a very short glimpse into a conversation of different generations of women, regarding love, sex, and marriage. It’s not Persepolis, but it’s a nice little addition.

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So, that’s that. I read a few other books that I didn’t like or dislike enough to comment on, mostly for class.  I also recently reread Franny and Zooey and am rereading The Catcher in the Rye as we speak (well, not as we speak, for we are not speaking, and I am not reading, I am typing). I am calling it the Great Salinger Reread of 2013.

Until next time, y’all—hopefully it won’t be such a long time between posts this time. Next up, I am thinking of compiling a list of my favorite book bloggers/booktubers, because I have a bunch and they are so much better than me.

&

Book Challenge Progress: 20/70
Currently Reading: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Shelves, and To Be Read: January

I spent New Year’s Eve “organizing” my book collection. Right now there’s no real way to organize it, though. There’s too many and not enough space. I’m sure a lot of book nerds can relate. I really need to get a kindle.

I had the idea that I was going to go through all my books and choose some to give away, but I think I’ll hang on to them all for the time being. I haven’t actually read all of them and I’d like to before I start giving them away. So, okay, mine isn’t the most organized book shelf in the world, but I now have my personal library cataloged and accounted for. (285 is the final count, by the way!)

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[Before, After.]

They’re going to put me on an episode of hoarders if I keep this up. The real reason for this post is to share what books I plan on reading in January.

To Be Read: January

1. Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart
2. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
3. The Golden Age of Promiscuity, Brad Gooch
4. Remaking Love: The Feminization of Sex, Barbara Ehrenreich

I’d like to read these before the 20th, when I move back to school, and then hopefully read a couple more before the end of the month, too. I’d like to review all of them, but we’ll see if they move me enough either way for that.

I hope you all have good books to read this month! Let me know what you’re reading, I’m curious.

Catherine

Books I read in 2012!

In 2012, I read (*** denotes books I recommend):

1. Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual
2. Paul Hornschemeier, Life With Mr. Dangerous
3. Louise Welsh, The Cutting Room
4. Tennessee Williams, Not About Nightingales
5. John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
***6. Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher, Learning to Love You More
7. Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)
8. Lemony Snicket, The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2)
***9. Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
10. Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones
***11. Aryn Kyle, Boys and Girls Like You And Me
12. Tennessee Williams, Eccentricities of A Nightingale
13. Michael Kimmel, Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
14. Suzan-Lori Parks, In the Blood
15. Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog
16. Tennessee Williams, Camino Real
17. Tennessee Williams, Orpheus Descending
18. Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
19. Michael Auping, Jenny Holzer
***20. Tennessee Williams, Suddenly Last Summer
21. Diane Waldman, Jenny Holzer
22. Tennessee Williams, The Night of the Iguana
23. Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
24. Arvind Sharma, Women in World Religions
***25. Daniel Handler, Adverbs
***26. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray: The Original Lippencott Edition
27. Tennessee Williams, Kingdom of Earth
28. Lemony Snicket, The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3)
***29. Tennessee Williams, Vieux Carre
30. Jessica Valenti, The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity is Hurting Young Women
31. Shira Tarrant, Men and Feminism
***32. Tennessee Williams, The Two Character Play
33. Haruki Murakami, After the Quake
***34. John Green & David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
***35. Joey Comeau, The Complete Lockpick Pornography
36. Claire Zulkey, An Off Year
37. Jincey Willett, The Writing Class
38. Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of A Funny Story
39. Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
40. David Levithan, Love is the Higher Law
***41. Tom Perrotta, Little Children
42. Chris Colfer, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
43. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
44. Jack Hirshman, The Last American Valentine: Illustrated Poems to Seduce and Destroy
***45. William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
46. Thomas Middleton, The Changeling
47. Samuel R. Williamson Jr., Soldiers, Statesmen, and July 1914
***48. Zadie Smith, White Teeth
49. Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus
50. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary, 1785-1812
51. George Lillo, The London Merchant
52. Paul Schmidt, The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems
53. Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies
54. Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
55. John Cleland, Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
56. Ian Fleming, Casino Royal
***57. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in Nineteenth-Century America
58. Robert W. Strayer, Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse?
59. Alina Reyes, Behind Closed Doors
***60. Mary Oliver, Dream Work
61. Chris Colfer, Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal
62. Kat Rosenfield, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
***63. Junot Díaz, Drown

and I reread:
***64. Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie (my favorite play of all time)

I took a class on Tennessee Williams which is why I read a ton of Tennessee Williams this year.

Every single year I am constantly thinking that I need to read more, but looking at this list, I realize that I actually read a great amount, and I’m proud of that. When I was a kid, I read even more. Ever since I started high school I’ve been reading less than I used to. I always have a book I currently have a bookmark in, but it takes me longer on average to finish a book, and I don’t read every single day anymore. But, since I started logging my books on Goodreads, I have been reading more. In 2009 I read 44 books. In 2010 I was a depressed college freshman and I read only 30 books, barely any of which were the books I was supposed to be reading for class. In 2011 picked it up a little bit and read 59. This year my goal was to read 60. I read 64, and even though many of them were plays and books of poetry and thus only a day’s worth of reading, I’m still very proud of that and I look forward to reading even more in 2013. My goal is 70 books, and I’d also like to make an effort to have more conversations about what I’m reading — hence, this blog.

If you want to know my opinion on any of the books on this list, go ahead and ask me! Also, if you have any suggestions of books for me to read this year, please leave them here–books you love and think I’d love, or even books you want to read and would like to see a review of first! 70 books is a lot of books, holy hell! See you in the new year, all!

Catherine