Welcome to my blog. If you're addicted to books, like I am, then you've come to the right place. I mostly write about books and my experiences reading them. These are very personal book reviews. (If you can even call them book reviews...) I’m a true believer that none of us lives in a vacuum. When you read a book, watch a movie, listen to a song, etc., you absorb that art form into your life experience, and it changes you. But you also change it, because no two people see anything the same way. The way I interpret a novel may be totally different from the way you will. It’s still the same novel, but the meaning for each of us is unique. Once you express that meaning, it changes the art. So these posts are about how these books fit into my life. I’d love to hear how they fit into yours. Please make comment and share your experience.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I have my library card number memorized.

I think it a telling sign of some importance in your life when a number creeps its way into your memory. Like when you’re five and your mom drills your home phone number into your head.  My mom made a song out of it.  It was a good enough song that even my child hood friends remember my parents’ phone number to this day.  When you’re in high school, it’s the locker combination.  In College, it’s your social security number which doubled as your student ID.  (Although with identity theft issues, maybe they use something else now…I hope.)  As a young adult I had my bank account and credit card numbers memorized from typing them into internet access sites all the time. 

Recently I realized that I no longer needed to copy off my card when I’m on my local library website.  This dawned on me as I was logging in to the library website in the dark of my bedroom on my iPod to download an ebook.  For a split second I groaned, imagining that I’d have to walk all the way downstairs to get the card, tripping over sleeping cats, fumbling for light switches, and groping for slippers to avoid the cold kitchen floor.  But then I thought…maybe I can remember it…just let me just try…and then there it was, at the tips of my fingers.  I typed it in and a few minutes later I was reading my ebook.  It was just that easy to pull it out of my head, avoiding the trip downstairs, stubbed toes and dilated pupils.  So what significance does this have?  I’m not sure yet.  But I do think it is evidence of my addiction.

Once again, I’m falling down on my writing job.  I just have so many great books (and one dud) to read, I need to take a break and do some writing.  Here’s what I’ve been reading these days:

1.   Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  I just posted this review.  It seemed to take me forever to write this.  I think it’s harder to write a review when you really love a book.  Especially if you try to avoid spoilers, like I do.  I’ve been chewing on this review for two weeks, editing and deleting and more deleting, and I’m still not super-happy with it.  This is the same reason I haven’t reviewed The Pillars of the Earth or World Without End by Ken Follett, the Honor Harrington books by David Webber, or any of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon…I love them so much and I’m afraid I won’t do them justice.

2.  The Left Hand of Darkeness by Ursula K. Le Guin.  I’ve always said I’d take a book recommendation from anyone, but this has to be the weirdest recommendation ever.  It’s from a book character.  Grigg, from The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, was a sci-fi fan and recommended three authors to another character:  Ursula Le Guin, Connie Willis and Nancy Kress.  I love sci-fi, but have only really taken sci-fi recommendations from my dad and he mainly reads military space drama.  So, I was interested to see if a) these authors were real and b) a fictional character could be trusted. 

Now I am forced to admit that not-real people CAN have good taste in books, sometimes even better than real people.  Ursula Le Guin was the only name I remembered while I was perusing the shelves at the library and I brought home The Left Hand of Darkness… “Wow” is all I can say.  I was very impressed and now I’m starting to work on the review.

3.  A Wizard of Earthsea, another Le Guin novel, which is the first in a two-trilogy set.  Once again, I’m getting obsessed with a new author and have to read a few other books by her.  I just picked this up and am only 50 or so pages into it.  It’s a fantasy book, rather than space drama, but so far it’s really got me.

4.  Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith.  This was totally random library browsing.  I’d read McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency before and enjoyed it, so I was curious about this modern myth re-telling  or so it was called on the jacket.  This is a very quick read.  I enjoyed it a lot and finished it in maybe 1 ½ or 2 hours. 

5.   Messages: The World’s Most Documented Extraterrestrial Contact Story by Stan Romanek with J. Allan Danelek.  This is a book club pick.  I would never ever pick up a book like this on my own.  With good reason. This book is horrible.  I’m about ¾ of the way through and it is torture to read this book. It is so poorly written and insipid that I’m suffering on every page, and yet I keep opening it up.  I guess alien abductions are still interesting enough to me to read when the book itself is trash.  And then to top it all off, the first meeting to discuss this book was Saturday and I get the café and no one from my book club is anywhere to be found.  Turns out there are two restaurants called The Omlette Shoppe in Grand Rapids and I didn’t pay attention to the address, so not only have I read a rotten book, I also wasted my time going to the wrong place.  Doesn’t it just go that way sometimes?

6.   Emma by Jane Austen.  My co-worker book club (which I have since named the “Bad Ass Book Babes” in honor of my rating factor and because everyone in the group is so awesome) was so intrigued by our last reading selection, that now we plan to read a Jane Austen book every other month until we’ve read them all.  I’m about 20 pages into it and I promised them I’d set it aside until they start reading it in October because they’re still only half way through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and they’re starting to call me a book nerd.  I can’t be the only nerdy Book Babe, so I’ll comply.  This has to wait until October.

7.   The Witch in the Well, a Catherine Le Vendeur Mystery by Sharan Newman.  Another totally random library browsing adventure, I’m embarrassed to say I picked this one up because of the cover.  It has a very beautiful blue eyed woman on the front holding a cracked urn leaking water.  Anyway, it looked cool.  Turns out it’s one of Newman’s many mystery novels featuring Catherine LeVendeur, a 12th century French woman, who apparently solves crimes.   I’m about half way into it and am really enjoying it.  But I’m peeved that I didn’t know it was a series, or I would have grabbed the first one instead. 

[As a footnote—I thought I published this post on Sunday 9/18/11, but I looked today and couldn’t find it.  So I updated it and published (again?) today.  But seriously—if any of my 5 faithful blog followers saw it between now and Sunday, let me know that I’m not crazy.]

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