Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Book Quotes

Another Top Ten Tuesday.  List requested today by Broke and Bookish is favorite book quotes.  I'm not very good at this, because I have terrible memory.  But I do have SOME favorite opening and closing lines.  Also I have been highlighting some favorite passages as I read Les Miserables, so I will toss out some of these.  (Oh and I'll skip Call Me Ishmael...that's too easy)


1.  We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge. Darker than Amber by John D. MacDonald. Yep, that will keep you reading.

2. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.  Neuromancer by William Gibson.  It's unfortunate that generations of readers won't really get this..."you mean sky was blue?"  But for those of us living and reading at the time this book was written it is a near perfect image.

3. It was Wang Lung's marriage day. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.  Such matter of fact way to start this story of one man's epic journey from a poor, single farmer to successful family businessman.  This books was assigned in my English 101 class freshman year of college.  I don't remember much about the plot (I remember enjoying the book), but the first line is unforgettable, despite seeming like such a throw away line.  I probably need to re-read this some time.

4. My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.  Great Expections by Charles Dickens.  Another favorite book that I need to re-read.  This opener to me is astounding in it's ability to illuminate the character of Pip (uncertainty) in so few words...and right at the beginning of the book, no less.

5. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Every time, and I mean every time, I hear somebody getting all negative and critical of somebody else this line comes to my mind.


6. "Isn't it pretty to think so?" The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.  This is impotent main character Jake's response to Lady Brett's comment that they could have been so good together.  It's just so Hemingway.

7. I never saw any of them again—except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler.  The irony of this line is that Marlowe would be perfectly just in not wanting to see ANY of the characters populating this novel again, yet he almost laments the fact that these people are gone from his life.

Les Mis

8.  Some people are malicious from the mere necessity of talking. Their conversation, tattling in the drawing-room, gossip in the ante-chamber, is like those fireplaces that use up wood rapidly; they need a great deal of fuel; the fuel is their neighbor.  I don't know about you but I know a few of these people.

9. In vain we chisel, as best we can, the mysterious block of which our life is made, the black vein of destiny reappears continually.  A neat metaphor of fate.  I like how he bookends the line with vain and vein.

10. One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea than the sea from returning to a shore. In the case of the sailor, this is called the tide; in the case of the guilty, it is called remorse. Another neat metaphor from Hugo.

Ok, that wasn't so painful.  So, dear reader, what are some of your favorites?

Addendum:  a #11 because I can't believe I forgot it, and because it totally encompasses the first 25 years of my life.  This would fall under the "Closers" category.

11. You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. Ball Four by Jim Bouton. My favorite sports book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Hop Friday

Book Blogger Hop
It's hop time courtesy of Crazy-for-Books.  Today's task is to honor our favorite book bloggers.  I'm going to go with:

Dead White Guys A blog written about the classics that doesn't take itself too seriously.  I disagree with her frequently, but she writes a good, humorous review.  This blog is fun.

Roof Beam Reader He's another male book blogger.  Them's hard to come by.  Plus, the blog has a cool, literary name.  Plus, he writes great reviews.  And he has a cool weekly feature on censorship. What's not to like?

Ok, there goes...if you're stopping by on the hop.  Say hi...let me know what other blogs are kicking maximus.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - 10 Books I'm Dying to Read

I like lists.  So, this meme over at The Broke and the Bookish is something I look forward to.  This week's list is Top Ten Books I'm Dying to Read.  Now c'mon, if I was really dying to read them, they would probably already have been read, no?  Unless, of course, we're talking about books with upcoming releases, and (with few exceptions) I'm just not enough of a fan boy to follow books soon to be released.  Anway, here's some books I look forward to reading at some point --

1. The Financial Lives of Poets - Jess Walter

Jess Walter's "Citizen Vince" is one of my favorite books of all time.  It's crime fiction, sort of, but I think it appeals far beyond genre readers.  I don't even know anything about "...Poets", as far as story goes, but it has Jess Walter's name on the cover, and that is enough for me.

2. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

Flynn's debut novel "Sharp Objects" was a surprising 'hit' with both the masses and me.  Flynn basically writes about women being a bunch of evil bitches, which sounds really shallow and silly, but it's actually kind of refreshing.  Flynn goes beyond femme fatales and manipulative women and tells stories of women doing the kinds of things we generally expect only out of men...actually Flynn's women are even worse.  Anyone who has spent any time in the high school cafeteria knows where these characters come from and why they ring true.  It's not only the men who are pigs.

3. Redemption Street - Reed Farrell Coleman

Another crime novel,  and series book no less.  Coleman's series is somewhat unique in the crime genre in that the series is a story arc (similar to the trilogies you see in sci-fi and fantasy), rather than just a series of books using the same characters in un-linked stories.  The interesting thing, to me, is that I've read the series out of order and can still :  1) appreciate the books on an individual level  2) appreciate the overall story arc of the series.  The story arc btw isn't so much a mystery/crime story, it's mainly a story of family conflict.  This is the 2nd book in the series...I've read #1, #3, #4.  There are five books.  The other I need to read is "Empty Ever After".

4. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison

I've read Morrison's debut "The Bluest Eye", and I have her so-called masterpiece "Beloved" at home.  I enjoyed "...Eye" more than I thought I would.  "Solomon", not "Beloved", is the book Harold Bloom claims is Morrison's opus, and Bloom's opinions have served me well in the past.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

This book was on my prior Top Ten list of books I haven't read.  This makes me wonder why these two lists aren't more similar? Hmm...

6. The Postman Always Rings Twice

This is the classic noir novel.  No clue why I have yet to read it.  The Italian neo-realist film Ossessione is one of the best pictures I've ever seen. It was based on the novel, and is superior to the American noir film that carries the Cain title.

7. Barabbas - Par Lagerkvist

This one is on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and came up on a random number search of  that list, and I became intrigued by it's story of the man pardoned to "make room" for Christ's crucifixion.  I like intelligent biblical stories, and this appears to be one.  Lagerkvist is a nobel laureate.

8. Veronika Decides to Die - Paolo Coelho

I've never read Coelho.  I've heard him referred to as simplistic.  I find beauty in the simple.  Plus, I picked this book up at the Big Ass Book Sale, and on the cover it says it's a Novel of Redemption.  I like redemptive stories.  Win?

9. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

I have to confess to having picked this book up more than once, and being turned off by Stephenson's writing style.  I'm not even much of a sci-fi guy, but I do LOVE Gibson's Neuromancer and people are always telling me how great this cyberpunk novel is...so I want to read it and I want to like it.  Unfortunately, that can be a bad combination.  High expectations and all...

10. I don't know.  You tell me.  What book should I be dying to read?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Update on Les Mis

As I mentioned at the end of my review of "Decline and Fall",  I am currently reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  This was one of the books on my Top Ten Books I've never read.  I'm only about 200 pages in.  It is going slow for a number of reasons.

One, I am married and have a son and work full time and, right now, I'm in one of those periods where I have so many balls up in the air that I cannot think straight.  I usually read on average fifty pages per day, and have for years.  It's not something I set out to do. It is just something I have noticed over the years...at the end of the day, most any day, I will have read around fifty pages.  I've been reading about ten pages per day lately, because I am so exhausted that I can only prop my eyes up for that long before drifting off to sleep.

  Two, this book is intimidating in its heft.  At well over 1000 pages, it is like reading a marathon and I think my subconscious mind is slowing myself down to a trot for the long haul.

  Finally, it was written something like 200 years ago (not quite) and whenever I read a book written so long ago, the style seems to make me read slower to appreciate it.  This happened somewhat with Sister Carrie, which was written at the turn of the 20th century.

I am enjoying the book.  Valjean is becoming one of my favorite literary creations.  The bishop, though he only makes a brief appearance, is a wonderful character - love his dialogue with the dying man.  The book is like a conglomeration of my favorite themes.  I just wish I wasn't so tired all the time, and could make some more headway on it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Words

Another Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish. Today's top ten list is ten favorite words. This will be a reach, as I can't say I give this much thought except for #1, which has been my fave word for many years and will remain so for years to come.

1. Copacetic - Very satisfactory. The word was used in many of James Lee Burke's early Robicheaux novels. It was also featured heavily in Local H's one hit wonder "Bound for the Floor." It is the most copacetic of words.

2. pronate - a word I heard many times when working on my mechanics as a collegiate pitcher. One of the more technical sounding words I heard come out of my pitching coach's mouth. He tended towards four letter ones. It rolls off the tongue. For a pitcher it meant the palm, with ball in hand, and forearm should face backwards (i.e. opposite direction of target) at the point in the rotation that the pitcher begins his transition towards the plate.

3. whim - can you even say this word without smiling?

4. ambiance - just sounds better than atmosphere, and I have a friend that overuses the word and it's funny.

5. existential - it's a word that can either lead to a lot of conversation or someone just looking at you like you have two faces. So it is good to use the word early on in a conversation to see who you're dealing with. FWIW, I am no expert on existentialism, but I do like hear people talk about it and try to explain it to me.

6. podjo - okay, so it is slang. It's basically the same as buddy, and can sometimes be heard in south Louisiana. Another word that frequents James Lee Burke books. It's also what I call my son.

7. serendipity - sounds better than luck or fate or good fortune. Has almost a staccato sound coming out of your mouth. I have a crush on Kate Beckinsale.

8. honor - I would be doing a disservice to this word if I tried to explain it or justify it's inclusion here.

9. love - see honor above

10. teabagger - not to get too political, but this just seems such a perfect label for the fringe element of the tea party movement. Note I say fringe element. If you don't know what I mean by that, you're likely just not paying any attention (completely justifiable) or you are one yourself (which is really unfortunate).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hoppin' on Friday

Book Blogger Hop
Another Friday, another Book Hop from Crazy-for-Books.com. (Link on the Image up there^).  Today's question is "Do you ever judge a book by its cover?"

Well, yeah. On so many levels, though, and perhaps not exactly what the question is going for.  Let's start with the obvious.  There's some important info on the cover.  Stuff like - Title, AUTHOR, and usually a synopsis, of sorts.  I often prejudge a book on this info alone.  Ok, so mainly the author's name, but still.  Example?  If a cover has the name David Markson on it, I'm going to cringe.

Then there's the aesthetic thing.  Sure I judge a book by it's cover's aesthetics.  This doesn't really have a thing to do with what I think about the story/prose/poetry/whatever.  But it still means something.  A good book with a good story AND a good cover just pleases the book lover in me more than a good book with a good story and a crap cover.  When I went to the Big Ass Book Sale, I found different copies of books.  Don't think I didn't pick out the books with cooler covers.  I even revere a cool cover book over the book with more commentary, annotations, etc.

This all leads to another thing.  Digital books vs. 'real books'.  The cover is really part of the 'packaging'.  I own a nook, but I still would choose a real book, partly because the real book just looks and feels nicer.  On my nook,   I always use the feature where I can view the covers in my library over just list form.  Despite the fact, that these 'covers' are so small that you cannot make anything out...I still prefer seeing the cover.

One other thing...If the cover has a Fabio look alike nibbling on the neck of some woman pouring out of her top, I'm going to judge that book. It's a book I'm generally not going to be interested in reading. Also, there are the self-published books you see now with covers that are really cheap looking and fuzzy, like some non-professional graphic designer booted up his/her pirated copy of Photoshop. Judged.

What do you think? Does the cover mean anything to you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reading Challenge

Alright, so I"m going to give this a try.  Here's the challenge:

1. Read a book outside your comfort zone
2. Read a "chunky book" 500 + pages.
3. Read a book with the letter "S" for September in either the title or the author's name.
4. Read a book that is part of a series.
5. Re-read a book that you consider an old friend.
6. Read something "Spooky" for halloween.
7. Read a book that was recommended to you by a friend.
8. Read one of the books that's been on your TBR the longest.
9. Read a book by a debut author.
10. Read a book with a "fall" theme
11. Reader's Choice
12. Read a book by an author that you love

I'm waiting to hear back if this is actually 12 separate books.  For instance, my current read Les Miserables could knock off numbers 1-3, I suppose.  I suspect I'll end up trying 12 separate reads though.