Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Ten Characters I Wish I Could BFF's With!

10. Toby Lolness in Toby Alone
Toby is a tiny, tiny fellow (think: point of a pencil) living in a tree that is threatened with destruction.
Who wouldn't want to be tiny? And off with a friend to save a tree?


9. Clarice Bean in Utterly Me, Clarice Bean
Is Clarice Bean the type of girl who waits around when her best friend heads off to Russia? No! She befriends bad boy Karl and discovers Karl can have excellent ideas as a collaborator on a school project.
Clarice Bean can get along with anyone.


8. Tashi in Tashi
Jack tells his parents about his new friend, Tashi, who arrives on a swan and lives in a land of dragons and monsters and giants. Being friends with Tashi would mean some fantastic adventures.


7. Haroun from Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Haroun puts his father's life in danger and must go off on a series of adventures to make things right.


6. Stargirl from Stargirl or
Maniac Magee from Maniac Magee
Same basic wonderful type of person. Just decide if you want a zany friend who is a girl or a boy.


5. The BFG from The BFG
He can carry you around wherever you want to go.
And, despite appearances, he is nice.


4. The four brothers and sisters from Half Magic
I've always wanted to be magical.
And these kids found a magic coin.
Well, a half-magic coin.
Wouldn't that be fantastic?


3. Laura Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie
Just think. Prairie fires.
Dangerous Native Americans.
Travel.


2. Lily of Lily's Purple Plastic Purse
Lily says what she thinks.
She's brave.
And she knows how to dress.


1. Clown in Clown by Quentin Blake
He's a toy and he saves himself from a garbage can.
Great friend material.

Note: All of the above potential BFFs were chosen
from recent reads of children's books listed in
1001 Children's Books You Must Read
Before You Grow Up.



Each week The Broke and the Bookish will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our blogger's answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

Future Top Ten Tuesdays:
December 7- Coziest Places to Read/Favorite Places to Read

December 14- Top Ten Books I'm Anticipating For 2011.

December 21- Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings
December 28- Top Ten Books I've Read in 2010--a look back into your favorite reads of 2010!

January 4:- Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read in 2011--books you've put off reading but will vow to get to in 2010!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend

I've been fortunate. I've been able to spend not just the weekend, but the whole week Thankfully Reading. Here's a quick review of what I've finished this week:



There you have it:  Seven books in seven days. And what did I take away from the experience of reading all these books?  Here are a few quick thoughts:

Old Gringo was agony for me to read. Carlos Fuentes came to Houston a few weeks back and I drove in to see him. He was pretty much as I'd expected. An achingly handsome eighty-year-old man who writes poetic novels. And who sees life as experienced mainly through his manly body parts. This may work for his male readers. This may work for the parts of Old Gringo told from the point of view of his male characters like Pancho Villa and one of Villa's generals and even Ambrose Bierce. But it did not work for me when it came to reading the parts of the story told from the point of view of Harriet Winslow, a starting-to-age American school marm who takes up with Bierce and the Villa general. Agony to read.

I'd planned to read Old Gringo, the book I'd bought at the reading, and then watch the video. I fought my way to the end of the novel, loathing every page. And then went hopefully to the video. When I took the DVD from its envelope, I discovered the DVD had been snapped in half. (Could it be that the video was as horrifying as the novel and the previous viewer lost it?)

(I was intrigued by the surprising resemblance of author Carlos Fuentes to Gregory Peck,
the actor who plays Old Gringo in the video.)

On to other reading this week...The 1000 Journals Project was a Best Of selection from the 1000 Journals Project, a project where 1000 empty journals were sent out in the world to be filled with clever observations and smart drawings and photographs. I can only hope this was not a true Best Of; in a word, I was underwhelmed. Reading through this book reminds of an interview I once read with a bartender. The bartender admitted he'd gone into his work in hopes to hearing (and stealing) the Great American Novel from his patrons and found instead he heard the same old banal stories every night, told with all the vulgarity and limited vocabulary you might expect from drunks who frequent bars.

I was offered a copy of The Tapestry of Love from the author. The author had sent me her previous novel last year and I found it to be a small but competent romance. I hesitated from requesting this book, but decided the French rural setting would compensate for the requisite romantic plot. And here I have sad news: It did not. The first eighty pages were absolutely nothing but the French rural setting and it just was not enough. The romance was tossed in during the last few chapters. I just did not care about the woman who came to France to make tapestries or her sister who pops in and then disappears or the man who lives next door and romances both the tapestry woman and her sister or even the old French farm couple down the road. I didn't even care about the rural French setting.

The two children's books from the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read list were, happily, time better spent. The Good Master is the story of a boy who lives with his family on a farm in Hungary. His city cousin comes to stay with the family to recuperate from illness and the boy and his cousin have a number of adventures, including a kidnapping by gypsies. The copyright date of 1935 brings a feeling of authenticity to the story of a boy who genuinely plans to spend his life growing food and has no real need to learn to read or write and his cousin who grows to love the country and persuades her father to abandon his life in the city and return to his roots in the country. And The Story of Tracy Beaker was absolutely delightful. A book of diary entries written by a young girl in foster care. Could have been sad (and was, at times) but was also hilarious and true.

Two books left to review and I'm glad to tell you that I liked both of these. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe would work for you, I say tentatively, whether you like science fiction or not. It was about time travel. Sort of. And father-son relationships. Well, relationships in general, maybe. Anyway, I liked it, even if I didn't understand one word about the time travel parts. It did not really matter. My favorite science fiction book in a long, long time (although, I feel compelled to add, also my only science fiction book in a long, long time).

And, finally, my favorite read of the week, the month, maybe the year...Let the Great World Spin. I wish I was a deeper reader and a better writer, a person who could share with you all the wonderful thoughts you can take away from this book and all the brilliant ways the author used the metaphor of the wirewalker, stepping out over the slums and magnificent high rises of 1974 New York City, stepping out over the sad group of mothers who lost sons in Vietnam and the streetwalkers, stepping out over the noble priest and the hippie artists. I wish I could. All I can do is sigh and say again and again how much I liked it and how you should read it.

(I was able to pair the reading of Let the Great World Spin
with the documentary Man on Wire,
which was quite lovely in itself.)

Don't forget to check out:
Win a Trip to Paris or a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
(Today is the last day to enter to win!)
or just join me Thankfully Reading.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Contemporary AND Classic?

Literary Blog Hop

This week's question from the
Wise Readers at The Blue Bookcase is:

What makes a contemporary novel a classic?
Discuss a book which you think fits the category
of ‘modern classics’ and explain why.

No. No. No.
I will allow a nonfiction book to be literary.
I will accept that a contemporary novel can be literary.

But no, no, no.
 A contemporary novel cannot be a classic.
A classic is a book that has stood the test of time.
A contemporary novel, by definition, has not.


Google-search "contemporary classic" and this is what you will find:

You get scary people, like this scary woman.
She's "contemporary classic".
Scary.

And this large purple shoe.
And that's not just a large purple shoe.
It's a large purple shoe bathtub.
That's "contemporary classic" for you.

You see what happens when you start
using ridiculous phrases like "contemporary classic"?
Trouble, that's what.

So stop it. Now.

I do concede that there are "modern classics".
But, frankly,
I'm out of energy to take on "modern classics" today.
I will have to leave that to another thoughtful reader.

 How about you?
Are you from the scary hairdo,
purple shoe bathtub
branch of literary theory?
Do you believe in "contemporary classics"?
Go ahead and tell me off.

Or check out:
Win a Trip to Paris or a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
or
What to Read This Holiday Season?
or
See What I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving
(That's the house of my next-door neighbor, by the way.)
or join me Thankfully Reading.


or

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Ten Books To Read During The Holidays



10. Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

9. Yoon and the Christmas Mitten

8. The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer

7. Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree

6. A New, Improved Santa

5. Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

4. Robert Sabuda's popup book, The Night Before Christmas

3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

2. The Polar Express

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

I could have made this a Top 50 Books to Read During the Holidays!
 I also love A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote,
A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas,
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, and
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen.
For more wonderful children's picture book holiday choices,
see the lists I made in 2009.

And here's a bonus book trailer for
a new edition of A Christmas Carol,
published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

There is still time to enter my contest for the Gratitude Giveaway.
You can win a TRIP TO PARIS or a $25 AMAZON GIFT CERTIFICATE.

Each week The Broke and the Bookish will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our blogger's answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

Future Top Ten Tuesdays:
November 30- Top Ten Characters I Wish I Could BFF's with!
December 7- Coziest Places to Read/Favorite Places to Read

December 14- Top Ten Books I'm Anticipating For 2011.

December 21- Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings
December 28- Top Ten Books I've Read in 2010--a look back into your favorite reads of 2010!

January 4:- Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read in 2011--books you've put off reading but will vow to get to in 2010!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Literary Blog Hop: Is There Such a Creature as Literary Nonfiction??


Welcome to
this week's Literary Blog Hop
hosted by The Blue Bookcase!


This week's question is:

Is there such a thing as literary nonfiction?
If so, how do you define it?
Examples?

Yes. Definitely yes. Absolutely yes.
Yes, I believe in literary nonfiction.

For my definition, I will offer the definition
I gave on the very first Literary Blog Hop
for literary writing:

"...thoughtful writing that surprises me,
that leads me places I'd no idea that I needed to go,
with amazing characters and intriguing plots
and beautifully written passages."

I would simply add for literary nonfiction:
"...that is based on true events."

Some of my favorite literary works are literary nonfiction.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
The Last Shot by Darcy Frey
Working by Studs Terkel
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

What do you think? What are your favorites?


P.S. And, please, if you have read any wonderful literary books
published in 2010, I urge you to nominate your favorites
for The Independent Literary Awards. The awards
include categories of Literary Fiction and Literary Non-Fiction.
Nominations close December 15.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway! Win a Trip to Paris! Or a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Thank You, Followers!
I have two prizes in the Gratitude Giveaway!
Entering is easy!
Just:
 (1) follow me and
(2) leave a comment, stating which prize(s) you'd like to win,
and providing an email address where you can be reached.

What are the Prizes?

Prize Package 1...
A Trip to Paris!
Well, a trip to Paris...via books, anyway.
I went to Paris last summer.
It was fantastic.
Now I want to share that experience with you.
I will send you the five books below
and you can take your own virtual trip to Paris!
(I'm sorry, but this is only open to bloggers in the US.)


Prize Package 2...
Win an Amazon Gift Card!
(This is open to bloggers anywhere Amazon can ship.)

 
You can enter one or both of these giveaways!
Good luck!

Bonus Entries:
Follow me at Twitter
and leave a comment. +1

Befriend me at Goodreads
and leave a comment. +1

Gratitude Giveaways is scheduled to begin on November 17th at 12:01 am EST
and end on November 28 at 11:59 pm EST.
The giveaways will start one week before Thanksgiving and run until the Sunday after.
All participating blogs will be linked up through a Gratitude Giveaways linky.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Ten Villains and Criminals and Other Sorts of Bad Guys


10. The Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood


9. IT in Wrinkle in Time


8. Old Age in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont



7. Lack of Imagination in Fancy Nancy


6. Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula in I, Claudius


5. John Ames Boughton in Gilead and Home




4. Prejudice and Injustice in Martin's Big Words



3. Bedtime in Dinosaur vs. Bedtime




2. Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers


1. The Grinch in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

Future Top Ten Tuesdays:

November 16- Top Ten Villains, Criminals, Degenerates

November 23- Top Ten Books To Read During The Holidays

November 30- Top Ten Characters I Wish I Could BFF's with!

December 7- Coziest Places to Read/Favorite Places to Read

December 14- Top Ten Books I'm Anticipating For 2011.

December 21- Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings
December 28- Top Ten Books I've Read in 2010--a look back into your favorite reads of 2010!

January 4:- Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read in 2011--books you've put off reading but will vow to get to in 2010!