Tally Monday- July 28, 2014

Checked Out

  1. Popular by Maya Van Wagenan

Bought

None!

Read

  1. Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2 by Dav Pilkey
  2. Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro
  3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  4. Popular by Maya Van Wagenan

TBR 30

I feel like I had a stellar reading week. As usual, it only lasted until the weekend.  Wednesday I finished Dance of the Happy Shades, a collection of short stories from the fabulous Alice Munro, and I hurried right on to Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer, ready for what I expected to be a hilarious parody.  Only, it wasn’t.  Two chapters in and I was too annoyed to continue.  I didn’t have another book with me.  Luckily, I had just gotten my requested copy of Popular.  I read half of it Wednesday night and still read my chapter of the Oz books before bed, which finished my first installment.  I felt good.  I felt pumped!  I spent a big chunk of time on Friday night reading resolutely while Hubby grilled.  I finished Popular.  According to Goodreads I was only one book behind!

And then Saturday and Sunday happened and I managed to read a rocking 25 pages in two days, most of it while glancing up at people with annoyance.  It was a good weekend and a busy one.  And then I fell down the steps.  I wish that pain was enough of an excuse to get me undisturbed reading time but it isn’t.  I still have to go to work and pain is no excuse for not being an active and involved spouse and kitty mom.  Where are those dog days of summer?  Where have they gone?

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Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Well that was glorious.  The girl can write, y’all!

What does a popularity guide published 1951 have to do with being popular today?  A lot more than you would think.

When Maya’s dad finds Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide in a closet he’s cleaning out, Maya is inspired to try an experiment.  She decides to spend each month of her eighth grade year focusing on a different set of Betty’s tips in an attempt to take her to the top of the popularity scale from a -1.  She starts out simple, changing how she eats and focusing on how she looks, but soon she is deep in the social turmoil of sitting at different lunch tables.

There is a lot going on in this book.  Maya loses someone close to her.  She talks about the turmoil of living in a town close to the Mexican border where drug cartels battle within sight of her father’s office window.  She talks about school lock downs and the fear that comes form having to hide in a closet at school.

Still, all of that aside, Maya’s experience of eighth grade was like taking a step back in time.  I laughed.  I cringed.  I giggled.

Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro

I had heard of Alice Munro.  I actually heard about her again and again.  She popped up in short story collections I read through.  Every time one of her short story collections came out it seemed like the book world I was familiar with just exploded with it.  Then she won the Nobel Prize and I heard about her even more.

So I gave in.  Sometimes you have to.

I never know what to say about short story collections.  In fact for many years I avoided short stories completely until I realized I may have been missing something.  What I can tell you guys about Alice Munro is that she is absolutely amazing.  I’m not one to talk about sentences but this woman can write them.  As I read along, I kept pausing to read aloud to Hubby, who never seems to appreciate literary genius as much as I do.

I think that maybe a large part of my love of this collection is the relate-ability for me.  Munro writes mostly about small towns in Canada, one in particular that is situated on Lake Huron.  I am so close to this area that it feels familiar.  I can see the social constructs of my own small town.  These are quiet stories, as my creative writing teacher would have said, and they are beautifully pulled off.

I cannot wait for the next collection to come in for me.  I’ve even put some Hemingway on hold for this!

Tally Monday- July 21, 2014

Checked Out 

  1. Psycho Killer by Cecily von Zeigsar
  2. Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, pt 2 by Dav Pilkey

Bought 

  1. Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block

Read 

  1. The Night Shift by Stephen King
  2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  3. Books and Islands of Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich

TBR: 31

Oh, that’s just me, hanging out 4 books behind my goal.  Steadily.  For months.  A lot of people think that I’m kind of crazy or OCD about my reading.  Why?  Because I have a goal and I have a huge HUGE list of books I’d like to read and I’m a little meticulous about my book lists, if one can be a degree of meticulous.  It’s something that I developed purely from working in a library.  I knew that I could not check out every single book that caught my attention so I started writing them down, promising myself that they wouldn’t get lost in the sands of time.  I have a goal because I find that it helps me.  I am more likely to read more if I am aiming for a goal and it also makes me more likely to put aside something that I don’t like.

I feel like I had a really good reading week this week.  I’m sure that most of the credit goes to Erdrich whose book had me completely enchanted.  I also ticked one off my Stephen King list and finally got around to a classic of children’s literature.  It was well rounded and enjoyable.  I also give credit to my own determination to pretend that it is too hot to do anything.  It’s been a mild summer here and it’s been hard to find an excuse to just read.

Now, a note on my purchase.  Dangerous Angels is one of my favorite books.  A few years ago, Bestie and I started up a book club with another “friend.”  It went on for about four months and we each took turns choosing books.  We were kind of on a YA kick so I chose DA and offered to lend my copy out.  Now, my copy was very important to me.  I bought it in high school and it was one of the few books that I have ever highlighted in.  EVER.  I had read my copy probably four times and different colors marked each reading and it meant a lot to me.  Then, our friendship fell apart and my “friend” put my book in her effing garage sale, the bitch.  Needless to say, she’s dead to me.  For a number of reasons but this being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Still, there is something to be said for the joy that I will find rereading and highlighting.

Happy reading!

Books and Islands of Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich

Holy geez, y’all. Basically, I had been hearing about this book through a few podcasts I like to take in for a couple of months now. Last year I read Erdrich’s Round House and absolutely loved it but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to delve into this.  I mean, we have Ojibwe culture, books, and an author that I know I like, all wrapped up in 140 pages.  Obviously there was no way that I could like all of that, right?  Oh, wait, those are things that I love.

Erdrich’s memoir in books is focused on a trip she makes to Lake of the Woods.  She goes on a pilgrimage with her baby and her baby’s father to visit rock paintings that are centuries old.  Along the way they encounter medicinal plants and curious wildlife.  She ends on an island she calls Ober’s Island which is home to a historic collection of books.  Through this whole trip she is seeking to answer the question she has been asking her whole life.  Books: Why?

Erdrich is a wonderful writer and this book sucked me right in.  It could have easily have been a one day read.  As a book lover, as a reader, as a story collector, it was like hearing from a soul mate.

 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

I do not know why it took me so long to finally get around to reading this book.  I suppose that it is all of the usual excuses.  There are so many books to read.  I missed it as a child.  I was going to get ti it eventually.  I also don’t know what it was that made me check it out and decide to read it.  Was it mentioned somewhere?  There it sat in my TBR stack, patiently waiting.

Now that I have gotten around to it, it was everything that I thought it would be.  It was a book for children and people who remember being children.  How often do you look around you and think, “My goodness!  Adults are silly!  This is just silly!”  I know that my adult life is filled with that thought.

For me there was a lot going on here.  Maybe I am reading into it too deeply.  It seems like the kind of book that you shouldn’t think about much.  I tried not to.  I tried only to get the impression that it gave me on its own.  First and foremost, this was a book about love.  You must not be too busy to love.  You must not be too proud or too serious.  You must not merely tame someone.  I found myself hoping that I am Hubby’s rose while I read.

After love there was death and the soul, that the body is just a shell.  Then there was the ridiculousness of grownups, the beauty of simplicity.

I wish that I had gotten to this one sooner.

Night Shift by Stephen King

You all know about my love for Stephen King and I think that I have finally figured out how to put it into words.  Reading Stephen King is like taking a walk through his mind.  Sometimes it’s twisted and dark but so is everyone else’s.  The only difference is that we don’t all put it down into words.

I enjoyed this collection of stories.  To tell the truth, I really enjoy King’s earlier works.  They are a bit more B-movie than some of the later works.  I like that.  I like that they are the kind of stories that you have to lose yourself in in order to feel the fear.

I don’t know that I could tell you what my favorite story was.  I really liked a lot of them.  I wish that I could say that “Children of the Corn” was my favorite because it is one of my favorite movies and it was responsibly for scarring my early on in life.  Or what about “Trucks” which became Maximum Overdrive?  Another scarring experience of my childhood.  My father owned a trucking company.  I was positive that they would come alive one day.  Both of these stories were just as good as the movies.

I think that I liked the stories relating to ‘Salem’s Lot the best, maybe because I read the book so recently.  There’s something about a good old fashioned vampire story, sparkles not included, that gets me every time.