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Friday, October 31, 2008

TBIF: Thank blog it's Friday! (And it's Halloween!)

Tuesday Thingers (hosted by The Boston Bibliophile)

This week's question: Legacy libraries. With which legacy libraries do you share books? Tell us a little about a couple of them and what you share.

To find which books you share with Legacy Libraries, click on "Statistics" from either your profile or your home page; then click on "Legacy Libraries" in the second row of clickable choices.

I don't seem to have a lot of books in common with the Legacy folks, and I think some of the numbers may be suspect. For example, I supposedly share 5 books with F. Scott Fitzgerald, but they're all books he wrote, one is listed twice (Tender is the Night), and two are foreign-language translations of The Great Gatsby, which I've only read in English, so I think we really only share two books. It looks like duplicated listings in the legacy libraries are actually pretty common.

I seem to share the most (non-duplicated) books with Walker Percy, and it's actually a pretty interesting mix:

I probably wouldn't have even explored this LT feature if Marie hadn't asked the question - as I've said before, I love the way I find out more about LibraryThing by participating in Tuesday Thingers!

No Teaser Tuesday this week - no new books in, and barely time to read anyway! (Sorry, Janet :-)!)

Booking Through Thursday: Conditioning 

Mariel suggested this week’s question:
Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Heck, my books are rarely pristine even before I read them! The way they're stacked up everywhere isn't conducive to perfection.

I'm actually a reformed "dog-earer," although I'll sometimes resort to it if I just need to hold a place for a minute or two and don't have something at hand to stick into the book - essentially, in an emergency. Ever since I discovered these bookmarks a few years ago, I always make sure I have a stock of them on hand, but if I'm caught short for some reason, I'll slip a piece of paper in until I can get my hands on one. I've also been known to use a pen as a short-term placeholder, which I know isn't good for the spines and I should probably try to stop doing, since pens are just a bit bulky. (Dog-earing might be preferable to that, now that I think about it.) I rarely bend the covers of my books all the way around; I have small hands, and that makes books too bulky for me, but the front covers usually do end up a bit curled by the time I'm finished reading anything.

It doesn't bother me too much if other people dog-ear books, as long as they don't tear the pages, but it does irritate me to find books splayed face-down on the table. I worked on breaking that habit even before I stopped dog-earing, but again, I do catch myself doing it in an emergency sometimes, such as having to drop a book to answer the phone. The kids have gotten the "we don't treat books like that" speech when I've found their books left open that way (as I stick a bookmark in where they left off). I only find cracked spines to be a serious problem when they've affected the binding enough to loosen pages, but I think it's best to try to prevent that up front.

I do try to be careful about this, but I read while eating, and I'm a bit of a klutz with food (and plenty of other things too, but let's not get into that right now), so you can probably guess what happens sometimes. I'm not really bothered by it with my own books, but if the book is borrowed I feel guilty if anything lands on the pages, and I may offer to replace the book if it was especially unfortunate. (There's one more reason I usually buy my books.)

What kind of condition are most of your books in - model home, or more lived-in?

Friday Fill-ins #96

1. My favorite food seasoning is cinnamon for sweet things, and garlic for savory ones. (I have no desire to eat anything that combines them both.)

2. Music is music to my ears.

3. Lucky is an adjective that rarely applies to me, so I think I appreciate it more when it does.

4. Keeping the promises I make is something I take very seriously (so I tend to hedge instead of making very many).

5. Many people seem to make up their minds about things without much regard for the facts. (It seems particularly noticeable during election season...)

6. A new sweater was the last thing I bought at the store.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching all the stuff on the DVR before we return it to the cable company, tomorrow my plans include getting the keys to our new home and Sunday, I want to pack, clean, and be ready for the movers when they arrive on Monday morning! (I am NOT looking forward to being offline from Saturday until some time Tuesday, but really, it's not like I'll have much time for it anyway!)
==================================
And here's a little Halloween treat:


What Your Love of Peanut Butter Cups Says About You





You are hedonistic... sometimes to the point of being greedy.

You love to eat, and there's no chance you're sharing your candy!



While you may be greedy, it's with good reason. You have great taste.

The things you love are worth loving, and it's no wonder you crave them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book talk: "Between Here and April," by Deborah Copaken Kogan

Disclosure: I received this book for review as an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. The book was published on October 7, 2008 and is now in bookstores.

Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan
Between Here and April
Deborah Copaken Kogan
Algonquin Books, 2008 (hardcover) (ISBN 1565125622 / 9781565125629)
Fiction, 288 pages

First Sentence: April Cassidy was my best friend from the first day of first grade in September of 1972, until a couple of months later, when she failed to show up for school.


Book description (from publisher, via Amazon.com):
When a deep-rooted memory suddenly surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child—shocking revelations about April’s mother, Adele.

Elizabeth, now herself a mother, tracks down the people who knew Adele Cassidy and who thought that they knew what was going through her mind before she committed that most incomprehensible of crimes. She seeks out anyone who might help piece together the final months, days, and hours of this troubled woman’s life—from Adele’s former neighbor to her psychiatrist to her sister.

But the answers are more elusive than any normal investigation can yield, the questions raised are difficult to contemplate. In fact, the further into the story Elizabeth digs, the more she is forced to accept that she and Adele might not be so different.

Elizabeth’s exploration thus leads her ultimately back to herself: her compromised marriage, her increasing self-doubt, her desire for more out of her career and her life, and finally to a fearsome reckoning with what it means to be a wife and mother.

Comments: I don't know if it's really news to anyone any more that motherhood isn't always sunshine and rainbows and butterflies - and I think we're lucky to be living in a time when that's more out in the open. It can be a struggle for many of us at times, and for some it's a challenge that may just be too much.

Elizabeth Burns' viewing of a production of Medea triggers a memory of her childhood friend April Cassidy, who was rumored to have been killed by her own mother in a murder/suicide. Once it comes back to her, Elizabeth can't shake her thoughts of April, and her journalist background spurs her to dig into the story and try to find out what really happened. But it's not the what of the story that turns out to matter as much as the why. As Elizabeth learns more about April's mother Adele and her struggles with depression, she begins seeing some unsettling similarities to her own challenges in marriage and motherhood.

I think this would be a great book for book clubs in general, but particularly for book groups mostly composed of moms, because it's both thought- and emotion-provoking, and I suspect the reactions of mothers might be particularly strong - although, since I am a mother, it's hard to say how my response to the book might have been different if I weren't. I have believed for a long time that my mother suffered from untreated, undiagnosed depression (which may have been a factor in her early-onset Alzheimer's), and it wasn't hard to be reminded of that in the character of Adele Cassidy. It also wasn't hard to identify with the sense of being overwhelmed and inadequate in so many aspects - marriage, motherhood, and trying to maintain a professional life - that Elizabeth feels all too often. It's what causes her to become dangerously immersed in Adele's story.

Between Here and April is an engrossing page-turner with depth. I just wish I'd liked Elizabeth a little more - while I did connect with her, at times I also found myself getting irritated with her. I thought the novel wrapped up a bit too neatly, so it's not entirely clear to me how much she really grew from her experience with the Cassidys' story, but I think this book will stick with me a while just the same.

Rating: 3.75/5

Other bloggers' reviews:
Planet Books
Reading Comes From Writing 

If you have reviewed this book on your blog, please leave a link in the comments or e-mail it to me at 3.rsblog AT gmail DOT com, and I'll edit this post to include it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Sunday" survey, on Wednesday

I "borrowed" this meme from MaryP, who posted it on a Monday after she found it here on a Sunday, which makes her my partner in meme-thievery and inspiration for doing it on a different day of the week. Feel free to take it yourself!

If I looke​d on the bed next to you, what would​ I find?​
My husband, most likely; a book, possibly; the dog, probably

Do you go to the bathr​oom with the door open or close​d?​
Closed but not locked

Are your under​wear and socks​ folde​d in your drawe​r or just throw​n in?
I take them all out and re-fold them every few weeks, but they get messed up pretty quickly. I may re-think how I store them after we move, since we'll be re-arranging a lot of things then anyway.

Sleep​ on your back or stoma​ch?​
Neither - I'm a side sleeper

Are you a cuddl​er?
Yes.

What would​ I find if I looke​d UNDER​ your bed?
A zippered clothing storage bag for out-of-season clothes, a few boxes, a shelf frame - and maybe a few other things I can't remember. I'll find out when we take the bed apart to move it, I guess!

Somet​hing that happe​ned today​ that made you angry​?​
A phone caller who suggested that I don't know how to organize my department. She was transferred to me because the person who could help her was out sick, and when I couldn't answer her question, she expressed the opinion that it was poor organization not to have a backup. I apologized for inconveniencing her by not being able to provide her with an immediate answer. Part of why it got to me is that I think she's not all wrong about the backup - and we do cross-train, but not for every single little job function - but her getting pissy made me pissy in return.

What were you doing​ befor​e this surve​y?​
Writing another post - that is, slacking off work.

What will you do after​ the surve​y?​
Paste it into my blog template, and then see what I can wrap up before I leave the office today.

Marri​age or livin​g toget​her?
Marriage twice (but NOT a third time!) - but I lived with husband #2 for exactly a year before we got married, and it was good

What shirt​ are you weari​ng now?
Beige stretch-cotton Lands' End T-shirt under a lightweight ruffled tan jacket from Coldwater Creek (yes, sometimes I dress older than I am - sad, really, considering that I'm in my mid-40's)

Do you sing?
Yes. Love it. Most of the time I'm on key, too...

Do you de-​label​ your beer bottl​es?
No, because I don't drink beer

Do you talk about​ your feeli​ngs or hide them?​
I'm still more comfortable writing about them than talking about them, but people who know me pretty well can usually get me talking fairly easily.

Is there​ somet​hing you regre​t and wish you could​ take back?​
If there were just ONE thing, I'd be doing very well. There are plenty, but I really try not to dwell on them.

First​ thing​ you do when you wake up?
Turn off the alarm, sit up, and stretch.

Ever had surge​ry?​
Yes, once, but I got a baby out of it!

Last argum​ent you got into?
With the phone caller I mentioned earlier...

Do you tend to rip the paper​ off water​ bottl​es?
Yes.
What’​s one good thing​ about​ your best frien​d?
Being able to laugh at the same things

How long does it take for you to fall aslee​p at night​?
I'll read till my eyes start closing - on some nights, that takes ten minutes or less. Then I turn off the light, curl up next to my husband, and I'm usually out within a few minutes after that.

When you shut off your alarm​ clock​,​ do you tend to fall back aslee​p?
No, I get right up and out of bed. I HAVE to.

If you were given​ the chanc​e to take care of a monke​y for a weeke​nd,​ would​ you?
If I still worked at the zoo, maybe, but I would NOT do it for free!

What are you looki​ng forwa​rd to in the next few month​s?​
Getting moved and settled into our new place!

It’s midni​ght.​ Who are you texti​ng?​
No one I know would be awake at midnight - and even for my East Coast friends, it would only be 3 AM.

It’s Wedne​sday after​noon,​ where​ are you usual​ly?
At my desk, just like Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - until 4:30, and then I'm in the car, heading home.

Hones​tly,​ if you could​ have ANYON​E in the world​,​ who would​ it be?
I guess I'd better say Tall Paul, right :-)? But it's true!

Your Chris​tmas list consi​sts of?
Ask me in a few more weeks - I really haven't thought much about it yet. The Season 2 DVD of 30 Rock will be on it if I don't buy it before then, though...

You’​re going​ to New York for shopp​ing,​ where​ do you go first​?
Macy's in Herald Square, of course!

You need a new pair of jeans​,​ what store​ do you go to first​?​
Kohl's. They have those Lee Custom Fit ones that I like best.

How do you feel about​ your hair?
Depends on how cooperative it's being. Today I like it.
What movie​ is in your DVD playe​r?
It's either empty, or it still has Disc 4 (or 5?), Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in there.

If you could​ move away,​ no quest​ions asked​,​ where​ would​ you move?
Maybe the Pacific Northwest. Someplace pretty, temperate, not too crowded, and less expensive...

What’​s the great​est thing​ that happe​ned to you today​?
It was kind of a blah day, to be honest - nothing outstanding happened, good or bad.

What would​ you chang​e about​ your life right​ now?
I'd have enough financial security that both my husband and I could do the creative things we'd rather be doing.

What’​s the best feeli​ng in the world​?​
Relaxing after a job well done!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just pick one already - basics

As usual, this list was lifted from Meg Fowler. The instructions are simple: just pick the item in each pair that applies or appeals to you more - and if you have no preference, flip a coin or something. You have to come down on one side or the other. My choices are in bold type, and comments are in italics.

Coffee or tea?
PC or Mac? (although I use both - PC at work, Mac at home)
Kids or no? (way too late to change this one!)
Political or no?
Summer or winter? (but really, spring more than either)
Artificial sweeteners or sugar?
Fries or salad? (I wish I could pick differently, but I gotta be honest...)
Lake or ocean?
Own or rent? (Owned once, and it might happen again, but probably not any time soon...)
Email or phone? (just ask all the people I never call)
Traditional medical care or natural remedies?
Vegetarian (or vegan) or carnivore?
Apples or oranges?
Follow celeb culture or no? (I'm not completely tuned out, but I don't really get sucked in either)
Liberal or conservative? (more of a moderate with liberal leanings)
Rural or urban?
Car or SUV?
Atheist or not ("not" includes agnostics)?
Marriage: necessary or no? (desirable and/or preferable for various legal reasons, perhaps, but not strictly necessary)
Cable or not? (We really can't get a TV signal without it - and besides, Burn Notice is a cable show!)
Campsite or hotel?
Alcohol or no? (most of the time)
Up early or up late (if given the choice)?
News online or news on TV?

Your turn! If you answer on your own blog, please leave me a link so I can check it out, or just tell me in the comments!

Post #700 (!): A "random" blogging meme

700 POSTS, people! Therefore, it seems an appropriate occasion to answer the blogging-themed questions in this week's "randomness" meme.


1. When did you start blogging?
I started in August 2006, on a short-lived and now-deleted blog; my first post on this blog was on March 16, 2007.
 2. How often do you blog? How many times per week, per day?
I try to keep to one post a day, but occasionally there might be two, and I've been trying to take Sundays off for the last couple of months. It's a little deceptive, though, since I try to draft most of my posts in advance, and that means I spend a LOT of time writing on some weekends.
 3. How many blogs do you have?
I have one of my own, and I'm a biweekly contributor to another.
 4. How many blogs do you visit daily? What type of blogs do you tend to visit? Do you always leave comments?
I don't "visit" many blogs unless I'm checking them out for the first time or leaving a comment; I let them come to me via RSS feed in my Google Reader. I have close to 300 feed subscriptions in there, but I don't necessarily read all of the posts from all of them all the time, and some don't update as often as others. The majority of blogs I read are either personal or book-related, but others are filed into various categories including news and local info, commentary and issues, pop culture (not including books), and advice (career, money, and life in general).
5. What is it about blogging that you enjoy the most? What is it that you don't like about blogging?
Some days, I really don't like the amount of time it takes to be a good blogger - not just the writing, but the reading and keeping up, However, it's totally worth it because of the parts I do enjoy the most - the avenue for self-expression, the feedback via comments, and especially the relationships and connections I've formed with other bloggers. The sense of community is what keeps me going.
6. What do you usually blog about?
I think my title and tagline answer that: "Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness: It's not just a title, it's a mission statement!"

I'd love to know your answers to any or all of these questions, too!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Assignment #239 - Sending a Message

This week, Mâvarin Karen is offering us the podium:

Weekend Assignment #239: Imagine that you have the world's full attention (or your country's full attention) for a maximum of two minutes. What do you tell everyone? Your message can be a single sentence if you like, or a bit longer.

It seems like everyone is trying to get a message out these days, including my husband. But for my money, it's going to be tough to top this message, even if it does exceed the two-minute limit just a bit.

My message was actually inspired by the overly-casual dress I observed at a nice restaurant when we went out for my husband's birthday dinner on Saturday night, and while my example may sound a little superficial, I think the idea behind it has some substance:


No one can place limits on your right to BE WHO YOU ARE. However, your right to EXPRESS that can indeed be limited - and when it starts to infringe on anyone else's right to do the same, it SHOULD be limited. To put it another way, no one can tell you what to feel or how to think, but they certainly can you tell how to BEHAVE, since unless you spend your life as a hermit, your behavior will impact everyone you come across.

Treating others at least as well as you would want to be treated is a good place to start. They have the same right to be who they are, and to express that until it tramples on someone else's, that you do. If you're going to live and function within society - and most of us do, usually in multiple ways ranging from family units to workplaces to neighborhoods to cities to states to nations - mutual respect and consideration make that functioning at least a bit more pleasant.

So if you're dining out in public at a good restaurant, please make the effort to wear something nicer than what you wear around the house, and take off your hat at the table. Good manners are just one way of expressing that consideration for other people, and when we "act as we would feel," after awhile it's not acting any more.

Here's the thing: It's really NOT your world, and you're NOT just letting the rest of us live in it.

Extra Credit: Would you prefer your message to be broadcast on TV or radio, or published in multiple print media?

I am a lousy public speaker, so I would definitely prefer for this message to be published - online, in newspapers and magazines, and maybe even in greeting cards.

Do you have a message of your own that you'd like to broadcast? Write it on your blog, then link to it in the comments to this post at Outpost Mâvarin!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Review 10/25

Bulletin Board
*****Tomorrow is Tall Paul's birthday - stop by Blogenstein and wish him a happy day!

*****Who says nobody walks in LA? The third annual Great Los Angeles Walk will take place on Saturday, November 22 - over 18 miles, from downtown (Union Station), down the full length of Santa Monica Blvd. Sign-up instructions are here.

*****Starting in November, there will be TWO Bookworms Carnivals every month! Here's the info on the upcoming carnivals:
Edition 17 hosted by: Dewey (The Hidden Side of a Leaf)
Deadline for submission: November 14, 2008
Theme: graphic novels
To submit a post, email: dewpie at gmail dot com
Edition 18 hosted by: Bookopolis
Deadline for submission: November 28, 2008
Theme: Memoirs
To submit a post, email: preferred.stock at gmail dot com
Remember, you DON'T have to have a "books blog" to participate in the Carnival, you just have to write a post on your own blog - book review, essay, etc. - related to the topic, and then send the post/link to the Carnival host.

*****Think about this: bloggers banding together to help promote great, under-the-radar blog content.


New in Google Reader
Nuestra vida con Adrian (Dariela's a new member of the Los Angeles Moms Blog; this is her bilingual personal blog)
Tuesday in Silhouette, via Blue Archipelago
Book Roast
Bookopolis
Word Strumpet (via Twitter)


Random blog-reading moments
(Since I got so backlogged in Google Reader last week, a few of these links are a little older.)

>> I'm one of several bloggers quoted in this article about "blogger karma" by Caroline Jorgensen (a/k/a Morningside Mom) in the October edition of the online magazine Moms CLIQ.<<

Rumors of the death of blogs may be exaggerated...but reasons for blogging may indeed be changing.

Perspective sometimes just shows up when we really need it, and it can help us keep things in order

I read this post about career courage just after I'd returned from our annual employee recognition lunch - and trust me, walking into that room took courage for me! (Yes, I'm socially dysfunctional.) Here are some more thoughts about courage and fear from Maria Shriver's address to the California Women's Conference, via the LA Moms Blog.

I've been enjoying Mâvarin Karen's chronicles of her growing political involvement - this chapter talks about some Democratic pockets in McCain territory. On a related note - the Scholastic Presidential Election results are in! And isn't questioning authority and challenging the status quo a fine American tradition? (It seems to me we wouldn't have an America today if some folks hadn't started doing just that back in the 1770's...) Thoughts on "choice" and circumstances; also, motherhood politics, and, inspired by her daughter, a mother emerges from a political midlife crisis.

And because sometimes politics is just silly: Sarah goes to the Oval Office (be sure to click around!), via e-mail from my husband; and the presidential campaign, Dungeons & Dragons-style, via The Park Bench (disclosure: I've never played myself, but I've known players and sat in on a few campaigns):
...HILLARY: WTF you guys. Why am I playing the cleric?
MCCAIN: Hillary, we've been over this.
HILLARY: No, dude. I am so sick of being the girlfriend healer. Seriously, I can't even use a sword. Fuck this noise.
KUCINICH: IM A BARD
OBAMA: That's nice.
KUCINICH: MY FAMILIAR IS A PURPLE SNOW LEOPARD
MCCAIN: Oh, Jesus. Here we go.
KUCINICH: DID I MENTION MY WIFE IS A TOTALLY BANGIN DRYAD WITH 20 CHARISMA
HILLARY: C'mon you guys, I've been playing this shit since Gygax was in eighth grade. Why can't I be the party leader with the magic sword for once?
MCCAIN: Because no one wants to see you in a bronze bra.
OBAMA: Oh dude, BURRRRRNNNN.
HILLARY: SCREW YOU, Grandpa. I will so kick your ass...
Here's a handy list of new vocabulary words. A few of my favorites:
Youtubular - Entertaining in a supremely stupid way.
Myspacery - Discovering that all the friends you thought you had are imaginary.
404 - Someone who is clueless, as in “404 not found.”
Irritainment - A celebrity spectacle that, like an accident, you just can’t turn away from.
Generica - Features of the American lanscape that are the same no matter where you are (i.e., fast food joints, strip malls, etc.).
Incompitense - The stress felt as one waits for the government’s next boneheaded move.
Politiclone - A political commentator who is unable to think for himself.
Sarchasm - The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

Have you met the Boss' sister?

How to embarrass your teen even when you're specifically trying NOT to

October 30 is NOT Halloween (just ask my sister - it IS her birthday)

Lost = Cocoon?

>> Confirmation that it really ISN'T my feed, it's Bloglines. Or it WAS - supposedly it's been fixed now. Meanwhile, if your blog is on Blogger and you've using the new "follow" feature, it looks like Feedburner IS counting your followers in your Google Feedfetcher subscriber numbers.


Book notes and wishlist

# If you enter this giveaway you will reduce MY chances of winning it - but maybe not by much, since I get three extra entries by posting about it! Find out why Trish (Hey Lady!) says The Likeness, by Tana French, is the best book she's read this year, and you may want the chance to win a copy of it from her too.

# Schooled by Anisha Lakhani was already on my wish list, so I've entered a raffle to win the ARC that was reviewed on J. Kaye's Book Blog this week. The winner will be chosen on November 12, so you have time to enter too!

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Friday, October 24, 2008

TBIF: Thank blog it's Friday 10/24

Tuesday Thingers (hosted by The Boston Bibliophile)

Today's question: Series. Do you collect any series? Do you read series books? Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Religious? Other genre? Do you use the series feature in LT to help you find new books or figure out what you might be missing from a series?

First off, did you know that LibraryThing HAS a "series" feature? One reason I enjoy doing Tuesday Thingers is that I learn about so many new-to-me features of LibraryThing. If you haven't checked it out yet, here's how to find it:
  • Click the "statistics" link on your LT personal home page or profile page
  • Click the "series coverage" link in Statistics
I guess the fact that I didn't discover it until this topic came up answers the question of whether or not I've used it before - but I might use it in the future. However, I'm not sure I agree with everything that LT classifies as "series coverage" in my own collection; for example, while Barbara Kingsolver did write two novels featuring Taylor Greer and Turtle, I personally wouldn't define The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven as a series.

But in connection with that, I wouldn't say I seek out series per se; however, I do tend to be a completist when it comes to authors I especially like, and that sometimes leads to series reading. The first series I became addicted to as an adult (meaning post-Nancy Drew and other youthful attractions) was Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, but my all-time favorite series is probably Harry Potter, which makes me not the slightest bit unique, I'm sure. (Yes, I realize HP is officially children's/YA literature, but most of the major fans that I know are well over the age of 12.) I'm also glad that Jasper Fforde has extended the Thursday Next series to a fifth volume, which I'm hoping to read very soon - my husband really enjoyed it.

Are you a serial reader? Which series are your favorites?


Teaser Tuesday (hosted at Should Be Reading)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! Please avoid spoilers!

Since I'm supposed to be packing up books for our upcoming move (November 3!), I'm trying not to add very many new ones right now. However, a couple did turn up this week, and I'll have to find space in the boxes for them. One was sent to me for an upcoming TLC Book Tour, and the other came back with me from - just imagine! - a weekend visit to Borders. (It's not like I ever go there...)

It is only a matter of time before a man betrays his wife. This is what Maggie Heath's mother had told her when she was just a girl. (page 185)
Somebody Else's Daughter, by Elizabeth Brundage

Elizabeth David. Always the writer Peter turned to when he was troubled or his hands needed employment. (page 44)
The Delivery Room: A Novel, by Sylvia Brownrigg


Booking Through Thursday: Coupling


Monica suggested this one:
Got this idea from Literary Feline during her recent contest:
“Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
I didn't participate in my friend Wendy's anniversary book giveaway (the contest that inspired this week's BTT question) because - well, I don't really have a favorite literary couple. I think that may be partly because so many of the best-known literary romances are so troubled and tragic, and I tend to prefer relationships that, while they may not always run smoothly, have snappy dialogue as opposed to swooning. It's entirely possible I just haven't read enough books that feature couples like that. But if pressed, I would most likely choose Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.

Feeling a bit stuck, I decided to see if I could find some inspiration among the blog posts in my Google Reader that answered this query:

Tuesday in Silhouette had two other couples from the Potterverse on her list, Molly and Arthur Weasley (sure, OK), and Petunia and Vernon Dursley (huh?).

Gautami of Reading Room did mention one of my favorite couples - my favorite DYSFUNCTIONAL couple, Heathcliff and Catherine of Wuthering Heights. Hers was also the first of many posts I read to mention several standbys: Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester (granted, I only read Jane Eyre once and it was years ago, but I've never quite gotten this one); Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler (they did have some snappy dialogue, at least); and Romeo and Juliet (together forever - in death. What's the point of that?). Susan from West of Mars: The Meet and Greet also cites Scarlett and Rhett, saying they just don't make couples like them any more (although she's working on one or two in her own fiction...)

Hermione and Ron made Traci's list at Traci's Book Bag too, along with, among others, a couple my 8-year-old stepson would approve of, Despereaux and Princess Pea from one of his favorite books, The Tale of Despereaux.

The one couple chosen by Jessica of The Bluestocking Society was the ever-popular Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. Again, it's been a long time since I read it (and I haven't seen any of the movie versions), but my recollection is that Darcy was kind of a jerk for much of the novel, although I think this couple did score pretty well on the snappy-dialogue scale.

Joanne from Book Zombie named couples from books coming soon to a movie theater near you, Blindness and The Time Traveler's Wife.

Karen Harrington
's post on Scobberlotch lists some of the same couples Gautami mentioned, as well as her particular favorite, Katherine and Almasy from The English Patient, noting that apparently she has "a thing for the literary tortured love affair."

And while Shana at Literarily also mentioned Elizabeth and Darcy, her favorite couple is their modern counterparts, Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy. (That Darcy is kind of a jerk for much of the novel too - am I mixing him up with the original? I do like Bridget, though, in all her exasperating glory.)

Which literary love affairs are your favorites?

Friday Fill-ins #95

1. Right now, I'm feeling ready for the weekend - it's the last one with the kids in our current residence!
2. Moved into our new home is where I want to be.
3. How does one make the time for everything one wants to do?
4. Being accountable to someone else keeps me on track.
5. Please don't make me have to tell you that AGAIN.
6. A cool, clear early morning fills me with joy.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on watching The Amazing Race, tomorrow my plans include some writing, some reading, and probably some more packing,  and Sunday, I want to celebrate my husband's birthday! (I also want to make some new iTunes playlists this weekend, and sit down with my vote-by-mail ballot and VOTE!)

So, what have you got going on this weekend?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book talk: "The Post-Birthday World," by Lionel Shriver

The Post-Birthday World: A Novel (P.S.) by Lionel Shriver
The Post-Birthday World: A Novel (P.S.)
Lionel Shriver
Harper Perennial, 2008 (paperback) (ISBN 0061187895 / 9780061187896)
Fiction, 544 pages

First sentence: What began as a coincidence had crystallized into a tradition: on the sixth of July, they would have dinner with Ramsey Action on his birthday.

Book description: Children's book illustrator Irina McGovern enjoys a quiet and settled life in London with her partner, fellow American expatriate Lawrence Trainer, a smart, loyal, disciplined intellectual at a prestigious think tank. To their small circle of friends, their relationship is rock solid. Until the night Irina unaccountably finds herself dying to kiss another man: their old friend from South London, the stylish, extravagant, passionate top-ranking snooker player Ramsey Acton. The decision to give in to temptation will have consequences for her career, her relationships with family and friends, and perhaps most importantly the texture of her daily life.
Hinging on a single kiss, this enchanting work of fiction depicts Irina's alternating futures with two men temperamentally worlds apart yet equally honorable. With which true love Irina is better off is neither obvious nor easy to determine, but Shriver's exploration of the two destinies is memorable and gripping. Poignant and deeply honest, written with the subtlety and wit that are the hallmarks of Shriver's work, The Post-Birthday World appeals to the what-if in us all.

Comments: It took me longer than anticipated to read this, and at times it seemed longer than it needed to be, but it was well worth the time; The Post-Birthday World is one of the best books I've read this year.

The opening chapter presents the premise, extended from the first sentence quoted above: Over a period of several years, it has become customary for long-term (unmarried) couple Irina McGovern and Lawrence Trainer to meet Ramsey Acton for dinner on his birthday, the sixth of July, even though what was originally a couples' outing no longer is, since Irina's friend and collaborator Jude Hartford, Ramsey's wife and the original arranger of their get-togethers, is neither Ramsey's wife nor Irina's friend and collaborator any more. But one year, Lawrence is away at a work-related conference, and urges Irina to meet Ramsey for the birthday dinner without him; after dinner, drinks, and a trip back to Ramsey's home to smoke a joint, Irina is tempted at his snooker table.

From that point on, each chapter except the last one is told twice - once as if Irina gives in to the impulse, and the kiss with Ramsey leads to an affair that ends her relationship with Lawrence, and then to Irina and Ramsey's marriage; and once as if she doesn't, and returns to her life with her partner Lawrence. In both versions, Irina frequently reflects on what she might be giving up with one man as her life moves forward with the other. It's an excellent framing device, and Lionel Shriver employs it well. Exploring the characters through their actions and feelings in both scenarios, over a period of several years, develops different dimensions, and helped me feel more more connection to and sympathy for them.

I liked the way that each chapter essentially related a similar plot scenario, but with differing details and twists depending on which future it was talking about. For example, Irina writes and illustrates a children's book. In one version, it's a creatively assembled two stories in one that doesn't make a lot of money, but is nominated for a major award. In the other, it's a different story in a different style, more commercially successful, and it's nominated for the same award. I also liked that I really had no idea which of the two versions of Irina's future might be the "real" one; both have their positives and negatives, which makes either direction plausible, and I found it difficult to favor one over the other. The final chapter - which, like the first, is only told once - wraps things up while maintaining that ambiguity. I realize that this very attribute might annoy some readers, but for me, it's what made The Post-Birthday World an involving, original, and memorable reading experience.

Rating: 4.5/5

Other bloggers' reviews:
The Bluestocking Society
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Sophisticated Dorkiness


If you have reviewed this book on your blog, please leave a link in the comments or e-mail it to me at 3.rsblog AT gmail DOT com, and I'll edit this post to include it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Marilyn or Jackie? (Or Doris, or Katharine, or..)

I found this quiz via Miguelina, and even though I don't watch Mad Men, this "Mad Men-era female icon" quiz was hard to resist.

It turns out that I am neither a Marilyn (Monroe) nor a Jackie (Kennedy), and that's fine - I am an Ingrid (Bergman)! The personality characteristics associated with the profile sound quite a lot like me. I can live with that. And I'll always have Paris. (So, could I at least look like her for a day, please? Or how about her daughter, Isabella Rosselini? My husband's always had a thing for her...)

You Are an Ingrid!

mm.ingrid_.jpg
You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

 
Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.  
How to Get Along with Me
  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting! 
What I Like About Being an Ingrid
  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people
  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others
  • * having aesthetic sensibilities
  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me 
What's Hard About Being an Ingrid
  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people
  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
  • * expecting too much from myself and life
  • * fearing being abandoned
  • * obsessing over resentments
  • * longing for what I don't have 
Ingrids as Children Often
  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
  • * are very sensitive
  • * feel that they don't fit in
  • * believe they are missing something that other people have
  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)
  Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are
  • * support their children's creativity and originality
  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed
With only two questions, this is also a very quick quiz, so go take it now and then come back and tell me who you are :-)!

Weekend Assignment #238: What a rip-off!

Mâvarin Karen had an unfortunate experience with plagiarism recently, and that inspired her question for the Weekend Assignment:

Weekend Assignment #238: Tell us of a time you've been ripped off - that is, stolen from or cheated in some way. 


I really didn't intend to do this assignment, but one of the incidents Mike mentioned in his response prompted a recollection I thought I'd share - a short story about a very small-time, petty crime.

First Husband finished his Ph.D. work at Cornell in the fall of 1991, and had a faculty appointment lined up at a small college in Memphis that he had arranged to start in January. We decided to make the move south in November so we'd have a little time to get acclimated.

The Saturday night before we left Ithaca, I went to see a friend of mine perform in a concert downtown, and it was fairly late when it ended. We lived in university housing, and due to the hour, I was unable to get a parking place near our apartment. I parked halfway to the other side of the complex and made my sleepy way home.

The next morning we went out to the car to leave for church (I did do that regularly for a number of years) and discovered that I must have been so sleepy I had forgotten to lock the car doors - and apparently someone had noticed. However, while I had made breaking into the car easy for them, they must have gotten frustrated once they actually got inside, since they were unable to dislodge the car stereo. They were successful in stealing the knobs off it, though. They had also been looking for loose change in the ashtray, which they had tossed onto the car floor in disgust that it was empty. The little drawer to the left of the steering wheel, which was where we actually DID keep coins, was undisturbed.

This definitely qualified as an "annoyance crime" more than anything else - but for the record, finding replacement knobs for a car stereo was a royal pain in 1991; it might be easier in the Internet age. It was actually rather comical how little the bandits had gotten for their efforts. In a reference to my son's favorite movie at the time (he was seven), I suggested that the break-in was perpetrated by the burglars from Home Alone.

I suspect most people don't have much fun talking about their experiences with being cheated, robbed, or otherwise ripped off, and if I didn't have this little anecdote to tell, I wouldn't either. What about you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I love a good bad pun, or a couple dozen of 'em...

...which doesn't mean you have to love them too, but you DO have to put up with 'em when I decide to share them! These have made the rounds in my family lately - I received them in e-mails from both my sister and my uncle.
Lucky for me, Tall Paul loves a good bad pun too - and today's our wedding anniversary!

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.
    He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island,
    but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker,
    but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because
    it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder
    and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope,
    it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road
    and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in
    Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race.
    They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow.
       Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall.
      The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway.
      One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger.
      Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital.
      When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was,
      a nurse said, 'No change yet.'

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle,
      he just didn't have the balls to do it.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was
      a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now
      a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes inverse.

22. In democracy it's your vote that counts.
      In feudalism it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary,
      they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults:
      Practice safe sects!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Should you be allowed to vote?

All citizens over 18 have the right to vote in this country (now!), but with that right comes the responsibility to know who and what you're voting for. This brief current-events quiz assesses whether you know enough to be qualified to vote.

Remember, if you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain about the outcome. You've still got two weeks to get informed, so if you don't score quite so well on this quiz, you've got a little homework to do!



You Should Be Allowed to Vote




You got 14/15 questions correct.

Generally speaking, you're very well informed.



If you vote this election, you'll know exactly who (and what) you'll be voting for.

You're likely to have strong opinions, and you have the facts to back them up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Review 10-18

We've had a little distraction by fire this week - it's that time of year in these parts. I Tweeted updates about it on Monday and Tuesday and blogged about it at the LA Moms Blog on Friday; also, here's SoCal Mom's  "annual fire post" from the northern end of the San Fernando Valley. That, coupled with a shortened workweek and getting ready to move in just over two weeks (!), has caused me to run a bit behind on Google Reader.

Bulletin Board

***** We are on the move to end Alzheimer's this morning in Thousand Oaks, CA, and I wanted to mention that a few regular readers here at The 3 R's made generous donations to support our team's fund-raising efforts - thank you SO MUCH, folks, from my mother's daughters and their families! You helped boost our team into the Top Five fund-raisers (for awhile, anyway).

Also: FYI, the Alzheimer's Early Detection project was the first-place winner in the American Express Members Project voting - $1.5 million goes to the Alzheimer's Association to implement it!

>> The Members Project second-place winner is DonorsChoose.Org. The Los Angeles Moms Blog (along with its sister sites) is participating in the DonorsChoose.Org "Blogger Challenge" till the end of October. Through our leader board, you can make a donation (or two) to provide direct assistance with teachers' needs in Los Angeles-area public schools - any amount is welcome, so please consider helping to fund a project!


New in Google Reader
Worducopia


Random reading, with a serving of economics
Possibly Useful Site of the Week: The Money Meltdown. Via my Monday-morning e-mail from VeryShortList.com (another useful site, BTW), it's
"a smartly simple website that helps you make sense of the financial crisis in even less time than it takes for the Dow to perform its morning plummet. Started a few weeks ago by an enterprising online journalist named Matt Thompson, TMM points you to the essential articles, podcasts, and studies."
I've bookmarked it for reference - you might want to take a look for yourself.

The Silicon Valley Moms Bloggers tackled the economy on all of their sites this past Monday. My own contribution is here; the Los Angeles Moms Blog also features Kim's post on the value of financial education; Elizabeth's pondering about stock market crashes and October; Sarah's thoughts on having goals and "making do;" Jessica addresses her financial fears; and Nina's perspective that not much has changed for her family. Themed posts from all of the SVMB sister sites are rounded up and recapped here.

While "Economy Topic Day" sprang from a need to talk and blog about the immediate crisis surrounding Wall Street, it happened just a couple of days before the long-planned Blog Action Day 2008 spotlight on Poverty this past Wednesday. April talked about single parenthood and how poverty limits choice at It's All About Balance, while Los Angelista emphasized poverty's affects on children, and Margalit of What Was I THINKING? delved into poverty as a local community issue. Mauigirl collects assorted findings about the poor, and the MOMocrats made various aspects of poverty a group project. Career, HR, and personal-finance bloggers participated in Blog Action Day too, and the Wednesday "tip day" post at The Happiness Project proposes combating poverty through generosity.

While we're on the subject of money matters, 10 savings suggestions and 10 phases of personal-finance awareness.

Discussing politics and religion with your kids - how do you approach it, and how is it influenced by your upbringing? Also: what fuels a new political junkie

Anyone up for trading Columbus Day for a holiday on Election Day?

Hey lady (or mister)! Can you use a little help with basic HTML?

The human lifespan starts out like this, according to one 14-year-old:

0 - 1 Year
Still the pooping, screaming bundle of joy.
OK, she is pretty much on-the-money about this one.

2 - 5 Years
Growing up, but still can't do much.
Kinda right, but both she and her brother were able to do plenty. I have the gray hair and pictures to prove it.

The 14-year-old is Tall Girl, my stepdaughter - you can read the rest on her dad's blog.

Some people get offended when children are compared to puppies, but if you've known both, read this and then tell me you don't see a resemblance.

Remember that question I asked about Bloglines a couple of weeks ago? Apparently, it's not my feed - it's really a Bloglines problem. I feel slightly better now about the fact that Feedburner says I only have 10 Bloglines subscribers...


Book notes/wish list

Another Way Home, by Christa Parrish
The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff (quite a few bloggers have reviewed this, but Natasha's post offered some interesting perspective)

Friday, October 17, 2008

TBIF - Thank blog it's Friday (10-17-08)

Tuesday Thingers (hosted by The Boston Bibliophile)

Today's question: Early Reviewers- do you participate? How many books (approximately) have you received through the program? Have you liked them generally? What's your favorite ER book? Do you participate in the discussion group on LT?

I signed up for Early Reviewers not long after I joined LibraryThing in January 2008, but I'm erratic about my participation. I check out the selections every month, but some months I'll only submit requests for one or two, and sometimes none will appeal to me. But once or twice, I've put in requests for half a dozen ARCs. It depends very much on the slate of books being offered at the time.

There's a good rule about not buying anything on sale just because it's on sale; that is, if you wouldn't be willing to buy it at full price, it's not really a bargain. For me, that applies to books too. I have a policy of not requesting ARCs, or accepting review book offers, unless the book sounds like one I'd be interested in buying and reading if I found it at Borders, and most of the time I stick to it, which is why I haven't submitted very many ER requests.

However, if you don't ask for many ER ARCs to begin with, odds are you'll receive even fewer, and to date I've gotten just two: My Husband's Sweethearts by Bridget Asher (reviewed here), and Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan, which won't be an "early" review by the time I get to it - it was officially published two weeks ago! It's on my "TBR next" stack, but my current read is just taking me longer than anticipated (and is too interesting to set aside), so I haven't started it yet.

I don't participate in any of the LT discussion groups; between blogs and Twitter, I'm spreading my online-conversation time fairly thin as it is.


Booking Through Thursday: What’s Sitting on Your Shelf?

Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.
But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.
So, the question is this: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Oh, mercy. It's come to this.

There's a reason I refer to my to-be-read collection as "TBR Purgatory" - the duration of a book's stay there is undetermined, and some have been hanging around in there for years, no exaggeration.

One big reason I joined LibraryThing in the first place was that I felt that I was losing track of what I had in TBR, and thought it was entirely possible that I might have two copies of some books (both unread). Logging my books into the database gave me a good reason to haul everything off the shelves, and I actually did some purging when I originally set up my LT library. I found quite a few books that I decided, however reluctantly, that I probably really wasn't going to read after all in the foreseeable future, especially if they'd been around for more than a couple of years, and I gave those away to the Friends of the Library. Since I joined LT, I've tried to develop a practice of recording all my newly-acquired books in there as soon as possible and tagging them TBR. That does help me keep up with what's in Purgatory, but it's still quite a lot - as of today, that tag is on 150 books. It would have been more if you'd asked this question a couple of weeks ago, though; since we'll be moving soon, I did another purge while packing up my bookshelves, and one of my errands this weekend will be a stop at the library to drop those books off there.

However, there are still quite a few long-term members of the TBR club that I really do intend to read - but as the article quoted above says, "(w)hen, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works." Here's a sampling from my LT listings - rather than link to the indivdual books, you're welcome to take a look at everything currently tagged as TBR. The ones marked with a "*" moved from Memphis to California with me in June 2002.

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood*
Naked* and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, both by David Sedaris (my husband read both of these a few months ago, but "reading by proxy" doesn't count)
An Ocean in Iowa, by Peter Hedges (my sister "loaned" me this one six years ago, when I first moved to California - I guess she's not in a rush to get it back)
The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean*
Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
Middle Age: A Romance, by Joyce Carol Oates*
The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen*
Sunday's Silence, by Gina Barkhordar Nahai*
The Autograph Man and On Beauty, both by Zadie Smith
Coyote Blue and You Suck: A Love Story, both by Christopher Moore (actually, You Suck is my husband's book and he read it some time ago, but I lured him into Christopher Moore's twisted little world and I still haven't gotten around to reading this one yet)
The Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott
When We Were Orphans and Never Let Me Go, both by Kazuo Ishiguro
Paint It Black, by Janet Fitch
Broken for You, by Stephanie Kallos
The Accidental, by Ali Smith
The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon

What's lingering on your shelves, waiting for its turn to be read?

Friday Fill-ins #94

1. Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road - everybody sing!
2. A book (or two, or sometimes three) is something I always take with me on vacation.
3. To achieve your goals, you must set goals in the first place.
4. Just about anything personal I write on this blog is something I'd like you to know about me.
5. I have a wedding anniversary coming up next Tuesday!
6. A bar of soap floats.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening, tomorrow my plans include the Alzheimer's Memory Walk in Thousand Oaks and Sunday, I want to go shopping for some kitchen stuff for our new place! (And we're taking the day off on Monday too - this is our anniversary weekend!) Oh, and since I still have unread posts in Google Reader going back to this past Sunday (!), I want to get caught up on that over the weekend too.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Weekly Geeks #21: Name that (first) line!

Dewey's theme for Weekly Geeks #21 is sort of a combination group project / scavenger hunt / contest: 

Below, you’ll find a list of 100 first lines from books. The basic project is to identify their sources.
1. Look over the list of first lines. How many can you identify immediately? Post these in your blog, with the answer (the book title and author). If you’re not 100% positive of your answer, please Google the line to be sure. Otherwise, your wrong answer will be spread around to other bloggers. Step 1 is the most basic step in the project.

2. If you like, list a few or more first lines without answers and ask your readers if they can identify any of them. It’s fine to list all of them for your readers to look at, if you’re so inclined.

3. If you want to, you can also go around visiting other Weekly Geeks and commenting with the answers to any lines that stumped them. The more WGs you visit, the more will visit you!

4. If you want to take part in a contest to see who can get all 100 lines identified, visit the Weekly Geeks who sign Mr Linky (at Dewey's Weekly Geeks post linked above), take their identified lines from their blogs and post them in your own post. Your own list will grow this way. Please don’t forget to link to any Weekly Geeks whose identified lines you take!

5. If you eventually have all 100 lines identified in your blog post, please email me at dewpie at gmail dot com. Don’t email me if you get all 100 by looking at the blog of someone else who got all 100, though, because obviously that person beat you to it.

6. There is a prize! If no one gets all 100 answers, the prize goes to the blogger who gets the most. If multiple bloggers get all 100, the winner is the first person who emails me a link to a post with all 100 correct answers.

7. I’ll offer the winner a choice of a few of the prizes I was setting aside for the read-a-thon and he or she will get to choose one. These choice won’t be anything donated by other bloggers, though, because those bloggers intended those prizes for the read-a-thon.
I started by reviewing the list to identify the first lines I knew right off the bat, and those answers are in black bold font. Next, I checked out a few of the other Weekly Geeks participants in my Google Reader feeds to see if they might be able to help me out, and quite a few were - those responses are linked to the blogs where I found them, with my thanks!

*But before I share those, I'll list the first lines - in blue - that I was unable to identify even with help. If you know any of them - please observe Dewey's rules above and do NOT Google them except to confirm that your response is correct! - please leave a comment with the line number (or quote the whole thing if you want), book title, and author. I will edit this post to include your response and a link to you!

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.”
34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.
35. It was like so, but wasn’t.
36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled.


41. The moment one learns English, complications set in.
42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded.
52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.
55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes’ chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression.

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.

70. Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson.
73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World.

76. “Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

80. Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.
84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point.

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man.

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl’s underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self.

93. Psychics can see the color of time it’s blue.

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen.

Here's the rest of the first-lines list, with the answers, for your reading enjoyment:

1. Call me Ishmael. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. A screaming comes across the sky. Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. Finnegan's Wake, James Joyce (Eva @ Striped Armchair) 
8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 1984, George Orwell (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathanael West (Rachel @ Not Another Mom, via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
12. You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.The Trial, Franz Kafka (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Murphy, Samuel Beckett (Maree @ Just Add Books, via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce (Alessandra @ Out of the Blue via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne (Alessandra @ Out of the Blue via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. Ulysses, James Joyce (Yasmin @ APOOO Books via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Paul Clifford, Edward Bulwer-Lytton (OK, full disclosure: I looked this one up. I knew the author of this most infamous first line, but didn't know the name of the book - does anyone know anything except the first line?)
23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. City of Glass, Paul Auster (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (Megan @ Leafing Through Life) 
27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. Waiting, Ha Jin
30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. Neuromancer, William Gibson (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky (Megan @ Leafing Through Life) 
37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
38. All this happened, more or less. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
40. For a long time, I went to bed early. Swann's Way, Marcel Proust (Rachel @ Not Another Mom)
43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane; Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov (Shelly @ Chain Reader via Rachel @ Not Another Mom)
45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton (Susan @ Just Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
51. Elmer Gantry was drunk. Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis
54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. The End of the Affair, Graham Greene (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho’ not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call’d me. Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. Middlemarch, George Eliot (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler (Softdrink(Jill)/Valerie @ Fizzy Thoughts via Rachel @ Not Another Mom)
64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
65. You better not never tell nobody but God. The Color Purple, Alice Walker (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
66. “To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die.” The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie (Eva) 
67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (Samantha @ Book Minx via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. The Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace (Lenore @ Presenting Lenore via Joanne @ Book Zombie)
69. If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. Herzog, Saul Bellow (Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass (Melydia @ It Never Stops via Rachel @ Not Another Mom)
74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. The Wings of the Dove, Henry James (Susan @ Just Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway (Susan @ Just Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad (Susan @ Just Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. The Go-Between, L.P. Hartley (Katherine @ A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. Riddley Walker, Russell Hobam (Maree @ Just Add Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom)
81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. Crash, J.G. Ballard (Joanne @ Book Zombie)
82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith (Eva @ A Striped Armchair) 
83. “When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.” Geek Love, Katherine Dunn (Megan @ Leafing Through Life)
85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. Last Good Kiss, James Crumley (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled. I, Claudius, Robert Graves (Megan @ Leafing Through Life) 
88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women. Middle Passage, Charles Johnson (Yasmin @ APOOO Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
89. I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow (Softdrink(Jill)/Caite @ Fizzy Thoughts via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods. Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis (Susan @ Just Books via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. Scaramouche, Rafael Sabatini (Becca via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers (Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood (Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
97. He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. Orlando, Virginia Woolf (Dreamybee @ Subliminal Intervention via Joanne @ Book Zombie) 
98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. Changing Places, David Lodge (Penryn @ Penryn's Dreams via Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (Rachel @ Not Another Mom) 
100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (Icedream @ Reading in Appalachia via Rachel @ Not Another Mom)

Join in on the "unknowns", or share a favorite first line, in the comments!