Archive for the 'book memes' Category

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND: The Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

My apologies–I have been absent from the last few Top Ten Tuesdays, for absolutely no good reason! But this week was a great time to get back in the game.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we’ve got a rewind–we can choose any past Top Ten Tuesday subject that we missed! I chose March 26’s prompt: the top ten  books I recommend the most! (Fittingly, many of these are going to look familiar to you TTTers…)

1. Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
I will never stop talking about this book. It represents everything sci-fi should be: believable characters, fantastic technology, and timeless themes. I try to press this novel on everyone!

2. West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Whenever the subject of memoirs comes up, I immediately recommend West with the Night. It’s one of the only memoirs I’ve read that is well-written, engaging, and impressive, while still being relatable and truthful. Seriously, read it!

3. A Song of Ice and Fire, by G.R.R. Martin
I successfully got my boyfriend and father to read these, and am now trying to force them on my brother. These are great for seasoned fantasy readers who can spot the tropes Martin gleefully butchers, as well as people who watch the HBO show but haven’t yet read the source material.

4. The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing
I recently wrote about The Golden Notebook being one of my heart books, and I meant every word! I passed on my recommendation to good friend J, who also very much enjoyed it, and I tend to want to pass it on to just about every female friend I have.

5. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
UGH this book is so painfully good. I mention it in almost every TTT post I’ve done! But I can’t help myself. It’s just so well-written and interesting and chock-full of intrigue and pathos.

6. Passage, by Connie Willis
This is one of those books that I recommend and then get upset if the recommendee doesn’t like it, because it resonated so deeply with me. (Thanks, Dad.)

7. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
I could NOT stop recommending this book to friends once I finished it. Willis is great at getting you to care about characters who are marked for death. My boyfriend ripped the cover of my copy and it infuriated me, because now I can’t lend it out anymore.

8. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
This is a classic graphic novel that even non-comic book fans should read. It plays with many well-known superhero tropes and can inspire tons of passionate discussion between friends. A great example of the form.

9. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russel
Not for everyone, this beautiful tale of a Jesuit mission to a newly-discovered planet is both harrowing and redemptive. And guaranteed to make you cry at least once.

10. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
This  is just a straight-up classic that everyone should read. I am continually surprised by how many people, even people who are fans of Steinbeck, haven’t read it. Don’t be intimidated by the length; it’s worth it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we were asked to list our top ten best bookish memories!

1. The time that Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians and The Magician King, asked if I was named after the hero of The Chronicles of Prydain. (I’m not, but I wish I was!)

2. The time that I waited in line twice, on two separate days, in order to get Chris Van Allsburg to sign a copy of The Polar Express.

3. Related to #2–my family’s tradition of reading The Polar Express and my mom’s old copy of The Night Before Christmas together on Christmas Eve!

4. The many times that, as kids, friend J  and I would read Calvin & Hobbes comic strips to one another and roll around on the floor laughing (even at the jokes that we were too young to understand)!

5. The time that I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival with my good friends S and J, and had a blast despite the heat! The used book stands are the best. (Oh, and the panels and people are okay, too!)

6. The time that I met Bill Clinton at an event in my undergrad college’s bookstore and had him sign a copy of his book My Life, which I still haven’t finished. (He also complimented my friend A’s necklace, a fact we tease her about to this day.)

7. The time that Eva at A Striped Armchair (one of the first book blogs I really followed closely) mentioned bookwanderer in a post!

8. The time that Sherman Alexie did a reading at Barnes & Noble and was utterly and completely hilarious. (I didn’t realize that he had been a stand-up comic, but that makes a TON of sense.) The audience was also great–it included a high school class that audibly gasped when Alexie read a sex scene aloud, causing everyone (including Alexie) to laugh. He even drew a little Native American caricature in the book I was having him sign!

9. The time that I first read G.R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1), without having been spoiled to the ending. It’s probably the most shocked I’ve been at a book’s plot in AGES.

10. All of the times that I’ve had fun, informative, and instructive discussions with other book bloggers! 🙂

What are your best bookish memories? Feel free to link to your own post in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we were asked to list our top ten most frustrating characters ever! This is a great idea for a list, and it’s one that I mulled over quite a bit, since frustrating characters are poised on a bit of a tight-rope. Some remain likeable, and some are just…not.

1. Rex and Rose Marie Walls, from The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
Perhaps because I read it so recently, author Jeannette Walls’ parents immediately sprang to mind as the epitome of “frustrating.” In my review, I spoke about struggling to feel sympathetic for them–the way Walls herself seems to!–but ultimately being unable to understand or forgive their negligence and cruelty toward their children.

2. Quentin Coldwater, from The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Quentin is whiny, arrogant, thoughtless, and decidedly unsympathetic. And he’s our protagonist! You’ll want to shake him constantly throughout these novels. That being said, he’s a fairly-realistic sketch of what a teenage boy with magical powers would be like.

3. Susan Norton, from Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Ugh, Susan. You’ve watched horror movies–you know what happens to blonde girls who go wandering around creepy mansions on their own! (You can read the rest of my review here.)

4. Henry VIII, from Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Compared to Cromwell, our main character, Henry VIII comes across as immature and undisciplined. While Cromwell has had to work hard for every opportunity afforded to him, the blue-blooded nobility look down upon him for his humble origins. (Review here.)

5. Llewellyn, from No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
The entire book–and all of its attendant cold-blooded murder and mayhem–could have been averted if you just didn’t pick up that bag of cash in the desert, Llewellyn.

6. Zoe from White Horse by Alex Adams
In my review, I found White Horse to be a frustrating book overall, due in part to protagonist Zoe. She really didn’t display any of the characteristics I would expect to find in one of the only survivors of a global apocalypse, and never seemed to learn from the mistakes that got her companions killed in various ways. Her totally inappropriate obsession with her therapist also drove me nuts.

7. Samad, from White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Like entry #9 in my list, White Teeth is populated by frustrating characters. Smith’s characters feel so realistic that even the poor choices they make are understandable. For me, Samad was one of the more frustrating individuals; he not only cheated on his wife, but also drives his sons away with his unreasonable demands and his lack of sympathy for the struggles of first-generation immigrants. Read my review here.

8. Tris, from Divergent (Divergent Trilogy #1) by Veronica Roth

9. Everyone in The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I couldn’t choose between Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell, who are all frustrating in different ways: Madeleine for her romanticism and playacting at adulthood; Leonard for his inability to take his mental illness seriously; and Mitchell for being generally privileged, pretentious, and unable to understand why a girl he’s friends with might not want to date him. More complaints here.

10. Lacey Yeagar, from An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
The consummate social climber, Lacey uses her youth and beauty to charm countless men into furthering her career and her expensive tastes. And unfortunately, because the novel is not from her point of view, we are never really given much chance to empathize with her. As I said in my review, “An Object of Beauty failed to wow me.”

Who are your top ten most frustrating characters? Feel free to link to your own post in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2013 Debuts I’m Looking Forward To

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we were asked to list our top ten 2013 debuts to look forward to! I chose to interpret “debut” loosely, to include new books by already-established authors. I don’t know enough about debut authors to complete a list of them, unfortunately!

1. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
Advance praise for this novel has been high, and it was one of the only books that leapt out at me on io9’s preview of 2013 fantasy and sci-fi novels.

2.  The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes
It’s been described as The Time Traveler’s Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo…how could I resist? Also, she wrote Zoo City, which has been on my TBR forever.

3. Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Ron Rash
I like fiction set in Appalachia, and Rash is supposedly one of the best there is. (He’s also a PEN/Faulkner Finalist, so he is definitely one of the best there is.) His latest book is a series of interlocking short stories, a format I tend to enjoy.

4. The Fall of Arthur, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Edited and annotated by his son Christopher, this is the last, great unfinished work of Tolkien’s. I would  read this no matter what the subject. Who could turn up their nose at a new, previously-unpublished work of Tolkien’s?

5. Red Moon, by Benjamin Percy
Ahhh, werewolves. They are easily my favorite paranormal creature, and have been for decades. (I’m 26; am I allowed to say “decades?”). In Percy’s novel, werewolves live among us, but are required to take a transformation-hindering drug. Neat!

6. Clare of the Sea-Light, by Edwidge Danticat
I’ve only read one or two novels by Danticat, but her use of language as a way to both reveal and scourge the power of memories is wonderful. I also really just like this title.

7. Dissident Gardens, by Jonathan Lethem
Haha, okay, I could write endlessly about this. But I’ll make it quick. I’ve read two books by Lethem and was unimpressed. However, this book is about the neighborhood in Queens, NY, where I currently reside and about which I feel very proprietary. For Lethem, someone who fairly screams Brooklyn, to write about Queens immediately makes my hackles rise; I love Queens for its history and its diversity and its gritty scrappiness, and it feels like an “outsider” is writing about it. So I will definitely read this, if only to protect and defend my fair borough.

8. NOS4A2, by Joe Hill
Hill, the son of Stephen King, has a talent all his own for suspense and horror. While I thought his previous effort Horns was just okay, Heart-Shaped Box was excellent. Here’s hoping this tale of kidnapping and and fantastical horror is, too!

9. The Intercept, by Dick Wolf
I don’t know that I will actually read this, but I had to include it! The novelty value of a book written by the creator of the Law & Order series is high.

10. I’ll leave this space open, for the books of 2013 I have yet to have heard of!

2012 Book Meme!

Here’s a fun little 2012-in-review book meme! I found it at Catherine Pope – Victorian Geek via Ruby Bastille. Links go to my reviews.

Using only books you have read this year (2012), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

Describe yourself: Bossypants (Tina Fey)

How do you feel: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Describe where you currently live: Beyond the Wall (ed. James Lowder)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Hyperion (Dan Simmons)

Your favorite form of transportation: White Horse (Alex Adams)

Your best friend is: An Object of Beauty (Steve Martin)

You and your friends are: The Devil All the Time (Donald Ray Pollack)

What’s the weather like: Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)

You fear: Disgrace (J.M Coetzee)

What is the best advice you have to give: This Love is Not for Cowards (Robert Andrew Powell)

Thought for the day: Eat the City (Robin Shulman)

How I would like to die: Blackout (Connie Willis)

My soul’s present condition: Revenge (Yoko Ogawa)

Whew. This was harder than it looks! How would you answer these questions using books you read in 2012?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we were asked to list our top ten bookish goals for 2013! It’s always good to set goals for yourself, and as I tend not to make New Year’s resolutions, this is a particularly nice opportunity!

1. Purchase fewer books…
I’ve gotten better at this, with three library cards and an e-reader, but I still buy wayyyy too many books. My bookshelf is not only double-shelved, but has books shoved into every available space. And I just got another bookshelf for Christmas, so this will be a real test of will.

2. …And purchase them from used bookstores!
I love used bookstores! The thrill of the hunt and the feeling of saving money combine and make this one of my favorite activities. Besides, with the Strand nearby and an account on Better World Books, I’m already well-positioned to avoid chain bookstores all year-round.

3. Write more reviews
I only just got into the book blogging game again last year, so I wasn’t as good as I should have been about reviewing everything I read. I also read more books than I ever have this year (69!). But enough excuses! In 2013, I’d like to try to review most of the books that I read (if not all).

4. Read more classic sci-fi and fantasy
I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of the classics of these genres, and would like to spend more time in 2013 rectifying that. In 2012, I tackled old sci-fi stand-outs like Dune and Hyperion, but tended to read more contemporary fantasy. Let’s see if I can change that this year!

5. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by ARCs
Ironically (because I have two ARC reviews to write at this very moment), I want to ensure that I don’t sacrifice reading and reviewing books that have been on my TBR list for ages for flashy new ARCs. It’s a balancing act, and one that I think I can improve on.

6. Make my book club dreams a reality
I’ve been kicking around the idea of a book club for years, but I always find reasons to drop it. This year, though, friend C mentioned that she would like to set up Skype dates with myself, friend J, and friend R, and I figure that I could hijack these a bit into an unofficial book club.

7. Whittle down my TBR list
This one is probably nearly impossible, but it’s worth a shot. My TBR list on Goodreads is currently 325, so if I could get it down to 300 I would be happy. Really, I just want to read some of the books I’ve had waiting in the wings for more than a year, and focusing on my TBR list is one way to do that.

8. Read at least 60 books this year
I usually hover around 40-50 books read a year. 2012 was an exceptional year for me, and I want to keep the momentum going, so I am setting my reading goal at 60 books this year. (That said, I am in awe of the readers who manage to finish 100 or more books a year. How do you do it?!)

9. Read more books by people of color
I think it’s important not only to diversify the genre of books I read, but the nationalities and ethnicities of the authors as well. I’ve read hardly any books by African authors, for example; I’ve only done a bit better with books by Latin American authors. I want my reading experience to be as culturally-rich as possible!

10. Attend BEA 2013
This is sort of an easy one, because I already know I’m going to BEA! (My first one, yay!) I live in New York and can afford it, so why not take the chance?

What are YOUR bookish goals for this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Read in 2012


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us to post the top ten books we read in 2012! I’ve already been thinking about this, and having Goodreads makes it much easier for me to scroll back through my year in reading to determine what books really shone.

1. Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
As I’ve said to my friends, I almost wish I hadn’t read this book so that I could read it again for the first time. It’s science fiction, but its characters are powerfully human, and the histories and values and battles each one of them carries on their pilgrimage to a deadly creature called the Shrike are completely engrossing. The first pilgrim’s story (the Priest’s) is, by itself, one of the greatest science fiction short stories I’ve ever read. I want everyone I know to read this book!

2. Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantelbringupthebodies
My original review is here, and you can see how effusive I was in my praise for this sequel to Wolf Hall. Mantel is a master of characterization, turning Cromwell’s previous portrayals on their head and making him a smart, loyal, and sympathetic man. It won the Man Booker Prize for good reason!

3. On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
This was my first Zadie Smith novel, and it immediately set her place on my list of favorite authors. Smith’s impeccable characterizations felt so realistic that the reader becomes incredibly invested in their lives and troubles, because they read like your neighbors and friends and teachers. A truly great novel.

4. The Brides of Rollrock Island, by Margo Langan
Atmospheric, heart-rendering, and original, The Brides of Rollrock Island has a wonderful fairy tale feel to it as it winds a generational story of betrayal, family, and magical seal-women. The shifting POVs and the absence of any fully “good” character make this a nuanced and valuble read. I thought it was wonderfully dark and honest. (My original review can be found here.)

5. Sabriel, by Garth Nix
Sabriel reminds me of the best of fantasy writing: a strong, relatable heroine, a fierce family bond, a unique magic system, wonderful world-building, and a believable love story (no insta-love to be found). Ostensibly YA, I was actually glad to be enjoying it as an older reader, surrounding by a glut of paranormal romance and poorly-sketched dystopias. Sabriel made me nostalgia for the fantasy reads of my youth.

6. The Killer of Little Shepherds, by Douglas StarrThe-Killer-of-Little-Shepherds-9780307266194
An excellent nonfiction book about a French serial killer and the rise of criminal forensic science. Despite the gruesome subject matter, it’s a fascinating read, and is definitely my favorite “true crime” read of this year.

7. A Brief History of Neoliberalism, by David Harvey
The title sounds scary, I know, but this is actually extremely readable. I learned so much from its mere 200 pages, and I would love for everyone to read this, to better understand how neoliberalism has so deeply influenced the American economy and political system–and to be incited to action.

8. And Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris
I just thought this was so cleverly and authentically written! If you have ever worked in an office, the characters and their petty rivalries, weird quirks, and mysteries are going to feel very, very familiar. I also liked the little twist ending, where normally those sorts of things make me roll my eyes. I definitely plan on reading whatever Ferris comes up with next.

9. The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollockdatt
I read this around Halloween, which was a good choice–Pollock’s tale of Appalachian poverty and murder is a psychological Ferris wheel. The sparse, unflinching style reminded me a lot of Cormac McCarthy, though the plot and the changing POVs were unique. Not for the squeamish!

10. The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
I started with Hyperion and I’ll end with The Fall of Hyperion. While, for me, it wasn’t quite as tightly-plotted or compulsively readable as its prequel, it still provides us with interesting philosophical dilemmas, mediation on art and love, and the question of what it means to be a human (or a god) writ on the largest scale of all: the galaxy. (Simmons’ description of future technologies is also creepily prescient.)

What were your favorite reads of 2012?

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