Saturday, October 23, 2010

New blog!

I haven't posted regularly on this blog for well over a year. I am done with book blogging, but feel free to follow me on my new blog,

This site is dedicated to my journey as a journalist. I have pages for my published writing and I have a blog to document the process.

If you know someone or are a journalism blogger, let me know! The most valuable part of book blogging for me was finding the community.

I will still regularly check up on this blog to see comments and to finish up the We Didn't Start the Fire Challenge that I started.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BTT: Illustrations

"How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?"

I'm all for illustrations and graphs and such in certain cirumstances. In some types of books, they are really innapropriate and unnecessary.

Illustrations are good when:
-They help break up endless texbook reading

-They fit with the quirkiness and informality of the book. I have several unconventional devotional books that have little doodles in the margins and have words circled and such. this is perfect!
-You wouldn't be able to understand the book without the illustration or graph.

Illustrations are bad when:
-You are so engrossed in the story that it takes your attention away from it.
-The chart is placed in the middle of s sentence so you don't know whether to read the rest of the page then read the chart or read right there.
-They ask questions about the book or recap what was already said. Just ask the question in the text of the book! I don't need a little box.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant
321 pages

Plot in a nutshell: The retelling of the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah in the Bible.

Review in a nutshell: I couldn’t put the book down, but wanted to because it seemed like the author was trying to challenge everything I believe about the Bible. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

This book was great, but so great that I am scared to pick up another book for fear that the new book won’t be very good.

The Red Tent tells the story of Jacob’s family through the eyes of Dinah, the only daughter mentioned in the Bible that is born of Jacob. Dinah’s story is told in Genesis 34. Dinah’s story is one of the longer stories in the Bible about a woman. It was interesting to read this fictionalized account.

The book starts out before Dinah is even born. Dinah tells of how Jacob married four sisters. The reader can tell from the start that the major theme of the novel is sex and childbearing. This book is really sexual. It’s almost like Judy Blume’s Forever, only with Bible characters.

Because the book starts with a detailed ancestry, it is hard to keep track of all the characters. There are so many servants and wives and friends and cousins that it is impossible to remember them all. The important characters show up pretty much constantly, though. But most of the names are hard because they are foreign sounding.

Like The Jewel of Medina, I think Diamant was trying to make some scandalous statement about the Bible by writing The Red Tent. The book suggests even though Jacob worshipped God, that there was a lot of other pagan things going on at the same time in his family.

I felt like I was reading something dirty and bad when I read this. I don’t want to be na├»ve enough to say that the Bible is perfect and nothing bad happened in it. I know it isn’t true, but to suggest that everyone was horny all the time is really uncomfortable for me in so many ways.

In the end, Joseph is portrayed in a pretty negative light as well. Joseph is one of the people I really admire in the Bible and that was probably the biggest problem I had.

Other than those issues, Diamant has a writing style that makes it impossible to put the book down. You know a lot of what is going to happen in the book, but you still want to read on further.

This is one of those books to read if you are in a reading slump and just need something you don’t want to stop reading. For me, I love and hate it at the same time.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Wooo! I finished a book! On top of working and school and having a crazy life, I finished a book that wasn't required!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was the perfect thing to get me back in the reading game. It is a short and quick read.

I know this book has been reviewed countless times, which is one of the reasons I picked it up from the library. I have read so much holocaust lit, but this book was very different!

It never really mentioned the terrors of the concentration camps, but we all know. This was a type of irony that I have never seen before and really enjoyed. I loved how different this book was and how it crammed so much in a short period of time!

I started reading the Red Tent as well. This one will take me much longer, but I'm already finding myself falling into my old habit of telling myself one more chapter and that turns in to three or four and I don't get to sleep until late!

I've gotten into the practice of not going back to my room at all during my hour and a half long lunch break between classes. I spend the time in the library. I rented out a cubicle of my own in the periodicals section where I will read USA today, do a little bit of homework and read books. I love my lunchtime routine.

I am once again in awe of the library here. I discovered a whole section of the library I hadn't really seen before. It is so cozy and a great place to hid and study, read the newspaper, or read books! I'm spending so much time in the library. I guess this isn't a bad thing because only good things can happen in a library. I checked out five books this week :)

In other news, I wrote my first real piece for the school newspaper. It got on the front page! If you want to read my article on how my school has responded to the earthquake in Haiti, it is here:

My semester is really rough. I am taking one less class than I did last semester but I'm doing twice as much work and getting lower grades. It doesn't help that I'm taking a science class with a whole bunch of bio/pre-med majors! Other than my tough classes, I'm loving this semester. This is the first weekend in 8 weeks that I haven't had crazy fun plans with friends all weekend. It was nice to relax.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The not wrap-up post

I've decided I'm not going to do a 2009 wrap-up post. This year was an amazing year for me in everything except reading. Even my three week Christmas vacation did not bring as much reading as I thought. In order to keep from being filled with sadness and regret, I'm just going to go on and pretend the book blogging world is not resetting their challenges and how many books they've read for a new year. The first half of my reading year was fantastic.

I started this blog in the first place to challenge myself to read different kinds of books, read as much as I can, and write reviews so I can look back and remember what I read more easily. I've done all of these things. Just because I am disappointed that I didn't get as much reading done as crazy people like Eva has, I shouldn't get hard on myself.

Instead of telling how many books I've read this year, let's focus on the positives. Here are my favorite reads of this year.

A Prayer For Owen Meany ( One of the best books I've ever read. I had to read it for a class this semester. I'll never forget this book!

The Jewel of Medina ( I'm really resisting adding this to my rereading list! I suggested that my mom buy it on her Kindle which she got for Christmas.

The Road ( Reading my review on this book again makes ME want to read it again! Oh boy...

Do Hard Things I didn't write an actual review on this, but this book has popped up many times in my everyday conversation and a handful of blog posts.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ( I actually started rereading this but didn't have the time. I'll probably pick it back up to finish rereading it during J-term.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Didn't Start the Fire Challenge 2010: Post your reviews here!

Post a link to any reviews you write for this challenge or and posts related to the challenge (booklists, etc). I will put a link to this post in the sidebar of my blog so it will be handy through the rest of the year.

This challenge is open to anyone at any time, as long as you make a commitment and stick to it! 2010 hasn't evenn started so there is still time to join if you haven't already. Read more about it in my original post

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Revolutions by Justin Calderone: Thoughts


Revolutions is a book of contemporary poetry about beginnings and endings, the realization that there cannot be day without night. The poems in Revolutions are not written in traditional poetry format; they are closer to song lyrics than standar poetry, and the way the words are used and spelled are vital to the context of the poem. Written in diary form, Revolutions is about small things in life that affect us the most and the memories that we carry forever. It is a contemporary poetry book of hopes, dreams, prayers, love, loss and wishes. Revolutions is written right now about yesterday and today. And tomorrow.

Revolutions by Justin Calderone is a diary of poems. Calderone writes a poem whenever the mood strikes for two years, which turns into this book of poetry.

Revolutions is the purest poetry I have seen. Calderone does not title his poems. In his introduction, he states “These poems are what you think they are.” Usually when we read poetry, we feel this pressure to find the deeper meaning to every little thing in the poem, which sometimes takes away some things you shouldn’t. This is why I don’t have a big appreciation for poetry. Some poetry is better off being analyzed, but a lot of it just needs to be read and soaked in. Calderone invited us all to soak in his very conversational style of poetry.

Unlike many poets, Calderone does not edit his poems much. He says he can’t go back and edit days later because he is a different person than when he first read the poem. You are reading it just as it comes out of his mind.

This book of poetry is perfect for someone who wants to enjoy poetry but doesn’t exactly want to pick up Shakespeare’s sonnets or some Emily Dickinson. The poems read like song lyrics and move along quickly. Every so often, a line will pop out that is extremely clever or deep, just like what would happen if you were listening to music.

One of my favorite stanzas appears near the beginning of the book, on page 5.

If I tell you that I’m going

Then you know I’m already gone

If I tell you that I’m singing

Then I’m already in the song

If I tell you that I love you

Then my love is twice as strong

This is what poetry should be. It should be easy to enjoy, not pressure the reader, and leave the reader wanting more. I just finished a class this semester where 2/3 of it was poetry. Even though I was on poetry overload and I didn’t want to read another poem for a couple years, Revolutions found its way into my life.

Winter-you’re one old man-who moves faster than me-See-I stop for the cold-But you’re too old


The book ends with a bang. The last poem is the only poem with a title. It is also more personal than the rest of the poems in the book. Calderone is more specific to what the past two years were like for him.

These years have killed me

These years have thrilled me

I touched Heaven

And burned in Hell

I cried myself to sleep

In that soul crying way

Every night

Just to hear someone say

That they love me too.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Anthem by Ayn Rand: Thoughts

Don’t judge a book by its author. That’s what I learned from reading Ayn Rand’s Anthem. I read The Fountainhead earlier this year and did not enjoy it at all. My friend Becky loves The Fountainhead so much she inspired me to give Ayn Rand another shot, so I picked up Anthem.

Anthem is like The Giver by Lois Lowry and 1984 by George Orwell made a really good book baby. The good parts of each book are combined in Anthem to form what I think is the best politically paranoid book I have read. (Politically paranoid is what I call books like Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Animal Farm, etc)

Anthem takes place in a world where people are assigned their occupations, reproduction is highly controlled, and the word “I” is unheard of. People are numbers and basically robots. Anthem is told through the eyes of a street sweeper who violates all the rules of his society and hides in a tunnel to write and conduct experiments. He meets a peasant girl who he calls the Golden One. Together, the violate everything their society values, the communal life.

My big thing against The Fountainhead was that it took hundreds of pages to say what could have been said in about 200. Anthem solves this problem. There is a powerful deeper message with a page-turning story all within about 120 pages. When life is crazy, we sometime have to rely on short novels to satisfy our cravings. Anthem is a wonderful choice. It crams so much into its small length. Love, Danger, Philosophy, and more.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Where I get back in the groove!

I've finished two books since I went on break on Wednesday! This is the most pleasure reading I have done since before I started working at camp in June!
I started with a reread of a book I know I like and would finish so I would get back in the groove of reading. Reading textbooks is different from reading novels. You can skim textbooks, but not novels, so I want to reset my ways of reading by readng As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana again. I read it for the first time around this time last year and loved it. It spoke to me again in a whole new way. Two of the major issues in the book I am dealing with right now and it really made me think about how I am dealing with those things in my life. Read my quick thoughts on it here: (The author even commented on the post! It made me so excited at the time!)

I started and finished Anthem by Ayn Rand yesterday. I read The Fountainhead earlier this year and didn't really like it. It was one of those books that took hundreds of pages to say what it could have said just fine in half the length. Anthem was refreshing. It was like the good parts of 1984 and The Giver combined together. I really enjoyed it, but you'll have to wait to see how much I enjoyed it until I write a seperate post on it!

I am doing most of my reading in a new spot. It is perfect! We moved to a new house in September, so I really haven't spent too much time in it because I go to school three hours away. My new spot is by huge windows where I can see all the snow we got yesterday, has a good windowsil to lay down my books and a cup of tea, and the most comfy ikea chair ever!

I'm in the middle of two other books and I am about to start a third, probably even more after I pick up more books from the library. The library in this new town is TINY, so I am fully relying on interlibrary loan!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas reading plan!

Tomorrow at 6:00pm I will be done with finals. Today is my last written finals, but tomorrow I go home! My big plans include going to a camp party and READING! YES!!

I just went crazy and interlibrary loaned a whole bunch of books. I had an orderly list of books I wanted to read over my three week break, but I expanded some. Here's what is in my pile for my break!

The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare
Revolutions by Justin Calderone
The Lovely Bones
Anthem by Ayn rand
The Testament by John Grisham
The Pact by Jodi Picouly
Juniper Tree Burning by Goldberry Long
Special Topics in calamity Physics
Columbine by Dave Cullen
Unhooked by Laura Stepp
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (reread if I have time)