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Archive for the ‘Books & Literature’ Category

One of my new favorite websites is Geek Girlfriends, written by Christina Tynan-Wood. The site itself is new, meant to be a companion to her tentatively titled upcoming book Girlfriend to Girlfriend Guide to Technology. I’m a gadget girl myself, and having married a geek, find the world of technology somewhat fascinating.

Christina’s latest post, however, has a decidedly non-technological bent to it in that it reviews the online book rental store Book Swim. I had no idea such a place existed. Think Netflix or Gamestop with books instead of DVDs or video games. As with those other services, you fill up your queue with a wish list of must-haves and receive them in the mail within a matter of days.

Nathan and I checked out the site yesterday and were pretty impressed with what we saw. They have several tiers of membership, ranging from two books at a time to eleven books at a time (though I can’t think of why anyone would need eleven books at once). As with Netflix, the shipping is free and you’re mailed a new book as soon as you return one to Book Swim.

Nathan wanted to sign up right away, especially since he saw they offered collections of graphic novels, but I think we’ll hold off for a bit. We don’t exactly have the time to devote to serial reading at the moment. However, Book Swim does not just offer novels. They also rent out cookbooks, children’s books, self-help books and pretty much any book you can think of. Even erotica, though if I were Book Swim, I’m not sure I’d be too anxious to get those books back.

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If you don’t know who Jeannatte Walls is, you should go out right now and get her memoir The Glass Castle. It’s one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read. Walls grew up in poverty with two eccentric parents who knew very little about how to properly provide for their children. The remarkable thing about the book is its tone; matter-of-fact with a touch of sentimentality yet never judgmental. In spite of going to school dirty, wearing torn clothes and having to dig through the garbage for food, Walls never once condemns her parents.

My mother’s a biography nut, and I introduced her to The Glass Castle shortly after it was published. I had checked it out of the library and read it within a matter of days. Mom then polished it off in two days and now calls it one of her favorite books ever. Walls’ daytime gig is for MBSNC.com’s gossip column “The Scoop”, but she’s making the rounds throughout the lecture circuit right now to talk about the book. Needless to say, it was a no-brainer extending the invite to mom to join me to hear Walls speak at the university today.

Let me just say Jeannatte Walls is a gazelle. She’s absolutely gorgeous. To look at her today, you’d never guess this was the same girl who used to eat other kids’ discarded sandwiches. She walked into the room, all red hair, dark suit and high heels and instantly classed the place up. And that’s even before she spoke. When she finally took the podium to talk about her book, you could tell she was just a small-town girl as surprised by her success as anyone else.

I had a great seat. So great, in fact, that the university photographer guy was planted next to me nearly the whole time snapping off pictures. I’d had enough foresight this morning to bring my own camera and got a few shots off myself, though camera guy obviously considered his Canon gear superior to my Nikon. Whatever. I still got what I wanted.

At the end of her lecture, Walls took questions from the audience and then sat down to sign books. My mother and I stood in line for about 30 minutes and each got our books signed. Walls was even kind enough to let me take a very nice close-up picture of her. She offered to take one with me, but as my only alternative would have been to give the camera to my mother, I politely declined and jokingly said my mother’s not the best photographer. My mom was cool about it because I’ve told her before she’s no Annie Lebovitz, but I probably didn’t have to disclose that information in front of someone famous.

In all honesty though, there’s no way I was going to be able to stand next to this woman and not look like a big steaming turd. A big steaming turd wearing a green hippie sweater with fringe hanging from the hem.

Amen.

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Norman Mailer died yesterday. I never read any of his stuff. I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature and yet my only familiarity with this man is that he was on an episode of “The Gilmore Girls.”

Seriously, I really need to get away from that TV.

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November is National Blog Posting Month and I’ve added myself to the list of bloggers committed to at least one post a day for the entire month. I’ve been posting a lot lately, but we’ll see how freely those creative juices flow when I have to come up with 30 posts this month. If you’re interested in NaBloPoMo and would like to see a list of who’s participating, you can visit the site here.

November also happens to be National Novel Writing month, but I don’t know if I’ll be as likely to participate in that. I’ve thought a lot lately about starting a book, but I haven’t written a single piece of fiction in years. Also, I’m a painfully slow writer. I’m the kind of writer who writes a paragraph and then spends the next half hour reading and re-reading that paragraph until it sounds right. Then I hop online and go to Pogo games to play Poppit or Word Whomp. Or I balance my checkbook and think about that second paragraph. So you see, a novel is probably not the best vehicle to hop into if I want to start writing again. If there’s a National Short Story Writer’s month I could totally do that.

What would also be cool is a National Novel Reader’s month. I just finished a novella called I Am Legend written by Richard Matheson. If you haven’t heard of it, you probably will in another month because they’ve made it into a movie starring Will Smith. Nathan actually bought the book, a collection of stories, a couple of months ago after we saw the movie trailer online. It’s about this guy who’s apparently the lone survivor of a virus that wipes out the world’s population and turns them into vampires. Creepy, eh?

I was really excited about this book because I haven’t read a good horror novel in awhile. It sucked me in quickly and I read the first 40 pages in one night. It reminded me a lot of Stephen King, whose books I used to devour when I was a teenager. Like Stephen King though, the ending of the story was kind of meh. It wasn’t a bad ending per se, but I was hoping for something a little more..uplifting? Is that even possible in a world gone to vampires story?

So now it’s back to Ms. Dalloway. I read two pages of that one before picking up I Am Legend.  Something tells me it’s going to take more than a couple of days to finish it.

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