Surfing Saturdays 1.31.09

Welcome to Surfing Saturdays! Each Saturday morning, I'll list any links of interest I came across during the past week of surfing and give an update on my reading progress. Play along with me! Leave your own links, or a link to your own post, in the comments!

So, where have I been this week? Check it out (only the best for you my readers):

  • Need a good belly laugh? Check out this paperback. Published in 2003, the author was SO WRONG that it looks like the book has become a collector's item--when I visited the site, the lowest price for a used copy was over $100. The title? The Bush Boom: How a Misunderestimated President Fixed a Broken Economy by Jerry Bowyer.
  • So if that last one didn't do it for you, check out this news article from Japan: The toilet thinktank plans to post poems in public restrooms under the phrase "Give love to the toilet," to reduce the amount of toilet paper people use.
  • Libraries can be exciting places, full of romance and adventure. Of course, normally the excitement is contained within the covers of a book. This Denver woman must have missed Library Use and Purposes 101.

Currently Reading:
  • Signed, Mata Hari by Yannick Murphy (I'm loving this)
  • Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell (Need to get back to this one)
  • Changing Places by David Lodge (Also enjoying)
  • One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty (class text)
  • Writing True by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz (class text)

I haven't had much time for reading this week, or really much at all since I've come back to school. It's been an eventful few weeks at the paper with a we've got a looming budget crisis--oops, just kidding--oops, no we weren't sort of back and forth from the state and the University.

I think I've got too much on my plate, with classes, and the new assistant news editor job, plus trying to keep up with my other jobs at the station and Detours (magazine). They're all part-time get-experience sort of jobs, but the hours really add up. Deadlines for internship applications are also creeping up on me--and I desperately need to get these right. It's my junior year, which means this summer is the last one I have before I graduate and I have to find a real job. Scary.

So where have you been this week? What are your reading? Let me know, leave me a comment!

A Meme and a Few More Awards...

I've been tagged by Rebecca, at Lost in Books!

Here are the rules:
Link to the person who has tagged you.
Write down six things that make you happy.
Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it.
Then tell the person when your entry is complete!

My 6 things (in no particular order):
  1. Classic old movies: An Affair to Remember, Fiddler on the Roof, Breakfast at Tiffany's, When Harry Met Sally, Gone with the Wind...
  2. Front page bylines at the Index, despite the fact that that often means headache-inducing tutorials on state budget cuts, scholarship allotments, and fee vs. tuition increases...
  3. Fresh-brewed coffee, chocolate-dipped biscotti, a good book, and a commitment-free afternoon...
  4. 4-day weeks: I currently have classes Monday through Thursday, but have yet to take advantage of that fact and sleep in. But just knowing that at some point in the future, when the summer edition of the magazine is at the printer's and I've sent in all my internship applications, and there's no news events to cover, I can sleep in and then spend the afternoon with my coffee and biscotti, makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside...
  5. Blogging, especially when I get comments that say, "Yes, exactly" after I've struggled over how to explain the style or tone of a book, and of course when I win free books!
  6. A hot shower after that tough workout at the gym...aah!

Rebecca also named me for these three awards:

This one was also given to me by Carrie at Books and Movies.

Thanks for all the beautiful awards, but I think I'm going to lay off on tagging this time--I hate picking! As far as the meme goes, if you want to do it, just leave me a comment and I'll add you to this post!

Happy reading everyone!

What Marks Your Books?

I think middle school was the last time I used an actual bookmark. Every time you checked out a book from the school library, you were allowed to take one bookmark. (Sometimes, when the designs were really cute, I would sneak one of each--I was a bit of a bookmark glutton.)

Nowadays, my books are marked by post-it notes, receipts, library return slips, or whatever else happens to be lying around. I randomly stuck this Levi's tag in a book a few weeks ago, but have found myself carefully transferring it from book to book. (This picture is from when I was reading American Wife, right now the tag is actually in Gilgamesh.)

I'm not sure why I'm holding onto it, except that I like the weight and size of it in my books. Perhaps it's a sign I should invest in some bookmarks, but I can't bring myself to spend money on something I'm bound to loose. Of course, when I lose this one, I'll have to go buy another pair of jeans just to replace it!

So, this brings me to my question: What marks your books? Have you ever found anything strange in books you've borrowed from the library or from friends? Do you have a favorite bookmark? Does anyone else find themselves giving companies free advertising, like I seem to be, because their labels make great bookmarks?

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas -- Book Reivew

"Eh, gentlemen, let us reckon upon accidents! Life is a chaplet of little miseries which the philosopher counts with a smile. Be philosophers, as I am, gentlemen; sit down at the table and let us drink. Nothing makes the future look so bright as surveying it through a glass of chambertin"

My first introduction to The Three Musketeers was the 1993 Disney film version, which I would watch over and over, rewinding the fencing scenes to watch them again. (There's something so irresistibly romantic about sword fights.) I've always wanted to read the Dumas original, but thinking that I basically already knew the plot line, I never picked it up. Of course, that's the sort of clever-but-not-clever-enough thinking that gets kids in trouble on book reports and literature exams!

The movie and the novel might as well have been two different stories that happen to share a setting and several character names. Oh, and an amusing, ridiculous rivalry between the Cardinal's guards and the King's Musketeers.

Set in
17th century France, The Three Musketeers follows the adventures of D'Artagnan, a young Gascon who dreams of joining the King's Musketeers, and his three friends, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.

I expected sword fights, romance, intrigue and adventure, but was pleasantly surprised to find a large helping of humor as well:
“This is the gentleman I am going to fight with,” said Athos, pointing to D’Artagnan with his hand and saluting him with the same gesture.
“Why, it is with him I am also going to fight,” said Porthos.
“But not before one o’clock,” replied D’Artagnan.
“And I also am to fight with this gentleman,” said Aramis, coming in his turn onto the place.
“But not until two o’clock,” said D’Artagnan, with the same calmness.
“But what are you going to fight about, Athos?” asked Aramis.
“Faith! I don’t very well know. He hurt my shoulder. And you, Porthos?”
“Faith! I am going to fight--because I am going to fight,” answered Porthos, reddening.
Athos, whose keen eye lost nothing, perceived a faintly sly smile pass over the lips of the young Gascon as he replied, “We had a short discussion upon dress.”
I actually listened to most of this story in the car. The entire book is on Librivox, and the fact that the story was read by amateur voice talent only increased the humor quotient (some of the readers were very good, others less so).

What makes this book a classic in my mind, however, are the dark moments. D'Artagnan is the main character, but in reality one of the least interesting. The real poignancy in the book comes from the portrayal of wise, yet haunted, Athos and the ruthlessly ambitious Milady. Whispered at in the movie but fleshed out in the book, these beautiful characters will stay with you long after you finish reading the final page.

Buy The Three Musketeers at

Surfing Saturdays 1.24.09

Welcome to Surfing Saturdays! Each Saturday morning, I'll list any links of interest I came across during the past week of surfing and give an update on my reading progress. Play along with me! Leave your own links, or a link to your own post, in the comments!

So, where have I been this week? Check it out (only the best for you my readers):

  • If you watched the Inauguration, on Tuesday, you might have noticed that Obama and Roberts didn't get the oath quite right. Here's why it (apparently) matters.
  • And while we're talking about the inauguration, what did you think of that poem? I'm no expert, so I'll let someone else call it history's worst. I'll simply say... not my cup of tea. Of course, Amazon sales figures indicate that not everyone agrees with me.
  • Looking for a book? Check out Open Library. I used it this week to finish The Three Musketeers when I couldn't find a copy at the University library. The book was actually scanned in to a neat little application so that it was like looking at a book and turning pages, which I liked. (Look for a review of Dumas' classic this weekend!)
  • If you haven't yet, enter my giveaways, I'll draw winners next week! And be on the lookout for my next giveaway. I'm really excited about this one!

Currently Reading:
  • Signed, Mata Hari by Yannick Murphy
  • Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell
  • Changing Places by David Lodge
  • One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
Quit Reading:
  • Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron
Finished Reading:
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

So where have you been this week? What are your reading? Let me know, leave me a comment!

Library Loot 1.21.09

Here's the Library Loot I've got checked out this week:

I've heard such good things about Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants and I can't wait to read it.

I started Yannick Murphy's Signed, Mata Hari during dinner one night and the writing is already pulling me in. If we finish putting the paper together before 1 AM tonight (it's not looking good right now), I'm sitting down and getting at least halfway through this one.

This is actually a collection of three David Lodge books, the first of which is Changing Places. I picked up this book and started reading it while waiting for a reserve text I needed to do my homework to be returned at the University Library. I don't know that I'll get through all three, but at the least the first book in the collection I plan on reading. He has a mild British-style humor that's entertaining without being overwhelming.

Speaking of University these are books I've managed to check out instead of buy for my classes this semester:

I love Pride and Prejudice as much as the next English major with a Brit Lit concentration, but honestly, everyone's read it, why are we studying it again?

Writing True is the core text for my Nonfiction Writing class and the little bit I've glanced at it, it seems like a resource I may end up buying in the end.

Another text for my Nonfiction writing class, this memoir by Eudora Welty is interesting, if slow, reading.

And a few actual textbooks that came on loan for other libraries (I love being a student!):

For Media Law, in case you didn't know the difference between civil and criminal cases; apparently the don't expect us to have had any government classes.

This one and the one below are for my Geography class, something I sorely needed to take. I embarrased myself royally the first day when I had to ask whether Puerto Rico was part of the Carribean or not, and then placed Nova Scotia off the coast of Australia on the "what do you already know?" exam (I really did know that one!)

So that's my haul. Check other lists here and here.

Happy reading!

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga -- Book Review

"Oh, I could go on and on about myself, sir. I could gloat that I am not just any murderer, but one who killed his own employer (who is a kind of second father), and also contributed to the probable death of all his family members. A virtual mass murderer.

But I don't want to go on and on about myself."

I buy very few books, but the library hold queue for this book was so long, and the reviews and discussions about it have been so compelling, that I broke down and bought a copy.

The basic premise of the story is that Balram (our murderer) has heard on the radio that the Premier of China is coming to India and wants to meet some of India's entrepreneurs. Balram, over the course of seven nights, writes to the Premier, explaining how he came from the "Darkness" of India's rural provinces to become a successful businessman in Bangalore.

The first hundred pages of this book are good, but not rave-worthy, which had me wondering what all the fuss was about. Then, there is a scene where Balram brushes his teeth for the first time:

"Brush. Brush. Spit.
Brush. Brush. Spit.
If only a man could spit his past out so easily."
For me, this was the turning point in the book, the place where the narrative went from interesting and mildly entertaining to if-I-put-the-book-down-I-still-won't-get-anything-else-done-because-I'll-be-thinking-about-the-book-so-I-might-as-well-sit-here-and-read-it-to-the-detriment-of-everything-else-I-should-be-doing. (Don't pretend that you don't know exactly what I mean.)

This book has been awarded the Man Booker Prize and provoked a slew of angry reactions from the Indian community. Adiga's The White Tiger is unapologetic, coarse, misinformed, bigotry-ridden and morally ambiguous. It has been accused of India-bashing and pandering to the West, and I can see their point. I don't, however, agree. The important thing to keep in mind when reading this is that it's one person's story and the narrative is told from his point of view.

As readers, we are not being asked to buy into Balram's view of the world, we're simply given the chance to see the world his way--a new perspective, and a provoking one.

Buy The White Tiger at

Surfing Saturdays 1.17.09

Welcome to Surfing Saturdays! Each Saturday morning, I'll list any links of interest I came across during the past week of surfing and give an update on my reading progress. Play along with me! You can add your own post to Mr. Linky or simply list your finds in the comment section!

So, where have I been this week? Check it out (only the best for you my readers):

  • The Linguists, a film about two professors racing around the globe to record languages that are quickly becoming extinct, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival last year and will be premiering on PBS in late February, according to Language Log.
  • Check out the longlist for Best Translated Book of 2008. The shortlist will be announced in just over a week, on January 27, and a winner will be selected in February.
  • If you haven't yet, don't forget to enter my giveaways for the Time Traveler's Wife and Sundays at Tiffany's!

Currently Reading:
  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron
  • Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell
  • One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty (class text)
  • Writing True by Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz (class text)
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (audiobook)
This week, I started back at university, and haven't had as much time to read my books as I did when I was languishing about my parent's house over Winter Break, but as soon as I figure out my schedule between school and work and free time, I'll be back to reading blogs and writing reviews!

So where have you been this week? What are your reading?


Addendum: it looks as though Mr Linky is down, so post your links in the comments this week!

Somewhere Between Fact, Fiction, and Farce -- A View of the Publishing Industry

I could help but pass this one along...


American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld -- Book Review

"That the world was miraculous, frequently in inexplicable ways, I would not argue. That these miracles had any relationship to the buildings we called churches, to the sequences of words we called prayers—that I was less sure of."

If you haven't read American Wife yet, I'm guessing the book is either on your TBR list or you've made a conscious decision not to put it there. I would suggest a third alternative: read the first 3 sections, and then:





American Wife, based very loosely on the life of Laura Bush (a.k.a. Alice Blackwell), reads like an leisurely, well-written epic. Narrated by Alice, the story is at times funny and often poignant. Unfortunately, after writing a beautiful, engrossing tale about a woman who would be first lady and her charming-yet-flawed husband Charlie, Sittenfeld trades in her storyteller's perch for a pundit's soapbox.

The narrative jumps ahead 10 years, past Charlie's stint as governor and into his second term as president, where we meet one-dimensional incarnations of Charlie and Alice, instead of the interesting, complicated characters that had occupied the book thus far. This fourth and final section takes place over a single day, most of which Alice spends making bland, unenlightened reflections on her husband and his presidency, and then concludes with an utterly predictable flourish.

I don't know if Sittenfeld thought she had earned her soapbox after the first 3 sections, or if she simply wasn't comfortable writing about life in the presidency, but this book could have been great. Unfortunately, the final section drags it down to barely mediocre.

Laura Bush will be publishing her memoir next year.

Buy American Wife at

Surfing Saturdays 1.10.09

Welcome to Surfing Saturdays! Each Saturday morning, I'll list any links of interest I came across during the past week of surfing and give an update on my reading progress. Play along with me! You can add your own post to Mr. Linky or simply list your finds in the comment section!

So, where have I been this week? Check it out:

I don't have quite as many books as I would like at my disposal right now because I'm preparing to drive back to school on Sunday and had to return the books I had checked out--but no worries, I already have books (including my textbooks, believe it or not) on reserve and waiting for me at the University Library when I get there tomorrow!

Currently Reading:
  • Gilgamesh by Stephen Mitchell (my own copy, a Christmas present)
  • Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron (I returned the local library's copy, but luckily the university library has a copy waiting for me)

Finished Reading:
  • American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld -- look for a review today or tomorrow!

So where have you been this week? What are your reading? Anyone else on their way back to school or work this weekend?


My First Butterfly Award!

Jo-Jo gave me a Butterfly Award, my first award here in the blogosphere! (very exciting!) And since this is a meme award, I get to pass it on, which I am even more excited about because it gives me the perfect opportunity to fawn over a few of the blogs that I have come to enjoy so much!

I'm sure many of you, if not all of you, have received this award from other bloggers, (your blogs are all so awesome, I would be surprised if you hadn't) but since this award has been going around and I don't remember who all has received it, I will be fawning indiscriminately!

I hereby crown as Butterfly Awardees:

  • Becky at A Book A Week -- I stumbled upon Becky's blog while trying to figure out what was going on at the end of Amy Bloom's Away (the phrasing, in my mind, was somewhat ambiguous). I enjoyed her reviews so much that I was inspired to try writing one myself, and so Literary Menagerie was born. Becky, if it were not for you, I would have sent out resumes this December, instead learning about the wonderful world of blogging!
  • Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? -- Hilarious posts, great reviews, helpful advice, and a cute blog to boot! Trish's blog is always at the top of my reading list.
  • J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog -- I have a sneaking suspicion that J. Kaye is Superwoman, or at the very least, doesn't actually sleep! On top of writing wonderful book reviews, she's hosting at least twice as many challenges as I'm participating in!
  • Alessandra at Out of the Blue -- I love Alessandra's reviews because they not only give you a good feeling for the book, but are also easy to read and entertaining. The fact that Italian is her native language only makes this fact so much more impressive! (And the fact that after 5 years of Spanish classes I can barely communicate pleasantries, very depressing in comparison!)
  • C.B. at Ready When You Are, C.B. -- His dog Dakota picks the giveaway winners! How can you compete with that?
  • Serena at Savy Verse & Wit -- Wonderful reviews, great giveaways, beautiful site--my blog would have been so jealous of your blog in high school!
  • Teresa and Jenny at Shelf Love -- I'm almost afraid to visit Shelf Love anymore, every time I go my TBR list gets longer! They choose books to read that I've never heard of and make 1100 page tomes sound like must reads. Shelf Love has the best taste I've come across so far.
I have enjoyed so many blogs, but these are the ones that have impressed me the most, and sucked up the majority of my time, over the last month or so I've been blogging--you guys are amazing! If you haven't already shared the love, pass it along, and as always, Happy Reading!

Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to the blogs you award onto your blog.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

UPDATE: The mission of Weekly Geeks this week was to point out our favorite blogs, so instead of creating a new post, this is now also a Weekly Geeks post. Go ahead, admire my resourcefulness.

I Know You're There!

I have been informed that this week is National De-Lurking Week, so in the spirit of the celebration, I'm inviting you (yes, you!) to stop lurking and leave a comment! (And don't think that just because you're reading this on a feed I'm not talking to you!)

Just say hello, introduce yourself, recite a limerick, quote a celebrity, share a secret, or I suppose you could answer the prompt (although that's the more boring of your choices):

What are you currently reading and are you enjoying it? (Feel free to make something up--if you want to pretend you're reading Finnegan's Wake, that's fine, so long as you STOP THAT LURKING and join the conversation!)

Library Loot 1.08.09

Here's the Library Loot I've got checked out right now:

A Separate Peace by John Knowles--been meaning to read this one since high school, hopefully I'll get to it this time around.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld--currently reading and enjoying

Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron -- currently reading, slowly. I like Thubron's writing style, but it's taking me some time to wade through it.

Sherlock Holmes was Wrong by Pierre Bayard -- A wonderful book, see my review.

The Keep by Jennifer Egan -- Very original, read my review.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini -- Another wonderful read, see my review.

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper -- I didn't get very far into this one, but my mother picked it up and seems to be enjoying it.

Check out other library hauls at Out of the Blue and A Striped Armchair.

Happy Reading Everyone!

The Bookshelf Meme

Alessandra tagged me for this bookshelf meme, originally started by Eva at A Striped Armchair. Before I can start answering the questions, however, I have a possibly shocking revelation to make: I have no bookshelves! My parents moved last year and all my books ended up in boxes and closets. Some have yet to be found. So, I'll be stretching the definition of bookshelf more toward "book storage facility," if that's all right with you all.

Now on to the meme:

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…

5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.

And now tell me about...

The book that’s been on your shelves the longest
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain-- the first "adult" book I read (I was 9, and it took me forever, but I was so proud when I finished). Anything older than that went to my sister or other homes long ago.

I actually rescued this one from a box in the basement and am taking it back to school to read again. It looks to be one of the books my mother picked up used in college. There's an inscription inside to someone I don't know and the latest copyright date listed on the publisher's page is 1917. If the book had a jacket once, it's long gone, and the book is coming out of its binding and frayed at the corners. I'm looking forward to reading it--there's something nostalgic, almost ethereal, about old, used books that a newer edition simply can't compete with.

a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time, etc.):
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature by Erich Auerbach, supposedly the pinnacle of modern Western criticism, it reminds me of the first time I felt really, really ignorant. Try reading it, and you'll see what I mean (Unless, of course, you write and read in several languages and have read everything of importance from the Bible and Homer on through the 1900s, in which case, I'm not sure I like you anymore.)

A book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used bookstore, prize, etc.):
In all honesty, I don't have any interesting acquisitions to share. :(

A book that’s been with you to the most places:
My copy of Pride and Prejudice is one of the few books I keep hauling back and forth to school--I don't read it, but it's comforting knowing that it's there if I want to.

The most recent addition to your shelves:
Christmas presents!
I received The Time Traveler's Wife, Life of Pi, Gilgamesh, and Beowulf--oh the wonders of an wishlist!

A bonus book that you want to talk about but doesn’t fit into the other questions:
I don't think I have an answer for this one either, sorry! :(

I apologize for not having a more interesting set of bookshelves; I don't buy many books (poor college student that I am) and, as I said, I would have no where to put them if I did!

Now on to the tagging! As always, feel free to ignore a tag if you have already done this meme (it's been around longer than I have), don't do memes, are behind on memes or in general etc. On the flip side, feel free to jump in!

I'll tag:
A Reader's Respite, because Michele posted recently about the difficulty in finding original content (well, it might not be original but it is content)
Book Spot, because they are my newest followers.

Oh, and in case this meme has reminded you how little shelf space you have left:

Happy Reading!

The Keep by Jennifer Egan -- Book Review

How do you measure a book's success? Does an engaged audience equal a good book?
The Keep definitely engaged me:
  • I groaned at the intentionally horrible writing on page 1 (It didn't improve from there).
  • I scoffed at the ending when some of the loose ends find themselves tied up in neat little bows and some are never explained.
  • I yelled WTF when Ray, the narrator, started butting in at random and when the baroness aged backward and forward and then backward again and when Danny started talking about "the worm" or "alto" or how he can just sense when there's a Wi-Fi connection nearby and...well, I don't want to reveal too much, but there were several WTF moments.
  • Yet...I couldn't stop reading it.
So what can I tell you about Jennifer Egan's The Keep? I've stewed over this book and read other reviews, but I just don't know what to say about it. It's a modern-day Gothic romance written by a man in a maximum security prison. It's a story about how the past haunts us. It's a juxtaposition of modern technology with the supernatural. It's simultaneously intriguing and frustrating.

If you're looking for something immensely original to read, and you don't mind a few loose ends, you might enjoy The Keep. If you want to have your questions answered by the end of the book, I'm telling you, you won't. You have been warned.

I'm not sure whether or not The Keep was a good book, but I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it. If you would like to take a look at the first two chapters, they are posted online here.

Buy The Keep at

Book Giveaway: Sundays at Tiffany's

Win one of five free copies of Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson, Gabrielle Charbonnet, courtesy of Hachette book group!

As a little girl, Jane has no one. Her mother, the powerful head of a Broadway theater company, has no time for her. She does have one friend-a handsome, comforting, funny man named Michael-but only she can see him.

Years later, Jane is in her thirties and just as alone as ever. Then she meets Michael again-as handsome, smart and perfect as she remembers him to be. But not even Michael knows the reason they've really been reunited.

Sundays at Tiffany's is a love story with an irresistible twist, a novel about the child inside all of us-and the boundary-crossing power of love. (from

Contest Rules:
The giveaway is open to anyone 18 years of age or older in the United States or Canada. No PO Boxes! The giveaway will run from now until January 31. The winners will be announced by February 2nd on the blog. The winners will then have 5 days to respond by sending me an e-mail with their shipping information. If I don't hear from you, the prize will go to someone else--sorry that's just the way it works. Make sure you don't miss your name by following or subscribing to the blog via the handy links on the sidebar!

How to enter:
Just leave a comment on this post!

For a second entry, become a subscriber (or be one already) through the follow me widget, an RSS feed, or e-mail and mention that in your post.

For a third entry, mention this giveaway on your blog and leave a link back in the comments.

Ends: January 31
Chances to enter: 3

Good luck to everyone!

Also remember: The Time Traveler's Wife Giveaway is still on-going. Enter here!

Netflix for Books?

Has anyone heard of the BookSwim Corporation? Set up along the same lines as Netflix (free postage, no late fees, buy what you want to keep, etc), Bookswim seems like a cross between the library and a bookstore.

I'm curious... Has anyone used this service? Would you? It sounds like a good idea, but I don't know if I read enough every month to save what I would have spent in books, although not walking to the library in the middle of winter sounds like a good plan! The plans seem pretty reasonable, it looks like the cheapest one is less than $10 per month, and it looks like they have a good selection, although I didn't spend too much time looking for eclectic titles.

What do you think? Would you use it?

Makeover Time

If you've visited today, you might have seen several variations of the site as I experimented with themes and design. I think all the major changes are done (for now!) and I have settled on a brand new layout so come by and check it out if you're reading this on a feed! Also, I want to thank all the friendly bloggers who gave advice and feedback today as I tried to figure out what needed to change!

If anyone else wants to offer a suggestion or criticism (about either the design or content!), please leave a comment!

Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening The Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles by Pierre Bayard -- Book Review

"The main premise of detective criticism is this: many of the murders narrated in literature were not committed by the people accused by the text. In literature, as in life, the true criminals often elude the investigators and allow secondary characters to be accused and condemned. In its passion for justice, detective criticism commits itself to rediscovering the truth. If it is unable to arrest the guilty parties, it can at least clear the names of the innocent."

This is literary criticism like you've never read it. When I picked up this book, I thought it was a fan fiction approach to Sherlock Holmes. What I ended up reading was an entertaining, thought-provoking and convincing argument that Sherlock Holmes did not solve The Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles.

Written in a casual, easy-to-read style, Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong is broken into 3 short sections. In the first, Bayard points out Holmes's mistakes and builds a case for Stapleton's innocence (Holmes concludes that Stapleton is guilty at the end of The Hound of the Baskervilles).

After convincing the reader that Stapleton is innocent, Bayard takes a detour for the second section into the history surrounding Arthur Conan Doyle and his character Sherlock Homes. He also talks about how literary characters pass in and out of the real world and argues that they can take on a form of autonomy and commit crimes which even the author doesn't know about. (It sounds a little kooky, I know, but it makes sense when you read it.)

In the third section, Bayard turns back to the case at hand and points a finger at the "real" murderer.

I started this book and couldn't put it down. There were some typos (it was translated out of the original French) and shameless self-promotion by the author, which bothered me, and the detour in the second section was slightly longer than I would have wished, but those are the sole objections I can make to this book. Part literary deconstruction, part imagination, and part pure genius, this book must be read by anyone who takes the slightest interest in criticism--you will never look at any book the same.

Besides, if you don't read it, you'll never know what really happened in The Hound of the Baskervilles; I'm certainly not going to tell you!

Buy on

Sidenote: I talked about the PBS series Wishbone in a recent post, but wasn't able to find the clips I wanted, so for this post I have included the Wishbone re-telling of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. Obviously, this is a more traditional interpretation of the story than Bayard presents. Enjoy!

The Wishbone version of The Hound of the Baskervilles:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

New Author's Challenge

This challenge is being hosted by Literary Escapism, and challenges participants to read new authors. I'm going to commit to reading 25 new authors this year. To see what other challenges I'm participating in, click here.

Read: 10/25

  1. Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong by Pierre Bayard
  2. The Keep by Jennifer Egan
  3. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
  4. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  6. Signed, Mata Hari by Yannick Murphy
  7. Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly
  8. Changing Places by David Lodge
  9. Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
  10. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake

What's the Story Wishbone? -- Shakespeare Meme

C.B. tagged me to participate in this nifty Shakespeare meme, and I'm passing it along to:

J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog
Luanne at A Bookworm's World
Alyce at At Home With Books
Kaye at Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

Feel free to ignore the tag if you have already done this meme, or don't do memes, or are behind on memes... On the flip side, if I didn't tag you and you want to participate go for it! When you post, leave a link back to your answers in the comments!

Now that that's taken care of, let's get on to the fun part...

1. What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?

I don't know how many of you watched Wishbone on PBS, but I was a 90's kid and I grew up with the cute little terrier who thought he was Rip Van Winkle, Ivanhoe, Oliver Twist, and of course, Romeo. Wishbone got me started reading many of the classics and gave me my first taste of Shakespeare.

My first introduction to real Shakespeare (i.e. none of the characters were being played by a spotted dog) was in middle school. The Shenandoah Shakespeare company performed at a nearby university and I went with one of my classes to see Macbeth. They performed with minimal costumes and almost no set. They also didn't turn down the house lights, explaining that Shakespeare's plays were lit by the sun and the theater would never have been dark. Their motto was "We do it with the lights on" (and yes, we all bought the t-shirts). That was when I really began to enjoy Shakespeare and appreciate how beautifully written his works are.

For all those who missed out on the magic of Wishbone... and if you do know the song, feel free to sing along, I did!

2. Which Shakespeare plays have you been required to read?
  • In middle school we read A Midsummer Night's Dream and acted out an abridged version of the Tempest.
  • In high school I remember reading Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth. I also saw the drama group's production of As You Like It.
  • In college I took a class on Shakespeare's comedies where we read The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, All's Well that Ends Well and The Winter's Tale

3. Do you think Shakespeare is important? Do you feel you are a “better” person for having read the bard?

I don't think I'm "better" for having read Shakespeare. I really don't like reading Shakespeare, and don't get much out of it. Now seeing Shakespeare is a different story. I think everyone should see at least one of the comedies and one of the tragedies performed by a good acting troupe.

4.Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?

I have a hard time choosing between Hamlet and Macbeth, probably because I've seen good performances of both.

5. How do you feel about contemporary takes on Shakespeare? Adaptations of Shakespeare's works with a more modern feel? (For example, the new line of Manga Shakespeare graphic novels, or novels like Something Rotten, Something Wicked, Enter Three Witches, Ophelia, etc.) Do you have a favorite you'd recommend?

I recommend Wishbone's Rosie Oh! Rosie Oh! (Romeo and Juliet) If anyone finds a link to it please let me know! I also really enjoyed Shakespeare in Love (another Romeo and Juliet-esque story). You could even count the Lion King in the list, as it seems to be loosely based on Hamlet! I don't think Shakespeare is sacred, not by a long shot. If an adaptation means a new generation will enjoy Shakespeare's works, then have at it!

"Will Shakespeare is having a bad year..." (Shakespeare in Love trailer)

6. What's your favorite movie version of a Shakespeare play?

I really enjoyed Mel Gibson as Hamlet. Here, Hamlet meets his father's ghost, who tells Hamlet his uncle is a murder:

Sorry to include so many video links, but this sort of meme just naturally turns up so much good material! So what's your take on the famous bard? Leave a comment and let me know!

Surfing Saturdays 1.3.09

I have decided to institute a weekly post for this blog: Surfing Saturdays. (If someone is already doing something like this, please let me know. I don't want anyone mad at me for inadvertently stealing their idea.) I'll simply list any links of interest I came across during the past week of surfing and give an update on my reading progress. Play along with me! Leave your own links, or a link to your own post, in the comments!

So, where have I been this week? Check it out (only the best for you my readers):


Currently Reading:
  • Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron--so far so good, this is my first attempt at travel literature
  • Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell--actually, I just finished the introductory material. The actual poem doesn't start until pg 69
Quit Reading:
  • Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper -- about 5 pages in I remember I don't really like memoirs. Although I did learn that Anderson's mother is none other than Gloria Vanderbilt! Well worth 5 pages of reading.

So where have you been this week? What are your reading?
Let me know, leave me a comment!

Desenvolvido por EMPORIUM DIGITAL