Thursday, September 28, 2006

Too Many Books

I actually didn't think it was possible for me to string those three words together. But my "to be read" pile is freaking me out. It just grew by two more books yesterday, for a grand total of ten. Fully half of them are borrowed (or, more properly, foisted upon me, as in "you have to read this!") -- and that doesn't include the one I'm reading now. Maybe it's the non-ownership part that bothers me. I really don't like to hold on to things that aren't mine; I like to use them and then return them.

I really wish I was one of those people who could read multiple books at the same time. But I can't. I like to finish one before I move on to the next. So hopefully my friends will be patient with me. I'll get through them all eventually!

More Reading Apparel

(And I got so sidetracked by the pretty clothes that I forgot to actuallly link to the sweatshirt. It's fixed now.)

Since I seem to be on a kick about clothing related to reading (or words -- see this and this) here's another addition for your closet.

Varsity Reading Club -- established 1455, in reference to the first printing of the Bible on Gutenberg's press.

Perfect for fall weather!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

D'oh! (Annoyed Grunt)

That's a Simpson's reference, if you didn't get it. "Annoyed grunt" is how it shows up in the script, resulting in that unforgettable utterance from the brilliant Dan Castellanetta.

The reason? I totally missed National Punctuation Day! It was September 24. Check out this cool little site with ideas on how to celebrate the day, letters and photos from readers and, of course, products to buy. My favorite? A T-shirt that asks "Is there a hyphen in anal-retentive?" Which would go along really well with my "Good grammar costs nothing" T-shirt.

Mark your calendars for next year!

Via Language Log

Monday, September 25, 2006

I've Decided

I've decided -- that I really don't like RSS feeds. In the last few weeks, as I've been working on my own blog and reading lots of others, I've found several that I liked. And I enjoy checking in on a regular basis. (Most of them are listed in my blog roll.) So I thought I should do the correct Web 2.0 thing and I dutifully added all of my favorite blogs into my Google Reader. So whenever I go online, either at work or at home, all the updated posts are right there waiting for me.

But -- I don't like it. I lose all sense of who the bloggers are. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd been reading the blogs for a long time. But how a blog looks contributes to the whole experience. I like seeing the fun lime green background on The Hobgoblin of Little Minds. Heather at A High and Hidden Place has tons of additional information and lists besides just her posts. And Kirsten at Nose in A Book has the coolest. avatar. ever.

So I think I'm going to skip my feeds for awhile. Clicking on a blog page and waiting for it to open to see if there's a new post is just like opening a new book for the first time. You never know what you're going to find!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Won!


Woo hoo! I can't believe I'm one of the winners in Carl's RIP Autumn Reading Challenge. As nearly every winner said, I never win anything. And poor Carl had to remind me. I missed his post listing the winners. At any rate, I apparently have a lovely prize coming in the mail.

I've finished my second tale (really a short story), John Polidori's The Vampyre. Lord Ruthven is deliciously creepy and it has all the great gothic elements. This is apparently the birth of the vampire in fiction.

I even read a fragment of a Lord Bryon gothic story that's contained in the same anthology. Polidori based his story on Bryon's fragment. Too bad it never got finished -- it was very intriguing. Both Polidori's and Bryon's stories were created on that infamous night when a very literate group inspired each other to write horror stories (Shelley's Frankenstein is the one everyone remembers).

The free extet to The Vampyre is here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One Down...

I finished Matthew Lewis's The Monk last night. Really a great read. And, I've learned with a little bit of research, one of the truly quintessential Gothic tales. The Literary Gothic has a nice page here, with links to a number of essays. You can get the e-text here from Project Gutenberg.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Finding Readers

I'm trying to get through a few of the new bloggers "to do" items on the list from yesterday's post. I've "claimed" my blog on Technorati, which requires this post with some HTML code. Technorati Profile

So I'm going to sit back and just wait for the hits!

On a similar note, if you have a blog, sign up with Google Analytics. It's completely free and you get some really interesting stats. I have to admit I don't necessarily understand all of them, but I'll figure it out at some point. Too much data is always better than not enough!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Online Reading

Yes, we all love posting in our blogs, but is anybody reading them? Here's a great list of things to think about as you're blogging, including ways to make your blog more accessible and ways to get more readers. I'm going to go through this list pretty thoroughly.

Via Lifehacker.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where's the Movie? Oh, There It Is!

I can't believe Matthew Lewis's The Monk has never been made into a movie. It's the first book on my list for the RIP Challenge. There's so much happening! Murder, kidnapping, lust, thievery, subterfuge, sorcery -- the list just goes on. Can't you just imagine what Peter Jackson or James Cameron or Francis Ford Coppola could do with material like this?

Ahem. This is why you're supposed to do research before you write the post. Turns out there is a movie version of The Monk; looks like it was a joint production of Spanish and British film companies. Not sure of its quality (only a 5.0 on IMDB, but that's only with 17 votes). And Netflix doesn't even carry it. Still, it would be interesting to see how someone translated this great Gothic tale into film.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I Like Lists

Here we go again: this week's bestseller list from the New York Times.

Just today, my boss told me I had to read Reading Lolita in Tehran, and she gave me her copy. I've heard about the book for some time, and, of course, it's been on any number of bestseller lists. But those aren't the kind of books I usually read. Much of my reading is still from authors who have been dead for about a hundred years; I've managed to get through George Eliot but I've barely made a dent in Charles Dickens. I do like some mass market fiction, but it doesn't seem to be the stuff that shows up on bestseller lists.

Quickly perusing today's list, however, I guess I'm doing better than I thought. 1776 and The World is Flat are still on the list, both of which I've read. And Elie Wiesel's Night is on the list, which I read many years ago.

Why do I even feel I need to read books off the New York Times bestseller list? Who knows. BikeProf over at The Hobgoblin of Little Minds has a few recent posts about "good" literature, "bad" literature, and who gets to make that decision. Much food for thought.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Reading is Sexy!


Whitney Matheson over on PopCandy has a great post today about cool T-shirts that don't cheat the artist. One of the T-shirts she mentions is the "Reading is Sexy" T-shirt she got from Buy Olympia, designed by Sarah Utter. Apparently, it was "made famous" on the Gilmore Girls at some point.

This may have to become my new favorite T-shirt. Until now, it was the slightly dictator-like "Good Grammar Costs Nothing!" shirt I got from Television Without Pity. So, so true.

For my knitting friends, Sarah has also designed a T-shirt that reads "Knitting is Knotty." The T-shirts come in a limited amount of styles and sizes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Useful Word or Needless Slang?

My sister is horrified by my use of the word "ginormous." You're an English major, she cries. You can't use that word! I have to admit, I heard the word quite a bit before I let it enter my regular vocabulary. And I really don't use it that often. But sometimes it really is the perfect word -- like for these ginormous knitting needles that I just bought.

Although I don't know for sure, my guess is that "ginormous" appears in the soon-to-be-in-paperback Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Pop Language in Your Life, the Media, and Like . . . Whatever. The book, by Leslie Savan, a Pulitzer finalist, is a review of "pop" language and how it affects our communication and our thinking.

But back to "ginormous" (a combination of gigantic and enormous): Per Tim, over at Mother Tongue Annoyances, the word has been in use since the mid-20th century, possibly of World War II origin. It's known as a portmanteau: two words combined to make a new word (e.g., smoke and fog to make smog). Last year, "ginormous" topped the list of words people most wanted to see in a dictionary.

Now you want to talk really made up words? Try this exchange from The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Inconoclast." Upon hearing Springfield's motto, A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man, Mrs. Krabappel responds that she's never heard the word "embiggen." "I don't know why," answers a colleague, "it's a perfectly cromulent word." (Check out this link to Wikepedia's list of Simpsons neolgisms.)

"Cromulent," in particular, has been picked up by Simpsons fans and gained a life of its own. So much so that it's now even listed in Webster's New Millenium Dictionary. Sigh. I don't have the heart to tell my sister.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

RIP Autumn Challenge


Carl V. on his blog, Stainless Steel Droppings, has started a great contest -- a gothic reading challenge. The goal is to read at least five books with a gothic theme in September and October. And there are prizes! Click on the logo for a link to Carl's post. Here's my list:
  1. The Monk by Matthew Lewis
  2. The Vampyre by John Polidori
  3. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  4. Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K. Hamilton
  5. The Gothic Tradition (Cambridge Contexts in Literature)
Yes, the last one is non-fiction, but that's okay according to Carl. So choose something spooky from your library or use this an excuse to buy some more books!