Thursday, January 25, 2007

My First Meme

Can't believe I've never done one of these before, but here it is. Thanks to Danielle for getting this one going (a variation of Carl V's from last week).

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? Since I mostly buy, I try to wait for paperbacks. I actually really like trade paperbacks. They always seem to be of a higher quality to me (better paper, better binding, better cover art) than regular paperbacks.

Amazon or brick and mortar? Mostly Amazon. With their discounts and free shipping deals, it's hard to resist. But if I need a book in a hurry, say for a gift, I'll do brick and mortar.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Sorry, but the branding effort has almost totally failed with me. I'd be hard-pressed to distinguish one from the other without really paying attention to the signage. I'll go into pretty much any bookstore.

Bookmark or dogear? NEVER a dogear!

Alphabetize by author or alphebetize by title or random? My fiction is alphabetized by author. My nonfiction is organized by subject (and not even alphabetical by author within a subject -- it's all just thrown together).

Keep, throw away, or sell? I keep pretty much everything. I still have some textbooks from when I was in college.

Keep dustjacket or toss it? Keep it.

Read with dustjacket or remove it? Usually I remove it because I'm afraid of it getting ripped or creased.

Short story or novel? Definitely the novel. I had to read a lot of short stories in college; I rarely read them now.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? I don't have much preference for either.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I'll be starting the Harry Potter books soon. My sister has told me the Lemony Snicket ones are much darker.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? I usually try to stop at some break (even if it's just a break within a chapter). If there's too many pages until a break ("too many" being determined by how tired I am), I'll stop.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? If you're starting out with "It was a dark and stormy night," you'd better be using it ironically and, I hope, very creatively.

Buy or Borrow? Mostly buy.

New or used? If used, I generally prefer very gently used. I was the kid in college who would pick through all the used textbooks trying to find the one with the least highlighting or notes in the margin.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? Occasionally a book review. Mostly it's by browsing. I am starting to pay a lot more attention to what other book bloggers are reading, looking for new ideas.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger? I'd probably have to go with tidy ending. I have to say I generally like a "happily ever after."

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? Any time I can find.

Standalone or series? I like series because they extend the reading experience. Some books are so good you just don't want to stop reading them. With a series, it's like a really, really long book.

Favorite series? Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series. They always make me laugh out loud. I've also read Frank Herbert's Dune series a few times (though I don't know that I understood all of it). There are also a couple of childhood favorites: the Little House books and Cherry Ames.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Race and Reunion. (Although I've blogged about it, so if you're reading this, you've probably heard of it. Sorry!) LibraryThing only lists 41 copies of it among their members. It's the 30,057th most popular book that they have (although they have over 1.5 million unique works, so maybe it's not as obsure as I think). But it's a very thought-provoking book.

Favorite books read last year? Race and Reunion is the only one that immediately comes to mind. The World is Flat was very memorable; and I'm pretty sure I read both of Malcolm Gladwell's books last year (Blink and The Tipping Point). How sad is it that I don't remember any fiction from last year? Unlike many (most?) other book bloggers, I never kept track of what I read. But I am now.

Favorite books of all time? Jane Eyre and Persuasion are definitely at the top of the list.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Do You Blog?

Hop on over to Why Do You Blog? and take a short survey. It's quick and easy and you might win a prize. Don't worry -- it's all legit. I can't wait to see the answers.

The site was working last night, but I haven't been able to get back to it today. I'm guessing it's getting a ton of traffic. But check it out if you have a chance.

Via Freelance Writing Jobs

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Amazon Saves the Day

Well, I think my reading slump is over. Yeah! And thanks to Amazon, who delivered a lovely little stack to me today.

In no particular order: Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman. It's the next volume in her Henry and Eleanor series. Getting Things Done by David Allen. I've been hearing about GTD for the longest time, so I felt I really needed to check it out and understand how the system works. Jane Austen: A Companion. Anything Jane Austen - I'm there. And finally, The Introvert Advantage. Yes, I'm an introvert and finally (after many years of coming to terms) very proud of it. We may be only 30% of the population, but after reading this, I can find out all my advantages! Plus, I'm finally going to read the Harry Potter books. My niece and nephew love the books and the movies, so I think I need to find out what the big deal is. So, lots on my plate to read.

I'm almost finished with The Custom of the Country. I'm nearly finished, and I realized something in the last few days: I don't think I like any of the characters. For the most part, they are largely annoying in one way or another. I'll have more to say when I finish the book.

Thank you, Amazon! And thanks to everyone who stopped by to offer condolences and suggestions. It's nice to have people around who know exactly what you mean by a reading slump!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yet More T-Shirts

I haven't featured any cool t-shirts in awhile, and I was kind of going through withdrawal. So a little searching over the weekend turned up Primitive State, a company based in the UK that offers both off-the-shelf and custom-printed designs.

My favorite was any saying you want set in Scrabble tiles. This pic shows what my blog title would look like. There are lots of colors and t-shirt styles available. I'm awfully tempted, but it's a little on the pricey side. Including shipping, the t-shirt I've shown here would be about $40 USD.

You can also make T-shirts using pixels, Morse code, Braille and UPC symbols.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Room of Your Own

I absolutely drool over home libraries. The day I find a house with built-in bookshelves, I will be one happy girl. As it is, I'm lucky enough to have a whole room set aside just for books.

Here's a great site for getting ideas or just peeking in on what others are doing -- Library Designs.

Via Books, Words and Writing.

No Country For Old Men

Finished this on Sunday and I loved it. I'm not even sure I can really say why. On a purely basic level, it's just a well-crafted plot. Pretty simple on its face -- about a man who finds a suitcase of money after a drug deal goes bad and steals it. But there's really a whole lot more than that. It's really about the choices you make, the choices you don't make, and the ones that are made for you.

I'm having a problem putting this book into any context. I read very, very little modern fiction. But it did occur to me at some point that, in some ways, this book isn't all that different from Jane Austen. Austen was commenting on her society just as McCarthy is commenting on his. They're obviously doing it in widely disparate times and in different ways. But they aren't dissimilar.

I'm making a mess of this post, I think because I haven't fully processed the book yet. And because very few of the books I've read over the past few months have been so thought-provoking. I know The Hobgoblin wrote about this book a few days ago; I wanted to finish the book and my thoughts before I read his (which I'll do now) -- WARNING! His post contains plot spoilers -- do not read his post if you want to read the book. (Interesting -- his post, even his take on the book, is much different than mine. I certainly think this is a book I could read many times and get something more -- and different -- each time. But isn't that the great thing about books? We can all read the same thing and get a different reaction.)

But, bottom line: Read it!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Slump Continues, Sort Of

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and sharing your own reading. My reading slump is, hopefully, on the wane.

I had picked up Stephen King's The Stand the other day. I thought if I could get myself involved in something big and thick for awhile, it might help. I always loved early Stephen King, although I lost interest around Misery. That story just didn't click for me (one of the few books I remember not finishing) and I never returned to King. But Salem's Lot, It and The Stand -- as well as the short-story collection Night Shift (which I really need to get a copy of) -- were all books I really enjoyed. So I started reading it the other day and everything seemed fine. Last night, 200 pages in, in the middle of a page, I suddenly decided I had no interest whatsoever in finishing the book. So that goes back on the bookshelf too.

I did pick up No Country for Old Men, which is one of the books foisted upon me quite awhile ago. I'm not a huge fan of modern literature (I seem to prefer my authors long, long in the grave), but I read All the Pretty Horses a few months ago, and it was okay. Just a few chapters in, No Country is pretty engaging. Hopefully that will get me out of this slump.

In case it doesn't, I broke down today and visited On the way are Jane Austen: A Companion, and Time and Chance by Sharon Key Penman. I read the first of Penman's Henry and Eleanor series several years ago when it first came out and forgot that there were sequels planned. But I am absolutely addicted to all things Henry and Eleanor; I've seen The Lion in Winter more times than I can count and I've read biographies of both Henry and Eleanor. They are both fascinating characters.

If that doesn't work, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Get Your Work Reviewed

Here's an interesting idea for all of you readers who are also writers. Did you finish NaNoWriMo this year? Urbis may be the spot to get some feedback. You can get feedback from only those people you specify or open it up to Urbis's network. You may get more than you bargained for, but it's still kind of a neat idea.

Via LifeHacker

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


My family often makes fun of my constant re-organizing, but sometimes it just feels so good. I realized that it had been quite awhile since I had updated my blog roll. And it really wasn't a very good representation of what I'm actually reading or checking on every day. So now my blog roll more closely matches my Google Reader list. (I try to keep on top of Web stuff, but I'm not an expert. If someone can tell me how to have my feed reader also act as my blog roll, I'll be eternally grateful.)

But I can see it was hardly an original thought. The Hobgoblin had the same idea. He also noticed the number of people moving from Blogger to Wordpress. Something we don't know about?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year, and a Reading Slump

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. It didn't seem to be going too fast at the time, but I can't believe it's all over already. I was off all of last week and a few days the week before that, and I was able to get my bedroom painted, complete with some new furniture and some new window treatments.

In terms of reading, however, I'm in a major slump. I was struggling through both The Ambassadors and Race and Reunion last week; neither one was engaging me all that much. So I put them both aside and picked up Persuasion again. I've read it many times, but I was just in the mood for some good writing and a good story that I knew I would like. In addition to the two abandoned books, I have many others on my TBR pile. But, as I've mentioned, nearly all of them are loans. Even the ones I've chosen, like The Ambassadors, seem too much like an assignment.

So for the time being, I'm giving up on challenges. Until I can get into a mood where I really want to pick up something and read it, signing on for challenges is just going to be too frustrating. Race and Reunion is back in the library (I skipped the last chapter and a half, but did read the Epilogue). The Ambassadors can just rest on the nightstand for now. I may still go back to it.

But I still need something to read, so I've picked up Donna Tartt's The Secret History. It's been many, many years since I read it, so I don't remember that much of the story. I'm enjoying it a lot, so hopefully this will get me out of the slump.

So what are you reading today?