Sunday, November 30, 2008


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Check it out--lizard ridge is done! As promised, my mom finished sewing all the squares together before Thanksgiving and I brought it home with me. It's huge--like almost big enough to be a bedspread--and I have no idea what to do with it! It seems too nice to just cuddle up under and watch tv.

Now back to knitting a baby blanket for friends (almost done!) and then I get to play with all the pretty new yarn I got in Pittsburgh. I just have to decide what project to try first . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

2008 books 193 and 194

Back from Pittsburgh and I have actually read some in the past couple of days!

Sarah Vowell's Wordy Shipmates
I'm sure nothing in this book is new to American religion historians, but it's a fairly entertaining and pop culture-infused look at Puritan New England. It's even more entertaining if you imagine Vowell reading it out loud--does it come as an audiobook? B+.

Rachel Kushner's Telex from Cuba
The lives of several people intersect on the eve of the Cuban revolution in an American-owned community. A.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2008 book 192

Charlaine Harris' A Bone to Pick
After enjoying the Sookie Stackhouse books, I decided to try one of Harris' other series. This one is about a librarian in small town Georgia who loves mystery books. You'd think this would be right up my alley, escept it's super boring! The librarian is just a dull character, and the mystery had no tension whatever. Part of the fun of msteries is trying to figure out, you know, whodunnit. Here, they present some missing ppl who could be victims, and then the protagonist starts dating a minister, and a cat has kittens, and then there's a reveal out of nowhere. So lame. LAME! F.

BTW, I'm in Pittsburgh and it's snowing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

stuff i've shared

Some awesome stuff has come into my reader lately . . . like this montage of indie rockers on Pete and Pete! Why won't season 3 come out on dvd????

Play Black Friday Bingo.

Kyle Baker has an awesome-looking book on cartooning coming out.

The 10 best cookbooks of 2008.

rilla of ingleside discussion

Sorry for the delay--I totally spaced on Friday (blame the mouth pain)!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

2008 book 191

Toni Morrison's A Mercy
I'm sure this will get all sorts of positive reviews, just b/c it's Toni Morrison, but I didn't like it that much. It started off strong, with the four different women (slaves and mistress) of a household in 1690 narrating their experiences, but the end was pretty stupid and random. The final part was also really predictable. B-.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2008 book 190

Nancy Huston's Fault Lines
Blerg. This book started off on a terrible note, being narrated by a precocious asshole of a six-year-old (writers trying to create inner oices for precocious children never succeed and just piss me off). Then the story is narrated in turn by six-year-old versions of his father, grandmother, and great-grandmother (who are all at least more likable). Family secrets emerge, blah blah, this book wasn't good at all. I don't care what prizes it won. C.

twilight: the movie

So a couple of friends and I went to see the Twilight movie tonight--one had never read the books and only knew what wikipedia had to say about them, the other had read and enjoyed the first one. We were expecting teen melodrama, angst, etc, and I will say that we got that in spades. The audience was responsive--they applauded whe Robert Pattinson first appeared, and laughed at his hammy facial expressions during the biology class scene (the director did not intend for those scenes to be funny, for the record). I actually enjoyed the first half of the movie--Catherine Hardiwicke totally gets teenagers--but god did it drag on. I thought for sure it was over three hours and was shocked to look at my watch afterward and see that it was barely two. The consensus in our little group was that it really was a terrible movie. And I'm still on Team Jacob.

Friday, November 21, 2008

more vampires!

TWoP compares the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse world to Twilight.

Though I will say, the last couple of Sookie Stackhouse books were way too chaste. She needs a new love interest, stat.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I've been lusting after a Kindle for a while, but more in theory than in anything else. Especially when I'm getting ready to head home for Thanksgiving with a huge stack of books in tow, the Kindle is really appealing--all those books and more in one lightweight device! Of course, the cost is prohibitive (not just the initial $350 smackeroos, but new books cost $9.99--still cheaper than a bookstore, but I get my books for free from the library. Of course I could just stock up on the complete works of Jane Austen and Mark Twain, as classics are fifty cents a pop).

Then I wondered--does the Kindle even have the books I want?

Let's see, using all the books on my library hold list!

-Toni Morrison's A Mercy--Yup! And Morrison's other works range from $2.50 to $7.95.

-Marilynne Robinson's Home--Yup!

-Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates--Yup!

-Stephanie Kallos' Sing Them Home--Nope.

-Brad Meltzer's The Book of Lies--Yup. (No surprise there--my fricking supermarket sells this book. Which makes me not want to read it, but that's another blog entry.)

-Carmen Laforet's Nada--Nope.

-Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper--Nope.

-Charlie Huston's The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death--No, but they have a bunch of other books by him.

-Roberto Bolano's 2666--No, which is surprising, since this book is getting lots of buzz.

-Jeffery Deaver's The Bodies Left Behind--Yup.

-Bridget Asher's My Husband's Sweethearts--Yup. (And they even have a couple of books written under Asher's real name, Julianna Baggott.)

-Rachel Kushner's Telex from Cuba--Yup.

-Kirsten Menger-Anderson's Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain--Nope.

-A.B. Yehoshua's Friendly Fire--Nope.

-Jonathan Carroll's The Ghost in Love--Yup.

-Peter Manseau's Songs for the Butcher's Daughter--Yup.

-Tamar Yellin's Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes--Nope.

-Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking--No, but it's not being published till December 2nd.

They also have every Charlaine Harris book, like, ever, which is cool b/c I've been thinking of reading one of her other mystery series.

I think that's 9/18 . . . so based on this small sample size, there's a 50% chance any given book I want to read is available on the Kindle. Of course, the nice thing about getting books from a library is that if they suck, I haven't paid for them, and ten bucks a pop would add up. But on the other hand, it'd be sweet to have all the books I want to read in one small place, instead of in random piles around my apartment. Oh Kindle, why hasn't your price gone down for the holidays??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008 book 189

Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge
I really enjoyed this--it's a series of connected short stories set in a small town in Maine, many centering on the canankerous and elderly titulat schoolteacher. A/A-.

Monday, November 17, 2008

partially read

Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea
Ughhhh. I'm sure you all can guess that I didn't choose this title for library book group--I'm SO not into inspiring non-fiction. And this was soooo annoying. I made it to page 175 but seriously can't take any more of the cheesy, patronizing, self-congratulatory writing. (It's sooo overblown, like check this out from page 85, "his face changed as quickly as a mountain crag fired by a shaft of sun."--Are you freaking kidding me?!) I'm not sure what there's even to discuss about this. "Yeah, this guy did great things, raising money to start schools in the poor regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan!" "I totally agree!" " . . . " "OK, now what do we talk about for an hour?" I also felt that the writing was a little racist/paternalistic on some level--the author(s) really wanted to make these poverty-stricken Muslims into characters--they never feel like real people, at all. In fact, Mortenson himself is something of a caricature. Terrible, terrible book. Now the real question is, how much of this will I say at book group on Wednesday, when I know that the coworker who suggested it loves it?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

2008 book 188

Laila Lalami's Secret Son
Here's something that's great about Twitter--Algonquin has an account and sometimes gives away free advance copies, and I was lucky enough to snap this one up. I loved Lalami's previous book and have been waiting for this one ever since. Anyway, it focuses on a young Moroccan man who discovers that his father, whom he believed was dead, is not only alive, but is super rich. Of course's he's seduced by his father's wealth, but things take a downturn and what happens next has an air of inevitability. It's pretty depressing at times, but in a good way. Attn librarians: I think this would be a really good book group choice--lots of great things to discuss in terms of family, identity, culture clashes, etc. I hope some of you read it when it comes out so I'll have someone to discuss it with! A/A-.


Sorry for the lack of updates. I had some oral surgery on Friday and have mostly been sleeping, eating milkshakes, and whining since then. I just haven't had the attention span to sit and read, though I did start playing Animal Crossing on my DS and love it. I'm also catching up on this season of ANTM thanks to a marathon on MTV. I have tomorrow off work too (which is good ince my mouth is super painful and a little swollen still) so may actually finish a book then. Also, tomorrow afternoon I get to move beyond ingesting only cold liquids to anything mushy (mashed potatoes, here I come!), so that will be super exciting.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2008 books 186 and 187

C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair and The Horse and his Boy
These really do kind of decrease in quality a little after the third one--Eustace and Jill and Shasta just aren't as interesting as the original four children. Also, Horse instoduces the Calormenes, who recur in the last volume (which is very, very racist, as the Calormenes are some sort of evil dark-skinned Muslim/Hindu hybrid).

Hey--I've beat last year's book record already! I may hit 200 this year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2008 books 184 and 185

C.S. Lewis' Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The problem with series books is that once you start, you can't stop! What's been interesting to me on this umpteenth rereading is that, as much as everyone talks about the Christological aspects of Aslan in the first and last books, it's also really evident in this third one, though in a much subtler way. (Of course, as a nice Jewish girl-child reading these, I never noticed any of it--Lewis does a great job of weaving it into the story while still making all the kids and princes and animals totally riveting.)

2008 book 183

C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I keep reading articles saying that you shouldn't watch tv or look at computers or whatever before you fall asleep b/c it messes with your eyes or brains or something. Anyway, I decided to try and read before bed and picked up this classic--but even though I've read it a million times, it's such a good story that I couldn't put it down till I was done. Apparently I need to find more boring books for bedtime.

Speaking of felines, I want this dvd all about kittens desperately. Animal Planet needs a cute/baby animal channel offshoot, for real.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2008 book 182

Selden Edwards' The Little Book
It's pretty hard to go wrong with a book that has rock stars, heroes, time travel, history, romance, music, and family. Even when I correctly guessed plot point, I was happy ("Yes! I called it!!!") and not annoyed, b/c this book was anything but predictable. A.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

partially read

Martha Powers' Conspiracy of Silence
I made it to page 52 before I had to stop--the dialogue was just painfully bad. TERRIBLE. I flipped ahead to the end to see how the mystery ended and I totally had correctly guessed the killer based on my 52 pages. It was all just awful, boring, and lame. I can't figure out where I read a good review of this--b/c I definitely won't trust its judgment again.

2008 book 181

Stewart O'Nan's Songs for the Missing
A teenage girl goes missing and of course it affects her family, friends, etc. It was pretty well-written and moving, but the end felt a little rushed, and I'm not sure it'll really stay with me now that I'm done. B+/B.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

2008 book 180

Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves
Erdrich is a reliably good writer, and this novel is no exception--a few different people tell the story of a small North Dakota town, and the aftermath of a brutal murder that happened there. Great characters, as always. A-.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Yay, my monthly comics shipment came! (There are even a few more issues on the left that didn't fit into the photo.) I'm looking forward to a fun day of comics-reading.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy

I took this pic at ALA in 2005--didn't he look presidential???

Good job, America!

Seeing Jon Stewart call it may have been my favorite part. :)

Also--Barack Obama in 1240 cupcakes. Delicious AND inspiring.

best books

It seems a little early to be listing the best books of the year, but PW did it anyway. I've only read a few of the fiction books (though I've had the Erdrich sitting on my bedroom floor since ALA and keep meaning to read it) but it looks like a pretty good selection, and I'll be adding a few to my library hold list. The graphic novel list is great too, btw!

Oh, and here's Amazon's list of their top 100. It's not nicely divided into categories like the PW one and there's a lot of title overlap, but I guess it's worth a look.

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Multimedia message
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
Go vote, if you haven't yet!

Monday, November 03, 2008

2008 book 179

Roxana Robinson's Cost
It's late, so: an excellent novel about a slightly dysfunctional family dealing with a member's heroin addiction. A.

animal intelligence

I'm dying to read Alex & Me, even though I normally eschew non-fiction--but I'm interested in people talking about animal cognition--I think most pet owners would agree that animals can be quite intelligent, especially when they want their breakfasts--and actually, the book I'm currently reading mentioned this as well, which seems a sign. Check out the great feature on Bookslut. I'm hoping my library gets it in soon!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

vampires and more!

I know all my loyal readers are desperate to know--have I really not read a book all week?? The answer is yes! And it's not an issue of a dearth of new reading material--I have a stack of a few appealing titles. It's just that I've been knitting a baby blanket for friends C+C, and there's a deadline on that kind of knitting project. First I was knitting and watching Dr. Who (I still haven't adjusted to David Tennant, but I'm early in season 2) and as of yesterday I've been knitting and watching True Blood (thanks Mike!). Gotta get my Sookie Stackhouse fix! It's surprisingly loyal to the first book, though they've made Tara and Lafayette more important to the story, and Jason is somehow even skeevier.

Speaking of vampire stories--here's an NY Times piece on making the Twilight movie.

Anyway, my reading may be light this week as well, since I'm working a few nights this week and thus am missing my usual evening reading time. Sad, I know.