"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Halloween Month is Coming!

My favorite month is coming, and that means I'm going to be trying (once again) to complete my 31 Days of Halloween goals.  So, hold onto your hats; there are some spooky, creepy posts coming your way, full of haunts, and ghosts, and ghouls...and trivia and videos...well, you get the idea ;)

So, consider this your final warning...Halloween is coming, and this blog will be bursting at the seams with all manner of sweet and spooky things!

Sunday, August 7, 2016


So, I while back my blogger buddy Robby wrote up a blog post about ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), that tingling sensation you get along the scalp, shoulders, and back of the neck when you hear certain sounds (like whispering or something really crinkly) or when someone plays with your hair, etc.  Ever since seeing that blog post, I've been watching ASMR videos almost daily.  I love them, and I love the sense of relaxation that comes with the videos.  But, I never get that tingling sensation that everyone always talks about, or if I do, it's just a hint of a tingle.

Well, the other day I was at work, and I had this strange feeling.  A woman was shuffling some papers at the desk, and I realized after a minute or so that the sound was giving me some serious ASMR, because my head, shoulders, and neck were all tingly.  Who'd have thought that after all those videos and all that trying to experience this sensation, it would have come from a completely random source?

Friday, August 5, 2016

100 CC #1: Tortilla Flat (John Steinbeck)

When I was in high school, John Steinbeck was my favorite writer.  Rereading Tortilla Flat after all these years has reminded me why.  When it comes to books, there are those that you read, those that you experience, and those that you climb into and live in for a while.  Steinbeck's short novels have always had that effect on me.  In particular, it is those novellas that focus on a group or a small town that really had the most profound effect, especially Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, and of course Tortilla Flat.

This is the story of Danny and his friends, a group of paisanos, which Google tells me is a group of Spanish or Italian peasants.  Growing up, I always looked at them as poor Mexican/American immigrants, so I guess I was a bit close.  Basically, they are a group of poor ruffians who go on adventures, stealing wine and chasing women until they accidentally draft themselves into the war in a drunken fit of courage.  Upon returning, Danny, who becomes the leader, learns that his grandfather has died and left him an inheritance: two houses.  In a social circle where no one else has a house, let alone two, this is a huge boon for Danny, but his friends worry that it will make him distant and aloof.  But, instead, this newfound property draws to it a ragtag group of characters, including righteous Pilon, clever Pablo, and the humanitarian Jesus Maria.

Despite taking place in 1930s California, this story is a retelling of the exploits of Arthur and his knights.  Our heroes go on adventures, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.  They give offerings to the saints and punish scoundrels and cheats.  It is a beautiful, romanticized story of a group of men just living out their lives.  I have two quotes which I think apply here.  One came from the back of my copy and is attributed to William Rose Benet: 

The extraordinary humors of these curiously childlike natives are presented with a masterly touch.  These silly bravos are always about to do something nice for each other, their hearts are soft and easily touched: and yet almost absentmindedly they live with atrocious disregard for scruple.

And this second comes not from Tortilla Flat, but from another Steinbeck favorite, Cannery Row:

Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,” and he would have meant the same thing.

This is one of my favorite books, and for good reason.  It captures an essential glimpse of humanity, and romanticizes it so that each character becomes more than himself, larger than life.  It's hard to really capture the essence of Steinbeck in a review like this, not if you really experience him the way I do.  That's not meant to sound pretentious.  I'm just saying that my experience is hard to put into words ;)  If you're looking for something to read, and would like to try Steinbeck, this is a great place to start.  But, be warned: this is not a book that can be read fast.  It must first be experienced and savored, like a fine wine or a rich dessert.  Never rush Steinbeck.  You'll miss out on so much.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

100 Classics Challenge

So, I know it has been a little while since I've posted, but I'm excited to announce a new reading challenge!  I'm finding that my summer reading theme of "professional fan-fiction" is just not working for me right now...because I'm finding that I would rather read the classics which inspired these books than the adaptations.  So, I had an idea.  What if I just read the classics and skipped the rewrites?  So, I decided to do that instead.  But, summer is almost over, with just about a month left.  So, again, I had an idea.  This challenge, which I'm calling the 100 Classics Challenge (or 100 CC for short) is going to be an ongoing program, starting now and going until I finish (few months?  few years?  Who knows?).  I'm not going to read just classics in the time it takes me to finish, but when I do read one, I'll include a review of it here.

As always, if you would like to follow along, please feel free to do so.  Also, feel free to suggest titles in the comments.  And if you want to participate on your own blog, let me know so I can see what classics you're reading!

As for what makes a classic, here's what I'm going off of.  These are the books that are still be published today, even if they were written twenty, thirty, or even 100 years ago.  This means no "modern" classics.  I'm not going to be reading Harry Potter, for example, but I might pick up Ragtime, since it's more of a "classic".  Titles like Silas Marner, David Copperfield, and Frankenstein are all fair game, as are more obscure books by writers of classics, like some of the lesser known works of PG Wodehouse or GK Chesterton.  For more ideas of what I'm going for, feel free to ask, or check out this guide by Italo Calvino.

As for what I'm reading right now, it's not a classic, per se, so I won't be posting right away.  But, I'm excited to start a new reading challenge and share this with all of you.  Hope you'll join in the fun!  Happy reading :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Library Boy

So, there is this cute guy who comes to the library and attends my programming every month.  I've had my eye on him for some time now, and we talk a bit, but I don't want to come across as too forceful (since the librarian shouldn't be making her patrons uncomfortable).  But, anyways, we talk a bit when he comes in, and I've really enjoyed our brief conversations (I still have to work, and he seems a bit shy).  Well, anyways, my coworker told me that he asked for my full name today.  (I think someone might be looking me up on Facebook....)

Fingers crossed, lovely readers!  I would love to get to the "let's grab a coffee" stage of things with him someday.  He seems like a really nice guy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

SR 2016: Romeo and/or Juliet (Ryan North)

Romeo and Juliet is one of those classic plays that most students have to read for a literature class at some point in their academic careers.  In my case, I've read it twice--once in junior high, and again as a freshman in high school.  It's a good play, of course, being Shakespeare, but if there was one thing I would say it was missing, that would be the opportunity to make your own decisions instead of being forced to watch two hormonal teenagers act out the tragic path that fate has in store for them.  So, of course, when I found out there was a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, I jumped at the chance to read it.

*N.B. This book takes a really long time to read, since you have so many options to choose from, and so many endings to find.  With that in mind, I'm actually writing up this review before I complete the book, but I've found at least 10 different endings so far, so I think I'm qualified to start writing about it now.

Anyways, back to the review.  This is a hilarious book that really takes a classic tale and turns it on its head.  Whether you liked the Bard's original or not, this is a really funny book.  So, you know the story: two teens meet at a party and fall in love.  Even though their parents are enemies, the two get married, plan to tell everyone later, and then things go to hell in an handbasket and they both die.  What a lovely story!

Well, Ryan North's version is a little different.  In this tale, you can play as either Romeo or Juliet (as well as other unlockable characters) and try to live out your perfect love story.  Romeo is what you'd expect: he's a love-sick puppy who makes horrible choices and really loves brunch.  Juliet on the other hand, is a muscle-bound bodybuilder whose hobbies all involve boys and muscles.  So, pretty much what you would expect here, too.

So, basically, just like those choose your own adventures that we read as kids, you get to make choices for each character and try to find the most happy ending.  Some of the more interesting subplots involve Romeo's encounter with a creepy librarian, and Juliet's decision to kill or not kill the fiance her parents arranged for her.

And without giving away too much, some of the endings involve lions, getting chased by a naked man with 30 swords, and literally becoming a glove.  Some of the plotlines will make your laugh until you cry, and as for the others, well, the last thing you could call them is boring.

Oh, and did I mention the illustrations?  Yeah...those are amazing!  And each one is by a different artist :)

I'm be trying to finish this up over the next few days so I can post about it on Goodreads.  But, in the meantime, this is one down for my Summer Reading 2016 experience!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there, but most especially to my father of the blogosphere, O.F.  I miss you, you know.  I hope you're well.