A writer I really admire said the greatest piece of advice she can give to aspiring writers is to read good literature. And she isn’t the only person I’ve heard/read this piece of advice from. It makes sense: read good literature, learn what works. Read enough good literature and you’ll see patterns, rules, and formulas emerge. When you are first getting started, this is incredibly helpful.
I’ve been a lover of classic literature since my youth. I read Little Women at age 10. Next came Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. High school introduced me to Pride and Prejudice and my instantaneous love of all things Austen. During college and for several years after, I rarely bought a book unless it was considered a “classic.” (Harry Potter being the obvious exception!) All that changed with those damn Twilight books.
For the record, I read all four books in about a week. Also for the record, I saw immediately the lack of quality in the writing of Twilight, which enhanced my perception of the brilliance of the writing in my beloved classics. To this day, I will tell anyone who asks that, yes, I’ve read Twilight. I will also tell them that I’m not a “fan” of Twilight, but I have to admire Stephanie Myers a little anyways.
The quality of the writing in Twilight is very poor, in my opinion. It’s all adjectives and repetition and teenage angst. However, the plotting- the actual story and the world created- is pretty damn good. I read all four books because even though I was annoyed by the poor writing quality, I was caught up in the story. I wanted to know what happened. It also made me want to write.
Before I read the Twilight books, the only thing I could have compared my own writing to was Austen, Dickens, Eliott, Hardy, etc. How could I compete with such masters of storytelling? I would always find myself lacking. I never even gave writing a thought, and I think that’s why.
But after reading Twilight, I felt confident that I could write something, if not better, than at least AS good. And if Stephanie Myers could write a 4 book series, the least I could do would be to write one book. So I did.
I’m so glad I read the series. It gave me a week’s work of guilty pleasure and a lifetime of satisfaction in knowing that I managed to write a book. My book probably isn’t ever going to be published and while I like it, I can’t testify with any certainty to it’s quality. But that’s not even the point, is it? Knowing that I accomplished something so huge as simply putting the words down on paper and making sense out of them is enough.
I recently started reading another book, which I also find to be lacking in the quality-writing department. Friends kept mentioning the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to me, insisting that I read it. Like Twilight, I resisted for as long as I could, but eventually my curiosity got the better of me. Unlike Twilight, I was prepared for less-than-stellar writing. I’d read a few reviews and looked up the backstory behind the book (it started out as Twilight Fan Fiction then was self-published. There’s that damn Twilight again). I knew what to expect.
My expectations were met- which isn’t often said for books. The book isn’t bad (so maybe the title of this post should be “Reading Just Okay Books Isn’t a Waste of Time”), it’s just not good. The writing quality is okay, there aren’t any major grammatical errors and it’s easy to read, but it feels forced a lot of the time. The author likes adjectives and repetition, just like Mrs. Myers, and, in my opinion, she likes to sound smart (some of you may question my use of the word “sound” here, maybe you’d like “appear” better?). But in attempting to sound smart, she comes off as the opposite, and frankly it makes me think that she’s trying too hard. Writing should flow, it should feel natural and easy, but as I’m reading it, I can’t help but wonder if she had a dictionary, thesaurus, and medical journal open in front of her at all times so she could find the perfect, intelligent-sounding words for every occasion. I’m only half-way through the book and she’s already used the term “medulla oblongata” TWICE. Really? Is that necessary? I don’t think so (unless you are the Waterboy). Also, her characters “giggle” way too much for 20-somethings.
I worry now that I may be coming off as trying to sound smart, too, so I’ll get to my point. I’m appreciating this book because of it’s writing. I know, that’s confusing, isn’t it? What I mean is, I appreciate seeing all of the things I don’t like because it makes me realize changes I need to make to my own book. I know I still have a long way to go before Twenty-Five is publishable (even self-publishable). I find myself noting similarities between Fifty Shades and Twenty-Five and realizing that I have a lot of editing to do to produce the quality of writing I want representing me.
So I will persevere. I will finish the book. I may even read the whole series. I probably won’t call myself a fan, but I’ll probably like it in the end. Not in the same way I like P&P or Bleak House, but in the same way I like Twilight: as a satisfying-in-the-moment guilty pleasure whose movie(s) will probably be much, much better than the actual book(s). And I’ll continue to allow myself to get talked into reading these trendy books, because just like great literature teaches me how to be great, terrible books teach me how not to be.
when I was ten years old. I was in the fifth grade and my AG teacher, Ms. Pyles, encouraged me to enter. (AG stands for Academically Gifted. Shortly after I left elementary school, they changed it to AIG, Academically and Intellectually Gifted. I cannot attest to the truth or suitability of myself being labeled as AG, but I was tested in the third grade, and there you are.) My best friend, Ashley, also entered and won.
I don’t have a lot of memories about the actual contest, I don’t know if other members of our AG class entered or if it was just Ashley and I and so we won by default, but I do remember Ms. Pyles inviting me to her house for tea so we could “edit” the story before it was bound into a little book. My sister Theresa, such a great big sister, drew illustrations to go along with the story.
I’m very surprised I’ve never posted the story on this blog, because it really cracks me up, so I’m going to post it now! I posted it on The Next Big Writer a long time ago and here are some of the remarks I got:
Well, Rachel, LOL! What a cute story for a ten year old to write. I can see how you won the contest, and I know you’re proud to look back at the little book and reminisce. While I was reading it I couldn’t help but think about that old song “Purple People Eater.”
Anyways, thanks for sharing this with us. It made me laugh!
Ooohhh, I have three brothers, does this martian have any friends? Especially for my older brother, I would love to control him for just about ten minutes MWaaaaaahhhaaaaaaahaaaaaa. Very cool story. I wrote a novel when I was 9 called the mystery of the doorknob. My older brother found it a little bit ago and had to point out all my faults. . Very well done, a neat little story.
LOL Rachel! THere’s still not a frickin nit in this blasted thing! And you were TEN! Oh man, you read my stuff when i was ten and you’d realize how incredibly talented you really were and still are! You’re right, your voice hasnt changed all that much, just you’ve gotten even better at storytelling.
I’d hate to be your little brother! LOL!
Rach, when you said ten, I couldn’t resist. That’s the age my students are! I love your story! It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is the hardest thing to get them to do. Most of the stories end with one sentence, like: And then they went home and everything was okay.
I see some typical ten year old stuff, like what is it with ‘whispering excitedly’?? lol Everyone in a story by a ten year old girl whispers excitedly.
Darn good story, dear!
Does that make you want to read it??? Okay, here you go, my contest-winning short story: “The Summer Aliens Ate My Brother’s Brain”
Dedication: This book is dedicated to Theresa Hamm for illustrating my book and being a great big sister.
Hey! My name is Rachel. I have a brother named Danny and a sister named Amanda. We live with Mom and Dad in Burlington, North Carolina. My story begins on a windy July afternoon…
“Hey Danny! Wanna play some football? You can be the Buffalo Bills. Please!!” I shouted to Danny, who was in Amanda’s and my bedroom looking for something.
He came down slowly, looking smug. “I’ll play if you let me read your journal.”
“No way! I’ll get Manda to play with me.” I went outside where the wind blew my hair back.
“Amanda! Where are you?” I shouted in the wind.
“I’m right here!” she yelled, jumping out of our treehouse.
“Wanna play some foo…”
“Dinnertime!” interrupted my mother. We ran inside and ate dinner. Then we went to bed.
* * * *
In the morning, I slipped quietly out of bed and tiptoed downstairs to Danny’s room. The door creaked when I opened it, and I crept softly to his bed. I slid my hand under the covers and tickled his feet. He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling. He didn’t laugh or say anything. I figured he was putting on an act. Then I saw it! A small green and purple polka-dotted, well, thing, climbing out of Danny’s ear.
He was shaped like a human. He had arms and legs and hands and feet. He was just as tall as my pinkie finger. His ears were huge, as big as his face. He looked a lot like Ross Perot. He stared at me blankly.
“What are you?!” I asked.
“Huh-oh, Me?! I’m a Martian! I now own your brother’s brain,” he said gleefully.
“You mean you invaded his brain?! I can’t believe this. Are you sure?” I asked in one breath.
“Yes, quite sure.”
I was speechless. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly I grabbed the creature. “Fix my brother now or I’ll fix you!” I was angry. With Danny’s brain being invaded, I couldn’t tease him any more.
“Rachel, are you in there?” Amanda asked slipping into the room.
I turned around. “Look at this!” I cried thrusting the Martian in front of her.
“Cool! What is it?” Amanda exlaimed.
“A Martian! He invaded Danny’s brain!”
“Wow! Let’s keep him. It’s so cool that he actually invaded Danny’s brain,” Amanda whispered excitedly.
“You know, now that I think about it, it is cool. Let’s keep him a secret,” I said, suddenly realizing this could be exciting.
“Hey! What’s going on here?” asked the Martian. I’m not a toy, you know. I don’t like this!”
“Don’t worry. Everything will be fine, just fine. You keep controlling his brain, and we’ll keep you safe!”
“OK,” the Martian answered warily.
We all went upstairs and got dressed. I put the Martian in my jumper pocket. Then we went downstairs to eat breakfast.
“Mornin’ girls! Go wake up Danny for me, will ya?” sang my mother.
“Sure thing, Mom,” I replied. Amanda and I dashed to Danny’s room. We went in and I got the Martian out of my pocket.
“Tell Danny to get out of bed, get dressed, and eat breakfast!” I told the Martian. He climbed in Danny’s ear and went to work. Danny got out of bed, dressed, and went to the table.
“All right!” Amanda shrieked. We ran out and had breakfast.
After breakfast, I had to do the dishes. I didn’t feel like it, so I told the Martian to tell Danny, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”
“Right.” said the Martian. He climbed in Danny’s ear and told him, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”
Danny went in to the kitchen and got to work. I went upstairs where Amanda was waiting. She had set up Monopoly, and we started playing. Then, all of a sudden, I heard the washing machine running. I flew down the stairs and raced to the kitchen. Danny had put the dishes in the washing machine.
“Oh, no! What did you do?! Oh no! This is my fault! I gave the wrong directions!” I exclaimed. I turned off the washer and looked in.
“Even worse! The dishes are broken. What now?!” I asked myself. I took out the pieces, and tried to put them together.
“Oh, what’s the use?” I threw down my hands and put the pieces in the garbage. I was just about to slip out the back door so I could go and buy new dishes, when my mom came in.
“Where are you goin’?” she asked suspiciously.
“Just out for fresh air,” I replied. I went out and ran across the lawn. I walked timidly to the store to buy some new dishes. I got them, and I was out of the store. I ran as fast as I could home. I ran inside and put the dishes away.
I decided that this Martian thing wasn’t going to work. Sure, it was fun for a little while, but not any more. I talked to Amanda about this, and she agreed. So I got the
Martian out of my pocket and said, “You need to stop controlling Danny, please. This isn’t going to work. Will you please go back to Mars, so that we won’t get in any trouble any more?”
“Yes, I’ll go home. Besides, I was planning on it anyway,” he replied.
“Oh, good! Thanks so much!” Amanda shrieked. We said goodbye to him as we watched his spaceship float in the sky.
Everything at our house turned back to normal, and no one ever heard from the Martian again.
My mother and I went to the charity book sale at our local library today. They were selling tote bags for $10 and you stuff said tote to the gills with as many books as you can. So for $10 I got 18 books! Score!
Here’s what I snagged (in no particular order):
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Fiction: A Longman Pocket Anthology Edited by R.S. Gwynn (a collection of short stories)
Somebody Else’s Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage
Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Poetry U.S.A. edited by Paul Molloy (a collection of American Poetry)
Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy edited by John Crowe Ransom
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham
Listen to Their Voices (20 Interviews with Women Who Write) Edited by Mickey Pearlman
Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman
I’m very excited to start tackling this stack, but I do have a couple of other stacks of books waiting to be read as well, so who knows when I’ll get to them all. I’d really love to hear everyone’s opinion- have you read any of the books on this list? Did you enjoy them?
I’m going to write a second book this year. I’M GOING TO WRITE A SECOND BOOK THIS YEAR!
I’ve been really slack about writing for at least the past twelve months. I lost all faith in myself and my writing abilities and I couldn’t seem to find a story where I liked the characters enough to want to get to know them. I kept telling myself that writing Twenty-Five was a fluke and that I’d never be able to write another book because I don’t have what it takes. That Twenty-Five was the only story inside me.
But I’m determined. I want to write. I want to be someone and do something. I’m sick of feeling sorry for myself that I’m in debt and stuck in a dead-end job and living with my parents. When I was writing and editing Twenty-Five back in 2009, I felt like I was moving forward and doing something with my life. I don’t know why I let that momentum slip away. Fear of rejection and failure, I guess. Fear that the nagging thought of “I’m not good enough” would be confirmed.
But that’s all bull shit. In the end it doesn’t matter if I’m never published or if no one else reads what I write. If I’m happy with it, if it makes me happy, then everything else is inconsequential.
In order to boost this determination and momentum that I’m feeling right now, I’ve gathered some books and tools to help me make 2011 the year of my second novel.
I’ve started reading the weekend novelist by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris and while I don’t plan to actually use it only weekend by weekend, so far it’s giving me some great tips on plotting and I’m only on page 34.
Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger. I began reading this last year, but never finished. I think I found it too much work, honestly. But I know that’s what it takes to create an unforgettable character. Work. Hard Work. So I’m going to work harder.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser. I haven’t read any of this book yet, but I’m excited to! It’s meant for nonfiction, but I think the techniques for writing good nonfiction are the same as writing fiction, but nonfiction is more difficult! Hopefully if I can master nonfiction than fiction will be a breeze!
And for fun, I bought How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. It’s a fictional account of how one man tries to become rich and famous by writing a best-seller. I wouldn’t mind being rich and famous (obviously) but I don’t think I ever will be. I bought the book because I’m hoping it will help me see writing with a more comical and lighthearted view and not take myself so seriously.
I’m really excited to read My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, which was recommended to me by my friend Jaclyn. (Maybe this mention will get her to finally COMMENT on my blog!) Here’s the blurb:
Lucy Broward is an ordinary girl growing up in the Virginia suburbs, soon to head off to college. As she prepares for her last high school dance, she allows herself to hope that this might be the night her elusive crush, Daniel Grey, finally notices her. As teh events of the night unfold, though, Lucy discovers that Daniel is much more complicated than she is imagined, and perceives that there’s something going on here that she really doesn’t understand. Why does he call her Sophia? And why does it make her feel so strange?
Daniel Grey is no ordinary young man. Daniel has “the memory,” the ability to recall past lives and recognize the souls of those he’s previously known. And he has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Lucy (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together — and he remembers it all. It is both a gift and a curse. For all the many times they have come together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.
As we watch Daniel and Lucy’s relationship unfold during the present day, interwoven are glimpses of their history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes tortuous path of seeking each other time and again. But just when Lucy begins to awaken to the secret of her past, to understand her relationship to Sophia, and to understand the true reason for the strength of her attraction to Daniel, the mysterious force that has town them apart in the past reappears. Ultimately, they must confront not just their complicated history, but a persistent adversary as well, if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.
Sounds pretty good, right (if you ignore the cliched language, which I really hope is from the publisher and not the author)? You guys know I’m a sucker for a love story.
So everyone, please cross your fingers for me that I don’t crap out! I really want to write a second book this year. I’m GOING TO write a second book this year.
My original plan was to post this on New Year’s Eve, but it’s getting kind of long and I need a 98th post and don’t really have a topic for one, so here’s PART TWO of the Books I’ve Read this Year! If I get a chance to read any more- which seriously might not happen because I have 3 weddings coming up in the span of 6 weeks, and that’s a ton of work, and I’m also thinking about giving NANO another shot this year, so November is out for the most part, plus polishing Twenty-Five and posting it here, well, you get the idea- then I’ll post a part three.
Quick Stat update before I get into the books:
This is my 98th post. There are only 11 days left until my one-year anniversary!
My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands. Read for the first time. Finished 7/11/10. I’m sure there will be some readers out there scratching their heads- why is the virgin reading about one night stands? Well, I blame (and thank) my sisters. My older sister and I went to Charlotte for the July 4th weekend because that’s where my younger sister and her husband live and it was her birthday on July 5th. While we were there we somehow made an agreement to each buy one of Chelsea Handler’s books and we’d read them and write notes to each other in the back and then swap. Younger sis got Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea, older sis got Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang, which left My Horizontal Life for me. (I’m the middle sis, I pretty much just do what I’m told) It’s probably appropriate seeing how I’m the only one still capable of having a one night stand (since they are both married). Sadly, I have no desire or inclination to act upon this power I possess. Which is how I know that Chelsea Handler and I could never be friends. No matter how funny I find her.
The Choice: Read for the first time. Finished 7/12/10. This book wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t as good as I think it should have been. I normally love Nicholas Sparks, because I love love stories. But I feel like he put all of the good stuff in Part One of the book and half-assed Part Two. I just didn’t feel emotionally connected to the characters at the end of the book. This sparked a conversation with my mother who believes that I don’t enjoy reading anymore because I’m reading everything through a writer’s eye. She’s partially correct. I definitely read differently now that I’ve spent so much time reviewing and making suggestions of other people’s work and having other people reviewing and making suggestions about my work. I hate getting reviews of my work, honestly. I know I need it, but I hate it. It usually makes me feel like no one understands me and it is so frustrating. But anyways, back to the point. My mom loved this book. I thought it was okay. I would have written it differently- and therein lies the problem. Everyone who writes would have written it differently- would write my book(s) differently, very often suggest that I should write my books differently. And I think that’s why I’ve stopped working on my books. I’m sick of being told to write it differently. So, maybe I should stop imagining how I would write someone else’s…
Bleachers: Read for the first time. Finished 8/6/10 (on the flight to Buffalo). This book was really good. I enjoyed the simplicity of it. No crazy complicated plot or characters. Just real life people dealing with real life stuff- only fictionally. I wasn’t sure if I’d like a John Grisham story that wasn’t based around lawyers or a courtroom, but it worked.
Same as it Never Was: Read for the first time. Finished 8/9/10 (read during the trip to Buffalo, on the plane ride home from Buffalo and in my house when I should have been returning emails after I returned from Buffalo) LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. Claire LaZebnik! I’m so happy I bought one of her books at random and was able to discover her beautiful stories. Why can’t I write like this? Did I mention that she sent this one to me? And autographed it? But that’s not why I loved it. I just couldn’t stop reading it. And I’m such a sucker for a love story. I want a love story!
Also read for the second time. Finished 10/2/10. I couldn’t help myself. I really wanted to read it again. And I’ve been so good this year about repeats, that I let myself. Besides, I had to get in Claire LaZebnik mode so I could read her NEW book. (See below!)
Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See: Read for the first time. Finished 8/20/10. This was a collection of actual real-life love (and some hate) letters written between couples. Some of the letters were so sweet I actually teared up. I saw this book when I was in Buffalo (visiting my grandparents) at a store in the mall and I really wanted it, but it was like $23! Which I feel is a ridiculous price to pay for any book. So I found it later on Amazon for cheaper and I’m so glad I bought it. It’s going to be my go-to “I need a smile” book from now on.
Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang: Read for the first time. Finished 8/21/10. The second round of my sisters-bonding readathon. I liked this book better than the first one, I thought the stories were funnier and more likely to be true- plus some of them had pictures accompanying the chapters. This book was more about her relationship with her family and her boyfriend, and not about random one-night stands. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed it more. I mentioned in the blurb about My Horizontal Life that we were writing little notes in the backs of the books to be passed on to each other and I wanted to share a little bit of what I wrote in this one.
Interesting fact: Somewhere around chapter 5 or 6 I told our mother she could really be a bitch sometimes. I think Chelsea would approve.
Now to clarify, yes, I did indeed tell my mother this. But, in all fairness, she said I could be a bitch sometimes too. And that’s why I love my mother. Oh, and no, at no point in the book does Chelsea call her mother a bitch. She does refer to her father as mentally retarded, psychotic, and delusional though, and devotes several pages to the idea of her brothers and sisters and herself euthanizing him. I would never do that to either of my parents. I don’t think.
Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Read for the first time. Finished 9/2/10. My really good friend Ashley bought this book for me after the incident with Religious Guy- and I have to say, it was just amazingly good. The book is about Jesus’s real message and how modern America has gone off-track and built an empire instead of pouring out our bodies to do good for the poor and needy. The larger and more powerful an empire becomes, the more it feels greed and entitlement, which just leads to violence and the acquisition of weapons in order to maintain the power, which leads to more greed and entitlement. We are not entitled! Christians need to remember that God’s message is one of love, humility, assistance, sympathy and empathy.
My favorite quote from the book:
“When people are manipulated with guilt and fear and when they are told that if they don’t do certain things they’ll be illegitimate, judged, condemned, sent to hell forever- that’s violence.”
Please go out and buy this book. Read it. Live it. And share it. For my part, I already try to be super conscious of keeping my judgments at bay, but I’m not perfect- I have to work harder to really live what I believe. I also need to remember that I have a good life and that there are so many people out there who are worse off. I need to be generous with myself and with what I have and always remember that when I help the less fortunate, that is when I’m truly living the life God wants me to live.
Conversations with the Fat Girl: Read for the first time. Finished 9/5/10. I bought this book because of the title and because, let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of fat literary heroines for young 26-year old tubbies like me to look up to. I actually related to a lot of what the main character, Maggie, was going through, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed the book. I hated how the author started every chapter with backstory. And I hated how the main character constantly contradicted herself. And I really really really hated the dialogue. It was soo unrealistic. Like she needed to spin the conversation so the characters HAD to say what she was making them say, but most of the time, the things they were saying made no sense. And she used a lot of question marks in dialogue after phrases that were not questions. Really annoying? Yes- absolutely annoying. I never felt immersed or engaged in the actual story, I could feel the author on every page. Very disappointing. But like I said, I did relate a lot to the main character. I’ve felt like a fat girl for most of my life. I know the pain of trying on outfit after outfit and nothing fitting; of going out with a group full of girls, none of whom are larger than a size 4, who can’t understand why I feel uncomfortable talking to guys. Hell, I even make my MC’s pretty and skinny so that I can live vicariously through them. What the hell is wrong with me?
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Read for the first time. Started and Finished 9/6/10. Great book. What a character. I mean the whole book was Holly Golightly, and it was just entrancing. Everything Capote wrote about Holly brought her to life. I could see her, hear her. Amazing.
If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now: Read for the first time. Started and finished 10/3/10. Claire LaZebnik knocked it out of the park again. I have to say I’m wildly thrilled that my random bookstore adventure one day led me to her books and blog. Her MCs always seem to be in a place that makes sense to me personally- I can really relate. In this case, Rickie is a single 25 year-old woman living at home with mom and dad and wondering when her life is going to change. Can I just say, um, hello! Me too! Of course, Rickie has the added responsibility of a 6 year-old son and feelings for said son’s PE Coach whereas I have a bag of Doritos and good ole Ben & Jerry (they never let me down), but I still got her frustration with her mother and trying to figure out exactly what she’s supposed to do to change her life when she feels stuck in the situation she’s in. Of course, I cried at the end. Because I don’t really consider a book good unless it makes me cry.
My original intention was to keep a list of all the books I read this year and post it sometime the last week of December, but for some reason, I started writing why I’d read what I read or if I enjoyed it or not, etc. and the draft starting getting really long. I thought to myself- no one is going to want to read this mindless list by the end of the year- it will probably double in size and be impossible to get through! So, to save my readers the hassle of a really long, boring, mind-numbing post, I’ve decided I’d go ahead and post January through June. I read 17 books, which considering all the shit I’ve been going through with changing jobs and weddings and basically hating myself and my life, is a lot.
The Smart One and the Pretty One: Read for the first time. Finished 1/10/10. I’ve discovered a wonderful new author with this book. See my post about Judging a Book By Its Cover for how I found this book and see my review of the book here.
Persuasion: Read for the twentieth or so time. Finished sometime in February. Tied for my second favorite Austen classic with Emma. I am totally Anne Eliot in many ways. I’m more like her than Elizabeth Bennet, which is probably why Pride and Prejudice is my first favorite!
The Jane Austen Book Club: Read for the second time. Finished 3/4/10. I actually like the movie version better than the book version. Weird. I think the movie version does a better job of incorporating the discussion of Austen’s books than the book does. However, they made some stupid plot changes in the movie that would have been better left alone- isn’t that always the case?
Knitting Under the Influence: Read for the first time. Began and Finished 3/5/10. I loved this book! Sometimes the characters will come into my head for no reason at all and I want to re-read it, but I’m trying really hard to read new books! For more of my thoughts, see my review of the book here.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Read for the fifth time. Finished 3/26/10. Obviously the reading new books thing didn’t quite work out for me. I blame ABC Family. They showed a couple of marathon weekends with scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and it really made me want to read the whole series again.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Read for the fifth time. Finished 3/28/10.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Read for the fifth time. Finished 3/30/10.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Read for the fifth time. Finished 4/2/10.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Read for the fifth time. Finished 4/4/10.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Read for the fourth time. Finished 4/5/10. I have to make a comment here. This book is so freaking good. I think it has just replaced Goblet of Fire as my favorite in the series. I cried through like the last 10 chapters. It packs such an emotional punch.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Read for the third time. Finished 4/8/10. This is one of the best series ever written. If you don’t agree, well, I just don’t know what to say to you. Except that you are insane.
Alphabet Weekends: Read for the first time. Finished 4/13/10. I was disappointed. This should have been a good book, it had all the elements for a book I would like. British characters. Romance. Complicated relationships. Interesting and fun activities. But. It failed me. See how, here.
Dear John: Read for the first time. Finished 4/15/10. More telling than showing, but I still blubbered like a little baby. Now must see the movie. I love Amanda Seyfried, and Channing Tatum is hot.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: Read for the first time. Finished 5/2/10. Has restored my faith in Gregory Maguire, a little. I LOVED Wicked when I read it a couple of years ago. So I bought the sequel, Son of a Witch, and another of Maguire’s, Mirror Mirror. Son and Mirror were huge disappointments. They just weren’t captivating like Wicked was. I didn’t enjoy the style of the writing or the storylines, and Mirror ending up going absolutely nowhere. But Confessions was much better. It wasn’t as intriguing and page-turning as Wicked, but it was much closer and I felt satisfied after reading it.
By the Time You Read This: Read for the first time. Finished 6/2/10. I bought this book at Target right before my trip to Disney because I realized that I hadn’t brought any books with me for the plane ride. It was pretty good. The beginning was a little annoying because the author would show what was happening and then say what was happening. Very redundant. But that dwindled out after a few chapters, so I wonder if it was stylistically on purpose to show the growth and maturation of the character (who began the book at age 12 and ended at age 30).
206 Bones: Read for the first time. Finished 6/23/10. I love Kathy Reichs and all of the Temperance Brennan novels. Here’s what I like most about them: the author doesn’t try and get fancy with flowery prose and descriptions that take you an hour to read and understand. She just tells the story. She gives background where necessary and gives just enough description so you can envision the scene, but SHE TELLS THE STORY! Love it.
And a little thing that makes me happy: Laughing aloud to a funny moment in a book and not caring if people think I’m crazy for laughing to myself.