BNBC · new books (yay)

No BEA? Books anyway!

I started my “No BEA? Books anyway!” buying a day or two early. I can’t help it; I work in a bookstore (and we have employee appreciation days coming up…score!).

Items purchased over several days from my bookstore:
What’s Next? Dispatches on the Future of Science: Original Essays from a new Generation of Scientists edited by Max Brockman
Fearless Girls, Wise Women, & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World edited by Kathleen Ragan
Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature’s 50 Greatest Hits by Jack Murnighan
Angels and Insects by A.S. Byatt
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Items bought today at the local independent:
Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary by N. Katherine Hayles (it comes with a CD-ROM!)
The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction edited by Jerrold E. Hogle
A Gravity’s Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon’s Novel (2nd edition, revised and expanded) edited by Steven C. Weisbenburger

Item that arrived on my doorstep (courtesy of BN.com editors):
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers (this is for the book group I r-mod at BNBC – it starts on Monday!!)

I guess I’m most excited to read Beowulf on the Beach (already started, actually) not because it’s like a crib sheet to the world’s greatest but because the professor who writes it is a stitch (how many euphemisms for the word “sex” can he use in one book?)! I’m also really interested in Electronic Literature because that seems to be the way the world is going these days and Angels and Insects since I must have my Byatt fix (the Angels and Insects movie was very interesting…..very interesting indeed) because we Americans suck and won’t get her new book until fall.

But what I’m most excited to read is Of Bees and Mist with the First Look Book Club on BNBC – it’s really good and I’ve been holding myself back!

If you went out and supported BEA by buying books make sure you link your post up with Mr. Linky here (which is what I’m going to do now).

PS: I’m a nerd, if that wasn’t already apparent.

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Twitter

Missed the #BEATwittyparty?

Me, too, and we had all the crazies at work so no one was terribly sympathetic about not having fun. And when I logged into Twitter everyone was done – no drunk-tweeting! I don’t know whether I should be impressed or disappointed….hahaha!

Be sure to visit Fizzy Thoughts to see the songs she wrote for the Twitty Party – they are hysterical!

Natasha is lovely and hosting a Twitty Party – even though she’s in New York at BEA – giveaway at her blog (including a mystery surprise from BEA) so see her post for instructions.

If you were trying to follow the #BEATwittyparty chat I guess it was moving really fast so be sure to check Rebecca’s blog to see all the winners.

Don’t forget – “No BEA? Books anyway!” is still on.

new books (yay) · Twitter

If you’re not going to BEA…

Many of us in the book-reading, Twittering blogosphere are stuck at home instead of attending Book Expo America in New York.

BEA attendees have been Twittering about the seminars, panels, booths, signings – jealous!

Those of us non-attendees are having a BEA Twitter Party tonight from 8-10pm Eastern hosted by Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog. This post lists all the BEA Twitty Party participants and this post shows all the goodies up for grabs between the party participants (please follow Rebecca’s instructions and thanks to all the generous giveaway donors). Follow the party on Twitter using the #BEAtwittyparty hashtag and make sure you have fun because I will be stuck closing at the bookstore only to log into Twitter at 1130pm Eastern and find everyone drunk-tweeting (stinks, but someone has to sell the books). Rebecca also has links to other giveaways and stuck-at-home-for-BEA fun including the BEA Pout-a-thon 09 hosted by the amazing Laurie Halse Anderson.

For those of us who might need a little retail therapy to get over being BEA-less, Jen at Devourer of Books is hosting “No BEA? Books anyway!” all weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). See her page for more details but in short: 1) go buy books (anywhere you like, as long as you buy them), 2) blog about your book purchases, and 3) link up your blog/purchase details by using Mr. Linky in Jen’s page. As mentioned above, I’ll be working at the bookstore Friday, and Saturday and Sunday, too, so I’ll expect to see you out and about to support publishing, authors, reading, book, etc!

stuff I read

The Whole Five Feet

I borrowed The Whole Five Feet by Christopher Beha – I was interested in Beha’s take on the shelf because my father has been trying to acquire a set of Harvard Classics (aka “The Five Foot Shelf of Books” among other names) to read; I find the “to read” part a little odd because my father is a systems engineer (my mother is more the reader of my two parents). At a crossroads in his late twenties, Beha decided to read one volume per week from the Harvard Classics over one year; his grandmother owned a set and it never ocurred to him as a child that his grandmother might be more well-read than he realized. The Whole Five Feet chronicles Beha’s reaction to his reading, his thoughts on the composition of the Classics, and how events from Beha’s life impacted his reading during that year.

I want to say I liked this book. I really do, but the most reaction I can summon up is “It was okay.” And that’s kind of it, in my opinion. Beha’s not a bad writer; he has a nice style and his aunt Mimi would be very proud of him because the chapters when he talks about his aunt and her terminal illness are very moving. I think I was expecting more along the lines of intellectual cross-examination interspersed with the memoir and musing on Charles Eliot’s motivation in editing the Classics and there was at times some good criticism (the “Tintern Abbey” section is quite good) but I just didn’t find it very interesting. In the Afterword Beha notes that he came to literature through a love of novels and he concentrated more in undergrad on contemporary fiction. I’d like to see what Beha would do with a book of essays about modern fiction.

BNBC

Booking Through Thursday: Unread

“Booking Through Thursday” is hosted by Deb. In the perfect follow-up to last week’s question, as suggested by C in DC:
Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?
My immediate thought was, nope, I’ve not hated anything or wished it back enough to want the memory of reading a particular book gone from my mind. Then I started thinking back to things I perhaps had to read or forced myself to finish.
So, I admit, my number one, absolutely-wish-I-never-read-this-in-the-first-place is….The Grapes of Wrath. Surprised, right? Well, we had to read it in American Lit in high school(and since I was in the advanced program I was a sophomore and everyone else was a senior) and since the entire class was packed with senior slackers the teacher assigned a quiz per chapter. On every. Single. Chapter. It’s enough to put one off reading permanently. I’ve read other Steinbeck’s since then and liked them and I’m going to be braving The Grapes of Wrath for Connie’s BNBC Classics group in July. I’d really like to “unread” that high school experience so I can start fresh.
Runners-up for the “wish I could unread this one” award are:
– Breaking Dawn (I was enjoying the series up to the last book – it seriously wasted my time – and I pretty much had to finish because of the “can my 10 yr old read these books” questions)
– Mr. Darcy’s Daughters (bleck)
– some romance novel I found lying around my parents’ house that I read because I was bored one day and the poorly written/badly imagined sex scenes are now burned into my memory (it doesn’t get the big prize because I’ve managed to actually forget the title – it was a red mass market, not unusual for the romance genre)
What about you? Got a reading experience you’d rather remove from your brain with an ice pick?
thanks

One Lovely Blog Award

DeSeRt RoSe gave me a “One Lovely Blog Award” – thanks! This one’s given to new blogs/blogging friends recently discovered.
I suspect that many of the blogs and people I follow already have this one (I’m rather late in the game to the book blogosphere), but I’ll pass it on to a few I’ve recently found/discovered:
Medieval Bookworm (and she’s got a hysterical review of Breaking Dawn)
Thanks for the reviews and ideas!
random · stuff I read

Photographic Evidence

I love things that appear to be anachronistic (or actually are in many cases). I got a few pictures this weekend of random oddities I spotted. I almost never have a working camera on me and I only recently figured out how to get a few pictures off my BlackBerry so bear with me here.

Item #1: Even poetry aesthetes must look like soccer moms on the weekend.

A lovely, sedate silver minivan with the bumper sticker saying “I’d rather be reading Bukowski” spotted parked next to my car when I returned from fetching my dinner at Panera. That poor parent was probably being held captive in Hollister/Aerie/insert-name-of-overpriced-teen-clothing-store-here when he or she would probably rather be at the B&N in the mall. I was also amused because the van owner placed the sticker not on the bumper but at about shoulder height on the trunk hatch.

Item #2: Twilight has started invading all aspects of life.

This is a reading list for an English course in 18th Century British Literature, subtitled “Gothic Literature.” I thought, “Cool – Gothic literature is fun to read,” until I got to the last title. Can you see what it is? This picture is alot fuzzy because I had to snap it on the sly at Prairie Lights (the local independent bookstore – they sometimes take course orders from the humanities professors); this is also known as “Kinnearing” as developed by The Yarn Harlot. I ran it through the photo editor to enhance the contrast but if you still can’t read it here’s what the full course title and list says:

Title: Lit & Culture of 18th Cent Britain: Gothic Lit (there’s a course number but it’s cut off)
The Castle of Otranto
The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction
The Monk
Northanger Abbey
Dracula
Twilight

I was stopped dead in my tracks. Literally. I was going to give them Northanger Abbey and Dracula even though Stoker was a number of years removed from the 18th century. But Twilight? Huh. So I went to the UI’s ISIS system (I still take ballet, remember, so I have access to the course registration system) and pulled up the course decription. This is what it says:

“This course winds its way through the creepy classics of Gothic literature, from mid-eighteenth-century “graveyard poetry” and the first Gothic novel in English, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1767) to the contemporary blockbuster success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (2005).

En route, we’ll also experience Matthew Lewis’s The Monk (1796), for which its author was threatened with charges of blasphemy, as well Jane Austen’s gentle ridicule of Gothic readers in Northanger Abbey (written 1798-99). We will consider why the Enlightenment gave rise to such dark literature and what this body of texts reveals about British culture, sexuality, family life, religion, and politics. Our study of the early Gothic novel will earn us the right to fast forward a bit a by the end. We will read Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) pondering the meaning of the vampire for the Victorians, and we’ll finish inquiring about the legacy of the Gothic for us today as we read Meyer’s bestselling Twilight. We will also screen modern film adaptations of two or three of the texts we read, considering them as interpretations of the novels in their own right. Students will take quizzes, write two brief response papers, and make two presentations.”

At least they’re going to talk about the “legacy” of Gothic literature but is Twilight really necessary? Were I an undergrad in Enligsh, this one might have been a deal breaker for me; Twilight was an fun read but Bella does tend to make me gag just a bit. The class is only reading two early Gothics and one Gothic parody – not even an Ann Radcliffe – and they’re skipping over a number of other Gothic novels to focus exclusively on the Vampire. If that was the focus, then perhaps the course could have been reformulated to focus on the Vampire from the beginning. I find it interesting that this course is listed without having any prerequisites so it feels more like a sot to get students to take a short summer course. If I took it the only things I’d need to read are the remainder of The Monk and the assigned essays in the Cambridge; I’ve read everything else. I also find it a little bizzaro-world that this course fulfills two areas of the English major:

“For English majors, AREA: Modern British Literature and Culture; PERIOD: 18th-Century Literature.”

Say what? Only five novels, and one of them American, and this course still fulfills an area and a period? Oy.