The Reading Corner is a place where books of all genres are examined and reviewed. Comments, questions and disagreement are welcomed. Grab some coffee and a comfy chair and make yourself at home.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I work so hard I feel no pain

This morning, my structural integrity was compromised. I dropped/struck a cereal bowl on the divider in our sink, given that I am without coordination of any kind beyond that which allows me to walk and type. I went about picking up the larger pieces and grabbed a roll of paper towels to snatch up the littler ones when, lo and behold, there appeared blood on the paper towels! I wasn't even aware of having cut myself open, but apparently I had; there's about a centimeter long cut on the tip of the ring finger on my left hand. It will not stop bleeding. I checked for glass inside of it, but it won't stop bleeding long enough to let me see. It doesn't really hurt, so I'm assuming we're okay, but it's a little bit irritating to bleed nonstop. I had to remind myself that one cannot bleed to death out a tiny cut in the end of their finger, despite the fact that the water running off of my hand was full of blood.
Life goes on.

I'm reading a book called "Audrey Hepburn's Neck" -so far I'm not impressed, really. The references to AH (the sole reason I picked up the book) seem forced and random...they're supposed to be an integral part of the main character's life, but I'm 40some pages in and it's barely been touched. I'm hoping that it improves as I read, but as yet the only thing that's been interesting to me have been the descriptions of Japan, which are cool. I like that aspect. We'll see where it goes. Expect a review eventually.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"The Year" is over

I finished "The Year of Living Biblically" today. As I expected, it didn't change me from an agnostic to a Christian (or a Jew or any other religion) -but that's probably good. That's not the point of the book. It's just a really, really, really fascinating read. I loved it.

You can read the review of it here.

And then, I hope, you'll read the book itself. A. J. Jacobs is a weird, weird man.

Also, on an unrelated and personal note, I found out today that the good friend of a good friend has died. He got stabbed at a concert. I met him once, last summer. I was surprised and horrified to hear of his death and its circumstances. He was a young, energetic guy, and I'm so sorry to know that he's gone. This all sounds really brusque to blog about the death of a young man, but I don't know how else to express it. The pain his family and friends must be going through is unimaginable, and I'm sickened by the fact that it all had to happen.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More vampires

I reviewed this story today. Here's the review.
I'll be honest, the pot before this one is a lot more interesting. I feel like someone kicked me in the chest and then punched me in the stomach, so I'm not feeling like writing anything super entertaining at the moment. The review is kind of fun though. It's chock full of links to other, possibly more interesting, reviews and articles, so definitely check it out.

Now go away, pretty please. :P

The Year of Living Biblically

So, here's something some of you may not know about me. I'm agnostic (on a good day). This is something I've felt for a long time, but only recently felt comfortable talking about with people (my mom, for instance) because I didn't know how that revelation would be received. And then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my agnosticism/atheism is just what I believe. It's not something that I need to hide or something of which I should be ashamed. The evidence shakes out for me. If there is a creator or a God of some kind, it's certainly not the one of earthly religions -although I love the stories. I love their messages (usually. Some of them are downright immoral if you really think about it). I love the symbolism inherent in religious myths.

Like Plato's Socrates talking to Eurypides about the "truth" in Hesiod's creation story, I feel that the truth is in the lesson, not the "history" of it. The lesson in Hesiod's story, by the way, is to avoid being tryannical and overly proud, otherwise you'll end up losing everything. Eurypides, on the other hand, believes that the poem represents literal truth -that various gods actually lost their thrones to their children until Zeus learned the lesson of sharing power and took over.

I'm with Plato/Socrates. It's interesting to me that the literal/figurative conversation about religion was going on so long ago, and that it continues today. I think it's a fascinating, deep idea and one that I still enjoy discussing. I know where my beliefs are, but I'm always reading more, trying to probe the ideas and make sure I've got my head and heart in the right place.

Which is why the book "The Year of Living Biblically" is so fascinating to me. A.J. Jacobs (author of "The Know-It-All" for anyone who's read that) spent a year living as closely as possible to the laws and rules in the Bible. It's a funny, unsettling, weird book. I'm not quite finished with it, but once I am expect a much more detailed review. Check it out though. It really is an extremely interesting read. Jacobs is the child of a secular, loosely Jewish family, and one of the most compelling parts of the book is his struggle with his own agnosticism as he delves very deeply into religious life.

Expect more in a few days.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


On a totally personal note, I'm a brunette again! I've been a redhead since spring break, and the change is nice. I look like me again. It's pretty cool.

Okay, enough about my looks, onto my thoughts!
I finished "Fool" by Christopher Moore and, yes, there is a review of it.
I'll be honest -it's not my favorite book by him. That's mostly just because I have an intense attachment to a couple of his other books which are imho his best, and I tend to hold all of his writing to that standard. Fool doesn't quite hit the mark, but it's only off by a teeny little bit.

It's King Lear retold as a dark comedy. None of Shakespeare's genius is lost, it's just modified to allow Moore space in which to play. It's a fun story, and I would definitely buy it to reread. The character of the Fool is in charge, as if the title didn't give that away, but why am I telling you? Go read my review!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Scanner Darkly

Funny story about the title, actually. Once when I was watching the movie, a friend asked me what I was doing via text message. I answered "watching a scanner darkly" and he replied with the question "Why are you brooding over a copier?".

I've never been sure if he was kidding or not.

Regardless, the book is amazing, creepy, sometimes funny and overall a total trip. It broke my heart in more than one way, more than once. It's wonderful. The movie isn't bad either, so if you're looking for something to do this summer, check it out, for sure. Read the book first though. The book is better. The book is always better.

Here's my review. Comments are of course one of the biggest things I want, but just read it...if I can get one person to read a book (or not read a book, depending on what the review says) then I've done my job, and I'll feel like I accomplished something worthwhile. Failing that though, just leave me a comment. ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I finally finished A Scanner Darkly a couple of days ago. For such a short book, it took me a surprisingly long time to finish, largely because it freaked me out so much. I've seen the movie with Keanu Reeves, and that was a little disturbing, but the book? Much more so. Books are very personal for me. There's something about holding a book in my hands, reading, that makes it much more real for me than watching a movie, even on my laptop. Something about the distance between the screen and my mind creates a slight disconnect that makes it easier for me to walk away from a movie than from a book. I can think of a dozen movies I've started and never finished, or not finished for a long time (I started watching "Paris When it Sizzles" on my next to last day at school, and it's still in my laptop, unfinished and ignored), but I can't even think of a single book that I started without finishing it.

So for me to read ASD so slowly is unusual. It usually takes me maybe 2, 3 days tops to finish a book (unless it's something absurdly long, like the Fountainhead). ASD took me around 4 or 5 days to read. Dick's writing is not challenging to read -I suppose it could be if you're not used to reading sci-fi or really good literature, but it's nothing overly intellectual -but it's so plausible as a story that it's an intense read. At the end, when you find out that the story is largely based on autobiographical fact, the entire experiences takes on a much deeper level. The book is wonderful and sad and well-worth the read, no matter how long it takes.

I'll have a review up sometime today or tomorrow, so keep an eye out for a link to it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, is one of the most fantastic books I've read in a very long time. Read my review of it here. It's a book worth buying, because reading it just once will definitely not be satisfying.
Good books aren't as rare as I sometimes think...I look around at all the copies of Twilight and the unfortunate knock-offs that have emerged as a result, and I get really depressed regarding the future of literature. There's so much media hype attached to everything anymore. I don't understand the need for the frenzy created by things like Twilight. It's not worth it. Where is the excitement over books like The Elegance of the Hedgehog? It's one of the most heart-wrenching, mind-bending books I've ever read, but so few people even know it's out there.
It bothers me to no end that what becomes popular is inevitably shallow, boring, watered down or just plain worthless.

That's why, when I find books like Water for Elephants or The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I shove them at people. I say "READ THIS. Because it will change you, and in the best way."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alphabets and juice

There are plenty of books of lists out there, and a lot of them are pretty good. One in particular catches my attention, though, and I guess that's mostly because I'm a word nerd (seriously, you have no idea how true that statement is). "Alphabet Juice" by Roy Blount Jr. is that book -it takes the alphabet letter by letter and...juices it. Pun intended. It's a funny, smart book that's still accessible to readers who aren't even that into words.

Reading this book has made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, and despite the weird looks I've gotten, I still enjoy it. It's a great book, a fun read, and it's divided into convenient servings (I'll try to lay off the puns soon, I promise) that make it ideal for reading in chunks. One of the best things about the book is its full title: Alphabet Juice. The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul And Savory.

Seriously? That is an awesome title. Although I'm not really a fan of the Oxford comma, personally (check out Eats, Shoots & Leaves to find out what that is -the comma deal is really a totally personal preference, but it's fun to read about anyway), that is one of the coolest and most ridiculous titles I've ever seen.

More on books 'n' stuff soon. Hopefully I'll have a review of "A Scanner Darkly" up in the next couple of days! The book creeps me out in the best/worst way possible, so I'm having to read it in stages. The one time I read it before I slept, I had weird dreams and almost fell off the couch, so I'm trying to avoid having that experience again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A review of a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright!

Go check it out. He's the man, through and through.
More sometime in the near future.

Here's a link to the book on, just in case you're inspired.
Also, read this!
So much win.

After you read that, re-read my Twilight article, just because I said so.

Frank Lloyd Wright

I went to the Westcott House today with my grandparents and little sis -it's in Springfield Ohio, and it's a very inexpensive hour-long tour of a fantastically well restored FLW house. I am a huge, huge FLW fan, so I get a big thrill every summer when we go. This was my second trip, and I'm still reeling with excitement.

Among my acquired gifts was a bio of the man himself, so expect to see a link to that sometime in the next couple of days (I've already read it, so all that remains is to write about it).

In the meantime, read this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books and houses

Today I'm planning on finishing a fantastic book by Max Barry called "Jennifer Government". If you haven't read anything by him, get on it! He's funny and weird and manages to somehow be dark without being melodramatic -and everything works out in the end. It's pretty cool.

I won't be updating tomorrow, or if I do it'll be late, because I'm going to the Westcott House! I'm a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan (I have symbols relating to one of his quotes tattooed on my ribcage), so I'm excited about the trip. This will be my second visit to the house. I'm hoping to get a book on my man while I'm there, if I do, you can expect a review of it at some point in the near future.

For the time being, here's another review I wrote, this time of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome to the Reading Corner

This is a place to come to read and talk about books, literature, grammar -pretty much anything involving books and language. I am a passionate reader and writer, so expect this to be updated pretty regularly. I'm also very opinionated, but I welcome discussion/argument/debate, as long as it stays within reason.

For my first topic, I'm going to just refer you to a review I wrote. I'll connect you to a lot of reviews, author websites, etc. as I write, but this particular entry is just to get you started on my writing style and a few of my opinions.

Check it out:

Also, be sure to check out the comment section. Some of them are funny, some of them are interesting and some of them are just plain sad!