Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Fifteen Authors

THE RULES: Without taking too long to think about it, pick fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

This is normally a Facebook meme, but I thought it was more appropriate for this blog. Here’s my list.

  1. Neil Gaiman
  2. Chuck Palahniuk
  3. Terry Pratchett
  4. Catherynne Valente
  5. Chuck Klostermann
  6. Charles Bukowski
  7. William Shakespeare
  8. Jim Butcher
  9. Stephen King
  10. J.K. Rowling
  11. Robin Jarvis
  12. Alan Moore
  13. Frank Miller
  14. David Eddings
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien

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So yeah, that Religion and Culture class midterm?

Kicking my ass.

It seems simple enough, but I have no idea what I’m supposed to be writing about for the first part:

“Describe the lasting cultural ideals informing the Christianization of these two [Celtic and Anglo-Saxon] Dark Age cultures, providing two or three examples for each culture. How does the absence of Pagan texts from these cultures affect our understanding of this change?”

The second part I can roll with. It’s easily answered with the magical world of archaeological evidence and peat bogs. But the first part? What does that even mean? I get that it’s about the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons and Celts to Christianity, but I don’t quite get what’s being asked of me.

Cue the frustration dance.

(I attempt to gnaw some insight out of my textbook on Celtic Spirituality, but it doesn’t seem to help).

The closest thing I can guess is it’s asking about the way Christianity became accepted in those two cultures. Like how they looked at all the Irish pagan deities and went ‘well, this guy’s like Jesus, so we’ll explain it like that to all the peasants so they have an easier time accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and saviour.’

The more the common people saw easy parallels, the more likely they were to be cool with a sudden conversion. “Say, this Jesus fellow is a lot like our [insert name of Celtic hero here, most likely Finn], he must be a pretty cool dude! Christianity? Why the hell not?”

So I’ll probably go with that. It makes the most sense with what we’ve been studying. Now I just have to find my notes, which may or may not be lost in the mists of time (i.e. the trunk of my car).

So we’ll see how tackling that goes. >.>

… Why did I decide to minor in this again?

On an unrelated note, today I found out my friends Stephie and Tim are engaged. I’m not big on the whole marriage thing personally, but when my friends are happy, I’m happy, so I offer them a big congratulations and a thumbs up. Good going guys. Now you HAVE to sing lame duets at karaoke! :p

Back to procrastinating. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it has a tendency to rape my productivity levels.

*goes back to reading webcomics*

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I return to the internet after my weekend absence. I missed it here. It’s warm, and the people are faceless, just the way I like them. Did you miss me internet? I missed you. *cuddles*

My weekend was rather eventful, bouncing between borderline alcoholism and multiple miniature fiascos. My extended family is an… interesting bunch. Interesting like a Lifetime Movie Special (but with less wife-beating and rape).

But long story short, we gathered and celebrated my grandma’s 80th birthday, we ate overly sugary cake and bickered, drank many interesting beers (the local grocery store had Blue Moon. I did a little dance to Dionysus in thanks), I stayed up too late watching old shows on Nick at Nite (I secretly love The Nanny. Don’t tell anyone), I read a few books and picked up a few more at the local Borders, and decided that when I become a member of the elderly community, I will pay people to make sure there are no gnomes in my garden.

I love my grandma dearly, but she has garden gnomes. And they creep me the HELL OUT.

[this is where I’d put the picture of the creepy gnome in her front yard next to the statue of St. Francis, but it creeped me out too much to record it on camera in any way. So here’s one I found through google:

I call him ‘creepy child molester gnome’. Seriously. His stare makes me feel wrong inside.]

So I returned to Nebraska yesterday afternoon (somehow, despite both flights being turbulent and nauseating) and was greeted by the cozy pile of work awaiting me this week. Papers are due (another one on Macbeth – seriously, I have to have written at least twenty papers on That Damn Scottish Play in my times reading Shakespeare during the last decade), there are short stories to be read (most of them boring, but more on that in a later post), books to read about lesbian nuns (no, seriously) and of course, multiple shifts at work. It’s gonna be interesting. Interesting like … something witty and violent. I don’t know. I’m still tired, too tired to come up with a good comparison. Make up one of your own. Feel free to share if you like.

In other news, the NaNoWriMo forums are wiping soon to ring in NaNo 2010, which means shiny new forums, shiny reset wordcount bars to refill, old friends returning to the party for conversation and scheming, and thirty days until the madness begins and November swallows my soul.

So, as well as all the difficult stuff this week, I have NaNo novels to plot out and prep for. But I’ll actually enjoy that, so I’m looking forward to it. That and my new book (A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin) is getting very good.

Now to figure out what to get for lunch. Perhaps a delicious sammich. I love sammiches.

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

People always ask me questions about what I’ve been reading lately. Maybe it’s because I work in a library, maybe it’s because I’m an English major, maybe it’s because they’ve known me for longer than two weeks and are aware of my constantly expanding and utterly ridiculous personal library, which takes up two self-assembly bookcases stacked two deep, one floor-to ceiling shelf stacked two deep, and the small shelf above my desk.

Someday I will have a room walled entirely with bookshelves, and I will want to remain there until the end of my days. I intend to begin achieving this goal in my next apartment.

Lately I’ve been avoiding one of my favourite themes in novels – apocalyptic fiction – because that’s what my current novel is about. I don’t expect to be overly influenced by my recreational reading material, but I’d rather read outside my chosen theme for variety, except of course when doing research (and I do most of that on the internet).

So, here’s a short list of the books I have on my recreational reading list this month:

Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

I picked this up at the campus bookstore last week. I’m working my way semi-systematically through Palahniuk’s works (so far I’ve read Fight Club, Diary and Choke) and wanted to pick up one that wasn’t a hard-back book. I’ve read the first few chapters and it’s excellent, though the language is a little hard to get into.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while now, ever since I started watching Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations on the Travel Channel and Netflix. As well as being a lover of travel and culinary experimentation, I’m also a huge fan of Bourdain’s humour and frankness in his performance in the TV show. The book has a similar reputation for those two attributes, and I often succumb to obsessive addictions.

Anthony Bourdain is kind of my hero.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Another book I’m reading because of TV. I admit it. I have a problem. But Dexter is one of the better shows I’ve watched on and off this year, and I was thrilled to discover that the entire premise of the show was based on a book. I’m a firm believer in the idea that anything TV and movies can do books can do better in terms of storytelling. Fight me if you like, but the book is ALWAYS better than the movie and you know it. And Dexter is a fantastic show, at least what I’ve seen of it has been fantastic (I made it halfway through season 3 before I got sick of beating the internet with a stick until TV falls out. Hopefully Netflix will help a sister out before too long).

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

I picked this up yesterday on my weekly torture trip to Barnes and Noble. I usually don’t have much money to throw around and tend to simply wander the aisles of BN with a pained expression on my face, suffering from perverse book lust. But I’ve been meaning to read House of Leaves for the last few years after stumbling upon its extremely convoluted and intriguing TV Tropes Page (if you haven’t been to TV Tropes, there is something wrong with your life. You cannot achieve true happiness if you don’t go get lost on TV Tropes for a while. Go. Now. The monkey compels you!). I haven’t made the time (or, admittedly, effort), to pick it up, not even after being pestered by Jeff (who considers it one of his favourite books) and my crazy friend Steven in Kansas. But I spotted it on one of the sale tables in the front of the O Street BN store and figured, ‘what the hell, I’ll give it a shot’.

So I bought it, and spent a good hour and a half of my four hour work shift getting into it. It’s definitely going to take me longer than any average read, since it’s a very convoluted story. But so far, I’m very intrigued. I’ll post a spoiler-ridden review when I’m done with it.

So there you have it; what this writer reads when she wants to relax and escape the madness and curiosity of her day-to-day existence. I’ll try to post about books more, in the hopes people will actually start reading this blog so I’m not just talking to an empty void.

Anyone out there?


Nope, just me then.

Upcoming blog topics include: NaNoWriMo Prep, my wacky experiences with my writing group, my fantastical mini-vacation to Virginia where I try not to kill my extended family, writers as alcoholics (true or false), digital readers and the ‘death’ of the paperback novel and writing and relationships.

Also kittens. Because who doesn’t like kittens?

(also, all images were found via Google Image Search and are copyright their respective posters. Don’t sue me plz).

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Current Music: Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie
Current Location: Work
Mood: caffeinated

I think my fiction writing class has been doing me a fair bit of good; one of the prompts we had in class last week (write about a character’s first day on the job) is blossoming into an actual story, which is refreshing after summer, which was the Summer of No Motivation (TM). So now I have the first few pages of Revelation: Highway 94 written in chickenscratch in my class notebook, next to the rest of my writing exercises.I also have a first page and a plan for All Fall Down, which also stemmed from an in-class writing assignment (write about a character with some kind of appetite, sexual or otherwise).

Part of me worries if I write all the Ghost stories before November I’ll run out of things to fill my wordcount with, but I ignore those anxieties. The goal of NaNo for me is less the end wordcount and more the completion of the novel and the story collection. I already have about 12 to 13k invested in Strain 10, but I’m only three chapters in. Something tells me that at absolute worst, hitting 50k won’t be a problem, and if it is, fuck it, right?

I felt productive today before and after my classes (Thursday is a killer – three classes and the night shift at work), even though I didn’t actually write a large amount. The fact that I got it down and felt satisfied with it is a victory in and of itself to me.

I also got through another hundred pages of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which I’m re-reading now that I have four plus years of literature and classical studies under my belt. I’m glad for it: I understand the mythology references ten times better than when I first read it. I should have that finished within the next day or two, and after that I’m unsure where to turn my recreational reading interest to. I have a strong desire to re-read The Stand by Stephen King at some point in the next few months, but that’s currently being loaned to Jeff, who has never read it and I think is worse off for it. He’s not far in, but last time we spoke he was really enjoying it. One of the better parts of dating a writer I’ve found (besides having an easy time finding someone to read your stories) is the exchange of libraries. I’ve found that regardless of how little time I have to relax, reading a book that’s not on the list of required texts for my classes is a wonderful way to unwind.

My labour day weekend isn’t very full: the first football game is on Saturday, which is only of interest to me because it’s an excuse to hang out with my friends and get drunk. My sister Kathryn leaves Sunday morning for England, where she’ll be for the next ten months studying abroad at the Laban center for dance. I’m going to miss her like crazy, and I figured going along to the airport will help my parents as much as anything else. D&D is also on Sunday, so that keeps my weekend just busy enough to be doing things but not enough to take away my desire to sleep in. Well, except on Sunday, but no class on Monday means I will be passed out in bed and to hell with the sun on my face.

I have about an hour and a half left of my shift at work. I’ll probably spend it watching another episode of Nip/Tuck and then typing up the first part of what I scribbled down this afternoon. Then it’s time to shop for groceries. To hell with my shift being up at 10 o’clock at night, Wal-Mart is open 24-7 and I don’t have class until 11.30 tomorrow morning anyway.

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