Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 Days of Books: Childhood Favorite

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I read this book in 5th grade for a book report. I've read it several times over the years. I still love this book as an adult, which I think says a lot about the book's quality. I've read it countless times. It's a funny smart book with enjoyable characters.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

30 Days of Books: Book that Disappointed Me

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I "read" this in high school. I say "read" because I'm pretty sure I didn't read it. A couple years ago I thought I'd reread it. I figured that as an adult I would appreciate it. Nope. The plot and the themes (religion, societal norms, etc) in the book are things that I find interesting, but it was still such a hard read. The writing is so difficult.

I was disappointed that I couldn't appreciate it. I did watch Easy A with Emma Stone and loved it, so maybe there's hope for me and The Scarlet Letter after all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

30 Days of Books: Favorite Book Quote

"Even idiots occasionally speak the truth."
-Dorothy Sayers, Whose Body?

Maybe not my favorite, but funny and insightful.

I do also like this one from Nancy Mitford: "I love children, especially when they cry, for someone takes them away."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

30 Days of Books: Favorite Book from Favorite Writer

1984 by George Orwell

I don't like dystopian novels, but I think this book is amazing, in a terrifying sort of way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

30 Days of Books: Favorite Author

George Orwell

Of course, this was a hard one to pick. I have lots of favorite authors. To name just a few: Bill Bryson, Agatha Christie, Sarah Dessen, and Jon Krakauer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

30 Days of Books: Book I Used to Love, but Don't Anymore

Romance Novels

I don't have specific one as an example, but it fits the whole genre. I used to love them. Today I'll still read them, but not even close to the level and frequency I used to.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

30 Days of Books: Favorite Classic

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

I have lots of classic favorites, including Persuasion by Jane Austen and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I chose The Scarlet Pimpernel becuase I think it's one people haven't read, at least in comparison to my other favorites.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is the story of an Englishman who saves French aristocrats from the guillotine during the French Revolution. It's a really fun read.

Monday, May 16, 2011

30 Days of Books: Thought I wouldn't like, but ended up loving

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Vampires? I was really skeptical when I heard friends raving about Twilight. Then I read it and gobbled up the next three in the series. I even got Evan to read it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

30 Days of Books: Book I Hated

Peony in Love by Lisa See

Ug. I hated this book. Honestly, to me, this was about a moody 15/16 year old who was pissed at her parents, got caught up in her fantasy world, stopped eating, and died. The Chinese history and beliefs about spirits was interesting. The status of women was depressing, but this book was not my cup of tea.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

30 Days of Books: Most Overrated Book

Blankets by Craig Thompson

The more I thought about this book the more my opinion of it dropped. I really didn't think it was worth the hype. The plot fell really flat, whiny teenager woe is me stuff. I've read other graphic novels that I think are so much better in terms of telling the story. Blankets just seemed like a book with pictures, not a book written with pictures. (If that makes sense.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

30 Days of Books: Most Underrated Book

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

This is the only Stephen King book I've read. I gave it 5 stars on GR while the average is 3.06. I really really loved it. My impression of King is horror or supernatural books, but this was not. I wonder if that's why I feel it's underrated-it's not what people expect from King. The Colorado Kid is a great mystery and I loved the characters (the ones tell the story of the Colorado Kid.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

30 Days of Books: Book That Made Me Sad

Where Men Win Glory by John Krakauer

I read a lot of non-fiction so there are lots of books that have made me sad--sometimes the world is just so shitty.

Where Men Win Glory was so upsetting to me, I couldn't even finish it. I have such strong feelings about Tillman and the war, that I don't even want to get in to it, because it will upset me so much. If you are interested in the war, I highly suggest reading this, but with the note that it is a really hard read.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

30 Days of Books: Book That Makes Me Happy

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson's books crack me up.

Friday, May 6, 2011

30 Days of Books: Favorite Book of Favorite Series

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

Loved it. This was such a great book in such a great series.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

30 Days of Books: My Favorite Series

Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear

So far, there are eight books in the series. I haven't read the 8th one which came out a couple months ago. I loved the 7th one so much, I'm worried Winspear has written something about Maisie's path that I don't want to happen!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 Days of Books: Book I've read at least 3 times

Paradise by Judith McNaught

is a sweeping epic romance novel. I love this book. I seem to reread it every other year or so, and still have to stay up all night and read even though I know exactly what is going to happen. Very much a guilty pleasure.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

30 Days of Books: Favorite book of 2010

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy is the story of North Koreans living under Kim Jong Il's repressive regime. It was so eye opening and fascinating (in a horrible sort of way.)

A couple weeks ago in class, we were talking about social security and one of my students asked if anyone had read The Giver and seen the retirement plan in it. Another student immediately brought up 1984. I stopped what we were doing (talking about Congress) and showed this documentary on North Korea. I've had a couple students tell me it was the most interesting part of the class.

The video is streaming on netflix--watch it and read Nothing to Envy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

30 Days of Books

Yes, it's a meme, but hopefully not an annoying one. And you do know how I love book lists!

Day 1 – Best book you read last year
Day 2 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 3 – Your favorite series
Day 4 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 5 – A book that makes you happy
Day 6 – A book that makes you sad
Day 7 – Most underrated book
Day 8 – Most overrated book
Day 9 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favorite book of all time.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Searching for Whitopia

Searching for Whitopia has an interesting premise: a black man decides to live in several whitopias. Rich Benjamin, the author, defines a whitopia as place that is "whiter than the nation, its respective region, and the state. It posted at least a 6% population growth since 2000. The majority of that growth (often upward of 90%) is from white migration. And a whitopia has a je ne sais quoi--an ineffiable social charisma, a pleasant look and feel."

One of the reasons I was excited to go to China was to be the person that stuck out. I'm an average white girl with brown hair. I've never stuck out. I thought it would be interesting to for an ever so brief period be a minority. And it was. In Beijing, we stuck out. I was asked to be in pictures with people four different times. Little kids would sneak glances at us. My experience in China, while eye opening, wasn't near the same as Benjamin's.

One of the places Benjamin visited is right up the road from where I grew up. Wyoming isn't exactly known for its diversity, so I considered myself aware of whitopias. I teach sociology. What Benjamin found in these whitopias was nothing surprising to me. It was interesting to hear it from the perspective of a black man. I couldn't help but wonder how many of the conversations he'd had (particularly those with the white supremacists) were people putting on their best, not-real, face. One common feature of these whitopias is that they has an us v. them mentality. It's not one of black v. white, but rather the old residents v. the newcomers.

An interesting read on race, but for me, nothing earth shattering. However, if you haven't thought about race much (which is all too easy to do if you are white) or the issues of rapid growth in rural areas I think it'd be an insightful read.