Bookish babes and bizarre behavior

Just finished a book for work. It was a crime thriller set in Charm City, Jewel of the East, place of my birth, hon. But I don’t blog about these reads (why?), so instead you get some rambling musings far past my bedtime and a peek at one of the books in my permanent collection. I used to read while I blew my hair dry in the morning before school. I’ve never done that anywhere else I’ve ever lived, but whenever I visit my parents…

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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Synopsis: A young mage-in-training with unprecedented powers performs a forbidden spell and looses a shadow from another realm that intends to destroy him. Review: The writing in A Wizard of Earthsea is beautiful, and the world is wholly original. However, this books gets a little too fantasy-ey for me. It’s got a lot of Magic, and not that that much adventure. It’s much more about the ideas than it is about character development–which is fine. It’s just not what I prefer. Share on Facebook

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Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Synopsis: A brainy high school senior narrates the events that led to the death of her charismatic and disturbed teacher. Review: I stayed up until 1:30 am last night blazing through the last 200 pages of the book, in a state of amazement (and not a little jealousy) over the superb plotting Pessl married to her delicious prose and intriguing characters. Share on Facebook

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The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

Synopsis: Snapshots in the life of a slightly depressed young woman with low self-esteem. Review: I loved Sittenfeld’s debut novel Prep, and had high expectations for this one. I was pretty disappointed. Hannah is passive and largely disinterested in life, and this just doesn’t make for a compelling main character, unless her passivity is what the story is about. But Sittenfeld doesn’t have a strong premise, nor has she engaged with some of the ideas that pepper the narrative. The book feels loose and disconnected,…

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Aspects of the Novel by EM Forster

Synopsis: A collection of lectures given by EM Forster at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1927, touching on all aspects of the novel from story and people to what Forster calls “fantasy” and “prophecy.” Review: A delicious gem of a book. Forster’s prose is gorgeous, and I want to read every book he mentions that I haven’t already. I will be ruminating on what I’ve read in here for quite some time, and this is a book I will revisit many times. Rather than try…

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Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Synopsis: We live in the Age of Show Business. Postman’s book is a history of discourse that presents the case for the preeminence of the written word over visual media, and outlines the ills inherent in a visually-driven society. Review: I was somewhat familiar with Postman’s general ideas, having been friends with one of his protegees for many years. However, this is the first time I have read him for myself, which is a shame because I have an advanced degree in cinema studies. My…

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The Overspent American by Juliet Schor

Synopsis: A survey of how American spending patterns have spiraled out of control. Review: I am having an enjoyable debate about how fast is too fast when it comes to reading in the comments portion of the Zadie Smith post I linked to earlier, so it’s a tad ironic that I’m going to tell you that I TOTALLY skimmed this book. Share on Facebook

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The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Synopsis: Aimless Tom Ripley has been dispatched to Italy to bring feckless playboy Dickie Greenleaf home, but when Dickie rejects Tom’s friendship, Tom chooses a darker course. Review: I have read and enjoyed several books by Highsmith, but stayed away from the Ripley books because in the crime and mystery genres, I tend not to like the recurring character, like Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford, to give another example from an author I admire, and when I heard about Ripley, I assumed the same. I learned…

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Zadie Smith On Reading

For more about these posts, click about. I read for work last night, but it was a screenplay, not a book. I hadn’t planned on posting when I read a screenplay (because it’s hardly reading), but I woke up this morning and Boing Boing linked to a quote from Zadie Smith about reading. Perfect. But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle…

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