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Free-form Friday

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Prompted by a post by a close friend on a topic very near and dear to me, I think I’m going to make Fridays my “learn a little about Kirsten” day as opposed to learning about the books I’m reading. I’ll provide a link to a post, or create my own, about something related to my identity, my community, my little piece of the world. Maybe it’ll be deep and thoughtful, like today’s, or maybe it’ll be a photo-journal entry of my and Rachel’s most recent visit. Maybe a rant about the latest injustice in the workplace, or a rave about the new cosmetic product I couldn’t resist. Hopefully it’ll be interesting, fun, and enjoyable in some way for you.

Today’s link is to my friend’s blog entitled The Sartorial Butch (pictured above – isn’t she dashing?). This particular post is a bit off-topic from her typical stuff, but it really resonated for me and made me reflect on the ways misogyny is not reserved for males/men. I hope you’ll take a moment to read this thought-provoking post, and let me know what you think. How can you relate to the topic even if the language is different from what you’re accustomed to in your community and daily life? Is this something you’ve thought about considerably and have opinions to share? Something you’ve never really stopped to think about, but can come up with instances where it applies?

Head on over and drop a note, and let the SB know I sent you – take a look through her past posts, too; she’s got a fun blog with lots of useful hints and tips even for the non-butch-IDed among us.

Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

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Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Today’s question is a good one – it sent me to my LibraryThing catalog in search of a book I rated highly, by an author I haven’t heard, read, or seen much about in all of the places I do bookish things.

I picked up a remaindered copy of D. M. Cornish’s Foundling on a whim, and found the book to be far more intricate, richly illustrated – both in word and artwork – and thorough than I had anticipated. I happily purchased the second book, in hardcover no less (but with a coupon, of course), shortly after finishing the first in this series, called Monster Blood Tattoo. While both Foundling and its sequel, Lamplighter, are considerable in length and complexity of language, I found them to move swiftly and with  great momentum. I’m looking forward to the third installment, and have only found one other reader in my on-line and real world travels who has read these books, as well.

My reviews for both books can be found on my reading challenge post for 2009.

What author do you think deserves more attention than he or she receives from mainstream booksellers, reviewers, and publishers?

Writer’s Wednesday

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

So let’s try this again – since I don’t see a regular Wednesday weekly, I’ll try and fill that gap by posting something writer-ish, be it about an author, about my or your writing, or about words and structure and all that good stuff. Maybe I’ll turn it into an “official” weekly by creating a button and posing a specific goal, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, hm?

Yesterday, Brandon Sanderson posted on his blog that he’s accepted an invitation to run a workshop at a writing conference in Pasadena in March. I was thinking, “Hey cool, I should check that out, I’ve got friends down there, it’d be a nice little getaway.” ….. To the “early bird special” tune of $599. Hmm, not so accessible for this kid, with all the travel plans I’ve got for the next few months.

So, that got me to thinking – what would I pay six hundred bucks for, in terms of a writing workshop? Who would I want to be there presenting, what would I want to take away from it, what sort of networking would I hope to do? Further, forget the price tag – what would my dream writers’ conference consist of in terms of the above?

After some thought, I’ve decided that while I’d love to meet a writer whose work I admire greatly and whose style and voice bears similarities to my own, I don’t want my writing to mimic theirs – I’d sooner learn from someone who writes very differently from how I do, so I’m adding to my skill set rather than simply being validated in my own style.

As far as networking, I don’t see myself collaborating on a fiction work, but I’d love to meet others who might have an interest in the same sorts of anthologies, histories, and multi-media collections as I have. I’d also hope to connect with down-to-earth people from the publishing world who could provide realistic and effective advice for pitching my work. Finally, I’d hope to connect with someone with similar writing goals to my own – frequency, time dedicated, etc. – so we could be accountable to one another and encourage each other when we hit stumbling blocks.

Finally, I’d really like to take away a new perspective of some kind, be it about style, content, or end goal, as well as a rejuvenated love for the craft.

How about you? What do you think a writing conference should be able to offer, or what have you gained from attending them in the past?

Sacrilege, or pure genius??

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Okay, maybe “genius” is stretching it a bit. Errrr, more than a bit. But I digress. Tonight, I am sharing with you my utter ridiculousness, paired with my unfailing resourcefulness – allow me to present Exhibit A:

Part of me is cringing at the idea of using the books  (and shelves, which haven’t yet been re-mounted) to support and weigh down the kitty tower as the wood glue dries, but another part finds it hilarious and perfectly fitting. I really don’t own anything else heavy and versatile enough, and clamps wouldn’t work anyway because of the carving. So, I consider it justifiable.

‘Fess up, my friends – what alternate uses have your books been put to around the house? Tippy table fixes, pressed flower receptacles, doorstops?

Out of the comfort zone

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Last year I read three memoirs, a genre I’d never really gotten into in the past. My now-girlfriend (Rachel – she’s going to be around for a while, so you may as well get to know her by name, *grin*) recommended Augusten Burroughs, and I read (or rather, devoured) Running with Scissors and Dry, followed by Lillian Faderman’s Naked in the Promised Land, a suggestion from my best friend, Melissa.

I think I always expected memoirs to be slow-moving, rather musty reads – I’m not sure why, but I think I connect them to “history” in my mind. These books busted my expectation of the genre wide open, and I realize now that this is an accessible way for me – the history dunce – to absorb history on some level: through the life stories of people with whom I share common traits or experiences.

Is there a genre you always swore you could never, would never, get into? Were you “tricked” into reading something in that category, or someone you know insisted that you borrow a specific title? Did you decide to suck it up and give it a shot, and find yourself immersed?

Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

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Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

It depends on why I’ve picked up the book. If it’s something that caught my eye but I’ve not heard of, I’ll read at least the first few sentences of the flap. If it’s been recommended by a friend or blogger, I typically get enough information from them and prefer not to gain any additional details from the blurb. I don’t rely on the flaps to decide whether I’m going to enjoy a new writer, as they’re not written by the author him- or herself; I’ll read the first page, or flip to somewhere in the middle and read a few sentences to get a feel for their voice.

How about you, how much do you like to know about a book going in? Do you go on intuition or get the details from the blurb, reviews, other sources?

A-Z Wednesday

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

My hunt for a Wednesday weekly was aided today by Joy, who introduced me to A-Z Wednesday hosted by Vicki at Reading at the Beach.

Simply select a book from your library whose title begins with this week’s letter and post a photo, title and synopsis, and a link, then swing by Vicki’s blog and drop a line directing everyone to your entry. Don’t forget to share it here, as well!

This week’s letter is “W,” and I went with The Westing Game (I didn’t see rules about articles counting or not counting for title beginnings, so I made up my own *wink*) by Ellen Raskin.

I first read this in elementary school, and didn’t realize it had been around for so long. I re-read it a couple of years ago, so forgive if my synopsis is vague or even imperfect in its details! The basic story is that a group of seemingly unconnected individuals and families all move into a new housing complex and are informed that they are beneficiaries of the recently-deceased multi-millionaire, Sam Westing. Westing has devised a competition for his fortune and set it forth in his will; the sixteen invited individuals are paired off and pitted against the other teams in a challenge for the inheritance. Raskin’s characters are brilliantly realistic, and her plot twists not reduced for an elementary reading level. Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys a cleverly written puzzle novel.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you have a good “W” book on your shelves? Tell me all about it!

Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“Grease-Paint Avenue! I saw it instantly and it was marvelous, a street set out like a make-up box, with narrow, gilded houses, each one with a different coloured roof; and ours would be number 3 – with a chimney they colour of Kitty’s carmined lips!”

This comes from page 61 of Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet, which I’m reading for either the second or third time. Waters is perhaps my favorite writer at the moment, though I can’t say for certain that she’s my favorite author. Definitely in the top five, or even three, but it’s more her voice, her way with words, that captivates me in every single sentence of every single novel than the story she tells. I enjoy all of the tales and plots, and count Fingersmith among my top books of all time, but I haven’t loved all of her books as fiercely thus far.

How about you, whatcha readin’? Want to see if you can topple over Mt. TBR by throwing another one on the pile with your teaser?

Deja vu all over again?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Yes folks, I dropped the ball again – and again it was due to a series of huge changes in my life. I’ve kind of come to the point where I’ve thrown it out to the universe and said, “I get it, you’re bigger than me, you win!” and am letting things happen instead of trying to make things happen… And it’s actually working quite nicely so far.

I’ve recently moved *back* into the apartment I lived in until October – 34 boxes of books alone! – and am attempting, once again, to settle into a “new” environment. Thankfully, I have two lovely new roommates, and have had the support of my best friends and my incredible girlfriend throughout it all.

I missed my 75 book goal by five books in 2009. I also had probably four months where I was barely reading at all, so I’m not too disappointed, really. I participated in my first readathon, which will definitely be a regular event, read some books that were completely outside of my typical genres, and maintained my 4.0 (though I did get an Incomplete for one class, which thankfully doesn’t appear to have affected my cumulative/overall GPA; I’d have taken the class anyway, so I guess no harm done but the cost).

My goal for the start of 2010, as it relates to books and reading, is not to sweat it. I felt guilty every time I looked at the bookmark for this page, every time I received a notification that another spam comment had been left, every time I didn’t unpack a box of books. I don’t need to feel guilty – this is supposed to be FUN! It’s a HOBBY! It makes me HAPPY! So being miserable about it is simply out of the question.

I’m going to get back to work on the unpacking and LibraryThing tagging/collectioning my books, separating the titles I still own from the titles my ex now has and asking the LT staff to divide our accounts, and cleaning up my library, both physical and online, in general. In the meantime, I’m re-reading Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet, which I loaned to my butch and she returned to me when I saw her at the beginning of December. I’ve not read Waters in some time (or maybe it just feels that way – did I read Fingersmith in 2009??? I may have), and I wanted something comforting, but am not ready for my HP series read yet – primarily because I no longer own the entire series. Le sigh.

ANYWAY – there’s my story, what’s yours? Whatcha got good going on in your bloggish world, your readerish world, your bookish world?