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November, 2010 browsing by month


Booking Through Thursday

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I’ve seen many bloggers say that what draws them to certain books or authors is good writing, and what causes them to stop reading a certain book or author is bad writing. What constitutes good writing and bad writing to you?

My idea of “good” writing is writing that makes me stop and re-read a sentence because of how beautifully or powerfully it conveys its meaning. Additionally, writing that breaks the conventions of “traditional” language structure as a part of the overall experience typically strikes me as exceptional, though it has to be well-crafted and consistent (Zuzak’s The Book Thief comes to mind).

“Bad” writing is tough to nail down, because while I don’t always think writing I don’t enjoy is “bad,” I wouldn’t call it “good,” either. I suppose standard, “He said this. Then they did this. The next day, this happened,” would technically be considered mediocre. For truly “bad” writing, I’d say poor syntax, redundancy, inconsistencies throughout the text, and underdeveloped characters or plot lines are all super pet peeves of mine. While a mediocre book’s author may get a second go-round if I liked the story, a bad book’s writer doesn’t get another shot. Life is too short to read bad books!

What are your thoughts? Share them here, or post on your own blog and drop me a link!

Asperger’s and reading

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

There were a few factors that weighed in when I was deciding whether or not to return to Maine. One that has remained is my need to be a part of my youngest brother’s life. He’s 12, will be 13 in December, and he has Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s only one of several challenges he faces,  and it’s one about which I know very little right now. I intend to read Temple Grandin, as I’ve heard that she is an incredible resource and powerful advocate for Aspies, but I’m hoping to find some local community, as well, or at least some online forum for support and advice. My brother is 100% tuned in to video games, has no interest in anything that doesn’t show up on a TV screen or monitor, has significant trouble communicating verbally, and refuses to eat vegetables. (Or potatoes – the kid is Irish. WTF?) I’m hoping to work on “unplugging” him via graphic novels based on the same stories as video games he loves, but haven’t yet had much luck (though I give major props to the guys at Coast City Comics – they were extremely supportive and helpful and showed me that generous and caring people do still exist in this world – if you live in Portland and ever want something they can get for you, please purchase it there – it’s a great shop with amazing staff.)

Do you know of a great resource for parents, guardians, supporters of kids with Asperger’s? Can you recommend a book, web resource, or individual who might be able to educate me and assist with my ability to give my brother what he needs? I don’t want the fact that I am a very verbal/word-based communicator to keep me from being able to connect with him, but I also honestly don’t know where to start. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Book clubs

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Only once before have I attempted to start a book club. The other two women and I lived in three different cities, worked very different schedules, and had busy social lives; these ingredients do not a successful book club make. So for those of you who have participated in or organized book clubs, what would you recommend when kicking off a new one? What pitfalls can you advise against, and what tips have you found to be helpful in maintaining the energy? Have you read full books for each meeting, or segments? How many people do you think is a comfortable number that allows for everyone to be heard?

Mixed media

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Given my current job, there’s always a lot of talk about what books are best experienced in print vs. which are done better justice on audio. I typically prefer print, as I’m an instant gratification kind of girl and can read much more quickly than anyone *should* narrate. I did, however, realize that there is the occasional exception when I listened to Emma Donoghue’s Room. I think that, like many who reviewed the book, I might have struggled with Jack’s narrative if it had been words on a page. Michal Friedman’s vocal interpretation was spot on, though, and I was engrossed from word one.

Similarly, there are some film adaptations that I enjoy far more than the books. For whatever reason, I really don’t love Nick Hornby’s novels, but have loved some of the films made based on his books (High Fidelity is definitely in my top five).

Have you found any patterns when comparing your appreciation for print books versus their audio or film counterparts? Is there a guaranteed formula as to which you’ll prefer?