Thursday, June 28, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

You may have noticed (or may not have noticed) a recent kerfluffle in the book blogging world regarding ALA and the distribution of ARCs.  This post is not in any way, shape, or form about that issue.  I am unconcerned with who got what ARCs.  In fact, I avoid any public arena (professional or trade or even just interest-driven) where free things are to be given out because I think most people (regardless of job title or media designation) act like complete children when free things are available.

I, for one, have zero interest in cramming into a giant arena and wrestling with other adults for something that I could go online and buy and have delivered to my front door (or to my Nook) for a (relatively) very low price.  I don't like ARC-whores and I don't like the fuss about any of it, as I've already posted (feel free to check it out).  So I don't really care about who posted a ridiculous video or which librarians are greedy grabbers.  Let's go ahead and assume they are, ok?  I am also not addressing anything that happened at ALA because, obviously, I didn't go to ALA (again with the avoidance of swarms of people fighting over cheap free stuff).

But I did read the responses that have flooded the internet in the past few days.  And I got really annoyed by some of the responses.  I can agree with book bloggers that librarians were probably also greedy grabbers.  And I can agree with book bloggers that maybe some of the librarians wanted books to read for their personal pleasure and not for jobs and maybe they are even jealous of book bloggers who came home with huge hauls.  All of those things may be true.

But I have to say that I saw many book blogger responses that I think reflect very negatively on the book blogging community.  Those responses all had one thing in common: they diminished the importance and difficulty of librarianship as a profession.  On this site, I am primarily a blogger.  I rarely refer to my job as a librarian because I'm like every other sensible person who knows better than to discuss his or her employer and profession on the internet.  I don't want to disclose those things because I like being a librarian and I want to keep being a librarian and what you say about your profession can come back to haunt you should you ever be on the lookout for a job.  But for what it's worth, I identify as both book blogger and professional librarian.

And the comments I saw today really stung.  What I'd like to ask book bloggers is this: would you approach a PR executive, a senior editor, or a literature professor and say "my job as a book blogger is the same as your job because we both tell people to like books"?  Because somehow I doubt any sane book blogger would do that.  For one thing, book blogging, for most is not a job.  It's a hobby.  PR execs, editors, and professors are pursuing a career.  They do what they do on a daily basis to make money and to excel in their chosen field of employment.  Those professions are also recognized by most book bloggers are specialized fields that require lots of experience, hard work, long hours, a specialized education, and a lifelong dedication.  Those are not things required of bloggers (although I suppose hard work and long hours could be argued).

Librarians deal with a huge lack of respect from pretty much every angle.  The general public does not know what goes into being a librarian and running a library.  So if you work in a public library, you are seen by the general public as being a glorified cashier.  If you work in an academic library, you are often seen by faculty members and students as some kind of secretary.  You don't get a lot of recognition from most people for being highly educated and for doing a very specialized job that requires a lot of experience and technical skill.

Book bloggers should be the exception to this rule.  After all, we take time to learn how to deal courteously and professionally with publishers, publicists, authors, and all the other people giving us stuff furthering a love of literature among the uneducated masses.  Book bloggers also need to learn how to deal courteously with librarians.  Again, this is not in regard to who grabs what ARCs.  This is in regards to respecting that librarians aren't just hobbyists who hang out in the library enough to learn the Dewey Decimal System.  And I haven't seen that from bloggers today.

I'll close with one last analogy for how the "we all just love books, right?" comments make me feel.  At my job, I have (until last month) been the only library staff member.  I do it all.  So when I'm covering the reference desk, monitoring student activity on computers, planning a major student programming event, preparing for an evening information literacy class, and contemplating a particularly difficult cataloging task, I find it extremely discouraging for a student or member of the non-academic administration to walk in and say "Wow, it must be nice to have a job where you can just read all day."

And that is the level of respect that I think some book bloggers are currently giving librarians - "It must be nice to have a job where you get paid to go to conferences and get free books and sit around reading all day".


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vacation Pictures!

June didn't get off to the best start in the Golden household.  Luke's dad was very sick and Luke spent two of the first three weeks of June in Arkansas at the hospital.  While he was gone this happened:

Yes, that's my car, dead on the side of the road.  I'm sitting in the bushes in this picture.

Thankfully my Nook was in my purse and ready to keep me company.

Then Chief got hurt.  Something happened to his little hip and he spent the night crying and army crawling across the floor.  It was pitiful.  But he made a very speedy recovery and is just fine now.

After that, things started to get better.  Mainly because this little guy was in town.

Georgie and Mimi.

And then we went on vacation!  In Savannah at The Book Lady with Georgie.

We got to eat some real seafood - raw oysters and caviar...

And low country boil.

Mema and Aunt Barbara came.  George calls this group "Mimi", "Baba", "Mema", and "AndrewAndrewAndrew".  Apparently Andrew's name is important enough to be repeated multiple times.

And we ate out a lot.  Georgie loves sunglasses.

First steps on the beach.

Figuring out how this whole ocean thing works.

With Mama and Daddy.

Splashing in the "osh"

Running on the beach

Juju's new favorite picture ever.

More beach walking.

One of Georgie's favorite games is "Where's Georgie".  He asks "where Georgie?" and I look for him in unlikely places while he hides behind a counter.  Then he jumps out and I act startled.  HOURS of entertainment.

Georgie's gangsta.

Mimi and Dit Dit.  Georgie can't say his g's yet, so Grandaddy somehow became Dit Dit.  I think it's the cutest ever and I refuse to let it die.


Unfortunately it rained pretty much the whole time we were there.  Saturday was sunny, but after that we had wind, rain, and chill from Tropical Storm Debby.


Splashing in the fountain

Game night with my siblings

Dinner at the Crab Shack.  Sarah ("Sa"), Aaron ("Oh") and David ("Daddyaddyaddy") all got sick from bad seafood that night.  Mine, however, was delicious.

Elisabeth and George, peeking around the boat wheel.  And yes, that is a giant turtle sculpture decorated like Jack Sparrow.

We had a party for David, who is now officially a PhD.

Basically it was an amazing trip, even though some of us got sick and we spent most of our time inside.  Luke and I had to come back to work, but the rest of the family is staying through the end of the week and will hopefully get some sunny days!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review: Sleepfaring: A Journey Through the Science of Sleep by Jim Horne

Sometimes I seriously question whether or not I should be as open on here as I am about depression and OCD and therapy and all the crazy that is me.  I wonder if people I know in real life will find it and think differently of me or if I ought to be reminding myself that the internet never forgets and this could come back to haunt me one day.  But last week I was reminded why I'm open when an in real life friend came and told me she had read about my depression on here and wondered if she could tell me about hers.  Totally worth the risk.

And by now you're wondering what that has to do with a book about sleep.  Sleep has always had a huge impact on my depression, or maybe depression has had a huge impact on my sleep.  Either way, I have had periods of insomnia where I would only sleep one of every three nights and I've had periods of hypersomnia (not sure that's a word) where I slept for sixteen hours a day.  It's always been a trouble spot for me emotionally.  I get really worked up over sleeping conditions and knowing exactly where and what conditions I'll be sleeping in each night.  I also have several time consuming/inconvenient rituals that center around going to bed and being in the "right" mood for sleep.  I tend to become obsessed with how much I'm sleeping or not sleeping. 

So one of my assignments recently in therapy was to do some sleep research and find out what exactly is happening in my body while I sleep and what "normal" sleep patterns look like.  So after researching all of my options via Goodreads, this is the book that seemed to best adress various issues regarding sleep from an accessible and scientific standpoint. 

Writing
The writing fit my criteria of accessible for a non-scientist, but still academic.  I have to say though that it was fairly dry.  A lot of the information was interesting, but the author's writing made it less palatable.  It just came across very much like a textbook.  I found myself picking up anything and everything else.  It probably took me a good three weeks to finish and I typically read non-fiction of the same length in 3-4 days.

Entertainment Value
I feel like I learned a lot.  I wasn't really reading it to be entertained, I was reading it to learn whether or not I fit in with normal sleep patterns and whether or not my brain will explode if I get more or less sleep than "normal" (Spoiler alert: your brain will not explode due to over or under-sleeping).  The author spends a good portion of the book talking about how dangerous sleep deprivation can be while driving.  Which is true, but even chapters that were unrelated seemed to somehow come back to the topic.  I wanted to hear more about exactly how crazy I am compared to the rest of the world.  Apparently a lot of people drive while sleepy, but I don't, so it bored me.  And let's face it people, it's all about me.

Overall
Meh.  If you're really interested in the topic of sleep and want a fairly wide range of information/fun facts, I'd say give it a try.  I'd recommend getting it from the library though.  It was rather pricey, even in paperback, and not as interesting as I had hoped.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)

The covers for this series are really growing on me.  Not the regular covers, of course, which look like typically awful MMP covers, but these that I've only been able to find on Goodreads.  If any of you find a place where I could buy the books with these covers, I'd love to hear about it!  This review will definitely contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Mistborn: The Final Empire.  If you haven't read Mistborn: The Final Empire, LOOK AWAY NOW.

Have you looked away yet?  If not, I'm serious.  Do it now.

Ok, so book two takes place two years after the death of the Lord Ruler in book one.  Elend has taken over the Central Dominance as king and is running the show along with a council made up of various ex-noblemen and skaa.  Things are still not going smoothly for Vin and Elend, though.  The council is filled with traitorous backstabbers, three other kings threaten to invade, including Elend's own father, and a mysterious Mistborn with powers similar to Vin's is sneaking into the city at night.  In addition, Vin can't forget warning the Lord Ruler gave as he died. 

Writing
I definitely saw an improvement in the writing in this book, although I still feel like it's not amazing.  However, book two does clear up some of the major issues I had with the writing in book one.  You can read my review of that book here.  One of my major problems was with the Lord Ruler as a villain.  While I still maintain that he wasn't the villain I had hoped for in book one, he is really fleshed out in book and two and there are revelations that change my feelings about him as a villain overall.

I was still annoyed by the way Sanderson reveals backstory.  In book two there is more of the main character reading a book in order to learn backstory that really annoyed me in book one.  I felt like I was really noticing the author's intent to tease the reader with "I know something you don't know" through this, and while I like secrets being slowly revealed, I don't want it to be done in a way that takes me out of the story.

I did begin to realize with this book (and more about this in my review of the final book) how well Sanderson does at tying up loose ends.  And not necessarily even loose ends.  I have to be careful because I don't want to give any book two spoilers, but things that I rolled my eyes about in book one or thought were odd were cleared up in very clever ways in book two.  But more about that later...
Entertainment Value
Again, Sanderson really knows how to tell a story.  I will say that the first half of this book dragged somewhat for me.  I had a much more difficult time getting into the story.  However, the slow pace of the first half of the book is totally worth the absolutely amazing conclusion.  I cannot even describe how excited I was with the last 100 pages. 

This series really builds with the second book and has an absolutely amazing climax.  I highly recommend giving it a try.

Overall
Yes - read it!  And don't let the slow start keep you from finishing.  Also, like I mentioned in my review of book one, if you're usually turned off from fantasy by sex, language, or gore, this is a great series to read.  It turns out that Sanderson is Mormon and his books have some violence but are overall very tame for the genre.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Into The Darkest Corner


I've mentioned on here before, I'm sure, that I have a hard time finding thrillers that really creep me out without traumatizing me.  I cannot handle serial killer books or anything dealing with spirits, the occult, etc.  Those kind of thrillers are way too much for me to handle.  But other types often leave me disappointed because they just aren't scary enough.  This one totally made my week by being exactly what I love in a thriller.  It's about Cathy, who meets and falls in love with the perfect man - until he becomes increasingly controlling, erratic, and downright dangerous.  Five years later, she has escaped and Lee, the ex-boyfriend, is in prison.  Cathy has met a new man and is working on getting her severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder under control, when she receives the phone call that Lee has been released from prison.

Writing
I was super excited to see that this book was published from an manuscript created during NaNoWriMo.  I'm not a writer, but I have many friends who are and who participate in NaNoWriMo every year, so I was excited to see a success story.  Overall, I was pleased with the writing, although I felt like the ending didn't live up to the beginning in terms of characterization.  I'm very open on here about my struggles with depression and OCD, so I really identified with Cathy's character even though I haven't been through anything similar to the trauma she went through.  


However, I didn't like the resolution of the mental illness aspect of the book.  I felt like Cathy's character really lost momentum at the end and wasn't as believable as she was at the beginning, especially due to the way her mental illness was handled.  I also felt like she really acted out of character at the end of the book, as did Stuart, her love interest.  It had a great start, but the end just wrapped up too quickly and the characters seemed less than authentic during the last fifty or so pages.  The ending also had some believability issues as far as plot was concerned.


Entertainment Value
While there were certainly a few writing issues, particularly at the end of the book, I enjoyed it enough that I was willing to suspend my disbelief more than I normally would for the sake of being entertained.  I was on the edge of my seat through the whole book and found myself thinking about it all day at work.  I even made Luke bring it over to my parents' house on Saturday night so I could read after George went to bed.  It was the perfect thriller for me - no serial killers, no occult references, a situation that I could enjoy the thrill of without worrying that it would invade my dreams or make me worried about myself.  It was deliciously creepy in the way that good suspense movies are.  I highly recommend it as a beach book.  It's an easy read and compulsively thrilling.

One word of caution: this could be a book that has very serious triggers for those who have experienced sexual or physical assault.  There are some graphic descriptions of Cathy's abuse at the hands of Lee.  If you're concerned about triggers or if you're sensitive to graphic violence, particularly sexual violence, this isn't one for you to read.  Don't get me wrong, we aren't talking torture porn.  I was not offended by the content, but I think some of my readers would be and I think it's dangerous reading ground for those who are triggered by domestic abuse.

Thank you so much to TLC for sending me a copy to read and review!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Post and Run!

I know my posting has been sporadic lately - this month has been insanely busy for the Goldens.  Luke's daddy is still very sick and in the ICU in Arkansas and Luke has been spending his time driving back and forth between here and Hot Springs, and I've been spending my time trying to keep up with everything on my own.  Just today I was rear-ended by a driver who drove away before I could get her tags AND I have a sick puppy who can't walk and needs to go to the vet first thing in the morning.  And classes start back at school tomorrow and I'm totally unprepared.  Sigh.

Also, Georgie has been here since early this month, which means every spare second (and I haven't had nearly enough) is spent going out to Flintstone to see him and my brother and sister-in-law.  He is basically the smartest kid in the world.  Only nineteen months and he can count to fifteen, puts two and three words together, knows all the capital letters by sight, and can recite portions of the alphabet.  He loves playing outside and has Juju (that's me) so wrapped around his finger that I've been spending tons of time outside with him IN THE SUMMER.  Not an easy feat, but I love George enough to brave the weather.

In just a few short days we'll be headed to the beach for a mini-vacation.  Until then I'm going to be rushing around trying to keep all my balls in the air.  I've got a few posts coming this week though and can't wait to post some pictures of Baby George on the beach.  I've been so busy playing with him that I forget to take pictures, and I can't let that happen on the beach!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Marriage Confidential by Pamela Haag


I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to read this one, I'm not going to lie.  I love non-fiction, especially in regards to cultures or ideas that I'm not familiar with.  Sociology and psychology in particular interest me, and this looked like a good sociological view of changing attitudes regarding marriage.  Another reason this one appealed to me is that Luke and I have a very traditional marriage.  We're conservative Christians and support (almost) all of the "traditional marriage values".  I knew this book would present the polar opposite views, given the "rewriting the rules" tagline.  So this gave me a chance to see a different opinion of marriage than what I've been exposed to before.

Writing
The writing is well done.  The author uses and cites sociological studes appropriate and provides a good critique of the methods used in the studies, as well as their shortcomings.  You guys know how I feel about a good citation.  This is also one of the few cases in which I didn't mind the author inserting a political and moral bias.  From the subtitle that mentions "rewriting the rules", I knew in advance this one wasn't going to be my typical fare.  So yes, the book does include several critiques of and a few mildly snide remarks concerning traditional family values, but nothing that I felt affected the accuracy of the research presented or compromised the author's integrity as an objective reporter.  I can actually really appreciate books that go against my own personal beliefs when they are handled in an appropriately academic way, without mockery.  The author did a good job of this and I enjoyed seeing things from a different point of view.

Entertainment Value
What was really cool about this book was how much it made me think.  I loved reading something so different from what I have read before and seeing where my own opinions diverge and where, interestingly enough, my opinions and beliefs merge well with a very liberal view of marriage.

A good portion of the book deals with nonmonogamous lifestlyes (the couples who are rebelling against the rules).  This can be anything from an open marriage to a "dont' ask, don't tell" marriage, to hidden affairs, to a swingers lifestyle.  Obviously, those were the portions that I identified the least with.  I don't share well, and these options are just not congruent with my faith system.  And did I mention I don't share well?  Regardless of personal beliefs, I just am not sharing my husband's time, affections, passions, etc with another woman.  Ain't gonna happen.

However, I was really surprised to see (and I think the author might be too if she knew) how similar some of the liberal ideas about marriage and family are to the traditional.  One section of the book deals with the issues raised when children are introduced into a marriage, and it was this section that I found myself agreeing strongly with.  The author describes the negative affect attachment parenting and the harm that can be done to a marriage by putting your children above your spouse.  Interestingly enough, I have been raised with the exact same view the author has: that putting your children before your spouse can kill your marriage.  I don't know that liberals and conservatives realize that they are essentially coming to the same conclusion on this.  I certainly didn't realize that this was a rising idea among liberal marriages.  So those chapters interested me the most.

So overall I found the book highly entertaining, in terms of seeing both a completely different viewpoint than me own and in terms of finding common ground that I didn't know existed with more liberal lifestyles.  However, I do have to say that, overall, the book was pretty discouraging regarding the posibilities of happiness in marriage.  The author takes the position that almost all marriages are somewhat unfulfilling, boring, or melancholy.  I realize that most people probably still consider me a newlywed (four years of happy marriage) so maybe my mind will change later on, but I just don't agree that marriage can't be wonderful long-term.  I think it kind of goes along with some of my views on depression.  I have depression and I will probably have it forever.  I'll have to fight it and work hard to keep it from taking over my life, but I am committed to doing that.  I'm committed to making my life happy and to doing the things I know I need to do to make it that way.  I'm not willing to just give up and roll over and accept a life of sadness and boredom.  And I'm not willing to do so in my marriage either.

Overall
I recommend giving this one a try if you're interested in sociology or changing views on marriage, even if you don't agree with the author's opinions.  If you've grown up conservative/evangelical like I have (my parents were actually missionaries with a marriage ministry called FamilyLife), this is a great book to give you a very different perspective on marriage and a good way to see how those values are different and how they are surprisingly similar.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Movie Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin (spoilers)


So you guys know I don't usually review movies, but I had to post about this one.  I'm really not much of a movie buff at all, so I'm not a good critic in terms of what makes a movie good or bad.  But I reviewed the book  in detail a few weeks ago and loved it and knew I'd have to see the movie to make a comparison.  It's pretty much impossible to review the movie in comparison with the book without giving some spoilers about both, so be warned.  There will be complete book and movie spoilers in this post.  Now is the time to stop reading if you don't know what happens.

First of all, a short summary of the story: Eva and Franklin are a young couple very much in love who are both undecided on whether or not to have children.  They impulsively decide to try and Eva quickly gets pregnant.  From the moment she gives birth to Kevin, she has ambiguous, even hostile, feelings towards him.  Kevin is not a happy baby - he cries constantly, except when Franklin is around, and Eva is a miserable mother.  As Kevin gets older, he continues to come between Franklin and Eva.  He refuses to speak even though he is capable and he also refuses to potty train until he is well past toddlerhood.  In a fit of rage, Eva accidently breaks his arm and Kevin uses that secret (they tell everyone that he fell) to hold Eva captive.  As Kevin becomes a teen, and a second child is brought into the family, Eva continues to dislike him and wonder if he is stable, and Kevin becomes increasingly unstable.  It all culminates in a tragic school shooting and the murder of Franklin and Celia, the couple's daughter.

In the book, the story is told through letters Eva writes to Franklin and, of course, it is not revealed until the end of the book that Kevin murdered Franklin and Celia.  Because the letters are written in present tense, we get a split sense of time in the book - what is happening to Eva in the present day (rejection from the community, loss of her business, depression, etc) and the history of Eva's family from the day she met Franklin through the day of the massacre. 

As I wrote in my review of the book, the letters really reveal Eva to be an unreliable narrator.  She contradicts herself and her own story several times and we get a glimpse of her inner justifications for her ambivalence toward Kevin.  The reader is left wondering if Kevin was created by Eva's indifference or if Eva was justified in thinking Kevin was born evil.  The jumps in time from present to past also work well in the book because of the letters.  Eva usually opens a letter by talking about what is currently happening to her and then reliving a bit of the past.  It worked well and was fairly easy for the reader to follow.  It also gave us direct insight into Eva's mind, making her character much less reliable and much more ambiguous.

It was those two things that really threw off the movie for me.  Because we weren't inside Eva's head, we weren't able to know her thoughts and feelings (and justifications), we were only able to see her actions.  And while a few of her questionable actions are shown (telling baby Kevin that she wishes she were in France instead of with him and the incident where she breaks his arm), Eva's character overall is much more sympathetic and innocent in the movie.  What really made me love (and hate) her as a character were those inconsistencies in her story, the things that made me question if she was telling herself the truth or just making herself feel better.  None of that translates in the movie.  Eva is largely a sympathetic and innocent character who makes a few mistakes in the movie.  I really missed the ambiguity of her character and the impact of that on her relationship with Franklin in the movie.

I also thought that, had I not read the book, I wouldn't have understood the movie's timeline at all.  Instead of following the format of the book - a glimpse at the present day combined with a largely chronological telling of Eva and Franklin's history - the movie jumps frequently from various times and is interspersed with brief flashbacks and still shots of earlier times.  Were I not already familiar with the plot line, I would have spent at least the first half of the movie totally confused.  Even beign familiar with the plot, I had to pay close attention to Tilda Swinton's hairstyle to know what period we were in.  Without being in Eva's mind, it was much harder to sort out what was going on, who the characters were, and what time period they were in.

So those were my two significant complaints about the movie.  I will say that the creepiness and disturbing qualities of the book translated really well.  I thought the boys who played Kevin, both as a child and as a teen, were amazing.  They really captured his total creepiness as well as his ambivalent relationship with Eva.  It's a tense movie and if you're easily disturbed, I don't necessarily recommend it.  But if you've read and enjoyed the book, I think it's worth checking the movie out. 

A few warnings: the violence in the book is much more graphic than the violence in the movie.  We don't seen any of the school shooting in the movie, just the aftermath.  We do hear the sound of Kevin's arrows and the screams of the children, but no visuals.  Bodies are shown, but not the actual murders.  Also, there is one sex scene that includes nudity, but it is brief.  Lots of strong language, especially from young Kevin, which is pretty unsettling.



Friday, June 8, 2012

The Year of the Gadfly Winner

The winner is Kristi!  Kristi, I can't find an email address for you, so please email me over the weekend so I can get your address!  If I haven't heard from you by Monday I'll choose a new winner.  Thanks for entering!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I May Be Judging You

I had a discussion with some friends today regarding a book you've probably heard lots about but whose name I refuse to mention because I don't want the book or author getting any more attention than what it's getting now.  But if you have watched the news, I'm sure you've heard of this fan-fic turned published book that falls into the erotica classification and is credited with the development of the term "mommy porn" ::gag::.  So anyway, the discussion got me kind of worked up.  I didn't realize how strongly I felt about this until I started discussing it. Basically, this post is going to be a diatribe.

I won't get into the issues of intellectual property and fan fiction.  I have feelings on those things, but that's not what has me worked up today.  Today I am only going to talk about the quality of writing and how it is NOT entirely subjective and it's not about being nice and non-judgmental. 

Here's the thing, Reader Friends.  Not all books are well-written and not all books are worth reading.  In regards to this particular book I have heard lots of people saying "well at least people are reading instead of watching tv".  Or, "Well it's not my style, but if people like it, I don't judge."  I judge, Reader Friends, and I judge hard.  I definitely disagree with the idea that all reading is good reading AND with that idea that reading anything somehow intellectually trumps other forms of information. 

The truth is, there is a standard for good writing.  Not all successful books meet that standard.  This book doesn't even come close.  There's a reason we learn grammar and composition in school and if you have completed a high school education you should be able to see how many problems this book has in those areas.  This doesn't mean I don't think you should read the book or that you can't enjoy it.  There's a difference between reading brain candy and liking it, while recognizing the problems, and reading drivel and not knowing it.

Let's use the last movie I saw as an example - Snow White and the Huntsman.  I sat through the whole thing, wanted to know what happened next, and was entertained.  However, I can also admit that it was a terrible movie and willingly discuss its flaws.  If I were to declare that Kristen Stewart is an amazing actress who deserves an Oscar for standing around with her mouth hanging open, you can and probably should question my ability to discern the difference between quality cinema and total crap.

So here's the thing.  When I see someone say "Unnamed Book is the best book ever and the writing is great!" I think "Bless her little heart, she's never read a book before in her life because she obviously has no idea what the basic standards of writing are."  And I think I'm entitled to think that.  I'm also not going to agree that it's better than watching tv.  Reading writing of that poor quality, especially if you can't tell it's poor quality, is not helping your brain.  Go watch some TV - you'll probably learn more from that, especially if you're watching quality TV.  At the very least you won't be un-learning the rules of grammar and composition that mark quality literature.

And if you claim to be a reader and also claim that the book is well-written, well then I'm beyond blessing your little heart.  I'm questioning your intelligence.  Yep, I said it.  I'm not hating you or angry at your or thinking you're a bad person, I'm just thinking that you must be ignorant to the actual standards that exist for quality writing.  Not just the standards for literary fiction, but the most basic, this-is-how-you-make-a-sentence standards.

So there you have it.  This is probably the only time you'll ever hear me say it, but if you can't tell the difference between something that is (in your opinion, not mine) fun and sexy but terrible art and quality writing, then please go watch some TV.  Don't read.  And don't encourage your friends to read it either in hopes that it'll somehow lead them to quality books.  It won't.  It will just confuse them.  For heaven's sake, give them Twilight if you have to because it at least has something resembling writing in it.  But do not persist in claiming that reading absolute garbage will somehow improve people's tastes or that reading something terrible is better than reading nothing at all.  And if you are going to read crap for entertainment only (which I do not judge you for, even though, seriously?  MUST you buy this book?) at least be able to recognize that it is artistically worthless.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What I Read In May

May has been something of a rough month for me and Luke.  We spent pretty much all month feeling like we were in limbo in relation to my job, both of our health, family, etc.  It's been a crazy unstable month, and we all know I don't deal well with instability.  So I didn't read as much this month as I had intended.  And I have no pictures.  But here's what did get accomplished:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Sleepfaring by Jim Horne
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
In the Bag by Kate Klise
Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I'm at 14,290 pages this year.
I've saved $423.48 by buying used, reading review copies, and using the library.

I planned to take some pet pictures to share in this post over the weekend, but was too busy.  Luke's dad has been in poor health for a while and became very ill this weekend.  He is currently in ICU on a respirator.  That has consumed much of our weekend, and what little time was not spent on that was spent with Georgie who is in town for the month.  So hopefully I'll share some pictures soon, but for now please keep Luke and his family in your prayers.