There Isn't A Word For Everything

Reading now: The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss

"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering. When they were ten he asked her to marry him. When they were eleven he kissed her for the first time. When they were thirteen they got into a fight and for three weeks they didn't talk. When they were fifteen she showed him the scar on her left breast. Their love was a secret they told no one. He promised her he would never love another girl as long as he lived. What if I die? she asked. Even then, he said. For her sixteenth birthday he gave her an English dictionary and together they learned the words. What's this? he'd ask, tracing his finger around her ankle, and she'd look it up. And this? he'd ask, kissing her elbow. Elbow! What kind of word is that? and then he'd lick it, making her giggle. What about this? he asked, touching the soft skin behind her ear. I don't know, she said, turning off the flashlight and rolling over, with a sigh, onto her back. When they were seventeen they made love for the first time, on a bed of straw in a shed. Later - when things happened that they could never have imagined - she wrote him a letter that said: When will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?


All These New Platforms - I Can't Keep Up!

"Publishing is turning into a high-speed spectator sport, and the major houses (let alone the small ones) are really poorly resourced to fight fires on all fronts and innovate at the same time." - Peter Collingridge

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I think I would have liked this book more if I read it when I was 10. The novel started off strong but as I kept reading the story became very repetitive and kept rehashing the same morals and ideas. Not to mention the simplistic prose lent little to the story - maybe a result of the translation from Portuguese to English.

I couldn't help but think that the entire story would function better as a bedtime story than it does as a book written for adults.


The World's Greatest Lie

Reading now: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

'What's the world's greatest lie?' The boy asked, completely surprised.

'It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie.'


Barnes and Noble nook Commercial

I've got mixed feelings about e-readers. I've always been an I-want-to-touch, hold, read, and-love-tangible-books type of girl. And then I went and swooned over the iPad the first time I saw it but told myself it was ok - I didn't like it because it was an e-reader, I liked it because it was so much more than that. (Not to mention it's like a great big version of my beloved iPhone and a smaller version of my even more beloved MacBook.) So, the universe was still intact; I didn't like nor want an e-reader (because an iPad isn't just an e-reader) and I still wanted to touch and hold real books.

And then I saw this commercial - the first commercial for Barnes and Noble's nook. I am starting to doubt whether or not I have any bibliophilic integrity or if I am just a victim of a genius marketing scheme because surprise surprise; I want a nook. Kudos to the Barnes and Noble marketing department.


Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

I was at a bookstore a few weeks ago with a friend and asked her if she had ever read Dreams from My Father after I saw it as a staff recommendation. "Yes" she said, "read it. It's Really good." I"m ashamed to say I haven't read anything about or by Obama and I felt a patriotic obligation - I mean I voted for him so why shouldn't I read his memoir? So I did and it's basically amazing.

Firstly, if it wasn't written before Obama decided to run for president (it was first published in 1995) I would question how much of the book was written by him and how much was written by a ghost writer because honestly, the writing is that good. Obama has this way of conveying his thoughts with an emotional eloquence that seems reserved for the president's speech writers - not the presidents themselves.

Secondly, regardless of if you like Obama or not you should read this book. It doesn't focus on the political and doesn't promote our president as the most intelligent man in America or a flawless leader (although the writing does speak for itself). Rather, he exposes his doubts and confusion; Barack Obama's story tells of his struggles with identity, race, and class. Republican or democrat, black or white, you will relate to this memoir. It has a great balance of personal anecdotes and real-world theorizing that reveals how Obama's self-doubt and struggles with self-identity contribute to his greater sense of hope and optimism. He is not a fully-realized man but rather someone who can use his own struggles to inspire himself to change the world for the better.

"What is a family? Is it a genetic chain, parents and offspring, people like me? Or is it a social construct, an economic unit, optimal for child rearing and divisions of labor? Or is it something else entirely: a store of shared memories, say? An Ambit of love? A reach across the void?
I could list various possibilities. But I'd never arrived at a definite answer, aware early on that, given my circumstances, such an effort was bound to fail. Instead, I drew a series of circles around myself, with boarders and shifted as time passed and faces changed but that nevertheless offered the illusion of control. An inner circle, where love was constant and claims unquestioned. Then a second circle, a realm of negotiated love, commitments freely chosen. And then a circle for colleagues, acquaintances; the cheerful grey-haired lady who rang up my groceries back in Chicago. Until the circle finally widened to embrace a nation or a race, or a particular moral course, and the commitments were no longer tied to a face or a name but were actual commitments I'd made myself"

After I finished this book I couldn't help but be deeply honored that this man is my president - and also make it my life's mission to find a way to shake his hand.


Quotables: C.S. Lewis

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'indefinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. 

-CS Lewis


Promoting Reading?

I'm not sure if apps like this will promote reading or if they will distract children from reading the actual text.


Quotables: Barack Obama

"For the first time in many years, I've pulled out a copy and read a few chapters to see how much my voice may have changed over time. I confess to wincing every so often at a poorly chosen word, a mangled sentence, an expression of emotion that seems indulgent or overly practiced. I have the urge to cut the book by fifty pages or so, possessed as I am with a keener appreciation for brevity. I cannot honestly say however, that the voice in this book is not mine - that I would tell the story much differently today than I did ten years ago, even if certain passages have proven to be inconvenient politically, the grist for pundit commentary and opposition research."

-from Barack Obama's preface to the 2004 edition of Dreams from My Father (first published in 1995)

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

In terms of storyline I was a little disappointed with this novel. It started out strong, detailing a lavish birthday party held in an unknown South American country in honor of Mr. Hosokawa - who was reluctant to agree to the party until he was informed "the promised gift was the presence of Roxane Coss". Roxane Coss, a famous opera singer, had influenced Mr. Hosokawa so much he believed that "life, true life, was something that was stored in music".

The party is eventually taken over by terrorists hoping to kidnap the president of the host-country who, they soon find out, isn't in attendance. Consequently the guests of the party are held hostage for months on end.

Although the writing is beautiful and the overall themes are touching, I can't help but think there was something lacking in the execution of the storyline. I need more than just beautiful writing to get wrapped up in a story. Yes there is love and beauty that ensues from this unlikely situation, however the plot drags along and there are certain details that are hard for me to believe (it becomes a little too happy-go-lucky considering it's a hostage situation). In addition, I felt the epilogue didn't fit with the story and left me feeling angry. Patchett should have left her conclusion to the final chapter.


Quotables: David Barnett

"Secondhand is a label we only seem to give to books these days. Clothing is vintage, video games are pre-owned, CDs and vinyl are used - but books are still secondhand, hinting at the life of a volume before it fell into your hands. To me, it never feels as though I actually own a book - I might have paid for it, either full price brand new or a few pence at a charity shop, but it seems as though I'm merely giving it house room, until it continues along its own journey."


Yes I Do Things Like This.

I can't help it. It basically makes me the most annoying person ever but I just can't stand when people don't use their adverbs correctly.

I don't know how I have friends.


My Love for Alliteration

My love for alliteration has reached an all-time low. This afternoon as I was eating my lunch I found myself scrolling through my Facebook friends, making mental notes of who I could marry based on whether or not their last name started with a "B".

Let's be honest, there is nothing better than having an alliterative name. I once met a man named Cooper Collins and couldn't get him out of my head for weeks - not because I was especially attracted to him, but because his name was impossibly sexy.

Is there something wrong with me or do other people think about these things too?

In related news, this might explain my crush on David Byrne.

And Another Justification...

I realize I am the biggest hypocrite of hypocrites and I deserve all the ridicule I am receiving from every end of the earth for reading Twilight (and by the way I finished book 3 and am taking a break before I start book 4 - I was experiencing a Twilight overload), but I would like to share this little quotable.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe this guy has it right:

"Consuming nothing but grand literature is like only eating rich, fine food; we all need variety or else our palate becomes jaded. And besides, one appreciates the genius of Italo Calvino or Samuel Beckett even more keenly when set against some straightforward non-fiction or trashy, fun genre novel.

It's best, I think, to mix one's biblio-diet. Fine literature is an excellent staple, incredibly nourishing and satisfying, but there's no harm indulging every now and again in a crime novel, an autobiography or a dissertation on pop culture." - Darragh McManus, "Bedside Reading: The Naked Truth"


Quotables: Ann Patchett

"Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it... It's kind of a talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are a spectator in the gallery or you are listing to the voice of the world's greatest soprano. Not everyone can be an artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see."

-Ann Patchett, Bel Canto


Dairy by Chuck Palahnuik

After finishing Diary there isn't much I want to say regarding the plot because it becomes so complex that I wouldn't even do it justice. Let's suffice it to say Diary was my introduction into the crazed world of a tortured artist. Diary explores, among other things, how art is achieved and what it means to be an artist.

"Art school doesn't teach you how to escape your soul being recycled."

I was completely engrossed by this novel. It is beautifully disturbing. This is the first Palahnuik novel I've read and I don't think it is going to leave my thoughts anytime soon. Dairy forces it's readers to think about their life, how they live it, and what they will leave behind after death.

"We all die... The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will."

Palahnuik also addresses certain sociological aspects of human nature; what will people do to make themselves happy and how far will they go to maintain that happiness? What will people sacrifice to keep the ones they love happy?

I also liked the overall theme of a diary and Palahnuik's suggestion that a diary isn't just a book one writes it. We are constantly documenting who we are and what we do throughout our everyday life. We act as a diary ourselves.

"Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary."


I Think I'll Subscribe

So maybe I'm out of the loop but I came across this publication called "One Story" yesterday and I think I'll subscribe.

Basically, this non-profit is on a mission to save the short story so they mail one short story to their subscribers every three weeks.
Our mission is to save the short story by publishing in a friendly format that allows readers to experience each story as a stand-alone work of art and a simple form of entertainment. One Story is designed to fit into your purse or pocket, and into your life.
Because we like a challenge we will publish each writer one time only. This prevents us from relying on a stable of writers and helps us find new and exciting voices. Between September and June, all writers can submit their work.
Sounds kind of awesome, right?