February Reads

As it is the last day of February (an extra day this year, woohoo!), here is a brief recap of the books I read this month!

It took me an entire month, but I finally finished reading “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy at the beginning of February! I’m happy to be able to cross it off my list, but I can’t say I loved it. Anna drove me crazy; I found her to be selfish and jealous, and I just really didn’t like her. However, had the book been cut in half and called “Konstantin Levin,” I would have loved it. You can read my post about the novel here. Continue reading

Read More/Blog More Poetry February: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

read more/blog more poetryLet me start out this post by saying I have never “gotten” poetry. I have always found it super intimidating and hard to understand, and when I had to write five Romantic poems for my high school AP English class, the one I had written in seventh grade and lazily turned in received the highest grade. Clearly, poetry is not something I have ever been very good at. However, I came across the monthly Read More/Blog More Poetry event hosted by Regular Rumination and though it might be fun! A monthly post about poetry seemed like a good way to try to learn more and maybe discover some poets I would really like.

This is my first Read More/Blog More Poetry post, and I would like to talk about Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “Pity the Nation.” I discovered Ferlinghetti during a visit to the historic City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco over the summer. The store is known for being a centerpiece of the Beat movement of the 1950s; it was founded by Peter D. Martin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti himself, and it published early works by Beat writers — notably, Allan Ginsburg’s “Howl.” While in the store, I picked up a postcard on which was printed “Pity the Nation” and was completely struck by it: Continue reading

Bleak House Read-Along

Bleak House by Charles DickensI will be joining my first read-along and also reading my first Dickins novel over the next three months! The “Bleak House” read-along is hosted by Wallace (Unputdownables), and I’m super excited about it for a few reasons:

1. The concept of a read-along seems like a long-distance book club, so that should be fun. I love discussing books, but I don’t have any bookish friends (that I see at all regularly anymore — Lindsay, I need you in my life!), so I’m definitely looking forward to discussing the weekly readings with other readers over on Wallace’s blog. Continue reading

Ellis Avery Reads The Last Nude in Buffalo

Last night I was pleased to attend a reading by Ellis Avery, author of The Teahouse Fire and the recently released The Last Nude, at my favorite independent bookstore, Talking Leaves in Buffalo, NY.

Although only a small group of people turned up for the reading (myself, two Canisius professors and two UB professors), it was a very enjoyable and intimate event. Avery, wearing a brown dress over jeans and a lilac scarf draped over her slim shoulders, began her talk with an introduction to her book.

Set in 1927 Paris, The Last Nude is inspired by Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka’s famous work, “Beautiful Rafaela,” which Avery was first exposed to in London while she was working on her first novel, The Teahouse Fire. She said she was completely struck by the painting and the information she read on the placard next to it. She was intrigued to learn the piece is one of many paintings of de Lempicka’s lover and surprised that two women would have had this type of relationship during the time period. She knew she wanted her next novel to explore this relationship.

Beautiful Rafaela by Tamara de Lempicka

“Beautiful Rafaela”

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Top Ten Books I’d Save From a Fire

I was introduced to The Broke and the Bookish’s ‘Top Ten Tuesday’ meme last week by Jillian over at A Room of One’s Own. It seems like a fun little weekly segment to do! I know it’s not technically Tuesday anymore, but it’s been a busy day and it still counts if I haven’t gone to bed yet, right?

This week bloggers are asked to list the top ten books they would save if their homes were to be abducted by aliens, destroyed by a natural disaster, etc. Here’s my list, in no particular order. Continue reading

Finding Time to Read

Because it is the middle of the semester, my last semester in college, I want to talk about something I don’t seem to have nearly enough of: time. Or more specifically, time to read. Between classes, homework, my internship, my job writing and copy reading for the campus newspaper, my weekend job, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, there just doesn’t seem to be nearly enough hours in the day. On the days I don’t seem to find time to curl up with a book for an hour or two, I whine about being simply too busy to read — and then I get irritated with myself because this is something I hate to hear from others.

You know, when you’re talking to someone about this great book and he/she says “I wish I had time to read.” It drives me a little crazy; it’s almost condescending, like the person is saying “I just have so many other, more important things to do. How nice that you have so much free time that you can read for hours a day.” Okay, that might be a little extreme an interpretation, but I think such a response implies that your life just isn’t as busy, as full, as the other person’s. Maybe that’s true, but I think most people are generally pretty busy. Continue reading

Book Review: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Book Review: Sister Carrie by Theodore DreiserSISTER CARRIE
by Theodore Dreiser

Fiction: Classics
Norton, 2006 (first published 1900)
Paperback, 611 pages

Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser, is a novel written at the turn of the century, as America was transitioning from a traditional to a modern society. In the modernized cities of Chicago and New York, new opportunities for social mobility were available to those with the imagination and determination to rise. Sister Carrie tells the story of one such person.

At the age of 18, Carrie Meeber leaves her home in a small Wisconsin town to begin a new life in Chicago. A materialistic young girl, she feels stifled by the small, wearisome and lower-class life she is expected to lead after moving in with her sister’s family. She wants money, pretty clothes and the freedom money affords! Through a combination of environmental factors and her own free will, she is able to rise through society. By the end of the novel, her transition from a poorly dressed girl living in a cramped apartment to a wealthy, self-sufficient woman living at the top of a first-class hotel is complete. Continue reading

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldTHE GREAT GATSBY
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fiction
Scribner, 2004 (first published 1925)
Paperback, 180 pages

I first read The Great Gatsby my sophomore year of college, over two years ago. I read most of it while laying on a blanket in the sun outside my dorm, and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t really leave any lasting impression on me. I wasn’t struck by the “this is the greatest book of the 20th century” lighting bolt. The book faded from my mind until my English professor (I’m taking Modern American Literature) started referencing it while talking about the books we were reading for class a few weeks ago. I figured I should reread it to better understand what he was talking about, so I picked up a copy from Barnes & Noble. (Is the 2004 Scribner edition pretty or what?)

My aim here is just to give a few of my thoughts on the novel, rather than a comprehensive review. Continue reading

Five Books to Feed the Travel Bug

At 21 years old, I am incredibly lucky to have had a wide range of travel experiences. I’m from an adventurous family; I lived in Australia from ages two to five (military kid), road-tripped from Boston to Montana and Wyoming at nine, and spent two weeks riding an RV around Alaska at thirteen. I enjoyed these trips, but in a passive way. I wasn’t really involved in them; I was just along for the ride, following my parents. I discovered the thrill of traveling for myself my sophomore year of college, when I was able to study abroad in London.

As much as I loved living in this huge, amazing city, my favorite thing about the semester was the opportunity it afforded to travel and to explore Europe. During my four-month stay in the UK, I made trips to Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and France, as well as shorter day-trips within England. I discovered that I really love to travel. To land in a foreign place and spend days just walking and seeing things I couldn’t experience anywhere else.

Ever since I returned home over a year ago, I’ve had a major case of wanderlust. I’ll spend hours reading my Let’s Go: Europe guidebook, learning what there is to do in Prague or which cities I should visit in Sweden. I have itineraries written out for trips to Ireland, Portugal, and Croatia, and folders on my computer full of pictures of Norwegian fjords, Medieval French towns, Peruvian Inca ruins, and Cambodian temples. My soul is constantly yearning to be on the move again. But since I can’t be traveling all the time, I like to read books about other people’s adventures. Sure, these books can’t quite satiate my hunger for travel, but they can be informative and truly inspiring. For any other bookworms who are constantly hearing the call of the road (or train, or plane), I’d like to share some of my favorites: Continue reading

Retailers Boycott Amazon Titles – Update

Last week, major retailers Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Indigo released statements announcing their refusal to stock books published by Amazon in their stores. If you missed the story, you can read my earlier post here.

Today, IndieCommerce, a for-profit subsidiary of the American Booksellers Association, stood in solidarity with the three other retailers and began removing Amazon titles from its online database.

For those who don’t know (which included me 20 minutes ago), IndieCommerce is an e-commerce product available to all ABA member bookstores. It provides access to a database of more than five million titles and enables bookstores to sell books, e-books and merchandise online.

According to an article by Publisher’s Weekly,  IndieCommerce director Matt Supko sent an email on Monday to independent bookstores that utilize the service, informing them, “While Amazon is seeking to distribute its print catalog through conventional means, it seems that they are simultaneously pursing a strategy of locking in ebook exclusives which other retailers are not allowed to sell. IndieCommerce believes that this is wrong.” The company has also implemented a new policy that “only publishers’ titles that are made available to retailers for sale in all available formats will be included in the IndieCommerce inventory database.” Continue reading