Quotable Friday: from Slouching Towards Bethlehem

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

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Book Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

book review: reading lolita in tehran azar nafisiREADING LOLITA IN TEHRAN
by Azar Nafisi

Non-fiction: Memoir
Random House, 2003
Paperback, 326 pages
Source: Purchased

Azar Nafisi is an Iranian writer and academic who taught at the University of Tehran during the years following the Iranian Revolution of 1979. However, by 1995, she felt the restrictions placed upon her impinged upon her ability to teach properly, and she left the university. Instead of teaching large classes at the tumultuous university, she selected seven of her brightest, most committed students to teach in the privacy of her home. For the next two years, this group met weekly to discuss forbidden Western classics including LolitaThe Great Gatsby, Henry James, and Jane Austen. Continue reading

Gifts for the Bookworm on Your List

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving filled with love and family and turkey. I refuse to acknowledge Christmas’ approach until after Thanksgiving, and now that Turkey Day has passed, I can get into the holiday swing of things! I’m sure many of you found some great deals on Christmas presents on Black Friday, but for those of you still searching for the perfect gift for the beloved bookworm on your list, I have some suggestions!

Presenting, the first annual Books Speak Volumes Holiday Gift Guide! Continue reading

Musing Mondays: Skipping Ahead

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. This week’s prompt asks readers to muse upon the question, “Do you read the ending before you start a book? Do you ever skip ahead to read the ending?”

I never read the ending before I start a book or skip ahead to the end while reading the book. I’m actually really careful to make sure I don’t glimpse the final words by some accident. Although most books don’t tell you how everything turns out in the last page, I don’t want to spoil anything for myself! I think a book’s ending is really important and leaves an impact on you that is affected by your experience reading the entire book. The ending won’t have the same emotional weight if you read it before getting to know the characters and their struggles, and I would hate to taint my own reading experience by learning those final words before I’ve immersed myself in the story.

What about you? Do you ever read the end first, or do you read strictly from beginning to end?

Quotable Friday: from The End of Your Life Book Club

“A friend of a friend of mine from London had once visited New York and gotten sick. She spent her whole time in New York City cooped up in our friend’s apartment. At the end of a week watching U.S. television day and night, she announced she had finally gotten Yanks all figured out. “The thing about Americans,” she said, “is that you’re very concerned about everything all the time.””

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The Classics Club

the classics clubI’m finally joining The Classics Club! For anyone living under a rock, The Classics Club was founded in March 2012 as a community meant to encourage people to read and blog about the classics by inviting bloggers to set a goal of reading at least 50 classic books in the next five years. I don’t usually participate in challenges, but I really like the flexibility this one offers. I have five years to read all 50 books, which seems like plenty of time, and I don’t consider this list to be definitive. The following list of titles is more of a starting point, and I’m giving myself the freedom to make changes to the list as my knowledge and tastes develop. Even so, I have been mulling over my list for months, trying to perfect it! I think I am finally happy with the books I’ve chosen, and I’m ready to join in! Continue reading

Book Review: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

book review: the end of your life book club by will schwalbe THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB
by Will Schwalbe

Non-Fiction: Memoir
Knopf, October 2012
Hardcover, 326 pages
Source: Devourer of Books giveaway

When Will Schwalbe’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at a “treatable but not curable” stage, he began accompanying her to her chemo appointments. Spending hours together at a time, their conversations drifted naturally toward one of their favorite topics: books. Thus, the End of Your Life Book Club was formed.

Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne discussed the books they were reading in conversations that strayed beyond the pages and into more personal territory. In addition to the books, they talked about faith, courage, and learning to listen. In sharing their thoughts and insights, this son and mother grew to know each other better, and Will got to know Marry Anne in a new way. Continue reading

Quotable Friday: from Cloud Atlas

This week’s quote is a short one, just in case you haven’t read enough about Cloud Atlas on my blog this week:

Cloud Atlas Sextet holds my life, is my life, now I’m a spent firework; but at least I’ve been a firework.”

– Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

(I promise I’ll stop posting Cloud Atlas things now. I know it’s been KILLING all of you. Ha!)

Cloud Atlas: Movie Review

Honestly, I had never heard of Cloud Atlas before I saw the 6-minute trailer a few months ago. However, the trailer looked fascinating, and I quickly resolved to read the book before the movie came out. Although I loved the book, I had some mixed feelings about the movie when I saw it last weekend.

I liked the way they handled the structure and the timeline. Although the book is structured like matryoshka doll, the film has all of the stories unfolding at the same time, quickly switching between stories in a non-linear fashion. I think this worked much better for the film, as it would have been really strange to spend 20 minutes with one character and then switch to another; this set-up allowed the stories to be connected thematically, which was interesting. However, it was more difficult to get a feel for each story and setting when they were constantly changing. Continue reading

A Few Words on Voting

I am currently reading Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club for the Devourer of Books Book Club, and while reading it today I came across a very timely quote by Will’s mother Mary Anne Schwalbe from their discussion of Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience:

“It’s just fascinating to see how much work — how much organizing and planning — went into the suffrage movement. I think too many young women take that for granted, and it just makes me so cross when I see young women who’ve had every opportunity and then I find out they can’t be bothered to go and vote. People need to read the stories of these women — to learn how much effort went into getting the right to vote, so they won’t take it for granted.”

It’s election day in the good ol’ U-S-of-A, and it is our responsibility and our privilege to vote. Thousands of men and women have fought and died and made incredible sacrifices to give us (all) the right to vote, so instead of complaining about our political system and electoral process, we should get out there and make our voices heard! Use that glorious right our predecessors fought so hard to give us and participate in our government! Go, vote!

What are you waiting for? Get thee to thy polling place!