Friday, December 19, 2014

on books 57-60.

i'm done!  i have succeeded!  if only every challenge could be this easy...

here's a brief recap of books 57 through 60:

book 57 of 60: jurassic park by michael crichton
jurassic park is easily still one of my favorite movies (totally nerding out over jurassic world, btw), so i thought it was time to read the book.

sidenote: i hate the adage that the book is always better than the movie.  in fact, i teach a class in comparative studies where my students aren't allowed to make that claim.  the book and the movie are distinct entities created by vastly different artists for incredibly remote purposes.  

after reading the book, i can safely say that the movie was...different. the movie was a traditional translation of the text, meaning some major plot pieces were changed to accommodate the medium, but that the sense of the plot as a whole and the major themes present in the text were retained. 

all said, the book was obsessively entertaining, and i still love the movie.  i consider this a triumphant success!
book 58 of 60: the davinci code by dan brown
again a book i saw as a movie first.  again a traditional translation.  again entertaining in its own right.

what a delicious and perfectly nerdy read this was.  so much so, that i plan on reading the other books in the series.
book 59 of 60: after the end by amy plum

dude.  based on the description of this book, i thought it was going to be awesome.  

the description was completely misleading and wrong, but it was still an enjoyable book.  

i plan on reading the second part when it comes out early next year.
book 60 of 60: talon by julie kagawa
so i've read a lot of YA.  i tend to think that good YA has a lot to say to all age groups, not just teens.

this book had such promise for a YA fantasy novel--a race of dragons hidden within the human world, hunting and being hunted.

yeah.  not so much.  this book sucked.  it was ultimately a piece of dribble that focused far too much on a YA love triangle and a weak protagonist.  

i *almost* culled this one so many times, but i received it as a gift and i felt it was only right to see it through to the end.

disappointing as my last official read of the challenge.

currently reading: 
  • #61: the lost symbol by dan brown (more semiotics fun!)
  • #62: the martian by andy weir (just started and loving it, if slightly wigged out over the concept)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

on books 45-56.

it's the middle of the semester...actually almost the end.  blogging has been light, and i've been terrible about keeping up with the books i've been reading here.  but i have been reading.

here's a brief recap of books 45 through 56:

book 45 of 60: mockingjay by suzanne collins.
this is a reread that, i must admit, i reread solely to guess where the movie will split in half.  for the record, i think they'll cut it just as peeta tries to kill katniss upon being rescued from the capital and brought to district 13.  the movie comes out tomorrow.  we'll see if i'm right.
book 46 of 60: madonna and the corpse by jefferson bass
thought i might catch up with an old anthropology fave.  TERRIBLE IDEA.
book 47 of 60: season to taste by natalie young
this is a story about a woman who kills her husband then proceeds to cook and eat him, piece by piece.  i don't think i've ever been so disgusted while reading.  this was made worse by the fact that there is literally no point to this book and the narrator isn't remotely sympathetic.
book 48 of 60: the fever by megan abbott
i appreciated the mixed narrative here, but overall the book was forgettable.
book 49 of 60: conversion by katherine howe
basically the same book as the fever, with some minor changes.  better, but still not great.

book 50 of 60: what if? by randall munroe
best. book. ever.  i mean, how can a book that explores the science behind some super crazy hypothetical situations be bad?  it's not.  it's great.

book 51 of 60: bones never lie by kathy reichs
after being burned by jefferson bass, i was afraid this book would let me down.  it did not.  it was just as fun as i remember the series being, and the twist at the end was EPIC!

book 52 of 60: the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by douglas adams
how have i never read this before?  douglas adams: that's a frood who really knows where his towel is.
book 53 of 60: into the darkest corner by elizabeth haynes
while initially disappointed in the book, it eventually wormed its way into my head. elizabeth haynes is sick and twisted.  like gillian flynn.

book 54 of 60: the 5th wave by rick yancey
wow.  twists and turns aplenty.  some you see coming, others sneak up and completely catch you off guard.  good little book.

book 55 of 60: not that kind of girl by lena dunham
i don't get lena dunham.  girls is funny.  dunham is funny in acceptance speeches and interviews. this book is not.  it reads very preachy--and quite a bit like an essay written for a class.  i think i'll stick to amy poehler and tina fey.
book 56 of 60: harry potter for nerds: essays for fans, academics, and lit geeks by travis prenzi
after having an epiphany about another narrative style that can be applied to the harry potter series, i just had to have this book.  it's awesome.  and nerdy.  and wonderful.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

on books 42-44.

book 42 of 60: the battle of the labyrinth by rick riordan.
date started: 8.11.14
date completed:  9.16.14

ehhh.  i'm quickly losing steam with this series.  it's still fun, but i'm glad to be through this one.
book 43 of 60: the last olympian by rick riordan.
date started: 8.11.14
date completed:  9.16.14

much better than the previous book.  glad i read the series, but it's nowhere near as good as harry potter.
book 44 of 60: doll bones by holly black.
date started: 9.15.14
date completed:  9.18.14

i'm not sure how she manages, but black consistently puts together creepy and cute in a way that works.  this book has a little bit of everything and just enough nostalgia to make it work.  while definitely not as great as the coldest girl in coldtown, it is a terrifically fun little novella.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

on books 38-41.

book 38 of 60: lost girls: an unsolved american mystery by robert kolker.
date started: 8.26.14
date completed:  9.3.14

sucko.  kolker does a good job of narrating these womens' lives, but ultimately there's just not enough difference or intrigue here to carry the story through.
book 39 of 60: a discovery of witches by deborah harkness.
date started: 8.26.14
date completed:  9.1.14

awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read.
book 40 of 60: shadow of night by deborah harkness.
date started: 9.1.14
date completed:  9.7.14

awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read.
book 41 of 60: the book of life by deborah harkness.
date started: 9.7.14
date completed:  9.13.14

awesome. fun. totally not my usual read.  i flew through this series really quickly because it was just an absolute joy to read.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

on book 37.

book 37 of 60: ender's shadow by orson scott card.
date started: 8.18.14
date completed:  8.26.14
i love ender's game, and this is its companion text. i *really* doubted that it would be as good. 

bean, the main character, can come across as a bit whiny, but he is (dare i say it) a more sympathetic character than ender.  even as he tries to ignore/hate/avoid ender while constantly being compared to him, bean grows to love and respect his future commander.

always the smartest in the room and ahead of everyone else, bean figures out the secret of the ansible and does the right thing for his team.  

ender may be the hero, but bean deserves just as much credit.  maybe even more given his unusual birth and genetic history.

while i hesitate to proclaim that this text is better than ender's game, i do think it surpasses it in engaging audience sympathies and leaving the reader satisfied at the end.  if not better, it is certainly as good.

mr. card, i may despise your politics, but i love your art.  please keep writing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

on book 36.

book 36 of 60: bibliography and the sociology of texts by d.f. mckenzie
date started: 8.7.14
date completed:  8.11.14

this book was a total mindfuck.  seriously. BLEW. MY. MIND.

i have read a lot of bibliographical studies books in my life, and with that prior knowledge i have decided that this guy is the macdaddy of bib.  

much of the material in this book was written in 1986, but mckenzie is able to foresee technological changes to text that hadn't even been conceived of yet.  much like bradbury, he seems to *know* what's coming.  what an incredible mind.

because of this text, i have a plan to merge two major research projects that i have been frustrated with for some time AND some excellent source material to back up my claims.

i heart d.f. mckenzie.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

on book 35.

book 35 of 60: the titan's curse by rick riordan
date started: 7.28.14
date completed:  8.7.14

better than the second because it breaks form just a bit.  still a really fun, easy series, even if it is younger YA.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

on books 31-34 and catching up

i've been on vacation since the beginning of july, which apparently means no thinking or writing.  i have been reading though, so here's the lowdown:

book 31 of 60: one more thing by b.j. novak
date started: 7.3.14
date completed: around 7.12.14

i appreciated a lot of the stories in this book.  they were humorous and literally made me laugh out loud, which is quite a feat.

some stories were just ok, as is usually the case with a collection.  all in all, i enjoyed this one.

book 32 of 60: the sea of monsters by rick riordan
date started: 7.13.14
date completed: around 7.15.14

not quite as fun as the first one, but they are quick, entertaining, and it's fun to guess who's who in the ancient greek world.


book 33 of 60: to kill a mockingbird by harper lee
date started: 7.16.14
date completed: around 7.21.14

this is another re-read.  i have read this text every year since high school and intend on continuing to do so.  there's something about july that just screams for TKAM--maybe it's the description of the heat in maycomb...maybe it's that this is an incredible piece of writing that yearns to be read wholly and all at once.


book 34 of 60: fahrenheit 451 by ray bradbury
date started: 7.23.14
date completed: around 7.25.14

this is another re-read.  i have read this text every year since middle school and intend on continuing to do so.  my love of bradbury is rather apparent to all who know me or read this blog regularly (i mean, i named my dog after a character in it!), so i needn't say a lot here other than this text is so rich that i find something new every time i read it.  amazing.

probable next read: finishing the goldfinch by donna tartt (which might happen one day...we'll see...)

Friday, June 27, 2014

on book 30 and the half way point.

i'm halfway done with my challenge and right on schedule, yo!

book 30 of 60: the death cure by james dashner
date started: 6.24.2014
date completed: 6.27.2014

y'all, i tried.  i really did.  i HATED the first book so much.  the second one was much better.  this one was somewhere in the middle.  

i don't think i'll move on to the prequel.  james dashner, i'm done.

probable next read: i have absolutely no idea. 

on book 29.

book 29 of 60: cartwheel by jennifer dubois

date started: 6.15.2014
date completed: 6.21.2014

i think i like this book.  it was engaging, and generally easy to read.  the fact that it was ripped off from inspired by the amanda knox case neither troubled or interested me--it was simply just a book.

similar to my experience with marisha pessl, though, the ending just kind of fizzled out for me.  there was so much build up about the main character's uniqueness and difference from those around her that the ending felt like a cheat.  instead of working through all the interesting parts of this girl, dubois just stops.  she gives you resolution, but noting feels resolved.  i did enjoy the fact that we never really find out what happened, especially since the details don't matter as much as the characters in this book.

but maybe the dissatisfaction is the point.  read the book and that sentence will make sense.

i don't know that i'd recommend this to anyone, but it certainly wasn't bad.

probable next read: the death cure by james dashner

Sunday, June 15, 2014

on books 25, 26, 27, and 28.

i'm a bit behind.  on the blog, that is.  i'm right on track with my reading goal, but since i'm teaching summer classes, i have VERY LITTLE time to do any writing of my own.  in fact, i should be grading and prepping classes for tomorrow as i type this very sentence, so this post will cover four books instead of one.

book 25 of 60: lost at sea: the jon ronson mysteries by jon ronson

date started: 5.24.2014
date completed: 6.9.2014

ugh...i have...trouble...with jon ronson.  i adored them: adventures with extremists, and was entertained by the men who stare at goats, but i've abhored everything else he's ever written.  

sidenote--his psychopath test is the book that taught me it was okay to cull--to just stop and put a book down in the middle if you aren't getting anything out of the read.

so i was doubtful when i picked this one up.  

it was fine. fine, not good, not bad--just fine.  the stories were quick, engaging, and varied.  i tolerated them and even found a few to be downright interesting/entertaining.
book 26 of 60: four short stories by emile zola

date started: 6.3.2014
date completed: 6.8.2014

amazing, spectacular, peculiar, sad, and beautiful.  everything you would expect from the master that is zola. 

seriously, "the death of olivier becaille" might be the best piece of short fiction i've read in a very long time.
book 27 of 60: percy jackson and the lightning thief by rick riordan

date started: 6.5.2014
date completed: 6.12.2014

while this book series tracks a bit younger on the YA spectrum, A LOT of my students love it, so i thought i would check it out.

it was fun, lighthearted, and a delight to read.  i'm a sucker for ancient mythology, so it was great fun to see how a contemporary writer could work figures like medusa into contemporary settings.  so much fun!

i plan on continuing in the series, when i get to it...
book 27 of 60: confessions of a latter day virgin: a memoir by nicole hardy

date started: 6.12.2014
date completed: 6.15.2014

so i've had this memoir on my to be read for a long time, and some of my friends have read it and rated it highly, so i thought i would check it out.  plus, i've been craving a bit of narrative non-fiction, so this definitely fits the bill.

while this is a book very much about sex, and the writer's lack of it and quest for it, there is deeper, much more substantial material at work here.

hardy was, as the title implies, a mormon woman who chose, after suffering from an extreme case of cognitive dissonance, to leave the church.  the reasons for her split are multi-layered, only one of those layers dealing with sex.  she did not feel at home in her own society, being told that she had to be married, be a mother, and give up her career to be complete, accepted, and worthy of the eternal afterlife the LDS church touts. 

this book is uncomfortable.  while it kind of reads like an eat. pray. love. kind of tome (which is totally NOT my kind of read), ultimately it is timely (given all the press on the LDS community lately) and speaks to womens' rights. 

i'm not sure what, exactly, i think of this book, but i'm glad i read it.  i think there is always value in understanding that difference exists in the world and that we, as individuals, don't always fit where we imagine we should/will.

probable next read: cartwheel by jennifer dubois