I discovered The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (back when it was called the Southern Vampire Mysteries and before it was HBO’s True Blood) entirely on accident. I picked up the paperback on a whim while standing in line to buy Anna Karenina at The Dusty Bookshelf. The title caught my eye, and though I thought the cover art was a bit silly, the blurb on the back sounded fun and I thought it might balance out the serious and sad classic of Russian lit I’d already selected. Read More..
I came of age surrounded by the subtle beauty of the Flint Hills, understanding that the endless sky is as much a landscape as all the rest. Growing up as I did, relocating throughout eastern Kansas, from her tip to her toes, I was intimately connected to this land and her inhabitants. I came into consciousness with a heart beating deep for hawks crisscrossing the horizon, we children catching grasshoppers at dusk, frog calls setting the scene. Read More..
One of the intriguing things about dystopian novels is finding the parallels between the disturbing fictive world of the story and our somewhat less disturbing reality. At its most chilling, the genre reads more as premonition than cautionary tale – as if we’re already on the wrong path and there is little chance we’re going to remedy the situation. In this way, a compelling premise can feel more important to a dystopian novel than the plot or the storytelling. That is, until you go to read the book. Read More..
Before I ever became a parent, I often wondered at the way parents I knew complained about their own kids, and their lives as parents. I usually took these comments at face value, and frankly, they were pretty good birth control. I also remember pledging not to complain if I ever had children myself. However, now that I have kids, I complain about it all the time. In fact, I might have broken my pledge just a few minutes after my first was born. And I can guarantee this: All my complaints are true, and there’s a lot more where those came from. Read More..
My best friend runs marathons. For fun. On the weekends. This requires lots of training, registration fees, and travel. I’ve always been kind of baffled by this choice of pastime. When I asked her why she decided to adopt this hobby, she explained that the endurance required to reach the finish line made her feel proud of her achievement. She ran just to prove to herself she could do it.
I still didn’t quite understand how she could get such joy from such an endeavor until I decided to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Weighing in at 3.2 pounds and 1079 pages, it’s the reader’s equivalent of running a marathon. After successfully completing the novel and actually enjoying it, I thought I’d share some tips for reading this intimidating yet rewarding book.
Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought it would be appropriate to try my hand at a book of poems. I took one poetry class in college and never felt like I quite “got it”, so I thought maybe I should try giving it another chance. I picked up a book from the New Non-fiction section and started glancing through the pages. One of the first things I read from Leigh Stein’s Dispatch From The Future was “Warning: there are better ways to break a heart than Facebook, such as abandoning your pregnant girlfriend at Walmart like that guy did to Natalie Portman. If you read this book sequentially, bad things may happen to you, but only as bad as the things that would have happened to you anyway”. I was definitely intrigued. Read More..
Attention pulp fans. Do you like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald? Perhaps Ross Macdonald? Maybe Jim Thompson and John Fante? Even dug up Charles Willeford and David Goodis? (If you haven’t read all of these guys, go on ahead and do it.) If you’re like me, maybe you’ve struggled to find your next favorite purveyor of pulp. Let me throw one you might not know into the mix: Fredric Brown. Read More..
That’s what it felt like to me, at least, when I tried listening to a free downloadable audiobook version of A Tale of Two Cities obtained from LibriVox, a crowdsourcing website recently recommended to me by a friend. For those who are not already familiar with it, LibriVox strives to make all books in the public domain available, free of charge, in audiobook format—a sort of read-aloud analog to Project Gutenberg. To accomplish this, thousands of volunteers around the globe record themselves reading and upload their work onto the site for anyone to use. A truly amazing resource. Read More..
This month’s classic falls at a perfect time…election time! Not that my reading of Animal Farm in any way made me feel as if Lawrence is being controlled by tyrants or anything. But election time does always make me focus a bit on the electoral/political process. Election Day makes me thankful for the freedom we have as Americans and the rights we have, electing our leaders among those rights. Yet, even while reminding us how good we have it, a reading of Animal Farm can certainly serve as a cautionary tale of how bad it could be to live under a truly tyrannical regime. The story is an obvious satire of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath…Marx, Stalin, Trotsky, all of that. George Orwell did not even attempt to veil his critique of Stalinism, having virtually one-to-one correlations between his characters and their respective historical counterparts. Read More..
In typical Nicholas Sparks’s fashion, Best of Me is a love story, but so much more. This is a story within a story with a twist. At times it was difficult to follow, but just as with so many other novels, it ties all together in the end.
This is the story of Dawson, a boy from the other side of the tracks who was in love with a girl when he was younger but they had parted ways years ago. This is the story of Amanda, the girl who was in love with Dawson years ago but was forced to end the relationship when her mother and father got involved and thought she could do better. Several years later Dawson and Amanda reconnect when they come back to their hometown to deal with the death of a close personal friend, Tuck. Little did they know that Tuck had a plan all along to attempt to bring them back together if at all possible.
The problem is Dawson has feelings for Amanda that he has carried with him since the day they ended their relationship. Amanda has feelings for Dawson too, but there is another problem…Amanda is married with kids.
Do Dawson and Amanda find a way to be together? Are they able to forget the past and look to the future? Or do things end tragically for one or both of them? Is there anything good that can come from lost love and heartbreak?