January 23, 2011
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Roald Dahl’s Matilda
I should by myself a copy of this book now that I’m older. I first read this in the school library, and essentially became entranced by the way Roald Dahl’s paints a vivid picture of childhood. There’s a mixture of baldfaced credibility in the stories, despite being totally implausible.
As someone who constantly escape into books, I really love the way Matilda’s inner life was depicted, how she sought refuge in books because of an unhappy family life. I also loved how Dahl didn’t shy away from showing the awful things that kids usually experience at a young age, like the fear of bullying and the general certainty that the rest of the world is constantly hiding things from you because of your age.
That does it, I’m buying myself a special edition of Roald Dahl books soonish.
November 23, 2010
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Dorothy L. Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise
This meme has been difficult to answer at times because it shows the holes in my reading preferences. All the questions regarding trilogies, quadrilogies or series gave me some pause since I don’t generally follow or finish book series the way many of my friends do. The only one I’ve ever done so was Harry Potter, and I haven’t even read the last book yet (I know, I know. But I’ve read the spoilers and I’m sure it’ll make me cry).
I’m choosing my favorite book in what can be loosely described as a series. Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey books have been a long-time favorite. Several elements make that pop in and out of the books make them enjoyable, particularly the amazing Harriet Vane. My favorite Vane-featured novel is Have His Carcase. But although Murder Must Advertise does not feature Harriet, it’s still my favorite. I have already made a review post for this title so I’ll keep my reasons brief.
For one, it’s such a witty romp of a book, with witty commentary about the advertising business in post-World War I London, and how advertisers seldom really look out for their customer’s well being. There’s also something delightful and Peter Wimsey going undercover.
November 22, 2010
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
I’m going to give you guys a twofer for this. First is Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Books.
I’m going to come off sounding a little defensive by stating first that I absolutely have nothing against Chick Lit. I was and still am a fan of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and several of Meg Cabot’s books. One of my top favorite books, Melissa Banks’ Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, is considered Chick Lit by some, though with a slightly more literary bent.
This book enrages me so much and I can’t quite articulate why. I think it’s a mixture of serious financial debt being treated lightly in a novel while blithely promoting luxury consumerism at the same time. I think it’s the fact that there are twenty million sequels to this book. I only read (skimmed? I didn’t really read through the end I was pretty disgusted) but I already found the protagonist unlikeable and unrelatable at all. This wouldn’t be much of a big deal if I didn’t believe that it’s exploiting a cynical aspect of modern culture, ie being obsessed with brands for no apparent reason other than sublimating our self-worth to our possessions. I am also of the opinion that this book is the reason why chick lit gets a bad name and why these kinds of themes seems to have bled over to romantic comedy movies. But that is an entirely different rant altogether.
And while we’re on the subject of dismissing large swathes of books in one unthinking sweep, let’s talk about Philip Roth’s entire body of work. I’ve read through two titles of him (Portnoy’s Complaint, Everyman) and I don’t know why I even bothered. He is nowhere near as insightful or interesting as say, John Coetzee or Umberto Eco or Julian Barnes, or any number of male contemporary writers I can think of. His subject matter doesn’t interest me at all, and reading his books makes me think of slogging through the Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems. There might be one novel in his bibliography that would blow my mind or something, but I’m not really include to discover which. I was going to list John Updike’s novels too but since he is in no danger to foist another one to the public, I’m going to stick with Philip.
November 19, 2010
Do you only read sequential webcomics? Might you have any suggestions for any particularly witty daily strip ones?
Thanks for the question, Taka! I’ve made an effort to read daily strips but to be honest, titles like Penny Arcade or PvP Online don’t really appeal to me. They’re much too dependent to geek culture for their jokes.
Two of the titles that really amuse me are Robot Beach because it reminds me of old-school strips in newspapers and Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life because of the quirky, and sometimes morbid sense of humor. The Abominable Charles Christopher is both sequential and strippy and I love that too.
November 3, 2010
I just got back from watching Social Network, so this’ll be a quick update. In this blog, I hope to make a series out of recommending awesome webcomics that don’t seem to be talked up as much as the hugely popular ones like Kate Beaton for strips or Phoenix Requiem for serials. I’ll be catching up on the Halloween theme by naming two titles that’s heavy with the costumes and the creepiness.
Lovecraft is Missing by Larry Latham is one of my favorite webcomics ever, with a distinctive drawing style and a plot that mixes fact, fiction, and horror meta commentary. It is a story about pulp writer Win Battler, an Oklahoma native who travels to Providence to meet his pen pa,l Howard Philips Lovecraft. Yes, that Lovecraft. He arrives to find out that Lovecraft has apparently disappeared without a trace and people around the sleepy New England town may be involved.
Romantically Apocalyptic by Vitaly S. Alexius is one of those quirky yet unsettling comics that follow the comic strip style of storytelling. The gist of the setup is this: a pilot, a sniper and an engineer walking around a post-nuclear city, trying to entertain themselves. Every update is a short scene with an often macabre punchline, but it’s the gorgeous superrealist art that keeps me coming back. (Special thanks to Bhex for pointing out this title to me.)
I hope you enjoy these, and watch out for more recs!
November 2, 2010
Fierce, I’d hit it, etc. Mysteries are the best comfort reading, especially on stormy days. And I think I love Wimsey best of all, after Sherlock Holmes.
Murder Must Advertise is a wry commentary on the inherent ridiculousness of the advertising business, and how people twist themselves into a state for ten words’ worth of ad copy. Dorothy L. Sayers really uses her experience in the business to great effect, articulating how frantic and potentially soul-crushing the job is. Add a little business about cocaine trafficking and you have a plot that’s surprisingly modern and gritty for a Golden Age Mystery.
First, how much do I love the setting? Wimsey makes me wish I’m a 1930′s copy writer in London. The tempo of office life, from the gossipy typists to the ornery layout artists, rings true. I laughed at the different office shenanigans, which included office-bonding in the form of a rousing cricket match! Not that I can tell whether a cricket game is rousing or not.
read more »
January 18, 2009
I’m trying (and failing) to write a coherent post about racism and prejudice in crime fiction, an offshoot of this discussion. So while I gather my wits you get this, a webcomic by that kick ass artist over at Kawaii Not: