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BTT: Gluttony and a special announcement

btt2Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

If there is a controlled buyer out there, I would really like to meet them!  I’m certainly not one.  I can’t hold back.  That’s why my TBR pile is 350 books strong, mostly books that my mom is generous enough to buy me from our favorite charity shop.  I buy new books, too, in alarming quantities.  I should curb my book buying habits.  I’m much better when I’m poor, as now.  I’ve told Keith that I’ll certainly catch up because we’re too poor to buy many books, but he thinks that as soon as I get a job and have an income that I’ll be using the extra to get more and more books.  Heh.  Heh.  We’ll see.  I do have so many books these days that it takes me a half hour just to choose what I want to read next if I haven’t decided it already.  I’ve started pulling out two or three books at once and reading them in a row to avoid these choices.  A little like my read-a-thon pile, only smaller!

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Secondly, I have a very special announcement to make.  We are all book bloggers but we also have lives outside these blogs.  When special events happen, we want to celebrate together, because we are a community.  With this in mind, Amy, Michele, and I have put together the Book Blog Social Club so that we can celebrate virtually, the same way we all know each other.  We’re kicking off with a baby shower for Jen at Devourer of Books tomorrow.  

Of course, the website was designed for all of us to take part and host our own parties and celebrations.  We invite you to make use of it in the future, on a first come first served basis.  All you have to do is send an email to bookblogsocialclub at gmail dot com and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you!

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BTT: Comic Books

btt2 Last Saturday (May 2nd) is Free Comic Book Day! In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions:

– Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?
– How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?
– Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”.

I don’t really. I did read Watchmen and I enjoyed it, though, so I’m open to reading more.  I’ve just started reading Elfquest online.  I have a book, Letters To Jenny, by Piers Anthony, and in his letters to this poor girl, Jenny Gildwarg, who has been hit by a drunk driver and seriously brain damaged, he mentions Richard and Wendy Pini a lot, so I’ve always wanted to read their series.  I think it stuck in my head because I really liked Letters to Jenny.  I was a kid, and I thought Piers Anthony was funny and I was glad he was nice enough to keep up such a correspondence with her and help her recover.  I always wondered what happened to her after the end of the letters in the book, although after some quick online searching it appears she was in college in 2006.

Anyway, that’s not what the question is about, is it?  Heh.  I’d also really like to read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, but have mostly been waiting to have a decent enough library so I can see if I like it before I start to pay for it.  I have a couple of friends who read comics and I’ve had peeks at theirs and in the comic book store, but I’ve always strayed to the lone shelf of science fiction books when there, so I can’t really say too much.  I know there is also a Firefly series continuation of some sort and I can’t say I’d be opposed to that either, so I guess I would be willing to read them.  I just haven’t for some reason!

I guess to me, the difference between comics and graphic novels is probably very small these days and I’m not the person to judge.  If I had to, I’d say comics are short, always a series, and possibly lighter than graphic novels, which I would envision at least as being a shorter series if not a contained work dealing with bigger consequences.  Is that anywhere near right?

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BTT: Where’s the Symbolism?

btt2My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

When I was in college, everyone asked me this question.  Symbolism is alive and well in modern literary fiction and the authors aren’t subtle about it either.  I got symbolism out of Stephen King in high school and my teacher complimented me on seeing stuff that no one else saw.  I used It and Carrie and all I remember is that it had something to do with circles.  The Remains of the Day is practically dripping with symbolism, right down to the title of the book.  The great thing about studying literature is that you can find things that the author didn’t intend that imbues the work with meaning for you and for other people.  It can have a wider meaning that the author never saw, or maybe one they intended only specific people to see.  It’s a little like how everyone’s experience of a book is different.  The author puts the book out, but everyone comes to it with different life experiences and interprets it in ways relevant to themselves.  Obviously, we’re going to pick it apart in ways the author didn’t intend.

Let’s take an example of this.  I’m sure the author of Firefly Lane didn’t intend for me to develop a burning hatred towards it because one of the characters got cancer and it hit a little too close to home for me (yes, other things bugged me about it, but I was very unhappy with the author’s plot development).  On the other hand, she probably did intend for women who are older than me to relate to Tully and Kate as they grew up over the decades, and from the reviews, they did.  Women who could relate tended to love the book.  The author just wanted to tell a story, but how we feel about it is always going to be our own experience.  Similarly, the way we interpret literature in an academic sense is always going to be more than the author intended, unless it’s one of those ultra-literary books that you practically need a class in to dig out all of the meaning.

Or we could go with Twilight.  There are all sorts of alarming messages screaming out from the relationships in that book, but women still love Edward.  Did Stephenie Meyer intend for us to interpret the relationship between Bella and Edward as harmful and abusive?  Probably not, especially given how often she describes Edward as “perfect”.

See my point?  The author’s intentions don’t carry as much weight as you might think.  As a result, I’m not sure we can say that because the author didn’t intend it, an interpretation isn’t valid.  In fact, I outright don’t think we can.  I love to know what an author intended and I think it’s very important, but I still feel the way I feel.

In fact, I know a few authors out there who read this blog, so if you’re reading, what do you think?

What about readers?  Am I wrong, is the author all-important and my opinion falls to the wayside once I know theirs?  Or is every interpretation (with supporting evidence of course) valid?

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BTT: Windfall

btt2Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes.

Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

(And, this is a reading meme, so by rights the answer should be book-related, but hey, feel free to go wild and splurge on anything you like.)

Oh, I am not one of them.  I owed on taxes this year despite the fact that I am in massive amounts of education debt.  If I did get that extra bit of money, though, I’d either save it because I’m ridiculously frugal or I would buy some books.  It would depend on my employment status.

I might also buy some DVDs.  I really wouldn’t protest if someone dropped Season 2 of LOST in my mailbox.  =)

Now, if I got a huge windfall, I’d go on holiday.  I’m really close to tons of places that I’d love to go.  There are many, many sites of interest in Scotland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and parts of eastern Europe that I’d visit, and I’ve always wanted to go to Russia.  I’d do the cheap student thing and go around in hostels, but since I’m going to be living here for a while and hopefully making money, Keith and I plan on proper vacations to all my places of interest.  It isn’t too expensive from this jumping-off point.  Just have to get through all the visas first.

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BTT: Numbers Game

btt2Here’s the question:

Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to…

  1. Are you currently reading more than one book?
  2. If so, how many books are you currently reading?
  3. Is this normal for you?
  4. Where do you keep your current reads?

Yes, I actually am, but I’m really not.  My fiance really wants me to read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, so I started that maybe three weeks ago, but I haven’t gotten past the halfway mark yet.  I really don’t like it, but I feel like I should continue since he wants me to so much.  I’m really reading The Traitor’s Wife by Susan Higginbotham.

I’m generally a one-book kind of person.  I start two, but I choose one and the one I like less gets consigned to the “currently reading” tag on LT until I persuade myself to finish it or decide to give it up, whichever happens first.  It often says I’m reading more than one, but I’m almost always actually reading one and should be reading the others instead.  Sometimes if I’m away from my current read I’ll start a new one, but it doesn’t happen all that often.

I keep my books wherever is handy at the time, I don’t really have a specific spot.  I’ll bring it wherever I am.

Also worth noting, my university has decided to cut off certain aspects of the internet this weekend and I’ve noticed that the admin section of my blog is running painfully slowly.  I also can’t use VoIP which means I can’t even talk to my parents, and we’re really irritated about that, but it’s Easter weekend so not much I can do.  I’m not sure what else will stop working, so if I’m a little less present than normal, I do apologize.

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BTT: Library Week

btt2I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

A year ago, I would have told you that I never visit the library and never really have. We went for a few months when I was little, but that was mostly to get movies.  When we forgot the due dates for our videos more than once and our mother had to pay the fines, she decided that we wouldn’t go any more.  I don’t really remember minding, strangely enough.  When I learned how to drive, I started going again because the lure of free books was strong, but I got my license in the summer and when school started again, I had a lot less time for reading, so I stuck with my own books.  I’ve since gone sporadically when a new hardcover comes out and I don’t have the money to buy it.

The library in the town where my parents live is small and doesn’t have a great selection.  They’ll have several books out of a series I want to read, but they will be out of order and I’m not going to buy a random book in the middle of a series.  I also discovered my worst affliction, which is that I always want to own the books I borrow if I like them.  I didn’t really end up saving any money, so I stopped going.

This all changed in the fall.  First, I got stressed out, so I decided I wanted to read lighter fare like I hadn’t in years.  I already know I’m not going to reread any of those books, so I decided for once to start using the public library.  The York Library system is great.  They have numerous branches and I can borrow from any of them, so I don’t have to worry about not completing a series.  I don’t have an income right now, so I can’t really afford to buy unless someone else foots the bill, and the library is a wonderful solution to my problems.  I have a mountain range of TBRs, but if I’m looking for something experimental, I have somewhere to go besides the bookstore.

I don’t really think the bookstore has replaced the library.  They’ve tried to make it so, but it doesn’t work for me.  I’d feel guilty about sitting in there reading a new book that I know I should buy.  Most bookstores are more comfortable than my public library in York, though.  Too many people use the library for internet and after 2 hours the library charges patrons, so they have computers and thus people everywhere.  I obviously love that the library has such a source of income, but it’s much too busy in there to sit and read, and the chairs aren’t even that comfortable.  I usually get my books and run.

So, pleasant memories, not really, but I’m very glad I re-discovered the library.

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BTT: Movies

btt2What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?

Or, what book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?

Good question.  I very rarely think of books as films because I know much would be changed and because I’m not a visual person.  I don’t tend to picture what I’m reading in my head, not even the characters.  I do have one fantasy series that I think would make a fantastic movie, and that’s the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik.  Fantasy series are fairly popular in cinemas right now and dragons are a universal draw.  I think these books, particularly the first one, have a good mix of characterization and personal moments and potential for flashy battle scenes.  They’re relatively small, so I don’t think much would need to be cut, either.  

I’d also love to see one of Sharon Kay Penman’s historical novels make it to the big screen, just so I could visualize it, but so much would be cut out that it may not be worth it.  A miniseries could do better.  I also think The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson would make a great, if REALLY graphic, movie.  Overall, though, I’ve never actually read a book and thought, “This would be a great movie.”  It’s only upon reflection that I can consider it.

As for what should never be a movie?  Well, my first thought is the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey.  I adore these books, but not only are they long, they are also way too graphic and too complex for any of them to be crammed into 3 hours or less.  I don’t think they could include everything that is relevant to the rest of the series.  I also think that Carey’s writing style is exquisite and in part makes the book, and you can’t get that in a movie. I’d go see it, but would be very uneasy about it.

What about you? What book would you make into a movie, or not?

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BTT: The Best Book I’ve Never Read

btt2We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?

Well, this question had me going back through my LT library to figure out just what I have (as I scroll through I’m thinking “I have SO MANY books, is this a blessing or a curse?”).  Usually I’ll remember what I have if I’m in a shop and not buy duplicates, but just cold recall doesn’t work out too well for me.  So I do have one author whose works I should read, and that is Virginia Woolf.  I have both To The Lighthouse and Orlando.  Now, I absolutely adore Mrs. Dalloway, so that’s why I should try some others.  I have plenty of other worthies waiting about, including a gazillion prize winners and classics, but I have little excuse for not reading one of these two considering my rereads of Mrs. Dalloway!  I think I’m just worried that they’ll be less accessible to me now that I’m more than a year out from studying literature.

Have you read either of them?  What did you think?  What is the best book you’re not reading?

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BTT: Collectibles

  • btt2 Hardcover? Or paperback?
  • Illustrations? Or just text?
  • First editions? Or you don’t care?
  • Signed by the author? Or not?

I do tend to think I collect books.  I like to own them.  I think it’s because I’m a re-reader at heart, even if I don’t have much time for doing so these days.  I might want to read them again, and then I will have the ones I liked nearby.  As for the rest, I’m not too picky about what exactly I’m collecting.  I don’t keep a special edition of certain books just to have a good one.  My mother does this and I’ve never quite understood.  Books are made for reading, not sitting prettily on a shelf.  I even prefer paperbacks because they’re easier to read.  Hardcovers may look nicer, but I want to be able to enjoy the story.  I love older books, but at the moment I’m happy to let them exist in the library where they belong, unless of course they are being sold for 20p, at which point I consider it my duty to save them from recycling.

I do love books that are signed by the author, though.  I’ve only been to a single book signing and it was a mandatory one of a book I didn’t like in college.  Every year, they send a free book to all incoming undergraduates to read and then have the author speak at orientation.  Great idea, and the book wasn’t that bad, but the fact that the author’s presentation consisted mostly of him reading the book over again in a monotone voice put me off ever looking at it again.  I have a number of books and ARCs that have been signed by authors which I received in the mail, though, and I love those.  It’s one of my favorite parts of book blogging, especially when one of those authors is one of my favorites.

Do you collect books?

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BTT: Storage

btt2I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?”

I used to have a system when I had enough space for all the books I owned. I have two bookshelves in my room at my parents’ house. One is my mass market paperbacks, which are shelved two books high in some shelves and always two books deep, if that makes sense. The other one is meant for trade paperbacks and hardcovers.  Needless to say, they are both crammed with books.  My preferred system is alphabetizing by author and within that, publication date. I used to be very organized about this, but I have too many books now and there’s no way I’m moving them all around just to get a book in its proper place, so everything is a bit haphazard.

When I finally live in my own house and have a full-time job, I plan on having many more bookcases.  I’ve decided to try shelving by genre, or at least keep separate the few genres I really like, and alphabetize within that.  It will be a long time before my collection is all together and before I have enough money to actually house them all nicely, but when that happens I’m glad I already know exactly how it will be done!

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