Saturday, June 01, 2013

Literary Speed Dating

Here's the press release for the program I'm doing this afternoon:
Contact name/phone/e-mail:  Sarah Morrison/509-338-3251/
Event/Date:  Literary Speed Dating, Saturday, June 1, 3pm.
Think of your favorite book.  Don't you wish other people could know just how spectacular it is?
Adults are invited to Neill Public Library to kick off the Adult Summer Reading Program with Literary Speed Dating.  Come with your favorite book—or at least the title and author  information—to make new friends and meet new authors.  Like personal speed dating, you'll have a few minutes with a friend you've never met, only instead of selling yourself, you'll be selling your book.  After a few minutes, the group will rotate and you'll have another chance to convince a new partner how awesome Doerr, or Kingsbury, or Pratchett, or Erard, truly is, and hear in return why you shouldn't let another day go by without reading Jance, Bishop, Littlefield, or Koch.
No registration is required, and coffee and tea will be provided.  This event, Saturday, June 1, will be begin promptly at 3pm in the Hecht Meeting Room.
Life is too short to read books you don't enjoy.

What books am I bringing?  Jane Eyre, because I love it and it changed how I read; His Majesty's Dragon because it might be my current favorite series; and Good Omens because it was my first introduction to both Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and those are life-changing authors.

Speaking of which, here, among others, an early reaction to Jane Eyre, circa 2003-- not the first time I read it, but not the most recent, either.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  This has always been my favorite book, though each reading draws my attention to a new element of the story I had not previously considered.  Even after half a dozen readings, my tears are no less genuine, my laughter no less heartfelt.  The old words and well-known passages, the beautiful and artful language, is like a refreshing experience from modern literature.
[wow, melodramatic much?]

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  This book presents the story of one woman's life in a distopian society.  Although she has memories of a former time and knows how the change came about, much is left unexplained.
I can easily see why this book is deemed so controversial-- its content makes you think, and God forbid the kiddies do that.  Examining distopian societies is probably the best thing we can do: it holds up a mirror to our own and shows us what we need to change.
I really enjoyed it, even though it left me with so many questions. A must-have for every home, or something like that.

The Harp of Imach Thyssel by Patricia C. Wrede.  I felt this wasn't up to par with her other books, especially the Dealing with Dragons series.  The way some things were phrased made it feel like it was a sequel, based on lack of descriptions or explanations.
Her plots are usually based more on adventures and are generally happier (with less dying).  Maybe she's experimenting.  It wasn't too bad, just not what I expected from this author.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.  [Back from when I was a fan, before I felt like I had to stand up against everyone who reads these without thinking.  I'm going to say 2002/3.]  Even reading it a second time, this story doesn't lose any of it's suspense.  Though aimed at a much lower grade level than I plan to teach [ha!], I would recommend this book to any one. Suspenseful and well-written, even the juvenile aim could not distract me from the story.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. These books are suspenseful and well-written, with the suspense bordering on fear, I suspect, for younger readers.  There was quite a bit of blood in the end of this one, though not a graphic amount.  These books are an exciting break from the heavier reading I usually do, textbooks and whatnot. Read it, you'll love it. (Although the first one was better.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.  Although I'm definitely going to go with the first book as my favorite, this one is just about as good. Reading this through the first time several months ago, I remember thinking there was a lot of anger in the book.  Upon reading it again, I have no idea what I was talking about.
Unlike the second book, which I felt wasn't as exciting the second timethrough, this one still held its suspense.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.  No matter how many times I read these books, they never get less exciting.  You remember the parts you'd forgotten and begin to piece things together even more.
The books have never been gentle, but this one seemed a bit less gentle still.  There's also a bit of swearing that could be done without; it's not overdone, but didn't feel totally natural.
I just wish this whole Harry Potter craze hadn't started.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.  As much as I love these books, this one was not nearly as good as its predecessors.  There was so much anger and frustration put out by all the characters, but especially by Harry.  It left me very skeptical about the next book.  What frustrated me even more than that was that no one was actually saved in this book.  Harry risked a dozen lives and lost one playing the hero again.  I was mad at the author for doing this.   [I did not read the last 2 books.]

Haunted by Kelly Armstrong.  This series is kind of fun.  Like many new supernatural series, they each have a new take on the magical world. It makes them unique. There is a new sub-genre emerging.  They are fun, because there are more possibilities available than in regular mysteries, although ones based on emerging technology are cool, if you can keep the science straight.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.  The beginning was compelling and very personally meaningful.  I felt he handled the subject very well.  Once that's over though, the whole thing falls apart.  Copious amounts of swearing.  He ends up being the same old college/post-grad person who thinks they are the only intelligent being on the planet and they have the answers for absolutely everything and make you know it.  I'm not sure if that is supposed to be glaringly obvious because he's making fun of it or because that's how he really was. The story part of the story was interesting though, and I actually enjoyed his writing style.  Too bad about the ego and the title.

A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov.  For a character analysis, I would not call this guy a hero; far from it.  He was an interesting person to examine.  He was odd.  Certainly not heroic.  I much preferred the other characters. They were much more realistic and more enjoyable.
The story was told oddly: kind of a story within a story kind of thing. We met Character 1, who met Character 2, who told 1 about Character 3.  2 gives 1 some journals from 3, and 1 puts parts, bits, and pieces of the journals in the book (1 is the narrator).  Now, if you followed that, gold star.  If you didn't, silver star anyway just for trying.

The High Crusade by Paul Anderson. An interesting story line requiring little thinking.  I'm not completely sure what happened in the end, though; the epilogue was a bit unclear.
But it was pretty good, easy to read, although it did get rather boring.  I don't believe I would read it again, if that's any indication.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.  My top five favorite things about the book: (in no particular order)
1.  "It seems to me that if you place music (and books, probably, and films, and plays, and anything that makes you feel) at the center of your being, then you can't afford to sort out your love life, start to think of the finished product" (169)
2.  The sad music=sad love life theory.
3. How real it all is. Not only possible-slash-probable, but written the way people really talk and think.
4.  Dick.  and Marie.  They are my favorite people.
5.  Happy enough endings.

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik.  I really liked this book.  The author used a more classic style-- it felt fresh out of the 1800s.  The author also did an excellent job of balancing the main character's personality-- the 19th century male disciplined military man with the personable, likeable character.  I would recommend this book without reservation.

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field.  The original Toy Story, really.  I remembered liking this book when I was younger, and it has a lot of good things about it.  Hitty's first family is described in great detail, but once they are gone, she progressively becomes more and more stagnant, as for 50 years at least, she does nothing but sit.  I'll have my girls read it, because it is a good book, but it isn't as busy and adventuresome as my usual fare.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I would have to say that I enjoyed the story, but not the book.  By that I mean that I enjoyed the tale, the adventure, but I did not care for the author's writing style.  [You may now stone me.]  Also, I felt the book was on a more juvenile level than I had expected.  I was confused very often, because of the sentence structure.  The author left out a number of what I would consider crucial commas.

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.  This is one of his books that's no ton the boat, although it's probably on the same lake.  You see, briefly, characters you see elsewhere, and it's the same city, and there's the same general writing style, but the feel is so different. Overall, it's funny in the usual way, but there are a lot of little bits that are really sad.
This one really gives you something to think about. He draws blatantly from our culture  and then points and laughs at it.

Homecoming by Christie Golden.  Although it's obvious that the author made a valiant attempt, she did not entirely succeed in capturing the true characters.  She relied heavily on references to episodes, but the references were often obscure.
There was a subplot that added nothing to the story and, in fact, never even joined with it in the end. Just another story, totally separate, running in parallel.
Her writing style was mediocre, on par with most self-styled authors, conforming to a standard that is too low.

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore.  I'm really getting pulled into these books.  They are an easy read, not quite as heavy as Tolkien's originals (not like those are so hard), certainly very little thinking required, and really draw the reader in.  They aren't exciting like movie-exciting, but they are good-book-exciting.  And now that Salvatore's off the path of Tolkien and into his own territory, they are much better, maybe just because of the feeling of originality.  The society he has created in this one holds the ring of truth in all the small details. I always liked Drizzt in the first trilogy, but he is awesome in these. He's totally cool.

Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer.  I really enjoyed this series, of which this book is the first. I enjoyed the author's writing style and the characters (mostly) were realistic.  One of the characters that wasn't-- the main female character-- was rather common,I though, of a main female written from a male perspective.  The in-depth thoughts of women should only be written by women.
The author did use a lot of scientific terms without actually explaining them, but I was able to keep up alright.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.  This book was for a younger audience, so a quick read.  It had a decent amount of action and mystery-- enough to hook a young reader-- but I was surprised at the healthy amount of compassion evident in this book. The characters displayed a number of virtues although they may have been on the wrong side of the law.  It's up to the reader to decide how right or wrong some of their actions were. Finally,the book shows different family structures and how that effects the children in the book.  A wonderful book.


Ms. Yingling said...

I've never been abletoweedHitty, so I'm glad you liked it!
I do a similar lessonwith students- they get a minute to read a book, then move on to another. They usually find things to read.

Pam said...

Never heard of literary speed dating! Very cool concept! :)