Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Books of 2008 - June

This was an intensive reading month. My head may explode from all I've crammed into it. Then again, that's never happened before so it'll most likely be okay.

1. Pearls Before Swine: BLT's Taste So Good. This is comic strip written by Stephen Pastis. It's snarky, irreverent, and just a little "off". And that's why I like it.

2. Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint. Non-fiction by Nancy Kress. This is one book from the Write Great Fiction series. This book was really helpful for me in clarifying my novel and making it sharper / better. I would recommend you read this if you have a desire to write novels, short stories, or just better-than-average fan fiction.

3. Captain Wentworth's Diary. Fiction by Amanda Grange. An Austen parallel book. It was o.k but not great. Persuasion may be my all time favorite Austen and this book did not capture even a small percentage of the magic.

4. Anytime Playdate. Non-fiction by Dade Hayes. A book about the effects of TV on children and how shows are developed for the preschool crowd. Unfortunately this author seems to believe, "yeah, it's bad, but they're going to watch anyway so..." Somewhat disappointing.

5. Pygmalion. A play by George Bernard Shaw. This play inspired the musical My Fair Lady. The play is sharper and more political than the musical. By the way, when it comes to the musical, I prefer my Original London cast recording and Original Broadway cast recording to the movie. I love Audrey Hepburn but what in the world was Jack Warner thinking? Julie Andrews is Eliza Doolittle.

6. The Blind Assassin. Fiction by Margaret Atwood. I liked the cover of this book. I liked parts of this book. I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't seemed to scream at me, "I am An IMPORTANT Book written by an IMPORTANT Author. Read this and weep at my genius." No, thanks. Besides, I figured out the twist before the end. And, just in case you like the cover too, the cover has nothing to do with the story. Also, this book is as liberal as they come. (I almost made a Nancy Pelosi joke there, but I resisted.)

7. Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Fiction by James Hilton. So sweet. A very quick read but well worth the afternoon. Now I need to track down the Robert Donat movie.

8. The Gathering Storm. Non-fiction by Winston Churchill. Incomparable. Maybe I just have a good imagination but I could practically hear Mr. Churchill "reading" this to me. Also counts as research for my novel.

9. Revision and Self-Editing. Non-fiction by James Scott Bell. Another helpful book in the Write Great Fiction series. I preferred #2 above but this book was also helpful.

10. The Diplomat's Wife. Fiction by Pam Jenoff. Will I never learn? This is another book I picked up because of the cover. Also it's set in post-WW2 Europe, a subject I'm immersing myself in. This plot has more holes, completely implausible twists, and bad comic book-esque dialogue than some fan fiction I've read. (Sample of actual dialogue: "Thank you, she said." "No, thank you.") Another nitpick: despite the characters coming from different parts of the globe (Poland, England, US, etc.) they all "talk" the same. Characters are supposed to have different voices. A refugee from Poland should not use the same language and syntax as a well-educated Briton. Gah!

11. Never Will We Forget. Non-fiction by Marilyn Mayer Culpepper. Personal WW2 stories. Could have used a bit more editing (typos, bad grammar and such) but was interesting and helpful. Read (obviously) as research for the aforementioned novel I'm writing.all.the.time.

12. Love Comes Softly. Fiction by Janette Oke. I read this one night (in about an hour, actually) while waiting for my Prince Charming to turn off the computer and go to bed. Also because I borrowed the Hallmark movie and after watching it I wanted to remember the charm of the original story. Sure, Oke's laborious phonetic writing is well, contrived and a bit obnoxious, but the actual story is sweet. Definitely better than the Hallmark movie to which I also have a few words: So Missie is a pre-adolescent brat now? Marty is a city-fied book worm? And last, but not least, Her hair, Louisa!

13. The Library of Congress WW2 Companion. Non-fiction edited by David Kennedy. The word that comes to mind is "comprehensive". This is an amazingly helpful book. Nearly 1,000 pages of pertinent information. Lots of helpful charts (especially the ones showing what exactly was going on in each theatre of war - African, European, Atlantic, Pacific, China-Burma, and so on). I'd love to buy a copy of this for our home library.

14. Churchill at War: His Finest Hour in Photographs. Non-fiction by Martin Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert is author of an extensive multi-volume Churchill biography. This book is a companion to that.

Read most of but did not finish before the library cruelly snatched it away: The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. This is a brilliant book. I probably only understood 30% of it, but even that was challenging and helpful.


Anonymous said...

I have Bloom's book and I have a more lenient loan policy to people of sterling character


Amy said...

The Love Comes Softly movie was awful compared to the book, wasn't it? I read that entire series about 3 times through my teen years. :)

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Have you mentioned before you're working on a novel? I haven't seen it, and, while not surprised you're doing it (I feel it's like wanting to cook after you've been eating a while-- you'll see me use that analogy again) I guess I'm surprised to realize it so "late."

If you have no objections I plan to answer your questions in a post of their own rather than keeping it in the comments.

I am really going to have to ("someday") make a post about all the writing books I own and my opinions about them. There are some that have been (technically) useless but worlds of helpful in establishing my attitude toward writing as... serious work you do purposefully, I guess is what I want to say.

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