Sunday, March 30, 2008

Forget the book. Where's the movie?

So one of the billion blogs I keep up with (thanks, Google Blog Reader!) is the AustenBlog. Yes, I know: I am a geek. The blog is all about Jane, from books to plays to music to movies.

Anyway, it has this piece of news: "A poll reveals that one in ten British students confess to watching film adaptations rather than reading the books for class assignments."

That sounds about right. I've probably done it, though I can't remember any one time specifically. I think I watched Frankenstein with Kenneth Branagh (one of my many fave Brit actors) shortly after reading the book my senior year of high school, just to make more sense of the crazy novel. Bottom line: I was kinda meh about the book and the movie.

Anyone else want to cop to watching a movie instead reading its original book? It's okay; we won't judge.

Oh, like I said before: If anyone's interested, I've got two film versions of Persuasion and am happy to host a screening...

And remember: Book club meeting coming soon; see the details at right!

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You?

The New York Times has a blog about books called Paper Cuts. I'm not sure I get the name. Sounds ... painful. And it's a bit too high-minded for me; I'm just not into books enough to subscribe to it on my RSS reader.

I did happen upon a recent posting that's interesting, about bookshelf etiquette. Folks debate what books are okay to display on your bookshelves: only ones you've read? (That seems a bit strict.) Do you consider what party guests will think when you're arranging your books? Neil and I have gotten around this by displaying only CDs and DVDs in our living room, leaving the books in the den. We did relegate a good chunk of the sci-fi and textbooks to the top shelf.

From the comments:

I would agree that most people display books in an attempt to construct their identity. I am guilty of shelving my 18th and 19th century British novels and hiding my “beach books”

Let’s start with the First Commandment: Bookshelves are for books. Thou shalt not place photographs, nor souvenirs, nor any manner of knick-knack upon thy bookshelves, for they are shelves for books. [Angie: Puh-leeze.]

The grand statement my library is making is this: These are the books I’ve bought. [Heh. Amen!]

By the way, the photo is a random shot I found of someone who arranges their books by color! I will admit to organizing ours by genre, then alphabetically by author. But I'm intrigued by the book rainbow!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Talk About "Killer Heels"!

Check out this crazy story about a reported maiming at an exotic dance emporium.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chinese for St. Patrick's Day

Come out Monday to hear my friend Jenny (the famous Jennifer 8. Lee of The New York Times) do a reading from her new book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. You might have seen her on "The Colbert Report" last week?

She'll be at the Library of Congress at noon, then at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue at 7 p.m. (kosher Chinese served at the second event).

Stop by for food and food for thought, plus a really fun person.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Book Ideas: Other People's Suggestions

So when I mention to folks that I've started a book club, they invariably offer suggestions for books to read. Here are some ideas:

"Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky: The wife of one of my boyfriend's colleagues read this in her book club and said she was surprised by how much she liked it. (I trust her because she is German and artsy.) It was written in the early 1940s, but the manuscript went unread for 60 years. Could be another interesting tale written of a time, in that time. Another good sign: On the novel's Amazon page, "Water for Elephants" is listed under "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought"!

"The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith: A friend in Dallas recommends this, the first in a series. The Amazon review says:
If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective.

Apparently this was also a "Today" show book club pick. And it's being made into an HBO series. A two-hour pilot was directed by Oscar winner Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient") and stars Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose.

And an entertainment-news blog I read, Buzz Sugar, picked Richard Yates's "Revolutionary Road" for its book-club-via-blog this month. (They assign chapters to read by each Friday, eek!) It's about a couple in the Connecticut suburbs in the 1950s. You may have heard of the movie it's based on, starring Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, together again for the first time since "Titanic"! Slated to be released in December.

So what books have you heard good things about recently?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Free Books!

Okay, as promised, here are the books I'm trying to give away. Please take as much as you want. The rest will be Freecycled. I'd rather not wait until the next meeting to get rid of them, so if you can pick them up at my place or at The Post, that would be great! Just e-mail or put a comment on this post.

Oh, and these should never be sold. A few are uncorrected page proofs from The Post's freebie areas. All of the books are in good or great shape. A couple are hardbacks.

The Books
  1. "Touchy Subjects," by Emma Donoghue -- short stories
  2. "Veil of Roses," by Laura Fitzgerald -- kind of reads as young-adult fiction, maybe good for a teen? cute story, tho.
  3. "The Mermaid Chair," by Sue Monk Kidd (who wrote "The Secret Life of Bees")
  4. "My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands," by Chelsea Handler --kinda funny
  5. "The Year of Yes," by Maria Dahvana Headley -- memoir, hardback
  6. "The Pelican Brief," by John Grisham
  7. "A Woman's Passion for Travel: True Stories of World Wanderlust," by a buncha ladies
  8. "The King of Torts," by John Grisham
  9. "The Contenders" -- bunch of contemporary writers on the Democratic candidates -- you can skip to Obama and Clinton, I guess.
  10. "The Street Lawyer," by John Grisham
  11. "Words Fail Me," by Teresa Monachino -- a strange book for word nerds
  12. "The First Horseman," by John Case
  13. "The Reading Group," by Elizabeth Noble -- very cute
  14. "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing," by Melissa Bank
  15. Student's Life Application Bible -- probably best for teens, has some writing on the inside of the front and back covers.
  16. "Father Knows Less OR 'Can I Cook My Sister?': One Dad's Quest to Answer His Son's Most Baffling Questions," by Wendell Jamieson -- He gets experts to answer questions like "Why is the sky blue" and "How did the pineapple get its name?" Pretty neat.
  17. "I Love You, Beth Cooper," by Larry Doyle -- This book is really cute, and I highly recommend it. I just don't think I'll read it again.
  18. "Strawberry Fields," by Marina Lewycka -- novel, never read it
  19. "Mass Media Law," from 2005-06
  20. "Our Family Tree" Record Book -- sort of like a scrapbook, has places for pictures and info about your parents, children, etc.

Ooh I love that. An even 20! Come and get 'em!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

'Water for Elephants': A Three-Ring Hit!

Thanks to everyone who made it to the second book club meeting: Doris, Ramya, Kendra, Krista, Marta and Amanda. Man, that's a lotta names that end in "a"! We all really enjoyed the book, especially its vivid descriptions of such a charismatic world, and how it was so well-researched. If you're looking for a fast read that's hard to put down, check it out!

If you still haven't had your fill of circus fun, you're in luck: The circus is coming to town. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's "Greatest Show on Earth" will be in Baltimore March 12-23 and at Verizon Center March 27-30. They also usually do an Elephant Walk somewhere in town before each run.

Farther afield: I'm guessing this is the Ringling museum Ramya mentioned visiting in Sarasota, Fla. And here's Circus World, the museum in Baraboo, Wis., that Krista talked about. It's on the site of the original Ringling Bros. winter quarters. (Also, the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., is the second hit when you search "Ringling" on Google. Amanda knows someone who went there! No mention of elephants in the course descriptions.)

And to get a circusy fix without leaving home, there's the HBO series "Carnivale," which Marta recommends. It ran for two seasons in 2003 and 2005. Its Web site says:
CARNIVALE follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on Ben Hawkins, a mysterious 18-year-old fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and Brother Justin, the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who will ultimately cross his path. The series takes place at a time of worldwide unrest, with evil on the rise around the globe and the Great Depression wreaking economic and social havoc here at home.

In non-circus news:
  • Stay tuned for an e-mail from Jenny about the April book and meeting details.
  • For May, Amanda and Marta (who live in an awesome house in Mount Pleasant -- with a deck!) have agreed to host.
  • We talked about being a little looser on the "first Sunday" guideline -- could be more like "first 10 days or so" going forward each month.