The Blind Assassin

Ok, now that @1book140 is officially over for the month of June, I can safely go ahead and post my thoughts on The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Not that I’m going to give anything away, it’s too good of a book to ruin it for everyone else on the Interweb. Instead, I will just give you a little description of the basic plot, and from there you are on your own Reader.

Let me just interject really quick to say that you have to read this book. This is my first Atwood, so I am not sure if it’s any better than her others, or any worse, but nonetheless I loved it. Love it. No past tense needed there – I will continue to love it.

Anyway, this novel is about the Chase sisters – Iris and Laura. The novel opens up with an elderly Iris telling the reader that her sister drove a car off a bridge and died – nothing left but “charred smithereens”. The book goes through the Chase family tree from Grandmother Adelia, to Iris and Laura’s mother and father, to Laura and Iris, to Iris (including snippets of Iris’ daughter Aimee), to Iris’ granddaughter Sabrina.
So, needless to say, when I closed the book after the last page, I had this strange empty feeling like I was missing Iris. I was missing Laura. I was missing the Chase household. I was missing all of this history that had just been dumped on me. It was a very strange sensation.

In between Iris’ account of her family history - with its mysteries and loves and deceptions, there is a novel-within-a-novel, The Blind Assassin. It’s the account of two unnamed lovers, who must surreptitiously meet in various seedy motels and rented rooms, where they fabricate a science fiction story of the planet Zycron.

I putzed out on the @1book140 discussion, not because I disliked it, but because I all of a sudden got so far behind on the reading it was RIDICULOUS. Then, when I had got myself all caught up, I felt like it was too late to join back into the races. So, I sat on the sidelines and watched as the discussions unfurled. I’m not sure a “mystery” novel like this was such a good choice for the discussion, most of the time I felt like we were trying to guess what was what and who was who, but alas, what can you do? We are just curious people I guess.

I truly do recommend this book though. Like I said, I’m left with this sort of empty-sadness thing in my stomach. It’s like I am sad to see the Chase story come to an end, but I’m glad that I got to be a part of it. Because that’s what I felt like, I felt like I was somehow a part of the whole story, Atwood mastered that. 

I was also left with the thought of never ever wanting to get old because, well, it just doesn’t sound like much fun. 
Anyway, check it out for reals.

On to reading!

(P.S. The new book in July for @1book140 is going to be Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marukami. Just an FYI.)


To Audio or Not to Audio?

 So, I've been battling myself as to whether or not I should sign up for Audible.com. I know that there are a lot of people in the world who would probably say YES! Do it! and then there are probably a ton of people that are like Boo, lame! And I'm having my own little heart pulled apart by my two sides bickering over it. Kind of like the proverbial Angel and Devil on each shoulder.

Now, now. I know you are probably thinking "Woah, this is NOT that big of a deal, calm down." And, well, you are probably right.

But I can't tell you how many times I have been in my car, listening to some rockin' 90's tune or another (that I've heard 323,423,489 times), and I think to myself: If only I had an audio book to be listening to (that isn't The Great Gatsby), I would totally be getting ahead of the game and reading without really reading.

Here are my issues with doing it though (we'll go pros and cons):

  • I would be reading with out really reading, saving time while I am driving around and such.
  • I could get my hands on books I might not find in a Used Bookstore.
  • Stephen King once said [I believe in On Writing or perhaps in the preface to a Dark Tower Series book] that he liked audiobooks because people couldn't just skim the page and move on, they HAD to listen to what was being read. It's a good point - but I'm not sure it applies to me. I can easily zone out while listening to people talk, and I very rarely skip anything in a book because I'm always frantic that I will miss something. I'm not sure if this is a pro or a con. More so just a thought.

  • It is about $15 dollars a month, and you get ONE credit for ONE book. I think this would be a good deal if I was getting new hardcover books, but most of the time I'm not. I'm usually digging through used book stores where I can get THREE books for $15 dollars.
  • I'm not even sure how much I like audiobooks. I'm afraid that I might absolutely hate someones voice and have it bug me the ENTIRE time I am listening.
  • I don't get to have the feeling of a book in my hands. That feeling of turning pages, the smells, and all that jazz. This is the same argument I have for things like the Nook and the Kindle... but who knows how valid it really is. It's only one book a month that I would not get that feeling of having a real life novel in my hands. I'm sure I could get over it.
  • Say I just wanted to download stuff off of iTunes. I will randomly choose two books off of my TBR list and see what that would cost for me to download. Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood ($11.95) and Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion ($12.99). So the cost would be around $25 bucks. So ten dollars more than Audible, but an extra book included. Some books on iTunes are only like ten dollars. Hmmm.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. Does anyone have any advice on whether or not to sign up for it? Do you think that iTunes would just be a better bet, or screw the whole audiobook deal and just stick to tangible novels?


Pint Sized Sunday

Ok. It's going to seem as though I'm getting way off topic here, but trust me, I will have it all swing back around to books in the end.

So, I love tiny things.
Anything miniature will basically make me turn into a squealing little school girl - thus, when I came across these today, I nearly cried.

Please look at how ridiculously adorable these are:

This little guy is called a MetroCabin. It has a kitchen, a bedroom, a porch... even a sliding glass door. It's only 16' x 20'. Love.

Uh. Get out! Look how tiny and perfect. It's called a Micro Compact Home. I wish I could see how the inside works/looks exactly, but these are about the only photos I could find. Blast.

It's called an Arado weeHouse. Mmm yes, maybe I do want it even more because of its name. weeHouse. How absolutely grand. It's 336 sq. ft. of amazingness.

Would it be weird if I wanted to live in these and pretend I was an Ewok? Because I would. It's a company called BaumRaum, and they offer all sorts of different tree houses... including... drum roll... tree house hotels!

Now, if this isn't love... I don't know what is. Teensy weensy little baby houses! They come in all sorts of different small sizes too. TumbleWeed Tiny House Company is who makes them and, well, I would be lying if I said I never ever wanted to own one. The little guy on the left is 117 sq ft. [with built in bookcases mind you!]. The one on the right is a mere 65 sq. ft. [aka 7' x 11'].

This was the first tiny house I ever saw. I was browsing last year on the internet looking for miniature things [don't ask me why] and found these. Super cute! All sorts of different sizes and styles too, but all very ultra urban cool. My favorite part? Staircase/Bookcase combo. 
Now, yes, by mentioning the word "book" a few times in this post, I guess I have somehow stayed in the theme of this bloggity blog. 
But yet, wait:

If I had one of these tiny houses, guess what I would read?

Why, tiny books, of course!

Happy Sunday all!

On to reading!


Asking Forgiveness.

You must forgive me for such a long break in posting.
7 whole days. Yikes.

Ok, so my life is in hectic mode right now. Crazy events + limited reading = June. Apparently.

But, I want you to know that I have not given up on reading (nor the writing of the bloggity).
I am trucking through Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman. So far, so good. It is labeled as a Dark Comedy, so we will see how that all pans out.
It seems to be a collection of little snippets from people's lives who live in this teeny tiny little town in Nebraska. The kind of stereotypical town where everyone knows EVERYONE. Oh, and it is set in the '80s. I'm sure all of their little lives will come together in some Epic Story Telling Device kind of way, but we shall see.

And I just want everyone to know that I don't TRY to read all the same authors. It's just that I seem to own multiple different pieces by a lot of the same authors, and I feel like I want to get them out of the way so I can read new and interesting things. Plus, a Reader Dork friend of mine told me to read Downtown Owl, and well, here I am.

So, fret not my little reader friends. I will be back at it soon. Full swing. Promise.
I just have to get past these next few crazy days.

On to reading!


The Word Made Flesh

So I got a semi-unexpected paycheck the other day, which was awesome, and now I am stuck with a predicament. Do I:

a) save the money for pouring a new patio in my backyard or 
b) get a new tattoo

such are the trials of my life.

It didn't help that I started looking at tattoos based on literature this morning (I always find it fascinating to see what people will put on their bodies). So, here are a few that I found:

Robert Frost (love the font, duh)

Moby Dick (haven't read it, but cool nonetheless)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (I loves me some Steadman art)

Kerouac (so much text! but cool idea)

Harry Potter (it GLOWS? Get out!)

Fahrenheit 451 (So. Good.)

Where the Wild Things Are (obvs a classic book. The movie was odd. And disappointing)

Emily Dickinson (Beautiful. Love the dandelion)

Stephen King Dark Tower (clever)

What I really want is a literary tattoo, but it does sort of make me nervous to have someone else's words on me forever and ever and ever. What if down the road I randomly decide that I don't love that person's work? Eh, it's probably impossible. But look at how CUTE this girl's tattoo is:

Here is a video on the book The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide. I'm pretty sure that I need to own this - if only for the fact that it would be an awesome coffee table book.

Anyway, that is all. I shall continue to rack my brain on tattoo vs. patio.

On to reading!


Brautigan - again.

“If you get hung up on everybody else’s hang-ups, 
then the whole world’s going to be nothing more than one huge gallows.”
– Richard Brautigan

I’ve just wrapped up The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan. Really folks, this man is wonderful. This wasn’t my favorite of all that I’ve read by him, but it was definitely worth reading. I originally wanted it simply because of the title.
Abortion and Romance don’t necessarily seem to go hand in hand.
I figured it would be funny and satirical, or have some outrageous story line, but it was really just a nice story about two love birds who decide to have an abortion… with a few wacky ideas thrown in.

The book is about a man in his thirties, who has taken over the job of running a library in San Francisco. Now, this is no ordinary library. No one comes to check books out, or peruse the shelves – instead it is a library for people to come and drop off books that they have written. Some of the books that were dropped off in the beginning of the book were titled as follows: “Pankcake Pretty”, It’s the Queen of Darkness, Pal”, “Jack, the story of a cat”, etc.
All the author must do is give the Librarian their name and a brief synopsis of what the book is about – then they are able to put the books on whatever shelf they want. When the shelves get too full the Librarian calls upon his friend Foster to come down and pick them up and drive them to the caves where the surplus of books are kept.
Anyway, kind of wacky right? Well, then a young girl comes in to drop off her book about hating her body (she is like outrageously beautiful, which makes people do crazy things), and then they just sort of fall in love. And – as love birds sometimes do – they find themselves in a bit of a predicament. A bun in the oven. Thus, they travel to Tijuana, Mexico.

The rest is in the title.

I’m not sure what it is about Richard Brautigan that I love so much. The wild ideas he writes about? The simplicity of his language? The heart and soul you can feel in his words? All of the above?
Yes, that’s it. All of the above.

Sometimes he just says things that make me go “YES! I get that.” And then I usually tend to hug my book [which may or may not be weird]. Anyway, this was one of those moments:

            In describing the Library: “There are some old cement stairs that pour through green and busy establishments down from the Clay Street side and there are ancient electric lamps, friends of Thomas Edison, mounted on tall metal asparagus stalks. They are on what was once the second landing of the stairs. The lights don’t work anymore and everything is so overgrown that it’s hard to tell why anything ever existed in the first place.”

Like I said though, this is not my favorite book. I think once I have successfully finished every one of his novels (I only have a few more to go), then I will compile a list in order of favor.

Finishing up The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood very soon for @1book140. I’m pretty excited about that one too.

On to reading!


Lookey Lookey I Got A Bookey

So I got a pretty cool livingsocial deal the other day... I paid $10 for $20 worth of books at a local bookstore. Not a bad deal at all. Plus they were having a short story/ poetry reading the night I got the coupon - so it all worked out beautifully.

These are the three books that I chose (I actually got four, but I gave the other one [a Kurt Vonnegut novel] to my fellow Literary Dork Friend for driving both of us down there):

Beloved by Toni Morrison:

I've heard a lot of great things about this book - as a horror story, an American Slavery story, etc. But I've also heard a lot of BAD reviews about it too. People think it's too heavy handed with its message, plot wasn't liked, yadda yadda... but I will definitely have to make my own decisions on this one. Looking forward to reading it.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver:

Again, I've heard mixed reviews on this one - but, it was a part of Oprah's Book Club so it HAS to be good *insert sarcastic smile*. I actually don't even really know what its about - Africa, missionary family. That's all I know (and I'm always scared to look at reviews in case they give away something big, so for now, Africa + Missionary family is going to have to suit me).

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood:

I actually wanted to read this one first, before I ever started @1book140 on Twitter, but I'm glad I'm getting a chance to read The Blind Assassin - not sure I would have just picked it up on my own (esp. if it turned out I didn't like The Handmaid's Tale). I've heard good things about this one though, so I am looking forward to reading it.

All of them were actually on my list of Books To Read Before I Die, so I really feel like I did a superb job on this impromptu shopping trip.

On to reading!


Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Settings

Over at The Broke and the Bookish, they do this fun little thing called Top Ten Tuesday. Silly me, I just found this out. 

SO, today I have decided to participate and do Top Ten Book Settings. Well, eight, because I'm lame and couldn't think of ten.

 1. IdahoTrout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
“Yesterday afternoon we drove down the road from Wells Summit, then we ran into the sheep.They also were being moved on the road. A sheperd walked in front of the car, a leafy branch in his hand, sweeping the sheep aside. He looked like a young, skinny Adolf Hitler, but friendly. I guess there were a thousand sheep on the road. It was hot and dusty and noisy and took what seemed like a long time.” Brautigan captures Idaho (and Oregon for that matter) so beautifully in this book. He talks about visiting hot springs, and fishing along little streams, and camping, and loading the car full of firewood. And yes, I know that you could probably do a lot of that ANYWHERE, but he is writing about it in such an Idaho/Oregon way.

2. Hogwarts – Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
I don’t think I even have to quote anything from Harry Potter. If you’ve read the books, or even seen the movies, or been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park (which, if you have, you’re too lucky), then you know how cool it would be to go to school at Hogwarts. Riding the Hogwarts Express, shopping in Diagon Alley, trips to Hogsmeade, watching a game of Quidditch, I mean c’mon! Probably one of the coolest made up places of all time.

3. American Frontier [Nebraska] - O Pioneers! by Willa Cather “There are few scenes more gratifying than a spring plowing in that country, where the furrows of a single field often lie a mile in length, and the brown earth, with such a strong, clean smell, and such a power of growth and fertility in it, yields itself eagerly to the plow; rolls away from the shear, not even dimming the brightness of the metal, with a soft, deep sigh of happiness.” Now, I’ve never been to Nebraska, but the way that Cather writes is out of control good. Her settings are so vivid that it make me feel like yes, I was there! And do I remember what it was like growing up in Nebraska in the 1880’s? Well, sure I do!

4. Wonderland - Alice in Wonderland (as well as Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There) by Lewis Carroll “The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried by – the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighbouring pool – she could hear the rattle of the teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared their never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off her unfortunate guests to execution…” Another classic made up place. This one is tough though, because I partially believe that Wonderland wouldn’t be that wonderful if it weren’t for the characters that dwell in it (i.e. Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, etc.).

5. The City of LudThe Waste Lands (DT #3) by Stephen King
 “Now that they were this close, he could see holes in the city-scape where whole blocks of buildings appeared to have been either burned or blasted. The skyline reminded him of a diseased jaw from which many teeth have already fallen” Now let it be clear that I hate anything that has to do with the apocalypse or the end of the world (and would someone PLEASE tell my Netflix account that? Apparently it has created a genre for me entitled: End of the World Movies Featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I blame this solely on my boyfriend), but I loved Stephen King’s Lud. It was just so creepy – syphilis infected, radiation sick inhabitants who fight each other every day to the drum beat from ZZ Top’s Velcro Fly? Heck yes. 

6. Marlow’s description of AfricaHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: “I assure you that never, never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness.” I’ve read this book way too many times. Way too many. BUT, I have always loved the way that Conrad portrayed the mysteriousness of the African jungle, the darkness and the evil that resides within. It added such an extra sinister feel to the plot of the whole book.

7. Bill Bryson’s Europe Neither here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson. “I have never seen anything half as beautiful – on one side the town of Capri spilling down the hillside, on the other the twinkling lights of the cove at Anacapri and the houses gathered around it, and in front of me a sheer drop of … three hundred feet, to a sea of the lushest aquamarine washing against outcrops of jagged rock… I would do anything to own that view, anything. I would sell my mother to Donald Trump.” Um, yes. This man is hilarious – which helps me like him THAT much more. But aside from that, he is also pretty good at describing his settings and making you want to see it for yourself.

8. Farm LifeHarris & Me by Gary Paulsen. I don’t have a quote from this book because, well, I read it when I was like 10. It was probably my favorite book growing up though, I can’t tell you how many times I read it. It’s about “Me” a kid who is never named and is forced to go live with his cousin on farm. I distinctly remember him sleeping on a cornhusk mattress, being kicked by a cow, wrestling pigs, and peeing on an electric fence.

Ugh, that’s it. I can’t think of any more – try as I might. I’m sure there are others that I will think of down the road, but for now, these 8 will have to do. And they are in no particular order either. I don’t think I could order them really. Are any of these settings that have spoken to you too? What other two settings can you think of that I couldn't?

On to reading!


My thoughts on @1book140

Jeez Louis. I've been trudging along with this Twitter book club thing (which, P.S., if you wanted to "follow" me - I'm @abrokenbinding), and it's like pulling teeth.
I would love to say that I am loving it, but I'm not. I really, really like the book - but the discussion is lacking.

Here are my main gripes:

1) I've never been a part of any sort of forum, or other online discussion, but I'm realizing that they are hard. I would much rather be sitting in a room with these people than trying to get my point across in 140 characters. You can't even quote a full line without it being over 140 characters, let alone DISCUSS it. People have had to get creative, but I'm not sure if it's worth it. I'd much rather just write my thoughts out, while still keeping it concise - just not 140 characters concise.
Also there was a little bit of disorganization at first with the discussion, and I think that made it get off to a rocky start. But there is going to be disorganization with anything (This is my least gripey of gripes because I feel like as time goes with this, it will only get better).

2) I feel like its taking forever because I'm pacing myself with the book. Normally I race through a novel like it aint no thang, but because we are doing multiple day discussions on single sections, I feel like I'm reading at a snail's pace. I wish I could just read the whole thing: BOOM - and then discuss it - but I'm slightly afraid I will forget what happens where, or let my big mouth slip and tell people something they shouldn't know yet. Yikes.

3) It's taking away from me - here - with you who may be reading this. I'm going so slowly with this book that I'm not reading any other books to talk about here! And what a drag that is.

So yes, those are my thoughts on this book club. I like the book - but I'm not feeling the discussion thus far. Perhaps in time, as we get more and more into the plot of the book, it will liven up a bit. Until then - I must continue to trudge.

On to reading!