Author Archives: curlywurlygurly

A Pile of Guilt: Do you fret over your TBRs?

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned.  The cause of the recent rainy weather is my TBR pile–it’s BLOCKING the sun, preventing it from shining. 

In an act of desperation, I recently moved my TBR pile from my desk, where it was taking up prime real estate, to a dark corner of my office, out of view.  Why did I do this?  Simple.  The guilt over the leaning tower of TBRs was eating away at me, gnawing on me each time I plopped into my chair.  I tried rearranging and restacking them, to no avail.  They didn’t go away or look less daunting, so I banished them to the corner.

How did I find myself in such a conundrum?  Way back in February, at my request, a book blogging friend sent me a box of books as I prepared to launch Book, Line, and Sinker.  I wanted to have some books to review and feared I wouldn’t have enough material.  This kind blogger sent me a box of 20 books and I was overjoyed.  I pawed through the box, reading dust jackets and flipping through pages.

I picked out a book and blazed through it.  And then I started jotting down other bloggers’ suggestions for books and I even started getting review copies from some publishers and authors.  And the 19 books began to collect dust because I was reading everything else first!  Even though the blogger has told me repeatedly that it’s no big deal, I still feel terrible!  

Then, as if I didn’t have enough stuff to do, I created an insane challenge in which I thought I’d read 30 books this summer.  So far, I’ve made my way through 6 (and want to KISS the person who suggested Gargoyle–it was UNBELIEVABLE).  I’m going to keep plugging away but will be content to finish all 30 by Labor Day 2010! 

So, the 19 books are still lurking in my TBR pile only now they’ve found themselves piled below 12 others that are lined up for reviews in August and September.  Will I ever get to them all?  I have a book review each week for the next 8 weeks but should be able to squeeze in some of the 19 between now and September. 

Are you guilty over your TBRs?  How do you handle it?!  I need an intervention or at least have to say a few Hail Marys to assuage my guilt!


Reading Challenge: Book Blogger Picks

After almost four months on the book blog circuit, I have yet to partake in any of the challenges out there.  Some of the challenges are pretty clever, but I’m going out on a limb, creating a challenge just for me, with your help.

For my own reading pleasure, I’m going to create a list of books to read based purely on blogger recommendations.  Anyone who’d care to comment is welcome to leave the title and author of one of your favorite books.  The book can be your all-time favorite read or just a book that you recently read and thoroughly enjoyed. 

I’m going to be reading across genres, so no fretting about that.  I’m just looking to generate some fresh titles and authors for my personal challenge.  Summer is fast approaching and I need some stuff to read while I lounge on the beach.

Are you monogamous?

Hello. My name is Natalie and I’m a literary polygamist.

As you can tell from my sidebar, I keep company with several different reads simultaneously. I hope you won’t think less of me for my wanton ways.

During a typical week, I am in the middle of four different books at school (currently: Of Mice and Men, Great Expectations, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Importance of Being Earnest), a book in my car (Foreign Body), and a book or two at home (American Wife).  I’m a book ho’ and am proud to shout it from the top of my book brothel blog. 

So, do you step out on your books and see others?  Are you able to keep plots and characters straight in your head when your moral compass leads you astray?

Hold That Page: Do You Use a Bookmark?

As an English teacher and avid reader, friends, family, and students often give me book-themed gifts.  To that end, I’ve amassed quite a collection of bookmarks. 

I have traditional paper bookmarks with images of Shakespeare or flowers emblazoned on them; I have ribbon bookmarks with beads and trinkets dangling from the end; I have metal bookmarks that are essentially ornate paperclips.  What I’m trying to say is that I have whole drawers (or draws as we say in Jersey) full of bookmarks.

So, are you ready for the punchline, or did you see it coming from a mile off? 

I rarely, if ever, use any of the bookmarks.  Usually, I  grab whatever’s handy to mark my place–a ponytail holder, a bill, a stray piece of grosgrain ribbon, or even a dollar or coin. 

I’m not sure why I don’t use my bookmarks–maybe because I don’t have them handy when I’m reading?  What I can tell you is that under no circumstances will I dog-ear a page or leave the book open to my page, face down, in a cruel, spine breaking Russian-split.  (I can hear the book screaming in agony and protest!)

I’m not persnickety when it comes to marking my pages and will grab whatever’s handy…but how about YOU?  Are you a spine-breaker?  A dog-ear-er?  Or do you have a favorite bookmark that you just can’t live without?

The Reading Cult for Kids: Scholastic Books

I have vivid recollections of my six years in elementary school.  A few are traumatic–hysterics on the first day of kindergarten after being pried from my mother’s arms and deposited aboard a menacing, yellow bus; a sadistic first grade teacher who sported a towering beehive (in ’81) and took pleasure in punishing disorganized little me by dumping the contents of my desk on to my lap as I sat on the floor crying.  But there were good times amid the trauma. 

I recall the fun that was inhaling the heady scent of mimeographed paper (old-time photocopies for the youngsters!), D.E.A.R time (Drop Everything And Read), and best of all, SCHOLASTIC BOOK FLIERS and FAIRS.


Scholastic has been peddling books to school children via mini-newspapers for almost 60 years.  I perused the flier with the fervor of a lost man studying a map. 

Whole hours were spent poring over the literary possibilities.  The epic decisions that rested on my little shoulders threatened to break me.   Should I stay safe and go with Clifford and Corduroy, or maybe try something new?

Going out on a limb, selecting an unknown author or title, was a venture fraught with peril.  A feeling of unease would set in if I let spontaneity rule; I would invariably pick the cruddiest book that Scholastic offered.  Weeks of anticipation and waiting for my package would be for naught.

I still own a few of my Scholastic purchases to this day.  The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willow Davis Roberts  was one of my favorites and still has a place of honor in the “silver” section of my organized-by-color book cabinet. 

So, ‘fess up.  Were you a Scholastic disciple?  Did you order up books from the little newspaper?  I know this wasn’t only a Jersey thing–sure, we’ve got the market on nuclear waste and the mafia cornered…but other states had to have Scholastic too!

Listen Up: My Love Affair with Audio Books

I spend about 84 minutes a day in my car commuting to and from work.  To help alleviate the stress of driving on the giant highway that is New Jersey, I do two different things to keep me from going loco. 

First, I stay off the Parkway, instead driving on a local road that wends its way along the coastline offering views of the Atlantic Ocean.  Second, I’m listen to books on cd.  I’m an audio book fiend, and I’m proud.

Audio books bring stories to another dimension for me.  Listening to literature harkens back to my childhood, when my dad would tuck me in at night and read me either a Sweet Pickles book or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

If I’m listening to a particularly engaging book, I sometimes sit parked in my driveway for 15 minutes, listening to the end of the chapter.  My husband used to either call my cell phone or peek out the front door to see what I was doing, but he’s since learned.

It’s rare for me to listen to anything other than an audio book when I’m in the car.  Long rides home to my parents’ house cease to bother me as long as I’ve got a book to listen to. 

Am I alone in my adoration of audio books?  Aren’t they the greatest thing since sliced bread?

A Review: Life After Genius

life-after-geniusTitle: Life After Genius

Author: M. Ann Jacoby

Genre: Fiction; 386 pages

Release: 2006

Rating: 1.5 Bookmarks


First things first: I plucked this book from the “NEW BOOKS” shelf at my library for purely aesthetic reasons–I loved the cover and snappy yellow spine.  I hadn’t heard of the book or the author but was willing to give it a try.  Second, to preserve the integrity of my reviews, I don’t read other reviews of the books I’m reading for fear they will color my opinion–I read them after I write my review to see how our reviews stack up.  Third, the first three book reviews on my blog have essentially panned the books–this is purely coincidental. 

Life After Genius tells the story of Theodore “Mead” Fegley, a prodigy who is trying to prove The Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has been stumping the math world for 150 years. 

I really tried to like this book–honest–but the author worked against me at every turn.  The most annoying and unnecessary feature of this book is the non-linear sequence from which it was told.    The book starts out when Mead is 18, 8 days from his college graduation, and bounces back and forth from there.  Each chapter starts with a time frame and location–ie. High Grove, IL. Thrity-six hours before graduation or Chicago Three years before graduation. 

An unknown event occurs that propels Mead to run away from college a few days shy of graduation and from presenting his research on the Riemann Hypothesis.  I was left with a vague sense of annoyance for the remainder of the book, especially when mere chapters from the end, I learned the big secret–something I had guessed a dozen chapters earlier.  Most of the Fegley family members have avoidance issues that manifest themselves throughout the the novel.

In the process of slogging to the end of the book, I learned about Mead’s childhood of being bullied and ostracized, his popular and athletic cousin Percy, his demanding mother, pacifist father, aunt and uncle, and the hallucinations that Mead starts having from a young age.  For a while, I thought Jacoby was going to take the book in the schizophrenic genius direction, but she didn’t.

At college, we meet the requisite quirky mentor-professor and an urbane, wealthy kid who sidles up to Mead, feigning to be his friend.  Though there was adequate character development for Mead, I had a hard time warming up to him.  Most of the other characters, save Percy, were wholly forgettable. 

The end of the book is just this side of absurd and left me utterly speechless.  After I wrote this review, I learned that Jacoby is the art director at Penguin Group USA, and is responsible for book jackets.  It took her fourteen years to write this book and I only wish she would have invested a tad more time, if only to improve the ending.