BBAW: Have you heard about…

A few months ago, I put out a plea to book bloggers for help with a personal reading challenge I was developing–Off The Deep End Summer Reading–and asked for suggestions of bloggers’ favorite books.  I turned to book bloggers rather than more traditional sources (New York Times Book List, Washington Post, etc) because I think we cover a broader spectrum; we’re not only reading best-sellers or books that have been marketed heavily. 

The response was overwhelming–over 30 titles–some I had read but most I hadn’t.  And so began my reading binge of GREAT BOOKS suggested by book bloggers.  I’ve only managed to get through eight of the 30 books so far, but it’s more fun to savor them!  (To view this list with LIVE links to the blogs and the books, click HERE.)  If your TBR pile ever gets low, stop by and take a look at my list again!

Here’s a (partial) snapshot of the original post with images of the suggested titles–my two favorites so far were The Help and The Gargoyle:

bk

List of book recommendations without links to blogs:

  1. Autobiography of a Fat Bride by Laurie Notaro (Erica of Pannonica) 6/11/09
  2. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (Vivienne of Serendipity)
  3. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Claire from Kiss a Cloud) 6/17/09
  4. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (Anastasia from Bird Brained Book Blog)
  5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Hayden from Through the Illusion)
  6. Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson (Dani at Positively Present)
  7. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Heather at Book Addiction)
  8. End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson (Keri at Bookends) 6/6/09
  9. Wise Children by Angela Carter (Veronica at I Lived On Rum)
  10. And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer (Lynn at Lynn’s Little Corner of the World)
  11. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Stephanie at The Written Word and Belle of the Books) 8/24/09
  12. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (Jackie at Farm Lane Books)
  13. Namako: Sea Cucumber by Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Christy at The Daily Dish)
  14. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Jena at Muse Book Reviews) 7/19/09
  15. One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash (Suzi Q Oregon at Whimpulsive)
  16. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Florinda at The 3 Rs) 6/19/09
  17. One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon (Becky at My Thoughts…Your Thoughts)
  18. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (Belle from Ms. Bookish)
  19. Cloud Street by Tim Winton (Susan and Meredith from Whelan Flynn)
  20. The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart (Institutrice)
  21. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Carrie K. from Books and Movies)
  22. The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson (Bybee from Naked Without Books)
  23. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (Beth from Beth Fish Reads)
  24. Clown Girl by Monica Drake (Stephanie from Please, Stop Bouncing)
  25. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Claire from Kiss a Cloud)
  26. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Emily from The World Inside My Head)
  27. Popular Music in Vittula by Michel Niemi translated by Laurie Thompson (Chartroose from Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage!)
  28. No One You Know by Michelle Richmond (Avisannschild from She Reads and Reads) 8/2/09
  29. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (Soft Drink from Fizzy Thoughts)
  30. Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (I spotted a review for this one on StephSu’s blog) 5/31/09
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BBAW Interview: Proust Questionnaire starring Amy from Amy Reads Good Books

Questionairre Logo

 

 

 

“Since July 1993, the back page of Vanity Fair has been devoted Proust Questionnaire, in which a noteworthy person answers a series of personal questions.  The questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust (1871-1922), the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.” —Vanity Fair magazine

To spice up our BBAW interview swap, Amy and I decided to use Vanity Fair’s format.  Amy’s interview is below and you can read all about me at Amy Reads Good Books.  Enjoy!

Amy from Amy Reads Good Books

Amy from Amy Reads Good Books by Gina (Nat's sister-in-law)

Meet Amy of Amy Reads Good Books.  She’s an English professor at a small college in Ohio and enjoys memoirs, women’s fiction, and books about food and travel.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I can get just a wee bit obsessed about learning something new

Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be able to sing well

What do you most value in your friends?

Ready smiles and ready comfort

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A cozy dinner with people I love, candles, and a nice wine

Which living person do you most admire?

My mom

Where would you like to live?

In the woods, near a nice hiking trail, with a cozy studio for reading and writing

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Procrastination

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Grief, experienced alone

Who are your favorite writers?

Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Nick Carraway

Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?

Emma Woodhouse

Who are your favorite poets?

Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Gluck, Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath

How would you like to die?

Unaware

What is your motto?

Okay, I confess that I don’t have one.  After a little googling, however, I was charmed by this one: Amor tussisque non celantur–Love, and a cough, are not concealed. (Ovid)

Thanks to the organizers of BBAW for putting together such a wonderful opportunity for book bloggers to meet and greet.  Amy and I hope you liked our spin on the book blogger interview swap.

For more information on Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, or to review the complete list of questions and answer them yourself, visit Vanity Fair.  If you’re a fan of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, look for the coffee table collection, coming in October.

BBAW: Gratitude is My Attitude

bbawThank you so much for the warm welcome into the book blogging community.  The last six months have flown by and I never knew just how rewarding niche blogging could be.  I was thrilled to be nominated (Mom, did YOU submit my name?!) for several categories and was over the moon to be shortlisted in two.  I appreciate the recognition but know that no matter how comprehensive, there’s no way BBAW could shine light onto every book blog out there.  That said, I’d like to add a few of my favorite book blogs that didn’t make the shortlists.  A visit to these blogs would be time well spent!

Amy Reads Good Books: Not only is Amy my BBAW interview partner, but she’s also a talented writer and lover of books.

Heather at Book Addiction:  Heather is at the top of my feed reader for alphabetical reasons AND she’s always one of my favorite go-to blogs for reviews that are honest and concise.

Lisa at Books on the Brain: Lisa was the first person to ever leave me a comment on my life blog, nearly two years ago.  For that reason alone–the encouragement to keep blogging when NO ONE was reading my ramblings–is enough for me to highlight her.  But Lisa also has great discussions, is cohost of TLC Book Tours, and has a real-life book club that I’d love to join–just a few more reasons to love her!

Jennifer at Literate Housewife: Not only do I adore Jennifer’s layout but I also enjoy her posts and reviews.  Learning that she started her blog to help give her life some balance was also impressive to me!

Vivienne at Serendipity: My go-to blog when I need a hearty dose of England!  V always has great pictures–of her books, scrapbooking pages, and tourist sites she visits.  She’s always quick with a comment and very friendly!

Steph & Tony Investigate: Not a books-only blog but worth a visit if only to read the wonderfully erudite book reviews. 

Write Meg! I love Meg’s blog–she and I have really similar tastes in books so this might be why I enjoy stopping by so much…but to be honest I think it’s really because she’s so friendly and nice–always leaving funny comments! 

And here are a few of the over 85 book blogs on my reader–I’m only sorry I couldn’t include them all!  I hope you’ll enjoy these blogs as much as I do. 

Thank you to everyone who visits, comments, or links Book, Line, and Sinker.  You help to make this blog what it is!

Review: The Collector by John Fowles

I was recently invited to write a guest review for Pattinase’s blog feature ‘Friday’s Forgotten Books’.  I selected John Fowles’s 1963 debut novel The Collector.  If you’ve never read this novel, it really is a forgotten classic–maybe even a forerunner of the psycho-thriller genre– but often overshadowed by Fowles’s later novel ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’.

Take a peek: Pattinase’s ‘Friday’s Forgotten Books’.       

Books and Beyond: What else or where else do you review?

One of my favorite aspects of book blogging is writing book reviews.  Maybe it speaks to my background as an educator–constantly evaluating and analyzing.  Whatever it is, I love to write reviews and with the advent of the internet have gone beyond reviewing solely books.  In addition to posting my  reviews here, I also submit them to Amazon.com.

Last year I joined Trip Advisor (nat-n-ant) and have since published a few reviews of the hundreds of places we’ve traveled to during our annual summer road trips.  Though Trip Advisor has been recently criticized for review integrity, I love the site and have found many wonderful places to visit and restaurants to try that I might have otherwise missed.  I have notes on so many great places (pictures, too!) and fully intend to post more reviews when I have some free time.   

I also write short book reviews and recommendations for my local library.  Brevity is the key to those mini-reviews–written on an index card–something that can be elusive to a chatterbox such as myself!  I love suggesting great books to other people and recently got some great feedback from a teen volunteer who read Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty at my recommendation.  She told me that she loved the book and read the remaining books in the series to find out what happened to the characters.

At restaurants, I always fill out comment cards complimenting on the good and noting the not-so-good.  When given constructively, feedback is a valuable tool for any company that deals with the public.

So, how about you?  Are you a reviewer of books or other things on sites beyond your blog?  Do you write for Yelp! or some of the others that offer public opinion?

The Agony and The Ecstasy: Summer Reading

18 years ago this week found a desperate, 17-year-old me scrambling to secure a VHS copy of The Elephant Man from my local library because school was starting and I had yet to read the required (and dreaded) Summer Reading assignment*!  Now friends, believe me when I tell you that cribbing on a test was waaay harder before the advent of the internet; Sparknotes and Pink Monkey were the stuff of the procrastinating student’s (read: my) dreams.  Instead, I was shelling out $4.95 at Walden Books for a book version of Cliff Notes.  (The irony that I read a Cliff Notes book to avoid reading the actual novel is not lost on me.)

Almost two decades later I’ve crossed over to the dark side, creating and correcting Summer Reading tests instead of sweating through them, attempting to fool my teacher into believing I read the books with vague references to conflicts, plot structure, and theme in my essays. 

The (only) great thing about my checkered academic history is that I know ALL the tricks because I’ve pulled them.  I assign my students two books for Summer Reading–one classic and one contemporary.  I know that most of them use Sparknotes and the like for the classic…but not for the contemporary one! 

As I was grading Summer Reading quizzes (given the first day of school!) last year, I came across these gems.  The candor!  The wit!  I love my job.  Let’s have a look at a few of my favorites from 2008.  What will 2009 bring?  One can only imagine!

sparknote

"I didn't read this book because I thought that Sparknotes had every book. So, I was planning on reading it last night but Sparknotes didn't have it. 😦 "

C’mon!  Does it get any better than that?   Well, maybe…

 note2

And this, in a nutshell, is why I love my job and adore Summer Reading–if only for the fodder they both provide my blog. 

So, were you a concientious student who always did his/her Summer Reading or were you a hellion like me–waiting until the last possible second to do your school work?!?  Does Summer Reading serve a purpose?  Did your school district spare you (or your kids) from the pain that is Summer Reading?  Inquiring minds want to know.

*The Collector by John Fowles was the other book I was required to read.  When I finally got around to reading the novel (a few months into the school year) it became one of my favorite books! 

Cheat Sheet: Basics of Stumbleupon, Technorati, and others

A few days ago, prolific book blogger and commentor extraordinaire, Kathy (Bermuda Onion), mentioned wanting a better understanding of some of the blogging and social marketing tools available to us on the web.  This one’s for you, Kathy! 

I drafted up this simplified glossary for anyone looking for a basic understanding of some of the technology out there that can promote not only your blog or website, but other blogs and websites that you enjoy.  I’m not promising a dissertation here, just a very basic sketch of a few networks.  Feel free to edit via the comments–I’m no expert!

technoratiTechnorati:  Technorati is a blog-based search engine that indexes over 112 million blogs and 250 million tags–the words/phrases we use when we type our posts, the themes or main ideas.  In plain English, Technorati offers an up-to-the minute return of results for specific issues being discussed on the blogs as they happen, as opposed to a Google search which might return older information.  Technorati also ranks blogs by popularity and authority–authority being how many links the blog has received in the previous six months.  There’s much debate of the accuracy of Technorati’s ranking, but feel free to claim your blog (joining is free) and you will be able to see who’s linked your blog and get an idea of how your blog fares against others. 

stumbleStumbleupon: This is a fun one–I love stumbling.  Stumbleupon is a search engine that relies on user recommendations and ratings, allowing Stumblers to rate and recommend blogs or websites to their friends via social networking.  Say I stumble upon a fun site that I think a few of my friends would like, I simply let them know about it via Stumbleupon.  Once you join (free), you can install a toolbar and click the Stumble button–and, a bit like the Time Traveler, you’ll magically end up at a blog or website within the parameters you set (ie. cooking, food, baking OR books, reading, literature).  It’s a nifty way to find niche blogs and websites that you might not have otherwise found.  You are encouraged to rate AND submit sites–Thumbs Up or Down–to help other Stumblers on their way.  You can stumble a great blog post or fun website.  Take it from me, you can pass an easy hour stumbling from site to site!

digg

DIGG: Digg is a social website where people submit news, stories, or web content and other readers can comment and vote on the information.  Stories can be voted into the upper echelon–they are “DUGG”, while less popular stories are “BURIED”.   Per Wiki, the site has come under fire for ‘allowing users too much control over the site’s content allowing sensationalism and misinformation to thrive’. 

deliciousdel.icio.us:  del.icio.us is an organization freak’s best friend.  Simply install the toolbar and you’ll be on your way to keeping your favorite websites in order!  It’s a social bookmarking site in that you can share your bookmarked sites with your del.icio.us friends.  Say, as a book blogger, I have 100 websites that I love to visit–NY Times Book Review, B&N, publisher sites, NYMag,  etc.  I can tag these (ie. reviews, New York, publishers, magazines) and sort my 100 favorite sites by tags, keeping everything nice and tidy. Now imagine that Kathy from Bermuda Onion and  Trish from HeyLady! Whatcha Readin’?  join up and become my friend.  I can now link them to my bookmarks and they can link me to theirs.  Kathy might have some great sites I haven’t seen before and Trish might be excited to find that she can search my New York tags and see what’s going on in the city!  Another handy tool to keep you organized.

So, these are just a few of the many sites out there to help promote blogs and websites and to create a sense of community.  I hope you gleaned a bit of info that can help you decide if any of these applications are for you!  Enjoy the holiday weekend!