Tag Archives: book line and sinker

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:


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

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’.       

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!


"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…


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 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!