October 2011 Reads

I didn’t get through very many books this month. I usually read before bed, but I’ve been super exhausted. I’ve been falling asleep before I even get through a whole chapter sometimes.

*Note: I’m not a crazy cat lady. Ashes was meowing doing figure 8′s around my ankles when Jake was taking this photo, so I picked her up because she would have obviously died without a bit of attention. As soon as I put her down Charcoal, our other cat, started doing the same thing. He’s a little too heavy to just plop on a stack of books though. So Ashes won this blog post.

October 2011 Reads

This month I finished up the textbook I started reading in September, read one of the vintage mystery books I thrifted recently, read my monthly book on creative writing, and devoured one piece of fluff. I didn’t get to anything really from the color stacks this month (we organize our books by color and I’m working through every book we own that I haven’t read one stack at a time).

Great Transformation

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions (2006) by Karen Armstrong

What you need to know: I actually told you everything you need to know in last month’s Reads post, but I spent half the month reading this, so I’m including in this month’s post too.

And now for a quote: “The Axial Age needed to craft a new vision because humanity had taken a social and psychological leap forward. People had discovered that each person was unique.”

Bridget Jones's Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) by Helen Fielding

What you need to know: This is pure fluff, but it is funny and fun.

I read this during our hard week. Reading the book equivalent of a chick flick is a guilty pleasure of mine when I’m blue.

I like this book because it is honest. Bridget is quirky, neurotic, bizarre, and a little crazy. However, it does make me very sad from a feminist perspective. It’s hard for me to focus on the plot with all of the calorie counting and obsession with a warped body image. It depresses me that this is probably the norm; that this is something that countless women (and men too, to a lesser extent) experience every day. It also bothers me that this is supposed to be part of the humor of the book. Silly Bridget, with her starving herself and her binge eating. Oh, how drool. Also, I don’t like that it resolves as if everything is okay once she’s got a boyfriend. Because that solves all of life’s problems, of course.

I’d love it without all of that. My sociology degree ruins things for me, I suppose.

And now for a quote: “Kathleen Tynan would not, when late with a press release for Perpetua, lie fully dressed and terrified under the duvet, chain-smoking, glugging cold sake out of a beaker and putting on makeup as a hysterical displacement activity. Kathleen Tynan would not allow Daniel Cleaver to sleep with her whenever he felt like it but not be her boyfriend. Nor would she become insensible with drink and be sick. Wish to be like Kathleen Tynan (though not, obviously, dead).”

dash of style

A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman

What you need to know: This isn’t packed full of punctuation rules; it’s a guide for creative writers on how to use punctuation to better convey meaning. It is also a great tool for bloggers looking to improve their writing.

This isn’t about the rules. Lukeman even gives examples of famous novelists that break the rules to great effect. This is about understanding when punctuation can do so that it works for you. This book helped me to understand why I do what I do. For instance, I get parentheses happy on the blog, but never ever use them in my manuscript or short stories. It’s something I do without thinking about it. Now I know that parentheses create a comfortable informality. Knowing this helps me to be more conscious of what I do.

And now for a quote: “Some authors, like Camus, Carver, and Hemingway, used the period heavily. Although short sentences tend to be dismissed as amateur or juvenile, there are times when short sentences work well, when a work can even demand such a style.”

Journey into Fear

Journey Into Fear (1940) by Eric Ambler

What you need to know: This is the best so far of the classic mystery novels I’ve been reading.

Because it was character driven instead of just plot driven. Graham is a believable character, which is rare in these types of books. He’s a regular guy put in an exciting life-or-death chase. He doesn’t randomly develop super hero powers. He’s in denial, he fumbles, he makes mistakes. He’s human. And that makes the exciting I’m-stuck-on-a-boat-with-someone-who’s-trying-to-kill-me thing that much more awesome.

And now for a quote: “For Graham a gun was a series of mathematical expressions resolved in such a way as to enable one man, by touching a button, to project an armour-piercing shell so that it hit a target several miles away plum in the middle.”

October 2011 Reads

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? What have you read lately?