WordPress 017 – Monthly Wrap-up 002 (May 2013)

Hi everyone.  The end of May is near, and this year is almost half over already. Well, that was quick, wasn’t it?

I’m doing my monthly wrap-up today for May 2013 on the books that I have finished this past month, and also, I will be picking from my Book Jar Vase to see what books I will be reading, which is really exciting, so yay!

Finished in May

ILoveYouPhilipMorris

I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, & Prison Breaks by Steve McVicker

Nonfiction for once!  I picked this book up way back when I saw the movie I Love You Phillip Morris starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.  I grew up watching Jim Carrey in his comedy movies and comedy role, so seeing him in this movie feels rather… out-of-place.  Because romance.  Not so much that it’s a homosexual romance (which takes it a step up), but just romance in general I suppose.  Anyway, enough about the movie, the story of Steven Jay Russell itself was rather interesting, so I enjoyed this book.  The “con” in “con artist,” as I didn’t realize and perhaps many people don’t realize, is “confidence,” and Russell sure had a lot of that to pull off what he did.

UBIK

UBIK by Philip K. Dick

This.  This book.  I put up a Book Experience on this in my last post, and this could be one of my favorites overall.  Very fast-paced, keeps you guessing up until the end, and surprise!  Packs quite a lot for such a “short” book, a little over 200 pages for this edition.

PrideandPrejudiceandZombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Also have a Book Experience up for this, and well… it’s a bit wanting.  This is coming from me as a fan of both Pride and Prejudice and the zombie… genre?  Sub-genre?  The whole zombie thing.

OneFlewOvertheCuckoosNest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

I really enjoyed this book, really did, even though I kept thinking about prison instead of mental hospital that this was set in because I had been watching a lot of OZ, and the entire setting reminded me of it.  It feels very… like it has elements of being controlled by the “authority,” and this one person trying to challenge and change the status quo by not-outright rebelling but by… going against the authority in some way.  Really liked it.

InvisibleMonsters

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

This took longer than I expected only because I needed to really keep everything straight in my head, as the narrator jumped back and forth between events so much.  I think it was the last half or the last third of the book where it all came together and made me go, “Wha- Wait, what happened?”  Surprise after surprise that made me have to rethink the entire story from the beginning.  I believe this is a book where the more you reread it, the better you will understand it.  I do like the thoughtful, poignant moments that the book had, making me think and ponder about the simple things in life.  So thank you, Kevin, for recommending this to me.

From the Book Jar Vase

I’m picking from my Book Vase for the first time!  Yeah, I’m calling it a Book Vase because it’s a vase, so… yeah.  I decided I’ll do three for this month because I’m reading at a decent pace thus far, and it’ll still give me room to read books that I want to read and am looking forward to reading.

BookVaseMurderRoom

The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo

The subtitle reads: “The heirs of Sherlock Holmes gather to solve the world’s most perplexing cold cases.”  Now, Sherlock Holmes himself has a rather special place in my heart ever since I read A Study in Scarlet and a few others (which I need to reread again by now).  There are so many adaptations into movies and TV shows, which I all enjoy, so this will be another take on it I think.  I’m pretty sure I got this a while back, so now I’m finally going to read it!

BookVaseAnthem

Anthem by Ayn Rand

This was also recommended to me by Kevin, now that I remember, so what luck that I pulled this one out!  I don’t know much about it other than it seems to be very dystopian, but flipping through it, I realized that it’s actually much shorter than it appears, especially since the last half of the book is a facsimile of the first edition with all of her edits and rewriting specifically for the American edition.  So… this might not take me too long.

BookVaseSmokeThief

The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe

I showed this one off in my April 2013 book haul, but I actually had the paperback copy around for much longer than that.  I recently found a hardcover copy, which I prefer over paperback, so I decided to include it in the book haul anyway.  We’ll see how this one goes!

Well, that was fun, picking from my Book Vase.  I won’t add in any titles until I finish the rest off, so the more I read, the sooner I can add other titles in.  Summertime is going to begin soon, so I hope everyone had a great vacation and all that!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care!

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WordPress 016 – Book Experience 008 – UBIK by Philip K. Dick (Spoilers)

Hi everyone.  It’s Memorial Day over here, so hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend.  Other than that, I hope you’re having a wonderful Monday all the same.

This week, as promised, I’m going to be doing my Book Experience on UBIK by Philip K. Dick.  WARNING: There will be spoilers, more likely than not.

UBIK

I was recommended to read UBIK after I finished A Scanner Darkly by one of my penpals, Ken, so this would be rather familiar to him.  I wrote my entire experience to him already in a letter, so this will be like a repeat of that.  He mentioned to me that it might take a little bit to really get into any of PKD’s books, but for me, I think I was hooked by the second chapter when Runciter had to go visit his wife, who is suspended in half-life.  From there, it was like a rollercoaster of a ride.  Here’s my book experience that I’ve written out before (with like… really visceral reactions, so pardon the language in some places *will try to clean it up*):

First of all, I thought the entire concept of having psychic spies and anti-psychics to go after them was rather brilliant.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that PKD thought this up back then because it feels so modern, like such a modern concept you know?  How in the world did you do that, oh my god man.  It certainly feels like the next step when it comes to spying, that people aren’t just going to follow you around physically, but they will be able to get at you mentally as well.  Scary thought.

Then I got more into it with the concept of half-life, that burial is considered barbaric, and half-life is the way to go, prolonging the consciousness even after your body ceased working/living.  Then when do you actually die?  What did the concept of death changed to?  I had such a creepy feeling about Jory in the beginning because what the h—, the man is just trying to talk to his deceased wife, and suddenly this other guy pops up and wanting someone to talk to him?  Go away!  That was so creepy.

And Pat.  I thought the whole psychics/anti-psychics was impressive, and I remember the whole concept of precogs from Minority Report, those who can foresee something happening but can’t do anything about it, and then this woman Pat coming out and saying how she wasn’t really impressed by it, and I’m like, “Whaaat?  How can you not be impressed?”  Then she comes out to say that she CAN alter the past by just… not making something happen, and I think my mind got blown then.  It got even more chilling to me the first time Pat did something and Joe Chip and Runciter didn’t even realize at first, and oh my god, that’s so scary.  That someone can change the entire reality, and you wouldn’t even know it?  What the… jesus.

I must admit that the whole explosion on Luna wasn’t something I expected, but at the same time, it was something I was at least familiar with, so I didn’t think much on it.  Like, oh no, an ambush, and Runciter got killed with an explosion.  That kind of scenario is something that is “normal,” but of course, everything after that is anything but normal, and it was quite a rollercoaster ride just reading through it.  I didn’t sense anything wrong with the cream incident, but as more and more suspicious events started popping up everywhere, I think I was like Joe, just piecing it all together.  I was so hooked by then, just wondering, “What the h— is going on!?”

The whole regression and time going backwards was insane, so insane. It was really interesting when Joe wondered why the electronics reverted to something more antiquated, an earlier version of itself rather than back to their raw materials?  I liked that, which added to the whole mystery of it all.  Why indeed? And people dying here and there, and then you first think it was Pat causing all of this because she must be the one god d— it!, and nooo, Joe, oh my god, stay alive please!  Then you find out that Runciter was the one who was alive, while everyone else was in half-life, and my brain just popped.  (I am going to just be incoherent forever here.)

I was even suspicious over Runciter because everything is so suspicious, goodness, someone tell me what is going on!  Then, it was that little… b—— Jory. Oh my god, I don’t think I wanted to tear into a character more than him, and the whole remark about Pat “enjoying” what she was doing, like pulling wings of a fly like some sick maniacal child, and then you find out that Jory has been behind it all and sucking down half-lifers to prolong himself, especially when he needs more of them sooner, and then you find out that nothing can even be done on the outside because people pay money to keep him there, oh my god screw him and his family!  And that there are more out there because they’re all greedy b——s who want to prolong their life, even in half-life (reminds me of the movie In Time, THOSE SELFISH PEOPLE!)  I don’t know how I feel about Ella though because she was helping yes but also going to be passing on the torch to Joe Chip and was going to be reborn anyway… so she was on her way out of half-life, and therefore, away from Jory.  Sigh.

And it was so so so SO not fair that there was a final twist at the end, and ugh, it’s not over yet?  My mind can’t handle it.  I thought Inception was something you know, but this sort of blew Inception out of the water.  Here, just take all of my melted brain matter.  I didn’t need it anyhow.

I was also going to go back and try and see if the order of the people who got killed mattered or something but… that might be overthinking it.  That’s something I tend to do, oh well!

Alright, so that’s my very incoherent, yet visceral Book Experience on UBIK.  If you have your own Book Experience or thoughts on this, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care!

WordPress 015 – Big Books Tag

Hi everyone!  Today pretty much marks the end of my spring semester, and I’ll have a couple of weeks before my summer classes start, so… yeah, no rest really.  In any case, I am going to be doing another book tag today because they’re fun and perhaps somewhat insightful for everyone into my bookish life.

This one is called the “Big Books Tag,” which basically asks you to show off the biggest (i.e. longest) books in your collection.  The person who created it was 1book1review @ YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpcsGi4tTnU  I am not really intimidated by big books, so I was curious as to which ones were actually the longest in my collection.  I’m not going to be counting collected works because they are just multiple works in one single book, which makes them longer than they appear; I’ll just be counting single novels.

Yeah, I won’t make this any more complicated than it needs to be, so without further ado:

The top 5 biggest books that I have read

…Ha, well, as I was doing my little research, it turns out that 4 out of the 5 biggest books that I have read are from Harry Potter.  Hm, well… okay, I’ll just count the longest one from Harry Potter, and just skip over the rest because… redundancy.

Also, during my research, I found that GoodReads doesn’t necessarily have the same number pages as the books have, and the page count differ drastically between paperback and hardcover (which I’ve had to switch over, since I bought a hardcover edition to replace the paperback), so hm… I do see some flaws in this particular tag.  Also, should I count all those pages in the back that has like acknowledgements, notes, references, reading group guide, all that stuff?  Because I did, and now I’m wondering if I should…

Yes, oh my goodness, I’m making things complicated, let’s just dive right in here.

The top 5 biggest books that I have read (for real this time)

# 5 – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger @ 546 pages

TimeTravelersWife

I immediately went out and bought this book after watching the movie and finding out that it was based on a novel.  That’s just how I roll, I guess: “What, there’s a book on this?”  *goes to read it*  I enjoyed it a lot, and there is, of course, a lot more in the book than the movie.

# 4 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak @ 550 pages

BookThief

This.  Yes.  I have my Book Experience on this already, so I won’t repeat myself too much.

# 3 – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck @ 619 pages

GrapesofWrath

One of those books that you had to read in high school.  I read this in my junior year (11th grade), and I remember not enjoying it very much, so I’ve been meaning to reread it and see if I like it better now that I’ve matured a bit.

# 2 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling @ 870 pages

HarryPotterandtheOrderofthePhoenix

Harry Potter this and all the other Harry Potter books around the same length.  By this book, it was really Snape that kept me going and made me want to continue and somewhat finish the series.  Sigh.

# 1 – The Source by James A. Michener @ 1,078 pages

Source

I had to read this over the summer for a history class in high school (and this class had a rather infamous teacher, one of those that you just had to take, so you can brag how you survived the class).  Surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot.  The first story-within-the-story made me react so much that I pretty much read through this without any trouble.  This is how you make history enjoyable, at least for me.  Make it come alive.

The top 2 biggest books that I have not read (yet)

So, I’m going to skip over a lot of books that I have by James A. Michener because they are all over 1,000 pages long.  I do want to read them someday because like I said, I rather enjoyed The Source.

# 2 – Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson @ 927 pages

Quicksilver

I bought this book this month, so it will be featured in May’s book haul.  I keep hearing about Neal Stephenson and have been trying to find Snow Crash to read, but I thought since I found this one, I will give it a try.

# 1 – A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin @ 1,177 pages

StormofSwords

If you had seen my “Book Collector Tag” from last week, this is indeed the longest single book in my collection that I will be getting to as I work my way through A Song of Ice and Fire series.  I’m taking my time with it because once I pick it up to read it, I end up devouring the pages, and I’m afraid I’ll go through the books too fast and end up having to wait for the next book to come out, which might be years!  So yeah.  Taking my time.

BigBooksTag

And that was the Big Books Tag, and I’m glad I did it like this.  It gives a bit of variety of the books I read, those that I read for pleasure, those that I had to read for class and either enjoyed it or didn’t so much, etc.  Let me know of your own big books, if you’d like to share!

Anyway, thanks for reading as always. Until next time, take care and happy reading!

WordPress 014 – Book Experience 007 – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Spoilers)

Hi everyone.

I’m on my last week of the semester, so I’ll be excited to get a little extra time to read more once I’m done.  I’ll wait another week to put up my Book Experience on UBIK, so I thought I’ll put one up on something that I just finished: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.  WARNING: There will be spoilers, more likely than not.

PrideandPrejudiceandZombies

When it comes to Pride and Prejudice, I’m pretty much a big fan of the story.  I actually didn’t read the book first; I saw the movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (and I really like him as Mr. Darcy).  I really liked the time period when it set and the story and the characters, and funnily enough, my brother, who had read the book and saw the BBC series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth for class, told me to get the BBC series because it was better than the movie.  So I got that and watched it and loved it some more.  Then finally I read the book and finished it last year.  There’s more to this regarding the original novel, but I’ll explain that in a future Book Experience when I do one on Pride and Prejudice.

Onto this novel instead.  I actually saw it in Barnes & Noble one day, possibly when it was released, but I didn’t pick it up at the time.  I just went back home and told my brother, and he just got this bewildered look on his face, like “That’s so completely random!”  I have to say that having zombies in classical literature is rather random because… zombies?  It just seems very out of place to have zombies there, no matter what the reason.  Anyway I found this copy for much cheaper, so I decided to buy it and give it a chance.

I found out that the story is almost exactly the same, word-for-word, just with some random zombies and zombie attacks thrown in.  The problem I have is that the zombies don’t even disrupt the flow of the story.  The zombies aren’t even seen or treated as a threat, as a major one at that, especially since they can eat and kill you and have done so right at the beginning.  The story remains linear and unbroken, and it would have been interesting to see the zombies have some kind of effect, but they are almost like a nuisance they have to deal with, like flies in the house.  Why even have them in if they aren’t going to contribute much to the story, change the characters, all that?

Plus the whole thing with them studying in China or Japan… hm… I don’t know about that.  I love Elizabeth Bennett as a character, a strong female character, but this sort of put her and the others over the top.  I especially found it ridiculous that she was able to kill off three of Lady Catherine’s “deadliest ninjas,” rip out the still beating heart of the last one, and actually took a bite out of it.  Wha…  I don’t even.  How does this make sense?  Also, some of the lines and dialogue were changed to suit the entire zombie plot, but it just feels so awkward and a bit funny to read it, like it was an actual “serious” conversation.

So um, yeah.  I think there are just too many contradictions to make this a serious kind of novel, but it could work as a parody I suppose?  The illustrations are rather nice though, I can appreciate that.

So, that is it for my Book Experience on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  If you have your own Book Experience or thoughts on this, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care!

WordPress 013 – Book Collector Tag

Hi everyone, today I’m going to try out a book tag.  There are so many different kinds of them, many of them really interesting to do.  I realize you are supposed to be “tagged” to do them, but it’s unlikely that I would be, so I’ll just do them anyway.

This one is called the “Book Collector Tag,” which contains some questions about your book collection.  As far as I can tell, the person who created it was booksforeverafter @ YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y6g1FFgC8E  I thought this would be a good one to do to give everyone an idea of what my book collection consists of and the like.

Without further ado:

How many books do you own?

I keep track of how many books I own with Goodreads, where I enter in and catalogue my novels and plays.  According to it, I have a little over 600 books now (especially since I went to a library book sale last night).  I had wanted to keep my book collection around 550 or so because that’s about how many that can fit in the two bookcases I have, but apparently that didn’t happen.

The thing is that I don’t catalogue all the books that I have.  Here is a (partial?) list of the books that I don’t count:

  • literature anthologies
  • graphic novels and manga
  • poetry books
  • books I’m swapping/giving away
  • books on the Japanese language from when I studied Japanese
  • oversized books (e.g. collected works of Shakespeare, John Milton)
  • textbooks
  • books on teaching
  • test preparation books
  • manuals (on writing and such)
  • dictionaries…

So, if I included all of that, I would easily have over 1,000 books.  I actually tried counting the extra books that I don’t include in my overall collection and stopped when I reached like 700 so… yeah, I have a lot of books.  Whoops.


How long has it taken to accumulate your collection?

I moved from one state to another in 2001, so that’s when I actually started accumulating my collection.  It was slow at first because I didn’t have the extra funds to put toward book buying.  When I got a part-time job, I started to buy more books, but it was still rather expensive to go to the bookstore and buy books at their regular prices.  I did have to buy books for school to read, especially in university for my undergrad, since I majored in English.  Ultimately, it’s really within the last few years that I acquired much of my collection because I discovered library book sales, books from thrift stores, bargain books that I can get for a fraction of the full price.  Imagine getting a book that used to cost $26 for only $1.  How awesome is that?


How often do you buy books?

I believe on average, I go about once or twice a month to buy books, and I don’t just go to one place.  I love going to Goodwills most of all, and there are about… 4 or 5 around where I live and work, so I try to hit all of them at once.  They are a bit more expensive than libraries, but there is such a varied collection to choose from that always changes and gets updated, so going there and finding some gems in the pile is really worth it.


How do you arrange your books?

I arrange them by author’s last name, which I find the most logical.  What I love to do is getting to reorganize my shelves whenever I have a book haul.  It is the most relaxing and productive thing to do when I have to move my books over and put the new books in the right place.  Sometimes I’m able to see books that I have forgotten about and go, “Oh yeah!  I have to read that…”  I’m a weird person maybe, but getting to spend some time with my books is one of the best feelings.


What was the first book you can remember buying?

I definitely don’t remember the first book I ever bought…  I bought so many, so I don’t remember the first one I ever bought with my own money.  T_T  *tears*


What was the last book that you purchased?

Like I mentioned, I went to a library book sale last night, so all of those books will be shown in the upcoming book haul.  :)


What is the longest book you own?

The longest book that is just a single novel that I have is A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin at 1,177 pages.

The longest book that is a collection of works that I have is The Completed Works of Shakespeare (5th edition) edited by David Bevington at 2,016 pages.


What is the shortest book you own?

The shortest book I own is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (by J. K. Rowling) at only 42 pages.  I really would like to get a better version of this one because it’s an ex-library book, and it is in pretty rough shape.

So, that was the Book Collector Tag, and I hope that gives a bit of an insight on my book collection.  I do want to do more of these because they are so much fun, and some are very creative.  If you’d like to answer the questions yourselves, please do so!  I’d love to hear about them.

Anyway, thanks for reading as always. Until next time, take care!

WordPress 012 – Book Experience 006 – A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (Spoilers)

Hi everyone.

I finished UBIK recently and was thinking about doing today’s Book Experience on it, but I figure I would wait until I get my letter out to Ken, who told me to read it in the first place.  Basically my Book Experience is already in that letter, and it’s probably better to read it from there than here.  So, I’ll do a Book Experience on a play that I read last month: A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.  WARNING: There will be spoilers, more likely than not.

StreetcarNamedDesire

I mentioned before that I had read another play by Tennessee Williams a while ago in college called The Glass Menagerie, and I rather liked it.  A Streetcar Named Desire is a play that keeps coming up for me; I just keep seeing it here and there, so I decided to get it and read through it, since I wanted to try another play by Williams anyway.

I definitely like the contrast between the two sisters when I read it: Stella and Blanche.  Their personalities, how they act, how they dress, how they are portrayed as women, even their names are so different.  I can’t really say I like them as female characters (and I think I’m just picky when it comes to likable female characters, especially ones who I would like to be strong), but yeah, it was just real interesting to see it all laid out like that.

As for Stanley, I knew there was a reason why I didn’t like him… just something about him rubbed me the wrong way.  It’s probably just to portray how men can be, like those men of the house and expect their wives to cook them a good meal and all that, very clear male/female roles in society and in the family.  Stella also falls into that role, so… I wish she did stick up to him sometimes.

It also felt like Blanche was hiding something, since she was talking about the plantation so much, although I didn’t expect the whole… finding out your husband was gay kind of thing.  And the whole thing with Stanley, that was unexpected as well, and I think that made the entire ending very depressing because she was going to be sent to a mental hospital, where nobody would believe her, even though she was to tell about Stanley.  That just… sucks on so many levels.

I enjoy reading plays like this because somehow, it tells a lot about human nature… it just feels very real.  I have enjoyed Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller for the same reason.  That was a very melancholy story as well.

So, that is it for my Book Experience on A Streetcar Named Desire.  If you have your own Book Experience or thoughts on this, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care!

WordPress 011 – Book Jar

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all having a great week so far.

So, I’m excited to do this rather bookish post, which is something different from my Book Experiences so far.  I’ve seen so many people from the BookTube Community on YouTube doing this and putting up videos about it at the end of last month, so I thought I’d give it a try.  It’s on this Book Jar concept started by Alex in Leeds: http://alexinleeds.com/2013/03/23/the-book-jar-page/ , which is where you take a jar and fill it up with titles of books you’ve been meaning to read.  You choose a book at random from the jar once a month or something and read it, and that will hopefully be a start on decreasing your pile of unread books.  Of course you do it however you like, and this is my own Book Jar.

BookJar01

When I first saw the videos, I didn’t have a jar readily available, so I thought I would do my book jar in this little gift card holder that’s in the shape of a book (shown on the left).  However, it was rather laughable because I figured I would probably only be able to fit a handful of book titles in there before it got full.  So, I went to a dollar store and tried to find a decent jar that I could use, and I found… this vase (shown on the right).  Eh, close enough.  I mean it’s certainly big enough for all my (literally) hundreds of books, so why not?  I decided that I would use all these colored Post-Its that I have as well because I have a lot of them.  I love my Post-Its, that’s for sure.

BookJar02

So, I started to handwrite the titles and authors down, and yes, of course I can be totally lazy and just print it out or something, but this was an intimate process.  I wanted to take some time and remember all the books that I’ve ever gotten (and probably forgotten about) over the years.

BookJar03BookJar04

Then (because I wanted to make this more complicated that it really needed to be) I decided to fold each little Post-It paper like so.  Hey, this was one of those rare moments when a hint of creativity hits me, and I decided to go for it.  I like the way they turned out, instead of just strips of paper stuffed into a jar.  This gives it a bit of personality, I tell you.

BookJar05

Of course, I soon realized that if I did in this way, I wouldn’t be able to fit that many books in… uh, whoops.  Oh well.  That’s okay.  I can do it in batches.  It’s my Book Jar/Vase, so I can do it however I like.

BookJar06BookJar07

So in the end, I believe I wrote down 25 books, some of the first books I ever started to catalog and keep track of, and they fit rather perfectly inside.  I hope that I will be able to pull out random ones at the end of every month to read for the next month.  I need to pick up my reading pace!

Anyway, thanks for reading as always. Until next time, take care!