Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Websites Built for Bibliophiles


     So I love to read, but I am also a child of the Digital Age, so I spent a fair amount of time screwing around on the Internet.  As a result, I frequent a lot of book-centric websites.  Here are a few of my favorites!

1. http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com/
I can't tell you how helpful this little search engine is.  Just type in the name of a book you like and it will pull up a list of related recommendations.
2. http://www.hatrack.com/
This is Orson Scott Card's blog.  Through it, he imparts his writer-ly wisdom.  You all know how much I love Card, so you can probably guess what I think of this site.
3. http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/
The magazine is famous, but who has the money to subscribe?  I like rummaging through the site's archives, reading essays and stories from old issues.
4. http://www.sparknotes.com/
Before you tear me to pieces, allow me to explain.  I'm not suggesting that y'all read Sparknotes instead of actual books.  I would never condone such treachery!  I've found that the Sparknotes website is actually a hub of nerd activity (as I write this, "This week's Sherlock Geek Quiz is anything but elementary" and "Welcome to the jelly-filled heart of Panem!" are among the most popular posts).  
Now that I think about it, though, it makes complete sense that Sparknotes would be full of nerds.
5. https://instagram.com/hotdudesreading/
I shake with laughter every time I scroll through this account.  CHECK IT OUT.

     - Carly

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Never Thought I'd Write an Obituary

     My non-fiction writing idol, William Zinsser, died last Tuesday at the age of 92.  I didn't know him but I spoke to him once on the phone, to interview him for this blog.  
     It's a strange thing when someone you adored from a distance dies.  I'm not grieving, although I feel for his family and friends, who must be.  I just wish he was still out in the world, advocating simplicity and advising writers.  I knew that he was old, but I didn't think about the implications of his age.  I had hoped that if I ever wrote a memoir, he might want to see it.  An improbable fantasy - but now it's impossible.  
     It's also strange that Zinsser's death should come in the same week as the anniversary of another, more personal death.  I don't know.  It is sad that these people aren't here anymore.  I feel Zinsser's absence like I would feel the loss of a molar.  
     This isn't much of an obituary - sorry.  This is just to say that I'm going to miss knowing that William Zinsser is alive.

     - Carly

The New York Times obituary -
it's a lot more detailed than mine, go check it out

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Book Gift-Giving Guide

     Is this post relevant to this season?  No.  But do I care?  Again, no.
     Below you will find a list of personality types and books that might make good gifts for each.  I don't pretend to address all or even most of the personality types on Earth with this list, and I can't guarantee that the recipient of your gift will enjoy the books that I recommend, but hey, I'm trying.

NERD: This one's easy - wrap up a science fiction classic!  I suggest Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card, or The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  The His Dark Materials trilogy is great too, although it's more fantasy than science fiction.

That Person Who Loves Inspirational Quotes: A Chicken Soup for the Soul book is definitely a safe bet here.  

Traveler: 1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz is perfect for someone who is constantly planning their gap year or retirement trip around the world.  

That Person Who Likes to Cry: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is about a toy rabbit who loses his child.  I know it sounds like a children's book, but it's too sad to be for kids! 

Athlete: If this is a kid, give him or her any one of those Mike Lupica books about teenagers and sports and perseverance.  For a slightly older audience, I prefer The Running Dream by Wendelin van Draanen.  The main character is a track star who loses a leg in a car accident.

That Person You Can't Stand: Give them the entirety of one of those endless series targeted at middle school girls that use brand names as adjectives.  

     - Carly

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review: Gotham Writers' Workshop Fiction Gallery

     Remember when I said I was going to read more short stories this year?  Well, I'm keeping my word, because this is a collection of short stories!
     Initially I was disappointed that the stories in this collection were written by famous authors and not by students of Gotham Writers' Workshop, because I liked the idea of supporting new writers.  I guess some Gotham teachers just picked from the general pool of published short stories?  Anyway, they made some excellent selections.
     I especially liked "For a Long Time This Was Griselda's Story" by Anthony Doerr. It describes the very different life paths chosen by two sisters and makes you wonder whether one is better than the other.  "After the Plague" by T.C. Boyle is a hilariously realistic post-apocalyptic tale in which the antisocial survivors of a plague really, really can't stand each other.  "Crazy Life" by Lou Mathews was my favorite, though.  This story explores the strange and complicated strength of a girl who takes care of the boy she loves, at one point saving him from going to prison, even though he doesn't give her much in return.  By the end of "Crazy Life," I was full of new thoughts and free of answers. People always judge women with "bad taste" in men, but I couldn't find it in me to judge the protagonist of this story for staying with her boyfriend.
     I want to write something like that!

Book + Feet