Finding the Words

The hardest part of writing reviews whether it’s about books, movies, or video games is finding just the right words to measure how you feel about something. So you liked The Avengers? Okay… why? And there’s where you get stuck. I’ve seen the film four times in theaters, but do you see a review on here? No, and I highly doubt that you will because I don’t want to write one. If I did write anything specifically dissecting aspects of that film it would be to defend the appearance of Black Widow and Hawkeye from all the backlash about them being useless additions to the superhero love-fest. I’m looking at you, George Martin.

Back in late April when I joined other bloggers for Dewey’s 24 Hours Read-A-Thon I decided to write my thoughts about the book I was reading so that I could remember specific thoughts or feelings to include in my book review that would be written after the event so that I could have maximum possible time reading books instead of laboring over how to express my thoughts. I liked this notion of writing down live reactions as I read and swore to use it from then on with everything… only to promptly abandon it most of the time.

Have you noticed how much easier it is to say why you dislike something? I was all set to write up a review for an e-book, but I was finding so much to dislike about it that I realized I could be reading something better instead of wasting my time on something that wasn’t. It’s quite amusing that my main problem was with the characters, although when you look at some of the characters that I do like in books or films you would wonder what is wrong with me… unless of course you happen to know me and know my tastes. Because it would all make sense. And then you would wonder why I even tried to read this book in the first place. All I can say in my defense is: if it’s free it’s for me. And I try to read outside my comfort zone since you never know what book will happen to strike your fancy.

So I will finish C.S. Lewis soon and then labor over expressing why I like his book.

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And if the world doesn’t end in 2012, then what?

I find it very hard to stick to my guns about not buying books. I’ve been indulging in unrestricted purchasing for years so it’s a very hard habit to break. Although I feel that it’s worth it to show I’m actually accomplishing something by giving myself a goal in my reading and not buying unless I reach that goal. I am tackling that bane of my reading existence, the knowledge that I have all these potentially great books sitting on my shelf and yet I spend all my time reading books from the library or new books I’ve bought to pack into the limited shelf space. So 2012 has been a year of trying to accomplish something.

I was quite pleased to realize that my unread books have reached the realm of forty books. When did that happen? But then I realize it’s because I haven’t been buying books to replace what I read at such an alarming rate. Some books I probably would have read already, but I wanted to save the best for last like my Tolkien books. And there are some others that are part of series or so highly recommended that I just keep putting off for similar reasons. So that leaves stand-alone books that leave me with mixed feelings. Some of them I have been wanting to read and others I wonder why I bought them in the first place. Was it because they were cheap? I admit there were times I hated walking out of the bookstore without having bought something and I wonder why I chose this instead of that. I have a feeling that I’ll be clearing off some shelf space soon.

Yet despite all my self control, what will happen once 2013 rolls around? Do I return to unrestrained book buying binges and see myself back in the same predicament? I certainly hope not. I am thinking about putting a less severe restriction upon myself to help keep any impulses in check. I was thinking about allowing myself to buy any books I wanted to, but make a limit of five books each month. I offer five since I am usually able to read at least that many books each month. I feel that would be a reasonable limit to place upon myself until such time that I have read through all the unfinished books that I own.

Perhaps 2013 will be devoted to watching all those DVDs (movies and season boxed sets) that are langushing on the shelves. Or playing through the insane amount of unfinished video games for both console and handheld systems.

P.S. I kind of have the urge to play Marvel vs. Capcom 3 again and use Hawkeye, Dante, and Amaterasu in my party once more.

Second Thoughts

If my past history has proven anything, it’s that I can change my mind about how I feel regarding a book. I would have given The Hobbit three Rings when I first read it, but after reading it a second time? A solid five! I don’t know why. Perhaps because I was in a hurry to get to The Lord of the Rings since the first of the films was going to be released later in the year and I had planned on seeing it in theaters. (In truth I didn’t get to see it until the summer after once it was on DVD.) The more time that went by after I finished The Count of Monte Cristo I realized that it was brilliant as the story and characters continued to simmer in my mind long after I closed the book.

Yet they haven’t always been positive changes in my thinking. I reread The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt for the first time since I was a budding adolescent and while I still really enjoyed it, I don’t think it was a perfect five in my present reflection. There was one period since I’ve started this blog where I altered my ring ratings for reviews on here. Two books actually but that’s after the series’ glow wore off and I realized what they were missing and the books were slowly becoming. (There’s actually a post regarding this annoyance in the drafting stage, but I’m afraid to post it and then decide to delete it later because I sound like pointless ranting…) I’ve since rid myself of all those books, except for the first book in the series, which I’m still having a debate about whether to keep or not.

Yet I wonder if I rated other books high enough. Actually I’m thinking about Runemarks. Did my experience of the audiobook detract any from what I would have felt reading the book myself? I’ve said before that some readers are fantastic, some are okay, and others are horrid. The one for Runemarks didn’t blow me away so I wonder if perhaps I should have given it a higher score. My boyfriend told me I was squee-ing over it as though it had earned a solid five Rings! Should I have rated it higher after all? Would that just make me indecisive on here and not to be trusted if I can’t even settle on a single solution? However, since I now own a paperback of the novel for my own collection, I plan on reading it before starting Runelight and perhaps I can settle this dilemma.

So, dear readers, do you change your minds on what books you read? Tell me about some books you’ve had second thoughts about during your reading adventures.

Random Book Love

I am plotting another purge of my bookshelves where those poor unfortunate souls that do not rank as favorites or really good reads will find themselves on their way to a new home. Perhaps at this rate my reference books will see themselves equal to pleasure reading for a change.

One of the books that I refuse to part with is Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars. It’s kind of amusing that I never even heard of this book until a few years ago during a routine browsing of the shelves at Borders with the notion of acquiring something new for my TBR pile because I surely didn’t have enough to read. I didn’t always find myself in the horror section, but I wanted that book. All it took to sell me on that point was the fact that it was about Egyptology.

Before giving in to temptation and buying this book, the only experience I had with Bram Stoker was through the obvious choice Dracula. While I didn’t love Stoker’s ode to bloodsuckers, I liked it. However, nothing prepared me for how I was sucked into The Jewel of Seven Stars! I remember that I found it difficult to put the book down. Sometimes I would lay on my bed (which was my favorite spot to read at the time) and just keep reading certain passages. I purposely took longer than necessary to finish it because I didn’t want it to be over.

It’s been almost three years since I last picked up this novel. My unreliable memory makes it impossible to recall all the details that I could impress upon you regarding just why I enjoyed this book so much. The experience has become more emotional than rational until I find the time to visit this novel’s pages once again. When it comes time to reread books labeled as “favorites” for a second time, this title will be very high on the list.

Do we still have Paris?

Since The Paris Wife is a pretty popular novel (#4 according to NPR’s list of bestselling fiction in hardcover) I thought I would give it a chance. I probably would have listened to it as an audiobook if I found one, and perhaps in that format I would have listened to the end without giving voice to doubt. However, since I am reading the hardcover edition from the library I am taking space from my reading time to peruse this book.

Yet I’m losing interest, I believe…

It started out pleasant enough. Yet once Hadley and Ernest are married and they go to Paris, I expected something more… well, more. Perhaps I hoped for a love letter to Paris like the movie Midnight in Paris, but they might as well still be in the States for all that really happens or is described. Hadley doesn’t really distinguish herself from Ernest. She has no hobbies or interest beyond playing piano and perhaps the occasional novel to fill her time. Her life goes from dull to boring as she pines and whines when Ernest goes off to write correspondence for the magazines.

My concern is whether or not to continue with a book that doesn’t seem to be doing it for me. At this rate if I were to finish it I would be giving the book two Rings. It has promise but ultimately unfulfilled. Right now I am about half done with The Paris Wife. I wonder whether I should hope that it improves in the second half, or abandon this current venture for something holding more promise. I suppose the wisest course would be to move on.

I checked out a couple of Hemingway’s novels for my significant other on my library card so I could always read A Farewell to Arms if the urge arose. Still I rather preferred to read more of Scott Fitzgerald before attempting to get into Hemingway.

Indulgence and Dumas

I have finally decided that since I passed my goal a couple of books ago it was time to treat myself to the purchase of a new book. Still how am I to select which book that continues what I already own on the shelves? The Enchantress and The Serpent’s Shadow will not be released until May. I suppose that the paperback edition of River Marked is an option, but I kind of wanted to reread the entire Mercy series before getting her latest adventure. Since I haven’t started the History of Middle-Earth series I imagined I would save the final two books that I do not possess to use as something to request for my birthday. So there were a few options, but I settled on getting the sequel to a book I enjoyed so much earlier this year and that book would be the following:

So it was ordered through Amazon last night in addition to the film adaptation of The Three Musketeers that I enjoy so well. That would be the one that stars Lana Turner and Gene Kelly. It’s my favorite version and it’s a pity that I’ve put off owning the film for so very long. I really need to read that book again. Although I reckon that reading the first book will inspire to read the rest of the d’Artagnan Romances in the order they were meant to be, as well as finish the fourth book that remains unread on my shelf.

You know, I’ve been meaning to reread The Count of Monte Cristo for ages since obtaining the unabridged version of the text. At this point it’s been so long that I doubt I will remember what my abridged copy said or not! (My mind works like a brilliant bolt of lightning, one flash and then it’s gone.) For the past week I’ve been reading a chapter here or there during my breaks at work and I must confess that it is so nice to visit Edmond Dantes again. I can pay attention to other things during this perusal since I know the story. I don’t feel guilty reading it a little at a time either since the bulk of my reading time at home is spent with the new titles clamoring for attention on my shelves. I’ve completed around 150 pages so far, hardly making a dent at all. Perhaps this will be my selection for the “reread a classic of your choice” in the Back to the Classics reading challenge.

I have the crazy idea to keep an account of my general thoughts or reactions to the book and then post them here on my blog when I am finished with Dumas’ book.

Discontent

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t really enjoyed a book I have finished to the point of almost loving it since January. There was a writer’s block prompt which read: “What was the last great book you read?” My response would have to be Runemarks. Everything since that time has been average or just not fulfilling as much potential as it could be. So often I find myself going like this:

There are some books I have sitting on my shelf that I am looking forward to reading, yet I am waiting before indulging in those titles because several will involve rereading the first books so that my unreliable memory is refreshed and I can judge a book fairly if it is continuing a story. So I turn to stand alone books and library check-outs. Although I suppose my ulterior motive for deciding if there are any books I can clear out that I probably won’t want after all may play no small part in the choice for recent reading material. I guess I have no one to blame but myself for setting lofty goals of wishing to chisel out most of my TBR pile during 2012.

Still I want to really feel a great attachment to the books I read again. I want to care for the characters, I want to lose myself in the story, I want to wrap my tongue around the language, and I want to hold it tight and swear to never let it go. In short I want to react something like this when I am reading:

I am left wondering which of those titles sitting quietly on the shelf will be the ones to accomplish this for me. Will it be Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell? Mother of the Believers? The Diary of a Young Girl? The Tokaido Road? Watership Down? Till We Have Faces? This bookworm will keep calm and think of Disney Prince Loki read on.

Say No to Restriction

If I ever had to give up on any aspect of my New Year’s resolutions, I would want it to be the restriction I’ve placed upon myself for how many books I will check out from the library each month. So far I’ve done smashing on not buying books to add to my problem, but we can say bye-bye to the library restriction. I’ve ordered another book through inter-library loan.

Well, the real story is that I ordered a book, but after it was already in transit I was afraid that it was a children’s book. You can never really tell on some of those book listings. I thought I was getting a R.A. Salvatore novel one time, but when the book came it turned out to be a “graphic novel” of the book I was wanting. So I placed a hold on another book. I decided that I didn’t want to wait on the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and just ordered the regular book of it.

I may have left it at that were it not for Tumblr. I was kind of curious what Tom Hiddleston related things might pop up if I clicked on the “loki” tag. One of the things I found was a post from someone who sounds much like me. They watched Thor, fell in love with Loki, and wanted to read books that feature him prominently. Is it bad where I’m going on the list, “Read it… bought it… planning on getting it soon…”? Anyway one of the books on the list was called Giants of the Frost. The description on the link sounded interesting and better yet the library had it in their system! Okay, I cave. I can’t wait! I want it NOW!

I won’t be able to get the books until the weekend, which will mean that March is the breaking point. March seems to be my limit with any restriction I put on myself about the library. Still I will try to not go crazy for the rest of the year. And I’m going to aim to read twice as many of my own books as I do the library’s books. I must make the effort to atone for my fall from grace.

I imagine if I really like American Gods enough to want to own it later, I could get that leatherbound edition from the Barnes & Noble classics series. If I’m going to have books on my shelves they might as well look gorgeous when they can be.

In Which I Stop Ignoring My Books

It seems like having my hand on the pulse of the book community leaves me anticipating all the new releases and checking out far more new titles from the library than I have time possible to finish. The other day I wanted so desperately to break my resolution regarding the library to check out some books, not shiny new titles this time but classic books. Although it seems that Project Gutenberg has Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun… Oh, stop it, you crazy little hobbit!

Still I think something is happening to where I don’t need to be obsessing over books I do not possess right now. It could be due to my little actor crush so that my focus is zeroing in on films instead of books. This may mean that my rabid attentions will move to following the film community and allow my bibliophile tendencies to receive a respite. It’s probably the best thing really because I am reading what I have on my own shelves with more determination.

I think I shall try the Marquis de Sade’s Justine again and see if I can make it through the book this time. I like Donatien’s short stories, but I confess that I have found his novels a challenge.

I have even found the books on my e-reader to be an enticing prospect lately. Fitzgerald is just one temptation on my handheld device. And I have given serious thought to purchasing a Kindle so that no e-book would be out of my grasp. Loki still tempts me and also Loki & Sigyn: A Love Story caught my attention. Although through information gleaned from the review on a blog I read and the cover art at the Amazon page my first thought is “Marvel fanfiction”… but for the moment I plan on concentrating upon the books that I see behind me.

Midnight with F. Scott Fitzgerald

My fangirl binges lead me to some interesting movies. During my initial love affair with Jeremy Irons I came across Last Call: The Final Chapter of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I confess my initial curiosity for Fitzgerald began here. Seriously why are there not audiobooks where Irons reads Fitzgerald’s books and/or short stories? Those voice-overs alone are enough enticement that I would listen to them! I did sample some of the prose from his novels through library books, but the only thing I digested in full was “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” that was actually on my e-reader and that’s why I decided to read it. I didn’t realize that Fitzgerald had written it or that it was just a short story. I never saw the movie, but I’ve heard mixed reviews about it. I confess that I liked that story.

My latest film addiction is Midnight in Paris. It reignited my desire to really delve into the man’s writings. Flappers and Philosophers was a file that I had added to my e-reader some time ago. So I spent the better part of the past week reading through it. I was surprised to discover that I had read a Fitzgerald short story back in school and that was the one titled “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”. The only classic author whose short stories I remember reading in school would be Mark Twain and that was because I was a big Mark Twain fan growing up. There were elements in Fitzgerald’s short fiction that I liked, but ultimately I feel that I would enjoy his novels more since there could be heavier doses of that prose style that captivates me so.

Perhaps I can read through his books and see if there’s one that captures my heart. I also have This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, and Tales of the Jazz Age downloaded for my e-reader. I know that my local library branch has Tender is the Night and The Last Tycoon in their stacks so there’s a few more that I could read when the mood struck me.