Here’s to more videos on Books to Mark!
Here’s to more videos on Books to Mark!
There has been a lot of hype recently about B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. This book of fiction with a minimalist cover is described as entertaining and original. I have never seen The Office, so I was not familiar with Novak’s work prior to reading One More Thing. I was excited to read it because of the format in which it started . Novak originally told all of the stories in One More Thing to audiences around the world; he tried out the material on them. I had never heard of an author approaching his work in that way and, with my increasing interest in Slam/Spoken Word poetry, I was curious about what had passed the test. One More Thing is a series of short stories. And by short I mean really short. Most are four pages, but they range from three lines to 15 pages. It was great because every time I finished a story, I felt very accomplished. In fact, I read the whole book in two days. I have never read anything like it. It was refreshing.
While the humor Novak uses is not quite my style, I did find the stories somewhat humorous. The satire is really effective. In one story, the main character is on a museum tour and he wants to know what dark matter is. He goes so far as to physically threaten the tour guide afterwards into telling him what dark matter is. However, when the tour guide reveals that he is the only man in the world who knows and begins to explain it, all the main character can do is think about the texts his friends did not send and the party which they may or may not have excluded him from with good or bad intentions. It was a funny way to address the issue we have with being where we are and focusing on what is important. The stories are all unique and creative, but, perhaps more importantly, they were very purposeful. Each story had a distinct meaning that I think could have been meaningful in many ways to many different people. It’s a very accessible medium. It earns a Books to Mark Recommendation.
Sidenote: There were two young girls in the cafe where I write my posts. They were a couple of tables away from me doing their homework. I was trying to write my blog post and I heard something familiar. Looking over, I saw them each with a copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry, reading it out loud and verbally recalling different aspects of the book. One girl struggled with a sentence and the other said it quickly, followed by “keep going.” When they stood up to leave a few minutes later I learned that knowing which One Direction heartthrob the other prefers is an essential characteristic of being BFFLs. I just really liked that they were reading The Giver aloud. It isn’t often that reading can be a communal experience, but it is very nice when it is.
Spring is really on its way (let’s hope!!), I can’t believe it is the end of February. I am four books into my 40-book 2014 Goodreads Challenge! I’d say that is a good start.
Our library has been setting people up… with books! Our literary committee set up a display decked out in hearts and books wrapped in pink and purple paper and slightly ambiguos descriptions. Since we wrote the descriptions in about five minutes, they are pretty entertaining. We do this on Valentine’s Day because we have an excuse to call it “Blind Date With a Book,” but how cool would it be if this was constant? I think every library or bookstore should have a mystery/random book section. It would be an interesting experiment: How much do titles and covers affect our perceptions of books before and while we read them? Let’s start a movement. I have quoted some of our descriptions at the end… Can you guess what books they belong to?
On another note, I am really excited to road trip to a new old bookstore this weekend. That is, unless the snow thwarts our travel plans, which at the moment is quite possible (I was just informed of my school’s 5th snow day for tomorrow). It’s called Popek’s and it’s in Upstate New York. I was digging through Narratively (sidenote: this week’s topic is “Colorful Women”) and found a wonderful article about the proprietor Michael Popek. The title “The Bank of Bygone Bookmarks” grabbed my attention, but when I read the subtitle, I couldn’t click fast enough: “In a small New York town, a bookshop owner finds his calling among the love letters and photographs left in the pages of dusty old novels.” He has spent a good portion of his life finding and collecting the odds and ends that we leave tucked into the pages of our books. I am really interested in the stories of others and there is so much potential to find something really valuable in the things we leave behind. That is a long explanation of the fact that I am going to this book store this weekend, weather permitting. I will post some pictures from that event if it happens.
Sidenote #2: I cannot put Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore down. I am completely in love with this book. It is so funny, I find myself laughing out loud. It is also just brilliant. I tweeted at Mr. Sloan and the Penumbra account, but did not receive a reply, so maybe I’ll just flood them with tweets.
If you are in the North East, good luck, stay warm.
1. “This is a classic. If you are looking for a good romance, a strong, flawed heroine and a swoon-worthy love interest, check it out.”
2. “Wolves? Way better than Twilight. No vampires, good romance and adventure.”
3. “Whether you want to read about a human romance or one with books, you’ll love this. Romance, books and coding…need we say more?”
4. “Puppy love! (but it’s a tiger)”
5. “There is a beach involved- escape this winter insanity! A sweet romance that will warm your heart on February 14.”
6. “This book will be the ‘guy next to you’ on Valentine’s Day. Dogs, a veteran and the south– a passionate tale of love and loss.”
7. “Action and adventure, magic and love. A strong heroine and a dashing hero. Spend your Valentine’s Day captivated by the world!”
Leave your guesses in the comments!!
An open letter to Toni Morrison. The first in a series of letters to people I admire.
Once again the snow is proving to be a nuisance. Snowy weather tends to come during inconvenient times, so why should this storm be any different. It is exam week for me and our whole exam schedule has been changed. But as I was sitting at my desk, trying to study, I wondered if there ever was a convenient time for a storm. Certainly, there are more convenient times than the middle of exam week. Let’s think about everything that comes with a storm: the inability to easily/quickly leave one’s house; the ability to drive safely; the need to shovel; the inescapable cold; the mountains of outerwear required to go outside; and the fact that my dog has to fight through the snow when he goes outside. Well, the last one can be pretty funny, but otherwise, snow generally brings a lot of hassle and requires extra effort.
So, is there a convenient time for a storm? It’s really about relative convenience. If there is not a lot to do, sure, more convenient. If you are prepared, more convenient. And I guess that is true about any kind of problem or challenge, it can be fine if you are prepared. But really, how often are we prepared for unexpected challenges. I did not know this storm was coming (winter is coming), that may be because I was not on weather.com, but I adapted. I reorganized my exam prep, I had a mug of hot chocolate and rolled with it. So, now I’m thinking about all of the good things that come with a snow storm: hunkering down in sweaters and blankets and socks (it’s an excuse to be extra cozy); drinking excessive amounts of hot chocolate; when I woke up this morning, there was ice on my window and the sun was reflecting through it and it was nice; catching up on reading, movie watching and TV shows; and a very entertaining twitter feed. Would next week have been better for Winter Storm Janus? Probably, but it’s okay. Sometimes you just have to sit back and say “Oy with the poodles already.” And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a (semi-unrelated) Gilmore thing, but nevertheless it applies.
This was not a particularly literary post, but I was thinking about the snow. Anyway, I have added a list of the next couple of books I’ll be reading on the Book List page, so check that out. I was supposed to go on another bookstore trip this Friday, but that is being rescheduled– stay tuned it should be a good one! Enjoy the weather, wherever you are.
I realize that I have forgotten to share a very unique and cool experience. It happened in November, but it’s okay, I have reached the point of finishing the draft now. Anyway in November (yes, apparently November was a while ago now), two of my friends and I decided to venture into New York to hear slam poetry. I experimented a little with slam this summer and heard it performed, but I had never been to an actual slam competition. So at 7:30 on a Friday night we took a train to the city, found our way all the way downtown to third street and waited outside the Nuyorican Poets Cafe for an hour.
I honestly had no idea what to expect, but what I got was very unique. While we were waiting, we struck up a conversation with the couple waiting in line behind us. In between analyzing the saga of the pizza delivery guy trying to make a delivery at the apartment building next door, we asked them how they came to be at the Nuyorican. Neither of them was affiliated with writing or literature (other than the occasional pleasure read), least of all slam poetry. But one of them had been there before, loved it and so decided to return. It was interesting to see the draw of slam poetry for all kinds of different people. There was a wide variety waiting on line and the diversity of the crowd only became clearer once we got inside. Poet and Nuyorican employee, Mahogany Browne (@mobrowne) opened with a casual monologue. She started off by surveying the room to find out where people were from. It was like she was calling attendance. First, she asked about the boroughs, then California. By the end I think we had covered nearly every state and several countries (including Iran, England, Jamaica and Puerto Rico). When the New Jersians announced their presence, Mahogany said, “Oh please, New Jersey is a borough who are you kidding.” Then they turned all the lights off, concealing the slightly cliché, but nevertheless atmospheric exposed brick walls, and everyone danced around and sang a song, which I was definitely supposed to know the words to and definitely did not. I realize that this sounds very strange, and it was, but it was really fun.
The first poet we heard was Shira E. Her work was humorous; mostly poignant anecdotes about life, her relationships and conversations she has had. She read with clarity and with a very distinct personality. We then heard from three slam poets. Interestingly, the first two poets both performed poems with candy metaphors. I am not kidding. If you think of the name of a candy it was in these two poems. It was a bit unfortunate for the second performer, because although his poem was very interesting, it could not seem as original given that the first performer presented something nearly identical. It was cool to see the difference in the uses of the metaphors however. The common aspect of all of the poems was that they were all very personal, very passionate and had a purpose. They were communicating something, it seemed with the intent to evoke change, or an emotion. And in true slam fashion, the audience chimed in throughout.
It was new, unique and every single person there was just having so much fun. It was around poetry, it was about social change, it was about passion. The only requirement of being there was to be passionate about something and to have an appreciation for performance. If you ever have the chance, go to a poetry cafe, or a slam competition, a poetry reading, anything. Anywhere that artists are presenting their work is bound to inspire thought and passion. Enjoy it.
I happened upon narrative.ly last week on a website, TImes maybe, that listed the top 50 websites of 2013. I super wish that I had known about this website earlier, because the concept is really original and the format makes it very easy to read. By chance, the first time I looked at it, the week’s theme was “Long Live the Book.” The idea behind narrative.ly is that each week there is a theme and every day, a new article is posted that pertains to that theme. Last week was the book theme, this week is “American Dreamless.” The content is interesting and the writing is unique. I like it because it talks about really specific things that most people would not encounter in their day-to-day lives. Their tag line is “Human stories, dangerously told.” Each story surrounds an individual who has an interesting story pertaining to the week’s theme. It’s just very unique. I have linked to last week’s book theme, but I strongly encourage you to look into the archive, there is some really interesting stuff in there. Yesterday I found an article about a veteran who runs workshops to help other veterans write about their experiences. Another article that I have open in a tab is called “The Secret Life of a Manhattan Doorman.”
I think I will leave you with that. More on Toni Morrison next week.