Booking Through Thursday: Flapper? Or not a flapper?

Suggested by Prairie Progressive:

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

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I guess this is meme week.  Can you tell I’m procrastinating about writing reviews??

Yes, I’m a flapper.  I read the flap.  Maybe not EVERY time, but if I’m browsing in a bookstore and don’t really know what I want, I read flaps to help me decide if it’s a book I want to buy. Usually when I get a book in the mail I’ve already agreed to read it, so in that case I don’t read the flaps.  Except when I do.

I’m sure you’re all really happy you read this post, aren’t you?   Such insight!  So provocative!

I’ve lost my internet connection 3 TIMES while trying to publish this post.  Is that the universe’s way of telling me to get off my a$$ and write a review???  Hmmmm…

Are you a flapper?  Are you a procrastinator too??

Best Bad Book? Booking Through Thursday

 

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Suggested by Janet:

The opposite of last week’s question: “What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?”

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imagedbTo answer this question, I did a little Google search of the worst books of 2008.  Lots of lists came up but I clicked on the first one I saw, which happened to be Entertainment Weekly’s list, because I remembered they had listed a book I loved as #3.  That is just WRONG.  Here’s what they had to say:

3. THE GARGOYLE, 
Andrew Davidson

Publisher Doubleday clearly had high hopes that this 
howlingly bad medieval thriller would be the next Da Vinci Code. It wasn’t. In fact, it turned out to be one of the biggest flops of the year.

While The Gargoyle wasn’t a perfect book, it was completely enthralling and utterly unique, and one I would have been sorry to miss.  Judging from the comments left on my review, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it!

What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read?

Best Book I’ve Never Read: Booking Through Thursday

The Best Book You’ve Never Read March 5, 2009

Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:39 am 

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We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?

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I should probably say something profound, like “War and Peace” or “Brave New World,” but let’s be serious.  I’m not going to read either of those anytime soon, if ever.  

Recent releases that I’ve missed out on are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Book Thief, and Life of Pi.  Of those, I am most interested in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  I hope to influence (pressure, persuade) my book club to vote it in for this summer.  We’ll see.

If everyone’s reading it, I tend to run the other way.  But sometimes I start feeling left out when I’m the only one who hasn’t read something, so I give in (hello, Twilight!)  

So, of my 3 choices, which would you recommend I read first?

Collectibles: Booking Through Thursday

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This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

Hardcover? Or paperback?

Illustrations? Or just text?

First editions? Or you don’t care?

Signed by the author? Or not?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

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I’m not a collector, not of books or really anything.  

I used to collect things when I was younger.  I had a lovely collection of cobalt blue glass bottles.  It was fun scouring antique stores to find just the perfect piece to add to my collection.  And then there was my antique photo phase.  I had an intense love and curiousity about late 19th century photos of children with games or toys.  I collected dozens of them, going through dusty old boxes of other people’s family photos in basements and backrooms of stores, and would squeal when I found a new one.  I’d research the studio, figure out when the photos were made by the borders, the type, the dress.  I loved it.

After my kids came along I no longer had time for those kinds of treasure hunts, and I discovered that antique stores and babies/toddlers really don’t mix.  Now that a decade has gone by since my kids were born, I find I’m not that interested in spending my time that way anymore.

But books.  As much as I love them I don’t feel the need to surround myself with them.  I rarely re-read a book.  Plus collections are labor intensive.   They need to be dusted.  They need to be arranged and moved from one place to the next.  They are heavy.  And they take up way too much space.  So I like to set my books free.  

I have a small collection of books that I keep.  Beloved titles in hardcover and a few first editions.  I have a number of books that are personalized to me by the author- some of those I don’t even LIKE but because they’ve been signed, I keep them.  But I’m not overly attached to my books.  They are to be shared, lent out, donated, given away.  

What about you- are you a collector of books?  Of other things?

Booking Through Thursday: Stories

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If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?

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Yes, yes, YES!! The story is the thing! Give me a good story and I will follow you anywhere.

Storytelling is so basic to who we are as humans. Our family stories and cultural stories are passed down through parents and grandparents, teachers and leaders. It’s how we teach, entertain, and inform our young children- at bedtime, around campfires, at the dinner table. Kids love a good story; they lap it up like ice cream melting on a hot day, and some of us never grow out of that desire to know- what happens next?

Characters are important, of course, but you can take the most interesting character, plop him into a book, and give him nothing to do, and what have you got? A boring book with an interesting character. Or you can have an average Joe character, plunk him down into an action-packed adventure- and voila! You’ve got a page-turner. Of course if you can get BOTH- the interesting character AND the great story- well, that’s what all of us readers are looking for, right? But first and foremost is the story.

I want the great story. I want to be propelled forward with a need to know how things will all turn out. I want to be so sucked into the story that I forget what’s going on around me. I want to laugh, cry, be surprised. I want to be entertained. I want to care. A great story does that.

Here are some recent stories that did all that for me:

Sweetsmoke, The Last Queen, House and Home, The Septembers of Shiraz

Beginnings: Booking Through Thursday

 

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Suggested by: Nithin

Here’s another idea about memorable first lines from books.

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

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 I haven’t done a “Booking Through Thursday” in quite a while- half the time I forget about it until, oh, Saturday, when really it’s way too late.  Today, though, I realized AHA! It’s Thursday! while it was still Thursday, so I popped over to see what the question was, and it’s one I’ve actually thought about in the past.

I expect a book to give me a good first line.  I love it when I get a DAMN GOOD first line, one that sucks me in to the story immediately and makes me want more.  A memorable first line (“Call me Ishmael“) is even better, but so infrequent as to make me wonder if authors are really trying- maybe they don’t much care if the first line is memorable.  And maybe it really doesn’t matter.  Or maybe it does matter, but it’s just crazy-difficult to come up with something fabulous.  I can count on one hand how many first lines I actually know from memory, but here is a recent one:

“I have never looked into my sister’s eyes.”  The Girls by Lori Lansens (reviewed HERE)

I liked this book but did not love it, however that first line (and much of the first paragraph) was amazing and has remained with me for months.  I’m always interested in books about sisters, probably because I have a complicated relationship with my own sister.  The Girls is about conjoined twins- joined at the head- explaining why she has never looked into her sister’s eyes.  

I don’t think the first line of a book ever makes it or breaks it, so to speak, but when I’m in a book store, or even standing in front of my TBR pile, I will sometimes open a book to page one and read the first couple of lines to decide if this is going to be the next book I read.  This line grabbed me today:

“I was thirteen years old when my parents conquered Granada.”  from The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.

Bam!  I have to read this book!  I can’t wait to read this book!!  It’s about Juana of Castile, also known as Juana la Loca, crazy Queen Jane, sister to Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  Why was she crazy?  I have no idea, but cant wait to find out.

How do you feel about the first line in a book?  Do any stand out in your memory?  

Oh, and don’t forget about my book giveaway!  Click HERE to read about how you can win a copy of Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion!

Booking Through Thursday: Clubbing

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This week’s Booking Through Thursday is a combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?

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Why yes indeed I am currently a member of a book club!  And Books on the Brain is ALL about book clubs, so this question is right up my alley.  

This is the second club I’ve been in.  The first club was very different from the one I’m in today.  

There were 6 of us and we would meet every other month.  The books were selected on a rotation, and we had no ‘rules’, so many times people picked a brand new bestseller that was only available in hardback.  Other times a 900 page tome would be picked.  One member always picked these off the wall titles that everyone hated.

Responsible, committed clubber that I am, I would read whatever book was selected, then I’d get to the meetings and find half the members didn’t read the book.  So when it came time to discuss it, they’d say, “Oh, don’t tell me what happens!  I haven’t finished the book yet!”  How do you have a discussion if you can’t talk about what happens in the book???  Four of the six members worked together (I was not one of them) so they would go off on a tangent about something at work, leaving the other 2 of us bored and scratching our heads.  After less than a year I’d had enough of this group.

I started my own group in March 2007 and it has been a wonderful experience.  We tried several ways of choosing books before landing on our current way of doing things.  Because I learned from my first group, I made a couple loose rules (choices should be under 400 pages, and must be available in paperback). Every quarter, members bring book selections to the meeting.  Each person has an opportunity to talk about their “nominees” and then we list all the possible choices.  The list is then passed around and everyone puts a check by their top 3.  The books with the most votes are the next 3 selections.  This has worked out so well.

I am more likely to appreciate a book read for book club than a book I read on my own, for a number of reasons.  I feel a responsibility to the other club members to pay more attention to what I’m reading.  I am guaranteed to get many different perspectives and reactions to the book from my book club buds and I love that kind of give and take.  I research the books we read so I learn more from them. Frequently we speak to the author, which gives us a tremendous amount of insight.  I carefully highlight passages and pages to refer back to during our meeting.  I think about major themes, characters, structure, and style of writing more analytically than if I was just reading for fun.  Being in a club definitely affects the reading experience for me.

What about you?  Does clubbing (not the drinking/dancing/staying out all night kind!) affect your reading?

For information about starting your own book club, click HERE.

For ways to make your book club even better, click HERE.

To hear what other bloggers think about their book clubs, check out my series In Praise of Book Clubs.  You can find that HERE.

Literature: Booking Through Thursday


Lit-Ra-Chur April 3, 2008

Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:21 am 

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  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?
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    The word LITERATURE sends shivers down my spine.  Mrs. Worsham and AP English Lit spring to mind.  I can almost see her pinched face and hear her trembly voice saying, “Class, read chapters 11-17 tonight, be ready to discuss the plot analysis flow map tomorrow and our quiz will be Friday.  Any questions?”  I think of dealing with clunky language and archaic turns of phrase, questioning every possible motivation for each character, discussing the merits and relevance of the work to modern times, and I shudder.  For me, this has nothing to do with reading for pleasure.  But it was also many years ago.  

    It occurs to me that I ought to give the dreaded LITERATURE another chance, reading it without deadlines and threat of a poor grade if I don’t quite understand the broader themes.  Our book club has talked about reading some classics, and that’s been met with some groans and a roll of the eyes from me, but maybe it’s time.  

    What about you?  Do you read LITERATURE, or fear it?

 

Booking Through Thursday: Cover-Up

Cover-Up March 27, 2008

Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:32 am 

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This week’s question comes from Julie, who asks:

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?


The design of a book doesn’t affect my reading enjoyment necessarily, but I do love a beautiful, well designed cover.  Unless I go to the book store with a specific book or author in mind, the cover art absolutely plays a role in which books I pick up and ultimately bring home. One of my favorite blogs, dedicated to the appreciation of book cover design, is Covers, maintained by Fwis, a design firm based out of Brooklyn, NY and Portland, OR.  It’s a place where people in the industry praise or trash covers.  Go there for some highly intelligent commentary from people in the ‘biz.  This is the cover that currently graces their home page.  What do you think? Would you buy this book?

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Booking Through Thursday: Playing Editor

Playing Editor March 13, 2008

Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:13 am 

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Suggested by John :

How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:

__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.

 

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In order to answer this question, it’s important to understand what an editor actually does..  I thought I knew, but just to be sure I looked it up.  

Typically, an editor does a lot of reading, obviously.  Their job includes everything from looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar (copy editing), to character development, plot structure and clarity (substantive editing).  They also work at spotting cliched phrases, over-used words, and the overall organization of a story. Fine tuning phrases and removing redundant words can make a huge difference in the final product.

What an editor should NOT do is impose their own voice or point of view over the author’s. An editor should be like Switzerland – totally nuetral, allowing the author’s unique style to shine through, while enhancing and clarifying the text.

Ok, sounds like a tough job.  I guess I’ve been reading a lot of books lately that have benefitted from great editing because I can’t think of any that I would want to change in that way.  

The only exception would be some kids books I’ve been reading with my girls.  We make a game out of counting the number of times the characters in the Goosebumps series “murmur” something.  Seems every other page says, “Look at that!” she murmured.  We dissolve into giggles and get out the notebook that we use to keep track of how many murmurs there are per book.  It’s silly fun.

I remember reading Middlesex last summer and thinking that it would benefit from a liberal dose of editing, but I couldn’t give you specifics all these months later.  I just remember thinking the middle section was way too long and made the book much longer than it needed to be (544 pages-pushing the limits of my patience!). 

What books do you think would benefit from editing?