Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

Game of Thrones

1. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

I’ve started this like 3 times but never got around to finishing it. I’ve watched most of the first season, so I know the basic plot, but I did like what I read and I want to get to the end this time.

Peter Pan

2. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

I’ve had this book for years but never got around to reading it despite the fact that I adore all things Peter Pan.

Proxy

3. Proxy by Alex London

I’ve been wanting to read this for so long and I finally happened across it in my local used bookstore for like half the price it would’ve cost me for a new copy. Praise the literary gods.

Anyone But You

4. Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

I love retellings. Like, LOVE them. And anything involving food and/or Shakespeare is awesome, so this Romeo & Juliet foodporn is the stuff of the gods in my opinion.

Legend

5. Legend by Marie Lu

I’ve actually had this for almost two years (I bought it at Powell’s in Portland) but I never got around to reading it. With the release of Champion, I figure it’s as good a time as any to catch up.

Stormbringer

6. Stormbringer by Shannon Delany

If you saw my review yesterday of the first novel in this series, Weather Witch, you know that I am now obsessed. It’s Philadelphian steampunk awesomesauce, so when the sequel, Stormbringer, comes out on January 14, I will be first in line.

Henry VIII: The King and His Court

7. Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir

I checked this out of the library months ago, so I really need to get past the first 50 pages. Alison Weir is awesome, so I’m looking forward to it even if Henry was a jackass.

Moll Flanders

8. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

This is part of my senior project and I’m pretty pumped to read about 17th century prostitutes. It’s not your everyday book.

The Maze Runner

9. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I’m so late for this, but the movie is coming out soon (starring my spirit animal, Dylan O’Brien) so I’m going to try to at least read this one and maybe the sequel if I can.

The Book Thief

10. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I got maybe 100 pages into this before I put it down and forgot about it. I loved what I read but I think because it was a school assignment I couldn’t enjoy it like I wanted to. But with the movie on the way and a new year looming, I want to see what everyone has been raving about.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Retellings + Reading Challenge

Thoughtful Thursday

I have been obsessing over a few retellings I’ve found in the past few weeks, especially Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin. I’ve always loved these kinds of books, but recently a lot of great ones have come out that I’m really excited about. In fact, I’m so excited that I’ve decided to start a challenge devoted to reading retellings.

But first, I want to explain why I love them.

There’s a lot of classics and obscure books and myths that don’t get the attention they deserve, often because stylistically, they’re very different from what today’s readers are accustomed to. So I think it’s an amazing idea to “modernize” these stories to appeal to an entirely different audience. How many people have seen that “Romeo + Juliet” movie with Leonardo DiCaprio? How many people have seen the one from the sixties (which is my favorite btw)? A lot of people wouldn’t know about stories like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast without Disney. We wouldn’t know about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table if it weren’t for all the films and TV shows and books written about it. The fact that we are managing to keep so much of the past alive, albeit in an often heavily altered way, is a huge achievement, and it’s introducing older, “dated” material to a new generation of readers so that they can see beyond the current literary world to what has come before it and, in many ways, created our current reading culture. I love the idea that after reading a book like Bridget Jones’s Diary or Ophelia, a teenager will be able to see the relevance of Pride and Prejudice or Macbeth in today’s world and appreciate the story more than they would have otherwise.

It really just makes me happy to know that older stories aren’t fading away for the most part. If anything, they’re becoming even more prevalent. It’s a little bit awesome.

But anyway, gushy feelings toward retellings aside, because of the huge array of retellings out there, I’m hosting a teensy little challenge here at The Nighttime Novelist to read more of them in 2014, and you are welcome to join me!

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

Rules/Information

  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. I will post a wrap-up post at the end of each month with a link to my retelling review(s) for that month. Each retelling read MUST be reviewed in some way.
  • Novel-length (150+ pages) fiction only
  • No more than 2 re-reads
  • All formats allowed
  • Anyone can join at any time in the year, although books read prior to joining do not count.
  • You don’t have to have a blog to join; reviewing on Goodreads or Amazon is fine as long as everybody can see it.
  • Books don’t have to be stated in advance; it’s up to you!
  • ARC’s are fine, but try to read some that aren’t new releases.
  • Retellings can be anything from a contemporary version of a Shakespeare play to an interpretation of Sleeping Beauty. As long as there is evidence it is a retelling of some kind, it will most likely count. But you can’t just start reading a random book and go, “Oh! This sort of reminds me of blankety-blank.” There must be some sort of statement that this is based on a prior work.
  • The retelling can have an oral origin. Not all legends/myths were traditionally written down, but if it’s a legitimate story, it works. For example, most Native American folklore was not written, but a retelling of some Iroquois tale is perfectly valid.

Levels

  • Easy: 1-5 books
  • Not So Easy: 6-12 books
  • I Like A Challenge: 13-19 books
  • I Eat Easy for Breakfast: 20+

I can’t wait to get started on this! I’m aiming for the I Like A Challenge level, preferably at 15 books, but we’ll see how it goes. If you’d like to join me, feel free to leave a comment. What challenges are you joining for 2014?

 

Great Holiday Gifts for Writers and Readers

As a writer and reader with writer/reader friends, I love brainstorming bookish gifts to put under the tree. Most people tend to think the only thing to get a writer/reader is a notebook or a random new release or a gift card to Barnes & Noble. But au contraire, mon amie; there is a vast world of gifts out there for the literary-minded sort, and I’ve come up with a list of gift ideas to prove it. (That sounded like such an advertisement. Am I in the wrong field?)

1. Coffee/tea mugs

Reading is Sexy Coffee Cup

Who doesn’t love a good mug? Even if you don’t like hot drinks, you can use it for cereal or (sometime in the dead of night when there’s nobody around to judge you) candy.

This cup is from Etsy. Click on the image if you’d like to buy it!

2. Hairstick

Hairsticks

For your long-haired reader/writer friends, hairsticks are awesome. You haven’t felt artsy until you have one of these things in your hair. This one is from Etsy, so click if you like it!

3. Bookmarks

Wicked Witch bookmark

You can’t go wrong with bookmarks. I mean, for real, you actually can’t. Also, this Etsy bookmark is supercalifragicool so you should totes click the image and buy this beauty.

4. A Really Old Book

Old books are not only great decor, but it’s just an awesome feeling in general to know that the book in your hands has been through a lot of shit. There will likely be names or random notes or dates that just make it even more interesting; my writer girlfriend found an old book of maps and geographic facts (I think it was in France, but I can’t remember) and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. It’s no joke. Plus, they’re super easy to find. Just pop into your local used bookstore or even just an antique store and you should be able to find something with a halfway decent price tag.

5. Fingerless Gloves

Fingerless Gloves

I don’t know about you, but holding a book and typing up stories on my laptop in winter is kind of sucky because your hands are constantly freezing, even indoors. At this very moment, as I write this post, I’m having to take breaks to stick my hands under my legs and warm them up.

6. Beverage of Choice

Beverage

Does your giftee enjoy the delights of raspberry tea? Or perhaps is enraptured by the sweet aroma of cocoa? Gifting somebody with their favorite drink, even if it’s something  as mundane as beer or Kool-Aid, is a nice way to say, “Hey, we must be real friends if I know your beverage of choice. This Diet Cherry Coke is proof that I care.” And it also means your giftee won’t have to go shopping for their favorite drink for a while longer.

7. Anything Handmade

Monogram Art

I’m not remotely artistic, but I can write a poem for someone for Christmas. You may not be a writer like your giftee, but if you can draw a heart with “Happy Holidays” in the middle of it and stick it in a frame, I at least would be thrilled. Even if you can’t sculpt a lifesize marble replica of your giftee, you can still make something, be it a cool crayon monogram or even cookies. But chucking $50 on some random piece of art isn’t going to be nearly as meaningful as something you’ve made yourself.

8. A Bookish Date

This isn’t so much a gift as it is a significant-other arrangement. Don’t just give your darling dearest a gift card to Border’s—take them to the bookstore and buy them a book they find, or just spend the day exploring the shelves and bonding over literature. Take them to a book signing, spend the day curled up together on the couch reading to each other, have an intense debate about Charles Dickens over take-out. Your writer/reader will be happy to know that even if you yourself aren’t a raging book addict, you don’t want that part of their life to be something outside of your relationship. Getting involved with their passion, even in a small way, shows that you love that aspect of them.

That’s it! I’d love to hear about your gift ideas, or what you’d like to give/receive for the holidays. I myself would kill for another bookcase so I don’t have to keep stacking books by my bed. ;)

I hope you’re having a great December so far wherever you are!

Stacking the Shelves #1

***Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.

Here I go, diving into these awesome memes! I’ve been buying wayyy too many books considering the amount of time I have to actually read them (which adds up to about .5 seconds per day), so I figured I should share them with the masses. Or rather, any poor unfortunate souls who happen upon my wee little blog.

And with that, here we go!

1. How to Read Literature Like A Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

This is something I’m reading to help me with my senior project. I’m shadowing an English professor and if all goes well, my final product will be a completed syllabus and outline for a course on banned/controversial books.

2. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

I am so excited to write a review for this book. It’s basically a conversation between the author and Winnie the Pooh about Taoism and it’s so freaking adorable.

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3. The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles

This includes the three Greek tragedies “Antigone”, “Oedipus Rex”, and “Oedipus at Colonus”. I’ve read the first two for my lit class and enjoyed them, although Greek ideals amuse me.

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4. “Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay” by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry, and Diana Ossana

I didn’t know how much I needed this until I saw it on the shelf. I’m very intrigued by screenwriting, so maybe this will inspire me to give it the old college try.

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5. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This is for my lit class. I cannot believe I’m actually going to read an entire book about a giant bug. God help me. Although this brings up my favorite joke (which, to my knowledge, I came up with): What is it called when you are attracted to a bug? INSECTuous. (Please laugh. That was funny, admit it.)

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6. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

Women in history=my favorite thing ever. Especially when we’re talking about women who are traditionally overlooked by historians and society in general (aka, basically all women). I’m not sure just how well-researched this book is, but the title is enough for me to want to read it.

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7. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “I Heart Jane Austen” and I basically worship her. She’s such a clever author and her books are just chick-flick enough to warm the cockles of my heart and just sad enough that I have to wipe away at least one tear per reading. So obviously I’m all over a book that equates to a big giant “Kudos to Jane!” banner.

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8. Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming A Literary Genius in 365 Days by Jane Mallison

I feel like I should know the classics. I mean, they’re classics for a reason you know? So I should at least give them a chance and try to understand why the literary has embraced them so fully. And a guide to finding those books never hurt anybody. ;)

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9. “Howl” and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg was pretty…interesting. I watched that movie with James Franco and I liked what I saw, and I hate reading poetry on the Internet (it feels like cheating) so I thought I’d go ahead and buy his stuff. Also, the little book is really thin and tiny and cool.

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10. Manhattan Transfer by Dos Passos

I bought this for my lit. class, didn’t read it, and there’s not really a need to read it anymore, so this is going on the Maybe Someday shelf. If anyone reading this post enjoyed this book, please comment below and tell me why you liked it. I’ve heard plenty of negatives about it, but not enough positives.

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11. Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl

Who doesn’t want a book of lists? As a self-diagnosed list-maniac, I drool over books like this.

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12. “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare

It was 20 cents! What was I supposed to do, leave it?

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13. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

I feel like your bookshelf isn’t complete without some R&J.

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14. “Henry V” by William Shakespeare

I dunno, it was cheap and I’ve always been mildly interested in it, so why not?

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15. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

Well we’re reading this in lit in the spring, so I thought I’d be a total nerd and read it now instead.

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16. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m considering putting this on my fake syllabus for my senior project. I’m not that excited about reading it to be honest, but I’m going to try my best.

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17. “‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore” by John Ford

I’m actually really excited about reading this. It’s an early 17th century play about a brother and sister who fall in love (with each other, in case that wasn’t clear), and I’m just coming off a pretty serious “Borgias” kick, so I need something taboo and scandalous to keep me going. (I think incest is a thing now. It seems like it’s all over HBO. Which, if I’m honest, doesn’t bother me at all.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, and if you have any recent additions to your bookshelf, you can comment here or make your own Stacking the Shelves post!