Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good stuff from other blogs

Cool idea from Laurel:
"For any group of (at least) THREE kids (or grownups, I guess) who wants to get together and read THREE books from the list below (that they have not read before) I will offer a FREE SKYPE VISIT to chat with the group about the books they’ve read. I’ll also happily chat about other things, but at the heart of the conversation should be the books on this list."
Read it for the categories:
"Related to this is the explosion of commentary in 2009 around the publishing industry’s future. Pundits bloviated over ebooks in post after post without definition or focus."
If Cheryl hadn't posted this, I probably would not have found a connection between Taylor Swift and my historical WIP:
"The thing that so impresses me about this line is that it implies four layers of relationship in those ten words"
Fascinating ideas, fabulous graf-level linking:
"Here’s a little idea for creating innovation in news coverage: the 100 percent solution. It works like this: First, you set a goal to cover 100 percent of… well, of something. In trying to reach the goal you immediately run into problems. To solve those problems you often have to improvise or innovate. And that’s the payoff, even if you don’t meet your goal."
Katherine takes on picture books:
"Yes, I think price is a factor. No matter how many times these books are going to be read, people see an $18 + price tag on a 32 page book and they balk."
"The maps use typography as the sole visual clue."
In which J.L. Bell makes me reconsider a minor character in said WIP:
"It’s always a printer’s apprentice."
Food for thought:
"Publishers are in the business of linking content to markets, but we’re hamstrung at search because we’ve made context the last thing we think about."
Loads of advice from Deborah Heiligman:
"Transcribe your notes soon after taking them. Write so you can read your handwriting. Make a note of the source if it's not from your head."

Chapter 6: Meet Miss Perfect

[ETA: Roman numerals are unnecessary, but usually they're not too much trouble. Not sure why I misread the chapter heading, but you'll note that this post now has the correct chapter in the title. We're up to 6, not 7 - or VI, not VII, as the Project Gutenberg edition has it.]

One of the first things that jumped out at me in this chapter is "the girls here were all called by their surnames, as boys are elsewhere." Because that was the case not only for schoolboys, but also for higher-level servants - Darcy's housekeeper is referred to as Reynolds, for instance, in Pride & Prejudice. Is this a dig at the girls' in-between social status - well-bred enough to be sent to school, but not likely to end up as gentry?

This chapter also marks the first time Helen Burns is introduced by name, and it's clear that she's being set up as a foil to Jane - Jane can't even stand to watch Helen be punished, while Helen just accepts it, because clearly, she must have done something wrong.

(That punishment, incidentally? I'd love to think that it's because of Miss Scatcherd's love of black humor that she delivers a switching on the back of Helen's neck in the midst of a lesson on Charles I, but we're never led to think she's that clever.)

So on the one hand, we have Jane: "If she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand; I should break it under her nose."

And on the other, Helen: "Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear."

Helen seems just a bit too good to be true, which is one of the reasons why it's generally accepted that Charlotte Bronte based the character on her sister Maria, who (spoiler alert) died at the Lowood-esque school the girls attended. So while the idealization is understandable, I think it's fair to say that Jane Eyre would not have been such a success if we had to put up with Helen for more than a couple chapters.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten 10-10-10 Challenge wrap-up

So, how'd I do?

Not too spectacularly, especially when you look at what Melissa and Kalen managed to pull off. I finished a total of 50 books for the challenge, and reached ten books in only two categories, history and contemporary YA.

I really slacked off after the first couple months - most of the books on these lists were there by May.

But the thing is, I didn't just read 50 books since January 1. I've recorded 91 books in LibraryThing since then, though that also doesn't represent my total reading time - as always, most of my reading time is spent rereading. I did push myself to read more new books than I otherwise would have, though, in those first few months.

Other musings:

  • Despite the fact that a third of the mysteries I read for the challenge were by Agatha Christie, I'm not actually much of a fan - I'm willing to suspend disbelief to some extent, but her plots were too implausible even for me.
  • I keep intending to read poetry more often than I do. I had plenty of options to choose from just at home, without even heading to the library or the bookstore, but I chose to read other stuff.
  • From what I can tell, three of the 50 books I read for the challenge were written by people of color. That's pretty pathetic, especially for someone who tries to be aware of things like that.

Here's the summary:

1. Shakespeare-related (2/10)
Shakespeare: The World As a Stage, Bill Bryson
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, James Shapiro

2. Poetry (1/10)
Red Bird, Mary Oliver

3. Biography (3/10)
Shakespeare: The World As a Stage, Bill Bryson
The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom
Beatrix Potter: Artist, Storyteller, and Countrywoman, Judy Taylor

4. Contemporary young adult (10/10)
Sweet, Hereafter, Angela Johnson
A Wish After Midnight, Zetta Elliott
The Clearing, Heather Davis
The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt
The Six Rules of Maybe, Deb Caletti
Extraordinary, Nancy Werlin
Kissing Tennessee, Kathi Appelt
My Most Excellent Year, Steve Kluger
Habibi, Naomi Shihab Nye
Only the Good Spy Young, Ally Carter

5. Children's non-fiction (7/10)
Honeybees: Letters From the Hive, Stephen Buchmann
The Boys' War, Jim Murphy
How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?, William Pogue
Bloody Scotland, Terry Deary
Math Doesn't Suck, Danica McKellar
The War to End All Wars, Russell Freedman
Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid, H.P. Newquist

6. Science fiction (2/10)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Android Karenina, Leo Tolstoy and Ben Winters

7. History (10/10)
Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews, Melvin Konner
The Imperial Cruise, James Bradley
Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides
Playing the Enemy, John Carlin
Helluva Town, Richard Goldstein
Hellhound on his Trail, Hampton Sides
A Nation Rising, Kenneth C. Davis
Farmers Against the Crown, Keith Jones
The Atlantic, Simon Winchester
The Madame Curie Complex, Julie Des Jardins

8. Mystery (9/10)
Poirot Investigates, Agatha Christie
The Seven Dials Mystery, Agatha Christie
The Mapping of Love and Death, Jacqueline Winspear
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, Alan Bradley
A River in the Sky, Elizabeth Peters
The God of the Hive, Laurie R. King
Dark Road to Darjeeling, Deanna Raybourn
The Tale of Oat Cake Crag, Susan Wittig Albert
The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie

9. Written before 1900 (5/10)
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Roughing It, Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy

10. Pulitzer winners (4/10)
Among Schoolchildren, Tracy Kidder
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
Red Bird, Mary Oliver
War in a Time of Peace, David Halberstam